Massive epic remix from former M83 member Pierre-Marie Maulini, who now operates under the name STAL. This takes the original Years & Years track into wholly new directions and is well worth a listen if you are a fan of big synths and cinematic choruses. Like.
There is a beautiful subtlety to the music of Nottingham-based duo Shelter Point. The production on both of these tracks does a terrific job of just about adding enough colour and detail to Liam Arnold's vocals. Cut Me Loose is the newer of the two, a little more upbeat whilst still laced with melancholy, Serenity is more of a full-on modern ballad. Check them both out below where you can stream or download from Soundcloud.
A glorious bit of French touch courtesy of the (Yorkshire based!) L'Étranger here in the form of their gorgeous track "Falling For You". The track is available as a free download temporarily to celebrate a recent airing within Lazerdisk's recent guest mix for Diplo & Friends on Radio 1.
There's apparently a new EP in the works and we can expect a special guest, but in the meantime I'll be jacking this up on my headphones!
I've followed Mountains since their first release through Thrill Jockey - Choral, their third album overall - and whilst their sound doesn't ever change massively every album feels like a treat to listen to.
Mountains are Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg and they specialise in making slow-cooked ambient soundscapes. I've probably said this before: ambient music makes me hate my ears a little bit. But when it is done well it can be truly special, and Mountains can generally be relied upon to get it right.
To make this album Holtkamp and Anderegg focused on separating their acoustic and electronic instruments out, with each recorded separately. What this means is that their is no electronically manipulated sound based on acoustic sources. The result adds a little more of a human element to the Mountains sound, as the acoustic elements - the guitars, cello, organs and piano - all feel a little more exposed.
In places this combination is Mountains at their best. The desert-mirage soundscape of the closing minutes of 'Sand' - the cello rhythmically circling back into the music. The dreamy piano keys hidden behind the layers of electronic hum and gentle guitar on 'Indentical Ship'. The descent into nature's ambient noise on 'Tilt' and the contrasting electronic equivalent on 'Propeller'.
The pure electronic moments don't always work, a little clinical and with less perceptible change, but the album is tied together like a constantly changing iceberg, flipping as sounds are created and other melt away. Mountains remain a transcendent act within the ambient genre.
Stand Up Against Heart Crime are a new five piece now based in Barcelona and this new self-titled album is their debut. Stand Up Against Heart Crime truly is a stinker of a band name but thankfully this album makes up for such shortcomings elsewhere.
The sound of the band comes from a combination of several genres including post-punk, krautrock and new wave - something the band themselves have termed 'krautwave'. As a combination it's a relatively obvious one - these genres already relate to each other fairly directly - but layered together it is hard to deny it works. The album has a grey feel, flecked with sadness but some big catchy pop choruses coming from that new wave influence.
The albums kicks off with the instrumental opener 'Birth', which really plays up the krautrock angle with rhythms built of rapid, snappy percussion, bass and guitar. It sets the tone and pace for the album. This is directly mirrored in the closing instrumental 'Pulsar', a similarly rhythmic but less steady and more frantic conclusion.
This is a relatively varied release and at 41-minutes it doesn't stick around enough to grow tired. 'Standing Outside' is a heavy, distorted track full of confusion and angst, the cacophonous, over-dubbed vocals creating the sense of a man at odds with himself. In stark contrast 'Welcome Party Sharks' is angular, applying spiky guitars to a building crescendo to make a wailing pop record.
The production and mixing suits the band's style, with each track playing with different elements of their sound. On 'Children' Josep Xortó's vocals are obscured and seem to come from the next room, increasing the sense of alienation the band are portraying. 'Am I Safe', featured below and available as a free download, is Stand Up Against Heart Crime's strongest pop moment, a soft, haunted song built around a big hook for the chorus.
Overall Stand Up Against Heart Crime have delivered an assured debut.
Stand Up Against Heart Crime is out now on Tape Music, available from Amazon.co.uk on MP3 [affiliate link]. Preview and download the tracks 'I Need No Sun' and 'Am I Safe?' below: