Right now on the Boston Globe site, you can read a couple of pretty great team-sourced lists of the best recordings released by local artists in 2015. There's one for pop music and one for classical music; naturally I took advantage of my editorial access and contributed to both lists. Here are my five small but meaningful contributions, all together in one place:
“American Romantics: The Boston Scene”
You could argue no masterpieces are resurrected by this illuminating recital, but you’d be missing the point. Belogurov, playing on a mellow 1873 Chickering, artfully surveys piano works by Boston’s best-known promulgators of the Romantic lineage: eminences Foote, Paine, and Chadwick, alongside forgotten figures like Ethelbert Nevin and Arthur Whiting. Of especially keen interest is the Rhapsody in E minor by Margaret Ruthven Lang, the first woman to have a composition played by the Boston Symphony — and who attended BSO concerts beyond her 100th birthday.
Eminent already among stoner-metal circles, the trio of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan, and drummer Matthew Couto took their collective game to the next level on their third full-length LP. Mind you, Elder can still noodle a colossal riff into mass hypnosis. But here, the group leavened its Sleep-ier tendencies with pinwheeling guitar slaloms, arresting dynamic shifts, shimmering krautrock grooves, and other proggy flourishes.
Transported by a recording of Morton Feldman’s otherworldly “Rothko Chapel” while studying music in college, composer Marti Epstein related in a recent Globe interview, she formed a style in which musical elements coincide or coalesce seemingly of their own volition. The four pieces elegantly rendered here by the Ludovico Ensemble range in length from under 2 minutes to more than 45, and call for varying instrumental forces. But all share qualities of spaciousness and luminosity, twinkling like constellations or twirling like mobiles. (www.cdbaby.com)
Simple, even severe methods plus intense focus produce transfixing results on this latest self-released disc from a performer, composer, and sound artist who’s also one of the local scene’s hardiest organizers. His three pieces here have a Rothko-like quality: Elongated, uninflected violin strokes lap against pealing electronic tones like subtly contrasting color planes, conjuring ripples and shimmers as they lap and fuse.
Following up on its brutal, brilliant 2014 debut LP, “The Departure of Consciousness,” sludge-metal quintet Fórn greeted the end of 2015 with an EP well suited to the end of days. The band’s penchant for pitch-black, downtuned anthems of obsessive dread remains intact with “Dolor” and “Saudade” — each around 11 minutes and split into two parts — but equally evident is a surprising knack for anguished beauty, which makes these haunted ruminations feel oddly humane.