In September Lee Gamble brings his Flush Real Pharynx 2019-2021 album cycle to an end with A Million Pieces Of You, a seven-track LP that was written “in a time when the subjective experience of overload came to a halt, giving way to an overbearing sense of loss, burnout and a desperate need for hope,” which I’m guessing means Covid o’clock. Playing with rhythms and tones and switching effortlessly between wide-eyed optimism and almost overwhelming despair, Hyperpassive, then, seems like a fitting representation of the emotions many of us went through on an almost daily – if not hourly – basis in 2020 and beyond. Oh, and it’s also really good, just in case that wasn’t clear.
NANAO follows the release of GILA’s debut album Energy Demonstration which landed last year, and is his first collaboration with LA based vocalist Kloxii, a Chinese-American producer and experimental pop musician who has released music via Tricky’s False Idols, and been mentored by Marie Davidson for Amplify Berlin. Exploring various themes including unrequited love and vulnerability, NANAO is looser and rougher than the tracks found on Energy Demonstration, with stuttering, over-saturated beats and ominous synth lines creating an oppressive, but oddly uplifting atmosphere.
Ben McCarthy is an electronic musician and sound artist from Toronto, who blends layers of re-purposed, processed and archival sound into some pretty unique music. Here he’s teamed up with Irish artist Lighght and together they’ve created a staggeringly beautiful, disquieting slice of experimental electronica that at times sounds like a gorgeous celestial improvisation straight from the heavens, and at others like whales being crushed to death by patient but deadly blue-white blocks of shifting ice. Don’t let that last part put you off though: it’s great.
I’ve listened to Days Like These maybe a dozen times now, and I’m still not even sure if I like the first half of it. Alan Sparhawk’s vocal is more prominent than perhaps ever before, accompanied by Mimi Parker’s harmonies and very little else and it’s almost wilfully OTT and (whisper it) a bit cheesy? Maybe that’s the point, and there’s a good chance that later this year after sitting with it for longer and reading more into the meaning behind it I’ll realise just how wrong I am, but that’s where I am right now. What isn’t in doubt however, is the second half, which is one of the best things they’ve ever made.
Produced again by BJ Burton who worked with them on 2018’s incredible Double Negative, it descends into warped static, freewheeling, ethereal harmonies and an atmosphere so thick with longing it takes a good few minutes to pull yourself out of it. It’s also the lead single from their forthcoming new LP Hey What, out 10 September on Sub Pop. Bring on the heartache.
I hadn’t thought about the video game Alex Kid in Miracle World for probably around 20 years, until the other day I saw it was getting a re-release: a fancy, updated version for modern hardware, and one of those games where you look at the new footage and think “Yeah, that’s how I remember it looking” until you go back and look at original Master System / Megadrive footage and realise that actually what it looked like was a few dozen pixels thrown on a screen seemingly at random with barely any discernible detail and ordered to jump frantically around, the kind of thing that if you were forced to play now you wouldn’t last five minutes. I’m not going to play the remake, as I don’t want to be reminded of a) how old I am and b) how jaded I am, but knowing that it exists and is scratching a few people’s itching nostalgia is comfort enough. In my head, the soundtrack is exactly like this new track from fivepaw which is taken from his latest album, and if it’s not, I don’t want to know.
German producer TIBSLC – short for “The International Billionaire’s Secret Love Child” – released his latest LP Delusive Tongue Shifts – Situation Based Compositions a couple of weeks back, and after just a couple of listens it’s firmly under my skin. I often find this kind of glitchy, experimental electronica a bit too hectic and sketchy to properly enjoy. It’s clearly good, and I admire it, but don’t find myself going back to them very often, if at all. There’s a warmth to Delusive Tongue Shifts, though, that makes it a really lovely album to spend lots of time with.
Kaleida’s original version of Think wasn’t exactly an overly expansive affair, and yet Actress manages to make it seem positively luxurious, so stripped back and minimalistic is his remix. Released last week to celebrate Lex Records’ 20th anniversary, its glacial electronics and muted tones create an eerie, detached atmosphere that quickly gets under your skin.
Dzang is an on-going project of LA-composer/producer Adam Gunther, and Retreat is the first single from his latest forthcoming EP. Late night vibes galore on this one, and I really feel I should be staring wistfully out over a dark, sprawling cityscape while listening to it, despite the video being very colourful, as well as parrot-heavy. Anyway, it’s really lovely and really evocative and I’m looking forward to the EP when it lands.
A longtime member of alt-rock band Nine Inch Nails, as a solo artist Alessandro Cortini has released something like a dozen or so albums over the last decade; electronic-based experiments in ambient, noise and occasionally straying into something that vaguely resembles techno. His latest LP SCURO CHIARO landed last week, and even though CHIAROSCURO came out as a single a few months back, I missed it at the time and it’s such a clear standout that I couldn’t not feature it. Building slowly from a base of celestial bleeps and hums to a gloriously intense finale, it’s the perfect embodiment of electronic music at its most cinematic.
With both the overwhelming grandeur of Sevdaliza’s bombastic, electronic-inflected pop and the hushed intimacy of Portishead, Penelope Trappes’s new album Penelope Three which landed on Houndstooth last week is not to be missed. This collision of the extra and introvert are perfectly realised on Red Yellow, a sparse, delicate and extraordinarily punchy highlight.