Rangda : Formerly Extinct

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When three musicians as prodigously talented as free-jazz drummer Chris Corsano and guitarists Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance) and Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) decide to collaborate, they take a big risk. There are questions to consider: will egos get in the way? When all of the collaborators are used to being the main focal point in a group, who will take the lead; more importantly, will the others know when – or how – to fade into the background? Luckily, the balance of power within Rangda – the psych rock improv supergroup named after a child-eating Balinese demon queen – appears to be an equal three-way split, and on Formerly Extinct (the follow-up to 2010’s debut False Flag) the three players exhibit a chemistry that if not magical, per se, certainly borders on the telepathic. It’s in the way they turn on a dime in unison a minute into opener “Idol’s Eye“, flipping the switch from Middle Eastern funk to sprawling, stoned psychedelia and then back again. It’s in the way they suddenly pull a gut-wrenching blues crawl from a mass of tangled strings and crashing cymbals on “The Vault”. It’s in the way they manage to turn two riffs and a two-minute long drum-roll into one of the loveliest country-folk instrumentals (“Goodbye Mr. Gentry) in recent memory. But most importantly, it’s in the way the trio complement each other, taking turns stepping into the spotlight and providing a solid backing when the time comes for the others to shine; listen to “Majnun” below.

Formerly Extinct is out October 1 via Drag City


Susanne Sundfor : The Silicone Veil

Susanne Sundfor is already a pretty big star in her native Norway, and it looks as though wider recognition may be on the cards with EMI set to release her latest album The Silicone Veil in the UK on October 8. The 26-year old singer and pianist draws heavily from folk music and the imagery – nature, mythology – that goes along with it, but balances out the darkness with a penchant for big dramatic pop arrangements and electronic experimentation that puts her midway along the scale that runs from Bjork to Florence in terms of accessibility. Co-produced with Jaga Jazzist’s Lars Horntveth, it’s a big, bold, bright record; the beautiful, haunting “Wild Foxes” (below) is an immediate highlight, whilst the surreal, NSFW video for the title track makes Lady Gaga look about as risque as Justin Bieber.

Wrongtom Meets Deemas J : In East London

Veteran London soundsystem DJ and Roots Manuva remixer Wrongtom has teamed up with ex-pirate radio MC and old friend Deemas J for a brilliant full-length trip back through the history of reggae that takes in ’60s rocksteady, ’70s dub, ’80s dancehall and ’90s ragga, and also tips its hat to contemporary cousins like dubstep and grime. Sounding – and looking, thanks to the cover painting by Scientist/ Mad Professor sleeve-artist Tony McDermott – impressively authentic, tracks like the insanely catchy “Jump + Move + Rock” (below) could easily have been lifted straight from some thirty-year old Greensleeves compilation, and whilst some of the lyrics highlight problems that are, unfortunately, still just as relevant today (riots, drugs, gun and knife crime), In East London is a thrilling representation of a cultural melting pot we can all be proud of.

Wrongtom Meets Deemas J In East London is out now via Tru Thoughts.

Vessel : Order Of Noise

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There must be something in the water off the South West coast of England; two decades after Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky popularised the “Bristol sound” producer Sebastian Gainsborough – AKA Vessel – has updated his hometown’s musical legacy with his just-released debut long-player Order Of Noise, a clash of techno and post-dubstep rhythms, short-circuiting electronics and industrial atmospherics that takes “trip hop”‘s claustrophobic, weed-induced paranoia and spikes it with old-school rave hallucinegenics. That might – initially, at least – sound about as inviting as a get-together in a darkened underpass hosted by Hannibal Lecter but, like all the best records, each listen reveals something new and helps pull the bigger picture into focus. While its more ambient moments could just as easily score a horror movie as an art installation, there is melody throughout and a complexity to its spiderweb rhythms that sees Gainsborough navigating the grey area between the dancefloor and headphone listening with ease.

Order Of Noise is out now on TriAngle Records; listen to “Court Of Lions” below.

Jason Lytle : Dept. Of Disappearance

This morning, stuck for music to suit my mood on the way to work, I put my iPod on shuffle and the very first track that came on – “Hewlett’s Daughter” by Grandaddy – inspired me to listen to its parent album The Sophtware Slump all the way through for the first time in ten years. It also inspired me to see what the band are doing with themselves these days (they’ve just played a bunch of reunion shows apparently) and, as coincidence would have it, frontman Jason Lytle has a new solo album, Dept. Of Disappearance, coming out October 15 via Anti. The advance tracks sound reassuringly Grandaddy-esque; listen to “Your Final Setting Sun” here, and the title track below.


When I reviewed Here We Go Magic’s rather brilliant A Different Ship for The Quietus a few months back, I commented on how much of that album’s overall feel could be attributed to the studio expertise of its producer Nigel Godrich, and how – 15 years on from his work on Radiohead’s classic OK Computer – his distinctive sonic sheen remains as unique as a fingerprint. That glassy, aquatic sound, and the claustrophobic, otherworldly atmosphere it creates, engulfs the eponymous debut from Ultraista, Godrich’s second venture as a musician (after his role in the Thom Yorke-led “supergroup” Atoms For Peace), but it is just one element of a three-way battle for the listener’s attention that rages throughout the album, along with the subtly spectacular drumming of former Beck/ Smashing Pumpkins/ REM sticksman Joey Waronker and the cool-as-ice vocals of 24 year-old singer and artist Laura Bettinson. Having first caught Godrich’s ear as the creative force behind unfortunately-named indie-electro popstrels Dimbleby & Capper, the latter has been tipped for solo success recently with her flamboyantly-costumed Femme project, but instead of taking centre-stage here she seems content glinting from the shadows, being multi-tracked and looped, her bright but deadpan voice in call-and-response discourse with itself, scattered like a spotlight bouncing off a mirrorball. Decidedly more feminine than a powerhouse such as Florence but not as girlish as the likes of Ellie Goulding (older fans may find themselves reminded of Sarah Blackwood of Britpop also-rans Dubstar, or Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell), Bettinson’s tone is perfectly suited to the lyrical mix of slightly surreal conversational snippets, random observations and mantra-like repetition: “You’ve grown your smile/ To the side of your mouth” she remarks on “Our Song”, whilst “Bad Insect” (below) hinges on her repeated refusals to sing “unless somebody’s holding on”. It’s obvious Bettinson has star quality to spare, and it’s to her credit that she understands when not to upstage her bandmates, something that Waronker – unintentionally, bless him – seems to find difficult. More so than Bettinson’s vocals or Godrich’s synths, Waronker’s drumming drives Ultraista, and even though there’s nary a dramatic break or bombastic solo in sight it’s hard not to see his relentlessly shifting rhythmic pulse as a main focal point. If there were ever a case for drums as a lead instrument this is it: technically impressive playing that you can feel in your gut, that performs the most basic of tasks – keeping time – whilst at the same time showcasing a mesmerising virtuoso talent. Clearly influenced by Can and Afrobeat, Waronker evokes the likes of Jaki Liebezeit (especially on “Easier” and “Wash It Over”) and Tony Allen (“Our Song”) without resorting to merely playing copycat, and even manages to decorate more straightforward, hip hop-hued beats (“Gold Dayzz”, “Strange Formula”) with jazzy fills that push the tracks in a different direction entirely. But despite Waronker’s scene-stealing performances, Godrich is the glue that holds the album together; be it via the massed, surging synths that buzz angrily like a Raid-stunned wasp flying around looking for someone to sting on its way out, or the electronic production know-how that he brings to the likes of “Smalltalk” and the jittery, Atoms-esque “Static Light“, the producer’s trademark technique – rock music by way of modems and pixels, intimate yet disconnected – is the third leg that keeps this tripod standing. As a studio presence, Godrich has already proven time and again that his skills are unparalleled; here he is also revealed as a great mentor and a selfless collaborator. Even taking into account the trio’s combined pedigrees, Ultraista is an astounding debut; Godrich, Waronker and Bettinson have taken a whole world of  high hopes and expectations and exceeded them in dazzling fashion.

Ultraista is out October 1 digitally via Temporary Residence and is streaming now over at NPR

Dan Bodan : Aaron

Image of Dan Bodan - DP / Aaron Ltd. Edition 7" + Download Code

Dan Bodan is a young Canadian living in Berlin with links to the contemporary UK electronic pop scene and bands like Hot Chip, who late last year self-released his little-heard second album Nudity + Atrocity; one of the tracks from that record, “DP“, has been picked up by DFA Records, but it is the B-side of the newly-released single that seems to be causing the bigger buzz. “Aaron” is a queasy blend of suffocated soul and experimental electronica that falls somewhere between Arthur Russell and Roxy Music. It’s the soundtrack to a post-rave comedown, the blurry Sunday morning after the fun/ regret (delete as applicable) -filled night before, and although Bodan’s fallen-choirboy croon is that of someone who has had their heart broken, the lyrics suggest he probably relished the whole experience.

Personable : Spontaneous Generation

You may recognise the name M. Geddes Gengras from his recent collaborative album – Icon Give Thank – with Sun Araw and reggae legends the Congos; Spontaneous Generation is the debut material under his “techno” alias Personable, arriving September 25 on 12″ (limited to 300 copies) via the recently minted Peak Oil label. Featuring three sprawling tracks spread over 40 minutes, the record is a beautifully brutal mix of old-skool rave rhythms and mind-blowing electronic psychedelia; listen to closer “Series Of Energies” below.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion : Meat + Bone

For all the gushing praise that a lot of critics heap on “back to basics” bands like the White Stripes and Black Keys, there hasn’t been a group since that has done dirty, scuzzy, stripped-back rock’n’roll as well as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. On their first album in eight years – Meat + Bone, out now via Boombox/ Mom+Pop Records – the trio (Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins) sound as raucous as they did back in 1991, mangling punk, funk, soul and hip-hop swagger like hungry young pups and effortlessly showing the current generation’s pretenders how it should be done. Listen to the album in full at Rolling Stone now; opener “Black Mold” is below.

Missy Elliott ft. Timbaland : 9th Inning and Triple Threat

It’s impossible to overstate just how important Tim “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliott have been in the development of popular music over the last decade and a half. Writing and/ or producing (individually or together) for a seemingly endless list of pop and hip hop’s biggest names – from Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child to Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado to Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes and even Bjork – the pair completely reshaped the landscape of the American charts (and therefore – musically – the world) in the late ’90s, and released some pretty groundbreaking material of their own to boot. Elliott has been working on a new solo album (the follow-up to 2005’s The Cookbook) for a while now, and this week released the first tastes from that hotly-anticipated LP, provisionally titled Block Party; “9th Inning” and “TripleThreat” – out digitally via Atlantic Records – were co-produced with Timbaland, who features heavily on both cuts.