Overall, artists’ albums represent good efforts

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Fujiya & Miyagi, “Transparent Things”

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Part hip-hop, part experimental rock, part electronica, Subtle has created a complex and bizarre, but utterly essential, album. With so many disparate sounds, the album could have spiraled out of control, but lyricist Doseone and his five bandmates expertly hold everything together, creating a narrative full of dread, racial insecurity and middle-class struggles. The music always compliments Doseone’s intense lyrical delivery, which ranges from rapping, singing, spoken word and everything in between. It takes a few listens to digest the album, but listeners are rewarded for following Subtle down its warped rabbit hole.

Sunn O))) & Boris, “Altar”

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Arranged by label Southern Lord, doom metal band Sunn O))) and Japanese power-trio Boris teamed up to create “Altar,” an album of dense, heavy drone-metal that pushes the boundaries of metal music. The album’s success lies in the unified vision of both bands. Listen to “Altar” at high volumes or with an excellent set of headphones, because the combination of synthesizers and down tuned guitars creates new and interesting frequencies and pitches. Five of the six tracks create a tangible tension, which is released in “The Sinking Belle” where Jesse Sykes’ ethereal voice lets “Altar” reach a new level of beauty.

Subtle, “For Hero: For Fool”

Rating 4.5 stars (out of 5)

One would be excused for thinking Fujiya & Miyagi are a Japanese duo simply based on the band’s name. However, it actually is a trio from Brighton, England, that creates music inspired by the German krautrock and motorik movements. Echoing the sounds of bands such as Neu!, Can and Kraftwerk, Fujiya & Miyagi manage to emulate its heroes without ripping off their sounds directly. “Transparent Things” collects many of the group’s earlier singles into one compilation and is an excellent introduction to this clever and talented trio.

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