On "Casino Lisboa," Dirty Beaches makes one of the dirtiest combinations of funk, post-punk and lo-fi muck imaginable. It feels like a nightmare set in a hellish club where everyone is dressed in leather and drinking brown fog. It's also oddly danceable – try to resist.
On "Battle Funk," New York psychedelic warriors NYMPH return to provide a set of freak explosions, mountainous crescendos, Afrobeat extensions and pointillist guitar dots. It's crazy but it all feels intensely spiritual as the track glides around in a tangled cluster in sync with the noise-weapon vocals of Eri Shoji. Some mind expansion necessary, but the payoff is worth it.
Even at its barest moments, Julianna Barwick's music is just utterly beautiful. With little more than layered voices and ambient instrumentation, it's emotionally immense yet also escapist in a unique, gut-wrenching way. Her new LP, Nepenthe, is out August 20 on Dead Oceans, and your first taste is the mountainous aural xanax of "Forever." Listen and preview the album with the teaser above.
From a deadpan joke in his film Coffee And Cigarettes, Jim Jarmusch has turned his iconic dialogue into a rumbling post-rock band called SQÜRL. On "Pink Dust," he shows it legitimately rules, too. The song is a psychedelic mountain with huge, patient guitars and drums just as gigantic. Similar to instrumentals on the soundtrack to The Limits Of Control – where this formation made its first appearance – this track is a natural electric atmosphere to get lost within.
Drifters/Love Is The Devil, the new two-for-one from Dirty Beaches, covers a lot of ground. It's gut-wrenching, disconcerting and still hypnotic enough to throw waves of nostalgia and melancholy right in your face. "Landscapes In The Mist" closes out Drifters and functions as a bridge to the dronier, ultra-sad instrumentals contained within the second record. It sounds like a dying jazz band tuning-up while you pull away from shore on a barge.
At their peak, Growing were the best live band in New York City. For years, they exploded power supplies and made concert-goers all tearful with nothing more than two guitars, a penchant for razory drones and some brain-splitting rhythms. Quiet since 2010, we finally have something new from one-half of the duo. Check out "Bender" - a cut from Kevin Doria's solo joint Total Life. It's totally fucking immense.
1939 Ensemble, a duo consisting of Jose Medeles (The Breeders) and David Coniglio, have a real way with rhythm. Emerging from the hazy netherworld of post-rock ghosts, "Sabotage" finds the group making spy music with drums, vibraphone and little else. It's mysterious, catchy and circular enough to get lost in. Hear more on Howl & Bite – out April 16 via Jealous Butcher Records.
Julianna Barwick is no stranger to getting a little heavenly, and she continues the streak she started on 2011's fantastic The Magic Place on this new track "Pacing." Those interlocking, angelic vocals are still blissfully present, but this one adds a somber piano to the formula – yet another musical example that mixing sadness and beauty is the way to go (and make me cry).
I'm loving the current artistic counter-reaction to music becoming so disposable. As The Knife prep a 90-minute opus, Dirty Beaches mastermind Alex Zhang Hungtai is bundling two albums into one with Drifters and a stark instrumental set called Love Is The Devil. Check out the title track, which is kind of a severe bummer (while also very beautiful and raw). "I was crying my facing eyes out when I wrote this and punching myself in the face," explains Hungtai in the video's YouTube comments. Well, then.
Grouper returns with the heavenly "Vital" – the first salvo from her upcoming The Man Who Died In His Boat LP, which collects unreleased recordings from around the time she released the folky, ambient milestone Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. Hear more February 4 via Kranky, and read an explanation of the album's admittedly-wild title to whet that appetite a little more.