Articles by Will Pinfold
Daniel Johnston 1961-2019 – remembering a songwriter of genius
With Morgenrøde, the artist formerly known as Vivian Slaughter has created a distinctive, multilayered piece of haunted noise/electronica where the emotional power of the work is embodied as much in the spaces between the notes as in speaker-shredding violence.
Mint, the debut album by Norwegian experimental trio Orions Belte, is the glorious sound of summer imploding and collapsing, in slow motion, into autumn
With the invigorated, exploratory Pulse/Quartet, Steve Reich’s position among the greatest composers of our time becomes ever more unassailable.
Skeleton Moon by UK-based artist and composer Jodie Lowther is a seasonal treat; a beautifully realised collection of frosty, ethereal ambient music as heartwarming as it is chilling.
Hamferð’s second album of epic and melancholy doom metal, ‘Támsins likam’, completes the conceptual journey the Faroese band began with their debut EP back in 2010, but is a satisfyingly complete and immersive work in its own right.
For the follow up to ‘When Will This Bright Day Begin’, minimalist composer and lutenist Jozef van Wissem darkens the tone with an album that broods on mortality – but it’s far from a moribund. experience.
With Electric Trim, Lee Ranaldo brings together the experimental and traditional aspects of his songwriting in an album which is perfectly balanced and extremely accessible. It’s an excellent, accomplished record, which nevertheless could perhaps do with just a little of the raucous noise of his Sonic Youth days.
Finland’s Ghost World’s debut album is a reminder of how grunge felt before it got into the charts; loud, messy,raw and stripped to its heart. A glorious, and soulful debut.
The formerly folkedelic Japanese band Kikagaku Moyo follow up their surprisingly conventional retro garage/psych album House In The Tall Grass with an EP which is more a snapshot of former glories than a bold new direction – but the potential for growth and greatness is there.
With their debut album, ‘Loyal To The Nightsky’, Armenian-American trio Highland introduce themselves as a major new name in the US black metal scene. A perfectly realised collection of songs, the album encapsulates a certain classic, hard-edged black metal style; but is it too much of a good thing? An enviable problem if so.
Rachael Yamagata’s fourth solo album, Tightrope Walker, is a wise, comforting and very grown-up album. Perhaps too grown-up; featuring members of Yo La Tengo and The Roots, its musical credentials are impeccable and its emotional themes are skilfully realised – but its mature appeal may be a little too mainstream for some tastes.
Anvil Strykez takes the listener on a neon-lit synthwave journey into the kind of sinister metropolis that once seemed like the grim future that awaited us all. The album isn’t purely an exercise in nostalgia; but its perfectly realised universe may appeal most strongly to those who have felt its appeal before.
Beyond the headlines surrounding the 90s black metal scene is the music itself and Sauron’s 1995 demo, ‘The Baltic Fog’, exemplifies the triumph of feel over technique that in the end is the genre’s most enduring feature.
With Piano Textures 4, minimalist composer Bruno Sanfilippo has created a work of understated beauty that is anything but cold and academic. His gently arresting music soothes and heals, making the familiar feel strange and the strange comfortingly familiar.
The first and apparently only album by Morton Valence spin-off Black Angel Drifter is a gritty, cinematic and soulful gothic spaghetti western delight; perfectly realised, it’s also a richly-flavoured dish and perhaps it’s for the best that it’s restricted to this one serving.
Esmé Patterson’s third album, We Were Wild lacks the imaginative flair of its conceptual predecessor Woman To Woman – but it more than makes up for it in feeling and sheer songwriting skill. Lots of people may be getting this for Christmas.
Double album with a book, or a book with two CDs; either way, Kristin Hersh’s Wyatt At The Coyote Palace is an involving, heartbreaking and immersive work of art that brings the listener close – sometimes uncomfortably close – to the artist herself. At once wise, witty and anguished, it’s an extraordinary achievement by a singer and songwriter at the top of her game. By Will Pinfold
After a decade-long hiatus, Australian thrash legend Peter Hobbs returns with only the third Angel of Death album since 1987. Metal may continue to evolve, but for better or worse Hobbs’ vision remains as intensely single-minded as ever; which is good news for his fans. – By Will Pinfold
Like Hamlet’s ‘sheeted dead’ in the Roman streets, Buenos Aires-based experimental cello/bass/piano trio Eriza squeak and gibber on their debut album Arde, out now on Pan Y Rosas Discos. But it’s a noise that bites deeply into the consciousness – if you’re in the mood for it. By Will Pinfold
Field recordist and musician Kate Carr’s ‘I Had Myself A Nuclear Spring’ is a peculiar album caught somewhere in the crossroads between sound and music, nature and industry. It’s a listening experience which gains vastly in richness when heard in the context of its recording. Probably not for everyone. BY Will Pinfold