For the last few weeks, my life has been lost inside a chaotic mess… clothes, books and pieces of paper strewn across my bedroom floor, a mountain of food wrappers and unwashed plates gathering dust. I’m in self-destruct mode and something needs to change. Writing has always been such a positive outlet for me but lately I’ve been avoiding doing the things I love. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate, my eyes straining into the dim light of my laptop screen… fingers fumbling across the keyboard trying to piece together my thoughts. Even listening to music has felt like a chore.
The band that I so often turn to in times of disrepair is MONEY. Having watched them from the very beginning, I feel a personal connection with their journey, which culminated in the release of debut album ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ (Bella Union) and a momentous performance at M.I.F in 2013. It was a strange experience staring at Jamie Lee’s naked torso as I danced next to Hayley Cropper, a sea of Mancunians singing every word of ‘Letter To Yesterday’ with me.
Lee’s dark poetic lyricism, with it’s moments of intimacy and inner madness were always a focal point in my love for MONEY, but hidden deeper within the musical layers was the tender work of shy guitarist Charlie Cocksedge. Now in the process of revealing solo material that he wrote in between touring, it’s clear from these blossoming compositions that Cocksedge is the sun to Lee’s moon… a creative dynamic that works beautifully in harmony together, but individually is just as captivating.
‘Be‘ is a 10 minute instrumental piece that delivers subtle melodies and the kind of twinkling progressive sound that delicately brings your imagination alive. With influences ranging from Nils Frahm to Jonny Greenwood, Cocksedge’s ambient noise is a slow-burning and expansive world, as emotionally powerful as it is technically brilliant. Music like this will always be there for me when I’m struggling, like tiny fragments of light managing to find a way through the cracks in my head.
When I have trouble sleeping, I tend to go on huge soundcloud binges… often bringing lucrative musical returns. Manchester producer Bhrisc is one of my most recent late night discoveries, and with Mary Anne Hobbs already taking any interest, I’m clearly not alone in my way of thinking. Describing 6550 on her 6 Music show as a “descent into darkness”, his take on modern techno knowingly exploits a sense of loneliness and alienation. L.A Arch is all smokey textures and industrial noise… you quickly lose yourself in the repetitive droney beats. Bhrisc’s production is cold but emotional; a thudding and fragile detachment from reality.
Brooklyn based Lee Sargent is an artist worth falling in love with. As guitarist in alternative rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sargent played a notable role in my musical awakening, but only now do I realise his true genius.
There is a touch of early Sigur Ros in Noa Eini, one of many cinematic compositions that I have discovered… layers of instrumentation wrapped up in a crackling electronic beauty. His experience working with brother Tyler on the film score to Alex Karpovsky’s film Woodpecker (which also featured Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood) has undoubtedly helped shape his creative path… a rich neo-classical influence that goes beyond the mundane and into the unreal. If you want instant gratification, move along… this is the work of a master painter with the ability to find depth, resonance and emotion in every note.
With the cold winter nights starting to set in, and Christmas fast approaching… I figured it’s the perfect time for me to give my first gift. Tru Luv is proud to announce the release of Insular, a beautiful 3 track electronica EP, by Manchester based Espher. Available to download free now: https://truluv.bandcamp.com/album/tl002-insular-ep.
Lead single ‘To The Sky’ received its premiere to critical acclaim on Clash
On a personal note, my friendship with producer Ben Pearson, goes far beyond an appreciation for his music – although it certainly brought us together. We first met in 2010, when I was promoting The Strange Death Of Liberal England & Patterns (then called Elmo Logic) and a band Ben had been playing with were booked to open. Their songwriter unprofessionally decided to pull out pretty much on the eve of the show. Ben kindly offered to step in with his own project Swansong, and even though he’d never played his own music live before, I was impressed by the performance. Cath Aubergine, a legendary Mancunian music writer, also saw something that night, enough to make me think he was worth keeping an eye on.
A couple of years later and I’d found unexpected musical success in Christian AIDS/Stay Positive, but now I was back in Manchester and in need of a new creative outlet. Ben was in a similar position, and with Moses Gold we found that direction. I knew quite quickly that Ben was a diamond in the rough, his technical ability unquestionable, but what set him apart was the emotional heart at the core of his electronic compositions. An inspiring and passionate man, he was able to bring out the best in me, making me feel comfortable and helping me to believe in myself during my lowest moments. I loved working together on tracks like ‘Powder and Blood’, ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Visions’ … hopefully these creations will stand the test of time.
Espher as an artist in his own right is starting to blossom. His ongoing a/v series of musical Fragments are definitely worth investigating (there are currently 22 tracks on youtube) as a clear insight into the direction he is going, a more minimal and ambient body of work influenced by Nils Frahm. In the New Year, Ben is moving to Australia, and I’m going to miss him not only as a creative partner, but as one of my closest friends. I have every confidence he’s going to continue to do amazing things.
Just when you are beginning to think the Manchester talent pool is close to filling up, another name emerges and blows everyone out of the water. With a sound reminiscent of King Krule… and perhaps even GREAT WAVES at their most melancholy, Shea Hickling aka Coasst is about to announce himself as a serious contender.
I Guess U Lied is driven by a haunting, singular sound.. his world weary voice radiating above a lonesome electric guitar and some sparse drum beats… before breaking out into something more funked up. Clearly still experimenting and by no means representative of his future, it’s hard not to get excited by this understated and dreamwoven noise.
Coasst plays Night & Day this Thursday evening. Doors 8pm. Might be a good idea to go…
Manchester’s Elizabeth Vince first came to my attention as a member of Laekyn, an electronica outfit that dealt in downbeat digitalism. Vince’s ethereal and lovelorn vocal work stood out… so news that she would be releasing a debut solo EP left me intrigued.
Our Loving Cage is certainly a rich canvas of ambience and glacial beats, it’s defining moment I Was All I Was is a beautiful composition of shimmering synths and industrial glitch. Vince’s tender and fragile voice finding strength towards its climax.
There is a certain satisfaction in knowing Manchester based producer Loftt is eventually going to be discovered… because this kind of talent can’t stay hidden locally for too much longer. Latest track We’ll Be There carries an unmistakable sense of motion; disembodied and yet strangely tender vocal samples call out amongst the multi-layered and darkly atmospheric sounds. Aided by the addition of Claire Northey’s intricate string work, Loftt has managed to create an expansive piece of late night electronica.
I’ve admittedly been feeling fairly uninspired lately, and in turn my writing… and love of music has suffered. It often takes a special kind of band to bring me out of this spell, and I’m happy to say Faenimal Arm were able to do it. Based in Helsinki, this electronica duo consisting of Mia Ojapalo and Emil Järnefelt remind me a little of Manchester’s Bernard & Edith; experimental electronica but retaining a pop sensibility within their sound. Début track Industrial Sex (released via Vild Recordings) has this hypnotic and sensual rhythm that playfully dances around Emil’s shoegazer vocals. The video, created by artist Nick Tulinen, mirrors the feeling the song creates beautifully…
I might be going a bit soft of late, or perhaps just seeking out a non-pharmaceutical antidote to the thrust and bluster of modern life, but I’ve found myself increasingly drawn towards more tranquilizing sounds; textural exploratory ambiences, drumless lullabies.
As part of my daily treatment, I’ve self-prescribed Katzgraben – a duo of João Tiago and Ricardo Peixoto who find themselves perpetually disconnected in a geographical sense, except for around twice a year when they join together to create stirring, evocative sounds. Combining electronics with a natural flair for swells of guitar feedback, on a superficial level at least Katzgraben appear to pitch somewhere between Stars Of The Lid, Hermoine Harvestman and the more sedative side of Growing. The first of these artists in particular naturally gravitate towards night-time listening, whereas S9 seems more suited to daylight hours – an odd synaesthetic quality, these elegiac soundscapes are brought to life against a visual backdrop gently cast shadows and the natural breezy sway of fauna.
It’s music to soothe, but more importantly music which can reinvigorate one’s sense of the here and now.
I’m not sure if it’s because they’re putting something in the chips, but there seems to be a growing collective of interesting electronic producers inhabiting the Brighton area at the moment.
Japanese Sweets consists of approximately one half of ambient-pop-noisesters Speak Galactic, namely Owen Thomas. In his current incarnation, Thomas deploys exploratory electronics to investigate a variety of textures and moods. While any existent melodies are implied or masked beneath more liberal auditory pleasures, we’re still not in the vicinity of outright noise. There’s nothing particularly vicious about the sonics, in the end it’s only as obtuse and challenging as you decide to make it for yourself. Certainly, if you have a stomach able to withstand the less rhythmic movements of Harmonia, the more ambient degrees of Mouse on Mars, or the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s “Blue Veils & Golden Sands”, you’ll find much here to dissolve along to.
Just relax into a comfortable shape, think of it like head music for the not-yet-quite-exploded.
If anybody reading this has experienced any unexpected potato based hallucinatory episodes on the south coast recently, let me know. Or just listen to Japanese Sweets. Yeah, that’s the one.