This week: dungeon synth, Irish traditionalism and Lana Del Rey

By in Features





Essential weekend listening.

This week’s rundown is by VF’s Kelly Doherty and Becky Rogers, alongside contributors Annabelle Van Dort, Emily Hill and James Hammond.

Lana Del Rey

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd



On her ninth album, America’s pre-eminent songstress Lana Del Rey explores mortality, motherhood and self-mythologies on her most musically and lyrically challenging record yet. Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard is a sprawling and uncompromising work. Many of the tracks posses a dream-like, stream of consciousness quality, unfolding without clear direction or end. Del Rey’s oneiric inclinations are accentuated by the album’s cinematic arrangements and Americana haziness, which when paired with Del Rey’s evocative delivery recalls the soundtracks of Old Hollywood. However, the album’s sonics push past Del Rey’s familliar territory, with unexpected scatterings of trap beats, self-referential samples from her own work and soaring gospel harmonies which set this record apart from her other works.–AVD

Angel Bat Dawid

Requiem For Jazz

(International Anthems)


This 12-movement suite from Angel Bat Dawid takes inspiration from Edward O.Bland’s 1959 documentary film The Cry of Jazz and opens up a dialogue between jazz’s past and present. Partly recorded live in 2019 with a 15-piece ensemble and further melded in the studio by Bat Dawid, Black experience and Black classical tradition stays at the forefront in a work that looks to the experience of suffering and joy.–JH

Various Artists




Following on from their survey of South Africa’s amapiano genre, NTS keep things suitably unpredictable by heading back to the ‘90s to gather some rare cuts under the banner of “the dungeon synth sound”. Looking to the low-tempo synth-soundscaping proclivities of certain black metal artists and groups, this collection gathers some rare cuts that venture off into an uneasy ambience.–JH

Chestnut People (Priori & Ludwig A.F.)

Chestnut People EP

(Exo Recordings)


Priori and Ludwig AF come together on the latter’s imprint ‘Exo Recordings’ as the Chesnut People, with four future dubstep breakbeat tips to get the body moving. The tracks are titled from one to four, with one taking people on the euphoric rave tip before two travels on the liquid-y broken beat route. The flip side in contrast is way more on the ambient spectrum cooling things down and acting as a refreshing break between the varying styles and directions of the club-focused A side.–EH


False Lankum

(Rough Trade)


Irish trad experimentalists Lankum return to Rough Trade for their third release. Where their second album The Livelong Day served as a full realisation of their distinct blend of Irish traditionalism and contemporary doom and ambient, False Lankum improves upon that foundation, exploring darker subject matters and pushing their already intense sound to its further limits. Lankum continue to be one of a kind.–KD

Full Body Du Rag

Hello 🙂



Nuha Ruby Ra finds comfort in chaos with her new EP Machine Like Me. Looking for expression over perfection, Ra battles through unsettling ambience, punk-spurred confrontations and droning basslines, all while never leaving a sonic ingredient in the shadows. At parts, sneering guitar parts size up to tongue-in-cheek quips about hating guitars (“In The Morning”), and elsewhere tales of being stunted by sensory overload are backed by abrasive lurches of overdriven riffs and perpetual screams (“Rise”). It all makes up for an intense listen–whether it’s her self-made alternative guitar tunings played out with a bow or percussion section crafted out of chainsaws, metal drawers and hammers–but that’s all part of the charm.–BR


A Comforting Notion

(Speedy Wunderground)


Speedy Wunderground’s latest release comes from Heartworms, aka Jojo Orme, with her debut EP, A Comforting Notion. A post-punk assault, A Comforting Notion jeers at reassurance or solace, instead choosing discomfort as it chugs around goth-fronted synth rasps and motorik drum machines. Following Orme’s military obsession (she’s the first musician to launch an Airfix kit and volunteers at The Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon), the EP is robotic, nearing hypnotic, as Orme’s stringent vocals power over the sonic storm brewing beneath. A Comforting Notion is raw yet empowered and infectious–a confident debut that knows the heights it can reach.–BR

Studio One

Space-Age Dub Special

(Soul Jazz Records)


Space-Age Dub, the latest Studio One Compilation from Stuart Baker’s Soul Jazz Records, compiles a collection of intergalactic dubs from the Studio One vault. Featuring a selection of rare dubs, taken from classic Jamaica-only releases like Zodiac Sound and Dub Store Special, Space Age Dub rereleases these killer Dub specialist instrumentals back to planet earth.–AVD

David Holmes

This England Original Soundtrack

(Stranger Than Paradise)


David Holmes’ soundtrack for Sky TV series This England underscores the tumultuous early months of Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister and the impact of the first wave of COVID-19 across the United Kingdom. A tense and discomfiting release, This England moves slowly and patiently, heaving with understated anxiety across creeping orchestral movements and electronic flourishes. A poignant and moving collection.–KD