Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of January 2024

Your guide to the best in brand new music returns, with tQ's staff selecting their albums and tracks of January 2024

As someone who writes about music, it’s hard not to anxious about the state of the wider industry. Regardless of one’s personal opinion on their coverage, Condé Nast’s recent decision to lay off swathes of staff at Pitchfork as they fold the publication into GQ is impossible to view as anything but bleak – dunderheaded short-termism from suits who see only statistics where they should see people, people whose desire to document music’s brilliance and bullshit against all sane career advice should be celebrated far, far more than it is.

Writing about music has been a tenuous life choice for as long as I can remember, but never before have things felt quite so existentially worrying. And yet, we remain. Whether through our work here at tQ, or an exciting new wave of online zines, mailouts and websites who, while starting from scratch, will one day rise to fill the holes being left, I firmly believe that there’s something in human nature that means there’ll always be someone to write about music. Without further ado, then, here’s what we’ve loved this month.

All of these picks, as well as all the other excellent music we’ve covered at tQ this month, will also be compiled into an hours-long playlist (also a bumper edition covering two months rather than one) 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 January 2024.
Patrick Clarke


Various Artists – Ulyap Songs: Beyond Circassian Tradition
(FLEE Project)

"We must reject the conventional fiction of ‘unchanging human nature’. There is in fact no permanence anywhere. There is only becoming." Those spoke the poet Alexander Trocchi in his 1964 sigma manifesto, ‘The Invisible Insurrection’. His text could be readily applied to some of the music heard on Ulyap Songs: Beyond Circassian Tradition, the latest double album from the young FLEE label. Trocchi was someone who often tested the limits of societal conformity, and one of the main strengths of this joyous, sometimes elusive release is the sense of devil-may-care autonomy heard in the on-location recordings. Despite these being the sort of artefacts you’d expect the dead hand of the curator to be all over, their core independence wins out.
Richard Foster – read the full review here

Jürg Frey: String Quartet No. 4 – Quatuor Bozzini

It’s when Jürg Frey’s music returns to quietude, that his world feels most intimate. On Quatuor Bozzini, each moment invites close listening to the tiniest flutters. Towards the end of the piece, there are a series of rests that feel one in the same as the moments of sound; it ends where it began, emerging from nowhere and disintegrating into a pool of dust. Of the quartet, Frey writes: "Standstill, little happens – it is this atmosphere from which my music emerges and to which it always returns." Music can be found where it might not have existed before, and Frey invites us to discover it with him.
Vanessa Ague – read the full review here

Bill Ryder-Jones – Iechyd Da

Bill Ryder-Jones’ writing rarely takes creative license, which is what makes Iechyd Da cut ‘…And The Sea…’ so unusual. The track features legendary Scouse songwriter Mick Head reading from Ulysses over a hip hop indebted beat. But other than that the album is more or less autobiographical. At times it can be unflinchingly so, as on ‘If Tomorrow Starts Without Me’, in which he contemplates what the world might look like were he to die. On ‘Nothing To Be Done’, he sings earnestly that "I just can’t see myself getting past this one". At others, though, the rays of hope that pierce the gloom – the love that his friend showed him when he drove him to hospital on ‘Thankfully For Anthony’, for instance, or the little snippets of domestic bliss that he and his ex-partner carved out amid tumult that are recounted on ‘Christinha’ – can feel totally triumphant. Often, thanks to the beauty of so many of Iechyd Da‘s instrumentals, all warm strings and tender piano, it’s both extremes at once.
Patrick Clarke – read an interview here

Jozef Van Wissem – That Night Dwells In The Day

Those unfamiliar with Jozef Van Wissem’s music may be forgiven for thinking that recording one lute-heavy long player after another is a harmless esotericism, an acoustic form of kintsugi. His credo, "the lute is eternal", sees him ferret out forgotten words and notations to reshape them in a body of work that will steadily grow until the Limburger pops his clogs. But The Night Dwells In The Day is further proof that Van Wissem’s work is a very contemporary music, one that forcefully bends ancient traditions to the wavelengths of the anthropocene.
Richard Foster – read the full review here

Donato Dozzy – Magda
(Spazio Disponibile)

Billed as an homage to his family and the Adriatic Sea, Donato Dozzy’s latest album, Magda, largely eschews the conceptual focus that has defined many of his full-length projects across the past several years – whether that’s 2018’s Tresor-released exploration of the TB-303, Filo Loves The Acid, or 2019’s two-hour-long soundtrack to an exhibition on a Rome bridge, 12H. While there are certainly similarities to be found between the latter album and Magda, particularly in the presence on both of Dozzy’s characteristically sumptuous arpeggios, this latest record feels somewhat less restrained. ‘Le Chaser’, with its slowly unfurling bassline and hypnotic, layered lead melody, is an epic halftime cut that carries all the hallmarks of the Italian artist’s best work, while closer ‘Lucrezia’ is an equally grand dub techno journey through droning melodies and polyrhythmic synths that builds and builds addictively. Perhaps Dozzy’s most well-rounded solo album in a number of years, Magda skilfully marries the psychedelic techno that permeates his club EPs and DJ sets with the heartstring-tugging emotional depth of his more experimental ambient work.
Christian Eede

Aaron And The Jeri Jeri Band – Dama B​ë​gga Ñibi (I Want To Go Home)
(Urban Trout)

Aron and the Jeri Jeri Band’s debut album, Dama Bëgga Ñibi (I Want To Go Home), is a simultaneously genre-bending and -binding offering that combines the contemporary and the traditional. Whilst the essence of Senegal, particularly through the native dance sound Mbalax, lies at the heart of the album, you can also hear elements of jazz, afrobeats, afrofunk, reggae and electronic music, a mix of sounds that is archetypal of the influence of the African diaspora. It is becoming more prevalent for music that originates from artists born and raised within the African continent to be influenced by sounds that have originated from Europe or the Americas, and this syncretism is a symptom of the rapid cultural exchange of influences that characterises this era.
Ian Opolot – read the full review here

Brown Wimpenny – Live Demos

A few months ago, I had a joyous all-dayer at the Moth Club in Hackney, courtesy of the Broadside Hacks collective of forward-thinking young folk musicians. Amid a stacked bill, Manchester collective Brown Wimpenny were among those that stood out the most – and not just because their sprawling membership created a ludicrous scene as they tried to cram themselves onto what is a fairly small stage. A set of energy, eccentricity, communion and joy, it’s pleasing to see those same qualities captured in this set of one-take live demos released for free via Bandcamp this month.
Patrick Clarke

Mary Halvorson – Cloudward

Cloudward probably won’t jump out to familiar listeners of Brooklyn-based jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson’s previous albums as being particularly unusual in her catalogue. However, it’s probably the first where she sounds fully immersed in her band, Amaryllis, which she originally composed music for in 2020 during the pandemic. Now, she finds herself still writing for the band, and the results are rich and increasingly organic-sounding. With the album a means to articulate the process of her band re-emerging after the pandemic, the cadence of the record does seem to replicate the sound of the city’s life gradually blossoming out into the streets.
Lottie Brazier – read the full review here

Pyur – Lucid Anarchy

It’s a misconception that experimental music has to be viewed academically to be appreciated. When artists get tagged with the ‘experimental’ label (see also: IDM), some listeners are put off by the highbrow packaging. While us weirdos might enjoy writing rambly philosophical pieces about the thematic background of a record. Others see it as homework. In reality, boundary-pushing music is some of the most instantly affecting and emotional music there is. Pyur’s third record, Lucid Anarchy, proves that.
Skye Butchard – read the full review here

Saramaccan Sound – Where The River Bends Is Only The Beginning

There is no need to speak the language to understand the message of tracks such as ‘Villages Swallowed by the Floods’, ‘Sweet River (The Government Drowned Our Village for the Dam)’ or ‘Thank God, I Made It Through The Night’. There is a lot for them to be furious about, but Saramaccan Sound don’t sound angry. Instead, their music is a blues – a way of processing and controlling adversity by channelling it through a culture. The album closes with a track called ‘Ancestor Call’, a riot of home-made drums recorded beside the river as villagers played a death rite. Death is always close to the surface on ‘Where The River Bends Is Only The Beginning’, but there’s also a somewhat humbling level of optimism.
Tom Bolton – read the full review here


Feeo – ‘It Was Then That I’

The first song from Feeo’s new EP, Run Over, due in March, is understated and quiet, a woozy and gently distorted melody that grows glacially in momentum, counterpointed with the multi-disciplinarian’s hypnotic and melancholy vocal – and yet it feels overwhelming in its intensity.
Patrick Clarke

Batu – ‘Other Means’

Batu kicks off 2024 with a typically thrilling, jittery club banger that falls somewhere between the bassbin-rattling UK techno he’s best known for via his Timedance label, and the deep, psychedelic techno he can frequently be found playing in clubs on any given weekend.
Christian Eede

Polevaulter – ‘Violently Ill’

On the surface, Polevaulter might sound crude, a churning beat and a single lyric barked out again and again. Yet there’s something transcendent to their relentlesness, and a subtlety to their production that should not go unnoticed.
Patrick Clarke

Fat White Family – ‘Bullet Of Dignity’

Admittedly, a music video featuring a naked man in a butcher’s cold store and dressed as a WWI soldier is always going to lube itself into my special place, but the sweaty kink of the new track from Fat White Family is only half the story. This new single follows on from ‘Religion For One’ in suggesting their forthcoming new album, Forgiveness Is Yours, might be their finest yet.
Luke Turner

A Certain Ratio – ‘All Comes Down To This’

Moving at a relentless pace since the turn of the decade, A Certain Ratio’s decision to team up with superproducer Dan Carey on their new record is a masterstroke. Razor-sharp pop cut ‘All Comes Down To This’ harnesses all that momentum and supercharges it even further.
Patrick Clarke

Lord Spikeheart – ‘TYVM ft. SAIONJI BBBBBBB’

There’s intensity, and then there’s Lord Spikeheart. The DUMA frontman’s latest clash of howling vocals and chaotic speed-punch beats hits like a freight train.
Patrick Clarke

Jlin – ‘The Precision Of Infinity (ft. Philip Glass)’

Combining head-scratching rhythms with Philip Glass’ distinctive piano minimalism, the lead cut from Jlin’s forthcoming third studio album underlines just why the footwork producer continues to be one of the most exciting artists operating within that world, and more widely in electronic music, today.
Christian Eede

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