Beth Orton takes an electronic turn on Kidsticks. While Orton has become increasingly known for her folk leanings, the singular-sounding hollow-voiced artist is no stranger to the plugged spectrum of music. Orton’s history with The Chemical Brothers, William Orbit, Red Snapper, and Kieren Hebden provides multiple reference points on Kidsticks. At times the bleeping minimalist soundscapes and tinny beats create a jagged, uncomfortable space, such as on the jittery “Snow” and glitchy “Flesh and Blood.” At other points, Orton makes the contentious marriage of conflicting styles work, see the gentle “Falling” and the whispery “Corduroy Legs.”
Recorded with bass guitar, microphone, and flea-market EQ, Dan Lissvik’s Midnight reflects both his time in successful Balearic revival duo Studio and late-night sessions tracking tunes while his wife and baby slept in the next room. This oddly happy, nocturnal album dances over frothy house beats and jocular samples, harp strings popping like zithers while gerbillike samples scoot and slither. There’s a touch of madness in Midnight’s sleepy-eyed instrumentals, the sound of a globe-trotting DJ trapped with his machines.
Across two previous albums Norway’s Kvelertak proved singularly agile at swinging from black metal to d-beat to hard rock boogie within one song. On the band’s definitive third, which translates as “Night Traveller,” Kvelertak buckle any remaining subcultural partitions between thrash, prog, NWOBHM, blues rock, hardcore, etc., to achieve a skein of wiry, swaggering mettle. Produced by the band alongside engineer Nick Terry, Nattesferd is 50 generous minutes of interlaced ambitions, precision, and thrills.
EXODUS OF VENUS
AGENT LOVE/THIRTY TIGERS
SiriusXM Outlaw Country radio artist and hostess Elizabeth Cook has released her first album in six years, and it’s far deeper and bluer than the sunny, clever persona Cook cultivated on Balls and Welder. Following a tough patch, she’s succumbed to a sorrowful mood that’s less Dolly, and even less country, than before, with darkly ringing guitar sounds and reverberant vocals. But exposing the raw emotion of Exodus just shows a different, equally beautiful side to Cook’s artistry.
Singer/cellist Leppin steps out from the duo Janel and Anthony to turn in a set of moody and evocative songs that emphasize her wide-ranging vocal and instrumental talent. The music is at times filmic, with gorgeous, yet often simple melodies weaving in and out of layers of blurry synths, dreamy guitars, and lush effects; Mellow Diamond is an outstanding solo release that will appeal to fans of the Cocteau Twins and the early work of Björk.
If you’ve ever longed for a religious experience, look no further than Brooklyn’s Julianna Barwick. The vocalist’s reverbladen monosyllabic ululations and soft-as-cotton instrumental backdrops are like flying through the heavens, disembodied, providing the perfect out-of-body experience for earth-bound music lovers. Featuring contributions from Thomas Arsenault (Mas Ysa), Dutch cellist Maarten Vos and percussionist Jamie Ingalls (Chairlift), Will’s looped instruments and echoed vocals reflect Barwick’s training in a rural Louisiana church choir. It’s the perfect music for haunting belfries and circling church spires.
Three years removed from the live instrumentation- led Apar, Barcelona-based blissout quartet Delorean dial back the clarion indie-pop for a deeper excursion into Balearic beat. Building on the mystic wooziness previewed with 2015’s “Crystal/Bena” single, these nine vibe tracks show Delorean’s renewed dedication to pitch-bent sampledelia and feathery melody. Delorean, with help from coproducers such as Madrid’s Pional, sequence muggy house and synthetic disco into hypnotically chugging, lens flare-strobed vespers.