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 Albums Of The Month

 

 AUGUST

1. MONO/POLY – GOLDEN SKIES

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Charles Dickerson is Mono/Poly, an electronic producer and beatmaker who’s been associated with Brainfeeder for many years now, despite this album being his first for the mind-melting electronic label. His previously released music spans many moods, but Golden Skies, his latest venture, is rather particular in its sound. Whereas previous releases have frantically hammered your eardrums only to close with lullabies, Golden Skies is a distinctly spiritual journey, a soundtrack to the heavens, and a rather great one to boot. The tracks feature a similar type of rich, orchestrally-influenced production to that of fellow Brainfeeder signee Teebs, although this similarity is dimmed down from “Ra Rise” onward in favour of a more synthesised bliss. “Alpha and Omega” clinks and clatters without losing Dickerson’s carefully constructed otherworldliness, whilst “Nightgarden” is a lesson to producers who want to make a slow, near four minute instrumental track work while not giving up its ambient beauty.  A product of the fertile, ferociously inventive Los Angeles beat scene, Dickerson still conforms to the structural framework he and other young producers largely built: Technicolor psychedelia dosed with heaps of bass and roving, unpredictable grooves. But by pulling from a unique palette of sounds and demonstrating somewhat mature songwriting proclivities, Dickerson is able to easily differentiate his style from his peers. Whereas his contemporaries are sometimes apt to explore a more-is-more approach to beat-making, adding two fingers of agave and a splash of Curacao to their heady tropical cocktails, Dickerson’s process operates more like an aural distillery, filtering the flaws from imperfect memories (perhaps the gleaming optimism of Eighties New Wave) into a single potent quantity. Because he achieves such intoxicating sonic sensations without the liberal use of signal processing effects or samples speaks to this producer’s considerable talents.  Golden Skies may take some getting used to, but what it may lack in punky exuberance it certainly makes up for in consummate musicality.  Golden Skies’ is a near impeccable gem bursting with positive vibes.  An album that benefits from a completely uninterrupted listen.

2. MIREL WAGNER – WHEN THE CELLAR CHILDREN…

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The air dries out when you listen to Mirel Wagner. Her sparse guitar strums are like a warm wind carrying particles of sand, ossifying whatever it comes into contact with; the voice, one that feels from another time, buried for centuries, is so intimate it suffocates. Not just the dry, informal delivery but also the subject matter. 

Still in her early twenties, this young Finnish musician feels just ever so slightly out of time. Her style of jazz, folk and blues is drawn from the early 20th century; her self-titled debut wasn’t constructed from much other than her voice and guitar, very much a self-contained record with a mood that never wavers – and little has changed on album number two, When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day. That bleak mood carries over from “The Road”, the final track on her debut, into “1,2,3,4” the opening track here like no time has passed: “one, two, three, four / what’s underneath the floor / won’t you tell us more / chewed up lips, milky teeth…” sings Wagner in her dry croak, accompanied only by her strummed nylon strings and a deep sense of worry and foreboding. As dark as night, and it doesn’t get bright anytime soon.

When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day is in many ways an astounding album; unflinching in its tales of abuse, murder and death it marks Mirel Wagner out not just as a musician of immense talent, but also as a story teller and poet who’s able to weave gripping tales from bleak reality. She’s carrying on an old folk tradition; if it be murder ballads you want, then there’s no-one better to sing to you.

3. TY SEGALL – MANIPULATOR

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With Manipulator, Segall arrives at his own personal promised land, the place where all the divergent paths he’s travelled intersect. As Segall has revealed in interviews, Manipulator represents the inevitable pause from his usual breakneck pace, its 17-song, double-album sprawl the product of an unprecedented (for him) 14-month writing process. You can feel that extra attention to detail on every song here: In sharp contrast to his previous album-to-album (or, in the case of 2012’s grab-bag Twins, track-to-track) stylistic shifts, the songs of Manipulator represent a perfect melting-pot synthesis of Segall’s many sonic signatures, as if each component—from the British Invasion-inspired melodies to the glam-rock affectations to the berserker guitar solos—was carefully measured out in beakers and test tubes before being mixed together. “He’s going to make a movie/ Of his entire life,” Segall sings on the gritty acoustic groover “Green Belly”, and even if he’s not referring directly to Manipulator’s career-spanning breadth, he certainly embraces auteur theory here, playing pretty much all of the instruments himself. (His trusty Ty Segall Band appears together on just one track.)  Manipulator marks the first time he’s committed to spending upwards of a year writing an album, then living in the studio for a month to record it. But that focus has only deepened his work ethic and his relentless sense of melody, and now he’s come away with one of the most confident and refreshing rock albums in recent memory. Segall has made a habit of topping himself, but I don’t know how he’ll top this. I just know he’ll try.

4. FKA TWIGS – LP1

5. THE BUG – ANGELS + DEVILS

6. RUSTIE – GREEN LANGUAGE

7. FALTY D L - IN THE WILD

8. BENJAMIN BOOKER – S/T

9. J MASCIS – TIED TO A STAR

10. ROYAL BLOOD – S/T

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