Natsuka Kusano’s Domains (王国(あるいはその家について)), 2019

Some light spoilers ahead, natch.

How does a film manage to be both radically transparent yet almost impossibly obstuse at the same time? How does a film open with a straightforward murder confession yet spend the next two hours mystifying and putting that confession further and further into question?

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Wang Bing’s Three Sisters (三姊妹), 2012

I’m not going to mince my words: Three Sisters is amazing. It’s a stark, beautiful, and heart-rending document of extreme poverty in rural China. Beautifully shot, delicately constructed, and suffused with an all-encompassing sadness, it’s definitely something of a masterwork.

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Funereal Presence – Achatius (2019, Sepulchral Voice/Ajna Offensive, LP)

The descriptor “old-school” is often used to describe an act (or album) whose sound is built mostly on atavism and an adherence to Ye Olde Ways. This often involves an intentional, possibly even ideological, dismissal of the past 10 or 20 years’ worth of changing tastes and musical trends, all in the name of conservatism and worship of the past. Willful musical anachronism, in other words. Funereal Presence’s Achatius is one of these albums. But it’s also so much more than that.

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My Disco – Environment (2019, Downwards, LP)

My Disco have certainly come a very long way from the Albini-meets-Dischord stylings of their first three albums. 2015’s Severe was a significant departure, trading the propulsive post-punk of their earlier work for spacious, ultra-heavy machine repetition, but this year’s Environment has really seen the trio branch out into new musical territory, with remarkable results.

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