Said the Gramophone - image by Matthew Feyld
by Sean

Fortune teller

Jonnie Common - "Better Man". What begins as an shaky nod to a club classic reveals itself as something more handsewn and cockeyed. Common lives in Glasgow but as much as he's indebted to his Beta Band countrymates, there's an even stronger kinship to Beck's sunny, gritty dilettantism. Again, "Better Man" begins like a wink to Dance Mix 96 until soon it's drowsy, brogued bedroom pop; but at the halfway mark it changes again, the gentle shuffle giving way to something almost metal-tinged. From leftfield there's the braided film-loop of an African music sample - then horns, horns, a glossy sax that's all refraction, prismatic gesture. The music feels expansive, like it contains multitudes; it feels surprising, curious, avaricious. I wonder if kids today can ever know the joy we got from those first sample-heavy hip-hop and pop records - that feeling of filleted newspapers, scrambled sequencers, genius emerging from life's modern rubbish/racket. I wonder if this will feel, to them, like a return to a tired form; or whether, as it is for me, like sheer giddy possibility, thrilling song, daft renaissance. [buy Trapped In Amber]

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by Sean
A bay in Iceland

EMBASSYLIGHTS - "Inside-Outside". It is too easy to overcollaborate. Working with someone else, with someones else, it doesn't take much to fill every gap, plug every hole, fit another new idea into every open space. So all credit to EMBASSYLIGHTS, which unites Icelandic musicians Benni Hemm Hemm and Prins Póló with Canadian songwriters Samantha Savage Smith, Laura Leif, Clinton St John and Woodpigeon's Mark Andrew Hamilton. This is an album with a lot of space; whole swathes, plains, pages of space. "Inside-Outside" is a song that starts sparse and then in fact becomes sparser, its serenade diffused into loose groove and mumble. It's that second part where I want to reside, like a comfortable granny under a shingle roof. I want to look out onto the bay, glassy water interrupted now and then by leaping fish, silver kicks, knowing that later I'll step outside, or inside, and have a different kind of fun. [buy / and check out the limited edition flexidisc book]

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by Dan


Leonard Cohen - "Samson in New Orleans"

Edmund imagines himself dying. He is in a white-linen bed or some such thing where the points of his feet show at the bottom and there is a plant in the window. He is somehow able to address everyone in his life at once, he can speak in their head like God's voice, a voice that drowns out all other sounds. And he imagines himself saying the right thing. A lengthy address, poetic, that would bring them all to tears and they would see his jagged beauty for just that, beauty, and not a thing that saws at everything that tries to grasp it. It would include many things, he thought, but definitely a phrase like "I guess that's how it goes" placed perfectly and given the right weight. The voice would be so powerful that, in death, he would crescendo, his last breath would correspond to his last note. And he wouldn't die like the rest, panting, wrung slowly into cardboard, furtive, embarrassed, unfinished.

[Buy directly from Leonard Cohen]

by Sean
Bat face

Dva - "Zoppe". Are you a trumpet or are you a man? It is one thing if you ask this question of a person; it is another if you ask it of a trumpet. Would a trumpet say, "I am a trumpet! I am a trumpet! I am not a man I am a trumpet!"? Or would the trumpet try to pretend? Would the trumpet say, "I'm a person! I'm a woman! I am!"? Would the trumpet confirm or deny? Perhaps there are trumpets among us, pretending. Perhaps that pal with perfect mouth-trumpet is not a human pal at all: she is shiny brass, she is curved metal, she is a soundmaker lifted to lips.

Dva's "Zoppe" is an acapella fugue, a pliant cacophony, a summer's day flowing backwards into spring.

[buy / thanks Jonathan!]

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by Sean
Batman gives a leg up

Moss Lime - "Calabria 2014". Montreal's dry-spirited post-punks pay tribute to Enur's club smash. They drain the ephedrine out, steep the tea for too long. It's a little droopy, a little bitter; a song for cracked concrete instead of a white sand beach. You could still have a party, but you'd probably have to be lying down, or wearing a heavy coat; and this isn't music for seducing anyone, it just isn't. It's for something more familiar, cats weaving underfoot. [Moss Lime are from Montreal / buy July First from Fixture Records / upcoming gigs 10/29, 11/04, 11/05, 11/10]

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by Dan

Weaves - "Shithole"

Lift my head from my body, loose already like a shard unglued, and rest it slanted in grass. Bring sun and wind like wet ingredients, lift it all into the air and let it go. Watch it float there, it doesn't fall. Sidewalks all like blankets, all doors curtains, roofs tents, all trees pendulums. Everything has an individual gravitational center, like a fingerprint. If your fingerprints had on them the names of people you almost were.


by Sean

Bruce Conner, Sound of Two Hand Angel

Jessie Ware - "You & I (Forever)". One of the common tricks to pop songwriting is to write verses with specific, sited details, and then, in the chorus, to go big and universal. With "You & I (Forever)", Ware deploys an inverse strategy: the chorus contains the song's only specific reference, a line about going to tea. It's a subtle move but something in it, what she says and how it lands - it gets me verklemmt. I am, like most living humans, a sucker for the happy-sad; and although I'm skeptical toward this song's hamfisted interpolation of The xx, I love the shearing lap of the production, the buried drone, and that plaintive loon-call of a sample. Mostly I love that line, about tea, what she says and how it lands. I'm listening to a pleasant, melancholy pop song and then she sings she Only wanted tea with you, and I find myself in particular memories, or imagined memories, a hapless heart in a certain place & time. [from Tough Love - buy]

Jessie Ware - "12". You can dial back a song: you can dial back a song to make it less of a song, a sketch not a drawing. "12" is full of line and colour, crosshatching, but it is sparer than most of what Ware's now up to. It is a place where the sun is slowly rising, slow as ever, half-formed shapes slowly lit up and warmed. ["12" is a Tough Love B-side.]

(image is Bruce Conner's "Sound of Two Hand Angel", from 1974)