Of anger, love, and fragility
Edition #25 🎵 New music by Hilke, Meimuna, Zeal & Ardor, Kush K, and Pop Wallace.
🕒 This newsletter is 960 words, an 8-minute read.
First, a big thanks to all of you who open this newsletter every Sunday. It's a small community, but I value quality much more than quantity. The feedback I get after a new edition always motivates me anew every week.
Now, I would like to ask a tiny favour from you. Please take some time to fill out this small form. It only takes about 5 minutes, but this structured feedback helps me tailor the newsletter to your needs and expectations.
I've also made some minor adjustments to the newsletter's layout. I abolished the Apple Music track links. But you can still access all the songs in the Apple Music playlist.
You'll still find the Spotify track links. It's linked in the title of each featured song. And obviously, you should follow the Spotify playlist.
Both playlist links are also present in the newsletter's footer alongside the social media accounts.
Today's selection is – for one exception – filled with subtle beauty—songs for dreamers. And one for the angry. (And nothing by the pensioners in mo-cap suits.) So, let's dive in.
In recent years, no other Swiss band has created more international fuzz than Manuel Gagneux's Zeal & Ardor. The highly praised amalgamation of black music and black metal erupted like an earthquake in the rusty metal genre.
After the sound's blueprint, Devil Is Fine, and the first proper record, Stranger Fruit, Zeal & Ardor have announced a new, self-titled album for 2022. The first single release, Run, is a fierce drum fire – followed by the complex, technical Erase. Both songs shine in their own regards while being nothing for the common ears.
Black cats showing up out of nowhere
Macbeth on heavy rotation
Hope dies in their hands though we don‘t care
The young girl screams: Death to the nation!
The latest track, Bow, is different. "The song takes out established themes and places them into a completely different background," says Gagneux. It's not rock music, nor is it metal, nor blues, nor gospel. But it's heavy, powerful, and demanding attention. Bow is loud without being overly noisy and wild. It's the angry sound of protest—a sharp social commentary.
There's a grand nature to Paradoxes. Swiss artist Hilke collaborated with Dino Brandão (aka Frank Powers) to create this slow but stunning trip-hop hymn.
However, Paradoxes begins intimately. Powers drags out the syllables.
If love was easy
This should be easy, too
Keep your distance
If that's what you need
Nothing gives away the epic expansion that follows. The larger-than-life brass section roars, shrinking you to a bare existence. The voice multiplied to an artificial choir, only underlining the overwhelming notion of the song.
After Greta, it's Hilke's second single release of the upcoming debut album, Silent Violent – set to release in October. The two tracks already promise this to be a fascinating record.
She won the m4music Demotape Clinic back in 2017, the only Swiss music award of substance. So, it should be evident that Cyrielle Formaz, aka Meimuna, is a force to be reckoned with – but a gentle one.
Aux Gens du Vide is an ode to fragility. The song's theme is perfectly recreated in the music, with Formaz' warm and tender voice, accompanied by a filigree arrangement. The single begins reduced; only a shy acoustic guitar follows her singing. Then, building more and more with time, Meimuna adds drums, piano highlights, an inconspicuous bass.
Je suis, nous sommes, de ceux qui ont du feu dans les veines. Partons loin des gens qui ne se débarassent jamais d'eux-mêmes.
Aux Gens du Vide is a jewel of singer-songwriter artistry. The music comforts you like a fireplace on a dark winter's night. It embraces vulnerability without shame, finds not regret or despair but strength and empowerment in the most challenging states of mind.
Carlow-born, Phoenix-based artist Pop Wallace released an instrumental EP titled Noises Made Figuring Things Out. It's an honest title, as he tried to find new musical territory.
The song Wet Whistle was the catalyst for the entire EP. Gone out to create a drum and bass track, he was, on the one hand, satisfied with the result. But as Pop Wallace explains: "Happy with how it turned out but not necessarily seeing where I could fit in vocals that would accompany it with the style of what my previous songs had sounded like."
Fortunately, the realisation of abandoning the old ways kicked in. And Wet Whistle is what it is today: a fast-paced but lightfooted drum and bass tune that starts quite groovy thanks to some trumpet samples and funky guitar accents. Spacious synths and organ-like bursts sometimes provoke an almost sacred vibe, yet Wet Whistle is more drawn towards jazz than church when the guitar, piano and brass rejoin the action. A dance track for the dreamers.
Nothing's more anti-Spotify age than releasing a song with an enormous runtime of over 10 minutes. Yet, Kush K are no children of the breathless streaming generation. One might slap a label upon this Swiss outfit like "vintage" or "retro" – but in all fairness, it would not even a tiny bit embody the excellent sound they produce.
Your Humming from the namesake new album is a low-laying flow of colours. It shines in pastels, in subtle brilliance. The lyrics are sparse throughout, giving the wandering sound all the space. It's a discovery, a journey of sound that slowly evolves.
Your Humming demands your full attention also to recognise the slightest shifting fragments. It's not a particularly happy song, yet still peaceful, comforting, soothing.
P.P.S. If you enjoyed this edition, please give it a like or post a comment and let me know which song you liked.