May 2021 Recap

Squid

I spent the majority of May digging through black metal tombs and retracing country’s roots, so apologies for the slimmer offerings in this round-up. However, take this month’s lower volume as certainty that everything here is worthy of your time. Bandcamp has ceased their monthly iteration of Bandcamp Friday but there’s nary a bad reason to give deserving musicians money. If any of these tinker your tailor then support away! Or don’t. Nobody can force you to do anything.

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Squid – Bright Green Field

Squid, along with LICE, Black Country, New Road, and black midi, are reasserting England’s place as the home for peculiar, heady, and, most importantly, interesting, rock music. Bright Green Field frolics with funky affectations and elongated passages. Squid channel krautrock and new wave in exploratory tracks that mimic the album cover’s open space. ‘Narrator’ laces drama with a throat shredding crescendo built on the back of an eight minute trek only for Squid to delve into krautrock’s sci-fi roots with ambient extraterrestrial messaging on ‘Boy Racers.’ Squid’s unassuming nature gives Bright Green Field a humbleness and a pedigree of playfulness.

Sons of Kemet – Black to the Future

Jazz ensemble Sons of Kemet follow their previous album’s Your Queen is a Reptile’s lead by diffusing their thesis into an opening track soliloquy, then spreading their tendrils far beyond parameters the human voice can capture. The track names distill communal complexities into mission statements. ‘In Remembrance of Those Fallen’ both celebrates and mourns. Shabaka Hutchings honours the nameless through a ruminating saxophone. The instrumental interplay on ‘Throughout the Madness, Stay Strong’ mirrors a unification of identities into a movement. The album recognizes progress’ weight, that which is too great for an individual to shoulder. Sons of Kemet uplift not through platitudes but through constant motion.

Flying Lotus – Yasuke

There are two caveats to Yasuke. First, I’ve yet to watch the anime of the same name, which this album scores. Second, this is technically an April release that dropped after last month’s round-up. Apologies anime and calendar fetishists. 

Flying Lotus indulges in his anime influences on Yasuke. He’s more economical because Yasuke is designed, by its nature as a soundtrack, to underline rather than highlight. You’re Dead! and Flamagra were both existentialist but here Flying Lotus vibes out in the period piece. He retains his propensity for the weird except by manipulating traditional Japanese woodwinds and percussions instead of IDM breakbeats. Yasuke’s airiness makes it a solid stand-alone addition to the producer’s catalogue.

Portal – AVOW

Portal dispose of their foggy production on AVOW and they’re still indecipherable. Not that there’s any solace to be found by decoding Portal. Their garishness was always shrouded by a protective veil. Yet on AVOW every atonal, dissonant, nightmare gnashes with improved perception. It’s like if the Scooby Doo gang removed the monster’s mask and found Cthulhu underneath. Portal’s prior murkiness only restrained a caged monstrosity. Now, in the light of the sun, removed from the shadow of their cave, Portal are unencumbered, dizzying in their swathing death metal.

 

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