Now that May has arrived, we’re taking a moment to take stock of the month behind us, commenting one by one on the albums that make up our April chart. Ten albums of the many that have been released or circulated freely on the Internet, they make up a personal selection of favourite titles for PlayGround.
10. Jack White: “Blunderbuss” (Third Man Records-Columbia)
Jack White puts out his first solo album, and he does so with his entire arsenal of resources: dirty blues, threadbare guitars, lyrics containing very private confessions, and theatre—really good theatre.
9. LHF: “Keepers Of The Light” (Keysound Recordings)
“Keepers Of The Light” is an appropriate title for LHF’s debut: the group continues to heat up a genre that is still not exhausted, refining their work enough to give us over two hours of exceptional dubstep.
8. Sun Araw & M Geddes Gengras meet The Congos: “FRKWYS vol. 9” (RVNG Intl.)
Sun Araw enters into contact with The Congos, a Jamaican reggae legend, to mix dub techniques and psychedelics into an absorbing blend. A new example of why RVNG Intl. is one of the top labels right now.
7. Maya Jane Coles: “DJ-Kicks” (!k7)
Maya Jane Coles, the recent major revelation in English deep house, consolidates her position with a tremendous mix for the “DJ Kicks” series, overflowing with elegant beats, techno escapades, and a luxurious display of synthetic textures.
6. Lone: “Galaxy Garden” (R&S Records)
A subtle, but decisive twist in Lone’s old-school language: trippy techno, nostalgia for the finest moments of the rave explosion, trotting pianos, baroque melodies, happiness, ecstasy. It’s not an album, it’s a future world: remote and improved.
5. Spiritualized: “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” (Double Six-Domino)
Jason Pierce puts out his most optimistic, luminous album, also the one with the clearest introduction and development. Based on his obsessions –blues and gospel– and cutting down on chaos and space drifting, Spiritualized is back in top form.
4. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland: “Black Is Beautiful” (Hyperdub)
Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland make up the duo previously known as Hype Williams. They are now debuting for Hyperdub, with a solid album where you hear echoes of dub, psychedelics and hip hop, shaping a very 21st-century view of urban folk.
3. Lotus Plaza: “Spooky Action At A Distance” (Kranky)
Lockett Pundt, Deerhunter’s guitarist, is back with a second, more direct and pop album than his scattered debut. Without gimmicks, overflowing with talent and an unheard-of subtlety, he manages to make us forget about his main band for 45 minutes.
2. Death Grips: “The Money Store” (Columbia-SonyBMG)
After an acclaimed mixtape last year, Death Grips have released their first official album following the same guidelines: industrial hip hop and influences from 80s hardcore-rock. Music that is nihilistic, violent, and in direct confrontation with the well-to-do world.
1. Actress: “R.I.P.” (Honest Jon’s)
It wasn’t easy to follow up “Splazsh”, to live up to an album that has marked a turning point for techno, but Actress is in a good place and has managed to do so with “R.I.P.”. The key is moving ahead in the process of abstraction.