Continuing yesterday’s ball-tingling countdown…
20 Matmos – The Marriage of True Minds
Matmos can come across as annoyingly conceptual and didactic, but often the conceit behind the album is so esoteric and charming that you kind of let them off, before being slightly bored by the album.
Matmos apparently got a bunch of test subjects together and tried to telepathically convey the concept of the album to them, before recording their responses and building the album around the subjects’ fumbled attempts to describe half-imagined sounds and shapes.
It sometimes sounds like The Books, with plucked strings and metallic plonks supporting lots of vocal samples, and it sometimes sounds too slick – like the backing track to an educational documentary about the Future of Cell Biology – but it won me over with its highbrow humour and smart production.
19 Co La – Moody Coup
If Co La’s latest album had matched up to the promise of some of the better moments from Daydream Repeater and the brilliantly glossy dub on Dialtone Earth, it would easily be up there at the top of this list.
Moody Coup retains the dubby roots of Dialtone Earth in its vocal samples and use of reverb/bass, as well as the fluorescent sheen of Daydream Repeater, but it moves on from both works by dropping the rhythmic tethering to Bmore and Dub, and opening up weird syncopations that challenge its dancefloor aspirations.
Get fucked, drink coffee, take drugs, sit in the sun, stroke the bonnets of cars and see faces in spray-painted driveway gravel.
18 The Field – Cupid’s Head
I think The Field loses something in this record by adding something – his previous, From Here We Go Sublime, was almost sublime in its repetitious clarity; gorgeous loops lifted out of the sludge of reality through sheer persistence.
Nevertheless, even thoughCupid’s Head is a little less striking due to its more conventionally full sound, it still achieves moments of hypnotic bliss. It’s pretty much simple 4/4 house beats from start to finish, but there are beautifully subtle rhythmic touches throughout, absurdly simple chord shifts that are so warm they make your face red, and smothering walls of glistening noise that would make your Nan chew her face off.
It’s all submerged, lo-fi vocals, stuttering drum machine loops and no-wave basslines that owe a massive debt to Suicide, but stand-out tracks like I Dream in Neon add an extra facet of sleazy nihilism that feels trippy and warm as well as foreboding and confrontational.
It’s important that you wear leather and eat glass bottles while listening to this album.
16 Blood Music – Blood Music EP
The EP is really percussive, with stabs of distorted guitar backed by both live drums and a punchy drum machine; both of the longer tracks are, consequently, propulsive and menacing, engineering a restrained anger through layers of noise, semi-whispered vocals and a snarling, throbbing backbone.
This EP was released on Powell’s ‘Diagonal’ label and, while their sound possesses a more traditional guitar-based tone, it shares something of the potent marriage of rock’s darkness and techno’s propulsive, electronic rhythm. In that sense, the guitar – although sounding often like it’s coming from a metal band – isn’t used for riffs, but to bolster the backbeat and to build texture.
It’s managing to do something a little different with a potentially tired template, without sounding contrived.
Records 15-11 in the post…