Number 44 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I didn’t know anything about Gazelle Twin before putting this on.
Initially, it put me off a bit, there was some early music choral bits going on, which triggers my PetShopBoys-o-phobia.
However, upon listening a bit closer, I realized that in the Chorales, and spoken word segments, such that they were, the lyrics were the every day detritus of life in the twenty-first century. Things you might hear on the bus or when you’re reading the newspaper. “Just look at these kids now. No respect. It was much better in my day.” etc. Cut ups, a la W.S. Burroughs.
And, like Burroughs, it is often quite darkly funny.
The music is electronic, beat and loop based, with prominent vocals as mentioned. And occasional recorders.
A super interesting album, if I were ordering these, Pastoral would be in the top 10.
Number 43 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Bleep sums the album up with the following:
“In an endless ocean of critics and producers suffering the daily dose of terminally impressed dusty tape tekno and hauntology focused hardcore and jungle throwback 12″s, Nkisi’s The Dark Orchestra is a glass of ice-cold water smashed across a scene that is in much need of a very serious wake-up call.”
I really have not much idea what the Bleep Store writeup of this album means, other than to say I did enjoy Nkisi’s The Dark Orchestra.
It is an EP. It is faster techno-ish electronic music with serious sub-bass action. There is enough variation over the EPs 15 or so minutes that nothing ever gets stale, in fact the whole thing altogether sounds not much like anything I have heard before.
One thing I will note is that Nkisi is now on a label called Arcola, which is a sub-label of Warp. She had previously been on a label called NON-Worldwide which has a few compilations. I seriously recommend checking them out. Some of the tracks on those compilations are pretty mind blowing. Electronic music that stretches its boundaries to include the world.
Number 40 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I’ve heard Grouper over the years, and always had the idea that I like them, or her, but I can’t say I’ve ever really sat down and listened to an album.
Grid of Points is very short, 15 or 20 minutes. (Shortness is seemingly a common thing among Wire Magazine’s picks this year. A lot of EPs.)
Initially, I felt like it was too short and wondered why it couldn’t be longer. It is kind of drone-ey and atmospheric. A drone-ey 4 minute some can easily become a drone-ey 15 minute song.
Then I listened back to a couple of Grouper’s other records, and realized that Grid of Points is less sonically diverse than some of her other work, so it probably made sense to keep it short, before it wore out its welcome.
As near as I can tell, the primary new factor on Grid of Points is that she makes extensive use of multi-tracked harmonizing vocals for the first time.
Other than that, it is pretty much the usual reverb drenched atmospheric mood pieces with spare instrumentation that you would expect from a Grouper album.
If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love it. If you hate reverb drenched vocals, it may not be your bag of cats.
Number 39 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I liked Jlin’s last album, Black Origami, so much, that, well, pretty much anything afterwards is bound to be something of a let down, in one way or another.
However, instead of releasing a next album, proper, she released this album, “…the score for her collaboration with renowned British choreographer Wayne McGregor…”
It is often atmospheric, relies more on synthesizers and melodic phrasing, than pure rhythm. But the rhythmic tracks, when they happen, feel more stripped down and less complex than those on Black Origami. On the edge of something that would pass for commercial electronic dance music (not that I am an expert about that!).
It’s an interesting document, but I don’t feel like it really stands on its own as an “album”. I wish I’d seen the dance piece that it accompanied!
Number 38 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
There are things I like about Room 25 and things I don’t.
The music and beats are Jazz/Soul/Gospel inspired, which is interesting for a rap album. Noname has an interesting speak-sing delivery. Her poetry is clever and enjoyable.
However, the music is on the AOR side of Jazz, Soul, and Gospel, just a tad too pleasant for my tastes.
The combination of her quiet speak-song delivery and a bit of muddle in the Mids makes it a not very good album to listen to while driving. You just can’t hear her very well over the road or if you are listening to it from something like the speakers on your phone.
Coincidentally, I was reading a pretty cool interview with Dennis Bovell in Wire Magazine (Issue 416, if you want to track it down,) where he talked about aspects of mixing instruments so that each one has it’s own aural space in the mix of a tune.
They didn’t do that and the mix suffers a bit unless you are listening on headphones or in a quiet room.
The Return by Kamaal Williams; Bandcamp Page: The Return
Number 35 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
The Return is sort of like Herbie Hancock’s 1973 band from The Head Hunters album were practicing. They decided to put down their instruments and take a break.
They retired to a nearby closet to smoke a joint.
It turned out that closet was a TARDIS.
During the course of several mind bending intergalactic and interdimensional adventures, on a remote planet, with a particularly smoking native population, the horn players decided to stay, and pass on their legacy of love and woodwinds.
When the remaining players finally re-opened that door again into their practice space, they discovered it was 2019.
They picked up their instruments and started playing again.
Number 34 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I had no real idea what to expect when I put this album on. Initially, from the name, I had a vague idea it might be some sort of South American Prog Rock, but then the song names made me think it might be Greek Prog Rock.
It turns out it is a Glaswegian vocalist, Maria Rossi, who originally is from Finland.
The music is primarily multi-tracked vocal harmonies with various loops and field recordings, frequently percussive, playing beneath them. Beyond the rich textures of the vocals, the music is fairly spare. Most of the vocal melodies are based from the classical/folk vein and they are sung in several languages, even one in English.