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Albums Of The Month: Music We’ve Loved This February
AR Wood , February 23rd, 2018 08:41

This not-quite-spring is getting our hopes up, and these records are getting our spirits up. From The Skull Defekts to Insecure Men to Laurie Anderson, here are the albums we’ve loved this month - some we reviewed already, some we missed - plus tracks of the month. And: a request for your help

February sexbot illustration by Lisa Cradduck

Imbolc is the festival day to mark the beginning of spring, about halfway between the midwinter solstice and the spring equinox - this year it was 1 February. Traditionally Imbolc means that lambing season has begun, which doesn’t seem wildly relevant in the Quietus office on Pentonville Road but is no doubt a key fact for some of our readers. I have it on authority that a cohort of Sex Swing and Madonnatron fans live on a sheep farm just over the border with Wales and read The Quietus semi-religiously. Happy Imbolc, comrades. I suspect newborn lambs are big into the opening track on the Sunwatchers album, and an exhausted ewe would surely be soothed by Eric Chenaux’s ‘Wild Moon’ - scroll down to Tracks Of The Month for that one.

Now, listen. We’re going to ask you for some money. If you are skint, do not give us any money. But if you are financially solvent and you feel like giving us, oh, a tenner, you can do it here. It will go on rent for the tQ office, or server costs, or payment for our writers, or payment for us. We are not financially solvent, and we do work hard. (Not that we believe that there is any correlation between how hard you work and how rich you are, and nor should there be really, but that’s another topic for another day.) It’s possible that, if you give us £5 and set it to recur every month, we will go and buy biscuits and Yorkshire Tea. Even in the toughest times, we spend the extra pennies for Yorkshire Tea (always cheap biscuits, though). But first we’ll pay the writers and the rent.

Five quid a month. Go on. If you can afford it. Right here. THANK YOU. We love this job and we love this music and we do actually love you.

Albums Of The Month

The Skull Defekts - The Skull Defekts (Thrill Jockey)

Years or even decades after our salad days plenty of us seek out music that helps us revisit the chemically enhanced adventures of our youth. A mild audio analogue of the ecstatic trance or acid excursion seems to be a well documented effect of very good psychedelic music. But what about amphetamines though? The Skull Defekts, a Swedish art rock/post punk band who are unfortunately calling it a day after the release of this album on Thrill Jockey, fill this gap for me. The screw-face, nasty, hypnotic, compelling combination of clangorous bass, noise, minimalist drum patterns, the charnel house as art house vibrations and softly chanted lyrics make me grit my teeth till they splinter apart in my mouth. Most of it is more a satisfying experiment in propulsion vs tension vs psychic weight than anthemic creation but that’s not to say there aren’t stand-out bangers such as ‘Clean Mind’ as well. (Put this on your walking across the city at nighttime playlist next to ‘Fragrant Nimbus’ and ‘Six Sixes’.) JD

Miracle - The Strife Of Love In A Dream (Relapse)

After recent trips with Grumbling Fur, Laniakea and This Is Not Heat, interstellar sonic voyager Daniel O'Sullivan returns to planet Miracle for a second collaborative album with Zombi's Steve Moore. Once again the meeting of Moore's cinematic brushstrokes and O'Sullivan's weirdpop instincts is a terrific one, an outré and dramatic album of eight songs that cock a snoot at those who feel pomposity and bombast are not aspirations for these times. Take opening track 'The Parsifal Gate', a gigantic beast of a tune with the sort of drums last heard echoing around an eastern European stadium after a visit by Depeche Mode, O'Sullivan's voice chopped and monstrous, synths as energising as a leathery tickle of your perineum. If you're the right-minded sort of person who thinks harnessing the gothic melodic nous of Tears For Fears to a cinematic, grandiose production and guitar solos that come within sniffing distance of a Def Leppard, then this excellent record is for you. There's nuance here too, on 'Night Sides' thick fogs of noise are pierced by violin and vocal melody, while 'The Seventeen Nineties' synths stabs are of, well, at least 220 years later. 'Mind Environment', meanwhile, is glissant, solace. LT

Various Artists - Revolutionary Spirit: The Sound Of Liverpool 1976-1988 (Cherry Red)

This sprawling new set from Cherry Red Records groups a colossal outburst of Liverpudlian artists without much common thread and across a vast expanse of time that takes us from the heyday of the Eric’s punk scene through to the days before the dawn of acid house. The big names are there – Echo And The Bunnymen, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The La’s, A Flock Of Seagulls, The Teardrop Explodes et al - but what’s most enjoyable about this 5-disc set is the depths of obscurity it manages to mine. There’s barmy punk-dance from The Chuddy Nuddies’ ‘Do The Chud’, proto-rap funk from Royal Family & The Poor on ‘Art On 45’, and pop-gems-that-never-were aplenty all over this record; The Planets’ ‘Break It To Me Gently’ for example. Billed the ‘second wave’ of Merseyside music, it’s an impossible and interweaving scene to pin down properly, but this compilation encapsulates the breathless creative spirit of Britain’s most unconventional city like no other. PC

Suba - Wayang (Offen Music)

Plunging deeper into the archives left behind by Serbian producer Mitar Subotić (who died in a fire at his Brazil studio in 1999), the next release from Vladimir Ivkovic's Offen Music focuses on Subotić's Suba project, following on from a pair of archival releases as Rex Ilusivii. Where the Rex Ilusivii records focused on more minimal, stripped back compositions from Subotić's archives, Wayang sees the producer turn his focus to percussion, taking in the instruments of Brazil, the country he had relocated to shortly before recording this album. Across 11 pieces, recurring shamanistic chants and hypnotic drums come together with field recordings from the Brazilian rainforest and exquisite orchestral melodies to produce one of the most enchanting listens 2018 has yet had to offer. CE

Sunwatchers - II (Trouble In Mind)

Six tracks of swirling, soaring jazzy skronk from a New York quartet. You’ll see on their bandcamp page that they are righteously engaged with sociopolitical battles the world over, and that the money from this release goes to prison abolitionist organisations. If your worthy-but-dull antennae are twitching, do not fear - these gleaming and thundering songs are indeed righteous, and messy, and fabulous, and deeply pleasurable. AW

Go-Kart Mozart - Mozart’s Mini-Mart (Cherry Red)

“The songs zing past with outrageous velocity. No second is lost to aesthetic introversion. Furthermore - and given the record’s lo-fi status, this is the most remarkable fact of all - his command of simplistic, beguiling pop melody bulges from every track.” Mick Middles - read the full review here

Laraaji - Vision Songs, Vol. 1 (Numero Group)

"‘Hare Jaya Jaya Rama’, is a melding of the ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’ with the ‘Govinda Jaya Jaya’, a devotional chant often sung by the Krishna Consciousness movement. ‘Om Tryumbacom’ is a version of the ‘Tryambakam Mantra’, which in turn is a verse of The Rigveda, a collection of Indian Vedic Sanskrit Hymns. It is said to be beneficial for mental, emotional and physical health and indeed a ‘Moshka Mantra’, which is a chant which bestows longevity and immortality. Islam also plays a significant role on the album, most prominently on the track ‘Allah’. Featuring muses like “Allah, my brother. Allah, my universe. Allah, my healer,” it melds together to create tender music, reaffirming a love for life." Alex Weston-Noond - read the full review here

Insecure Men - Insecure Men (Fat Possum)

“The new single, ‘Teenage Toy’, is proper pop genius. Bursting with school-disco hormones and something even less savoury than that, packed with daft disco pow-pows and fairground organs, it has a kind of wonky wide-boy charm that’s a bit Ian Dury, a bit Jona Lewie, a bit Cockney Rebel. “There’s certain things you can’t accomplish alone,” he sings, with more of a sigh than a wink, a bit like Robert Wyatt now. The chorus comes late, over the ‘Be My Baby’ kick-kick-kick-snare, that archetypal teen-pop drum beat, and by that point you know that this is a sure-fire hit single in a world just slightly better than the one we’re currently in.” Anna Wood - read the full review here

Gnaw Their Tongues - Genocidal Majesty (Consouling Sounds/Tartarus)

“Gnaw Their Tongues is an interesting case among the many and varied musical identities adopted by Mories de Jong. Where Cloak Of Altering, Aderlating or De Magia Veterum, for instance, opt for a slightly straighter symphonic or even ambient(ish) take on the black metal form, and Seirom lifts off into something closer to cosmic shoegaze, Gnaw their Tongues plunges wrist-deep into the guts of human misery.” Richard Fontenoy - read the full review here

Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet - Landfall (Nonesuch)

At 70 minutes long, and divided into 30 tracks, Landfall flows with the inexorable sweep of the water that took Anderson’s possessions and memories and turned them into “junk”. True, this is the fate of all memories and possessions, but most of us, if we are lucky, will not consciously experience it. Yet a disaster for the householder may be a boon for the artist, when they are the same person. Anderson saw what the fortunate will not: she saw the physical dissolution of what she had, until that point, considered the substance of her life, and it was “beautiful . . . magic . . . catastrophic”, words which sum up as well as any the sensibility of the work she and Kronos Quartet have created as a consequence. David Bennun - read the full review here

Tracks Of The Month

Eric Chenaux - ‘Wild Moon’

If Eric Chenaux feels any tension between the opposing fundamentals of folk, pop and improv it certainly doesn’t show in the sublime ‘Wild Moon’, one of his most stripped back and languidly beautiful tracks to date. JD

Wild Fruit Art Collective – ‘Fabric’ (Heavenly)

Liverpool newcomers provide a wicked slice of twisted gloom and doom on their new single. PC

Razland - ‘Planned Chaos’

Some excellent sci-fi rave from teeny Cairo label Cyrdaeb.

Velvoir - ‘Jackboot’

Glam-psych-punk-rock from Newcastle Upon Tyne with raging fabulous trans frontwoman Verity Jasmine Bee.

Mark - 'Integrier Dich Du Yuppie' (A Colourful Storm)

Mark makes his return to Australian label A Colourful Storm for another outing of caustic, heavy-hitting D&B. CE

Jane Weaver - 'The Lightning Back' (Sex Swing remix)

Two of tQ's absolute favourites in unexpected but delightful sonic clash. Just wonderful. Roll on Scott Walker remixed by Burial. JD

Soothsayers - ‘Dis & Dat’

Brassy sweet soothing rage from south London afrobeat dub goodies.

Shannon & The Clams - ‘The Boy’ (Easy Eye)

Gold sequins, a heartbroken croon and some swinging exotica beats - more of the good stuff from the Oakland beauties.

Skinny Pelembe - ‘Spit/Swallow’ (Brownswood)

Trippy sunshine from new signing to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label. Excellent, even with that terrible title.

Rezzett - 'Yunus In Ekstasi' (The Trilogy Tapes)

One of the more delicate, hazy moments on the debut LP from The Trilogy Tapes mainstays Rezzett. CE

Thurston Moore – ‘Mx Liberty’ (Blank Editions)

Thurston Moore continues his prolific assault of fantastic tracks, this limited edition 7” is a superbly heavy offering. PC