A seasonal cycle that begun with the solitary winter of For Emma, Forever Ago finally reaches its natural conclusion with the autumnal thaw of Bon Iver’s stunning fourth record, i,i. For an artist whose career has so far been defined by constant reinvention, Justin Vernon’s latest release is a chance to step back and pause, a rare moment to breath and survey the landscape, tying everything together with a subtle delicacy. The intimacy and humanity of his earlier work remains in tact, but it’s now buoyed by years of experimental tinkering and infused with a warm, generous beauty. Fragmented and impressionistic, i,i is a record governed by feeling rather than theme, its layered textures and cryptic lyrics housing seemingly infinite moments of harmonic, atmospheric and melodic brilliance.
Made with a revolving cast of collaborators that counts James Blake, Moses Sumney and Francis Starlite among them, Justin Vernon ends i,i worlds away from the isolated origin story of his Bon Iver project. i,i is something to behold; not only is it the most complete Bon Iver record, it represents the closing of a chapter, the culmination of an entire career. Rarely does an artist achieve such a finished and wholly rewarding discography.
IMMUNITY is the remarkably assured debut from the endlessly captivating Clairo. Co-produced by Rostam of Vampire Weekend, IMMUNITY trades the unvarnished, lo-fi authenticity of her earlier singles for a cleaner, more polished palette of plaintive pianos and quietly booming drums that blurs the lines between bedroom pop and indie rock. Infusing her debut record with the sort of confessional introspection that sounds like a whispered late-night secret, Clairo achieves all of this without sacrificing any of her natural charm. Armed with an irresistible sense of melody and her subtly devastating voice, Clairo weaves together a collection of homespun tracks about friendship, romance and the nervous energy of self-discovery during your adolescence. On IMMUNITY, Clairo completes her transformation from viral Youtube sensation to a new kind of pop star all together, staking her claim as a voice of the new generation.
Following on from their 2017 self-titled debut, GODTET release their second album II. A tightly woven musical tapestry, sewn with threads of spiritual jazz, hip-hop, broken beat and dub. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Godriguez sits at the helm of an impressive 5-piece ensemble. II was recorded largely in a single session in Melbourne, while GODTET were visiting for a string of shows in 2017. This spontaneous conception is not lost on the final product, with the album channeling an exciting, raw creative energy, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion and maturity. The second coming of GODTET is a miraculous union of sonic textures. A genuinely moving expression of instrumental music from one of Sydney’s most unique musical collectives.
Narratives of a near-future technological dystopia have been a dominant theme in recent electronic music. On her debut album MANIFEST, Melbourne producer Corin contravenes the bleak and Earthbound tropes of this conceptual underpinning and develops her own unique mythology. Each track on MANIFEST embodies a different aspect of the Mother Of Technology, a kind of science-fiction Mother Nature whose fragmented soul is scattered throughout cyberspace. Constructed with a vivid and warm sonic palette, Corin is able to situate her music in a cavernous, cosmic space without losing its sense of intimacy. Decorated with crystalline sequences and imposing percussion, the album gives nods to experimental electronica, grime and hard trance whilst maintaining it’s own unique sound. MANIFEST is an intricate and compelling release from Corin.
Warpath Never Ended is the vital new album from DISPOSSESSED. A 9 track exhibition of blackened death metal. DISPOSSESSED utilise melodic dissonance, razor sharp guitar-work and crushing rhythmic intensity as a vehicle to doze over the empty rhetoric of a self-proclaimed nation state built on lies, murder and exploitation. With an unapologetic disregard for lip service and symbolism, Warpath Never Ended makes listeners acutely aware of the complicity and entitlement that all settlers have benefitted from since colonisation. Tackling the police violence, systemic inequality, historical and current-day injustices that face First Nations people, DISPOSSESSED amplify the voice of resistance that won’t rest until the oppressive structures of colonialism are dismantled and Indigenous Sovereignty is restored.
Keepsake is the dreamy debut album from Brisbane musician Hatchie. Formed just two years ago as the solo moniker of multi-instrumentalist Harriette Pilbeam, the project has quickly gained critical praise from publications including Pitchfork and Stereogum and seen Hatchie embark on multiple overseas tours. Evoking the heart-wrenching nostalgia of early 90s shoegaze, Keepsake drifts through a kaleidoscopic sea of reverb soaked guitars and warbled synths all held firmly together by a punchy industrial-style rhythm section. Circumventing dream-pop convention Hatchie’s voice and melodic style doesn’t hide behind the static-laced curtain of hazy soundscapes but glides above the songs with breezy sophistication and confidence. Keepsake is an enchanting debut album from Hatchie, one that is both romantically sentimental and endearingly playful.
Barely out of high school, British quartet black midi have delivered one of the most buzzed-about debuts of the year in the form of their exceptional full-length Schlagenheim. Armed with an undefinable blend of frenetic post-punk, wild experimentalism and free improv jazz, black midi have quickly established themselves as the most exhilarating guitar band to emerge in years. Schlagenheim shows all sides of the foursomes’ youthful, schizoid brilliance off in a difficult but rewarding listen, one that needs to be experienced first in order to be fully believed. Playful, provocative and probably geniuses, black midi underlay the dense layering of musical ideas throughout Schlagenheim with a revolutionary, anarchic spirit, paying little respect to our ideas of structure, style or tradition. A preposterous achievement, black midi truly occupy a space of their own on their debut full-length, an astonishing, puzzling album that signals the beginning of something very exciting.
Solipsisters is the tranquil third album from Melbourne experimental pop songwriter Katie Dey. Solipsisters sees Dey exploring themes of body dysmorphia and trying to transcend your bodily existence, translating her refusal to be bound by the human form into the most self-assured and controlled work of her career to date. Throughout the record, Dey’s lyricism cut through with a renewed confidence, wrapping her slicing observations of isolation, depression and disconnection in a sonic blanket of warm synths, lavish loops and modulating vocals. Full of immaculate atmospherics and textural fog, Katie Dey’s Solipsisters feels like a staticy, private transmission sent hurtling through empty space straight from her Melbourne bedroom into your’s.
ZUU, the fourth studio album from Denzel Curry, is his stunning and complicated tribute to his hometown of Carol City, absorbing all the pain, trauma and belonging its brought to his life. An integral part of the South Florida scene that’s shaped the sound of modern hip hop, Curry has always come across as knottier and more ambitious than his peers – but his latest LP is by far his most accomplished to date. From Miami Bass to coke rap epics to the lo-fi Soundcloud boom of recent years, ZUU delves into the sounds and influences that make up the rich tapestry of Miami rap history, taking in one of hip hop’s most underrated with passion and fury. Bristling with a familiarity that comes from knowing a place with all its subtexts and ins-and-outs, Curry crafts an album which feels truly lived in. ZUU not only places Denzel Curry in the lineage of his great Miami forebears, it also solidifies his reputation as one of the most exciting artists working in hip hop right now.