Friday 28th of July sees a new album from the San-Francisco based artist that continues his trademark sound of distorted loops and grainy ambience he has perfected over the years. LIF is his first new work since Music For Raising and follows on from the excellent Sisters released last year.
This excellent Bandcamp vaporwave release available this week warps us back through time to strolling through a shopping mall in 1990. Midnight Deluxe has done a great job of creating the ambience of that vanished age from the muzak-inspired vapidness of Money and Minds to the slightly sinister Mannequins.
This last Sunday (23rd), the inimitable singer of the much-adored Cocteau Twins made a rare public appearance and discussed the Blue Bell Knoll album with John Grant. The full interview is available at The Quietus.
“I listened to Blue Bell Knoll for the first time in years and I cried, I just thought it was so lovely,” says Fraser, remembering the creative process as an opportunity for the band to escape the pressures of their private lives. “It was quite a difficult time, and I think we just decided to throw ourselves into the creativity. Getting immersed in that process and not worrying about how it would be perceived or the outcome, just going with the flow without expectations, no endgame, just enjoy it, and if it’s not working try something else.”
An album that was apparently five years in the making, Claude Speeed has delivered a work that in turns, mystifies and confounds all expectations. Drawing on many influences, Infinity Ultra is an album that will probably become one of my favourite titles of the year.
There is a lot to like on here from the early tracks that remind one of Oneohtrix Point Never and Leyland Kirby to latter parts that have a dreamy, 1980s quality which finds itself tapping into the vaporwave genre. There are nods to Boards of Canada on Moonchord Supermagic and the kind of hypnagogic pop that seems so popular these days on the final track, Dreamdream.
There are elements of post-rock on Entering The Zone and the keyboard programming gets a full workout on the powerful and uplifting Fifth Fortress.
Indeed, it is the final suite of tracks that begin with Center Tech that prove to be the album’s highlight. Tracks such as Spirits and Contact are just beautiful pieces of thoughtful electronica. Essential listening.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith follows up a collaborative album with electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani and her breakthrough long player EARS with her latest journey, The Kid. A double album in length that portrays the earliest steps of life’s journey through a majestic sense of awe, mysticism and wonder.
True to its childhood theme the album is split across four emotionally-inspired segments that take in the various stages of life’s first moments through to the realisations of growing up and apart. The first quarter draws its focus on the newly found feeling of confused astonishment - everything is brand new and glistening in the morning sun. This traverses through an emotional focus that takes hold, Kaitlyn’s lyrical content perfectly conveying these feelings of confirmation that turn into a sense of pure being, fittingly building further on the electronic experiments of her breakthrough EARS.
The second section starts up with an explorative feeling of reaching out and grasping the immediacy of the world around us, captured through a series of sonic experiments that reach deep into the soul and emerge armed with a range of sounds that stem from a Bollywood-esque low-end pulse melodies that call to mind the sound of Julia Holter's wonderful experiments within her Ekstasis.
The second half begins by confronting the ideas of giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, this is investigated with the range of influences that Kaitlyn’s music draws from as an entity, from cosmic electronica to the most out there pop sounds, this cross-genre feeling is both vast within its otherworldly approach, yet retains a familiarity that will dazzle all that get swept up in its EMS Synthi 100 led tropical ambient sound.
Drawing The Kid to its final notes, the fourth segment gives itself into Kaitlyn’s verdant orchestral moments that were all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet. While the album reaches its final conclusion, the focus is drawn towards “a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life”. A bittersweet refrain holds us tight with the album’s most striking line “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” showing the way forward on a road that lies split between the closing moments of the record while shedding any melancholy resentment against loss that you may feel, overpowering these feelings with a grateful acknowledgement of life. These two roads crossing paths within the near perfect waves of sound, floating out of the speakers with an elegant flow while the music slowly unwinds to its end.
The Kid is another brilliant album from this unique talent, ripe with the imagined wonder and innocence of youth.
This is a great album of quite varied electronics that spans a variety of styles, calling to mind quite a few artists. Lenticular arrives from the Central Processing Unit and is totally recommended.
Central Processing Unit have a claim to being the label with the strongest identity in British electronic music at the moment. Each of their fifty-odd releases provide variations on classic acid and techno stylings. They never fail to deliver in sound and style, and each comes wrapped up in that pleasing white and black package. On Lenticular, Nadia Struiwigh softens the edges of the CPU sound while remoulding the core components into an LP of great deftness and beauty. Recalling Aphex’s best ambient works as well as top-of-the-range Boards of Canada, the tracks here mould well-worn analog stylings into the sort of late-night ditties that will bring wistful smiles to ravers of every generation.
Vinyl, Cassette and Digital Editions are available here.
An artist recommended to me by a friend. Metro Riders is the project set up by Stockholm producer, Henrik Stelzer.
The album shares quite a bit in common with artists like 1991 and Sand Circles - it has that same dreamy lo-fi quality that I like very much.
Metro Riders Bandcamp:
Europe By Night is the gripping and intoxicating debut album by Stockholm, Sweden based Metro Riders (real name Henrik Stelzer) and the first release on newly minted contemporary global imprint Possible Motive. Employing outdated software and now obsolete analogue recording equipment, Metro Riders conjures a suspenseful and gloomy, true to the era re-imagining of lost sounds. A real labor of love, Europe By Night encompasses a very niche palette, everything from the prophetic visions of John Carpenter, to the warbled world of Troma films, to Italian horror flicks, euro-crime and the cybernetic sewers of The Skaters.
There have been so many new albums lately that I don’t have time to listen to them all. However, in the next few days I will be taking a listen to Lenticular by Nadia Struiwigh and Life of Love by Moon Diagrams. There is also a new Richard H Kirk album that I have yet to look at.
I recently finished reading Dragon Teeth and enjoyed it. Micheal Crichton has been a favourite author of mine for many years. His blend of technology and thriller has proved remarkably successful over the years, in particular Jurassic Park. This tale of genetically-engineered dinosaurs roaming a theme park has been remarkably successful, spawning a sequel, The Lost World as well as a number of movies.
Dinosaurs are still very exciting but long-dead ones - not so much. What I also found slightly disappointing was that the sections devoted to fossil-hunting were few. For much of the novel, it felt like nothing more than a slightly unbelievable western.
Of course this was an unfinished novel so it’s more than likely Michael Crichton would have spent a lot more time on it before publication.
If you like Michael Crichton’s books, you’ll enjoy this but be warned, it’s not the work it probably could have been.