We take a look at all that is hot in new music releases from pop to classical.
Rattle –Rattle - Rattle first stare down conformity before laughing into its grovelling face. Drum duo Katharine Eira Brown and Theresa Wrigley fleetingly pondered tethering guitars to their side-project-gone-wild, before clouting that idea on the head as determinedly as they pound their kits on this accomplished debut album. The Nottingham-based pair settle on often sparse, sometimes frantic, tangled and always mesmerising rhythms, drawing on free-form jazz and post-punk traction to forge a distinctive identity. Vocals are sparingly and neatly interwoven with hypnotic percussion. Amid the cowbell and vibraslap-fuelled stalking of Stringer Bell – Rattle’s highlight – lyrics dance around an increasingly urgent tempo. It’s a challenging album but the reward is immense. By John Skilbeck.
A Grave with No Name – Wooden Mask -Wooden Mask is atmospheric; partly due to the reverberating guitars that permeate the entire production, and partly to the figurative titles of each song. The album starts out in a blacksmiths, with the sound of hammers clashing on anvils. Then, grungy guitars envelope Alexander Shields’ reedy, overdubbed vocals. The music is sedate and deliberate. Storm hits 6 on the Beaufort scale, but falls just short of the catharsis you might hope for. Pirouette is lyrically the strongest, in the classic, “I may be dancing, but I’m actually very sad” mould. One or two songs sound like instruments tuning, but these serve to preface the album’s most impressive musical moments. Wooden Mask is compelling, glacial and evocative, but lacking any explosive release. By Angus Rae
Elias Krantz –Lifelines - Lifelines is held together by driving rhythms; without them the album’s two tracks, Patchwork and On Time, would, simply put, fall apart. Krantz’s decision to congeal the music into just two entities is brave, even admirable. He wages a valiant war against the current era of shortened attention spans limiting the imagination. However, his effort falls flat. There are complex, exuberant segments that give way with some grace to more minimalistic melodies, but these changes in intricacy and dramatic tonal shifts simply serve to throw the listener off balance. The use of retro technology lend a sense of timelessness, but while elements are a triumph, the overall changes in fullness mar what could have been a truly engaging creation. By Susannah Clark
The Amazing –Ambulance - Swedish five-piece The Amazing are certainly intriguing. Although frontman Christoffer Gunrup does seem intent on pushing his luck, being deliberately mysterious and going so far as to not take part in any kind of publicity and refusing to publish or explain his lyrics. So far, so prickly. Ambulance, the band’s fourth record, however, is not so spiky. In fact, it’s languorous, gentle and thoughtful. Through City Lights undulates and arcs with folky resonance; the largely instrumental Tracks builds, the slow burn of it catching you unawares, while Blair Drager adds a harsher, bleaker note. The problem is, if you set out to be an enigma, you can only hope to fail, it’s not something to be faked. A bit more clarity, a bit less bluster and The Amazing really would be just that. By Ella Walker
Bruckner –Symphony No 5 - Even in those dark days when Bruckner’s symphonies had fallen out of fashion, the conductor, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, has championed his music. Aged 92, when this recording was made, and conducting from memory, he is still one of the composer’s great and perceptive interpretors and the intensity he brings to this performance is quite remarkable. He certainly enjoys those massive outbursts that permeate the outer movements, but it is his overall view of this monumental score that places it among the great benchmark readings. The London Philharmonic Orchestra were in fine form, and awesome in the climatic moments, the sound on this ‘live’ recording from the Royal Festival Hall is the best I have heard from this venue. By David Denton