Plum Green – Sound Recordings

Sound Recordings

First published: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/plum-green-sound-recordings/

When I first reviewed folk-goth siren Plum Green back in 2012 I may have been a bit harsh. I compared her performance on her debut to Rushes to Evanescence’s Amy Lee, noting that this was a singer in search of her voice. With this new collection, I can safely say she’s found it.

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J Mascis – Elastic Days

Elastic Days

Originally published: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/j-mascis-elastic-days/

Swapping power chords for fingerpicking and acoustic guitars, Dinosaur Jnr’s frontman J Mascis showcases a very different musical side, with a more gentle contemplative approach that’s streets away from the brash indie rock we’re used to from him. On his third solo album,  the alt-pop slacker specialist seeks to combine his trademark firestorm solos with the articulate and delicate acoustics crafted in his first two releases. Despite leaving the safety of his main gig, his sound is much more confident than he’s ever been. Stripped back, these songs hold together without the need for the usual elaborate distortions and shift the focus back to the infamous drawl and psychedelic abstract lyricism.

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Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage (Fat Possum)

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What do you get if you mix the sound of downbeat producers Air with the creepy vibes of David Lynch, the sultry vocals of Melanie Pain and then force it all through a psychedelic lemon squeezer?  Well, this, I imagine.
Actually, French musician Melody Prochet is none of the above – and a little bit of it all. Her 2012 debut, under the label ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’, was a collaboration with Aussie producer/songwriter Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) – a crazy mix of eclectic, melodic vocals and trippy production. On her new release, Melody Prochet has doubled down on the psycho-pop glory of her self-titled debut, while retaining just enough grunge in the final production to subtly smudge up her sexy Franco-pop breathlessness. This is all courtesy of her new Swedish collaborators Fredrik Swahn (The Amazing) and Reine Fiske (Dungen).
Her fearless attitude to music may also be a result of her recent recovery from last year’s car crash which left her with a brain aneurysm and broken vertebrae. This comes to mind instantly in the opening song, Cross My Heart: “I can’t keep falling from so high.” The arrangement reminds me of early Cocteau Twins, especially it’s a dreamy mashup of acoustic guitars, hip-hop beats in the bridge and, inexplicably a mediaeval flute.
There’s a spot of self-improvement behind Breathe In, Breathe Out, which swings wildly between moods and tempos, even though the oddly placed whistling segments.
However, I was a bit perplexed by Desert Horse, with its bizarre Arabic flourishes, Latin percussive beats, and scrambled voice samples.  “So much blood on my hands, and there’s not much left to destroy.” This is like Bjork fronting a new iteration of Belle and Sebastian.
Most of the songs on this disc are in French (the above quotes are translated), However, there are interludes and of English and Swedish such as on Var Har Du Vat, a short and sweet traditional Swedish folk song.  That one came as a bit of a surprise.  A nod to her producers, I guess.
In some ways, those songs were a sort of calming influence before the mind-blowing onslaught that comes on the second half of the album.  Tracks like Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige (When Tears of An Angel Make Dancing Snow) have this crazy, unhinged poetic aesthetic to them.  Yet Prochet sings in a playful, coquettish whisper. If you’re not ready it can almost be off-putting.
On the other hand, Her music has a slightly spiritual atmosphere, with chiming bells and other zen come-downs on the fading strains of the mirror-ball disco of Visions of Someone Special.
The theme continues on Shirim, which might well have nicked one or two funky riffs from Nile Rogers during his time working with Daft Punk.  Given all the shit she’s been through who can blame Prochet for wanting to cut loose here and there.
Overall, this is a challenging listen but if you hang in there it’ll be well worth the wild disorientating ride.  If you like your pop music mashed, strained and grained with plenty of sexy, breathless vocals then this one is for you.

Katchafire – Legacy (Zojak Worldwide)

Katchafire_legacy

Originally published at: https://www.13thfloor.co.nz/katchafire-legacy-zojak-worldwide/

As I fight the freezing winter rain, there’s a summer party raging inside my headphones. That’s because Katchafire, Aotearoa’s favourite reggae act, is back with what I believe is their best album yet.

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Belly – Dove (Belly Touring LLC)

First featured at www.13thfloor.co.nz

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Belly – Dove 2018

It’s been 23 years since Tanya Donelly and crew walked away from their highly successful indie pop venture, Belly. Finally, they’ve found the guts to return, bringing with them a sweet but mature version of their younger selves that’s way more than just simply palatable. It’s like they never left.

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Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son (Fantasy Records)

Originally featured at www.13thfloor

Has one of the greatest guitarists found God or is he just borrowing a pew and a couple of psalm books? At 71, he may be getting on but going backwards to move forward has always been Ry Cooder‘s creative direction. New album The Prodigal Son might not be his best since the Buena Vista Social Club but it’s still damn good!

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