Belle & Sebastian have always excelled in the short format of the EP, so it is excellent to see them returning to the format with a new EP trilogy, named How To Solve Our Human Problems. This is the final on...view item »
This is a welcome reissue of Hiroshi Sato’s Orient, a record whose first edition was released in 1979 and still fetches three-figure prices on Discogs. This is its first vinyl pressing outside of Japan. Sato & pals are producing some dangerously funky, feel-good J-synthpop here. White noise faded gently to evo...view item »
Oh the weird things that happen at Norman Records. I'm playing it on the headphones and at the exact same time someone is playing it in the office causing a strange dissonance. This isn't the first impressive thing about the Gentleman Losers though. The group made some much loved records in the early 2000's only to disappear completely. Now they...view item »
Oh the weird things that happen at Norman Records. I'm playing it on the headphones and at the exact same time someone is playing it in the office causing a strange dissonance. This isn't the first impressive thing about the Gentleman Losers though. The group made some much loved records in the early 2000's only to disappear completely. Now they are back and with Tom Meluch (Beniot Pioulard) loving it on Bandcamp it sounds like they've lost none of their skills.
Theirs is a distinctly retro sounding take on slow moving electronica. 'Night Falls In Nowhereland' is a brilliant piece of rusted electronics with nods back to Eno, Woo and sideways to the Ghostbox label. But it's not all lo-fi tronics. On 'The Good Bird Singing in the Twilight Tree' they add in simple drum patterns and heavily processed vocals that sounds something like Sparklehorse fed through Bibio's tape machine. In fact a lot of these pieces have the same wobbly sound as Bibio, as if they are recording at sea. The way they mix small shards of guitars into their minimal electronica is unique and 'Permanently Midnight' becomes one of those records that seems to exist completely of it's own time and place. They have a tightly pressed sound that despite the obvious comparisons the record is it's own entity.
Superb tracks like 'Holding Back the Night' expertly blend post rock, electronica and retro synth excursions but they are not afraid to write a lo-fi pop tune when the mood takes them. If you are a fan of the likes of Advisory Circle, Boards of Canada or Benioit Pioulard you are in for a right treat.
Taking possible cues from the lushest of 80s Japanese synth pop, '911' is a supremely glossy, rich exercise in future-retro pop music. The slightly Balearic feel sits tightly with an atmosphere of city lights, technicolour discos and dreamlike mind states. Comes on 12" with an instrumental remix and B-side 'Annie'....view item »
Lower case post-rockers yndi halda were one of the original scene-brokers back in its heyday, but they made a surprise return with Under Summer a couple years back. Their new EP promises more serenity, and a patch update to their instrumental sound -- vocal harmonies filter in this time, the songs ta...view item »
'Sweet '17 Singles' is a compilation of 7" tracks that were released earlier this year, selling out almost immediately. Together they form a consistent and quite lovely record, full of wistful bluesy swing that's reminiscent of Women, though with a pastorally psychedelic tone not a million miles from Van Morrison....view item »
The debut record from Happy Accidents was pretty good but this second album from the London trio is a cracker!
Every track is a winner with a great contrast in styles between the vocals of drummer Phoebe Cross and Rich Mandell.
The fantastic production also gives welcome space to Neil Mandell's original bass sound.
This a...view item »
Substantial collaboration between musician and spoken word storyteller Laurie Anderson and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet. Landfall, a multimedia project inspired by Anderson’s experience of Hurricane Sandy, blends skillful instrumentation with her powerful spoken word descriptions of the storm. On N...view item »
Quickly recorded with caution out in the wind, Onion is the fifth and most savoury of Shannon & the Clams releases. They cite a quick and impulsive recording environment, as studio man Dan Auerbach just had his instruments ready to go at all times. Expect the usual and avid throwback pop majesty ...view item »
A Deeper Cut is the third album by British blues rockers The Temperance Movement. It follows on from their 2012 self-titled debut and their 2016 album White Bear. Members of the band have previously played with the likes of Rooster, Ben’s Brother, Jamiroquai and Fe...view item »
Utopia Banished might not be a magnum opus, but it is a darn fine and highly enjoyable album, nonetheless, from one of extreme metal's most consistent bands. Thus, it should satisfy just about all fans of either death or grind. And if music that hits like a shotgun blast to the chest makes you feel all tingly, this beast ought to be a just about...view item »
Sound Affects is widely thought of by critics, and Paul Weller himself, as the best record by The Jam. Their fifth album, it was originally released towards the end of 1980. It turned out to be their penultimate release and featured the singles That’s Entertainment and the Taxman-aping Start! The latter wa...view item »
For his latest cassette The Inevitable End, Sunset Graves (UK electronic musician Andy Fosberry) deliberately limited his sound palette to synths, drums, samples and field recordings. Gosh, with only those at his disposal it’s amazing he was able to make anything at all! Nonetheless, against all odds, Fosberry has...view item »
The Wrong Society are a bunch of psych/garage punks from Germany who put all their efforts into sounding as authentic as possible. They take their influences from myriad lesser known American bands of the mid-sixties whose music was unearthed in the ‘90s on those Teenage Shutdown compilations. 7” single limited to 30...view item »
Franz Ferdinand have done that thing where they replace one leaving member with multiple new members (see also the Stone Roses at Reading '96, various incarnations of Last of the Summer Wine) as if it somehow stops people from noticing that a major cog has depart...view item »
Franz Ferdinand have done that thing where they replace one leaving member with multiple new members (see also the Stone Roses at Reading '96, various incarnations of Last of the Summer Wine) as if it somehow stops people from noticing that a major cog has departed. They now look utterly preposterous - I mean.... leopardskin jacket? Their new music also shows signs of trying to defy the ageing process. Much of 'Always Ascending' could be comparable to Edwyn Collins trying to sound like LCD Soundsystem.
The opening title track is a shambles, veering from one style to another and screaming 'WE ARE TRYING TO BE CUTTING EDGE' so much that it gets lost in its own tail chasing. 'Lazy Boy' repeats its title so often that it seems like it's trying to compete with 2 Unlimited's 'No Limits' as most repetitive ever refrain. At least its chorus is sort of catchy but its production and construction suggests all is not well in the Ferdinand camp. It's all so flabby. Long gone is the lean post punk band of yore, instead an overthought, overwrought, over produced mess of a band has emerged. They have one thing still going for them and that is reasonably catchy choruses but the thing is you get really bored waiting for them as the band battle to make their way through overelaborate verses and confused middle eights. 'Finally' is like when you accidentally take the long bus home. It goes here, it goes there, it severely tests your patience before 'Finally' (ha!) arriving at its destination.
By the time I reach 'The Academy Award' (sample lyrics: "my wife is such a fan", "the academy award for good times goes to you") I've had sufficient of this sprawling mess. "You Make Good Choices" they intone on 'Lois Lane' ("at the over 30s singles night"- are they, by chance, repeating themselves ?) which is slathered with so much Nick Rhodes synth that it's hard to find what is actually beneath. Sadly on this album Franz Ferdinand have made awful choices but even having said that there are earworms here to be discovered - they are just slathered in so much gunk and suffer from so much indecision that you want to just scream at the band to tighten up.
It's a classic misjudged late period record from a band not sure where to go next. Back to the garage maybe?
She always... she always kept a unicorn. Bet you didn't know that about Sandy Denny, folk rock pioneer beloved for her part in the Fairport Convention of the late '60s. Here's a double LP of leafy strums anthologised for your cafe-comfy pleasure. It includes cuts from all over the place, from the&...view item »
Protest EP introduces two exciting, fresh, techno artists located in Berlin - Kaltès and Nene H. The 12” on Lakker man Eomac’s Eotrax imprint also contains remixes by LAIR and Christina Sealey - half of mighty Canadian industrial/techno duo Orphx. The intention of the music within is to whip any c...view item »
12" of rough as a badgers bottom, rusty rattlers on Where To Now? from Metrist aka L.SAE aka Joe Higgins. Previous output has come via Nineteen89, Fifth Wall Records, Black Opal, Resin and Neighbourhood. Spoils comes off to these ears somewhere between Mr. Oizo and the wry ‘floor workouts of Natalie Beridze....view item »
New 12" from the pre-eminent Theo Parrish. The a-side, 'Preacher's Coming', is beautiful and elating piece of jazzy house music. On the other side is Gullah Geechee, both Parrish's edit of it, and the original to which he contributed. It explores the culture and language of the Gullah, who were able to retain more of their ...view item »
Detroit's Fit Siegel and Helsinki's DJ Sotofett hook up as S & M Trading Co. Moody acid melts the glacial atmosphere across the three mixes of 'Metal Surface Repair'. Alongside the original cut is an Acidic Mix which amps up the 303 action and a more ethereal, floating Synthetic Mix. Available on 12" on Aaron "Fit" Siegel's superb Fit S...view item »
Recorded in New York in 1956, Third Dimension is the debut album from the legendary jazz man Roland Kirk. Slamming together bits and pieces of jazz history, he crafted his own unique multi-instrument style, showcased in all its glory here. Originally titled Triple Threat. Out on vinyl LP from Bethlehem....view item »
We Out Here presents a snapshot of the current state of young London jazz, and let me tell you, the scene(s) are sounding in fine health! Nine tracks, all recorded especially for this release, map the variety of sounds and cross-pollinations currently going on, such ...view item »
Marcus Marr had a collection of rock and soul records which were gradually infiltrated by acid house records. This set the blueprint for his music. His stratospheric dance music is underpinned by funky basslines and oozing synths. His new EP for DFA, Familiar 5 is at times reminiscent of D...view item »
A nice little story behind this one. Both James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor have been brewing a budding friendship since they first met and decided that an album of great music should be written by the pair. Radiant Imprints is released on CD and has been released on Off. Both artists are soon-to-be classics of their own unique genres. ...view item »
Hm. Very interesting. One guy plays, and I quote, 'parafernalia' along with the flute and synths. I can only imagine that this record is going to be a bit whacky and, yes, interesting. Orchestra Exotica have released Plays Martin Denny on CD and is released on Off. (An annoying little snippet to try and say. Released on Off. Try it). ...view item »
Detroit’s Terrence Dixon unleashes five remixes of cuts from his 1995 ‘Hippnotic Culture’ album originally released on Claude Young’s Utensil label. The remix of ‘Rush Hour’ is absolutely astounding. It literally feels like I’m right in the eye of a ferocious st...view item »
Detroit’s Terrence Dixon unleashes five remixes of cuts from his 1995 ‘Hippnotic Culture’ album originally released on Claude Young’s Utensil label. The remix of ‘Rush Hour’ is absolutely astounding. It literally feels like I’m right in the eye of a ferocious storm - an immense, dense, frantic, urgent cut with all the intensity of ‘Waveform Transmission’ era Jeff Mills. The tension, the sheer pressure has me feeling like I’m about to combust into a cloud of cells. ‘Warped’ follows a more jagged, squirming and zig-zagging trajectory while ‘Cosmic Drill’ accelerates through the stars with weathered drums and sci-fi synth flourishes. ‘Lovechild’ is pure Population One magic with its peculiar, spacey groove and trippy, eerie loops like some sort of haunted music box. 'Lost In Space' utilises chiming bells to proper Hippnotic effect. Nobody does techno quite like Terrence Dixon, and here’s your evidence. Pure class.
Hell yeah. I can remember fragments of older Brigid Mae Power records, but this one takes what they tend to call ‘the cake’. Assured in her slow, growing songs, and better than ever at stretching a melody over a slow motion country rock time lapse, she offers her best record to date, offering both the merest of brushes and the most s...view item »
Hell yeah. I can remember fragments of older Brigid Mae Power records, but this one takes what they tend to call ‘the cake’. Assured in her slow, growing songs, and better than ever at stretching a melody over a slow motion country rock time lapse, she offers her best record to date, offering both the merest of brushes and the most striking force. Low can eat their heart out -- this record is slowcore dynamite.
Is there a portmanteau for when a record’s lush as hell and also densely populated by swamp water? ‘The Two Worlds’ feels gorgeous and involving, and right now I’m thinking specifically about “Don’t Shut Me Up Politely”, where you find yourself having to wade through her song, the soaring vocals and spacious production augmented with a sticky bass line and instrumentation that sounds like it’s been held together by a finger trap. “As So You’ve Seen My Limit” is a lovely piano ballad scattered by cymbal scatters, Power’s lovely, go-where-they-will melodies kept stuffy by the room.
I wanna do the thing I do where I chalk up a great record’s magic to good bass lines: the instrument is an instant fireplace cozy on a record already warm in atmosphere. Really, it’s everything: the grainy hiss, the Grouper-esque piano murmurations, the distant but claustrophobic production, and most importantly, an incredible set of both meditative and expressive songs from Brigid Mae Power.
Simon Haydo (DEM, Studio Barnhus, Avian, Balans) gets the maximum from the minimum on this LP for Peder Mannerfelt’s label. Using a solitary Korg MS-20 as his sole construction tool, he coaxes varying shades of techno and beyond from the circuits of his semi-modular monophonic analog synthesizer. A machine as old as myself, and one he clea...view item »
Simon Haydo (DEM, Studio Barnhus, Avian, Balans) gets the maximum from the minimum on this LP for Peder Mannerfelt’s label. Using a solitary Korg MS-20 as his sole construction tool, he coaxes varying shades of techno and beyond from the circuits of his semi-modular monophonic analog synthesizer. A machine as old as myself, and one he clearly knows inside out. Every drum sound, texture etc. is coming from the thing and to his credit, he does a damn sight more with that single unit than a lot of producers are able to achieve with modular synth setups the size of a small house.
Some of the more straight up bangin’ tracks slightly remind me of some classic 90s techno; bits of Joey Beltram’s ‘Places’ (‘Epicenter of Cool’ and ‘Parade of Unhappy) and Surgeon’s ‘Communications’ (The Go!) for example, but with a more free and less rigid structure - no doubt due to live/on the fly twiddling. Throughout the album there’s a real continuity in texture where Haydo really embraces the natural voice of the machine rather than relying on effects etc. Aside from the more upbeat tracks, generally speaking there’s a dark atmosphere to this record, but it’s never overly bleak or foreboding like a lot of greyscale techno. It’s more of a mysterious sorta vibe and kinda what I’d imagine a fantasy Ilpo Väisänen and Blawan collaboration may well sound like, but even more zoned and weird. There were a few moments where I felt like I was inside some pulsating, squelching alien cocoon covered in an abnormal crystalline fluid.
Russell Haswell is back on Diagonal with this wee mini-album that gets going with the ominous sizzler ‘The Surface is Unrevealing’ that comes across like H&M’s (that’s Jeff Mills and Robe...view item »
Russell Haswell is back on Diagonal with this wee mini-album that gets going with the ominous sizzler ‘The Surface is Unrevealing’ that comes across like H&M’s (that’s Jeff Mills and Robert Hood, not the kids clothing store) ‘Mutant Theory’ from their Tranquilizer EP, deconstructed and tranquilized into a state of near death as it melts into a fizzing pool of luminous green goop that gets sucked into a giant plughole.
‘First In Man (Williams Mix)’ is Haswell at his most “techno”. A skeletal kick drum provides the pulse, around which all sorts of mutant squelches and zaps ricochet and splodge. ‘Worsening Daily’ is the one for me on this record - a proper mangled, generative rhythmic noise assault that’s like shoving a 909 wrapped in tinfoil into your ears in some sort of depraved act of electroshock therapy/self-mutilation. Pure, fiendish mayhem that one. ‘Special Long Version’ features Sue Tompkins on vocals and sounds like a deranged yet cathartic tribute to OG Chicago acid house as constructed by the last remaining brain cell of an acid casualty (and I mean that as a compliment). ‘Let Suffering Become You’ is a banger somewhere between the kooky techno Subhead used to knock out back in the day and Unit Moebius at their most acid-fried and wonky. Erm.. actually this is Haswell at his most “techno”.
Lou Rebecca is a Paris native but has found herself living in Austin, Texas. It is there that she earned her stripes, and rose to the top, with her captivating performances in the crowded synth scene. With her eponymous debut, she delivers an album of sophisticated synth pop sung in English and French that is as accessible as it...view item »
Sir Richard Bishop, the Sun City Girls alum and innovator behind the phenomenon known as Knighting Yourself, is feeling breezy. Is that a thing? Does Sir Richard Bishop’s guitar improv get jangly? Should it? On “She Loves You”, the opener from his split with pal Ava Mendoza, he pulls out a gorgeous guitar riff, one that sounds ...view item »
Sir Richard Bishop, the Sun City Girls alum and innovator behind the phenomenon known as Knighting Yourself, is feeling breezy. Is that a thing? Does Sir Richard Bishop’s guitar improv get jangly? Should it? On “She Loves You”, the opener from his split with pal Ava Mendoza, he pulls out a gorgeous guitar riff, one that sounds bathed in sunshine and full of fine cognac. It disappears for “Safe House”, a more formal Bishop track (fast ‘n’ loose guitar movements that put the frets into overtime), but that freewheeling feel remains for these nimble tunes, including the record’s note-tangled title track (which sounds like Loren Connors after a restless night) and “Abydos”, whose lightning-fast pace is compensated with riffs almost recognisable as surf -- at the very least, they’re super, uh, fun, which is a thing Sir Richard Bishop does now.
Ava Mendoza takes up side B, and the experimentalist a la Unnatural Ways is in more fractured form. Her work opens to the shambles of warped tapes, full of accidental reeling chime sounds and momentary noise shimmers. “Motor Unwind Part 1” sounds pretty much as described, with metallic sounds that would be welcome in the tl;dr version of a Sunn O))) album. The sound collage gives way to the dusty guitar waltz of “Shadowtrapping”, which fits more traditionally with Bishop’s side: it’s a gorgeous, meandering trip through whatever distorted riff Mendoza can brew up next, though it eventually leads into proper song as a voice comes in -- though it’s soon sacrificed for an undeniably blistering solo. The joy in Mendoza’s side of this split is in its ability to flit between a six minute epic and a randomly slotted selection of tape sounds (here comes the sequel: it’s “Motor Unwind Part 2”!). “Kiss of Fire” is just as enjoyable a guitar excursion as “Shadowtrapping”, feeling for narrative drive while also sounding slickly accidental.
Originally released in 1972 the guys at Swordfish have obtained the rights to remaster and reproduce Kingdom Come’s self titled album in full including artwork. The last recording of the Arthur Brown and Andy Dalby fronted lineup, Kingdom Come is definitive psychedelic prog-rock r...view item »
Following the demise of their previous band Nocturnal Projections, New Zealand brothers Peter and Graeme Jeffries began to deconstruct their post punk sound into something more pastoral and intimate. This became the handful of recordings they made as This Kind of Punishment. This is superb, intimate and thoughtf...view item »
This particular decade will probably be remembered as one where the cutting edge of techno became severely twisted. Riding the sharpest point are Rrose and Lucy, who come together on this EP to unveil a typically claustrophobic, swirling mass of dance floor disorientation. Muscular, ethereal and as sideways as y...view item »
Hear what happened when rebetika-playing Greek emigres came to American and mingled their sound with the blues in the 20’s and 30’s. George Katsaros: Greek Blues in America, Vol. 1 is a cassette filled with amazing vintage recordings of Katsaros, captured in New York back in the day. Beautiful finger-picked ...view item »
Kind of fitting as we were talking the other day about whether people still sniff glue. Well... do they? I've also been playing guess the riff on opening track 'Blown Up' which so naggingly familiar that I'm sort of going insane -I think it's the Buzzcocks - possibly 'Ever Fallen In Love'. It's also the ...view item »
Kind of fitting as we were talking the other day about whether people still sniff glue. Well... do they? I've also been playing guess the riff on opening track 'Blown Up' which so naggingly familiar that I'm sort of going insane -I think it's the Buzzcocks - possibly 'Ever Fallen In Love'. It's also the worst/most obvious moment on the album as here I can't hear the Yo La Tengo/REM/the Feelies influences as promised on the press release.
Luckily 'Hatred' follows in a hazy jangle, a lovely two chord back 'n' forth a bit like a garage band Real Estate. It's half way through 'Psych Slasher' that I realise that this has been playing in the office all week. This is a high octane burst of power pop which reminds me of lost Cleveland pop experts the Mice. Like those bratty snots, Salad Boys veer quiet easily between high energy bursts of garage rock and more sensitive acoustic evocations but what you can be sure of is that every single utterance from them is hook filled and if you've listened to this album as much as we have you'll be humming your way to the car wash.
Another example of the growing list of albums where I don't much care for the first track but like everything else. I think I've found my album for Spring. This is excellent guitar pop or college rock as we used to call it in the '80s, nicely bruised, sorta lo-fi and full of tunes.
Coil's 1999 opus Astral Disaster is an often-overlooked highlight of their extensive discography, centring on sonically vast, emotionally deep Kosmische epics and punctuated with pithier statements. This release presents a brace of unheard tracks and mixes from the album sessions, including the lengthy Cosmic Disaster and a prom...view item »
Kuala Lumpur’s Euseng Soto has been playing with his electroacoustic instruments since 2005 and here he is with ‘Sub:Side’, his fifth record to date as Flica. Soto’s work is highly melodic and can push on at a fair lick -- as he does on ‘Waver’, where notes jump out as if w...view item »
Kuala Lumpur’s Euseng Soto has been playing with his electroacoustic instruments since 2005 and here he is with ‘Sub:Side’, his fifth record to date as Flica. Soto’s work is highly melodic and can push on at a fair lick -- as he does on ‘Waver’, where notes jump out as if we were on the verge of Spring, or something; mostly, though, I’m picturing leaves turning colour at the end of a dusty summer, then hints of green shoots just peeking out from the ground, a glimpse of a squirrel’s tail just flashing from behind a beech tree then vanishing again.
This is romantic stuff: a potent antidote to the line-walking minimalism of Nils Frahm's latest record. It’s music to soundtrack the transitions between seasons: hints of melancholy -- as Haushcka, for example, is wont to do in his more subdued moods -- but all is tinged with expectancy and optimism. With a hint of Eno-like ambience briefly introducing the track 'Wednesday'. Music for checking the receding ice formations outside your window to.
In The City was the album with which The Jam announced themselves to the world. Paul Weller was just 19 at the time and used the album as a outlet for his teenage frustration. The title track was the only single to be released from the album. There were also two covers: the Larry Williams blues tune Slow Down an...view item »
After fully coming through on a long-term promise to deliver “a joyous noise” to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record in the triumphant, communal, and all-loving ‘Luciferian Towers’, Montreal rock ‘n’ roller Efrim Manuel Menuck returns to the pits of doom. Th...view item »
After fully coming through on a long-term promise to deliver “a joyous noise” to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record in the triumphant, communal, and all-loving ‘Luciferian Towers’, Montreal rock ‘n’ roller Efrim Manuel Menuck returns to the pits of doom. The newest solo offering from the GY!BE and Silver Mt. Zion band leader is a strange and dour hymnal, its concept focused around what he calls “the brief romance of american television presenter MARY HART and MOHAMMED KHASHOGGI, the son of a saudi arms dealer”. It is the kind of emotionally resonant record only he could pluck out of such circumstances, his nigh-on-high whine matching up with his neutral electronics in a way both devastating and indifferent.
Its opening drone of hummed harmonies and desperate electronics offers an overture longer than anything on the record, and while ‘Pissing Stars’ is at times that very same spectral and sombre void, Menuck seems to have realised a more narrative sound for his solo project. “The State and Its Love and Genocide” squeals with dissonance and disparate voices on its way to a subliminal but nonetheless immense climax. “The Lion-Daggers of Calais” is both tragic and terrifying, an overtly political message built into its minute moments of bass fanfare, its whirring, wobbling and near-melodic hopelessness.
One of my qualms with more recent Godspeed records has been the drones that accompanied the big hitters: they often felt like afterthoughts, or palate cleansers, but rarely grew into their own worlds. On ‘Luciferian Towers’, it felt as if Menuck and co. passionately addressed that, growing new ground out of a reprise with “Fam/Famine”. On ‘Pissing Stars’, Menuck’s ambient textures do so much: they growl and yearn, reproach and appeal, moving through noise and serenity like they’re borders to break down. There's even time for his biggest anthem yet, "A Lamb in the Land of Payday Loans", a slightly fragmented singalong with problems and parties alike. It comes together under the greyscale guise of the record as one more example of how far Menuck has come as, well, a songwriter.
Lovely loveliness is really the only way I can describe the Sunwatchers, whose most recent record of sun-dappled psych noise miasma comes with a promise to “stand in solidarity with the dispossessed, impoverished and embattled people of the world”. It feels like a large political statement for a record with pretty much nothing on its...view item »
Lovely loveliness is really the only way I can describe the Sunwatchers, whose most recent record of sun-dappled psych noise miasma comes with a promise to “stand in solidarity with the dispossessed, impoverished and embattled people of the world”. It feels like a large political statement for a record with pretty much nothing on its mind but squelch, skronk and good-time freak out, but it’s fitting that a band of this ilk would take Albert Ayler’s famous words -- “music is the healing force of the universe” -- to heart.
Anyway, can we talk about how good the Sunwatchers have gotten? Their combination of clanking guitars, noisy rhythmic contradictions and wild-horns-appeared horns has become as slick as it is wild, a musical rotation rather than a clumsy tailspin. They move from the quixotically named “Nose Beers” into the droney “Hot Eye” with a precision no band of this style could really muster, before dropping into an unforeseen depth of jazz fusion that involves languishing sax riffs and wonderful keyboard tinkerings. All the while their dynamics and energy help play out what should be a sidebar jam as a big, epic song of a thing.
Sunwatchers really opened the gate on this one, bringing in enough players of enough instruments to make their record feel as communal and noisy as a whole bunch of different records -- in my head, this record sounds something like Eternal Tapestry playing with Idris Ackamoor, a record that truly investigates psych rock and a more formally considered version of jazz. Here are moments where it really feels like the solidarity it claims to have, and that’s awesome. Music actually does that. I'm reminded of what Godspeed You! Black Emperor said last year -- that they wanted to make a record as communal and joyous as Ornette Coleman's 'Friends and Neighbors' -- in Sunwatchers unwavering belief in Ayler and his musical hope. Am I a believer now?
If you ever wanted the ripples rocking the boat of Son Lux’s music to push it into capsize… may I kindly present ‘Brighter Wounds’ to you? It bays with the tension of a Perfume Genius record, given the grit and wobble of Xiu Xiu and the squelchy pantomime...view item »
If you ever wanted the ripples rocking the boat of Son Lux’s music to push it into capsize… may I kindly present ‘Brighter Wounds’ to you? It bays with the tension of a Perfume Genius record, given the grit and wobble of Xiu Xiu and the squelchy pantomime of ‘Age of Adz’ era Sufjan Stevens. This record is all cinema-firming bass blast, overly-serene string tear-jerk and stressed, freaked, devastated vocal theatrics. Forgive me one more comparison, but it’s about as hard to listen to as ‘Vulnicura’ and plenty good to boot.
It sort of feels like no one’s quite put a record together like this yet. It’s constituent parts have always existed, but Son Lux has made a record both disjointed and danceable, marrying tension and its catharsis into the same millisecond of song. “Dream State” moves between anthem and its broken glitch opposite with total clarity, its Stetson-esque sax bleat moving into the kind of immense synth euphoria that’s made recent Charli XCX and Carly Rae records so perfect. How does so much go on in one song? It just does, and the parts push around your brain and your heart while you sit around anticipating.
“The Fool You Need” firmly suggests Son Lux is infatuated with fragments, right now, not quite ready to tell a linear version of his stories. Its firm, clattering beats stagger down and up like the best Baths tunes. Even his ballads, such as “Labor”, have their delicate piano punctuated by antagonists of saccharine: industrial sound effects and melodically offhand string work that suggests a lot less comfort. The press release calls it “cinematic”, but Son Lux seems to reinvent what that means with every waking minute. It's bound to be one of indie pop's most interesting records of the year, doubling down on a trajectory the genre seems to be embracing more and more. I'd like to thank Björk, and I'd like to thank Perfume Genius, and I'd like to thank Arca.
So good they named them thrice… it's Dengue Dengue Dengue, from Peru! This duo work with the instruments and musical styles that have grown out of Afro-Peruvian culture, and on Son de los Diablos they do so with entirely live instrumentation for the first time! This four-track EP is likely to whip up storms in 20...view item »
Trust me: this is a scam. Last of the Easy Riders sound chill, I know -- there’s Grateful Dead in the lilt of their vocals and Allman Bros’ in the twang of their geetars -- but they think you’re philistines. I opened up my jewel case of ‘Unto the Earth&...view item »
Trust me: this is a scam. Last of the Easy Riders sound chill, I know -- there’s Grateful Dead in the lilt of their vocals and Allman Bros’ in the twang of their geetars -- but they think you’re philistines. I opened up my jewel case of ‘Unto the Earth’, popped out the CD and copped a message printed beneath: ‘VISIT YOUR NATIONAL PARKS’. Like a boy being mocked by his high-school deputy headmaster, I’m off for a shame-ridden holiday in the Lake District.
Ahem. On the newest Easy Riders record, the psychedelics are light and loving, with lovely melodies and jointly-cooed harmonies making a standing order. The guitars are as lovely as can be -- they might sound old-school as Eagles, but they could attract a good few fans of Martin Courtney or Surface to Air Missive. The keyboards, well, ditto -- between Supertramp and War on Drugs, pick your passion. Far from the wall-to-wall tripping of their debut, this record sits close to familiar melodies and kindly pastiches. Even at their more spooky, as on the record’s title track, they sound like someone who’s done it before, like a knowing tour guide to the Jefferson Airplane museum of light freakery.
I prefer it in country mode, but sometimes that matches up best with a bit of weird: the bold and valleyed riffs of “High and Lonesome” meet with plucked banjos and sun-in-your-eyes synth for a song that somehow, from within the depths of nonsense, comes together. It's safe to say they know what they doing, even when they don't.
It’s landscape but you can’t live there. Creating gorgeous fields in abstract shapes and plateauing geometry, Galaxy Express 555 has made the soundtrack to a nature you’ll never know. His latest record is actually called ‘Natural Mind’, and it’s as good a title as you could hope for: hold this ecosystem in you...view item »
It’s landscape but you can’t live there. Creating gorgeous fields in abstract shapes and plateauing geometry, Galaxy Express 555 has made the soundtrack to a nature you’ll never know. His latest record is actually called ‘Natural Mind’, and it’s as good a title as you could hope for: hold this ecosystem in your head.
It’s a gorgeous electronic melt, with drones that separate and simmer, bouncing into one another like a pleasantly hectic game of Videoball. Christopher Farstad, for that is his real name, has sparsely orchestrated the record with both melodic instrumentation and squelching sound foley, offering a more traditional idea of folk music (like, flutes) with a far more expectant one -- think Spencer Clark’s infuriating electronic excavation ‘The World of Shells’, but brightened by hand-holding melody.
No matter how cluttered and endless in possibility this record becomes, it beams down an atmosphere as permanent as a planet’s sun. Shapes shift, percussion bounces and motifs wrestle each other like plants writhing around in the same ecosystem -- and yet you could listen to ‘Natural Mind’ and feel like you never once left your vantage point. This is a lovely, vast and open world to run like an .exe.
A good alternative soundtrack to Goldeneye 64, ‘Criminal’ is a tour de force in synthetic fury. With his usual mix of psychedelic clock-punching, electronic sheen and striking industrial aesthetic, Luis Vasquez takes his latest Soft Moon record as an opportunity to simply unleash. It’s a furious, futurist record that makes ange...view item »
A good alternative soundtrack to Goldeneye 64, ‘Criminal’ is a tour de force in synthetic fury. With his usual mix of psychedelic clock-punching, electronic sheen and striking industrial aesthetic, Luis Vasquez takes his latest Soft Moon record as an opportunity to simply unleash. It’s a furious, futurist record that makes anger sound like some tool of an advancing technological age. It’s all oscillations and laser beams, and a desperation that’s been converted to fuel.
“Burn” is like something straight out of an early NiN record, channelling Trent Reznor’s breathy fear-mongering as riffs play on automatic pilot. It’s followed by the distorted synth bleat of “Choke”, whose backdrop of nausea-dripped sound effects brings on a contact-induced illness. The push and pull bass line thump of “Like a Father” is augmented with heavy-duty beats and a low growl, Vasquez passing off the most chilling and terrifying of scenes with a noir shrug. It’s his lilting, sighs that mark his best vocal work, though: like Deftones’ Chino Moreno, he sounds a little bit caught between his shoulder angels.
With its striking metallic force and its churning horror hooks, ‘Criminal’ is easily the most immediate record in the Soft Moon catalogue -- its theatrics, like Pharamkon’s, are buzzsaw, with the abstract noise doings of “ILL” offering a kind of power electronics that identifies the artist right in the middle. Even at its most abstract and abrasive, this is a record that Vasquez bursts out of.
And “Young” is a goth jam, if you want it. He's still goth enough for Sacred Bones, thank god.
What do we have here? Well, it appears to be an album chock-full of wondrous melodies performed on (mainly) piano with some soft and fluffy electronics for those keys to gently bed down into. 23-year-old German composer-keyboardist Niklas Paschburg was inspired by the nature he observed unfolding around him for this record; he says (softly): &ld...view item »
What do we have here? Well, it appears to be an album chock-full of wondrous melodies performed on (mainly) piano with some soft and fluffy electronics for those keys to gently bed down into. 23-year-old German composer-keyboardist Niklas Paschburg was inspired by the nature he observed unfolding around him for this record; he says (softly): “I live in the countryside, but to compose this record I went to the Baltic Sea”. It’s all right for some, eh?
The album is appropriately nice -- piano and soft rhythms evoking nature programmes like you often see on the telly, seascapes opening up; a crab scuttling out from beneath a pile of smooth pebbles -- and is mainly of the piano/electronics end of the spectrum occupied by the likes of Hauschka at his most minimal, Kiasmos and Nils Frahm (of yore) at their most lineally melodic.
Now just close your eyes and imagine, if you can, waves breaking on the shore, the foam on the sand subsiding before it happens again and again; the plaintive cry of a seagull.. 'Oceanic' will have you swearing you can smell kelp. Which you may well have if you live within spitting distance of a beach or if you work in a health food shop.
More techno please John. Thanks. Mr. Tejada returns with yet more for Kompakt with Dead Start Program, which demonstrates his trance-inducing and haze-imbibed style in its totality. With a tinge of signature Tejada soul, these eleven tracks mark an unbelievable thirteenth album in a catalogue of hard-hitters....view item »
Referred to affectionately as “the Frahmster” by my bothersome boss, Nils Frahm is the holy ghost in Erased Tapes. He’s done a whole lot more for neo-classical than you have, so pay some damn respect. Max Richter don’t read this. His new record is called ‘All Melody’ but there...view item »
Referred to affectionately as “the Frahmster” by my bothersome boss, Nils Frahm is the holy ghost in Erased Tapes. He’s done a whole lot more for neo-classical than you have, so pay some damn respect. Max Richter don’t read this. His new record is called ‘All Melody’ but there’s some bluster, too: having made a gorgeously minute record in ‘Solo’, he now offers his next version of electro-classical melodrama, echoing moments of Rival Consoles, himself and a medieval fantasy via blasts of pipe organ.
As ever, Frahm’s first artistic decision is to make it ornate: his pindrop production is perhaps his finest asset, and the hiss that blisses out the rhythmic air percussion of “Sunson” recalls Tim Hecker’s ‘Love Streams’, making you notice colour and shade in invisible properties. It’s a lovely track that more than passes the benchmark of his most grandiose tunes. For this listener, though, it’s almost a matter of getting these trophy moments out of the way: he moves into “My Friend The Forest” and offers us that wonderful, lilting piano meditation he does so well, twinkling the keys with a brush of his fingers before bringing it deep into chordal gloom.
Listen to him lounge, is what I’m saying. How’s a musician gonna bring us into such immense territory as “Sunson” and then just play smooth, wind-down jazz? “Forever Changeless” is a quiet and twinkling tune that Phil demands a cigar and a cosier chair for. He won’t get it, though; all accolades instead go to Frahm, whose surely made his strangest record in ‘All Melody’ -- never stagnating, it slinks from downbeat dub into ear-shredding out into that ol’ piano kindness. ‘All Melody’? More like ‘Bunch of Stuff’.
Behold, the power of Man! Specifically, the power of tech producer and man Geoff Kirkwood to create some music. This latest show of Man Power for Dutch DGTL Records runs from jaunty acid and tech house on the a-side to a pretty marvellous and warm closing-montage disco in ‘Get Your Hands on the Car (And Get Ready to Die)&r...view item »
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