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Music Of The Month: Albums & Tracks We’ve Loved This January
AR Wood , February 1st, 2019 08:35

Nkisi to Sharon Van Etten, Fat White Family to Rian Treanor, Comet Is Coming to Deep Tan: some of the finest and juiciest new releases from the past month. It’s almost enough to make you forget about BREXIT

‘January’ by Lisa Cradduck

The seasonal affective disorder is kicking in (we’re not being flippant: the seasonal affective disorder is kicking in) and the news reliably depicts a more and more densely betwatted all-systems clusterfuck. But our resolutions this year at The Quietus are to have more fun, make more money and spend more time in the glorious outdoors; as if by magic Fat White Family have released the first single from their upcoming album, and ‘Feet’ is a perfect chunk of joy – hedonistic to its bones, richer than Soreen and more glorious than the Grand Canyon. So it is the soundtrack to our year so far, along with the rest of these beauties – from Leon Vynehall to The Cool Greenhouse to Gum Takes Tooth.

As we hara-kiri our way out of Europe with a rusty spoon, let’s comfort ourselves with the knowledge that beautiful filthy music knows no international borders and will not ask for your passport or judge you for living in an atrophied democracy, a country which is basically the Fyre Festival but with Bognor Regis instead of the Bahamas.

Music is truly the universal balm, dear friends. Let’s rub it in all over.

Albums Of The Month

Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album presents her richest emotional palette yet, a record that is delightfully varied but tied together by the force of the musician’s talent. At times its subtly hypnotic, at others brilliantly brash, poppy and direct – Van Etten casts the same shadowy spell over it all. A towering achievement. Patrick Clarke

Brìghde Chaimbeul – The Reeling

The first impression of Brìghde Chaimbeul's album, The Reeling, is the simplicity of her music. The clean notes of the Scottish smallpipes seem almost to play themselves, cascading from the instrument like water. It is only gradually that the full complexity begins to unfold, bringing with it a delicious sense of discovery. Instructions from the record label - River Lea, a new traditional music outlet set up by Rough Trade's Geoff Travis, Jeannette Lee and Tim Chipping - are to play it loud. This is not a standard requirement for folk music, but turning the volume reveals the layers of live sound that makes this record something special. Tom Bolton – read the full review here

Nkisi – 7 Directions

This album is dedicated to Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, author of African Cosmology Of The Bantu-Kongo. You can feel this influence in the record, where ebbing and flowing polyrhythms feel like ocean tides holding you aloft and taking you places. “In a weird way, it’s like magical realism,” says Nkisi. “To work with the senses and be able to put people in a type of trance.” It’s psychoacoustics, too, something else Nkisi talks about in interviews – finding out how the body and the memory is affected by sounds and rhythms. She’s making connections – between people, across time and space, in a way that is resilient, sustainable, pleasurable, powerful. Anna Wood – read the full review here

Leon Vynehall – DJ-Kicks

The edgy, panic-button dub of Tomaga’s ‘Giant Bitmap’; slo-mo proto-industrial rock menace from the fabled (and reborn) Bourbonese Qualk; rippling piano and body-shudder bass from Dave Ball and Genesis P Orridge; and, to close, three minutes of solo piano from Robert Haigh: this 77-minute mix is an entertaining, enlightening dive into the peculiar recesses of Vynehall’s taste – nearly every selection feels like a curveball. Noel Gardner – read the full review here here

Deerhunter – Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

These songs lament the state of our culture, the crisis of our humanity, our desensitisation, and our lack of care for our planet, each other, and all else that lives on it, but they also seem to signal a sort of acceptance. This album isn’t a call-to-arms or doom merchantry, but rather a poetic statement of fact – short stories of and for the anthropocene, the product of a resignation to our inevitable demise. We’re lucky to have got this far, anyway – is it not truly remarkable that everything hasn’t already disappeared? Diva Harris – read the full review here

Toy – Happy In The Hollow

Toy seem to be having fun again. They’ve apparently rediscovered that they can write terrific pop songs which, like a glimpse of a sunlit lake though a gap in the forest’s edge, are at their best when they’re surrounded by psychedelic racket, rather than being immersed in it. ‘Last Warmth Of The Day’ does this perfectly, a simple guitar line (oddly reminiscent of Urge Overkill’s ‘Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon’) shines forth from a languid but actually quite menacing backing. ‘Energy’ is especially good, fast and furious as a whitey where your thumbs have gone weird and you need to be helped to the nearest chair. Luke Turner – read the full review here

Various – Third Noise Principle: Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984 (Cherry Red)
You’ll appreciate, I hope, how the dividing line between hipster and nerd is often tenuous or imperceptible; here, similarly, we find unsung prophets whose technological acumen and fave raves occupied the cutting edge of their era, yet they remained wilfully difficult oddballs with no interest in music-scene social climbing, or perhaps no ability for it. ‘Intermission: Pop’ by Lon C Diehl, a member of Michigan industrial band Hunting Lodge (who feature later on), is so titled because it was designed to be played between noisier live sets as a “palate cleanser”. In hindsight, it seems wild that it was ascribed such a benign role – or that this sternly steely proto-techno clank was getting aired in 1983. ‘First Mutation’ by Kevin Lazar, a Chicago synth head who released a sole tape the year before (this track is previously unreleased, presumably from around the same era), is even more boggleworthy, a chattering meltdown driven by hectic proto-Phuture 303 abuse. Smersh’s contribution here, ‘What The Peeper Saw’, is clammy ambient clonk and not especially futuristic for 1984, but if I may go off-piste I’ll talk up the New Jersey duo’s later glomming onto techno and acid house, such as this crypto-mnml bubbler from 88 – they deserve their recent and part-posthumous coronation as outsider rave royalty. Noel Gardner – read the full review here

Gum Takes Tooth – Arrow (Rocket)

If we inhabited the best of all worlds, Arrow would be a stone-cold game changer for Gum Takes Tooth, such is its sheer muscular, psychedelic jouissance. It is a towering obelisk of impervious magnificence and timeless surety rising high above a roiling, acid sea of anxiety whipped up by the cultural collapse caused by western decline, eschatological panic and general 2019 quotidian fuckery. It is an album whose mere existence will make the seasoned listener stop in their tracks, look skyward and nod thankfully at a salmon pink and rosebud red sunset of fractal shapes. So many studio-focused groups have tried to do the drums and synths go psychedelic kraut metal disco thing in the past but damn near all of them have got lost, at one stage or other, down relatively sterile production and authenticity rabbit holes instead of just opening the fuck up on all channels and heading off into the unknown. John Doran

Tracks Of The Month

Comet Is Coming – ‘Summon The Fire’
In times of worldwide bullshit, we need to trust in the lifeforce of the deep mystery. And so to Comet Is Coming, who release their new album Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery in a few weeks, and meantime keep our spirits up, our heads high and our hearts engaged with these four minutes of bracing, emboldening jazz-rave beauty. So good it almost makes you cry. AW

Teeth Of The Sea – ‘I'd Rather Jack’
An impertinent zesty banger from Teeth Of The Sea, bodes well for new long player, Wraith. JD

Basses Terres - 'Yōru No Satori.' (ft. Mika Oki)
Sound design takes centrestage on this deeply affecting brass-driven track from Basses Terres’ latest EP for Lyon's BFDM crew. Featuring sound artist Mika Oki, it sees the label taking a diversion from the more breakbeat-centred club fare of past releases. CE

Deep Tan – ‘Air’
This is the very first single from Deep Tan, who are from Hackney and who are mates with Madonnatron. Three interesting enough facts, but we’ve picked this cos it has a beautifully cool tumbling drum riff, a warm and beguiling sci-fi soundtrack vibe, and a very sexy bit of singing in French (yep, I can say that cos I’m a woman; suck it up, fellas). AW

Little Simz - ‘Selfish’
The brilliant Little Simz spits irresistible mellow bars over a beautiful Dilla-esque jam.

International Teachers Of Pop – ‘The Ballad Of Remedy Nelsson’
Like The Human League if ecstasy had got to Sheffield a couple of years earlier. AW

The Cool Greenhouse – ‘Cardboard Man’
There’s a satisfying hatred for David Cameron running through this song, like a livid backbone rather than a ranting rash. But we chose it for its arch and delicious vocals, the tickles of bedroom electronics and most of all for the flat-twang riff that never stops and drives you slightly mad (yes, like Brexit). AW

Rian Treanor - 'ATAXIA_D1'
Following EPs with The Death Of Rave and Arcola, Rian Treanor previews his debut album on Planet Mu with the intricate yet firmly danceable rhythms of this untitled cut. CE

Fat White Family – ‘Feet’
'First We Take Manhattan' Len Cohen wanders off up into the Algerian mountains with a broken Berber drum machine, an old cassette of Sylvester bangers, a string section and a head full of ket. Awesome, in other words. JD