Sharon Van Etten, Espvall & Batoh, Moon Duo, James Ferraro

A few records that have slipped through the net and deserve a mention today, I think, beginning with Sharon Van Etten’s spectral “Because I Was In Love” on Drag City.

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A few records that have slipped through the net and deserve a mention today, I think, beginning with Sharon Van Etten’s spectral “Because I Was In Love” on Drag City.



The fact that Espers’ Greg Weeks recorded and mixed “Because I Was In Love” is a pretty big clue as to how it sounds, though Van Etten doesn’t go in for the sort of brackish, wrought intensity often favoured by Espers. Maybe the closest reference point for these super-intimate sketches might be the “Dear Companion” solo album Meg Baird put out a couple of years ago, though there are also affinities with the likes of Josephine Foster, Samara Lubelski and Marissa Nadler. Pretty nice.

Talking of Espers, Helena Espvall, the band’s cellist, has a second album with Masaki Batoh from Ghost, “Overloaded Ark”. It’s a stronger set than last year’s self-titled, though still in the same vein: drawing parallels between various ancient folk forms; essaying a kind of microscopically evolving, medieval psych. The promo CD comes with a rather threatening missive from Batoh, which basically suggests that anyone planning to review his album by looking at Wikipedia instead of using “your pure impression, deep and wide knowledge for art and generous love for ordinary readers” should give up. So that’s told us.

In preparation for the Wooden Shjips gig at Club Uncut next month, Ripley from the band sent me the latest 12-inch from his other project, Moon Duo. “Love On The Sea” gallops along in much the same strobe-lit fashion as the Shjips themselves, though perhaps with a heavier accent on the organ, pointing up the Suicide vibes and possibly steering fractionally away from the Spacemen 3 influence towards Spectrum.

James Ferraro, from The Skaters, is apparently being presented in this month’s Wire as part of a newish scene of artists – also including Pocahaunted – under the banner of “hypnagogic pop”. On the covers of Holy Mountain’s reissues of a couple of his rare solo albums, “Clear” and “Discovery” (watch out for these, they have virtually identical sleeves), the music is described as “tropical drones concepts”.

From where I’m sat, these lovely and immersive records essentially deal in saturated lo-fi ambience. There are similarities with the feel of that Ducktails record, though Ferraro is a lot more kosmische in many ways, and “Clear” especially sits nicely alongside some of the various Cluster and Harmonia reissues that have been turning up recently.

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