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Music Of The Month: Things We've Loved This May
Christian Eede , May 31st, 2019 12:12

A selection of the finest albums, EPs and tracks that have received heavy rotation in our office this month, chosen for you by John Doran, Luke Turner, Christian Eede and Robert Barry

‘May Be’ by Lisa Cradduck

As we lurch into summer, it's time to revisit the best music from the month of May, as we bring you the usual round of albums and EPs, as well as tracks, that caught the attention of tQ's office team over the last four weeks.

Hey Colossus make a triumphant debut on Helm's Alter label two years on from their last LP, Caterina Barbieri demonstrates the power of woozy arpeggios on her new album for Editions Mego and the highly-anticipated debut full-length from slowthai arrives to much fanfare. There's all of that below, plus Holly Herndon and her AI-assisted ensemble of musicians, Sote's science-fiction explorations of Iran, twisted club music from Manchester's LOFT and more.

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Albums / EPs Of The Month

Hey Colossus - Four Bibles

There is a live wire buzz running through the entirety of Four Bibles. It’s there in the initial fade-in of ‘Bees Around the Lime Tree’ and holds through the fade out of the title track. It’s not a drone, though; the songs are too spiky for that. This warbling static prepares you for an onslaught of heaving, chugging rhythm. On first listen it sounds like getting hit by a sledgehammer of sludge, but the dimensions slowly come through. Three or four guitars (before the overdubs) can be hard to parse, but though the individual lines are difficult to distinguish, the layered effect moulds the sound. Amanda Farah - read the full review here

Caterina Barbieri - Ecstatic Computation

With its title alone Ecstatic Computation comes across as a celebration of the boundless possibilities of technology. The machines of Barbieri’s world are seductive and across six tracks and under 40 minutes, she throws herself into exploring this potential. Opener ‘Fantas’ spans ten minutes of oscillating sequencers, their rhythmic pulsations echoing dance music and throwing down a canvas for Barbieri to send out cascades of synthesizer melodies. There is a clear hint of the Klaus Schulze of Timewind or Moondawn, with wide and welcoming spaces into which the synths pierce like beams of light flowing from stained-glass windows into a cathedral. At times this combination of rhythm and atmosphere conjures memories of the headiness of early new age; at others something more akin to prog rock. ‘Fantas’ is big, bold, romantic, and somewhat spectacular, a celebration of the synthetic drone at its most humane and tactile. Joseph Burnett - read the full review here

slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain

slowthai’s pliable voice is the guiding force on everything. Wielding a whiplash delivery, coupled with a brittle, cracking timbre – as if, at any moment, he could surrender to his knees and crumble – nothing he says ever sounds unconvincing. Even if they're tiresome, the Dizzee Rascal comparisons hold particular weight: Both are high-octane, ADHD spitters, depicting life on the fringes of English life with an impeccable clearness. Where Dizzee screwed his similarly pinched voice into spare, structural grime, slowthai surfs across a smorgasbord of squelchy grime, drill bassiness and woozy hip-hop. Colin Gannon - read the full review here

Holly Herndon - PROTO

Each one of the tracks feeds off one another, trade processing power for instinct, make mistakes and rectify, awaken spirit within another. It’s a beautiful, worrying thing to witness – a machine that often knows more about us than we do ourselves beginning to find their own interpretation of its small world of human stimuli. But if PROTO’s central question is what are we heading toward, the answer must be a coming together. Michael Appouh - read the full review here

Robert Worby - Factitious Airs

The final of the initial three Persistence of Sound releases, Robert Worby's Factitious Airs, ventures farthest from the various found and sampled sounds it exploits. Not content with their natural state and inspired by the electronic works of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Henry, Worby plucks noises from their natural habitat, mangles them into a pulp, and rearranges them into idiosyncratic experiments. Antonio Poscic - read the full review here

Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated

The songs of Canadian popstar Carly Rae Jepsen have always succeeded best when capturing the heady rush of uncontainable emotional excess. With Dedicated, she leaves behind the wide-eyed whitebread pop of 2015's Emotion and 2011 breakthrough hit 'Call Me Maybe' in favour of a cooler, slinkier sound inspired by Donna Summer and Italo disco. But she's lost none of her exuberance, none of her gift for making pop melodies glisten brightly. Songs like 'Now That I've Found You' and 'No Drug Like Me' are already close to eliciting the same highs as earlier hits, with the latter, in particular, seemingly tailor made to soundtrack a wedding on Stranger Things. Robert Barry

Sote - Parallel Persia

Following the comparably sedate ‘Brass Tacks’, energy levels rocket: ‘Atomic Hypocrisy’ is a heart-attack horror soundtrack where Boulori’s hammered strings are sampled, mirrored by Ebtekar’s synths, then cast into a whirlpool of abstraction. ‘Alpha Terrain Of Disease’ is less gaspworthy in its tonal manoeuvres but no beatific soother, electroacoustic pluck and clang underpinned by drones of an unclear source. If you like the parts of Aphex’s Drukqs between its gabber and Satie-esque extremes, or The Civil War by Matmos, this is likely your kind of sound design. Noel Gardner - read the full review here

LOFT - and departt from mono games

Its 18-minute duration runs the gamut from threatening-aura electronics, the type subjecting a putative crowd of sweatjuiced ravers to would be frankly sadistic, to pulsating turn-on-a-sixpence breakbeat overload. ‘Lassanamae’ drops a semi-whispered monologue over an increasingly frantic digital drone, concluding with a mutter of “you fucking idiot”; ‘That Hyde Trakk’, trailed online a month before the rest of the EP, employs various tropes of 90s jungle, from the percussively tricksy builds to the deviation into wide-eyed ambient chords, before it all goes loco with some snare-rattle tearout biz that would have been called drill & bass in 1997. In between: ‘And Eats Itself And Eats Itself And Eats Itself’, electro/Sheffield bleep dismantled like border guards turning over a funky-smelling van, and ‘sSLABicks’, a drum machine on the verge of a nervous malfunction sparring with the imaginary tweeting birds flying round its head. Noel Gardner - read the full review here

Richard Skelton - Border Ballads

This album is a rich cartography of cello and viola contours, gentle piano streams that patter forth and dry up, all eddying and surging like a shaft of light piercing ragged clouds to illuminate, however briefly, a landscape in flux. The result is a deeply melancholic, reflective, evocative album that yet again shows the bizarrely marginal Skelton is in a class above and beyond the trite mundanity of most of the modern classical types doing the rounds at the moment, showing them up as the sonic lifestyle accessories they are. Somewhere in here might be ancient folk melodies of the English Scottish border regions in which the album was recorded, but the human voice is subsumed by this landscape music as effectively as the scrub woodland will one day rustle out across the rubble of our warms and homes. I see that too in the sleeve, the letters ‘AN’ and numbers ‘186’ as deep grooves in rock, as if a fragment of a forgotten memorial. Luke Turner

Tracks Of The Month

Clairo - 'Bags'

With its loose-strummed guitars and air-voiced vocals, Clairo's 'Bags' is exactly the kind of song I would normally do everything to avoid, but somehow in its quavering pub piano riff, oddly affectless delivery, and the perfectly-judged bridge and chorus melodies, it still has just enough of whatever weird magic made 'Pretty Girl' so irresistible when it hit YouTube two years ago. RB

JARV IS - 'Must I Evolve?

Jarvis Cocker debuts his new live experience JARV IS which sees him team up with a backing band consisting of Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Andrew McKinney, Jason Buckle and Adam Betts.

SPAZA - 'Ice Squinchies (Waiting For You)'

The first single from South African experimentalists SPAZA sounds equal parts incantation and cosmic message, with shades of Arthur Russell in its rolling congas and staccato strings. A trip, for sure. RB

Call Super - 'All We Have Is Speed'

One of current dance music's most distinctive and consistent producers steps out on Shanti Celeste's Peach Discs label for the first time with this sinuous club cut primed for reflective dance floor moments. CE

black midi - 'Talking Heads'

black midi preview their debut album, due out in June, with this agile, funk-driven track that goes some way to demonstrating just why they're receiving so much attention at the moment.

Crooked Man - 'Incapable'

Róisín Murphy has a voice custom built for deep house. Her recent series of four 12" EPs for The Music Factory made in conjunction with Maurice Fulton were superb but just a mere taster for this relentless banger made with Richard Barratt in his Crooked Man guise. More please. JD