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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of April 2023
Patrick Clarke , April 28th, 2023 09:01

Here are the finest albums and tracks from April 2023, hand-selected by tQ's office staff

I've been at The Quietus for close to eight years. In my first week as an intern, I was told not to get too comfortable, as it was unclear whether the site would make it beyond the next few months. Since then there have been, to put it lightly, some ups and downs (mostly the latter) when it came to our fortunes as an entirely independent publication. Sometimes, I am amazed we still exist at all.

Months like the one that's just passed are by far the most heartening here at tQ. With the site facing extreme financial peril, our appeal for more paying subscribers was met with the kind of response that makes us remember why it's all worthwhile. As well as securing enough donors to ensure our short term stability, the messages of support that we've received, tales of the music we've turned our readers onto, were in many cases extremely touching. Perhaps there's something you'll love in the list of albums and tracks we've compiled below.

Speaking of subscriptions, all of the music in this article, as well as everything else we've covered at tQ this month, will also be compiled into an hours-long playlist exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world's most forward-thinking artists, regular deep-dive essays, a monthly podcast, specially-curated 'Organic Intelligence' guides to under the radar international sub-genres, 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 April 2023.
Patrick Clarke


Patrick Wolf – The Night Safari

This past Tuesday night, Patrick Wolf finished his first UK tour in years with a night at London's Village Underground. It was a joyous, confident performance, at times a lot heavier and rattling than anyone familiar with Sundark And Riverlight, his 2012 compilation of folk reworkings of his back catalogue, might have expected. Best of all was how the material from first two albums Lycanthropy and Wind In The Wires sat alongside new EP The Night Safari in their distinct sonic inventiveness – 'The City', 'The Magic Position' and 'Accident & Emergency' from the era of his more concerted attempts to assault the mainstream paled in comparison. As Wolf told me in a recent interview for The Guardian, the past decade of relative silence was a personal hell, involving familial grief, bankruptcy and a battle with alcohol and drug dependency.

These years of musical exile shaped the five tracks of The Night Safari, alongside a return to DIY self-dependency and, crucially, some of the instrumentation that made his early music so good. It veers between the gloriously dramatic 'Dodona', Michael Nyman via Warp Records cracked electronics in 'Acheron', a shuffling modernist crooner in 'Nowhere Game', and, to finish off, 'Enter The Day', all rolling piano and optimism. At Village Underground, Wolf prowled the stage in his rather fabulous self-made clothes and was by turns honest, witty, bleakly funny ("You're all going to die… sorry, I am told I am too mean to my audience") and filthy ('Tristan' introduced with an ad lib apparently about fisting), and best of all sung in the finest voice of his life. I used to always think that it would only be in another world less tainted by commerce, algorithms and laziness that Patrick Wolf could be a pop star, but I realise I was wrong. He now seems perfectly happy to do pop star as he wants to, and for that world to be his very own.
Luke Turner

Brìdghe Chaimbeul – Carry Them With Us

Carry Them With Us is mostly instrumental, but its tracks tell stories. 'Banish the Giant Of Doubt And Despair', for example, is a reel that starts quickly and spins out of control, reflecting the tale of the princess of an underwater kingdom and the giant of the Western Isles who cannot stop dancing to her song, faster and faster until he falls into the sea and drowns. Melodic cascades flow from Chaimbeul's pipes as though she can barely restrain them, while a bass drone and subtle, breathy saxophone combine seamlessly to set the scene. Collaborator Colin Stetson, who has been in several bands including Arcade Fire and has worked with everyone from Anthony Braxton to Tom Waits, is a subtle musician. Despite the unconventional pairing of instruments, they often seem to make a single sound. After her collaboration with major Scottish folk scene figures, The Reeling, Chaimbeul is branching out to make new sounds.
Tom Bolton – read the full review here

Yossari Baby – Inferiority Complex

Much of Inferiority Complex has been made with the dancefloor firmly in mind, beats to the fore. The title track is an electropop highlight, while 'The Wheel' quite possibly wants to spin you round like Dead Or Alive in their hi-NRG pomp. For all that, there are more reflective moments too, notably as the album plays out with gentler electronica on the delightfully po-faced 'Je Suis Mort'. On the contrary, by turns funny, angry and arch, Yossari Baby sound vibrantly alive.
Jonathan Wright – read the full review here

Benefits – Nails

Nails' Britain is grotesquely detailed. These isles become "industrial wastelands" ('Empire') strewn with "stinking, broken relics" ('Warhorse'): flags, crowns, kebab boxes and lager cans. Vocalist Kingsley Hall enhances this picture through repetition. Tattered, soiled flags appear in most tracks. Several references are made to a fetid smell, with 'Flag' declaring "this place stinks of old wars." Entire lines from 'Shit Britain' are repurposed in 'Traitors', albeit with colourful tweaks: the former's "red arrows screaming past" reappear on the latter as "spitfires." The echo of John Cooper Clarke's 'Evidently Chickentown' in Hall's "clown-town" ('Shit Britain') points to a wider effect of this repetition: like Clarke's world, Hall's becomes crushingly, hopelessly immovable.
Alastair Shuttleworth – read the full review here

HMLTD – The Worm
(Lucky Number)

Having been through the ringer more than most, HMLTD have been working towards The Worm for a long time. A prog-jazz epic set either in a pseudo-feudal England that has been swallowed by an enormous, monstrous incarnation of the titular invertebrate, or within the deluded mind of frontman Henry Spychalski, depending on your interpretation, this chaotic, over-the-top sprawl of a record matches every ounce of the band's colossal ambition.
Patrick Clarke

Patrick Clarke – read an interview here

Yaeji - With A Hammer

Yaeji's on the move. With A Hammer sees the Korean-American producer leave her house roots behind for an incredibly satisfying blend of pop and R&B. The titular Thor-grade smiting tool of the cover – complete with cheeky graffiti face! – preemptively smirks at anyone preparing to call her voice diminutive. Her singing tones are as light as a breeze, and perfect besides, yet this music is heavy as all hell, an innovative rendering of anger transformed into perfect dance pop which, variously, brushes up against funk, ambient, acid house, jazz, drum and bass and synthpop. The hammer blow makes contact when the words hit home and woe betide those not fully braced.
John Doran

Nabihah Iqbal – Dreamer
(Ninja Tune)

Dreamer is a surrender to wide, blurry, technicolour horizons, as unreal and otherworldly as its name suggests. At its basic level, the elements are simple – indie-pop, a little more shoegaze, a lot more trance – but extra waves of electronic wash and vocals so multitracked they're choral make it labyrinthine enough to get lost in. The lush near-seven-minute intro 'In Light' – its 4AD guitars shimmering with reverb, Iqbal's "In light, you wake" mantra ever-circling – pulls you in and keeps you enveloped.
Matthew Horton – read the full review here

Fire-Toolz – I Am Upset Because I See Something That Is Not There
(Hausu Mountain)

While Angel Marcloid has worked under many names over the past decade – including the bubbly fusion of Nonlocal Forest and the hypnagogic sample-based collaging of MindSpring Memories – Fire-Toolz has gradually grown into her main vessel. More than any other of her projects, it brings together styles so alien to each other that their fusion might appear like a forbidden spell from some ancient tome, too dangerous to be uttered but too tempting to be left alone. Yet in her practice, the synthesis of smooth jazz, breakcore, death metal, ambient, vaporwave, AOR, pop, and slivers from a myriad other genres doesn't sound like a forced gimmick. The result is utterly affecting and demonstrates a deep understanding and love for each of these styles as they become tied to the core of herself and her life.
Antonio Poscic – read an interview here

MC Yallah – Yallah Beibe
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)

MC Yallah's ability to fluidly switch from one superb flow to another is unparalleled. All the evidence you need is in Yallah Beibe's first track, 'Sikwebela'. Upon the call of a whimpering mallophone, she lures you in with a simple, standard flow – and promptly eviscerates the beat by rapping in double time. A pioneer of 'Lugaflow', or hip hop in the language of Luganda, Yallah is able to flourish her delivery with a nasal sneer unique to Luganda, or roll her tongue over a chugging industrial beat on 'Moss'. There are flashes of other styles to dig into across the album too, from dancehall ('Big Bung' with Ratigan Era) to grime flows ('Sunday') and even a verse that briefly echoes Nicki Minaj ('Yallah Beibe'). She never indulges too deeply in one genre – always resurfacing with her own personality and steady confidence.
Alex Rigotti – read the full review here

Cicada The Burrower – Blight Witch Regalia
(Blue Bedroom Records)

Although Cicada The Burrower has been playing with a number of different projects (such as Dolor, Weightless, and Hallowed Hands), this alias has remained her main vessel for the past decade. Blight Witch Regalia, in particular, feels like both the culmination of her work so far and the beginning of another stage of the transformative journey she started with 2017's The Great Nothing. If that album was a confrontation with demons through a simultaneously bleak and empowering mixture of atmospheric and raw black metal, then 2021's Corpseflower signalled the prudent but triumphant breaking of the pupa and Davis’s coming out as a trans woman. She poured this moment of self-discovery into a unique and utterly captivating blend of dark synth psychedelia, jazz, and progressive black metal. While Corpseflower symbolised psychological transformation, Blight Witch Regalia marks the exploration of a new physical reality.
Antonio Poscic – read the full review here

Jacques Puech – Gravir/Canon

This tape of bagpipes (French smallpipes to be precise) will bore a hole from the crown of your skull to the core of the earth. 'Canon' plays with five pipes in phased counterpoint, while 'Gravir' elaborates upon a Shepherd tone with a metronomic tapping, so you know time still exists and what it sounds like to count the seconds as you move ever closer towards the fate that awaits us all. Obliterate thyself.
Jennifer Lucy Allan – read the full review here

John Foxx – The Arcades Project

Passagenwerk was the mammoth writing project undertaken by cultural theorist Walter Benjamin between 1927 and 1940. First envisaged as an essay, it spiralled out of control, becoming a sprawling work of literary collage, covering theory, history, architecture and literature among many other subjects. As John Foxx notes on the release of this luxurious album named after the work, when he was an art student in the 1960s, the book was always referenced but never actually seen. Of course it wasn't published in full in English until 1999, somewhat breaking the spell, given it was still several years’ worth of edits and rewrites away from being the finished item, when Benjamin took his own life after the stress of trying to escape the forces of Nazi Germany. If it isn't too much of a presumption, this exquisite and refined solo piano work, itself a clear statement of late style, seems to be purely inspired by the feelings Foxx once imagined he would have if ever got his hands on the text and little to do with the reality; a fine addition to a body of work made by an artist always investigating memory and imagination.
John Doran


Lunch Money Life - 'Mother (feat. Lady Lykez & Suku Ward)'

Lunch Money Life have already established themselves as one of the most playful young bands in Britain, but such is the sharpness of this left turn from jazz into hard-hitting UK hip hop, dub, dancehall and psychedelia, that it's sure to take even the most well-acquainted by surprise.

Jellyskin – 'Bringer Of Brine'

Absolutely brilliant wonky electropop comes from Leeds duo Jellyskin with their excellently-titled new single 'Bringer Of Brine'. An unholy confection of peak Add N to (X) and Broadcast playing tweaky acid, it's another killer release from the increasingly brilliant Wrong Speed records. Jellyskin's new album, from the same label, also promises to be a highlight of the early summer. That one's called In Brine – salty!
Luke Turner

Minor Science – 'Workahol'

UK producer Minor Science's first new material in three years is an all-out rave assault that folds in elements of electro, hardcore and booty bass. Top it off with a screwface-inducing bassline and the customary fake-outs that have long been a feature of the producer's work, and you have one of 2023's first big dancefloor bangers.
Christian Eede

Wobbly – 'Not Home (with Mai Lingani)'

An extraordinary, shapeshifting cut from Wobbly's forthcoming LP Additional Kids. The fact that it contains so much, yet in no way represents the rest of the record is testament to the album's remarkable breadth.
Patrick Clarke

Blawan – 'Toast'

Blawan's shift in recent years towards using his distinctive modular sound to explore the outer reaches of techno has yielded some of his best and most playful material to date for me. 'Toast', the first taste of his forthcoming second EP for XL, centres around wobbly rhythms and warped acid-esque synths, and continues a hot streak that also extends across his recent work with Pariah as part of the project Karenn and Persher.
Christian Eede

Acid Klaus – 'You're A Freak (feat. Philly Piper)'

Man of a thousand monikers Adrian Flanagan's latest project Acid Klaus shows no sign of slowing down following last year's debut album Step On My Travelator. Brand new single 'You're A Freak' is an elegant and slinky banger of the highest order.
Patrick Clarke

Shit & Shine - 'Infinite Shite'

Arguably the epic central track to recent album 2222 & Airport, 'Infinite Shite', is a Shit And Shine dance floor weapon to match their electronic best. There's an unforgiving Byetone-style bass drone to give any Funktion-One rig a workout but that in itself is just setting the scene for some spleen bursting acid bass. Microscopic granularity throbs at the edges of perception, probably only fully accessible to those undergoing launch into space or killer shark attack. Or drugs.
John Doran

Nicky Wire – 'Contact Sheets'

Nicky Wire has been promising new material for some time, which he's variously described as "modern, electronic, soothsaying" and "off-kilter modern jazz and some C-86 indie vibes." This surprise Bandcamp release, which finds the Manics bassist on plaintive and elegant form, most certainly leans towards the former.
Patrick Clarke

Batu – 'Traverse'

Batu gets psychedelic on 'Traverse', the first cut to be unveiled from forthcoming EP For Spirits, the inaugural release on his new A Long Strange Dream imprint. Centred around syncopated drums and a gurgling bassline, it's another fine addition to the Timedance label boss' discography.
Christian Eede

Baxter Dury – 'Leon'

Maintaining his unique and louche charm, but also pushing himself subtly into a slinkier and altogether stranger new sound, 'Leon' finds Baxter Dury grappling with nepotism, privilege and status with typical irresistible wit.
Patrick Clarke