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Albums Of The Month: Music We Loved In August
AR Wood , September 4th, 2017 08:27

LCD Soundsystem, Ethereal Logic, Liars, Nadine Shah and Lone Taxidermist: here's some of the music that made the sun shine in our hearts this month

Summer's over. It's raining. We're tired. We don't have any money. (Well, we have a bit of money.) When the weather is gloomy, when your friends are all busy at work, the cat is ignoring you and social media is turning you into a glassy-eyed husk: what to do? LCD Soundsystem is what to do, the new album, and then again, LOUDER. Nadine Shah. Her album will invigorate you. (The hour of radio she did for us last week will give you joy.) I find that when my mood needs a little lift or a gentle caress, I can generally rely on Shabaka Hutchings or, indeed, any jazzy rave stuff. You might find Ethereal Logic more helpful. Or Liars. The new Liars record has certainly helped me out over the past couple of weeks, and Circuit Des Yeux, and James Holden, whose forthcoming album is full of unearthly and earthly delights. Details of all these medicinal musical treasures, and more, below. You'll find that the weather is always fine when you play the right records, and the sleepiest soul gets lively when it hears the right song.

Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar and Shabaka Hutchings - A.R.E. Project

"A beautiful meeting on the astral plane between electronic outlier Hieroglyphic Being and contemporary UK jazz champs Sarathy Korwar and Shabaka Hutchings. Edited down from two epic live improvisations, the four tracks on this EP aren’t really jazz, but who cares when they sound this luscious? The three musicians integrate elements of spiritual jazz, Indian classical and acid into a blissed-out cosmic flow, as if Jon Hassell had wandered into his Fourth World with a bag of pills and a clutch of Balearic mixes." Stewart Smith (reviewed in our Complete Communion column here)

Ethereal Logic - Tales From An Extraordinary Trip
(Slow Life)

Based in Berlin and helmed by a six-person Spanish-Italian group of DJs and friends, Slow Life has built gradually over the past three years with their 11th release, this album from Ethereal Logic, further demonstrating the label’s propensity to showcase music that doesn’t just aim for the dancefloor. Having delivered sleek, minimal-leaning house music from producers such as S Moreira and 100 Hz, the debut album from Ethereal Logic (the project of S Moreira and Indi Zone) is an entirely ambient affair, built around immersive drones and rich, warming melodies. On opener ‘Final Adjustments’ the pair twist and contort guitar chords around otherworldly sound design, while ‘Hidden Path’ plunges us into a sun-dappled forest with distant birdsong buried deep in the mix among twinkly synths and bursts of noise. ‘The Lobster And The Crab’ aptly enough takes us underwater, the track permeated by submerged, bubbling sound effects, with loops sounding like they’re disintegrating as they progress. ‘Asteroid Field B121’ ticks along, underpinned by rafts of bass and blunted beats, with ‘Moon Turn Tides’ adding further bassweight, the kind usually reserved for the most pleasing of DMZ records - no doubt it’d sound even better on the most capable of soundsystems. Tales From An Extraordinary Trip lives up to its name, guiding you through different moods and settings across its 13 tracks. Ethereal Logic have proved that ambient music can be equal parts odd and comforting. Christian Eede

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

"It is Bowie who gets the last word on American Dream. Murphy worked with his idol on Blackstar, but has spoken of his discomfort and anxiety at being in the studio. Accordingly, the last song on this album bows its head humbly and without sententiousness. A pulsing tone – like a computer’s sleep light – opens 'Black Screen', gently followed by a quiet, ricocheting beat and a wobbly synth melody. On the album as a whole, Murphy’s voice sounds more open and less affected than ever before. Here, he is quiet and robotic. “Couldn't make our wedding day,” he sings, “Too sick to travel.” The song is beautiful because it is imprecise, a sorting-through of feelings and wonderings: “I owe you dinner, man,” he starts, then, “I owe you something.” It is dreadfully tender. Murphy sings of sifting through old emails, and of one in correspondence in particular: with a crumpling realness, he sings, “Your quick reply / Made me high.” It is deeply understated, fading to an exploratory, simple piano coda, offering infinite spaciousness. Sophie Harris (read the full review here)

Iona Fortune - Tao Of I
(Optimo Music)

The Scottish underground is in fine fettle at the moment, with labels like Night School knocking it out the park, along with recent brilliant LPs from the likes of Happy Meals and self-sucking wronguns Total Leatherette, and a triumphant 20th birthday rave from the good people of Optimo. Now comes a record by composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Iona Fortune, who DJs and whatnot with the Optimo-affiliated So Low label/club nights. Although SL's promo material always offers tantalising promises of sturdy electronic music from the Throbbing Gristle diaspora, Fortune's new LP Tao Of I doesn't sound like it's directly inspired by that - this is no mere copyism. Instead, eight murmuring tracks of watery gamelan and gently rattling rhythms constructed on a range of instruments including the EMS Synthi AKS come close to the otherworldly atmospheres conjured by Coil's Moon's Milk or Carter Tutti's later ambient work. With seven further albums exploring the philosophy of the I Ching to come, the future Fortune journey promises to be a cosmic one. Luke Turner

Lone Taxidermist - Trifle

Welcome to the world of Lone Taxidermist. A chaotic realm of poisonous cocktails, thwarted lust, 6am dancehalls and a cast of characters standing on the verge of epiphany. This world was created by Natalie Sharp - part Northern poet, part cosmic synth diva, part London nightbus chronicler. Joined in this endeavour by Philip Winter (of Wrangler/Tunng, on bass) and Will Kwerk (electronics), she has recorded a joyous and inimitable album, Trifle. Welcome to their world, where the bleak shall inherit the earth. John Doran

Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination

"But it’s on ‘Out The Way’ where Shah and Hillier truly excel themselves. Eldritch, off-kilter guitars and stabbing bass runs temper the martial beats with a thoroughly disturbing and nagging piece of sax blowing, and the result is hypnotically beguiling and utterly compelling. One imagines it’s a lot like looking at a nuclear blast; it can only lead to trouble yet it’s so difficult to tear the eyes away. This is the kind of music Manic Street Preachers should have made after The Holy Bible instead of the tepid quasi-metal that’s been their frequent default setting. The music is driven with precision and a meticulous eye for detail. And here again is that double-edged sword, because it never feels mechanical or unfeeling. Indeed, it’s as if the sentiments at the heart of these songs are, like their subject matter, fighting against fastidious and unyielding rules." Julian Marszalek (read the full review here)

Housewives - FF061116
(Rocket Recordings)

The second album from south London Housewives, now worthy stablemates to Hey Colossus and Gnod at Rocket Recordings, contains rage and skronk, tumbling drums and half-strangled wails, as well as soothing warm buildups and music to jerk-dance to. Opener 'Excerpt 1' is relaxing, but in the way that a frog might find a pan of water relaxing until it begins to simmer. Thereafter we are in roiling territory, with locked-tight rhythms and half-formed vocals, juddering drones and dizzying electronics. It's strong stuff, and lovely. Anna Wood

Liars - TFCF

"TFCF is markedly different from its predecessors. Recorded by Andrew alone in his new Australian home, it's the sound of someone blinking their eyes open in a new reality, as if he were a Robinson Crusoe working out how to survive with the means at his disposal on the shoreline. It feels not only like a man trying to find his musical feet but perhaps himself too, in returning to the country where he was born. Just look at those track titles, all nervously putting stepping into new ground, uncertain at what might be there - 'Cred Woes', 'The Grand Delusional', 'Cliche Suite', 'Staring At Zero'. There's no concept to this Liars album, perhaps for the first time, aside from Andrew obviously, viscerally at times, trying to make sense of who he is and what he does, and why." Luke Turner (read the full review here)

Madonnatron - Madonnatron

From first song (and lead single) 'Headless Children', we are inside an unsettling and catchy album. The bass and the synth make you dance, the vocals are murky, half-buried, and you can't quite tell where the voice is coming from. You strain to hear and you might catch something like “tears in the eyes of your lover” (on 'Tron') or “life expectancy” ('Wedding Song') or “take them to the river, maybe to drown” ('Headless Children'). The lyrics are poking up from dark recesses, making you lean in close so they can lick your ear, or belch in it, or just give you the creeps." Anna Wood (read the full review here)

Tracks Of The Month

Octo Octa - 'Adrift' (Avalon Emerson's Furiously Awake Version)
(Honey Soundsystem)

Kelela - 'LMK'

Chandeliers - 'Snake Bomb'
(Potions Music)

Circuit Des Yeux - 'Paper Bag'
(Drag City)

Gary Numan - 'And It All Began With You'

James Holden & The Animal Spirits - 'Pass Through The Fire' 
(Border Community)

Mary Epworth - 'Me Swimming'
(Sunday Best)