Erratic Conditions

Occasionally it seems that the whole world decides to be a bit clunky and awkward, stuff doesn't line up properly, I trip over a lot. Perhaps its a personal affliction but if you're also finding yourself crashing awkwardly through life, unable to get into the flow of things or even to maintain your balance, here's three music things that won't help in the slightest:

Sunken Foal - Fallen Arches + Fermented Condiments

Sunken Foal have been around for a while and as such should require little introduction, they even had a track featured on one of Mary Anne Hobbs' compilations which is as good a seal of approval as any. This isn't to say that they have a huge fanbase, until very recently the only person I've ever heard championing their music was Mary Anne herself and although its more than apparent why you don't hear it played out or at dinner parties or whatever, I feel as though I've lost out having been ignorant of them for so long. Nevertheless it remains to be said that they're really rather talented and now some two years after their debut release it's probably only fair to give them some belated props: At first Fallen Arches sounds pretty sedate, sort of like Boards of Canda being reinterpreted by The Cinematic Orchestra in a sunlit meadow somewhere in  middle England. At some point (perhaps on track four) this all changes dramatically and it quickly becomes clear why such ambient, pastoral pleasantry ever got signed to Planet Mu. It has to be said that after such a meandering start the Plaid style drums and glitched edits were a bit of a jarring departure, but once you get used to being removed so abruptly from your comfort zone it quickly becomes apparent how good this album is. The same can be said for the follow up EP Fermented Condiments, an enjoyable and suitable sucessor, featuring three new cuts alongside Triplehorn from the album. What's worthy of particular praise is that through its stylistic variation this should appeal to a range of demographics, fans of anyone from Animal Collective to Aphex Twin and most ports in between should enjoy this greatly.

Dam Mantle - Purple Arrow EP

I've been keeping a weather eye on Dam Mantle since he dropped his somewhat overlooked Grey EP last year; an intellegent and ambitious debut that, despite being generally awesome, may have been a touch too esoteric for mass appeal. However all preconceptions arising from his previous release have been comprehensively demolished by this follow up. The opener Theatre  is a massively anthemic statement of intent, sounding in equal parts like Rustie, Kuedo and Dibiase and easily matching all of them in impact and complexity. Not to be pigeonholed as a peddlar of 8 bit-synth rave his approach on Broken Slumber is quite different, building with soft, pastel hued pads, choral drones and squeaky ephemera before flipping the tune entirely with an cold, alien synth wobble that Starkey would be proud to call his own. The EP closes with Purple Arrow and Two Women, two entirely unpredicatable tracks that defy expectations and and evade any attempts at categorisation. The former is a massive tune, to be honest I wasn't expecting much during the intro; the vocal buildup falls somewhere between The Mighty Boosh and the jarring delivery on Dimlite's Elbow Flood, however the drop is immense, bringing a bass line that sounds like something from a '96 era Bad Company tune drip filtered through treacle, alongside a wash of twinkling astral sounds and more Kuedo-esque lazer synths. Finally Two Women wraps up the EP in impressive form, think Robot Koch's Gorom Sen being blended with Dimlite's Kalimba Deathswamp in an unlikely mashup-remix collaboration between Darkstar and Asa Chang & Junray. Just as outrageous and brilliant as it sounds.

Ana Caravelle - Basic Climb

Singer, harpist and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Ana Caravelle brings the latest in a string of impeccable offerings from Non Projects. After the genre defying, future leaning sounds presented by labelmates Asura and Anenon this is an interesting deviation for the fledgling label; Caravelle's music is almost entirely organic, based heavily in rustic folk templates but with elements of melodramatic pop and modern classical inseamed within the compostion, sounding kind of like how you'd imagine it would if you went for a walk on a sunny summer's day and accidentally stumbled into a tangled yet glorious wild rose garden cultivated by tree spirits in the middle of an ancient forest. As a vocal talent she bears comparison with a plethora of contemporaries and influences, from Cocorosie and Joanna Newsom to Bjork and Kate Bush, yet she manages to avoid sound overly similar to any one of them which is certainly to her credit. Her delivery is particularly interesting, at some points slipping into rhythmic poetry and at others becoming a melodic narrative, all the while maintaining a consistently lovely balance from one transition to another. The tracks are all arranged by Caravelle, providing equal voice to flutes, strings and percussion; each beautifully layered into a lush tapestry that forms a background mileu for her elegant vocals and intricate harp arrangements. The album was produced by Asura and mastered by Daddy Kev so expect some minor tweaks and edits here and there, but for the most part this is an impressive solo debut from an incredibly talented musician.

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