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Albums Of The Month: Music We’ve Loved In November
The Quietus , November 24th, 2017 11:16

James Holden, Tetragrammacide, Gazelle Twin and Charlotte Gainsbourg: a pretty great dinner-party guestlist and also a few of our albums of the month.

No, dear reader, this is not our Albums Of The Year chart. Not yet. Just because you’ve seen another John Lewis Christmas advert and started to worry about where to go on New Year’s Eve, that doesn’t make it December. We’ll all be dead soon enough, so hold your horological horses. In a couple of weeks you’ll get to gorge on all our Best Hardcore, Best Jazz, Best Hip Hop, Best New Weird Britain, Best Metal, our Top 100 Best Everything Of 2017. But first, here’s the beautiful stuff from November - albums and tracks.

Godflesh - Post Self

The new album from Justin K Broadrick and GC Green's exalted industrial metal project Godflesh explores their more refined tendencies. That is to say, it’s a crushing, gnashing industrial crusher of a record but with a tempering spine of spartan industrialism. Rather than let themselves loose in an enormous looming cloud of desolate blackness, on Post Self the band anchor themselves around ruthless nihilistic churns. And if anything, they're even more sickeningly intense for it. Patrick Clarke

Call Super - Arpo

I’ve used various opportunities on these pages in recent years to gush about the work of Joe Seaton, better known as Call Super, whether that’s in his unpredictable DJ sets, captured magnificently in his fabric 92 mix CD earlier this year, or his productions for labels like Houndstooth, The Trilogy Tapes and Dekmantel. Arpo, Seaton's second album, sees him continue further down a path previously touched on in past work, in which jazz and techno form natural bedfellows. Appearing on a number of the album’s tracks, as he did on 2014’s Suzi Ecto, his father, Dixieland player David Seaton, provides clarinet accompaniment to some of the album’s most arresting tracks, such as ‘Arpo Sunk’ and closer ‘Out To Rust’. Having carved out a distinctive place in the dance music scene for himself in recent years, Seaton once again uses the album format on Arpo to play to all of his strengths. Christian Eede

Ore - Belatedly
(Box Records)

Sam Underwood describes his tuba as “an extension of my own pipework; my resonant frequency”, and on his new album it does seem to be part of him. You can hear his quick inhalations in between the slow grumbling and oddly comforting exhalations of his tuba. The big brass instrument is a comfort blanket, a way to make his heavy sighs louder and lovelier, an imaginary friend; at times he seems like a half-man, half-tuba cyborg. The album is ‘belatedly’ because Underwood began making it as a present for his father, who had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and was unable to finish it before his dad died just eight months later. He let go of his original attempt, began again, and this album is the result of that renewed impetus. Beyond the shock and grief at losing a parent, there are stories hidden all over these songs; the inscrutable, frequently oreish quotidian-but-cosmic song titles are intriguing too - ‘Bauxite’, ‘Kazuyuki’, ‘Vanadium’, ‘Sof’. The first side is Underwood alone, on simple, rich, gut-deep compositions; on side B he’s joined by oud, contra bassoon, baritone horn and more - the result is less soulful and more unsettling than the earlier songs, and every bit as appealing. Anna Wood

Gazelle Twin - Kingdom Come
(Anti-Ghost Moon Ray)

"What is this?” When Gazelle Twin surprise-released new album Kingdom Come on Friday November 17, I put a quick post up on the site along with a brief story explaining that this was the soundtrack to a live AV show (called Kingdom Come With Two Vocalists), but it still attracted confused comments on Facebook from people still not really sure what was going on. Of course, an ability to cause confusion isn't enough on its own to herald the arrival of a great artist but it is remarkable, in the real sense of the word, how rare it is to see this agency when usually all art comes in commodified, mediated, easy-to-process over-explained modules. Elizabeth Bernholz's hermetically sealed vision is true, in that she has created her own world with its own internal logic and rules; a world that doesn't seem to interact with much outside of her perimeter event horizon. A world that, for the most part, she refuses to explain. After sealing her aesthetic of creating post dubstep and industrial techno ballads in the face of body horror; after using the systematic dismantling of her own personality via makeup, costume and extreme vocal manipulation in order to divine a deeper universal truth about physical and mental illness on 2014's Unflesh, she immediately refused to consolidate any of this, and instead chose to upset each and every assumption about what Gazelle Twin actually is. Recently she masterminded the Kingdom Come stage show which featured two vocalists (Natalie Sharp/The Lone Taxidermist and Stuart Warwick, wearing costumes that led many to believe they were actually Elizabeth and her husband Jez Bernholz) performing on treadmills in front of specially commissioned films of shopping malls and underground carparks, shot by Chris Turner and Tash Tung, in a project loosely inspired by JG Ballard's last novel. And now it's an album. But what is it? Well, that's for you to figure out. John Doran

James Holden & The Animal Spirits - The Animal Spirits
(Border Community)

“It’s quite a feat to create something so universal, something that uses so many influences to push outside of time and place, without erasing any of the specifics. There are risks with magpie-ing other people’s musical cultures, and Holden has talked about them: ‘Do you take this foreign music and squash it into your paradigm? Is that okay to do that? … No, it would really disrespectful… It has to be a meeting in the middle… Otherwise, it’s going to be something offensive, exoticism.’ It works - this is a meeting of so many people, ideas, energies, ‘maximum individualism within the framework of spontaneous egalitarian interaction,’ as jazz musician George Lewis wrote, and it is wonderful.” Anna Wood - read the full review here

Tetragrammacide - Primal Incinerators Of Moral Matrix
(Iron Bonehead)

Okay, let's address the elephant in the room. Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix, the debut album proper by Indian black metal band Tetragrammacide, is no Typhonian Wormholes: Indecipherable Anti​-​Structural Formulæ (their 2015 EP, which was the sonic equivalent of watching everyone you have ever met melting like the Nazis at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark) - but then, what is? The band, talking to this site recently, described their slight shift in production values thus: "It is rather about intuitively unveiling the dreadful probabilistic faces of indeterminable chaos beneath the surface of the world of formation and structure, so our creations would never formulate under a fixed template so to speak." Slight studio tweaks aside, this is still a sickening edifice of existential trauma, a sonic artefact of a world balanced on the lip of catastrophic vacuum decay... but with slightly higher production values. And still, somehow, it remains more morally righteous than the Morrissey album. John Doran

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest

“Having read from other people’s scripts and sung other people’s words for most her career, her decision to pen nearly all of Rest’s lyrics herself is a move that pays ample dividends. Sticking to what makes her feel most comfortable, she sings the majority of verses in French then switches to English for the choruses. Constantly flipping between the two prevents the album from ever feeling fixed in place, a fitting tactic for its medium-hopping, jetsetting, bilingual creator. Passages from nursery rhymes, wedding vows and Christmas animation theme songs are chopped up and repurposed in unpredictable ways; the linguistic crutches often required when writing in a second language work to her advantage to create something beguiling, unconventional and utterly of her own." Josh Gray - read the full review here

Reissues & Compilations

Pauline Anna Strom - Trans-Millenia Music
(RVNG Intl.)

“Given the cosmic, futuristic leanings of the instrumentation, coupled with the classical, film-score motifs in tracks like 'Morning Splendor' and 'Gossamer Silk', it's understandable that many have pointed out the sense of timelessness to Strom's work. But the notion of time seems to stretch even beyond this collection's sonic parameters. Trans-Millenia Music feels like a body of work completely distant from a need to be placed in a contemporary context.” Eoin Murray - read the full review here

Hiroshi Yoshimura - Music For Nine Postcards
(Empire of Signs) It seems that Hiroshi Yoshimura reissues are like buses: you wait ages for one and then two come along at once. Following the reissue last month of Pier & Loft via Chee Shimizu’s 17853 label, Music For Nine Postcards marks the second repress of material from the much-loved Japanese ambient composer and inaugurates a new imprint from Visible Cloaks’ Spencer Doran and Root Strata label head Maxwell August Croy. Where Pier & Loft was carried along by sprightly minimalist cuts like ‘Wavy-patterned Ice Cream’ and ‘The Sea In My Palm’, Music For Nine Postcards hones in on the more forlorn reaches of Yoshimura’s catalogue. Mostly centred around his piano and electric organ, it's the perfect soundtrack to wintery moments of retreat. Christian Eede

Tracks Of The Month

Equiknoxx - ‘Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel’
Opening out on a sparse wave of printer-generated rhythms, the lead track from Equiknoxx’s debut album proper settles into the kind of unrivalled experimental riddims and squawking bird sound effects many have come to associate with the duo in the wake of last year’s Bird Sound Power.

SPQR - 'Or So I Say'
Literally the only good straight-up rock band in Liverpool right now have released their debut EP. Its lead track is a wonky-yet-forceful delight.

Foreign Beggars - 'Toast'
Alix Perez, Izzie Gibbs and Dismack trade bars on the 2017 banger to end all 2017 bangers.

Terekke - ‘Mix 91’
‘Mix 91’, the highlight of Amsterdam-based producer Terekke’s debut album Plant Age, calls to mind a kind of dub techno bubblebath, its airy synths and throbbing bassline coming together with deeply satisfying results.

East Man & Darkos Strife - ‘Look & Listen’
Typically futuristic, stark, muscular and insistent production from Anthoney Hart - here joined by plosive, pointilist MC Darkos raining death from above. A preview of his debut East Man album, due in February on Planet Mu.

Snapped Ankles - ‘The Invisible Real That Hurts (Danalogue Dirty Orbit Mix)’
The excellent Dan Leavers from Comet Is Coming adds softness, swirl, squelch and indeed a bit of dirt to a standout track from Snapped Ankles' standout album.

M.E.S.H. - ‘Search. Reveal.’
M.E.S.H's new direction is like the bit in Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle declares: "From this point on it will be 50 push ups every morning, 50 pull-ups. There'll be no more pills, there'll be no more bad food, no more destroyers of my body. From now on, it will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight." A righteous step up in quality and intensity.

Hamad Kalkaba - ‘Astadjam Dada Saré’
From Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, out in two weeks on Analog Africa, an absolute diamond piece of late-70 groove, soul and brass magic from northern Cameroon.

Martin Rach - ‘Polymonus’
Improvisation with piano, Korg Volca FM, Korg Volca keys, Yamaha speakers, Roland VT-3, mixer and zoom recorder, from an album called Pentacycloops aka “music of cyclops, five, in an odd loop”. Soothing, unsettling, and really good.

Nhoah - ‘Abstellgleis (808 State Remix)’
Mancunian rave godfathers remix a new track by the long-loved Berlin electronic musician. Much yelling of “OOOOF!” and “CHOOOOOON!” ensues. A reet banger.