This month, I finished my undergraduate degree. It feels strange, but I’m happy that I’ll have more time to devote to personal pursuits; things like this blog. Hopefully, there’ll be more content than usual from now on.
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog (2017)
With his past two full-length offerings falling under very much the same stylistic umbrella of psychedelic-tinged ‘jangle pop’, my first question following the announcement of a new Mac DeMarco was whether This Old Dog would merely be more of the same. Much to my delight, Mac’s latest studio effort comes across as far more mature than his past efforts, while also eschewing his usual sonic textures for more understated arrangements. Mac’s usual laid-back ‘slacker’ persona ultimately giving way to a more grounded and reflective character, This Old Dog feels like his most honest album to date.
Gaussian Curve – The Distance (2017)
Much of my time during the first half of May was spent revising for my final exam, meaning my days were soundtracked with study-friendly ambient music like that of Gaussian Curve. Both this year’s The Distance and 2014’s Clouds are fantastic ambient electronica records in the vein of Boards of Canada or Tycho, though Gaussian Curve’s music feels noticeably more ‘free’, the arrangements and structures giving more of an improvised feeling than the tight structure of other downtempo artists. The Distance took me off guard with how refreshing it sounds, like a cool breeze blowing through a window on a warm, sunny day.
Full of Hell & Merzbow – Full of Hell & Merzbow (2014)
A record that’s been on my radar for the best part of two years or so now, American powerviolence group Full of Hell’s collaboration with famed Japanese noise-sculptor Merzbow is a truly hellish listen. Full of Hell’s thick, bludgeoning walls of instruments mesh all-to-perfectly with Merzbow’s signature hissing, screeching noise; and with the two acts trading off between their sounds fluidly, Full of Hell & Merzbow is a surprisingly dynamic record. With grotesque textures and carefully balanced song structures, it’s a collaboration album that absolutely lives up to expectations.
Death Grips – Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix) (2017)
It’s always a good time for Josh when Death Grips drop new material. Never the ones for a conventional album release, Death Grips announced on the night of 22nd May that they were working on new material, releasing the somewhat comically titled Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix) to tide their fans over until the album’s release. With glitchy production and MC Ride’s usual characteristically brash delivery, I would happily accept Crouching Tiger as this year’s Death Grips offering, but with the promise of a new album (potentially) dropping in 2017, it only gives me more to look forward to.
Kraftwerk – Tour de France Soundtracks (2003)
Tour de France Soundtracks is an interesting entry in the Kraftwerk discography, with the electronic pioneers seemingly embracing the very sounds and styles they influenced in their 17-year absence. For what is – to this date – the most recent Kraftwerk studio album, stylistically it resembles little of the group’s early catalogue; taking on a more contemporary techno sound, with cleaner synthesisers and drum samples and more progressive, steadily unfolding song structures. With this new sonic territory for Kraftwerk, the four-piece produce possibly their most ‘organised’ record to date; in this sense, Tour de France Soundtracks embodies the spirit of Kraftwerk just as much as an album like Computer World or Trans-Europe Express.
Like last month, I’ve put together a playlist of my listens for this month for Spotify users. I recommend listening in the given order: