TRACK | Total Luck – Ramble

5/5 golden merles

“Ramble” is rampant Birmingham-based (UK) post-punk offering a coming to terms with degrading conditions and offering some expression of our common terror. Through its intricate phases we receive a fair extrapolation of the nascent era, our present spent staggering out from a stupor in search of a few reliable harbingers.

The track is appropriately naming names, resilient in conviction, a good preface to our collectively entering another period of overdue righteous fury. There is a good sense of how things will progress, whose mistakes are forgiven and which ones are kept on the mantle as a centerpiece or conversation starter. Much pointed instrumentation and detailing throughout accompanies the excellent vocal phrasing, bleeding the blisters where appropriate.

As the regressives mourn their genocidal aristocrats and strip rights from half the population with respect to their own bodily autonomy, there is significance in creating ideologically sound tracks with that sort of anthemic prestige. Many individual’s hearts are in the right place, but they lack the aesthetic. Many others still get lost in theory and form, while either lacking courage or capacity for a clarity of language. It’s nice when there’s a balance to this weighting and each quality is strong in both respects. It can be obtained for the cost of naming your own price on bandcamp.

TRACK | Freak Genes – Strange Charm

5/5 golden merles

“Strange Charm” arrives in a set of consistently plumbed concepts and a larger narrative fixated on the veil, particularly in a Bostrom/Boltzmann sense. And there should be more of this in the world as we know it, simulation or other, because it’s just so damn much fun. The track is composed of sheer keys and guts, synth punk with fervor as the foundation, maniacally forecasting the intricacies of an artificial future.

In the manufacturing of a new and immediate heaven there will be gradients of adaptation and those left behind, some willingly. “Energy bars low above your head,” a beach devoid of touch: the details are effectively populated.

There is within these elements a great deal of world building done (–about world building), new classifications and clearances, presaging emerging rifts that we only have the slightest direct precedents for, despite very familiar themes. It’s full of playful prescience and with enough hooks to convince you to gladly remain and be absorbed within the futurist subject matter.

It arrived today and is fully streamable: there are vinyl variations in limited runs for $20-22 from the esteemed Feel It Records; suitably the digital version is name your own price.

TRACK | Mirry – Anthem

5/5 golden merles

From the bin rescued personal recordings of Mirabel Lomer, the great aunt of Tom Fraser who found and — with the help of musicians Simon Tong, Antonia Pagulatos, and Michael Smith — collaboratively arranged and reworked the pieces. Her original tape recorded piano tracks are accompanied here by cellos, keyboards, saxophones and synths, interworked patiently and earnestly in an accumulate flood of heartfelt aspiration.

The result is ambient and experimental, delicate and expansive, a lovely tribute that is immediately imbued with implicit meaning through the nature of the finality and tenuousness of its discovering. A context we should all have with respect to all work made by other humans but are deprived of through the mundanity of our manner of existing, the illusion of the banality of daily living as it slips quietly away.

But beyond the affirming story of its origins, the work is remarkably detailed and composed, the swells and pitches elevating and conspiring beautifully across the decades. The original renditions have also thoughtfully been uploaded in their initial scope and design.

If looking for more quality in the rediscovered, see Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green, or maybe Darnielle’s Songs for Pierre Chuvin, for more inspired collaborations with the late and great.

TRACK | Stereolab – John Cage Bubblegum

5/5 golden merles

I found “John Cage Bubblegum” through Carolyn Hawkins’ (School Damage, Parsnip, Chook Race) Sight of Sound Society Radio Mixcloud feature. It appears on the remastered Stereolab singles and rarities collection Refried Ectoplasm Vol. 2, first issued in 1995 and collected/reissued in 2018.

Drenched in reverb and surrounded, it leans heavily on a few formidable vocal melodies. There are a handful of phrases, breathlessly repeated in French, It’s the most beautiful / and it’s the saddest / it’s the most beautiful / landscape in the world.

As at least partially confirmed by the experimental composure and artist’s name in the title, there is an unreviewed post from claiming the track is made in reference to one of Cage’s most famous pieces, 4’33”. In this piece a performer intentionally plays nothing, allowing the audience/ambient noise to become the song.

True or not, there is a fun dialog in the play between these two ideas: lo-fi and no-fi. One is the direct embrace of the erstwhile void and the absence of all else other than that which is usually considered undesirable or an extraneous defect. The other a form that balances leaning into a celebration of melody and tone but also in a lo-fi, human manner, incorporating the place and performers, containing breaths between phrasing and elements of performance that likewise embrace these, to some, imperfections.

The former is the absolute extreme of this idea, but for my tastes, the latter, in contrast to the dehumanized/decontextualized refinement of the last few decades of modern pop, is not too dissimilar either.

TRACK | The Rebel – I Found You Amongst the Roses

5/5 golden merles

I Found You Amongst The Roses is, wonderfully, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The traditional folk form, bounding, plodding forward, with the simple electronic drum pattern, and the calming melody: it is all cover for what is coming.

The usual line and truism about a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down is applicable. There is here a valuable expanding of what is agreeable within the window of initial expectations.

When the Prince lyrics enter, the subtle warping becomes stark. The track deconstructs itself, the tempo distends, ultimately ending in field recordings and samples that bring further context to the unease.

But it all works so well that those drawn in through tradition leave with a greater appreciation for experimentation, their conceptions of ‘good’ ever so slightly extended. And that is a valuable endeavor.

TRACK | Gorgeous Bully – Stamp

5/5 golden merles

Stamp is one of them joyous garage rock lamentations, end to end.

Everything down to the outro refrain and terminal exclamation are so well balanced and calibrated, it almost defies belief. The fuzz and fade are most agreeably punctuated by the lead guitars tremolo.

Disgust and disillusionment never sounded so kindly, even merry. Tom Waits enjoys “Beautiful melodies telling (him) terrible things,” and so do I.

It is Good.