Bat For Lashes has made a name for herself creating beautiful and ethereal music. Now, to accompany new single ‘Lillies’ she’s teamed up with award-winning director Peter Sluszka. The result is a truly captivating and magnificent work of art
An achingly busy January made taking a short hiatus from blogging necessary in oder that I may keep my sanity.
Feeling fully refreshed and revitalised I’ll be taking on the new Darkstar album, ‘News From Nowhere’ later on this week and writing the review this weekend. I try desperately to repress my excitement at the prospect of what lies ahead of me as I listen to the link bellow and I defy you not to feel the same.
With the hype from his 2010 release as Caribou having barely died away, Dan Snaith’s musical output takes on yet another form. ‘Jiaolong’ is Snaith’s first long play release as Daphni, and it encapsulates Snaith’s musical breadth. Being labelled as dance music is only a discredit to Jiaolong as it encompasses so much more.
19. Du∆lityCaptain Murphy
Steven Ellison is obsessive. His releases as Flying Lotus are, with good reason, some of the most respected amongst the modern electronic music scene. As such, the controlled fashion in which Ellison revealed himself as Captain Murphy was more a necessity than a fad. Through that necessity came a hype so large that even the most level headed could not help being drawn into it. ‘Du∆lity’ displays a comedy that only threatens to emerge in Ellison’s previous releases as Flying Lotus. FlyLo has always been associated with Hip-Hop in a productive capacity, but has never committed wholly to any single project, much to the dismay of his fans. Post-Du∆lity, the reason why, is beyond clear.
18. DROKKGeoff Barrow & Ben Sailsbury
‘Drokk’ or ‘Music Inspired by Mega-City One’, is pure indulgence. It is the unofficial soundtrack to the world of Judge Dredd. It is hopelessly lost in its own geekiness and as such nothing credible can ever be written about it. So instead, drown out the drone of your humdrum life and transport yourself to the heart of the impure fiction of Mega-City One.
The members of 2012’s hottest psych pioneers, TOY, have successfully washed away their dark and jangling history with a powerful wave of thick reverb. This album is relentless. Some marathon races have been shorter and less tiring than some of the tracks on this album, and I mean that in a totally positive way. The length and trance inducing power of the track ‘Dead & Gone’ are only surpassed on the unremitting force of the 7+ minute freak-out on the albums closing track ‘Kopter’. TOY’s debut is raw and abrasive but a soothing reverby ointment always follows.
16. DevotionJessie Ware
Jessie Ware’s debut is one of those rare first releases; it holds all the intricacies of an experienced artist. The depth of sound and range on the album is staggering. Jessie’s vocal ability is exceptional and despite having three producers the album has a flawless continuity. At the same time ‘Devotion’ tells a story so often told by singer-songwriters, however, Devotion’s brilliance comes from it’s ability to tell that story from a unique perspective.
15. World, You Need A Change Of MindKindness
Of all the things in 2012, the amount of delight I took from Kindness’ cover of the Eastender’s theme-tune was the biggest surprise. ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ is a worthy testimony to the bravery of this album. It is unapologetically funky and boasts such flamboyance that it’s enough to make even the most flamboyant flam-boys blush. But underneath the ostentatious exterior, ‘World, You Need A Change Of Mind’ is beautifully constructed and masterfully executed. Oh yeah, and it has just the right amount of jazz.
14. 2Mac DeMarco
It’s hard to imagine that this album will ever lose its charm. With its honest vocal delivery, naïve panning technique and shameless guitar licks it’s hard to imagine were DeMarco’s song-writing prowess comes from, but there it is. And it is this juxtaposition in styles that makes this album so wonderful. A rough and ready set of beautifully written guitar songs. Plain and simple.
13. Beard, Wives, Denim Pond
Comprised of a reshuffled Tame Impala line-up and one or two (I forget just how many) of their friends, it was pretty obvious the type of album we were going to be listening to come the release of ‘Beards, Wives, Denim’, not to mention their previous release ‘Frond’ had pretty much fit our expectations exactly. However, whatever the influence, the make up of this album was different. A further developed vision has enabled Pond to produce a much more complete album, full of psychedelic visions of a 60’s summer at Woodstock.
12. No Love Deep WebDeath Grips
This is second of Death Grips’ releases this year and, being released in a suitably controversial fashion, it saw them forcibly removed from their record label. Death Grips are an unstoppable machine and the comprehension of their song production is beyond that of any man or woman outside of the band. It administers disorientation via a hypnotic punch directly to the brain. There is no respite during and the adrenalin lingers on long past the length of the album. Go get some:
11. TrilogyThe Weeknd
One of the most ambitious releases of the year, The Weeknd’s ‘Triliogy’ is well over two and a half hours in length. Its length however is the only vehicle by which Abel Tesfaye can share with you his deepest thoughts. The Trilogy travels along a narrative populated by sparse beats and immersive soundscapes, but they only serve to support the captivating vocal delivery of Tesfaye himself. Each emotion is felt exactly, as it is expressed so perfectly in the sonics of each song. Re-mastered to devastatingly high quality, Trilogyis best enjoyed on a long and cold night.
10. Silent Hour/Golden MileDaniel Rossen
Daniel Rossen’s first solo EP shows the song-writing support under which Grizzly Bear have thrived for so long. There is something so special about Rossen’s style, despite being so unified in their sound each song is perfectly distinct. Rossen’s vocal clarity is more apparent on this release, usually nestled in the spacious instrumentation found on Grizzly Bear’s albums, ‘Silent Hour/Golden Mile’ is has a more subtle approach. In spite of it’s length the EP is an outstandingly varied piece of work, as captivating as it is beautiful.
Gonjasufi’s ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ stretches out into a new dimension of dark. The sound of this record is ancient. Gonjasufi’s vocals never escape the treble that cages them as cavernous echoes surround them, a beautiful and subtle trademark of Gonjasufi’s sound. The drums on this ‘mini-album’ are punishing, they are suppressed in parts before being unleashed into bright sound. The album is at moments so effortless and at others impossible to comprehend, encapsulating the persona of the artist. MU.ZZ.LE feels like you are looking into the very soul of Gonjasufi, it is deep, complex and dark.
TNGHT, being one half Lunice, one half Hudson Mohawke, Have produced an irresistibly addictive self-titled debut EP. This EP represents everything dubstep should have been. This is full-on, in-your-face, dirty, electronic music for the thinking man. Behind all that destructive bass is a very clever, well thought out set of songs. The pair show vision, direction and a refreshing pace.
7. BreakthroughThe Gaslamp Killer
The Gaslamp Killer’s songs take on the form of ideas occurring so fast and with such volatility that by the time they reach our ears they have almost combusted to nothing. ‘Breakthrough’ is equal parts horrific and brilliant. Like everything in the Killer’s repertoire it both knocks me sick and lifts me into an elated state of euphoria and excitement. The sheer magnitude and range of the sounds that feature on Breakthrough make this album truly unique. It is however, the whole package that propels this album into brilliance. Totally insane and totally inspired, Breakthrough is a stellar journey into the mind of a madman.
6. LonerismTame Impala
‘Innerspeaker’ was always going to be a hard act to follow, but without too much exaggeration, ‘Lonerism’ is seminal. As ‘difficult second albums’ go, ‘Lonerism’ is excellent. It shows that the band, despite harnessing a sound so rooted in the past, are prepared to look to the future, and apply tired and tested sounds to a modern setting. Tame Impala refine their sound for 2012. It is still the same introspective model, but with a more polished and experienced guise.
5. The Money StoreDeath Grips
It is a dead heat between ‘The Money Store’ and ‘No Love Deep Web’, both equally aggressive and outrageously ambitious. It was inevitable that both Death Grips albums would make it into my favourites of 2012, and with nothing to divide the two, how come The Money Store features that bit higher in the rankings? Well, as terrible as it sounds, I heard The Money Store first. As bad as I feel for that fact, it can be justified. Arriving in 2012 a Death Grips novice, only hearing their name batted around the blogosphere, I had no idea what lay waiting for me down the line. Then it hit. The harsh reality of it track after track. So, for the sake of novelty The Money Store is my 5th favourite album of 2012.
4. Luxury ProblemsAndy Stott
Over the last decade Andy Stott has worked towards this point. In order to reach his destination he’s passed through many subgenres of dance, however ‘Luxury Problems’ sees Andy make a change of pace. Slowing down his music has allowed Stott to delve between the beats, pulling out unearthly textures and atmospheres. Listening to Luxury Problems is to understand music at its very base level, tones, textures and repetition. Each song on Luxury problems is a lament to a primal and instinctive past that yields itself to the listener as they dissolve into a depth of sound.
3. ShieldsGrizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear display an appreciation of space that is enviably and peerless in their genre. Lyrically the album has a staggering sense of its surroundings, alluding to vast physical distance and harsh, barren landscapes. The emotional core of the album is then one of desolation and isolation. From this centre run capillaries filling the landscape with complex colours and patterns. From the gravest subject matter Grizzly Bear fashion the most beautiful and splendid music. A suitable and satisfying follow up to 2009’s formidable ‘Vekatimest’.
2. Good Kid, M.A.A.D CityKendrick Lamar
Into his latest work Lamar pours unparalleled ambition and stellar production values. Combining this with a flawless narrative, Kendrick draws us into a carefully crafted tale of sordid fantasy and harsh reality. Subtitled ‘A Short Film By Kendrick Lamar’ Kendrick shows his intentions were clear from the outset, and he in no way over estimates his art. It feels as if each sound is somehow related to the rest of the album, each vocal or lyric echoed or foreshadowed somewhere else on the album. Beyond this, Kendrick and his team of top producers have crafted one of 2012’s fullest sounding albums.
1. Until The Quiet ComesFlying Lotus
Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, released a series of videos in the lead up to the release of his 2012 work, ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ (UTQC), all intensely exciting, even as stand-alone motifs of a signature sound. However, acting as a unified organism this album is a fully immersive sonic journey through a hyper-real dream state. Ellison’s music has a unique quality as it takes on the forms of discovery and creation. You see the world of UTQC unfold before you and yet it feels so interactive. Each click and beep acting as a toy with which a listener can play, unimpeded by the physical constraints of the known physical universe.
It is without doubt a technical and artistic triumph. His ambition and production prowess allow Flying Lotus to expand and advance on his previous sound, creating a complex and beautiful piece of art.
As we approach the end of the year and the blogosphere becomes drowned in end-of-year lists revealing, to your dismay, just how much music you missed this past year, the BBC provide a much needed life raft in the form of the long-list for its ‘Sound Of…’ accolade.
The list contains 15 artists and bands that will pave the way for music in the new year. As always, the list is an eclectic mix of fresh talent. With classically trained artists like Laura Mvula sitting alongside rough and ready indie band Palma Violets.
It would seem that this is going to be a big year for guitar music as the devastatingly ambitious indie outfit Peace join Palma Violets on the long-list. Amongst their company are the excitingly dark Savages and the R&B infused guitar sounds of Haim. With all this talent it looks sure that the recent talent drought in guitar music will end in 2013.
Leading on from what has been a big year for electronic solo artists, rapper Angel Haze is nominated with indie elctro kid King Krule.The increasingly prolific The Weeknd joins the list as a new artist and despite his steady stream of releases since 2011, he stands a good chance of winning.
As always the top 5 artists will be announced in reverse order starting on the 31st December and by the 4th January the BBC will have crowned their champion for 2013.
Nominees for BBC Sound of 2013:
AlunaGeorge A*M*E Angel Haze Arlissa Chvrches HAIM King Krule Kodaline Laura Mvula Little Green Cars Palma Violets Peace Savages The Weeknd Tom Odell