Patrick Kelleher – You Look Cold (Osaka)
Need an album to express the national mood? This is it. You Look Cold runs the gambit of sad music, from shards of icy, fragile electronica through to dusky back porch accordion nostalgia. Highlight ‘Blue Eyes’ bristles with tense energy, moving from a sublimely dark groove through a tempo shift into the touching and weird drone-folk effort ‘I Am Eustace’. They might not help you pay rent, but these are great songs. 4/5
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)
Grizzly Bear’s return finds them resplendent in the sunny glow of intricate harmonies and distinctly retro charm. Where previous efforts were dusty and close-focused, Veckatimest lets the light in and embraces the beautiful day. First single ‘Two Weeks’ is patent genius, dripping with the allure of 60s girl-group pop and as catchy as swine flu was disappointing. Need to beat down a Fleet Foxes fan? Play this for them and nod knowingly. 4/5
Túcan – Aliquot Strings (s/r)
Aliquot Strings is the work of guitarists Pearse Feeney and Donal Gunne, and though the Latin rhythms and fluid time signatures have some appeal at first, these instrumentals don’t have brakes. More of a showcase for Burke and Feeney’s ability than a coherent record, the album starts at 100mph and doesn’t stop, hurtling off a cliff into excess and what is usually termed wankery. Not for the casual listener. 2/5
Tim Exile – The Listening Tree (Warp/Planet Mu)
Tim Exile’s credentials as a drum ‘n’ bass weirdo are impeccable. He’s signed to Warp, the home of a legion of head-melters from Aphex Twin to Battles. He expatriated from England to (surprise, surprise) Berlin. He makes his own instruments, or rather customises them in order to allow live improvisation and a new world of unique weirdness opportunities. It’s lucky he likes Depeche Mode so much then, or he’d be unlistenable.
Hold on, that’s not really fair. There’s a definite substratum to The Listening Tree in which an 80s synth pop baritone tries to sabotage the navel-gazing with some vaguely banal lyrics. But in the struggle of Dave Gahan vs. the infuriatingly complex labyrinth of beats and bleeps, there is only ever going to be one winner. And if this album is worthy of repeat listens (hint: it is) it’s because of the knotted, cerebral beats which require full concentration.
The prevailing sense is of being on a journey. Many tracks begin simply enough, with a pleasant synth line or a straightforward beat. But pay attention to what happens next: nothing in life is as simple as it first seems, and that could not be more true of Tim Exile. The beat will shift and then continue, seemingly at an angle to what came before. Tempos and rhythms fluctuate, and by the end of each track there’s almost a sigh of relief upon having survived the ordeal.
First single Family Galaxy is the clear highlight, an absolutely mind-twisting track in which the beat refuses to be pinned down for more than a few bars at a time. Beginning with a languid beat and becoming gradually more frantic as it undergoes metamorphosis, the refrain which eventually emerges is nothing short of anthemic. “The family galaxy keeps changing, no matter what you do”, the vocals exhort, and it’s hard to argue, having delved this far into the cut-up futurism of The Listening Tree.