Li Yilei – 之 / OF (Métron Records)
I’m sure collections made in managed isolation or under lockdown are already becoming a bit tired, people wishing things were otherwise and all that. But Yilei’s collection of things made in isolation after they returned to China as their UK visa expired is definitely worth repeat listens, whatever the backstory. ASMR-like tiny recorded details and super-clean digital synths play off each other, creating kind of new age flavours in places, but elsewhere the use of wind instruments and surprising tones make things pretty edgy.
Jessy Lanza – 24/7 (Hyperdub)
Surprisingly easy to listen through from start to finish, which many remix releases are not. I really like Lanza but found her third album a bit too much of the same same, so am glad these remixes are so good. Great to hear her voice and compositions in new contexts. There’s great range here, my faves being the more skittery syncopated things. Foodman never dropping the bass (as always) made me really happy. The screwed intro to Loraine James’ mix is another lovely highlight. Possibly the contrasting sounds – Kate NV’s retro pop vibe or Visible Cloaks’ usual low-on-beats and trippy business – make the beat-heavy tracks stand out too. And yeah it’s easy to put on and listen through; since it’s a short EP, its high placing on the list reflects a lot of me doing just that.
Joggers Vol.1 A Communal Compilation (Jogging House?)
If you give the musician Jogging House money via his Patreon account, you get access to a Discord server as one of the perks. Through that Patreon and that Discord has come about this compilation – as in, it’s music organised through that Discord, exclusively by members of that Discord. A million years ago I participated in a compilation for members of the Atom™ mailing list, which is about as close a point of comparison as I can come up with, although no money changed hands. I don’t mean to make it sound like I think this is sinister, I think the whole thing is pretty damn cool.
To the music: it’s pretty, synthy ambient-ish electronic stuff, leaning towards soft and intimate rather than say epic or cavernous. If you know Jogging House or his label Seil Records you probably won’t be surprised by any of the contents. But a lot of the music is very enjoyable to listen to, which given most artists are absolute no-names even within the micro-audiences we’re talking about, is nice to hear in more than one sense.
Sam Wilkes – WILKES (Leaving Records)
This has awesomely detailed notes on Bandcamp, in lieu of liner notes, and I love it. Wilkes lists Coltrane first in influences, and I get it. The thing opens with a Coltrane number, in fact, and the record is dominated by the sax playing of Sam Gendel, who Wilkes has also done a couple of releases with now. But, being on Matthewdavid’s Leaving Records, it’s not just a jazz record. It’s synthy, beaty electronic backdrops with lo-fi sampled vocal loops and such and it’s jazz, in a way that might live up to the words “acid jazz” if you’d never heard that genre. It’s also short, so its high placing in my list reflects many a listen.
I forget how I got here almost 3 years post-release – I assume it was via a Louis Cole binge, as he plays on this plenty – but I’m happy I did.
Frog of Earth – Frog of Earth (wherethetimesgoes)
Just a chance listen from the ginormous What are you listening to? topic on the lines forum. Apparently a frog-themed concept album out of Dublin, from January this year.
Drum-free synth instrumentals that I wouldn’t call ambient. It’s great stuff, but I’m not sure what else I’d say beyond that.
Pil – Wish For Good Timing (C Minus)
More of that contemporary ambient from the same circles that include Picnic, DJ Paradise, Huerco S (though he doesn’t like ambient music, and fair enough), Ulla Straus and others. Kansas City via Berlin? I dunno. I don’t have much to say, but I do like it.
Sonmi451 – Seven Signals In The Sky (LAAPS)
I’ve been following Sonmi451 since we were labelmates on Monotonik 15 years ago. This is a brand new album from him and he’s still in roughly the same territory, but refined and polished for better and for worse. More orchestral sounds, almost a bigger-budget feel. It’s undoubtedly beautiful but I’ll admit, even as I always rush on to the next thing anyway, this isn’t one I can imagine myself coming back to very often. We’ll see.
Kate Carr – dawn, always new, often superb, inaugurates the return of the everyday (self-released)
Another case where what I’m listening to crosses over some with my music-making, as Kate released Montano’s A Distant Light last year. Her own music is very focused on field recording and in exploring and manipulating sound, with this particular release contemplating a particular roundabout in London with a whole lot of interesting history. She’s using a geophone and contact mics here, which, if you need a translation, really means that the sounds involved may not sound anything like what you would hear if you went to the location in question. The notes on Bandcamp are well worth a read.
Midcentury Modular – Noncompetitive Music (Fallen Moon Records)
This is the only one in common with last month’s top listens. Not much more to say.