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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of February 2020
Patrick Clarke , February 28th, 2020 07:25

From Katie Gately to Beatrice Dillon via the ghost of Mark E. Smith, here's our guide to the best albums and tracks released in February

January was one of the strongest starts to a musical year I can remember, a month where bold and brilliant songs appeared seemingly every day.

It's set a pretty enormous standard, but if the collection of albums and tracks below is anything to go by, 2020 looks set to maintain that terrific standard. If you read on below, you'll find sledgehammer grime instrumentals from Spooky, crisp and delicate beats in the debut album from Beatrice Dillon, monstrous walls of noise in the latest album from Six Organs Of Admittance, and even a showing from the late, great, Hip Priest himself.

As ever, you'll also find our summary of some of the best new tracks that have popped up online over the last four weeks, taking in a track from a former signee of tQ's record label and even a track from a former tQ contributor, amongst others.
Patrick Clarke

ALBUMS

Beatrice Dillon - Workaround
(PAN)

Whether weaving on industrial machines or creating electronic components by hand, each process takes a huge amount of human-to-human choreography and man-machine cooperation. The spirit of this kind of embodied assembly infects the sounds that evolve on Beatrice Dillon’s debut solo LP, Workaround, released via PAN. A delicate balance of analogue instrumentation working alongside crisp electronic beats reigns throughout, while confident rhythms are pushed to the foreground. The album’s nuanced sense of ultra-clean space – its utter, unabashed lack of grit – initially feels wilful and even jarring in our current age of hyper-saturated and effects-laden production. And then it becomes infectious.
Kristen Gallerneaux - read the full review here

Jan St. Werner - Molocular Mediation
(Thrill Jockey)

On Mouse on Mars member Jan St. Werner’s new record Molocular Meditation, the ghost of the late Mark E. Smith escapes Hades and materialises in St. Werner’s studio as that hobgoblin on the cover of the ‘City Hobgoblins’ single. Though the album finds St. Werner re-editing a set of songs that were originally recorded in 2014 at the Cornerhouse, Manchester, in the guise of a multi-channel installation, it’s nigh impossible to not hear the album as a voodoo ritual calling to Smith beyond the grave, demanding he make his physical presence, his voice, and his words known once more.
Adam Lehrer

Spooky - Lost Dubz
(Ghost House)

Spooky (otherwise known as Spartan Spooky, or Spooky Bizzle, or even by his most recent nickname El Clarto) has decided to take us back to grime’s years in the doldrums with a compilation of beats he produced between 2007–11. Released on his own label, Ghost House, it’s a thrilling, unrelenting affair, a blitzkrieg of twenty percussive, sledgehammer-subtle, in-your-face instrumentals that rain down on your eardrums for almost one and half hours.
James Butterworth - read the full review here

Katie Gately - Loom
(Houndstooth)

Katie Gately's second album is largely informed by grief, produced and recorded after her mother was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer and dedicated to her memory following her passing in 2018. As you might expect, it takes a decidedly different tack from Gately's 2016 full-length debut, Color, which brought to the fore her hyperactive approach to vocal effects and sampling via a collection of shining pop-adjacent cuts. Gately's distinctive approach to sampling and twisting her own voice is still very much central to Loom, but in tracks like the 10-minute 'Bracer', she opens herself up more than ever, laying her voice bare alongside little more than a wave of ominous drones and thudding surges of percussion. It's a move that gives her work a greater sense of focus than ever before.
Christian Eede

Pulled By Magnets - Rose Golden Doorways
(Glitterbeat)

Pulled By Magnets’ debut album Rose Golden Doorways feels like something deeper than just another addition to Seb Rochford's discography. There is too much power behind the music to see it like that. There is such an overwhelming force behind its crashes of noise and such plunging depth to its contrasting moments of quiet, that it’s hard to separate it from the immense personal journey that Rochford undertook before its making. The album sounds like the process of ripping away at one’s own humanity in search of some kind of core; the music is colossal, destructive and all-consuming.
Patrick Clarke - read the full review here

Six Organs Of Admittance - Companion Rises
(Drag City)

All the looping and processing means Companion Rises has hallmarks of glitchy IDM such as the raw metallic percussion textures similar to those on Autechre’s Chiastic Slide. Each instrument seems to be produced in one of two styles: it’s either mired in sonic detritus like heavy processing and digital degradation; or presented coldly and clinically without embellishment or varnish like the bright acoustic guitar on ‘Two Forms Moving’ and ‘Haunted and Known’. The effect of this binary is songs that feel layered and granulated; they buckle and bulge while still marching onwards.
Will Ainsley

Richard Skelton - LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM
(Aeolian Editions)

The album title refers to the period in Earth’s history, 20,000 years ago or more, where the proportion of ice sheets covering land and water was at its highest. Accordingly, these compositions are extraordinarily sparse and austere, paper-thin layers of isolationist drone which I assume to have been created via synthesiser but which often have the feel of a scarcely-processed field recording one might find on the Touch label. LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM makes Skelton’s last album proper, Border Ballads, look equivocal and accessible by contrast: certainly, none of its agreeable ripples of piano are reprised on this effort. A sop to avant-classical territory does arrive with the penultimate piece, whose string parts sally forth with suitably glacial grandeur.
Noel Gardner - read the full review here

Wrangler - A Situation
(Bella Union)

"If you say that 40 years ago the lyrics of Cabaret Voltaire were about religion, the apparatus of state control, paranoia and the media being used as a weapon of control, then today, with Wrangler the paranoia is still there. Yeah! We’re still paranoid people it’s just that it’s about slightly different things now. We’re still questioning power but some of the tools of power have changed. Were we very conscious of state machinery back then, it’s now about corporate machinery. So a lot of the stuff we worry about now is social media. Is it state media? The forces are still there but they’re wearing different clothes now. But it’s still exactly the same at a fundamental level. I’m fearful of Google in the same way I was fearful of Thatcher."
Stephen Mallinder, Wrangler

TRACKS

Pongo - 'Quem Manda No Mic'

Angolan-Portuguese singer/rapper Pongo's high-energy take on the Lisbon kuduro scene is as infectious as it is invigorating. A thrilling, arms-in-the-air invocation.
Robert Barry

Sex Swing - 'Valentine's Day At The Gym'

Sex Swing are back and more massive than ever. 'Valentine's Day At The Gym' is a monstrous, thrilling stampede of heavy-sax-psych-noise of the highest order.
Patrick Clarke

Minor Science - 'Blue Deal'

One-time tQ contributor Angus Finlayson follows three EPs of head-scrambling, twitchy club music for Nic Tasker's Whities label with his debut album, featuring the hiccuping, mutant techno of this, the record's lead track.
Christian Eede

Shabazz Palaces - 'Fast Learner (ft. Purple Tape Nate)'

The first new release from Shabazz Palaces in several years sounds just as weird and blissed out as ever. If hip hop had been an entirely fictional music genre invented as a plot device for an Alejandro Jodorowsky film, it would probably sound like this.
RB

Perfume Genius - 'Describe'

The first taste of Perfume Genius' newly announced LP, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, finds Mike Hadreas' brilliant, bold pop augmented with a welcome dose of swooning shoegaze heaviness.
PC

Surgeon - 'Hostages Of The Deep'

Surgeon on Ilian Tape is already a head-turning combo before you even get to the record's highlight: the menacing, syncopated tearout of 'Hostages Of The Deep'.
CE

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