Grouper has a new album out today, Shade, which I haven’t yet had the chance to listen to, but am expecting to thoroughly enjoy if it’s anything like Pale Interior, which is a bleakly compelling as you’d expect. She manages to make devastation – complete and unending – something you not only endure as a listener, but yearn for: a black pit that only deepens and darkness the further you fall.
The 20 year old UK artist PinkPantheress broke through on TikTok, which goes some way to explaining why I’ve never heard of her despite many of her songs having hundreds of millions of plays across various streaming platforms. Her MO seems to be: take a small part of a song that was probably released in the 90s, loop a section of it, then sing, sweetly and earnestly over the top. The result should be cheap and gimmicky, and, well, maybe you think it is, but I don’t ok! Take the 90 second Break it off (included on the new album as a bonus track) that loops Adam F’s seminal Circles under a naively bouncy vocal: obviously it reminds you how fucking brilliant Circles is, but it also works in its own right. Nineteen is as close as she gets to a ballad on to hell with it, and very lovely it is too.
I didn’t really listen to The Cure growing up, and for this I blame my parents. Ask me to sing the back catalogues of Tear for Fears, Gloria Estefan or plenty of other accessible 80s pop ‘icons’ and I’ll give most people a run for their money, but Robert Smith’s happysad crooning was at best something I was only vaguely aware of until they decided to headline Glastonbury (remember Glastonbury?) in 2019 and I listened to Disintegration pretty much on loop for six months beforehand, and even though I ended up having a small mental collapse and leaving the festival before they even took to the stage, I am now fully aware of just how much music sounds has been heavily influenced by The Cure.
Which is a very longwinded way of saying that W. H. Lung sound like The Cure, but in a way that makes you want to carry on listening to them, as opposed to lamenting that there’s no creativity in music anymore and everything is a lukewarm imitation of something greater you missed the first time around.
I’m not sure serpentwithfeet can really be classed an ‘underrated’ given all the plaudits he regularly attracts, but I still don’t think he’s quite given as much due as perhaps he deserves. His output this year has been truly remarkable – DEACON is unquestionably one of the best albums of the year – and he seems to have fully found his groove, nailing the emotions without losing sight of the subtlety of production that makes him stand out. Down Nuh River is moody, understated and – yet again – outrageously good.
There’s something overwhelmingly tangible about the trickling synth lines that dominate Suzanne Ciani’s new single, as if you could reach into your speakers and feel them drop, delicately and unpredictably upon your outstretched fingers. This, along with another, equally brilliant track from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, are the lead singles from a forthcoming 30-track ambient compilation that’s been pulled together by Coldcut and features contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sigur Rós, Skee Mask, Helena Hauff and loads more which on paper at least, looks like it’s going to be rather magnificent. You can check out the full tracklist at the Bandcamp link, below, and bask in the glory of Morning Spring while you do.
The elevator pitch for Tokyo producer Soshi Takeda’s new album Floating Mountains was probably “Mr Fingers-era deep house meets floaty new-age noodling”, and as undeniably shit as that sounds it’s entirely accurate while completely underselling what is an incredibly enjoyable collection of tracks. Yes, the basslines might be fairly predictable at times and it’s certainly not doing anything especially groundbreaking in terms of structure or progression, but there’s something undeniably joyous about hearing the open-hearted optimism of plinky plunky, almost pan-pipe-esque synth stabs above a simple, shuffling 4/4 groove. Apparently inspired by a well-know mid-80s photo book of Chinese landscapes, Floating Mountains is both grandiose and quaint: a wonderfully effective experiment in completely ignoring the cutting edge and finding comfort and even a little excitement in the path well trodden.
The third LP from the anonymous electronic producer was a welcome surprise drop today. If you’re not familiar with their work, the two previous albums consisted of murky dub techno – every track exactly five minutes long, a theme that continues here – that while not exactly ripe for the dancefloor, still held into some vaguely rhythmic propulsions: a fading dream of the rave rather than a direct memory. Vol. 3 however does away with any such pretence, with most of the tracks quickly dissolving into little more than washed out hints of ‘dance’ tracks’, a creaking, lilting ship on an infinite sea of static.
I honestly struggle to write about drone tracks in any meaningful way other than variations of “this is overwhelmingly beautiful/dark/powerful”, and the same goes for this brilliant 8 minute piece from Swedish composer LEHNBERG, so just listen to it and let it completely take you away from whatever mundane task you’re likely caught up in.
London-based Raelle is part of an ever-growing Neo soul scene in the UK; an artist whose music is heavily influenced with the 70s soul she grew up with. Her debut single was only released back in 2o20, but Wake Up Sunshine – the title track from her new EP – already seems to be something of a turning point for her, certainly in an emotional sense, as she says it “represents hope, as I move forward with my future, as well as loss as I say goodbye to people and things that no longer serve me but were once all I ever knew”. Whatever the background to its creation, this is an absolutely stunning slice of dreamy, melodic soul, with Raelle’s delicate vocal matched with equally chill drums and a bassline Thundercat would be proud of.
Those Kisses is Wildhart’s fourth single of 2021, continuing the recent rejuvenation of the Gothenburg-based duo that will culminate with their sophomore album due out this Autumn. Tender, ethereal and – like most of their output – drenched in nostalgia, it’s yet another welcome addition to their canon.