It’s Friday. Which is enough of an excuse for us all to embrace Ray BLK’s breezy new banger Dark Skinned. Not sure I’m going to say anything else about this one, except that it’s the latest in an increasing number of songs making me feel vaguely positive about our ability to have actual fun this summer. Thanks Ray!
It’s fairly outrageous that despite stealing the name for this blog from one of his songs, I’ve barely acknowledged than Sufjan has put out four (four!) albums in the last month or so. Arguably it’s one album, split into four parts, but still. My various excuses: I’ve been busy! There’s been a lot of good music to cover! Pubs have been open! Etc. Anyway, this is me officially saying: these albums exist and are all out now and are definitely worth your time. Also, they’re all on YouTube in their entirety.
Like many of Sufjan’s albums, they’re self-indulgent and meandering. Also like every single one of his albums, there are moments of such sublime, heart-rending beauty that you can’t imagine listening to anyone else ever again. Revelation V is one of those moments, but there are many, many more.
Honestly, Skee Mask is just outrageously good. I’m only three tracks into his latest album Pool which kinda came out of nowhere last week, and I’m already convinced it will be in my top 10 of the year. Very few other producers can touch him in terms of rhythm, creativity and his ability to create unique, engaging and highly emotional musical landscapes. LFO is one of his gentler efforts, beatless and almost devoid of percussion, with the ebb and flow of synth lines driving it forward.
Shout out to Album of the Year for being a consistently reliable source of excellent music releases very few other sites seem to cover, the latest example of which being Libyan-German producer Kaizo Ziad’s electronic project Acetantina, and his new album Carmen Winstead. From start to finish it’s a fairly unsettling experience, with tracks emerging out of a static-y haze or being abruptly cut off mid flow, but it’s also consistency fascinating with some moments of truly exceptional sound design, the closing glassy synths of Blindside not least among them.
Created solely with a guitar and a bunch of layered effects, Forget is a powerful and poignant track from St. Louis artist Greg Dallas, recalling the hazy, drifting ambience of artists like William Basinski. It’s really beautiful, and I wish it was three times as long so I didn’t have to keep hitting replay.
Absolutely nothing I write here is going to do justice to how overwhelmingly brilliant this song is, so I’m not going to try, just go and listen to it. Track of the year contender for sure, taken from her new album Second Line. On my fourth straight listen and it just made me cry. Fucking hell, it’s amazing.
Flying Lotus occupies one of my many blind spots for artists I should really know about and be listening to a lot, but never seem to get around to. My thought process goes something like: Flying Lotus is really good / everyone seems to love him / I expect I’d really enjoy it if I dedicated a bit of time to exploring his catalogue / that seems like hard work / I’ll just listen to Nation of Language again. So it’s odd that what’s essentially a soundtrack album is the one that’s caught my attention, but here we are. Mind Flight is taken from Yasuke – which is a six-part Anime series for Netflix – and the entire thing is brilliant. But I guess you already knew that, didn’t you?
The fact that Wildhart are back putting out new music makes me so happy, especially when it’s this good and ticking all my personal favourite boxes. Breathy vocal? Check. Headily nostalgic atmosphere? Yep. Lovely floating melodies that creep up on you and infect your brain without feeling like they’re trying too hard. Sure! And like some of my favourite Wildhart tracks, they save some of the best moments of Better Bby until the end when there a few chord changes that make me happy-sad in the best possible way.
Like a lot of people, my entry point into Burial was 2007’s Untrue, which means I completely missed his remix of Blackdown’s Crackle Blues. According to Boomkat – who tend to be a pretty good authority on this kind of thing – that was a mistake, as it remains one of his tightest productions to date. Now, 15 years later, Burial and Blackdown reunite on Shock Power of Love EP which landed today on Keysound pretty much out of nowhere, which seems to be Burial’s current MO.
Space Cadet includes many of the later-era Burial staples – extended running time, triumphant, almost trancy chords – as well as plenty that have been with him his entire career (hello plaintive vocals and atmospheric crackles), but pushes the euphoric envelope further than perhaps ever before, with the warped call of “take me higher” echoed by a full on gospel choir. I guess we’ve come to expect this kind of relentless brilliance from Burial by now, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Considering the amount of featured artists appearing on it, The Feels is both understated and concise: a lazy, hazy hip-hop jam that never tries too hard, or at all really. This came out back in February as part of FairRose’s album The Antics which is a laidback delight from start to finish, conjuring a tone and atmosphere distinct from anything else I’ve heard this year. It’s probably a little bit of a lazy comparison, but I can hear definite echos of The Fugees, both in the collaborative approach and the specific style of production, which pays homage to the dusty sampling techniques of the 90s without ever feeling like it’s ripping anyone off.