The Essential Six - March 2020
I was happily having a break from writing stuff about music, but then I heard a load of good music so I thought I'd pop them in a list and send them into the ether. Here are the 6 best things I listened to in March:
Ivan The Tolerable - 16 Pieces For 16 Pools (Shoebox Records)
Described by its composer Oli Heffernan as "a big old slab of watery end-times music", this 16 track ambient album was recorded way before the current covid madness, but it works as a nice escape. It's mostly ultra relaxing with most of the more challenging, free-form or kraut-rock elements (which have been Ivan The Tolerable hallmarks on recent releases) jettisoned in favour of clean and crisp guitar and even some sampled sitar.
Islet - Eyelet (Fire)
Right from the woozy, wonky opening of Caterpillar it's glaringly apparent that this is going to be a bit special. It's an ambitious record, with seems to aim for the production values of Massive Attack and Portishead, whilst also nodding towards more contemporary experimenters like Tune-yards and when necessary has the no-thrills industrial clatter of Giant Swan. It's also more polished than their previous records, perhaps a result of the long gestation period since we last heard from them, either way this is a very welcome return for the eclectic Powys trio.
Blóm - Meat (Box Records)
Nice little taster from Blom's highly anticipated debut album, Flower Violence. This is the most batshit thing the North East 3 piece have come up with so far. Starting off like minimal indie casio-pop and suddenly shifting towards Hardcore, Napalm Death and elaborate pomp metal it somehow holds together remarkably well. And despite all that i've just said, it's also probably their most accessible track so far. Their debut couldn't come soon enough!
Magana - No More Friends
This is a solo recording of a track from Magana's forthcoming full length album and it's as bleak and minimal as it gets (certainly a world away from the Blom track above). However, the New York musician is on top form on a track that is beautifully crafted and performed, and even in this stripped back form it has barrels of atmosphere and emotional kick.
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete - Re-Facto (Sonic Cathedral)
Nifty little EP from Mexican psychsters Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Re-Facto contains two remixes from their superb album De Facto and two brand new tracks in "Fosas Limitadas" and "El Olivo". The former showcases the poppier end of the band's spectrum with the latter going for a more experimental, droning sound, two tracks which could have easily muscled their way onto the album. The remixes are equally impressive, with the added electronic elements meshing with Lorena Quintanilla's vocals giving the band a real Charlotte Gainsborough sort of vibe. Quality stuff.
Stealing Sheep - Just Do (Heavenly Recordings)
Stealing Sheep were building up a bit of buzz and momentum. They were all set to take their electro sound to a new audience, a US tour was booked, an appearance at SXSW was locked in and a batch of new material was ready to go. Those plans were binned for obvious reasons so this track is all that remains for now. A proper banger which moves their glitterball sound further into club territory. A small consolation for those who hope to see their unique live show in the near future.