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There seems to be a whiff of introspection and wistfulness in the autumn musical air. As season slips reluctantly and uncertainly into winter, whisper of woefulness, shiver of spiritual soulfulness, permeates the songs which came my way, mists though which sliver of sunlit hope glints. It feels like the heavens are realigning, ready for spring to blossom a new musical dawn, stars ready to be born.

Here are the vanilla scented songs which seduced me with their seductively sensuous aromas, hidden depths extracted from an ‘ordinary’ spice:


Ghost Maps - Vanilla

Hauntingly hypnotic tender torment of a song, softly sobbing, sedated, deadened by pain buried deep, too distressing to contemplate, conveying loneliness of anonymity, androgynous automat of modern life where arbitrary ‘beauty’ secures object of desire, while more ordinary mortals are just as randomly rejected, condemned to flail, to relentlessly seek.

Vocal heaving with heartbreak, caressed by deepest bass, plunging soul’s depths, guitar niggling melancholic motif of regurgitated regret, drums trickle of unshed tears, gritty strings tarnished stars of dark night. Philosophically erudite, quoting the observer effect “....can’t observe anything without changing it...” lyrically candid, “...  I don’t want to talk about it though it’s always there... how can something so right go so wrong...” melodically mesmerising; softly spoken dark pop/folk inspired Indie; woeful, wistful, quiet yet captivating voice in clamorous world.

Linguistically, vanilla may be an euphemism for ordinary, but the real thing has a hedonistic, subtle sensuality, irresistible aroma which lingers long in memory. This is the real thing.

Sean Taylor - London

Reminiscent of my favourite Liverpool guitar and vocal duo, TJ and Murphy, Sean Taylor lilts tales of life lived on London city streets, with similarly elegiac expressiveness

Sparkling glimmer of succinctly dextrous, picked acoustic guitar, prickled by provocative pluck, shivering tickle, skein of silk spinning gossamer melody, scintillating tantalisation whirring round bobbin of central theme; luminous landscape for, wide eyed, dusky, huskily smoked vocal to wander, wondering with poignant lyricism at skyline laced with diamonds’, plundering the night, ‘...devour her love... wild...starry eyed...dynamo of the night...’ poetically potent, melodic entrancement.

Elika - Moving Faster / Bury

Lachrymosely languid vocal, expressively fragile, flowing with exquisite emotion,   buffeted by ebb and flow of tumultuously troubled, churning piano, persistently pondering melodically potent motif, riding river of turbulent bass, gravelly drums, hissing, seething, surreal effects, scintillating lights through swirling mists.

Bury’ almost hymnal, hypnotic voices layered into heaving harmonies of heavenly choir, lead vocal ambrosial undulation, angel clear, throb of bass, soothing salve, guitar liquid lyre, wafted by vaporous clouds of echo, scratchy percussive effects, flash of hell’s fire, fissure of dissent, Elysium tainted.

Trance like folk with niggling edge, scratching surface of beauty, torn by touching torment of inner distress.

The Daydream Club - Soundwaves Of Gold

Lilting on ebb and flow of tenderly plucked guitar, delicate as shower of petals, clear as crystal vocal, caressed by dusky male doubling, dragonfly hovering, shimmering in mirage of gossamer effects, sunshine rise in prickling twinkle of steely guitar, dusty drums kicking dirt, friable earth raising haze of motes, blossoming heaving harmony in chorus of layered voices, dandelion fluff floating weightless on warm air.

Ethereal, modern day fairytale folk, hypnotic, beguiling, searching for elusive Elysium, mythical place we all seek, where “...acoustics enthral...where...frequencies soar...” where sound is set free to ring with clarity of golden bell, the perfect venue.

Coupled with effervescently enticing remix; picking at bones of rhythm and melody in mesmerising round, gloriously gravelly, gunked, gunged, deliriously distorted, illustrating how interference can also reveal inner beauty. With translucent purity of perfectly reproduced sound waves, slip of a song whose essence echoes long after final note is played.

Novella - Follow

Mesmerizing raga of jangling, gritty, grungy guitars, percussion puff of hubba bubba hookah smoke, swaying in hypnotic haze of hallucinatory Sixties psychedelia, sweeping into spaced out guitar soliloquy, racing drums hailing sunrise with up-stretched arms, shivered by frisson of cool as Nico languidly sensual vocals, in supplication, serenading its dawn; imbued with exotically intoxicating essence of the Sixties, addictive narcotic of a song

Lyon Apprentice - I Will Find You

Trancey folk, tight ball of tensile emotion, defying gravity, frictionless, floating; prickle of picked guitar, tiptoeing through surreal night, bathed in Northern Lights, unearthly, ethereal, ardently fervent vocal buoyant, gently buffeted by clouds of vaporous effects, heaving into hot blooded heat of undeniable desire on tumble of piano, rumble of drums, trumpet seduction  and back of neck, hairs on end, electrifying effects “...I would have found you in the end...”  ; anthem to tumultuous passion.

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Ghost Narrative

Enthralling impassioned country folk classic, eternally emotive melodic phrases woven into magic carpet ride, luminously lucent landscape below, eagle gliding, riding thermals on wings of limitless, nerve tingling vocal, swooping, soaring, twisting turning, buffeted by warm winds off tenderly supportive, sentient instrumentation, deep, dusky bass and drums, dry earth gusts of dust, mouth organ motes of flickering light from distant hills, through hazy skies, fiddle flicker of night fire; wreathed in heaving mists of spirit choir; effortlessly captures ethereal light of another place, voices calling from another time, 

Suzuki Method - Sherbet

Synth shimmering, fizzing with space dust effervescence, bass liquid caramel, vocal bitter sweet chocolate, drums crackle and snap, popping candy, wrapped in glistening guitar; sweetie of a track, emotive, melodic Indie which endears, ardent, doe eyed delivery cut with streetwise astringency, fresh face stained with trickle of life’s tears, “...stars came crashing were nowhere to be found...” tarnishing glow of hope but, not extinguishing eternal optimism of youth.

Catchy but not brashly anthemic, a beguiling song which quietly captures hearts

Six Years - Imagination

Deliciously debased bass, tethered to beat of bouncing drum machine, disparate vocals, Nick Cave baritone sleaze brushing lips and skin with ice queen taunting tease, electrified by nerve tingling guitar, slave to dark rhythm of licentious soul, swirling in sea of temptatious lust, provocative electronic enticement, surrendering to forbidden fruit of imagination; entrapment of a track, hot blood mixed with icy cool, an irresistible seduction.

Lydia Baylis - Life Without You

Melancholically melodic, catchy pop classic; innocent snow queen morosely melted by misery, sweetly lovelorn, sanguinely sorrowful, vocal lilting resignedly to regulation of drum machine beat, heart heaving to throb of sobbing bass ,  missing a beat to bouncing eighties synth, weeping to symphony of strings,  trancey Vaseline effects, tracing tracks of tears, cut with real life grit of gravelly distortion, spicing up saccharine to salted caramel delight; sings in the head despite best intentions

George Ezra - Did You Hear The Rain?

Percussion pounding of horses hooves, gravelly guitar grit of dessert sand in eyes, bass, distant heat haze. Evoking Mexican spaghetti western, Ezra entices, seduces with beguiling bourbon and honey, tobacco tarred vocal; mellifluously mellow as wafting wood smoke, luxuriantly laconic while whooping and hollering,  exuding vivacious love of life warmth, fleeing fleet foot from rain, whirling lasso; a song to make your heart sing, glad to be alive.

The Penny Black Remedy - Up To My Neck In A Hex

Wonderfully whimsical, witty flibbertigibbet song, which sunnily saunters along; laconically sartorial baritone, quizzically voluble, beset by life’s misdemeanours, glimmer of glittering guitar mischievous sprite, footsteps tangled by tease of gambolling bass and flutter of drums, chorus of puckish guardian angels, courting disaster, sowing seeds of doubt, calamity strewing wake of reformed cynic, superstition tripping his every sceptical step: “...would laugh in the face of superstition ... not so confident now... every action does result in nothing less than catastrophe...”

Together with tickle of touchingly beguiling slapstick video ‘sketch’, lightly skipping clumsy path my daily life usually takes, this one made me smile, in the knowledge I am not alone.... and who could resist that tantalising title?

Akinne - Frid

Macy Grey Bjork, melodiously quirky, raspingly dulcet electronica, lispingly accented, whimsical feather of female vocal, layered to heaving heavenly choir, partnered by disparately divergent, luxuriantly deep male Buddha vocal, tickled by tantalising tingle of electronica, embraced by thread of warm bass, analogue synth and endearing extenuated echo, charmingly led astray by grainy distortion; soul hearted R&B Alice in electronic Wonderland.

Shy Girls - Still Not Falling

Charismatically self effacing, classy old fashioned cocktail of fervently soulful R&B and quirkily pertinent modern jazz; merest throb of piano, trickling tickle and tick of percussion, woven with wantonly wistful guitar, washed by gauzy gospel backing, shivered by shimmer of synth and effects; gossamer veil barely covering blushes of Dan Vidmar’s duskily demure vocal, “...I’m not a player...” sultry to soaring, so expressively tender it would melt most cynical heart; a voice to woe away any hint of  resistant reluctance with its heartfelt caress.

Courteeners - Are You In Love With A Notion?

Expressively anthemic epiphany of  symphonically emotive Indie rock, energetically impassioned, self aware querulous vocal , darkly dramatic tenor, philosophising people’s prophet, male Valkyrie riding thrusting driving drums, pounding bass his rearing mount,  ravishing city streets, dissecting our times, synth thrown as lightning bolt, prickling effects, pricking conscience,  electrifying niggling doubt., unravelling contentment with well meaning contempt, turning ordinary lives inside out, questioning notions which hold us together yet hold us down. The Courteeners rouse rebellious rabble, with their rallying call, to well overdue musical revolution; riotous revelation of exhilarating sound.

Bleeding Heart Pigeons - Visiting Myself In Hospital

Classical motifs, intimations of gently emergent spring, space age to flute like, hijacked by quirky electronica, sedated mind pummelled by cudgel of distant cannon boom bass and off beat gunshot clap of drum machine, swamped by rush of turbulent thought, maelstrom of  churning, scratchy guitar, washed in gritty electronic grime, giving way to rhythmic, prickling,  niggling torrent of troubled rap, two voices insistently obsessing as one, breaking schizophrenically free to soar on Ultravox winds of squalling synth, scratching back into techno rap, swept up on wings of progressive guitar, tornado swirl to drum and bass beat, Ultravox morphing to Radiohead frustrated angst, unplugging itself, self destructing.

Like rapidly scanning radio frequencies, mosaic of myriad musical styles, torrid, restless mind refracted through shattered mirror; it takes skill to stitch such snippets seamlessly together into one totally enthralling whole; Bleeding Heart Pigeons achieve this with enviable ease.

Carnivals - In Her Eyes

Other worldly electronica, call of sirens echoing through deepest space, organic life unfurling in lushly verdant distant tropics, Pterosaurs gliding overhead, exotic creatures squawking, calling, clear crystal droplets cascading through verdure, fireflies twinkling, dragonflies flitting in rainbow haze of tinkling streams, source of watery life, luxuriant bass its burgeoning soul. Carnivals conjure brave new worlds from depths of enticing eyes.

Sankofa - Guttermouth

Ancient spirits awake, mysterious Mysterons materialised from ether, roused by creak of tremulous sound, slipping between semitones, sliding up and down querulous scale, emulating bowed Jingu, evoking antediluvian times, bass low hum of mystic chant, flicker of glistening guitar, tinkle of cymbal, rising sun of life burgeoning to Rush lush fecundity of vibrant clamorous progressive guitar, wailing, quietly weeping, riding river of heaving bass and tumultuous drums, wound with slithering snake of vocal, wreathed in wafting Amazonian jungle psychedelic mists. Perfectly formed and performed, entrancingly enigmatic piece of psychedelic, philosophical, progressive rock.


Truly Ford - SuperNova EP

Chrissie Hynde Kate Bush; ardently fervent, syrupy, cigarette smoked alto, sweeping, soaring, conjuring dramatically intense, gloriously melodic, stormy landscapes:

‘Live It Up’  piquantly potent vocal in rhythmic assault with punchy piano, bathed in breathtaking boom of bass, thrilling electronica, swirling vortex, whoosh of rollercoaster ride, synths twinkle of twisted fairground lights, caught up in torrid tornado of guitar; electrifying onslaught on senses.

‘Heavy’  just as intense, bass plunging heartbreak depths, blistering drums, breaking it,  vocal intertwined in lyrical exchange with ‘cello, tangled with thorny strings, poignantly languid while fervently distressed; dark, sensually swaying, scorching melodic rock.

‘Battles Cry’ and ‘Black Dog’ luminously cinematic, weep with strings, glitter with acoustic guitar, wrenched by afflicted effects, melancholic vocal steeped in anguish, tremulous, tenderly touching.

‘Tigers Eyes’ touches country folk roots, with twanging steel and stomp of husky, dusky percussion, vocal tear drop sultry.

Gold’ shimmers with gold dust strings and effects, liquid gold vocal, molten gold bass, heart heaving drums; intensely moving, beautiful ballad, bleeding, bleak, delving to desperate desolation in repeated mantra,  “... let him go...let him go....”

An entirely enticing, gripping EP, drenched in tearful torment; impossible to stop listening.

Sincere Deceivers - Once More Unto EP

A movingly gentle reflection on life; disingenuously ardent voice and symbiotically sympathetic, guileless guitar, nakedly alone with emotion, examining the human condition. Intimating inner frailty with such candour is courageous enough when expressed solo, but shared as part of duo there must be a great degree of trust and mutual telepathy, a sharing of souls. Sincere Deceivers, enjoy that extraordinary synergy, two melded into one emotive whole.

All four songs, ‘Arches’, ‘Miss The Day’, ‘Heart and Minds’ and ‘Hidden In The Mist’  beguile with illuminating musicality and sincerity; observations of small but hugely significant moments of ordinary life ,tenderly told.

Agile vocals, swooping high to dusky low and dextrously accomplished, glittering guitar, equally expressively eloquent, intertwined in lyrical introspection, steeped in bitter sweet folk, weeping with its world wise tones, “....blind hope has kept me free from fear...”  made entirely their own; here there is no deception, only heart tugging honesty.

Sundays - Of Eros and I EP

Electronic spiritual, soulful susurration in six ethereal mysterious mellow melancholic movements; breathless tranquil vocal veiled in heavenly halo voile of echo and effects;

World We Own’ shimmering heat haze mirage of halcyon electronica, ebbing mists caressing vaporous vocal, throb of tribal drums, smoke signal to spirit world, rousing ancient souls, inducing trance with ancient runes, spoken in modern tongues.

’Forces’ squirms with mystic sensuality, senses inflamed, irrevocably aroused, deliciously ensnared by diaphanous chains; electronica which glimmers and shimmers, merest caress of irresistible seduction, vocal drowned in desire, unable to resist. 

’Delicate’ , ‘Hope It’s Enough’ ,’Behind Her Every Purpose’ and ’’Things You Do’ sink into heaving soulful sigh, jazzily improvisational languid vocal, languishing, luxuriating in offbeat rhythmic reflection, breaking into scat rap, droplets of synth and echoed effects, delicate trace of lace, deep blue  bass brimming tears in sorrowful eyes, hollow thud of drums, heaving heart, synth sparkle in eye.

 Phantasmagorical seduction of an EP, vocal, instrumentation and electronica in sensitive symbiosis, shivering with gentle soul.

Digital Farm Animals - Bugged Out, EP feat. MNEK, Ofei and Tyson

Adore You’, entrancement of intoxicated, unabashedly heart on sleeve, head rush euphoria, in liquid linctus form: vocal puppy dog eyes dilated, begging ‘...let me adore you...; soothingly emollient organ, in paroxysm of exquisite pain and lovelorn distress; drum machine pounding, its heaving chest; wrapped in reams of echoed candy floss effects, fairy lights of feverish fervour flickering through its mists.

'Buggin’ breaks out in eighties rash of disco soul, all throbbing bass, pulsing drum machine and silver foil synth; derailed by deliciously deranged effects, squally waters for seemingly queasy squeal, bordering on squeaky vocal, which finds sea legs, morphing into unexpectedly inventive soul with irreverent intent.

'Bad Idea', contrarily a good one, musically speaking; languid, dusky, husky, soul sister vocal, dripping in dichotomy of desire, aroused by deep vibrating bass, spun round in electronic wonderland of lascivious temptations; unashamedly, alluringly anthemic; swept along on tidal wave of emotion, ‘ to a bad idea...’

Parts of this EP could be construed as slush, were it not for innocently beguiling delivery and ability to captivate, with surprisingly serendipitous soulfulness; sliding into Christmas sentimentality, balm for the soul.

Only Real - Days In The City EP

Four tracks of enticingly enthralling, deliciously distorted delirium of psychedelic, cockney rap.  Off kilter, melting mirage of twisted, tangy, clangy guitar, sultry snog of bass and snappy drums, rifled with rivulets of rattling rap, smooched by sardonically silky, backing vocal caress, spiked by needle of synth, wreathed in fragrant smoke of hallucinatory effects. Melodically mellow yet perkily, pertinently pert, mesmerising confabulation of colliding contradictions.

Wistfully winding, weeping steely guitar and insouciant sashaying vocal of ‘Punks and Potions’ shrugs shoulders, with resigned nonchalance of Van Morrison’s ‘Days Like This’; laid back mood infiltrating following song, ‘Get It On’, this time in Rap meets Velvets meets Rolling Stones style.

‘Lemonade’ , swings and sways with sated sleaze, fizzes with sizzling effects, finger in electric socket of white hot throbbing bass, heavy metal thrust of drums in percussive tease with repetitive stutter of live and sampled rap, 

‘Graduation’, my favourite for grumbling growl of bass, sweet siren guitar, reflectively mesmeric vocal and psychotically heaving psychedelic mist, shadows glimpsed from corner of eye, slip of a song, drifts away leaving only lingering wisp of fragrant  smoke, hanging in the air.

Remarkable to read, these mesmerising songs are conjured by one, from bedroom air.

Bat and Ball - We Prefer it in the Dark EP

Bat and Ball’s brooding, dark fairytale folk, inflected with modern jazz, progressive and drum and bass, evokes atmosphere from ether with poetic musicality, mixing traditional and electronic colour into shadow play of light and shade, to conjure intriguingly inventive soundscapes.

Title song, ‘We Prefer It In The Dark’ features Abi Sinclair’s etiolated, fragile yet tensile vocal, spun out like spider’s silk, thread which binds flickering rhythms beneath,  shredded to rhythmic bytes , in teasing arrhythmia with snap of hand clap drum machine, woven with thread of luminously lyrical bass, guitar glimmers of prickling light, dramatic effects swirl of glowering mist. Flitting like fire fly between musical themes, a song which sways to its own captivatingly melodic beat.

‘Tails’ undulates with similarly beguiling grace, leaning on drum and bass beat, lolloping like wounded leopard “...licking (its) wounds...” Male and female vocal, creeping hand in hand, onomatopoeic instrumentation, jazzily improvisational, allegorical, illustrating tale; with prickling brushstrokes of musical colour.

‘Unrelated’ : liquid ballad, shivering in shimmer of quirkily off kilter rhythms and effects, while ‘GrazeScratchSpot’  twinkles and pops like space dust, washed by echo of distant oceans, evocative male vocal intertwined with entrancing female.

An EP of delicate yet intense whimsy, subtle strokes which light up imagination; almost organic, familiar yet other worldly, like tendrils of fern unfolding, creaking awake in fetid forest depths. 

Death In Texas - Pluck EP

Drawing on classical coloration and modern jazz musical idioms, dramatic shadow play of light and dark, exquisitely descriptive art rock, eloquent piano, lyrical bass and perceptively precise percussion, temperate yet telling, luminous backdrop for intensely expressive vocal, modern day chanson, dark cabaret.

'Oil and The Water’, lilts and sways with mystery and veiled menace, rises and falls like crashing waves, impassioned vocal swooping, soaring, synth glimmering , rainbow hues, piano rushing river ripple, hints of Steely Dan in chord construction.

‘Fear of the Hundred’ takes Eastern enigma, spins , twirls and teases it like tango, rivulet of ravishing riffs in rhythmic interplay, crashing drums, emotive piano and ardent vocal, reminiscent of Kate Bush, squirms, writhes, intertwines like viper’s nest, as “...fantasy rips at the seams...”

‘Sonic Switch Blade’, twisted nightmare nursery tale, thud of drums and dark minor chords, menace in the dark, evil lurking under the bed, talks in Banshee tongue, “...I’ll kill you with this sound...”

Final song, Pluck’ ripples, rolls and tumbles like fast running stream, flashing Bowie eyes.

An enticing EP, melding magnetic musicality with enthralling lyricism, luring imagination with enigmatic eyes.

Reviews by Chumki Banerjee

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