The invincible hush of Julie Byrne’s Not Even Happiness

juliebyrneIt was the first warm afternoon of the year. I walked alongside the Atlantic as the Earth came alive for the sun. There was a palpable sense of emergence to everything. I felt it in myself too, and remember thinking I would trade that feeling for nothing… not even happiness.

This was Julie Byrne’s explanation of her second album’s title, Not Even Happiness, the follow up to 2014’s mostly overlooked Rooms With Walls and Windows. Much of the Brooklyn singer’s charm is laid bare in these few words: a simple lyricism propelled by an exquisite command of vocabulary and syntax; themes married foremost to the natural world; a propensity to convey the inner mind and outer surroundings with a single brushstroke. But most of all, it captures her engagement to the restless world. “I love everything that flows,” Henry Miller said, “everything that has time in it and becoming… all that is fluid, melting, dissolute and dissolvent.” Byrne’s work shares that spirit: she loves everything that is emergent.

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Mouse on the Keys’ Out of Body is your new favourite Japanese jazz-rock album

outofbodyWho are Mouse on the Keys? Two pianists, a drummer. They’ve just made an album called Out of Body. And?

And it’s dreaming out loud. And I’d say, if you pinned me down, that what they’re making is primarily experimental jazz, but there are also elements of ambient, classical, trip-hop, and math rock, sometimes all in one track. And they’re a Tokyo band, formed in 2006 by drummer/keyboardist/composer Akira Kawasaki and keyboardist Atsushi Kiyota, formerly of Japanese indie pioneers Nine Day Wonder, forged from the ashes of the city’s post-hardcore and post-rock scenes. And they already had an audio manifesto from day one, as Kawasaki is keen to point out. “I had a specific sound concept in mind when I started up Mouse on the Keys,” he says. “It clearly explains our musical influences. The concept was: ‘Utilizing elements of modern French music represented by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, along with the hardcore music of the ’80s and ’90s that our drummer Akira Kawasaki was influenced by, and mixing them in a style reminiscent of Detroit techno.’” And it works.

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Introducing: Malihini

malihiniMalihini, for those of you unfamiliar with either Hawaiian or Lilo & Stitch, is essentially the island state’s word for newcomer. Which is fitting really, because we’re introducing them. If Memphis Industries’ latest party guests, Italian duo Federica Caiozzo and Giampaolo Speziale, had chosen a name that translated as ‘questionable senior’ or ‘coke dullard’ or ‘the ones from Test Icicles who weren’t Dev Hynes,’ frankly, we would have had reservations about the whole thing.

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