Bill’s Indie Basement (4/20): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
TGIF, people. Did I just write that? I did. What a week to be a music blogger, when seemingly every label, big band and festival decided to announce everything all at the same time. I’m a little punch drunk. Such things don’t affect this column so much, though, and this week there’s even an accidental theme (and it’s nothing to do with today’s date). I’ll let you figure it out for yourself, at least till you get to the point where I made the realization myself. We’ve got Wire side projects, Cate Le Bon & Tim Presley’s DRINKS, Belgian dancerock greats Soulwax, Swedish easy listening and audiobooks (sort of). Read on!
If you need more Basement-approved music: I shared what titles I’m hoping to pick up at Record Store Day on Saturday (though all the stuff I really want is UK-only); The Essex Green are back (the new single is terrific); I like everything I’ve heard from the new, less-cynical Father John Misty record; and am excited at the prospect of seeing Marcos Valle next month.
Immersion – “Microclimate”
Colin Newman (of Wire) and Malka Spigel (of Minimal Compact) are married and also make music together, having been part of on a number of projects over the years, including githead and Oracle. They have also recorded as duo Immersion since the ’90s, and their chilled-out grooves still bare that decade’s sound today. Sleepless, out June 15 via the couple’s swim~ label, is Immersion’s fourth album and first in two years and features appearances by Matt Schulz (Holy Fuck, Enon, SAVAK) and Gil Luz and Asi Weitz of EBM band Hexenschuss. The album’s lead track, “Microclimate,” is Immersion in a microcosm, with hypnotic guitar-lines, warm synths, a groovy bassline and understated, jazzy drumming. If you dug or still dig stuff like Hooverphonic, Laika and Lali Puna, immerse yourself in this:
Drinks – Hippo Lite
Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (White Fence, Darker My Love) have each made some skronky, esoteric music in their respective careers, but never so willfully weird as when they work together as Drinks. Having first teamed for 2015’s Hermits on Holiday, they now return for a second time with Hippo Lite which is out today on Drag City. They made the record in France under luddite conditions: “A month spent in an old mill, river swimming, scorpion fear. No wifi. Night sounds, used frogs. Broken music, a crumble, a mysterious place. An album made for each other by one another with no piercing the bubble, the opposite of a typical recording experience.”
Those frogs and night sounds turn up on lovely instrumental “The Night Kitchen,” but the amphibians are only one of many strange noises all over this record: typewriters, squeeky hinges, detuned everything. It’s the kind of record where you’re not sure whether you’re hearing clanging percussion or your building’s boiler acting up. As much as I enjoy following them down obscure paths, it’s the comparatively straightforward songs like “Greasing Up” and “Real Outside” that I come back to.
Cate just spent a week in Marfa, TX recording with Bradford Cox, and she’s producing the new Deerhunter album which is kind of exciting.
AOP – “Retox Weekend”
I am realizing it’s turning out to be unofficial Duos Week here on Indie Basement. Swedish musicians Mattias Gustavsson (Dungen, The Hanged Man) and Martin Fogelström (Mylla) have played together in various musical projects since the early ’00s, including Little Children, Our Solar System and more, but also have a creative partnership called AOP. Inspired by Fleetwood Mac and other ’70s sounds, it’s proggy pop on the light side of the FM dial. AOP will be releasing a string of singles this spring, the first of which is “Retox Weekend” which floats along on synth lilypads. Mattias tells us that it “might sound psychedelic, but is rather a hedonistic protest song. A protest against work ethics. A protest against health obsessiveness. Against the need for control. Against fear of the unknown. Enjoy and rejoice!” Off the record, I can get down with these protests. The “Retox Weekend” video, all beach scenes and pastel on-screen lyrics, premieres right here, check it out:
Look out for more AOP singles and an EP to follow this summer.
Soulwax – “Essential Four”
The BBC’s “Essential Mix” is a prestigious show featuring “the world’s biggest DJs on the world’s biggest decks.” It makes sense that the Beeb would ask David and Stephen Dewaele, of 2ManyDJs, Soulwax and Despacio fame, to do one, but what they delivered was something essentially different….a brand new Soulwax album. The Dewaeles explain:
When we were approached to make an Essential Mix for the BBC in May 2017, we chose to do what every sane human being would do, we decided to lock ourselves into our studio for two weeks and make an hour of new music based around the word ‘Essential’, instead of preparing a mix of already existing music. The product of this otherwise unwise decision is something we ended up being very proud of…It felt like a challenge and something no-one had done. We loved the challenge of releasing a full record live on a radio show without people having any advance notice.
The Dewaeles are on a bit of a hot streak, having released From Deewee, a one-hour, seamless record the incredibly tight Soulwax band recorded live in one take(!) last year which was their first album as Soulwax in a decade. Essential plays like a sequel, and on this one they’ve brought in Charlotte Adigéry, who released a great EP last year via the Dewaeles’ Deewee label.
Adigéry sings on “Essential Four” which kicks off with an electro-clap drumbeat that may have you checking to see if you haven’t cued up Gang of Four’s “I Love a Man in a Uniform,” before it drives into more distinctive territory. It’s sleek, sexy and decidedly Soulwax:
“Essential” is out June 22 via Deewee.
If you happen to be reading this whilst at Coachella Weekend 2, please make a point to go see them Friday night (4/20), they are amazing live and they’re currently sporting a three-drummer lineup. I’m a little miffed they aren’t playing East Coast shows as I haven’t seen them live in about 10 years and still think about that amazing 2006 show they played at Studio B.
audiobooks – “Gothenburg”
Accidentally Duos Week (not sponsored by Twix) wraps up with audiobooks, the London-based duo of producer/mixer David Wrench — who’s worked with everyone from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s Euros Childs to Caribou, and FKA Twigs — and fine arts student Evangeline Ling. They’ve just released “Gothenburg,” a very promising, eerie and cinematic debut track, driven by a tribal synth beat and somewhat haunted whispery vocals. If I were a music supervisor, this would be earmarked for the spookiest project I have.
No word on whether this is just a single or part of something more, but I’m looking forward to hearing what’s next.