Danish Kira Skov has recorded a dark, brittle album of torchsong duets with the likes of Bonny "Prince“ Billy, Mark Lanegan, John Parish, Jenny Wilson, Steen Jorgensen, Mette Lindberg, Stine Gron and more.
In our interview, she breaks down her process: "I like to feel that part of it is out of my hands. I don’t need to be in control here. The songs will lead the way and hopefully teach me something."
Read our Kira Skov interview.
Storytelling is the main focus for Birmingham's Truemendous. In fact, she has had to consciously move away from that approach to keep challenging herself: "Over time I reckon I just trained myself to be more of a freedom thinker and applied less structure to my work," as she puts it herself.
On her debut album Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson, she embeds these open strucured bars into an eclectic mix of jazzy moods and hard-hitting trap beats that combine into a release that, despite its scope, always feels engaging and inviting.
Read our TrueMendous interview.
BLK JKS also have a lot of stories to tell, all of them culled straight from life. Shortly after their explosive debut After Robots, the band took an extensive break from the recording studio, but remained at the helm of South Africa's rock music scene. Effectively, the band has turned into the musical voice of their generation, little wonder for a group whose breakthrough song goes by the title of “Join Umzabalazo” (join the revolution): "It’s an anti-apartheid struggle song for the people by the people. It rose from the streets and very early in our journey. It was a punk dream, it was the punkest thing I ever heard and we felt the people of South Africa deserve to have their revolutionary punk spirit and attitude archived and reflected back at them."
Their new album Abantu / Before Humans trades in a little bit of that punk dream against a challenging complexity, but the results are equally infectious and sweeping. This is still the voice of the revolution calling.
Read our BLK JKS interview.
Until 2020, Gerald Cleaver had made a name for himself mainly as a highly accomplished jazz drummer. This changed with Signs, an intriguingly idiosyncratic voyage into modular electronics, filled with tactile timbres and otherworldly rhythmical shuffles. "Tomasz" is a robot's love song and stand-out piece "Amidst curses" builds gradually like a techno track, but its rhythms are weightless, its development glacial, its propulsion almost folding in on itself.
His latest full-length Griots continues and expands these explorations with a more muscular sound and hard, to-the-point compositions. Cleaver's modulars are bleeping and breathing, the machinery sighing and moaning as if pushing a heavy load through space. It is the sound of an artists who manages to coax from synthesizers the same physicality he considers so vital in his drumming.
Griots is available June 4th via Positive Elevation / 577 Records. There will also be a remix album of Signs by NYC based composer, producer, and performer Hprizm on June 18th.
Read our Gerald Cleaver interview.
So far, Marja Ahti has released two albums under her own name: Vegetal Negatives, released in 2019 and The Current Inside. These works present a sharp break with her past publications under the name of Tsembla, not just in terms of their aesthetics, but also with regards to the underlying concepts and philosophy.
The break was caused, as she recounts in our interview with her, by her rejection of sampling, its questionable ethics and creative limitations. She would soon reap the benefits of this turnabout, as her new works left even the relative safety of samples behind to sail the waters or pure, undilluted imagination.
Sound, here, turns into a raw material for the construction of worlds that are as intimate as they are vast and which feel remarkably real despite their abstractions. As she puts it herself: "What I’m doing with sound is not so much about me making the music, expressing myself and my identity - but more like facilitating new constellations of sounds, listening and making use of what’s in front of me."
Read our Marja Ahti Interview.
Conceptually, Jeremy Young follows a very similar path to Ahti. His approach involves intuitive juxtaposition, precisely mapped-out collage, confounding de- and re-contexualisations and building non-linear narratives. Sensuality plays a vital part in both their oeuvre, even though it's more disembodied in Ahti's case and more physical in Young's. Either way, the results are, for the most part, strikingly different.
On Amaro, an album of awe-inspiring ambitions and dimensions, Young constructs a true aural trip somewhere between the beguiling and the bedazzling. Spoken word, ambient textures, field recordings, dreamy musings, swelling, ebbing and glissandoing violins, deep bass fields, stuttering yet weirdly catchy rhythms, delicate sheets of crackle and hiss – there truly are no borders here.
Read our Jeremy Young interview.
In direct comparison, Ale Hop's The Life of Insects (out now on Buh, after a lengthy pandemic-induced delay) is far more confrontational, an intense sonic experience, taking in anything from delicate field recordings to violent bursts of harsh noise, percussive strikes that recall her early interest in drumming as well as strummed strings which reveal her long-term relationship with the guitar.
For Ale, these contrasts may be explained by dramatic experiences in her youth: "I was born during the armed conflict in Peru in the 80s. My parents made me tape crosses on all the house windows—in case "a bomb exploded nearby," so the shards of glass wouldn't fly all over and cut us. It was a peculiar state of mind: waiting for something to explode. I think that shaped my imaginary in a way, which is why I've always been fascinated by extreme sonorities."
Read our Ale Hop interview.
If you enjoyed the frictions in Ale Hop's work, why not take one step further and immerse yourself in the radical sonic visions of Vina Konda. A scientist working on the French Kerguelen Islands and publishing his work strictly anonymously, his hard-hitting, hallucinatory tracks are brutal, perplexing sound art disguised as erotic body music. Vina Konda's latest EP Osseus Labyrinth is just over 22 minutes long – but any more would be an overload anyway.
Our conversation with him has turned out suitably philosophical, a deep look into a mind obsessed with music and the meanings behind it: "I really think that making music, or broadly speaking, making art, is about manipulating strong signs. Whatever the signs you choose, if you write good poetry, it's the only thing that counts."
Read our Vina Konda interview.
Earlier this year, Claire Rousay released A Softer Focus on American Dream Records, which saw her moving into a fascinating world somewhere between tactile ambient and trance-like musique concrète. The album was greeted with a triumphant reception, making Rousay one of the leaders of a new generation of sound artists – a remarkable feat for a performer who built her reputation on solo drum improvisations and who still holds a grim and manic/depressive view of herself: "I guess I primarily identify as a broken person, a struggling person, a fuck up, a let down. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is out to get me. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is bowing at my feet."
Her latest publications, on her newly founded Mended Dreams imprint, are both a fresh beginning and a summary. A Collection compiles some of her best work of her earlier, more percussion-oriented work. And two tape-only releases, Twin Bed, a solo EP from Rousay, and Now Am Found, a collaboration with Patrick Shiroishi, show what the future holds in store. Judging by the quality of this music, Rousay can expect there to be more bowing at her feet at least for a while.
Read our Claire Rousay interview.