Niklas's blog

Music I listened to in May 2022


Answer Code Request - Shattering EP

This is one of my favourite electronic bands that have arrived to me in the past couple of years. They're magnanimous songwriters, adept to carry off major, floating songs that drift, far into the wild, all the while carrying the Tresor-ish flag of techno.

Every time this lot sends something off, I'm there.

Thomas Köner - Zyklop

This is a live recording by Köner and fellow musician Yannick Dauby, originally released in 2003. It's deep, faraway drone to the sound of cicadas, wind, a nearby human, darkness or possibly mid-day; all in sound form. It's beautiful. If this floats your boat, also check out the Basinski/Schaefer album that's mentioned in this post.


Kurt Vile - (watch my moves)

A fairly poppy album set to synth-rather-than-guitar-driven songs along with Vile's drawly voice makes for a nice listen. This album didn't grab me as much as with his Wakin On A Pretty Daze.

Sleaford Mods - Live at Nottz Arena

The worker's power duo ready and live, featuring the affable Billy Nomates.


William Basinski and Janek Schaefer - ...On Reflection

Piano and birdsong, wind and cars riding by in the background. This is some ambient and beautiful music; twinkling, yet done purposefully. I wasn't very surprised to hear this album had taken a long time to make, but it's worth it. As with Thomas Köner's music, this is dreamy and drifting far away and yet very close.


Ada Kaleh - Nodus Tollens

A pulsating, arpeggio-laden electronic and low-fi EP. This is what Olof Dreijer would have done a few years ago, if he'd been stripped of all melodic sense. This album carries a deft DJ's touch.


Roger Eno - The Turning Year

An orchestral album, where timbre and fidelity are at the front. This makes for a warm and deep feeling of letting time do its piece. Weirdly enough, my main comparison where it comes to a sense of modernity and tempo would be Brian Eno, the artist's brother.

Hans Zimmer - The Survivor

I love some of Zimmer's soundtracks, notably Dunkirk, but this one feels very phoned-in; the themes of the album don't grip me and as a whole this album isn't memorable.


Czarface - Czarmageddon!

This is a Czarface album spearheaded by Inspectah Deck (Wu-Tang Clan) and Esoteric, with a lot of brilliant tracks. Just check out the track 'The Czarlaac Pit' and you'll see what I mean. Production is on point.


Skee Mask - ISS008

Another issue off Ilian Tapes, the music label that's run by the Zenker brothers (who can be wondrous artists in their own right), this is Skee Mask bringing dance, broken instruments, old drum machines, and brilliant techno.

I always hear Skee Mask's new stuff as soon as possible.


Orbital - The Pentaverate

This is a soundtrack for a comedy TV series. Orbital have used this album to return to 'The Box', the multi-part song that spawned a Tilda Swinton-starring video.

The soundtrack is a fairly focused effort, and the brothers (Orbital) prove that they're the true heirs of Kraftwerk: clinical precision, a world where sterile stuff turns out true warmth. Listen to tracks like 'The Musk' and 'Enter Mentor' and you'll see what I mean.

I've heard this album multiple times and often return to thinking about what a great song 'The Box' is; they've used this soundtrack to turn the song into something else, segueing it into the world of the operatic.

Arcade Fire - WE

I truly love some tracks by Arcade Fire. I even love their wacky track 'Everything Now', from what's probably their fans' least favourite album.

On this album, WE, I can only find one single song that I like, and I find the lyrics on most tracks fairly drab; they remind me of my own language when I was a kid and desperately wanted to use the tone, inflection, and meaning that were brought by my loves, but in doing so, I just turned out to be a faint copy. God, I was about to say a reflection. (Arcade Fire pun)

Belle & Sebastian - A World Without You

There was a point in time when I gladly listened to everything new that Belle & Sebastian released; this is not that point in time. I remember nothing from this new album. The last time they released something that I fondly remember is from guitarist Stevie Jackson's solo album, which says a lot; it was issued in 2011.


Gaika - War Island OST

A modern-sounding quilt of songs that don't match but do paint a whole picture once matched up, this is a bass-driven album with interesting and mixed-down English rap.


Viagra Boys - Punk Rock Loser

A three-song single from the currently most exciting Swedish live band, here we go: Sebastian Murphy sings about being loose (he has 'lös', the Swedish word for 'loose', tattooed into his forehead), but my favourite song on this one is throwaway 'Troglodyte', where a mass-shooter is deemed not even an ape.

In my head, this single is more well-produced than anything that's previously been released by Viagra Boys. The tight yet stereo-spanning production serves their sound well.

There's also a lot to be said about their sound, which differs somewhat between record and live: on record, well, you can hear it for yourself by checking out their Shrimp Sessions 2, which is available on streaming services. Compare their 'Ain't Nice' with 'Troglodyte' and there's notable differences, ones that stand out as with Ramones' stuff. On record, it's compressed and tight; live, it's, well, more loose. And it works.

Also, their shit fucking rocks. I love slow songs about not needing a woman or a man, or being shrimp at the bottom of the ocean. God, this is refreshing. Listening to Viagra Boys feels like washing myself after a sunny day at the beach.


Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe - Monteverdi: Il quarto libro de madrigali

This collection of madrigals makes me think of the music that Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury have made for soundtracks like Men and Devs: this is not that experimental; it's all voice works, clear compositions that are accompanied by lute, chitarrone, and bass. That's it.

This reminds me of Bach, but that probably just shows how little I know about classical music from the 16th and 17th century.


Moderat - MORE D4TA

The main themes of this album are isolation and information overload, according to the band. I don't care particularly for the song, but the instrumental music is most often interesting. While some of their songs, for example, 'NEON RATS', feel commercial in a bad way, most of the ones on this album are engaging and interesting, especially when Moderat experiment, when they go into the unknown; there, they truly shine.


Kikagaku Moyo - Kumoyo Island

I enjoyed their Stone Garden a lot when it was released. I was distraught when I learned that Kumoyo Island is the last album they release as a band; their current tour is their last!

Well, we'll have the music to last a lifetime.

This album is just as psychedelic as Stone Garden, but this is far more...accessible. There is far more behind my vapid description.

Hypnotic, cool, filled with sparkling synth breaks, multi-layered percussion, clear production, and daring song. Just listen to a track like 'Dancing Blue', which changes a lot during its initial two thirds, then goes somewhere else until the end.


Circuit Des Yeux - Live from Chicago

The deep tenor of Hayley Fohr, who is Circuit Des Yeux, here performs drenched in reverb and, mainly, strings to back her up.

Try listening to the song 'Vanishing' and not be enthralled by her four-octave voice.


Ratos De Porão - Necropolitica

You want brutal anti-fascistic metal? You've got it. Ratos De Porão are legendary in Brazil, from where they come, and what they lack in poetry and softness they make up for in honesty and politics.

The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention

'This sounds like Radiohead', I thought, not having heard anything about the band members.

And that's basically it. I love quite a few of Radiohead's songs. This album makes me miss Greenwood's Junjun and Yorke's Anima.


Machine Girl - WLFGRL

Brutal, repetitive, a mix high as the sky, in-your-face skips in volume and in terms of how hyperkinetic this possibly could be, this album is the child of 1990s junglist pirate radio and Death Grips.

It's refreshing and annoying, much like how my own mind skips a lot between different ideas and trains of thought.

Machine Girl - Gemini

As above, but without the extreme edges, which sadly makes this a less fun album.

Machine Girl and Five Star Hotel - Machine Girl/Five Star Hotel

This is a split album made up of previously unreleased tracks by these two artists. It's kind of throwaway yet energetic; nothing wrong in this.

Jenny Gabrielsson Mare - Comb The Wicked

This is, to me, the sound of a young artist who's listened to Nick Cave and Stina Nordenstam, yet has created a lovely piano sound. Dark sounds. Some times accompanies with organ and guitar. Feels like they've listened a bit too much to the first-issued Twin Peaks TV-series soundtrack.


Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers

This album is a masterpiece, something that is larger than the sum of its parts; Lamar scorches himself, his choices, his life, while viewing and painting life, Black life; this is a poetic and experimental album that raises the bar of popular music far beyond what currently is served to the masses.

Where Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly was beauteous and radiant, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is more wondrous and pushed even farther.

Put things this way: it's hard to point at even a single weak track on this two-hour-long album, which says much. There are so many good things about this album that it'll last for a very long time, if not forever. This is a highlight of 2022 and (I guess) is a contender for the album of the year title.

Electric Callboy - Crystals

Screamo to distorted...well, distorted guitars. If you've listened to fratboy music circa Skrillex, you know what to expect. Under the right circumstances, this works.


Lykke Li - Eyeye

She doesn't disappoint, even when it's all about heartbreak again; she does it so well. Did anyone complain when Roy Orbison did the same? Hell no. Lykke Li is one of my favourite pop singers and lyricists.

This album was recorded in her bedroom. Fuck fame, fuck boredom, fuck everything but making a record your own way.

Model Home - Saturn In The Basement

This is some broken-up music, in a good way. It's interesting, fragmented, and mainly splintered music.


Kronos Quartet, Rinde Eckert, Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ - Mỹ Lai

This is an intense album that is experimental and very well structured in many ways, because this is a multi-layered album. The album is entirely based on the American massacre; let the Bandcamp page do the talking:

On March 16, 1968, the United States Army killed over 500 unarmed civilians in the hamlet of Mỹ Lai, Vietnam. The unimaginable brutality of the event impacted all those who witnessed it firsthand, including helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who, against orders, intervened to save Vietnamese lives. Thompson’s story is the basis of the opera Mỹ Lai, composed by Jonathan Berger (music) and Harriet Scott Chessman (libretto) for Kronos Quartet, Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, and vocalist Rinde Eckert. This definitive recording of Mỹ Lai captures the visceral, phantasmal depictions of Thompson’s grief, horror, and guilt as he is haunted by persistent memories of that cataclysmic day, half a world and nearly four decades away. Tense and unforgiving, Mỹ Lai is “a gripping affair, beginning to end” (New York Times). Presented here alongside recollections by Vietnamese survivor Trần Văn Đức, it is a memorial to all the Mỹ Lai villagers killed on that grim day.


Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow - Men

Yet another soundtrack from these two, off Invada Records; this album works rather nicely after the one by the Kronos Quartet.

These songs are driven by male soprano voices and strings, not to mention synths. As expected, kind of. Very reminiscent of their soundtracks for Devs and Luce, but not as engaging.

Robert Pollard - Our Gaze

The frontperson of Guided by Voices has merged two of his formerly out-of-print solo albums, Standard Gargoyle Decisions and Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love, into this one. It's a collection of odd rock music with a voice that hovers above it all, close to the mic, his alto voice straight in the mix. Yet, the songs breathe and harmonise nicely as one single album.


Roy Claire Potter and Park Jiha - To Call Out Into The Night

Spoken word, minimalist composition, string-based instruments that are strange to me. This album works, and it works very well. Park Jiha's Philos is one of my favourite albums of 2019. Her latest album, The Gleam is wonderful.


Dave Clarke - fabric 60

Dave Clarke is one of my favourite DJs. He handles techno like no other person does, and his own music is lovely. He's got an extremely keen ear for percussion. This is an live album released in 2011, recorded at one of Clarke's gigs at the legendary fabric club.

This is a fantastically eclectic and coherent cadre of tracks that work together to bring you where you need to go.

Diskoteket - Det ska se ut som slutet

Swedish rock with a yelpy singer who shouts through the tracks; the music doesn't really hold up, especially not when compared to the bands that this lot probably hold up as idols: Joy Division, Wire, etc.


Сруб - Скверна

These are an odd lot; the first two songs on the album range from melodies as made by medieval trolls and death-metal screams, to Johnny Marr-ish guitar jangle and extremely weird song (that works!). This band surprised me in a very nice way; how often do you come across bands that play with different musical genres and succeed?

VEX - Average Minds Think Alike

A friend gave me this band as an example of modern synth-based music. It's poppy and bouncy. To me, this sounds a lot like bands I used to listen to back in the day, bands like And One.


Mari Samuelsen - Lys

This is, at the best of times, a challenging and lovely-sounding album. At worst, it's got a Beyoncé cover. The Meredi and Peel pieces are wondrously arranged and played.