Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
With September and October’s usual slew of releases it can be easy to get lost in the onslaught of new wax hitting record store shelves. Who has the time these days to browse in ignorance, not knowing what it is they seek? That’s why I have done the hard work for you, sorting through the crap to bring you the best new records any discerning music fan needs in their life.
This week we have the lush, languid rock of Moon Duo, the post everything pop of Jenny Hval, killer house grooves from Quarion and Kompakt, Trentemøller’s goth-tinged ballads, and lots more. By JOHN BITTLES
So, prepare yourself for maximum aural pleasure, and let us begin…
Over the course of their career Californian band Moon Duo have released some of the trippiest, out there rock music to have ever graced these ears. Formed of Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, the duo return to spiritual home Sacred Bones this autumn for what is, perhaps, their most accessible album yet. Stars Are The Light is out now and finds the group merging their trademark psychedelic drones and dreamy atmospherics with 60s indebted pop nous. The hazy tranquillity of Flying gets things off to a great start, Slowdive style instrumentation underscoring hushed vocals on a track I could happily listen to on repeat for days. Next up, the title track has a burning sense of yearning, recalling the druggy euphoria of UK artist Maps in its languid splendour. Further in, Fall (In Your Love) is a shoegaze inspired western soundtrack, Lost Heads’ tight bassline and guitar licks are tailor made for swirling around your room, while Eye 2 Eye is a dark and dangerous sounding ode to the night. Available now on glistening red vinyl, Stars Are The Light is an album you need in your record collection now. 9/10.
Three years after the vivid gothic pop of Blood Bitch Jenny Hval returns to the album format this September with The Practice Of Love. Featuring collaborations with Vivian Wang, Laura Jean and Félicia Atkinson the record finds the Norwegian artist expanding and refining her repertoire. The result is her most direct sounding record yet. The art pop loveliness of Lions opens proceedings with a whispering voice intoning ‘Look at these trees… Look at them now’, before a huge synth riff and celestial sounding vocals enter the fray. Beautifully seductive, yet intriguingly haunting, the song combines the experimental urgings of Grimes with an ominous sense of wonder, doing strange yet glorious things to your soul. High Alice meanwhile merges muted trance riffs, hushed beats and Jenny’s ethereal voice to stunning effect. Other gems include the darkened witch house thump of Accident, the windswept melancholy of Ashes To Ashes, the unsettling spoken word jazz of Thumbsucker and the ecstatic techno pulse of Six Red Candles. Overflowing with textures and ideas, The Practice Of Love finds one of our most singular artists in spectacular form. 9/10.
Cologne imprint Kompakt re-enter the compilation market with the bumper collection which makes up Total 19. Formed of 26 tracks on the download version, or 8 exclusives for the vinyl freaks, Total 19 is just about as good a snapshot of contemporary European dance music as you are likely to get. Starting out gorgeously sedate with the warm romanticism of Are You Even Real by Weval and the lush IDM of Jörg Burger’s Eloise, for the most part the album blends melodies, emotion and beats with aplomb. Sascha Funke’s Aus Der Lameng is the perfect case in point; a loose-limbed bassline merging with playful synths and clashing hi hats to give us a track which makes perfect sense when losing yourself on a dancefloor. From here, Tom Demac’s Serenade is a handsome slice of melancholy trance, Der Mann, Der Nie Nach Deutz Kam by Reinhard Voigt is a deep, driving techno bomb, Super Recognizer by The Modernist combines Italo and EBM superbly, while the Kölsch Mix of 618 by Gui Boratto ends things on a Harthouse style high. With a lot more depth than most compilations out there, Total 19 is full of electronic joy. 8.5/10.
Next we have a deep house masterclass in the form of Swiss producer Quarion’s highly anticipated debut LP. Out now on Drumpoet Community, Shades merges dub, techno, electronica and more into a glorious aural stew. Since starting to produce, Yanneck Salvo has released records on labels such as Tamed Musiq, Retreat, Innervisions and more. Immaculately produced and full of depth and musicality, Shades finds the artist fully embrace the long-player format. After the muted ambiance of opener Turquoise (99 ‘Til Infinity), Indigo (Aries) gets feet moving with a deep techno groove. Fabulously languid, this is a track too good to merely be part of a warm-up set, it deserves to be the star of the show. The vintage bassline led Periwinkle steps up next, its electronic pulse a simple command to your body to move. Other picks include, Cobalt (Plains), a beautifully melodic slice of progressive house, Azure (Émotion), which ropes in house legend Ripperton for a fantastically slippery groove and Cerulean’s blast of techno power, which ends things on a spine-tingling high. An album to be listened to as a whole, Shades works equally well at home as on the floor. 8.5/10.
For his fifth album Anders Trentemøller decided to forget about the live setup and concentrate on utilizing the powers of his studio to its fullest potential. The result is Obverse, an enthralling and expansive listen which is the Danish producer’s most enjoyable long player since the technoid wonder of The Last Resort. Opener Cold Comfort features Rachel Goswell from Slowdive on vocals, its warm electronics and questing ambiance sitting perfectly with Rachel’s voice. Next, Church Of Trees starts with some ominous beats, before a soft synth-line and foggy electronics enter the fray. It’s not until halfway through that a steady beat kicks in, raising the track towards immaculate highs. Other picks include the spectral wonder of Blue September, the deconstructed trance of Trnt, and the beatless majesty of closer Giants. While some of the collaborations find the producer paying a little bit too much respect to the vocals, for the most part Obverse is a highly enjoyable and original sounding LP. 8/10.
And let’s not forget: Epiphany by Ross From Friends – Released back in August, Felix Clary Weatherall’s follow-up to his excellent Family Portrait LP is a blast from beginning to end, 9/10
Wait For Now by The Cinematic Orchestra – On her version of Wait For Now Mary Lattimore replaces the backing instruments with some gorgeously heart-rending strings. The results are close to divine, 9/10
Nine To Shine by Rhode & Brown – Four tracks of New York style house music which you’ll be hearing plenty of on the more discerning dancefloors, 8.5/10
Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is Ok by Mum – A very welcome reissue of the Icelandic band’s much loved debut LP, 8/10
Believe EP by Scan 7 – Out now on Transmat, lead track Church is a gloriously uplifting piece of techno funk, 8.5/10
Equivalents by Loscil – Scott Morgan’s 12th album as Loscil is a record to get lost in for days, 8/10
Inland Versions by Vanessa Wagner – Six tracks from the Inland LP receive the remix treatment with the melancholy-drenched bass pulses of Gas’ version of Struggle For Pleasure worth the price of entry alone, 8.5/10
Adult Baby by Kazu – Blonde Redhead singer Kazu Makino’s debut solo album is a swirl of electronics and woozy instrumentation, all held together with her own ethereal vocal flourishes, 8/10
Dreams Are Not Enough by Telefon Tel Aviv – Dark, fractured pop songs merge with deconstructed electronics on a record very easy to admire, 7.5/10
Blind Tiger by Worriedaboutsatan – The Yorkshire duo’s fifth album finds them exploring a dark electronic world where fractured ambiance and slow motion techno collide. It’s a wonderful place to be. 9/10.