Review: Planetarium is an intriguing proposition: a four-way, collaborative concept album themed around space (but actually about the human condition), written and produced by alt-rock singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens, modern classical composer Nico Muhly, drummer James McAllister and jazz guitarist Bryce Dessner. Over the course of two slabs of vinyl and 75 minutes, the quartet - at times accompanied by no fewer than seven trombonists, for reasons not explained in the publicity material - speed between intergalactic ambience, political prog rock anthems, sweeping modern classical compositions, thrilling electronic/acoustic fusions, luscious piano ballads and lots more besides. Despite the impressive eclecticism on show, the whole thing feels surprisingly coherent thanks to frequent appearances from Stevens distinctive vocals.
Why Do I Lose My Mind When I Have Something To Say? (3:37)
Incidental Boogie (1:30)
Pearly Gates (4:01)
Review: Through her 'U.S. Girls' project, Toronto-based Meg Remy has released a consistently high quality run of albums that explore issues of femininity with a shaded and angular avant-pop sound. New record 'In A Poem Unlimited' sees Remy continue to explore identity politics, but in a comparatively warmer and more free sound as she collaborates with improvisational group The Cosmic Range. Structurally, the album enjoys an unpredictability of form that sprawls across skulking grunge, found sounds, crunching horn-sections and synth-driven industrial disco. Highlight track 'Incidental Boogie' exemplifies this binding of elements; the contrast of stomping, distorted with Remy's breathy and swaggering vocals is an intoxicating one. The breadth of Remy's palette makes this album an exhilarating listen, and - both as a vocalist and writer - Remy shines as an arresting and formidable talent.
Review: This collaboration between the sepulchral Sinatra and the kings of ceremonial metallic drone-worship, whilst it is transparently not a work for the faint of heart, is nonetheless worth all the excitement its announcement created in avant-garde circles, and more besides, It's more audibly a work from Walker's than Sunn O)))'s, yet with their assistance the rich melodrama and unflinching abstraction has rarely sounded more startling, or alarmingly approachable. What's more, the counterpoint provided by Sunn O))) to his stentorian baritone elevates proceedings to new heights of otherworldly intensity, resulting in no less than a game-changing triumph, and a clear album of the year contender from this odd couple.
Review: The original enfant terrible of the bass music world marks his second long player for 4AD with a sprawling opus of more than 30 skits and skirmishes daubed in his trademark colourful sonic scrawl. There is plenty here that reminds you of the early days of the producer's emergence when dubstep was a younger beast, from the spacious "Horrid" to the measured arpeggios of "Pray For Me", but you'll also find more intricate musings such as the dynamic and dramatic "Memories". Hype abounds on the creepy Funky of "VI-XI", while "Overdose" launches enthusiastically into a jungle tear out. At any given turn, you'll find yourself surprised, lurched from a serene mood into a manic one, only to be tempered again. There's a staggering range of ideas and styles to comprehend here, but would you want it any other way from one of electronic music's most outspoken upstarts?