Tonight we have new music from a slew of great women from across the world, and I'm having a chat with excellent Sydney sound artist Alexandra Spence.
Félicia Atkinson – Moderato Cantabile [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]Félicia Atkinson – Shirley to Shirley [Shelter Press/Bandcamp]
French multi-instrumentalist sound-artist and poet Félicia Atkinson recorded her latest album mostly while on tour and pregnant. Yes, there's the ASMR whispery flutteriness in there (not so much on these two tracks), and there's an explicit influence from favourite works of the French impressionists - Ravel, Debussy and Satie. The piano on "Moderato Cantabile" floats on a bed of synthesised pads, and similar sounds bubble and pulse under some wonderfully processed and (dis)harmonised vocals on "Shirley to Shirley". You could have this album on in the background, but really it demands a dive into its depths.
Alexandra Spence - bodies in place [Room40]
...interview with Alexandra Spence...Alexandra Spence - sleep in nothingness [Room40]
...more interview with Alexandra Spence...Alexandra Spence - cleanse [Room40]Alexandra Spence - a soft crackle [Room40]
So great to talk to Alexandra Spence, who despite having just released her debut album, has worked with many great names around the globe - in Toronto & Vancouver studying music, sound art & field recording, then with Francisco Lopez on a residency in South Africa, and with David Toop, Chris Watson and Jez riley French in the UK. All these influences, along with her experience as an improviser on clarinet and other instruments (she's part of the Splinter Orchestra) form a background for her very idiomatic work on record, which is an intuitive approach to constructing engrossing sound worlds. Live, she unveils the process, creating her sounds from unexpected objects, or objects used unexpectedly. Alex is launching this album next Sunday, 14th of July, at Petersham Bowlo and is joined by Kynan Tan and MP Hopkins - should be a great night!
Síria - Belgian Sheppherd [Colectivo Casa Amarela]
I first heard the work of Portuguese sound artist Diana Combo last year with her album (also under the name Síria) for excellent Portuguese experimental label Crónica. Those works mixed experimental tracks on vinyl with other droney sounds and Combo's own vocals. Here I believe we hear her vocals along with sounds sourced from Portuguese label Colectivo Casa Amerela. It's a beautiful piece of shoegazey drone from an album called Island Fever that celebrates the label's 5th birthday. You'll be hearing more from this compilation next week.
Jesca Hoop - Red White and Black [Memphis Industries/Bandcamp]Jesca Hoop - the lost sky [Sub Pop/Bandcamp]Jesca Hoop - Passage's End [Memphis Industries/Bandcamp]
Californian musician Jesca Hoop has lived in Manchester for some years, and her always folk-rooted music has somehow become more and more like English folk music. Her last album (from which we heard the gorgeous "the lost sky") was more of a folk rock album, and while there's a certain "folk rock" feel on this new one, it pares down the arrangements with John Parish in the producer's booth, and leans more into the "folk". There are some gorgeous production moments, such as the contrasting vocal refrain in "Passage's End" which sounds like an old record in a different room, even in a very slightly different key. Really impressive.
Kate Tempest – Lessons [American Recordings]Kate Tempest – Perfect Coffee [Lex Records]Kate Tempest – I Trap You [American Recordings]
The new album from Kate Tempest, The Book Of Traps And Lessons finds her on Rick Rubin's American Recordings, with a slightly more restrained, stripped back sound (although still working with the extra producer Dan Carey. While the previous two albums presented beautiful portraits of various characters from East London dancing around each other's needs and desires as the Britain of austerity and the spectre of Brexit presses in on them and starts to fall apart, this new one is far more of a personal document, a lament in post-Brexit-vote Britain about the toxicity of power within relationships, about what love and desire and humanity mean. We heard both the bitter lessons and the traps, and in between, one of my favourite segments from the brilliant Let Them Eat Chaos. The production leans away from the dubstep and grime sounds (and there's none of trap's bottom-end sleaze either), preferring muted boom-baps or no beats at all, pulsating synths and, in "I Trap You", a wobbly piece of music-hall jazz seemingly off a 78 record. It's moody as heck and moving too.
Hüma Utku - Black Water Red [Karlrecords/Bandcamp]R.A.N. - Sabah [Karlrecords/Bandcamp]
Istanbul-born, Berlin-based artist Hüma Utku previously called herself Roads At Night, and her last EP on the great Berlin label Karlrecords was released under the acronym R.A.N. She now steps out under her own name, continuing the jouney through the night with some very dark industrial soundscapes, incorporating field recordings - listen to the buried sample vocals under the bass-heavy drums on "Black Water Red". Depending on your sound system you'll hardly notice they're there, but they lend extra weight to the driving beat. A similar momentum is found in last year's "Sabah" from her Karlrecords debut, which starts with a tambur played by Ercüment Gümüşel and then builds into pulsing techno with slow melodic pads and a gradually more distorted bassline, under which the tambur turns out to have been playing all along...
Rắn Cạp Đuôi - Degradation [Flaming Pines Bandcamp/Rắn Cạp Đuôi Bandcamp]
This new release from Kate Carr's Flaming Pines comes from the genre-spanning Saigon-based Rắn Cạp Đuôi Collective, currently a trio. This EP was written during the monsoon season and represents the members' fear of drowning, with a watery theme that culminates in its final track, where a showery drone is constantly interrupted by crushing percussive bass tones, until it eventually gives way to fragments of female vocals and shimmering waterfalls. Stunning.
Roll The Dice & Sophia Loizou - Head Drop [Roll The Dice Bandcamp]
Finally, Swedish electronic/electro-acoustic duo Roll The Dice have been releasing a series of single track collaborations with artists they admire, and the latest finds Sophia Loizou joining them to bring her particular brand of rave nostalgia - tumbling jungle breaks and sheets of synth pads. It's very soft-focus yet quite dark and altogether lovely.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.