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NOVEMBER ALBUMS | MUSIC REVIEW

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Music Review

ANJA SCHNEIDER ***

SoMe (Sous Music)

It’s Anja Schneider’s regeneration and no genre is safe from a forced merge. The opening two tracks seemed to be straight from Detroit with elements of Chicago house; following this, two more tracks clearly rooted in jungle – All I See even has a ragga vocal. Sanctuary is spellbinding with a somewhat outrageous feature in the Stereo MCs. Defining lines have been subtly erased throughout: eventually, Schneider appeases the traditionalist of Berlin techno with Night Out and tech-house banger Look Of Love. Exhale. CP

BOB DELYN A’R EBILLION ****

Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach (Sain)

Poet and musician Twm Morys and his band return for their fifth album of beautifully meditative songs. The album opens somberly by tracing the life of miller John Williams who, in 1939, was one of only five Welsh speakers left in his valley, but the wry dedication of the song to Ysgol Gymraeg y Fenni speaks of optimism. Absence and presence are recurring motifs in this collection, particularly that of the late, visionary poet Iwan Llwyd. An album to savour the beauty and power of words. AJ

Music Review

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG ***
Rest (Because)

Since releasing her 1986 debut Lemon Incest (or Charlotte For Ever in more conservative countries), Charlotte ‘daughter of Serge’ Gainsbourg has been more prolific on-screen than off it. This solid, yet uninspiring set contains many a cameo (McCartney, Daft Punk, Owen Pallett) and has echoes of recent work by Lana Del Rey and Christine & The Queens, whilst sadly not being as interesting as either. BG

DANIELE LUPPI & PARQUET COURTS ****

MILANO (30th Century)

MILANO sees composer and Danger Mouse collaborator Luppi pair up with Brooklynite quartet Parquet Courts to venerate the hedonistic excess of 80s Italian fashion house culture. Karen O’s vocals in tow on Talisa bring familiarity to an otherwise ineffable concept album, whilst standout Mount Napoleon prompts a sense of warped chaos with its kooky combination of saxophony and frenzied twangy guitar rhythms. At its core, this is an offering that juxtaposes indie and avant-garde to baffling but sophisticated effect. CHP

Music Review

DARKHOUSE FAMILY ****

The Offering (First Word)

With their seamless fusion of cool basslines, great drum sounds, and retro-futuristic synths, comparisons can be made between Darkhouse Family’s debut album and Thundercat or J Dilla. There are other clear influences on the album, like George Duke and Herbie Hancock, but the Cardiff duo never come across as anything but unique. There’s a spacey and jazzy quality to the majority of the songs that would make me happy to pay more than £5 a pint to any bar that had them playing through the speakers. GM

Music Review

DJ PIERRE **

Wild Pitch: The Story (Get Physical)

I’ve fond memories of DJ Pierre’s Atom Bomb tune, which sadly doesn’t feature in this compendium. Across four decades, there are glimpses of why his squelchy 303 wild pitch tweakery can be traced to LCD Soundsystem and Madonna. House Music is handclapping chi-house, I Love the Way is a frisky piano number, Thousand Finger Acid is an acid blot of Candido, while Strobe Light Laser is Daft Punk vs 808 State, but others may not tempt a cold caller. CS

FARM HAND ****

International Dreams (Shape)

It’s Mark from Shape Records, professional audience botherer in Islet, and International Dreams is his solo album recorded post-relocation to rural mid-Wales, man in shed style. It’s bucolic, kinda – the countryside of dark lanes and faces at barn windows finds its analogue in the water-damaged keyboard, scrap beats and monkish vocals here. These sketches roll together well, contemplative, claustrophobic and chugging like haphazard machinery, with at least two moments of sudden cloud-parting, sun-dappled pop wonkiness. It’s good for you. WS

Music Review

GOLDEN TEACHER ****

No Luscious Life (Golden Teacher)

Glasgow’s Green Door studio, nobly and enterprisingly, runs courses for unemployed musicians, and recently released a great compilation of one-shot cover versions, N.E.E.T. Had any notable bands formed there, I wondered – yes, and here’s their fine debut album. Golden Teacher are Scottish punks and noiserockers embracing the funky workout over seven songs of bugged-out rhythm and mutant electronics, No Luscious Life throwing Green Velvet, Liquid Liquid, space disco, 90s IDM and African arcana into the air like acid-dipped confetti. NG

GOLDIE LOOKIN CHAIN **
Fear Of A Welsh Planet (Goldie Lookin)

Thirty seconds in to opener Chicken Soup and GLC have already referenced curry-induced diarrhoea and Beyonce’s “fishy thighs” so it’s safe to say that they’re continuing to cash in on their puerile, comedic rap well into their second decade on this, their 20th album. It’s a tired and dated concept now and the belly laughs of old have been replaced by cringeworthy rhymes whilst the recording sounds like a group of men fiddling around with Garageband for the first time. BG

Music Review

HANNE HUKKELBERG ****
Trust (Propeller)

Blending the familiar with the jarringly unfamiliar, Norwegian born Hukkelberg is renowned for her leftfield pop songs. This, her first release in five years, cleanly balances her more accessible pop tones with the eccentricities that make her unique. You’ll hear timbres not unlike those heard in mainstream r’n’b but thankfully, what she seems to enjoy doing is agitating these sounds to create something entirely more off the wall. If you like your pop a little bit edgy, this one is definitely for you. CPI

Music Review

JOHN CARPENTER ****

Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 (Sacred Bones)

Following the highly anticipated release of Stranger Things season two back in October, you can continue to rekindle your romance with retro science fiction in musical form with John Carpenter’s Anthology. His synth-heavy soundtracks have become synonymous with late 70s/early 80s genre flicks; you only have to listen to the first 30 seconds of Christine’s main titles to hear its influence on the formerly mentioned Netflix drama series – and who can forget Halloween’s now iconic, alarming piano riff? AP

JOHN MAUS ****

Screen Memories (Domino)

John Maus returns with his fourth album of 8-bit, echo drenched TV nightmares. Six years is quite the wait between records, but as soon as you hit play on Screen Memories you realise Maus is picking up right where we left him: somewhere between Guy Debord and Streets Of Rage 2. Maus’ smuggling of critical theory into three-minute pop songs isn’t a particularly new strategy (Scritti Politti, John Foxx), but it is refreshing in an age of neutered music with nothing to say. AJ

Music Review

MARTIN CARR ****

New Shapes Of Life (Tapete)

Soul-searching and retrospective, this is the third solo album for ex-Boo Radleys songwriter/guitarist Carr. Deeply affected by the death of Bowie, Carr was also depressed by working unsuccessfully on projects for other artists. Lovely songs such as The Main Man, Future Reflections, A Mess Of Everything and The Last Song, some with touches of jazz and soul along with electro, tell of a man in isolation and distress, baring all, only to reach out and come back to wellbeing. RLR

MDC **

Mein Trumpf (Primordial)

Curious to think that a few months after I’d witnessed Dave Dictor of pioneering US hardcore band MDC conclude a (highly entertaining) gig by begging the audience for class As, one of his couplets became one of the most recognisable anti-Trump chants. Originally released during Reagan’s first term, MDC have seized the moment with a comeback album featuring the updated lyric, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” Respect due, but Mein Trumpf’s schlocky skate thrash with hard rock bits is pretty unmemorable to be honest. NG

Music Review

NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS *****

Effigies (self-released)

Burning Effigies, a song about suicidal Ice Road Truckers, begins what is an interesting 12-song journey through the darker side of psychedelia, taking in deluded flowers, fish, ghosts and galaxies. The twinkly music and bizarre lyrics are heavily reminiscent of Caravan and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, yet have a uniqueness of their own. When Nathan Hall and his shadowy band of ever-changing locals say “I’m going to fly to the sun” it sounds perfectly possible. Go along for the ride. LN

NOVO AMOR & ED TULLETT *****

Heiress (Rough Trade)

Dreamlike isn’t the only word to describe the full-length collaboration from Novo Amor and Ed Tullett, but it’s a good one. Unexpected would be another. The tone of the vocals, combined with music that rises and falls, is deeply haunting. This is not easy listening, though: each track demands full attention and sometimes the clash of sounds – as in Pteryla – jar a little on the ear. But it’s worth it. That I couldn’t always make out the words mattered not at all. LN

Music Review

PETER BRODERICK ****

All Together Again (Erased Tapes)

A treasure trove of obscure works by American composer Peter Broderick, which features songs commissioned for weddings, as gifts, even for a fashion show. Moments such as the appropriately romantic Emily – a first anniversary gift – are as strong as anything that had previously graced one of his ‘proper’ albums. The songs don’t necessarily hang together as a single, fluid work, but taken as intended, as a collection of individual works, All Together Again will delight any fan of Broderick’s graceful, delicate sound. HR

PHILIP SELWAY ****

Let Me Go OST (Bella Union)

Much of Radiohead’s music has a filmic quality, so it’s unsurprising that Jonny Greenwood has slipped easily into soundtrack composition. Now it’s drummer Phil Selway’s turn. Let Me Go is a cheery-sounding true-life tale of a young girl whose mother abandons her to train as a concentration camp guard and, when they reunite years later, remains proud of it. Selway’s score – constructed largely using piano, saw and alternately mournful and scratchy strings – is wonderfully evocative, suitably unsettling and a bonus treat for any Radiohead fan. BW

Music Review

QUICKSAND ****

Interiors (Epitaph)

Quicksand are the latest trailblazers for what became post-hardcore to reform two decades on, and while good old nostalgia can sustain a reunion tour and a smattering of festival appearances, the reunion album provides the acid test. Creeping opener Illuminant has the sinister back alley menace of Helmet, but Walter Schreifels’ ear for melody always set the New Yorkers apart, and allied with Will Yip’s masterful production, it ensures Interiors has both the authenticity and relevance required of a successful comeback. GP

Music Review

STEREOPHONICS ****

Scream Above The Sounds (Parlophone)

Stereophonics’ 10th full-length album to date, Scream Above The Sounds is ram-packed with their traditional rock plus a musical sample swatch of soul, jazz, rockabilly and Motown influences, Kelly Jones’s iconic earthy vocals and, as always, an array of standalone tracks that were written to be hits. Although not very daring in terms of shaking up their trademark anthology, tracks such as Geronimo and Chances Are successfully compliment the group’s adeptness in perfecting their identity. NR

VARIOUS ***

The Ultimate Guide To Welsh Folk (ARC)

This album is probably aimed at holidaymakers in gift shops and Plaid councillors with CD changers in their Volvos but I like a lot of the music on it. The latest (last, in fact/of course) in a series of similar double-discs from the British Isles, Cerys Matthews compiled its 48 songs and represents every decade from the 1940s on. There are the obligatory male voice choirs, more harps than a Christian heaven, various indie/country-influenced newjacks and traditional ballads recorded in the field, the latter being gravely underdocumented as regards Welsh folk. NG

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