Music Of The Month: The Best New Releases Of October 2020

New records by Sun Ra Arkestra, Autechre, Actress and more feature amongst our picks of the last four weeks

Autumn is firmly here for those of us in the UK, and while we are now more than seven months on from entering COVID-19 lockdown, the restrictions are sadly unrelenting, thanks in no small part to a wave of cataclysmic government errors that I’m hoping need not be spelled out here.

Among all of that, the support that we here at tQ have received from our dedicated readership in these months, particularly in getting our new subscription service off the ground over the last eight weeks or so, has been immeasurable and we continue to be so grateful to those of you who back what we do, be it through our subscription service, sharing pieces or simply returning to our pages every day. Thank you for supporting independent music journalism however you can.

Remember if you want to subscribe, you can do so by heading here where you can also find a full list of the perks that come with it. Just today, we’ve shared a playlist featuring much of the month’s new music as well as music from artists who’ve appeared on our pages over the last four weeks. That’s exclusive to subscribers and available here.

If you keep reading below, you can also find a selection of the month’s best music, according to us here at tQ. It’s a list that takes in big returns from Sun Ra Arkestra, Autechre and Actress, as well as typically brilliant experimentations by the likes of Rian Treanor, Shit And Shine and Call Super. We hope you find something you like amongst it all.
Christian Eede


Sun Ra Arkestra – Swirling

No group in jazz history has embodied the communal spirit like the Arkestra. Most of its members have spent time living in the group’s residential headquarters in Philly’s Germantown neighbourhood – the Arkestra’s base for over four decades – and they’ve bought in to the band’s collective spirit, and its hard-core fans are the closest thing jazz has to Deadheads. In a way, the new album is a gift to the faithful and new adherents, beautifully conveying the vibe and orchestral depth of the Arkestra’s recent live shows.
Peter Margasak – read the full review here

Autechre – SIGN

It might seem guileless to describe contemporary Autechre in traditional terms of beats, bass and melody. More often it’s a matter of timbre or texture, or something in between. But on SIGN, there’s a noticeable return to prominent tonal sounds not heard since 2010’s Oversteps. Indeed, SIGN’s second track, ‘F7’, with its peal of squealing dew drops could have been cut from a similar cloth to that album, which is no bad thing. ‘gr4’, perhaps the prettiest track here, showcases see-sawing synths that keen like a string quartet. I don’t think I’ve been struck in such an emotionally direct way by an Autechre tune since ‘Pir’ on 1999’s EP7.
Charlie Frame – read the full review here

Actress – Karma & Desire
(Ninja Tune)

If Hazyville (2008) and Ghettoville (2014) spoke to specific urban imaginaries rooted in contemporary spatialities of race and class, then Karma & Desire resides somewhere more specific, inward-looking and self-oriented. There’s something conceptually much deeper, though many themes of a spiritual and philosophical nature have been found throughout his work, particularly in R.I.P. (2012). But in foregrounding the conceptual, the music is perhaps more familiar. You wouldn’t call it innovative or experimental per se, but rather more concentrated and purposeful. With Karma & Desire there’s a sense of his accumulated practice being reflected on and expressed.
Kashif Sharma-Patel – read the full review here

Metz – Atlas Vending
(Sub Pop)

While Atlas Vending noticeably evolves the Metz template on from their first two albums, it occupies similar territory to 2017’s Strange Peace. This is no bad thing. The essence of Metz’ sound is like a tincture of the best of ’90s alternative rock (Fugazi, early-Nirvana, The Jesus Lizard, Hüsker Dü) but filtered through the kind of preoccupation with texture manifested by experimental NYC noise-rock trio Sightings. Their sound is already a precisely refined amalgam of the noise guitars, drums and bass are capable of emitting, shook up and released at high pressure. Too much messing with such a volatile mix is in no one’s best interests.
Sean Kitching – read the full review here

Rian Treanor – File Under UK Metaplasm
(Planet Mu)

File Under UK Metaplasm is a botched archive that puts dancehall funk through a blender on ‘Debouncing’, or ruptures Sheffield’s Warp-ed legacy with ‘Vacuum Angle’, a track which collapses IDM into icy static. Treanor has an ability to make discordant, white noise sound piercingly precise, but seemingly without any deliberate intent to alienate his listeners. Rather, as with the tap-tapping metronome rhythm of final track ‘Order From The Pausing’, it’s all about uncovering what makes us tick.
Hannah Pezzack – read the full review here

Ustad Saami – Pakistan Is For The Peaceful

The hope of Ustad Saami in making these recordings is to preserve his musical knowledge so that its component parts can be examined in more detail than previously possible for future reference, and, most importantly, that the sounds live on. For open ears the recordings on Pakistan Is For The Peaceful offer immersive, ever-spiralling tracks that reach ecstatic heights as they open up endless waves of spiritual harmonies, beyond the drone and into the unknown.
Richie Troughton – read the full review here

Shit And Shine – Malibu Liquor Store
(Rocket Recordings)

The desert-meets-the-dancefloor soundscape of Malibu Liquor Store calls to mind another, equally arid album: 2017’s Concrete Desert, the excellent collaboration between The Bug and Earth. While stylistically the similarities are few, the parallel is apparent in the psychogeographic impulses of their creators. In an interview with tQ, The Bug’s Kevin Martin spoke of a desire to "sonically map a visual terrain." In the case of Concrete Desert this terrain was the real world city of Los Angeles. On Malibu Liquor Store, we’re presented with a more fluid map of hallucinatory territory. It’s an ever-shifting space in which familiar sonic markers are glimpsed only fleetingly as the listener is pushed onwards by the perpetual motion of the Can-style rhythms.
Oliver Cookson – read the full review here

Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

There is no momentum or force that drives Silver Ladders onward. No direction in its stirrings of mood and sound that flutter and beat like a leaf caught between walls of wind. The beauty of the album is in that feeling of organic spontaneity, in the movements that suddenly depart and retreat into lightless caves before assimilating back into their icy harmonies. In Silver Ladders, Mary Lattimore brings the harp back down to earth still covered in clouds, but also threaded with veins of gloom that marble its silvery glow.
Kareem Ghezawi – read the full review here

clipping. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burned
(Sub Pop)

Despite being something of a hip-hop dilettante, I can’t help feeling clipping. are pushing the boundaries of what a hip-hop album can sound like. The combination of Diggs’ hyper-enunciated double-time flow, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes’s twisted industrial production, and high-concept albums strikes me as original. Lock your doors, run upstairs, and put Visions of Bodies Being Burned on, because as Diggs says in the introduction to the album, "the beast is hitting beneath."
Will Ainsley – read the full review here

Staraya Derevnya – Inwards Opened The Floor

Staraya Derevnya, named after a St. Petersburg neighbourhood, are a collective who do not get to play together often, due to their location in separate countries. However, when they do the sound they make is unmistakable. There is a dark cabaret about their music like an outpouring of political resentment and joy heard bursting from a Lviv cellar in the aftermath of the First World War. In the case of Inwards Opened The Floor, the performance element is explicit, with lyrics based on poems by Arthur Molev (a Russian painter, also known for working with St. Petersburg band Auktyon). Their improvised approach sounds like The Tiger Lilies with every hint of sentiment stripped away and replaced with alarming kazoo screeches, the scratching of unidentified objects and, on ‘Chirik Is Heard From The Treetops’, a rattling, fast-approaching cavalcade of tiny demons released from a Hieronymous Bosch painting. Their music is both familiar and dangerous, as though Jacques Brel had drunk so much he’d forgotten how to speak French, and got mixed up.
Tom Bolton – read the full review here

G Sudden – Bun Out Boss
(Bokeh Versions/Duppy Gun)

Sometimes the sheer fire it ignites in your speakers is enough to make a release 100% vital. That’s the case with Bunout Boss, the latest future dancehall drop from Bokeh Versions and Duppy Gun, which sees Okeme Robinson, AKA Gaza G Sudden, take the mic with Seekersinternational on production. Dancehall’s history is as much a culture of communities, soundsystems and defiance as it is a music genre. And that story is seared into the circuity of Bunout Boss and its telepathic links between rhymes and riddims. Richmond, BC via Manila duo Seekersinternational’s mix of 8-bit bass lines and scattered beats is one of the most distinctive backdrops you’ll hear, but they harness it on these eight tracks to amplify G Sudden’s flow.
Daryl Worthington – read the full review here

Charlie Morrow – America Lament

Charlie Morrow is an unsung hero of sorts, facilitator to many, who ran the cassette label New Wilderness Audiographics, (and the broader The New Wilderness Foundation with Jerome Rothenberg). Through it he released sound poetry and art music, field recordings, audio collages, and ethnographic recordings by people including Alison Knowles, Annea Lockwood, and Philip Corner. He also made a huge amount of music himself, some of which America Lament collects. It’s the second LP of work from his archives on Recital, and it includes electronic stuttering like dust clouds, short composed works for orchestral instruments like the Moonwalk Interludes, music that plays and pokes the edges of the avant garde, but is never without feeling. There is a sense with Morrow’s work that he is the sort of person who never sits still.
Jennifer Lucy Allan – read the full review here

Call Super – Every Mouth Teeth Missing

Now on his third album, Call Super’s sound continues to evolve on Every Mouth Teeth Missing, while maintaining the distinctive production cadences that often make his work so recognisable to fans. As with his previous two albums, the Houndstooth-released Suzi Ecto and Arpo, it’s a record that has its head mostly out of the club, in contrast to past 12" releases with labels like The Trilogy Tapes, Hessle Audio and Peach Discs. Closer ‘Milkweed’ revolves around bursts of almost post-rock guitar, gorgeous piano and curious sound FX, wedded together by the artist’s own spoken word vocals, consisting of kinds of poems about, in his words, "the things that were in my head." Writing recently on Instagram, the producer characterised the album’s driving force as "a need to be adrift in a music that is a bit unstable but holds you warmly." Reflecting that, tracks such as ‘Opperton Swim’ and ‘Welcome New People’ play with sudden tempo changes, the latter’s fuzzy arpeggios stretched out in the track’s second half to dazzling effect.
Christian Eede


Pa Salieu – ‘B***K’

On the latest precursor to his debut mixtape, Send Them To Coventry, one of the leading figures of the UK drill scene celebrates Black culture over a stripped-back, industrial-tinged beat.

Ana Roxanne – ‘Camille’

With her second album just around the corner, Ana Roxanne brings her vocals to the fore on the gorgeous, gentle ‘Camille’.

Divide And Dissolve – ‘We Are Really Worried About You’

Antipodean anti-colonialist twosome Divide And Dissolve announce their signing to Invada Records with this absolutely monolithic slab of cataclysmic noise.

Sleaford Mods – ‘Mork N Mindy’

The Billy Nomates-featuring lead track from Sleaford Mods’ just-announced new album is "the sound of the central heating and the dying smells of Sunday dinner in a house on an estate in 1982," Jason Williamson says. It’s the first taste of a record loaded with anger and despair at the action of elites in a year full of turmoil.

Pregoblin – ‘Snakes And Oranges’

Another cut of brilliant, melodramatic pop from Alex Sebley and Jessica Winter’s Pregoblin, complete with an ace vintage horror themed video.

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