New Soundbites: December 2-15 (album reviews)

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In the last round of new sounds in ’08 Getintothis presents a double helping of audio delights as an old favourite proves his status as an innovative pop sensation.

Kanye West: 808’s and HeartbreakAlbum of the Week
Mercury
Kanye West cannot sing. Hell, he’d even make a shower head cry.
So what does he do when his mum dies through plastic surgery gone wrong and his girlfriend splits with him – he cranks the autotune to the max and sings about it – like Cher.
GENIUS! Even Prince ditched his weirdo vocal alter-ego side project Camille on the Black Album, claiming it too nasty for consumption. But here Kanye serves up a steaming feast for the critics to slam him (and they did) while even his most ardent fans refused to play ball reaching for Lil Wayne instead.
Thing is, much like Jay-Z‘s can’t play the guitar, will play the guitar Wonderwall moment at Glasto, Kanye recognises that to reinforce his status as a major player in pop he has to take risks, and it’s this which will cement his reputation as a leader of the pack. That 808’s is a near clean sweep of heartbreakers awash with instant hooks while lyrically reconciling West’s self-acknowledged hypocrisy for chasing the bling and promoting the ego, yet is as equally concerned with ‘the humanity of it all,’ makes for an even more engrossing listen.
Kanye may quickly revert to type with a follow up supposedly expected in the summer of next year, but for now, this one-off should be applauded not just for its bravery but for its expert execution too.
8/10
For fans of: Nougat, King Lear, John Foxx

He still can’t sing.

Jonas Reihardt: Jonas Reihardt
Kranky

Jonas can feel hard done by for not scooping the AotW prize, as this is a pure belter; whopping fizzes of synth prog drone with spatterings of ambient glitterings which feel at once sexy but also slightly dangerous.
The Kranky sticker gives it a badge of honour – and Jonas is a fitting wearer.
8/10
For fans of: Tangerine Dream, Pris.

High Places: High Places
Thrill Jockey
You’d imagine Mary Pearson and Rob Barber were pretty rubbish at GCSE woodwork. Instead of carving away they’d be seen bashing away on blocks in preparation of a life in percussive ethereal drone.
House points all round.
7/10
For fans of: Chop sticks, wind chimes, skipping.

El Guincho: Alegranza
Young Turks
It’s apt that there’s a parrot with eight eyes depicted on the sleeve as Pablo Díaz-Reixa is basically a wily show-off.
Alegranza sounds like he’s compiled all the interlude and incidental music to City of God, with additional Moroccan, calypso and Carribean influences thrown in the mix making for steamy brew of exotica to play in your backyard come summertime.
That Díaz-Reixa did it all himself leads you to draw just one conclusion: he’s a bit of bastard.
7/10
For fans of: Tropicalia, Bruce Forsyth‘s wife, beach volleyball.

Brightblack Morning Light: Motion To Rejoin
Matador
At 9pm everyday Rachael Hughes and Nathan Shineywater cast spells before transforming into a golden eagle and bison, respectively, and duelling with the ghosts of General Custer and Sitting Bull.
After watching Question Time they concoct mind-frazzled organ drone, smoke peace pipes and dream of a world where everyone can just get along and trip their tits off.
What’s not to like?
7.5/10
For fans of: Totem poles.

David Holmes: The Holy Pictures
Mercury
Timely, that since Primal Scream went cack, David Holmes has filled the breach with white-hot grooves and addled out of your mind krautrock. Ace, eh?
6.5/10
For fans of: Harmonia, death disco.

Flying Lotus: Los Angeles
Warp
Tough one this. Half the blogosphere has decided he’s 08’s Burial. The other half have decided he’s the new DJ Shadow.
I’m not convinced. The gurgling, black, asphalt-rock, ‘dance,’ dub hybrid is enticing but the ‘play-again’ factor is severely lacking. Maybe one to revisit once the hype’s died down.
6.5/10
For fans of: Curb crawlers, Massive Attack, dope-induced paranoia.

Flying Lotus: Riot

Glasvegas: Glasvegas
Sony BMG
You’ve presumably been living under a rock, which is buried under a rock, if you’ve yet to hear this lot. They write about social workers who stab football hooligans because their fathers ran out of them as a child to run an ice-cream van promotions company.
Apparently they also make grown men cry, but at the gigs I’ve seen them play they induce a lot of chin-stroking. They are good. Just not that good.
But congratulations to James Allan and co for trumping Fleet Foxes into pole position as 2008’s most hysterical press reaction for a sound we’ve all heard before.
That sound you’re hearing is me clanging of the biggest bell in the world marked ‘reality check.’
6/10
For fans of: People with dull wardrobes.

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