Singing from the depths of an oubliette. A song of defiance that says: I will not be forgotten. Your instruments are simple—a bone that beats against metal, a twanging piece of leather, and your own voice (so unused to making noise lately, it comes surprisingly alive).
Talk about: siblings, accompaniment. A crypto-accordion (or organ?). Part elegy, part explication. It’s all beautiful: Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice and the expanding & collapsing music (breathing, pulsing). Listen.
For people who like Nick Thorburn’s music (and for people who don’t know it): both the new Islands records are full of great songs. Beginning to end. As catchy as the catchiest songs on Return to the Sea, Vapours, or A Sleep & A Forgetting. You will be able to listen to these albums for hours on end. As I’ve grown older and listened to more music, the more I’m impressed by artists who are able to write full albums that are strong all the way through. One song (terrible, good, great) can be a lot of music to make–one song can represent several months of continual labor. 12 songs, or 22 as the case is here, is a staggering amount of labor. 22 entertaining, amusing, eminently listenable songs is a freakish output–that is a goddamn monument. Islands here have produced sing-a-longs, jams, and long sweet elegies (Hawaii on Should I Remain Here At Sea? is so achingly tender).
Charm Offensive is the lead track on Taste and Back Into It the lead for Should I Remain Here At Sea? There are for sure some difference between the feel of the two albums, in instrumentation and lyrical tone, though there seems also to be a lot of personal reflection by Thorburn on both: talk of living in L.A., talk about the band, talk about music. These albums are like two lovely little novels. They’re both essential, with melodies that will stay in your head for a long, long time.
Hooded Fang offer the old-fashioned pleasures of prime-time post-punk. Impressions is all elbows and sharp joints, kicking out, twisting, and lurching—it brings to mind something like a volatile waterslide ride, one that alternates between borderline free-falls and calm smooth passages. This album is itchy, nervous, and skewed; music for outsiders. Working the tradition of bands like The Sound and Josef K, Hooded Fang marry those sounds with an aggression that’s more in line with stuff like DFA 1979.
Long stretches of Al Viento sound like a virtuosic flamenco guitar player has decided to sit in and play complement to a beautiful performance of Bach’s Cello Suites. This music is knotty but light—something difficult rendered approachable by the way it’s presented. Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus—father and son—do their work with wood and string the way other fathers and sons do their work with hammer and nail or block and beam.
Healing is a distorted shuffle. The singer is not sitting at the piano; he slumps over it, exhausted or drunk, groping the keys as he plays. This is a rough, noisy ballad. The sounds are industrial, malfunctioning, derelict, and water-logged all the way through the EP; it’s like a set of pretty melodies backed by Kevin Drumm-style outbursts of static and barely-wrangled voltage—it’s good.
Floating Points played in San Francisco this past Friday. Elaenia was one of my favorite albums of 2015, so I was expecting a good show, but this performance was ridiculous. The live band that Sam Shepherd has assembled to play the stuff from Elaenia is so energetic and intense—you can understand, after hearing them, how something like Kuiper came into being (Kuiper, if you haven’t heard it, sounds like nothing else out there; the closest fanciful comparison I can think of is an Aphex Twin-assisted jam session by Portishead, with a sort of James Bond theme song closing?). The band played tracks from Elaenia and played an even more furious version of Kuiper than the filmed one. It was the best show I’ve seen this year and the best performance I’ve seen in a long time.