April 2021 Recap

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

April’s showers giving way to May’s summer flowers means the next Bandcamp Friday is approaching. For those unaware, Bandcamp waives their revenue share on the first Friday of every month to help support artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next Bandcamp Friday is May 7.

If you’re intimidated by the gargantuan sea of musicians you could support next Friday then indulge these recommendations of April’s highest quality releases.

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Riow Arai – SP-2021+ 

The Japanese producer of the Front Mission Alternative soundtrack offers a different escapism than his city-pop admiring Instagram espouses. He’s the antithesis of the tightly controlled, neon polished shimmer city-pop renaissance. SP-2021+ is a beat tape centralized around particular percussion and a deep grab bag of samples. His music is lighthearted and it’s hard to identify which element – the short tracks, the kaleidoscopic range, the occasional blunt breakbeat, the glaze of chiptune – makes SP-2021+ so intoxicating. Chalk it up to the vibe. Arai is so effortless over these 80 beats it’s like he doesn’t even raise finger when swapping records.

 

Intonate – Severed Within

If I toss enough band names here you’ll grasp the sound of Severed Within; Ulcerate, Gorguts, your other favorite dissonant death metal. Montreal’s Intonate are legible in a subgenre predicated on overstimulation via technical overload. The group smothers off-time beats and twirling riffs into lengthy tracks that spiral into and out of themselves. You needn’t meditate on a single instrument to recognize its purpose in Intonate’s pristine maelstrom. It’s easier to comprehend Severed Within because it swoons instead of combobulates. Intonate are equally as comfortable layering a soul-draining acoustic into the pummeling crescendo of ‘Sever’ as they are slapping ‘Within’ with riffs so dense they scavenged them from the bones of a mammoth.

Backspace – Ants Corrupt Elephant

The Beijing krautrock-cum-surf rock group’s previous outing, 2018’s Human Nature Architecture, was a sublime vista as Bay Area guitars bounced into spacey extended passages. On their follow-up they retain krautrock’s propensity to go anywhere while molting out of whatever trappings previous tags tied them to. They’re defined by their curiosity. They’re as loose as grains of sand on the beach. They maintain an above average heartbeat through knotty post-punk so that you remember Backspace are as rhythmically gifted as they are disinterested with traditional journeys to the end of a song.

CFCF – Memoryland

CFCF wipes the mist off of the rose-coloured glasses of late-90s nostalgia and opens the Pandora’s Box of new millennium soundbites. The Montreal electronica producer hops from Sweet Trip-like shoegaze to percolating techno to scratches of what could’ve been discarded blink-182 riffs to breakbeat. Memoryland is the album for every mood if all your moods are isolation in the face of the looming Y2K bug.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!

Of course Godspeed You! Black Emperor were the ones to release the perfect pandemic album. They teased the damn thing twenty years ago. G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! sounds unearthed as the step between F♯ A♯ ∞ and Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada. Of interest is how much those records now resonate. The impending apocalypse of F♯ A♯ ∞ emulsifies the authoritarian distrust of Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada. For Godspeed You! Black Emperor to repurpose their decades old fears while progressing instead of hobbling on old trends (a nasty habit post-rock does more than doesn’t) disturbs. The Montreal collective’s growing interest in raw drone and metallic riffs peaks on G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!. There’s a crunchy bite to the mix. The record transposes the perpetual relevance of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s earlier themes with sounds twenty years old filtered through ten years of refinement.

 

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