Each week the Hidden Shoal team pick a track from the catalogue and tell you why we love it so much and why you should love it too. Expect an equal mix of poetic ramblings and beautiful music.
The stunning finale of debut album Heresy & Rite, ‘The First Cause’ is Danish noise-rock quartet Salli Lunn at their pulse-racing best. From the plaintive guitar arpeggios that open the track to the pummeling Swans-eque churn of the song’s climax, ‘The First Cause’ builds and builds into something truly awe-inspiring, with Jonas Munk’s production lending a sense of expansiveness and yearning to the ferocity of the band’s instrumental attack.
On Umpire’s ‘Spotlights’, it’s all about the slow-burn, the withholding – and the showstopping vocal from Geoff Symons. Minus the full band behind him, Symons and his downtuned SG create a heartbreaking little universe that speaks volumes. (Fun Umpire fact: At one stage, this was to be the opening track of their superb album Now We’re Active, but was switched to the penultimate spot for maximum impact.)
Elisa Luu‘s achingly beautiful electronica is a humbling reminder that music made using computers can be just as emotive, if not more so, than music made using more ‘conventional’ instruments. On ‘Slow Bass Flute’ from her majestic debut Chromatic Sigh, the attention to detail in the synth tone is heart-stopping in itself. But listen to the way it gently unfurls into a gloriously evocative and melancholic melody – it’s the kind of song you just don’t want to end.
This is a track from an album with nothing but great tracks, but in some ways it’s one of the more immediately unassuming little numbers. As with so many great songs, it expands over multiple listens, and in this case becomes an incredibly affecting and moving piece of ambient-electronica. Whether it’s on big psych-pop builders like single ‘Drank Kites and Tomorrow’ or intimate little memory boxes like our featured track ‘Sunday Stroll’, perth invest their music with a wonderful sense of melody, atmosphere and structure. In one light, ‘Sunday Stroll’ could be described as sounding like Plaid making love to Boards of Canada, but in its fullness it’s uniquely, inimitably perth. This is a song to soundtrack your memories.
“The hold that ‘Tension Agreement’ has over me is undiminished in the eight years since its release. There’s a pleasing simplicity to the way all the elements overlap, and Chris’s understated vocal performance just kills me. It’s quite hard to write about how deeply this song affects me, but it makes you feel at home in feeling sad, yet suggests expansiveness beyond the horizon of that feeling. Sublime.”
Brother Earth‘s ‘Out Like a Lion’ from their recent album Positive Haywires is as arresting as it almost not even there. As if breathed into existence by a group of slacker ghosts, the song lilts and turns, crashing into furniture but never losing focus on some hidden goal. The incantatory vocal, the tugging nylon guitar and the insistent percussion are reminiscent of Pram at the height of their craft, yet this song is something else again and very much it’s own strange and wonderful beast. If this doesn’t soundtrack an episode of True Detective there is no justice in the world.
It was a no brainer that a collaboration between Robert Pollard collaborator and GBV producer Todd Tobias and Steve Five of The Library Is On Fire would produce something new and wonderful but Positive Haywires exceeded even my own extremely high expectations. Dig it!
This week’s featured track comes to us from Down Review, the sublime collaboration between Medard Fischer (Arc Lab) and Tim Arndt (Near The Parenthesis). Their 2009 EP From Here, For Anyone was everything fans would expect from the meeting of these two musical minds and much more. The lead track ‘Anything is Everything’ squeezes everything that is good about both artists (believe me that’s a lot!) and gently expresses the pressure across the near 6 minutes of its luscious ambient electronica landscape. It’s impossible for me not to muse around ideas of travel and movement, both spatially and emotionally, when listening to this song. I believe we described this song as “a post-midnight drive through a flaking neon city” 5 years ago and that well and truly still works for me.
This week’s featured track comes via the wonderful dream-gaze of City of Satellites. ‘BMX’ from their brilliant debut album Machine Is My Animal is a sublime cut. The song hovers across beds of widescreen synths and levitating rhythm guitar while Jarrod Manual’s alto vocals weave through the mix. And then just when you’re set in the groove, in comes a dramatic change that never fails to bring me goosebumps. It’s such a beautiful pay-off and such smart and affecting songwriting. Be sure to also check out the brilliant music video for the track here.
This week’s featured track is delivered by Hidden Shoal’s Tim Clarke. It’s a gorgeous track and a lovely little tale of how we snared Tim into the fold.
“Back in 2006, when Hidden Shoal was in its infancy and before I came on board, I reviewed a few of the releases for Norwegian e-zine Luna Kafe. My Majestic Star‘s Ideas Are The Answer was one of these albums, of which ‘Coffee Stains and Beer’ is the stunning opening track. It immediately put me in the same space as Papa M’s Live From A Shark Cage, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. ‘Coffee Stains and Beer’ is a close relative of Shark Cage‘s opener ‘Arundel’. Chris Mason has such a deft melodic sensibility and restraint in this song, comparable to Dave Pajo – which is a massive compliment! When I heard this song, it put things into perspective: a small label based in Perth were releasing stuff that stood up against some of the best music I’ve ever heard. I had to get involved.” – Tim Clarke
We now get to intro another part of the new Features section here at Hidden Shoal – Featured Tracks. Every week we’ll be posting a pick from the Hidden Shoal catalogue and telling you why we love it. And without any further ado…
This weeks featured track is lifted from Mukaizake‘s sublime 2009 mini-album Unknown Knowns. ‘My Friend Flicker’ swings and sways with the deftness of a zero gravity dancer, all the while dripping in melancholia and unrequitedness. If you’ve not had the pleasure yet then don’t deny yourself – head here to stream the album in full and also nab yourself a copy.