Rec’d Tracks: 1, 3, 6, 8
Comments: This being a new side project of electronic artist Caribou, I expected to see less electronics, and something..er.. else. But I guess you can’t ask a cat to be a dog just because you want to see how it turns out. Anyways, this is still straight up electronic music, but a few listens through, you see a concentration on glitched, high-hat, bass-beat music, rather than Caribou’s natural inclination to make remix-ready singles. Jiaolong plays through as a study on where electronic club had been the last 15 years before dub-step showed up. It’s a throwback type of reverence that Jiaolong strives for, and that gets my nod.
Genre: Throw-back club electronic
Artist: Crystal Castles
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2! 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 12
Comments: Crystal Castles have found a success even though they have a tendency to be distant and emotive towards telling their listeners to piss off. The dance-house music that is curated by Alice Glass and co. is especially intriquing now being that this is not only their third release, (III, duh) but also in the wake of Sleigh Bells’ success since Crystal Castles put out their last record. Sleigh Bells essentially took Alice Glass’ abrasive bad-ass’ery and made it accessible. Both bands have their individual draws, and I think they like the subtle differences in an appeal that is drastically at two separate ends of the same spectrum. Castles, is harder hitting, more abstract, and just straight up havoc. On (III), the glitchy screams, and pressuring heart-racing beats will keep Castles out of the mainstream, but fans and Alice alike probably think that’s best.
Genre: Too-Cool-For-Sleigh-Bells Electronica
Artist: Chad Valley
Album: Young Hunger
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2! 3! 4, 5!, 8, 9! 10, 11
Comments: What a fucking idea! People actually loved the 80’s and the pop sensationalism that came from it. The urban births of snyths and cheesy saxophones! The falsettos and wine-drunk breezy soundscapes. Get on your speedos and fuckin’ get hungry like a god-damn wolf already. These are dismal times, so stop giving a shit and let’s embrace these 80’s revival cuts like its home-churned butter. Fattening and damn delicious. With enough extras to script a modern day ‘Wonder Years’ this is retro pop that everyone claims to hate, but shit, it really is wonderful. So shut up.
Genre: 80’s revival pop
Artist: Lavender Diamond
Album: Incorruptible Heart
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 3! 6, 8, 10
Comments: A modern mixture of Feist-esque lamenting and Karen Carpenter balladry, Lavender Diamond has built a record around the ever-changing sliding scale of love. Fully realized, Diamond’s flow from mourning love to celebratory love songs is unadulterated. A true sense of deliberate focus is apparent. Soft but explosive, melodic yet brash; these sounds accompany a theme of self-discovery and exploratory gratitude.
Genre: Near-Twee Pop
Artist: Fatoumata Diawara
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11
Comments: Brought up in Mali and now living in Paris, Diawara has been prepping her debut release on the label World Circuit for a while now. The result is a relaxed, laidback debut that shows confidence, skilled solo work with minimal backing, and an affinity for the spotlight While the album is entirely sung in Bambara, the liner notes have provided translations. Having access to that gives an understanding of where the emotion stems from. The conclusion I feel, is to say the least, quite poignant. Diawara brings up many issues that plaque her homeland. She passionately portrays her own struggles with how to understand, process, and aid in Mali’s progress towards a better future.
Genre: Afro-Western Soul
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 3, 4, 8, 10!
Comments: Nigel Godrich has been a long time collaborator with Radiohead. His influence shines through here with consistent kick drum monotony and back beat pummels akin to the work he’s done in the past. Nigel only being half the setup here, we also see Laura Bettinson take vocal duties. Pretty, distinct, and consistent, her voice is a fair welcome. There are a few gems here that resonate more than the rest, especially the closing track “You’re Out”. But the inherent problem here isn’t that Ultraista has made an enjoyable record, because they have. It’s that the whole project, feels like an exercise. A requirement of sorts. We see a showcase of electronic krautrock expertise and Nigel doesn’t necessarily bring anything revolutionary to the genre, just reaffirming his impact overall.
Genre: Electronic Krautrock