Recent listening 4/2020 🎛🎶

It’s been five months since I last did one of these, excluding when I pushed Ulla Straus’s Room as an album I loved from 2019. So here’s ten releases I’ve been listening to a lot in the interim.

Chelsea Jade – Personal Best (self-released?)

I keep coming back to this album from 2018 and it’s one I’ll happily listen through from start to finish. I’ve listened to it a lot over summer. Many great pop songs, full of great hooks, fantastic lyrics, and all kinds of curious audio sparkles. I saw her live earlier in the year and the beats were surprisingly pumping over a PA. Ace.

Legowelt / SFV Acid / Haron – Plafond 1 (Bakk)

I’ve been enjoying the whole Plafond series. Chiefly techno-ish artists doing something closer to ambient music, but often with a sense of drama and climax. I’ve got the first 4 and recommend any of them.

Frederik Valentin & Loke Rahbek – Elephant (Posh Isolation)

I absolutely thrashed this Danish duo’s 2017 debut, Buy Corals Online (Editions MEGO), and while this hasn’t hit me quite so hard yet, the not-too-glossy mix of synths, bass, piano, whatever else is going still makes me very happy. There’s a bit more digital sheen to this one, more overt signs of what once upon a time was called “studio trickery” but might just be on someone’s phone these days.

Anyway, I unreservedly love the opening and closing tracks, and the whole is short enough to easily digest too. 🖤

Robin Saville – Build A Diorama (Morr Music)

Walking music from one half of the excellent Isan.

I still revisit Robin’s album from 2013, Personal Flowers, and have a strong sense I’ll be listening to this 7 years down the track as well! I love the delicate sounds – the mix of electronic and acoustic chiming and bubbling. It’s ambient, but not a washed out drone. (Not that that doesn’t have it’s place, but!)

Mapstation – Present Unmetrics (TAL)

Another new release from someone I’ve been listening to for years. Mapstation is Stefan Schneider, formerly of To Rococo Rot, Kreidler, and The September Collective. It’s been well over a decade since a solo album and this is an inviting, roaming mix of synth bass, euphonium and noisy electronic debris. Schneider is a bass player and I can imagine that’s key to the way these weird little instrumentals are warm, somehow tuneful, and swinging, despite also being glitchy, rough and strange.

mHz – Form (Kasuga Records)

This is the first time I’d heard this kind of thing coming out of New Zealand. Wellington Mo H. Zahreei has the best initials for this kind of technical, spare music! A meticulous set of tracks in the territory of Alva Noto, SND, raster.noton. Alternately percussive bangers and fizzy harmonic stuff – sometimes within the same track.

The physical edition comes on SD card. 😎

Kilchhofer / Hainbach – Acosta (Marionette)

If anyone knows something else like this, let me know. Percussive, rhythmic synth music but the beats mostly feel like hand drums. Pretty and tuneful as much as it is abstract. Also a pretty amazing split, in that the music of both artists sounds so of a piece. Kinda cool that their tracks are intermingled too.

Jeff Parker – Suite For Max Brown (International Anthem)

I can’t pretend to listen to much contemporary jazz. I ended up here because Parker is in noodly fusion band Tortoise. This turns out to be a cool stitched-together-at-home jazz record, perhaps my only disappointment being that there’s no other vocal track after the fantastic opener.

Deltidseskapism – Nattmusik (Source Records)

Is it a bit abstruse to write about a 16-year-old CD that hasn’t made it online in any form? Oh well, looks like it’s pretty cheap on Discogs. After some discussions with my Takamu collaborators, Adrien & Tim, I ended up ripping this and listening to it multiple times.

France Jobin –Scènes (LINE)

Another one from 2017, this one a tribute to Finnish producer and musician Mika Vainio, who died that year. It’s by far the quietest selection in this post. Jobin’s compositions always sound to me like she’s sculpting sound in the sense of subtracting from whatever source she started with. I put it on at night, to sleep to, I put it on for close listening too. While I guess you could describe this as drones, that shouldn’t imply that it’s heavy or grungey.

I obsessed over Jobin’s Intrication a few years back, which still might be my fave.