Albums of the week

The very good albums (which are all, coincidentally enough, reflections on psyche) released this week.

Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – ‘Black Is Beautiful’ [Hyperdub]

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What so intrigues about Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, the two artists formally known as Hype Williams, is not the tall tales or doublespeak that surround their work – though that noise acts as negative space with which to frame it – but their total command of suggestion. Their music is thick with it: layer upon layer of clues and hints, glinting beguilingly and winking suggestively as the internet buckles and strains under the weight of a hundred thousand words, including a few of my own, worrying at what it could all possibly mean. But unpicking meaning, I have come to realise, is not the point. It’s in the eye of the beholder, after all. Being at peace with the questions is the feeling that remains when the vibrations of ‘Black Is Beautiful’ fade – and there are many questions posed: about society, race, identity, love and the beautiful mess of simply being. This album doesn’t answer them, and how could it? ‘Black Is Beautiful’ is a potent reminder at a potent time of the imaginative power that lies within us all. [RS]
Stream and buy Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – ‘Black Is Beautiful’ [Hyperdub] here

Sun Araw, M Geddes Gengras & The Congos – Icon Give Thank [RVNG INTL]
Sun Araw’s hypnotic explorations into crystalline psyche have been some of the most exhilarating of recent years, and over the last year he and his friend M Geddes Gengras recorded an album in Jamaica with The Congos, the 70s dub reggae band. It’s an amazing story, which you can read about in our interview with them over here, and has resulted in a sparkling album, glinting with the lightness of touch that the Congos are famous for. Some songs are a little too relaxed to sound utterly compelling (the tension at the heart of both ‘On Patrol’ and ‘Heart Of The Congos’ is what makes them such great records, IMO), but it’s interesting for more than novelty. And with such highs as Thanks And Praise and Happy Song, it’s a lovely set of songs that record an incredible moment. [CRJ]
Stream clips of and buy Sun Araw, M Geddes Gengras & The Congos’ ‘Icon Give Thank’ [RVNG INTL] here

Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light [Domino / Double Six]
The good thing about Spiritualized albums is that you know what to expect. The songs are going to use bits of gospel, drone, space rock and proto-punk. It’s going to sound moving and grand, with the tone somewhere along the sleepy-exultant-repentant-stoned line. It’s either going to sound like it was recorded in the Royal Albert Hall or J Spaceman’s front-room. The vocals are going to be frail, the lyrics rather crude rhymes about how similar religion is to drugs, and both are similar to love, and thrice versa. This album is more obsessed with getting better than getting worse, and about surviving than free-falling, living for your kids and yourself when you’ve been forced into sobriety and kind of enjoy it. It’s a really, really nice listen, overall, probably their best since ‘Let It Come Down’, maybe since ‘Ladies And Gentlemen…’ But there’s this nagging thing: The best thing about Spiritualized albums is that you know what to expect. Any guesses what the bad thing is? [CRJ]
Stream Spiritualized’s Sweet Heart, Sweet Light [Domino / Double Six] here

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