From Richard Dawson To Alice Coltrane: May’s Best New Music

As a year replete with glorious new LPs hurtles forth, here's the best music you may have missed in the last month

"All good things," they say, "must come to an end."

In this particular instance, it is both my tenure as Reviews Editor at The Quietus — and subsequently 12 months of writing these introductions — which have now reached their natural and glorious conclusion. Fortunately for everyone, however, what has not — and most likely will never — come close to even a rolling stop is the influx of new music set free into the world, and held captive in our inboxes, each and every day.

And it’s with this in mind that once again we stand before you simultaneously proud of our constant mission to champion the very best music, from the fringes and the foreground, and contritely with our heads hung that we simply aren’t able to give all the amazing music in this world the attention that it deserves. 1s and 0s, though, are malleable and — highlighting the best of the music we somehow missed, and reminding you of those albums we loved — we’d like to put right our failings.

Richard Dawson – Peasant

"From its structure and instrumentation down to its most basic themes, it is a bold and almost complete break with the style that allowed him to cross over from the weirdo underground to his current position as the country’s best-loved exponent of avant-folk.

Confessional tales of underage drinking sessions gone awry are replaced by a kaleidoscope of character pieces displaced to the pre-medieval Northern English kingdom of Bryneich, while the barebones sound palette of ribcage-busting vocal and spidery electric guitar seen on his previous opus have been replaced by a multi-layered, kitchen-sink ensemble aesthetic. Yet perhaps the most notable move Dawson has made in Peasant is the ambition of its central theme: how community can be reclaimed as a meaningful force in society."
Danny Riley, selected by John Doran

The Charlatans – Different Days

The Charlatans would have been forgiven for making their last album, Modern Nature, a play-it-safe consolidation after they regrouped following the death of drummer Jon Brookes in 2013. Instead, they pushed the boat out with a much-and-rightly praised record of Midlands-meets-North-Western soul.

From the off, Different Days is a marvel, opening track ‘Hey Sunrise’ managing to combine both a blissed-out summery contentedness in its tune with a backing noise that sounds like a high pressure jet washing gravel. ‘Solutions’ glows with similar insouciance, the clipped rhythms matched by a melodic popping reminiscent of OMD’s ‘Electricity’. Perhaps the confidence writ throughout comes from the band being pushed by the presence of an impressive array of guests, from Paul Weller to Johnny Marr, Nik Void of Factory Floor, New Order and even the writer Ian Rankin, who contributed a spoken word passage to ‘Future Tense’. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear a band decades into their career continuing to make some of their boldest, finest work.
Luke Turner

Shinichi Atobe – From The Heart, It’s A Start, Work Of Art

Continuing their campaign of unearthing Shinichi Atobe’s various delicate dub techno abstractions, the latest record on Demdike Stare’s eponymous imprint has its origins in the turn of the millennium, even before the producer’s famed Ship-Scope 12” saw a release via Chain Reaction. With three of the tracks featured on this record taken from an acetate – only five of which were made – which never made it to wider release, this record may not leave the audiophiles best pleased, but for those less concerned, the seven tracks featured offer a further insight into Atobe’s ability to produce unfathomably gorgeous techno.

‘Regret’ is centred around simple hazy loops, the occasional grandiose addition of piano keys rising to the top while ‘First Plate 1-3’, the tracks lifted from that aforementioned acetate, pick up the pace, once again demonstrating exactly what Atobe can do with fairly minimal tools. ‘First Plate 2’, in particular, calls to mind the output of Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald’s Maurizio project in the 1990s. The difference in era between those acetate cuts and the more recent output featured on the record is somewhat noticeable, in more than audio quality, but that offers a key part of its charm. In parts, the record serves as a snapshot of a particularly important time in techno, when the Chain Reaction label was still active, while also delving into Atobe’s present motivations and processes as a still active producer.
Christian Eede

The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert
(Ninja Tune)

At this point in time it would perhaps be easy, even understandable, to have become cynical about the value of psychogeography – whether that’s on the page in text form (you can stop now, Ian) or in your ears on record – with near-innumerable books, albums and other projects having taken up the mantle over the last few years. On the flip-side, of course, instead of blanket dismissal, it pays to consider the maxim that context, rather than content, is everything — and to appreciate the reality that all geography is psychogeography, filtered as it is through human consciousness, and that all art is psychogeography of a sort — everyone, after all, is mapping something. Any pain caused by psychogeography’s death by a thousand cuts, however, is relieved on Concrete Desert by two indisputable masters of their craft — Kevin Martin and Dylan Carlson; or, The Bug vs. Earth.

Carlson, after all, has been tapping into the human psyche for over a quarter of a century by this point, and The Bug’s recent Sirens project harnessed those same immersive qualities to demand introspection and reflection from its audience. While , Concrete Desert, their new collaborative work is less "shock and awe" than their individual efforts, as an exploration of time and place — and our position within that — it is no less expansive.

Jlin – Black Origami
(Planet Mu)

"More than footwork, then, Black Origami feels closer to the spirit of Photek, Squarepusher or Aphex Twin in the mid 90s, when these producers took the rhythmic intensity of drum and bass and squeezed and contorted it into fascinating new shapes and it is notable that Aphex played a couple of Jlin tracks at his recent US DJing comeback." – Ben Cardew

Alice Coltrane – The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
(Luaka Bop)

"This is something which hits you at full force like waves of cosmic energy. The sonic potentialities opened up by these recordings remind me of the ecstatic keening swoop of Gaelic psalm singing as well as the choral works of Arvo Part and rejuvenation-in-bass explorations of SunnO))) and Drexciya." – Euan Andrews

Oxbow – Thin Black Duke
(Hydra Head)

"You know that new band you like? Not as good as Oxbow. You know that new album you like? Not as good as the Thin Black Duke." – John Doran

Perc – Bitter Music
(Perc Trax)

"With an eye on the disused factories and the discarded bodies of its workers Bitter Music, despite its harsh nature, has an almost faint whiff of nostalgia for a time and a worldview that we knew and thought we understood. Our views of the future are now much grander and more terrifying." – Bob Cluness

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