MOUNT EERIE – CLEAR MOON
My initial review of this record sums up my feelings towards it in depth; Clear Moon sees Phil Elverum continue his 15 year streak of creating beautiful yet apocalyptic masterpieces. As well as being one of my favourites from the first half of the year this album has secured a place in my heart as one of my favourites from Elverum’s growing catalogue. It’s an extremely cohesive release, full of those familiar themes of isolation, the beauty and power of nature and philosophical wonder that fans of Phil’s work have grown to expect and admire.
REGINA SPEKTOR – WHAT WE SAW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
I have been a massive fan of Spektor’s work for going on eight years and despite her increased popularity amongst teenage girls, I still enjoy attending her shows simply because, as a self confessed fangirl, I get a thrill from seeing her perform things that very few people know (see: “Silly Eye Color Generalizations”). I must admit I didn’t pounce on this album with the same excitement I have done with previous Spektor records, in fact it took me weeks before I even got around to listening to it. However, when I did I remembered what is so special and unique about Regina Spektor. She mixes her bizarre lyrics with the interesting noises she creates with both the piano and her phenomenal voice and the end product is nothing but spectacular. There are some old songs on this LP that have been given a whole new flavour whilst new tracks hark back to the sounds of Soviet Kitsch and Songs and it’s because of this that Regina fails to disappoint. Again.
MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL – MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL
It’s difficult to get to grips with the fact that Motion Sickness of Time Travel is a one person project. That one person is Rachel Evans and she’s been releasing music under this name since 2008. The reason it’s difficult to grasp this idea is because the music Evans produces sounds so vast. She creates sweeping soundscapes that seem to flow perfectly for the entire 90 minutes. Evans comes at the concept of ambient and drone music from a completely different angle, giving an almost ethereal atmosphere to this record. Though the vocals can be compared to the likes of Grouper and Julianna Barwick the overall sound and aesthetic of this record is much more futuristic, something that is even reflected in the project’s name. Whilst some might criticise the length of the tracks I find that Evans’ use of sound, from ripples to chirps, is what makes the tracks on this LP consistently interesting and memorable.
ADVANCE BASE – A SHUT-IN’S PRAYER
Owen Ashworth is an underrated and under-appreciated lyricist. Previously working under the moniker of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone Ashworth gained a small but loyal fanbase and released a number of incredible records, my favourite of which is 2006’s Etiquette. A Shut-In’s Prayer, released under his new name of Advance Base, is a beautifully simple record. Although Ashworth has kept the basic Casiotone style both musically and lyrically this record has a different feel to it; it’s lighter, more tender. His soft vocals, occasionally backed with a single female voice, are comforting. The instrumentation are also a key sign of the change in Ashworth’s music, although the well accustomed element of nostalgia is stronger, and more beautiful, than ever.