Back after two weeks away on different tours... life is crazy, the US is a disaster, the Australian government is a disaster, of our national broadcast the less said the better... but the music goes on! And at least one of the best albums of the year was released in the last few weeks!
Low - Always Trying To Work It Out [Sub Pop]Low - Rome (Always In The Dark) [Sub Pop]Low - Disarray [Sub Pop]
It was hinted at on the last beautiful Low album Ones and Sixes, but their new album Double Negative takes the long-lived husband + wife + bass slowcore legends into extreme experimental electronic territory, and it's incredibly strong for it. It's still centred on their impossibly gorgeous harmonies and heart-pulling melodies (and lyrics), but everything's frequently buried under a haze of glitchy drones, distorted drums sidechained against the rest of the mix, vocals sometimes competing against white noise, electronics taking over from guitars... All this chaos is partially drawn from their interest in stretching their sonic landscape, but it's also a direct expression of the despair and cognitive dissonance of living in an America post-Trump. Album of the year, quite possibly.
Clue To Kalo - There's No Radio [Data Door]
It's absolutely lovely to have some new music from Adelaide's Mark Mitchell aka Clue To Kalo. His first release was as Superscience (not to be confused with Supersilent, more of whom later) in 2000 - more explicitly indietronica or idm at the time - but he's been Clue To Kalo (a nerdy reference to the comics of Seth) for a long time now. This is perfect joyful pop, in which the electronic trickery is magically kept in the shadows, audible if you listen carefully. It's a delight.
Sigrún - Anneal Me [Sigrún Bandcamp]Sigrún - Vitahringur [Sigrún Bandcamp]Sigrún - Haltu Fast [Sigrún Bandcamp]Sigrún - II [Sigrún Bandcamp]
I can't tell you a lot about Sigrún - she's an Icelandic producer and singer who's released a few EPs since 2016, and her debut album Onælan has just come out on her Bandcamp. She's toured with the likes of Björk, Sigur Rós and co, and her music owes a little to them but is very much a force of nature unto itself. She's comfortable mashing up jungle beats or smashing out bursts of bass and glitchy electronics, all the while layering her own vocals onto these productions. Very contemporary for all its nods to the Icelandic pioneers of the last couple of decades. Highly recommended.
Jlin - First Overture (Spiritual Atom) [Planet µ]Jlin - Anamnesis (Part 2) [Planet µ]
Hailing from Gary, Indiana, just down Lake Michigan from Chicago proper, Jerrilynn Patton aka Jlin plied her trade as a groundbreaking footwork producer outside of the core suburbs and dance clubs of the genre. Her new album is an audio document of her soundtrack to a new work from legendary choreographer Wayne McGregor called Autobiography and it's an opportunity for her to stretch her compositional and production talents outside of the skittering snares and kick drums of footwork (a genre she's already stretched near to breaking point). And spread her wings she does, with crystalline ambient and field recordings, quasi-classical scene-setting and rhythm programming reaching in all directions. It's a tour de force.
Síria - Amor de Quem [Crónica]Síria - Gloria [Crónica]
Diana Combo, previously known as Eosin, makes music using vinyl records, field recordings and occasional droney noisemakers of her own along with her vocals. Her new album for Portuguese experimental label Crónica sees her creating beautifully mysterious compositions using a series of avant-garde and experimental works from vinyl, crossing the experimental cello & drones of the great Svarte Greiner with the avant-garde composition of Antoine Chessex on the first track, and the spaced-out guitar & drones of Los Niños Muertos (André Tasso and Bruno Humberto) on the second - which incidentally really is a cover of the Patti Smith classic. Punk as fuck.
Tim Hecker - This life [Kranky]
I feel like saying this is the long-awaited new Tim Hecker album, and maybe so, but it's only been 2 years since his last. Nevertheless, I've been anticipating it, and it lives up to that nicely. Recorded in a temple in the outskirts of Tokyo with the ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, this album does add traditional Japanese textures to the suspended, slow-moving sound-sculpture of the Canadian master. He's also joined by fellow Canadian electronics expert Kara-Lis Coverdale on synths, as with his last album. This music falls somewhere between glitchy drone and post-rock, with a real emotional heft. It's that cliché of music as a soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist. Let the backs of your eyelids be the cinema screen...
Klara Lewis & Simon Fisher Turner - Mend [Editions Mego]
Young Swedish electronic artist Klara Lewis (incidentally daughter of Wire luminary Edvard Graham Lewis, a fact many of us didn't pick up on until we'd been thoroughly hooked by her music) turned many heads in the last few years with her electronic productions with one foot in the techno/experimental beats world and one in the land of sound-art. Simon Fisher Turnerhas been making music for 4 1/2 decades, first as a quirky pop singer and then as a soundtrack writer and exploratory producer of drones and glitches and cut-ups across goth, industrial, ambient, classical and who knows what else. It's evidently a match made in heaven - and it's impossible to really work out who contributes what: while something about the ecstatic, stretched-out pads here seems so clearly redolent of SFT's work, there's also something about the half-submerged production that is clearly reminiscent of Lewis' previous sounds. Wonderful.
Craün - Uto [Hush Hush Records]
The third album from Greek-born, Sydney-based producer Aris Hatsidakis aka Craün is not out until December, but we have a beautiful piece to play you tonight. It will be released as with his last two on Seattle's Hush Hush Records, and it's a poised piece of crackly drones, field recordings and a lonely electric violin. One to listen out for!
Supersilent - 14.7 [Smalltown Supersound]Supersilent - 14.3 [Smalltown Supersound]
Having defected for their last couple of releases from Rune Grammofon to fellow Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound, legendary ambient improv ensemble Supersilent haven't lost any of their central characteristics - the exquisite melodic trumpet & occasional voice of Arve Henriksen, the glacial production & electronics of Helge Sten aka Deathprod, and the keyboards and electronics of Ståle Storløkken. Perhaps the most notable thing is how short most of the tracks - little epics of Scandinavian ice sculpture. They have their sound down pat now, varying how ambient, how much noise to throw in (although it's never as raucous as their first 3 offerings), yet always offering otherworldly beauty.
Arve Henriksen - is there a limit for the internal? [Rune Grammofon]
Solo, Arve Henriksen remains on Rune Grammofon with his latest, the height of the reeds, melding ambient, electronic and classical here with his falsetto vocals and trumpet. It's strange & bewitching, some of his best work in a while.
Panoptique Electrical - Stay [Panoptique Electrical Bandcamp]
Beautiful new single track from versatile Adelaide producer/composer/songwriter Jason Sweeney, mostly normalised for his solo work under the Panoptique Electrical alias. Here he gives us a piece of ambient classical composition with strings and wind instruments, fully engrossing.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.