Woohoo, good afternoon! Norman Records’ New Music Friday, *redacted* speaking. Please tell me - how may I recommend you albums?
Yes, there’s a new Arctic Monkeys LP in the list below - a live record rather than a studio offering, but a new Arctic Monkeys LP either way. The band’s Domino labelmates These New Puritans get a look in this week as well. Away from those two we’ve got new salvos from Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, Carlton Melton and the Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo, a long-awaited anime soundtrack drop and a whole host of compilations including one selected by the fair hands of Khruangbin. They say new music changes when the Friday goes down around here.
This is, of course, a concert album recorded by Arctic Monkeys at the Royal Albert Hall. The gig took place around the time of the band’s tour in support of their pleasingly befuddling ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’, but Sheffield’s favourite sons saw fit to perform music from across their back catalogue that night - ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, ‘Crying Lightning’, all the good stuff. All of the proceeds from the sale of ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’ go to War Child, which means that you can both do a good deed *and* make peace with thef act that you actually really like Arctic Monkeys by copping this record.
Carlton Melton are very keen to let us know that they made their new LP ‘Where This Leads’ in a geodesic dome nestled amidst the woods of northern California. Normally you’ll find that such incidental information about an album's creation is much of a muchness, but on ‘Where This Leads’ the dome and its verdant surroundings really does seem to have helped Melton’s creative process. The trio deliver some incredibly expansive experimental rock here, from the heaviest, spaciest riffage (‘Waylay’) to potent, sprawling dronescapes (the epic opener ‘The Stars Are Dying’).
2012’s ‘In Decay’ remains one of Com Truise’s signature releases. That record, a compilation which hoovered up rare odds-and-sods from the producer’s early years, helped define Com Truise’s retrotastic synthwave sound in the minds of many. Now, eight years on, ‘In Decay, Too’ does a similar thing by bringing together a variety of Com Truise loosies issued throughout the 2010s. 80s synth fanatics, Italo Disco luvvies, electronic heads of all stripes - ‘In Decay, Too’ is the one for you.
Fans of the slow and gloomy, rejoice! For Emma Ruth Rundle, singer-songwriter of elemental power and member of Marriages/Red Sparowes, has collaborated with doom metal overlords Thou. ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’ plays out like you’d think a link-up between these two would, and we mean that in the best way possible - Thou’s abyssal sloughs and Rundle’s stormy balladry find fine foils in one another. We’ve been waiting for 'May Our Chambers Be Full' to arrive in our stockroom for weeks, but boy was it worth it.
Khruangbin are an extremely ‘Late Night Tales’-y band - if anything, it’s slightly surprise that it’s taken this long for the famously debonair mix series to rope the band in for an installment. This beloved Texan trio deliver a pleasingly varied selection here. The tracks - which come mixed on the CD edition (with unmixed versions on the download) and unmixed on the vinyl (with both mixed and unmixed versions downloadable) - range from Nigerian disco-funk to Belarussian library-soul. Eclectic to say the least! There’s also a Khruangbin original included as well, which is actually a typically chilled psych-rock trip despite it being titled ‘Summer Madness’.
What comes after ‘The Discipline Of Assent’? But of course - it’s ‘The Dichotomy Of Control’. Jakob Skøtt of heavy-psychsters Causa Sui teams up once more with trippy folkster Martin Rude (Sun River), and like its predecessor 'The Dichotomy Of Control' is another groovy strut through some of the more erstwhile annals of popular musical history. Library funk, spiritual jazz and psychedelic rock are a few of the styles in the mix here, with steady breaks anchoring several cuts. A lot of artists are nodded to across ‘The Dichotomy Of Control’ - Beck, Miles Davis, Madlib - but the LP is ultimately pleasingly difficult to pigeonhole.
‘Cowboy Bebop’ is one of those TV series whose legacy and influence far outweighs how popular it was at the time. The show ran for two seasons in the late 1990s but has garnered a worldwide following since then - I’ve not seen it, but everyone I know with a passing interest in anime has urged me to watch it when I get the chance. Part of the appeal seems to be derived from a wonderful score composed by Seatbelts, a band formed by composer Yoko Kanno specially for the show. Largely a wacky melange of cop-drama library-funk and acid jazz, the ‘Cowboy Bebop’ OST also has a pleasingly batshit quality about it which leads to some unexpected trips into dream-pop and polka.
It’s hard to think of a record that’s come out in the last decade which has been more influential than These New Puritans’ ‘Hidden’. The signs that These New Puritans weren’t your average band were there on their 2008 debut album ‘Beat Pyramid’, a record which peppered an LP of wiry post-punk tunes with strange sound collages and lyrical discussions of numerology. However, no-one could truly say they expected the Southend outfit to come through with something like ‘Hidden’ two years down the line. A hugely ambitious undertaking, ‘Hidden’s list of influences is about as disparate as they come - dancehall beats blend with chamber orchestration ala Benjamin Britten, massed drumlines power remorseless industrial-techno numbers - yet, for all its conceptual ambition, ‘Hidden’ remains thrillingly visceral throughout. The album’s tenth anniversary ‘MMXX’ edition backs up this still-extraordinary LP with alternate versions, live recordings and a film.
Apparently Castles In Space weren’t ‘Scarred For Life’ enough the first time. The first installment of the comp series emerged around this time last year to deliver hauntological electronics nuggets from the likes of Dalham, Polypores and The Home Current, and now we get a second volume. It’s the same premise this time around too - all of the music here has been composed for TV shows which, actually, never existed in the first place. Proper nawty hypnagogics for the Ghost Box heads.
2020 sees Planet Mu celebrate twenty-five years in the business. Mike Paradinas’ imprint has been putting out all sorts groundbreaking electronic music for a quarter of a century, their innovations in breakcore, IDM, footwork and dubstep keeping them at the musical cutting edge throughout that time. You can go in depth with Planet Mu’s history on our newly-published label watch if you like, but if you’d rather dive straight in then the celebratory new compilation ‘PlanetMµ25’ is a good point of entry. Many favourites are featured here - Bogdan Raczynski, DJ Nate, Jana Rush and Rian Treanor are just a few of those who contribute.