A welcome return to Portland duo Mint Julep on the blog today, who follow up last month’s A Rising Sun with an even more emphatically lovely slice of dreamy pop/shoegaze. Pulse builds from a steady kick drum and shimmering guitars to an all-consuming climax of astonishing intensity, with Hollie’s ghostly vocal a calming, spine-tingling presence throughout. Definite shades of Beach House at their most emphatically emotional. Plus: their new album A Deep And Dreamless Sleep lands next week. Happy daze indeed.
Pioneering electro pioneer The Egyptian Lover has doubled down on his 2015 album 1985 with new LP 1986. Like its predecessor it focusses entirely on the kind of sounds and techniques he was using back in the mid-1980s, and aside from it perhaps sounding a little more polished that some of the electro and proto-hip-hop being produced then, its otherwise sounds completely indistinguishable. Cinnamon Oil Massage is a definite highlights, complete with the omnipresent crisp, punchy 808 beats and an outrageously over the top electric guitar solo which is absolutely joyous.
If Stanley Kubrick had been making 2001 this year, I’m convinced that Amandra and Mattheis would have been brought in to work on the soundtrack. Manekin is from their first collaborative LP Lettre Ouverte which came out towards the end of last month, and is jaw-droppingly brilliant. It’s not really fair to highlight a single track as it undoubtedly works best when immersing yourself in the album from start to finish, but Mankin is a near perfect example of their patient, celestial approach to techno. With shades of both Voices From The Lake and DJ Python’s more recent Mas Amable – but with arguably loftier ambitions than both – it’s the most immersive electronic album I’ve heard so far this year.
Writing about this kind of floating, glassy ambient, I sometimes feel like words aren’t really doing it justice, which is, admittedly, a bit of an issue if you’ve chosen to run a blog where your own grasp of language is at least reasonably important. even – the latest from Japanese artist Akiyoshi Yasuda – is the latest to stump me. Is it ‘gorgeous’? Yes. Is it ‘evocative’? Also yes. Does it ‘feel as insignificant as curling wisps of distant clouds, but also have the ability to make your head spin with the force of its own delicate beauty’? Sure does.
10 & 2 – the latest single from Ghanaian/American dancer, rapper and singer-songwriter NanaBcool, and directly addresses his own experiences of police oppression and violence. After spending a couple of months performing and writing throughout multiple cities in Europe, the hook for 10 & 2 came to him while walking around Amsterdam. “I was in such a calm mood, but for “10 and 2, 10 and 2 what the fuck a nigga supposed to do” to come up really indicates that regardless of the mood I’m in, I always have to be aware when police are around.” Intricately, soulfully produced, it’s one of the most impressive hip hop cuts I’ve heard so far this year.
Today marks the first new music from the amazing Wildhart for three years, and what a welcome return it is. The band have gone through a lot of changes since the the release of their brilliant debut album Shine – most notably losing a member and now operating as a trio – but on His Arrows Won’t Hit Us they’re as mesmerising as they’ve ever been, front-loading on the atmosphere and gentle melodies and stripping everything else back to the very barest of essentials. Let’s hope there’s more to come.
Japanese Breakfast has made some of my favourite tracks of the last decade. Road Head and Machinist from her 2017 album Soft Sounds From Another Planet are just absolutely perfect, and her latest single Be Sweet is up there with them. The first release from her new album Jubilee which has just been announced for June, it’s completely irresistible and I can’t stop listening to it.
Imagining Machines is a twenty-minute digital-only work in three parts by Australian sound designer Daniel McCagh which, if you’re a fan of William Basinski, is probably going to be right up your street. Focussing on the slow decay and disintegration of its main, constantly shifting pads while a whirling bank of machines limber up in the background, I guess all the individuals elements are fairly morose and disquieting. Except when you put them all together, it’s beautiful. And not just, “oh, that’s pretty” beautiful, but a kind of aching, longing appreciation of something that you can’t quite comprehend existing.
Our Best Selves is the lead single from a forthcoming six-track EP from Canadian experimental producer yehno, and will be the first release on a new label, Collection Disques Durs. Visceral and hard-hitting, there’s also an incredible amount of nuance and subtlety here. One the one hand, yes, I feel on the verge of a panic attack while listening to it, but on the other, it’s actually warm and reassuring, like watching all your worldly possessions burn while realising you’re probably better off without them. I imagine.
Warm and soulful on the surface but packed with a political directness in its lyrics which are, as ever, flawlessly delivered by Noname, Rainforest packs in an outrageous amount into its relatively short running time. There are so many lyrical earworms here, but “A rainforest cries / Everybody dies a little / And I just wanna dance tonight” is the one that’s stuck with me. On paper perhaps this comes across as a little cliche, but the understated delivery makes dancing seems like the most understandable – and perhaps only – reaction to one of the many approaching global calamities we’re faced with on a daily basis.