Published on 26th December 2020
A Different Aspect #46
In this update we feature:
• Jumble Hole Clough – I can name the un-named boy
• Kairon; IRSE! – Polysomn
• Terje Rypdal – Conspiracy
• Anna von Hausswolff – All Thoughts Fly
• Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
• The Flaming Lips – American Head
• Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension
• Møster! – Dust Breathing
A Different Aspect is usually the place where we put short reviews of albums that for whatever reason did not float our rubber ducks sufficiently to merit the full review treatment. This one is an exception, as I am rounding up a few albums that definitely DID deserve the the respect of a full wibble, but time constraints and other lame excuses notwithstanding, slipped down the back of the sofa.
So, puff up those cushions, pour yourself a pangalactic gargleblaster, and absorb this lot into your bloodstream. Much like a vaccine, it’s for your own good.
369 albums into a career of loose-limbed expectation confounding, Colin Robinson adopts his nom-de-guerre one more time to fire this wobbly missive at us from the other side of the room, from where the wall is crack’d. Several small, strange, and furry audio snapshots escape from cells with padded ceilings, make their way down the wires and emerge blinking and twitching out of the speakers, where they dance around before you sprite-like, with mischievous glints in their eyes.
For your information, the funkiest thang here is Insomniac, which struts like a mutha. Occasionally, dislocated voices off join in, adding to the the meringue of spangliness, unearthly anchors in a shimmerhaze of sounds. One of those voices belongs to Richard Knutson, Colin’s longtime partner in audacity, who is sadly no longer with us. I’m sure he looks down on this many-hued creation with a smile on his face, wherever he is. Hey! Come back here with that antimacassar, it’s not meant as a flying carpet!….
Token serious comment – this is probably Jumble Hole Clough’s finest broadcast yet, and, as with the entire catalogue, it’s Name Your Price on Bandcamp. I’m sure Colin would appreciate the price of cuppa. It is Xmas, after all. Speaking of which, here’s a Christmas song JHC did three years ago…
I thank my good friend Spike for pointing me at this, and a bloody good job he did, too!
Finnish and righteous, the curiously monikered Kairon; IRISE! landed in my in tray with a brash confidence that belies their intermittent career. Polysomn is only their 4th album, but in the ten years since their debut they have charged through their post-everything world with a massive grin on their collective face, progressing from a charming naivety to their current state of lysergic grace.
Opener Psionic State repeatedly bangs the sonic planets of North Atlantic Oscillation, Sigur Ros, and Sugar into an unimaginably heavy dwarf star until the whole caboodle explodes in a burst of starbright illumination that will frazzle your synapses, o yes! The other side of their permafrozen Euro is the psychdedlic space ballad, which puts its best foot forward via the thoroughly swirling Welcome Blue Valkyrie in all its altered-state glory.
This is a fucking fabulous album that should be in everyone’s 2020 top ten but won’t be.
At a mere 73 years young, Norwegian guitar maestro Terje Rypdal makes an album that musicians a third his age would be proud of. His backing band this time round consists of the rhythm section and ubiquitous organist of choice Ståle Storløkken, who has been part of Rypdal’s backing band on and off for some time.
The opening And The Ghost Was… Me! is suitably haunting and melodic, backed by nervous rhythms from drummer Pål Thowsen, reminding us of the turbulence beneath the surface of Terje’s best music from the past. The following What Was I Thinking brings those broiling currents to the surface, recalling the guitarist’s finest work on the likes of Odyssey and Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away.
The title track continues in this vein, and is as energetic as anything released under the Rypdal name. Storløkken gets to turn in a feisty solo, trading with Rypdal as the track builds and builds.
Another “should be listed” album, yus indeedy!
Anna von Hausswolff is a 34 year-old Swedish musician and composer, whose instrument of choice is the pipe organ. All Thoughts Fly is her fifth album, and consists solely of her favoured instrument. So far, so prosaic, I thought. Then I listened to the album. A simply astonishing range of sounds are made by Anna, on what apparently is a replica the largest instrument of its kind, located in a church in Gothenburg.
The amount of physical effort that goes into playing this monster, with its layered keyboard, plethora of stops, and the full involvement of the feet on the bass pedals, is reflected in the muscular sound of this enormous Gothic construct of an album.
The music is inspired by Anna’s visit to Sacro Bosco, a formal park in Bomarzo in central Italy designed by 16th century arts patron Pier Francesco Orisini while mourning his recently passed wife. One wonders what kind of relationship they had, as the park contains many stone sculptures invoking Gothic terror! This haunting imagery translates well through the medium of pipe organ, on what is a captivating listen. The title track veers off down a Philip Glass avenue of towering and mesmerising repetition that leaves your head spinning. Marvellous! Highly recommended.
Drummer Moses Boyd is part of the London nu-jazz scene, and his album is, as you might expect, rhythmically intricate and propulsive, and takes the listener down all manner of side streets, where soul and trip hop mix with jazz and dance beats to create a heady urban stew that documents the ceaseless heartbeat of modern life in the capital.
The scene, like any other tight-knit musical happening, is incestuous by necessity, and so we have numerous players from other bands making appearances. One of the core members is tuba player Theon Cross of Sons of Kemmet, who has made his instrument an unlikely focal point of any song it appears in. Another friend is saxophonist Nubia Garcia, whose own album Source would also be in this round up, were it not a separate listing we’re doing under the banner “Best of 2020”.
In which Wayne Coyne waxes lyrical on two of his favourite themes; death, and drugs, while his partner-in-altered-states Steven Drodz rekindles some of the Lips’ love of the lost innocence of a perma-zonged Beatles on a never ending Magical Mystery Tour, replete with BIG psychedelic Neil Youngish ballads. In other words, American Heads is the Lips’ best album in 10 years. They seem to have entered another decade with another hefty statement of artistic intent.
It’s only when bands like this stop doing what they do that you miss them. This album needs to be on your shelf, virtual or physical.
In which the American musical polymath, still laughably included in the Billboard Folk charts, ditches the acoustic guitars once more, and delivers a double album of downbeat synth pop that goes one step further than its sonic birthplace, 2010’s The Age Of Adz, addressing a crisis of faith, beleaguered hope, misplaced love, and death. Sounds depressing? Well, yes… and no. The deep and often bleak lyrics are countered by a glossy pop sensibility, as Phrophet synths and drum machines go ape.
This is a multi-layered and very personal album by a man who sounds like he’s going through an existential crisis. Never one to shy away from revealing his inner psyche, and while not as revealing as the previous album, the emotionally stark Carrie and Lowell, The Ascension is a work of some merit that reveals more of itself over repeated plays. As with all good art, it is deserving of patience and requires a bit of effort on the part of the listener.
The mighty Norwegian supergroup returns! Led by saxophonist Ketil Møster, the band occupy a place on the jazz-rock scale Heavily (capital H intentional!) towards the rock end of the spectrum! The energy on this record is simply staggering, as the band jam on riffs in a manner that leaves me breathless! Motorpsycho’s Hans Magnus Ryan leads the guitar charge in the speedy scout vessel, as Kaptain Ketil steers the colossal starship from the bridge! Alien beings flee in terror!
As this album only came out on 11th December, I am still absorbing it, so I suggest you listen to the opening track The Bonfire, The Sun at neighbour-rattling volume, and make your own mind up!
Well, that’s about it… but really it isn’t, but I would be here all day, and I’ve turkey curry to make. There is so much good and individual music coming out right now, it is almost too much! Much as TPA is nominally a prog site, even if just one of you out there in readerland takes a listen to any one of the more outré albums listed above, that’s what it’s all about! Close your eyes and jump into 2021 – HNY!!!