Shitposting black metal to punch Nazis to, acid techno, ramshackle punk, space disco, bedroom pop, mechanised grime R&B, and some ambient drones to make it all better. The soundtrack of July 2018…
1. Khalab – Black Noise (the LP Black Noise 2084)
The backbone of Black Noise 2084 is field recordings from the archives of the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Bruxelles, but Khalab stays well away from any worthiness that suggests. The LP is a stunning, cosmic take on Afrofuturism, with ritualistic jazz, shattered footwork and sharp funk slicing through everything. The title track is a militant mission statement featuring barbed bars from poet Tenesha the Wordsmith.
2. Gaika – Hackers & Jackers (from the LP Basic Volume)
Gaika’s take on mechanised dancehall, grime and R&B is a thrilling concoction, and his debut album proper further explores the outer limits of R&B, making the kind of music The Weeknd thinks he makes. Hackers & Jackers is the toughest cut on Basic Volume, battered into shape with an industrial clatter Trent Reznor would be happy with.
3. Powell – Sneak 2_05 (from the EP New Beta, Vol 2)
This track from Diagonal boss Powell’s latest EP has a lo-fi arpeggiated synth burble somewhere between Throbbing Gristle’s Hot on the Heels of Love and the more polished MIDI lines of The Art of Noise. It’d be even better with some gratuitous monotone Germanic spoken word thrown in.
4. Thousand Foot Whale Claw – Black Hole Party (from the LP Black Hole Party)
Featuring members of S U R V I V E, Troller, Single Lash and Future Museums, Thousand Foot Whale Claw is a sort of synthwave supergroup. Black Hole Party is a slowly unfurling mid-tempo space disco krautrock jam with sci-fi superhero strings that creep up halfway through – the kinda thing I-F might play at 6am at the end of a three-hour set of belters. Bonus point for having the best name out there.
5. Bjorn Torske – Gata (from the LP Byen)
Producer Bjorn Torske is held up as the pioneer of the Norwegian space disco resurgence, so you have him to thank for the likes of Todd Terje, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas. After exploring other leftfield avenues in recent years, he’s back with a no-filler cosmic masterpiece. Gata is a constantly unfurling peak time rocket ship trip.
6. Underworld & Iggy Pop – Get Your Shirt (From the EP Teatime Dub Encounters)
Much of Teatime Dub Encounters is Iggy riffing like an entitled curmudgeon over beats Underworld probably had knocking around in their head since the 90s. But if you just go with the absolute joy of that voice, Get Your Shirt is the standout, with big room techno synths and Iggy lording over it with as much pop swagger as his Blah Blah Blah days.
7. Pinch Points – Jellybrain (from the EP Mechanical Injury)
Melbourne four-piece Pinch Points make glorious lo-fi punk with infectious surf-rock leads and call-and-response choruses. Jellybrain starts off like Wire’s Another The Letter, but it’s soon machine-gunned into something a lot more feral – think the Fall’s three r’s of repetition, repetition, repetition and the snotty snarl of Sleaford Mods.
8. Hana Vu – Crying on the Subway (from the EP How Many Times Have You Driven By)
On her Bandcamp page, 17-year-old Hana Vu’s music is described as “bedroom pop” but get any lo-fi notions out of your head – Crying on the Subway could pass off as the latest Dev Hynes production commission. It all hangs on a low-slung bassline, a high-fret post-punk guitar jangle and the beat from Nine Inch Nails’ Closer.
9. Phonte – So Help Me God (from the LP No News Is Good News)
Hate to be an old man shouting at SoundCloud, but sometimes it’s good to wade through the Auto-Tune, lo-fi hat skitters and skrrt skrrrts and come upon some honest ta gawd old-school hip-hop. Here’s some crisp boom bap beats, classic flow and major key soul samples Ghostface would approve of. Phonte even references Masta Killa and Miuzi Weighs a Ton.
10. Creep Woland – 7THNIGHT (from the EP KNAVE TRILOGY PTII)
Glasgow producer Creep Woland continues to fill his singular corner of Bandcamp with more ALL CAPS nervy electronics. Even with seven releases in July – including the full-length KNAVE TRILOGY PT II – there’s no dip in quality. 7THNIGHT is a sort of witch house trap detour with glassy pads on the verge of shattering.
11. David Holmes – Olivia Lake (from the LP Mosaic: Music From the HBO Limited Series)
Like all the best soundtracks, David Holmes’ score to the six-part murder mystery works on its own terms, and the music here gives you a dose of the fear even if you haven’t ventured as far as Steven Soderbergh’s HBO series. Olivia Lake is maybe the most unnerving passage here, with a crawling one-note bass pulse, queasy synth drone and the odd off-key piano jolt.
12. Pariah – Linnaea (from the LP Here From Where We Are)
Pariah’s debut album is being filed as ambient techno, but that’s really only because of his previous industrial techno abstractions and his analogue experiments with Blawan as Karenn. Here From Where We Are is a beatless, spacious head trip coated in misty rain droplets, and Linnaea’s minimal flute motif feels like it could cure anything.
13. Kajsa Lindgren – The Inanimate World Pt 2 (from the LP WOMB)
With WOMB, Swedish composer and sound artist Kasja Lindgren has created “a musical narration for abstracted ears and bodies, with an amniotic ambience that’s not always the most comforting. Elsewhere on the album your nerves are pinched with unsettling drones and discord you might hear on a Mica Levi score, but the album closer is a relative release, with warm tones, trickling water field recordings and a spoken word passage about escaping to a Narnia-like new world.
14. Haron – Lotuseter (from the LP Wandelaar)
Dutch producer Haron leaves lo-fi techno to one side for this serene album that touches on the greatness of Brian Eno’s Ambient series. Opener Lotuseter is the most Eno-esque passage, with its 10 minutes of slowly unfurling minimal piano and synth drones that are just about there.
15. Cruel Diagonals – Oblique Ritual (from the LP Disambiguation)
California producer Megan Mitchell’s debut album as Cruel Diagonals is an ambient fever dream set adrift on foggy synth drones, and Oblique Ritual is a standout, with its fizzling percussion and her ghost in the machine vocals, reverbed beyond any discernible narrative.
16. Prayer – Fear (from the EP Vital)
The clue is in the name here – Prayer creates a sound that’s equal parts rave comedown melancholy, bliss and church organ transcendence. Fear is carried by misty synthwave pads with a hint of a Vangelis or Moroder soundtrack and smudgy kick drums for fans of early 90s AFX.
17. Universal Indicator – 15 C7
Aphex Twin taps into his Universal Indicator alias for the first time since the 90s, with a snarling minimal acid track – just a waspy 303, a scuffed kick drum and no bassline. It’s on Nina Kraviz’s no-filler compilation of hardcore, acid, techno and ambient on her label трип. Cahm on you cahnts let’s have some AFX acid!
18. E-Saggila – Glass Wing (from the LP Dedicated to Sublimity)
Canadian producer Rita Mikhael makes cinematic techno for the end of days, and Decicated to Sublimity will stop you in your tracks. Tracks like Reputation, Viper and Brunette Cistern hammer like Regis or Perc, but the epic Glass Wing sounds like the Black Dog reimagining the Blade Runner soundtrack.
19. Body/Head – Last Time (From the LP The Switch)
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace’s new album is more head than body – a recalibration of rock forms through contorted improvised guitar drones and Gordon’s detached impressionist vocals. Last Time sounds like a hyper-delayed elasticised Dylan Carlson jam that sets up the LP perfectly.
20. Future Cult – Call the Midnight Animal (from the LP The Lion’s Daughter)
Why has it taken this long for someone to mix black metal with horror synthwave and come up with a John Carpenter headbanger hybrid? Not sure if Future Cult are the first band to master this, but I’m rolling up my sleeves and going down a Bandcamp rabbit hole to find out if there’s any more of this knocking about.
21. Neckbeard Deathcamp – Incel Warfare (from the LP White Nationalism Is For Basement Dwelling Losers)
Neckbeard Deathcamp is real music to punch Nazis to – grotesque black metal that cuts through the alt-right with blastbeats, sick humour and the shitposting generally employed by the so-called fedora-wearing sad fucks. “EXTERMINATE THE BEDROOM REICH!”