January 26, 2024
Essential weekend listening.
This week’s rundown is by VF’s Kelly Doherty, and contributors Annabelle Van Dort, Emily Hill and James Hammond.
Danish composer Astrid Sonne puts her vocals to the foreground on this latest release, Great Doubt. Bringing her viola and experimental nous into a more leftfield pop direction, Sonne spins forthright words amongst offbeat, tender productions. With its whispy, confessional energy, Great Doubt is a comforting release–a perfect listen to accompany great doubts and much more.–KD
Cho Co Pa Co Cho Co Quin Quin
London reissue label Time Capsule presents the first international vinyl release of Japanese neo-psych experimentalists Cho Co Pa Co Cho Co Quin Quin’s deliciously beguiling debut, Tradition. With a musical DNA alloyed from many diverse sonic strains—from Afro-Cuban rhythms and Udu drums to Haroumi Hosono’s technicolour exotica—Cho Co Pa’s hallucinatory fusion of style reinvents traditional sounds with a contemporary curiosity. From the wonky, auto-tuned bossa nova of “Gandhara” to the euphoric, efflorescent synth-pop of “Watasumi”, Tradition is a remarkably assured debut from this surely ascendent group.–AVD
European Primitive Guitar (1974-1987)
NTS, the beloved internet radio station, has also been a musical imprint since 2019, steadily increasing their roster to reflect the diverse and dynamic sounds they are known and loved for. 2023 was a big year for the imprint and now they start the new year in style with an intriguing selection of European Primitive Guitar, a compilation of instrumental guitar compositions exploring a movement spearheaded by John Fahey in the 1950s. The 16-track double LP explores the new ways artists interacted with the instrument, pushing the boundaries of what it could do and how it could sound. A truly fascinating deep dive into the world of archival folk.–EH
Galway indie-rockers NewDad release their long-awaited debut album Madra. NewDad have been a bright young hope in modern indie rock for the past three years since their breakout EP, Blue, and Madra makes good on the promise. Channelling a blend of shoegaze and ’90s indie influences, NewDad offer intimate, dark lyricism against a warm, ambitious wall of sound. Madra is an excellent debut and an impressively cohesive body of work from a band still introducing their sound.–KD
Following their reissue of Ramuntcho Matta’s leftfield classic S/T last year, Wewantsounds continue their exploration of the French producer’s discography with their latest release, Brion Gysin’s Junk. Recorded in the early ’80s and featuring stalwarts of the global experimental music scene like Don Cherry and Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the Matta-produced avant-funk masterpiece has gone on to attain cult status. Gysin’s off-beat spoken-word poetry rides along relentlessly funky basslines, underpinned by driving Senegalese percussion and flourishes of free jazz screeches of saxophone. It is a testament to Matta’s deft hand that he pulls these seemingly dissonant parts into one idiosyncratic whole—undoubtedly one of the grooviest albums of its era, making this first-ever vinyl pressing a gift to post-punk heads and Matta fans.–AVD
With pats on the head, just one too few is evil one too many is good that’s all it is
(Black Truffle Australia)
A 12th release for the trio of Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke, this one heads back to 2018 for their final show at the much-missed Super Deluxe venue in Tokyo. Working from footholds of free improvisation and a skewed rock and roll vocabulary, this live set sees the trio switching between strings, percussion and electronics and working up some formidable swells within streams of dissonance and an untethered approach. As with past works featuring the trio, the formidable shared language they strike up on a stage (or indeed in the studio) is in full bloom here. –JH
Originally released back in 2022 for Record Store Day, the highly sought-after Bloodline by Californian soul group Gabriels, finally gets the widespread vinyl pressing it deserves. The tight-knit trio comprises Jacob Lusk, whose magnificent voice traverses through octaves effortlessly, composer and violinist Ari Balouzian and video director, producer and keyboardist Ryan Hope. The group has been making waves with their hypnotic genre-defying work, sitting somewhere on the soul-string funk rock pop spectrum but always somehow delivering more. This is a special release and definitely not one to sleep on.–EH
The Surgeon Of The Nightsky Restores Dead Things By The Power Of Sound
Splicing shows from Paris, Vancouver, Brussels and Hamburg into a beguiling whole, The Surgeon of the Nightsky stands as one of the highlights of Jon Hassell’s 1980s output. Mixed by Hassell and Brian Eno, this set carefully brings out the nature of Hassell’s live shows with the results swirling in the ferment of genre and ideas that Hassell is synonymous with. Working with an ensemble of guitar, synth, keyboards and percussion, Hassell’s singular trumpet style works in a woozy and gliding pattern throughout; a fine place to acquaint yourself, if you’re unfamiliar with his highly influential body of work.–JH