Monday, 20 April 2020

Four Tet ‎– Sixteen Oceans (2020)

Style: Ambient, House, Techno, Downtempo, Minimal
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Text Records

01.   School
02.   Baby
03    Harpsichord
04.   Teenage Birdsong
05.   Romantics
06.   Love Salad
07.   Insect Near Piha Beach
08.   Hi Hello
09.   ISTM
10.   Something In The Sadness
11.   1993 Band Practice
12.   Green
13.   Bubbles At Overlook 25th March 2019
14.   4T Recordings
15.   This Is For You
16.   Mama Teaches Sanskrit

Producer – Kieran Hebden

Though he didn’t intend it to be this way, Four Tet released his new album on a very important day. British dance stalwart Kieran Hebden shared new full-length ‘Sixteen Oceans’ last Friday (March 13), the same day that millions around the world – myself included – retreated into their homes in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, settling in for what looks set to be a vast period of self-isolation. 
As with every highly-anticipated new release from an artist I’ve followed and loved for years, I’d have dedicated a fair amount of time to digging into the album regardless of the situation, but given the timing and freakishly abnormal real-world background, getting to know ‘Sixteen Oceans’ came hand-in-hand with quickly needing to learn a new way of life – the two have since become synonymous in my head.

Always turning to music to distract, comfort or validate me in times of upheaval, stress and existential panic, the soundtrack I chose in these first few days was inevitably going to have a significant impact on how I navigated this new world we’ve been asked to live in for a while, and as such I let it seep in willingly. 
As a very anxious person – not to mention a freelance journalist with no fixed income – the fundamental lack of certainty that’s colouring everyone’s thoughts now has got me doubling down on my usual worries, and has brought with it a deep need to feel some kind of escape. Though I’ve come to heavily rely on a collaborative playlist made by a group of my friends and filled with defiant, uplifting songs of hope (I prescribe one dose of Modest Mouse‘s ‘Float On’ per day to keep the existential demons at bay), ‘Sixteen Oceans’ provides a different kind of balm.

Four Tet’s latest effort has as much in common with ambient music – something I use constantly as a tool to soothe anxiety – as it does dance. Opening tracks ‘School’ and ‘Baby’ are built on skittering beats that could slot right into a rave, but their glacial synth lines and repeated vocal samples sit as closely to the transcendence of ambient as they do the fist-pumping of house and techno, while ‘Teenage Daydream’ is a hushed symphony fleshed out by a warm, enveloping pan pipe riff.

The idea of sameness and numbing repetition is one that millions across the world are slowly coming to terms with through this ongoing period of social distancing, and ‘Sixteen Oceans’ manages to lean into this – there’s a numbing quality to the drawn out dreaminess of ‘Something In The Sadness’ – while also, crucially, helping you steer well clear. The one-two of ‘Love Salad’ and ‘Insect Near Piha Beach’, sitting in the album’s mid-section, have no hard edges, but contain enough life to give colour and shape to what can otherwise quickly become carbon-copy days of endless hand-washing and dread.

Seen as the most sociable music genre, dance music often feels synonymous with large gatherings, parties and groups of friends converging. If you’re listening to it alone, chances are it’s to amp you up while getting ready for a Friday night rager. There’s a certain transcendence that you can achieve on the dancefloor, though, given the right soundtrack – a feeling that you can stop time and outside pressures for a second. The same result, I now fully realise, can be achieved when alone. 
Four Tet has become a master of the solitary side of dance over the past two decades, and his live shows also often focus on the solitary aspects of dance music as much as they feed into the community of it all. While his Alexandra Palace shows in London last year, enhanced with a magical light show that saw 40,000 lightbulbs dangle on ropes from the ceiling, felt like a shared experience, Hebden’s legendary annual Brixton Academy all-night residencies, hosted with no lights at all, feel perfectly built to send your thoughts inward and transport you away. 
Even the harshest, most visceral dance music has a meditative quality, carrying you away to a simpler place through its near-endless repetition and slow, steady build, and it’s the thing, above all else, that has given me calmness and soothed me against the ongoing panic that’s consuming the globe right now. 
Over the coming days, weeks (and months?), even the staunchest introverts will have a hard time adapting to their new existence of social distancing, and when your eyes are stinging from the dregs of the Netflix queue and options on the bookshelf are running dry, dance music provides an escape and a gentle push back in the right direction, offering balance and purpose in a world that’s rapidly turning upside down.
Will Richards / NME

Karl Biscuit ‎– Aktualismus / MTM VOL. 28 (1991)

Style: Abstract, Modern Classical
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Made To Measure, Crammed Discs

01.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltlos 1
02.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltlos 2
03.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltlos 3
04.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltlos 4
05.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltarm 1
06.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltarm 2
07.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltarm 3
08.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltarm 4
09.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltbildend 1
10.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltbildend 2
11.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltbildend 3
12.   Topiques Miniatures - Weltbildend 4
13.   Fables Prehistoriques - Pteroglyphe
14.   Fables Prehistoriques - L'Homme-Outil
15.   Fables Prehistoriques - Hierophone
16.   Fables Prehistoriques - Aux Confins Des Arrières-Mondes
17.   Fables Prehistoriques - Darla Orthopedik
18.   Aktualismus (Chroniques Barbares) - Lab
19.   Aktualismus (Chroniques Barbares) - S Und Z

Programmed and Produced By - Karl Biscuit

The Lotus Eaters ‎– No Sense Of Sin (1984)

Style: Indie Rock, New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Arista, Sylvan Records

01.   German Girl
02.   Love Still Flows
03.   Can You Keep A Secret
04.   Out On Your Own
05.   Put Your Touch On Love
06.   Set Me Apart
07.   You Fill Me With Need
08.   The First Picture Of You
09.   Alone Of All Her Sex
10.   It Hurts
11.   You Don't Need Someone New
12.   Two Virgins Tender
13.   My Happy Dream
14.   The Evidence
15.   Endless
16.   Soul In Sparks
17.   Church At Llanbadrig
18.   The Lotus Eaters
19.   Out On Your Own (12" Version)

Mixed –  Bob Sargeant
Performer – Gerard Quinn, Michael Dempsey, Stephen Creese
Written-By – Hughes, Quinn, Kelly, Coyle
Producer – Alan Tarney, Nigel Gray, The Lotus Eaters

The glimmering, jangly pop of the Lotus Eaters evokes images of lonely summer afternoons. Peter Coyle's dulcet vocals ache with profound yearning; Morrissey may have won the mope rock mantle in the '80s, but if the Lotus Eaters had become as successful as the Smiths, Coyle would've robbed him of the Sad Sack crown. No Sense of Sin, the Lotus Eaters' 1984 debut album, is a gorgeously crafted collection of melancholic guitar pop. "Love Still Flows" and "The First Picture of You" caress the ears with haunting piano and twinkling guitars; both songs unreel with a cinematic feel, the music and lyrics drawing sentimental memories from the listener's imagination. On the powerful "It Hurts," Jeremy Kelly's guitar sounds like a heart shrieking in pain as Coyle wallows in his grief. The starry-eyed keyboards and sing-along chorus of "German Girl" and spellbinding violin of "Set Me Apart" deepen the Lotus Eaters' appeal; they further explore Coyle's hankering for affection while lifting the spirits with sharp hooks. [No Sense of Sin was reissued by BMG Japan in 1998, and that version easily tops the original with ten bonus tracks, including the driving "You Don't Need Someone New" and the delicate "Two Virgins Tender." Unfortunately, the superior extended 12" version of "It Hurts" isn't included, but that's the album's only sin.]
Michael Sutton / AllMusic

Binker Golding ‎– Abstractions Of Reality Past And Incredible Feathers (2019)

Style:Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gearbox Records

1.   I Forgot Santa Monica
2.   Exquisite She-green
3.   Skinned Alive, Tasting Blood
4.   .....And I Like Your Feathers
5.   You, That Place, That Time
6.   Strange - Beautiful Remembered
7.   Fluorescent Black

Composed By – Binker Golding
Double Bass – Daniel Casimir
Drums – Sam Jones
Piano – Joe Armon-Jones
Producer – Binker Golding
Recorded By – Matt Mysko
Mixed By – James Farber
Tenor Saxophone – Binker Golding