Colleen "A flame my love, a frequency (Thrill Jockey)"
Ever since Colleen started adding vocals to her music starting with her fourth album, it’s been nearly impossible to predict what she has up her French sleeves when word is released that a new album is forthcoming. A flame my love, a frequency (Thrill Jockey–and the lack of capitalization is her stylistic choice as well) finds Colleen at her most baroque sounding, but sounding Baroque via a Critter and Guitar synth run through a Moog delay (hey, if it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it! Hiyooo!). Unique synth tones bubbling up and sounding somewhere between ‘70s documentary music a lá Jürgen Müller’s Science of the Sea and Wendy Carlos, mixed with Colleen’s hushed vocals. The whole thing is a heady rush of forward facing nostalgia. Check out the dizzying “Winter dawn” (again, capitalization (or lack thereof) is her stylistic choice. I don’t make the news, I just report it).
Destroyer "ken (Merge)"
When Dan Bejar learned that the title of the English ballad “The Wild Ones” was originally “Ken” (as in the scottish “ken” meaning “know”) he knew he had to steal that title for his next album. Thus Destroyer’s ken (Merge) was born. Produced by Josh Wells of Black Mountain, who has also been Destroyer’s drummer since 2012, ken was not recorded as a live band like the last album, though all the members appear on the record. This is a far more synth-y than Poison Season was, with a bit of a chilly “late Thatcher-era” production flair to it. Look, it’s the new Destroyer album, you know your gonna love it. Check out the Suede-ish single “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood.”
Saicobab "San Se Pirani Bab (Thrill Jockey)"
The debut from Japanese quartet Saicobab is likely going to take you by surprise. Their strange mix of traditional Indian music and decidedly non-traditional instrumentation and production mixed with almost math-rock rhythms and unexpected vocal turns makes their debut, San Se Pirani Bab (Thrill Jockey) unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Imagine Mike Patton, Deerhoof, and Ravi Shankar recording an album, and you’ve got sort of a vague inkling of what to expect here. Take a deep breath, because you might never be the same, and check out “Bx Ax Bx.”
Emptyset "Skin (Thrill Jockey)"
For a duo that “stand at the vanguard of electronic music” (Thrill Jockey’s words, not mine) the fact that Emptyset’s newest release, the EP Skin, was created entirely with acoustic production methods is fascinating. At least, until you start listening to it. By then you’ll completely forget about the production of the music as you are quickly hypnotized by their take on ritual and non-Western music. Drones, texture, rhythm, and structure are focused on here as created by custom stringed instruments, as well as drums and vocals being modulated in real-time. Equal parts sinister and ambient, this mystery of an EP could just as easily signify doom or rebirth to the listener, depending on their headspace. Try to figure out what your headspace is as you check out “Eye II.”