It’s the question on everyone’s lips - how many gecs would 100 gecs gec if 100 gecs could gec gecs?
Old heads meet young upstarts here. Meme culture has a lot to answer for in this week’s roundup, with the internet hivemind buoying the careers of both 100 gecs (count ‘em) and Molchat Doma in recent times. In the write-up below we pit these new-schoolers against older heads such as Brian Eno and Mark Pritchard, with the likes of Heathered Pearls and Faten Kanaan caught in the middle of the carnage. Let battle commence!
Ahh yes, 100 gecs. We wondered when we’d be seeing you around these parts. This duo have been all over the internet in the past couple of years, collaborating with everyone from Charli XCX to Hannah Diamond while also playing gigs “in Minecraft” (?). Mind you, the hype's justified - their almost-eponymous-but-actually-not debut LP ‘1000 gecs’ earned top billing in Noisey’s end-of-year list for 2019. Now we’ve got 100 gecs' hyperactive ultra-pop salvo in on wax for the first time, plus its equally-popular remix album ‘1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues’ to boot.
Sir Bonce is back. ‘Film Music 1976 - 2020’ does what it says on the tin, bringing together stuff Brian Eno has composed for screens both big and small in one place. It’s not a complete discography - that would take days to listen to - but this record does contain all Eno’s essential soundtrack work in one place. Music of his that was featured in ‘Top Boy’, ‘The Lovely Bones’, ‘Trainspotting’ and plenty else besides is in the mix here. Nicely nicely.
After impressing with a run of records for labels including Norman faves Polytechnic Youth, Faten Kanaan now hops over to Fire Records - another Norman fave - for her LP ‘A Mythology Of Circles’. The weightless electronic music that Kanaan creates here is both sparse and ornate at the same time. These tracks have a quavering beauty about them that nods to acts like Active Child while also maintaining the same sense of gothic portent which one finds in bvdub’s drones. Throw in a bit of Vangelis-style dinkiness for good measure and you’ve got yourself an intoxicating album.
Gwenifer Raymond can seriously shred you know \m/ >_< \m/
Mind you, this Welsh guitarist doesn’t deal in searing licks and pyrotechnic soloing - on her second LP ‘Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain’ we find Raymond fronting an altogether earthier style, a perpetual-motion brand of acoustic playing which owes plenty to bluegrass and John Fahey. There’s a darkness to this record as well, one which lights the highwire bluest-adjacent tunes like ‘Hell For Certain’ with a low-burning flame. Really dope.
Heathered Pearls. That’s a great name, that - unusual, poetic, evocative, and a perfect introduction to the music made by project mastermind Jakub Alexander. On ‘Cast’, the third Heathered Pearls studio LP to emerge via Ghostly International, we find Alexander delivering these beautiful, etherised soundscapes which hover at ambient techno’s edge. There’s something of Pole to the slowly-spooling textures here, but ‘Cast’s sense of beatific introspection also draws on the sounds of Rabit’s Halcyon Veil imprint.
Americana albums are not always particularly high-energy affairs - after all, sometimes you just want to recline in the easy chair, drink in hand, and be soothed by the dulcet tones of slide guitar and brushed snare drums. However, while you would classify it as an Americana LP, Katy J Pearson’s ‘Return’ is actually a rather peppy affair. The rootsiness of the instrumental arrangements here may draw from Wilco, Kevin Morby, Big Thief et al, but Pearson’s charismatic performances up top plumb this music with vim and vigour.
Don’t be fooled by the title of this thing - ‘MP Productions - EP1’ is far from the first record Mark Pritchard has ever released. Indeed, we’re dealing with an esteemed veteran of British electronic music here, an artist who has wowed across a multitude of projects in a career which spans decades. This six-track set acts as a sort of microcosm for Pritchard’s output as a whole - influences from Eskibeat to jungle to Drexciyan electro ride shotgun here, with Pritchard’s knack for combining aesthetic grit and melodic sweetness orchestrating proceedings as a whole.
The political scientist Francis Fukuyama may or may not have had something like Molchat Doma’s ‘Monument’ in mind when he started talking about ‘The End Of History’ after the collapse of the USSR. It’s hard to tell - this is a modern band from Belarus who owe a good chunk of their success to the extremely post-history platform of TikTok, yet their music is a blend of Joy Division-esque doom-punk grooves and the equally moody stylings of late-Soviet groups like Kino which sounds more 1980 than 2020. Maybe Molchat Doma’s surging popularity among under-35s speaks to the sense of profound temporal drift among younger generations who yearn for a sense of historical agency in their overwhelming and dislocating epoch, a feeling which, deep down, they know they will never find … or something … Anyway, ‘Monument’, Molchat Doma’s first LP for Sacred Bones, is perfect listening for walking the streets on these cold, dark nights.
Quakers’ eponymous debut LP was a from-nowhere hit back in 2012. The premise was intriguing - a group which featured Katalyst, 7-Stu-7 and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow created psychedelic boom-bap beats while a whole cornucopia of guest MCs spat bars atop them - and it’s a trick Quakers have repeated on the long-awaited follow-up ‘II - The Next Wave’. Twenty-five (25) MCs including Guilty Simpson, Sampa The Great and Jonwayne show up on this generous record. Fans of Madlib, J Dilla, Karriem Riggins and the like should sink their teeth into ‘II - The Next Wave’.
Radiohead’s paranoiac-tronica masterpiece ‘Kid A’ owes more to jazz than you might think - those skronking horns you hear on ‘The National Anthem’ are being played by a jazz ensemble, the influence of Charles Mingus lurks in the background (and would become even more prominent on ‘Kid A’s sister-album ‘Amnesiac’), and the album’s experimental energy definitely isn’t coming from the world of rock music. With ‘Kid A’ celebrating twenty years of soundtracking emotional burnouts in 2020, Londoner Rick Simpson has doubled down on the album’s jazz tropes with the full-length reimagining ‘Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited’.