2018: Third Quarter Favorites 25 incredible music releases from the last three months

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


Tirzah

Devotion

[Domino]

[WATCH · READ]

The simplest utterances need to be said the loudest. “You know we could have made this thing right.” “Don’t raise your voice to me.” “All I want is you.” We don’t just recognize them. We know them. We meditate on what it means to compromise, we make vindictive retorts, we commiserate on troubles of every shape and size. In some sense, we are all Tirzah Mastin’s deeply affecting soundwaves, making our own mechanistic pocket journals, where dissociative thoughts lurk. Devotion and its fractured pop musings have an enchanted quality about them, with each ghostly layer of vocals and keyboards looping back and forth and sideways. Even in the unkind crevices between each bleak, metallic sound object, Tirzah’s ability to create lopsided earworms never loses its ingenuity. Recount your own follies alongside this brutally direct record, whose beauty is revealed with patience and understanding.


Hermit and The Recluse

Orpheus vs. the Sirens

[Charon]

[WATCH · READ]

“The poets will write about this for all the years to come.”

A friend recently said to me, “Ka is the lost member of the Wu-Tang Clan.” He certainly shares the Clan’s ability to relate life experiences to fabled aesthetics (See: Honor Killed The Samurai) and has a voluminous vocabulary that never overwhelms the audience. On Orpheus Vs. The Sirens, the 46-year-old rapper — who goes under the moniker Hermit and the Recluse alongside producer Animoss — shrouds his stories with Greek mythology, and appropriately so. He’s proven his selflessness in his day job as a firefighter, his perseverance during his upbringing in Brownsville, and his wisdom with dizzying bars that could make DOOM’s head spin. Ka isn’t the lost member of the Clan; he’s the poetic hermit who bode his time and worked diligently at his craft until we were forced to avert our attention from the sirens to his work.


Laurel Halo

Raw Silk Uncut Wood

[Latency]

[LISTEN · READ]

Raw Silk Uncut Wood pulsates calmly, like your heart just before falling asleep. This pulse is sometimes strikingly obvious and steady, such as with “Mercury” and its piano strokes, but more often it is subtle, almost unnoticed, and slightly irregular, like on “The Sick Mind,” where glistening chimes act as distractions from an underlying rhythm in the bass section. Restrained, patient tracks “Raw Silk Uncut Wood” and the closing “Nahbarkeit” are definite highlights though: this is Laurel Halo at her most ambient. With help from collaborators Oliver Coates (cello) and Eli Keszler (percussion), she created ever-developing pieces that could go on forever, morphing gently, into infinity. But Raw Silk Uncut Wood’s biggest strength is the emotional resolution it provides in its dying moments. The pure blissful beauty, the emotional weight off your shoulders as a listener; you simply want to experience that again and again and again. And so you do.


Skee Mask

Compro

[Ilian Tape]

[LISTEN]

Everyone is the author of their own fanfic. Compro is an album of fanfic about the break beat, updated with seriousness, subtlety. It’s the beautiful, impossible past vision of the future and the potential for continual revision. Essentially, Compro is a love letter to 90s rave music. The hard stuff: breakcore, drum & bass, jungle, gabber, minimal techno, all that Western European stuff that inspired a generation whose church was the warehouse, whose communion was MDMA. It is experimental, but cozy and enjoyable, and the sharp edges of hardcore have been filed down into muffled artifacts, leaving the drums as the focus of the record. The fleet-footed breaks on “Rev8617,” “Dial 274,” and “Flyby VFR” might as well come with Michelin branding. This brilliant move shelves hardcore’s goofy, sentimental flair for “big” melodies, replacing it with a palette of “big” textures, floating harmonic objects that fluctuate like clouds rolling in through a time lapse. Yes, everything is worse than it has ever been. But we are also perpetually at the cusp of achieving the future. In this sense, all the inspiration we take from the past, roughly muddled by the invasive swamp that is the internet, all of it is exciting and new. Skee Mask’s second album, Compro, is one of these visions, reinterpreted.


Spiritualized

And Nothing Hurt

[Fat Possum/Bella Union]

[WATCH · READ]

Jason Pierce largely recorded And Nothing Hurt on his laptop, in his apartment, alone. Struggling for years to realize the ideas in his head, he was convinced it would be his last Spiritualized album. If he ends up sticking to those “this is the last Spiritualized album” guns, this will be one hell of a curtain call. And Nothing Hurt sounds like it was played by a well-rehearsed 20-plus person ensemble in an expensive studio, right at home with the rest of the Spiritualized catalog. Song by song, Pierce displays an uncanny ability to make ordinary human emotions and concerns feel like matters of galactic importance. From reflections on his age, to the possibility that love is not enough, Pierce boldly goes forth. They tell us that outer space is “the great unknown.” But, for someone who has been floating in space for as long as Jason Pierce has, he knows there’s no greater unknown than life. Listen to And Nothing Hurt and wrap your head around that.

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


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