This week: heartbreak, elegies and melodic toe-tappers

By in Features





Essential weekend listening.

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


This Is What I Mean

(Def Jam)


This Is What I Mean is the sound of an artist in transformation. More preoccupied with the internal than its predecessors, This Is What I Mean is a heartbreak record. His trademark rabble-rousing energy is dialled back in favour of downtempo production and reflections on a love that has fallen apart. It’d be easy to categorise This Is What I Mean as his ‘mature’ album but that feels like a disservice to the political and personal themes he has met head-on for his entire career. Instead, this is the sound of an artist who is confident enough to change direction and open up to his audience. Another impressive release from one of the UK’s best.—KD

Masahiko Togashi with Don Cherry & Charlie Haden

Song Of Soil

(We Want Sounds)


Paris We Want Sounds presents a reissue of Japanese percussionist Masahiko Togashi’s Song of Soil, his 1977 collaboration with Don Cherry and Charlie Haden. Recorded across two days of improvisational sessions, Song of Soil sees these three titans of US and Japanese free jazz combining their distinctive Nipponese and American styles for innovative results. Togashi’s rhythms are restrained and sparse, giving Cherry and Haden’s woodwind, brass and bass space to shine.–AVD

Gavin Bryars

The Sinking of the Titanic

(Superior Viaduct)


The inaugural release of the Brian Eno curated Obscure series, 1978’s The Sinking of the Titanic stands as Gavin Bryars’ magnum opus and a work that continues to resound for its elegiac and poignant approach to the subject. Finding its compositional roots in accounts of the Titanic’s house band and their continued playing as the ship sank, this work seems to suspend time as indeterminate string arrangements meet the spectres of wireless communication. The flip side features Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, a similarly vital listen that takes a tape loop and heightens its emotive effects through repetition and subtle variations. A welcome first-time reissue of a classic.—JH

Various Artists

Padang Moonrise: The Birth of the Modern Indonesian Recording Industry (1955​-​69)

(Soundway Records)


Padang Moonrise: The Birth of the Modern Indonesian Recording Industry (1955-69) sees the impeccable Soundway Records gathering together a selection of artists and songs from the first chapter in the story of modern Indonesian music. A varied yet cohesive collection, it showcases the strengthening ties between popular music and traditional Indonesian sounds to great effect. A treasure trove of melodic toe-tappers and under-appreciated artists.–KD


Digital Tsunami



The weightiest electro numbers from the forefathers of the genre. Drexciya get the reissue treatment by Tresor as a part of a deep dive into the musical legacy of the label. ‘Digital Tsunami’ is the opening track of the seminal Harnessed By The Storm, the second studio album by the musical duo, originally released in 2002. These four tracks are full of iconic Detroit electro-techno energy, presenting the enigmatic vision of ‘afro-futurist Detroit Soul’. A release that is funky and sharp and has definitely stood the test of time.–EH

Les Rallizes Denudes


(Temporal Drift)


Temporal Drift reissue the first-ever official release of Japanese psych-legends Les Rallizes Dénudés’ three albums, ‘67-’69 Studio et Live, Mizutani / Les Rallizes Dénudés, and ‘77 Live. A group shrouded in mystery, this essential reissue celebrates the legacy of this enormously influential cult group, whose fuzzed-out guitars and expansive, echoing drones, shaped the alternative music scene for years to come. Released in collaboration with The Last One Musique, the label set up by members and associates of the band, Mizutani includes remastered audio by former band member Makoto Kubota.—AVD

Fievel Is Glauque

Flaming Swords

(la Loi)


Flaming Swords is a wild ride. The debut studio album of duo Fievel Is Glaque is all over the place but in a wonderful way. Fleeting across jazz arrangements, vintage pop vocals, prog riffs and noodling emo revival lead lines, Flaming Swords traverses the boundaries of genre yet never feels happenstance. At times, the album recalls retro video game soundtracks, filled with surprises and mood changes, and if there could be a game to match this album’s energy, sign me up for early access!–KD

Joshua Bonnetta

(Shelter Press)


Focussed on the Outer Hebrides, Joshua Bonnetta’s Innse Gall puts microphone and hydrophone recordings to good use and creates a connective tapestry of the islands’ sounds and language. With wind and water currents as relative constants, psalm-singing, motor-boats, Gaelic spoken word and all manner of other sounds appear and percolate within a mix that creates a constantly shifting sonic horizon. An enveloping set that’s bolstered by its accompanying documentary, essay and photo collection.–JH

Cru Servers


(12th Isle)


One of Glasgow’s finest establishments, 12th Isle, delivers an exceptional 8-track album from the Cru Servers alongside two CCV tracks that were lovingly restored from their archival tapes at the National Sound Archives of Scotland. Existing within the downtempo sonic stratosphere of electronic music, EEL feels like a sound bath of warming experimental sounds brought together with a touch of funk to make the ideal listening experience. CCV on the flip side are no-wave, discovered by the Cru Servers family when exploring their garage. These tracks document father Cru’s musical experiments from the mid-80s, featuring the timeless anthem ‘Party Time’.—EH

Various Artists

Pop Ambient 2023



Pop Ambient returns for its 23rd compilation, selected by Wolfgang Voigt. Offering ambient music as a nuanced alternative to the high-speed culture of relentless capitalism, Pop Ambient 2023 is a freeing breather from the noise of everyday life. Taking inspiration from slowness, the compilation is patient to the last, no track rushes to its end and sounds play out to their natural conclusion. Another transformative instalment from a highly dependable series.—KD