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Albums Of The Month: Music We've Loved In July
AR Wood , July 31st, 2017 10:30

Alan Vega, Kemper Norton, Jana Rush, King Gizzard, Madonnatron: this month, these are a few of our favourite things.

After a month of being reviews editor at tQ, listening to one, two, three, four new albums a day, I have begun to notice stories and connections and themes everywhere, like a very enjoyable mania. Rather than diminishing my world, it is creating new aspects, making it bigger and more fun. I am enjoying the drunkenness of things being various.

The looming, dancing, throbbing links between Gary Numan, The Horrors and Nine Inch Nails; the ways Kemper Norton, King Gizzard and Tochigi Canopy bend and wobble and leap through time; how Chastity Belt and Alan Vega make disappointment so beautiful, and how Madonnatron just refuse to put up with it at all. It's cheesy but it's true: there's always a glorious new way to write a song, always a gem you're about to hear for the first time.

So, here are the albums and some of the tracks that John, Luke, Patrick, Christian and I have loved this month, a glimpse into the incorrigibly plural, endlessly delightful, usually noisy tQ office.

Alan Vega - IT

"Towards the end, gradually the breath becomes shallower, the pace changes. On 'Prayer' a single synth note fizzes just the right side of destruction with a left-right marching beat and somewhere in the background lurks a solemn organ drone. "Alleluia!" cries Vega. Final track 'Stars' is utterly haunting, with a chanting drone that might be a manipulated vocal as Vega offers a final lyrical testament that, like everything he did since Suicide played the first self-styled "punk mass" in 1970, is an affirmation that what might appear to be nihilism is not an emptiness but an imperative to create, to react, to push forward. It is directed, I imagine, as a message to his son, but of course it works for us all. "Do what you want... anything..." he croon/snarls; "The power is given..." and the final words he ever committed to tape: "It's your life."."
Luke Turner Read the full review here

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Murder Of The Universe

“Picture yourself on a boat on a river. It's leaking. The spectre of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson has just fed you some DMT. He then puts Van Der Graaf Generator on one beaten-up tape-deck, and a heady hardcore punk classic on another. The sky turns purple and begins to slowly glide towards you. You have entered the realm of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s new record. You decide to ignore the leak.”
Brian Coney Read the full review here

Nine Inch Nails - Add Violence EP

Is it possible for an EP to be ‘sprawling’? It says much about the brilliance of Nine Inch Nails’ latest that the word feels apt across just five songs. The second part of a promised trilogy, Add Violence is a varied delight, from the rabid snarl of opener ‘Less Than’ to the whacked-out, trip-hoppy gloom of ‘This Isn’t The Place'. With the occasional vengeful swells of pure, unadulterated noise along the way, it’s as loose and freewheeling as the band have ever sounded. Closer ‘The Background World’ deserves particular attention, a 12-minute titan of white noise, the most abstract Reznor’s ever been, but somehow still utterly focused. This is the best thing Nine Inch Nails have done in a very long time.
Patrick Clarke

Sote - Sacred Horror In Design

Ata 'Sote' Ebtekar's set of technoish racket at Unsound 2016 was a festival highlight, thriving on a sense that the tough sonics were given space to prang around the room at their own will. A similar atmosphere imbues Sacred Horror In Design, a vastly different sounding new work (commissioned by the CTM festival) made in collaboration with the Iranian artist's compatriots, santour player Arash Bolouri and Behrouz Pashaei, whose instrument is the long-necked, four-string setar. Combining ancient musical instruments and electronics is all too often a mishmash across the ages that doesn't work, like putting an oil tanker's engines on a coracle. Here, though, Ebtekar uses his digital chops to reflect and open a dialogue with the intricate playing from Bolouri and Pashaei, Persian polyrhythms and contemporary sonics. On 'Plebeian', for instance, the plucked and struck strings sit perfectly intertwined with high-tension digital pulses and fuzz. Indeed the strength of this intriguing album is the pervasive sense of mystery as to where the ancient ends and the modern begins.
Luke Turner

Jana Rush - Pariah

“Ever present are the addictive toms and thunderous sub-bass, but there’s restraint too… Spread across the album are various influences of Rush’s, from jazz and soul through to acid house and rapid-fire jungle (‘Frenetic Snare’ is an astonishing closer), folded in through expert sample use and a keenness to switch-up the rhythmic structures she’s working with.”
Christian Eede Reviewed in our Hyperspecific column here

Mark Dicker/Left Hand Cuts Off The Right - MNFN #002

“Recorded on a single night in January - monochrome abstract synths on side one and a prickly mix of field recordings, electronics, and looped East African instrumentation on side two. A killer document from London's current noise underground.” Tristan Bath Reviewed in our Spool's Out column here

Mhysa - fantasii

Following on from a collection of early releases, including one with the NON collective which saw her lay out her abstracted take on R&B, Mhysa arrives on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil label for her latest release, fantasii. Experimenting further with the sounds found on her earliest dispatches, a number of fantasii’s tracks eschew any kind of specific beat structures, with Mhysa’s voice instead left to carry proceedings through tracks such as ‘Glory Be Black’ and ‘Siren Song’ with nothing but some cleverly employed reverb for company. It's equal parts haunting and gorgeous, both tracks making for prime flotation tank music. Elsewhere, fantasii goes into banger mode on ‘Strobe’, a short, sharp shock of energy built around trap claps and Mhysa’s sing-rap delivery, while ‘BB’ is a luxurious R&B ballad that maintains the oddball edge at its centre that is so crucial to fantasii’s success as a record.
Christian Eede

Tochigi Canopy - Collecting Things

“We might look at how Tochigi Canopy often momentarily bends the pitch of a song to create a pleasing wobbly sound. This technique warps time in the sense that, without these little moments, the song would be fractionally longer, snappier, and would maintain a regular tempo to hold us in the present moment. Instead the tape warps nudge us back into the past.” Christopher Sanders Read the full review here

Chastity Belt - I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone

“They are trapped as millennials, skint and self-aware and tedious: “I wanna do something cool and I wanna get paid” (‘Something Else’). They are trapped in their lifestyle: “I wanna be in the scene, and there's comfort in routine” (‘Complain’). They are trapped in social media habits: “If I look at my phone again I'll just die” ('What the Hell'). Most frequently, they are trapped in that tawdry and otherworldly bit at the end of a messy night: “Fucked up, anxious, full of fear, how do I get out of here?” ('This Time of Night'). The disappointing gap between youth and adulthood starts to look like the gap between birth and dying.” Anna Wood Read the full review here

Dizzee Rascal - Raskit

Dizzee has reclaimed his grime territory, playing debut Boy In Da Corner in full at gigs last year and now with this album. It's in the joy he takes in the elasticity and tenacity of the English language, the fastfastfast and perfectly precise lyrics, the fun he's having (the fun we're having) with the lurching and trembling and the lovely lovely bass, the way he can rage about the housing crisis and the Tories and make you dance at the same time. Some of these songs are as exciting as 'Fix Up, Look Sharp' and 'I Luv U' were in 2003, they're just a bit bleaker.
Anna Wood

Kemper Norton - Hungan

“As his soubriquet suggests, Cruel Coppinger was a man with one very notable quality. A fucking great Dane who washed up on the Cornish coast on the proverbial dark and stormy night, he waded through the waves and claimed a local named Dinah Hamlyn for his wife. Then he set up a crime empire and carried on being an all-round motherfucker. His son would be born deaf, mute and, it was said, without a soul. Coppinger would later disappear in another storm, carried away by the wind.”
Lee Arizuno Read the full review here

Tracks Of The Month

Jay Z - 'The Story of OJ'

Madonnatron - 'Tron'

Luis Fonsi - 'Despacito'

Blancmange - 'What's The Time?'

The Horrors - 'Machine'