Recent listens April 23 🎶

I’ve not been really into that much new music in the last 5 months since I did one of these, so not had that much I wanted to write.

Partly I’ve been busy in work life and not listening while working, which was definitely a big part of remote working for me. But for whatever reason not much music has been grabbing me and inspiring me to play it again, in the face of the “content” churn:

  • Shuffling dumb pop hits and 80s soft rock via one of the big bad streaming services.
  • Audio books.
  • Podcasts.
  • And of course watching stuff, instead of listening:
    • movies,
    • TV, and
    • videos about
      • music,
      • movies,
      • TV…

Weirdly, despite feeling like I’m not really engaging with (other people’s) music, the days when I don’t listen to new music are absolutely the exception. Right now I have 175 Bandcamp links bookmarked in a “music to check” folder in my browser. I stack them up from links on social media and via announcements from the 450 accounts I follow on Bandcamp, telling myself I’ll listen to this stuff when I can give it a fair go. Then on top of that there’ll be “out of cycle” stuff like a friend’s new album or the new Everything But The Girl where I know I want to jump in right away.

So it’s not like I’m not listening, but it’s almost like a depressed thing where I just … note whether I reckon a piece of music is well done or not, rather than feeling it. The joys of being really busy all the time? The realities of the ever-increasing volumes of new releases? The dumbness of putting pressure on yourself to do something that’s supposed to be enjoyable?

Anyway, here’s some stuff and some responses to it.

Loscil // Lawrence English – Colours of Air (Kranky)

I’m always interested in what both of these folks do. Did you know Canadian Loscil released a 12″ via New Zealand label Involve Records? Cool cool cool.

Anyway, this album is all very simple sounding ambient music, but really is perfectly refined. “Great production” can be such a slap in the face, such faint praise, but if that’s how you want to describe what’s happening here it really is important and really is what separates this from much more boring shit.

English has a kind of physicality to what he does, even when you’d call it ambient. It sounds like it would hit hard over a big system, I guess. Meanwhile Loscil stuff can be a bit too washed out and distant for me, even while I love his more dubby stuff to bits. I find this album the best of both worlds, even the most simple repeating synth lines hitting hard and often sounding huge in a purely good way.

Arovane and Taylor Deupree – Skal_Ghost (12k)

Another first-time collaboration between two ambient music heavyweights, but one I’ll admit I was pretty sceptical about. I don’t often like Arovane’s music and recent Deupree hasn’t been essential, IMO, however much I adore e.g. Shoals. On top of that, the point of focus for this is gear, which sets off alarms.

Anyway, maybe these relatively low expectations contributed to how much I’ve been enjoying this. Exquisite moody sound sketches.

Peace Point – Cycles (Strange Behaviour)

OK, I did a remix that shows up on this, so maybe it looks bad to then blog about it, but fuck it, I’ve been listening to this a lot and I really enjoy the original tracks. (I mean, I really like my remix too, but you can’t say that.)

There’s an upbeat but still super mellow beat-y number, there’s one with bass guitar, but mostly some really tasty synth-based ambience. Definitely worth your time.

Inner River – Inner River (Atomnation)

Adrien had recommended this one before and I’d thought it was pretty good, but it really clicked this time around, just in the last month. Reminds me of territory Nicolas Jaar covers, but I like this a lot more than his music. Chill doof? Often beats, often wandering synths and mellow electric piano kind of stuff, as well as wordless vocal slices echoing about. Good times.