Last week’s music listening was pretty much dominated by the return of Battles. I know Tyondai’s departure has probably diluted the excitement surrounding their re-arrival, but Battles were all about John Stanier’s apoplectic percussion for me. Seeing them live at the Liquid Room a couple of years ago, standing right above Stanier while he pummelled his skins into an abrasive rumpus,still ranks as one of my favourite ever shows.
This new track, Ice Cream, is a poppier cut than anything on Mirrored’s discordant kaleidoscope. That, surprisingly, is no bad thing. Splintering complex African rhythms against summer skating Hammond organ, Ice Cream is a giddy, rambunctious sprawl that plays out as the most infectious and accessible ditty Battles have ever produced. Worth the wait? For sure.
On the flip side. I’ve been listening to the new Left With Pictures record In Time. It is, to my ears, an aural abomination. Admittedly, I absolutely loathe the guy’s voice – it sits somewhere between operatic tenor and polished pop pleading. But the honeyed indie-pop that gloops underneath his grating intone is, somehow, even more repulsive. I, quite honestly, have no idea where to start with the review without giving it an absolute kicking. Which is, most probably, what I’ll be giving it.
I’ve also been checking out Jamie xx’s remix of last year’s brilliant Gil Scott Heron record, I’m New Here. The reviews for (the lazily titled) We’re New Here have been overwhelmingly positive, but so far the record feels like a sloppy rehash. I guess repetitive listening is required to appreciate the production-desk wizardry of xx, but so far it’s a bland, insipid mix of the captivating original. To save you the tedium of the xx’s lifeless reinterpretation, here’s the rhythmically monstrous original of New York Is Killing Me.
10 New York Is Killing Me by IKI
I haven’t really taken The Roots very seriously in years. Much of that is due to the crushing disappointment of How I Got Over. For some reason I just couldn’t get into the record. It never felt like The Roots and I’m certain I was down to the bottomless well of artists who ‘featured’ throughout . But, in my younger days, when I was exploring Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, De La Soul, Q-Tip and the like, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart was barely off my minidisc player (oh yes!). It was a genius record that pushed beyond Hip Hop’s tokenisms, both intellectually and instrumentally. Pushing an infectious rhythm and loose-lipped rhymes, this cut, The Next Movement, is a sublime barometer of the record’s treasures.
I’m slowly becoming obsessed with Ducktails. There’s a hair-tingling element to his acidic washes that reminds me of Su’s home town. At times it’s like the sound of waves rolling at the shore; equally tranquil and breathy. I probably just need a holiday, but this is luscious.
Ducktails - Hamilton Road by azabalegui