Laurel Halo returns to Hyperdub for her third LP with a fresh approach and a new sound. Routed out of the electronic abstraction of 2015’s In Situ - but with clear reference to 2012's sleeper-hit Quarantine - Dust is an album revolving around loose and languid songs; warped, sun-filled, melted and at times, heavy-hearted and obscure.
Recorded over a period of two years, the writing process began at EMPAC in upstate New York in January 2015. With access to microphones, percussion, keys and a wide range of routings, Laurel spent days alone in the cavernous space, later inviting musicians Eli Keszler and Lafawndah to join her there.
Those sessions would eventually become this album: a collection of breezy, broken songs, based on woody instrumentation, sub bass and restless, intricate electronics. Earnest songwriting meets with modal cut-up strategies, improvisational playing with higrade digital dust. Tactile and fibrous throughout the record, the vocals and percussion coalesce and breathe life into each other. Swung grooves eddy and collapse; acoustic drums are warped into sensual, febrile melodies.
The lyrics are themselves bricolage, without a specific narrator or place in time. They slip in and out of view, something that is visualised in the album’s inner panel. Extending the influence, the album opener ‘Sun To Solar’ is an adaptation of 'Servidão de Passagem' by Brazilian concrete poet Haroldo de Campos. In line with the album’s sound, Dust is 'Laurel Halo' as a flexible cast of characters.
Filled with dialogue, the album helms an interchangeable ensemble of vocalists and musicians, featuring vocals from Klein, Lafawndah, and Michael Salu, as well as musicians such as Eli Keszler, Craig Clouse ($hit and $hine), Julia Holter, Max D, Michael Beharie and Diamond Terrifier.
Laurel’s omnivorous influences play out in mutated fashion - coalesced, unfettered and inclusive - a broad musical palette free from entrenched modes, catalysed by digital production that could only happen in 2017.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1.Sun to Solar 2.Jelly 3.Koinos 4.Arschkriecher 5.Moontalk 6.Nicht Ohne Risiko
Side B: 1.Who Won? 2.Like an L 3.Syzygy 4.Do U Ever Happen 5. Buh-bye
33rpm black vinyl LP edition housed in UV glossy jackets. Comes with lyrics insert and free digital download coupon. Second Edition CD Elegant 4-side Digipak limited to 200 with new CD body.
Qual is Lebanon Hanover’s bassist and vocalist William Maybelline.
With his solo project he aims to examine his personal view on music, Maybelline moved from the pop touch of well-known and respected main band of his to cruise the slums of darker and even more extreme electronics.
To quote William's own words, Qual is about vile visions, despaired in a frowning black tower of pain. Concealed yearns of a desolate heart, trying to scratch that unscratchable rotting itch from within.
Centuries of sorrow drenched in gloomy electronics that palpitate like human passions. A call for help.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1. Sable 2. Spit On Me 3. Flay 4. Benevolent Technologies 5. O' Ornate Spade
Side B: 1. The Geometry Of Wounds 2. Luxurious Bleedings 3. Putrid Perfumes 4. Desolate Discotheque 5. Rip Doth Thy Scarlet Claws
After five decades of recording and touring, veteran British songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman has finally made what he calls his "American record," and the aptly titled 50 now stands as his late career masterwork, a moving legacy statement by a legend.
Backed by a collaborative group of friends and acolytes - Steve Gunn (who also produced), Nathan Bowles (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers), James Elkington (Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson), Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band), Jimy SeiTang (Rhyton), and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John - Chapman tears into both bold renderings of new songs and radical reinterpretations of material from his revered catalog, the crack band adeptly scaling the same rarefied sonic heights of classic Harvest albums like Fully Qualified Survivor, guided by a true survivor's instinct, wit, and wisdom.
The result is a sublime chiaroscuro self-portrait, more shadow than light, as an invigorated Chapman wrestles with weighty themes of t ravel, memory, mortality, and redemption, his world-weary whispers assuming the incandescent power of prophecy.
The deluxe LP package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks; the CD features a gatefold jacket, lyrics, and two non-LP bonus tracks.
The album includes both radical reinterpretations of obscure material from Michael’s catalog as well as three new compositions: “Sometimes You Just Drive,” “Money Trouble,” and “Rosh Pina.” A longstanding but freshly urgent preoccupation with (as Michael sings in a beloved early tune) “time past and time passing” is evident straightaway, from the album title and the first line of the first song through the final lyric of the record. Never before in his storied career has Chapman gazed so steadily into the abyss of time lost and regained; never before has he engaged so intimately with his legacy and the changing meanings of his own music over time.
That he manages to do so without succumbing to nostalgia or sentimentality bears testament to the steely fortitude of his ruminative, tough-minded songs, which survey both inscape and landscape with the same stoical detachment. With 50, Chapman faces mortality with both guitar and chainsaw in hand, and endures.
It’s the unguarded sound of Orpheus descending, the snake riding the guitar down the river Styx and returning upstream to tell his story.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1. "A Spanish Incident (Ramón & Durango) 2. "Sometimes You Just Drive 3. "The Mallard 4. "Memphis in Winter
Side B: 1. "The Prospector 2. "Falling from Grace 3. "Money Trouble 4. "That Time of Night
Polar Bear is the third album in Chapman’s series of his recent improvised musical series.
The first being 2011’s ‘The Resurrection and Revenge of The Clayton Peacock’ which Wire magazine nominated as No. 5 Album of The Year, was widely received favourably by press and fans alike as another highpoint in Chapman’s late blooming career which has been boosted by the public recognition of his talents by the likes of Thurston Moore, Jack Rose & Will Oldham.
The second album, 2012’s “Pachyderm’ was a minimalist masterpiece, a single chord ambient work quite unlike anything Chapman had ever done before and gained him further widespread supportive reviews and a sell out UK tour with a solo Thurston Moore. It is from that tour that comes the duo performing the noise epic “Six Two Thirteen“ on this new album “Polar Bear”.
The new record also sees Chapman experimenting with cello accompaniment, and some pieces featuring his own atmospheric slide guitar work. Further proof as it were needed of Chapman’s still restless search for new musical adventures.
At 73 years old, he is playing better than ever, having started out on EMI’s legendary 60’s Harvest record label, he only goes to show that stick with it and eventually your time will come.
Tracklisting: 1. Flowers In The Oven 2. The Polar Bear 3. Black Dirt On A Hot Day 4. Razorback Hat 5. The Old Inertia Reel 6. To See The Sea In C 7. Six, Two, Thirteen 8. Slidey Bit