Glass Rock, Max Richter, Ólöf Arnalds, Matias Aguayo

Some stuff to mop up today, beginning with the excellent Glass Rock album on Ecstatic Peace! that’s been cropping up in a few of our playlists recently.

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Some stuff to mop up today, beginning with the excellent Glass Rock album on Ecstatic Peace! that’s been cropping up in a few of our playlists recently.

It comes with the very user-friendly title of “Tall Firs Meet Soft Location”, spelling out the two bands who actually make up Glass Rock. Tall Firs I’ve come across before. With a couple of OK albums on the same Thurston Moore label that sound a little like (yes, sorry) a folkish Sonic Youth, maybe like Moore’s “Trees Outside The Academy”.

Soft Location are new to me, though, and it’s their terrific singer, Kathy Leisen, who’s the star of this album; a mighty expressive, controlled singer who sometimes comes on like a bluesier, laidback PJ Harvey (especially on “Open Air”). According to the press release, “The dilettante thinks Chan Marshall or an Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison,” and I can see that too, dilettante that I undoubtedly am. The jazzy, circling “Ghost Of A Dream” is killing me at the moment and, though that one isn’t there, check the songs on Glass Rock’s Myspace; they get better and better, especially the dusty vibes of “Golddigger”, which has something of Calexico, or at least the desert, about it.

A couple of things from the One Little Indian/FatCat axis. First, a reissue of Max Richter’s “Memoryhouse” album from 2002 that I think might be the best thing I’ve heard from this very Nymanish British composer. If you’ve liked any of the Johann Johannsson records on Touch and 4AD, it might be worth giving this a go.

Second, there’s “Við Og Við”, by Ólöf Arnalds, which seems to have been around a while but is only just coming out in the UK. Arnalds appears to be some kind of associate of Sigur Ros, which doesn’t automatically fill me with excitement . But actually it’s pretty nice: imagine Joanna Newsom’s “Milk-Eyed Mender” translated into Icelandic, and you’re pretty close to nailing it.

Finally, to Chile, and the second album from producer Matias Aguayo. “AY AY AY” is a kind of rubberised, playful, ultra-catchy techno, built out of South American rhythms I can’t pretend to easily identify, and often using Aguayo’s looping, goofy mouth music as percussion. There’s a definite affinity with El Guincho in some of this, but I also keep thinking of Robert Wyatt, or at least his whimsical scat singing, when I hear this massively enjoyable record.


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