Smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooth vibes for Friday fulfilment.
Late last month Skee Mask quietly popped out two EPs as part of Ilian Tape’s ISS series, one of which comprises four tracks of fiercely abrasive techno and the other – from which MDP93 is taken – eight tracks of gorgeous, beatless, drifting ambient: perhaps the most relaxing collection of music he’s ever put his name to. Honestly, if you’re feeling even mildly stressed or anxious – or even if you’re not – please put this on and go and look at the sky for a bit.
It’s hard to imagine a world in which a track so gloriously unassuming as Röyksop’s Eple could achieve such ubiquity, but for what felt like the entire first half of the 2000s I reckon I heard it every day. So did you. And even if you can’t immediately call to mind how it goes, listen to it for five seconds and you’ll immediately be transported back to a simpler, happier time when we were all basking in the glow of a post-2YK realisation that all the computers didn’t in fact collapse, and that everything was just going to be just fine from now on.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve thought about Röyksop for a good 15 years now, but last week they put out a new album and some of it is really lovely. Like this – the penultimate track on Profound Mysteries – which seems tailor-made for the next time Traumprinz makes one of his Very Poignant Mixes.
More dope beats from the other realm courtesy of the queen of electronic witchery. If you’re familiar with DJ Sabrina’s previous work, this follows in pretty much the same vein: 90s-heavy samples blended with bright, open-hearted production. An out-and-out nostalgia-fest, in other words that will make you yearn for the days when aspect ratios were square and TV audiences pissed themselves laughing at literally everything.
I’m not sure anyone does deep melancholy quite as well as Tomberlin. Released today, her new album i don’t know who needs to hear this… was structured around the need to “examine, hold space, make an altar for the feelings”, and while not exactly a departure from her 2018 album – and one of my all-time favourites – At Weddings, there’s definitely been a progression: a sense of expanding boundaries; of actually being able to see the horizon in comparison to the lo-fi ultra-intimacy of her debut. easy is the album opener, and manages to be haunting, inviting, despondent and peaceful all at once.
The singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist on the educational perfection of Harry Nilsson
The premise of One Track Mind is pretty simple: I ask artists to pick one track that means a lot to them – either something they’ve discovered recently, something that’s been with them for years, or one that reminds them of a specific time in their life or career – and tell me what makes it so special to them. I get to talk to the artists I love, and they get to talk about the artists they love. Love all round!
Emily Wells is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, arranger, and producer, whose extraordinary music incorporates elements from experimental, electronic, chamber pop and classical, and has been variously described as “dramatic, meticulous and gothic” (New York Times) and “visionary” (NPR). Released earlier this year, her latest album Regards To The End was inspired by the often radical actions of AIDs activists in the 1980s as seen through the lens of the current climate emergency. Intricate, sobering and quietly powerful, it is an immaculately atmospheric body of work from a breathtakingly talented artist.
For her One Track Mind selection, Emily has chosen a song from American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, that for her transcends the artistry of songwriting and becomes a lesson for storytellers, regardless of the medium.
The first new solo material since his sublime So Sweet So Nice album from last year, Same As You sees the Berlin based-musician commit himself fully to 80s soft-rock balladry, with intoxicating results. It’s possibly a coincidence that the gently plucked guitar melody (very) strongly resembles Every Breath You Take – arguably the very epitome of melodramatic musical yearning – but whether it’s a direct lift or knowing nod to his inspirations, Moods carries it off with aplomb.
Read our One Track Mind feature with John Moods here.
I really liked Tess Roby’s 2018 album Beacon – especially the song Plasticine Hills – a perfect balance of haunting synths and her extraordinary vocal – so the release of her new LP Ideas of Space last week was very welcome. Century is the opening track and immediately draws you into her intimate, fragile world, with glistening chords and hushed percussion providing the ideal framework for her wonderful voice to work its magic.
The latest album from New York artist Jacob Long recording as Earthen Sea, Ghost Poems spans ten tracks of lo-fi ambient and minimalist melodies created from a combination piano samples and field recordings. I’m usually draw to long, sprawling ambient, characterised by very slow progression and rich, warm pads a al Stars of The Lid. Here, tracks rarely break the four minute mark, and there’s a very defined rhythmic structure, but the sense of space created is nevertheless completely engrossing. I hadn’t paid attention to Earthen Sea before today, but I’m very glad he’s now on my radar.
Egyptian composer Nancy Mounir is a part of the Cairo new wave of artists who are taking inspiration from historical music to inform their own modern productions. On Khafif Khafif – as with a lot her compositions – she layers her own microtonal, ambient arrangements over a buried 20th century Egyptian cut to pleasantly unsettling effect.