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A Magazine for Sheffield

Free Nationals / Trypheme / Innocence Mission / Polica / Field Music / OOIOO

Free Nationals / Trypheme / Innocence Mission / Polica / Field Music / OOIOO
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OOIOO - Nijimusi

Nijimusi is OOIOO's first release since 2014's excellent Gamel, an experimental record marrying the band's proclivity for polyrhythms with the metrical complexity of Southeast Asian gong music.

But where Gamel was a detour, if an intuitive and natural one, Nijimusi is a return to type; only smatterings of electronics interrupt the core of vocals, guitar, bass and drums as the album progresses.

Yelped vocals, jutting from the music at sharp angles

But the relatively standard rock band lineup belies Nijimusi's intensity and complexity. Textures are alternately cocooning and corroding. The band samples and discards time signatures as though trying on shoes. If a title track typically outlines a record's thesis, the blast of incomprehensible noise constituting 'Nijimusi' displays a wilful resistance to being understood.

Rhythmically, the standout is 'Tisou', a progressively unwieldy tangle of metres. The track is chaotic in a way only attainable through the most meticulous planning and rehearsal. Yelped vocals, jutting from the music at sharp angles, recall the work of jittery New York art punks Guerilla Toss. When 'Bulun' settles on a consistent 5/4 time, it feels practically mundane.

The tragic death of founding member Kyoko in 2015 perhaps informs Nijimusi's back-to-basics sound, but it would be an error to project too much sombreness onto this frequently ecstatic record. However, at the very least, the extended reprise of 'Ah Yeah!' from 1999's Feather Float takes on a distinctly elegiac tone. Its climax, a cleansing wall of noise, is the ultimate catharsis.

Andrew Trayford

Field Music - Making A New World

Field Music's new release, Making A New World, is a mammoth 19-track record covering the events and repercussions of the First World War. Despite the album not being about war or remembrance directly, it can still be considered the band's first concept album.

David Brewis, who forms half of the brotherly duo, described the songs as an attempt to "capture the echoes of the First World War in all the time since". The themes of the songs cover a variety of issues facing the country after the armed conflict took place, ranging from air traffic control to gender reassignment surgery.

Unlike the band's previous records, this feels much more like a 'band' album. The core of the group, David and Peter Brewis, have called on support from different musicians to create an experimental sound which delves into new realms and explores themes beyond the standard political strife.

sheer volume of originality and experimentation

'Money is a Memory' is a terrific, funk-inspired track with jagged guitar riffs and an infectious chorus. 'Only In a Man's World' is about the development of sanitary towels and menstruation being such a taboo subject that it's often treated with contempt. This song has a clear, striking message with the repetition of the lyrics: "Why should a woman feel the shame? Why, why, why?"

The sheer volume of originality and experimentation is exactly what music is all about. Field Music should be lauded for their ambition and willingness to create an album with so much depth and musical variation.

Daniel Atherton

Trypheme - Aluminia

As eagerly awaited follow-ups go this is a pretty special one, as Trypheme backs up her memorable debut on Central Processing Records in 2017 with a glistening return.

Tiphaine Belin builds on that strong debut with another beautiful and mature collection of electronics that folds rich sound upon itself to raise an already high bar. The frequent and timely addition of vocals sets this out from most electronic music in a very busy crowd.

Opening track 'Lava' is theatrical and cinematic, the kind of excursion you'd expect from more substantial, financially confident labels. The tracks 'Cry Silent Cry' and 'Fey' again highlight Belin's dexterity as an artist as she overlays vocals and strings to create a rich mirage of ambience and slow grooves. Even though this is arguably the most mellow CPU release to date, it never settles or allows you to get too comfortable, as each phase is only momentary before new horizons appear.

each phase is only momentary before new horizons appear

'Eedyu' and 'In A Cyber Spiral' drop dubbed-out beats into the melting pot, with the latter being the highlight of the EP. Ecstatic moans make way for finely-diced angelic choirs laid over a digi dub beat and bassline. 'X-Ray Mantra' adds in a subtly demonic, haunting perspective to once again keep things interesting.

If Mark Bell had ever been given access to remix Madonna in her pomp, this is what the results may have sounded like. If anyone tries to convince you that electronic music has no soul, I suggest you play them this record.

Andy Tattersall

Poliça - When We Stay Alive

It's a common trope that art comes from pain. Heartbreak, disillusion and bereavement drive artists to conjure beautiful compositions as catharsis. In the particular case of When We Stay Alive, Poliça's new album, this is the tenet followed.

Halfway through the album's recording, singer Channy Leaneagh suffered a fall and during the recovery period the lead single 'Driving' was born. The yearning that inspires us in a period of recovery, when we promise ourselves we'll be better soon, seeps through the track, perfectly capturing a sense of optimism.

The good memories that you cling on to as a lifesaver

It would seem the incident would cast a shadow over the album, perhaps making it feel dissonant. This is not the case, as When We Stay Alive is a cohesive product. Darker tracks like 'Be Again' and 'Folded' breed a thick atmosphere of eerie trip-hop. Countering that grey palette are the vivacious 'Driving' and 'Forget Me Now'. Don't expect a party atmosphere though, as there's a reasonable amount of reflection throughout the record, perhaps demonstrating the solace found by Poliça on their creative journey.

"Back in the day / Momma held me steady," croons Leaneagh on the chorus of 'Steady'. Isn't that what motivates you at your worst times? The good memories that you cling on to as a lifesaver, when life drops in you in a violent storm, be it an emotional or a physical one. The clouds will clear and you'll swim back to shore.

Sam J. Valdés López

The Innocence Mission - See You Tomorrow

If there's something I've always relished about The Innocence Mission's vast catalogue of warm folk, it's that feeling of timelessness in their music. Think long sunsets seeping through massive airport windows. Quiet nightfalls in the countryside. Long drives through quiet forest highways. There's an eternal sense of tranquillity that's never dispelled. It carries forward within you.

A sliver of hope rises in the distance

A career as long as theirs means that you witness first-hand how life starts taking from you - loved ones dying, friendships sputtering out and your own body self-destructing. It's inevitable, and at least The Innocence Mission offer solace on this road to decay. 'On Your Side' documents this sensation, reflecting but never allowing self-indulgent wallowing to take over. Loss can devastate you, but your soul recovers at its own pace. Whistle 'We Don't Know How To Say Why' while it does that.

A sliver of hope rises in the distance. Can you hear it? Can you feel how that glint from the sun melts the icicles on the bare trees? It's Karen Peris's vocals, accompanied by beautiful folk music. The Innocence Mission never lie about the gravity of a situation - and they will always be at your side.

Sam J. Valdés López

The Free Nationals - The Free Nationals

Not content to simply be known as Anderson Paak's live band, The Free Nationals have stepped out of his shadow to release their self-titled debut album. Having risen to prominence hand-in-hand with the Grammy Award-winning rapper, the band now face the challenge of defining themselves as a separate entity.

The result of this effort is a funky project filled with nostalgic instrumentals stylised on legendary soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield. Hiding the Paak-shaped hole are an eclectic array of artists ranging from Unknown Mortal Orchestra to TI.

The album does miss Anderson Paak

At its best the album is smooth, sensual and soulful. On 'Beauty & Essex', a sleek and sexy bassline sets the scene for lyrics that speak of "aphrodisiac potions" and "sex and flowers", and this theme is carried throughout the album. Highlights of the project include Syd's vocals on 'Shibuya' and Kali Uchis and Mac Miller's appearances on 'Time'.

But the album does miss Anderson Paak. It feels like a waste to make such a soulful collection of instrumental tracks and deny him the chance to add his raspy vocals to them. The collection of artists assembled gives it a real jukebox feel, but this doesn't stop it from feeling slightly repetitive by the end, relying heavily on the quality of the features to bring variety.

Josh Bolton

Next article in issue 142

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