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cover imageThis is the debut album from an ambitious project that brings together half of Wire (Matthew Simms and Graham Lewis), idiosyncratic synth supernova Thighpaulsandra, and percussion virtuouso Valentina Magaletti.  Naturally, any project where Thighpaulsandra is untethered by someone else's clearly defined aesthetic is destined to be a bit of a stylistic rollercoaster (even more so when Graham Lewis's own eccentricity is factored in), so UUUU is quite a freewheeling and disorienting affair at times, dabbling equally in prog, psych-rock freak-out, drone, krautrock homage, experimentation, and Lewis-style "pop" weirdness.  It should also come as no surprise that UUUU's work feels quite spontaneous and improvisatory and occasionally errs into bombast and indulgence.  Such moments are largely eclipsed by the times when everything gloriously locks into place, however, as this foursome almost always find a way to wrest some vistas of sublime beauty or flashes of transcendent inspiration from their wild and lysergic free-rock excursions.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 October 2017 07:23

Drøne, "Mappa Mundi"

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cover imageAfter two fine vinyl releases on Pomperipossa, Mark van Hoen and Mike Harding's mesmerizing sound collage project now takes a detour to Touch's Field Music imprint.  While the transition to CD format does not seem to have made much of a structural impact (the album still feels like a single, abstract, and longform piece), Mappa Mundi is nonetheless a radically different album from last year's more musical A Perfect Blind.  The abandonment of the more composed, melodic, and "structured" elements of their sound may seem like a deeply counterintuitive move after such a wonderful leap forward, yet Drøne prove themselves to be remarkably fluid and adept at changing their aesthetic to fit their conceptual inspirations.  In this case, the stated objective is "tracing and describing the audio surrounding and occupying the planet Earth," which mostly translates into a hauntingly strange and mysterious immersion into a crackling entropy of phantom radio transmissions, squalls of static, choruses of insects, and creepily digitized voices.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 October 2017 08:14

Public Speaking, "Grace Upon Grace"

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cover imageClose on the heels of last year's Caress, Redact, the latest work from Public Speaking’s Jason Anthony Harris (along with some friends) is an even further refinement of his deconstruction of soulful pop and R&B sounds.  With equal measures vocals, piano, found sounds, and synth noises, he shapes these disparate elements into catchy songs, albeit within a depressing and bleak context.

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 October 2017 23:15

Carla dal Forno, "The Garden"

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cover imageCarla dal Forno's latest EP is an absolute stunner, distilling her dark pop genius into four perfect gems of dreamy, intimate, haunted, and endearingly ramshackle beauty.  Aside from being four of the finest songs that she has ever recorded (any one of these pieces could be a single), The Garden is most striking for the improbable collision of influences that dal Forno seems to balance effortlessly: in a perverse way, this Australian dreampop chanteuese might be the most perfect and transcendent embodiment of the Blackest Ever Black aesthetic.  While her songs are certainly catchy and propulsive (a inarguable anomaly in that milieu), The Garden's feast of hooks blossoms out of an ultra-DIY/underground backdrop of stark and gritty basslines, primative drum machine clatter, tape hiss, and warped electronics.  At its best, The Garden sounds like a singularly muscular and half-sexy/half-unnerving dreampop album that is too well informed by the darker, uglier undercurrents of post-punk and early industrial to ever lapse into soft-focus navel-gazing.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 19:06

F Ingers, "Awkwardly Blissing Out"

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cover imageThe second full-length album from this bass-driven Australian "freak unit" is an intriguing evolution from the bleary, haunted atmospheres of 2015's Hide Before Dinner.  For one, the mood is considerably less unnerving, but the trio has also incorporated a significant dub influence (a move that always makes my ears perk up).  Naturally, F Ingers is still as unrepentantly bizarre, prickly, and indulgent as ever, but they seem to found a way to make their fractured nightmares feel a lot more playful, spontaneous, and kinetic.  At its worst, Awkwardly Blissing Out sounds like a batch of willfully wrong-headed, dub-damaged, and sketchlike experiments that blossomed from the corpses of murdered songs.  At its best, however, it transcendently resembles a newly discovered cache of extended and deeply hallucinatory dub remixes of imaginary early UK post-punk classics.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 October 2017 08:44

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