New Music Friday: The Top Records 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...

Fred MG | 6th November 2020

As the old saying goes; remember, remember the sixth of November - National Saxophone Day! Toot toot.

This week’s New Music Friday roundup is sadly light on the sax, so maybe give ‘Careless Whisper’ and/or ‘Baker Street’ a couple of spins before you crack on with the selections below. If your ears are still ringing from last night’s fireworks then you may wish to ease in with the more light-touch tones of Olafur Arnalds, Pole and Eartheater; for those of you looking to power through, try the Kill Your Boyfriend album.

Eartheater - Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin

You don’t go to an artist called Eartheater for uptempo bops, do you now? Of course not - if you’re drawn to a name like that, you’re expecting something doomladen, mournful, quite possibly metal. ‘Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin’ isn’t really a metal album, though some of the LP’s gothic architecture does recall the metal-adjacent work of Chelsea Wolfe, and doomladen is perhaps not the exact term you’d use to describe the music made by one Alexandra Drewchin. However, ‘Phoenix…’ is certainly a sombre listen, one where acoustic guitars, strings and electronic textures come shrouded in fog to bring to mind a sort of greyscale, avant-garde version of Cocteau Twins.

Holy Motors - Horse

It’s not often that we get records in from Estonian acts y’know. On the evidence of ‘Horse’, the new LP from Holy Motors, maybe we should start keeping closer tabs on the country’s musical output. Mind you, if you hadn’t told us that this outfit were based in Tallinn then we could have been fooled into thinking that Holy Motors had at least a couple of feet on U.S. soil. You see, ‘Horse’ is an album of dreamstate Americana, a record where the countrified twang and the wistful vocal stylings of the singer are smogged up by reverb. The whole thing comes off like Mazzy Star covering This Mortal Coil covering Chris Isaak, and it’s all the more intriguing for being so.

Kill Your Boyfriend - Killadelica

‘Killadelica’. Now that’s how you name an album! The music here is both as cool and as grizzly as the title suggests. Kill Your Boyfriend may hail from Italy in the modern age rather than New York City in the 1970s, but the similarities between this band and Suicide go beyond the fact that there are two members in each group. This is a thrilling LP of serrated-edge industrial electronics which have a bit of Spacemen 3’s heavy-psych atmospherics thrown in for good measure.

Kutmah - A Tribute to Brother Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program

The late Ras G - or Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program, or Gregory Shorter - was one of the dopest, most visionary minds to emerge from the mid-00s beat scrum. A contemporary of Flying Lotus and Samiyam, Ras G’s music looked more intently at the Afro-futurist spiritual modes of Sun Ra, the guiding principles of which helped construct the “ghetto sci-fi” style that Ras G delivered across numerous records in his lifetime. After Ras G passed away in 2019, fellow LA producer Kutmah now pays tribute to his friend with a collection of leftfield hip-hop beats which manage to be both intimate and widescreen at the same time.

Olafur Arnalds - some kind of peace

Lock up your pianos - Olafur Arnalds is back. With this LP the Icelandic chap promises ‘some kind of peace’, though anyone who’s familiar with the previous work of Mr. Nice Music will be aware exactly what kind of peace is on offer here. Yep, all the typical Arnalds tropes are present and correct on this album - featherweight keyboard ruminations, cinematic electronics, pretty chamber strings and collaborations with fellow purveyors of pleasant sonic fayre like Bonobo and JFDR. Soothing sounds for insane times.

Ploy - Unlit Signals

There’s more than one Sam Smith with a new album out at the moment, y’know. The one in question here deals not in anthemic pop but in soundsystem techno tracks which he releases under the name of Ploy. Having kept relatively close to Batu’s Timedance imprint for the past few years, it’s slightly surprising to see the project’s debut LP ‘Unlit Signals’ emerge via L.I.E.S.. Mind you, artist and label prove to be a good fit for each other here, with Smith injecting some dystopian grit into his bass-led club style across ‘Unlit Signals’ eight tracks.

Pole - Fading

Pole mastermind Stefan Betke doesn’t drop records very often, but they’re always a treat when they do arrive. ‘Fading’ comes five years after its predecessor ‘Wald’, and it's another set of superb dubwise innovations. The sonic world of these productions is pitched somewhere between the spiralised dub-techno of Basic Channel and those more twitchy micro-house tones made popular by Jan Jelinek. ‘Fading’ is a meditative listen, one to drift off to over the long nights ahead.

Tiña - Positive Mental Health Music

You know Speedy Wunderground? That singles club which has released stuff by Melt Yourself Down and Kate Tempest and Warmduscher and a bunch of other people? Well, they do albums now. The first LP to be released by Dan Carey’s label comes courtesy of Tiña, a South London outfit who peddle star-crossed outsider-rock. There’s both a pleasing slackness and a Cate Le Bon-esque quirk to Tiña’s debut LP ‘Positive Mental Health Music’.

Tunng - Tunng presents... DEAD CLUB

As the title suggests, Tunng have gone all morbid for their new album. ‘Tunng presents… DEAD CLUB’ is fully engaged with death, from the taboos around dying to the ways that death is dealt with by different societies around the world (did you know that the Wari people of Brazil eat their dead? You do now). However, musically ‘Tunng presents… DEAD CLUB’ is not all doom and gloom. While I wouldn’t exactly describe it as upbeat, there’s a pep to the band’s offbeat indie-rock style here which recalls Super Furry Animals.

Various - DEUTSCHE ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK 4 - Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83

Alright, an orderly queue please. Keep two metres apart, thank you very much! Yes, yes, everyone’s very excited about the fourth instalment of Soul Jazz Records’ kosmische compilation series ‘DEUTSCHE ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK’. The album's subtitle does all the descriptive legwork here - ‘Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83’ is what this record promises, and ‘Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83’ is what this record delivers. Horizon-expanding masterworks from Can, Amon Düül II, Harmonia, Conrad Schnitzler and the rest. I said two metres!