I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s bank holiday weekend! So close your laptops for a bit, put some bevs on ice and slip into some new releases. We have a nice li’l trio this week so be sure to see how you can support these artists if you dig what you hear!
Returning back to a solo act late last year, Northern producer Gavin Miller sure has been busy with his worriedaboutsatan project. ‘Time Lapse’ is the third record on his tod and second of 2020. It felt like January’s effort ‘Crystalline’ was a hark back to the guitar driven sounds of the project’s earlier material, so I was interested to see the evolution into album number seven.
‘Dawn’ acts as the perfect introduction, beginning on simplistic guitar loops evolving into a shimmering piece of electronica, both warming and exciting in its build of 808 drums, reverb soaked guitars and pulsating synth bass throbs. It‘s a really cool hybrid of the project’s past and present, mixing post rock tones with shimmering ambient soundscapes. For the rest of the album we are thrown back into a dark, tenser atmosphere, ‘A Lost History‘ acting as the dramatic centrepiece bursting with arpeggiated synths and rattling percussion. But it’s ‘Mingels’ that closes the album with a looped guitar piece to bring everything full circle and end on a calmer note.
There is very much a story to be told here. Film scores have always been a huge influence but it’s these strong shades that move from light to dark that brings home a sense of narrative and journey. To me, ‘Time Lapse’ feels like the definitive worriedaboutsatan release. It is clearly the work of someone who lives and breathes music, that has utilised all the tools at their disposal and moves forward whilst never forgetting lessons learnt in the past. Dark, brooding but with large glimpses of hope and beauty, this rings with relevance and comfort.
Another release that has been brought to my attention by the fantastic Dinked campaign, which was created by independent record shops to bring exclusive, limited edition physical releases to life. On top of this, Fire Records are involved and having released one of my favourite albums this year by the excellent Pictish Trail, I am all ears. Ok, down to the band – Modern Studies are a Glasgow formed outfit and this is their third album. It’s been a busy four years since their debut, but the quartet have built up a steady following during this time thanks to their charming indie folk sound.
A lot like the warm, pastel colours that don the cover art, ‘The Weight Of The Sun’ is a beautifully executed indie pop record, rich in its sonics and graceful in its delivery. It’s quite a trick to pull off an album that is eclectic in its influences and ideas but manages to flow with a strong sense of cohesion. The bass groove on ‘Brother’ gives off a big Talking Heads vibe while lead single ’Run For Cover’ has a ‘Rumours’ era Fleetwood Mac sense of urgency to its melody. Elsewhere, I feel the presence of Johnny Marr on its poppy moments and PJ Harvey in its folkier moments. Although there are a lot of reference points to pick up on, Modern Studies definitely own their own sound, particularly in their contrasting, dual vocals that lie very much at the forefront of these songs.
There is an elegance to the songwriting and delivery and though I’d say it’s something that band’s get with age, on listening back to previous releases, this is something Modern Studies have always had. ‘The Weight Of The Sun’ simply builds on the strong foundations they’ve set to create a well rounded and sturdily crafted piece of multicoloured pop.
It was a lovely surprise last Friday to receive the news of new material from everyone’s favourite Scot rock outfit Mogwai. The quartet released their latest soundtrack on a pay what you want basis with all proceeds going to the NHS and further charities. This week the album will hit streaming services and will be likely to keep many of us occupied during this time, particularly with its 21 song strong tracklist.
The soundtrack itself is lifted from a brand-new Italian crime drama series ZEROZEROZERO which follows the story of an international shipping company that acts as cocaine broker between Mexican and Italian organised crime. As you can imagine, this is a stark and intense piece that often builds from ominous tones into bustling electronic pulses, opening with main theme ‘Visit Me’ which manages to be menacing yet graceful at the same time. But then you have tracks like ‘Moon In Reverse’, which sounds like a classic Mogwai track; slow burning, driven by piano, soaked in atmospheric guitars all centred around a steady beat. It’s beautiful. ‘Don’t Make Me Go Out On My Own’ is another shimmering post rock moment, held down by a solid rhythm pattern but opened up by some gorgeous guitar work.
Not too dissimilar from my earlier comments on worriedaboutsatan, there is a really nice balance of these more brooding electronic moments and then these really shimmering alt rock passages. You can tell that this is going to be an edge of your seat affair. It can be quite hard to review a soundtrack without actually watching the accompanying visual, but Mogwai are the masters of this field now and know how to make a moving, majestic piece for both on and off the screen. This is one of the most dynamically interesting and enticing scores I’ve heard from Mogwai and could well be their strongest soundtrack work to date.