Here are some things from the last few years that have found their way into MMM towers recently.
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG – 5.55 (Atlantic 5911 2006)
I heard a couple of tracks from this when it came out – and especially liked “The Songs That We Sing”. The music was composed and played by Air, with additional material written by Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon. Given the collaborators, 5.55sounds just how you’d expect. There’s a mellow, but sensual, warmth throughout the album. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s breathy vocals are limited in their range, but fit the material well. The best songs are very good indeed, but there is a slight sameness to the album. Only the penultimate track “Everything I Cannot See” has a bit of fire in its belly. In some ways the album is less than the sum of its parts – the songs sound much better in isolation.
STUART A STAPLES – Leaving Songs (Beggars Banquet BBQCD246 2006)
I’ve not heard the new Tindersticks album yet, but essentially the current line up is the same as the one which played on this, Stuart Staples’ second solo album. Neil Fraser provides the guitar and Dave Boulter the keyboards. With Staples’ unmistakeable croon dominating proceedings, there’s little to differentiate Leaving Songs from a Tindersticks record. It’s a bit more country in parts, perhaps, and there are two duets (with Maria McKee and Lhasa de Sela). Opener “Goodbye to Old Friends” is the only real A-list song. The rest are pleasant enough, but don’t really stand up that strongly against the wealth of classics in the band’s back catalogue.
LUKE VIBERT – Chicago, Detroit, Redruth (Planet Mu ZIQ175CD 2007)
As the title implies, Luke Vibert’s latest album is a Cornish take on classic Detroit techno and Chicago house. Although aimed squarely at the dancefloor, this is much more than just a collection of 4/4 floor fillers. It’s one of Vibert’smost enjoyable collections in years. What it may lack in experimentation it more than makes up for in melody. Highlights include the gorgeous “Comphex” and the delightful little Ivor Novello-esque coda at the end of “Swet”. Definitely a set determined to paste a smile on your face.
PITA – Get Out (Mego 29 1999)
Pita is Peter Rehberg, boss of Austrian label Mego. Get Out is a noisy collection of electronic squalls, hums, screeches and cracked white noise. It’s not particularly easy listening – indeed some of the tracks are quite jarring. All nine pieces are untitled and each lasts between one and eleven minutes. The epic third track, the album’s longest, allows the noise to coalesce into some kind of rhythmic pattern which is quite hypnotic – even a toe-tapper. Some of the shorter sections are just too random and sonically extreme to be anything other than tests of endurance, though.
MARCIA BLAINE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS – Halfway Into The Woods (Highpoint Lowlife HPLL024 2007)
Having been impressed by their contributions to the Magnetism, That Electricity compilation, I got hold of a copy of the Marcia Blaine School For Girls’ album from February last year. I’m delighted to report that it’s as good as the trio’s more recent tunes. The music exists in a melodic, slightly melancholic world where the Black Dog meets Underworld’s more introspective moments. Downbeat it may be, but Halfway into the Woods is not at all depressing. It is also a million miles away from being chill-out muzak. This is emotional, slightly world-weary electronica, but with a depth that means it doesn’t get dull with repeated plays. I’m surprised that they are not more widely lauded. Halfway into the Woods is a very strong album indeed.