James N Murray, LADYMONIX, Collapsed Memory, Mario Diaz de Leon, Nat Wendell, JaySwann, Ryan Beckemeyer, Susan Geaney, Tegh & Adel Poursamadi, Jem Finer, Moving Still, and Beatrice Dillon
Almost August y’all. Autumn coming soon. Spoopy season approaching. Big thanks to Eoghan O’Sullivan of The Point of Everything for inviting me to speak on his podcast about Bandcloud. Lots of other Irish stuff to enjoy in there too. This week we have a lot of emotion. Joy, sorrow, tears, laughter.
James N Murray - An Emerald Necklace
Our pal James N Murray released his latest album last week on the Dragon’s Eye label. As to be expected from an artist whose work is constantly rich and considered, it’s a broad and expansive piece of work. ‘A Temple to Friendship’ somehow combines Murray’s most languidly melancholy sounds with surroundings that evoke memories of ’90s ambient electronica, you know, the stuff that was up-tempo and had beats but was still considered “ambient”. ‘Paradise’ is made of similar stuff, particularly with its unexpected melodies. There is nothing at any point in this album that could be predicted or expected, with Murray’s ear tending away from the traditional or formulaic in favour of sounds that thrill and delight. The album is inspired by a set of parks in Boston that he frequented when he was an undergrad, and the sounds truly represent the unpredictable beauty of nature as well as the joy of friendship and human connection, in whatever form it may come.
Four chunky and delightful house jams for summer. Unrecognisable samples, vocals or instrumentals (I love the sax, I do). Thick, dreamy pads and acid wobs. ‘A Bop’ is particularly smile-inducing.
Collapsed Memory - No Logical Sequences
“Inspired by Tangerine Dream and Software but filtered through the Rhythm & Sound disintegration vortex and abstracted atmospheres of Mount Shrine.” Hello. Yes please. The artwork is bonkers. The music sounds amazing, fully living up to its lofty inspirations.
Mario Diaz de Leon - Heart Thread
What to say about this album! It’s a fever dream of explosive synth patterns. Like that trance music from my last radio show but without the beats, with a different, more cerebral kind of euphoria at play. Syncopation, dancing melodies, joyous and heartfelt, full of deep and all-enveloping emotion. It defies language, yet here I type.
Nat Wendell - Unchained (DMS003)
This is a preview of a vinyl-only release, but it’s really good and I enjoy Nat Wendell’s mixes a lot so here it is. Four heady, loopy house tracks, one of them an instrumental of the title track. Someone recently tweeted that the best tracks are always A2 or B1, and I think B1 is the killer here. Shades of ’90s Ali and Sharam on the B2 too.
This is a really varied album. It’s crisply electronic, offering hints of house clubs and late nights, while at times it ventures into a downtempo hip-hop spiral. It’s not unlike Galcher Lustwerk, with vocals that are almost slurred hovering over dreamy beats. No two tracks are alike, offering an excitingly vibrant listening experience.
Ryan Beckemeyer - sunlight echoes the room
I played the opening track from this short release on my latest radio show, one of the few non-trancey tracks that made the cut. Ryan Beckemeyer presents four tracks that ripple like the sunlight and emojis of the track titles. Gorgeous, lovely sounds.
I often talk about music that sounds like wavering tapes. This does, and yet it doesn’t. ‘Tape Melt’ is quite literal in that it is inspired by the sound of tapes becoming undone due to excessive playback. Expect it’s performed with ~real~ instruments, by ~real~ people. It’s alarming in how striking it is. I said to the label boss that it is quite literally awesome. I played it twice yesterday and couldn’t leave my seat either time I let it play, all 35 minutes of it. It features stringed instruments wavering from one note to another and back, creating that uncomfortable moment of discord. At times it sounds like sirens or alarms, almost keening with despair. Almost like a child whose tape has worn out or their batteries have died.
(Sorry, I just reread the list of performers and it does include “Cassette tape players x 3” so maybe there are some real-life tape wobblers in there.)
Tegh & Adel Poursamadi - community Ima ایما
I pressed play on this and immediately thought “how the heck will I be able to write about this”. As the opening track progressed through its 11-minute length, I was struck by visions and ideas, as instruments and elements of sound came together in harmony and explosion. What sounds like a distant alarm rings throughout, with violins and electronic squawking eventually vying for attention in the strangest of manners. The ideas of that first listen escape me now but it was a powerful listen, driving around with a heavy hum of bass filling the space around me.
Benedict Drew’s Thanet Tape Centre label has been steadily putting out weird and wonderful folk-inflected sounds for the past two years. Funnily enough, it’s only now that the label is living up to its name by releasing a tape. Hrdy-Grdy is a collection of tracks created by Jem Finer using a hurdy-gurdy and any number of other implements and electronic devices. There’s a track called ‘Duet With a Gate’ that’s simultaneously charming and grating. Some tracks, like ‘Nine Rounds’, are grandiose with emotion. Others, like ‘Fifty Thousand Fathoms’, are full of solemn depth. The physical release comes with a booklet/zine thing that looks very cool.
Simone - Malak Beya مالك بيا (Moving Still Edit)
This is a fun and funky track from Moving Still. With a bit of persistent googling I managed to find the original track, and the original is an Egyptian pop jam, blending 90s radio-friendly electronics with some traditional instrumentation. This edit clubs it up, for want of a better phrase, adding some tough chunkiness. There are looped sections that brim with strange malice, while the original vocals are richly emotive.
Yann Tiersen - Ker al Loch (Beatrice Dillon Remix)
Beatrice Dillon remixing Yann Tiersen! I’m not sure how I missed this. It came out in December. It’s being released as part of a package of remixes of Yann Tiersen’s Kerber, with Sote, Terence Fixmer and Laurel Halo featuring, among others. This remix is a world away from the original, which featured a steady piano movement that grew into a strange electronic attack on the senses. This is sedate, mournful, beautiful, employing a different manner of electronics to create an entirely different mood. It feels like standing next to a fireside reflecting on past joys, winter moments musing on summer days. Put simply, it’s magical.