Welcome to another Albums Round Up, this week there’s a quartet of new collections on offer.
Sumie releases a self-titled collection of gentle and haunting songs. Opener ‘Spells You’ sets up the template for what’s to follow with its rippling guitar strings gradually descending and Sandra Sumie Nagano’s mellow, rich voice shining through. The beauty of the album is its minimal arrangements, relying almost solely on guitar and Nagano’s voice to create a delicate soundscape of great beauty. Subtle shifts, such as the harmonious vocal echoes employed on the melancholic ‘Hunting Sky’ and the sweetly romantic ‘Midnight Glories’, really capture the ear. This sense of harmony reaches its zenith on the closer ‘Sailor Friends’ with its multi-tracked vocals. The development from just acoustic guitar to the rich tones of a lilting piano also enriches this track, bringing the album to a satisfying close. Recommended.
Upcdownc gives us Black Sea this week. Opener ‘Twilight Sleep’ bubbles with subterranean beeps, scrambled vocal samples and elongated notes of electric guitar before pounding drums enter the mix to up the ante. Follow up track ‘Titan’ develops this focus on heavy percussion and guitars to grind along with full-throated rough vocals. ‘Red Meat’ has a sparse rhythm with halting pauses that create a deep sense of menace. It uses clean, melodic singing with impassioned interjections of backing to create an impressive rock sound. ‘Vast Machine’ is just over a minute of feedback and fuzz, whilst ‘The Black Sea’ moves from gentle arpeggios of guitar and tom toms through stripped back layers of voices to full on metal grind and back to chiming guitar strings across its eight and a half minutes. Black Sea brings together elements of metal and prog to create a distinctive, rich collection.
Goat brings out Live Ballroom Ritual a live selection of songs from their successful psychedelic album World Music. The masked band begin with ‘Diarabi’, its opening electric guitar notes being greeted with cheers before layers of strings interweave in an entrancing mix that includes folky African drums. ‘Disco Fever’ has a sprightly rhythm and a group singalong. ‘Dreambuilding’ has a freshness to its spiraling funk and ‘Run To Your Mama’ unites rapid bongo drums with tribal hollered vocals. The buzzy rock of ‘The Sun The Moon’ closes the album with a flourish, capturing the frantic excitement of a Goat live show. Live Ballroom Ritual is a treat for fans of the band.
Beans on Toast is Giving Everything on his latest album. Fans of his work will find much to enjoy here. The deadpan, man-in-the-street, delivery and lyrics about contemporary society are the focus of Giving Everything, with opener ‘Harry in a Helicopter’ giving the narrative of a drug-fuelled soldier shooting at unknown targets below. ‘Can’t get a gig at Glastonbury’ is a quieter affair but Beans’ approach is still as sharp-eyed as elsewhere, with comments about how the festival is about festival goers showing a “proportion of their wealth”. ‘The American Dollar’ is delivered in an acapella arrangement before a jaunty banjo kicks in to back lyrical musings on terror, capitalism and the lack of difference between Republicans and Democrats. ‘Keep You’ closes the reflection with Beans considering the apparent need for merch, a manager and a strong social network presence before flipping the idea on its head by declaring that the only thing he needs is “you”. Giving Everything sees Beans on Toast offering more personal reflections on a variety of subjects dear to his heart.
That concludes this week’s column, I’ll be back next week to consider more new releases.
Words and thoughts of Amanda Penlington