Best Records of September 2019 Odd Nosdam, Ironomi, Fly Pan Am, (Sandy) Alex G

September was an exciting month at Norman Records as we welcomed two new members of staff to our Sixties Brutalist Concrete Tower Block™. We also welcomed some great new music, before dressing it up nice and warm and sending it out to our lovely customers. Here are the albums it’s been hardest to say goodbye to.

Best albums this month

Odd Nosdam - Flippies Best Tape

If you’ve been looking for a record to show off the fiendish simplicity of hip hop sampling, then look no further. On Flippies Best Tape that Odd Nosdam off of the cLOUDDEAD treats us to 66 examples of perfectly distilled sampling. There’s not much to these tracks, usually just one remarkably executed loop that runs for just over a minute, but there doesn’t need to be. These are very good loops! You might even say, they’re the best. 

Kazu - Adult Baby

A lot has happened this month and yet I’ve still not been able to get over the fact that this album is called Adult Baby. The music is sinister and tense and textural. It’s dripping in intent and beauty. All things I don’t associate with the phrase ‘Adult Baby’. Kazu, from long running art-rockers Blonde Redhead, clearly disagrees with me and has made an album made of haunting electronics and ethereal vocals that Thom Yorke or Portishead would be proud of. 

Ironomi - 琹の葉 kotonoha

At Norman Records we don’t sell a lot of ‘pretty’ music. It is there, but historically, we’ve tended towards the horrible, the noisy, the sublime. There’s nothing wrong with prettiness in music, if anything, it’s a bit undervalued. Maybe it’s because it’s undemanding to listen to. Ironomi find a way to ply prettiness to a sparse minimalism, a combination that sets the heart racing and fills the mind with colour. 

Fly Pan Am - C’est Ça

Now here’s a record that is in no way pretty, and instead it’s those other words that come to mind. C’est Ça, the long awaited return from Canadian post-rockers Fly Pan Am, sees the band ripping up their legacy in lieu of something horrible and noisy and sublime. It’s a complete mess of an album that features shoegaze guitars, black metal vocals, and an approach to songwriting that somehow manages to avoid being incoherent. C’est Ça is startling in the best way possible.

(Sandy) Alex G - House of Sugar

Ever since I heard ‘Gretel’, the lead single from (Sandy) Alex G’s latest album I’ve been fixated on the line “good people got something to lose”. Not that I think I’m an especially “good” person (though I do try). The lyric is a wonderful example of (Sandy) Alex G’s talent in writing small lines that can carry the whole world. They’re inbedded in some of his most strange and ambitious song writing yet, touching on styles as disparate as club music and whatever it is Bruce Springsteen does.

Bat For Lashes - Lost Girls

The 80s are back baby! As someone born well into the 90s I’m not the person to comment on whether Bat For Lashes has managed to capture the feeling of the decade on Lost Girls. But, as someone who has access to music from the 80s, I can comment on how well it sounds like that sort of thing. And it really does! The synth pads sound right! The drum beats sound right! And the bass sounds so very, very right! Probably the best 80s pop album since Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 one. 

Jenny Hval - The Practice of Love

How many albums constitute a trend? Like Lost Girls, The Practice of Love is clearly drawing on the 80s. Which means it too appeals to at least half our office. Hval takes a more experimental approach, integrating spoken work, electro-acoustics, and the notorious ‘saxophone’ to create songs that are intense and disorienting. The intensity lies in how personal the lyrics can be, collaborator Vivian Wang’s contributions in particular.

Massive Attack - Massive Attack vs Mad Professor Part II (Mezzanine Remix Tapes ’98)

I will never forget was the day it was announced the Mezzanine box set was cancelled. It had already been one of my busier days, but that news really tipped me over the edge. Instead we got Massive Attack vs Mad Professor Part II, the latter’s brilliant dubby take on the former’s classic merging of trip hop and post-punk. Some dub mixes can feel a little… low effort. Mad Professor goes the other way, completely dismantling these tracks and finding the dub within. 

Mzylkypop - Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? / When Will The Wolves Howl?

Politics. It’s sure happening right now. The questions of borders and migrations are more hotly contested than they’ve been in recent years, so when a band puts actual barbed wire on their album cover you can probably figure out where they stand. Here Mzylkypop imagine in 2030 and… it’s not great lads. Told through an anarchic folk rock and Polish singer Sylwia Anna Drwal’s magnificent voice, Kiedy Wilki Zawyja? is righteous in its anger.

Roger Doyle - Thalia

Thalia starts with the high pitched pips that used to signal the start of the film. Those are followed by some chipmunked vocals. Occasionally a chopped and screwed marching band sample turns up. First released in 1978, Roger Doyle’s Thalia is an exercise in fucking with sound as many times as possible across its 45 minute run time. The result is predictably trippy, and much less predictably coherent. Doyle is known for his composition for theatre, and his ability to write for narrative comes in useful in tying it all together.

Coming to a shelf near you this October

  • If Battles keeps shedding members soon they’ll be just Battle.
  • Phil was pleased to hear Matana Roberts is planning eight more of these.
  • Phil was actually pleased to see Ege Bamyasi is being reissued.
  • ‘Pyroclasts’ brings this year’s score to a grand total of Sunn 2))).
  • Floating Points wants you to look at his dirty bathwater.
  • ‘[Fix] Look Up Sharp’ - Carla dal Forno (ft. Dizzee Rascal)

Now get off my land or I’ll release [the] schedule.