It’s that time again. Bandcamp Friday. I wish it wasn’t, because it means that the last six months haven’t all been an awful dream and we’re still locked in this kind of weird aftermath of the Long Nineties, the prelude to the final sharp swan-dive back into the nightmare of history.
Still, anyone with any money left at this point ought to bear in mind that you can’t take it with you when you go, and since we’re all going to die, hopefully before the next deadline, let’s buy a few last records before the whole thing comes crashing down, shall we? I quite like the idea of future archaeologists descended from some tardigrade life-form currently unknown to science finding my fossilised remains in whatever becomes of the silt of Roath, surrounded by weird, circular votive offerings that probably indicate that I was a revered nobleman of some kind instead of a skinny fool sitting in the dark tapping away on a borrowed laptop. Hauntology? I should coco.
To recap: First Friday of the month is Bandcamp Friday, which means that all the money you spend on your favourite bands goes straight to the artists and not to the faceless, cackling corporate goblins of the music industry.
Let’s start with Actress, who has just announced pre-orders for his new album, Karma & Desire, and if you were minded to try and really impress the above-mentioned antiquarian water bears, that would be a good place to start. Personally, I’d bet against human society lasting as far as the 23 October release date, but heck, go large with a bundle of double LPs and a face mask.
Oh, the music? Well, the first track we’ve been teased with is ‘Walking Flames’, which locates the exquisite vocals of Sampha somewhere in the background of a blurry, bromide smeared polaroid of a tune. There’s a piano playing in the next room and the most delicate breakbeats, while Sampha enjoins us the greet the birth of a new day. It’s an intriguing mix of the gloomy and the optimistic and bodes well for the album to come.
Best known as a purveyor of straight-up indiepop with her bands Suggested Friends and Mammoth Penguins, Emma Kupa’s solo album It Will Come Easier hints at being pitched more towards that coolest of all demographics, the Sunday-morning-in-bed-with-6music-and-sertraline crowd. ‘Hey Love’, with its lightheaded couplets about ‘the drugs in the desk drawer / that we bought last summer’ and strings like the little brain zaps you get with an ill-fitting SSRI is probably the stand out track of the three that she’s put out so far, but I’m still humming the banjo riff from ‘Nothing At All’. Kupa is a real treasure of an artist who deserves to be known far beyond the DIY scene, so make sure she’s on your radar.
Callum Easter’s debut album boldly asserted that it was Here or Nowhere and fuck me if he wasn’t vindicated by subsequent events. Newly signed to Moshi Moshi, he’s followed it up with a live album of sorts – reinterpretations of material from his earlier EPs as well as a handful of songs from Here or Nowhere recorded in one take at Green Door Studios in Glasgow. I’d been avoiding the resulting Green Door Sessions, largely because I usually find this sort of release rather unsatisfying. What kind of fool wants to go poking around in the still-twitching entrails of the songs he put out in 2018?
Turns out Callum Easter is never wrong. I’m wrong and Green Door Sessions is a winner – Easter’s act has considerably evolved over the last few years, and stripped back to the set-up he’s been using on stage, songs like ‘Space in Time’, reinvented here as ‘One Thought’, and the malevolent, awestruck leer of ‘Back Beat’, take on a new, raw clarity. It’s probably a bit boring to point this out, but he’s a daring sound engineer – I have vague recollections of encountering him at Green Man last year and getting regaled with a complicated tale of how he once took out a digital projector with the feedback from his sousaphone (or something). Anyway, the vintage drum machine action is totally on point throughout and you can get both LPs in a bundle from his old pals at Lost Map. Get it, put the headphones on, enjoy.
Talking of Moshi Moshi, they’ve put out a load of stuff over the last few months under the battle-flag of 0800-MOSHI-MOSHI, immaculately described as a ‘series of musical doorstep handclaps delivered from quarantine by Moshi Moshi Records’. It’s a real trove of material for you to dig through, but I’m just gonna park ‘Jama El F’na’ by Mera Bhai right here and dance around a bit while you figure the rest out for yourself.
There, that’s better.
Ivy and Gregory
Communications occasionally reach me from the outside world. Paul from Wormhole World e-mailed just before my computer finally died to share Shifting the Crap Haze from Ivy and Gregory. Sadly this wasn’t in time to download the entire album, but I have been thoroughly absorbed by its 16 minute-long closer, ‘Piss Soaked Floorboards’, an obsessive, creaking expanse of music concrète that places them at the less genteel end of spectral muzak. Deep, disembodied voices drawl and mutter from beyond the worlds we know and clattering, submerged loops build into something laconic and filled with suspense.
Hannah from Cardiff tweeted to inform me that she’ll be ordering the Dream Nails album on Friday, and a cursory listen indicates that she might be onto something with that. Dream Nails’ call to arms is ‘Jillian’, a song about having a massive queer-punk crush on a celebrity fitness instructor and heaven knows, I’ve heard of folks getting up to worse in lockdown. This is what the womxn in the roller derby team are listening to and it’s rather fine, although I do fret that the micro-fibres from all that Lycra must be taking an appalling toll on the marine eco-system.
Some last-minute news, courtesy of Renata from between the motorways in South Staffs, who informs us that Cropping the Aftermath, the new LP from epic45 is going to be getting a pale blue repress this Friday. I don’t know much about it other than that the band has been making music for about twenty years now and seem to quite like Disco Inferno, which is no bad thing at all. They’ve been putting out a lot of stuff via Bandcamp this year, and I’m looking forward to digging a bit deeper. Their album from last May, We Were Never Here, is a set of reverb-laden instrumentals evocative of a long nature walks through the ruins of the post-war suburbs, while the first cut from Cropping the Aftermath, ‘Buildings Aren’t Haunted, People Are’ sounds like something I half recall John Peel playing in between Bhundu Boys and The Knights of the Occasional Table, something that I might have taped off the radio long ago, thus fulfilling my small part in the killing of music and bringing this month’s column towards some sort of striving for redemption. Or that’s how it sounds to these ears anyway.
A world away from South Staffs, the last word this month goes to Onipa, who follow up We No Be Machine, a double LP of lush Afrofuturist grooves with an album of remixes, We No Be Machine Rewired. Featuring members of Nubiyan Twist, KOG and the Zongo Brigade and Wonky Logic, the LP was a fired-up, exciting encounter between the liveliest impulses of London and Ghana and it’s hard to imagine that such a rich palette of sounds could spawn anything other than a suite of exceptionally banging remixes. Out in November but worth an early punt in my book.
Well, thanks for making it this far. Hopefully, we’ll all be back to spend a bit more money on some obscure but passionately committed music next month. Come and say hello in the comments or on Twitter and drop me your recommendations – bands, labels, concerned fans – don’t hesitate to hit me up.