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On Wednesday I had one of those brilliant mornings. While editing Paddy Shine’s Baker’s Dozen – which naturally was chock full of stuff I’d never heard of. After weeks of feeling flat and uninspired, to the point I’d started to worry that maybe music would never be thrilling again, every record I listened to felt like a sledgehammer against those walls.
Yesterday, I had a similar experience while making my way through Jennifer Lucy Allan’s Rum Music column. Suddenly, everything felt thrilling and vibrant again. I go through cycles like this constantly; friends have told me that they do too. After going round enough times, it now gives me great comfort in the slumps to know that there’s always a breakthrough on the horizon.
Hopefully, you’re at the kind of stage of that cycle where you’re feeling receptive to something new, because I truly believe that the selection of new LPs and singles below is as strong as they come. Then again, perhaps I’m just in a good mood.
All the below, as well as all the other excellent music we’ve covered at tQ this month will also be compiled into an exclusive, hours-long playlist exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world’s most forward-thinking artists, (previous commissions include Teleplasmiste, Siavash Amini, Roger Robinson & Richard Skelton and Alison Cotton) regular deep-dive essays on everything from James S. Lee’s drug memoir Underworld Of The East to a reappraisal of Sword and Sorcery, a monthly podcast, specially-curated ‘Organic Intelligence’ guides to under the radar international subcultures, and more.
To sign up for all those benefits, and to help us keep bringing you the kind of music you’re about to read about below, you can click here. And read on for the best of the best from March 2022.
Claire Rousay – Everything Perfect Is Already Here
On Everything Perfect Is Already Here, claire rousay uses a mix of field recordings, electronics, piano and strings to create two dreamy pieces that harness both the darkness and sparks of life. The San Antonio-based musician has become known for her work that celebrates the minutiae of day-to-day life in home recordings and delicate melodies. Everything Perfect Is Already Here continues along that path, highlighting casual conversations, the sounds of her surroundings and straightforward melodies while balancing deeper questions that arise about how to appreciate being alive.
Vanessa Ague – read the full review here
Various Artists – Saturno 2000: La Rebajada De Los Sonideros 1962-1983
The latest compilation from the ever reliable Analog Africa is a total delight, exploring the work of Mexican sound system operators, known as sonideros, who slowed down the beat of cumbia to create something new called ‘rebajada’ (which is Spanish for to reduce or lower). Their playfulness and breadth within those confines is joyous. The springy and infectious electronics of Junior Y Su Equipo border at times on chiptune. Manzanita’s vocals on ‘La Cuenta Sinverguenza’ are frankly gorgeous. ‘La Danza Del Mono’ is irresistibly psychedelic, and ‘Capricho Egipico’ is an engrossingly wonky cod-Middle Eastern groove. The title track is a sublime cut of weaving big band brilliance.
Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful
The title for Spiritualized’s latest album, Everything Was Beautiful, hails from Kurt Vonnegut’s evergreen novel, Slaughterhouse Five. The book is spiced by an unworldly and illuminating air where the horrific and comedic make unlikely bedfellows and time travel excursions are irregularly spliced into the text. The same might be said of this album which, as one has grown to expect from Jason Pierce, is a captivating and haunting beauty which shocks and soothes and seems to have landed from some parallel universe.
Two listens in and it becomes clear that Everything Was Beautiful is one of the most assured and curiously emotive albums in Spiritualized’s impressive canon. The tracks drift by and seem to fold into each other, probing for new levels – deeper insights, perhaps? Becoming lost to this melodic flow is nothing less than a joyful experience.
Mick Middles – read the full review here
Oren Ambarchi / Johan Berthling / Andreas Werliin – Ghosted
I read somewhere once that as maps get more accurate, borders get longer; the once comparatively straight lines getting more convoluted as detail increases. I don’t know if that’s true, but something similar happens here as the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin stretch grooves and find new spaces to fill. Ghosted is a record which depends on its cumulative effect. And in doing so, it reveals there’s the potential to find endless movement in even the most rigid structures.
Syd – Broken Hearts Club
Syd knows how to turn naivety into an asset. Broken Hearts Club chronicles a relationship from untrusting beginnings to blissful romance to agonising breakup. Calling to mind Lianne La Havas’ self-titled record from 2020, Syd hits the same narrative beats as that album but spends more time soaking in the sensual highs of her first real romance. That feeling rubs off on the record like graphite, as the LP dances around the dial of modern R&B with a lovestruck glee.
Nathan Evans – read the full review here
50 Foot Wave – Black Pearl
The notion that 50 Foot Wave exists as a channel for music deemed ‘too weird’ for Throwing Muses is one that persists in writing about them, but is really rather misleading. 2020’s Sun Racket deployed a similarly rough-edged sound and largely mid-tempo songs, but Black Pearl ratchets up the noise element a little further, creating a hazy, heat-saturated and impressionistic sound world that is aptly expressed in the album’s cover with its lush vegetation encircling the sky as the sun begins to rise.
Sean Kitching – read the full review here
Real Lies – Lad Ash
Real Lies’ new album is definitely a London record, and probably the only one this year to reference Patrick Hamilton’s 20,000 Streets Under The Sky trilogy of the mid-1930s and the controversial Woodberry Down development. With all the euphoria and melancholy that the city brings, the lyrics often speak of a city where the quest for the party increasingly has to keep a step ahead of rapacious landlords and moaning neighbours. Part of what makes it such a great album is how the the sound of the record might most immediately suggest Burial or The Streets, but the feel of it is closer to Suede’s masterpiece, Dog Man Star. Like that album, Lad Ash is a homage to the “love and poison of London.”
Nik Colk Void – Bucked Up Space
‘Interruption is Good’, the opening track of Nik Colk Void’s new album, exemplifies what’s best about the record. It’s energetic and enveloping. It feels like it’s pushing forward, but it’s nostalgic too, in a transportive rather than conservative sense, with skittering beats and trance-like patterns over a pulse that feels like it’s travelling through the nocturnal tunnels of a basement club. It sounds like something that was experienced once and might be again. It sounds, after years of lockdown, like a triumph. ‘Demna’ and ‘FlatTime’ are similarly propulsive, menacing and jubilant in equal measure. They feel like lost industrial dance tracks from thirty years ago – or the world to come.
Darran Anderson – read the full review here
Vox Populi! – Psyko Tropix
It’s always a joy when music I take an instant liking to lands in my inbox. In the case of Psyko Tropix, a collection of mostly unreleased and first time for all on vinyl tracks by ‘ethno-industrial’ French band Vox Populi!, who were active from the early to late ’80s, I immediately began to wonder why I’d not picked up on them sooner. Perhaps it’s that tag, ‘ethno-industrial’, which recalls the likes of (the also excellent) 23 Skidoo, but which is seriously misleading – at least in this case. The fact that many of their original releases were cassette-only, is also certainly a factor. How obscure they are, I really have no idea. Judging from this release, however, they certainly deserve to be more widely known.
Sean Kitching – read the full review here
Batu – Opal
Almost a decade on from his emergence on the ‘UK techno’ scene, Opal marks Batu’s first full-length release. As the founder of Timedance in 2015, the producer has carved out a place as one of the UK underground scene’s key figures, with his label forging a sound rooted around weighty bass pressure and meticulous sound design. Opal treads further along this road, plunging his vision into ever more experimental territory.
Most impressive about the record is that Batu eschews the expectation of loading it with simple club cuts. Sure, many of these tracks will turn heads on fairly adventurous dancefloors (‘Convergence’ with its pummelling, scattershot drums, ‘Squall”s dancehall-indebted swagger), but ultimately they all service a wider sound world as each cut flows effortlessly from one to the other. ‘Atavism’ experiments with throat singing as a rhythmic and melodic tool, while serpentwithfeet contributes a striking, delicate vocal turn on one of the record’s more restrained moments, ‘Solace’. This is the sound of one of the UK dance music scene’s finest producers and DJs at the top of his game.
Horace Andy – Midnight Rocker
Horace Andy didn’t have to do this. The man is 71 years old. He recorded Skylarking. He was on Mezzanine. Dude can coast as far as I’m concerned. Nap, go birdwatching, whatever. Hell, I’m only 42, and the amount of effort it took for me to sit down and write something as relatively inconsequential as this record review could be described as colossal. Then again, that’s probably why I’m not legendary roots and dub singer Horace Andy, with scores of albums under my belt, releasing Midnight Rocker, a not-insubstantial full-length collaboration with Adrian Sherwood, in my eighth decade.
Bernie Brooks – read the full review here
Whatever The Weather – Whatever The Weather
Although the music of Loraine James – one of the hottest electronic prospects in Britain to come along in the last five years – usually evokes a basement club, the air thick with deadened kick drums and busy, chuntering percussion, her new Whatever The Weather project seems to gesture towards something cleaner and airier, though with less of a sense of place.
There’s something enjoyably knotty and awkward about this debut release. Even the song titles – various temperatures celsius – seem designed to dislocate you from any preconceptions about the music. Similarly, the beats – where present – can feel gutted, like they’re missing a vital percussive element that will link the whole groove together; this fragmentation means they seem jagged and spiny, sticking out at right angles from the skeletal ambient workouts.
Will Ainsley – read the full review here
Ashtray Navigations – ‘The Feather’
To paraphrase: when you’re younger you waste a summer here and a summer there and suddenly you think, ‘How many summers do I even have left?’ But there again, how many summers do any of us have left? Enjoy sunshine and sun-frazzled psych while you can.
Physical Therapy – ‘Emotional Rescue’
Sugary sweet, emo UK garage and an ecstatically pitched-up sample of Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam’s early ’90s house classic ‘Let The Beat Hit ‘Em’. Need I say more?
Naima Bock – ‘Giant Palm’
Naima Bock’s forthcoming debut album is hugely ambitious – the individual pieces are delicately arranged, the end product solid as steel. The title track is the best example yet of that poise, Bock’s confident vocal placed front and centre to anchor, while lovely, languorous psychedelia ebbs and flows behind her.
Boychik – ‘Bombed Out Building’
Composer and vocalist Ben Levi Ross aka Boychik spent much of their childhood and young adult life treading the boards as an actor, ballet dancer, pianist and singer. As an adult suffused in occult glamour, pedalling progressive torch songs, they seem like a future Quietus favourite in waiting.
Anthony Naples & DJ Python – ‘Entouré’
The first preview of Anthony Naples and DJ Python’s forthcoming curated compilation for the Air Texture series comes courtesy of the two Brooklyn-based artists themselves, and sees them further exploring the low-slung chugging club sounds that permeated Python’s excellent 2020 album Mas Amable. This is one for the heads down, end of night club crew.
Fingergap – ‘Would You Like To Dance With Me’
There’s a strangely rushed feeling to Fingergap’s second single, as if carried away by its own energy. But with its summery mix of cantopop and lo-fi energy, ‘Would You Like To Dance With Me’ is still all sorts of infectious fun.
Parris – ‘Dreaming Of Sunflowers’
While Parris’ breakthrough releases for labels like Hemlock and Idle Hands saw the producer mostly explore skeletal, dubstep-influenced UK techno, recent material – including releases on the can you feel the sun label he co-founded with Call Super – has seen him push towards a more outrightly melodic deep house sound, all while maintaining his distinctly UK sense for bass pressure. ‘Dreaming Of Sunflowers’, from a new two-tracker for Peach Discs, is one of his finest forays into this area yet.
Donna Thompson – ‘Matchstick’
Donna Thompson is such an integral part of so many brilliant musical projects – she’s in the supreme Calabashed, and plays drums for Alabaster DePlume and Falle Nioke, to name a few – that her debut solo record was always going to be brilliant. ‘Matchstick’ is a warm embrace of a song, a hypnotic call to reflect on the present.