Man, it’s been a weird last few months. I gotta give a maximum shout-out to Lisa Whealy, who has basically kept this place publishing since roughly April when my second child was born. (Welcome to the world, little baby!) Things are starting to settle down a bit, and I’m taking a moment to catch up on all that I’ve listened to recently.
Master Spy (Original Soundtrack) – RAC. Better known to me for his remixes (his mix of Rostam’s “This Song” is a personal fave), this is completely different. This is a high-drama electro spy movie soundtrack, and it is sufficiently tense and dense. It’s got a lot more Mission: Impossible in its blood than Pink Panther in terms of vibe–lots of thumpin’ and jumpin’ instead of slinking and drinking. But there are some ambient bits (“Cutscene 3”) and some even poppy bits [“Mission 3 (Hk)”]. It’s really rad, and great working music.
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence – The Appleseed Cast. Some bands reinvent themselves constantly (The Flaming Lips, The Mountain Goats, Teen Daze, just to think of a few) and some drill down into the core of what makes the band itself. Appleseed Cast is of the latter ilk, as anyone who’s listened to an Appleseed record since 2006’s excellent Peregrine will recognize The Fleeting Light of Impermanence immediately. It’s got the same evocative guitar tones, huge drums, yearning vocals, expansive song frames, and searching lyrics that make The Appleseed Cast so great, and it does all of it really, really well. (“Chaotic Waves” could literally be on any TAC record, and that’s a testament to their high quality over years and their continued focus.)
There’s a bit of a shift in the lyrics toward more earnest and straightforward work, as standout track “The Journey” is a clear statement of principles: “Now I get the lesson / Of the words that my father said / Life ain’t easy / But if you do it right, it’s worth it.” You betcha. Keep on keepin’ on, Appleseed Cast. Highly recommended for TAC fans, recommended for everyone else.
Mister Lies – Mister Lies. This album is hard to describe. There’s ambient work, occasional soulful vocals, downtempo electronic bits, jazzy interludes, and more on this dusky record. It’s hard to pin down, yet it’s hard to stay away from. I keep coming back to it over and over; it’s been a near companion for the last few months. It captures a certain sort of mood where the days blend together and time is difficult to parse; things are happening fast, or slow, or fast-then-slow, and it’s all a lot to process. That mood. You know, modern life mood.
Multiple – LITE. I was in a situation where I had to explain what math-rock was to a friend, and I discharged my duties as faithfully as I could (and included examples). I should have just sent him a link to this record. In an era where many bands are disavowing math-rock as a term and math-rock’s idiosyncrasies as outdated/irrelavant, LITE is leaning hard into it. All of the patterned guitars, atypical song structures, complex rhythms, and punchy melodies that you can imagine are right here waiting for you. Opener “Double” is about as good an opening salvo as you can get for this type of work, while “Zone 3” is an elegantly frantic blitz. But they can also chill it out: “One Last Mile” shows their jazzy chops. An excellent work of math-rock, this one.
Back to the Fuzz – Panfur. This is a big, fun, instrumental electro record. There’s influences from everywhere (trap, dream-pop, trance, video games, and more), making this a blast to listen to. It’s heavy on the electronic instrument samples as an aesthetic, so if you’ll be very into this if you’re up for “this sounds like strings but not” as part of the mood.
Poke and Chill – Mikel, GameChops. The people behind the excellent Zelda music mashup from earlier this year are back with a really fun follow-up: a selection of the chill music from various Pokemon games, set to downtempo beats. There’s none of the uptempo stuff, just all chill all the time. They chose a lot of iconic themes, so fans of the series will be immediately pleased. But the compositions are so tight that even people who don’t do Pokemon will find much to love in the inventive, immaculately done tracks. Excellent work.