SOUL FEEDING: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
8ULENTINA – BODYGUARD
Label: Tobago Tracks
If you are familiar with the work of the multi-disciplinary artist known as 8ULENTINA, you know that their musical works always revolve around very precise concepts, that they explores and devolves track after track.
Their debut EP, EUCALYPTUS, was, in fact, a sonic journey in the world of ritual healings and self-care, and their latest fatigue, BODYGUARD, “addresses themes of protection and the tension around what it means to feel safe”, as stated in the album’s Bandcamp page.
In order to do so, the co-founder of Club Chai takes a very subtle approach, crafting five experimental club tracks that put you in a state of constant unease through a sapient use of dissonant melodies, performed using grime-y strings.
Meanwhile, the fat drums and the tribal flavoured rhythm, due to their undeniable grooviness, will inevitably get you moving, spreading the melody-induced sensation of warning from your mind to your body.
On top of the that, the album features vocal samples from the 1992’s homonymous movie, directed by Mick Jackson, (which isn’t exactly a relaxing experience), and are processed so that they strike your ear as fading whispers or human rhythmic element.
With BODYGUARD, 8ULENTINA makes you reflect on the idea of protection by actually putting you in a frightened state of mind, leaving you wanting for someone to protect you from an unidentified danger.
By Michele Sinatti
anotherotaryfatum – Continuum
If I had to use a single word to describe the music of the UK based sound artist known as anotherotaryfatum, I would probably choose “organic”. The eight compositions collected in his latest fatigue, named Continuum, are in fact organized and layered so that they might resemble an organism, that starts breathing the moment you press play.
The elements that compose these musical bodies varies between more typical and clubby percussive sounds, industrial noises, synth pads, distorted pianos, vocal samples, and home-made instruments, which greatly contribute to give to Continuum its peculiar physicality.
Every track thus feels like a different series of movements these sonic beings are forced to perform, stretching themselves in unnatural positions, being squashed under unbearable weights or stroke with tremendous force, according to the composer’s will, until they inexorably crush.
For this very reason, Continuum is definitely an unsettling listening that will pierce your ears with no mercy, making its very few moments of placidity touching and precious to you. And, whether you like this listening experience or not, it will convince you that anotherotaryfatum is an excellent musician, sound designer and an artist you should keep your eye on in the future.
By Michele Sinatti
Flume – Hi This Is Flume – Mixtape
Album: Hi This Is Flume
Label: Future Classic
You say spring, you say Flume. Harley for his mom, he doesn’t do it often but, when he does, he does it right. Back in 2016, with Skin, he left us with really high expectations for what would have come next. After three years of almost complete silence in terms of substantial releases, the day has come: Hi This Is Flume – Mixtape is finally nowplaying in our ears.
Essentially, the whole album retrieves Flume’s original sonorities, already existing in Skin and Flume, and this is clear from the beginning with “Ecdysis”. In any case, Flume’s versatility is not a secret to anyone, indeed, while maintaining always a specific pattern in his works, he is here able to skip from a genre to another with extreme ability and, overall, coherence. Within the same track, such as “High Beams, he shifts from an inceptive kind of hardcore hip-hop to jazz melodies, typical of his production. Far from being the inventor of this, this is exactly why it perfectly works: an already appreciated product is here studied and refined.
Going on, the featurings are on the next level. Speaking of hip-hop, in fact, let’s start with the one with JPEGMAFIA, “How To Build A Relationship”. Energy and hustle from 0:00 to 3:05. Beyond the large-scale artist, the collaboration took shape with, the song is very chula and goes straight into my playlist. The other featurings are no better nor worse, even two with SOPHIE (one of Soul Feeder’s revered goddesses), both magnificent. The remix of “Is It Cold In The Water?” is a continuous rise and fall of pitches that carries you in the fluidity of bodies that this song wants to make you feel. “Voices” (with also Kučka, with whom he already collaborated a couple of years ago), works the same way, but, instead of making you float away, it leaves you less space. In a positive sense, you feel more bounded to the song.
What Hi This Is Flume conveys is that its producer, making no exceptions ever, can shape in the form of music the sensations you feel on your skin or ears or eyes or whatever. This couldn’t be done better that in “Spring”, the closing track, that really recalls the changes of the seasons, the freshness, the aromas, the colors.
Hi Flume, This Is Soul Feeder!
By Margherita Rho
Fennesz – Agora
Christian Fennesz has produced cornerstones of the ’00s electro-acoustic music such as Venice and Endless Summer, and has collaborated with musicians such as Ryūichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and Jim O’Rourke.
Agora marks his return as a solo artist since 2014’s Bècs, his latest recording of original material.
The album is the result of a period during which the Austrian composer had to relocate and resize his studio into his apartment in Wien, recording it on headphones and using just “what was to hand”.
Given these premises, Agora sounds unexpectedly rich and dense in sound and textures. It is comprised of four tracks only, each lasting between ten and twelve minutes. This format gives the album a coherent structure, much like a classical composition developing over long movements.
Each track swirls with subtle changes and details, and the length offers them enough time to gradually evolve without becoming too bland. There is no trace of the audio fog and noisier edges of Bècs, which makes for a less opaque and more crystalline listening experience. This doesn’t mean that the music is weaker; instead, the different sounds are layered in an almost seamless way, and each listening unveils hidden or subtle details emerging from the interplay of drones, synths, guitar and a sprinkle of noise.
“In my room” features a luminous drone accompanied by an almost kosmiche synth; on “Rainfall” guitar comes to the fore, backed by vocals buried underneath the layers of sound. Six minutes in, and drones come back taking the track somewhere else in a celestial ascending; the title track is the shiniest and calmest one, while the album ends with the “We trigger the sun”, which feels like music coming from a shimmering cathedral floating in the sky. The guitar adds a sense of weight and materiality as if a return to the physical world.
Agora is rarefied on the surface but very rich in depth, slowly but continuously unfolding a complex sonic mass, and leaning towards the warmer end of electro-acoustic music. It’s a meditative and relieving album that will provide an otherworldly listening experience. Play it loud and get lost into its mesmerizing sonic architecture.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
IVVVO – doG
Label: Halcyon Veil
No surprises IVVVO’s doG has been voted album of the month in our community (and people probably appreciated it outside too). The Portuguese/London-based artist released the most respectable sequel of his previous works (gotta mention Good, Bad, Baby, Horny, a cornerstone), maintaining his exuberant and controversial attitude.
Aggressive and merciless, precisely like a rabid dog, the album opens with an instant warning: samples of growlings, sounding even more like coming from a mutant/ware-wolf, have been looped to immediately set the mood the whole thing is gonna go on with. Songs like “Life”, “Never You” and “Rush” are nippy like snakes, venomous but fascinating. The deconstruction here works very smartly, and what turns out is the sharp zippiness that seems to be very much sought-after lately.
It is necessary to make a public appeal for all them Lorenzo Senni’s lovers, they will lose their shit on this album. Necessary also to mention Maxwell Sterling’s contribution to the production. Especially in “Untitled” it is very evident the magic hand of the composer had quite a vast space to experiment on, with his heavy pianos and cutting violins. So, the fact of the matter is that all the fifteen tracks are dunked from head to toe in every best ingredient of contemporary music. doG is an album to really dance to, to sweat all your liquids out to.
By Margherita Rho
K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
Album: The Quanta Series
K Á R Y Y N ’s debut album comes long awaited as well as gorgeous. The Quanta Series is finally out, featuring some singles released in the last few years and brand new music from the Syrian-American producer. For those who have not yet listened to her, it is an excellent opportunity to abandon yourself to her suggestive music made of sweet echoes and downy electronics. You will probably find lots of influences while listening to it, from Björk to FKA Twigs for the catchier avant-R&B production, but it is admirable how K Á R Y Y N reworks them in a personal way.
No doubt the autobiographical elements sound authentic and heartfelt in the 11 tracks of this record: K Á R Y Y N is born in the US from an Armenian origins family settled in Syria. It is a country and a history with which she has maintained a strong emotional connection. This is crystal clear in “Aleppo”, but also in “Ambet Goran”, that quotes a popular Armenian folk song, or in “Today I Read Your Life Story 11:11”, where she looks like crying because she’s missing her family members died in Syria. Her lyrics plot a dramatic narration with strong roots in her family and personal history. At the end of the album, the plot looks resolved in the rising and melodic “Segment & The Line”.
Despite these uneasy premises, there is always something extremely sweet in K Á R Y Y N’s voice. Sometimes in tension with erratic beats, sometimes gently resting on ultra-light synth, the vocal melodies impose themselves with echoes, chorus, loops and effects that define the soundscape. In “Mirror”’s chorus, voices twist around in ascetic motion creating an almost sacred atmosphere. It’s upsetting and soulful, like most of the album.
By Francesco Cellino
Lafawndah – Ancestor Boy
Album: Ancestor Boy
Ever wondered what would have happened if, say, Björk or FKA Twigs had released their first albums in 2019? Lafawndah’s Ancestor Boy is, probably, a really valid answer to this question. The comparisons are not even that stretched: Tahliah Debrett Barnett’s ritualistic sounds and reverbs and Björk’s powerful vocals seem to be a deep inspiration for the Iranian artist. However, it would be reductive and unjustly belittling to describe Ancestor Boy as just a contemporary version of the previously mentioned artists’ work.
For sure, Lafawndah’s album is heavily influenced by its era, as it emerges from the more deconstructed-club tracks; the musical research that leads to today’s definite sound trends has left more than some marks on Ancestor Boy. This being said, this project is way more successful than others in the same current, due to Lafawndah’s incredible singing and super layered productions.
Tracks like the hit single “Daddy” or the deconstructed anthem “I’m An Island” are maximalist gems, gathering influences from music from all over the world. Ancestor Boy is the epitome of the contemporary “world pop” movement that focuses on crossing borders both geographically and sonically. Lafawndah knocks down every wall she encounters: while listening to this album, you won’t know if you are supposed to listen to it in a club or in your room, if it was made in London, Los Angeles or Mexico City (or in the three of them, as the artist stated on her Bandcamp), but trust me, it is a good kind of confusion. Are we in front of the future of R&B? Maybe, but even this definition would be too strict for Lafawndah’s groundbreaking work, that will for sure influence the sound of the genre for years to come.
By Carlo Casentini
Lakker – Época
Lakker, the duo of Arad and Eomac, are back once again signing with R&S for Época. Although this new album doesn’t represent a clear rupture with their previous output, it certainly is a turning point. It is also their first work written almost entirely together in the studio.
Lakker’s music has usually hovered over the thin border between austere and emotional, avoiding the club-ready functionalism of darker tinged techno, as well as the easy-listening trap of some melodic IDM derivations. Off-kilter rhythms, carefully designed audio textures and a consistent dose of various noises are the main ingredients of Época. Both austerity and warmth are taken to a new height, their interplay perfectly balanced.
The main departure from the past is perhaps the presence of Arad’s and Eomac’s voices. They sing on a handful of tracks making them memorable, like the opener “Shoulder to the boat” or “Dropped shoulders” which sounds like Dead Can Dance making a track inspired by a rave in an abandoned factory.
Rather than the hyper glossed sound of most of the present deconstructionist experiments with music, the duo goes in the opposite direction covering their rich and meticulous composition with a coarse surface. There is a great variety of timbres and instruments (the press release mentions “recordings and samples of violin, guitar and bodhrán, the stringboard of a piano at EMS Stockholm, phone recordings of family gatherings in Dublin and 1970’s dance music from Jaipur”), as well as a balanced dynamic between chaos and quiet, gray shades and colors (interestingly, the album features Lakker’s first colored cover).
There are percussion-based tracks such as “100 Bar” and “Murmuration” (the latter being the best Steve–Reich-meets-Raime mix one could dream of), glitchy shamanism (“Nest”), dark ambient interludes (“Clavier”, “Body from the water”), almost-pop earworms like “A juggling of numbers” and “A whisper in your ear”. The stripped-down industrial techno of “Discourage it all” draws the curtain on Época and lets the listener retain the feeling of an organic and warm experimental record, far from contemporary clichés and more rooted into the exploratory tradition of the best genre-blending artists.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
portento – un jardín de lamentos
Album: un jardín de lamentos
Label: Genome 6.66 Mbp
un jardín de lamentos is the latest project to come out on avantgarde powerhouse label Genome 6.66 Mbp. Similarly to his label mates, portento works on a very fluid concept of music, moving different genres and soundscapes. In un jardín de lamentos, portento makes the best of the sound collage technique, perfectly layering samples that vary from vocals to piano strings, to heavily reverberated guitars, merging them with the industrial soundscapes typical of post-club productions.
The album consists of a single track, that lasts around 24 minutes and is articulated in different movements, always connected by a common dark mood. Actually, dark is probably not the best definition for this project, that sounds exactly as what a deconstructed club fan would listen on a rainy Sunday morning. The ability to create almost tangible sonic environments and the beautiful sounds that portento manages to craft, really make the difference in this album, that we could define as a non-ambient ambient record. The influences that could be perceived are many; we can find references to the use of the voice of the latest Arca and to the harsh sonorities of Chino Amobi.
un jardín de lamentos is a very poignant and dense album, impressive on a technical and cultural point of view but also arrowing and emotional. portento’s debut on Genome is a clear success, and it won’t be the last for sure if the Krakow based producer will capitalize the opportunity of working within such a prolific and forward-thinking label.
By Carlo Casentini
Rian Treanor – ATAXIA
Artist: Rian Treanor
Label: Planet Mu
According to Wikipedia, ataxia is “a neurological sign consisting of lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements that can include gait abnormality, speech changes, and abnormalities in eye movement”. No description could be more appropriate for the music of Rian Treanor.
The British producer proves that on his debut album, called “Ataxia”, out now with Planet Mu. It is a club-oriented LP that draws heavily from sounds of the late ’90s, footwork and post-dubstep in the first place: high bpm’s and frenetic electronics are present everywhere, succeeding in the declared effect of making you move involuntarily. Everything is developed in a scientific-like and aseptic way, starting from the track names that are simply called ATAXIA followed by a progressive number.
But you can find more than a simple good danceable release looking deep in this album, not only for the intricate complexity of its rhythmic structures. The opener “ATAXIA_A1” looks like a manifesto: the expressionless voice of Joan Lancaster lists human function (sex, excrement, boredom). It is a sample taken from Bruce Nauman’s performance “Good Boy Bad Boy”. It creates a sort of bridge between human bodies and the music made with machines.
In general, the album never gets boring: polyrhythms, syncopations, irregular drum machines are the backbone of restless patterns. With an unexpected pirouette Treanor also plays with vocal samples, building an enthralling lamer rhythm. After the first EPs and deconstructred reworks with which we had begun to dance, this release confirms that Rian Trainor absolutely has what it takes.
By Francesco Cellino
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia