Quarterfaves: Apr-Jun

quarterfaves17apr-jun

The last three months have been very busy, both personally (I got married!) and musically (just impossible to keep up). There have been some high profile releases I won’t cover here (Arca, Perfume Genius, Fleet Foxes) but which which will likely feature pretty high up on my end-of-year list. (I blogged a little about the Arca already; the Fleet Foxes will almost certainly be my album of the year). Instead, as is the spirit of this ‘Quarterfaves’ thing, I want to highlight a few recent releases I’ve enjoyed that might have slipped under your radar, or else been forgotten already in the always-too-quick deluge of other new music.

Spirit of the Beehive – Pleasure Suck

If you like indie music and haven’t given this a spin, you should. It’s noisy and restless and messy, and just packed full of great little hooks which are never quite left to settle. That can make it a quite frustrating listen at times, but it also makes it an engaging one – the ‘pleasure’ of the hooks is ‘sucked’ out by the constant forward motion of the songcraft, like the end of a hoover sucking on your skin. (Which is strangely pleasurable in its own way of course.) This came out around the same time as Feist’s also-excellent album Pleasure, so the two are connected in my mind. They are antithetical approaches to the same theme: Feist is light and breezy where Beehive are dark and claustrophonic. I have listened to the two back-to-back a few times, and they make oddly fitting bedfellows.

Dali Vision – Hell on Earth

The bandcamp page for this describes it as “not-quite-easy listening – a kind of post- apocalyptic lounge,” which is pretty apt. It has that quality I like in music of being unshowily and quietly ambitious. It takes you places, surprises you, envelops you in new sound worlds, without making a big deal out of it. For a record called Hell on Earth, it is startlingly pretty. Hell on earth really sounds rather lovely. But maybe that’s the point? It’s alluring, but also just slightly unsettling, like the rug is going to be pulled from under you any moment. Which it never quite is. It’s always just about to. That makes it, for all its otherworldliness, an oddly rather 2017 record.

Karima Walker – Hands in Our Names

If you liked Julie Byrne’s record from earlier this year, then you might enjoy this, which has that similar feeling of total calm and peace. (I don’t want to overstate the similarities, as their approaches are pretty different, but there’s a mutual vibe I think.) Hands moves fluidly from simple folk songs sung on acoustic guitar into more abstract collages of sound and back again. The collaged moments are full of natural sounds, but also tape loops, droning bell-like tones, and washes of static, adding textural and tonal interest. The title track moves imperceptibly from two voices singing in rounds into overlapping echoes of the same voice, which is a particularly lovely movement – it reminds me a little of both Mountain Man and Julianna Barwick.

Luka Productions – Fasokan

Those who know me well know I love the music of Mali; but this record doesn’t really sound like anything else I’ve ever heard from the country. It sounds like a dreamy sci-fi, all space age drift and floating ambience, with sprinklings of more traditional Malian rhythms over the top. Luka is a beatmaker for local rappers, who apparently queue up outside his small studio in Bamako for his services. But this feels like a much more personal project. It has a slight New Age vibe to it; it is music that seeks to heal.

Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies

So much stylistic ground covered on this thing. It never stays in one place for long. Part of that is the number and variety of collaborators that head ‘clapper’, Italian beatmaker Cristiano Crisci, brings on board, lending different tracks different flavours. But it also comes from Crisci himself, who has a clear passion for sounds from around the world, and for blending live instrumentation with head-spinning electronic sounds.

Jlin – Black Origami

I mean this is insanely good and will probably make my year-end list so I won’t say too much here, other than the observation that this would make very strange but possibly quite excellent music to excercise to.

Laurel Halo – Dust

This only just came out last week, so not a lot of constructive things to say right now other than… Hmmmm…. Oooooh…. Aaaah…. (I think it’s her most confounding and interesting release yet. She’s just brilliant.)

 

 

 

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