Jim Ghedi – A Hymn for Ancient Land

There are records that sing of the land, and those that wear traces of its soil beneath its author’s fingertips. Nature is a coarse thing, roughly marked by men and women who have known the abrasion of bark and nettle, skinned knees and chapped lips, seasons marked by sloe berries and the quick snap of frost. “In north-east Derbyshire,” Jim Ghedi begins at last, “I have worked my years.” Five songs in, they’re the first words spoken on A Hymn for Ancient Land, and the preceding tracks immediately feel less like instrumentals and more like their own wordless storytelling, the landscape rendered in strings and bows before anything as brittle as language is permitted to enter the fray.

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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.

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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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Interview: EMA explores the boundaries of the outer ring


In September 2015, the Washington Post ran a feature called ‘An American Void’. It follows the day-to-day lives of the Meek family, who occasionally housed Dylann Roof in the days and weeks before he walked into Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and shot dead nine black attendees, an act he had hoped would spark a race war. What was most captivating about Stephanie McCrummen’s story was its focus on the peripheries of the event, the sheer ordinariness of the lives that orbited Roof’s.

This proved to be one of several cultural and political backdrops that informed Erika M. Anderson’s concept of ‘the outer ring’, the economic dead space outlined on her third album as EMAExile in the Outer Ring. (Enormously articulate and well-read, Anderson lights up when I ask her about literary influences and confesses she’s been meaning to compile a ‘reading list’ to accompany the record.) Her definition for the Quietus seemed succinct enough: “It’s the estuary between where the people who are being forced out of the cities, due to being economically disadvantaged, meet with the people who having to leave the countryside in order to get jobs.”

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Sea Change Festival 2017 @ Totnes, 24-26/08/17

As a young man growing up in Torquay, the neighbouring town of Totnes seemed like a strange kind of heaven. It was full of anarchists, hippies, socialists, crystal healers, vegans; I pilfered their book shops for esoteric publications by all of the above, picked up tomes by Terence McKenna, read the words of men pushing for an intersectional approach to psychedelics, the Abrahamic religions, and the alien civilisations who, I am led to believe, introduced both.

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Martine McCutcheon – Lost and Found

In a thousand years or so, maybe a hundred, none of this will matter. Once the nuclear tides have swept away an ocean of consumer perishables – discounted beyond belief for the greatest everything-must-go sale on earth – the balance between nature and artifice will pivot and arc back in favour of the soil, where the distinction between Olly Murs and Death Grips will be so much shattered plastic. In the meantime, Martine McCutcheon’s got a new album out, so perhaps we should assess that before we get ahead of ourselves. After all, civilisations don’t always get to choose which artefacts signal that they were once here; for all we know, ours could be Lost and Found and a cracked fidget spinner.

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Everything Everything are lost in A Fever Dream

In the seven years since Everything Everything hatched their jabbering debut Man Alive, a record that seemed destined to be filed alongside Fenech Soler and Ou Est Le Swimming Pool as curios of the period, a lot has changed. Its follow-up Arc put down a marker that they could do more than simply yelp and writhe, binding the band’s more staccato movements into something positively elegant. By the time we reached 2015’s Get to Heaven, the band were unstoppable; like an athlete at the apex of their game, their genius felt effortless, performatively cut through with cute feints and bravado. Returning with fourth album A Fever Dream, how could the Manchester four-piece possibly fail to score?

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Siobhan Wilson – There Are No Saints

We’re all chancing along the precipice, of course. The gentlest of pressure applied to the glued-up, duct-taped seams of the responsible world finds the whole thing bursting apart, and with it our job titles, rictus grins, marriage vows, sobriety chips, management buzzwords. On her second album There Are No SaintsSiobhan Wilson identifies herself as “neither Cathy nor Anna Karenina,” but perhaps an interlocutor between the two: pulling at the scuzzy fabric and binding it into something both prettier and more substantial.

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Waxahatchee makes her voice heard on Out in the Storm

There’s a pivotal scene that closes out the first season of Spaced, the cult TV debut of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright, in which Tim has an epiphany waiting for his ex-girlfriend to arrive at the bar. “It’s like walking in on yourself, you know? Like, ‘What are you doing?’ That’s how I felt tonight feeling my heart miss a beat every time the door opened. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’” On her fourth album as WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s natural introspection transcends navel-gazing to place distance between herself and a toxic relationship, and the effect is both vituperative and life-affirming: in its most brutally honest scenes, we catch the Alabama native walking in on herself.

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