Lisa & Kroffe released their first album Gärdet Session back in 2013, and have been keeping themselves busy under various different names and projects in the electronica, techno and kraut genres since then. Efterdyningar is taken from their new LP Roslagens Famn which came out last month, which is really brilliant instrumental music in the borderland between folk, psychedelic, ambient and styles of electronic music I can’t even identify. Efterdyningar itself is a super-chilled moment halfway through that delves into a lot of my favourite themes: nostalgia, sadness, melancholy; you know, the good stuff.
There are so many artists involved in this I’m not even going to try and dissect it. What makes it even more confusing is that I missed that the Varg I know and love recently became Varg2™ after the German metal band Varg issued a cease and desist (leading to the release of Fuck Varg last year). Say ‘Varg’ again… I dare you!!
But forget all that; forget that if you’re living in the UK life begins to return to something at least vaguely resembling ‘normal’ and ‘fun’ again next week. For now, just listen to this utterly amazingly beautifully heartbreaking record and think about the impermanence and fragility of everything around you until you start to cry.
Last month Moog Music launched the Moog Sound Studio, a new semi-modular synthesizer “aimed at both beginners and seasoned professionals”, which supposedly provides everything you need to get started on your path to musical greatness. Except talent of course: you need to provide your own. To celebrate the launch Moog teamed up with a load of amazing artists to demonstrate the capabilities of the MSS, including Ela Minus, Bonobo, Peter Cottontale and Julianna Barwick, none of whom are short of talent and all do excellent jobs in making this look easy. Barwick’s Open is a sinister delight, with her unmistakable vocal accompanied by muted percussion and church organ-like tendrils of Moog-y goodness.
Named after San Fransisco’s Sutro Tower, Christina Chatfield’s new album Sutro shares more than just a name with that iconic structure. Skeletal in form, both suggests the celestial: towering presences that have a far weightier impact than you’d expect from their sparse construction. Distinct from her usual dancefloor-focussed aesthetic, Chatfield lets the tracks drift, almost aimlessly: amorphous forms that at times are little more than fragments of vocals and gently pulsing pads. If you have an hour to spare, this is a wonderful album to lose yourself in. If you don’t, you should probably reconsider your priorities.
Less than six months after the release of The Ascension – about which I still have mixed feeling to say the least – Sufjan has just announced a new instrumental album, Convocations. Comprised of five volumes – Meditations, Lamentations, Revelations, Celebrations and Incantations – the project is “a two-and-a-half-hour, 49-track reflection on a year of anxiety, uncertainty, isolation, and loss”, and while I’ve probably done enough reflecting over the last year or so, it’s Sufjan, so this is obviously excellent news, as even if it’s likely – on recent form – to be an uneven two-and-a-half-hours, you’re pretty much guaranteed at least a few moments of indescribable beauty. Out 06 May digitally, and 20 August via 5xLP colored vinyl boxset .
The latest single from UK producer L E M F R E C K is markedly different from some of his earlier work. As the grime/r&b artist told Gigsoup earlier this month, “I was deep into nihilism/depression. I had no plan of releasing music after the single ‘Sinners’, and that was it for me.” We’re grateful he stuck with it, as Falling is just brilliant: rooted in melancholy, but with a hopeful yearning that suggests he’s made peace with it. Greatness beckons for this former BBC Introducing artist.
An admission: this time last week I don’t think I’d ever heard – or at least paid enough attention to – the name Guy Sigsworth. For more astute music fans out there however – Gia Margaret included – he’s one of the more celebrated producers of the last 20 years, working with artists including Björk, Goldie, Madonna, Kate Havnevik, Alison Moyet, AURORA and so (so) many more. With a call sheet like that it’s perhaps unsurprising that his remix of Solid Heart sounds absolutely sublime, transforming the lo-fi, duskiness of the original into a slick, downtempo electronic cut complete with a little flurry of cascading synths as delicate and bewitching as you could possibly hope for.
I’m probably biased as I’m a big fan of one of these artists and not really that interested in the other, but I would say that Becky and the Birds’ cover of Bon Iver’s The Wolves (Act I and Act II) is far superior to the original. Not that we’re supposed to judge music in such a binary fashion (it’s not better just… different), but whatever: I think in this instance – given they’re both treading a similar musical path – standing each version toe to toe with one another and seeing who comes out on top is fair enough. And in my humble opinion, this is richer, more engaging, more spine-tinglingly wonderful. You know, just… well, better.
The opening track on Starrah’s debut album The Longest Interlude, Miss This perfectly sets the scene for what followers: namely, 30 minutes or so of woozy, atmospheric r&b ripe for summer nights. Reminiscent of both 070 Shake and Tierra Whack in its finer moment, I expect I’ll be spending quite a lot of time with it over the coming months.
I tried and failed to enjoy serpentwithfeet’s 2018 album soil so many times. It’s clearly really good, but I could just never get into it: it felt too detached and disjointed, like it was trying to trip you up and eject you just as you felt you were finally getting locked in. Since then it’s felt like every release has been a step towards something I would love, and with his new album DEACON, that journey has been fully realised. I REALLY this album, and Old & Fine is everything I wanted but didn’t get from his earlier work: an emotionally-rich record with depth that’s also easy to enjoy and appreciate without having to work too hard. I can’t imagine he’s been tweaking his career with me in mind, but it certainly feels that way.