The world's not getting any better, but at least the soundtrack's still great
It’s nice to have some clear instruction now and again. Whether you’re after some pioneers of postmodern degradation trying to play the saxophone, cult folk heroes singing about sewers and human stench, or some ambient escapism from one of the most underrated artists of the last half-century, your September can be saved with these 12 albums. Is it Bandcamp Friday yet?
Artist: Hen Ogledd
Title: Free Humans
Label: Weird World
What is it? The playful Old Norse-inspired sophomore from a supergroup comprising Dawn Bothwell, Rhodri Davies, Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington, tackling everything from friendship to sewage systems.
L&Q says: “Simply put, if Free Humans was a film, then it’d be The Goonies directed by Werner Herzog.”
Read Dominic Haley’s full review here.
Artist: Nana Adjoa
Title: Big Dreaming Ants
What is it? The debut album from Dutch-Ghanaian singer-songwriter Nana Adjoa that sits somewhere between Solange and The National, not afraid to ask big questions.
L&Q says: “A record full of wide-ranging ideas, by an emerging artist with the talent to make talking about the big stuff seem easy.”
Read Skye Butchard’s full review here.
Artist: Róisín Murphy
Title: Róisín Machine
Label: Skint / BMG
What is it? An instant dancefloor classic from one half of Moloko, a decade in the making.
L&Q says: “This is Róisín Murphy’s unashamed club record. Its ten tracks are all about being in a sweaty, crowded room and dancing away your heartbreak.”
Read Susan Darlington’s full review here.
Artist: Mint Field
Title: Sentimiento Mundial
What is it? Sun-drenched, Spanish language avant-psych shoegaze-cum-kosmische from Tijuana.
L&Q says: “There’s an energetic, driving pulse that makes these hypno-jams a strangely propulsive and contemporary listen”.
Read Tristan Gatward’s full review here.
Artist: Beverly Glenn-Copeland
Title: Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland
What is it? A career-spanning retrospective that justly and finally recognises transgender artist Glenn-Copeland’s trailblazing in ambient music and social attitudes.
L&Q says: “If Transmissions has one strength above the rest, it’s that it transforms background music into music for tearfully slumping at four in the morning, alongside Glenn-Copeland’s cradling lullaby”.
Read Dafydd Jenkins’s full review here.
Artist: Sparkle Division
Title: To Feel Embraced
Label: Temporary Residence Ltd
What is it? A disarmingly euphoric collaboration of lounge, jazz and disco between William Basinski (with a saxophone) and Preston Wendell.
L&Q says: “A disorientating cocktail of lounge jazz, hazy psychedelia, warped funk and misremembered Studio 54 hedonism. Against the odds, it’s pretty much perfect.”
Read Luke Cartledge’s full review here.
Title: Protean Threat
Label: Castle Face
What is it? The debut scuzz-punk album from this particular iteration of John Dwyer’s always-mutating Thee Oh Sees project.
L&Q says: “OSees are in a state of retraction. They’re rallying the troops for an act of rebellion against a reality where idealism is a disguise for the corruption and depredation all around us.”
Read Tyler Damara Kelly’s full review here.
Artist: Mammal Hands
Title: Captured Spirits
What is it? The hypnotic fourth album from Norwich’s spiritual jazz-cum-electronic music veterans.
L&Q says: “Across eleven tracks, Mammal Hands navigate warm waves of resplendent organic cross-over jazz with a post-rock ballast – the overriding atmosphere one of wonder and possibility, serving as the perfect antidote for this tempestuous present.”
Read Robert Davidson’s full review here.
Label: Sacred Bones
What is it? A dark and industrial descent into a fictional abyss, via one of New York’s most unforgiving experimental metal outfits.
L&Q says: “This is a nasty, frightening record from a band who specialise in nasty, frightening records.”
Read Luke Cartledge’s full review here.
Artist: Afel Bocoum
Label: World Circuit
What is it? A Damon Albarn-produced call for solidarity and hope in the face of conflict from the Timbuktu region of Mali, featuring the late great Tony Allen and Joan As Police Woman.
L&Q says: “While the intersection of traditional African music and more contemporary global sounds has long been a cornerstone of Bocoum’s work, on Lindé, the concept of unity cuts through to the beating heart of the project.”
Read Alexander Smail’s full review here.
Artist: Sophie Hunger
What is it? A relentlessly versatile seventh studio album from the Swiss multi-instrumentalist and composer, produced by resident Speedy Wunderground magician Dan Carey.
L&Q says: “The whole work wears crisp but eerie clothing, not unlike Portishead’s best output.”
Read Greg Cochrane’s full review here.
Artist: Freak Heat Waves
Title: Zap The Planet
Label: Telephone Explosion
What is it? A socially-distanced e-creation between Montreal and the British Columbia, finding the fun in funk-fuelled experiments with analog synths, early MIDI technology and recording techniques.
L&Q says: “These Canadian masters of lo-fi have avoided the imitation trap by reminiscing about a past that never actually existed.”
Read Jack Doherty’s full review here.
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