Sunday 23 August 2020

Tiding Over

Eyvind Earle - Grazing In Peace (1970)

Hey all, just dropping by with a quick one to see out the weekend. I do have a bigger post planned but I want to be able to give it a little more attention, so rather than leave you all till Wednesday with no updates I thought I'd knock something up quick. Keeping it Knife themed as I work out my complicated relationship with Fever Ray's second album Plunge. I absolutely adore the debut, as I do most things Karin Dreijer is involved with but the second is more of a mixed bag. It's... edgier, to put it mildly, there's a marked change in not only sound but approach to the subjects covered which is to be expected given the near decade between the first album and this (and the release of the incredibly politically influenced Shaking The Habitual from their other band The Knife as well). I might not agree with all the directions Karin took with the Fever Ray project (the eye-searing orange and blue color scheme of the bandcamp page for one) but I still admire them as an artist, and given I like 99% of their other output I think I'll survive. That said, there are little glimpses of the original Fever Ray here and there; Mustn't Hurry most definitely sounds like it could have been a b-side or even a solo single like the couple that were made after the first album: icy electronics and Karin's unique and trademark vocals are the order of the day here. It's been a while since I listened to it in full and I am absolutely stunned by the sounds, I was enjoying myself throughout but the little break and extremely powerful synth line introduced around 2:40 placed me firmly in love territory once again.

Took a bit of a road trip in sound recently too; looking over all the artists that Erlend Øye collaborated with on the incredibly smooth 2003 album Unrest. I've been in search of things to fill my love for that early 2000's DIY electronic sound and what better way than to go to the sources? In doing so I found Minizza, and while I've yet to take a full dive I'm liking what I hear so far, and they seem to have been fairly active since that era too. This one in particular is a real tale of back-and-forth influence: Apart from producing some tracks for Øye's album mentioned above, Minizza also did this electronic cover/rework of (Øye's folk/indie band) Kings Of Convenience's Winning A Battle, Losing The War, which Øye then included on his DJ-Kicks compilation! I do always enjoy hearing acoustic songs being flipped like this and this one's a really solid example, swapping the gitar for that poppy arpeggiated synth really gives the whole thing a different feel, and obvious bias of mine, bonus points for the subtly treated vocals too. I will say I am not a fan of the horns(?) introduced around 3 mins in, I can't help but feel they sound a little goofy, which I know is rich coming from someone who un-ironically loves Eurobeat. Still, they aren't around for long so it's not a massive detriment.

A similar tale with our last offering today actually. Ochre's A Midsummer Nice Dream, It's a lesser know IDM album that I found in the days when I was really into exploring lesser known artists of the genre. I had a copy on an old phone with plans to pick it up soon. Three guesses as to how that went. Anyway, it's an album I'd have sudden memories of and go dig out every so often, and purely on a whim I decided to look it up. I was nicely surprised to find there's a 15th anniversary re-issue out, chock full of bonus tracks as you'd expect. It's a lovely album, if a bit tame if you're hardcore into the Drill & Bass or otherwise intense side of IDM, but I've taken a long break from the sound myself, and between this and the lush glitch of Kensuke Ushio under his Agraph alias I've really enjoying being submersed in that world again. Here's a perfect example of that in REM Sleep Research; those gorgeous sounds are on display from the get go and are lovingly contrasted with skittering beats and occasional miscellaneous squelches. Ochre really gives the songs room to breathe here, there's brilliantly placed breaks that let everything slide into a stripped back or even full ambient mode toward the end which I certainly appreciate.


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