Something For The Weekend – New Vinyl Albums Out 22 June
Long Live Vinyl’s pick of this week’s new albums on vinyl take in intricate ambient electronics, joyous, exploratory jazz, arty pop and a welcome blast of ferocity from Trent Reznor
Heaven And Earth
After 2015’s epic The Epic, Kamasi Washington has decided to release just a double LP on this occasion, instead of a triple, while also squeezing in a superb EP in 2017’s Harmony Of Difference. Washington is clearly locked into a momentous groove at present, which he continues to ride out with grace into this two-part album. The opening Fists Of Fury sets the tone for a record that is as alive, spontaneous, spunky and innovative as it is restrained, suave and glistening. Washington’s blend of jazz, led by his endlessly engulfing saxophone, is a blend of the sugary and the experimental. He constantly displays the ability to switch the mood between velvet smooth and head-crackingly atonal, but he usually resides somewhere in the middle, forging out a continually unpredictable path. Drums spark and spit restlessly around him and basslines dance joyously throughout – it’s a musical gift that keeps on giving until its dying moments.
No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds
Little by The Orb is concise, but the ambient techno of 2015’s Moonbuilding 2703 AD and 2016’s COW, welcomed as a return to their strengths, was certainly less meandering than normal. Talk of a rebirth, however, was wishful thinking. Luckily, No Sounds…, which combines idiosyncratic, stoned grooves with the pop mindset that brought early success, provides greater justification for such sentiments. Other Blue Worlds harks back to 1992’s Blue Room, and Little Fluffy Clouds is recalled in the echoing voices of Wish I Had A Pretty Dog. Similarly enjoyable are the downbeat, Air-like Doughnuts Forever, Rush Hill Road’s celebratory reggae – as poppy, thanks to Hollie Cook’s guest vocals, as anything they’ve ever done – and Wolfbane, which merges airhorns, anti-war sentiments, and Youth’s double bass. Easy On The Onions, meanwhile, is even tastier, with Jah Wobble’s hypnotic bassline slowly dissolving into a pool of Roger Eno’s reflective pianos. Don’t fear the reefer.
New York-based ambient experimentalist Alexis Georgopoulos’s fifth album is a beguiling, time-hopping, genre-bending fusion of many contradictory elements into 11 instrumental tracks of free-range electronica. “Going into it, the goal was to not be so… restrictive,” Georgopoulos explains of the new release. “Limitation has always been a really useful tool for me; even here, there was a choice to work with a distinct instrumental palette. But in terms of what I would do, it felt really good to unrestrict myself. My fear was always that collapsing my divergent interests into a discreet body of work would result in something really… unruly. But it feels like this is a map for me, a vocabulary that gives me room to move.” As the album unfurls, the diverse instrumentation manifests itself: analogue synthesisers, double bass, Fender Rhodes, electronic and acoustic drums, flute, xylophone, harmonizers, tape delay and more all interact and co-exist harmoniously, hinting at all kinds of genres along the way. Rhythm is always to the fore, however, and the eclectic flow makes perfect sense: the way these diverse sonic elements are spliced together is mightily impressive.
Gang Gang Dance
With Gang Gang Dance’s sixth album, 4AD appear to have completed their lengthy transition from one of the world’s finest (predominantly) arthouse-indie labels to one of its finest (predominantly) arthouse-pop labels. The band’s own journey is similarly intrepid: only Lizzi Bougatsos’ stickysweet, pitched-up vocal and three short interludes – like the malfunctioning robot music of ( infirma terrae ) – link them to 2004’s experimental Revival O The Shittest. So the eight-minute title track starts like The Orb before glitchy electronica develops into the sound of Kraftwerk dragged to 22nd-century Japan, and Snake Dub is full of backwards vocals and cut-andpaste synth jags. The wonky Young Boy (Marika In Amerika) is full of glistening surfaces, rattling percussion and sky-scraping voices, but they’re at their most accessible on J-TREE, which startles with surprisingly moving samples of Native American protestors and would sit well on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label.
Nine Inch Nails
This won’t take long, but it’s going to hurt. NiN have gone for the short, sharp shock treatment. You’ll know this from lead single God Break Down The Door: jamming with what sounds like Radiohead’s Bangers And Mash, Trent Reznor wields a saxophone and adopts the croon David Bowie employed in more experimental moments, abruptly breaking off mid-song, confident the band will floor anyone within five miles when they kick back in. No less uncompromising is the frighteningly distorted Shit Mirror, like Lemmy with The Jesus And Mary Chain in the back of a crashing truck; while Ahead Of Ourselves finds Reznor berating humanity’s arrogance. I’m Not From This World sounds like the tense minutes in a sci-fi movie before the final showdown, and though the sax-embellished Over And Out is more subdued, Play The Goddamned Part is no less menacing for being instrumental. It’s all pretty brutal, then… Brace yourself.
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