Art-pop from Moses Sumney and FKA Twigs, a techno soundtrack from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, an afrobeat banger, some sad-boy-soul, and some Scottish minimalist dream-pop feature on Song Crush this week.
Host Kirsten Johnstone is joined by RNZ Music's Tony Stamp and Yadana Saw, and RNZ producer Rob Kelly.
Moses Sumney - Virile
Moses Sumney released his stunning debut LP Aromanticism in 2017, and his singular, agile, emo voice will be back with a double album Grae in 2020. The first single ‘Virile’ comes out swinging, with yelps, harps, flute trills and polyrhythmic percussion backing swooping melodies and lyrics that seem to probe notions of gender, masculinity and mortality.
Plus, check out this self-directed video starring Moses himself, the best music video set in an abattoir since The Skeptics AFFCO KJ
Inflo - No Fear
Inflo is the alias of Dean Wynton Josiah Cover, a London-based producer who’s a member of mysterious trio SAULT. This song’s based around a minimal but powerful four word refrain, leaning on lush brass, a spicy flute refrain, and crucially, a beat that’s 100% in the pocket. Summery vibes abound.
Leif Vollebekk - Transatlantic Flight
Leif Vollebekk is a master of sad boy music. Across his four studio albums he’s welcomed listeners into a world of his thought, fears and frail hopes. This new album New Ways is more reflective than his 2017 album Twin Solitude and songs like ‘Hot Tears’ and ‘Apalachee Plain’ look forward much more than his previous work.
That’s not to say he’s thrown out the formula. Gentle and atmospheric instrumentation wraps itself around his voice like a duvet on an August evening. Piano and drums build a rhythmic base for the confessional lyrics and sometimes become the whole point themselves. Vollebekk wrote this album initially just with his guitar and a drummer and then built the instrumentation around that framework. You can hear it in the songs. While the lyrics and harmonic world are the point, there’s a rhythmic basis to everything he does.
‘Transatlantic Flight’ is a moment in time, set in a liminal space between continents and between sleep and wakefulness. It’s not quite a love song, but it could be. It’s an ode to imagined futures and lost pasts, caught in the amber of the strange world of long haul flights. It’s a delight. RK
FKA twigs - Fallen Alien
Until now I had always found FKA Twigs aesthetic really unsettling and uncomfortable. It was viscerally jarring. She sings with a cut glass voice, and a pretty plinking piano then all of a sudden a crashing, crunching beat disrupts like a rock through a window.
She is an exceptional dancer and physical performer (here’s her poledancing, kung fu swordfighting), but I would find her appearance and style wacky. It was beauty that was intentionally ruined with deliberate rough edges, sudden lurches and what I thought were ugly things (just have a look at the cover of Magdalene).
And then I fell in love with 'Fallen Alien' from her latest release and it all made sense. The song is beautiful with her swooping voice, pounding – but melodic – piano but then the song gets glitchy, rumbly and sonically attacks you - because that’s what heartbreak sounds like and most of all, women don’t have to conform to making perfect pretty things. YS
Cloth - Sleep
This Scottish trio (twins Paul and Rachael Swinton along with drummer Clare Gallacher) make dreamy minimalist indie -pop - think Cocteau twins meets the XX.
They create so much space in their debut, self-titled album - every little lick and chime of guitar can be heard and you have time to savour it, it’s elegantly uncluttered, but richly detailed. ‘Sleep’ sounds like the clear frosty night I assume Rachael is singing about. Listen to it on Spotify, or enjoy this live BBC session below. KJ
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Nun With A Motherf*&*ing Gun
Trent Reznor, the man behind industrial behemoth Nine Inch Nails (still releasing blistering music into their fourth decade), has had a late-career partial reinvention as a go-to for icy soundtrack work. He and Atticus Ross have contributed to the score for The Social Network and Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, and have now soundtracked the HBO series Watchmen. This track is a classic NIN techno boogie, peppered with synths and a wonderfully sleazy bassline. Pump your fist.
Here's our Spotify Playlist: