The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
The Haxan Cloak is an artist I discovered through Bjork’s latest album, Vulnicura. He contributed towards the production of the album and his personal characteristics shone through on ‘Family’ which is probably my favourite piece on the record. A low pulsating whirwind of such sonic depth that it shakes your very core. Such a sound gives you a very visceral image of what it is like to see your family fall apart.
His own album though is even yet more terrifying, one of the scariest musical experiences I have encountered probably since listening to Throbbing Gristle. The clue is in the title, and the album artwork. It would be an exemplar horror soundtrack. Some of the most impressive low frequency recordings I have ever heard, heavy beats, whirling strings, humongous reverb: it is masterful electronica music. Turn the lights off and prepare to let yourself be very creeped out by this record.
Julia Holter – Have you in my Wilderness
I have been very fortunate to discover this absolute gem of an artist. How refreshing it is discover someone new that just seemingly does whatever she pleases. Julia is very fun to listen to and her recent record has really seen her mastering her craft of writing artful pop music. There’s a lush range of instruments on display, stunning strings throughout with ‘Lucette stranded on an island’ being a personal favourite of mine, an awesome double saxophone solo on ‘Sea Calls Me Home’, and Beatles vibes on ‘Everytime Boots’. Heck she even rocks a harpsichord in ways that I would never imagine possible! Julia definitely has you in her wilderness, and you keep on wanting to come back to the record, time and time again.
Julia Holter – Loud City Song
As with any artist I discover, I get super obsessive with their back catalogue and similar musings are on display here. The exception being that the album is very much dedicated to themes of living in a big loud city, and how that impacts one’s life.
Jackson Browne – Late For the Sky
Jackson Browne is a writing genius in my book. Not so well known in the UK. But he wrote Take it easy and has associations with The Eagles. His album, ‘Late For the Sky’ has some of the wisest lyrics I have ever heard, up there alongside Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, in a time where music that mattered drove the culture so much more. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful album to listen to, tender, deep, comforting.
David Bowie – Blackstar
The man can only be marvelled at for choreographing his own death. Death is indeed a part of life and one that art explores often. However, there is something about Blackstar that is visceral in ways I’ve never experienced before. I saw Lazarus before knowing Bowie was going to die, and the transformation of the song’s actual meaning became very haunting.
Bowie is an artist who has indirectly influenced a lot of people. He has always been there in my musical upbringing and what is particularly notable about his death is that it marks the end of an era, where artists could experiment, push the boundaries and still be accepted by the mainstream. I hope Bowie’s parting gift resonates with people not only as just a great record, but a beacon for the future where a new generation of acts can arise who can push the boundaries once again.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Out of character of my normal tastes you may say. Good music is good music and Kendrick Lamar’s recent album is one of the most exciting hip hop records I have heard in a long time. I think his outlandish and uncompromising lyrics and the concepts exploring racism, hood politics and soul searching are enthralling but the music and production of this record offers some jaw dropping moments. Lamar also fearlessly ventures into jazz at times, this is a record subsequently that has a lot of people talking…a brilliant record.