Huerco S. - “'Iińzhiid”
Month in Review: September 2014
Welcome to EMAC’s twenty-first monthly recap, where I will look at some of the most notable moments in electronic music and hip hop throughout the month of September 2014. Titles of releases I recommend most highly will appear in bold.
Aphex Twin - Syro
The first Aphex Twin album in over a decade certainly does not lack in personality. Even though Aphex Twin is largely responsible for molding the framework of IDM, his music still sounds exclusive to his own abilities. Syro is immaculately produced and distinctly playful, sometimes to a fault. While some of the record’s compositions shine, some are drowned in its hyperactivity. Still, Aphex Twin’s craft never truly falters. His music bears masterful precision yet brims with humanity, a combination that is never unwelcome.
Daedelus - The Light Brigade
If nothing else, admire Daedelus for his persistent morphing across albums. After last year’s relatively straightforward electronic exercise Drown Out, the shapeshifting musician is back with a sparse, intimate record that mostly rests on delicately strummed acoustic guitar and aching vocals with only touches of synthesizer. Though not quite essential, it plays out as an endearingly genuine release.
Lætitia Sadier - Something Shines
Lætitia Sadier’s music remains pleasant as she continues releasing music in a solo capacity during Stereolab’s indefinite hiatus. However, everything is simpler and more direct than her finest work, with heavy-handed lyrics, a well-trodden sound pallet, and less realized songwriting weighing down what is nevertheless still a solid LP.
milo - a toothpaste suburb
milo has been prolific on the mixtape and EP circuit since 2011, but only now is he finally releasing his proper debut LP. a toothpaste suburb brings an appropriate increase in refinement, and milo’s dedication to contemplative and deeply personal lyrical themes has not wavered. With beats that often slip into generic wonky territory, however, a toothpaste suburb lacks the reinforcement for milo’s unique voice.
Mr Twin Sister - Mr Twin Sister
Mr Twin Sister, formerly Twin Sister, have built a career upon suiting deceptively tame styles in bold personality and subtle experimentation. Their new album reflects this via punctuating the smooth surface of its sophisti-pop and disco flavors with adventurous moments. From the sprawling (“In the House of Yes”) to the strange (“Twelve Angels”), the album finds purpose within the group’s commitment to stretching the bounds of its genres.
Roman Flügel - Happiness is Happening
Roman Flügel channels years of experience in various electronic subgenres into a romp through quirky tech house flavors.
SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land
SBTRKT follows his promising debut album, which was one of the earliest examples of blending alternative UK dance styles with contemporary R&B, with a wildly uneven sophomore record that turns the genre meshing up to eleven. With the overabundant features and ideas at various stages of development, some moments of clarity do exist that keep SBTRKT’s prowess as a link between pop and left-field schools of thought from being fully forgotten.
Thom Yorke - Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
Considering Radiohead’s legendary reputation for breaking ground, Thom Yorke’s new solo album is disappointingly tame. Instrumentally, it assumes the form of fairly familiar IDM that does little to push the limits of the potential-rich genre. The record is far from a failure, however, largely thanks to Yorke’s dependable vocals and modest songwriting.
Various Artists - Hyperdub 10.3
Hyperdub’s third ten-year anniversary compilation of the year focuses on the label’s most experimental corners, and it is perhaps the most fascinating of the bunch as a result. Material from Burial, Laurel Halo, Dean Blunt, Inga Copeland, The Bug, and many more comprise a comprehensive landscape of synthesizers and samples through the looking glass. It is admittedly the most challenging material the label has to offer, but it is also the most mysterious and intriguing.
Zammuto - Anchor
Nick Zammuto continues his post-The Books career with a project that takes a highly idiosyncratic look at a more conventional framework, eschewing that duo’s sample-centric approach and exploring the possibilities of more traditional instrumentation. While The Books were both tremendously inventive and emotionally resonant, Zammuto attempts to embody both of those qualities in a decidedly more pop context. Anchor is significantly more downcast than the project’s last record. Though less gripping, it is still praiseworthy for its originality and imaginative spirit.
Hudson Mohawke - Chimes
Hudson Mohawke has a signature sound that meets bold, goofy sounds with dance sensibility. This reached its most focused manifestation with TNGHT, his duo with Lunice, though the future of that group is now uncertain. Returning now to a solo capacity for the first time since 2011, Hudson Mohawke offers a chance to flex his more experimental muscles that have been more native to his solo work. In that regard, Chimes is one of his safest releases, less resembling the roller coaster rides of his earlier material than the reliable bangers of his TNGHT work. It is also frustratingly slight, with only three original tunes, one of which is essentially an interlude, and one remix that adds little to the source. Nevertheless, Hudson Mohawke’s personality is overall intact, which stirs the hope that this is an appetizer for a more thorough release soon to come.
Ancient Astronaut vs Jelinek - “B2 (Jelinek Remix)”
Andy Stott - “Violence”
Aphex Twin - “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]”
Arca - “Thievery”
Ariel Pink - “Put Your Number in My Phone”
Baths - “Disorderly”
Caribou - “Our Love (Daphni Mix)”
Clark - “Unfurla”
Darkside - “Gone Too Soon”
Fis - “Fever Sweats”
Flying Lotus - “Coronus, the Terminator”
Hudson Mohawke - “Brainwave”
Kutmah - “Noise in My Brain”
Mr Twin Sister - “In the House of Yes”
NEHRUVIANDOOM - “CASKETS”
Portico - “Living Fields”
The Radio Dept. - “Death to Fascism”
Run the Jewels - “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”
Ryan Hemsworth (ft. Tomggg) - “Cream Soda”
SBTRKT (ft. Raury) - “Higher”
Thom Yorke - “A Brain in a Bottle”
Massive Attack - “Man Next Door”