Music Of The Month: Things We’ve Loved This August

From Oren Ambarchi and Oli XL to HTRK and Pharmakon, we take a look back over some of the month's best music

‘Soggy Flip Flops (August)’ by Lisa Cradduck

tQ’s monthly round-up of the music that has been on repeat in our office returns for August as a middling British summer draws to a close. This month, we feature the uncompromising noise music of Margaret Chardiet’s Pharmakon project, twisted electronics from Oli XL, jungle and breaks by Manchester producer Thugwidow and the latest record from a favourite group for the site, HTRK, amongst other records.

In addition to those, we have our usual round-up of the month’s best tracks, taking in music from the third and final Carter Tutti Void album, Headie One’s latest hit and new material from Black Country, New Road, another band who’ve been strong favourites in the office recently.

Albums of the Month

Pharmakon – Devour

"Pharmakon is well equipped as a project to examine a collective collapse. She understands that destruction isn’t just what happens to us or around us, it’s what we contribute or fail to contribute to the order of things. Devour isn’t a rallying cry for change, it’s a reflection of the ugliness of it all, from the inside out. This critique is not some passing fancy of hers; even if she moves on from the idea that society is eating itself, there will be a new aspect of impermanence to explore. Amanda Farah – read the full review here

Carter Tutti Void – Triumvirate

The Tabula Smaragdina authored by Hermes Trismegistus, commonly known as the Emerald Tablet, was a compact summary of the Hermetica. These were Greek Egyptian texts which essentially acted as a second century Haynes Manual on alchemy. Its opening words declared: “It is truest and most certain of all things. That which is above is as that which is below and that which is below is as that which is above, to accomplish the one thing of all most wonderful.” When this rule was depicted diagrammatically it was known as The Seal Of Solomon and took the form of two interlocking triangles; one pointing to the heavens, the other earthwards. This divine symbol is a potential avatar for supreme collaborative unit, Carter Tutti Void. The three corners represent three pairs of eyes locked down over three tables crammed with hardware, modular synthesizers, microphones, computers and guitars; representing three distinct processes; representing three unique and luminous talents. Also it represents the close of the CTV mission as they complete this, their third and final perfect album. As per the diagram, every grain, every second, every sliver of this exquisite music is a true representative of the whole. The smallest audible fraction contains the pure essence of its torrid, luxurious, time-distorting entirety. And as for the alchemy? The (admittedly not very) base materials are converted to sonic gold, smeared into pure fluidity: vocal becomes bowed guitar becomes modular synth as acid becomes techno becomes ambient becomes industrial becomes transcendence. The pure application of process and symmetry – all albums are minimalist in design and information; all live shows are performed eyes down over equipment with no acknowledgement of the audience under monochromatic light: the ultimate aim of the artist entirely refining themselves out of the art achieved – delivers actual transformation. Throbbing Gristle are clearly a group still held in high regard by many who practice self-aggrandising “transgressive” music in 2019 (and it’s easy to see why) but Chris and Cosey (at least) have long since moved on and have kept on moving on and on. Lesser talents trying to connect to the occult at this point in history should consider ditching the provocative sunwheels and tiresome Julius Evola screeds (whether they’re for real or not) and perhaps observe the creation of some real magic for a change.
John Doran

Oli XL – Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer

"Oli XL’s whimsy is simply a way to deal with representing a crippling sense of self-doubt in a moment where young men’s sincerity is often rejected within artistic circles. Perhaps the internet has revealed just how common these feelings are, which has in turn rendered their discussion obsolete. In order to communicate these feelings in an engaging way, millennials have created a whole language of memes that have progressively become more abstract as new memes are built on the old ones." Zac Cazes – read the full review here

Alexander Tucker – Guild Of The Asbestos Weavers

"Once eager to look like a member of Black Sabbath or The Allman Brothers, Alexander Tucker is now clean shaven, short-haired, and has started wearing trainers. As for his music, there isn’t even any guitar on his futuro-trippy new album, Guild Of The Asbestos Weaver. Well, no electric or acoustic guitars anyway. There is some bass guitar on it, but it’s been run through various effects pedals and oscillators to make it sound deeper, more synthetic, and barely recognisable as an ordinary organic instrument. As with his work with Daniel O’Sullivan in Grumbling Fur, Tucker’s solo material has become significantly more electronic of late. But before you start throwing cabbages and shouting "Judas!" at him like you did when Bob Dylan put down his acoustic halfway through a gig in 1966, there are threads that run through Tucker’s earlier music to the present day. His love of repetitive yet constantly changing soundscapes, for example. His vocals too, both earthy and fragile, and the multi-interpretable imagery of his lyrics. Among Tucker’s continued fascinations are the fantasy, horror, and sci-fi genres, which all feed into both his visual and musical output. The songs on the new record have been conceived with the short stories of writers like HP Lovecraft and Philip K Dick in mind. The record takes its title from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. First published in 1953, Bradbury’s tale of book burning in a future America has retained its relevance, not least in the current climate where experts are chastised, "fake news" is manipulated, and right-wing extremism is on the rise once again."
JR Moores

Oren Ambarchi – Simian Angel

"Ambarchi has long expressed his love for Brazilian music but do not expect any overt references to tropicalia on Simian Angel. ‘Palm Sugar Candy’ instead builds gently, edging slowly towards a pay-off that remains elusive. Ambarchi’s organ-like guitar drones swirl around meandering percussive interjections from Baptista and muttered vocal utterances. It feels like a more minimal take on the Berlin school of Klaus Schulze circa Moondawn but with the tension and sci-fi flourishes reined in to leave a widescreen abstract canvas." Joseph Burnett – read the full review here

Debby Friday – Death Drive

"Delving deeper into the abyss, ‘TREASON’, with fellow noise artist and Deathbomb Arc label mate Lana Del Rabies, deconstructs elements of mid-00s metal with slowed down industrial techno for a pairing that results in nonsensical glitchy screams. At no point does Friday settle on one particular sound or way of expressing herself. A slow burner can suddenly turn into a frenzied panic or a hectic scream can mellow out into a calming wave. This is what keeps DEATH DRIVE moving towards what you would expect to be its eventual doom." Yewande Adeniran – read the full review here

Thugwidow – Automatic Rhythm

Thugwidow’s new EP, Automatic Rhythm, gives the impression of travelling at breakneck speeds while simultaneously remaining completely still. If you’ve ever been looking out of the window of a train when another train overtakes on an adjacent set of rails, you’ll know what I mean: you know that you are moving fast, but you can’t help but feel like you’re not moving at all. On Automatic Rhythm, Thugwidow juxtaposes the crazed momentum of tortured breakbeats with the lethargic dance of distant ambient synths, recreating that uncanny sensation. Cavernous reverbs throughout the record give the impression of vast space. The release becomes a haunting elegy for old-school darkside jungle. Zac Cazes – read the full review here

HTRK – Venus in Leo

With Venus in Leo, HTRK have, in a sense, come full circle from their beginnings over a decade ago, having sloughed off a fair amount of emotional and musical baggage on the way, and what’s left is a sleek, stealthy resilience at times goes against the fragility of their sound. They are now making music that, thanks to its lack of grandiosity and ornateness, has a seeming air of distance and would almost seemingly pass through you unnoticed. But they leave traces in your brain that lingers and slowly burns inside of you, long after you’ve stopped listening. Bob Cluness

Tracks Of The Month

Black Country, New Road – ‘Sunglasses’

BC,NR may sardonically acknowledge their debt to the math rock pantheon of the early ’90s (the shellac nails that get name-checked toward the end of ‘Sunglasses’ are not a throw away detail) but when you add blazing No Wave influenced klezmer brass, synths and strings and the lacerating lyrical talent of Isaac Wood (some kind of Frankenstein’s monster of Jarvis Cocker, Steve Albini, Momus and Scott Walker), it’s clear this excellent young band are very much their own thing.

Headie One – ‘Rubbery Bandz’

North London’s biggest rising star follows breakout tracks ’18HUNNA’ and ‘Back to Basics’ with this afrobeat-tinged summer banger.

CZ Wang & Neo Image – ‘Just Off Wave’

Vancouver’s finest purveyors of laid-back house music finally drop this smooth cut that has become a favourite in the sets of DJs such as Jayda G.

Carter Tutti Void – ‘T3.4’

Carter Tutti Void are back with a perfect sound for the times.

Plaid – ‘Maru’ (Skee Mask Remix)

Skee Mask keeps churning them out, this time delivering a techstep-inspired remix of Warp mainstays Plaid.

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