Singles and EPs – February 2015
Featuring Aphex Twin, Claude Speeed, Idlewild and Shield Patterns
Does what it says on the tin, this one – serial bamboozler Richard D James has rigged up a room full of keys and percussion to be played via computer, and produced an EP of 13 typically obscure sketches. Far from the chin-scratching, fans-only affair that may sound like, however, between the skittish eight-second piano tracks and heavily cacophonous bells (marauding robots let loose in a Buddhist temple spring to mind), there are actually some pretty accessible grooves here.
(Planet Mu) ●●●●
Claude Speeed’s first departure from his LuckyMe alma mater continues in a vein of lush, achingly gorgeous drone occasionally explored on full-length debut My Skeleton. But distortion plays a much heavier role here, as the clean-sounding synths of that record are fuzzed up and spaced out into five distinct tracks of otherworldly noise. As if delivered over the airwaves from distant eerie landscapes, here found sounds, ‘digitally obliterated piano’ and synthesised fuzz combine and eventually resolve into some pounding post-rock crescendos in immensely satisfying fashion.
(Empty Words) ●●●
A classic Idlewild weatherbeaten sound is very much still in evidence in this second single from Everything Ever Written (see review). The first half is a bit of a slog, with an overwrought river/loneliness metaphor, but then the plod becomes a stomp and there’s brass and guitar pedals all over the place. It’s certainly rousing, if its bombast seems a little unearned by the first half. A future live favourite in the making? Could well be.
Idlewild play the O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sat 7 & 8 Mar.
The Gizeh Records stable can always be relied upon to bring forth thoughtful, intriguing electronica, and this collection of shy but penetrating songs is no exception. The only weaker spot is when the duo deviate from icy trip-hop sounds into the piano-and-vocals territory on the third of four tracks. But mostly, Claire Brentnall’s silky sweet vocals are a hypnotic guide through these sparingly crafted pieces of chamber chillwave, treading a careful path between emotion and enigma.
Shield Patterns play the Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh, Thu 23 Apr.