As someone who loved Low’s last album but is only vaguely familiar with their extensive back catalogue, I’ve spent the week trying to play catch up as much as possible in anticipation of their new LP HEY WHAT which arrived today in all its melancholy, distorted glory. It’s been quite a week, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend piling through that much Low at once (the darkness! the depths!), it’s been interesting to trace the developments of their 20+ year career in just a few sittings. As a fairly new fan, I certainly don’t have any authority in ranking these things, but also: HEY WHAT is categorically their best album, and Hey is its emotional zenith.
Eternally Recurring is the lead single from New York City-based Colombian guitarist and composer Jan Esbra’s forthcoming debut album Temporary Objects: a collection of 10 improvisations and spontaneous compositions that draws influence from a variety of artists including Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Blank For.ms and Lightbath. Created using guitars, samplers and various effects pedals, it’s incredibly minimalistic and initially stark – clinical even – but over time starts to exude a real warmth and depth of character that completely draws you in.
My obsession with anything that even vaguely evokes the 80s continues unabated, satiated generally today by Bristol-based artist Lucy Gooch’s beautiful EP Rain’s Break, and specifically by this track, with its sparse, crystalline synth lines and breathy vocals. Gooch said of the EP that she wanted to create something “with a dissonance and eeriness to it”, and those aims have absolutely been fulfilled, the resulting EP providing a brief but engrossing escape from the relentless grind of reality.
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.
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.
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.
BLACK METAL 2 arrived pretty much out of nowhere today, and I’m already completely obsessed. The follow up to 2014’s BLACK METAL, it immediately transports you back into that heady, dreamlike world, pulling you into its thick, fuggy atmosphere and sounding like nothing else out there. People will write far longer, vastly more eloquent reviews of this over the coming days and weeks: all I can say for now is that it’s in a class of its own and deserves all the plaudits its inevitably going to get.
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.
I mean COME ON. How much insane talent can you pack into a single track. It’s amazing, because obviously it is. Absolutely ridiculous.
My obsession with video-game inspired/evoking music continues unabated, and Cody Uhler’s debut single Fair Tech is the latest in a long line of tracks to scratch that particular itch. This is taken from his forthcoming LP Darbo’s Island, which Uhler bills as “the greatest video game that never existed”, and like the very best video games, it’s fun, slightly puzzling and relentlessly addictive.