New Music Friday: the top releases this week

It's Friday, which means it's New Music Friday, which means it's time for us to pick out some of the biggest and best releases of the week. Grab our weekly YouTube and Spotify playlists to hear more...

You know the day destroys the night. Night divides the day. Tried to run, tried to hide - break on through to the New Music Friday side!

Yes, the doors of perception are well and truly open this time around - if by ‘doors’ you mean ‘stockroom’ and ‘perception’ you mean ‘the Norman Records warehouse in Leeds’. There's quite a lot of capital B Beautiful music in this week's roundup, from sonorous singer-songwriter affairs to deft ambient and electronic works. Mind you, we've also got the unbelievably bröötal new Primitive Man album in the mix, so don't get too comfortable. Mr. New Music Friday Rising!

Allegra Krieger - The Joys Of Forgetting

Allegra Krieger’s debut LP ‘The Joys Of Forgetting’ is a wonderful set of outsider songs from the Florida-born musician. There’s plenty of Phoebe Bridgers and Big Thief to this thing, and going a bit further back you can also hear some Jeffrey Lewis in Krieger’s offbeat confessionals, but Krieger’s idiosyncratic lyrical style and canny songcraft distinguishes her from the pack. The neurotic string work on tracks such as ‘Welcome’ also reminds one of the Uncanny Valley balladry of St. Vincent’s ‘Actor’.

C418 - Minecraft Volume Beta

It’s taken seven years, but finally the second instalment of C418’s ‘Minecraft’ soundtrack has got a physical release. Those who have played Minecraft will know that the fellow known to his mum as Daniel Rosenfeld came up with some truly delightful compositions for the game, ones which hover on the border between electronica, downtempo, contemporary classical music and various strains of ambient. As with the ‘Minecraft Volume Alpha’ LPs they pressed up in 2015, this new Ghostly International edition of ‘Minecraft Volume Beta’ comes beautifully presented across several CD and vinyl editions.

Dana Gavanski - Wind Songs

Spare a thought for Dana Gavanski - you wait your whole life to get signed and released your debut album, then just as the thing’s about to drop a global pandemic distracts everyone and scuppers all your tour dates. This is how it went with ‘Yesterday Is Gone’, the LP which Gavanski put out at the exact point that lockdowns were being declared around the world. However, the Serbian-Canadian artist is clearly no slouch, a characteristic which should help her kick on once this ghastly business is done with. ‘Wind Songs’ is a five-track EP of covers that Gavanski renders in a conversational, quixotic indie-pop style pitched somewhere between Eels and Saint Etienne.

Primitive Man - Immersion

So far all of the records in this list have been pretty clement listening experiences, full of strong melodies and/or rich, harmonious timbres. With Primitive Man’s ‘Immersion’, we very much reach the end of the line on that front. Show’s over, folks. You see, this Texan trio make some of the harshest, most ferocious, most uncompromising doom metal out there, and their third LP ‘Immersion’ does little to buck that trend. This is monolithic music dispatched by steed from the gates of hell, and I absolutely love it.

Roger Eno & Brian Eno - Luminous

It’s only the bloody boys! Having linked up earlier this year for the ‘Mixing Colours’ LP, brothers Roger and Brian Eno released a deluxe version of the record last month. Now the seven bonus joints from ‘Mixing Colours Expanded’ are presented on a standalone EP entitled ‘Luminous’. It sounds like, you know, the Enos - twinkling ambient textures, carefree plumes of piano, a general feeling of tranquil contemplation, that sort of thing. Basically, ‘Luminous’ is perfect listening for watching the world burn.

Serpente - Fé / Vazio

What a brilliantly unusual record Serpente’s ‘Fé / Vazio’ is. Bruno’s Silva’s has been making waves for a few years now, both as Serpente and Ondness, but even if you are familiar with his work the propulsive rhythm tracks of Serpente’s debut LP still catch you off guard. Comparisons can be made with the lurching polyrhythms of Lisbon's Príncipe imprint, but there is both of volatility and a steely-eyed drive to these tracks which is shared more with acts like Nihiloxica and Shackleton. We're not certain how to classify this music, but what's for sure is that face ‘Fé / Vazio’ is one of the most unique albums we've heard this year. 

Slowdive - Pygmalion

It's always nice to see Slowdive. 1995’s ‘Pygmalion’ is the final LP that the cult-fave band made before splitting. While it might not be quite as famous as predecessors like ‘Souvlaki’, if anything this only heightens the pleasure of seeing ‘Pygmalion’ being given the reissue treatment. While ‘Pygmalion’ maintains much of the shoegazing charm which made so many fall for Slowdive back in the day, the record also pushes out into genres like post-rock - both the Stereolab and Explosions In The Sky schools - and ambient music.

The Gaslamp Killer - Heart Math

William Benjamin Bensussen, the artist known as The Gaslamp Killer, has had a pretty turbulent few years. As such, it is unsurprising that ‘Heart Math’, his first full-length album since 2016, is a somewhat stormy affair. The off-kilter hip-hop vibe with which The Gaslamp Killer first made his name in the LA beat scene is maintained, but there is also an increased darkside edge to GLK’s psych-hop productions. The Heliocentrics, Kid Moxie and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson are among the guests.

Various - Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993

Hot on the heels of their superb Oneness Of Juju reissue, Strut Records now go even deeper into the sound of spiritual jazz/conscious soul label Black Fire Records. ‘Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993’ sees Oneness Of Juju’s Afrofuturist funk features here alongside joints from artists like Wayne Davis, Southern Energy Ensemble and Experience Unlimited. ‘Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993’ comes with extensive sleeve notes and interviews, and those who cop the vinyl edition will receive a reprint of one of the early ‘Black Fire’ magazines.

Rival Consoles - Articulation

Much like Clark, what Rival Consoles does really well is balancing out the propulsive thrust offered by synthetic music with the attention to arrangement that one associates more with contemporary classical composers such as Nils Frahm. On new LP ‘Articulation’ both of those elements are in expert balance once more - beat-driven tracks border on Berlin-style tech-house while other entries draw on the dystopian electronic compositions of Daniel Lopatin, Caterina Barbieri and Steve Hauschildt.