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Feb 18

2018 Music Diary Week 7: The Week Of Unsettlement

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This is late, and brief, as I’ve been in France helping my parents as my Dad’s been ill.

NEW MUSIC

tal national

Day 43: TAL NATIONAL – Tantabara: Pell-mell afro/jazz/rock from Niger, teetering on the line between exciting and exhausting. Everything sounds on the verge of shaking itself to pieces like a speeding jalopy, but this is, of course, a bluff, and the band well know how far they can take things. Found via a Rolling Stone albums list.

bas jan

Day 44: BAS JAN – Yes I Jan: An extraordinary LP, in some moods my favourite so far this year. Bas Jan is the post-punk side project of harpist Serafina Steer, who taught herself bass for this album. She writes unusually structured, conversational songs which jump quizzically from hook to hook, finding a catchy motif, examining it, setting it down. I can imagine the combination of her compositional style and precise, well-heeled voice being absolutely infuriating to some, but I was gripped by this record. It gets stronger as it goes on, or maybe I just get more accustomed to the way the group latch onto odd details, moments and ambiguities in sex (“Let’s”), post-breakup memories (“Walton-on-the-Naze”) or just day-to-day life (“King Of The Holloway Road”). Horrible sleeve mind you.

us girls

Day 47: U.S. GIRLS – In A Poem Unlimited: I knew nothing about U.S. Girls when I listened to this record – on exploring further I found out she has a background in tape-manipulation and noise records, which makes sense; the strange churn of the backing, even on these mildly pop-oriented songs, is the most beguiling thing about this record. As is often the case, it’s the voice that jarred, and is even more often the case, I can’t pin down exactly why.

jammer

Day 48: JAMMER – Are You Dumb? Vol. 5: A grime mixtape from one of the scene’s grand old men, picking up where a mid-00s series left off. This is robust, rough, a bit old-fashioned, unspectacular but very satisfying if you’re in the mood to hear some grime. Which I was.

NEW OLD MUSIC

roll the dice

Day 45: ROLL THE DICE – Born To Ruin (2017): In Dust, the 2011 LP from this Swedish dark ambient duo was one of my favourite records of that time. redolent of grey skies, old brickwork and bad weather. Their sound was already bleak and congested enough that you imagined you could give yourself a lung infection just from listening to it, and there was always the danger they’d fall into a rut. Born To Ruin, in short doses, is as atmospherically dour as their older material, but in longer doses – and these doses are pretty long – it becomes unprofitably punishing. One track (“Buried”) has been ‘edited’ into a ‘single’ which works pretty well.

babes wodomu

Day 46: BABES WODUMO – Gqom Queen Vol. 1 (2016): Heard on the Black Panther soundtrack, I was excited to see she’d got this record out. I like her, I like gqom (Durban’s ghostly, mantric variant on house) – but the combination disappointed – the tracks on this long LP are just a bit too light and alive sounding for my liking, while being just zombified enough to stifle Babes Wodumo’s charisma.

f ingers

Day 49: F INGERS – Awkwardly Blissing Out (2017): I picked this one after a long drift through Spotify’s related artist chains, because I liked the album title. It turns out to be experimental electronica from Melbourne in a variety of quietly unsettling styles – fine, spooky, late night listening with the volume low. Expect flickering, whispering, creaking sounds; eerily bubbling keyboards; bleary, broken-up vocals, and track titles like “Time Passes” and “Your Confused”.

LET’S HAVE A CHART SHALL WE

1. Bas Jan – Yes I Jan
2. Tune-Yards – I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
3. Silvia Kastel – Air Lows
4. тпсб – Sekundenschlaf
5. Various Artists – Black Panther OST
6. Dream Wife – Dream Wife
7. Burna Boy – Outside
8. Tal National – Tantabara
9. Camila Cabello – Camila
10. John Surman – Invisible Threads
11. CupcakKe – Ephorizer
12. Jammer – Are You Dumb? Vol. 5
13. St Beauty – Running To The Sun
14. Shopping – The Official Body
15. Thea And The Wild – Ikaros
16. Fall Out Boy – Mania
17. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
18. Fire! – The Hands
19. First Aid Kit – Ruins
20. Shame – Songs Of Praise
21. Rhye – Blood

(Perhaps next week I will truncate the chart. Or… perhaps not.)

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