Some things I have been listening to this week.
Thomas Ades – Violin Concerto
This might be my favourite work of Ades at the moment – lovely shimmering textures, flecked with dissonance with great rhythmic innovation. The first movement in particular is stunning.
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
90% of the music to which I listen is instrumental, and of the vocal-led music I listen to, I generally don’t listen to singer songwriter stuff, but this record has absolutely knocked me out. Completely autobiographical, it ‘reads’ like a novel, and doesn’t hold anything back, occasionally to the point of being cringe-inducing in the sense of not fully believing Mark Kozelek’s willingness to be so honest. Worth your time.
Fennesz – Becs
This is a record that is almost entirely concerned with evolving textures, from ‘pleasant’ soundscapes to pure noise, and everything in between, and for a sound design nerd, is very exciting stuff.
Hans Abrahamsen – Schnee
A huge work for chamber orchestra, about snow, and everything that the word connotes. Generally, I’m not a New Simplicity person, but I was incredibly sorry to miss this at the recent new music festival in Dublin.
Ben Frost – Aurora
I recently saw Ben Frost’s Aurora live show at the Button Factory in Dublin, and was blinded and deafened. I have been to many, many shows and am well into triple digits at this point, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most intense shows I have ever been to. His live electronic rig was flanked by two live drummers, which lent the entire affair a brutal, anarchic, almost punk-rock sensibility. Have you ever had a strobe lights flash at you almost continuously for 90 full minutes? I have. It’s really quite something.
Bartok – Piano Concerto No.2
I think this is my favourite of Bartok’s Piano Concerti. I particularly love the second movement – something about the quintal harmonies scares the life out of me (starting at 9:35).
Swans – To Be Kind
What can I saw about Swans’ new record? Even at 60, Michael Gira has more anger and energy than men a third of his age. Occasionally, as is often the case with Swans, the material can be overly long (to my ears anyway), but there are still many moments of brilliance, such as this number – as danceable as it is terrifying.