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Music Of The Month: Albums & Tracks We’ve Loved This November
Patrick Clarke , November 30th, 2018 10:39

Before we get our whopper out next week, here's our little monthly roundup of joy and succour: with Audiobooks, Planningtorock, Big Joanie and a little gem from the isle of Eigg

‘Wet Centipede Of Woman (November)’ by Lisa Cradduck

This is our final monthly round-up of 2018, before our larger lists compiling and exploring the best of the year as a whole loom into view. Those lists require a sifting process that breeds a strange state of mind – fraught with anxiety due to its sheer scale and excitement for the final results. The merciful constant is the kind of music that you'll read about below, the appropriately hectic sounds of Audiobooks, for example, or the bombastic emotive genius of Laibach’s The Sound Of Music; Big Joanie’s vital celebration of black feminism, or Slow Tree’s straight-up beauty. Like all the rest of our 'best of the month' round-ups, what you hear and read about below is proof that, as frantic as the world gets, the music that arises from it will never let you down. We hope you enjoy this final primer for our biggest list of all, next Tuesday. Patrick Clarke

Albums of the Month

Jacco Gardner - Somnium

In 1608, Johannes Kepler wrote Somnium, a book in which he dreams of a pathway along which demons lead intrepid travellers from Earth to Levania, an island moon 50,000 miles away. Imagining the Earth as viewed from this moon, in Kepler’s rich, cosmic work lies both a founding stone of science fiction and a prediction of space travel whose science is perhaps surprisingly accurate. From this celestial source, half a millennium later, so too does Jacco Gardner find scope for work of tremendous imagination. His Somnium is notable not only for its scope, but for its lightfootedness. He captures both the majesty of his source and also its psychedelic joy. Patrick Clarke

Planningtorock – Powerhouse

“There’s lots of stuff on this album that could come across as tricky, as difficult, but I’m good – and I’m good because of this record,” says Rostron. “It was a healing record. This record was good for my health.” They’ve described this album as having “a radical vulnerability” – which is, I point out, a great phrase. “It’s a great experience as well. I highly recommend it,” they smile a huge relaxed smile. “It’s about becoming visible as a genderqueer person.” Read the full interview here

Big Joanie - Sistahs

As well as the wider statement its very existence makes, Sistahs is an exploration of individual experience. Lyrically introspective, the songs are often one-sided conversations, processing moments of change and frustration, bratty retaliation and loss. Less a political call to arms and more a “black punks have always been here” reclamation of space, musically Sistahs draws from an eclectic palette that includes 60s girl groups, jangle pop, lo-fi indie and punk. Melissa Steiner - Read the full review here

Slow Tree - Visitations Three

Although this is just an EP of four tracks and 22 minutes, it’s one of those records that’s so absorbing it has a strange warping effect on time and place. You can get lost in it, like one of those afternoons when everything’s gone wrong and there’s nothing to be done but stare at the ceiling, or the rain-streaked window on a long train ride. That’s not to say that this is a depressing listen. Perhaps it’s because they’re a couple who live in such an isolated place, but there’s a wonderful intimacy throughout Slow Tree. It doesn't sound like a record made in a few days as an experiment during a residency, but an outpouring of something shared. Luke Turner - read the full review here

Audiobooks - Now! (In A Minute)

It’s messy, but it’s not a mess. It’s all over the place, constantly shooting one way or another, but you’re on board with them wherever it is they’re going. In other hands an album as disparate and scattershot as this would fall flat, its moments of brilliance muddied by misfires. This is not one of those records. Perhaps the simple reason why is that Ling and Wrench are two extraordinarily gifted individuals. Wrench’s brilliance as a producer, mixer and solo musician has been heralded by many, and though Ling is a relative newcomer, her short time in Audiobooks has proven her to be similarly talented. This record is the product of these two talents combining, unconcerned with how much it might jar. Patrick Clarke - read the full review here

Laibach - The Sound Of Music

Laibach have made art out of the existence of a deeply repressive regime who persecute their own people and whose relationship with a temperamental adult-baby in the White House threatens the security of the globe, but it isn’t some exploitative, tactless, flippant gesture. To get to grips with the myriad grotesque and nightmarish situations that face us in this strange and uncomfortable era requires strange and uncomfortable art made by those who have empathy and understanding. We need more like Laibach, not fewer. Playful, poignant, sublime and ridiculous, in The Sound Of Music Laibach continue to hold up a mirror to a divided world. Luke Turner - Read the full review here

The Good The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land

Damon Albarn’s ‘supergroup’ is back, 11 years after their last album, with a record that sounds like a soundtrack to Banksy’s Dismaland. Hollow, resonant piano and fairground-style synths encapsulate Albarn’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics denoting everything right and wrong under London’s umbrella. Ellie Desborough

Hen Ogledd - Mogic

There is no voice, in terms of the album's actual orality or in the literary sense, that is consistent on Mogic – and it is magnificent as a result. It makes for a thrilling listen – the ultimate album that can't stay still. It also presents fascinating ideas regarding multiculturalism and pluralism. Mogic has no overarching tone or identity – it is a cauldron of values, consciousnesses and experiences. It is a reassuringly inviting and welcoming thing, even with its many abrasive elements and its experiments with sonic collage and curious effects. Barnaby Smith - read the full review here

Objekt - Cocoon Crush

It’s well known by now by those that closely follow his output that TJ Hertz, the DJ and producer better known as Objekt, applies an acutely systematic approach to his work, be it in the studio or the DJ booth. This methodical attention to detail can be heard across Hertz’ second album Cocoon Crush, which comes four years on from debut full-length Flatland. What’s most striking about this new record though - and certainly more so than its predecessor - is how such an approach doesn’t come at the expense of a certain element of human emotion, as could so easily be the case. Sure, you could marvel for days at the sound design on the ASMR-esque ‘Rest Yr Troubles Over Me’ (with its ominous incorporation of tolling bells, tinnitus tones, creeping footsteps and more) or the jittery off-grid percussion bursts of ‘Dazzle Anew’, and believe me I have. At the heart of Cocoon Crush though is a zest for rich melodies as Hertz takes a slight left-turn from the more synthetic traits of Flatland. Christian Eede

Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

A fuzzy racket, yes, from the Rhode Island grindcore-ists, but with soft sad blues and epic airy scale. It’s raging angry and it’s heartbroken-exhausted: did someone say Trump’s America?

Deena Abdelwahed - Khonnar

Born in Tunisia and now based in Toulouse, Deena Abdelwahed folds in Arabic instrumentation and influences from her upbringing through much of her debut album. "My music is socially engaged," she told Resident Advisor in an interview last year. The album's title is derived from an untranslatable Tunisian Arabic word which refers to taboo subjects and dark secrets. The lyrics, which are also mostly sung in Tunisian Arabic, see Abdelwahed exploring subjects of inequality in her native casting a critical eye over the police state and gender inequality. 'Tawa' combines traditional instrumentation with club-ready drum machines while 'Fdiha' is a heavy-hitting chugger that calls to mind some of the output of the Night Slugs camp. This ear for building dancefloor-focused grooves continues through much of Khonnar as Abdelwahed pushes against the notion that socially-conscious statements are best held at arm's length from such conventions. Christian Eede

Tracks of the Month

VÄLVĒ - ‘The Happening’
Joy Division twangy bass with melodica vibes, you say?, and a doomy deadpan choir of we've-had-quite-enough-of-this-bullshit-women? And it's fucking groovy. Whole EP is ace, and they're playing at the Quietus Social on Wednesday.

Cosey Fanni Tutti - ‘Tutti’
Title track from her album, out in February, with a vibe and a video that suggests there's something nasty but compelling in the woods of Norfolk.

These New Puritans - ‘Into The Fire’
At long last, These New Puritans return, albeit stripped back to just central brothers Jack and George Barnett. ‘Into The Fire’ is looming, glitchy and terrifying, but also boasts that obsidian beauty the band do better than any other.

King Princess - ‘Pussy Is God’
A R&B track with the word pussy in the title can only be a recipe for derogatory spiel of misogyny right? Wrong. King Princess delivers an empowering queer anthem celebrating all things female.

Laksa - ‘The Amala Trick’
London-based producer Laksa returns to Bristol's Timedance imprint with a downtempo cut centred around a full-bodied bassline, trip-hopping drums and distorted, soaring pads.

Nonames - ‘E Numbers feat Nolay, Dizmack and President T’
Foreign Beggars’ Nonames drops a stone cold, hard-as-nails grimey banger of the absolute highest order. ‘E Numbers’ is the pick of a killer new trio of tracks. PC

Stealing Sheep - ‘Jokin Me’
From their ace new album, out in spring, perfectly made weird-poppy laconic magic from Liverpool’s finest feminist synth sci-fi trio.

Overmono - ‘iii’s Front’
Brothers Tom 'Truss' Russell and Ed 'Tessela' Russell debut on Whities with their Overmono project with this stripped-back yet propulsive exploration of drum breaks and typically euphoric melodies.