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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of March 2021
Patrick Clarke , March 26th, 2021 08:55

Here's your buyer's guide to the very best albums and tracks released this month, compiled by tQ's office staff

The other day, my therapist asked me to try and think of some positives to take from the last year. One of the few I could come up with was that I've been able to get through more music. It might be for that reason that 2021 has seemed particularly fertile when it comes to new releases, or perhaps we really are just living in a particularly purple patch.

Either way, I can't imagine any time in the past where quite so many extraordinary records came immediately to mind when first mapping out our music of the month feature. From gorgeous alternative pop from the likes of William Doyle and Ed Dowie, to rich psychedelia from Jane Weaver and Dialect, to utterly unique records like Gazelle Twin and NYX's Deep England, The Eccentronic Research Council's Dreamcatcher Tapes and Meemo Comma's Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter², there's hours of extraordinary music to sink your teeth into below.

And remember, paying subscribers to tQ get an exclusive hours-long playlist of all the best music we've covered this March that encompasses even more than the below, as well as exclusive essays, podcasts, music and more. You can find out more and sign up here.
Patrick Clarke

ALBUMS

William Doyle - Great Spans Of Muddy Time
(Tough Love)

William Doyle’s Great Spans Of Muddy Time fuses the emotional honesty of 1960s girl groups with muscular electronica to create an atmosphere of absolute sincerity and uncertainty soaked in pop yearning. It is an album that truly sinks in.
Will Ainsley

Jane Weaver – Flock
(Fire)

It’s impossible to be anything but charmed by this record. I have played it a good hundred times and still find myself sticking Flock on when I need something to start the day with. How one can remain stationary whilst listening to a boomtastic single like 'The Revolution Of Super Visions' or ‘Stages of Phases’ (a glam-pop version of the Archers theme tune, surely), is a mystery. Each track feels like a comforting and fruitful new prospect, as if Weaver is showing us round the Big House, leading us into a differently furnished room full of carefully chosen nick-nacks and features. And this house that Weaver has built is sturdy enough to allow tracks as different in spirit as the winsome ‘All The Things You Do’ and ‘Pyramid Schemes’ to nestle against the other without too much friction.
Richard Foster - read the full review here

Meemo Comma – Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter²
(Planet Mu)

Framed as a soundtrack to an imaginary anime, Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter² is subheaded with a mission statement: “In the year 5781 humanity is ever closer to becoming a singular consciousness. A team of humans are forming an android, Adam Kadmon (CODENAME: UNIT KADMON). First, humans have to gain higher consciousness guided by the Sefirot.” But rather than being a Vitruvian man, this Adam (as described in the Torah) is both male and female simultaneously. She spent the past year re-reading the Talmud and researching Kabbalistic concepts, setting out to make explicit the links between Judaism and sci-fi. On the track ‘Tzimtzum’ – a term referring to the moment at the beginning of the universe when divine energy allowed for finite and seemingly independent realms to exist – is full of collapsing black noise where a choir of seraphim, or six winged angels, sing.
Hannah Pezzack - read the full review here

Ioulus – oddkin
(Rhizome)

Billed as both a mixtape and a debut album, ioulus’s oddkin hedges its bets. If you take it as a mixtape, you needn’t rationalise its quicksilver sixteen-minute running time and head-wrecking restlessness. See it as a fully realised set though, and it really has to be something special to justify its short stay. Still, that’s the most rewarding choice. Succumbing to oddkin as a complete album lets you marvel at how much can be crammed into such a small space, a trinket box of wounded feelings and musical invention.
Matthew Horton

Noga Erez – Kids
(City Slang)

Five tracks into this new masterpiece by Tel Aviv-based singer/rapper/musician/producer Noga Erez, you will have stomped your living room to dust with more frenzy than you’ve felt since Missy dropped Under Construction. It’s that addictive, that essential, that demanding of immediate and endless rewind, and it’s definitive and emblematic of how rap – so long seen as a fad that pop could utilise – has now swallowed pop whole.
Neil Kulkarni

Ed Dowie – The Obvious I
(Needle Mythology)

Ed Dowie's latest record merges his background in choral, pop and experimental music with magical results, great choral lattices of vocals that ebb and flow with the easy accessibility of pop, subtly tweaked to achieve the maximum emotional impact in the most straightforward terms. This makes music that’s at times unfathomably moving, gentle but never weak, with melodies that loop around and around the brain like a mantra long after they’ve finished. Dowie’s voice lures you in with its simplicity and its straightforwardness but this belies a mastery of what makes a perfect pop song.
Patrick Clarke

Eccentronic Research Council – The Dreamcatcher Tapes Volumes 1 & 2
(Castles In Space)

The Dreamcatcher Tapes is most interesting when you view all its tracks as pieces of a wider whole, individual dispatches from the same mysterious parallel universe where everything doesn’t quite work as it does here. Different people tell their stories in completely different ways. There are different accents, intonations and affectations. Some sound like they’re reading from paper, their narratives tweaked and dramatized for maximum impact, others sound like they’re rambled at you by someone who’s just woken up, and others are peppered with little asides like a pub raconteur. Yet whether by the pandemic’s enormity, or just by the fact they’re all on an album together, all these different narrators feel somewhat unified.
Patrick Clarke

Gazelle Twin and Nyx – Deep England
(Nyx Collective Records)

Listening to Gazelle Twin’s Deep England is like being rocked to sleep by a werewolf dressed as a Morris dancer. Throughout her career, composer and producer Elizabeth Bernholz has demonstrated a devastating talent for burrowing under the skin and conjuring a body-horror dread. There is, in her fantastical and luxuriantly creepy soundscapes, something of a fairytale gone horribly amiss.
Ed Power - read the full review here

Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
(Rock Action)

As an American college kid, there was an undeniably voyeuristic and strangely romantic, vicarious thrill that came with listening to Arab Strap. It was another world laid bare. I didn’t do the things Moffat recounted in his deep Scottish brogue. I’m glad I didn’t. Now, years later, that romance is gone. So is the thrill. A lot of those old songs just seem sad. Or sadder, anyway. They still work for me, but for different reasons. Yeah, the new tunes are almost equally seedy and off-putting, but they feel emotionally rich and complex in a way that only comes with experience, that has to be earned. I’d be lying if I said As Days Get Dark is entirely enjoyable in the traditional sense or an easy listen, but it’s absolutely an essential one. Arab Strap may sound older than ever, but they're putting that age to good use.
Bernie Brooks - read the full review here

Psychic Hotline – The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline
(Disciples)

The Wild World of Psychic Hotline works equally well as swan song and introduction to Psychic Hotline. Throughout Mascelli challenges our ideas of what punk could and should be. By using drum machines, synths, and keyboards, they craft iridescent lo-fi pop that still has passion and power. Of course this is nothing new, but in Mascelli’s hands it does feel exciting and subversive. If Psychic Hotline is over then Mascelli can feel proud to leave a strong body of work.
Nick Roseblade - read the full review here

Dialect – Under~Between
(RVNG Intl.)

Last time we heard from Liverpool-based Andrew PM Hunt was his work as one half of gorgeous psychedelic duo Land Trance, who released their exceptional debut album last year. His latest under solo moniker Dialect is equally beautiful but far more delicate, a lavish record peppered with endless little touches of texture - whispers of vocals, rich piano chords, shattered fragments of found sound. Originally written as chamber pieces for fellow Liverpool outliers Immix Ensemble, allowing Hunt experiment with woodwind and strings, the record is delivered with the upmost finesse but packs considerable emotional heft. Like a glorious garden in full bloom, with every petal pruned ro perfection, Under~Between is incredibly arresting.
Patrick Clarke

TRACKS

Scotch Rolex And Lord Spikeheart - 'Success'

Japanese DJ Scotch Egg will release an EP Tewari under the name Scotch Rolex in April, based on his 2019 residency at the Nyege Nyege Villa in Uganda. This collaboration with Lord Spikeheart of fantastic Kenyan metal group DUMA is an absolute monster.
Patrick Clarke

Black Midi - 'John L'

A highly dynamic return single from Black Midi featuring Jerskin Fendrix sawing his Stradivarius to sawdust and Seth Evans decimating his pianoforte all in support of some crackers Amphetamine Reptile take on early Magma or Discipline-era King Crimson madness that leads the listener into a cavernous world of reverb and snare before depositing them back in the maelstrom.
John Doran

Falle Nioke and Sir Was - 'Rain'

Phenomenally talented Guinean vocalist and percussionist Falle Nioke has teamed up with Swedish producer Sir Was for a new EP due in April. The first taste, 'Rain', based on an African proverb about rain's role in the ecosystem, is beautifully understated.
Patrick Clarke

Greentea Peng - Nah It Ain't The Same'

East London's Greentea Peng channels equal parts Gil Scott-Heron and Lily Allen into this blissed out slice of neo-soul, backed by rhythmic Fender Rhodes playing and a kind of woozy, dreamlike insouciance.
Robert Barry

Dry Cleaning - 'Oblivion'

Newly signed to 4AD for much-anticipated debut album New Long Leg, Dry Cleaning are among the bands taking part in the label's 40th birthday compilation Bill Aches & Blues. The band's version of Grimes' 'Oblivion' is weird, sludgy, and a marked departure.
Patrick Clarke

Syna So Pro - 'listen to the RAIN and remember'

An oddity, this one, the solo project of Syrhea Conaway (also of Whoa Thunder and The Pat Sajak Assassins) feels like a Meredith Monk track gone bedroom pop. A tintinnabulation of do-do-ing voices over wavy, slinky synths and an all over sense of fizziness glinting through the drizzle, reflecting off puddles.
Robert Barry

The Armed - 'Average Death'

Elusive Detroit collective The Armed's mission to create the most intense music of all time by dragging hardcore through experimental pop aesthetics continues with the superb 'Average Death'
Patrick Clarke

Sorry - 'Cigarette Packet'

Moving fast after last year's debut LP 925, Sorry are upping their game on 'Cigarette Packet', an addictive, woozy and hectic banger of a track that receives a much-needed release after months spent languishing as a fan-favourite demo.
Patrick Clarke