Three years in the making, Filaments is electronic music pioneer Robert Rich at his finest—textural and soothing, yet emotionally evocative and a delight to your auditory cortex. For inspiration, he draws on his scientific curiosity about the nature of the physical universe and what mankind’s interstellar forays might soon reveal. Using modular, off-the-rack, and virtual synthesizers, along with ethereal, EBow-driven lap steel guitars and other instruments, he has crafted an engaging album that surrenders subtle details on every listening.
On his gutty, gorgeous new release, singer/songwriter Steve Earle and his Dukes tough it out, Chicago blues-style (though the album was recorded at House of Blues Studios, Nashville). Earle’s always smart, powerful lyrics—sometimes precise, sometimes more stream of consciousness—are couched in raucous but intricate arrangements featuring brilliant interplay between acoustic and electric instruments, and dirty and clean sounds. Earle’s singing has rarely sounded so bare—the pain in these songs is just ugly enough to get your blood up.
Is 2015 the new 1982? Julie Ann Campbell, aka Lonelady, holds her plug-ins aloft in the pre-rave air formerly occupied by Laura Branigan and Laurie Anderson, with enough minimalist punk menace to keep it flowing. Following 2010’s Nerve Up, Lonelady’s swinging beats and errant industrial effects are allied to some seriously catchy song-craft in Hinterland. Looped cello and chicken-scratch guitar drive the funky title track; “(I Can See) Landscapes” recalls U2’s “I Will Follow”; “Mortar Remembers You” is sparse, spectral, and über-melodic.
THE GO! TEAM
THE SCENE BETWEEN
On his first album in four years, Go! Team founder Ian Parton has taken the project back to its sample-delic roots, singlehandedly producing the most effervescent and compressed collage since his debut. Performing all live instruments and sourcing new singers, Parton combines ambient mics and creatively thinned, crunched, and oxidized treatments with perky melodies to hone his trademark Northern-soul noiserock pep rally. He successfully fuses simultaneously loose and coherent arrangements into one fuzz-glazed, blissful corkscrew.
Like jazz-addled rats scurrying over hot oil, John O’Gallagher and his trio trade insults, zingers, and zippy one-liners in music that draws you in and then dumps you out, fully sated. A nimble alto player buffeted by agile bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and angular drummer Mark Ferber, O’Gallagher’s Honeycomb is all New York rush hour traffic, daredevil spills, and fast out-of-town escapes. The sizzling “Petulant Snoot” and swinging “Eve Day” add weight to a juggernaut of melodic/rhythmic spills’n’chills. KEN MICALLEF
ONE LITTLE INDIAN
A “complete heartbreak album” released two months early following an Internet leak, Vulnicura is no rushed affair. It is an achingly paced chamber music shadowbox made from searing, groaning shifts in pitch and sequence cast through jagged, cauterized wounds … devastation in stark relief. The fibrillating micro-edits and mossy strings, programmed and mixed with assistance from Arca and the Haxan Cloak, harken back to Homogenic and Vespertine and gravitate around vocal tangents delivering tectonic confessions.
KITTY, DAISY & LEWIS
As Schoolhouse Rock once told us, “Three is a magic number.” Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are three siblings, and this is their third album. They take turns leading and harmonizing on 12 charming tracks, arranged in various styles (reggae, Latin, rock ‘n’ roll, jump blues, soul). The main commonalities are big bands and a retro feel. The Third is a highly enjoyable collection for anyone who loves old records. An added bonus: The great Mick Jones appears on track three.