Cologne-Frankfurt-Osaka-Kyoto: 13 Records against mother Jetlag
For a long time, whenever I traveled, I cultivated a monoartistic listening ritual and spend all my time from leaving the house till arriving at the destination mainly dedicated to Leonard Cohen (about 60%), Nick Cave (20%), Fleetwood Mac (10%) and a handful other artists sharing the last 10%. I can´t really recall the trigger, but that changed a few months ago, and I switched back into the old habitus of wild pitching through new releases while making my miles around the world.
On my latest passage from Cologne to Kyoto and in the days since then, those 13 records helped me a lot not to get lost in the agony of mother Jetlag.
Liima „1982“ (City Slang)
This moment, when you realize an album really takes you by surprise. I can´t really say what I expected from the Liima album “1992”, but definitely not this (in the very positive sense) weird kaleidoscope of sounds, combining so different attitudes and sound-aesthetic concepts as the ones of Duran Duran, Guided By Voices, Berlin (the band, remember “Take My Breath Away” on the “Top Gun” soundtrack), Krautrock and most of all Japanese pop music.
Liima (Casper Clausen, Rasmus Stolberg and Mads Brauer of Danish band Efterklang in cooperation with the Finish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö) try to convince us on the record that “Life is Dangerous” (my favorite track on the album, together with “Jonathan, I Cant Tell You) and that “all the word is coming down down” – but what they say for real through their deeply relaxed pop approach: Life is beautiful and the world an awesome place. Yes, it is.
Dj Richard “Path of Ruin” (Dial)
I have no idea why Rich Johnson aka DJ Richard chose “Pain Mix” as additional attribution for “Path of Ruin”. Me, I personally feel nothing than pure fervor during the eleven minutes of its existence. A low beat, an intense delay and so much beauty fullfills the room and my body. One of my tracks of 2017 for sure.
Visionist “Value” (Ninja Tune)
“Safe”, the album Louis Carnell released two years ago on PAN under his imprint Visionist, catched my ears in many ways. It is rare to find an advanced electronic producer who digs R´n´B and Pop as much as choral music and Glitch, Click´n´Cuts or whatever is the term of the hour for the more experimental alleys. Now, a few moons later Carnell reenters the room with “Value” and as much atmospheric-melodramatic gesture, ecclesiastic relining and controversial potential. Carnell is both, a Soul diva and an sympathetic Berserk.
Andreas Spechtl “Thinking About Tomorrow, And How To Build It” (Bureau B)
Andreas Spechtl, singer of the German avantgarde pop band Ja, Panik and collaborator of Christiane Rössinger among other side projects spend the last winter in Teheran to produce this noticeable solo album. “Thinking About Tomorrow, And How To Build It” reminds me partly of Phantom/Ghost, the enigmatic project of Dirk von Lowtzow and Thies Mynther, in other moments Robert Wyatt and Lou Reed come to mind. The music of Spechtl is bulky, willful and mysterious, it is music written with ingenious hand.
Yung Lean „Stranger“ (Kobalt)
Listening to Yung Lean is a bit like drinking another milkshake after you swore yourself to not touch that stuff for at least one year. But then again: Strawberry, Banana, Vanila, how should one be so consequent not to succumb the temptation.
But maybe this is not true anymore. “Stranger” is not handling out this classic Yung Lean boredom; while one still finds lots of self contemplation („Fuck being famous, I dont need all the shit“), smokers thoughts („getting high“) and of course of those slow droping trap beats, Jonatan Leandoer Håstad confronts us with much too many sound ideas. Don´t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with stepping up into new territories, but please not so randomly. My humble advice: 8 songs are often better than 14 songs on a single album.
To comply my obligation: you find the album here on Spotify – but I prefer to direct your attention towards the clip to “Kyoto” as it fits much better right now my state of mind.
The Hacker „Le Théâtre des Opérations“ (Dark Entries)
Seriously, a new album by The Hacker in 2017?
Well, you know the lection yourself: while the newest kid on the bloc (promoted by us music journalist) is often nothing more than a wisp of wind, those who supposably finished their creative job already a while ago come up with quite some goodies.
Let´s say the truth is located in the middle. I totally love the cold boot of „Le Théâtre des Opérations“ with the energetic „Underwater Sequence“ and the nervous „Frozen Voices“, both underlaid with a dash of sadness, but then I quickly lost the interest in the album; to my own disillusionment this process of weakening verve kicks off with „Time X“, the reunion track of The Hacker and Miss Kittin. But that said, track number 6 “Body Diktat” wins me back for good.
Avalon Emerson „One More Fluorescent Rush“ / „Finally Some Common Ground“ (Whities)
The tracks of Avalon Emerson are fitted with a crystal clearness, built on a very idiosyncratic geometric understanding (in the sense that it feels more likely as several divergent forces of gravity are active within them – the clip to the track plays with this fact, but with an aesthetic approach not really working for me), and, last but not least, have the ability to make me getting lost in tha groove. The more „One More Fluorescent Rush“ rotates, the more dizzy it makes me.
„Finally Some Common Ground“ (what a great title) shows a slightly different side of Avalon Emerson, bringing in more experimental sounds and a quite audio drama style manubrium of the acoustic space.
Zugezogen Maskulin „Alle Gegen Alle“ ( Four Music)
For those of our international readers not familar with German HipHop (most likely 99%): Those Zugezogen Maskulin (Suffered Masculine – or something like that) kids are alright – and they are not in agreement with the way the world goes round. Therefor they call out for the end of coziness. Yes, this is the Hamburg version of Concious Rap: Vigorously, angry and trustful that the world could be a better place. The productions are as good as the lyrics. Listening tips: “Was für eine Zeit”, “Yeezy Christ Superstar” and “Teenage Werwolf”.
John Maus „Screen Memories“ (Domino)
It´s been a while since I last heard John Maus. It must have been at the closing show of Primavera Sound 2010 at Barcelonas Nitsa Club. Yes – much too long of an absence. Especially as „Screen Memories“ is beguiling from the first second on. There is simply no one around with the ability to produce a softcore version of No Wave as tempting as Mr. John Maus.
Destroyer „ken“ (Dead Oceans)
Like other musician musicians (for example Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout or Daniel Johnson) Dan Bejar will most likely never get on the pop olymp he deserves to sit on. But I doubt he cares as life in the shadow of recognitions is a good position and stimulation force for this music.
“Come on, come all, dear young revolutionary capitalists! The grooms in the gutter. And the bride just pissed herself”, he sings in the opener of this latest album ken”, another eleven gently roses of thorns. My favorite this time: “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”.
Joachim Spieth „Irradiance“ (Affin)
Right from the beginning of his artistic career in the late 90s (just relisten to his Kompakt debut „Abi 99“), the productions of Joachim Spieth respired a deep melancholy. A facet coming to full bloom by age as the tracks of Spieth are getting more and more narrow in the way the sound space is arranged. One feels quite claustrophobic listening to „Irradiance“, his first full length on his own label imprint Affin. My favorite track is „Luciferin“, 7.29 long and successfully balancing between the rigidity of fear and the liberating courage to let go.
Red Axes „Kalacol“ (feat. Yuli Vainshtein)
I listened to this Ep for the very first time while crossing through Texas with a car. The sun was shining with unexpected intensity for a fall afternoon and the road seemed endless – the crystal sounds of „Kalacol“, fitting the whir on the horicont, combined with the abysmally voice of Yuli Vainshtein had a very awakening and stimulating effect on my mind. Both a joyful hit and a good driving tool.
Helena Hauff „Have You Been There, Have You Seen It“ (Ninja Tune)
Helena is one of my favorite djs in the world. But her output as a producer gave me ambivalent feelings in the past. While I really loved the Eps „Return to Disorder“ on Panzerkreuz Records and „Helena Hauff meet Andreas Gehm“ on Solar One Music as well as the sonic research meets ambient album „A Tape“ (first releases as a tape on Handmade Birds and later on on vinyl on Dark Entries), her Werk Discs album „Discreet Desires“ did not hold up to the expectations the Ep „Actio Reactio“ triggered in me. Maybe it came to early in her career.
That said: „Have You Been There, Have You Seen It“ opens with „Nothing Is What I Know“, a vibrant and atmospheric track that stimulates heavily with its playful percussions and made me end in a happy state of giddynes. A pretty good foreplay to „Do You Really Think Like That?“, a smashing walk on the wildside: rough, dirty, tinny and with the right amount of acid and bleep´n´bleed.
After that storm and urge, „Continuez Mon Enfant Vous Serez Traité En Conséquence“ is a beautiful Acid sonata, giving space for the final „Gift“. A great harbinger for an album to come?