i,i – Bon Iver

I feel pretty well qualified to write about this one. I’ve given it a few listens on the headphones, I’ve seen them play some of it live, and now I’ve listened to it in the Dolby Sound Studio with a blindfold on. So here’s what I think.

First up, if you love Bon Iver because of For Emma, Forever Ago or Bon Iver then you will continue to be disappointed. They have seemingly left that simple folky magic behind them forever. On the other hand, if 22, A Million is more your bag then you’re likely to be falling in love all over again.

The album mixes some experimental and hard-hitting set-pieces with your (slightly) more traditionally composed tracks that will inevitably be the main hits (including Hey, Ma and my favourite, Naeem). But, to be fair even these tracks are pretty amazing, and unique – they are unmistakably Bon Iver.

Fair to say that there are also some weaker tracks; U (Man Like) strikes an odd quasi-gospel tone and Salem could legitimately be a Coldplay track. It also goes on for one track too long – Sh’Dia is an awesome final track mash-up, but then it gets followed by RABi which sounds pretty pedestrian in comparison.

All in all, it’s pretty good. And on top of that, Bon Iver albums always grow on you. Listen to it enough and it’ll form a part of you.

Strange Pleasures – Still Corners

Everyone has a dream-pop mood right?

Still Corners are a British/American duo that make the kind of indie that transports you through time and space – embracing you, picking you up and taking you on a journey. Here is my favourite album (their second) from 2013.

They have a lovely back-story too – the duo (Greg Hughes and Tessa Murray) met by accident on a random train platform in London. If its possible, I think you can kind of hear it in their music…

Like what you hear? They are on tour right now.

Photo credit: Bernard Bur

Here Comes the Cowboy – Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco is a fucking genius. A lovable, goofy genius. He’s released a new album, and here it is. My picks, Nobody, K, All of our Yesterdays.

As a side-note, I just have no idea how high you have to be come up with these videos.

Want more Mac? So do I. He’s playing at All Points East in Victoria Park later this Summer, and I’ll see you there. Rest assured, the man puts on a show.

Chelou

Something a bit different for you this Sunday. A couple of tracks by Chelou.

First up, Halfway to Nowhere is produced by Maya Jane Coles and set to the weird and wonderful magical world of animator Andy Baker.

And to follow, a bit less garden, a bit more intergalactic, another cracker.

You can catch Adam (Chelou) finishing up his European tour in his Camden hometown at the Jazz Cafe in a couple of weeks. Snap ’em up.

Bonus track: Ross From Friends in on the remix action, taking it down a notch

The Disintegration Loops – William Basinski

 

What do you know, it’s my second ever sound-art post! This one also came onto my radar through Radiolab (one for you Podcast heads).

Right, so first up, this music is just an achingly beautiful ambient composition. To quote Pitchfork, “It’s the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.” Wave upon wave of sound envelopes everything around you, dissolving space and time. Get the right soundsysem set-up and it is honestly stunning.

But there’s more. The story of these pieces is even more heart-breakingly beautiful than the music itself. In the 80s WB created a bunch of tape loops from processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. Fast forward to around 2000 and he is in the process of digitising his collection – but each time the tape plays it disintegrates a little more, with the decay of the tape making the music itself decay. Each tape begins with a simple repeated melody which melts away with each repetition. As the physical tape decays, so the sound decays.

So far so good right? But wait, there’s more. Shortly after he completed the work, he was playing it to some friends in his Brooklyn apartment, when 9/11 happened. At dusk he filmed the smouldering rubble of Manhattan, and set the music to it. It has become an iconic elegy. Pure devastation, and utter serenity.

Wax Tailor

Every Sunday I bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.

Two albums today from French trip-hop producer Wax Tailor (Jean-Christophe Le Saoût). He has a signature downtempo sound, with heavy use of looped samples from Hitchcockian classic films, but he also produces a couple of throwback hip-hop gems. These albums will take you on a buzzy, hypnotic, confusing journey through time and space. Yep.

Projections – Romare

Every Sunday I bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.

Romare specialises in taking samples from Afro-American culture and reimagining them into super original, modern electronic tracks. Given that he’s a London-born white man there are some that think his approach is a little disrespectful. I’ll leave you to decide where you sit on that subject. Either way, it’s definitely worth a listen (and if it is your jam, you’re in luck – there’s a second album).