Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - November 2019


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, Starvynth, Apothecary, Troy Killjoy
Published: 15.12.2019


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - November 2019
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

October 2019
September 2019
August 2019

And now to the music...








Blood Ponies - Hoax
[Post-Punk / Darkwave]

The anthemic drums and gnarly electronic hum that opens up "Still Life" sets the scene for a brooding, menacing introduction to Hoax, the full-length debut of post-punk band Blood Ponies. This moody, atmospheric beginning to proceedings is eventually replaced by the up-tempo subtle energy of "Submit/Surrender", a classic example of post-punk revival. From then on, Hoax is a brief but effective demonstration of the muted-yet-driven rock sound punctuated with high-energy bursts that I have come to associate with the post-punk genre tag.

See "Four Walls", with its clean guitar and baritone verses, contrasted with its loud, shouty chorus, or "Deluge", similarly muted but without the moments of contrasting aggression. Blood Ponies feel less a part of the 'post-punk revival', and more a genuine classic post-punk album released in 2019, from the vocal approach, to the guitar tone and the drum patterns. Given the short runtime it might've been nice to have a bit more diversity in approach, with very little variation from the core sound, but Blood Ponies know what they like, and they're pretty adept at pulling it off.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

TR/ST - The Destroyer - 2
[Synthpop / Ethereal Wave]

When we reviewed The Destroyer - 1 for our April edition, I mentioned that this album came out from a reunion that followed a creative block, which was so prolific that the output had to be divided in two album, one more "promiscuous" and one "darker". Now with both records in hand, it's quite easy to tell which is which, but just to make thing easier for you, dear reader, this is the dark one. Sleazy, brooding and dark, just like we like our synthpop, right? With synths as invasive and loud as possible.

Sure that's not the case for the entirety of the album. "Destroyer" for instance does remind me a bit of when Coldplay were actually good. But mostly other than that, the project takes the synths very seriously to create the perfect dreary and jaded mood for the album. If The Destroyer - 1 was the party and the romance, The Destroyer - 2 is the reflection and the shame that comes with it, thus using more ethereal synth sounds to create that mood, while the trademark vocals continue to es evocative and sensually 80s as ever. The shame referenced in this album is definitely a very personal and emotional one, but there is none in the massive nostalgia for the past decade.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Joel Grind - Echoes In A Crystal Tomb
[Synthwave / Electronica]

There seems to be a fairly substantial interest in cyberpunk-influenced electronic music from a solid section of the metal community. James Kent of Perturbator fame has a background in black metal bands, Carpenter Brut has allegedly produced for Deathspell Omega, and The Algorithm draw from both sources. Here, Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust fame has ditched the thrash and guitar to drop his second solo album, Echoes In A Crystal Tomb. This is perhaps more soothing and less pulsating than some of Perturbator's work, for example, but it operates very much within the same 80s movie soundtrack-inspired musical realm, with throbbing electronics and fat, anthemic synths in ample supply.

Several songs open with bouncy, pulsing electronic motifs that persist throughout a song otherwise underpinned by simple atmospheric synths, such as "Crater Lake", "Inside The Mothership" or "Underwater Dream"; "Spirit Machine" is similar, but at least has a simple, punchy beat to offer some more momentum. This is one area I might argue the album could improve; Echoes In A Crystal Tomb does appear to be more geared towards being a more ambient affair, but the handful of tracks that do have a more driven beat, such as "Fallen Metropolis", benefit from it, and the album may have been improved by more songs in this vein. Otherwise, the remainder of the music makes for a pleasant sci-fi-style soundtrack, the sound of a future metropolis sleeping, rather than the hacker music that Perturbator feels like. The one song that stands out a bit more is the closer, "Volcanoes Of Ice", more than twice the length of any other track here, which affords it the opportunity to grow and develop in the manner that the shorter, more static songs can't.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Giant Swan - Giant Swan
[Industrial Techno / EBM]

No matter how many times I look at this cover art, for a split second I see that cigarette as a pregnancy test.

Giant Swan is a British electronic duo from Bristol, which you should already know as a city with important contributions to electronic music and it melding with different sounds, especially since Massive Attack and Portishead are from there. Giant Swan are not trip hop and their sound doesn't bring that many outside influences into electronica, but their debut full length record comes after 10 years of brandishing their almost punkish take on techno through live shows and 12", so now this comes less from youthfully expressing something raw, but a sound that has been molded over the course of some time.

That isn't to say that the sound doesn't feel raw in any way, but it doesn't feel raw as in not processed enough. Giant Swan feels intricate and diverse and well put together, with its constantly intoxicating sound that takes clear cues from the Industrial / EBM scene of old but still feels like a natural direction that those sounds would take after 10 years in the lab. The album is ugly, often violent and unwelcoming, sometimes a bit intimate and always feverishly nauseating. It's music that demands your attention, but that doesn't need to struggle to get it, it just builds and builds and loops and loops until you're caught in it and suffer.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP





Pan American - A Son
[Post-Rock / Slowcore]

How slow does slowcore have to be to lose the "core" part and be just "slow"? How post does post-rock have to be to lose the "rock" part and be just "post"? It's probably A Son, and album so quiet and slow that it feels quieter than white noise, but it's there, and it will make you sad. I do enjoy a lot of minimalist music, as you may have noticed by now, and even if there is often something happening in A Son, it really feels so frail and fragile that it could break at any point if you turn up the volume too much, so it's best to play it in the dark just loud enough so you can hear it. It's so stripped away of any walls that were built around Pan American's previous releases, that it feels like we not only removed all of the clothes from it, but the skin and meat too.

That's both a criticism and a praise, depends on what you want from the album. It's definitely a lot folkier and a lot less gaze-y, focusing instead on quiet ambient and quiet guitars and it's so quiet that I really don't want to criticize it, because it makes me want to protect this sensible thing at all costs. It's second wave post-rock with every loudness slider turned all the way down, feeling more like the space in between crescendos, with it never really aching for one or giving any indication that it will ever get close to one. It's as if A Silver Mt Zion made a lullaby, but the album itself is sung to.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Mamiffer - The Brilliant Tabernacle
[Post-Rock / Ambient]

Based on The Brilliant Tabernacle, Mamiffer, the project of Faith Coloccia, is a million miles away from the aggression of the works of Aaron Turner, her husband, who contributes guitar and vocal parts to this record. There are hints of some of Turner's noisier work with some of the eerie, chaotic guitars at the end of opener "All That Is Beautiful", but the melancholy piano, tom-heavy drumming, angelic vocals, dainty acoustic guitars and soothing flute culminate in a dreamy, featherweight sound. The remainder of The Brilliant Tabernacle is similarly airy, with ambient stretches sustained by percussion of Earth-esque tempos. The delicate interchange between the vocals, flutes and organs on "River Of Light" just about generate the illusion of forward momentum in what is otherwise a glacial affair.

The more percussive tracks, such as "All That Is Beautiful" or "So That The Heart May Be Known", are perhaps more up my street than the more ambient sections of the album, particularly with the soothing sound that the patiently ascending flute and vocal lines above the rolling toms create on the latter track. However, the melancholy piano piece "Two Hands Together" features some of the most captivating vocal lines on the album, whilst "Hymn Of Eros" is the most esoteric effort on The Brilliant Tabernacle, with an extended noise/ambient stretch throughout its second half, during which electric guitars chug away buried deep in the mix beneath the siren-esque vocals and the to-and-froing of various disconnected noises. This particular stretch is an unusual contrast to the otherwise serene nature of the rest of the album, which turned out to be the unexpected pick of the bunch out of this month's selection.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Apple Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Aaron Turner - Repression's Blossom
[Ambient / Drone]

You know that noise an amp makes when the guitar isn't properly plugged in? That's Repression's Blossom.

Well it's more than that, but it can feel like that. Aaron Turner may be more well known for his post-metal projects like Isis, Sumac and Old Man Gloom, but he's no stranger to ambient music, whether that be with House Of Low Culture, Mamiffer or Lotus Eaters, but was just this year that he started to release music under his own name, first the really hard to find cassette called Interminable Conniption and now Repression's Blossom.

Both of these releases are really short (I can only properly verify that for this one right here), so even if one isn't as much into this experimental noise music, they're not such big chores to power through as a Merzbow album would be, and there are some few moments that don't feel as unmelodic, mostly some droning synths in the background and some guitar strums, but other than that Repression's Blossom is ugly, uncompromising and mangled. There are albums in this vein way uglier and way harder to get through, but also others that I feel have more merit in how they play with the sounds that this does.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - The Undivided Five
[Ambient / Modern Classical]

I am generally used to these type of albums being the soundtrack to something, so having it on its own without being subservient to transmit emotion from something else is a bit weird, especially because of how emotionally powerful this is just by its own, but I cannot connect it to any story, any character, any image or anything other than what it is on its own. It sounding so much like it could be a film score comes as no surprise considering that both members, Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie (also of Stars Of The Lid) fame have made some soundtracks by themselves, and not only that but A Winged Victory For The Sullen has its name on a soundtrack too. The only difference is that The Undivided Five stands on its own.

Lush orchestration and encompassing analog synths do weave together in such a way that it is impossible to just not have some image or some feeling evoked, mostly for me it would be akin to awe in the face of the universe, some feeling of grandeur that doesn't feel epic or majestic but just there. The music is really slow, focusing entirely on building that feeling layer by layer, whether by synth or string, but always feeling a bit at odds with the tongue-in-cheek song titles like "Our Lord Debussy", "Aqualung, Motherfucker" or "Keep It Dark, Deutschland". How is it that so little does so much?

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP





Tindersticks - No Treasure But Hope
[Chamber Pop / Indie Pop]

It's been 26 years since the debut of Tindersticks which was named 'album of the year' by the UK music magazine Melody Maker. Since then, they have had a long journey but their first three offerings released by This Way Up Records have always been their greatest gift to music lovers. Tindersticks' melancholic chamber pop with its beautiful orchestrations and cinematic atmosphere has been their usual routine and No Treasure But Hope is no different.

The 12th full-length of the band fronted by Stuart Staples, one of the most expressive British troubadours of our time, is largely based on his voice telling stories of sadness and nostalgia over warm piano melodies and crepuscular strings. It is the record you would listen to in a smoke-filled bar -if these still existed- while watching from the window the autumn rain hit the empty, dim-lit road. The happier love song "Pinky In The Daylight", which boasts a video filmed in Ithaca, and the more experimental "See The Girls", which takes a trip around the world on a vehicle rented from Nick Cave, offer some variation. Tindersticks do not have a lot different to offer after nearly three full decades of making music, but the bittersweet aftertaste that their albums leave is always welcome.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg

Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron - Lost Wisdom Pt. 2
[Indie Folk / Slowcore]

On one hand this is a sequel to the previous Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron collaboration, 2008's Lost Wisdom. On the other hand it comes directly after Phil's lovelorn albums about his wife's death, the heartbreaking A Crow Looked At Me and the more serene Now Only, albums filled with tales and vivid imagery of the aftermath of the death of a loved one. In the meantime Phil already went through another doomed relationship, having married and separated from fellow widow and single parent, actress Michelle Williams, who was married to Heath Ledger. Thus the themes of lost love from those previous records flow into Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 as well, making it seem like a continuation of the original 2008 album mostly in title and personnel.

The imagery on this album isn't as strong or as somewhat voyeuristic as the ones on the previous two albums, choosing instead to have the raw emotions a bit hidden, only letting them come out from stories at times, with references to first falling in love with Michelle after not thinking that he could ever go through the same feelings of love again, or references to seeing a loved one die, and a lot of references to Buddhism and widow support groups. Julie's voice acts as a harmony to Phil's voice, and as support for his pain, and as counterpoint for his stories. A quiet and tender album for the most part, as with most Mount Eerie, with barely anything other than acoustic guitars and pianos, with some distortion only heard on "Love Without Possession". And once all my heartstrings have been pulled and every line hit, I just wish Phil would find some happiness after all this tragedy. And hopefully then he can do another black metal album like Wind's Poem.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Faber - I Fucking Love My Life
[Alternative Rock / Chanson / Indie Pop]

Faber - that's 26-year-old Swiss singer/songwriter Julian Pollina (son of Italian singer-songwriter Giuseppe "Pippo" Pollina) and the Goran Koč y Vocalist Orkestar Band and I Fucking Love My Life is their second full-length album after the rather unexpected success of Sei Ein Faber Im Wind from 2017. "Unexpected", because on paper, Faber's musical home is a very frumpily furnished and outmodedly decorated place. Just have a look at their instrumentation: organ, trombone, cello, goblet drum, piano, bouzouki, saxophone... That's anything but not the equipment of your ordinary, contemporary rock band. But that's definitely not what they are or ever wanted to be...

Therefore, the music of Faber is a little bit hard to categorize, they don't really know any limits. I Fucking Love My Life can be best described as a mélange of pop-chansons accompanied with jazzy beats, soft but gloomy piano ballads interrupted by three-minute long saxophone solos, Mediterranean folk music supported by cheerless string parts and jaunty Balkan polka-brass mixed with klezmer music - and all this works surprisingly well together. The unifying element of all Faber songs so far is without any doubt Julian Pollina's pleasantly deep and warm voice. Or to put it in other words, the direct consequence of too many whiskeys and far too many cigarettes is an omnipresent and essential component of Faber's trademark sound. In direct comparison with its 2017 predecessor, I Fucking Love My Life is more mature and a tad more sophisticated and diverse in regard to the integration of manifold cultural and musical influences. But "mature" does by no means equal "harmless", Faber's music does still taste like a box of chocolate where even the sweetest pralines are coated with dark chocolate and filled with throat burning liquor. The very explicit and controversial (German) lyrics, as usual full of irony, subtle puns, (self-)mockery and biting criticism, create the bittersweet aftertaste that each of the 16 songs intentionally leaves. Maybe they've even gone a little too far this time: just after a few hours of YouTube airplay, the lyrics for the first single "Das Boot Ist Voll" had to be defused and a less direct but yet quite provocative version of the song found its way on this highly enjoyable and - especially concerning the message it contains - very important album.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Starvynth

Leonard Cohen - Thanks For The Dance
[Contemporary Folk / Chamber Pop]

You Want It Darker was such a great way to end a career and I was content with it being the final Leonard Cohen album, as it probably was my favorite of his albums anyway. Late career Cohen had such grace and wit that was transmitted from his incredibly old voice that he couldn't exactly capture in his youth as great as his entire career was. I was a bit skeptical when a posthumous album was announced, but I can't possibly say no to another serving of old age Cohen songs. Thank You For The Dance even has a title that expresses finality better than the previous one did, and since they were recorded in the same session and assembled by Cohen's son, Adam, so we'll give it a pass as a genuine album.

Coming off at slightly less than 30 minutes in runtime, Thank You For The Dance is definitely cut from the same cloth as You Want In Darker, and even with the feeling of it being unfinished and scrapped from discarded session songs, it still perfectly expresses why Cohen was so loved as a performer and lyricist that even these songs have so much depth and wit and I'm glad that they didn't just sit in a vault somewhere. It's clear that they were assembled with care and love by Adam and by admirers of Cohen's work such as Beck, Damien Rice and members of The National and Broken Social Scene. I just wish Cohen lived just a little longer to properly flesh out these songs.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP





Solar Fields - Undiscovered Stories [EP]
[Downtempo / Ambient]

With its lush, euphoric landscapes and delicate foray into psychedelic territories, Undiscovered Stories follows a similar path to its predecessors, carefully navigating between Alan Parsons-infused groove and bounce with thought-provoking stretches of ambient introspection. Sole composer Magnus Birgersson has made a lengthy and successful career with his sonic manipulation and understanding of contextualizing data stream layers to fit his goal of welcoming his audience into a world of philosophically-charged serenity. There's an undoubted air of pretentiousness surrounding a project of this nature, but a humble balance is achieved with some grounded, simplistic music.

Featuring only two songs on offer, efficiency takes a back seat in order to establishing an appropriate setting. In typical Solar Fields fashion, the train takes its time leaving the station before gathering momentum. "Sourcebook", a sagaciously smooth number that spends most of its time building out from its subtle beginnings to its climactic uplifting shift in tempo, sets the tone perfectly for the album's second half. Middling its way through a soft, nubile atmosphere until its nearly dance-oriented bridge, "The Waiting" helps bring Undiscovered Stories closer towards notes of inspiration and joy. It may not reach quite the same levels of accessibility or groove of previous releases, but the challenge of latching on to these morsels of engagement makes this a worthwhile adversary.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Troy Killjoy

Andy Stott - It Should Be Us
[Dub Techno / UK Bass]

Apparently, this is not a full-length album, but a double EP. Well, whatever floats your boat, Andy Stott, this feels, acts and has the length of an album, but perhaps the entire thing is less cohesive to Andy. Over the course of the past three albums, Andy Stott has proven himself to be one of the most interesting techno producers as of late, infusing IDM, UK bass, dub and ambient into the mix to create some of the slowest and most hushed club music you could think of, and It Should Be Us deconstructs the concept of club music even more, darkening the sound palette further and turning the music on its head.

It Should Be Us is often pretty slow for techno music, with syncopated rhythms and very moody ambient approach, that distances techno from some feel good music it can possibly be in a club setting. Instead, it feels a bit exhausting in its way, not really unpleasurable or meandering, but taking what could possibly work and deconstructing it into dreadful and grim takes on that dub sound. It's the opposite of the pristine and funky. All of these do apply to most of his recent work, but it feels like It Should Be Us takes all of this characteristics a step further into gloom. Perfect night music for when you don't actually want to move.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Scorn - Café Mor
[Ambient Dub / Downtempo]

A name like Scorn demands some dark music, and thankfully Café Mor delivers. A solid 40-odd minutes of low, pulsating electronic bass and gradually convoluting beats. I'm not particularly familiar with dub, but knowing that it grew out of reggae, I wasn't expecting something classed as dub to necessarily sound as menacing and misanthropic as this. Each track is relatively invariant; a single punishing electronic bass track is allowed to pummel away as the beats sustain the track and allow some gradual development. An exemplar demonstration of this is "The Lower The Middle Our Bit", riding the same oscillating throb as the percussive beats play around; at one point about halfway through it almost threatens to fizzle out, before starting right back where it left off.

For the most part, what you hear from track one is what you hear throughout; each song follows the same general template, so you can tell early on whether this is up your alley. The flavours of the songs vary ever so slightly; comparing with the rolling ebb and flow of "The lower The Middle Our Bit", "Never Let It Be Said" is less bass-heavy, with greater emphasis on the percussive side of Scorn's sound. At the other end, "Who Are They Which One" is more immediate, with a real punch behind the fat bass throbs that dominate the track. The one major departure is the guest vocals on "Talk Whiff" courtesy of Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods, a The Streets-esque stream-of-consciousness narration/rap that I'm happy to never listen to again. That aside, this album is very true to its first impressions; if you want dark, gnarly bass-heavy electronica, this is right for you.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Kai Whiston - No World As Good As Mine
[Experimental Rock / UK Bass]

This sure felt like it came out of nowhere. First I heard of Kai Whiston through his collaboration with Iglooghost and BABii, the former of which you might be familiar with. Afterwards I went to check out his debut album as well, Kai Whiston Bitch, and while I did enjoy it for the weird and forard thinking take on electronic music that it was, I can't say I thought that much of it, because the vibe of it kinda felt like the Soundcloud rap version of IDM. I didn't expect No World As Good As Mine to hit the way that it does, and I didn't expect Kai Whiston to be such a boundary pushing artist so soon. It really struck me for the first time since I started reviewing, that I am listening and enjoying music made by people younger than me. I suppose it's something I've gotta get used to.

No World As Good As Mine tries to be a lot of things at once, which is both its greatest quality and its greatest drawback. There is a greater presence of live instruments along with the electronics, which give the whole thing a much more experimental rock vibe, at one point it's almost a post-rock record, at the next one it's a trap banger, next you're in an Aphex Twin record and then in an obscure club somewhere in Bristol. Not all of these approaches work as well they could, but given Kai's lack of experience, I can expect that they'll get more and more well integrated with further releases. But the constant melancholic mood of the record as well as its ambitious approach and the skill that Kai already has, makes No World As Good As Mine such an engaging listen. But it feels like too much, both in runtime and in how many things it tries to do.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP





The Who - WHO
[Power Pop / Hard Rock]

Wow, who in the world ever expect that we'll get to hear a new The Who album. Probably even less people that the ones who knew that The Who had a band profile on our website. With a first selftitled record, a cover art by an artist who also did the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, the core two musicians in their mid 70s, and over half a decade of a career, The Who know exactly WHO they are. This album was not necessary, but its self awareness and cynicism almost makes it so and it frees it from any accusations of being a cash grab. It's a rehash and a rip-off and it knows it. What are you gonna do about it?

I gotta agree, out of all the music made by folks in their mid 70s, WHO does indeed sound like it still has some soul in its performance. Thankfully not a rock opera, it still has some of that operatic feeling that early 70s The Who had, but with a bit of a modern punch, especially in the still surprisingly punchy vocals of Roger Daltry. The album does try to dip its toes into newer territories, moments that do feel slightly awkward, but at this point in their career, every step in a new direction is pretty laudable. Every awkward lyric or sound is saved by one that feels still vital, with some pretty surprising chemistry for an album in which the two members weren't in the same room for its recording. Miles away from the best The Who material, also miles away from the worst that people in their position could've made, and a decent last echo of that era.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

FKA Twigs - Magdalene
[Art Pop / Glitch Pop]

What kind of a pop album has a cover like that? Oh, it's an FKA Twigs album. Nevermind then. Wow, it's been quite a while since we heard from her (though considering the health problems she went through in the meantime, it's not really a surprise), with her weird (but never this weird) cover arts of distortions of her face, and tender art pop / r&b that is also often a distortion of her voice. For such a distorted cover art, the music here is surprisingly tame and undistributed and actually the most disturbing thing about the music itself is the Future guest spot.

If it's not obvious from the cover art and the genre tags, Magdalene is quite forward thinking in its approach to pop music, though it's also a lot less glitchy and processed than I expected. With co-production from the magnificent Nicholas Jaar on most tracks, the music is harrowing and tender enough to sustain the equally harrowing and tender vocals from FKA Twigs, but the latter of those are clearly at the center of the record, with their strong introspective feeling. But even with such a short record, it still feels like the flow and the cuts on this record aren't the strongest that FKA Twigs can arrange (I'm looking at you, "Holy Terrain"), but it's enough to cement Magdalene as the best FKA Twigs album.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka
[Psychedelic Soul / Psychedelic Rock]

It's somewhat rejuvenating to find an album that does dabble in nostalgia and classic sounds, but takes the 60s as inspiration instead of the 80s or 90s. It is indeed a sound that I've kind of unjustly ignored for some time, but soul is really really effective with the right voice. And oh man does Michael Kiwanuka have the right voice. He may not have the biggest range or the most powerful voice, but it has what gives the genre its name, and that can be really felt through the music. With clear cues from 60s souls, both in its more conventional approach but also with a clear psychedelic touch, it feels like something I would've expected to hear from an American singer instead of a British one.

Psychedelic aspects are quite subdued and they come mostly in the interludes, but they are prominent enough (especially in several of the guitar and organ passages) to be clearly noticeable and to bring the nostalgic factor into bigger play. But even as much as the album is indebted to sounds of old, it never really feels like it's just rehashing old sounds without adding anything personal and authentic to them. There is a new feeling of confidence that oozes from an album that is self titled, especially now since this is the singer/songwriter's third record, and as great as his previous ones were, the first one where he actually feels like a force to be reckoned with instead of just a great singer. Might have to do with the great instrumentation and production in addition to the already brooding vocals.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Sudan Archives - Athena
[Neo-Soul / Alternative R&B]

How would you like to be transported to the alternate universe where the fiddle is a staple of R&B music? Let Sudan Archives's Athena take you there. So basically Sudan Archives's first full length takes the violin (with some massive inspiration from the Sudanese fiddle, hence the band name) and plunging into sensual R&B, vintage soul, hip-hop beats and experimental electronic soundscapes. After a few EPs, it's clear that it is here that her vision finally comes into complete form, with it elegantly merging all of those elements to create something that feels like it always was supposed to be like that, but it still feels bold in that familiarity it somehow still manages to evoke.

The songs play around with these sounds, taking either more of a folkier or more of a soulful or more of a hip-hop sound, but there's always at least one other counterpoint to keep it grounded in the blend, and it's amazing just how cohesive it still sounds. Really hard to believe that this is just her first full length, instead of the work of someone many years down the line. It's sensual, bold, intelligent, never too loud, and has a lot of depth to each of the approaches of sounds within it, so much so that I can't possibly anticipate how it could possibly grow in the future, other than some eventual collaborations, but already as is Sudan Archives feels like it's at the peak of her sound.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP





DJ Shadow - Our Pathetic Age
[Hip Hop]

This may be the first time I've reviewed an album for this article series from an artist I already own music from, but it's been nearly 25 years since DJ Shadow dropped Endtroducing... on the world, and I haven't kept tabs on his output since, so I came into Our Pathetic Age intrigued but uncertain what to expect. Unsurprisingly, DJ Shadow's sound has moved on over the past 20 years, but there's still a fair bit I found to enjoy here, most notably the first main track on the album, the smooth, moody "Slingblade". The first half of Our Pathetic Age is, like Endtroducing..., effectively instrumental, albeit with some vocal interjections, such as the "jugg-jugg-jugg-juggernaut" vocal sample on "Juggernaut", a glitchy, noisy affair that is far less to my liking than "Slingblade". This first half, however, is fairly diverse, featuring the relentlessly pulsating "Intersectionality", the piano of "Firestorm" and the subtle swing of "We Are Always Alone".

In the second half, Our Pathetic Age ditches the instrumental approach and becomes a straightforward hip hop album, with DJ Shadow pulling in some big names to collaborate, including Nas, Ghostface Killah and Run The Jewels. The first of these tracks, "Drone Warfare", features Nas and has a fairly old-school vibe to it, in terms of the beats, instrumentation and record-scratching. In contrast, "JoJo's Word" is more downbeat, with greater prominence on the vocals. I'll be honest, hip hop in general isn't a big interest of mine, but I found the more classic-sounding cuts such as "Drone Warfare", "Rain On Snow" and "Rocket Fuel" to be the more rewarding listens in this latter half of Our Pathetic Age.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Worstworldproblems - Gangrene
[Abstract Hip Hop / Experimental Hip Hop]

Worstworldproblems make hip hop of a variety that feels like it could've only been made in the 2010s: dreamy, hypnotic, and containing shades of influences from outside of the genre. The trio is comprised of three individuals going by Teenslasher91, Nomorewillroam, and Gargoyle, all of whom contribute vocals but each in a considerably different manner. Teenslasher91 raps, Nomorewillroam sings in a more pop oriented style, and Gargoyle does some unusual spoken word/screaming combination. Together the three craft a unique take on hip hop that is equal parts abrasive and mesmerizing, and that feels pleasantly multidimensional.

Indeed, for a release that's just over the 20 minute mark time wise, Gangrene brings a surprisingly diverse listen between its 6 tracks. Opener "Spiced Rum" is probably the most in line with a "traditional" hip hop style, but this quickly gives way to "Tiger Mafia", where Nomorewillroam dominates and a sound more akin to some sort of atmospheric pop takes over. More examples follow as the three members weave their different approaches around each other, using differences as strengths and creating a sound where no one delivery seems to be at the forefront for too long a time. Highly alluring and with a lot to unravel in spite of its short run time, Gangrene is an impressive listen that raises a lot of curiosity about just where Worstworldproblems may go from here.

Bandcamp

by Apothecary

Gang Starr - One Of The Best Yet
[East Coast Hip Hop / Boom Bap]

I'm not that big of a fan of posthumous albums, especially if they're less releasing finished but unreleased songs and more reworking snippets from demos into full songs. Sure it's an effort worth appreciating getting something that resembles an actual song from some demo recordings sold to DJ Premier posthumously, but there's probably a reason other than the artist's death that those didn't make it to the public yet. Gang Starr weren't working on any album when Guru died, and yet now we find ourselves with a Gang Starr album that has Guru's raps but alongside him we also have J Cole, whose debut album was released after Guru's death in 2010. Sure other than him, there's also spots from Q-Tip, Talib Kweli and Jeru The Damaja that fit, and with enough suspension of disbelief it actually works pretty good for a Frankenstein's monster.

One Of The Best Yet does work really great in bringing that vintage old school East Coast Hip-Hop vibe, everything from the rapping to the beats to the skits to the lyrics just oozes of that era. It's pretty amazing how even some unreleased verses from Guru could still cut so good, even if they're clearly not his absolute best. And despite the moral doubts I have regarding this, DJ Premier clearly put a lot of effort in putting this all together, with the guest raps fitting incredibly well and making Guru's recording not feel like they're artificially plastered in from demo recordings. All things considered, I wish Guru and DJ Premier would've reconciled before the former's death and made this album with the same guests but with intent from both sides. As good as it is, maybe actually one of the best yet, it's curious to think how I have moral issues with this, but not as much with listening to albums made by people who hired hitmen to kill their wife.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Moor Mother - Analog Fluids Of Sonic Black Holes
[Industrial Hip Hop / Post Industrial]

Moor Mother has been one of the best discoveries of 2019 for me. Period, end of story. Originally crossing paths with her via her contributions on Zonal's Wrecked, I was quite impressed and immediately sought out her solo work from there. To say that it's everything I ever hoped to hear in industrial hip hop would be a massive understatement. Moor Mother scratches all the itches I was looking for out of this style, and Analog Fluids Of Sonic Black Holes, her newest effort, may very well represent the absolute peak of her career. Part industrial, part harsh noise, part hip hop, and part dark ambient spoken word madness, this album bridges the gaps between many different genres, and is an all around well structured, multidimensional, and inspiring effort.

With the blend of genre influences comes a pleasant diversity of sound. On Analog Fluids you may get a track like "Repeater", which is very formless, drone oriented, and brings out the spoken word vibes in Moor Mother's vocal delivery. But at the same time, you might get tracks like "Don't Die" or "Black Flight", which are a lot more catchy, pounding, and embrace the industrial influence more than anything. It's quite entertaining, and proves that Moor Mother is anything but a one trick pony. Hypnotizing, well layered, and heavy in more ways than one, Analog Systems is an entrancing journey through various shades of electronica and spoken word that are equal parts impressive and stimulating. A must listen for fans of the more unusual manifestations of industrial music, hip hop, and spoken word.

You hold death over our heads
You hold life over our heads
I hope you get what you've been giving out
I hope you choke on all the memories


Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 



Written on 15.12.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 5   Visited by: 46 users
18.12.2019 - 10:51
IronAngel
Great albums again. I think Magdalene may have actually become my AOTY. I've been blasting it for the last few weeks. I only knew FKA twigs by name before, and didn't expect this at all. It seems a pretty common criticism that Holy Terrain is out of place, and yeah it has a different vibe from the rest of the album (sinister Tricky feeling), but apart from the lame rapping I really like it. I especially adore Sad Day and Mary Magdalene, and Daybed is maybe the only weaker song.

A Winged Victory, Mount Eerie, Kai Whiston and Andy Stott are all really good, too. Didn't really care for DJ Shadow, and I'm not sure I want to check out this posthumous Leonard Cohen release. Feels a bit distasteful, and the trilogy was more than enough of his old man style.

Need to check out that Pan American, I didn't really even know they were together still. Tindersticks and TR/ST need more of my attention too, I think I listened to the aforementioned once in the background but have no recollection other than their signature sound.
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18.12.2019 - 10:59
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by IronAngel on 18.12.2019 at 10:51

Great albums again. I think Magdalene may have actually become my AOTY. I've been blasting it for the last few weeks. I only knew FKA twigs by name before, and didn't expect this at all. It seems a pretty common criticism that Holy Terrain is out of place, and yeah it has a different vibe from the rest of the album (sinister Tricky feeling), but apart from the lame rapping I really like it. I especially adore Sad Day and Mary Magdalene, and Daybed is maybe the only weaker song.

"Sad Day" might just be one of my favorite songs of the year. Def check out her previous LP and her EPs too.

Written by IronAngel on 18.12.2019 at 10:51

I'm not sure I want to check out this posthumous Leonard Cohen release. Feels a bit distasteful, and the trilogy was more than enough of his old man style.

That's up to you, but it's definitely more tasteful than the Gang Starr record, or even worse, all those XXXtentacion or Jimi Hendrix records that keep popping up. Thank You For The Dance feels more like something made out of genuine love and care rather than just a cash grab. Another posthumus record that I almost did review was the new Arthur Russell.


You def need to get on to Moor Mother and Sudan Archives
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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18.12.2019 - 20:35
LedZep
If you liked that FKA twigs release, try yeule's Seratonin ii. Also a very forward thinking art pop/experimental stuff. And I second "sad day" as one of the best songs of the year
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18.12.2019 - 20:55
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by LedZep on 18.12.2019 at 20:35

If you liked that FKA twigs release, try yeule's Seratonin ii. Also a very forward thinking art pop/experimental stuff. And I second "sad day" as one of the best songs of the year

Alright, I will
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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19.12.2019 - 10:03
IronAngel
Written by RaduP on 18.12.2019 at 10:59

You def need to get on to Moor Mother and Sudan Archives


Thanks! Sudan Archives is pretty nice, listened to it a few times last night. I've listened to a lot of good R&B in the last two years or so, never was interested before. The violin's a nice addition, although often a bit vanilla and underused - she's no Owen Pallett (even if the cool riff on Confessions sounds very much like something on Heartland). Like the style, the songs seem a bit uneven.

Moor Mother, uhh... Great sound. This needs some mental energy and time to focus, to grasp the substance. My relationship with hip hop is a bit ambivalent, because I do love poetry and appreciate the flow of good rapping (really enjoyed some live clips of Kate Tempest), but I don't usually listen to music with my attention on the lyrics. So I feel a lot of hip hop is wasted on me, even if I like the sound of it.

Maybe I'll get around to Cohen at some point. I wasn't a huge fan of his last trilogy anyway, it had some great moments but also a lot of filler I didn't much care for. (But I didn't really love anything after the first 4 albums anyway.)
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