The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Quietus Charts

Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of August 2020
Patrick Clarke , August 28th, 2020 09:34

2020 limps on, but the music remains amazing. Here's August's very best music to see you through, selected by tQ staff

I once heard an astronaut say that it's after about four or five months on the International Space Station that the colossal mental shift prompted by an utter and complete change in one's life really starts to take hold. It's at this point, she said, that the isolation, confinement and monotony of a stark new reality properly drives you mad.

As we enter our sixth month since lockdown began, with its horrid mix of banality, anxiety, slithers of new joy, and looming existential terror, perhaps it's only now that we'll start seeing its effects in their true vastness.

A person will rarely go beyond six months on the ISS before returning home, to how things were before, but we don't have that luxury. We must keep ploughing ahead into territory uncertain even for astronauts. We don't have the majesty of space to keep us company as we go, but in the albums and songs below, we hope to offer you the next best thing.
Patrick Clarke


Lila Tirando A Violeta - Limerencia

The record was composed during isolation while Violeta recovered from still ongoing neurological medical treatment, a context that is surprising given its unrelenting momentum. Immediately plunging into a hard, broken beat opening track, 'Nuevo Paris Piano' is fuelled by sinister incarnations and fragmented vocal reframes that shatter over warbling reverb. Featuring experimental Toluca producer Abssys, the record's crux arrives with 'Noche Tótem', a blend of staccato, machine-gun fire and the rolling fervour of reggaeton. Similarly taken up by the likes of artists such as Amnesia Scanner, Toxe and Doon Kanda, the track's triplet rhythm fuses a groove to an otherwise mechanical onslaught of bleeps, whirls and shockwaves. It's a somatechnic breakdown that effortlessly shatters deadpan four-to-the-floor.
Hanna Pezzack – read the full review here

Duval Timothy - Help
(Carrying Colour)

Help is an immersive, relaxed window into the landscape of contemporary music. Traversing minimal jazz, soulful R&B, edges of glitch, hip-hop sampling, voice modulation and ephemeral field recordings, it's a welcome addition to Duval Timothy's growing body of work and forward-thinking alternative music in general. His minimalist take on the sprawl means nothing here is finished. Much is left in transit, on the edge, for a future-to-come, or a present that embraces the abiding possibility of the colourful everyday.
Kashif Sharma-Patel – read the full review here

Senyawa & Stephen O'Malley - Bima Sakti
(iDEAL Recordings)

Of Bima Sakti's six songs (pieces might be a better term – there aren't any songwriting credits on the sleeve so I assume this was an improvised set), 'Dewi Hera' and 'Bima Dan Ular Naga' are each split into two parts. 'Dewi Hera Part I' opens with an exceedingly quiet intro, characteristically low O'Malley amp frequencies becoming gradually apparent. Suryadi's flute excursions over these elegantly stumbling riffs are folksily pastoral but with the impressionistic range of a spiritual jazz doyen like Roland Kirk. 'Part II', meanwhile, supplies the fourteen-minute closure to the album. Flute again offers a strong melodic counterpoint, with Shabara's vocals employed this time, grandiose and ancient-sounding.
Noel Gardner – read the full review here

Meridian Brothers - Cumbia Siglo XXI
(Bongo Joe)

One of Colombia's greatest contemporary musicians, Eblis Alvarez's new album with his Meridian Brothers project is a kaleidoscopic, wholehearted exploration of his nation's long tradition of Cumbia music, picking up where the genre's 1980s re-invention at the hands of modernising groups like Grupo Folclórico, 2000 Voltios and Cumbia Siglo XX left off. Utilising ultra-modern production techniques, and inspiration from the methods of proto-electronic innovators like Kraftwerk, he's created a record that is as infectious as it is innovative, a record that is full of movement, joy, history and colour. The flipside to its gorgeous, largely acoustic predecessor ¿Dónde Estás María?, they make perfect companion pieces, and together find Alvarez maintaining a golden run of form.
Patrick Clarke

Special Interest - The Passion Of
(Night School / Thrilling Living)

Both the band's first album, 2018's Spiraling, and their latest release, The Passion Of , contain an element of chaos, creativity, and surprise that is hard to predict, changing genres and making swift left turns with little warning. 'Disco II' opens with a throbbing, gabber-esque beat and siren-like cutting riff, while 'All Tomorrow’s Carry' slows down the pace slightly and centres its energy around a pulsating beat.
Stephanie Phillips – read an interview with Special Interest here

Siavash Amini - A Mimesis Of Nothingness
(Hallow Ground)

Amini's new album A Mimesis Of Nothingness is a collaboration with photographer Nooshin Shafiee, whose brutalist and haunting images for the release capture water pooling on plastic sheeting, rusting chairs laid out in empty rows, textures abstracted from fencing and concrete steps. "We both saw something decadent or violent about all of these captured places and objects," explains Amini, "almost approaching baroque in their violence, but never getting there. There is no resolution, just excess. It seems they are eternal remnants of a violent scene no matter how new or old they were, never finished, never begotten, stillborn."
Jennifer Lucy Allan – read Siavash Amini's Baker's Dozen here

Still House Plants - Fast Edit

Listening to Fast Edit is an immediately startling experience. Hickie-Kallenbach's voice has a burnished, tremulous tone pitched in an ecstatic mid-range, somewhere between Ari Up, Lewis Baloue, and June Tyson. She sounds by turns imperious and shamanic then soulful, entreating. Clark's guitars and Kennedy's drumming seem to fall over each other, as if on the point of breaking, as if they are not really instruments at all but ordinary domestic objects – toasters and cheese graters, perhaps, a filing cabinet and a sewing machine – press-ganged into sounding. Sounds stutter and tumble, jitter and jerk. The listener is forever being thrown off-balance – by trips of time and metre, but also of style and sensibility. You can imagine some of these songs rubbing shoulders with the cast of No New York, but also, at times, with the new breed of woozy lo-fi soul from the likes of Liv.e and KeiyaA.
Robert Barry – read the full review here

Barringtone - Bonanza Plan

For those of us left wanting more following the dissolution of promising indie-electronic five-piece Clor, after just one album in 2005, good news has finally arrived in the form of Barringtone's debut album, Bonanza Plan. Fronted by Clor vocalist and guitarist, Barry Dobbin, Barringtone have taken their time with their debut, and although a couple of tracks date back to 2015, this potently distilled compound of early XTC, Wire, Devo and other such post punk luminaries, with the guitar/dance crossover aspect of Battles and a smattering of birdsong, offers bountiful rewards in return for the lengthy wait. Opener 'Foxes And Brimstone' repackages math-rock riffs as shiny pop music with a euphoria-inducing vocal. 'Dreamboyz' adds a hint of jazzy looseness to its subtle yet propulsive arc. Lead single 'The New New' percolates with pent up excitement, revealing itself in joyously expansive asides, whilst still sprinting for the finish line. Really though, this succinct but rich album is far too good to play favourites with and will likely spend time ticking by on repeat for those whose imagination it captures.
Sean Kitching

Ashtray Navigations - Imaginary Hits

For Imaginary Hits, a massive 4xCD and 1xLP collection, Henry Rollins himself has lent a hand in determining just what constitutes an AshNav "hit," assembling one disc of the collection; connoisseurs Peter Coward and Rob Hayler, along with fellow traveler Neil Campbell (of Vibracathedral Orchestra/Astral Social Club), picked their favorites for the other three. This selection method makes for intriguing juxtapositions: with such a massive body of work at hand, it only stands to reason that these four would come up with a version of Todd's work which most reflects their own idées fixe, be it Coward's taste for airplane hangar whoosh and clangour or Rollins' ear for screaming guitar splooge.
Dustin Krcatovich – read the full review here

New Fries - Is The Idea Of Us
(Telephone Explosion)

No-wave outfit New Fries have been a fixture of the Toronto underground for some time, but new LP Is The Idea Of Us – four years in the making - sees the group taking stock and reinventing. After the departure of their synth player, the remaining members took the opportunity to rearrange their entire set-up, rethinking their instruments or taking up new ones altogether. The record they produced in this new guise, The Idea Of Us consists of six sharp and off-kilter lo-fi grooves, where guitars are warped and contorted into bizarre, science-defying dimensions, singer Anni Spadafora sing-speaks with icy detachment, and wonky synths fill spaces like smoke. Bridging the pieces are a number of short experimental sequences, all of which are called 'Genre'. It's a record that captures the bold and forward-thinking nature of a band at a new beginning, as well as the sonic mastery and conceptual tightness that comes with experience.
Patrick Clarke


$hit + $hine - 'Hillbilly Moonshine'

Despite the name, this latest single by Craig Clouse on Rocket isn't a slice of drunken backwoods madness, rather a sleek European machine of cavernous reverb and pinpoint motorik beats.
John Doran

Kelly Lee Owens & John Cale - 'Corner Of My Sky'

"The rain, the rain, the rain, thank God, the rai,n" sings Welsh legend John Cale over a skeletal electronic R&B pulse that ebbs and flows with acidic throbs and woozy strings. It's timely, to say the least.
John Doran

Wesley Joseph - 'Ghostin''

The latest in a series of excellent production projects Joy Orbison has been working on with a crop of exciting new artists of late, 'Ghostin' combines his distinctive rich synth work with Wesley Joseph's silky smooth vocals.
Christian Eede

Tkay Maidza - 'You Sad'

It's hard to pick a highlight from Tkay Maidza's just-released debut EP on 4AD, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, but 'You Sad''s whistled melodies and delightful hook are hard to forget.
Christian Eede

Cabaret Voltaire - 'Vasto'

Whether or not you consider the band's first album in over two decades, Shadow Of Fear, a 'proper' Cabaret Voltaire record, now that Richard H. Kirk is the sole member, the first taste of said LP is a banger.
Patrick Clarke

Sufjan Stevens - 'Video Game'

Sufjan Stevens has followed up his mantra-song 'America' with a poppy, soft-electronic beating snippet of his upcoming album, The Ascension. It is light, mildly pissed-off (as much as Sufjan's hushed tones can provide) and an infectious toe tapper that will stay in your head.
Sarah Cohen

Calabashed - 'All Of The Lights'

Calabashed, a band formed by cosmic jazzman Alabaster DePlume and Benin City vocalist Joshua Idehen, have their marvellous, multi-faceted debut EP out next month. The whole thing is essential, but this is its deepest and richest moment.
Patrick Clarke

Angel Olsen - 'Waving, Smiling'

This mournful and delicate track feels distinctively Angel Olsen. "I'm waving, smiling/ At love forever/ Alive and dying/ I'm waving smiling" takes us back to the heartbroken world of her 2014 album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
Sarah Cohen