Like summer rising from mists of eternal winter, music also seems to have bounced into light of new dawn; June leading into July fizzing musical effervescence which made me smile with welcome warmth of pure delight. In particular, variants of hip-hop, broken beat and drum and bass seem to be bursting out from every crevice, blooming bewitching cross breeds; but every genre seems to have judiciously begged, borrowed and shared, breathing new life into old, stale air.
So my selection this month was even harder than usual, but here, in no particular order are the ones I have recently loved, songs for my summer which I hope you will also enjoy:
Dirty Freud- 'Agendas', EP
Whizzing Through Time And Space' - Gloriously grungy, squelchy bouncing bass in pugilistic arrhythmic punch up with itself, fencing with 'floats like a butterfly , stings like a bee', jazzily precise, cut and thrust drums, special effects squeezing grumbles and deep sighs from ether, burbling, blowing bubbles, popping like space candy, rhythmically interspersed with sampled vocal snippets, inquisitors interrogatory interludes, slightly perplexed; effervescent mix of Roni Size drum and bass , Hip-Hop and sparkling fizz of elegant electronica. 'Put em' Up' - speeds it up, punchy bass, gun in back, drums smoking gunpowder shots, keyboard, sinister stab, mutated mask of deep menacing growl; entangled in intricately intimate, shadow fight interplay; energising, exciting and totally engaging. 'Ninja-Man'; ebullient sci-fi electronica; spacey alien, glimmering , glittering, air jetting flitting like fire flies, flirting with magnetic stomp of space explorer, space suited, heavy booted drum and bass. A revelatory tapestry of an EP, exquisitely enjoining and embroidering drum and bass, broken beat and hip-hop with subtle electronica, to create a new, entirely diverting, tantalising ,dance floor beat.Annaca- 'Haunted'
Contralto vocal like honeyed mead spiked with whiskey, in duet with slinky, lyrical, teasing clarinet; instrumentation cheeky, jazzy; a pouting, seductively sexy song which sashays , swishes and swings, glancing flirtatiously back to make sure you are following its voluptuous swaying skirts; modern day cabaret; enticingly alluring.
Lizabett Russo- 'The Traveller's song', EP
One of those heart on its sleeve voices, lit from within by shining light of life. 'Lose Your Colour', 'Tonight' and 'The Traveller's Song' are drenched in empathy of this vocal, as it pours magnetic soul, slickly musical and inventive, folky instrumentation of glittering guitar, deep rumbling bass, and jazzy drums, sparkling river beneath its feet, spiked with faster running, deeper undercurrent of keyboard and distant summer storm effects.
Lizabett Russo's clear tones sparkle, fly, heave, sigh, sway; speak of Adele; slightly hesitant lisp, though not as tortured and deep, hinting at sunny side up Billie Holiday, shadows no more than wisps of clouds. Three songs of captivating soulful, modern folk.
Golden Fable- 'Crossfire'
Golden Fable never fail to move but I fail with superlatives to describe their evocative, ethereal sound; vocal of angel fallen from heaven to mortal ground, beating broken wings, yearning to return to stars; instrumentation radiating light from magnetic core. Crossfire', spins silken thread round spike of pure, plain song notes , weaving gossamer sculpture , shimmered from thin air; keyboard sighs in reverential reverie; percussion whispers, caresses, butterfly buffeted by warm breeze; electrons pulse and glow; a song of soul searing beauty; comparisons do not really enlighten this uniquely captivating sound, but if I had to say; Cocteau Twins conjoined with Everything But The Girl; hymnal for modern times, sung in the chapel of life.
Andy Warstar- 'Happiness'
Utterly enigmatic sleaze which hypnotises with tease of vocoded vocal, gritty, grungy shredded strum of mesmerising guitar, insistently prickling and niggling to frenzied inner scream; louche bass giving deepest, mind twisting tongue, drums tantalizing tickle; throbbing with debauchery; writhing in intimate, erotic entanglement .Velvets in dingiest Soho underground club; too high to dance, too wired to lay down; nonchalantly taking in the sights.
Soul Saboteur- 'Somewhere There's A Light On'
A piece of pure rock delight lifted by tender folk soul which pours from lips of a vocal which swoops and soars on wings of progressive, liquid, loquacious guitar; caressed by warm breeze of husky drums and bass. Guitar and vocal gloriously entangled in easy yet intimate embrace , riding thermals in heart lifting rise and heart catching slide. A classic for the summer, riding dust road, windows wide.
DeLooze- 'Lost Army'
A marmite moment: Darkly, dangerously addictive, Radiohead fused with Ladytron and The Cocteau Twins , black hole spewing out elemental new being, shaken awake by devil's footstep, sinister vibrating, potent bass, raged by stormy electronic squall, birthing sinuous siren ,wailing squeal insinuating itself on consciousness as it emerges from the maelstrom, to thunderous clap of metronomic drum beat. Impassioned, driven, torn between light and deadly night shade, treading line between heaven and hell. Though I cannot say this has the engulfing, needle in the head, intensity of Radiohead; more beauty than beast in its melodic and instrumental allure; monster held on long reign but still chained; none the less its beautiful/ugly teeters on the edge of entrancingly alluring danger, without quite tipping into Hell's Hold.
Dubwiser Dancehall- 'EP 1' EP
I have to admit blinding ignorance when it comes to language of reggae inspired Dubstep/Broken Beat; music which captures my imagination, but leaves me feeling inarticulate, as I am not conversant with its distinctive and colourful vocabulary; beyond what it speaks to my heart, I do not know its intricate nuances.
So when this EP is billed as 4 tracks featuring 'Spider J', 'EB' and 'Burnt Brasse' I cannot feign respect, not out of disrespect, but because I simply did not know what to expect, despite suggestively onomatopoeic song titles. However, from first deep, dusty, throb of heart stopping beat, I find myself magnetised, molecules vibrated, excited, elasticised, pulled like Plastic Man, mutated, sucked into spaces in between the notes. Drawn by heavy gravitational pull, it is impossible not to move against the beat, to sway with its poetic lyricism drawn from plexus deep.
Effervescent with breezily bouncy, offbeat percussion, sizzling with fizzing effects, cut by rapier sharp rhythmic rap, 'Eye Popper'(feat.Spider J), shines with irrepressible iridescence, spumescent space dust for the ears. 'Pedantic'(feat. Scrutineer) lilts, slinks and leaps like pussy cat on hot enough to fry feet streets. Roll off the tongue rapid rap punctuated with punchy sparks of brass, drenched in heat haze bass, interspersed with helium cartoon samples; this is built up urban city street in sweltering summer, windows wide, sounds of life meshed and mingled in sultry air. 'Dubwiser Groove'(feat. EB) ; rhythmic rap in counterpoint with spiky sonar sample, rippling with vibrant percussive, cheeky, chatter ; flowing on deep undertow of pokey bass; rapids flowing into calmer waters before cascading again over the edge; kayak ride, playing with the voice. 'Rise Up'(feat. Burnt Brasse); rife with rhythmic intrigue, luxuriates in light, bright touch of quirky percussive effects, punctured by bell to the sky, triumphant trumpet, emphatically underlining passionate, wrap round rap.
An EP of four songs which travel far in illustrating multi facets of this glittering genre, while retaining its highly individual roots: mixing high tension with passion and laissez faire ennui, metaphor for urban life; energising, life affirming people speak, which charms and intrigues.
Snakadaktal- 'Hung On Tight'
Poignantly enchanting, heaving heart unashamedly sobbing on sleeve; edge of tears, tinged with melancholy, musing vocal and watercolour wash of instrumental, wreathed in wafting mists; subtleties of 'Hung On Tight' could have been swallowed in clouds of melodramatic dry ice echo , consumed by histrionic fire belched from " dragons in my sleep". However, supremely sensitive musicianship and sensual, seductive vocal weaves intensely potent, dark fairytale, casting captivating glow, as deceptively authoritarian rock and roll beat dissipates through cupboard walls, leaps off precipice into Narnia world of softly weeping bass, xylophone synth , resinous bell, filtered through haze of magical mists, melodic shower of lachrymose droplets , gurgling like burble of distant stream; dreamscape through which glimmers of guitar shimmer and creep, as vocal melts in wide eyed wonderment, mournful yet infinitely sweet.
Mystical, melodic, modern day, electronically assisted fantastical folk, with touch of trance dance; though different tempo and temperature, its mood puts me in mind of Steve Lawler's 'Rise In': maybe not sing a long in the way of a pop song, but catchy in a mesmerising way.
Players Please- 'Things Can Only Get Better'
A huge slice of one of my favourite substances, cheese; Howard Jones's mild, milky, rubbery Dairylee miraculously deconstructed by degenerate bacteria, to lasciviously gooey splurge of gloriously high gorgonzola, ripe and resplendent with pungent, eighties synth, dripping with deep, sticky, punchy bass, showered with shimmering spores of high hat , sprinkled with salty special effects; mellowing to slick of unctuous echoed sound, before biting into yet another spurt of bacillus high; a tune which sparkles and dances on more than the tip of the tongue; an impossible addiction.
Adding Machine- 'Ships To Sink'
Snared by mesmerising snake of inveigling, seductively sinister vocal, Banshee writhing and weaving round deleteriously dark, magnetic early Roxy, picking its way stealthily, purposefully precisely through prickling shiver of sinister synth and billowing fog of belching drums, in depraved wanton embrace with sinuous guitars; this is black magic cabaret, liable to pick your pocket, sneak off with your soul, dissipating like mischievous sprite, into the night.Woods - 'Be All Be Easy'
Scoops up shimmering handfuls of hazy sun, spinning it in psychedelic cyclotron, to lightest wisp of summer mists, melting like ephemeral candy floss clouds. Swirling with eternally evocative melodies, whirled through wormhole of time, exhaling echoed essence of patchouli Sixties; dreamy moonage vocals, sprinkled with serene guitar glinting like multicoloured sequins, wreathed in musky waft of incense drums and bass; this sounds like a classic time forgot. One for balmy summer days and nights, lying on the grass contemplating sun and stars, heady from resinous miasma of someone else's weed, colours burning retinas, blotting paper bright, before your mind unravels like springs of a rundown clock.
New Desert Blues- 'Adam'
Stunningly evocative, cinematic tour de force; cymbals and keyboard chords crashing like roaring waves. strings soaring like seagulls swooping, falling, lyrical guitar glittering like sun glinting on water, shine artfully tarnished by sprinkling of gravelly sand; unified male and female vocal, holding tight to each other in perfect harmony, warmth of lower register, the sail, perfectly complemented by innocent clarity of higher, gently guiding wind, as they ride billowing sea of sound, sea foam spray in their eyes.
This summer's whimsical modern folk anthem; yearning, impassioned, seductive surface belying darker under current; a tune to sweep you away.
Bete Noire- 'Shut Your Mouth'/ 'Out And Proud'
Sinuous guitar of 'Out and Proud', slips, slides, slinks and rears like viperous snake in grass, its mesmerising stare and hypnotic sway leading us on, leading us down irretrievable path of sensuous sinfulness, bass throbbing with hot pulse of desire, percussion tickle of tantalisation, mocking vocal, teasing , twisted. Bete Noire palpitates with dark menace of Velvets underground punk, discordant, jangly, yet magnetising in its contorted ways; inveigling finger beckoning, goading weakness to give in to irresistible temptations of Pandora's Box. 'Shut Your Mouth' staccato, unified alliteration of shredded guitar, stabbing bass, punchy percussion and poke in the eye vocoded vocal, ramming home message of the title, interspersed with sinister interludes of sleazy vocal and guitar, false sense of security punched in plexus by pugilistic bass , heightening sense of peril , delusion definitively dispelled, shattered by sharp spike of vitriolic vocal. A welcome outburst of wickedly irreverent post punk energy.Hot Beat Repeat- 'Soul'
Harking back to eighties electronica /funky soul with its Starsky and Hutch, flirtatiously catchy snatch of angular guitar motif, slinky, scurrilous, pulsing bass, thrusting drums, bouncing disco needle of synth and come hither for pleasure, husky, harmonised, caress of sinfully seedy yet sensuous vocal, this is a delight of sexy pastiche, which will have you swaying and spinning in summer of love, flowing wisp of multicoloured chiffon shift; man and woman alike. So leave inhibitions behind and set your soul free. You know you want to.
Annie Eve- 'Annie Eve', EP
'Bodyweight'- Ebbing, ephemeral slip of a song, caress of silk suffused with potent emotion; grappling with nebulous thoughts which flow through troubled minds, like water impossible to grasp but leaving indelible trace. Disingenuous exploration of interior worlds; introverted vocal, hanging onto glimmer of guitar, shivering, hushed afraid, harmonised by ghosts of whispering voices, impassioned to gather courage , sing sweet and clear, whisper to tortured , inner scream; weeping in duet with lyrical steel guitar; sedated by dusky drums. Annie Eve's extraordinarily clear and expressive voice evokes with beguiling candour, melancholy so deep it hurts. 'Elvis' - Tiny but distinct, tremulous voice trembling with hurt of woman reverted to introverted, uncomprehending child, subject of vicious vagaries, arbitrarily inflicted by anger, raging through a cruel mind "...he grabs my wrist breaks my fist..."; once again strumming heart strings with its 'holding on by thread' acoustic guitar, bass heaving with inner grief, nerve shredding steely guitar and emotional vocal, secret as burble of underground stream, yet darkest, river deep. 'Hunters' - shivers with frisson of echoed effects, lonely, lost vocal weaving scraps and wisps of melody, wandering wafting mists of brushed cymbals and hazy drums; seeking strength and solace in sedative hum of harmony, stalked by sinister quiver of reverberating synth and guitar. Kate Bush improvisational, infused with melancholia; ethereal wash of musical colour which vividly illuminates convolutions of tortured mind; minor tone twisting into melodic resolution only at the very end.
A trio of songs from a remarkable songstress, with heart catching hiccough in her voice. Injecting Joni Mitchell country and folk with Winehouse soul, overcast with scudding clouds of Nirvana grunge, electronica evoking evocative soundscapes; a wistful, dysphoric Beth Orton; Annie Eve's music stands bravely alone; esoteric yet enticing.
Solar Year - 'Seeing The Same'
Enigmatically beguiling, ambient electronica opening enticement of layered siren susurration, and hushed, reverential vocal, gives little indication of what is to follow, beyond underpinning of unexpectedly punchy bass and teasing swish of effects; before rising like cloaked spaceship, aliens swarming, burbling with gurgle of staccato hieroglyphic chatter, throbbed by engine of deep, vibrating bass. Luxuriant lines of hymnal chant in mesmeric counterpoint with contorted, mutated version of itself, playing with the voice, snipped into rhythmic snatches, prickling with crackling effects.
Hypnotic dark electronica, which shakes up preconceptions with its snippets of stabbing samples, reconstructed into choppy arrhythmic beat which, like drum and bass, whilst wrong footing expectation, has magnetic pull to spaces in between; spiky experimental coated in trancey effects, this is one of those salted caramel tracks.
Ummagma / Virta- Split EP
My fascination with winners of the Alternative Eurovision, Ummagma, continues with this seductive release. Painted in vibrant electronic musical colours and textures, Ummagma's inventive musicianship radiates luminous fairytale light, evoking fantastical, cinematic soundscapes ringing with sonorous sound.
'Back To You' builds round deeply evocative, falling minor, maudlin chord structure, reminiscent of Chris Isaac's 'Funeral In the Rain'; echoed Aquarius age vocal, moodily gloaming, shimmered in sparkling shower of sorrowful Spanish guitar, grumbling bass gathering glowering clouds, heaving melancholia, swirled in stormy squalls of electronica, rent by sparks of lightening flash steel guitar, torn by brass and swingeing strings; tour de force of imagination brought to glowing life. 'River Town'; lilts and swings, sashays to laid back Latin American jazzy beat; Buddha Bar lounge with dusky distant, echoed through heat haze, off beat Tabla drums, trickled with drum rim tickle, tantalising allure of smoky trance vocal cut through with river of steely guitar and jangling synth, plucking pertinent key notes from the air; sparkling and glinting like sun on twinkling river; ambient with edge; perfect for this temptatious tease of a summer.
At first, Virta, more progressive, modern, jazz seemed strange bedfellows but, they also conjure soundscapes, create an ambience; so like a DJ's set, the two together build a mood, different musical means working towards same end. The use of muted trumpet for the lyrical line is particularly alluring. 'Tales From The Deep Water'; highly musically descriptive with its euphonious expressive trumpet, echoed and in duet with dusky sigh of bass; gently picked, sparkling guitar in counterpoint, washed by haze of cymbal and drums, briefly building to swell of heavier waves, returning to languid flow. 'Traffic'; skitters and flickers like motorway mirage ; frenetic xylophone patter, glimmer of fast moving traffic seen through trumpet heat haze, thundering in rumbling tumble of drums, flashing cymbals glint of windscreen glass; steely guitar and languorous vocal, rainbow of petroleum slick, brief respite as time winds down.
A fascinating EP which has entirely engaged my imagination, with its imagination, yet again.
Lark- 'Goodbye Man'/ 'Bones As Bones'
'Goodbye Man' with it eighties oscillator, synth sweep sliding up and down Sci-fi semitones, sending cold finger of a shiver down my spine, combined with contorted, slightly deranged Devo vocal, deviant throbbing bass , how could I resist this delight; mutant Roxy on medication, doing the Time Warp. 'Bones As Bones' sounding like black and white, spoof Science Fiction sound track, with stylophone synth and vocoded menacing vocal mantra; Mysteron Jacques Brel, talking in strange yet mesmerising tongue.
Using stark electronic instrumental lines , nothing extraneous, like the bird of its name, Lark uses few notes to maximum effect; an unique species, not entirely intelligible to more ordinary mortals, none the less his minimalistic music speaks volumes, fresh waters drawn from stagnant well.
Swell of synthetic church organ, fluidity of lyrical violin and deep sigh of throbbing bass, pour balm on choir girl clarity of vocal, sanctify its serrated, hesitant, broken hymn; fluttering drums echoing its slightly stammering catch in throat; sensitive touch of warm male doubling ,heaving hushed harmonies, buoy its flight.
With musical simplicity born of modern folk, imbued with Adele like empathy and timbre, this sounds like a classic, spun round skein of silken melody, few well chosen, captivating notes disingenuously expressing emotion of the song; instrumentation glimmering, glowing, bell like plucked and bowed strings, pan pipe synths, glockenspiel, engagingly inventive but not invasive, supportively embracing, enhancing without overwhelming, the gentle ebb and flow of this beguiling slip of a song.
Reviews by Chumki Banerjee