Goldfrapp – ‘Silver Eye’ (Mute Records)
What it is: GOLDFRAPP’s seventh album Silver Eye offers a darker exploration into the electropop genre than in the past. Duo members Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory create a cloudy, ethereal electronic space inspired by natural elements and – per the suggestion of the album’s title – the moon. Lyrical themes of open space and nature are enhanced by primitive-sounding beats that border on the aggressive. The ten evocative tracks featured in Silver Eye conjure sounds from earlier electronic artists like TANGERINE DREAM. While the album explores new material and themes for GOLDFRAPP, it feels like a respectful homage to another generation of electronic artists.
Why to listen to it: The duo’s music has always explored new and unfamiliar places and this album is no exception. The album relies on simple lyrics and beats to erect a sound world that channels the themes of naturalness. The tracks may not inspire one to dance in same way as earlier albums, but there is something physically compelling that will get the body moving to the ambient, spacious tracks. The heavy influence of collaborators like John Congleton, Haxan Cloak, and Leo Abrahams manage to create a cohesion and unity of expression rather than feeling forced or pulled apart. The natural/electronic duality that runs throughout the album creates a uniquely personal listening experience further adding to elements of natural rituals and individual exploration. (Jesse Freeman)
British Sea Power – ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Party’ (Caroline)
What it is: A freshly nuanced sound, iconic artwork, and flamboyant video clips. An (dare I say?) old battleship of English indie rock known as BRITISH SEA POWER proclaims its return and reaches for new harbours. Well, do they really? Almost! Four years after the band’s last effort Machineries of Joy, their new record Let the Dancers Inherit the Party shows the six members shaping a sound that touches new (although expectable) ground insofar as its ingredients appear to be overtly focussed and reduced this time, resulting in a twofold album still working perfectly fine as a whole. So, what does that mean in greater detail? Let’s set sail and see.
Why to listen to it: BRITISH SEA POWER’s first proper record in four years does not start with a big bang. It’s a simple piano tune and only few chords that introduce what has become Let the Dancers Inherit the Party, their best album since Do You Like Rock Music? Their new work turns out to be a joyful experience because of multiple reasons: To begin with, the band relies on a reduced set of instruments. It’s mainly a solid mix of drums, guitars, and synth lines that understands to lead the tracks. Of course, that’s nothing new, really. However, the atmosphere created here with the help of a particular instrumentation is an interesting one. First, it hints at a band that is obviously revived and ready to start anew. Second, attentive listeners will register that both atmosphere and mood change once the first half of the record is reached. Therefore, side A is euphoric and anthemic whereas side B offers moments of melancholy and reflection. The band’s call for action (on a personal and political level) is stressed by their choice of preceding singles Bad Bohemian (‘Don’t let us die while we’re still alive’) and Keep on Trying (Sechs Freunde). What follows then is more diverse: Saint Jerome is almost progressive, Praise for whatever’s outro reminiscent of early NEW ORDER, and Wants to be free an addictive hypnotic tune. The fact that Let the Dancers Inherit the Party works as a whole is suggested by a clever trick: Alone Piano picks up the simple piano chords from the beginning and ultimately brings a fine record to its end. BRITISH SEA POWER have moved a step forward. It’s a band of the here and now. (Chris Hegholtz)
Hauschka – ‘What If’ (City Slang)
What it is: The music from HAUSCHKA sounds like if you were exploring the inner intricacies of noble materials. You’re grazing the surface and you’re able to feel all its microscopic subtleties. HAUSCHKA is a goldsmith when it comes to transform classical instruments into something way more aerial. He often rams his strings every eighth-note – the intensity grows rapidly into melancholic waves. HAUSCHKA doesn’t need an orchestra: he already sounds so complete solely with his prepared piano. The composer is in a particularly prolific phase as he is releasing new projects every year – many scores by the way, something you could expect from him.
Why to listen to it: What If is everything HAUSCHKA does best. His piano is here combined with a Roland Jupiter 4 synthesizer and some parts are even played with a Yamaha Disklavier. This last one is a player piano, in other words a real piano playing a MIDI file. It permits HAUSCHKA to dive down into nearly unplayable additions. The album is conceptually about how our world transform could transform into a thirty year period, and this player piano is a good way to interrogate us on how creation is evolving – particularly when it’s combined with one of the most cinematographic pianist of our time. In the end, this journey is a very abstract one, filled with a melancholic groove you’ll want to try in different places or different moments to find one that would just match for you. I remember playing HAUSCHKA works when I was under a tempest alone hiking in Ireland, only wanting to reach my car to make myself some coffee after a sleepless night. His dramatic textures sounded just right for this moment and each time I listen to HAUSCHKA it reminds me of this day. ‘What If’ has the same potential and I can’t wait losing myself somewhere I shouldn’t. (Bastien Perroy)
FOTOS – ‘Kids’ (CNTCT )
What it is: Do I have your attention when I say this is the sort-of comeback of a German-singing indie-rock institution of the past decade? Well, probably not but that shouldn’t actually stop you from experiencing Kids, the first full-length by FOTOS since 2010. Back in the Noughties these guys pretty successfully managed to produce German post-punk, indie-pop, new wave and shoegaze without sounding pretentious. In fact, if it wasn’t for the language barrier, the four-piece could stick up to international standards… and they still can. Various other projects and life in general kept the gentleman apart for far too long as Kids was recorded over the course of five years in various separate sessions and studios. Sill, the result is one of the most impressive German releases in recent times – full of ambition and excitement.
Why to listen to it: First of all, being fluent in German might be helpful but is not necessary to fall for the feeling of the record. Leading man Tom Hessler’s cryptic lyrics about space, time and other visual images might be even too weird for some native speakers. And they are just one little element in the new cosmos of FOTOS which has nothing to do anymore with their simpler indie musi roots. Kids is a partly megalomaniac mixture of ARCADE FIRE, TAME IMPALA, MERCURY REV and plenty of other elements. Melodie des Todes (Melody Of Death) starts the album with giant harmonies and a big chorus while Sterne zu Staub (Stars To Dust) surprises with BEATLES references, a summerly feeling that even comes with an English verse at the end. And that’s just the start of the record. Alles Offen (Everyhing Open) is a hands-up disco smasher with life-embracing four-to-the-floor beat while Ozean (Ocean) takes us to tropical territory and could also work on a M83 album. There’s the tender nervous electronica in Niemand (Nobody) and the cinematic approach of Haut (Skin) which feels like legendary ‘Wall of Sound’ mastermind Phil Spector would produce Sgt. Pepper today. Kids is packed with references and ideas, partly even too much but that’s probably caused by the extended and difficult recording process. On the other side, FOTOS show what a band is capable of if it frees itself from any expectations, the own past and heads for a musical adventure outside its own comfort zone. And that’s something you have to appreciate in any language. (Norman Fleischer)
Petter Carlsen – ‘Glimt’ (Friskt Pust Records / Function Records)
What it is: The fourth studio album from Norweign artist PETTER CALRSEN. It’s epic, full of unearthed soul and heartfelt realness. An acquaintance of his had a conversation with his father, he explains how his father wished to be an eagle in the next life. His father passed and an eagle majestically flew over his grave. A journey that triggered CALRSEN’s fourth studio record and his first since Sirens in 2014.
Why to listen to it: This is more than a record. From start to finish Glimt is a journey. A record made from old drum machines, an off tune piano and a 1948 guitar it has all the credentials to be epic. It is more than that from the opening of Dagen Rope to the final note of Ekko it is bittersweet pop music at it’s greatest. The Norwegian lyrics, PETTER CALRSEN’s rustic voice and the pop folk melodies make this record a pop triumph. A beautiful serene triumph. (Hannah Fahy)