Anna Von Hausswolff, Jessica Pratt, The Murder Capital, Vera Sola, Glows, Jacco Gardner, Goat Girl, Albums of the Year
Sometimes you need to get as far away from London as possible
Be ta Ba nd -T he Th re e E. P. ’s (2 0t h
An ni ve rs ar y)
Li m iñ an as
-S ha do w
Pe op le
of R ap ha el
N at io n
O fB lo od su ck er s
C hr ist in e
Q ue en s
D ja ng o
-C hr is
Pa rc el s
-P ar ce ls
Sk ie s
W or ld w id e
-M ar bl e
-W om an
D ja ng o
Ju st ice
Kelela TAKE ME A_PART, THE
REMIXES WARP298 CATALOGUE NO.
Nightmares on Wax
Shape The Future WARP275 CATALOGUE NO.
NTS Sessions 1â€“4
Ultraviolet WARP297 CATALOGUE NO.
Oneohtrix Point Never
Age Of WARP295 CATALOGUE NO.
GAIKA WARP285 CATALOGUE NO.
Mark Pritchard WARP296 CATALOGUE NO.
The Four Worlds
Yves Tumor WARP293 CATALOGUE NO.
Safe In The Hands Of Love
P. N ET
Contents Contact email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Loud And Quiet Ltd PO Box 67915 London NW1W 8TH Founding Editor: Stuart Stubbs Art Direction: B.A.M. Digital Director: Greg Cochrane Sub Editor: Alexandra Wilshire Book Editor: Lee Bullman Contributing writers Abi Crawford, Adam Badí Donoval, Aimee Armstrong, Andrew Anderson, Alex Weston-Noond, Brian Coney, Cal Cashin, Chris Watkeys, David Cortes, David Zammitt, Daniel Dylan-Wray, Derek Robertson, Fergal Kinney, Gemma Samways, Guia Cortassa, Hayley Scott, Ian Roebuck, Joe Goggins, Katie Beswick, Liam Konemann, Luke Cartledge, Max Pilley, Mike Vinti, Patrick Glen, Rachel Redfern, Rosie Ramsden, Reef Younis, Sarah Lay, Susan Darlington, Sam Walton, Tristan Gatward. Contributing photographers Brian Guido, Charlotte Patmore, Colin Medley, David Cortes, Dan Kendall, Dustin Condren, Gabriel Green, Gem Harris, Heather Mccutcheon, Jenna Foxton, Jonangelo Molinari, Matilda Hill-Jenkins, Nathanael Turner, Nathaniel Wood, Phil Sharp, Sonny McCartney, Timothy Cochrane, Tom Porter. With special thanks to Annette Lee, Dan Carson, James Parrish, Jamie Woolgar, Kathryne Chalker, Louise Mayne, Natalie Quesnel, Nathan Beazer, Sam Williams, Thom Denson, Will Laurence, Zoe Miller.
The views expressed in Loud And Quiet are those of the respective contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or its staff. All rights reserved 2018 Loud And Quiet Ltd.
ISSN 2049-9892 Printed by Wyndenham Grange Distributed by Loud And Quiet Ltd. & Forte
Personally, professionally, politically, socially, this year has repeatedly been a shit pie. There’s also been a lot of good, though, and for the magazine it feels like we’re ending 2018 on an upswing. That is thanks to you, our readers, who responded last month to our inevitable we-need-yourmoney post on loudandquiet.com. In it we echoed the same old story of the struggling independent press (although for the first time ourselves) and launched a new subscription model where you can support us from £3 per month and receive our next 9 issues in the post. We’ve been too embarrassed to outright ask before, truth be told. Into 2019 we’re keeping the mag free, but if you really like it your 3 quid(s) will protect our independence and get L&Q dropping through your front door. Thank you, Stuart Stubbs
Albums of 2018 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Artists’ survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Glows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Murder Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vera Sola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nilüfer Yanya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jacco Gardner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jessica Pratt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Goat Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 05
. 12 . 14 . 18 . 22 . 24 . 29 . 46 . 56 . 60 . 64
NOTHING IS STILL
WORKING CLASS WOMAN
BRAINFEEDER X FT. FLYING LOTUS, THUNDERCAT,
KINGDOMS IN COLOUR
BADBADNOTGOOD & LITTLE DRAGON UNDER LICENSE FROM INNOVATIVE LEISURE
BADBADNOTGOOD, ROSS FROM FRIENDS & MORE
Space Exploration: DIY Space for London
“This place is fucking great. There are literally signs on the wall that tell you not to be a c**t.” Ronan Kehoe, of Essex punks Don’t Worry, doesn’t mince his words. He’s right, though, in his mid-gig address: South Bermondsey’s DIY Space for London is fucking great. Built into an industrial unit in the shadow of three hulking residential tower blocks, the deceptively pastoral-sounding Windermere, Grasmere and Ambleside Points, this subcultural hive just off the Old Kent Road has become an institution in the three short years since its opening. Solely volunteer-run, it’s the kind of venue that’s few and far between these days. In truth, places like this probably always have been pretty rare, so distinctive is its entirely grassroots, non-profit ethos, and so dear to so many hearts has it become. I live just around the corner from DSFL, a short walk away across an area of semi-landscaped wasteland known as “the meadow”. Yet there’s something about this place that feels a long way away. Perhaps it’s a matter of mental, rather than physical, space: from the moment you enter the venue, you are, to paraphrase Kehoe, discouraged from being a c**t. Posters throughout the venue remind visitors that any form of discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated, that people have different definitions of personal space and social customs, and that providing an environment in which members of under-represented groups may have their voices heard is a top priority here. There are very concrete financial and legislative threats to these kinds of spaces, and along with them the kinds of underground culture that are only able to develop in environments that actively promote difference, openness, and inclusion. In February 2018, the first UK live music census found that a third of the UK’s small venues outside London were struggling to survive in the face of increasingly stifling noise restrictions, extortionate business rates and cuts to arts funding. In the capital, a city
words by luke cartledge. illustration by kate prior
groaning under the weight of its grotesque property bubble, such issues are even more acute. In September 2018, the core group of DSFL volunteers made an emergency plea for financial help, prompted by a grim fiscal forecast that predicted that the venue would not be generating enough income by November to pay that month’s rent. A fundraising drive ensued, and the DSFL coffers were temporarily refilled. This is not, however, a longterm solution. Something about the tower blocks near DSFL has lodged deep into my subconscious. They feature in my dreams regularly, sometimes as mere setting, other times as near-protagonists. A friend of mine once described them as “nightmare fuel”; although their appearance in my dreams is as often benign as it is sinister, that label was hammered home emphatically by a recurring nightmare I had last year. I’m at a trendy party in a top-floor flat in one of Peckham’s more bijou apartment buildings. To the north-east, across the great dirty artery of the Old Kent Road, stands Windermere Point, silhouetted against a rich, liquid sunset like the helicopters on the theatrical poster for Apocalypse Now. Then, as the partiers sip their cocktails and make designer smalltalk, a graphic atrocity, which I won’t describe further here, is inflicted upon the three towers. I scream, run to the window, and begin to cry uncontrollably as I picture the people inside. Everyone else shrugs and returns to their conversations. I awake in a sweat. A few weeks later, I have the same nightmare again. A few more weeks on, the Grenfell Tower disaster happens. The dreams just keep coming for a long while after that. South-East London in 2018 is a place in flux, whose inequalities are being brought into increasingly sharp relief by a constant flow of capital from the public purse into the private pocket. As arts funding is cut and grassroots cultural centres close, property prices continue to rise. As a white, heterosexual male who moved to the area for university, I’m hardly the person who will be worst affected by the excesses of gentrification; not only that, but it’s hard to ignore the nagging feeling that my mere presence here makes me a cog in that machine. Yet places like DIY Space for London, situated at the foot of the tower blocks upon which many of my anxiety dreams focus, give me hope, and I’m not the only one. Inside, people of all backgrounds are not only welcome, but actively encouraged to participate in this community in whatever way they feel comfortable. And they take it seriously: each member, volunteer, promoter and tech is read the venue’s regulations at the beginning of each event, and is obliged to become familiar with the place as a breeding ground for kinds of self-expression that are rarely so respected elsewhere. A typical week on the DSFL calendar will feature punk, noise, drag, yoga, screen-printing workshops, zine club socials and more. You don’t get that at your local O2 Academy.
Growing up in a band We formed Shame in June 2014 and played our first show that July. Since then I estimate we’ve played 400-500 shows. It feels like counting pieces of hay now, we’ve lost count. The relationship between all of us in the band when we started was a lot more loose. We all got a lot more fucked. Well, I certainly did. It was more like a party and an occasion. A lot of bands or people who I know who hold exhibitions, things like that, their friends would come down to their events. We kind of did the opposite. We did it, and then if people turned up that we knew then it was nice of them. We didn’t care in the beginning because we knew we were shit. We just took the piss. It was quite liberating. It’s a bit similar to now, apart from now egos have definitely been inflated. At the beginning we were still so new. We didn’t have certain pressures that we do now. It was a laugh. It’s important that it’s a laugh. If it ever stopped being funny then the band would cease. It’s weird because we did grow up with each other. I feel like we’re closer than we ever have been. We’ve been back in London for a day and I’m going around to Sean’s [Coyle-Smith, guitarist] house. We still really rely on each other. It’s like a marriage or a long-term relationship. I can’t speak with much advice because every long-term relationship I’ve had has ended, but you get to know when you’re pissing people off
and you get to know when they’re pissing you off. You learn to deal with it. The saving grace is that we have something that’s productive – writing songs and playing shows – to do together. Everyone has their core unique identity within the band. We’re all quite different individuals. Sean is the eternal optimist and he’s always listening to music. I’m sort of… I don’t know. I don’t like to label myself anything. Eddie is quite organised. Josh is very unorganised in his life but is very talented at organising music. The hardest thing is probably learning to understand yourself. We’re all still 21 so there’s a lot we have to learn. At the beginning of the band I probably didn’t understand a lot of things to do with my own psychology. As soon as you start to understand and address your emotions, that’s when you become a lot more engaged and aware of those you’re surrounded by. If you know what you need to do if you’re feeling slightly melancholic, adventurous or whatever… then it makes it a hell of a lot easier to relate to other people when they’re in those moods. We vocalise stuff a lot. If someone is pissed off you say it to their face. That’s what we do. We don’t hide thoughts. We don’t shelter emotions. We discuss it and try and move on. It’s grown easier over time because we’ve all realised the necessity of communication. And then keeping other relationships going is hard. When we think back to January  time I had a girlfriend and I think that was the only thing pressing on my mind. That’s a person you want to be there for, and that’s a person you want to be with. You understand that your job is getting in the way. It’s quite a grownup thing to be dealing with for the first time, especially when you have to go away for a three-month tour which is quite a unique job to have in terms of when you can speak and things like that. I’ve learned to cope better. I have a fear of being on my own, which I think a lot of people have, which is why people go out, why they get fucked, take drugs, drink and things like that in this age group. I’ve definitely learned to be with my own thoughts this past year. It feels like everything has changed. Before a show, we have seen some bands backstage who get together like a merry group of Disney cartoon characters, joining hands and throwing them up in the air. We’ve never done that once. Sometimes if you’ve had a shit day and you’ve had shit news it’s the best fucking thing in the world to go on stage. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I don’t think about anything else when I’m on stage which is practically impossible at all other times in my life. It’s almost like a form of meditation. I was in the bath earlier and I was thinking; by the age of 21 I’ve probably been to 170 festivals in my lifetime, which is insanity. You’ve just got to appreciate how unique this position is and how fortunate we all are because it might not last. I mean, it won’t last. Nothing lasts. We’ll enjoy it while we can. My biggest lesson from it all so far is never trust a happy band.
words by charlie steen. illustration by kate prior
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Sweet 16: Anna von Hausswolff grew up resisting Gothenburg’s gentrification and the portrayal of women in music
When I was 16 years old I lived with my mom, Evalena, and sister, Maria, in the bohemian neighbourhood Haga in Gothenburg. Haga had at this time transformed from being a crazy hippie/ drug-dealing/artist area to a quiet, boring and more expensive family area. The prices of the buildings were increasing as Haga became a tourist attraction and all of a sudden the Bohemians still living there became millionaires. I remember that I despised this new Haga. I thought it lacked life and spirit. I had loved the old Haga with rough, worn down wood houses, trashy record stores and art galleries. My father had a label there called RADIUM 226.05 that me and my sister used to hang out at. It was located in a beautiful old brick building that had once been a washing space for poor people to avoid the spread of cholera. When I was 16 the label had shut down and the building transformed from a creative art space to a SPA. I remembered I felt extremely disappointed with the transformation. Gothenburg was changing rapidly and the childhood place that I liked so much was being lost. My passion for music started early and at the age of 16 I liked all sorts of genres. I grew up with experimental music and classical music, the music of my mom and dad. Then between 11 and 13 I got into hip hop and RnB, but at 16 I started to create a musical foundation that I still lean on today. I found Diamanda Galás, Patti
Smith, PJ Harvey, Tim/Jeff Buckley, Thom York, Björk, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. No one really understood my taste, and as many people tried to classify me I felt that I was neither goth, emo, rock, metal, soul or pop. This was reflected in my clothes. Whatever style I seemed to be wearing for the day, you could always see other styles shine through. I simply followed my taste and combined whatever clothes I thought were interesting. As I began to explore and follow the music media I remember that I didn’t like the coverage of female artists. I rejected how women were portrayed; I felt that I couldn’t relate to the sexualisation and objectification of them. I liked better how men were portrayed, in their normal clothes with normal faces. I could take them seriously, and they seemed to be taken seriously, unlike the women. The portraits of female musicians made me feel disturbed, stressed, sad and angry because I thought it was so extremely degrading, and not only for the artist posing but also for me as a woman. I felt betrayed and I didn’t know who to be angry with, the women posing, the media shaping them, or the boys liking them. Sometimes I was angry at me being angry at them. As I didn’t want to, or simply couldn’t, play along with the norms, I became an oddball and my creative space became my rescue place. When I played music I felt reinforced and strong. Untouchable. When I started music college at age 16 I met many like minded people, it was a relief. Secondary school had been horrible for me, so college became a turning point in many ways. I felt independent and free and inspired like never before. I found friends. I met four of my current band members there; Joel Fabiansson, Karl Vento, David Sabel and Filip Leyman. Karl Vento was the first one to ask me if I wanted to start a band with him. Our name was Vento and we became quite popular at school playing graduations and parties. Filip Leyman then joined our group of friends and it turned out he was (already then) a producer. He produced our first EP. Later Filip, Karl and I started a pop band strongly inspired by The Sundays, The Smiths and Cocteau Twins. David was a close friend. He had the best energy but we never played together, I never understood his influences or interests until just recently. Joel Fabiansson was in my parallel class and we had different social groups so we weren’t close, but I admired him. One time, during a school concert he completely blew me away when he did one of the best Frank Zappa interpretations I had, and still have, ever seen. He played Zappa guitar and sang Zappa vocals flawlessly. I had no idea that there was such a talanted boy in my school. It is because of this Frank Zappa interpretation I decided to ask Joel if he wanted to join my band in 2014.
words by anna von hausswolff
Image Â© Pierrick Guidou
New Year highlights...
Sat 19 Jan
Pantha Du Prince Conference of Trees Fri 1 Feb
Sat 2 Feb, Milton Court
Irreversible Entanglements Thu 21 Feb
Tony Allen & Jeff Mills 28 Feb & 1 Mar, EartH
Late Junction Festival With Gazelle Twin, This is Not This Heat, Hen Ogledd, CURL, Chaines, O Yama O
Albums of the Year 2018 Our favourite 40 albums released this year and a reminder of what they are
1. Virginia Wing Ecstatic Arrow (fire) The Manchester duo’s third album of deadpan dream-pop that dares to speak of optimism in 2018.
7. audiobooks Now! (in a minute) (heavenly) Synth-pop songs and spoken word odysseys about sharing a bubble bath… as mates.
13. Let’s Eat Grandma I’m All Ears (transgressive) A second album of cute/ scary pop aided here and there by SOPHIE.
2. Pusha T Daytona (virgin emi) The rest of Kanye’s 7-track ‘Wyoming Sessions’ albums can go to hell.
8. Gabe Guernsey Physical (phantasy sound) The Factory Floor member’s debut solo album that simulates a night spent clubbing.
14. Viagra Boys Street Worms (year0001) A self-referential debut of Swedish garage rock that critiques the machismo and cliché of punk.
3. Low Double Negative (sub pop) The twelfth and most violent album of in-the-red slowcore from a Minnesota band 25 years in.
9. IDLES Joy as an Act of Resistance (partisan) Everything you hate the Tories for, in one punk album from Bristol.
15. Gwenno Le Kov (heavenly) The Welsh artist’s second album of cosmiche pop – her first sang predominantly in Cornish.
4. Tirzah Devotion (domino) A moody collection of melancholy love songs that sound distinctly at home in South London.
10. Oliver Coates Shelly’s on Zenn-La (rvng) The cellist’s second album inspired by pirate radio jungle, now with added deep space electronics.
16. Sons of Kemet Your Queen is a Reptile (decca) The album that should have won the Mercury Prize. The jazz nominee.
5. LUMP LUMP (dead oceans) The first and probably last collaboration between Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay.
11. Sink Ya Teeth Sink Ya Teeth (hey buffalo) The DIY debut from a Norwich-based duo inspired by Chicago house and early rave culture.
17. Anna Von Hauswolff Dead Magic (city slang) The most radio-unfriendly five tracks of the year composed on an organ in a church in Denmark.
6. Shirt Pure Beauty (third man) The NY rapper’s strangebeats debut, inspired by conceptual artists like Marcel Duchamp.
12. Space Africa Somewhere Decent to Live (sferic) The Manchester duo’s second album of urban ambience and dub techno.
18. Yves Tumor Safe in the Hands of Love (warp) Funk. Soul. Ambient. Industrial. Weird electronica. The illusive musician’s third album.
Poll 19. Nines Crop Circle (xl) The London rapper released his second album on International Weed Day. Lol.
27. Haley Heynderickx I Need to Start a Garden (mama bird) An 8-track debut of delicate, fingerpicked folk from Portland.
35. Mount Eerie Not Only (p.w. elverum & sun) Phil Elverum’s sequel to last year’s devastating album about the death of his wife.
20. Beak > >>> (invada) The Bristol trio’s third and best album of fuzz guitar, paired-back drums and analogue electronica.
28. Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever Hope Down (sub pop) Unmistakeably Australian indie rock for running around in the sunshine.
36. Marie Davidson Working Class Woman (ninja tune) Canadaian techno about the stresses and strains of working Berlin’s clubland.
21. Gazelle Twin Pastoral (anti-ghost moon ray) Elizabeth Bernholtz’s malfunctioning and fittingly horrible ode to Brexit.
29. Szun Waves New Hymn to Freedom (leaf) A jazz record made by three underground experimentalists.
37. The Voidz Virtue (columbia) Julian Casablancas’ best, maddest work this side of ‘First Impressions of Earth’.
22. Lily Allen No Shame (warner bros) A collection of downtempo nearly-ballads and comeback tunes.
30. Caroline Rose Loner (new west) Sarcastic pop tunes about gender and anxiety from an ex-blues player who only wears red.
38. La Luz Floating Features (sub pop) The LA group’s third album of blackened surf rock.
23. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat Riddles (carpark) The Baltimore duo’s first album to add Dan Deacon to their drums and bass.
31. Nils Frahm All Melody (erased tapes) The neo-classical master’s ninth album of hypnotic synth cycles.
39. Phantastic Ferniture Phantastic Ferniture (transgressive) The debut album from a Sydney trio fronted by Julia Jacklin.
24. Ghetts Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament (caroline) The grime MC’s re-evaluation of how hip-hop treats woman.
32. Lonnie Holley Mith (jagjaguwar) The debut album of improvised soul collages from the 68-year-old American sculptor.
40. Half Waif Lavender (cascine) Nandi Rose Plunkett’s second album of skilled synth work about isolation in America.
25. Shame Songs of Praise (dead oceans) A debut punk album that also includes nods to The Cribs and Happy Mondays.
33. Daniel Avery Song For Alpha (phantasy sound) An album of artful techno for early hours on the road.
26. Sophie Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides (transgressive) An aggressive electronic debut that buckles pop music’s shiny beats.
34. The Goon Sax We’re Not Talking (wichita) The Australian band’s second album of bittersweet indie pop.
Customer Survey 2018 What 8 artists thought about the year’s overall performance
Hello Jason (Williamson, Sleaford Mods)
Hello Elizabeth (Bernholz, Gazelle Twin)
For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? Laying on a beach at night looking at the moon over palm trees with my wife. Sorry, I know it’s not very edgy.
For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? Finally finishing and releasing my new album and getting back on the road to tour it.
How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the World Cup? I turned the TV down on the programme I was watching to hear out for the neighbours screams to fathom what kind of a game we were having.
How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the World Cup? Truthfully, I barely noticed.
What did you do on your birthday this year? Went to a mate’s house and ate good food (a surprise from my wife), then talked about swingers clubs in between slagging other mates off and watching the kids get absolutely bollocks’d on sugar. What box sets did you destroy this year? I don’t have any. Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? The crowds got bigger. Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? Drill. Loski. RV. Headie One. 67. I explored Trap and its history a little. The soundtrack to the horror film Mandy is wicked too. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? Buy things. What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? I haven’t got one really. Never do. I try to make sure I have shit in place so nothing’s shit. — Thank you, Jason.
What did you do on your birthday this year? I filmed a music video in a forest whilst getting bitten all over my body by fleas living in a Jester costume. What box sets did you destroy this year? Not really a ‘box set’ but I did enjoy Maniac on Netflix. Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? They’re always a bit weird, but that’s usually because of me. Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? Mostly soundtracks that are child friendly, although they’re not new discoveries – My Neighbour Totoro by Joe Hishashi is the current household favourite. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? My focus has been on making an album to make sense of it all. That really helped me to contextualise a lot of the said shit, and focus my anger and confusion, but it certainly doesn’t lessen the worry about what the future holds. I genuinely fear for what the next couple of years will bring. I have a feeling the worst is to come but that hopefully it will force people to put severe pressure on the government and bring about social change. What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? I’m not hot on NY resolution pressure. I plan to keep going with the touring and making new work as best I can, and hope that it all goes to plan. Ho hum. — Thank you, Elizabeth.
Hello Richard (Dawson) For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? I don’t think I’ll forget the excitement and emotional thrill of playing the masterpiece Red Dead Redemption 2 – an absolute milestone in gaming. How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the World Cup? I don’t get whisked away by football much these days, it’s more like a weekly green balm. Only Newcastle, very occasionally, have the power to whisk me. Regarding those last England games, my plane was delayed by four hours so instead of watching the quarter final in a bar in Helsinki as planned, I was in the air for precisely the duration of the match. The pilot told us the result as we landed, which makes him a real bastard. What did you do on your birthday this year? Not very much at all. What box sets did you destroy this year? I re-watched Sopranos with my partner, who hadn’t seen it. I think it’s ‘one of the great works of art’. Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? Someone told me Chris Tarrant came to see us play, does that count? Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? I have enjoyed the new Sophie record, lots of P.C. music – Hannah Diamond is a big favourite in our house. Always more Sun Ra, Eliane Radigue, Circle. Snail Mail made a great record. Cath and Phil Tyler’s last one. Mainly just Hannah Diamond, though. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? I take a sauna, and concentrate on my work. What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? I don’t care about ‘best’! I’m well rested and now just want to be productive, next year and beyond. Got a lot to do. — Thank you, Richard.
Hello Chris (Carter) For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? The long hot summer, I loved it... It reminded me of 1976, when I’d first met Cosey and we were falling in love. How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the World Cup? I have zero interest in football, I just don’t get it, I really don’t. I’ve never understood what people find so enthralling about a bunch of grown-ups running around a field after a ball. What did you do on your birthday this year? Well, I’m not big on birthdays… not my own anyway. I was probably working in the studio on something or other. What box sets did you destroy this year? After all the hype over The Bodyguard I thought it was overrated but I really enjoyed The Deuce, Snowfall, Sharp Objects, Trust, Better Call Saul and Killing Eve. Controversially I think Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad… there I’ve said it! Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? There was a show I did at Seachange festival in Totnes on the top floor of this big old rickety listed building. Also there was this weird drunk guy in the front row shouting ‘entertain me’. He got thrown out. Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? John Grant sent me his new album months before it was released and I literally could not stop playing it. It became the sound of the summer for me. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? You can’t let the bastards drag you down but yes it is difficult to remain positive. Sometimes I think it can’t get any worse… then you turn on the news and I’m like, “what the hell, for fucks sake!” But I am buoyed up by recent mass demonstrations, there have been far too few this last couple of decades – people got complacent, stopped voting, then it was too late. Get off your arses and vote the fuckers out. What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? Do more exercise, loose some weight, work less/sleep more, read more/watch less, do more drawing. — Thank you, Chris.
Feedback row were under 5 years old, and they were really enjoying it. Hello Meg (Remy, US Girls) For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? Traveling the world with a band the size of a large family. How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the World Cup? Huh? What did you do on your birthday this year? I had a dance party with Geordie Gordon at Glad Day in Toronto.
Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? David made a heavy metal playlist for us to listen to on the train, now I can’t stop listening to Mastodon. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? Creativity thrives in adversity, that’s positive, isn’t it? What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? Go to the dentist. — Thank you, Evangeline.
What box sets did you destroy this year? Box sets of donuts and pizza mostly. Hello Geoff (Barrow, Beak>) Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? Just the usual misogyny. Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? The song ‘Whole Pot of Jelly’ by Pete Wingfield.
For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? Better >> Touring with Beak and writing film scores. Worse >> Feeling really tired, old and unhealthy.
Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? Read books.
How carried away did you get with England’s performance in the
What’s your New Year’s resolution to make 2019 your best year yet? Read books. — Thank you, Meg.
World Cup? I really enjoyed it. Didn’t get carried away though. I love how young and diverse the players’ backgrounds are – the opposite of Tommy Robinson’s England. What did you do on your birthday this year? It’s Dec 9th so nothing yet. (Hopefully bowling.)
Hello Evangeline (Ling, audiobooks) For better or worse, what will be your lasting memory of 2018? The Pink Panther Show I curated with Dateagleart was stressful enough and then the day after the opening I had to play my first audiobooks gig in Hebden Bridge. That was intense. What did you do on your birthday this year? Went to the Weatherspoon’s in Peckham. What box sets did you destroy this year? Haven’t got any to destroy. Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? It was strange playing at Port Eliot cause the entire front
What box sets did you destroy this year? Mumford and Sons’ box set, I shat in it. Did anything weird happen at any of your shows? People turned up. Did 2018 provide you with any new music discoveries? Yes. Colin Stetson’s album, Low’s new album. Oh Sees was the best but I’m constantly disappointed in how little new good music I can find. Socially and politically it’s been a bit of shit-fest, hasn’t it. What have you done to remain positive? I’ve found time to enjoy tiny things that I’ve always taken for granted. And playing live music to nice people. Oh, and punching Nazis... especially really old ones. — Thank you, Geoff.
NILS FRAHM - All Melody
AMOR – Sinking Into A Miracle
OH SEES - Smote Reverser
HERE LIES MAN – You Will Know Nothing
“It’s continuously changings, perfectly timed, evenly spaced – an impeccable album”
“Sinking Into A Miracle is absolutely beautiful – otherworldly, often, and quietly ecstatic, in its own strangely pop way.”
“…yet again, a career-best mind melter.”
“You Will Know Nothing is a headfuck of the highest order.”
Erased Tapes 2LP/CD
(10/10 Drowned In Sound)
Night School LP/CD (released 7th Dec)
Castle Face 2LP/CD
(4/5 Q Magazine)
Riding Easy LP/CD
(9/10 Louder Than War)
JON SPENCER – Sings The Hits
TY SEGALL – Fudge Sandwich
DANIEL BRANDT – Channels
RIVAL CONSOLES – Persona
“Still scuzzy, still weird, long may Jon Spencer walk his own unique path.”
“An eclectic covers album – everyone’s a winner!”
“A rare combination of ambition, talent and restraint to deliver an album that seems founded in Detroit but also ranges equally well across orchestral and electronic fields.”
(Line of Best Fit)
“Cinematic in scope and delicately constructed, the album grows from warm, organic techno (‘Persona’) through ambient electronica (‘Dreamer’s Wake’) to the insistent synths, drums and drones of ‘Hidden’. Lovely stuff.”
In The Red LP/Indies LTD LP/CD
In The Red LP/CD
Erased Tapes LP/CD
Erased Tapes LP/CD
ANNA ST. LOUIS – If Only There Was A River
MOLLY NILSSON – Twenty Twenty
STRAIGHT ARROWS – On Top
LES BIG BYRD – Iran Iraq IKEA
“Her album trades in the magnificence of such quintessentially American touchstones, from the might of rivers to the mystique of the desert. It’s a meeting of West and Midwest that is decidedly unfussy and wholly refreshing.”
“Time and time again she dances over pressing matters threatening our continual existence and uses her sharp and sparkling synth-pop working tirelessly to reassure us.”
“Straight Arrows: the fuzziest, most catchiest, escapist, good-times vending, rapscallion trampoline shiners this side of the Murray River”
“Taking their cue from the lean sounds of New Order circa Technique, their understated, yet buoyantly melodic music is both big and shiny, but also full wry demeanour. Hitting the seam where melancholy mixes with joy, Les Big Byrd turn Iran Iraq IKEA into a life-affirming listen.”
(Uncut / Album of the Month)
Night School LP/CD
(Loud & Quiet)
(John Dwyer (Oh Sees/Damaged Bug))
PNK SLM LP/Ltd LP/CD
(Echoes & Dust)
WARM DRAG – Warm Drag
SARAH DAVACHI – Gave In Rest
LA LUZ – Floating Features
KIKAGAKU MOYO – Masana Temples
On Tour 2019: Manchester 22nd Jan, Glasgow 24th Jan, Newcastle 25th Jan, London 26th Jan.
“Underground Album of the Year 2018.”
“There's an appealing American cynicism lurking beneath their enchanting '60s doo-wop-indebted sound.”
“Produced with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, it weaves their appreciation for psych-folk, spiritual ambience, sitar breakdowns and deluges of guitar, but adds a newfound spaciousness and attention to groove.”
In The Red LP/CD
Ba Da Bing! LP/CD
Hardly Art CD/LP
Guruguru Brain LP/CD
(Raven Sings The Blues)
A Coldplay fan who can weird you out, by Greg Cochrane. Photography by Timothy Cochrane
It’s the end of an hour I’ve spent with Glows in his living room that also serves as a makeshift office and studio. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to mention, I say, flipping my notebook closed and reaching for the off button on the recorder. Almost always the answer to this is a shake of the head. Occasionally it’s “yes, I forgot to plug the new video.” GG Skips, the name Glows goes by when he’s not being Glows, exhales a plume of smoke from his roll-up, towards an open sash window covered in stickers. “Well, I used to be a massive Dead Head. I used to do a lot of drugs. I had a breakdown and it freaked me out. Then I became really into The Grateful Dead. Still am. They’ve been a big influence on me.” I quietly let go of my bag I started to pick up underneath his dining table. Ok, when was that? “It was when I properly started making music. Then I developed a lot of mental health problems – if you want to put that in... just to big up men talking about their mental health.” It’s the beginning of a fresh avenue of conversation that, in truth, has already traveled down much deeper, thoughtprovoking routes than the typical 21-year-old electronic-artistconducting-their-first-interview usually does. Because Skips is a fascinating character. Awkward and anxious by his own admission, he speaks quickly and holds eye contact only in snatches while he chain-puffs and pours tea from a pot. Place that to one side though, and I’m sat opposite an interviewee that’s fiercely inquisitive, unquestionably motivated and boundlessly creative. “The culture we live in has very interesting ideas of sobriety, and music people especially,” he says, picking up his thread. “Young people have weird ideas on drugs and alcohol. I don’t think they realise. A lot of people are lucky, but some people aren’t – in terms of developing any mental problems from it. It does happen and I was one of the unlucky ones.” This all happened around Skips’ first period of experimentation; drugs, alcohol, music all wrapped up. Though it left him with lasting effects, it also had an indelible impact on the art he now creates. “It’s a lot of what the lyrics are about,” he says. “How harmful was it?” he rolls my question around his mind for a brief second. “Not harmful, in fact, probably better. It made me much more focused. Made my writing better. It brings on a level of deepness and richness to the music you’re making when there’s something quite serious behind a lot of the stuff.” That doesn’t mean he’s anti-drugs these days (far from it), but he is pro-awareness. “These things have real consequences. It’s just a lot more real than people think. It’s bizarre. I have no regrets.” A pause. “That sounds like I’m saying everyone should have mental health problems to write good music. That’s not true at all, I just think for me it means that when I listen to my music I’m listen-
ing to all the influences of that time, but I’m also listening to how I felt at that time and what I was going through.” — Slow disco — Often when Glows makes music he spreads all the kit across his bedroom floor late at night. He’ll record himself playing his organelle for hours, slowing the tempo down and turning the reverb up. “I do that with the idea that I’m actually meditating. This is my time off,” he points out. Skips builds vast archives of material like this before revisiting it – sometimes years later – to sample his own creations, splice them up and build a track. “You end up with something that’s so intensely you, but also of a period of you before.” That fermentation is in stark contrast to the pace the producer lives the rest of his life by. Right now he’s studying for a degree in Graphic Design at LCC, works three days a week in a coffee shop and co-runs arts collective Slow Dance, who don’t just put on parties around the capital but also act as a record label and merchandise company. “The rest of the time I try and sleep,” he laughs. Skips comes from a musical background. His mother, a clarinetist, attended the prestigious Guildhall School of Music. That’s probably why he swerved the usual naïve fumblings into music discovery and started listening to “weird, psychedelic stuff ” from a young age. He skipped The Smiths and went straight to Pill Wonder, Animal Collective and Delicate Steve. Indeed, the south London flat we’re sat in is a shrine to the world Skips has created for himself. The place is above a brightly painted Vietnamese restaurant, and entered from the street. Trash post kicks around the hallway floor, an art print is propped against the wall and the banister that curves up to the first floor front room is snapped in two. A white sheet daubed with the Slow Dance logo hangs above the sofa. Worktop tables are strewn with laptops, hard-drives and DJ decks. There’s a pile of DVDs, an impressive collection of vinyl and coats slung over the door. A potted palm sits in the corner next to a pineapple – a nod to his love of all things exotic. The sound of Deerhunter burbles through a pair of speakers. His housemate – and collaborator on Slow Dance – pops in and out with updates on a rooftop gig they have planned in east London the following weekend (the thrust of it: “the council are fucking us with permits”). These days it looks less like fortune and more like destiny when Skips explains how the first event he put on ended up being Sorry’s first proper show (he and Asha Lorenz had a project preSorry). The defunct Dead Pretties also played. It was the first year at sixth form at Marylebone School (he’s keen to point out he’s from Ladbroke Grove, not south London) and along with two friends he put on an event on a boat to promote a zine they’d made. That ended up being the Slow Dance collective’s first show.
The moment 500 people turned up to the second one at an a disused warehouse they knew they were onto something (it also left the one bouncer they’d booked confused as he thought Slow Dance was going to be some kind of ballroom tea party). Since then they’ve put on numerous nights around London from Kings Cross to Brixton, booking (mostly via Facebook Messenger) the likes of Jockstrap, Goat Girl, Coby Sey, Jerkcurb and Black Midi. “We all love that when you do a night you can make it a collage of everything,” he explains. “You can curate everything. There’s no feeling like it, doing it yourself.” This was around the same time in his late teens that he began making his own music, working in Notting Hill record store Honest Jon’s and became increasingly seduced by club culture and its hedonistic trimmings. — Weird stuff — It’s taken until now for Skips to share his creations under the name Glows. Two tracks – ‘Perla’ and ‘Foam’ – released this past autumn, have provided a hint of his capabilities. A sound that’s reminiscent of Caribou, Luke Abbott and Four Tet. He says he’s sat on around 60 more tracks. They’re a reflection of his experiences and tastes. On one hand the viscerality of blistering technical live performance (“I’d say Black Midi are my favourite band of all time, even,” he says,
completely aware of how premature that may sound. He also spent lots of time checking out bands at The Windmill). And on the other, the warm, intimate cocoon of ambient and electronic music. “I don’t want to be, and I never could be, fully associated with just dance music,” he states. His own work lands somewhere in between those two worlds. It’s no surprise to learn that he describes spending hours endlessly cycling through Spotify ‘related artists’ waiting for new sounds to “click”. That doesn’t always translate as being the most obscure, though he does love the esoteric. “People really want to try and make stuff that’s weird, and as weird as possible, so that people can find it weird. I’m a sucker for that, but music should be accessible. It’s great when it is, and does both. That’s key. Otherwise I think you get a bit miserable,” he says. “I like all music. I fucking love Coldplay’s first album. That’s not even a guilty pleasure. I like a lot of pop music. I like Avicii.” But it’s unlikely that Glows’ music will be mass-market, chart-wooing pop house – at least not right now. Before I leave he tells me about another recent track he finished while on holiday in Crete. “It’s a 10-minute instrumental track about Jason Molina’s death from alcoholism that’s also inspired by exotica and palm trees,” he smiles. “It’s fun to throw weird stuff in there.” He can’t help it.
12/1—18/19 MOTH Club
The Waiting Room
Valette St London E8
71 Shacklewell Lane London E8
175 Stoke Newington High St N16
Sunday 9 December
MOTH CLUB CHRISTMAS PARTY: THE MAUSKOVIC DANCE BAND Monday 17 December
MUSH Monday 31 December
DANCING IN THE DARK (NYE SPECIAL)
Monday 10 December
MIHO HATORI Tuesday 11 December
POISON POINT Friday 14 Decemebr
ACID CANNIBALS Saturday 15 December
Tuesday 11 December
DESPERATE JOURNALIST Wednesday 12 December
LILLY AHLBERG Thursday 13 December
WASTEFELLOW Monday 31 December
IVAN SMAGGHE X NATHAN GREGORY WILKINS
Thursday 17 January
LORELLE MEETS THE OBSOLETE
Friday 28 December
BLANK GENERATION: CBGB SPECIAL
Saturday 12 January
Friday 18 January
Monday 31 December
NYE V NYC
Saturday 19 January
Wednesday 23 January
Saturday 2 February
THE MURDER CAPITAL
Tuesday 22 January
Tuesday 29 January
SWEARIN’ Wednesday 6 February
MOLLY NILSSON Saturday 23 February
VINYL STAIRCASE Friday 1 March
BRONCHO Saturday 16 March
PINK TURNS BLUE Saturday 23 March
ALEX ZHANG HUNGTAI
Tuesday 5 February
IAN SWEET Wednesday 6 February
ZOLLE Tuesday 12 February
GRINGO STAR Friday 15 February
SPIELBERGS Thursday 21 February
BREATHE PANEL Friday 22 February
Wednesday 30 January
RHUMBA CLUB Monday 4 February
TEMPERS Tuesday 5 + Wednesday 6 February
JERRY PAPER Wednesday 13 February
Various venues @lanzaroteworks
Saturday 27 April 2019
TEST PRESSING FESTIVAL
The Murder Capital
Honesty from Dublin’s punk scene, by Ian Roebuck. Photography by Gavin Ovoca
“I think that’s lazy journalism,” says a stone-faced James McGovern. He’s got a point. I’ve just broadly compared The Murder Capital, a McGovern fronted five-piece from Dublin, to Idles and he’s having none of it. “To be honest, and I suppose we have to keep the honesty thing going, I think it’s lazy journalism when people throw us into that group of punk bands when there is a credible Irish scene.” Having spent the last half an hour discussing sincerity and directness with James, it’s a fair cop.
Interview James arrives with guitarist Damien Tuite off the back of a busy Irish tour that’s taken in Galway, Limerick and Cork. Now they’re back in Dublin, the city where they first met through music college and are now based. “Here we are, I suppose,” smiles James, “there is not too much romance involved.” Damien slouches back into his armchair, comfortable in James’ shadow. “We’re lacking romance that’s for sure,” he says. “We will come back to you with fake folklore next time.” There might be no folklore but there is a story that emanates through The Murder Capital’s biting voice. It’s caustic punk with widescreen ambition; music that sounds and feels like where it came from. “The Murder Capital is a reflection on something that happened,” explains James. “I had a very close friend of mine take his own life in February and we wanted to reflect the neglect held towards mental healthcare in Ireland. Unnecessary deaths happen due to neglect from the State, or from general emotional intelligence from our society. My friend simply couldn’t afford the help he needed.” The band exist to reference the city they live in and candidly depict modern life as a young Irish male. “I think the way we experience socialising in Dublin can have its dark side,” says James. “Everyone our age likes to party and I think if you’re living that life well it’s fun, but the other side to it is that with the grip of technology on our generation everyone is trying to fabricate community at the weekend. They’re using drugs to do that and that can have a darker side to it.” They formed barely a year ago and are a group stripped to their core with muscular principles that match a muscular sound. These five men want to change society – something they stand by and regularly voice. “We are not joking around,” James assures me. “We want to allow our generation to express themselves again and to regain the community that’s being lost.” Damien instantly backs him up. “That’s right,” he says, “we want to be taken very seriously in what we do. It does feel like the highest level of what music is capable of – to affect culture and make a change.” “Of course, it can be on any scale,” says James, “whether you are expressing an opinion on how you feel about mental health or simply how you feel in your head as a young Irish male. Even to de-stigmatise alcoholism and excessive weekend bingeing, if you are open about it in your friendship group and that creates change then you have done something there.” — More is less — For the time being The Murder Capital are minimal on output and maximum in message. For a well-hyped band it’s difficult to find any recorded music online, save for a few local gigs on YouTube and a polished live video for an early track called ‘More is Less’. A fascinatingly sparse piece of work that’s fearless in its repetition, James’ horse vocal provides a barked mantra of “more and more and more” (which is similar to IDLES) while the band share an aggressive dancability with the four-to-the-floor bands that immediately followed The Strokes. For now it’s the
band’s calling card, but new releases are promised next year. “At the start we were thinking what can we do with the least amount of notes, the least amount of information,” says James. “It feels like it’s constantly playing against itself. The lyric is a play on words but I believe the sentiment to be true. “Honesty is a thread through everything we are doing,” he says. “We always question ourselves in the writing process to make sure we believe in our words and the atmosphere we are creating.” “I don’t think we could get up on stage and play it if it wasn’t true to us,” says Damien. It’s a pretty idealistic vision, and James openly admits to being a romantic at heart. “I won’t go on about what we read and all that stuff,” he says. “We all take something from it and we all share with each other. A lot of songs have come from writing poetry separate to the band. I find the lyrics that last the most for me, or are the most impactful, are when I am not concentrating too hard; I try to write every day to keep my head in that space.” The environment they live in is just as big an influence. “I am massively affected by architecture,” James continues. “Buildings will affect my mood and my temperament. Brutalism is my favourite – we don’t have too much of it here in Dublin; cities like Glasgow, I love, but I still think the classic kind of Georgian architecture all over Dublin is beautiful too. I like brutalism because it’s not trying to be beautiful. It’s the cheapest, harshest creative expression.” This time Damien doesn’t agree with James: “I have to say, I am a sucker for an ornate building.” As Damien and James spar over decorative Victorian terraced housing it’s clear these two spend a lot of time together. “Totally, I am inspired by it,” enthuses James. “The conversations we have with each other, it’s like family, to experience them grow and watching yourself through them. I think halfway through our UK tour we all realised that the fact that we can do this is so special. I looked around on stage and it was so beautiful and I think I went up to Damien and said this is like a fucking playground, we are actually back in junior infants at 4 years old playing with Playdoh, you know. I am with my best friends – it was a super humbling experience.” For a band considered confrontational in delivery and stage presence (because they are), the playground analogy points to a light and shade that will soon be evident. “We have always tried to be as ambitious as we can be,” James tells me. “When we are writing songs like ‘More is Less’, or other tracks in our set of a similar confrontational vein, then I think it deserves a demonstration of anger – I am angry at a lot of things. There are other moments in our set, though, where it’s not confrontational at all. It would be too easy for us to write an album of ten punk songs at 170 bpm; we could deliver that. It’s a reflection of what’s inside our heads and there is no way we can be angry for that amount of time. I cry as well, I feel romance. We try and reflect life and life is never that monotone. My vocals and what we play feels honest.”
Interview Paranormal poetry and saloon tunes from a true American history, by Mike Vinti. Photography by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
Vera Sola There’s a deliberate timelessness to Vera Sola’ songwriting. Full of gothic imagery, Morricone-esque guitar and lingering vocals, there’s a sense that the songs on the singer and multi-instrumentalist’s debut album, ‘Shades’, could have been written anytime between the first wagon arriving in the west and Trump’s election. Half American, half-Canadian, Sola – known to her friends as Danielle Aykroyd – grew up in a world not dissimilar to that of her songs. As a child she attended rodeos, read tomes of great American literature and played the piano, refusing to learn anything but the hardest pieces. Her family home in Canada – a building that’s been passed down through her father’s family for generations – has a history of spiritualism, thanks in a large part to the work of her paternal great-great-grandfather. “[He] was a full trance medium. He would hold seances in our family home in Canada,” Aykroyd, explains, sat on a bench in London’s Old Truman Brewery, ahead of a show at Rough Trade East this evening. “He was a forebearer of the spiritualist movement in Canada, he studied Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and all these folks over here who were doing that, but he was also a theologian and a researcher.” That sense of spirituality “went down through the generations” she continues, where it merged with a love of writing, theatre and later film (Aykroyd’s father is Dan Aykroyd, the actor and writer best known for Ghost Busters and The Blues Brothers, who is also a renown spiritualist himself), creating a legacy of actors, performers and writers whose work balances the spiritual and ruminations on modern society. “My grandfather is a theologian and historian and an engineer, but he’s a writer really. He’s 97 and finishing his tenth book. He’s completely blind but dictating it from his bed.” Her mother’s side is just as unique. While Aykroyd describes her lineage as mostly “cowboys and Indians” (her ancestors are equal parts Cherokee and buffalo hunter), she also reveals over the course of our conversation that she’s a direct descendant of Bat Masterson, the sheriff of Dodge City and Wyatt Earp’s co-deputy. A renown gun-slinger, buffalo hunter and, as she puts it, frankly, “a killer”, Masterson was an asso-
ciate of Buffalo Bill and the basis for the main character, Sky Masterson, in the short story collection and musical Guys and Dolls. As if that wasn’t cowboy enough, a few minutes later she reveals, “Dolly Parton’s my third cousin.” — Neglected women and hateful men — Suffice to say then that Aykroyd’s work as Vera Sola is as authentic as an album of near-paranormal poetry and saloon tunes can be in 2018. While many musicians have flirted with cowboy imagery and dark spirituality, few could lay as valid a claim to the cultures of both worlds than Aykroyd. “I felt a lot of things coming through me and a lot of energies coming through me recording the album,” she tells me later. “It makes me sound totally crazy, but I felt like I just opened myself up and let be.” The themes and atmosphere of the record are so tied to her life that Aykroyd decided to record and produce every note of ‘Shades’ herself. “I just wanted to funnel the energy of this time in my life without any outside influences,” she says of the decision. The result is a record that’s equal parts terrifying and beautiful. Recorded in St Louis, a city vital to the westward expansion of the United States, ‘Shades’ reimagines the Southern Gothic literary tradition through a spiritual and feminist lens, weaving tales of neglected women and hateful men while leaving enough space for the ghosts of both Aykroyd’s and North America’s past to coalesce. In places, such as the opening funeral march of ‘Circles’, it is utterly chilling. “I’ve always been a scary woman,” smiles Aykroyd, who is anything but scary in conversation. “Being a strong woman, especially a small strong woman, is weird to people,” she laughs, explaining how her unconventional background and general demeanour have conspired to leave her somewhat outcast in the modern world. “A small woman with a deep voice is confusing, and people don’t know what to do with things they’re confused by. “I know that it’s scary, but I like that,” she says. “I’ve always liked things that are scary, things that are on the edge and that provoke.”
“Being a strong woman, especially a small strong woman, is weird to people” and it’s entirely made up of inside jokes.” Similarly, she’s aware that there are elements of the album that might come across as pretentious, especially once people find out about her parents. “There’s a complete self-awareness to the melodrama of the album,” she laughs as I gently broach the subject. “If there’s a moment where it’s like, ‘oh my god, really?’ I promise you I’m doing it with self-awareness and a smile. I’m aware how pretentious it sounds when I talk about it, I’m doing it with laughter. I’m also just being myself,” she says. “I’m a pretentious person, I love big books.” — Gangsta’s paradise —
‘Shades’, it should be noted, is not a concept album. While many of the songs centre on fictional characters, the record is very much born out of Aykroyd’s personal experiences. Aged twenty-seven, for most of her life she says she was too shy, too restrained by other people’s expectations of her, to embrace the voice that comes through so clearly on her album. “Engrained misogyny over the years brought me to the point where I was 27 years old before I made my first record,” she says, looking back to 2016 when the idea of even showing her music to other people filled her with fear. “I thought I couldn’t do it.” It wasn’t until January 2017, after an “insane cataclysmic shift” in her life that she decided to record some of the songs she’d been writing during time spent in New York. “Everything broke down, I lost my job, my mom got sick, I wasn’t touring anymore, my whole life fell apart,” she says. In the studio she found a way to exorcise her demons, and as we talk, she’s keen to point out that while ‘Shades’ is an undeniably gothic album in places, not every track is as dark as it first appears. “This record is scary, but there are jokes in there,” she insists. “The whole last song is the saddest song I’ve ever written,
Listen carefully to her music, and between the twangs of southern guitar and haunted cabaret vibrato, the provenance of Aykroyd’s music will emerge. Whether it’s the Bauhaus-esque opening riff of ‘The Cage’ or the almost post-rock crescendo of closing track ‘New Nights’, on closer inspection her album is as indebted to the modern world as it is to the old west. “The engineer who worked with me on the record said, ‘I would have told you this at the start, but did you notice that the harmonies on ‘The Colony’ are similar to the harmonies on Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’?’” she laughs. “I was like, ‘that makes so much sense!’ that was my favourite song when I was like nine!” Rather than dilute the impact of her music, this mix of sincerity and self-awareness only furthers the uncanny feeling that lingers over it all. That evening at Rough Trade, Aykroyd inhabits the stage like a Westworld android gone rogue; a living anachronism, capable of both run-of-the-mill stage banter and of occupying the characters of her songs with full force, moving as if possessed by them as she performs. Staring straight ahead, her gaze wide and distant, she sings songs of ghosts and grim tales, cantering drums and dusky double bass plodding dutifully beneath her voice. Every now and again her top lip curls like Elvis and her voice commands the attention of the room before folding back in the rhythm of her southern gothic blues. “Whether you take it as a psychic thing, a personal energetic thing or a performative thing, I consider myself a channel,” she tells me. “When I’m on stage I let go of this person you’re talking to and let in whatever comes in, I take on different characters and slip into different feelings and spirits.” Witnessing her perform in London, thousands of miles from the roots of her music, even the most sceptical audience member could feel some of the spirits of the old west fill the room.
Deerhunter — Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4ad) There aren’t many bands who can reach their eighth LP and still have the listener at a genuine loss as to what to expect going in, but Deerhunter are one of them. Their latest arrives nearly a decade after their career highlight to date, 2010’s ‘Halycon Digest’, and you wonder whether, on an alternate timeline, they might have taken a different turn – a more straightforward one – after that album, just like ‘Microcastle’, and ‘Weird Era Cont.’ before it, was lavished with the sort of critical praise that inevitably brought the Atlantans to the attention of the wing of the alternative music world that tends to be more traditional in its tastes. ‘Halcyon Digest’ was adventurous and experimental but there were also aspects to its design – the polish of the guitars, the crispness of the production, the pointedness of the melodies – that suggested there was a more populist route for Deerhunter to pursue, should they have cared to. They didn’t, of course; when they did follow up ‘Halcyon Digest’ in 2013, it was with the awkward and deeply personal ‘Monomania’, which swung wildly between noisy, lo-fi rock and roll and bouncy pop. In the process, the band reaffirmed their ambition whilst damping down their commercial prospects, and by the time they delivered a quick-fire followup a couple of years later in the shape of ‘Fading Frontier’ – a handsome, dreamy collection that chronicled frontman Bradford Cox’s recovery from a serious car accident – it was clear that Deerhunter were only ever going to march to the beat of their own drum. Which brings us to their eighth album, ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’. It’s their first full-length in over three years, which means it’s
their first since Donald Trump became President Trump, and since the western world in general took a dramatic rightwards lurch towards populism and, in the process, away from intellectualism (“we’re sick of experts”), with artistic expression too becoming something less valued by the populace at large. Perhaps it’s that last point that has spurred Deerhunter, never a band overtly concerned with the issues of the day in the past, to make what is far and away their most political record so far. It’s been interesting to track the response of American artists to the country’s new political landscape – particularly this year, because many of the albums that would have been in gestation when the election happened in November 2016, or when Trump was inaugurated the following January, have been steadily trickling out into the world over the course of 2018. Some have thrown themselves headfirst into facing the issues head-on, either because of their consciences or simply because they didn’t want to look as if they were putting their fingers in their ears. What that’s meant is that bands not known for their politics have suddenly recast themselves as firebrands, with mixed results ranging from the thrilling, broiling rage of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ to Superchunk’s awkward and misguided ‘What a Time to Be Alive’. Then there’s the records that the current state of affairs seems to have seeped into more subtly; it is no coincidence that Low, twenty-five years into a storied career, turned out their most abrasive and turbulent release yet (‘Double Negative’) this past September, whilst the wider ripples of Trump’s bigotry have been felt further afield; the usually placid First Aid Kit turned out a furious single railing against misogyny called ‘You Are the Problem Here’ within two months of the Women’s Marches around the world, and for all the fabulous choreography, musical ingenuity and soaring ambition of David Byrne’s universally-lauded ‘American Utopia’ tour, many of the rave reviews have overlooked the fact that the former Talking Heads frontman – a staunch
advocate of involvement in community politics, but less vocal in terms of the bigger picture – has closed every show with a stirring cover of Janelle Monae’s ‘Hell You Talmbout’, which means that, for all the giddy euphoria of the rest of the show, it ends every night with a grim roll call of the names of African-Americans to have died as a result of racially-motivated violence. Deerhunter’s approach to making their first out-and-out political album is another one entirely and suggests that, arriving as it does so early in the year, it’s possible that 2019 might herald a new wave of nuanced, intelligent political albums, ones capable of picking apart the current climate in inventive and abstract ways. ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ feels like a fatalistic title, and not just in terms of the state of the world; Cox is also questioning whether or not the very concept of the album is a relevant one in a world with ever shorter attention spans. The answer to that question, in the case of this record, is surely yes; ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ justifies its own existence by taking a carefully considered and multi-faceted approach to the world around it. Opener ‘Death in Midsummer’, sonically jaunty with its baroque harpsichord loop and breezy vocal turn from Cox, is a lament on several levels – of all the hours lost in menial jobs, of the powerful lure of nostalgia (“there was no time to go back!”), of society’s gradual decay |(“look around and you’ll see what’s faded”). ‘No One’s Sleeping’ takes the dichotomy further; it’s musically sunny, with swells of brass leading into the chorus, but thematically about as dark as the album gets, inspired by the assassination of Jo Cox. You suspect this one particular flashpoint was chosen not because the Labour MP was Cox’s namesake but rather because of the dramatic, tragic manner in which division and tension spilled over so violently. Elsewhere, as the topics the band broach become broader, the sonic backdrop diversifies. The album has a strong grounding in sixties pop and maybe never more so than on ‘Element’, a languid
Albums reflection on the state of the ecosystem relative to our everyday lives. ‘Détournement’, meanwhile, veers off into a sort of low-level chaos that sounds like the musical manifestation of what you’d imagine travelling the world feels like in 2018. There’s a dreamy electronic backdrop, but ominous piano and spiky trumpets lurk beneath, whilst Cox’s spoken word vocals, a kind of international stream of consciousness (“hello, Russia! Hello, Australia! Hello, eternal jet lag”) evoke that last condition by being set in warped slow motion. The guitars begin to sharpen on ‘Futurism’, the second track on the record to decry nostalgia even as the composition itself sounds steeped in it. The album’s most freeform moment is saved for last; the oblique notes distributed with ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ mark out ‘Nocturne’ as a “live stream from the afterlife”, and perhaps this is Cox’s vision of what the next place sounds like. Over the course of six minutes, it transforms from lo-fi, minor-key nearballadry into an irresistibly pretty and hypnotic slipstream of subtle strings and spiralling synths. In a lot of ways, it’s the whole LP in microcosm, and ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ is the first full-length of its generation to confront the escapism vs. engagement debate by planting its flag firmly in the middle. In thirty-seven minutes, it offers up a plethora of intelligently crafted societal takes and yet presents them invitingly enough that you can just let the music wash over you. Deerhunter are not here to prescribe you a message; they’re giving you a choice. 8/10 Joe Goggins
Boy Harsher — Careful (nude club) Reading the introducing statement to Boy Harsher’s new work is a misleading
experience. Described as “an album of hypnotic and intense dance-floor ready meditations on attachment and love” one would expect ‘Careful’, the band’s second album, to be a collection of electro-pop tunes crafted to heat up the dancing crowds in a club. Well, that depiction isn’t particularly accurate. The inherent darkness typical of Jae Matthews’ and Augustus Muller’s songwriting is even more present here than in their previous material. The American duo has been through an emotionally hard time since their last record, and these gloomy events permeated their sound in a compelling way. ‘Careful’ is the word that Matthews had tattooed live on her back during a performance when her relationship with Muller broke down; a term which gained a whole new meaning when the singer’s mother was diagnosed with dementia, forcing her to deal with themes like family ties, memories going astray and love to lose and find. Very much indebted with British synth-pop and dark wave – it’s quite easy to spot a few references to Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears within the ten tracks – Boy Harsher’s tunes are a deep dive in the early ’80s, with their piercing synths and clean drum machine. Perfectly produced with Muller’s minimal equipment, the sound is crisp and clear, without the chichi glaze of a phoney vintage rumple – a sharpness that adds a further charming nuance to an album as enthralling to turn into a cult classic. 8/10 Guia Cortassa
Indi — Precipice (flying nun) Almost five years ago, aged 19, New Zealand’s Indira Force was already turning heads when her trip-hop duo, Doprah, were tipped by Billboard’s ‘Next Big Sound’ list. Having enjoyed a short spell of international acclaim, the classically
trained pianist has spent the last two years working on her anticipated first full length solo release. Her new alias, Indi, forms the outset to an ambitious new chapter, and her album, ‘Precipice’, is a sweeping glance at her unique and nurtured potential. Indi’s foundations in trip-hop are barely recognisable here, as the album often combines sparse atmospherics with rousing chamber pop that takes Force’s sound into unprecedented sonic territory. It shouldn’t be so accessible but somehow Indi manages it: ‘Precipice’ is far too left field to be treated as ‘pop music’, but all too infectious to be considered otherwise. It’s not perfect by any means, unable to simply excite throughout. But on lead single ‘Dementer’ her compilation of breezy vocals and ethereal arrangements paints a twilight canvas of shimming constellations – a peak of stardom Indi could may well reach on her current trajectory. 6/10 Ollie Rankine
Go Dark — Neon Young (bella union) Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos met Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker on the streets of Oakland, a town in which the latter is a long-established independent hero. As a founder of the influential Anticon label and collective and a member of alternative hip-hop groups cLOUDDEAD and Subtle, Dose is a lifelong experimentalist, so any new project deserves attention, not least when it comes with the seemingly incongruous Bella Union stamp of approval. Little about Go Dark is predictable, save for its sense of primal, furious urgency. Dose has spoken of his compulsion to score Crash’s vocals with the nastiest beats and he bends sound and space to make it happen here. Percussive slaps and jittering modulars saturate most of the palette of ‘Neon Young’ for a claustro-
Albums phobic, erratic and hyperactive listening experience. 8-bit, noir-soul and glitch-punk are compressed into one evil hybrid on tracks like ‘Day Moon’ and ‘The Blade’, a splurge of DIY vitriol that seems to capture the spirit of the age more essentially than a classic protest song ever could. Any specific anger is too deeply shrouded in confusion and personal anxiety to allow one clear message to rise out of the mess. It is an alienating listen and it should be. Isn’t that how you feel most of the time these days too? There are tunes hiding in here, notably ‘Beautiful Bitch’, in which Crash is able to suspend her internal squabble with herself for long enough to allow a discernible chorus to emerge, but it almost feels like a betrayal. If the lot of the artist is to reflect our society back at us, then Go Dark could have an essential role to play in 2019. 7/10 Max Pilley
Gum Takes Tooth — Arrow (rocket) If you have any doubt that we are, in fact, navigating dire times, sift through any number of new album press releases and heed how the sheer doom of modern life is proving one almighty bastard of a muse for artists everywhere. While London duo Gum Takes Tooth ( Jussi Brightmore and Tom Fug) aren’t some exception to this rule, they are one of the few instances that we should be paying attention to. But on album number three the pair don’t want your sympathy. They don’t even seek your acquiescence. They want you to submit, drop out, cut a shape or two, surrender to the void and emerge feeling less maligned by the Zeitgeist. From the undulating synth swamp of ‘The Arrow’ and ‘Borrowed Lies’ to ‘No Walls, No Air’ – a seven-minute highlight presenting London as an “entropic
ouroboros” (or a city eating itself) – this is deft, carefully-crafted anxiety, repurposed as defiant, clinically fuckedoff bombast. It would be base to call the album (whose onerous noise nods to Lightning Bolt, Coil, Warp Records, The Knife and beyond) cathartic. It would be just as pointless to call it vital. This feels like a release that doesn’t seek that or any kind of endorsement, and how that informs its impact. The extent to which we may or may not emerge from these dire times is uncertain, but ten years on from forming, Brightmore and Fug have produced easily their most emphatic statement to date. 8/10 Brian Coney
Steve Gunn — The Unseen In Between (matador) There’s something distinctly vintage about Steve Gunn. Just take a look at the cover of his new album: a scraggly haired, unsung guitar hero who looks like he’s just stumbled out of an early Bob Dylan record. By no means is this misleading either – Gunn’s hefty back catalogue has consistently satisfied the slightly psychedelic needs of a lo-fi Sixties revivalist. Not a lot has changed on ‘The Unseen In Between’, expect this time, he’s decided to tell his own sepia-toned past. Gunn has a habit of telling other peoples’ stories, and until now has shown little interest in regaling his own. Raised in Philly alongside his long-term friend and band mate Kurt Vile, it’s taken the recent death of his father after a long battle with cancer for him to welcome anyone else in. Amidst his steady decline, the connection between father and son had never before been greater, each recounting their own experiences, and for the first time truly understanding the other’s perceptive. Gunn sings on ‘Stonehurst Cowboy’: “Meet me at the square of joy/ Fixed star in the night/ No more
questions/ I have your mind.” It’s a tender sentiment of finality to all the wisdom a father can provide, and for Gunn it’s a sombre but thankful tribute. Themes of loss and familiarity continue to crop up across the album’s exterior. During ‘Luciano’ – the name of an old bodega owner’s cat – Gunn bizarrely documents the two’s dependent relationship. What would one do without the other, and behind the melancholy guitar work it proves to be a sinister meditation for the owner to ponder. Despite his often-sprawling guitar style, when it comes to song writing, Gunn stands resolutely alongside rock music’s more traditionalists. By wiping away its thick coat of dust, ‘The Unseen In Between’ is most stimulating during its rigidly structured solos and crescendos. Echoing the familiar bass twang of Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’, lead single ‘New Moon’ is a stark reminder of the true back-to-basics power of rock and roll mythology. Perhaps because it’s so rare now that it’s almost commendable, Gunn manages to champion a guitar player’s most defining features without sounding embarrassing or dated. 7/10 Ollie Rankine
Mike Krol — Power Chords (merge) Everything is painful at the moment. Events are causing my piss to boil. This is mostly down to the leaders of the free world. Specifically… y’know. So listening to Mike Krol’s new record, ‘Power Chords’, described as being a “break up with music” album after an “existential crisis”, is hard to take. It’s basically like an American garage rock band from 1993 that is desperately trying to remain lo-fi and hang on by its fingernails to its DIY principles, whilst it’s perineum is being
Albums stroked by a producer in a Nashville recording studio with a big pot of polish to buff this record until you can see your face in it. Like a hood on a big American RV. Shiny shiny. Call it what it is. Writers block. Don’t pretend you fell out of love with music. Didn’t someone once say to fall out of love with music is to fall out of love with life? Maybe a high school fourth grader might stick it in their headphones as they watch their teacher’s gums flap about trigonometry. 4/10 James Auton
Toro Y Moi — Outer Peace (carpark records) Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear was one of the architects of chillwave – one of the brightest-burning, most creatively short-lived instalments in the story of modern alternative music – but his hypnagogic phase is all just hazy nostalgia now. His string of albums in recent years have been an exercise in proving that he is unbound by trends, culminating in the ambient-inflected ‘Boo Boo’ in 2017. On this sixth album we are presented with something different again. As opener ‘Fading’ comes in on a hard, borderline house drum pattern, we get huge bouncing basslines and swirling swipes of synths, calling to mind a vintage Ed Banger single. It’s simultaneously danceable and confounding, but we don’t stay in that zone for too long. What follows is a gauntlet of 21st century musical references. “It’s always the same as always,” goes ‘Ordinary Pleasure’, invoking Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the off-kilter alt-pop slyness that Chaz Bear chases on the track. Meanwhile, ‘Laws of the Universe’ opens with a grunt that lands somewhere between Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’
and Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker’, before Chaz sings, “James Murphy is spinning at my house.” ‘New House’ is an isolated, autotuned whiner over clipped hip-hop production that could fairly credibly have come from a certain Chicagoan megalomaniac’s hand. If it’s pastiche, it’s inspired. It is a brisk, enjoyable half-hour romp of a record that tours through modes and styles, albeit with one conspicuous absentee: the very specific trend with which Toro Y Moi will be forever undivorceably associated. Then again, ‘Outer Peace’ could rightly be described as an echo chamber of memories, a scrapbook of some of our favourite parts of recent history. So really, has anything truly changed with Toro Y Moi, after all? 6/10 Max Pilley
Rustin Man — Drift Code (domino) Without making the link sonically blatant, on their 1988 masterpiece ‘Spirit of Eden’, Talk Talk were tapping into a continuum of English visionary music that had its eyes on the natural world and its roots in English folk culture. Something implicit in that record, then, is made explicit on ‘Drift Code’ by former Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb – now as Rustin Man. Continuing the glacial workrate that marked the final (glorious) years of that band, this is Webb’s first record since 2002. It’s also a partial reunion of two parts of the triumvirate that was Talk Talk, with the appearance of Lee Harris on drums. Against a jazz-inflected, autumnal palette of swelling organ and sparse, glistening guitar, Webb’s voice has matured strikingly into something with all the oaky plainness of Shirley Collins or Robert Wyatt. And like Wyatt, he finds the sweet spot between the playful and the mournful, too.
Most successfully, this produces standout tracks like ‘The World’s In Town’, a reflection on alienation by an increasingly ominous planet that “keeps on turning like it’s never turned before”. Scenes of nature and the pastoral re-emerge across the record; “is that a mocking bird inside your crying eyes of stone?” asks Webb on single ‘Vanishing Heart’. He’s spoken of the “unfixed or uprooted quality” of this long-in-gestation record – this is one of its strengths, but also brings occasional misfires like the off-kilter barroom piano of ‘Light the Light’ and the confused Americana of ‘Judgement Train’. 7/10 Fergal Kinney
Juan Wauter — La Onda de Juan Pablo (captured tracks) Here’s the story: Juan Wauters left his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay, as a teenager in 2002 to relocate to New York City. There, he began making music, releasing a bunch of records with his band The Beets and a couple of solo albums, most of them on the Captured Tracks label. While The Beets played a raw kind of garage rock, Wauters as a solo artist has always been going back to his Latino roots with his songwriting, though never abandoning the English language. For his third solo effort, though, he decided to embark on a trip through South America, to deepen his link with his cultural origins. Starting in Mexico City, he travelled to Puerto Rico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and, of course, Uruguay, with a mobile recording studio in his luggage, writing and cutting in every country in collaboration with local musicians. The material he amassed would eventually become ‘La Onda de Juan Pablo’. A trip akin to a religious experience of conversion on the road, a multicultural encounter of people with different stories
Albums and backgrounds, as well as to a trip inside Wauters’ own world, the ten track here serve as a collection of short stories. Told in Spanish, each one is about everyday life, mundane experiences and ordinary people, with a surreal and comic tone. It could look like ‘La Onda of Pablo’ is some sort of musical gentrification, borrowing from traditional Southern American music to add an estranging register to a Captured Track release, if it wasn’t for Wauter’s own heritage, of course, but more importantly the respect in which he so clear conducted this celebratory new project. 7/10 Guia Cortassa
FIDLAR — Almost Free (mom + pop) Dogs are barking, a rooster is roosting. FIDLAR’s return to the scene comes as proto-punk is cool again. IDLES are in the charts; Parquet Courts are selling out the Roundhouse; more Rage Against The Machine reissues have come out over the last month than were issued in the first place. Even if FIDLAR have used the entire narrative of their first two albums talking about sex, drugs and skateboards, there’s an excitement around guitar music again… This is where it ends. The album opens with ‘Get Off My Rock’, a reductive takedown of gentrification. In reality it sounds like your slightly racist neighbours’ domestic interrupting Seasick Steve’s diddley-bow practice. It’s supposed to come across as angry, and it might have done if it didn’t have the same riff, bassline and time signature as Bono’s ‘Children of the Revolution’ from Moulin Rouge. It’s slightly worse, too. A strong contender for worsttrack-of-the-year, ‘Can’t You See’ abandons FIDLAR’s noise-rock heritage for an ersatz take on Ty Segall’s fuzztone. The result is the kind of satire that isn’t actually satire, it’s just shit: “I’m selling jeans
that I bought last week, last week, last week, that was so last week.” Take that, capitalism! There’s more quality in a single chorus of OPM’s ‘Heaven is a Halfpipe’. The deeper you dive, the more you see that the infectious – almost loveable – L.A. hedonism that soaked FIDLAR’s debut has completely dried up. ‘Scam Likely’ is a song about wanting to do some drugs. ‘Alcohol’ is a song which sounds like The Vaccines wanting to do some drugs. Then there’s ‘Kick’, a song about really wanting to do some drugs: “I’m fucking primal.” It makes the repeated line later on – “was that too fucking real?” – sound like a child asking for a pat-on-the-back. Creatively, ‘Almost Free’ is basically an algorithmic word generator of one night stands and substance abuse. But for all the world’s debauchery, you’re sat here listening to Chris Martin getting high on orange juice and paracetemol. The one mark out of ten is for the title track, a pleasant-enough horn-tinted jam session. It’s called ‘Almost Free’, but you still have seven teen-bop punk songs left. You thought Greta Van Fleet was bad this year? Hold my underwhelming narcotics. 1/10 Tristan Gatward
Ouzo Bazooka — Transporter (stolen body) Ouzo Bazooka are musical magpies. Formed in Tel Aviv by Uri Brauner Kinrot, the band have built on Middle Eastern stylistic roots with elements of psychedelia, surf and garage rock, layering scales with anything shiny that they can get their hands on. This third record is billed as a maturing of style, the propulsive beginning of an epic new chapter. Unfortunately, while ‘Transporter’ is musically ambitious and even impressive, it is let down in places by clunky lyrics and occasionally lazy
wordplay. ‘Latest News’ for example, is a spiraling fusion of fuzzed out guitar and eastern sounds, but the suspension of disbelief is shattered by lyrics like “Dracula is drinking coke/ Global warming is a joke”, swiftly followed by “Have you read the latest news? Walking dead ain’t got no shoes.” The track could reasonably be a take down of consumer culture, or an observation on our current global climate, but it also veers uncomfortably close to ‘wake up sheeple’ heavyhandedness. In fairness, Ouzo Bazooka are looking to expand their creative palette here, and are not entirely unsuccessful. Their instrumentation is playful but tight, and the album as a whole cohesive. By and large, their sonic collage style works. Still, some elements feel slightly too familiar, as with the extreme hairrock vibes of ‘Revolution Eyes’ – a track which has also fallen victim to the ‘I see what you did there’ school of lyricism. Musically, Ouzo Bazooka remain promising. But ‘Transporter’ is not the great leap forward they hoped for. 5/10 Liam Konemann
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete — De Facto (sonic cathedral) Everyone loves a bit of psychedelic Mexican drone-rock and here’s forty-five minutes of it, courtesy of Lorena Quintanilla and Alberto Gonzalez. Remarkably, it’s the duo’s fifth album in seven years. Opener ‘Ana’ is swirly, disorientating noise over a relentless, twonote backdrop. Despite its funereal pace (think Moon Duo on tramadol) it’s exciting nonetheless; a thrill shoots through you as each layer of sound launches over the last, before it’s all stripped back down to bare bones again. ‘Lineas En Hojas’, meanwhile, takes the bassline from ‘Billie
Albums Jean’ and swathes it in synth melodies, before hacking it to pieces with guitar. Quintanilla sings in Spanish, but this is one of those records where the lyrics feel merely incidental and the vocals are just another instrument in the maelstrom – with the exception of ‘Inundacion’, where her voice floats pure and clear over a spacey, starry backdrop. Of course, there are many fine exponents of this kind of music, and it’s a genre where it’s sometimes difficult to spot the differences. But Lorelle Meets The Obsolete are particularly good at what they do – this is powerful and viscerally exciting stuff. There’s a hypnosis around their music, a buzzy resonance that makes you long for the physical immersion of a live show. They are masters of cerebral transportation, and ‘De Facto’ is a forty-five minute ticket to another place altogether. 8/10 Chris Watkeys
Lost Under Heaven — Love Hates What You Become (mute) According to Lost Under Heaven, ‘Love Hates What You Become’ is an album inspired by two very different ideas of the wilderness. The first is an actual desert, with the bulk of the album recorded in the Mojave, while the second is more of an ‘emotional wilderness’ inspired by the drunken revellers who crowd the intersection outside Ellery James Robert’s windows in his native Manchester. As you’d expect from this kind of subject matter, ‘Love Hates What You Become’ has an ambition that is epically cinematic in scope. Famous for his work with Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky, producer John Congleton has ensured that the ten songs on this record crash through crescendo after crescendo like water rushing over Niagra Falls. This desert isn’t Eno’s desert, a lovelorn tribute
to America’s wide-open spaces. No, Lost Under Heaven’s wilderness is an orgy of heart-broken vocals, high-wire strings and wall-of-sound outros. However, the problem with ‘Love Hates What You Become’ is that, in this case, the frame might be a little better than the actual picture. There are certainly some great ideas on this record, with songs like ‘For the Wild’ dealing with modern populism and ‘Post Millennial Tension’ morphing into a bitter gospel-like lament on a world that forever seems to be spinning out of control. It’s just that the whole thing often gets lost in its own production. All the songs appear to follow a similar emotional and sonic trajectory – a tried and tested quiet/loud/quiet/loud formula that’s fine for a few songs, but leaves you feeling a bit pummelled in after ten. So, yeah, ‘Love Hates What You Become’ is an accomplished record, full of sweeping vistas and life-affirming sunsets, but I can’t shake this feeling that somehow I’ve been here before. 6/10 Dominic Haley
Sharon Van Etten — Remind Me Tomorrow ( jagjaguwar) Rolling Stone hailed Van Etten’s last album – 2014’s acclaimed ‘Are We There’ – as “one of the great albums of the century”. Five years on, they’re going to lose it over her fifth album, which is sounding like it may take a run for that title. ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ is a departure from Van Etten’s previous guitarfocused sound, written on synths and piano. It rumbles with deep drones and is punctuated with sharp drums as a life lived outside of music resonates through the lyrics. There’s a happiness and a personal peace in spite of the world falling apart. The contradiction is expressed subtly but definitely as it draws on influ-
ences from Portishead to Suicide, and while the album may not be immediately striking it is one that makes an indelible mark on you over time. The opening ‘I Told You Everything’ starts sparsely; a repeating piano stabs as a drone grows around the brutal honesty of the lyrics. A beat echoes as the once separate elements of the song come together, a subtle peak only given a sense of scale as it deconstructs and fades away. The first single to be lifted from the album, ‘Comeback Kid’, then boldly arrives as big beats spike through a swirling cosmos of electro haze. Beneath it a throb, above it a wavering pitch as the vocal holds steady throughout. The drones and synths often offer an ominous undertone, while ‘Seventeen’ has a sharp heartbeat amplified by rhythmic piano and bittersweet lyrics cut through by grating riffs. Elsewhere those drones add an orchestral swell. Through ‘You Shadow’ there is a dance floor call in the melody and an easiness to the vocal, which together create a glow around the song as discordant swaggering harmonies round-out the chorus. With ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ Van Etten has shown she’s an enduring artist able to create cohesive works without being limited to a single style. Relatable in theme but with exploration beyond her previous musical boundaries, this is a record of quite astounding depth and resonance, one which should be played often. 9/10 Sarah Lay
Beirut — Gallipoli (4ad) In 2009, 23-year-old Zach Condon told us that “my earliest obsession was of Europe as a kind of utopia compared to suburban America.” A lot has changed in the decade since but, ever the world citizen, Condon’s cultured curiosity
Albums continues to deliver on its clockwork-like four-year cycle. In these divided times, the idea of Europe splits opinion, but for Beirut and Condon it’s always been a compelling influence. Even when that influence is less overt, as it was on 2011’s ‘The Rip Tide’, rightly or wrongly, it’s become an intrinsic aspect of Beirut’s identity; a barometer for every release as to whether Beirut have stayed “true” to their adopted roots. Piqued by a trip with his brother as a teen, that sense of borderless adventure has fed Condon’s inquisitiveness in a way giant flags in the front yard and white-picket fences never could. It’s a mindset that was never going to be fulfilled by one style or one continent, so it’s little surprise that Condon made his way from Sante Fe to New York, set up home in Berlin, fell in love in Turkey, and then headed to rural Italy to create ‘Gallipoli’. Following those recording stints in New York and Berlin, Condon settled in Sudestudio, a studio complex deep in rural Puglia, southern Italy, to rediscover the uninhibited creativity that had felt stifled. His previous album, ‘No No No’, was ironically criticized for sounding “too American” but ‘Gallipoli’ gets straight to the postcard nostalgia with drifting horns featuring heavily on opener ‘When I Die’ and the album’s title-track. Inspired by stumbling upon “a brass band procession fronted by priests carrying a statue of the town’s saint through the winding narrow streets”, ‘Gallipoli’ is transportive in the wistful way Beirut have made their own these last 15 years. And it’s that ear for the culturally evocative that sets a familiarly elegant tone for the album. Flick through the tracklist and ‘Gallipoli’, ‘On Mainau Island’ and ‘Corfu’ provide an instant sense of place, images of hazy continental summers, towns you drove through, snippets of songs you heard but couldn’t place: a slew of sweet, melancholic memories. That troubadour spirit and willingness to dig into cultural curios, instruments and happily wander through the world in search of fresh perspective, as well as Condon’s ability to embrace those
differences with charm and authenticity, is what makes his work worth cherishing. It’s a style that takes skill and selfdeprecation, and when you throw in some of the personal turmoil Condon’s endured over the years (the crippling stage-fright, the chronic insomnia, the manic depression, the fear of flying, the exhaustion, the divorce…) it deserves appreciation. It’s also easy to overlook the fact that Condon’s still 32, and while some of his contemporaries of the mid-00s have faded away he’s built a reverence through turning the mild-mannered into the sonorously beautiful. He does it in shades here with ‘I, Giardini’ emerging as the mournful-sounding twin to the indelibly jaunty ‘Santa Fe’ whereas the lamenting ‘We Never Lived Here’ has Condon reminiscing “she said it’s so strange when you call.” Elsewhere, the organ chords and intertwining chorale vocals of ‘Gauze für Zah’ hit with melodic heft, and ‘Light in the Atoll’ goes in for some horn-heavy theatrics, but it’s ‘Family Curse’ that stands out as the most complete track on the album with its simple, soft drum-pad beat rising into a beautiful, orchestral opus of strings, brass fanfare and piano. After the struggles of ‘No No No’, it’s heartening to hear Condon hasn’t just refound his feet in Berlin but has also reclaimed some of the wide-eyed ambition that seemed to get lost in the chaos of New York and the less sentimental aspect of freezing in a basement to grind that album out. There are few images more romantic than that of an American in Europe and while ‘Gallipoli’ doesn’t pour on the Balkan folk or pay homage to French culture the way he did on the brilliantly realised ‘Gulag Orkestar’ or ‘The Flying Club Cup’, Beirut’s enduring qualities are here in force: Condon’s sad, crooning voice, the chamber brass, the hopeless romanticism. In that sense, ‘Gallipoli’ is the sound of a man reinvigorated, in love, obsessing less about the process and more focused on finding the joy that made Beirut both unlike anything you’d heard but also ephemeral songs you couldn’t remember. It’s a rekindling of the wandering, poetic snapshots of living a life less ordi-
nary. And in an era where looking for something beyond the borders you were born in is met with the poisonous and the punitive, Beirut’s nomadic embrace is something we can all believe in. 8/10 Reef Younis
Daniel Knox — Chasescene (h.p. johnson presents) Daniel Knox is steeped in film history. The Chicagoan works as a cinema projectionist and his break came when he composed and performed an instrumental for David Lynch. This was seen by art director David Coulter, who subsequently invited him to perform at two events at London’s Barbican Centre. There he met Jarvis Cocker and The Handsome Family’s Jason Toth, who make guest appearances on his second album, ‘Chasescene’. It’s a background that helps to understand and position the musician, who seems to recreate 1940s cinema in his music and personal life. Like a character in a Wim Wenders film, he learned his craft by playing on dilapidated pianos in hotel lobbies during the twilight hours, and the broken people he observed there populate his lyrical narratives. These are stories of love, loss and tragedy that are set against the stately piano and grandiose strings of classic film scores. Opening instrumental ‘Keturahwaltz’ conjures the sweeping romance of ‘Brief Encounter’; the jaunty ‘Man Is An Animal’ could have been taken from musical theatre; and ‘Pack Your Bags’ should be performed with Knox kicking out his legs in time to the percussion as his tenor intones, “If you should leave me now.” It’s a theatrical style that has parallels to Rufus Wainwright but his obsessions are more grounded in gothic black humour. The protagonists in ‘Me And
Albums My Wife’, for instance, take home a child they found in a store and drops stones on cars from a bridge. The lazy country of ‘Leftovers’, meanwhile, is an ode to those unlucky in love that finds him wondering “why don’t you put your hands down my pants?” These comically macabre tracks are nonetheless balanced with moments of quiet devastation. This is keenly heard on ‘The Poisoner’, a sweeping ballad on which Nina Nastasia brings her trademark raw delivery to lost romance as she laments, “I loved you before / I’ve just forgotten how.” It’s this simple humanity, which Knox brings to even his most unlikeable characters, that marks him out as a rare talent, and ‘Chasescene’ as an album to be treasured. 9/10 Susan Darlington
Sneaks — Highway Hypnosis (merge) “Remove your beliefs and start again.” It’s both a mantra and a method for approaching Eva Moolchan aka Sneaks’ latest collection of 2-minute curios. At 21, she’s already three albums in but, collectively, they amount to less than 60 minutes listening. Debut album ‘Gymnastics’ clocked in at just 14 minutes with the follow-up, ‘It’s a Myth’, a lean 18. Here, ‘Highway Hypnosis’ manages a comparatively marathon 26. Run times aren’t typically interesting but set against Sneaks’ stark approach to her post-punk sound, it’s a difference that would account for roughly half of an extra album. You can’t say, then, that Moolchan isn’t pushing herself, and just as she shifted between those preceding albums, she’s done so again in terms of both style and length this time out. Where ‘Gymnastics’ was all punky adolescence, fish-eye videos, ragged basslines and BMX skate tricks – and the transition to ‘It’s a Myth’
was rooted in adding a little more polish – refinement continues to be a theme. As a result, there’s even less of the Moldy Peaches delivery; less of the chunky, lo-fi basslines; less of the minimalist pitter patter of the drum machine pre-sets that helped characterise those previous albums. Instead, everything’s gone a bit more future and the raw sparsity has been switched to something a little more melodic and oblique. There’s the Karin Dreijer fever dream of ‘Highway Hypnosis’, the twisted, half-speed sparseness of ‘Beliefs’, the grungy, mumblecore disaffection of ‘And We’re Off ’ while ‘The Way it Goes’ and ‘Hong Kong to Amsterdam’ jerk around like M.I.A. playing Jet Set Radio. There’s a lot to unpack in a 26-minute album that jams in 13-tracks, and Moolchan would probably be the first to admit that she doesn’t always get it right. ‘Saiditoneza’ and ‘Holy Cow Never Saw a Girl Like Her’ make sense in the curious context of the album but also feel like ideas barely realised – casualties of the creative brevity that makes Sneaks interesting. And this is where we get to the paradox of Sneaks’ appeal – less is more. If you cherry-picked the energy, fuzzing basslines and post-punk spirit from her three albums to date, you’d have something bordering unmissable. But for a sound as transient as hers, that idea of idealistic curation would also deny you the most compelling part of listening to Sneaks’ music: trying to work out whether you love it or hate it. 6/10 Reef Younis
David Vassalotti — Guitar Dream (wharf cat) For pretty much the whole time that his main band (dark-hued, synth-pop, former-punks Merchandise)
have been releasing records, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist David Vassalotti has quietly been putting out albums of his own. His is a pretty straightforward agenda, it seems – smoothly assembled, nicely melodic guitar music with no alarms and few surprises. ‘This Extravagant Lie’ is a slowtempo opening that resembles nothing so much as a Smiths ballad, down to the Morrissey-esque vocal intonation and the grandiose lyrical play (“Don’t keep me waiting when the night comes…/ This extravagant lie”). A brass section provides a rich, layered feel to the music, and it sure is a beautifully crafted song. You could probably do without instrumental vignette ‘The Other Light’, though, which bears a striking but no doubt wholly unintended similarity to the Top Gear theme music, while ‘The Lines Between Us’ has something of the pace and feel of a vintage Roy Orbison tune dragged forward several decades. But wherever he borrows from musical history (‘Let It Burn’ owes something to Nick Cave, ‘What Shall You Say Tonight’ is soaked in the richness of Richard Hawley), Vassalotti does at least repaint it in his own colours as best he can. It definitely has the feel of a side project – an indulgence, even – and while ‘Guitar Dream’ is a coherent, polished piece of music – a classic slow-burner if you can spare it the time – it’s nice rather than thrilling or particularly moving. 6/10 Chris Watkeys
Tropical Fuck Storm — A Laughing Death in Meatspace ( joyful noise) In 2016, after releasing their markedly darker sixth studio album with Australian indie heavyweights The Drones, Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin needed a change of course. A shift in the
Albums climate, if you will. Enter the spectacularly named Tropical Fuck Storm and their cyclonic record ‘A Laughing Death in Meatspace’. Here, Liddiard and Kitschin’s considerable musical heft is backed up by the formidable powers of High Tension drummer Lauren Hummel and polymath Erica Dunn, together forming an absolute noise rock maelstrom. Here is your proverbial tempest in a teapot. The album’s title refers to kuru, the ‘laughing death disease’ once found in the Fore people in Papua New Guinea, which is now widely accepted to have been transmitted by funerary cannibalism. A cheerful record, full of hope and wonder, then. Maybe not. From ‘Chameleon Paint’, a damning indictment on holier than thou behaviour and social media surveillance, to the lurching ‘Antimatter Animals’ with its spat-out refrain “your politics ain’t nothing but a fond fuck you”, Tropical Fuck Storm are squaring up for a fight. They are foul-mouthed and howling, playing directly into the void we are all hurtling towards at an ever more alarming pace. They are observant and eviscerating, clever wordplay tangled up in sharply boomeranging riffs, as on album closer ‘Rubber Bullies’. ‘A Laughing Death in Meatspace’ is fraught, frantic, manic; the soundtrack to the last party at the end of the world. At least global Armageddon sounds good. 9/10 Liam Konemann
TOY — Happy In The Hollow (tough love records) It’s growing hard to remember when Toy and The Horrors were considered kindred spirits of gothic krautrock. While the latter have drifted towards ’80s synth rock, Toy have increasingly set the controls in the direction of the sun. This journey continues on the Brighton quintet’s fourth album,
although it sounds like they’re in danger of losing their way. The first three tracks alone take in baggy (‘Sequence One’), indie-disco shoegaze (‘Mistake A Stranger’) and the remnant darkness of punk (‘Energy’). ‘You Make Me Forget Myself ’, meanwhile, is an abject lesson in why Ride fell out of favour the first time round. Yet just when it seems like it was a mistake to self-produce the release, it tonally shifts and the band rediscover their groove. Much like 2016’s ‘Clear Shot’, the primary influence for these tracks is late 1960s acid pop. At its most immediately thrilling is ‘Jolt Awake’, which takes the guitar line of The Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’ and bolts it onto a droning metronomic rhythm. ‘Move Through The Dark’ also straddles eras by adding a Joy Division style bassline to JAMC psych-rock. Sadly, however, there are too few of these moments to make ‘Happy In The Hollow’ a truly blissful place. 6/10 Susan Darlington
Swindle — No More Normal (brownswood) Fusion is a difficult thing to perfect. Away from fruit sushi and David Brent doing that thing with his hands, it demands consideration, discernment and an auteur’s touch if you don’t want to ruin a few things in an often-misguided mission to create something singularly superior. In that respect, Swindle’s always been pretty fearless in taking the scattergun passion of grime and blending it with jazz, funk and sunny-side-up electronica. Those early mixtapes with Ghetts and Big Narstie, and beats for Roll Deep and Professor Green, speak to those grime roots, but Swindle’s take on London’s postcode liveliness has always been a bit more cerebral.
Even though there are no dance floor weapons this time, Swindle constantly switches the point of attack but keeps ‘No More Normal’ flowing. On ‘Drill Work’ his bright, brassy loops keep Ghetts’ typical machine-gun energy in check, and that poised production does the same for D Double E on ‘Take it Back’ and the livelier, string-laden opener ‘What We Do’. ‘Knowledge’ flicks into something a little more spoken word with Bristol’s Eva Lazarus combining with Kiko Bun’s elongated, Kendrick-esque delivery – the London-born reggae artist also pops up on the jazzy ‘Run Up’ and the soulful ‘Take it Back’ while Lazarus breaks out a little more on ‘Talk A Lot’ over Mansur Brown’s dexterously light guitar lines. Elsewhere, ‘Reach for the Stars’ moves with a Thundercat-esque bass squelch and crazed free-form synth arpeggios, Andrew Ashong is reimagined as Chromeo doing contemporary R&B, and Kojey Radical adds a poetic turn on the tinkling piano of closer ‘Grateful’. It’s that multi-rhythmic, multigenre approach that makes ‘No More Normal’ such a curated swipe. What it lacks in mic-encroaching, space-invading intensity, it makes up in Swindle’s poised arrangements softening edges, elevating thoughts and bringing a rolling cast of MCs, singers and musicians with him in this impressive balancing act. 7/10 Reef Younis
Tiny Ruins — Olympic Girls (marathon artists) The third album from Auckland-based Tiny Ruins comes after a year of experimentation in the studio and builds on the minimalism of previous records. Opener, single and title track ‘Olympic Girls’ is underpinned by a
Albums cycling refrain while percussion punctuates with hollow taps and shimmering crashes as the track grows. It sets the scene for an album confident in its vulnerability and luxuriating in a bigger sound. The fleeting beauty and eyes-wide wonder of autumn nights illuminated in a bright-white moment are swooned over on ‘Sparklers’, a flickering tone at the outro of ‘Holograms’ bringing something digital to the soft, acoustic sounds elsewhere. There is the folksy balladeering of Simone Felice and the ephemeral other worldliness of Marissa Nadler resonating through closer ‘Cold Enough To Climb’. Sitting somewhere between folk, blues and easy listening, there is a laidback but experimental tone to ‘Olympic Girls’, as layers of instrumentation swirl around the richness of Fulbrook’s vocal. Couched in ephemeral imagery, the untouchable but deeply felt is explored throughout on an album that will warm you on even the coldest of days. 8/10 Sarah Lay
Vanessa Anne Redd — Zumbo Waxes (sharp attack) Vanessa Anne Redd’s 2016 debut was a harmonic medusa of a record. It was the kind of gothic folk initiation that could innocuously soundtrack Tarantino’s gores but still feature on an alternative festive mixtape. With its follow up, the British-German musician is more assertive: riffs hang on a single guitar string, jazz-laden piano ballads become augmented with negatives, but it’s still ten folk songs. And undeniably VAR’s induction to the singer-songwriter premier league, despite firing a couple of blanks on the way. Organ-backed ‘Battle’ and ‘Nightbirds’ are brilliant openers, the trembling Hammond in the latter an alarmingly comforting dose of nostalgia. ‘Dirt
Wheels’ begins with the sound of bicycle spokes whirring, before orbiting a Satie piano with the off-kilter breathiness of Amanda Palmer silencing a bizarre foray into twelve-bar blues beforehand. These moments continue, and it’s not until the final track that you hear the unsettling mythologies suggested in the record’s title. Zumbo was an Italian waxsculptor known for depicting corruption and decay after death. Imagine Madame Tussauds in a heatwave. It starts with a drop of wax sweat running down Tom Hardy’s forehead and ends with his whole mouth caving in. When the record sounds like Zumbo’s waxworks looks, it’s remarkable. But for the most part, VAR’s synesthetic outreach is met with a lot of simplicity: ‘No Sacrifice’ is still a Baez-tinged ukulele track about temptation, ‘When I Compare’ is still the kind of sweet fingerpicking you expect to play over film reels of old folk eating jam sandwiches. It’s not re-writing the songbook, but it’s adding a lot of colour. 7/10 Tristan Gatward
You Tell Me — You Tell Me (memphis industries) On ‘You Tell Me’, Field Music brother Peter Brewis and the North-East contemporary folk singer Sarah Hayes collaborate on a record that observes “the subject of communication – talking and listening, guessing and questioning.” So why, then, does the dialogue between the two songwriters struggle to ignite any real sparks? This is an album of two personalities that aren’t especially successful at complimenting one another. Take the high points – the autumnal folk of ‘Springburn’ and ‘Clarion Call’ are genuine delights, gorgeous reinterpretations of Island Records’ folk rock circa 1970. But how does this share any
commonality in ambition or quality with the dull, middling pop of tracks such as the office romance inspired ‘Water Cooler’. Certainly, the record is free of nostalgia or musical comfort food – some of the keyboard and electronics that appear sparsely are rhythmically interesting and well-judged. For Hayes, the record is something of a creative breakthrough for an artist who explains she has “always loved words but had never thought I could be a lyricist.” Collaborative successes do appear here – most notably on the Simon and Garfunkelfacing baroque pop of ‘Invisible Ink’ – however too frequently this album is a little less than the sum of its parts. Uneven, but occasionally charming. 5/10 Fergal Kinney
Selling — On Reflection (city slang) “Selling was made for fun, really as an excuse to get Derwin to come to my house and drink tea,” admits Jas Shaw, recalling the inception of his musical partnership with Derwin Dicker, aka Gold Panda. For Shaw, who usually writes as one half of Simian Mobile Disco, the collaborative process was perhaps less of a step into the unknown than for Dicker, who creates alone under his moniker. Creative collaboration can be a tricky balancing act of deliberation and compromise, with the risk of one person surrendering something valuable in the process. It can also hit a sweet spot, painlessly unearthing rich seams of potential. Fortunately, ‘On Reflection’ falls firmly into the latter category. At 41 minutes – just nine tracks – the album loses nothing in terms of emotional impact or textural scope despite its relative brevity. The immediate energy of ‘Qprism’ seems to open the album in the centre of the song, giddy
Albums and glistening, before burning out into ambient afterglow. Still, there are no grand or overwrought moments weighing on the album’s centre of gravity. Most tracks settle on a groove or melodic intention and explore a range of timbral possibilities without disrupting the gentle rhythm they set for themselves. ‘Keeping Txme’ – undoubtedly the prettiest moment of the record – gently pushes on for almost five minutes as the same unfurling synth line ever so slightly changes its form. The bulk of the album is built around these fractal, looping curlicues, with subtle shifts in the structure and saturation of the tracks keeping the ear constantly stimulated. ‘Dicker’s Dream’, the longest track at nearly nine minutes, develops slowly but assuredly, continually hinting at the possibility of euphoria but never quite reaching a tipping point. Even the most club-ready track, the hypnotic gush of ‘Mirror Can Only Lie’, never feels overblown. It takes skill to craft tunes like these – tracks that are seemingly footloose, rich with rhythm, melody and texture but that are actually expertly restrained; ideas distilled and refined into their purest forms. It’s a calibre of musicianship that comes naturally when the main aim is to enjoy the process. 7/10 Aidan Daly
The Twilight Sad — It Won/t Be Like This All The Time (rock action) In the five years since the Twilight Sad’s last album, they’ve lost their founding drummer, opened for The Cure at some of the world’s largest venues and signed a new record deal with Mogwai’s label Rock Action. All three events leave positive marks on ‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’ (yes, that really is a slash, not an apostrophe): increased drum program-
ming in the wake of Mark Devine’s departure, particularly on album bookends ‘[10 Good Reasons For Modern Drugs]’ (the punctuation eccentricity continues) and ‘Videograms’, adds an irresistible motorik force to their already impressive sonic heft, ‘VTr’ and ‘I/m Not Here [Missing Face]’ (more orthographic fun) are the kind of infectious songs built for performance in gargantuan outdoor stadiums, all instantly chantable choruses and heroically soaring guitars, while the sparsity of recent Mogwai bleeds into the gorgeous synth-and-feedback textural throb of ‘Sunday Day13’. And yet, despite wearing band developments and elder influences on their sleeve, with album five the Twilight Sad seem now to have reached a point where they sound, pleasingly, only like themselves. That’s largely thanks to James Graham’s singular voice, inimitable in both its proud Scottishness and its intimate honesty, but also to the lyrical fug of belligerent optimism that cloaks their work. Few bands of the Twilight Sad’s generation have even made it to album five, let alone grown with each release, but ‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’ is the sound of a band in rude health. 8/10 Sam Walton
ZOFFF — IV (flashback) Does an Internet-ravaged attention span make us more or less ready to digest the kind of sprawling visionary space rock bequeathed us by acid-spangled ’70s heads? ‘IV’ doesn’t give you time to answer. We’re dropped straight into things, on a forwardflung kaleidoscope splatter of reeling harmonics, parabolic swathes of Korg and frazzled riffs at a frantic clip. ZOFFF eschew the customary build up and Tarkovsky stillness that usually introduces prog-y neo-psych and
can occasionally leave it underpowered. This is wired and vivid, with a cosmic intrepidation founded, like Can or King Crimson, on jazz rigor; we’re perpetually journeying rather than sitting back on a groove and milking it. It’s virtuoso and playful: as side one draws to a close, Chris Anderson taps out ‘Beside the Seaside’ on bass in homage to the location (the album is cut from a gig at Brighton’s Green Door Store last year). A colossal freak out, it retains a show’s adrenal spark. On the other side the jam intensifies, wailing cornet lines putting us fully out of orbit before a dip into dark and rattled ambient territory. We’re thankfully past the phase of every guitar band that didn’t have tunes getting described as “krautrockinspired” or “motoric”, which leaves the field open to the old dab hands. Bic Hayes and Terry Bickers were guitarists in ’80s revivalists Levitation but had last played together in 1993. Rooted in the old guard of Hawkwind, Agitation Free et al, they nonetheless feel right at home alongside the likes of Cave, White Hills and Hookworms. 7/10 Edgar Smith
William Tyler — Goes West (merge) William Tyler’s last album, 2016’s ‘Modern Country’, much like the two before that, was a nostalgic ode to the kind of Deep South where he grew up, all huge skies and open fields, bucolic and spacious and kind-hearted. Written before Donald Trump hijacked American politics, but taken on tour after Agent Orange moved into the White House with the help of much of Tyler’s homeland, the guitarist admitted during gigs that “I was romanticising the South, but actually I should’ve been terrified of it” – and while a lot of his fourth album of pastoral instrumentals for guitar sticks to the
Albums same tried-and-tested widescreen elegiac melodicism, this time an uneasy sense of suspicion peppers proceedings. Extended opener ‘Alpine Stars’ establishes the sort of gambolling gait and tunefulness you could ride a horse through, before abruptly changing pace and spirit, with Tyler throwing in harmonic clashes where before lay perfect, soothing consonance. Similarly, ‘Venus In Aquarius’ presents initially as an easy-going prairie jaunt before retreating into the minor key and washing the backdrop with duskily sinuous synths. Elsewhere, though, Tyler plays to type, and beautifully so: ‘Man In A Hurry’ is precisely the opposite, and ‘Rebecca’ is an aching, lovelorn musing full of twinkling harmonics and exquisite country guitar tones. The combination of both songwriting forms makes for Tyler’s most satisfyingly three-dimensional album to date: he may have upped sticks and gone west as the title suggests, but that distance has imbued his interpretations of home with poignancy, clear appreciation, and newfound depth. 8/10 Sam Walton
Ex:Re – Ex:Re (4ad) On the face of it, this first solo collection from Elena Tonra doesn’t represent much of a reinvention. Her voice is distinctive in more ways than one, its tone husky and expressive, the tenor of the intelligently crafted lyrics heart-on-sleeve. You could say that about either of Daughter’s two albums to date, but over the course of repeat listens ‘Ex:Re’ begins to reveal itself to be something else entirely. Everything about the album’s recording process suggests a straightforward affair, cut quickly as it was with producer Fabian Prynn at 4AD’s London studio. Accordingly, it’s easy to skirt over the album and hear it as the quintessen-
tial stripped-back solo project, with the rolling drama of Daughter’s 2013 debut ‘If You Leave’ conspicuous by its absence and the thick atmospherics of ‘Not to Disappear’ repurposed. Tonra’s voice and guitar tone make this unmistakably an album in her own image and yet there’s plenty of stylistic diversion and experimentalism across the course of ‘Ex:Re’’s ten tracks, from opener ‘Where The Time Went’, which recalls Broadcast musically and lyrically, to the quietly danceable ‘Romance’, all stuttering beats and murky synths. ‘The Dazzler’ hints at trip hop, with languid, jazzy drums and low-key, distorted guitar that suggests Tonra might have been listening to a fair bit of Portishead when she wrote it. Elsewhere, ‘Liar’ and ‘I Can’t Keep You’ simmer with low-level tension and you realise that, particularly on the former track, as much is being said with the silences as with voice or instrument. ‘5AM’, meanwhile, sounds like exactly that; a brooding, small-hours meditation on an abusive relationship as witnessed from afar. Daughter fans looking for more of their panoramic leanings will be let down, but for everybody else this is a beautifully understated mood piece and Tonra’s finest work to date, with or without the band. 8/10 Joe Goggins
Tim Presley’s White Fence — I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk (drag city) Despite recently appeasing on albums alongside Ty Segall (‘Joy’) and Cate le Bon (‘Hippo Lite’ as Drinks), four years feels like a terribly long time to wait for a new Tim Presley solo album. And yet, the cryptic, impressionistic pop of his seventh full-length as White Fence feels like perfect timing.
While 2014’s ‘For The Recently Found Innocent’ marked a departure from earlier homespun efforts, ‘I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk’ is a winning mid-fi return. Having sketched it while living with Le Bon (in the unassuming Cumbrian village of Staveley, no less) the album was later completed in San Francisco with Jeremy Harris, who contributed piano, keys and drum arrangements. It’s “painting vulnerability” that Presley offers up on ‘Larry’s Hawk’. Sure enough, combined, these fourteen songs feel like an unguarded monologue, flipping between abstracted ballads and heartfelt pop experimentalism. The spectre of early solo Robert Wyatt hangs over the twinkling keys and vocals of the album’s opening title track. ‘I Can Dream You’ is just one earworming paean to the recent past. ‘Lorelei’, meanwhile, makes for a logical lead single. Over three minutes, Presley’s spidery arpeggios, organ, synth and drum machine beats forge something special. Though Presley sounds emotionally marooned here, collaboration pushes at least three songs into highlight territory. While guitar and backing vocals courtesy of Welsh artist H. Hawkline seals the deal on the lamenting ‘Phone’, San Franciscan drummer Dylan Hadley has crucial presence on ‘Until You Walk’ and ‘Forever Chained’ (another peak with more than a whiff of Chas and Dave’s ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’). And while a sense of weary yet hopeful solipsism permeates the bulk of the album, it’s in its fleshed-out full-band moments where Presley shines. As he has shown many times in the past, Presley has an uncanny knack for filtering towering melodicists like Alex Chilton, Syd Barrett, Buffalo Springfield et al. into his own vision. On ‘Larry’s Hawk’, this is laid bare. Doubled with a clear absence of preciousness (which could very well be the album’s coup de grâce) each of these songs feel like they stemmed from some intuitive musical notion in the cold dead of night. Fleshed out and placed back-to-back, they become something resonant, whole and inspired. 9/10 Brian Coney
Iglooghost Southbank Centre, London 30 October 2018
The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room feels like a small 1960s TV studio theatre, where the leather chairs have all come from early model Learjets. The walls are clad with expensive looking, midtone wood paneling, part Mad Men, part Scandinavian minimalism. It’s hardly the obvious choice of venue for Iglooghost’s maximalist electronic music, although the deeper Belfast’s Seamus Malliagh burrows into his primary colour alternative universe of a time-traveling, gelatinous worm in a witch hat, the further away ‘obvious’ becomes in any sense of word. Still, when Malliagh played the railway-arched Village Underground in support of his 2018 debut album ‘Neō Wax Bloom’ it made sense for its hip placing in East London but more so in the event that his young, rabid fanbase could cut loose to his hyperactive tunes playfully inspired by Japanese culture and videogame blips. Here we’re hemmed in by these neat, comfortable seats – for a time, at least. There’s also an added sense of The Cult of Iglooghost tonight – to make it to this academic bank of the River Thames dressed as a member of the Melon Lantern Girls’ choir (characters
that, like Xiangjiao the jelly worm, wear witch hats and adorn the cover of Malliagh’s album sleeve) takes commitment and amplifies the feeling of pilgrimage for those who’ve made it. This is Iglooghost’s Glootech tour, in support of two surprise EP he dropped himself rather than via his deal with Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. ‘Steel Mogu’ and ‘Clear Tamei’ seem to pick up the story where ‘Neō Wax Bloom’ left off. That is to say that the music still twinkles to life and suddenly explodes like a thousand arcade machines jackpotting at the same time, and that the playful, restless racket coming from the stage tonight soundtracks a uniquely DIY visual production that’s fundamental to Iglooghost’s second reality. Behind his decks, Malliagh twists out jungle beats, happy bass drops and floating melodies that temper the brutality of everything switching up so quickly. In front of him are some homemade eyeballs, clouds/shrubs and more characters in witch hats, which, considering the imagination of most DJs, already makes his stage dressing way above par. His screen show is something else, though – a from-scratch story played out on a bespoke laptop screen, the operating system designed through the eyes of the musician. Between tracks we watch Malliagh engage in chatroom back and forth,
following the pop-up windows above him. Someone tells him he needs to download an egg to make some more music. He downloads it while a track builds to the timer bar. We watch his computer restart, eager to see what’s in the egg when it loads. The beats race and build again, borderline unlistenable in parts but we’re too invested in this story of an alternative form of technology to notice anything but its weird beauty. Then, all of a sudden, one of Iglooghosts characters comes to life – a giant hand-shaped figure with no arms, spotted legs and puffed out cheeks dances across the stage. Some people in the room can probably name him; even those that can’t cheer and marvel at the costume as much as anything else – one that looks too good to be homemade, but is. Two more characters come and go in the same fashion later. Xiangjiao flies across the screen, the music pings on, the man in front of me Facetimes the whole thing to what I presume is his son. How else would he believe a word of it? Stuart Stubbs Tirzah Village Underground, London 19 November 2018
Outside it’s cold, wet and miserable. It’s perfect as Tirzah has an icy, melancholic characteristic of British electronic music, from early synth pop through to the Bristol sound, to the first albums of Dizzee Rascal, Burial and Hot Chip, whose Greco-Roman label released her work prior to this year’s debut LP. ‘Devotion’, played live with producer Mica Levi and collaborator Coby Sey, is an understated masterpiece, a cathartic escape from the horror outdoors. She’s wearing what you would to binge watch your way through a hangover, cranking up the intimacy before she even starts singing. I’d worried that the unique wrinkles of her voice would dissipate in this cavernous Shoreditch warehouse, get blotted out by face-pelting low end or be photography by julien strand
Albums Live hooked awkwardly to a backing track. Instead, it’s a real show: stylishly lit and totally captivating, not least because the minimal approach to composition (simple loops, elaborately manipulated and sparsely arranged) makes itself amenable to live reproduction. Her reticent, ashy delivery spiders out through a lattice of pitch-shifted echoes and sampled fragments. Levi emits squelches and haunting pads reminiscent of her Under The Skin soundtrack, while Sey’s fingers click the beat out. She provides tightly cropped, flanging guitar riffs, he picks the shimmering arches of reverse reverb on ‘Basic Need’. ‘Holding On’ and ‘Devotion’ are clubby and passionate, bursting with experimental intent – Wiley as remade by Grouper. Cradled by Tirzah’s plaintive, unadorned lyrics we feel close enough to see pores, mentally tender as if we were reading brail. Edgar Smith
Biig Piig Peckham Liberal Club, London 22 November 2018
Peckham Liberal Club doesn’t seem so liberal when in the bar there are laminated signs that read Once you have bought your
photography by ella pavlides
drink please return to your event. Three or four club members protect the empty chairs. When I go to sit down a young guy says, “I wouldn’t, mate,” and points at the Seats for members only sign. The club seems to have misjudged Biig Piig’s fans and feel – the event we must return to is a hip-hop one, but it’s a particularly laconic brand of rap that 20-year-old Jess Smyth smiles her way through. There are elements of lounge and RnB from the Irish musician, padded out by her brother on chaos pads and a live guitarist who dabbles in saxophone here and there. The sold out room is on Biig Piig’s gently stoned wavelength, slowly nodding to her sleepy flow, which bobs atop of Portishead-like beats, especially on the brilliant ‘24K’. People aren’t too hypnotised to notice the highlights, though – a guest spot from masked rapper Bone Slim (like Piig, a member of the nine8 arts collective) on ‘You Better Know’, and especially the closing ‘Perdida’ and the night’s singalong moment: “I just wanna lay here/ And smoke my cig and drink my wine and think. Just not in the bar, ok? With short songs and not many of them yet, it’s all over in under 30 minutes, but everyone’s happy with that because they’re routing so hard for Biig Piig. Smyth beams and hugs her brother as if she’s the only one who doesn’t know what’s bound to follow. Stuart Stubbs
The Voidz Village Underground, London 3 November 2018
No matter how great your rise through the echelons of New York rock’n’roll, you won’t stop a Jedi from standing in the front row of your gig holding a lightsaber. A decade and a half has passed since Julian Casablancas’s sardonic croon that opened ‘Room on Fire’ with “I want to be forgotten!” Well The Strokes are nowhere in sight, and this new project FKA Julian Casablancas and the Voidz is now just The Voidz. There’s a rush for anonymity through “the hits”, too. Fans rooted in network television airtime could have done the get-in and get-out within three songs. ‘Qyrruyus’ opens in its usual manner, sludge rock meets Justin Vernon stuck on a minaret with an auto-tuned call to prayer. The even sludgier ‘M.utually A.ssured D.estruction’ from 2014’s ‘Tyranny’ sounds like panic on a spaceship, and ‘Leave It In My Dreams’ flies up and down in a Mercury falsetto. Casablancas’s vocals have never sounded better, even if they’re a little far back in the mix. ‘Where No Eagles Fly’ takes an Amon Duul II fuzz solo and murmurs over it “why can you not be more like me?” For a minute you kind of want to be, despite his arrant leather F1 jacket and fingerless biker gloves. The noted setlist exclusion is ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’, there to settle you at the stranger moments and to caveat anything you don’t understand (to assure you that they probably don’t either). It’s a disorientating omission. Beardo’s still got his mullet and Amir Yaghmai’s still playing a Flying V. “We’re just getting started,” Casablancas says, as they walk off stage after 45 minutes. No one calls for an encore, but they come back anyway. The lightsaber has found its way up to the ledge under the exit sign. We get a few one minute demos and a droning rendition of ‘Human Sadness’ ends the night. It sounds like a Hawaiian 78rpm that never kicks off but that you never want to stop listening to. Tristan Gatward
FilmAlbums and Books
Shut Up and Play the Piano (rapid eye) For the last twenty years Canadian virtuoso pianist and not bad rapper Chilly Gonzales has been trolling music fans and concert goers. It comes from a place of great intellect and unquestionable talent (especially in his piano playing, which he’s been doing since the age of 3), and it fucks some people off, although not as many you’d think – ‘Gonzo’ (or Jason Charles Beck) is a self-confessed megalomaniac, but a loveable one
who is continually deconstructing himself and his multiple personalities, openly inviting us to hate him as much as we admire him. The perfectly titled Shut Up and Play the Piano is just another one of these deconstructions – the most complete yet – as egotistical as all life-charting music docs are, comprising the artist’s video archive of home recordings, official concert footage and new interviews with Chilly and lifelong collaborators and friends including Feist and Peaches. Gonzo is still hammering home the same question he has for years: ‘Who is Chilly Gonzales?’ – a thought he’s insisted we consider so much that it’s clear by now that really he’s asking himself. Shut Up and Play the Piano starts to answer that question, or at least who Jason Charles Beck is, and why he felt compelled to reinvent himself as a pompous, confrontation raconteur who so finely straddles the opposing worlds of art and entertainment.
Gonzo’s range of skills are laid out in the opening montage made up of many performances of his rap track ‘Take Me To Broadway’, pulling in clips of thrashing outros and quiet lounge renditions. Equally as stirring and triumphant is the footage of him performing ‘Beans’ with a giant orchestra. But elsewhere there’s the story of his sibling rivalry with is musician brother (film composer Christophe Beck) and – a real highlight – the retelling of his time spend on the Berlin art underground with Peaches in the late 1990s, complimented here with unseen footage of the two Canadians discovering rap and performing art punk in basement venues. Ultimately, Gonzo needed to immerse himself so fully in punk to realise that he should shut up (or at least tone it down) and play the piano, giving us the musician we have now. The film tells the story in a fittingly honest, wry and gifted way. Stuart Stubbs
Rock Graphic Originals: Revolutions In Sonic Art from Plate to Print ’55 – ’88 — Peter Golding with Barry Miles (thames & hudson) Rock Graphic Originals collects together a stunning array of some of the best high impact poster art from the golden age of rock and roll. The work of over thirty of the most important artists of the genre is laid bare within its pages – not just the final product but the work in progress, too. From fly-posters advertising Hank Williams at the Grand Ol’ Opry to The Doors at Madison Square Garden, the work on display in this beautiful book is exciting, explosive and every bit as life-affirming and fuck-you cool as the artists it portrays. Lee Bullman
How to be Invisible — Kate Bush (faber) Kate Bush is one of those rare artists who, despite constant interest in her and her world, has somehow managed to maintain an impenetrable air of mystery for four decades, allowing her work to speak for her. In How to be Invisible (not an autobiography, as there will probably never be one), Bush has selected and arranged her lyrics, some of which are presented here for the first time, in a beautifully bound collection in order that the words may be judged on their own merits. With a foreword by novelist David Mitchell, the book offers rare and welcome insight into a mercurial, original and timeless talent. Lee Bullman
Vogue x Music — Editors of American Vogue, foreword by Jonathan Van Meter (abrams) Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand and Vogue x Music explores the extensive archives of the iconic magazine’s one hundred plus year history to collect together a fabulous series of portraits of some of the most important and influential musicians of the last century. A dizzying assortment of artists from Patti Smith to Kendrick Lamar are celebrated, captured in glamorous, gritty and intimate portraits by photographers including Annie Leibowitz, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, that give more away about their subjects the longer you look at them. Lee Bullman
SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Finding a quiet mind
Nilüfer Yanya has finished her debut album, made all over the place but intrinsically tied to the Cornish coast and a place of introspection, by Greg Cochrane. Photography by Jonangelo Moliari
The night before, the storm hit hard. In the darkness, the waves hurled themselves against the seawall, sending great arcs of water inland drenching roads and shop fronts. A bus shelter owers, rubbish is whisked down the street and small boats rattle on their moorings. As a defence, umbrellas are all but useless. The morning after, and the temper has gone. The Cornish town of Penzance is tranquil once again. It’s a weekday in early November, and the atmosphere is fresh. Like the wash has reset the place. The promenade slowly begins to dry as stoic ramblers emerge from their old fashioned B&Bs with walking sticks and flasks of tea heading for the coastal path. Overhead, a grey sky – brittle and fractured. The sun finds odd pockets to peer through and throws shafts of light shaped like UFO tractor beams onto the flat sea surface. A single fishing trawler bobs on the horizon. Until the next shower, the view from Penzance headland is clear. To the west is the adjoining town of Newlyn. Curve around the coast from there, and the UK’s big toe (Land’s End) is just 10 miles or so away. From there it’s out to the vast expanse of the Celtic Sea, and further still, the Atlantic Ocean. Look east, and the bay curls away to reveal St Michael’s Mount, a castle island out in the water, only accessible via causeway when the tide is out. Set against the charcoal clouds its ominous silhouette looks like a mythical construction described in the pages of a Tolkien novel. To the south, out to sea, are the Battery Rocks, a jagged family of boulders, still covered in a slippery membrane from the angry waves. Next to that, Jubilee Pool – an art deco lido. In the summer months this triangle basin sees hundreds of bathers set their towels out around its edge. Today, it’s closed and deserted, just like the day Nilüfer Yanya filmed part of her video for 2017 single ‘Baby Luv’, where the songwriter floated around on a lilo, sipping a carton of juice and strumming a pink inflatable guitar. It encapsulated a kind of uniquely bleak English glamour.
Interview There are no crowds right now. In fact, there are few noticeable locals. At this time of year the takeaways only open part-time, tearooms are sleepy and the tourist stores selling plastic are packed away. A worker at Jubilee Pool (who kindly allows us to take some photos inside) explains that from October onwards Penzance enters hibernation. — Riverfish Music studio — The first member of Nilüfer Yanya’s family I meet is an affectionate black dog with soft ears called Snoopy. A few winding, uphill streets up into town from the Jubilee Pool is her aunt Vicky’s and uncle Joe’s home. We bundle through the door in big coats with carrier bags of fish ‘n’ chips, into the warm dining room kitchen. It’s a beautiful home; a seaside take on a country cottage, all chunky furniture, personal touches and high ceilings. Snoopy weaves in and out of chair legs as lunch gets eaten. Cornwall, and these four walls in particular, are key to Nilüfer’s story. Now 23, she started visiting Penzance when she was 10 or 11. The family – her mum Sandra and dad Ali, two sisters and brother – would squeeze into a rental car in summer or at Christmas and make the lengthy journey from their home in west London. For family vacations the main attraction at that point was the beach, with days spent on the sandy stretches of close-by Marazion or Porthcurno. Long walks, surfing, bodyboarding. “You’re at that age where you’re almost a teenager,” Nilüfer recalls. “You’re like, ‘arrrgh man, I don’t want to be here’, but you’re actually having a really nice time.” These annual breaks began after Vicky (Sandra’s sister) and Joe decided to up sticks from the South East. Done with the suffocating commutes and work pressures, the dream had long been to live and work in the same place. Joe, a former bass player with ’80s Brit-funk band I Level, had gone on to carve out a successful career as a session musician and then as a producer, predominantly working with recording artists from Spain and Latin America. If you walk through the kitchen of their home, out via a side door, nestled in the garden, is the studio that Joe has built – Riverfish Music. While it looks like a stone outhouse, inside, across two floors, it’s fitted out with a live room, vocal booth and a sizeable mixing desk crowded with speakers, cables and ornaments. There are cabinets, tape machines and a clutch of proudly maintained guitars, plus a nodding dog sat on the side. These days many of the studio’s clients are local artists, but it still acts as a residential studio attracting foreign-language musicians (including some multi-platinum selling artists, lesser known to UK audiences) to stay and record. Of those formative family visits, the thing Joe recalls most vividly is Nilüfer’s inquisitiveness. “In the evenings she’d be checking out the guitars,” he says. “Even at that age. She was always focused on it.” The timing, in many ways, was ideal. A musician in her early teens arriving on holiday at a playground of music. Joe, encouraging her interest, would help teach her chords and rhythms before eventually, at 15, she recorded
“In London it’s this over-stimulation. When you’re here no-one’s watching, no-one cares” 49
her first original song (called ‘Promise’) here in the studio. Her sister Molly made the music video for it (“in the studio... miming along. It looked pretty good for what it was,” she says), but Nilüfer cringes when she says they only got around to deleting it from YouTube four years ago. “When we first started doing little demos, I noticed that she was so sure about what she liked and what she didn’t like,” says Joe, sat with Vicky and Snoopy on a sofa in a front room that also acts as the studio’s office. “Very individual, very original. She has very strong ideas – that’s what makes her who she is. Without that she could be manipulated into all sorts, but she knows what she’s doing. She just doesn’t like mediocrity.” “Level-headed,” says Vicky, when I ask about Nilüfer’s character. “She’s actually quite like Ali, her dad, in some respects. Independent and confident… a quiet confidence.” — Small Crimes — September 2016 was the first time I met Nilüfer Yanya. Close to her family home, it was in the basement of the Chelsea cafe where she planned the music video with her sister – now a frequent collaborator on her visuals, sometimes as part of her film collective Energy Force – for, at that point, her recently released debut single ‘Small Crimes’. That clip, which features
balaclava wearing figures smashing furniture and Yanya clasping a baseball bat, filled my head with preconceptions about the person I would meet. In person, she was no hard nut; instead, she was polite, studious and a little cautious. She told me about her parents (both working artists, mostly watercolours, her father has work in the British Museum), how she played classical piano before picking up guitar “because it was cooler”, the influence of early school teacher Dave Okumu (from The Invisible) on her style, how her music taste had evolved from Blink 182 to the likes of Nina Simone, her part-time job in a fancy dress shop and the voluntary project she’d recently begun running in Greece with her sister for refugees, Artists In Transit. A lot has happened in the two years that have passed. Following the ‘Small Crimes’ EP that autumn, she went on to release ‘Plant Feed’ (2017) and ‘Do You Like Pain?’ (2018), and has been evangelised by almost every major music site and broadsheet title in the UK and U.S. She embraced that momentum in 2017 by playing a lot of shows, and appeared at almost all of the major festivals. At the beginning of 2018 Yanya was faced with a deadline, plus the consequences of a decision she was adamantly sticking to: her debut album would be completed this year, and wouldn’t feature any music she’d previously released. It’d be all new stuff. “It’s not even that that stuff is the old me, because that stuff is
Interview still me, but I’m just not really willing to present it again,” she reasons. “It feels pointless. Why would I do it?” Ultimately, she set the parameters of her own challenge, and met them. The first of those new tracks, ‘Heavyweight Champion of the Year’, is shared online as she’s parked outside the neighbourhood chippie during the car journey to her aunt’s house for this interview. Somehow that feels pertinent. — We are here for you — Sat by the mixing desk in the studio, Nilüfer hugs a steaming cup of tea, as she explains that making her debut album wasn’t quite what she’d first imagined. The reality was it had to be assembled between other things – touring, festivals – in different places and with different people. Originally, she says, she’d have liked to have made the whole thing with her live bandmates (and friends from school) Jazzi Bobbi and Luke Bower, but “we were touring so much, and because they do their own music, there was just no time. It would have taken us three years.” The eventual reality was more fragmented. There was music written and recorded with synthpop songwriter M. T. Hadley, Grammy award winning producer John Congleton in London and L.A. and Domino Records artist Wilma Archer, who formerly performed as Slime. Oli Barton-Wood, notable for his recent collaborations with Mellah and Alaskalaska, was also involved. But somehow Cornwall, and Joe’s and Vicky’s recording space in the back garden keep returning to the heart of it. In the preliminary stages of the process Nilüfer would make the journey to Cornwall and work on ideas with Joe. At first it was about generating a spark. “I’d have ideas, but a lot of the time Joe and I would set ourselves little projects. Like, ‘today we’re going to pick names out of a hat and try and write a song in another style’. We had some titles, maybe some colours. Some songs. Names of bands. Some of the things we never used again, some we did. It was almost like an exercise in writing.” Those hours of practice and exploration were key. So too was the fact that working with family meant she felt less insecure about making any mistakes, writing a “bad song” or thinking “am I doing it wrong?”. “You just don’t really worry about those kind of things. You’re both honest with each other,” she reflects. “You don’t feel the need to impress anyone so the ideas
you present are maybe more you than you might try and present to someone else. You’re just presenting yourself. It’s quite rare, I think.” Crucial as well was the distance from home. Not just the commotion and distraction of the family flat she shared with her parents and siblings (she’s recently moved into her own place, an experience she describes in low-key fashion as “just really chilled, I guess”), but generally the claustrophobic cycles of London. Unsurprisingly, this Penzance retreat – fresh air streams through the studio’s skylight windows – became an inspiring escape. “It’s the fact of being so far away from everything – there’s nothing blocking your mind,” she says. “So you’re not like, ‘oh no I shouldn’t do that idea,’ or, ‘it’s already been done,’ or, ‘I don’t want to do that because they’ll think that,’ ‘I can’t call it that because of this.’ In London it’s this over-stimulation. Even when you’re at home it’s really hard to put up a barrier between that. When you’re here no-one’s watching, no-one cares.” Proximity to the water helped too, providing a breathing space. “If you’re on a day where you’re not 100% – a little bit anxious about something – and the sea is just like [makes the sound of crashing waves] you can be like, ‘I’m not really enjoying this!’ But it also has that soothing ability, the coldness, the sudden impact. It can be quite therapeutic as well.” Saying that, Yanya also explains that she’s instinctively drawn to the vitality of the city. “It’s just nice to break out every now and again, then go back when your mind has reset a little bit. When I’m down here, I’m still working, it’s just without everything else surrounding you.” The cliché goes that an artist has their whole life to make a debut album, so it should be the most straightforward thing. The pressure increases on LPs two and three. Not for Yanya though, mostly because of her of her dedication not to rework past material. “I didn’t want to rerelease stuff. I did want to finish it this year. I did put pressure on myself… when you want to do something… it’s hard,” she tails off. “Maybe I’m stubborn, I don’t know.” That choice did provoke a fresh set of feelings, doubts and emotions. “I never had it [insecurity] before. I wanted to make music as a career – before you speak to anyone about it, it’s just you writing songs. You judge whether they’re good or not. There’s no other input from anyone else, or just from people that you already know. The second you open the door
Interview to all the good criticism and all the bad criticism it starts to mess with your head a bit. Because you’re like, ‘what was I doing again?’” However, the album (both title and release date remain under wraps for now, but it is coming early 2019) doesn’t sound like one that comes from someone uncertain of her direction. While it retains the breeziness of previous material like ‘Keep on Calling’, ‘Baby Luv’ and ‘Thanks 4 Nothing’, overall it feels like an assured step forward. The first voice heard is Nilüfer’s, but not as you may expect. There are five interludes that act like chapter headings nestled throughout that group of songs into tribes of similar themes or styles. Those short recordings, set to music, resemble less a story, more of a concept. In a voice that imitates those painful pre-recorded corporate phone options when you just want to speak to an actual human Nilüfer introduces “Way Health – our 24/7 care programme”. “We are here for you, we care for you, we worry about, so you don’t have to,” she says in a cheery but ominous robotic auto-tone over some wavy elevator music. “Please choose from one of the following options…” she recites. It comes across like a controlling version of the NHS 111 helpline.
is dedicated to a different perception of the reality.” I must still look bamboozled. “Something to work on… explaining that,” she smiles. “I still haven’t quite finalised it. When I’ve finished everything then I’ll be like, ‘ok, this makes sense’.” Or maybe not something to work on. The essence of its appeal is in the multiple interpretations. In the past Nilüfer has spoken about how many of our favourite artists have an “elusive” quality, either an ungraspable distance in their songwriting, explanations or presentation. “I like songs that have stories and situations that you can almost catch, but you can’t quite ever catch properly,” she told FACT last year. A conversation with her can be like that – she’s amiable, but emanates a sense of being either shy or slightly guarded. Over a handful of meetings, I’m still not sure which. Or both. Or neither. A pleasant enigma. — Turbulent romance — In contrast to her sometimes reticent demeanour there’s little uncertain about the tracks on the album. If early singles like ‘Keep on Calling’ and ‘Baby Luv’ were outward commen-
“Something like ‘Baby Luv’ is like, ‘do you like pain?’ ‘Heavyweight Champion…’ is more like, ‘I’ve decided this is not a good idea, I’m not going to do that to myself’”
The ‘Way Health’ organisation returns on four more occasions throughout the album – the final one ends on a malfunctioning conversation that worryingly implores the caller to “please give up” before the phone goes dead. These punctuations are weird and darkly comic. Nilüfer says they’re informed by Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. How the songs interact with this framework is more ambiguous. Given that the interludes were only recorded recently, and that at this point the album still wasn’t officially completed, sat in the studio Nilüfer wrestles with trying to articulate the universe she’s created for the first time. “It’s not really set in stone what it is or what it isn’t… it’s just, there’s an organisation behind it, which is a health organisation, suggesting things, or helping you through things, but also being really unhelpful and useless at the same time. Does that make sense?” she says, sensing my puzzlement and bursting into nervous laughter. “I’m trying to find a way to explain it better. I guess a lot of it is to do with the way you’re thinking about things. So it’s a perception on a situation and on reality and how you perceive it and that’s what makes it totally different. I guess each song
taries on past relationships, this collection is more introspective. A scrutiny of her own thoughts, processes and habits. The product of a mind doing overtime. There’s still plenty on turbulent romance, and plenty of references to religious phraseology (“I’m not sure why that is,” she tells me later on, adding that she was brought up Muslim, though not practising, and that there’s Catholicism in the family). To start there’s the powerful ‘In Your Head’, by and far the most direct, noisy, crashing song she’s written to date. “I’ve hit bottom rock/ Swear I’m telling the truth/ But down here I’m dark and confused,” it begins, driving along on a riff that’s not unlike Bloc Party or Hard-Fi (don’t hold it against her) that summons images of people hugging on an indie disco dancefloor. After that ‘Paralysed’ is flecked with a Santana-y guitar lick and ‘Angels’ builds to a swinging chorus. The saxophone-featuring ‘Paradise’ – a potential festival anthem in the making – ushers in a slower, more reflective passage of the album. ‘Baby Blu’ is a gripping gospel soul song about letting go of past attachments. “Giving up all our love/ I guess it’s just too bad/ We’re moving on now/ Somehow.” ‘Heat Rises’ is then built on a skittering drum machine beat and
Interview — Oh, I’ve finished my album —
a rippling guitar that features the recognisably misty vocals of Dave Okumu from The Invisible, a neat call back to their past. “It was great. Just like when you see someone you haven’t seen for a while,” Nilüfer says of rekindling their partnership. ‘Safety Net’ and ‘Tears’ are both vulnerable and determined. And ‘Monsters Under The Bed’, written when she was 15, is the only “old” material included that hasn’t been penned since she turned 22. It strips things back to just her and her signature crisp jazzy guitar sound. After the final interlude, the album is drawn to a close with recent single ‘Heavyweight Champion of the Year’. “Something like ‘Baby Luv’ [the lyrics] is like ‘do you like pain?’ questioning the idea of why you would do something again and again,” she says. “Why do you keep putting yourself in that situation? ‘Heavyweight Champion…’ is more like, ‘I’ve decided this is not a good idea, I’m not going to do that to myself.’” It’s a track, and fitting finale, that distils Nilüfer’s ability to write a pop song that’s both intriguingly aloof but also a roaring anthem. In short, her assertive decision has more than paid off. Like Joe says, “she doesn’t do mediocrity”. There’s none on display here.
The next time we speak, a fortnight later, Nilüfer is in a van with her band somewhere in south east England on her way to Harwich to catch an overnight ferry to continue a European tour supporting Interpol. Those are her final shows of the year. Looking ahead, she’ll spend February on tour with Sharon van Etten in America, before heading out on a headline tour that, appropriately given her family’s cocktail of Bajan-Irish-Turkish ancestry, will begin in Istanbul in March. “My heritage is something that I haven’t explored enough, there’s still so much to uncover and learn about,” she says. “I guess it feels more significant because I have family there – every time we go there it’s like you’re going back but you were never from there. You bring a bit of that back with you each time.” The night after our Cornish meeting Nilüfer drove back to London, went straight to the studio and made her final adjustments to the album. She sounds a little more assured. “I walked home and I was like, ‘oh, I’ve finished my album,’” she says nonchalantly. However, she admits to some apprehension, mostly down to the fact that other people were involved with her creative process for the first time. “There’s a lot of co-writes on the album, which wasn’t really originally part of my plan,” she elaborates. “I guess I feel less confident about that. I don’t really know.” It’s a reminder that this process is still a relatively new experience for her. In conversation she’s never evasive – quite the opposite – but I’m moved to ask if she considers herself a shy or private person? There’s a hesitation before she replies: “I think I would definitely come across shy to some people. I don’t really feel shy about much. I guess I’m not really an extrovert. “In the normal day-to-day I wouldn’t put a lot of myself out there. I’m kind of conserving it, I don’t know what for. I don’t have that extra energy… which is interesting, because a lot of stuff you do around music you kind of need to be that person sometimes. Like shows, interviews or making videos… you kind of need to perform.” She has one thing to add before she gets back to the journey: “I guess you can choose, what you put out there about yourself and what you don’t. I think everyone is making that choice, even if they’re not.”
Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we’ll send you our next 9 issues So, here we are at the end of 2018 – it’s been good and bad, as my mate Ben replies to every question he’s asked. The good: we redesigned and reformatted Loud And Quiet into the best shape it’s ever been in since printing our first copy on a home printer in 2005. People have liked it a lot, and new readers would double check that they can take it for free. The bad: yes, they could take it for free. Not all bad, this, but the current version of the magazine costs us a lot more to make than the old version. We knew this going into it so can’t really complain about that. And we’ve always wanted to keep the magazine free for as long as possible. Still, all the things you hear about the advertising market driving publishers (physical and digital, and especially independent ones) out of business is, of course, true, and applies to us. As the year’s gone on, then, we’ve been thinking about how to support the costs of what we do. The options are hardly plentiful, especially once we count out certain things that would make our magazine miserable. One though, we hope our readers agree, makes the most sense. We are going to keep Loud And Quiet free, but to those
who really enjoy what we do, we’d like to ask you to subscribe to our next 9 issues, over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for is £3 per month for UK subscribers. If you really start to hate what we do, you can cancel at any time. The same goes for European subscriptions (£6 per month) and the rest of the world (£8 per month). For that amount you will receive: Our next 9 issues delivered to your door. Entry into our monthly vinyl giveaway draw. Our subscriber’s Spotify playlist. Invites to our live events before anyone else. As our physical issues get picked up quicker and quicker each month in any case, we hope you consider this a good deal, and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content or independence suffering. Thank you for reading and your support. Stuart Stubbs (Editor)
Jacco Gardner A U-turn into instrumental music that’s led to a planetarium being a natural show venue, by Daniel Dylan Wray. Photography by Isolde Woudstra
“I’ve always been into psychedelic music and I think this is the most psychedelic record I’ve ever made,” says Jacco Gardner of his latest album, ‘Somnium’, as we sit down for afternoon coffee in Amsterdam. Gardner looks like he could be in a 1960s psych band too with his check trousers, heeled boots, big brown coat and turtleneck jumper. Just across the road from where we sit is the suitably kaleidoscopic setting where Gardner will perform his latest psychedelic exploration: the city’s planetarium. “It’s been very stressful,” he says as he tells me about the two days he’s spent setting up in there and how a new quadraphonic PA has had to be brought in for the show. He bows down his head and parts open his hair: “I have a few more grey hairs then usual.” Sure enough, nestled amongst the long strands of brown are strips of tired greys that number above the average for a man of 30. ‘Somnium’ was never intended to be just an album you see. Gardner created it to be a multi-sensory and multimedia experience from the off – a new voyage for a new era. His first two albums blended fuzzy guitars, baroque pop and woozy melodies – not too far away from early Tame Impala at times – but on his third Gardner has ditched a great deal of the sound he’s grown to be known for. Instead he retreated to Lisbon, fell in love, had
his mind ripped open by the dreamscape sci-fi of Johannes Kepler (the album is named after his 1608 book of the same name) and recorded an immersive and synth-heavy record that sounds like an unearthed gem from 1970s Germany akin to Cluster or Tangerine Dream. Oh, and he doesn’t sing a single word on it either. It’s entirely instrumental. “A lot of people are sad that I’m not singing on it,” he says of the U-turn move. “I understand though. People connect an identity to a voice and then when it’s not there, you feel in conflict with what you thought that identity was and you have to rediscover an artist that you thought you knew.” Although, reconnecting with any altered sense of artist identity is not hard on this record. It’s Gardner’s most stirring work to date. “My other albums had an otherworldly aspect to them,” he says, “but I really wanted to take this concept to another level, to really create another world that you could inhabit. Almost like a structure or a building.” Besides, Gardner’s career trajectory as baroque psych pop singer was never planned. “It was accidental that my first record had a lot of pop aspects to it,” he offers. “But because it did that meant a lot of doors opened to that world like touring, radio, TV and record labels – the whole mechanism of pop music. Because of that the second album followed suit.”
— I’m not a narcissist — Gardner is someone that likes to lose himself completely in his work, to hand over himself entirely and follow a sense of the abstract and the unknown, to be guided by “something other”. But touring life didn’t really allow for that. “I felt trapped,” he says. “I didn’t like the expectations that you had to follow. Like radio songs that require a certain length and format, and the live setting with the stage that always has the same sense of spatial hierarchy: watching a band elevated on the stage playing in this rock format, which has been done over and over again.” There’s a palpable spark to Gardner when he speaks of this latest record; a clear sense of creative liberation and rejuvenation having taken place. “I don’t know if bored is the right word but I toured for many years and after that I felt like if I would have continued doing that I wouldn’t have had a private life. For four years my only life was doing interviews about my music and singing songs about myself – every day. That was my life. I didn’t have any other life and it becomes a bit crazy. You end up being overly obsessive with yourself. In the beginning I was okay with that but I noticed that I started living inside this profile of expectation.”
So this album took on a new function for Gardner, to be something he could enjoy himself, a place to rebuild his own relationship to his music but to pull himself out of the equation in the process. “I have only a simple request, which is to listen to my own music and to enjoy it,” he says. “I should be able to enjoy my own work and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it so much if it was about me because I don’t find it interesting listening to lyrics about me. I’m not a narcissist. I’m not obsessed with my own ego. I still love to listen to this album even though I’ve heard it many times and I didn’t have that with the other two albums so much.” — Words are limiting — Gardener wanted to create a sense of adventure. A record that he could return to and wander in its vast sonic landscapes, moods, colours and avenues – and to be a place where audiences could do the same. “The emphasis is on the experience,” he says. “I’ve tried to get these songs to be basic parts of an adventure story so that everyone can fit their own adventures into it. Working on this album there was a mystical element to it, an abstract quality and a sense of the unknown where I was just following experiments to see where they would end up. A
sense of exploration is a very human thing and maybe today in our fast-paced society there’s not a lot of room for that.” This voyage into the unknown and sense of exploration needed to be unencumbered by words. Not only did Gardner not want himself to be the focus of the music but he also didn’t want anything else in the way that would trip people up on their trip. “Words are limiting,” he says. “They are very binary and I think it’s important to escape all these things as much as possible. The idea of the unknown is inspiring to me. I wanted to try and make something really evocative with the synthesisers as opposed to words. Synths can sometimes be used in a very cold and electronic way but I really wanted to evoke this human aspect and the emotions I was feeling myself, be them exuberance or melancholy or adrenalin. I felt like I was exploring my own emotions through these machines.” Gardner has also had a machine built as part of his live show in the planetarium. As the room gets comfy and slips into the sloping seats and darkness descends, he and his partner Maria sit in the middle of the room with a modest set-up largely based around synthesizers as a contraption that towers above them. The music begins: whirring, slightly eerie, humming synths that float around the room, shifting and rolling through the quadraphonic PA. The contraption begins to spin around, casting shadows upon the giant ceiling. The contraption is a mechanical installation based on an old Victorian planetarium but with a 360-degree camera in the centre where the sun would traditionally be. A variety of lenses and filters (planets) rotate around it controlled by three different motors with each one controlled
individually and choreographed to fit with every song. Initially it looks pretty, spinning and gliding in sync with the songs but the large ceiling canvas remains somewhat unused except for the shadows they cast. Disappointment sets in for a moment as one thinks, ‘is this it?’ yet things begin to change drastically with each song and soon the roof is immersed in colours and shapes as each lens’ LED rings change colour and project shapes onto the roof, which themselves mutate and transform when they cross over each other. It’s something that you sink deeper into as it evolves and expands. The volume is pitched at just the right level to dip in and out of it and not overwhelm, the lights are enticing and immersive yet subtle and leave enough room to forge your own visual journey. It’s a performance that doesn’t hit you over the head but instead creates a place for you to step inside and visit, to roam around and explore for forty-five minutes. Which of course was always the point. “It’s about making music more than just sound,” Gardner says after the rapturously received show. “Bringing it into the physical world and creating sensations. I wanted the live experience to be quadraphonic so that you can’t really get a grip on what’s coming from where. If you can anticipate something then you can’t explore it.” A trip almost worth going grey for.
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
idris AckAmOOr & The pyrAmids
an angel fell
aS i WaS noW
family of alienS
themeS for televiSion
gHostly international o genesis
italians do it better
The Vryll sOcieTy
i donâ€™t run
con todo el mundo
AnnA VOn hAussWOlff
late nigHt tales
courSe of the Satellite deltasoniC
The WAVe picTures
tWentytWo in blue
italians do it better
look inSide your heart mosHi mosHi
make uP your oWn StorieS mosHi mosHi
all good WiSheS
agneS obel: late night taleS late nigHt tales
great albumS every home Should have available at all good indePendent record StoreS SuPPort your local indePendent retailer WWW.rePublicofmuSic.net
Tell Me About It
Tell Me About It The American folk musician almost exclusively in her own words, by Tristan Gatward. Photography by Tom Porter
“I feel like it’s one of these things where you acclimate the feeling out of body and then you cool with it a while,” says LA-based folk singer Jessica Pratt. “Jetlag comes in waves. Right now I feel gooo-o-o-d. I just had my first meal of the day before I saw you. It’s kicking in now. “I’ve never really spent any time in this neighbourhood. It feels sleepy and relaxed, maybe that’s just me. I’ve never chosen a venue in my life… I kind of skipped the intermediary phase of booking my own shows. The one tomorrow is at St. Matthias Church. I didn’t know about this venue but I love playing in churches, the sound is always really nice. I think there’s an acknowledged solemnity to the whole thing, that even if you aren’t of faith or anything – which I’m not in any particular way – being in a sacred place changes how people behave. They’re more respectful. There won’t be any bar staff there either. That in and of itself counts for a lot.” I wonder how a Mark Kozelek show would be received in a church. Maybe ok if you could guarantee there wouldn’t be a Starbucks next door, and that the War on Drugs wouldn’t be playing a Coffee Shop Sessions in it. Jessica has just supported him, having completed her third album of typically beautiful and delicate music. ‘Quiet Signs’ will be out 8 February 2019 via a new deal with City Slang. “Yeah, he is a character,” she says. “He’s very sweet, he said some very nice things. That show was such an unexpected offer. I love San Francisco but I’d never played there, and we did The Fillmore which has so much history surrounding it. My set was worlds apart from what he’s currently doing with Sun Kil Moon – it’s hardcore, he’s yelling a lot – but sometimes that difference can be really cool. As for here, we’re sitting in a middle-class pub in a Jewish Orthodox part of Stoke Newington. It’s the early evening, rain is climbing up the windows and the stereo’s playing Stax Records. Jessica Pratt is blanketed in a winter jacket, having just arrived in London this day for a press trip and a show here and there. She’s fiddling nervously with a flyer on the table for Stoke Newington’s biggest free party. Her show is tomorrow in a church around the corner. You’d hope it wouldn’t impact on ticket sales. “Redding, California – where I’m from – is heavily Christian” It’s a smallish city, but the greater area… there’s a lot of farmland and stuff. It’s kind of fallen on hard times in the last 15 years or so. It’s a land of misfortune in many ways. It’s the kind of place you either leave or stay and succumb to nothing good. There was a brief wave of a music scene that I was lucky enough to be around when I was coming of age. I moved out of Redding when I was 17 and moved to San Francisco in 2007. I worked day jobs, played
music on my own, and when I played (once in a while) it was because my friends forced it upon me. I’d play maybe two shows a year. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in having a career in music, it just didn’t cross my mind that that would even be a possibility. “My move to LA was unplanned” One of my closest friends went to school in LA and she would always joke about me moving there with her. I didn’t really have anything keeping me in San Francisco and a lot of things had recently changed in my life. It was one of those transitional periods and it just felt like maybe a good time to go. It was kind of out of the blue – I don’t know how to drive, still, and LA is such a driving city. It’s a huge place, lots of freeways. I’ll definitely learn soon. It should be a priority, I just haven’t yet. LA has some darkness to it. A lot of seediness. It’s not a super cosmopolitan city, it’s not like Paris. It’s just disorganised in so many parts, this municipality made from a million different tiny things. “I guess this sort of question, historically, is something musicians get asked a lot” Whether their environment influences their… you know, and I don’t know what the answer is, but I kind of feel like it ultimately doesn’t. At least with me I feel like the core essence of my music is always the same. Maybe little bits and pieces sneak in, but there’s a certain strain of feeling in my music that is always there and unchanging, and it doesn’t matter where I am. “Oh man, this is a great song!” [Four Tops, ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’ starts playing – Stax out, Motown in]. I grew up listening to a lot of music. My mum was really very knowledgeable about stuff, and just played lots and lots of different kinds of music. I think when you’re exposed to a variety of sounds as a young person they all creep in. “There is that frustration when you read the reviews that call you Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell” It’s funny because I haven’t done an interview in a while, my last record came out, you know, a bit ago [2015’s ‘On Your Own Again’]. That frustration seems like a very old one. But I think that’s the reality of making music that is any way consumed by the public. It will be condensed in a way that you won’t think fully reflects the picture. They’re important figures. But then I have a flute, you know. “It felt wrong for the new album to be a summer record” There was a period before ‘Quiet Signs’ was done when it was supposed to come out in the summer and I felt weird about that.
Tell Me About It
“I need these darker seasons. Especially living in LA, which is a season-less place” It felt wrong. Not that I make music in any way intended to be listened to at only one time, but it felt wrong and I’m happy that didn’t happen. I suppose maybe sometimes that might pose a threat. I don’t know how many times you can plan it that way and have it work out. But I need these darker seasons. Especially living in LA, which is a season-less place. It’s like in the ’80s right now, which is very hot. The autumn and winter are introspective times and maybe more connected to a perceived mysticism than bright, hot summertime. “This new record feels bare” I don’t want to say that word, but I have. That isn’t a description of it musically, but it’s more emotionally on the cuff than the last record, which is maybe a bit more gauzy. Emotionally it’s a bit half-in, half-out of reality. On the last record I didn’t have a label until it was done. There wasn’t a label waiting, it was just me making music because I thought that would be a good thing
to do. I had a work-orientated work in mind this time. It was a project I had to complete, and that motivated me after a while of not doing anything. I think because I knew it was going to be one big piece in the end I approached it and considered that. “Some people can be fucking crazy prolific and smash it out, but I can’t” I was reading a lot, being really boring. My boyfriend’s a very social person and drags me out of the house. Other than taking photographs, I’ve just been so consumed with making this. And I’ve landed with a nine-song record. I’ve come to realise that I just work very slowly. And all of these songs were written specifically for this record, apart from ‘Aeroplane’. That’s the only one with an electric guitar on this record, or any other record. That one I wrote in the middle of 2014 – it was at the point where the last record felt done. I never usually go back and look at old songs but I went back to that one. I’m so glad you like it.
HINDS SAT 1 DEC EARTH JOCKSTRAP THURS 6 DEC ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH ADWAITH THURS 17 JAN THE ISLINGTON
ANGELO DE AUGUSTINE MON 18 FEB OSLO HACKNEY
MOTHERS WED 27 FEB OSLO HACKNEY
KATHRYN JOSEPH TUES 19 FEB UNION CHAPEL
LEIF ERIKSON THURS 28 FEB TUFNELL PARK DOME
YANN TIERSEN TUES 19 FEB & WED 20 FEB LOST UNDER HEAVEN ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL THURS 24 JAN NATALIE EVANS OSLO HACKNEY WED 20 FEB SERVANT JAZZ DILLY DALLY QUARTERS WED 30 JAN THE GARAGE JUNGLE THURS 21 FEB PEEPING DREXELS ALEXANDRA PALACE THURS 7 FEB BERMONDSEY SOCIAL LALA LALA CLUB THURS 21 FEB SEBRIGHT ARMS ODETTA HARTMAN TUES 12 FEB THE WAVE PICTURES PAPER DRESS THURS 21 FEB VINTAGE KOKO BESS ATWELL PALACE FRI 15 FEB TUES 26 FEB ST PANCRAS OLD OUT VILLAGE CHURCH SOLD UNDERGROUND
GENTLY TENDER WED 6 MAR OSLO HACKNEY GIANT PARTY WED 13 MAR OSLO HACKNEY PLASTIC MERMAIDS WED 13 MAR THE LEXINGTON ROSIE LOWE THURS 14 MAR OMEARA BEDOUINE FRI 22 MAR PURCELL ROOM EMPRESS OF TUES 26 MAR SCALA SHARON VAN ETTEN TUES 26 MAR ROUNDHOUSE
KARPE TUES 2DAPR OUT SOL SCALA GHUM THURS 4 APR BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB KELLY MORAN FRI 5 APR PURCELL ROOM STEVE GUNN FRI 5 APR OSLO HACKNEY BC CAMPLIGHT THURS 11 APR SCALA TIRZAH TUES 23, WED 24 & THURS 25 APR SCALA THE STROPPIES THURS 18 JUL THE LEXINGTON
Goat Girl At home with Lottie, Rosy and Vera the ghost, by Stuart Stubbs. Photography by Tom Porter
If you’ve followed Goat Girl over the past year or two – their south London scene beginnings, their broken arms, their getting shit for not wearing bras on Later with Jools Holland, their take-itor-leave-it debut album of strung-out psych rock and post-punk slow-burners, their timeless sense of being young and in a gang and doing well – you can probably imagine exactly how and where they live; in the case of singer Lottie and drummer Rosy, at least. Band mates Ellie and Holly live separately and north of the river but Lottie and Rosy have remained in Lewisham, where the band formed and still rehearse, in Ellie’s mum’s garage a few streets away. South London has been important to Goat Girl but the location of their terrace house, shared with a couple of friends and a ghost names Vera, pales to the stuff inside. Lottie’s and Rosy’s place is basically a party house that most of us aren’t relaxed enough to live in ourselves. There
are things everywhere, seemingly, whenever I ask, from three sources: Deptford Market, Poundland, which Rosy has become obsessed with, and the street outside. Across the board, these items include whole sofas, shopping trolleys that the band have converted into summer BBQs, paintings of horses, paintings of dogs, an unofficial Robbie Williams calendar, books about Zayn Malik and Rosy’s “inflatable boyfriend”, Stu (discarded behind a skateboard until next year). Lottie opens the door and leads us to the kitchen for a strong cup of tea. I mention the Christmas bunting – it’s not that it’s up early, Lottie tells me; it never came down from last year. Spoiled for choice for the things we could talk about in this house, Lottie and Rosy spend the next hour or two showing me around and having a good laugh as we go. It was just how I expected it to be. Apart from the ghost.
Playstation 2 Lottie: What is it they say about computer games – the worst ones are the ones they make into films. All of the games I own are those ones. My favourite is Tomb Raider. The TV we found on the street. There were all these TVs sitting in water, so it was pretty dangerous to plug it in, but it works fine. And because the screen is so small, it makes watching TV a real workout for your brain. It’s not as if you’re just sat there doing nothing.
The garden Rosy: I did the garden up over the summer. Now it’s turned to shit. Lottie: The sheet is from where we were trying to watch films outside. We set up a projector, but every time our neighbour turned their light on we couldn’t see anything. And we couldn’t have the sound on because it was too late, so we’d be sat there watching a silent movie of 21 Jump Street. Rosy: That at the back in the mud bath. When it was really hot I made that really wet and just lied down in it.
Surfer Rosa Lottie: ‘Surfer Rosa’ is the first album I got on record. I got given it for my thirteenth birthday. I kinda hated it at first. I didn’t understand it – I was like, what is this noise? But I came back to it and thought what was wrong with me. It’s not the easiest Pixies record to start with but it opened a lot of doors for me. It’s such a beautiful cover I thought I needed to make use of it and show it off.
Kristoff the ethical thief Rosy: I found this big piece of cardboard and thought, ‘ok, let’s paint something.’ I like drawing weird alien creatures, and liked the idea of giving this one a story about him being an ethical thief. I’ve only made four pieces of art in my life. This is one, and that’s one [a collage of photos from cheap porn mag Razzle]. When we were on tour once I had the urge to buy a porn magazine at a service station. I acted really casual to the little old lady behind the till – ‘hey, how are you doing? Just that please…’ Everyone was like, ‘that’s disgusting,’ but they were all reading it with me because the stories are so entertaining. I thought I should find something to do with it, so I made that. BBC passes Lottie: Those are from our Marc Riley sessions. The one from this year was more of an acoustic session so we had to work out renditions of songs to play, and it was live on air so it was kinda nerve wracking. It went pretty well and it was filmed as well so you can see it online. It was funny because I don’t really like to shave my armpits but it was so clear in the video because they were zooming in on me playing the guitar and it was casting a shadow on the back wall. Someone commented “hairy armpits, nooo!” I love those kinds of comments – “Oh my god, women with hairy armpits, how disgusting!” Someone commented when we played Jools as well, about Rosy not wearing a bra. They were both women as well. It’s pretty strange.
Hank Rosy: This is hank. He came from Deptford market and goes everywhere on tour with me. He’s nice to hold and cuddle in the van. The thing is, he’s very robotic and not very cuddly. You can feel that he has wires in his arms, but I’ve not dared to put batteries in him yet. He would probably start saying my name because we’re very close. I was really scared of him at first. He looks pretty scary.
Sketch book Lottie: In here is my poo series. I made a whole comic book of poos in different situations, like getting crappuccinos. There are these paintings too, and charcoals. I don’t do it on tour so much, because I like to play with paints. We play a game where one of us starts telling a story and you have to start drawing it as they’re telling it. I like people that can’t really draw but have a sense of childishness to do it.
Petong the horse Rosy: Petong is the most gracious horse to ever have been painted. We got this in Deptford Market, along with a lot of the things we own. We just can’t deny these bargains. Hooked wheel Rosy: Outside is a wheel that I found and decided I just had to have it. It was in my room but it fell on my friend’s head, because the ghost moved it. Because we have a ghost called Vera. [Rosy shows me a brick in the house with ‘VERA’ written on it.] She lives in the cupboard under the stairs and I’ve had a couple of paranormal experiences with her. One time she turned my music down. It was on 13, and I was sitting on my bed, and I just heard the music fade out midsong, and I went over and it had been turned down to zero. And then, with the wheel, it was on the top of my cupboard and it just flew onto my bed. Because there was this fly, and I was trying to put it a jar because it had really nice wings, and the next thing I know the wheel flies off and lands by my bed. I think Vera was saving the fly. Robbie Williams calendar Rosy: I got this from Poundland – I have a bit of an obsession with Poundland. There weren’t any other choices, it was just Robbie. It’s all stock images that are unflattering. It’s not good, Robbie. I think Robbie’s quite funny, though. He’s alright.
Caps Rosy: I was in Camberwell walking past a shop and I saw this. I have a side project called Sexy Princess so I just had to have it. The Trump hat I’ve changed to say ‘Make Amerie Release Another Banger like One Thing again’. This was in Poundland, which was really bad. I don’t think it was in an ironic way. Although I think Poundland do have a sense of humour because sometimes you go to the self checkout and it speaks in an Elvis voice.
‘Country Sleaze’ artwork Rosy: This is the original artwork that we used for our very first single. My boyfriend at the time did it and just threw it away. I rescued it out of the bin. Moroccan dagger Rosy: I got this in Morocco. I tried to bring back a bow and arrow as well but it went missing. If someone broke in though, this isn’t the thing that I would reach for – I’d clearly go for my hammers.
SAT.19.JAN.19 THU.14.MAR.19 THU.28.FEB.19 FRI.25.JAN.19
MAMUTHONES – FEAR ON THE CORNER –
ANTHROPROPHH – OMEGAVILLE –
MIEN – MIEN –
BONNACONS OF DOOM – BONNACONS OF DOOM –
LAY LLAMAS – THUBAN –
GNOD – CHAPEL PERILOUS –
PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS – KING OF COWARDS – LP/CD/DL
GOATMAN – RHYTHMS –
SHIT & SHINE – BAD VIBES –
GUM TAKES TOOTH – ARROW –
ROCKET RECORDINGS BEST OF 2018 + BEYOND ROCKETRECORDINGS.BANDCAMP.COM
The worst sleeves of 2018
Tim Hecker — Konoyo “You don’t think it’s just going to look like a photo of all the shit fly-tipped behind our office, do you, Tim?” “I’m pretty sure the flame will distract the eye.”
Death Grips — Year of the Snitch Turns out you can recreate the Instagram Stories filter where your mouth floats off by sawing holes in an old bath. I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate it.
Jeff Goldblum — The Capitol Studio Sessions I like Jeff Goldblum a lot, and yet just looking at this makes me want to ask Jeff to, y’know, keep it down for a while.
Bill Ryder Jones — Yawn The parents of this kid constantly tell their friends, “sorry, he’s not usually like this.” Well guess what – yes he is. He’s like it all the fucking time, and all of us talk about it constantly.
Slaves — Acts of Fear and Love Absolutely disgusting! He’s plopping right next door to where that baby is drawing on a wall. I will not be buying the album.
Cardi B — Invasion of Privacy “Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla, bang bang.”
Thirty Seconds To Mars — America It’s a hard pass from me on this one, and not just because Thirty Seconds To Mars are clearly still using the word ‘boner’ in 2018. But mostly because of that.
Cher — Dancing Queen If this was intended ironically, it’d be the best sleeve of the year. It’s not though, is it? Is it? Cher? Blink once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘get out’.
Rod Stewart — Blood Red Roses They finally thought that painting Rod would mask his condescension and predatory gaze, but look, the artist totally captured it.
Sting & Shaggy — 44/876 Five minutes after this photo was taken Shaggy did a wheelie and Sting lost his deposit.
illustration by kate prior
Inside: Nilüfer Yanya / Anna Von Hausswolff / Glows / Jessica Pratt / The Murder Capitol / Vera Sola / Jacco Gardner / Goat Girl / Albums of...
Published on Dec 7, 2018
Inside: Nilüfer Yanya / Anna Von Hausswolff / Glows / Jessica Pratt / The Murder Capitol / Vera Sola / Jacco Gardner / Goat Girl / Albums of...