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Mick Turner “Don’t Tell The Driver” (Drag City)
The latest work by the ever-prolific Melbourne-based artist and Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner is a magnificently sprawling affair – comprising an expansive cast of musicians – and is perhaps his most accessible work to date. Equally renowned for his worldwide status as an internationally renowned painter as well as musician, Turner is best known as being one-third member (alongside drummer Jim White and violinist Warren Ellis) of the cult Australian trio Dirty Three. As well as Dirty Three’s considerable output (culminating in last year’s sublime “Toward The Low Sun”), Turner has also released records under the Tren Brothers guise (effectively Turner and White recording as a duo), as well as “solo” works (‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is Turner’s fourth such record). The record – released by Chicago’s Drag City – is arguably Turner’s most expansive yet, featuring french horn, trumpets, piano, melodica, bass and the vocals (lyrics by Turner) are beautifully sung by Caroline Kennedy McCracken.

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Tim Hecker “Virgins” (Kranky)
One of the year’s most eagerly awaited albums came from the Montreal-based composer and sound artist Tim Hecker. “Virgins”, released by Chicago-based independent label Kranky, is yet another masterful recording by the Canadian musician, producing an album of staggering scope and beauty. Hecker’s work has been described as: “focused on exploring the intersection of noise, dissonance and melody, fostering an approach to songcraft which is both physical and emotive.” One of the finest of todays modern composers, Hecker is here joined by an impressive cast of musicians from the Icelandic-based Bedroom Community label; Valgeir Sigurðsson performs and mixes (alongside Hecker) and Paul Corley takes part in the performing and engineering, while the album was recorded at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík (as well as Avast, Seattle and Empac Concert Hall, Troy).

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Moonface “Julia with Blue Jeans On” (Jagjaguwar)
Spencer Krug’s fourth album under the Moonface moniker, “Julia With Blue Jeans On” is a highly personal, quietly affecting and truly moving album which will prove to be one of the year’s most masterful hidden gems. The album’s genesis came from Krug’s time creating 2012’s “Heartbreaking Bravery” – a despair-laden album written after a difficult break-up – while in Helsinki and recording with Finnish band Siinai. During the same period, the highly prolific Krug set off on another creative journey, inspired by “a rediscovery of love and a reconsideration of the Moonface persona he’d created for himself.”

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Laurel Halo “Chance Of Rain” (Hyperdub)
Released at the end of October on the Hyperdub label, “Chance of Rain” is the striking and sublime second album by American electronic musician Laurel Halo (aka Ina Cube) and follow-up to her debut 2012 LP “Quarantine”. The nine tracks which comprise “Chance Of Rain” showcases Halo (who is a classically trained musician)’s wonderful talents as both composer and producer where a breathtaking spectrum of sounds – industrial, electronic, techno, club, house – effortlessly form a cohesive and organic whole, producing a wholly unique and compelling album in the process. An album as striking and engrossing (much due to the breathtaking vocals as well as the distinctive production) as the grimly evocative sleeve cover art (by Halo’s father, the artist Arthur Chartow).

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Wooden Shjips “Back to Land” (Thrill Jockey)
The Ripley Johnson-led psychedelic quartet Wooden Shjips’ follow-up to their 2011 “West” LP is their most immersive and engrossing work yet. Recorded in Portland, Oregon in May 2013 over a period of an 11-day session at Jackpot! Recording Studio, ‘Back To Land’ mark’s the band’s first record to be conceived outside of their native San Francisco. From the opening title-track, a blissful, wonderfully melodic guitar-led song to the stunningly forlorn album closer (recalling Beck’s “Sea Change”), the engrossing soundscapes of Wooden Shjips are a joy to journey through (bands such as Pavement, Sonic Youth, Crazy Horse and Spacemen 3 come to mind). Album art (with multiple circular die-cuts) by Oliver Hibert (and layout by the wonderful Sheila Sachs) ensures the vinyl edition is a must have.

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Ghost Maps The Ocean From The River “S/T” (Casino Gravity)
Released on November 15th, Ghost Maps The Ocean From The River’s self-titled debut album comprises the new musical chapter in Jeff Martin (Halfset)’s hugely impressive career to date. The album features legendary multi-instrumentalist and indie-giant John McEntire (Tortoise/The Sea and Cake) as well as a special contribution by the immensely gifted pianist Tony Crow, long-term player in the legendary Kurt Wagner-led Nashville-based collective Lambchop. From the opening gorgeous minute-long piano and violin “Intro”, we are treated to a stunning meandering journey across oceans of heavenly sounds and unknown beauty. Current personal highlight is the majestic instrumental opus “If I knew Where I Was I’d Be There”, a piece that could belong on Lambchop’s Double LP “Aw C’mon / No You C’mon” or Efterklang’s “Piramida”.

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Omar Souleyman “Wenu Wenu” (Ribbon Music)
One of the most surprising albums of the year thus far came courtesy of “Wenu Wenu” (meaning “Where Is She?”) – aided by Kieran Hebdan’s production prowess – via the latest record by Syrian musician Omar Souleyman. Prior to his homeland’s civil war crisis hit, Souleyman crossed the Syrian border into Turkey. Souleyman was formerly a wedding singer in his native Syria, a position – as described in an interview with NPR – as “important for experimenting in different kinds of music. In the region where I’m from, weddings have been really important in mixing different kinds of musical heritage.” Souleyman has released a plethora of material – mainly comprising live recordings of his wedding performances and spanning hundreds of cassette tapes – and his stature only grew when he collaborated with Bjork and subsequently appeared in numerous festivals in both the US and Europe.

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Dean Wareham “Emancipated Hearts” (Sonic Cathedral)
Dean Wareham (ex Galaxie 500 and Luna frontman) released his debut solo record “Emancipated Hearts” via Sonic Cathedral earlier this month. The resultant mini-album (the record contains six tracks) is a treasure of a record, produced by Papercuts’ Jason Quever and features a beautifully fragile and understated set of songs, including five original Wareham compositions (featuring the politically-charged “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion Began” and “The Ticking Is The Bomb”) plus a cover of “Air” by The Incredible String Band. Also available on gorgeous limited edition orange 10″ vinyl.

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Recondite “Hinterland” (Ghostly International)
Berlin-based producer Recondite’s first album for Ghostly International is the gorgeous “Hinterland”, an album inspired by Recondite’s homeland of Lower Bavaria (indeed, much field recordings spanning various times of the year are included across the album’s ten tracks). Like the poetic tree-lined and light-filled monochromatic landscape photograph depicted on the cover, “Hinterland” proves a lush, near-spiritual listening experience and proves a landmark release for the hugely talented producer. As Recondite has said of “Hinterland”: “I tried to capture the area’s mentality and natural environment within the album. Particularly the moods that behold the emotions of the four seasons, which differ a lot in this region.”

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The Velvet Underground “Loaded” (Cotillion/Atlantic)
“I found a reason to keep living / Oh and the reason, dear, is you / I found a reason to keep singing / Oh and the reason, dear, is you” sings Lou Reed on “I Found A Reason”, taken from The Velvet Underground’s fourth album, “Loaded”, released in 1970 on Atlantic Records’ subsidiary label, Cotillion. The song, like any one from Reed’s considerable output – both as a solo artist and as principal songwriter with The Velvet Underground – confirms Reed as one of the finest and most gifted (and certainly most influential) songwriters of the last fifty years. Despite The Velvet Underground’s modest commercial success during their all-too-brief lifespan – from the late sixties until the early seventies – the band’s influence on new generations of musicians is as strong today as it ever was. Brian Eno’s famous and much-repeated quote (in reference to The Velvet Underground’s beloved, classic 1967 debut “The Velvet Underground And Nico” only selling a mere 30,000 copies) stated: “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

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Ten Mile Stereo

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SlowPlaceLikeHome ‘Cathleen’s Fall’
Taken from the forthcoming ‘Ramola’ record which is due for release in March 2013 which will undoubtedly appear on every end of year list come year’s end. Mr. Mannion can do no wrong.


Matthew E. White ‘Big Inner’ (Domino)
‘Big Inner’ has been earning incredible praise from all media sources, and it’s clear why. The seven gorgeous tracks are soulful, moving and genuinely original. Closer ‘Brazos’ is one of the most sublime tracks of the year so far.


Alasdair Roberts ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ (Drag City)
The eagerly awaited new record from this very talented Glasgow-based artist. ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ has been described by Drag City as “A thousand years of musical topography are seen from eleven unique song-crafts and all lead back to one undeniable conclusion: “all days will end in joy / they’ll never end in evil.”


Yo La Tengo ‘Fade’ (Matador)
Album Number 13 from the beloved trio of Kaplan, Hubley and McNew. ‘Fade’ is yet another great record from a band who have stunned listeners since their debut in ’86. A class, class act.


Ducktails ‘The Flower lane’ (Domino)
Matthew Mondanile’s side project (to Real Estate) is already in its third LP and is now firmly a fully realized band its own right. Expect yet more stunning guitar-pop melodies.


Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory ‘Elements Of Light’ (Rough Trade)
This fine collection of bell-orientated tracks from Pantha Du Prince’s Hendrik Weber –  provides for a fascinating listening experience. Available now on Rough Trade.


Nils Frahm ‘Screws Reworked’ (Helios Rework)
When Nils Frahm invited artists to ‘rework’ his ‘Screws’ album (released on vinyl last December on Erased Tapes), many wonderful reworks were submitted. The highlight (thus far) has been Keith Kenniff (AKA Helios)’s re-interpretation of Frahm’s ‘Re’. See the ‘Screws Reworked’ project here.


Benoît Pioulard ‘Hymnal’ (Kranky)
Benoît Pioulard is the pseudonym for New York-based artist Thomas Meluch, whose records have been consistent in their greatness, especially his 2006 LP ‘Précis’. New LP ‘Hymnal’ is Pioulard’s fourth LP on the Kranky label.


Black Marble ‘A Different Arrangement’ (Hardly Art)
One of the finest records of last year, Black Marble are a Brooklyn-based New-Wave influenced duo. As fine as debut LP’s come.


Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin ‘Instrumental Tourist’ (Software)
Collaboration between Hecker and Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) released on Mexican Summer’s imprint Software. This is the first of a series called ‘SSTUDIOS’ where artists will be invited to create collaborative works together.

Something’s Going On: Le Guess Who?

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Come wander the canals and streets of beautiful Utrecht and be immersed in the best of independent music as the city’s prized Le Guess Who festival makes its eagerly awaited return. Utrecht, Holland provides the dream backdrop for a host of awe-inspiring music, from the legendary Australian trio Dirty Three to the songwriting queen, Sharon Van Etten. Over the course of four days, from Thursday November 29th to Sunday 2nd December, intimate performances will grace the centuries old, university town. The heart of independent music is happening right in the heart of the city for the sixth time, having started in 2007.

Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry

Last night, the opening festival performance of Colin Stetson sparked amazement and inspiration to all those fortunate to be present. Stetson’s avant jazz has been celebrated and universally acclaimed by the entire international music community. Stetson’s solo saxophone compositions are performed in single takes with no overdubs, which in this advanced age of technology, is something truly special to witness. His music defies both genre boundaries and the physical boundaries of what one person can sonically create without resorting to the aids of technology. I recently interviewed German composer Nils Frahm and while discussing his favourite music, he likened hearing Colin Stetson’s solo saxophone to discovering ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ by Steve Reich for the first time. Is there higher praise possible? Mr. Stetson kicked off Le Guess Who? last night, epitomising the sheer quality and multitude of compelling artists that this unique festival attracts.

Tomorrow night Dirty Three will transcend the centuries-old city of Utrecht, with their unrivaled intensity of emotion-filled instrumental music.  I was fortunate to recently see Dirty Three in concert last Friday night in Dublin. It was amazing to witness Ellis, Turner and White in person. Almost mythical, almost an impossibility. Their sound was just so beautiful as it poured through the space and up to the rafters. Ellis is one of those rare iconic figures. A conductor. Jim White’s drums were incredible. To hear the range of sounds and harmonies rising from his very touch of hand. Mick Turner’s guitars were awash in soul and exhaled a spectrum of emotions. Undeniably this year’s highlight of Le Guess Who? and a must-see for Thursday night’s festival. The band have released one of their finest works to date, earlier this year with ‘Toward The Low Sun’. A stunning masterpiece from a band whose recordings and live performances forever illuminate and inspire.

Friday night sees Julianna Barwick perform her unique ambient choral-pop creations. Last year, Julianna Barwick’s gorgeous album, ‘The Magic Place’ flooded the sound clouds with its healing tones and blissed out ambient soundscapes. Barwick’s looped vocal harmonies evoke a church choir with wordless harmonies, where fragments of sound combine to form the loveliest of intricate patterns. As the title suggests, Julianna Barwick’s music is indeed magic. Furthermore, the cinematic journey of Barwick’s unique sound is full of hope, joy and solace. ‘The Magic Place’ has been one of my most cherished albums from last year, together with Julia Holter’s ‘Ekstasis’ of this year, who like Barwick, conjures up an otherworldly dreamscape of wonder and beauty. The chance to witness Julianna Barwick’s live performance is one not to miss out on. This year, Barwick unleashed her wonderful collaborative project of OMBRE. OMBRE is a new musical collaboration between Julianna Barwick and Helado Negro. Their album ‘Believe You Me’ was released earlier in 2012 on the wonderful Asthmatic Kitty label. Barwick’s clean, soaring harmonies and church choir sensibilities merge effortlessly with Negro’s rustic-Latin-psyche-folk. It’s an album full of hazy sunshine pop fused with drone ambient wrapped in warmth and beauty.

A seamless array of indie music giants grace Friday’s stage. Liverpool-based indie-rock band Clinic will summon their post-punk noise revival to the masses, following their recently released, seventh studio album ‘Free Reign’. Baltimore’s Lower Dens, led by Jana Hunter, are a must-see band. Their latest album ‘Nootropics’ is a milestone of 2012 and beyond, in its interstellar sonic journey. Lush future pop (the single ‘Propogation’), hypnotic krautrock infused rhythms (‘Brains’), swirling meditative hymns (‘Lamb’) are meticulously crafted. Lyrically, the album deals with transhumanism and feelings about technology. The Baltimore collective have made an ambitious work which exceeds on every level. Cincinnati’s finest and recent City Slang signings, Why? will bring their inventive blend of hip-hop and sunshine pop harmonies to Le Guess Who? on Friday. Other acts on this good Friday are headliners Deerhoof, Mathew Dear and Fuck Buttons, who should all be pencilled in to the timetable schedule!

Saturday is all about one person, and that person’s name is Tim Hecker. The Montreal based electronic musician is at the forefront of contemporary music. His ‘Dropped Pianos’ record is one of my most cherished albums with its cinematic soundscapes and drifting piano notes. This album in addition to its companion ‘Ravedeath 1972’, showcases Hecker’s gift for minimalist composition. The live performance of Tim Hecker’s richly textured ambient music is a vital and must-see performance. The magic of this great composer cascades down on the heart of Saturday night in Utrecht. You do not want to be anywhere else.

Sunday night belongs to Brooklyn-based, American singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten. Her third studio album ‘Tramp’, released in January, stands as one of the finest records of 2012. ‘Tramp’ is one of those very special records that resonates powerfully to all those who hear it. Van Etten’s songs come from a real place, where I feel the beautiful weight of words and music flow endlessly throughout. The album was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner and features her friends Julianna Barwick, Zach Condon (Beirut), and members of Wye Oak and The Antlers. Importantly, it is the unique voice of Sharon Van Etten that lies at the heart of her empowering music. Utterly inspirational.

Also on Sunday night is the Irish singer-songwriter Adrian Crowley. A national treasure. His latest album ‘I See Three Birds Flying’ is a true awakening of the senses. Crowley’s lyrics are sheer poetry. The string arrangements are divine. Crowley’s peerless baritone immerses you into a deeply contemplative listening experience. ‘I See Three Birds Flying’ is timeless, in the truest sense that captivates the heart. This enchanting album is Crowley’s strongest to date, and is a fitting addition to a rich body of work.

Indie kings DIIV bring their atmospheric indie-pop masterpieces to Le Guess Who? on this closing night. Their debut album ‘Oshin’ is filled with beautiful atmospheric guitar pop soundscapes. ‘How Long Have You Known?’ is one of the year’s standout songs. ‘Oshin’ is one of my most played records of 2012, and to witness Z. Cole Smith and co. live on the closing night will be very special indeed.

Le Guess Who? Festival allows you to explore the heart of independent music, right in the beating heart of Holland.

Le Guess Who? happens on Thursday Nov 29th, Friday 30th November, Saturday 1st December and Sunday 2nd December in Utrecht, Holland.
http://www.leguesswho.nl/

Written by admin

November 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm