I Break Horses – ‘Warnings’
One can only assume the long and hard path Maria Lindén had to walk to create this third album from I Break Horses. It took her over five years and that path led her to several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. followed by completely new studio recordings only to erase everything again. In the end Warnings happened by accident and Lindén recorded most of the album by herself at home. And in the end it wasn’t even meant to be a new release from the artistic moniker that gained quite a momentum in the first half of the 2010s. She was heading for a more cinematic approach and wanted to create music for films, inspired by watching some of her favourite flicks on her computer with the sound muted. These sonic workout sketches turned to actual songs by accidents and lyrics and vocal work were added at the end. And if you know about this process you totally get an idea about the cinemascope approach that I Break Horses take on this album. It’s massive, directly from the start. The 9-minute long Turn opens the album in a sentimental yet quite hypnotic way, inviting the listener to follow the Swedish songwriter into her trippy microcosm.
Warnings is packed with lush and infectious dream pop vibes, floating and shimmering like the sea in early morning light. It’s quite epic however and songs like Silence and I’ll Be The Death Of You mix the dreamy notion of the music with a certain determination in her vocal work. It’s an album loaded with textures and transitional ideas and adding US producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady to the equation was a pretty good idea. The fact that he worked with Beach House before and loves to slow the music down is obviously sensible in the music, especially on a song a like The Prophet. But however the last minute of this takes it to a whole other level. While Beach House often refuse to go the extra mile, Lindén dives deeper into the sound and lets it explore in all the directions it need. Death Engine is a perfect example here. The singer’s repetitive mantra is as reduced as it effective but the music slowly builds up and slows down again in various shapes and forms. It needs the whole eight minutes to unfold its magic and you actually don’t feel like its too long. Warnings is an epic album that takes time, it demands it from the listener but it can be quite rewarding when you are willing to give into it. It takes patience, it’s not pleasing the algorithms in any form. I Break Horses‘ pop is taking off to an even brighter galaxy on her finest record so far. And there is probably no better time than right now to deeply sink into the sound and let it absorb you. This is the album that kindly invites you to do this. (Norman Fleischer)
Evvol – ‘The Power’
The Berliner Duo Evvol, made up of the two musicians Julie Chance and Jon Dark, release The Power – their sophomore LP. Entirely self-produced, arranged, and written the artists display a confident and clear musical vision. Inspired by the electronic and techno scene in the city, the instrumentation leans towards genre. In 2020 Julie and Jon have gotten a full technical upgrade. Recording their vocals in their Berlin Kreuzberg studio with new equipment, the musicians found space to experiment layering and distorting the vocals. Both sing and their alternating timbers provide a rich vocal texture highlighting the lyricism on tracks like the cinematic Call & Response.
The overall themes of The Power are love and human connection. Evvol turn their thoughts inwards and confront their relationship and others on the fifteen tracks of the LP. On Old Love they sing of the beautiful small things one only finds out about the other in long term relationships, whereas, Speedboat is about a lusty first encounter at a party. The title track is a more stripped back approach and dissects the importance of emotional release in the face of the fragility of human existence. The refined electronic arrangements shift between melancholic and danceable. The Power distills the essence of Berlin – its wild nights out, the nostalgic existentialist vibe on mornings after, the in between – and showcases the unapologetically authentic voice of Evvol. (Liv Toerkell)
Eve Owen – ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’
The British singer-songwriter Eve Owen already featured as a guest singer on The National’s memorable I Am Easy To Find, and if you listen to her debut Don’t Let The Ink Dry, you soon will know why she got to. Working closely together with Aaron Dessner from the band, the only 20-year-old artist promotes powerful melodies and fine lyrical sensitivities to support her own solo work. An emotional spectrum that ranges from melancholy to a fierce energy that seeks to reveal all of this life’s desire, the sound of Eve Owen touches on classic folk roots and is yet not afraid of electronic experiments. Still, the songs on here have a genuine feel.
Right from the start with the spellbinding and powerful Tudor, Eve Owen exhibits her capacity to dig deep into personal sensibilities. Structured with a traditional folk simplicity, she illuminates with a haunting performance her case against social marginalisation. Her voice meanwhile wanders from the fragile to the fiercely powerful, which is more than impressive to observe. Overall smoothly covered in melodious waves of serenity, at times reminding of the likes of a Joni Mitchell, Don’t Let The Ink Dry digs deep in intimate explorations that are both fragile and self-empowering. For Redemption is one of the finest exhibits here. A simple piano and guitar pattern, accompanied by a smooth drum section are just enough to frame Owen’s delicate vocals, which paint a dreamy picture of surreal harmony. In an equal manner, almost like a sonore twin, Bluebird proceeds the journey in acoustic bliss. The colours that the title of the album refers to do indeed not fade, and it is especially due to the intense emotional immersion of a young woman into the challenges of her own inner world, that make sure her painting will continue to be made. Or as she expresses it herself in I Used To Dream In Colour: ‚Well I’m shimmering in gold, shimmering in view / I used to dream in colours / Now I dream in blues‘. (Andreas Peters)
Worriedaboutsatan – ‘Time Lapse’
Despite the variety that per definition is inherent to the lose genre of post-rock, it has been stuck in some kind of dead on for years. Who would have thought that the seemingly infinite possibilities of this kind of instrumental music would create a for the most part self-referring genre? Besides the fact that the artists’ names are for a big part describing natural phenomenas or emotional states in short, grammatically often unfinished sentences, their common ground is the art of touching and exploring deepest emotions through music. And this common ground is what listeners drive to post-rock still today, despite all repetitional elements – and what gives each record a very unique character.
So does Time Lapse, the seventh record of worriedaboutsatan. Named after a b-side of Belgium alternative band dEUS from 1997, the former duo now became a soloprojekt by Gavin Miller, who is keeping the idea behind worriedaboutsatan alive. Including elements from ambient music, techno and neo-classic, this record unfolds a universe of its own throughout the 41 minutes and five songs of the record. On a very subtle level Time Lapse triggers emotions deep within oneself. While slowly building up a soundscape by layering atmospheric synthesizer and delayed guitars, the many hidden rhythmic patterns and melodic elements frame the songs without limiting it to any fixed structure. A record to dive in and let go, without any bursting crescendos or epic guitars. Instead a steady pulsation without de- or acceleration, providing a certain calmness and thus creating a mood, somewhere between uncertainty and anxiety. The arrangements are full of gloomy sounds and hidden loops, displaying a complexity that is able to work on a very basic and simple level. Ambient/ post-rock music might still be stuck in a dead end, but it is far from being dead. Triggering and canalising emotions is why most of us turn to music, in good as in bad times. Time Lapse offers both, outlet and comfort. What else do you what from music? (Abhilash Arackal)
Christoph Dahlberg – ‘Time’
Going about as “out there” as out can get, German producer and visual artist Christoph Dahlberg has shared his effervescent new album Time. A complete artist with many different creative outputs, the new album showcases a producer pushing the envelope in a way few have done before. To label Time as experimental almost seems an injustice, suggesting Dahlberg has impulsively botched sounds together when in fact, it’s a release that’s been thought out and slaved over every detail meticulously.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that’s heard this album, that Dahlberg’s day-job involves working with metal. He’s a visual artist that sculpts works of art from Bronze and Steel and I would usually cringe at anyone saying something like “The influence of his work can be heard throughout his music” but, in this case, I think they would have a point. His story starts as a Drum and Bass DJ where he began experimenting with light installations, before launching his own production as Clicks & Errors. His work soon lead to tours around Asia before being invited to perform his installation at Berghain in Berlin. In the new album, Dahlberg has layered percussion on top of percussion on top of, more percussion. There’s a familiar theme throughout of blips, zaps and wooden percussive sections that are impressive, though admittedly become tedious after seven or eight tracks. However, the vocals on tracks like Guardian and Cloudz provide a variation from this and keep the listener guessing, which inevitably means they stand out in the tracklist. Time is an album that impresses deeply, there’s a level of attention to detail throughout that most artists could only dream of. However, it’s a slightly charmless album that I’d struggle to listen to repeatedly. I’d be more inclined to view the album as an exhibition or, musical installation than an album to fall in love with. (Aidan Grant)