September 2019 | Monthly Spins

How does this list happen? Great question! In order to come up with this list, I listen to at least the first three songs of 75 or 80 albums. Then, I filter by taste and all that. Now you know — this list happens because I’m just too damned picky, and jaded, and yes, fed up with the general societal onslaught.

These Monthly Spins lists, of course, turn out better than I usually expect, and this month, several records appeared that really deserve repeated listening. I love it when that happens.



Follakzoid: I

Filed Under: former psyche wonders find a Kosmische groove

It sure sounds as if they have autobahns in Chile given the raw material the duo of Domingae Garcia-Huidobro and Diego Larca has come up with. Their earlier three albums find them in a heavy psyche mode and pretty much staying within the often banal trappings of the genre. While their kraut bonafides are secure, the pair also want the influence of their own Aztec heritage to overlap. Previous Follakzoid albums were recorded live and in one take. Why this album out of all their releases becomes extraordinary is that they gave the initial recordings to German electronic artist Atom, who did not hear any of the previous three months of recordings and plays an electronic Korg once owned by Kraftwerk. Guitars, bass and drums, synthesizers, vocal were all recorded in isolation. This diminished role of authorship and the organic turns this record into something unique—a sinister and transcendent ride through the Andes.

Ypsilon: Uwe Zahn, Prosa Hatami, Darren McClure

Filed Under: expansive, electronic frontiers 

Lot’s of interstellar travel this month as here we find the collaboration (their 2nd) between Porya Hatami (Iran), Darren McClure (Japan) and Use Zahn (Germany). This second release builds on the groundwork of 2016’s “Veerian.”  They alternate between detailed attention to sound design, rhythmic overlays that cascade out of space, and the minimal and rhythmless and purely ambient cuts. Dark and sinister at times, Ypsilion is one of those records that should be heard and listened to deeply because it contains a lot of good ideas and pays homage to the 4th World. I find it wonderful music to write to and I imagine that driving and listening would add in all sorts of subharmonics.

Kandodo: K3

Filed Under: slo-mo space rock type situation

Do try headphones for this one as it deserves a full brain wrap around. It would be three full albums in disc form, which is a lot of room for these psyche-astronauts to play with your head.

As on previous Kandodo releases, there is a sense that the autobahn crosses into boundaries of space and speeds the listener into light speed transitions.

Bon Iver: i,i 

Filed Under: not folk, but a soul record

Bon Iver has lived a charmed and decorous life since For Emma, Forever Ago was released. I remember someone at a Brooklyn coffee shop trying to describe it by putting on the folk label, but I wasn’t buying it. That record broke a lot of new ground and opened up our aural senses to the gentle soul of Justin Vernon’s voice. He did a lot of touring, collaborations, outright experiments and has been a side-man and producer of many, many albums since that early aughts release. If anything, Bon Iver is inhabiting the realm created by Stevie Wonder’s early and mid 70’s work, as on the glorious Innervisions and the double album masterpiece that was Songs In The Key of Life. He gives up on the abstraction and tones down the grandeur, but this makes a lot of sense as a true return to the expansive of For Emma, Forever Ago. After so much collaboration Vernon gets the love returned by James Blake, Moses Sumney and Wye Oak’s, Jenn Waaner, as well as many others. Oddly, but maybe not, is the inclusion of Young Thug’s Wheezy, who has composing and production credits.

Jay Som: Anak Ko

Filed Under: ??

A new Jay Som is a moment of celebration and joy. She is consistently inventive and carves out her own territory within that realm that is called indie-pop, or rock. After my first listen I played it again. I listened to it at work because it took me away from the drudgery and dull routine and made the time pass faster. Melina Duterte has not given up her DIY aesthetics, continuing to record from home, as well as a retreat to Joshua Tree. Although she is the sole songwriter, producer, engineer, and mixer, she has brought along a lot of friends this time around who do everything from pedal steel, strings, guitars, drums and vocal harmonies. The one thing that has always remained consistent with her work as Jay Som, is Duterte’s humility and sincerity.

J. Derwort: Bamboo Music

Filed Under: a fourth world incantation

Here you are floating on water, letting the current have it’s way. Jungle sliding by and a blanket of stars from horizon to horizon. At night the jungle is alive with chirping insects, wind instruments and occasional roaring, and screeching sounds. The sounds of children playing sing-song games. J. Derwort passed shortly after this recording was released on the Astral Industries label. All of his records were mixed by Hanyo van Oosterom. He recorded under Chi and Bamboo alias. Music like this is getting rarer and rarer these days, as less people are connected to what has been defined as nature, but it really is a vast interconnected, self-supporting system, just like this beautiful album.

Siavash Amini: Serus

Filed Under: Iranian (ANB)

Produced and recorded as a document of Amini’s slide into sleeplessness and despair. He spent so many nights awake that he eventually had a nervous breakdown and landed in the ICU for a few days. He says of the experience:” I came across the idea of ‘other night’ described by Maurice Blanchot, during my research. It started me recognizing night as something we experience as ‘the night of sleep’; it is night that we resist in sleep, by way of dreaming. Slipping in and out of consciousness, my mind had already experienced a blurring of night and day. I felt myself far away from all my surroundings. It was an in-between state. A feeling to describe this sensation, the word for which I only came across later, is Serus.

Shannon Lay: August

Filed Under: singer-songwriter, folk-psych

I passed on reviewing her last album. It didn’t feel complete and or coherent in the way that August is an entirely different trip: confident, witty, lyrically complex and comfortable in its own skin. One of her best friends Ty Segall invited her into his hoe studio. She says of these sessions: “I believe whoever you record with tends to affect the mood of the music and Ty really brought this jovial sense that I hadn’t really explored yet,” she says. ”Once you get rolling with him, he just throws these ideas at the wall. And you’re like, ‘I never would have thought of that!’ I could have hoped for a better guide and energy to help create this record.” 

Simon McCorry: Border Land

Filed Under: electronic, 4th World

Stroud, Gloucestershire cellist and composer Simon McCorry is out with a new record called Border Lands, in which he continues to explore musical soundscapes, effects, field recordings.

McCorry says of his latest: “It occurred to me how nudging a melody microtonally and rhythmically in different directions, changing the emphasis and intention, would make the music transcend national and cultural boundaries. The story of human migration is carried in the DNA of all music. Melodies and tonalities traverse large distances and evolve through time. There is one idea that the Earth exists in a “Goldilocks Zone’; not too hot and not too cold. So this is an album of the elements. An attempt to make friends and understand an ailing and dying planet.”

Lana Del Ray: Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Filed Under: facile pastiche

When I opened Pitchfork tonight and saw they had given Lana Del Ray’s new album a 9.4 rating, I knew it was as much a provocation and anti-rationalist comment that would bounce around the digital zone racking up hits. A post-ironic, ironic statement. Of course, Pitchfork’s relevancy peaked sometime in 2003 and now we have Bandcamp to escape too. There are a few good songs on the double album and one brilliant one.  Mariners Apartment Complex is hard to ignore until you realize that it could have been penned in 1971 by Bernie Taupin. She’s still got the flag-waving, just folks, ah shucks, I’m your babe melodies. There is no rapture here, no inner mounting flame. It’s all as it’s always been with this “artist”. She deals in schmaltz and hooks so easy to fathom because you’ve heard all these tricks a thousand times before. There are clunky electronic affectations that try and seem somehow pertinent to the song. Honestly, this is what someone sounds like who is trying desperately to sound like a genius. Father John Misty anyone? I can see this tripe making it to many “critics” Best of the Year lists. Just go ahead and dust off your Madman Across the Water and Honky Chateau and enjoy the melting glaciers already. My weakness may be getting stronger but I’m not falling for this fake pop star thing.

1 Comment

  1. Tell us how you really feel about LDR, Joe! I don’t really follow her and only really heard about her from a recommendation on a certain “audio streaming” website (not from your previous monthly spins, but ML and SM). I thought her music was “okay” – not profound nor repulsive. I got the impression that she was independent of the “pop machine” (again, I don’t follow her or know anything about her apart from her tunes). I then received word that she teamed up with a couple other pop “icons” that I do find rather repulsive (image and music) for an upcoming, typically horrendous reboot of a song for a typically horrendous Hollywood reboot of a movie and she has been (re)booted from any and all personal playlists…

    Anyway, great work this (and previous) months! Yours is my favorite PTA “column” and please keep them coming!

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