Crikey, is it that time already? No sooner than you’ve finished wringing the juice out of one New Music Friday, another one comes around to offer up yet more aural delights.
Now, we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that some of you might be staying in a little more than usual over the next week or two. As such, this could be the perfect time to get your head around some of the lengthier releases listed below - we’re thinking mainly of INA-GRM’s twelve-disc boxset of seminal art-music practitioner Bernard Parmegiani’s work here, but there are also lengthy drones from The Chi Factory and Stephen O’Malley as well as Shabaka & The Ancestors’ hour-long opus ‘We Are Sent Here By History’ to sink your teeth into. Give those and the other New Music Friday selections a whirl below.
The cheese man cometh. For real though, ‘L’Œuvre musicale en 12 CD’ is a veritable *ahem* feast for fans of a pioneering figure in electroacoustic composition and musique concrete. Originally released in 2008 but now reissued by INA-GRM, ‘L’Œuvre musicale en 12 CD’ contains a good chunk of Bernard Parmegiani’s total output from a career which ran from the 1960s well into the 21st Century. If a dozen discs of avant-goodness weren’t enough, a near-100-page booklet is the cherry on top of ‘L’Œuvre musicale en 12 CD’.
Is Early Day Miners a naughty name? Like ‘morning wood’ or something? Mind you, even if it were, there’s nothing particularly raunchy about the band’s debut LP ‘Placer Found’. This is meditative, sombre post-rock which remains a classic of cores both slow- and sad- fully two decades on from when it was taped. For ‘Placer Found’s twentieth anniversary edition we get a pair unreleased jams on the D-side - though longtime fans of Early Day Miners will note that a lick from ‘Blue Casino’ was later recycled for 2003’s ‘Jefferson’.
‘The Weed Tree’ is not just a very sick name for a record; it is a very sick name for a very sick record. The sophomore LP from Philadelphian group Espers, ‘The Weed Tree’ first emerged in 2005 into an alt-folk landscape populated by the likes of Animal Collective’s ‘Sung Tongs’, Devendra Banhart’s ‘Niño Rojo’ and Vashti Bunyan’s ‘Lookaftering’. Made up primarily of covers, ‘The Weed Tree’ fuses the outsider-acoustics of those albums with a kind of bells-and-whistles chamber sound that prefigured the ‘He Poos Clouds’ LP Final Fantasy would release the following year. Now reissued by Drag City.
To catch a glimpse of the cover of Hilary Woods’ ‘Birthmarks’ is to know that you’re in for a heavy listen. It’s a stark and striking image, one that suggests someone whose own body has become unfamiliar to them. Given that the songs for this album emerged during Woods’ recent pregnancy, the picture is a pertinent point of entry into this dark, spectral record. Musically ‘Birthmarks’ is in the orbit of Keeley Forsyth’s brooding art-koan opus ‘Debris’, albeit with more of the gothic majesty of Anna von Hausswolff and Chelsea Wolfe.
If you were to conjure up a noise-rock supergroup from thin air, who would you have in the band? Definitely a member of SWANS, no question; someone from Cop Shoot Cop would be in the mix too; Unsane? Get ‘em in there; fans of things more florid may even dare for a little Xiu Xiu. And you’d have their album produced by Martin Bisi, wouldn’t you - you know, the guy who’s recorded Herbie Hancock, Sonic Youth, Boredoms and countless others. Well you know what, buddy, your dreams have just become reality, because Human Impact’s eponymous debut LP has all of that going for it. Unsurprisingly the record is a rugged, mottled, bludgeoned and caustic rock collection.
Peter, Bjorn & John’s ‘Endless Dream’ is the second twentieth anniversary release in this here roundup. However, unlike ‘Placer Found’, which was a reissue, ‘Endless Dream’ is a set of brand-spanking-new material from the beloved Swedish indie-popsters. This is the sort of perky affair that we’ve come to expect from the ‘Young Folks’ perpetrators, with quirky pop grooves shuffling around under some tight, sonorous vocal harmonisation. There are also a couple of more wistful and acoustic guitar-driven tracks which spin ‘Endless Dream’ in the direction of The Shins.
Drone-metal at its purest from one of the sound’s chief architects here. ‘Auﬂösung der Zeit’ was taped at a concert given by Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley in 2018, one which was tied in with the publication of ‘The Guidebook Of Church Burners’, a tome that explores the visual history of black metal. The music O’Malley made that night, an unbroken slough of drone that harshened and waned across almost three-quarters of an hour, crystallises much of what is good about a genre, aesthetic and ideology that O’Malley has played no small part in shaping.
‘Travel In Peace’. Sound advice. Our own Ant rather delightfully described Chi Factory’s ‘Travel In Peace’ as a ‘mind lozenge’, and this latest set from the Dutch new-age veterans is certainly a balm for the soul in extraordinary times. The two side-long meditations here are sonically rather amorphous - aquatic drone, fourth-world soundscapes, spiritual incantations and far-out flurries of field recording can all be found across the course of the LP. Jon Hassell, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra and ‘Tower Of Meaning’-mode Arthur Russell keep watch over both band and listener throughout. ‘Travel In Peace’, and leave refreshed.
The glut of reissues from Japanese artists continues to open our ears to lost gems. Latest in this long line is White Heaven’s ‘Out’, an LP which no-one had heard much from since a few hundred copies were first pressed up in 1991. We’re so glad that Black Editions were able to get a new run together as part of their ongoing project og re-pressing old P.S.F. Records releases. White Heaven did classic rock at its most expressive, with guitars spooling out great plumes of melody next to singing that invokes someone gazing wistfully up at the sky and wondering what it's all about. There’s more than a pinch of The Velvet Underground to ‘Out’, Television too.
Crazy times like these make the nostalgic among us yearn even more strongly for days of yore. In this sense, Monophonics’ fourth LP ‘It’s Only Us’ couldn’t have arrived at a better moment. This record is filled with the muscular, emotive sounds of golden-age funk ‘n’ soul - particularly the legendary Stax label as well as modern imitators like Daptone. Cuts like ‘Last One Standing’ ripple with the energy of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Super Fly’ while the more tender cuts evoke William Bell. There’s also a bit of psychedelia to ‘Day By Day’, the shimmering closer to ‘It’s Only Us’.
Magnus Sveningsson, the brains behind Råå, used to play bass in fabulous Swedish pop group The Cardigans. That band was one of the more worldly mainstream beat-combos of the late-90s, always willing to plug a leftfield influence into their chic songcraft, and his former outfit’s sense of adventurousness becomes the guiding principle for Sveningsson on new Råå LP ‘Ljungens Lag’. Along with producer Carl Granberg, Sveningsson creates a cerebral and idiosyncratic set of tracks here that bear the influence of library music, kosmische, fourth-world composition and plenty else besides. Radiante Pourpre, Stereolab and Sandoz can all be discerned in the ‘Ljungens Lag’ DNA.
Porridge Radio. How would that work exactly? The Brighton outfit dodge such questions on ‘Every Bad’, but it’s such a good record that we’ll forgive them their inability to explain themselves. While this stands to be the band’s breakout album, success has not come quickly to Porridge Radio - Dana Margolin et al have been building buzz on the British DIY-punk circuit since 2015. You can tell from the impassioned performances all over ‘Every Bad’ that they really wanted this record to be great. Good job they succeeded then, isn’t it. Norman overlord Phil has porridge for breakfast every day, by the way.