Around this time last year, my brain kinda broke when it came to new music. It hadn’t happened before and it threw me through a fucking loop. Was this it? Had I reached that age in my life where I could no longer process the wonder of the unheard? Would I be, now, for the rest of my life, swimming around the familiar sounds of all the music I had heard and enjoyed up to this point? I didn’t know.
At some point, I intend to write more about my intense relationship with music. But let me tell you, I was certainly aghast at this new situation.
As a result, I had a lengthy hiatus from making my weekly show for BFF. Producing that show had been such a huge part of my life for over half a decade and I didn’t want it to drop away from my life. I came to a decision that I would need time. Simply accept where I was and what was going on for me day-by-day.
In the successive months, I started medication for ADHD and became sober (again, more in depth writing around this is planned), I had a few life changing moments, experienced big changes in perspective and commenced on a healthy amount of healing and growth.Then, I was ready again. Fuck, I wanted to double down on my approach to new music. To really dig deeper in my own appreciation and also think more, with purposeful listening, about what I was hearing on a daily basis.
This is all a very long ramble to tell you that I fell in love with music all over again. I want to share this renewed passion with you. Both in writing and with my show.I found it hilarious that six albums that I’ve enjoyed over the last six months should have six sentences each. I hope you get the opportunity to take some time with these records and enjoy them as much as I have.
Note: It's really hard to work out which streaming service to link to so I settled on Bandcamp, for obvious reasons.
Work started on this record in early 2020. We all know what happened there. Although this is an album produced, essentially, in isolation, it’s easily their most cohesive. Each song benefits from the time and space the band were able to give the arrangements and lyrics. Warpaint truly nails their enchanting blend of groove and dreamy textures here. At once, this release bears the trauma and scars of the pandemic. Yet, it also serves a balm with hypnotic rhythms and melodies.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be suitably qualified to write about this record. Each time I hit play, I reach its conclusion to find myself questioning if the whole thing was an aural hallucination. Astounding songwriting occurs continually with complex chords that collide with skittish rhythms intertwined with deft, light orchestral instruments. All this is underpinned with mercurial lyrics that hint at deep, forgotten truths. I’m pulled into a hidden reality upon each listen. I’d like to move there.
There’s a cunning duality beating through the veins of this record. One moment it presents sublime dancefloor bangers. In the next turn, sometimes within bars, it reveals an experimental playfulness. It’s an album that honors the many disciplines of dance music without being a fusty history lesson or cheap facsimile. Fuck, man, this is a debut record! HAAI accomplishes more than many well-established dance producers have in their whole career and that’s an exciting prospect to me.
I fucking love noise. In Hexen Valley, the skies are permanently dark and verging on collapse. Disciplined, tight repetition folds into angry 50 foot guitar tones. You enter a contract to submit to cacophonous fury when you listen to this record. It’s a soundtrack to your doom scrolling in 2022. Play this thing loud and watch the world burn.
You had scrambled tofu and Gymnopilus purpuratus for breakfast, discussed galactic trade policies with machine elves at lunch then brewed up a batch of Owsley‘s finest for dinner. Looking to unwind? I’ve got your back, dude. Sink into the shifting plains of Warping All By Yourself. Song structures are for straights, man! Get cosmic and stay there for eternity.
I’ve been pretty loud about my love and obsession for the UK jazz scene on my radio show over at BFF. It would’ve been awfully remiss of me to not include an album birthed from that vibrant, exciting and rapidly expanding melting pot of players. This one is truly special. A combination of band members from The Comet Is Coming, Collocutor, Vulla Veil and Maisha (a supergroup?) recorded these exquisite improvisations over summer 2020. Whilst that might sound like you’re in for an hour of jazz noodling, it’s quite the opposite. You hear the magic unfold in real time here, each listen rewards as you discover the many layers of rhythm and melody as its musicians ascend towards spiritual unity.
I hope you find some new records to love amongst these gems. If you're interested to see all the things I get up to, here's a very handy link :)