Albums Of The Month: Music We’ve Loved This April

Årabrot, Vanishing Twin, Leather Party and Lena Willikens, Cardi B, Grouper and Mouse On Mars - just a few of our favourite albums (and tracks) from the past month

‘Got Sprung…’ by Lisa Cradduck

“Old April wanes, and her last dewy morn

Her death-bed steeps in tears; to hail the May

New blooming blossoms ‘neath the sun are born,

And all poor April’s charms are swept away.”

That’s John Clare, the 19th-century wandering peasant poet of Northamptonshire and of Essex. And he was a wonderful wandering poet, but in my experience poor April has few if any charms to be swept away. The blossom comes out; that’s it. I love blossom, but it doesn’t make up for the strange misery that descends every year as spring soggily approaches.

April, to quote another old poet, is the cruellest month. Or, as the wonderful Fran Landesman put it, spring can really hang you up the most. So hello, May. It’s good to see you. Let’s giddy-up round the Maypole to Kali Uchis, let’s raise a pint of mead to Cardi B, let’s bid farewell and fuck off to April, and summon the spirits of summer with help from Janelle Monáe and Leather Party.

Albums Of The Month

Vanishing Twin – Magic And Machines

Vanishing Twin started life as a musical project of former Fanfarlo member Cathy Lucas before bulking up to become a ‘proper band’ a few years back. The name is a reference to foetal resorption, which occurs when a foetus in a multiple gestation pregnancy dies and then is either fully or partially absorbed by the other twin – something which happened to Lucas’ own sibling in utero. The band’s 2016 release Choose Your Own Adventure was a concept album of sorts, setting out the mythologised story of Cathy’s lost twin but the band name, for me, is also a way of signposting the duality of musicians who operate in two markedly different but interlinked areas. The first half of that equation, let’s say Vanishing Twin’s daylight iteration, is one of French disco (Stereolab), primitive/futurist jazz (Don Cherry) and smart lounge (Ennio Morricone) referencing pop music such as Choose Your Own Adventure. But they have another, more crepuscular and experimental side. Magic And Machines was recorded for Blank Editions’ Blank Tape series, in which bands tape themselves while in free improv/R&D territory. This 30-minute, spectral jam was recorded live in one take at a night-time session at a mill in Sudbury, Suffolk and is evidence of a band who are finely tuned into their environment, one another and the multiple avenues open to the modern pop group. John Doran

Leather Party – Tired Ize EP

Like a shot of pheromones, a slowed-down siren, your lurching id and a bath of poppers, in a good way (obviously). The grogged-out Cure sample on the second track does something to my heart. Anna Wood

Kali Uchis – Isolation

Uchis’ wistful vocals float over the driving bass almost threateningly: her delivery is sugary-sweet, but an intimidating confidence and propensity to manipulate rides along with it. She’ll hypnotise you into giving her your money, your attention and your love, then break your heart at the snap of her fingers. Veronica Irwin

Lena Willikens – Selectors 005

Some previous contributors (Motor City Drum Ensemble, Young Marco) to Dekmantel’s Selectors compilation series have looked to rarities and obscure tracks from the past in pulling together their efforts. There are certainly some obscurities among Lena Willikens’ picks on Selectors 005 – like the 2001-released creeping IDM of Vromb’s ‘Amalgame’ and the sludgy synth escapades of Le Matin’s ‘Oil’, previously only available on a limited edition cassette. But Lena Willikens’ choices look overwhelmingly to the present and future. Most of the record is previously unreleased music, pushing Willikens’ favoured style of sludgy, industrial-edged music in ever-divergent directions, from producers such as JASSS, Borusiade and Chekov. Overall, Selectors 005 offers a fine summation of the strange and enthralling sounds you’re likely to hear in a set from one of the world’s most in-form DJs. Christian Eede

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Monáe explored sex and love in her previous work, but it was a more sanitised version – one more in line with being an android, I suppose. On Dirty Computer, she’s flesh and blood with carnal needs. ‘Pynk’, with its video an unabashed dedication to black femme queerness, is a love song to the labia. And one of the album’s main talking points, ‘Make Me Feel’, is the ode to bisexuality that we’ve been waiting for. Grace Barber-Plentie

Mouse On Mars – Dimensional People

It’s astounding that this album didn’t end up a madman’s breakfast, let alone turn out as good as it has. Or maybe it’s not that surprising at all as this isn’t really the collaborative album it’s trumped up to be. The guests have provided sample sources which have, in many cases, been processed out of all recognition by the application of cutting edge technology. It’s sampladelic not collaborative. John Doran

Buck Curran – Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas

The sunshine has finally arrived, the world is rich, giddy and glorious, but you don’t want to get too excited because it’ll probably rain again next week. This is the album for you. Bliss. Anna Wood

Synth Sisters – Euphoria (WAV)

It wasn’t until 2016, when Synth Sisters’ debut LP Aube was reissued on Chee Shimizu’s 17853 label two years after its original release, that the Osaka-based duo came to wider attention. Where their original project Crossbred sees the pair explore more noise-based territory, as Synth Sisters they favour gorgeous, rippling melodies, MAYUKo handling synths while Rie Lambdoll takes on electric piano, synth and vocal duties – most notably captured on this record’s arresting opener ‘w/o/n/d/e/r/f/u/l’. ‘She Sang’ centres around serene drones, while ‘Euphoria’’s synth patterns wouldn’t sound out of place working alongside a chugging krautrock groove (‘Time Is Flowing There’, later in the album, explores this element of their sound fully). ‘Different Story’ is full of machine zaps and harp-like chirps, and closer ‘I Am Here’ is a whirl of piano and psychedelic pads that could continue for hours without its grasp fading. Where parts of Aube let in harsher elements of the duo’s sound, perhaps more associated with their work as Crossbred, Euphoria (WAV) is a more tranquil affair, while importantly never falling into background-music territory. Christian Eede

Grouper – Grid Of Points

Every song on Grid of Points is captivating. ‘Birthday Song’ is the album’s most conventional track, and its melancholic centrepiece, full of enchanted whispers as it eerily dwells on the same note. Closer ‘Breathing’ is sensual music in its most delicate form. Aimee Armstrong – read the full review next week

Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy

Shamelessly sexual, caustically comic and with breathtaking flow, Cardi B stands proud as one of trap’s finest. It feels apt that the album closes with a SZA collaboration – here are two powerful women in a deeply misogynistic industry, confident in their vulnerability, embracing a feminine power, and coming out triumphant.Tara Joshi

Deadline Paranoia – 1/3

Massive stoners from Holland make excellent dubby drone in the mid 80s, it only gets played at their squat parties and released on cassette. Thirty years later, Jeroen Vermandere of Ongehoord Records compiles a load of their tracks, full of drums, dirges and field recordings. This sounds, admittedly, like a painful hipster origin story – but it’s appealing too, right? And the music is excellent. Heavy, fuggy, relaxing, with sparks and half-known energies bubbling up to the surface. Anna Wood

Tracks Of The Month

Pest Modern – ‘Bouche And Bouche’

Stampeding and bonkers avant-garde French rock by father and son art duo Joël and Emmanuel Hubaut. PC

Sean Paul – ‘Tip Pon It’

“I wish I was a little bit taller,” sang Skee-Lo. “I wish I was a baller.” Sean Paul doesn’t have to wish, for it is already so. “I like big butts and I cannot lie,” sang Sir Mix-A-Lot. Me too, thought Sean Paul, and made this video. AW

Real Lies – ‘The Checks’

This new banger is top notch. Like a snotty-nosed Underworld drinking road soda by the swings (with a satisfying hint of Vince Clarke remixing the Mondays). JD

Melatonin Man – ‘Cruise Control Love’

Dutch producer Tammo Hesselink steps up as Melatonin Man for his debut following a contribution to a various artists compilation from Nous’klaer last year. ‘Cruise Control Love’ is a winding, eight-minute journey of euphoric acid. CE

Hi & Saberhägan – ‘Loveless’

Featured on the second release from Midland’s recently launched label Intergraded, ‘Loveless’ combines meditative strings, a driving drum beat and soothing vocals. CE

Routine Death – ‘Parallel Universe’

Sublime electronic psychedelia from the wife and husband Lisa and Dustin Zozaya. The equally hypnotic video above is a never-seen-before tQ exclusive. PC

Årabrot – ‘Sinnerman’

Northern Europe’s greatest heavy rock band return with a blistering version of the spiritual standard recorded by Les Baxter, Nina Simone and The Swan Silvertones. JD

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