Haven’t written much about music in this newsletter for a bit, so I’ve set myself a one hour challenge to write a few words on a few current favourites.
Sometimes artists do special editions of recent albums and add a few bonus tracks that didn’t make the original cut, and you kinda get it... but not always.
Australia’s most melodic shoegaze-punker Hatchie just shared this snarling beast that’s three parts Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, and Curve, and the rest of the anthemic cocktail is something you’d hear on the closing credits of the horror movie of the summer. Which made even more sense when I read what she has to say about this incredible new track:
"I wrote Nosedive with Joe [Agius] and Jorge [Elbrecht] last year after we hit up an amazing goth megaclub in Denver on a weeknight. We were inspired to recreate the energy we felt there and experiment with a lyric-free chorus. There aren't any other songs in our live show that are this punchy so we wanted to write something angry and powerful. It's about realising you don't have control over your life despite your best efforts; I wanted the lyrics to sound like the devil on your shoulder convincing you to self sabotage." - Hatchie
Can we get an entire album like this please Hatchie? Or at least get Yellowjackets to let you score the next series. Thankyouplease.
JANELLE MONÁE - Float (feat Seun Kuti, Egypt 80)
It has gone 1am, my breath smells of mezcal and as I near home on this cold spring night, the warm glow from the Drowned in Sound label launch party is already beginning to ebb away...
Headphones on, volume up and each of my limbs is rippling, mysteriously. Then in it comes “I used to walk into the room head down. I don’t walk, now I, float. Float on ‘em…”
My wrists swerve as my palms surf imaginary sand dunes and “I just float”. Might as well go with it, as it seems my hands have started dancing in the dark. I look down and my fingers have begun playing the pavements as if they’re trumpet keys.
The swaying begins as the bass hums and drops out. Deep inhales. Spine snaking left to right. The horns, oh theeeee horns, no longer burrowed low in the mix begin soaring as they swirl around me. This is bliss of the sort Anthony Burgess describes in A Clockwork Orange.
I hit repeat. The empty streets are my dancefloor and my body is a wave form, curving around every groove, as my eyes splash to the beat. “I’m feelin’ much lighter, now I, float…”
ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND ‘A Place To Lie’
Staring out the train window, every tree and lamp post seems to flicker in time to the music. Everything close pulses and everything distant glides as the track descends into a quiet deconstruction before slowly bursting back into life with a gentle grace.
M83 ‘Oceans Niagara’
Not sure why I’ve been resisting spending time with his new album but this feels like such a wonderful merging of his early and recent work. Does anyone command ripples of TV static quite like M83?
MARTINA BERTONI ‘Inversion’
I’ve been reading A LOT about the impact of sound on the brain and the body over recent months. For every new thing I learn about the way certain BPMs help us focus and how some frequencies can calm us down, there’s piles of new questions to explore about how our fleshy cable system works. It’s leading me to listen differently and to appreciate certain types of music in whole new ways.
Much of the intense ambient music that I love seems to be crafted to make the shadows bloom. Neon ice cream colours appear from dark caves of drones on this track from Martina Bertoni. The cello player and electronic artist has created something truly incredible with her latest album Hypnagogia (grab it on Bandcamp here).
KELELA ‘Happy Ending’
There was a moment in the late 00s when I skidded far from my emo and indie roots. One minute I was into Justice and Uffie, the next I was obsessed with everything coming out on Kode9’s Hyperdub and Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder.
It was an odd time for me, discovering entire cultural movements and moments of history that I hadn’t quite understood growing up on a diet of the sort of garage that involved The Stooges rather than the Artful Dodger.
The rest of my favourite albums around that time were on emerging independent labels like RVNG Intl and Kompakt. Albums by The Field and Burial may have gotten critical plaudits (and the Blondes self-titled debut a glowing 10/10 from me on DiS), but there was something else happening as the likes of James Blake began bumping hips with 90s grooves to create what youngsters around me were calling ‘future rnb’.
Away from the minimal techno and nightbus-friendly “dubstep”, this moment in time had a fluidity. There were so many records where what once seemed like a cool but cold aluminium coating melted into a mercury shimmer that dripped from the surface of everything, and the influence of Aphex and Bjork sat alongside D’Angelo and Aaliyah. It was a world that cool af magazines like Sleazenation, The Face and Dazed introduced me to in the 90s, where the rigid rockist boundaries of genre were a barrier to invention and possibility… as if having an interest in synths and drum machines suddenly made any artist “new wave” or “industrial’.
Anyway, this could be an epic and contradictory rant but it’s all these things and more that have snapped my brain into a state of future nostalgia as I listen over and over to this Kelela track from her incredible new album Raven (Out Now on Warp ). I could go on and on (and on!) so I shan’t… go hit play on this right now.
As I said, haven’t written about music for a while, but hopefully the muscle memory will slowly return. Be curious if this is the sort of thing you’d like more of in this newsletter in future alongside thoughts on tech and ideas about where music is headed.