Cate Le Bon 2019.jpg“Daylight Matters” is the first song shared ahead of the release of “Reward”, the 4th album from California-based Welsh musician Cate Le Bon, on 24 May 2019. As always with each of Le Bon’s albums, this first taste of “Reward” suggests something a little different and yet also unmistakably her good self.

Once again there’s an Eno-esque quality to the sounds on “Daylight Matters” with its gorgeous descending chords and warm blanket of treated saxophone, with twisting guitar over a gentle bed of piano chords. It’s always the unexpected touches, like the parts the instruments are playing and the melodic diversions along the way, which help provide Le Bon’s songs with their distinctive appeal. That and her unmistakable voice.

I remember this song – the words in particular – from Le Bon’s recent piano-based show in Dunedin on her recent NZ tour.  Words are important, as Le Bon explains, talking about the album name: “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.”

“Reward” is available to pre-order now on all the usual formats. The pre-order from Bandcamp comes with a download of “Daylight Matters” now and the rest of the album on its release day. I’m hoping this will turn up in NZ record stores, but a digital pre-order is irresistible in the meantime.

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Maria SomervilleToday’s immersive sound experience comes courtesy of a Bandcamp Daily feature about Irish musician Maria Somerville and her remarkable debut album “All My People”. It’s hard to pick out one track to introduce Somerville’s sound-world, but here’s “All Too Much”

If this is dream-pop it comes from the deepest dream-state sleep. “All Too Much” sounds like some early ambient work of Eno has been beamed into a cathedral via a shortwave radio drifting on and off station while Somerville sings quietly in the middle of the hall. There are things you imagine you can hear in the mix that may not actually there; audio illusions, like watermarks, or ghostly stains seeping through from a parallel world, smudged hallucinations, warped through time and space.

It’s a magical piece of work and everything on “All My People” possesses a subtle kind of sonic magic. I was reminded at different times of the spirit of Cocteau Twins, Grouper, El Perro Del Mar, and HTRK (sometimes all in the same song). The infinite reverb layers and strange noises washing around in the mix often providing disorienting anomalies, like the kind of things you may imagine half-remembering hearing while drifting off to sleep watching an unsettling a dream-sequence from a David Lynch film. Wonderful.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete are a duo from Guadalajara, Mexico and “Líneas En Hojas” is a track from their recently released (third?) album “De Facto”:

The track combines melodic dream-pop with tense experimental post-punk tinged psychedelia. That minimal drum, bass, voice, guitar, synth repetition, building up into layered constructions and the contrast between light and dark/ dream and nightmare/ soft and harsh is a feature of many of the songs on this intriguing album.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete are Lorena Quintanilla (Lorelle) and Alberto González (The Obsolete) with “De Facto” featuring a handful of additional musicians.

Seafog_2017Lost at sea in an oceanic fog somewhere north of Dunedin city centre is Port Chalmers’ trio Seafog. After an enthralling, spindly debut album of spiderweb guitar-pop called “Raise Your Skinny Fist” (2015), Seafog delivered a more solid treat on their “Dig it On Up” EP (2017). Now they are back with an audacious double album of blistering reverb-washed jangling guitar noise. Here’s the relatively calm and restrained “Voice” to ease your way into Seafog’s universe.

Seafog’s twin guitar din is massive on “Animal Lovers”. The bass-less trio – Robin Sharma (vocals & guitar), Nigel Waters (guitar) and Marty Sadler (drums) – gets a sonic turbo-charge from another sparkling, resonating echo-chamber production from recording alchemist Forbes Williams (who also recorded recent Dunedin albums by Francisca Griffith and Negative Nancies). The band sound like they are emitting sonic sparks here – a Roman Candle of noise.

There’s a lot to digest on “Animal Lovers” – 16 dense and meaty songs, including a booming revisiting of “Purakaunui” from guitarist/ vocalist Robin Sharma’s previous late 1990s/ early 2000’s band Jetty.

Sharma’s idiosyncratic vocal delivery – including his distinctive stream-of-semi-concious-delerium-fuelled excursions – give the songs personality, even if it sometimes sounds like he’s possessed by forces beyond his control.

“Animal Lovers” is a perfect combination of raw and distressed Sonic Youth-styled wall-of-guitar noise frenzy (showcased on the relentless thundering 12-minute drone-jam “Feelings”) often set to pulsing motorik drumming, and the loose jangling lo-fi charm of bands like The Verlaines and The Clean in their earliest forms (as the more restrained and crisp “Voice” here demonstrates).

“Animal Lovers” is available on vinyl. It’s available now in Relics record store in Dunedin, or from the band. It may be in other NZ shops sometimes. The LP release is on Vienna-based NZ-focused label Zelle Records so if you are in the Northern Hemisphere head there to buy a copy of the LP. It is an essential acquisition.

 

EWAH“Cannibals” is a menacing, dark and heavy new single from Hobart, Tasmania-based  band EWAH & The Vision of Paradise. It’s a glorious development of the epic, cinematic sound of their 2017 debut album “Everything Fades to Blue”.

“Cannibals” seems to be about humankind’s self-destructive inclinations.  The walking pace song is built on a Stranglers-styled bass line, but it’s the monumental growling, sizzling guitar and organ stabs that provide the menacing atmosphere for Emma Waters’ vocals to cast their spell over.  The ending of the song is particularly majestic, Waters’ incantation over a wall of noise channeling the same kind of dark intensity of PopLib’s favourite Leeds’ trio Drahla.

David YettonFormerly bassist and one of three songwriters in NZ 1980s/90s band The Jean Paul Sartre Experience (subsequently known as JPS Experience, JPSE), David Yetton has cleaned out his computer hard drive with a wry-titled cassette album called “Move to Trash (Bits, Pieces, Offcuts & Stuff)” released on Hamburg-based cassette label Thokei Tapes. Here’s “Heads in the Clouds” from it.

Yetton went on to form Stereobus/ The Stereo Bus after JPSE split. The songs on “Move to Trash” sound to be Stereobus/ The Stereo Bus era demos, out-takes, and ideas.

However some of them also rekindle the sense of hushed melodic wonder of that very first EP by the Jean Paul Sartre Experience released on Flying Nun Records back in the mid 1980s. As “Teardrops” here does beautifully…

Thokei Tapes have released some intriguing oddities from the archives of other NZ artists associated with the Flying Nun label. They are not available for download, however you do get a free download if you buy a cassette. Postage seems to be reasonable so why not…?

Yetton

grand veymontNot long after the release of Grand Veymont’s second album they are back (in time) with the LP (re)release of their self-titled debut album. Here’s “Les Rapides Bleus” – a song about travel and escape.

Grand Veymont is Béatrice Morel Journel and Josselin Varengo. They described their music as “long improvisations with only constraints the number of hands available and an installation of organs and synthesizers…[which] superimpose exotic-medieval melodies on a bed of Krautrock, Waltz or Tango rhythms” when releasing their second album, “Route du Vertige”, earlier this year.

This first Grand Veymont album is a slightly stripped back variation on the morphing long-form constructions of that excellent second album. “Les Rapides Bleus” here is the shortest and most “pop” of the 4 tunes here, and a perfect introduction to the French duo.

The album is a blend of minimalist motorik keyboard based music (synth arpeggios and dueling organs, vocals and occasional drums), sometimes reminiscent of Stereolab, as much due to Journel’s vocal delivery – sung in French (obviously, given their geographic location).

But Grand Veymont have their own character, with longer songs like the 13 minute opener “Je cours apres avant” morphing into classical styled twin-keyboard improvisations which take on an oddly psychedelic character – a theme taken even much further on their 2nd album.

The glorious layered 9-minute track “L’odyssée du petit parleur” is as quietly wonderful as anything on “Route du Vertige” and the closing track “Upie” a playful experimental adventure in grainy dub-electronica and looped, layered voices. These four very different tunes add up to an intriguing debut, now on LP on Outre Disque.

Their 2nd album “Route du Vertige” is available on LP on French underground pop label Objet Disque.