With the latest edition of our Albums Club Getintothis’ Simon Kirk explains why albums are the perfect format for listening to music.
Most of you will now be on a come down from BBC‘s 6 Music Festival. That’s absolutely fine.
But here’s a confession. For all of my sins, I’ve never listened to BBC‘s 6 Music. Ever. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I turned on the radio. It’s all about the album for me. And before you ask, no I didn’t go to the festival (heard it was decent, though).
Another self imposed rule of thumb is that I never listen to a single before an album is released. That basically makes radio-land strictly prohibited. If a song destined for an album and was recorded at the same time as its siblings then, in my mind, it should be experienced alongside the rest of its sonic brothers and sisters.
Everyone has their weird and wonderful ways to consume music and that’s mine. It all comes down to one thing for me: the album. Like reading a book from cover to cover, albums need to be absorbed from front to back. No messing. Weird? Okay, maybe a bit, but there it is…
Here’s my opinion. Songs may mask you from the dark stuff, but they don’t save you from it. Albums do.
Even the weaker spots of an album resonate and while you may not think so at the point where you come to that particular conclusion, they still remain etched to your brain, becoming discussion points at a later time.
Sometimes that particular song years later can be interpreted differently whereby you actually grow to like it. Ultimately, these are the frayed ends of the fabric which form an album. A record. You don’t get that with singles which are merely sound bites that form the final product – the album. The record.
Don’t like a single? Discard it, move onto the next one. Sure, the same can be said about an album, too, however the more time you invest in something the more likely you are to come away with something to value. Collectively, as a society, value is one of the things that we are losing. Many say we’ve already lost it.
Which is why it makes me baffled when I hear that some of the younger generation openly profess to never hearing an album. It’s something I still fathom to comprehend.
My way of thinking is this. You are at this very point page reading these words because you like albums. That’s what draws us to these pages. To Getintothis. To the Quietus. Drowned In Sound. To <insert every other music publication here> It’s because we dig – or have dug – albums at one point of another, is it not?
Maybe this will sound slightly repressive, but living for music isn’t living for singles, is it? Maybe it is in this day and age, who knows? People say the album is in hibernation. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time for people like me to hibernate, too…?
Yes, there’s an everything now culture, I get it. But whatever happened to compartmentalisation? Fuck your Twitter feed off for forty minutes a day and listen to an album. What harm can that do?
Start by holding an ear to one these albums… – Simon Kirk
Album of the Month
Fontaines DC :Dogrel
Fontaines DC are a uniquely original Dublin quintet, hewn from the ashes of long dead, hopeless, lost bands. Fontaines DC deserve every accolade they get and more. And there is no shortage of that incoming.
Their first single, Liberty Belle, was released in 2017 and scratched the surface, Hurricane Laughter followed, showing their snarling angry side, the urgency of Too Real and Big followed, highlighting a relentless need to create, to speak truth to power and make a stand for something.
They’re resolutely proud of their upbringing, of their city, of their Irishness. Their energy and lyricism come from a shared love of old Irish poets and writers, of an Ireland long gone, of an Ireland yet to realise its potential. Their inspiration comes from years of bold texts and brick-lined alleys, and it is an inspiration not lost on anyone.
Rolling Stone has them listed as one of the top bands at SXSW this year, describing their sound as blunt force trauma. It is hard to argue with that. Fontaines DC speak to all of us. In a city where people can’t afford to live, or they try to live on shit wages spread over three jobs while Google and Facebook are given tax breaks, young people, people like Fontaines DC, have a lot to shout about. Their anger has become Dogrel.
Dogrel is about a Dublin that is being chewed up and spat out, via foreign money, gentrification and people like Jacob Rees-Mogg using the city as a place to hide his filthy lucre. Dogrel is an oft used term that talks of rhyme, of rhythm, poetry, and music. It is lyrical, burlesque, cheeky. Dogrel is a working-class thing, anger, and joy.
Dogrel is Fontaines DC.
It starts with Big, a relentless homage to Dublin in all its glory and guts, tales of challenging childhoods, making life your own, taking it back, making it big. It’s a statement of intent. Sha Sha Sha is next, driven by a pulsating beat that suits its prowling fury. “you work for money and the rest you steal” gives you an idea of where their heart is.
It’s followed by Too Real and you’ve been living under a rock or tied to a radiator if you haven’t heard that before now. Too Real is a remarkable tune, a call to action almost, a song wondering why we’re all sat around talking shit while Rome burns. This is pure brutal honesty, and it is fucking remarkable.
Television Screen seems to laugh at us while the water levels rise, literally. A gentler beast this, though still as urgent, it is a sad, stunning thing.
Hurricane Laughter, for us perhaps, is one of their finest songs. A post-apocalyptic, grungy thrashing animal about the end of the world, running, getting lost, finding truth. It feels like you’re being beaten to a pulp by an evil genius’ henchman in a dark dank alley someplace while said evil genius stands over you, preaching in a hushed, monotonous tone. It’s menacing. Terrifying.
Roy’s Tune is a heartbreaker about putting up with shit, namely capitalist bullshit, barely putting up, barely hanging on. It’s beautiful, heart-rending. The Lotts lifts things up a notch, it’s another thrash at poverty and life on the streets while Jags drive Tory tossers to tracking meetings so they can watch their money decimate city streets and souls.
Chequelesss Reckless is their most lyrically clever, a song about greed, waste and loss, about trying to figure out what is going on in the world, if you can pull yourself away from your phone. “She documents an essence in a bathroom stall” says everything you need to know.
Liberty Belle continues our central theme of anger, of money, and bullshit. Boys In The Better Land snarls about those who’ve left the city in search of double barrel names, fancy cars and fame. It’s five minutes of righteous fury and figurative fashion faux pas. Phenomenal.
Dublin City Sky is a heartbreaker of a final song, a homage to Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, it’s more Irish, gently lyrical, it is almost traditional in its tone. It’s a singsong of a punky poetic passionate love song. Dublin City Sky will be as big as anything The Pogues ever produced, it could be the biggest thing we’ve heard out of Ireland in a very long time, it is that good.
By the time you get to the end of this record, it becomes clear that Fontaines DC might just have taken The Pogues mantle.
As a single piece of work Dogrel is one of the most complete albums we’ve listened to in some time, it is clearly meant to be enjoyed from start to finish, there is a narrative, a tale to tell. It is an inherently intelligent piece of work, it avoids the usual fodder of four-piece beer swilling bands.
Dogrel has a swagger all its own, it has a point, a soul. It is angry, in your face confrontational, it demands attention, it is delivered in a colloquially rich Dublin drawl that drags you in, dumping its energy in your head, this stays with you.
Dogrel is a love letter to a city these boys love, its a love letter that begs for patience, a love letter that begs for the forgiveness of love lost somewhere amidst the money and the Maseratis. Dogrel drips with a uniquely Dublin humour, it is dark, devious, devilish, it’s dipped in Guinness and hung out to dry for all the world to see.
For all of their anger, there is a recognition in their work that the Dublin they know, and the Ireland they know is changing, and not all of it is bad.
This is a country that legalised same-sex marriage by way of a referendum, the first place the world to do so. They also legalised a woman’s right to choose and alongside those two huge changes, they’ve kicked the church into touch too. An act that was seemingly easier to do on the news that that same church was responsible for the burial of 800 babies in a septic tank at a church property over the past century.
Ireland is not the place it once was, it’s getting there, slowly, but there is still lots to be angry about, lots of change needed, lots of anger. Fontaines DC seems to be the outpouring of that anger that has been bubbling under the surface for a very long time.
No more. Their time is now. – Chris Flack
A Man Called Adam: Farmarama
Other Records Ltd
A Man Called Adam first came to the fore as providers of the finest Balearic grooves, influenced by the genre hopping DJ sets they heard in Ibiza’s early rave days.
They appeared in the Ibiza documentary A Short film about Chillin’ and came across as people who genuinely got the Balearic Ibiza vibe, rather than people who were there for the drugs and general hedonism the white island could offer.
A Man Called Adam were in tune with the spiritual vibe that dance music embodied and made some of the best and most evocative music of the era.
Their previous two albums showed them to have one foot on the dance floor and the other at a table at the Café Del Mar and they happily ignored being confined to one style of music, taking in soul, jazz, dub and anything else that caught their magpie eye.
Since then, both Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones have continued this eclectic aesthetic with their excellently diverse DJ sets.
But, after a gap of some 20 years, they have returned with a new album, Farmarama.
What they have managed to do is to hone their sound to produce their best and most cohesive album yet. Farmarama is a delight to listen to and can transport you back to the Ibiza of old, where the Café Del Mar stood almost alone on the now infamous Sunset Strip.
Farmarama is an outstanding album, it’s grooves float towards you, bringing with them the warmth of the Mediterranean sun and the calm of a chilled out sunset.
First track Mountains and Waterfalls sets the scene, with its relaxed pace and a piano & bass melody before Sally Rodger’s beautiful vocals take you away. Album highlight Michael is classic AMCA, with chilled syncopated beats and jazzy flourishes, but never drifts away or drifts into noodling, as some World music influenced chill out can. By the time it reaches its end after nearly 12 minutes we are as relaxed as if we were floating on a calm sea with a tequila sunrise to hand.
The world is a better place for having A Man Called Adam back in it and Farmarama is their perfect record. We desperately hope that we don’t have to wait as long for their next album now that they have managed to balance their various influences and their chilled focus so flawlessly. Superb. – Banjo
The Comet Is Coming: Trust In The Lifeforce Off The Deep Mystery
The Comet is Coming are back with their follow up from 2106’s Mercury Prize shortlisted Channel the Spirits. Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is the work of the London based three-piece comprised of saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, keys and synth Dan Leavers, and drummer Max Hallett.
Personally it’s been eagerly anticipated.
The first release from the album Summon The Fire has blown ears away with its pulsating, chaos charged electronics and psychedelic jazz sax that leaves you dazed from a light speed trip through hyperspace.
This psychedelic jazz collection is wide left field, with crashing synths over unorthodox sci-fi loops. The cosmic exploration is nourishment for the soul, drawing enrichment from the likes Fela Kuti, Sun Ra and John Coltrane, it’s testimony is undoubtedly of the now. The music is profound of an age where mass political enragement in rife, an oppressed culture screams loudly and defiance is deafening.
Delve into this album for a journey of provoking thoughts and an atmospheric fizz as you teleport along a track-to-track timeline.
Listening to the albums opener, Because The End Is Really The Beginning I felt as though I was immersed in the rising haze of a new world amongst the intro. The gaps between the crashing drums adds suspense as Shabaka Hutchings’ slow melody pushes you into the unknown.
Birth Of Creation brings you further into this world as it develops with more sinister layers. Then into Summon The Fire which leaves you at the point of no return.
With your back against the wall and ears tuned in Blood Of The Past ft. Kate Tempest is delivered with a powerful poem from the mouths of those who have suffered in conflict, to those who live a selfish life where these spoken events are disregarded and seen as untrue. Leaving what feels like days just passed the record ventures on.
Super Zodiac and Astral Flying blend into each other and it’s hard to be descript here, as who knows about what lies ahead on this timeline but with track names like that your thoughts turn to space and discovery beyond our present knowledge. Timewave Zero has a tribal/carnival drum beat which lays the foundation for a saxophone showcase which eclipses to a momentary climax.
Feeling that you’re now on the other side of this journey Unity brings a smooth, dreamy, peaceful mood. Again with tribal-like drums, there is no sense of distress in this track which can be identified in those previous. It really is a beautiful and relaxing piece that to me, resembles hope for togetherness in the times ahead.
The albums closer The Universe Wakes Up, is a new dawn with a sax intro that I’d listen to every morning with rising sun if I could. It’s a warming track which grows into a meditation before Shabaka sends you off back to your affairs, leaving you more in touch with what else there is outside your own little world.
One conclusion to come fromlistening to this album is that it’s not experimental nor progressive, this is the truest form of modern jazz. Whilst Hutchings with Sons of Kemet threw down the gauntlet with last year’s Your Queen Is a Reptile, he has now picked it back up to define the genre into a wholly new generation. – Harry Rigby/Kev Barrett
Sensational modular synthesists d’Voxx’s new album Télégraphe is a stunning collection of otherworldly sounds and ethereal timbres.
Beginning with a wash of noise and a field recording of some sort of public space, the first melodic sequence of the record in opener Opera hits the listener with a great impact, but softly carries the listener into the smooth soundworld of the record.
In this record, less is more, with d’Voxx usually only portraying one sequence to the listener as prominent melodic material. The sparse nature of the music means every sequence has a maximum impact, as the ears of the listener are naturally drawn to one sequence above the others.
Following their exquisite performance at Liverpool’s The Capstone Theatre celebrating the release of the record, d’Voxx are sure to remain a familiar name to the synthesiser lovers of Liverpool for some time – especially if they continue to create music as high quality as this offering. – Max Richardson
Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call
Ah, Rough Trade. You sexy beast.
When I signed up to your Album of the Month scheme a couple of years ago I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to pan out. Obviously, I understood the basics – I send you some money and you send me your chosen best album of the month … every month. Your taste is patchy and you’ve sent me some stinkers, but the hits have been better than the misses. And I quite like getting parcels in the post, so I’ve stuck with you.
There’s always a little booklet along with the CD which gives me another 10 or so albums to check out too and that keeps me occupied, even if the chosen one is not to my taste.
But I have to say the last couple of months you’ve raised the bar pretty high and I can’t see you beating either February or March any time soon. You chose The Delines for February and that was an absolute glorious piece of work. The timing was spot on for their Liverpool gig as well. Nice work.
But, for March, Rough Trade, you have excelled yourself. It will all go downhill from here. There is no possible way you can choose an album of the month better than Durand Jones and the Indications.
American Love Call is the soul record everyone who ever suggested they were anywhere near that genre wanted to make. It is close to perfect. It is slick, smooth silk.
It is Detroit in its heyday, banging out Buicks and Cadillacs to a brass ensemble everytime one rolls off the production line. The vocals are a pure Motown mix of bass, alto and higher backing harmonies thrown in.
But, here’s the thing that gives this release an edge. It’s got a political kick to it and the best example is the first track: “It’s morning in America, It’s morning in America, We’re mourning in America, And I can’t see the dawn”. Oh, that extra “u”. Bloody hell, how that changes things.
And then there’s: “The sea gets hotter, And the drums beat louder, And world seems colder, Singing that same ol’ tune”. Let’s just pause and have a guess at where this one’s heading.
This album is a remarkable thing. A great big hug for its mellifluous tunes and a great big kick into the solar plexus for its uncompromising lyrics. There are a couple of love songs on here, just to sweeten the pill, but don’t be fooled. Durand Jones is after you and he won’t give up until you sign up to his creed.
As for me, I already did.- Peter Goodbody
Robert Forster: Inferno
Former Go-Betweens frontman Robert Forster only records when he feels like he has the right material. He sets his standards high. If nothing comes, he simply waits. And so his seventh solo album – only his second in 11 years – comes welcomed into the fold.
13 years since the death of his best friend and musical collaborator Grant McLennan, we find him in reflective mood. He put the pain of Grant‘s loss to paper in the beautifully prosaic memoir Grant And I a few years back, and for him, the catharsis continues from that book through to the songs here.
Inferno opens, with a typical Forster literary nod, on a gently lilting piano led rendering of William Butler Yeats‘ poem Crazy Jane On The Day Of Judgement. Violins sweep through it like a breeze, and Forster‘s semi-conversational vocal style is warm and approachable. Personal.
No Fame is a highlight among highlights. An easy melody, familiar and instant and a one line hook for a chorus. The kind of perfect pop you’d expect from Robert Forster. And that reflection is set in here “well, I’m gonna write a novel that is set a hundred years ago, the custom and the carriage of the people, well I don’t know“. (We’re still waiting for that novel, by the way Robert, if you’re reading).
Remain is a song about his resolution, his independence, and the view from here looking back on a life of productivity and creation. The violin of his wife Karin Baumler weaves through the song, its rich strength and backbone.
The sound, here given depth and presence with the production of Victor Van Vugt, frames this collection of work in the sound the Go-Betweens always imagined they were searching for, which Forster‘s referred to as the sound of ‘striped sunlight‘ projected onto a wall in high summer. Carefree and unhurried.
Robert Forster‘s in no hurry, not these days, and with songs like this floating in on occasion, why rush? – Paul Fitzgerald
Guided By Voices: Warp and Woof
I previously wrote about Guided By Voices’ discography for Getintothis a few months back, so it’s a real pleasure to hear they’ve yet another new album out soon.
Following the sensational double album Zeppelin Over China, Warp and Woof further expands the discography of the group with another great record. Recorded in many places, including clubs, hotel rooms, and in the back of the tour van, this album has the unpolished quality found in earlier records such as Bee Thousand.
Cramming a respectable 24 songs into a 37 minute runtime, this record feels like a return to the earlier style of the group. Sensational tracks such as Foreign Deputies, The Stars Behind Us, and Down the Island are on par with the best tracks the band has released to date, and the passion of the group in the recording process is evident.
With such a diverse range of styles presented in this record, it’s just great to hear Guided By Voices producing music as good as they have ever produced. – Max Richardson
Julia Jacklin: Crushing
Julia Jacklin’s second album, Crushing was written over the two years following her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win, primarily drawing inspiration from the ending of a romantic relationship.
But rather than becoming overly personal and literal, Crushing draws upon the experience to narrate to the listener certain universalities that we have all at some point experienced when losing love.
Whether that’s lamenting love that has already been lost (Turn Me Down), worrying about love that is in the process of being lost (Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You), or the head-scratching and soul-searching involved when one tries figure out what to do afterwards, not only with the pieces of a broken heart (Head Alone, When the Family Flies In) but also with the remaining residues of guilt (“You can’t be the one to hold him when you were the one who left” she sings on Comfort), it’s all here.
Musically, the instrumentation is for the main part subtle and on the right side of country (think Neil Young or Neko Case), with the occasional break-out; although it might be lazy to draw comparisons with Courtney Barnett, the fuzz and abandon of Pressure to Party and You Were Right do share similarities to her fellow antipodean.
The main attractions here however are Julia’s voice and lyrics, at points displaying a vulnerability and fragility. Good Guy finds a near-broken Julia pleading “tell me I’m the love of your life, just for a night… even if you don’t mean it”.
There is a temptation to write about Crushing through the lens of a female empowerment perspective; yet, writing as a male, that would be, by its very nature not only patronising, but entirely missing the point.
Falling into the wearily outdated trap of ‘mansplaining’ the content of the album (“what you should all be finding in this is the growth, not only of the artist, but the woman… here, let me show you how I know that…”) would be a disservice to not only you as a reader, but to Jacklin herself.
Although, there are themes of Julia the individual trying to find her way back to normality after heartbreak and commentary on the experience of being female in the midst of this (“I don’t want to be touched all the time, I raised my body up to be mine…”), making that the focal point of the album would be wrong.
Rather, like Beck did with Sea Change and Joni Mitchell did with Blue, Julia Jacklin here has perfectly summed up the confusion, the mess, the anguish and the recovery involved in a break-up, so we don’t have to, and frankly, we should all thank her. – Matthew Loughlin
King Midas Sound – Solitude
After their collaboration with Fennesz followed by a change of line-up resulting in vocalist Kiki Hitomi no longer being involved in the project, King Midas Sound return with Solitude – yet another genre-defining slab of brilliance to add to their mesmerising cannon of work.
With Solitude, vocalist, Roger Robinson, has effectively shelved his heaven riding melodies for poetic baritone dread. No other vocalist chameleonises his voice and resonates at either end of the spectrum like Robinson does. King Midas Sound‘s 2009 debut album, Waiting For You, was such a head fuck that I was convinced that Robinson was indeed two separate vocalists, such as the canyon-wide scope that his voice possesses.
Robinson reiterates his true originality on Solitude with a new fire, fuelled by different circumstances, squeezing every inch of life from a brooding undercurrent of emotional despair. Yes, this is a meat-raw marrow-deep break-up album and one of the most honest and darkest that has emerged from the studio walls in recent times.
Robinson‘s dystopian diatribes are counterbalanced perfectly by Kevin Martin‘s stripped-back arrangements of glacial nuances, lonely backstreet hums and oceanic drones, making Solitude one of the albums of the year.
It’s difficult to put each songs under the microscope. The emotions of heartbreak (You Disappear), anger (Lies), loneliness (Alone, The Lonely), finality (Missing You, X) creeps slowly from the speakers and spreads, consumes, and sinks into your pours like the plague. It’s approach simple, but monolithic.
Crushing in its transparency and something that King Midas Sound will never produce again. Like all heartbreak albums. Because it is a heartbreak album. A brutally raw admission of loss with Robinson cascading his emotions across the canvass.
Whilst finding it difficult to pinpoint one defining moment, perhaps a form of consolation is found in Solitude‘s final two tracks.
Her Body captures Robinson‘s realisation that his lover is gone. He opens the curtains, inviting his audience in, recounting those intimate moments he once shared. There’s a defiance here. An inner strength, like he is almost ready to move on. Which is where the closing track X comes in.
An emotional encounter with friends and family of his former partner, sharing stories over dinner, finding a common ground with others through similar relationships, culminating in some form of closure. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, rounding out this cathartic experience.
Solitude is not for the faint hearted, but when push comes to shove, the best art created in this world never is and Solitude can be defined as that. – Simon Kirk
Orville Peck: Pony
Orville Peck is something of a departure for Sub Pop, in essence he is a country singer clad in both a ten gallon hat and a face-obscuring mask to hide his identity.
Don’t let the song titles (Kansas, Big Sky, Old River) fool you, this is not your usual C & W, it’s a menacing, almost theatrical version of it.
Pony is his debut album, and it’s a record full of his powerful, stunning vocals coupled with warm instrumentation. The lyrics feel like an outpouring, stories wish he has waited a lifetime to tell.
In parts, especially on Dead Of Night and the dramatic Hope To Die, it’s so dark in it’s delivery (is goth-country a genre?) There’s a soundtrack feel to proceedings, eerie widescreen images abound with each tale, Buffalo Run sounds like he is actually escaping the beasts.
The nearest it gets to straightforward country is on the lovely Roses Are Falling, where he channels his inner-Elvis so much you forget that it’s not actually him, or on the fantastically named Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call) which sounds like a lost Johnny Cash classic.
Thankfully the face furniture gimmicks don’t detract in any way from this, although there is always the nagging doubt that it’ll turn out to be some elaborate joke, and it’ll turn out to be some tin-pot indie singer’s alter-ego vanity side project.
Let’s hope not as this is an absolutely glorious debut. – Steven Doherty
If, like myself you were excited by news of Lush‘s reunion in 2015 and disappointed that it did not last longer, you probably greeted news of this album with great enthusiasm. Even before a note of music was released.
Piroshka (Hungarian for missile) has its genesis in the reunion of lead singer Miki Berenyi‘s former band. She is joined by her partner (Moose‘s K.J. McKillop) as well as Justin Welch and Mick Conroy who both played a part in Lush‘s well received, if brief, comeback.
Lead single Everlastingly Yours tells of the mind games and power struggles within a marriage and is partly inspired by McKillop‘s parents who he recently lost. He told Stereogum that the song detailed “the violent fantasies your long-departed mother may or may not have had, trapped by her catholicism in a loveless marriage.”
It features strings and brass that on their own may sound upbeat, even happy. But, paired with sinister lyrics (“Trample my dreams on the ground/ Tear up my flowers/ And scatter the petals around”) they take on a darker tone.
Brickbat also addresses contemporary issues such as Brexit. At first listen This Must Be Bedlam may appear to be an account of social media arguments, trolls and shitposters. However, as Berenyi told NPR “All the different verses are verses are actually different peoples views of it.” She was trying to convey “general morass of different people pointing the finger at each other, and just the general confusion.”
After all, you do not have to look far to see how such confusion often turns to anger, abuse and vitriol. As anyone who has ever glimpsed the bottom half of the internet will you.
Other standout tracks include the regretful, semi-acoustic number Blameless and Village Of The Damned with it’s funk inspired bass riff.
The band have been keen to distance themselves from the dreaded Supergroup tag (Welch was in Elastica and Conroy is the bass player in post-punk outfit Modern English) and who could blame them. It is a term that carries with it connotations of excess and ego.
This album is quite obviously evidence that four musicians who happened to be in well regraded bands can transcend expectations and come up with something that stands on it’s own. Berenyi has stated that she’d prefer for Piroshka to be seen a new project.
Does that mean we will hear more of them? We certainly hope so. – Andy Sunley
Yann Tiersen: All
On the Yann Tiersen Scale, All sits further towards the gentle ambience of 2016’s EUSA than it does to the rock of 2011’s Skyline. That said, there is an understated power behind it.
The album was recorded at The Eskal, an abandoned disco on the island of Ushant that Tiersen has been renovating for the past few years. Positioned between Brittany and Cornwall on the Celtic sea, it’s little wonder that some if its windswept wonder has infused the music.
Field recordings from elsewhere have also been incorporated. Opener Tempelhof features the sound of children playing in the titular abandoned Berlin airport, now a refugee camp. Part Nils Frahm and part Arvo Part, it will appeal to anyone held spellbound by last year’s Solan Goose from Erland Cooper.
A simple piano line gives way at the end to an Arctic blast, reminding us of more northerly hemispheres. It’s also reminiscent of the omnious Scandinavian fanfares of Anna von Hausswolff, who funnily enough appears on the next track, Koad. Needless to say, she’s in a more stately, classical mood here.
She seems to be everywhere at the moment, and the multi-disciplinary scope of her collaborations gives us hope for her next record, when she finally gets chance to make it.
Erc’h, with Ólavur Jákupsson on lead vocals, leans heavily towards Icelandic folk, and there’s a hint of Sigur Ros about it. Pell brings in Emilie Tiersen; the spooky theremin and Johann Johansson tenderness makes you hope that it doesn’t get co-opted as a slow-motion football montage or a romcom death soundtrack anytime soon. Add drums and distorition to the end of its orchestral flourish and you wouldn’t be a million miles away from an M83 tune.
Gwennilied is another slight change of tack with Breton chanting, Nepalese prayer bells and agitated violins. Prad could be a Mogwai piano interlude from Come On Die Young, and adds a bit of sober bleakness to the sonic palette.
There are no big earworms or killer melodies here, but there is plenty of atmosphere and ambience;
All is a peaceful, layered record that rewards careful listening and a decent set of headphones. – Matthew Eland