One last month of 2018 where I’m wrapping up new music, and it’s been an interesting set of songs that I’ve been sifting through this month. Not everything was able to be included, to be honest, as for once I decided to stick with a maximum of ten songs. Also, lookout for a second Tuesday Ten today later on, as this tracks of the month post was held over from last week and there is a time-specific one that I want to post today. That second one will likely appear tonight.
/Tuesday Ten/2018 in Review
Lookout, as usual, in early December for Countdown: 2018, where I’ll wrap up the best music of the year.
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. 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).
Thirty years since their formation, Lycia return to their spiritual home of Projekt (their first album on the label since 2002) for their twelfth album, and if you were listening to the exceptional A Line That Connects (#7 on Countdown: 2015: Albums), the progression and continuation from that should be obvious. But even that knowledge doesn’t quite avoid the fact that the near-danceable electronic beats of A Failure is still a surprise. It is by no means punchy EBM – more softer, blurred effects in the shadows and the vocals are still broad brushstrokes of ethereal beauty – but this is perhaps as far from their comfort zone than they’ve ever gone, and the results are still astounding in their beauty. The rest of the album, by the way, is also exceptional.
“Ljubljana sleeps”, goes this piece by Slovene poet Srečko Kosovel that is one of the collection of his works that Borghesia have fascinatingly reworked into industrial and electronic soundscapes (the lead track for this came out in 2017, and Rodovnik was featured in Countdown: 2017: Tracks) – and this lead track is a neat primer. The original poem appears to be a sharp redress at the way the city and wider country was being dealt with by outside nations (the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920 made significant changes to the region as some areas were subsumed into Italy), and continues the needle-sharp political edge to Borghesia’s work that is often overlooked, but is so, so important to their brilliant songs.
/Why Kill Time (When You Can Cover Cabaret Voltaire)
It is really not often that I’ll feature tribute albums here – mainly as I’ve often felt that many of them are simply covers, rather than actually being bands that truly care about the band the tribute is to. But here, this Cabaret Voltaire tribute album is a really interesting one, particularly as I’m rather amazed that there hasn’t been one come to my attention before. Sure, not all of this album hits the mark – the “lighthearted” take on the title track here, one of my favourite Cabs songs of all, completely misses the point and jagged edges of the original – but this take by Athan Maroulis and his NØIR project is a gloriously dark, luxurious take on one of the Cabs’ most immediate songs, and absolutely nails it.
HEALTH have been releasing the odd collaborative single recently (notably one with Soccer Mommy), and this latest one is an extraordinary return to the ripping power that this band can unleash. Working with French artist Perturbator here has resulted in this relatively short, absolutely pounding track, every single kick of the beats creating huge ripples of bass while synths squall and scream in the almost infinite depth of the mix. That the languid vocals just float on top is another part of the utter mastery on display here. A new album, please, HEALTH!
/Fight Fire With Fire
In another collaboration worth noting this week, easily the best track on the new Prodigy album sees them join forces with the fast-rising band Ho99o9. Now, The Prodigy have long been inviting others to work with them (going back at least as far as Their Law with PWEI), but here this seems to inject new life into a sound that otherwise seems perfunctory at best on record on No Tourists. This track, interestingly, slows the pace a bit, to a thundering hip-hop rhythm where Ho99o9 are given free reign to provide a chaotic, multi-layered vocal performance that actually sounds exciting and dangerous again, when elsewhere on this album it is played far too safe.
/All Out Life
I’d wondered for a while if Slipknot would ever actually return – what else is there for them to now achieve, and in any case, I’m not really convinced that they’ve really been that great over the past couple of albums. On the evidence of this new surprise single, released on Hallowe’en, of course, perhaps they have more fuel in the tank than I thought. This is all-out metal fury, a hark back to the chaotic, multi-headed metallic monster of their earlier days, with full use made of the multiple percussionists, guitarists and barrage of samples as Corey Taylor delivers his most impassioned and defiant vocal in years, as he appears to offer oblique comment on the state of the nation right now and is disgusted in what he sees. Is this yet another case of the worse politics and the outlook of life gets, the better and more determined outsider musicians get? Either way, this is the best Slipknot have sounded in an absolute age.
/Face the Fire
There is this distinct feeling of a band on track for bigger things right now, particularly given the apparent interest in the forthcoming new album Face the Fire that is due in February (they also play their biggest London show yet later that month that looks like it will sell out way in advance). The first song released from this new album is great, too – built around a stark beat that breaks apart in cool ways, has a lovely, warm synth hook and drowsy, reserved vocals that only exacerbate the impact of this song. Their best track yet? Damned straight.
/The Reason They Hate Me
/You Won’t Get What You Want
Furious, abrasive noisy rock music is hardly unusual nowadays – and frankly, it isn’t exactly a new idea, either, going as far back as the NoWave scene if not further than that – but what is remarkable is just how many bands right now that are exploring this sound are worth listening to. The latest addition to the “must” listen list is Daughters, who’ve returned recently after a few years away with a perhaps more nuanced sound than before. That’s not to say that it isn’t devastingly powerful, though – huge sounding drums rumble through as guitars are twisted through fuck-knows-how-much FX to provide a jarring, unsettling accompaniment as Alexis S.F. Marshall barks his vocals, seemingly fighting back against someone who offers critique because they can, not because we know. The subject of the song may not be an expert, but Daughters are clearly experts at what they do.
Listening to this first solo album from Kennedy Ashlyn (formerly of the dreamy Them Are Us Too, who sadly came to a premature end when Cash Askew died in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland), the echoes of what she has been through in the past few years are plain to hear. Them Are Us Too already had a sadness, a sense of deep loss and longing through many of their songs, but this amplifies it in ways I’d not quite expected. Amid the grief, though, there are some striking moments, and the way that Permission switches unexpectedly from heavily treated, quasi-choral dark ambient to pulsing, four-to-the-floor beats is an extraordinary, thrilling thing, as if Ashlyn is trying to a route out of her grief and her past, and fashioning something new. This fabulous experiment in vocal transformation and dancefloor escape is a route worth exploring further, that’s for sure.
Whatever way you look at it, a group that consists of Sascha Lange, Daniel Myer, Frank Spinath and Krischan Wesenberg is going to be worth paying attention to. All of them have been massively important in the evolution of European industrial and electronic music in the past couple of decades, and we’ve been waiting some considerable time for this album to come (I think it’s the best part of five years since the first track by the project appeared). No doubt it’s a question of timing, as all of the members are busy men with their other work, but the result has been worth coming. Spinath’s vocals add their usual majesty, restrained and erudite as ever, and the other members have created a sleek, melodic and hard-hitting base that if I had anywhere to play it as a DJ right now, would immediately become part of my sets. Such as it is, I’ll just be writing about it here for now.