Tune-Yards implore us to listen to other voices, and the way we use our own

When I talk about voices, I am gesturing around the room. It is understood that voices are non-white, female, queer, working class, trans, excluded or otherwise compromised narratives that require underlining in urgent reds and blacks.

The privileged storyteller never hears the sound of their own voice, because – unless they have elsewhere known the feeling that some essential part of their being is second-class – it has never required any validation to be heard. Reading interviews with Merrill Garbus, it’s obvious that she invests a lot of time in thinking about how her own tongue carries the names of the African people and places she’s known and adored: teaching music at a primary school in Kenya; seeing Taarab music live; the ongoing influence of Fela Kuti, among others. For the fourth Tune-Yards album, I can feel you creep into my private life, Garbus chooses to examine the inherent privileges she is afforded by swiping her white-American library card through other cultures, while simultaneously fighting patriarchal bluster at home.

Continue reading at The Line of Best Fit

N.E.R.D – NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES

Regardless of whether anyone needed to hear this record, certainly no one needed to make it. It was famously documented in 2003 that, at one point, 43 percent of songs on U.S. radio (and 20 percent in the UK) were Neptunes-produced; the team of Pharrell Williams and Hugo Chavez were having to stagger releases, essentially to stop all their own songs competing against each other in the charts. With a hit-making machine already in place, the addition of Shae Haley to establish N.E.R.D. allowed Pharrell a playground for his more audacious off-cuts. On NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES, their first output since 2010’s wildly inessential Nothing, the trio’s meandering avant-rap is somehow more encumbered by its lack of ideas than its lack of editorial savvy.

Continue reading at Drowned in Sound

Baths – Romaplasm

The capitulations of the body form the basis for every Baths record, a foreign field eternally compromised by grand massacres and little deaths. At the time of Will Wiesenfeld’s last outing, the dark heaven that was 2013’s Obsidian, his body had just begun to recover from its loudest rejection yet: a fierce bout of E. coli that left the artist barely able to eat or sleep for any length of time. That album, like Sufjan Stevens’ Age of Adz three years prior, was less a joyous celebration of new health than a post-mortem at the body’s point of failure. This was billed in interviews as Baths’ “weird version of a pop record” at the time which, even as a qualifying statement, may have been a stretch; its most urgent highlight (‘No Eyes’) found the artist pleading to be fucked, with or without sincerity. On Romaplasm, Wiesenfeld seems to have finally made something that could pass as a pop record, exuberant in both its content and execution.

Continue reading at The Quietus

DrunkenWerewolf Albums of 2017: Deputy Editor’s Pick

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it – as writers, it is our job to stretch cogent narratives across increasingly cracked and disparate landscapes – but my top ten feels subdued this year. For the most part, these are albums defined by their restorative properties, where global anxieties are conveyed through sighs and whispers rather than shouts. It won’t stay that way for long.

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Live Report: Budapest Showcase Hub 2017

 

Each time I return from Budapest, through no fault but my own, the bright corridors of Bristol or Amsterdam Schiphol alert me to an unscheduled lightness; I have left something behind. Invariably it’s an assortment of the same items: keys, wallet, heart, cash, sense of direction, preconceived notions of both popular and alternative music as an exclusively Anglophonic affair that extends as far as Scandinavia before offering diminishing returns as soon as one ventures further south or east. Upon my visit to Budapest Showcase Hub (or BUSH) 2017, the extraordinary sophomore to last year’s debut event, I am pleased to report that I am now only bereft of the final four items on that list.

Continue reading at Clash

Ghosts of Urban Decay: DiS Meets Andrew Wasylyk

 

I think it’s a cloudy day in Hawkhill, though it’s hard to tell. A slow, hazy brightness envelops the landscape. In the middle distance there stands a grey stone building, roof long since gutted, an old tree looming over its derelict frame in defiance. Everything here is charcoal-grey and silent. I’ve never been to this place. But I’m staring at Joseph McKenzie’s black and white photograph of the area, taken from his 1966 collection Dundee – A City In Transition, and I can hear a piano arpeggio charting its course around the edges of the frame.

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Gregg Kowalsky – L’Orange, L’Orange

Like magical realism, the key signifiers of ambience are invariably opaque: as a genre, it thrives on ambiguity, haze, distortion, the ‘undecidable’, the inversion of assumed values. Light, where permitted, may only be dusky or twilit, carved out in anaemic shards of an otherwise pitch-black or cobalt totality. It may not be bright or, heaven forbid, sunny. It should not conjure Miami or California. Beyond all else, the ambient record denotes the absence of certainty, a precious world outside our own built from spiderwebs and choral loops. With L’Orange, L’OrangeGregg Kowalsky compromises all our prose about misty forests and abandoned skyscrapers. It is incandescent.

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Cults – Offering

By the time the Manhattan duo had released their debut album, the continued existence of Cults already felt like a survival fight. While breakout hit and 2011 ubiquity “Go Outside” gambolled through its four minutes with the insouciant, no-fucks breeziness of its contemporaries (Sleigh Bells‘ “Rill Rill”, Chairlift‘s “Bruises”), it also revealed glimpses of a heaviness that no glockenspiel could carry. Above all, they faced the dread fate of creating a cute hit: moving on from it. Now on their third album, Offering finds the band exploring the scope of their natural ballast with some of their darkest songs to date, while simultaneously sounding freer than ever; no longer one-hit wonders, theirs proves to be a robust kind of levity.

Continue reading at Drowned in Sound