Animal Collective's 'Prospect Hummer' EP, previously only available on CD and digitally, is making its way to vinyl almost exactly ten years since its original release on FatCat. 'Prospect Hummer' was the last release to see Animal Collective operating in a largely acoustic singer-songwriter / freak-folk mode, and three of the EP's four tracks feature the sweet, distinctive vocals of cult singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan.
The idea for this EP germinated during a 2003 tour, which saw Animal Collective (playing as an Avey Tare / Panda Bear duo) supporting Four Tet across the UK. Having long been huge fans of her sole album at that time (the rediscovered 1970 gem, 'Just Another Diamond Day'), Animal Collective happened to meet Vashti when the tour passed through Edinburgh. Following this meeting, ideas were hatched and conversations began, culminating in the group selecting these three beautiful songs for Vashti to make a home in.
Emerging from a damp, airless basement, rife with decay and broken equipment, Best Friends set about inflicting their warped idea of garage pop onto the public back in 2011, hell-bent on taking music back to a time when three minute pop songs transported you from your miserable maggot existence to a blissful state of nirvana, guitar tones fried your brain and hygiene was a dirty word.
'Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane' was birthed from early Best Friends recordings that produced tangible swathes of fuzz pierced with melody as the band sought to aurally emulate the workings of the Navajo rug makers, known for purposely weaving mistakes into their unique and complex patterns to remind us all that only the divine can achieve perfection. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of WWF, a full set of achievements on Mario Kart and several crates of beer, the band have been delving deep to reach your most primal instincts ever since. The album was recorded at Unwound Recordings (London) and mixed and produced by Adam Jaffrey. Early singles, "Fake Spit" and "Shred Til You're Dead" have been garnering shouts in NME Magazine and DIY Magazine, amongst a host of others.
Say Yes, the long-awaited follow-up to 2013's acclaimed June Gloom arrives on June 10th via the band's new home, FatCat Records. The record is a meteoric, towering return perfectly indicative of how Say Yes ups the band's stakes in every way.
Typically confessional, it's hard not to connect with the raw honesty of the lyrics on Say Yes. Sonically the record still sounds very much like Big Deal, but it evidences a certain newfound confidence. "We've done everything backwards," the pair explains. "Most bands spend a few years figuring themselves out before releasing a record. We released a record and then have spent a few years finding ourselves."
Say Yes is arguably the most open and emotionally provocative of all their works. "We've always been pretty private about our relationship within the band, but feel more comfortable talking about it for this record, as it's pivotal in the placement of our career." they explain. "It's about taking all kinds of heartbreak and defeat, and just looking at it dead in the eye and going for it."
Glasgow's prodigious talent C Duncan released his critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated debut album Architect earlier this year (last summer in the UK.) Now, his follow-up The Midnight Sun sees the bedroom producer return with a more expansive and experimental second offering, blending electronic elements and sweeping synth sounds with his signature layered vocals and dreamy instrumentation.
The album borrows its name from a Twilight Zone episode aired in 1961 Duncan muses, "it embodies the style of Twilight Zone perfectly, which is often claustrophobic, mysterious and unnerving. Like Architect, The Midnight Sun was recorded and produced entirely by C Duncan in his Glasgow flat, using his bedroom studio set-up and gradually adding each layer and each instrument one at a time. Though time-consuming, the process allowed him to lovingly assemble an intricate and subtle collection of songs that pick up where Duncan began with Architect and move toward a cleaner and more precise vision of the Scottish songwriter's vision. Duncan has heralded the new album as his "most coherent and concise work, sonically."
The son of two classical musicians, Christopher was drawn so persuasively to indie and alternative music and playing in school bands as a teen that he added guitar, bass guitar and drums to his existing repertoire of viola and piano, studying all five instruments at the same time. His debut LP for FatCat is full of achingly personal songcraft that's been recognized by NME, BBC Music, The Gurardian, Stereogum and most recently nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize.
Architect showcases a huge breadth in Christopher Duncan's songwriting abilities. Lead singles 'Say' and 'For' are characterized by their gentleness and warmth, while 'Garden' is bright, sunny and irrepressible, while 'By' and 'Novices' draw more overtly from Christopher's interest in electronic music and modern composition. He references The Knife and Arvo Part as willingly as Burt Bacharach and The Carpenters. Add to that shades of Talk Talk, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, The Ink Spots and the classical and choral compositions of Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Faure, and a picture of the record collection that informs Christopher's music starts to become clear.
A must-hear for fans of fellow 130701 alumni Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka, Comprehension... marks Dmitry's first ever vinyl release and offers a genuinely rich, deep and rewarding listening experience. A wonderfully conceived and realized work, its narrative conceptually clear and moving with the emotional power and precise logic of a great film score. Forged in a very focused period of composition through late 2016 until early 2017, the writing process of 'Comprehension of Light' differed markedly from Dmitry's previous releases.
Comprehension... acts as a predominantly bleak sound-world. Eschewing the lyrical, piano-based impressionism that was becoming his hallmark, it instead unveils a constellation of heavy drones; low register brass and string swells; percussive rumbling / clacking; and sparse string composition. A stunningly conceived and executed album, Comprehension Of Light traces a redemptive narrative arc and bears witness to a rising young talent in the field of modern composition. It feels like a major step forward.
Following nearly three years of silence, FatCat's 130701 imprint is reactivated, with several new signings lined up ahead of next year's fifteenth anniversary of the label that played a pioneering role in the development of today's vibrant post-classical scene. The first of these signings, Dmitry Evgrafov is a hugely talented young Moscow based pianist/ composer/ multiinstrumentalist.
Collage' sees a clear shift from Dmitry's previous releases, each of which was marked by self-imposed restrictions. His first EP, 'Lying On Your Shoulder', adhered to an extremely minimalistic approach, using just string trio and piano; while on 'Pereehali', Dmitry confined himself to a single instrument, a Petrof upright piano, and a specific recording location. Feeling somewhat unsatisfied, Dmitry decided to take a break in order to rethink his approach to composing. He began a job as a sound designer, writing bespoke music for videos, commercials, audiovisual installations and scores. Working to set briefs under stricter conditions and with less time for introspection, the experience turned out to be liberating.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch is an award-winning French pianist / composer currently living in London. Spanning film score, bespoke composition and sound design, her work is connected by both its high quality and evocative, meticulous craft - a common sensibility of elegant, instinctual composition.
Shifting fluidly from solo piano pieces (the churning 'The Sum Of Our Flaws' and 'Six Of Swords'; the poignant delicacy of 'Hands Closed Together' or 'Strelka') to stirring chamber pieces (the formal elegance of Cotidal Lines; the expansive 'Minnesang'; the stirring sweep of 'Sublimation') and foregrounding explorative electronic enhancements (the delay-aggregation of 'Tulsi', the pulse-driven 'Persephone' and 'Scale Of Volatility'), the album is broad-ranged and playful yet cohesive and fully formed.
A gorgeously detailed and hugely impressive debut, 'Like Water Through The Sand' manages to sound at once fresh and familiar. It nestles comfortably within the contemporary cannon of post-classical producers / composers which 130701 played a formative part in helping establish (the adventurous modern landscape of Max Richter, Johann Johansson, Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka, Nils Frahm, et al), and reveals a brilliant new voice to add to the firmament.
Glasgow trio Frightened Rabbit combine sharp with with a gift for nailing the perfect guitar-pop hook. Having received well-deserved attention for their limited-release debut, Sing The Greys (reissued by FatCat last year), the band recorded their follow-up, The Midnight Organ Fight, with Peter Katis (Interpol, Spoon), in order to achieve the grandeur suited to thefervent ambition of their new songs. The result is a huge step forward for the band sonically, while they retain the acerbic, quirky lyrics they’re becoming known for. As singer Scott Hutchison puts it, “I feel the general FR weirdness is still apparent in the lyrics and this makes for an interesting sort of juxtaposition. It sounds kind of clean, but it’s actually pretty fucking dirty once you get listening.
Gregory And The Hawk is the project of Meredith Godreau, a native New Yorker with a captivating voice that hovers between windchimes and churchbells, and an undeniable gift for gently insistent melodies and earnest metaphor.
Godreau’s self-released efforts have received much attention from a passionate online following: hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, millions of MySpace visits, and an endearing tendency of her fans to post their own cover versions of her poignant, memorable songs.
With a gift for emotive acoustic pop that places her squarely within the tradition upheld by artists like Susan Christie, Elliott Smith, and Regina Spektor, Gregory And The Hawk will undoubtedly meet new legions of devotees with her most accomplished group of songs yet.
Dusseldorf-based pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann has taken a brilliant step forward with his fourth full-length release as Hauschka. Where his previous album comprised primarily solo recordings of Bertelmann and his “prepared” piano (with a few electronic and instrumental overdubs), Ferndorf is a more expansive and fully-realized effort. At once nostalgic, optimistic, and weighty, with deft melody sparkling among percussion and drive, Ferndorf carries an evocative richness and depth throughout its quick-paced, often light-hearted compositions.
Following a triumphant 2014 and ahead of a month of US touring, fast¬≠rising Scottish duo Honeyblood have premiered an all¬≠new recording with, 'No Big Deal'. "We had a couple of songs that I really loved, but I didn't think were quite right for the next album," explains frontwoman Stina Tweeddale. "A double¬≠A side single felt the perfect way to get them out there." The first recordings with new drummer Cat Myers, the special standalone single release comes ahead of a packed touring schedule for 2015, which sees the band spending over a month in the US, taking in co¬≠headline stints with 2:54, as well as SXSW and a support tour with legendary fellow Scots Belle And Sebastian. With details of the physical release and 'No Big Deal' to arrive soon and an epic live schedule taking them into the autumn, 2015 looks to be another action¬≠packed year for one of the most talked-about new bands around.
Recorded during several candle-burning stints at London's Fish Factory studios in the winter of 2016, Stina and Cat were joined by acclaimed producer James Dring, whose work with the likes of Jamie T and Gorillaz made him an intriguing choice for the Scottish duo. Make no mistake though, 'Babes...' doesn't sound like anyone else but Honeyblood. The urgent lo-fi charm that defined their debut still pulses from its core. The band that burst forth from Glasgow's DIY underground scene just a few years ago, recording cassette tape releases in their bathrooms and hosting ad-hoc parties in disused hairdressers is still in tact; however, the evolution that's taken place is undeniable. An epically road-tested band and a dose of production finesse create a formidable combination.
Stina's songwriting truly has found a bright new spotlight on her band's second outing. 'Babes...' is resplendent in the kind of effortless chant-a-long hooks that one by one will all soon become their own mantras. For a while now Honeyblood have been talked about as one of the most exciting new UK bands, but with 'Babes...' you just get the feeling that before long they'll be simply be known as one of the most important bands around, period.
Eighteen months on from his last new release, Vancouver-based singer / composer Ian William Craig returns with eleven stunning new tracks. Entitled 'Thresholder', the record sees Craig return towards the smudged and scoured beauty of his 2016 opus, 'Centres', a record which was universally acclaimed, making many end-of-year lists - including the likes of Rolling Stone, Uncut, The Wire, The Quietus, The 405 and Drowned In Sound.
Following the widespread critical acclaim of his recent 'Centres' album (July 2016), Vancouver-based vocalist / composer Ian William Craig returns with 'Slow Vessels', an album-length EP which both extends and radically re-imagines 'Centres', rendering six of its tracks in a stunning new light. While not quite an "unplugged" version, it is fundamentally stripped back, raw and predominantly acoustic, the songs included have been returned to their point of origin.
'Slow Vessels' sees Ian paring back the dense, billowing layers and heavily distressed textures that dominated the album and re-playing these tracks on a borrowed acoustic guitar and piano. While four of the tracks also feature some minimal tape manipulation, it's a move that foregrounds the strength of the songs, imbuing them with a heightened sense of nearness and intimacy and briefly reframing their author in the more traditional mantle of singer-songwriter. Deeply affecting and almost devotional in character, this utterly gorgeous re-setting of the songs sees them bathed in a warm, golden glow and throws a brilliant new slant on Ian's prodigious creativity.
'Centres' is the stunning new album from Vancouver-based vocalist / composer Ian William Craig, and his first release for FatCat (Max Richter, Hauschka, Dustin O'Halloran, Johann Johannsson, etc) following two critically lauded back to back albums for Recital Program. Ian William Craig is a trained operatic vocalist who combines his voice with analogue synthesizers, reel-to-reel machines, and faulty tape decks to create sublime cascades of unpredictable decay and beauty.
The songs were created manipulating tape loops through two or three decks at once to create strange deteriorating delays with different colors. Craig would then circuit-bend the bias to create odd kinds of distortion, or bend the sound back into itself so it feeds back in unpredictable ways. 'Centeres' is a stunning album that stands with a similarly unique sense of vision and integrity as the likes of William Basinski or Colin Stetson.
A hugely exciting new talent, Katie Gately is a Brooklyn-born, LA-based artist with an academic background in film sound production and editing. Having only recently stepped out from her regular job as a sound designer in the film industry, Katie has crafted a set of brilliantly intricate and ambitious sound pieces that exist in a borderzone between electroacoustic composition, field recording and deconstructed pop bringing to mind the widescreen scope of Scott Walker or Julia Holter and the precise playful abstraction of Matmos and Holly Herndon.
Tlaotlon is the solo alias of Melbourne-based New Zealander Jeremy Coughbrough, who has released a clutch of records in the past few years on labels like Dungeon Taxis, Epic Sweep, Trensmat and 1080p. Messy, maximalist and psychedelic, Tlaotlon proffers a kind of squelchy, hyper-colourful, dislocated modern electronica that might find roots in older models like Phthalocyanine or Autechre but sharing commonalities with current producers like Patten, Sculpture, Dalglish, Astral Social Club and others.
Maarja Nuut is a singer and violinist. An utterly compelling, often hypnotic performer, she was born in Rakvere, in northern Estonia. Maarja has studied classical and folk music extensively. The modal sound of the pre-Soviet, Estonian "village style" - and her constant experiments with live looping - are central to her music. Hendrik Kaljuj√§rv (aka Ruum) started making electronic music at the age of 15. Kaljuj√§rv has no academic training. His expertise in creating soundscapes was forged in Tallinn's avant-garde theatre NO99; where he worked as sound engineer and designer. Essentially the recording of two musicians' inner travels, Muunduja is a release that relies heavily on gesture and spirit. Maarja Nuut & Ruum's music often lures us into unimagined conversations with elements of our psychic selves that we may have otherwise forgotten. Whether the listener reacts through out-of-body experiences, glitches in cerebral programming, or old fashioned magic is immaterial. We experience the phenomena presented to us, and we take new insights from them.
Completed in just two weeks between the sub-zero conditions of commuter town Cornwall, New York and the heart of Brooklyn, Wooden Aquarium marks the apex at which Mazes' music to date meets. While debut album A Thousand Heys was recorded on a boat and recent album Ores and Minerals was recorded across numerous takes in the back room of Dalston's Shacklewell Arms and Jack's bedroom, Wooden Aquarium has brought Cooper, drummer Neil Robinson and bassist Conan Roberts together in a studio again. Recorded completely live and laid down entirely onto beautifully thick two-inch tape, the trio also had company in enlisting the skills of Parquet Courts' producer Jonathan Schenke.
Akin to Field Music's articulate songwriting prowess and the punky guitar rhythms of The Feelies or Television, and see-sawing between extreme confidence and self doubt the record is packed with hypnotic lo-fi pop melodies and motorik rhythms bolstered by spiky hooks and Cooper's distinctively carefree vocals.
By now the two young heavyweights from the LA Skate / Art / Punk underworld, No Age, are a well-known and established part of the indie pantheon. But back in 2007 Dean Spunt and Randy Randall were just building quite a bit of noise in the wake of the demise of their previous band Wives.
After working out their sound in the LA scene revolving around the now fabled venue The Smell (pictured on the cover of Weirdo Rippers) they decided to release five ltd. vinyl only releases on a variety of DIY indie labels across the globe on the same day (namely UTR, Deleted Art, Teardrops, Youth Attack, and Dean's own PPM label). Their debut LP release for FatCat, 'Weirdo Rippers', was a collection of recorded highlights taken from the aforementioned releases. At the time it was readily available on CD and has since found a home digitally but it's not found its way back to the vinyl format that first gave many of these tracks life. Now we're presenting the first domestically available version of 'Weirdo Rippers' pressed to vinyl; an utterly essential piece of No Age's past.
Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier Alary is a highly talented composer, who has previously collaborated with Bjork and released albums on FatCat and Aphex Twin's Rephlex label under the name Ensemble, Over the past five or six years Olivier has moved away from that song-based project to focus on composing material for a stream of films and artistic collaborations. In 2007, Olivier's director friend Yung Chang asked him to score his feature-length debut, 'Up the Yangtze' which premiered at Sundance. The film was critically acclaimed and became a reference in the field, opening up a natural transition into film music for Olivier.
Since then he has soundtracked more than twenty feature-length fiction films and documentaries, several of which have received prestigious awards and screenings worldwide (Cannes, Berlinale, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno). As the album title alludes, 'Fiction / Non-Fiction' is a compilation of this film music, dating from from the past five years, none of which has been previously released. Olivier's material here might sit somewhere among the likes of Johann Johannsson, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid, and Set Fire To Flames, while having the same masterly ear for sonic detail as Oneohtrix Point Never or Tim Hecker, but throughout the tracks are imprinted with Olivier's own, signature sound.
As well as being a statement of intent, No Grace was that opportunity to go big or go home. So PAWS went big. After discovering a mutual appreciation between themselves and bassist/producer Mark Hoppus (Blink 182/+44), PAWS enlisted his support to help push these new songs to their wildest heights and pack the heftiest punch they could muster. And from the eponymous opener and first single, 'No Grace', it's clear the two are a perfect fit. Recorded last summer between Chem 19 in Glasgow and a private studio in Somerset, it's a partnership that strikes hard through the core of the record, from the anthemic gut-punch of 'N/A' to the thrashed out madness of 'Salt Lake' and 'Complete Contempt', PAWS' third album distills the best of what came before it and builds on it with strength and confidence.
Resina is the alias of Karolina Rec, a cellist/ composer based in Warsaw, who signed to 130701 having sent in this album as a hugely impressive demo late last year. A very accomplished performer with a background in Polish underground music, this eponymous album is her solo debut and sees a rich, atmospheric re-imagining of Polish music rooted in a feeling for indigenous nature / landscape and realized via an intuitive, experimental approach to playing.
Her playing appears to mimic or suggest certain natural processes / locations / elements - the flocking of birds; the movement of water, clouds, light, wind; the gradual stirring of life in the forest. Track titles reiterate these themes, as does the very name 'Resina': the Latin form of resin, "the blood of the tree". At times recalling the landscape-rooted drone of English composer Richard Skelton, Resina's pieces feel similarly organic and evocative of nature. Their sprawling growth is awash with tonal / timbral intricacies. Her tracks shimmer and hang around the listener; slowly shift, unfurl and awaken; become increasingly active. Another reference point might be found in Werner Herzog's musician of choice, Ernst Reijseger, whose powerful cello playing is grounded in a jazz-wise investigation of non-traditional/ non-academic techniques.
Shida Shahabi is a Swedish-Iranian pianist / composer, currently based in Stockholm. The beautiful, intimate and homespun piano of 'Homes' marks Shida's debut release. Each of the album's eight pieces were played on her J.G. Malmsjo piano - a very heavy and good quality Swedish upright from the turn of the 1900s, that had spent the majority of its life stationed in a church in central Stockholm, and was in fantastic shape for its age. There are no whistles and bells attached here, no big name guest performers or hired studio hands. Absolutely beautifully played and composed, it is a deeply charming record that exudes a confident warmth and an emotional depth and honesty in every note. Its production eschews the prioritizing of cleanliness, with a warm, fuzzy noise floor audible from the very first track immediately immersing the listener into this sublime yet imperfect reality - as though the whole existed beneath a layer of dust. It posits comfort over obsessive cleanliness. Living comfortably with traces of wear and decay, the recording makes audible intimate acoustic details and imperfections - creaking and hissing; tiny distortions; the pressure exerted by fingers and feet against the piano's pedals and keys.
Shopping's debut album Consumer Complaints drew a flurry of press for their spot on divining of post-punk's driving force, dubbing them as a "band you need to hear" by NME and "Artist To Watch" by SPIN. The band evokes revered touchstones The Slits, Delta 5, Gang of Four and ESG, though as Pitchfork reminds, "they never sound particularly dated or like a carbon-copy, a testament to the group's songwriting abilities." Rather, they embody the spirit of experimentation, social upheaval, (without becoming didactic) clashing gender politics and ethical change that defined their 70's counterparts and still ring true today.
The band teams up again with Jamie Grier, who mixed and mastered their first LP, this time placing Grier in the recording chair at Glasgow's Green Door Studios, while mastering duties fall to Alan Douches. The album is full of the same timeless spark that drove the debut, propelled by Billy Easter's toothsome bass lines and Rachel Aggs' jagged yet rubbery guitar. All three band members lend their voices to Why Choose, pushing and pulling between Aggs' knife hilt yelps and drummer Andrew Milk's steadied responses, giving heft to the anxious energy of tracks like "Straight Lines" and brevity to the detached cool of "Passing Through" and "Private Party."