Tuesday 13 October 2015, with Jim Pinckney
The Sampler for 13 October 2015
Jim Pinckney reviews Music Complete by New Order, Half Free by U.S. Girls and Girls and Foam by Darkstar.
Half Free by U.S. Girls
U.S. Girls' Meghan Remy. Photograph supplied.
Jim Pinckney tunes in to the twisted pop of U.S. Girls Half Free.
Illinois born and now Toronto based artist Meghan Remy is certainly a curious one, sending out a raft of divergent and often challenging signals over the space of numerous releases since 2007. In many respects the easiest fit is amongst the likes of 4AD labelmates Grimes, and Tuneyards, who make very different music that is hard to categorise, relentlessly, sometimes disastrously, adventurous and spottily successful. The sound quality may have been stepped up a little this time around, but it’s still rooted in the 4-track, lo-fi allure of her earlier recordings, that found a natural home in the shambling surrounds of labels like Stiltbreeze and Not Not Fun Records. While that material often tended to sound like a straight out fight, between her well studied pop tendencies and a bedroom producers mentality, with neither side necessarily winning, there is a more measured feeling of equilibrium and confidence to Half Free that suggests U.S. Girls is only just getting started.
Songs played: Sed Knife, New Age Thriller, Damn That Valley, Sororal Feelings, Window Shades, Navy & Cream
Music Complete by New Order
New Order. Photo supplied.
Jim Pinckney negotiates New Order's first truly new material in over a decade.
Though it may be their 10th studio album it’s hardly business as usual for New Order, as they welcome back Gillian Gilbert on keyboards for the first time since 2001’s Get Ready release, and mark the departure of longtime bass player Peter Hook. It certainly hasn’t been easy, with lead singer Bernard Sumner and Hook squaring off in contrasting memoirs that provide very different slants on history, though leaving little doubt that these are two curmudgeonly gentlemen who probably shouldn’t be in the same room together, let alone the same group. On Music Complete the remaining members, alongside new bassist Tom Chapman and long time guitarist Phil Cunningham, opt for the safest options - revisiting past glories, and roping in a fair chunk of celebrity help. As much as it is a considerable step up from their last two efforts, Music Complete doesn’t add a great deal to the band’s extraordinary legacy.
Songs played: Restless, Unlearn This Hatred, Singularity, Tutti Frutti, Plastic, People On The High Line, Stray Dog, Superheated
Foam Island by Darkstar
Darkstar duo Aiden Whalley and James Young. Photograph supplied.
Jim Pinckney delves into Darkstar's socially conscious gentle electronica.
Darkstar are a pair of northern transplants, James Young and Aiden Whalley, who wound up studying in London and finding common musical ground in the tenuous area that became known as post-dubstep. Operating on the very fringes of dance music, with delicate pop aspirations and a decidedly ambient bent, they are the kind of outfit who don’t fit in with whichever scene they are cobbled into. If there is a cohesive thread through their music it is a sense of fragile unease. Foam Island, their third album, finds the duo adding a stronger socio-political aspect to their sound, using reportage of Huddersfield locals describing their lot during the last British General Election. It can make for heavy listening but there are some genuinely substantial and worthwhile songs hidden amongst the patchwork of spoken word intrusions, and Darkstar continue to intrigue, infuriate and sometimes delight.
Songs played: Go Natural, Pin Secure, Inherent In The Fibre, Tilly’s Theme, Stoke The Fire