In this second ed. of Random Acts of Music we’re taking our lead predominantly from serious music influencer and doyenne of experimental electronica and idiosyncrasy, the dulcet-toned MaryAnne Hobbs. To spice things up and keep it diverse, we’ve also lobbed in a few choice cuts from across the 6 Music Board.
Just in case you missed our first New Music Playlist #NMP, you can check it out later by clicking this link.
Today’s playlist is somewhat submerged in dense, dark soundscapes at points tinged with glistening moments of ethereal brightness. There’s an almost religious, definitely spiritual quality to some of the tracks; to counter the celestial and bring things back down to earth, we’ve included some extremely earthy and very meaty animalistic vibes.
Full Spotify playlist at the end of the post.
Starting off the latest Recommends playlist is Aphex Twin with Umil 25-01, just one of a bunch of tracks the electronic Gandalf has uploaded out of the blue. Originally dropped as a bonus track to follow the release of ‘Orphaned Deejay Delek 2006-2008’, it’s a meandering snake of a tune peppered with sharp percussive hits. You’ll find this amongst others over on the Irish-born Englishman’s label home Warp.net. Check it out.
Walking a completely different sonic path is Berlin based musician Martyn Heyne whose magical guitar-work adorns expansive, visceral soundscapes.
Latest single Carry teases a new album due out later this year on the newly established 7k label. Speaking of his own personal interaction with music Martyn offers “For me the only way to discover something new in music is to listen without any preconceptions as to what it is. No expectations at all”. Sound advice.
August Rosenbaum is a Danish composer whose innovative compositions are currently taking music industry and media types, as well as fans by storm. If music could be described as a luxuriously adorned celestially beauty, Credo is it. Or if you prefer your analogy a little more Italianate in a futuristic Renaissance kinda way – in the Dane’s own words – “Imagine an altar boy stepping forward to sing at an Italian church mass in 2050”.
Credo is Lifted from the August Rosenbaum album ‘Vista’ due out on November 24th on uber-hip, Danish independent record label Tambourhinoceros. If the two single releases provide a vista of what is yet to come on the full length, we can look forward to something pretty special! (Check out lead track Nebula – a ‘poignance’ of strings set afloat on a sea of all consuming darkness).
Another track that could easily have been recorded in the shadowy, nocturnal darkness of a marble-lined Gothic cathedral is Mountaineers, the Susanne Sundfør single featuring the illustrious John Grant. The Norwegian music artist recently signed to the Bella Union label for whom she’ll play an intimate album launch in London’s Courtyard Theatre on 22nd August (see poster for details).
Mountaineers is to music as Villette was to literature, and like the Bronte novella, there is something almost preternatural in its power.
It unfurls, largo, with Grant’s potent plain chant vocal lingering long on a brooding thrum, creating frissons of tension and mystery. Into Grant-created darkness comes the light of Sundfør’s magical vocal. Like a gentle hand soothing a troubled soul it adds an uplifting and bewitchingly ethereal texture as it majestically whips the melody up from Hades to Heaven.
Susanne Sundfør will be interviewed on Monday 14th August by Radcliffe and Maconie for 6 Music. Programme start time 1pm GMT. Her latest album Music for People in Trouble – from which Mountaineers is lifted – is due for release on 25th August. Susanne’s first on Bella Union, it is currently available to pre-order here.
The MfPiT promotional tour kicks off in Helsinki on 12th September with a pitstop in London on 2nd October and one in Dublin five days later on 7th.
Speaking of heaven and higher highs, Midnight the new single from Jessie Ware, is a delicious R&B redemption from the Gothic froideur of its Playlist predecessor.
Earthy, sensual, seductive, its the perfect vehicle for Ware’s powerful honey-textured vocal. One minute it’s gliding recklessly over undulating synth lines, the next storming through a stomping piano riff, the temperature of Ware’s vocal matching the rising heat of the lyrics.
A taster of her as yet untitled upcoming album due later this year via PMR/Interscope, Midnight is an audacious ode to risqué love with a searingly hot, rhythmic pulse.
From hot blooded carnal pulses to ‘junglesque’, tribal ones. Listening to Pact Infernal‘s Purification is like crawling blindfold through a dark echo chamber surrounded by an invisible audience of strange sounds. The highly charged atmosphere is laced with intrigue, and shaded with a touch of terror reminiscent of ‘what danger’s lurking in the jungle?’ film-scenes.
Purification is the opening track on the duo’s debut ‘concept’ album Infernality which is on release via the Horo label and was “written to invoke a tribal ritual of the mind“. It’s deep … mineshaft deep.
Keeping the textures deep and immersive, we move onto Leaving the Park from Brookly-based Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never. Another tune from his score for the film GoodTime it’s due out on Warp on 11th August.
An intensity of frantic squiggles and streaks of noise rush through a booming darkness in a sound that strangely feels both expansive and claustrophobic.
It’s certainly immersive, drawing you into its spiralling galaxy. Innovative expression of chaotic emotion, Leaving the Park has a back to the future feel as it references Tangerine Dream in the most post-modern of ways.
American multi-instrumentalist wonder-woman Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has as fuller diary than most, with a prolonged stint of festival and island hopping pencilled in, starting with a slot at prestigious Øyafestivalen in Oslo on 11th August.
Finnish Flow Festival (try saying that with a mouthful of peanuts), plus dates in Sweden, France and Poland follow, as well as a mid-Winter gig in NYC that will see her showcase her upcoming album.
Kaitlyn played the Nils Frahm festival in London last year where per that flaxen mistress of the decks, she “enchanted the room“. The inventive and far-seeing electro-experimenter continues to enchant with An Intention, the first taster of her new album entitled The Kid which is due out on 6th October.
There are similarities of sorts with Welshwoman Kelly Lee Owens – both artists push and stretch boundaries oft’ beyond their ‘comfort zone’; they both also favour a fusion of existential synths and breathy harmonies.
The apparent effortlessness of Smith’s art belies the perfectly arranged elements that furnish her imaginative electronic habitats.
Full details of her tour schedule and album release can be found on Smith’s website.
Four-piece Grizzly Bear who hail from Brooklyn, NYC, have just dropped single Neighbors taken from their upcoming album Painted Ruins which is due out on the Columbia label on 18th August.
When they finish live-love-bombing New York’s clubs, they’ll be hitting my home town, where they’ll pitch up at Vicar Street for a double date on 4th/5th October with Finn-Dane super-group Liima. UK and Euro dates follow – details on their FB page.
Possibly the most touchingly beautiful and warmly endearing song on this playlist, Neighbors is the fourth release from the bands first long player since their 2012 album Shields. It’s as mellow as the dawn glow with a caress more tender than a gentle breeze.
Blending swatches of folk, indie and electronic, the track flows across lines of heaving synth, warm-textured ‘horn’ samples and tight circular guitar riffs. The understated vocal complements the carefully produced union of organic and electronic.
You can watch the rather quirky but really entertaining visual accompaniment to Neighbors here.
For the next track, what we wanted to bring you and what we can bring you are unfortunately two different things. What we wanted to include here was the Andrea Belfi remix of the Dead Light track, Sleeper. However, as it’s currently unavailable in any format other than MP3, that isn’t a playlist runner.**
A huge favourite of Ms. Hobbs, drummer Belfi has re-imagined the short, soul-stirring Sleeper, weaving inspired rhythm patterns into its minimalist fabric.
Belfi’s percussive choreography is akin to expressionist or freeform dance. Vital, expressive, uninhibited and provocative – it enlivens and reshapes, bringing new textures to the surface of what already was an incredibly captivating composition. Bravissimo.
Sleeper (Andrea Belfi Remix) is one of four brand new mixes due out on 25th August on the Village Green label but can be pre-ordered here.
**On the playlist we’ve included Sleeper in its original format and an Andrea Belfi solo track, Lead (percussive shades of Sat in Your Lap).
The Spotify gods are not being kind to DervSwerve just now, as lo, we’ve been struck down with déja vu yet again, as the track we wanted to feature hasn’t been uploaded. No matter, we’ll pluck another from the heart of the Blondes catalogue.
Blondes are a two-piece based in NYC who are set to release Warmth their first album on the R&S label. The track we wanted to bring you was MRO* but the only track available to us just now is KDM, which at just under 6.50 is one helluva #tuunne.
It’s the type of track where using the word trance would be apt as the groove is all rather heady and hypnotic. Pulsing rhythms beat into layer after layer of synth trance but it’s in the overall packaging that the genius lies.
There’s an underlying graininess and almost deliberately unpolished edgy rawness to their skilfully arranged, idiosyncratic production.
Warmth is due for release on 11th August but can be pre-ordered here.
*As of 11th August, MRO has been added onto the RAoM playlist
Our penultimate playlist entry is from an old hand under a new guise. Purl trading under the Illuvia moniker brings us the delicious Surrounded. To quote from his bandcamp page …
“Music as a doorway to the Eternal – Welcome. My name is Ludvig Cimbrelius and I create music, endlessly … it is a language capable of expressing some of the vast depths of beauty that resides within us all.”
How absolutely wonderful is that?
Equally wonderful are the cool, clean lines of his self-released track Surrounded. Minimalist electronic breeze, piano notes in the form of Summer raindrops, and harmonies in the guise of spritely echoes.
It’s just all too gorgeous.
Illuvia is lifted from the album Eternell and you’ll find both over on bandcamp. Buy it and let your senses be beguiled!
Last but by now means least, easing us out is the fascinating Two Thousand and Seventeen from Four Tet.
On the wings of Kieran Hebdon this is an amuse bouche from his new album due out later this year on his own label Text Recordings.
It shimmers. It stuns. Precision fretwork of the most intoxicating kind is paired with laid back synth soundscapes to create something so unique that it defies categorisation. Which can only ever be a good thing.
Strings played in an elaborate Asian style are the gilt-edged bling to a paired-back electronic twilight, ornate decor melded with layers of grey.
With its exquisite guitar sequences, which are played with dexterity and flair, and backroom fodder synths, this is a track where melodrama is counterpointed by the most workaday of ‘backing tracks’. Simply perfect.
And a simply perfect ending to what’s been a pretty special playlist. To hear our regular Random & other playlists or to keep up with all the news and views follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or hop across to Spotify! DervSwerve