March 2018 in 21 tracks

A post-Easter bank holiday comedown is easier to digest when you wash it down with industrial minimalism and techno, cosmic psychedelia, black metal gospel, fist-up hip-hop and a hymn to good ol’ planet Earth from one of the great music outliers. Among these other treats…

1. The Modern Institute – IV Cheeks (Another Exhibition at the Modern Institute EP)

The second EP from Glasgow collective The Modern Institute is another jittery collection of industrial minimalism, with The Normal’s Warm Leatherette as a jumping off point. IV Cheeks is a self-referential sneer at their wanky art-speak circles, as frontman Stephen Wright shrugs lines like, “I stole a tooth from work today”, and “Would you like some signed charcoal?” More on Another Exhibition here.

2. Chris Carter – Modularity (Chemistry Lessons Vol 1)

It’s 17 years since the last solo album from former Throbbing Gristler Chris Carter and you can breathe easy if you’ve been waiting that long. Carter himself gave a hint that the 25 short electronic pieces on the album are a nod to “60s Radiophonic”, but Modularity adds some 80s Terminator sci-fi tension.

3. Sordid Sound System – Die Ewige Nacht

Translated from the German as ‘The Eternal Night’, this eight-minute mid-tempo belter opens up Glasgow producer Stuart Evans’s new EP in a wave of psychedelic pulses and kosmische grooves.

4. Cavern of AntiMatter – Malfunction (Hormone Lemonade LP)

The third LP from Former Stereolab members Tim Gane and Joe Dilworth – along with producer and percussionist Holger Zapf – is a pulsating, psychedelic krautrock thrill-ride, and the 10-minute opener Malfunction is one of the most joyous tracks of the year, with hints of Tangerine Dream and more playful cosmic space disco.

5. Suuns – Baseline (Felt LP)

Ghostbox synth hauntology meets a skipping drumbeat straight out of the Jaki Liebezeit playbook. This track on fourth LP from the Montreal art-rockers feels effortlessly cool, as if it’s just writing itself on the spot.

6. XOR Gate – Conic Sections

After Dopplereffekt’s Cellular Automata album last year, Drexciyan Gerald Donald returns for more high-concept sci-fi electro abstractions – a beatless 30-minute suite of eight movements originally commissioned by ArtCenter Florida in 2016. More on Conic Sections here.

7. Mark Pritchard feat. The Space Lady – SOS (The Four Worlds LP)

Electronic outsider artist The Space Lady joins electronic producer Mark Pritchard in a hymn to “oh precious Earth, oh wondrous sphere”. It’s an apology for destroying “our tiny vessel”, while also a cry for help to “friends on other planets” to come save us from ourselves. In any other hands it would be some hokey hippie shit, but the 70-year-old Space Lady pulls at the heartstrings from all dimensions, and I just got something in my eye.

8. Alva Noto – Uni Blue (Uniequav LP)

German electronic producer Carston Nicolai follows last month’s ambient Ryuichi Sakamoto collaboration Glass with a project submerged in a lot more futurist dread. Uni Blue is all clean lines and nano-scale sound design, with the crispest percussive blips you’ll hear this side of Kraftwerk.

9. Will Long – Nothing’s Changed (Long Trax 2 LP)

This melancholy deep house track is based on a Barack Obama speech about human rights and how “nothing’s changed” really. It’s a hypnotic groove with classic minor key pads and handclaps that just eases into itself over 11 minutes. And whatever you think of Obama, Trump’s speeches could only ever be made into meme videos or clown music comedy skits.

10. The Mover – Stealth (Undetected Act From the Gloom Chamber)

You might know The Mover in his Mescalinum United gabba guise, and AFX’s piledriving remix of the 1990 track We Have Arrived. His new album is full of similar industrial strength sheet metal mechanised gabba and electro, but Stealth is strangely uplifting, with its sci-fi theme synths evoking an Underground Resistance fist-up mantra.

11. Czarface & MF Doom – Meddle With Metal (Czarface Meets Metalface LP)

Czarface was already a hip-hop supergroup of sorts, featuring Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck and the duo 7L & Esoteric – but they’ve added MF Doom for a further chrome-plated shine. Meddle With Metal is a theme-style track for the project, whomping along on a timpani beat as a call to arms, with Inspectah Deck “movin’ bodies like a human trafficker”. Doom is brilliant here too, after a series of lacklustre features in the past year or so.

12. Tyler, the Creator – OKRA

Tyler sneaked this new track out a few days ago on YouTube with the caveat: “A throwaway song”. OKRA is anything but – it feels like a thrilling return to some nasty-ass Odd Future minimalism after the relative introspection and prettiness of his 2017 album Flower Boy. Just overdriven bass, snappy snares and an occasional piano motif, it has Tyler machine gunning with surreal boasts and callouts over 2 minutes 30.

13. David Byrne – Bullet (American Utopia LP)

Former Talking Head David Byrne has found some leftfield subjects for telling stories over the last 40-odd years, but he’s surpassed himself here, with a song that traces the path of a bullet through a man’s body. Another devastating piece of surrealism from one of the greatest.

14. Sully – Soundboy Don’t Push Your Luck

This latest release on Irish label Rua Sound’s offshoot label Foxy Jangle is an anarchic junglist cut that shouldn’t work but it’s fuelled by sheer brazen not-giving-a-fuckery. Air raid sirens, lovers rock choruses, 8-bit spaceship blasts, manic ragga toasting, Uzi snare rolls and wild tempo changes are only the half of it. DJ Mag said they nearly reviewed the track with a load of fire emojis.

15. Young Fathers – Wow (Cocoa Sugar LP)

The stand-out track on Young Fathers’ third album is the best few minutes they’ve ever recorded – a lo-fi motorik punk track with Green Velvet-style surrealism in the “what a time to be alive” monologue and the off-the-wall howls underneath.

16. Girls Names – 25

Imagine the Twin Peaks diner through a monochrome post-punk prism, rather than the 50s jukebox jazz and doo-wop, and you’re halfway there with this new Girls Names tracks. It’s the lead single off their upcoming album Stains On Silence.

17. Preoccupations – Disarray (New Material LP)

The band name Viet Cong was never going to last these days, but the repackaged version thankfully hasn’t lost any of its post-punk bite as Preoccupations. Disarray is one of the Canadians’ most serene tracks, with a floaty, melancholy high-fret riff and everything wrapped in reverb.

18. Zeal & Ardor – Gravedigger’s Chant

The new track from Manuel Gagneux’s black metal/gospel/blues occultist project is the lead single off the upcoming album Stranger Fruit – the follow-up to the stunning 2017 debut LP Devil Is Fine. Gravedigger’s chant doesn’t have much metal, instead going for horror discord and a blues dirge with an ominous gospel backbone.

19. Lana Del Rabies – Disgrace (Shadow World LP)

This rattling industrial oil drum dirge is the nerviest track on Lana Del Rabies’ second LP Shadowland – an album with no shortage of arm-scratching tension. She ricochets between ghost in the machine incantations and squealing “(dis)grace” with as much feral abandon as Pharmakon.

20. Ilsa – Nasty, Brutish (Corpse Fortress LP)

Nice of Maryland sludge metallers to give us a two-word bio of their whole shtick in Nasty, Brutish. This track off their fifth album is battered along by an insistent down-beat riff and a scything solo.

21. Among the Rocks and Roots – Raga (Raga LP)

Virginia duo Among the Rocks and Roots deal out a sort of noise/metal/tribal hybrid that feels more like exorcism than mere performance. There’s a hint of Swans in the one-word repetitions and howls on Raga, but halfway through that gives way to a stoner rock groove of sorts. Still heavy as fuck though.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify below…