Back into the writing saddle, then, as I wrap up the best music of the past month. The write-up of Cold Waves X from Chicago will follow in the next day or two, as it turns out there was an awful lot to say…
As ever, this is a mix of styles reflecting the music that I’ve been listening to over the past month or so: featuring a couple of bands who released music in time for Cold Waves, the return of some old favourites, and a few new bands (to me) as I continue to hunt out new music – the latter especially important as I’m now beginning to lay the ground for the usual end-of-year lists in December.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Track of the Month
Remarkable imagery, equally eye-popping videos, repeated references to fungi, a sextet of bass clarinets, nods to gabber… oh yes, Björk is back. Seemingly an album about reconnection and the rebirth of self, the lead track Atapos, in retrospect, is a brilliant introduction to an album that is not half as challenging as it might have appeared when it was announced. While there are some pitch-dark elements, Björk is back at her playful best, continuing to sound like absolutely no-one else, and Atapos morphs from a rhythmic noise ballad (no, really) into a thundering dancefloor attack by the time it runs out of energy.
/I LIKE TRAINS
A track released with fascinating timing (during the midst of the mass hysteria, frankly, that has gripped this country over the past few weeks), but the target isn’t royalty, but the putrid Government that has been replaced by another, even worse one. Very much a track related to their outstanding KOMPROMAT era, this is another propulsive, searing post-punk track that casts a weary eye over the politics (or lack thereof) of Boris Johnson, one that was about repeated slogans, little substance, and winning at all costs. I can’t wait to hear what they might say about the latest fucking shambles inflicted on this country.
/Sound The Alarm
/This Is Glitch Mode
Tucked away on the latest Glitch Mode comp – and closing their recent Cold Waves show, review to follow in the next 48 hours – is the first new Cyanotic track in three years. The usual mix of tech-industrial, a barrage of samples and a futurist outlook, this track certainly continues the high standards of the Cyanotic output, with the key being that heavy, mid-paced groove that keeps the track rolling forward. I can only hope that this is the precursor to a new album sometime soon.
/This One’s On My Own
Jean-Marc Lederman has found a fascinating niche as a collaborator, preferring to stay in the shadows a little in the projects he works as part of, and giving voice to some great people along the way. His latest release on a busy schedule is a full album with Emileigh Rohn (Chiasm), and in something that rather befits these uncomfortable times, it is an album of rage. Rohn’s sweeter delivery, though, helps sugar the pill a bit, especially on the excellent opener This One’s On My Own, but listen that bit closer and you can hear Rohn seething.
The album also contains a quite lovely cover of Pets, by the recently reformed Porno For Pyros, a surprising choice to say the least.
/Randolph & Mortimer
/What Are You?
/What Are You? EP
Sheffield’s finest musical export right now, back with a single and some belting remixes. The track itself is a noisy beast that leans a little into breakbeats, with the kind of momentum that suggests it could happily continue to loop ad infinitum, before a drop that could have come from the Big Beat era of the late nineties. Pick of the remixes, though, is the noise deconstruction by Acidic Male, where it is turned into a juddering, malevolent creation that sounds amazing. Profits from the first week of release (up to this coming Thursday, 06-Oct) go to IDAS.
The brutal upfront force of Street Sects isn’t for everyone, and it turned out, it seemed to be part of the reason they burned out for a while (more in an unusually candid interview earlier in the year where they admitted they had dissolved for a time). The ripping power of X Amount is a hell of a return, just 147 seconds of industrial-punk that despite the volume and savagery, might just be the first remotely accessible, dancefloor-bound song they have released. Bring on that promised new album!
I rather got the feeling that I should have liked previous album Instant Exorcism more than I did, but maybe it was the wrong time for me, as I like the follow-up a lot. Difficult to pigeonhole – mostly because Curse has no issue switching styles, and blurring the lines between them – which makes my job harder in writing about it, but then perhaps that is the point. The excellent Lacerations is a tough-edged track, with a stomping beat and vocal delivery that brings to mind what Orgy could and should have been (and I mean that in a good way). The chorus kicks hard, while the rest of the track broods like those uber-goths in the shadowy corners of the club.
/The Foreign Resort
A warm welcome back to Danish post-punkers The Foreign Resort, whose last album Outnumbered was a much-loved release here (and indeed they were great live at Cold Waves last week, too). The first new single from what I presume is from an upcoming album keeps their bass-heavy, Cure-esque doom intact, but adds in dense, shoegaze touches that as the song climaxes, become nearly overwhelming. A fascinating return.
The latest album from Editors has seen them, as the album title suggests (even if it stands for Editors-Blanck Mass), lean back into more electronic sounds, and the sheer depth of their sound now is likely thanks to the recruitment full-time of Benjamin John Power (Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons). While some of the tracks on the album go on far too long (just one track clocks in under five minutes, and four exceed six minutes), the closing track Strange Intimacy is an absolute, stone-cold banger. A thunderous, punchy rhythm pattern is accompanied by a mass of bleeps and bloops that spiral through the mix, and Tom Smith delivers the vocal performance of his life.
Perhaps industrial DJs can finally retire that fucking remix of Papillon, now they have something else by Editors to play…
It has become clear as I’ve dug a little deeper under the skin of my (relatively) new home county that Kent has a small, but thriving alternative scene, with a number of interesting bands, not all of whom are following trends elsewhere. Brutalist Architecture In The Sun are a cold wave/minimal band from Rochester, the small city on the Medway that goes back to the Iron Age, and has since been subsumed into a larger conurbation (that I spent the early years of my life in), which doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a tourist attraction away from Rochester or Chatham Dockyard.
The gloomy, downbeat feel of this song rather reflects their geographical origins, perhaps. Slow rhythms are kept in the background, synths swirl like sea mist, and the plaintive, falsetto vocals are the dominant, brilliant foreground.