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Quietus Charts

Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of March 2022
Patrick Clarke , April 1st, 2022 09:22

From trad folk to boundary-pushing pop, here are the albums and tracks released in March 2022 that we've loved here at tQ

Ever since studying Wuthering Heights at school, I've been a sucker for pathetic fallacy. As I write this introduction, I'm miserable and shivering at my desk as it sleets outside in the freezing cold. Last week, in beaming sunshine, I spent a well-timed week off ambling my way around the park and pub gardens, and hanging clothes out to dry on the line.

Sat here now in two jumpers at once, reflecting on my highlights from another month in music, I'm struck by how difficult I've found it to balance the mood swings that have come along with these dramatic, probably-a-cause-for-climate-concern shifts in weather, with the things I've been listening to. It's felt curiously stop-start, hard to settle into any one record and indulge. It's not that I've not come across great music - I just feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's appealed.

In a way, that's exciting. The knowledge that some records are just slow to bloom, and all the more magnificent for it when they flower. Who knows whether, in the albums and songs below, you'll find something you'll love straight away, or something that'll reveal itself weeks, months, or years down the line. Either way, I hope there's something you like.

All the below, as well as all the other excellent music we've covered at tQ this month will also be compiled into an exclusive, hours-long playlist exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world's most forward-thinking artists, (previous commissions include Teleplasmiste, Siavash Amini, Roger Robinson & Richard Skelton and Alison Cotton) regular deep-dive essays on everything from James S. Lee’s drug memoir Underworld Of The East to a reappraisal of Sword and Sorcery, a monthly podcast, specially-curated 'Organic Intelligence' guides to under the radar international subcultures, and more.

To sign up for all those benefits, and to help us keep bringing you the kind of music you're about to read about below, you can click here. And read on for the best of the best from March 2022.
Patrick Clarke


Maylee Todd - Maloo
(Stones Throw)

As she sings “future’s in our hands” on ‘Infinite Program’, the inner intention seeps through. From social media to social issues, Todd aims to rectify current instabilities for the future, all the while creating a benchmark for where we could be with airy production and her weightless vocals. Is she optimistic or pessimistic on where things will go? Both would be true. These songs act as an aural accompaniment for when we lie in bed thinking how the world got to this stage, simulating how vastly it could change if the scales tip in one direction or another. Just look at the hook line of track nine - “you know all I do is dream with you” - and you’ll realise Todd is doing the same.
Nathan Evans - read the full review here

One More Grain - Beans On Toast With Pythagoras

It seems inexplicable why the gatekeepers of indie ‘cool’ haven’t taken this strange group to their hearts in the same way they have a Pictish Trail, a Jane Weaver, or a Richard Dawson. Perhaps it’s because Quinn and One More Grain are just a bit too strange, a smidge too sly, just on the wrong side of experimental pop. Or perhaps because they have a LinkedIn page. Perhaps they’ll wait another seven years to release an album, or Quinn will stay in Java teaching creativity and climbing volcanoes and being, as one of his friend’s blogs so brilliantly dubbed him, an “extremely odd ball”. Whatever happens, >Beans On Toast With Pythagoras will remain as a strange shining beacon in this gloomy and certain age, a will-o’-the-wisp we all might follow up marshy pathways and rocky ascents.
Will Ainsley - read the full review here

Bodega - Broken Equipment
(What's Your Rupture?)

Brooklyn’s Bodega pull off a similar trick to LCD Soundsystem in ticking all of the best post-punk influences, sometimes sailing audaciously close to those sources of inspiration whilst somehow still sounding effortlessly like themselves. The groovier end of the post-punk spectrum—Gang of Four, Pylon, B52s, even bits of DNA spring to mind—and LCD themselves on the track ‘Pillar On The Bridge Of You’. Their second album, Broken Equipment, follows a lineup change and offers a slight variation of pace from their debut but mostly this is an album of banging tunes that are going to make people want to dance. As great as the energy of this album is, having just caught one of their three sold out nights at the Moth Club in Hackney, it’s obvious that live Bodega are capable of taking it to another level. A Bodega show is a dance party, driven by one of the best rhythm sections I’ve seen in a band like this, with stand-up percussionist, Tai Lee, the beating heart of their sound, jumping up and down and belting the living daylights out of her drums. A band with this kind of vitality is just what we all need right now, a release for all that pent up energy of the past two years.
Sean Kitching

Laura Cannell - Antiphony Of The Trees

In moments of quietude that blanket us, imagine the piercing yet melodic trills of a bird song that grow louder and stronger to drown out any touches of stillness – this is the moment that UK composer, performer and improviser Laura Cannell captures in her striking seventh solo album Antiphony Of The Trees.The layered collection of eleven tracks is framed by Cannell’s trademark pull of experimental semi-composed, semi-improvised soundscapes which tease the lines of perfectly polished and deeply organic as she draws inspiration from the crisp melodies of birdsongs and channels it through the raw power of a recorder.

Mark Wagner - S☉N RISE / S☉N OF THE SUN
(Zamzamrec / Adadac)

Mark Wagner calls his new album a “hermetic fable” that recounts the “metaphysical creation of the world, the underlying nature of nature, the secret of all ages and the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.” To the uninitiated it might appear intimidating, and its palette is indeed austere - sparse beats and dramatic plunging piano recorded in East London churches in 2015, Wagner's vocals low and direct. At points, he employs The Language Of The Birds, a “poetic, metaphorical and metaphysical tongue” that can be understood on multiple levels. It’s a lot to unpack, and worth unpacking, but it’s also worth paying attention to the plain emotion that’s at the album’s core.

Wagner’s piano recordings were six years old by the time he started revisiting them for this record over the later stages of lockdown – for some of which he was seriously ill with COVID – a time at which his partner was pregnant with their son. The child’s heartbeat, recorded in utero, opens and closes the album, and it is dedicated to him. By wrapping up those vast hermetic themes of birth and rebirth with this ordinary – significant though it is – event, he makes them accessible without losing any of their grandeur or scale. Once the door is opened, the moments of beauty in his instrumentation shine through in stark and dazzling clarity – the piano no linger sounds like it’s plunging, but skipping upwards in a glistening and glorious crescendo .
Patrick Clarke

Rosalía - MOTOMAMI

Between the frothing bass and freeform jazz breaks on 'Saoko', Spanish artist Rosalía warns that she has trojan-horsed the industry and transformed into something far more stylistically devious. But what happens when an art pop querida submerges themselves in a shallower pool to satiate their fun side? We’ve seen this already in 2022 with FKA twigs' CAPRISONGS mixtape, and now we see it again in Rosalía's much-teased album MOTOMAMI. Since her rise to worldwide prominence in 2018 by modernising flamenco music on breakout album El Mal Querer, she has branched out into reggaeton without sacrificing her outsider approach, and seeks to bridge the gap here.

Much like twigs' effort, songs of all flavours – flex songs, sex songs, heartbreak ballads and lamentations towards fame – are all given level standing. The highs here hedonistically bounce around big beats, and the ease with which Rosalía can rap coolly about her status and influence is just as easy as you get wrapped up in it. Even the most by-the-numbers reggaeton cut, 'Chicken Teriyaki', is contagious, and finds space to nod at the album's inner conflict: "Yeah, fame's a prison sentence," she raps, "but tell me what other girl's gonna buy you dinner?
Nathan Evans – read the full review here

Julia-Sophie - It Feels Like Thunder
(Beat Palace)

The first in a planned trilogy of EPs from Oxford's Julia-Sophie is a masterclass in the power of subtlety. She's a master of the slow-build, vocals that are almost - but not quite - cold in their distance and restraint, and electronic instrumentals where every click, whirr and beat is added with pinpoint precision until they swell into something overwhelming. Although revealed subtly, it's music that packs a considerable emotional punch, not least on closer 'Video Girl', where an unsettling whirl of distant organ and whispered too-close vocals gives way to an enveloping, fathomlessly melancholy wash of gentle synths.
Patrick Clarke

Guided By Voices - Crystal Nuns Cathedral
(Guided By Voices Inc.)

Guided by Voices thirty-fifth album, and third in the past twelve months continues an excellent run for the current lineup. GBV fans perpetually run the risk of ‘crying wolf’ in that each of the recent releases have been praised as ‘the best yet’, but really that’s a fantastic problem for a band to have. At only twelve songs, some of them hitting the four-minute mark, this is the epic, anthemic side of GBV, nicely produced, more prog-oriented than the power pop nuggets of Earth Man Blues. ‘Re-Develop’ ascends steadily to a defiantly euphoric chorus. ‘Never Mind the List’ stealthily sneaks into your consciousness and stays stuck there, hard not to sing along to. ‘Excited Ones’ and ‘Mad River Man’ are likewise highlights, but this is a very even album best heard as a continuous piece, where it will get under your skin, if you let it in.
Sean Kitching

Kate Carr - Fake Creek
(Flaming Pines)

"What does a creek sound like?" asks Kate Carr with Fake Creek. While her work often focuses on environmental recording and the sonic qualities of mundane objects, she takes a different approach here, reflecting on the imprints places leave in the imagination. Fake Creek captures the convergence of flows and temporalities in watery environments. A gently fluctuating mass of texture underpins discrete but repeating events created from a palette of "a straw, nails, beads, bird horns, a whisk, steel wool, a small branch, rocks, a hollow log, a small drum and a zither." Two timespans converge, the slowly evolving and the over-in-a-flash. The linear and the cyclical.
Daryl Worthington – read the full review here


Joshua Idehen - 'Don't You Give Up On Me'

Known for his role in Benin City, appearances with Sons Of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming and as frontman of jazz collective and Quietus favourites Calabashed, Joshua Idehen launches his solo project with a earnest and heartfelt exploration of redemption. He's as magnetic and inviting as ever as an MC, bolstered by a slick beat from producer Saturday, Monday.

Pearly Drops - 'Get Well'

Like the gothy synthpop of SSQ or PC Music dreampop group Planet 1999, 'Get Well' by Pearly Drops has a bounce to its shimmer, like a cloud wrapped around a go-kart. Fully deserving of a headline slot at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks any time soon.

700 Bliss - 'Totally Spies feat. Lafawndah'

The Lafawndah-featuring first taste of 700 Bliss' forthcoming debut album is barely two minutes long, but unbelievably engaging, mutating from a glitchy and unnerving soundscape, Moor Mother's vocals buried deep and distorted, into twisted and magnetic club music.

Broadside Hacks - 'Barby Allen'

This forward-thinking trad-folk collective have been operational for some time, but this is their first single 'proper' after last year's compilation album of different artists under the Broadside Hacks banner. Its melody differs from the most famous version of this traditional ballad, and instead sees the band putting newly composed music to the a capella vocal melody of Appalachian singer Jean Ritchie.

Melody's Echo Chamber - 'Personal Message'

Consistently proving that accessible psychedelic pop music doesn't have to be Tame Impala blandness, Melody's Echo Chamber's latest single is totally transporting, fresh and forward-facing.

For Breakfast - 'Heavy Horse Museum'

The first taste of For Breakfast's second EP sums up everything the band do so well - manic and wild music, flitting between darkness and light, never content to let its listener settle, but never less than completely thrilling.