2017: First Quarter Favorites From LAMPGOD & Lambkin to Charli XCX & Xiu Xiu

The Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign.

For each of the first three quarters of every year, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter lists are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heards among the more popular picks. More from this series



LAMPGOD

GOD SHIT EP

[Self-Released]


Hey: what’s happening?” is the sound, and it’s me looking for the voice source. “How y’all doing?” (really though how am I doing?) and I can’t put my finger on it (can’t touch a sound, Frank, duh.) What’s means? Someone put some solid white lines between lanes (as if you could keep things separate, as if we all moved in one direction at a time), someone ripped up all the pavement (“‘cause I’m negative”), killed all the streetlamps (“and I’m dark”) some LAMPGOD blows up the means and throws up me. Cause when you wrap all the pavement ‘round your waste, you get GOD SHIT, the influence of ecstasy of ecstasy. Can’t touch a sound, and in this dark, I don’t want to not resolve: “We gotta help each other out, man, renourish the soil.” It’s soil or soul, this driving both ways. It’s GOD SHIT, the garbage divine, the that that’s happening.


Dale Cornish

Cut Sleeve

[Halcyon Veil]


Room to think is never enough space as you’ve imagined. And Cut Sleeve is just extra for “t-shirt.” So breathe. So much area to cover. So here we have Dale Cornish satirizing modern house music. Beyond that, the Winnipeggian is using Cut Sleeve to comment on a variety of “scene” motifs that continue with the club-politics of Halcyon Veil (i.e., queer culture, auteur vanity, architectural ouroboros, etc.). Only this time, Dale Cornish provides a brooding outsider mentality, blending dark alley grime and abstract dancefloor narration, settling Cut Sleeve in light of summer nights partying in the park, in a ditch or pond, and never quite coming back into reality as before. Ever.


HIRS

YØU CAN’T KILL US

[Get Better]


The pink and purple hue line-blocking the resistant and persisting declaration in bold white-as-day fuck-you lettering YØU CAN’T KILL US. Through the five-track, five-minute EP and 100+ shows through LGBTQIA spaces and hundreds of tracks, HIRS have made further ground down the chaff of their enemies and turned the opposition into dust under their boot. And though they’ve already released a split with LIFES in dedication to all their lost friends, TRANS GIRL TAKE OVER 2K17, and an underheard release called MAGICal/WANDerful (from which all money made goes directly to Morris Home), we keep dedicating our five minute breaks at work to it. It’s raw and fervent, tearing the stitches out from the seams of their oppressor and dividing it among the trans community, leaving a powerful, anxious, angry, passionate residue that we will never wash off.


Dedekind Cut

The Expanding Domain

[Self-Released]


$uccessor’s scion in every way, The Expanding Domain is simply the planar enlargement of Dedekind Cut’s starkly heterogeneous sound. Chimerizing practically every experimental electronic form one can imagine, each track blooms from chill aestivation into confounding calyces of spiraling noise and hyaline synths. Likewise in ontogeny, The Expanding Domain maintains a perennial coiling and uncoiling, as the final cut, “Das Expanded, Untitled Riff,” gives way to the EP’s opening in “Cold Bloom.” His strength is in grafting his raging and rimose rhythms to the divaricate New Age and ambient sounds his newest project has embraced. Simultaneously serrate and undulate, his sonic palette (complemented by the likes of Elysia Crampton, Dominick Fernow, and Mica Levi) unnerves and calms. The static-wreathed stabs of “LiL Puffy Coat” float atop a ponderous plod and the crushing-crushed breaks of the title cut find balance from a languishing wash and a hint of melody. It feels complete and self-sustaining yet always groping outward toward more. A sonic inflorescence, The Expanding Domain is the further coil of the tendril, the greater spread of the rhizome, the deeper growth of the genet.


Pinkcourtesyphone

Talk The Pleasure Out of It

[Champion Version]


Minimalist and ambient music are the aural equivalent of abstract art. Maligned by the uninitiated for their perceived simplicity (read: boring, easy to cobble together) when in actual fact anyone who has ever tried to paint an abstract on canvas finds quite quickly how difficult it is to decide what to put where — or more specifically, what not to put almost everywhere. And therein lies the art. Pinkcourtesyphone is fast establishing a reputation as the Mondrian of music minimalism. With so few concepts and sounds throughout Talk the Pleasure Out of It, it’s breathtaking how much emotion and mood is packed into this all-too-brief EP from the opening bars.


Demdike Stare

Wonderland

[Modern Love]


Demdike Stare’s first album since 2012, Wonderland produces prismatic color from a grayscale jungle, crosshatching inert beat blocks and blunt chords into tight, combative spaces in order to glimpse a few seconds of beautiful moiré. Between stark silences and loud silver smacks, loose atoms offer subtle signs of life, suggesting endless, complex revisions — small but seminal shifts into new structures, trickled off from the eroding monolith of “industrial” and fully escaped from the aesthetic trappings of “hauntology.” Fans of past records will recognize the esoteric sampling and tough breaks (especially if they’re fans of the Testpressing series), but the level of abstraction on display is newly inspired, with new rhythms and juxtapositions hinting at new modes of expression at every turn. At its core is a pure love of creation, boundless energy picking up inertia amid extreme restraint, transforming all the techno it touches. The humanity is there, but it’s hidden, in corners and in shadows, as still as can be, confident someone will eventually find it anyway. Stay active.

For each of the first three quarters of every year, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter lists are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heards among the more popular picks. More from this series


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