A bunch of recent albums I'm enjoying immensely
Ziúr - ATØ
A satisfyingly massive leap forward from the Berlin-based artist on her second album ATØ (an abbreviation for The Alliance To Take Over The World). The balance of raw power electronics, determined through her rough rhythms and imposing sound design, and left-field Pop, realised through proper melody and some excellent vocal contributions, makes for a potent potion.
Claro Intelecto - In Vitro
It's a rare thing to see an underground artist like Mark Stewart, aka Claro Intelecto, release what is essentially a 'Best of" album (or in this case, double album), partly because there's very little commercial call for such a release and partly because very few underground artists can pool together so much quality work. It's not just for the diehard fans though, there's an impressive range of work presented here, plotting Stewart's development path (through Ambient, Electro, Techno, Acid and Electronica). All very listenable and immaculately produced.
Ben Frost - Dark Cycle 1 + 2
The renowned Australian musician Ben Frost has just released two massive vinyl soundtrack packages, one for his groundbreaking work on Sky Atlantic's Fortitude series and other for the German-made Netflix series Dark, which is the one I've been listening to most. To appreciate the full effect I watched a couple of episodes and the foreboding vibe really embellishes the dramatic visuals; specifically the sound of plummeting strings which Frost uses for building tension. And once aware of this technique I couldn't help but hear it everywhere, like the Jaws OST by John Williams and Hildur Guðnadóttir's fine work on Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Worth checking out for some dramatic background Ambient music.
PJ Harvey - All About Eve
By chance I stumbled upon this beautiful soundtrack from Polly Jean Harvey for the stage play adaptation of the famous 1950's film All About Eve. Comprising ten instrumentals and two new songs (with vocals from the leads actors Gillian Anderson and Lily James).
Nils Frahm - All Encores
Considering this is a collection of three previously released EPs, All Encores works surprisingly well as a cohesive album; I'd even go as far as saying it's better than his last album All Melody (the sessions from which produced these "off-cuts"). The twelve track selection starts with the acoustic sounds of solo piano and harmonium, then explores more Ambient landscapes and ends on a fuller, percussive note. Spells is particularly strong.
Pan•American - A Son
I've been increasingly digging Ambient music made with guitars in recent years, and Chicago’s Mark Nelson (he of post-Rock group Labradford) has delivered the perfect package in A Son: nine tracks of meandering, provocative, 4th World music that's easy to love.
Yamaneko - Spirals Heaven Wide
I love an album that I can listen to a dozen times and still feel that tingling excitement of the unknown, the promise of unexpected delights just around the corner. Spirals Heaven Wide is giving me this in spades. This is unique Ambient music that uses clever samples and unusual instrumentation, and provokes weird emotional reactions in me. Mournful, melancholic yet uplifting and light. Still so much to discover, and you should too.
Shanti Celeste - Tangerine
Opening an electronic album with an Ambient statement is so passé at the moment but on Tangerine it works, largely because Celeste avoids clichés as the ten tracks unfold, using Ambient and downtempo sections to balance the more upbeat moments. So while many tunes hit the 140 BPM mark, it's the pleasing mix of deep bass, Ambient sections and old-skool vibes that make for a surprisingly tasteful long player. And like the Yamaneko album above, Tangerine has been on steady rotation since its release and I'm nowhere near reaching full appreciation.