Dervscoveries is a new regular post bringing you the best in ‘musica obscura’ – songs, sounds and artists who might not as yet swim in the mainstream, but whose music you should be familiarising yourselves with asap. As usual, this post will be accompanied by a Spotify playlist, which you can find at the bottom of the page.
Kick starting proceedings is a collective from Finland called RinneRadio with their jazz-ambient piece called Yasmin. Calling out above a meld of bubble and haze, an earnest clarinet captures the aural gaze before leading the listener into an imaginary world of visceral transcendence. The perfect blend of jazz and new age electronica, this is mindful instrumentation at its finest.
Rinne Radio are a constantly evolving techno-jazz outfit whose current line-up comprises Tapani Rinne on bass clarinet and saxophone, Juuso Hannukainen on percussion and Konsta Muffler Mikkonen on electronics with Mikka Kari in charge of sound design.
Yasmin is out on the Ambient Zone label.
Things move onto a darker, more unnerving landscape with next track, the absolutely superb Witness by Paul Woolford under the Special Request moniker. Taken from his second 23-track album entitled Belief System, Witness is a deeply textured and richly atmospheric instrumental interpretation of mystery and foreboding. Starting with a veil of mist, the track quickly descends down a rabbit hole of disquietude.
A breathtaking if troubling composition that will hold you captive.
Belief System is available via the Houndstooth imprint.
There are few sounds as mesmerising as marimba; for centuries any bell-like sounds whose timbre soared up into the heavens like chiming stars have fascinated, uplifted and captivated. Rite is an utterly beautiful echo-chamber of xylophones, marimbas and glockenspiels brought to us by Snow Palms, the brainchild of musician and composer David Sheppard. Taken from his sophomore album Origin and Echo, which incidentally was two years in the making, Rite is an utterly beautiful and transporting piece of musical argentum.
Rite is taken from the forthcoming album Origin & Echo due for release via Village Green on 17th November.
Taking things in a completely yet not unrelated stylistic direction is young American Julien Baker. There is something equally soaring about Baker’s pole-vaulting vocal and cirrus-level atmospherics. Turn Out The Lights is the title track from 21-year old’s second album and if a benchmark of the record’s quality, then the bar has been set sky-high. Moving from soft finger-picked strings and earnest low-key vocals through a haze of reverb the track builds to an outro packed with fuzzy intensity and a powerful vocal ascent. Impressive is an understatement.
Lovers of Bon Iver style indie folk will be in thrall to the Tennessee native.
Julie Baker plays Whelan’s on 9th November (two days ahead of the equally splendid Lucy Rose).
Turn Out The Lights is taken from Julien Baker’s new album of the same name out October 27th on Matador Records.
Staying in guitar strumming, string plucking, southern state indie-folk territory we take our next cue from the guys over at BBC Introducing Devon. Recalling Tom Petty or that virtuoso of acoustic guitar Bob Dylan, StevieRay Latham has a voice that would be more at home on the broad expanse of the Great Plains than the grey pavements of London Town.
There are subtle echoes of the inviting melodies of Arctic Monkey’s genius Cornerstone on the Londoner’s latest single and former Devon ‘Upload of the Week’ Kristina, a semi-acoustic ballad with an underlying intensity that belies its superficial simplicity. It’s sometimes hard to believe that one artist could create something so compelling and beguiling as this track, with its entreating vocal and curious lyrics. Low-key electric guitar and intermittent synth samples add a 2017 twist, giving the track an ‘urban cowboy’ for the 21st century vibe.
Kristina is taken from Latham’s second album entitled Winter in London out now.
Next up another BBC Intro Devon find, Daniel Lloyd. Purveyor of ‘twangy gloom’ (love it), Daniel hails from Torquay in Devon. With a voice and lyrical edge that belie his tender age, this young English artist is on a par with the likes of Alex Turner and Richard Hawley. In fact, Lloyd sounds eerily like a young Hawley, his voice more cavernous than the midnight pits of Ebbw Vale.
You can hear Daniel’s stunning new track Love Discourse below. Imposing and unorthodox it is, just like his subterranean vocal and mature beyond his years arrangements. In the words of the late, great Tom Petty, we’ll watch and wait as Daniel Lloyd steps “Into the great wide open”.
**As Love Discourse wasn’t uploaded to Spotify we cannot include it in our accompanying playlist, sorry.
Ramping things up a tad are London-based Honey Lung with their latest number, Stuttering Mind. Lovers of MBV and our personal faves, Leicester based Dayflower will fall head over heels with this track, this band, this sound!
As a mark of just how damn good this quartet are, they headlined the BBC Intro stage at the Reading & Leeds festival earlier this year.
Honey Lung trade in clean guitar lines immersed in fifty shades of reverb with soft-tone vocals a la Ecstasy of Saint Teresa or their precursors Colorfactory. There are touches of melancholia around the edges of some truly gorgeous melodies and a warmly textured arrangement as the band cleverly (and very successfully) experiment with flipping focus from foreground to background. Even if indie isn’t your thing, Honey Lung are a band you should keep a beady one on, as there’s more here than meets the inexpert eye.
Stuttering Mind is out now – Honey Lung are currently on tour.
Django Django – the name just conjurs up all kinds of bounce, mayhem and fun doesn’t it. Brimming with colour, texture and zipping rhythm, their new track Tic Tac Toe brings a welcome splurge of brightness to our chilly, grey days. This rambunctious psych/art-pop energiser is yet another mouth-watering morsel from the London- based quartet’s upcoming third album.
The carry-on cowboy-esque feel-gooder is a blitz of thigh slapping beats, glorious harmonies, frantic guitars and bonkers arrangements. Need a pick-me-up? This is all the tonic you’ll need!
Django Django have been announced for Dublin’s Tivoli, 2nd March, 2018, tickets Euro 22.50 plus booking fee will go on sale via Eventbrite on 27th October, link here.
Marble Skies, the follow up to the band’s 2015 record Born Under Saturn has a release slot of 26th January 2018. Pre-order details here.
Cardiff-based four-piece Estrons have been faved by fans and moderators of Fresh on the Net several times – proof-positive that we know a good thing when we hear it, and, that they know how to spring cracking good tunes!
Alas, I was never blessed with good timing. Having missed out on every opportunity to review them for FOTN, I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since. Their new release Cold Wash provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
The flip side to previous single Glasgow Kisses, Cold Wash is a menacing clangour of metal and percussion that plays to the vocal strengths and endless range of front-woman Taliesyn Kallstrom. Hurling push-pull lyrics across a looping kerrang of driving guitars with gale fore indignation, Cold Wash once again finds Kallstrom in fine vocal form. Deliciously intense, there are moments of lulling reprieve before the track ratchets back up to a squally close.
Estrons have a rep for blistering live performances. They’ve just completed a full UK tour but if you’re hanging in Cardiff or its hinterland on 9th December, you’ll be able to catch their set at Chroma/Palomino Party, @ClwbIforBach details here.
Cold Wash/Glasgow Kisses is out now via Gofod Records.
Norwegian Anna Lena Bruland, better known to music aficionados as EERA is now just days away from releasing her debut album Reflection of Youth. Hailing from a fishing town south of Oslo, EERA decamped to London several years ago and it continues to be her base. There she honed the now highly regarded, exceptional songwriting skills displayed on her latest singles; three tracks in fact lifted from the Norwegian’s debut record. Songs I Wanna Dance & Christine were the ‘amuse bouche’ to current album appetiser Living, a strident something from virtually nothing that takes its thematic cue from a close, personal friendship.
While her voice captivates, EERA takes no lyrical prisoners, her sparse perspicacity a feat of concision. Similarly, her music can sound as barren as a wasteland or as brimful of skew-ways, gyrating wet metallica as an underground indie club on a Saturday night.
At times wistful, at others penitent, Living is as uncompromising an emotional expose as one would normally attribute to the likes of PJ Harvey.
EERA is currently supporting the Ghostpoet tour. Part recorded in producer Nick Rayner’s home-studio in Cork, Reflection Of Youth will release on 3rd November 2017 via Big Dada.
Also hailing from Nordic territories are Norwegian duo Smerz whose popularity has grown exponentially over the past few years thanks to Nordic music aficionados like Ja Ja Ja Nordic rowing in to give them some serious support.
The pair have just dropped their 7-track debut Okey EP with a release party scheduled for 26th October at Corsica Studios in SE London, details here. Taster singles from the EP have included the songs Blessed and most recently Half Life, but our feature track is the sultry No Harm.
A meld of low-key R&B and undulating yet edgy electronic beats, No Harm is a contradiction in terms of a delivery that wavers between apathy and melancholia. Vocals are frosted, breathy affairs – glacial one minute, whispering out-breaths the next. Spacious yet busy, morose yet provocative No Harm’s innovative, genre-crossing deconstructed sound has been lighting up playlists across BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music, a sign that things are definitely on a vertical trajectory for the CPH based pairing.
Smerz have been touring across Europe with a series of Half Life after parties and festival slots. If you haven’t already had the chance to see their brilliant live set, they have more dates lined up in Germany, Greece and Italy, details here.
No Harm is out now via XL Recordings. Okey is on digital release via XL Recordings / vinyl via Hard Up Records (UK) and in Denmark from Escho.
New ‘one to watch‘ Connie Constance wraps things up today. Hailing from Watford, this young singer might have just a bijou collection of songs to her name but what an impact those songs have already made!
Connie’s second EP, Let Go, is set for release on 24th November and if the title track is anything to go by, it’s going to be impressive ++.
Displaying what is already a very special talent, Connie Constance recalls the smokey timbre of Sade or Nina Simone with the youthful grace of Lianne la Havas. While her vocal has all the confident control of her predecessors, its near-London origins remain evident on the young singer’s unadulterated enunciation, making it all the more appealing.
Let Go is an open display of vulnerability – “don’t go, I need you“. Its spacious and languid layering of warm jazz tones and textures make the perfect vehicle for Constance’s multi-faceted delivery. Veering between entreaty and defiance, her voice sweeps across registers with the confidence of youth and rawness of ingenue.
Just how someone so young can perform with so much panache is simply mind-boggling.
Let Go is out now via all digital services; the EP of the same name will release 24th November on the AMF imprint.
As always, we round off today’s post with a complementary Spotify playlist – caring is sharing, and one way new or emerging artists can ensure their music is heard is by word of mouth, or reposts on social. So go ahead and spread the word. A bientot, DervSwerve