October has been full of fantastic releases: from synth pop to hip hop, from indie labels to industry juggernauts, from distinguished artists to new talent. Pay no mind to anyone who claims “there is no good music anymore”. At Felix we unfortunately don’t have the time to review everything good that comes out, so curated here are ten fantastic releases from the last month that you can judge for yourself.
Take Me Apart
If you travelled back to the 90s and told a Warp fan that their favourite label would be releasing R&B they’d laugh you back to the present. Although, after one listen of Take Me Apart it’s obvious the album is a perfect fit for the IDM powerhouse. Kelela’s voice cuts through a rumble of drum machines and sub-bass to carry messages about sex, love, and the difficulties they create. Take Me Apart is a classic in the making.
Artist: Kelela. Label: Warp. For Fans Of: Arca; FKA Twigs; Jessy Lanza. Release Date: October 6th. 54 minutes
Do you like analog synths? The correct answer is yes, and on her latest release composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith proves they’re not just instruments for chin-stroking academics. The accessibility of The Kid is impressive, particularly when Smith’s weapon of choice remains her Buchla synthesiser. The machine’s organic textures are melded into a psychedelic pop-opera tracing out a cycle of birth, life and death, all in the space of less than an hour.
Artist: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Label: Western Vinyl. For Fans Of: Suzanne Ciani; Animal Collective; Holly Herndon. Release Date: October 6th. 51 minutes
Mumble/Cloud/Soundcloud rap may have a reputation for trashy bars and rushed beats… but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. Lil’ Pump is crammed with guilty pleasures. Gucci Gang contains the lyric “My lean costs more than your rent”. What more do you need to know?
Artist: Lil’ Pump. Label: Tha Lights Global/Warner Bros. For Fans Of: Lil’ Yachty; Lil’ Uzi Vert; Chief Keef. Release Date: October 6th. 36 minutes
U Feel Anything?
Techno tends to stick to repetitive kick drums for a reason. Having a rigid skeleton means you can experiment with texture until your ears bleed, but you’re always going to find someone willing to dance to it. Ziúr throws this mantra out the window, instead opting for cascades of sampled crashes, hisses and scratches. Guest vocalists sometimes coast atop this to add to the chaos, completing a release certain to shake-up the Berlin scene.
Artist: Ziúr. Label: Planet Mu/Objects Ltd. For Fans Of: Ellen Allien; Ash Koosha; Steffi. Release Date: October 6th. 41 minutes
Archy Marshall (a.k.a. King Krule, a.k.a. Zookid, a.k.a. Edgar the Beatmaker, a.k.a. DJ JD Sport, a.k.a. The Return of Pimp Shrimp) is a unique voice in contemporary UK music. Raised in Peckham, his tales of woe in life and love are translated through the sounds of punk, jazz, hip-hop, blues, and afrobeat. The OOZ further broadens this scope of influences, but still sounds greater than the sum of its influences. Few artists can carve out a unique sound nowadays, but Marshall has proved himself capable of this time and time again.
Artist: King Krule. Label: True Panther/XL. For Fans Of: The Pop Group; PJ Harvey; Fela Kuti. Release Date: October 13th. 66 minutes
In 2015 Floating Points released Alaenia, a meticulously engineered masterpiece divorced from time. Ratio sees him take the experimentalism he’s focused on from Alaenia onwards, honing it into a spectacular club opus. The expansive 19 minute single carves out a middle ground between his earlier dusty house tracks and his more recent jazz-fusion experimentations. Analogue synths wobble over a pulsing beat. The track constantly leaps forwards, anxious to reach the next bar. A fantastic piece to round off any great night-out.
Artist: Floating Points. Label: Pluto. For Fans Of: Four Tet; Caribou; James Holden. Release Date: October 19th. 19 minutes
Whatever Makes You Feel Safe (EP)
Quebec native Marie Davidson takes a turn away from her starker EBM-revivalism on this collaborative release with Invisible Church. Crisp drums and synths are replaced with liquid electronics and crackling percussion. Synths swell to give the impression of drowning. Davidson’s vocals haunt the tracks, often being elongated or reversed, creating an ambient techno sound too unsettling to be relaxing.
Artist: Invisible Church & Marie Davidson. Label: Yerevan Tapes. For Fans Of: Umfang; Karen Gwyer; Wolfgang Voigt. Release Date: October 20th. 19 minutes
Despite a disappointing live set (reviewed in last week’s edition), Lee Gamble has put together a fantastic album, tying together over 30 years of the UK underground. The music flutters between a variety of bass-driven styles. Dark ambient melts into dub techno which accelerates into jungle. All of these elements are glued together by Gamble’s peculiar approach to texture, increasing the accessibility of his album without damaging its experimentalism. ‘Ghost’, with its masterful chops, may stand as one of the greatest jungle tracks released in the last decade.
Artist: Lee Gamble. Label: Hyperdub. For Fans Of: Burial; Actress; Special Request. Release Date: October 26th. 43 minutes
Six years on from his last album, John Maus has built his own modular synthesiser and completed a PhD in political philosophy. Both of these advances serve as a bedrock for Screen Memories. Maus’ music often sounds like in-universe pop music from a trashy 80s cyberpunk TV serial. But he deftly uses this minimalist new-wave sound to provide a retro-futuristic protest against our own dystopian shade of hypercapitalism. Because is our reality really that different from 80s science-fiction at this point?
Artist: John Maus. Label: Ribbon Music. For Fans Of: Ariel Pink; Molly Nilsson; Tonstartssbandht. Release Date: October 27th. 38 minutes
Karin Dreijer’s has dominated the sounds of 21st century pop simply by being herself. Her twisted electropop compositions, both as brother-sister duo The Knife and as solo act Fever Ray, have made pop weird again. Plunge serves as just another bullet point on an already impeccable CV. Moving away from the themes of isolationism and motherhood of her self-titled debut, Fever Ray’s sophomore release is an exclaimed worship of all things kinky. Sex, flesh and leather are orchestrated as pitch-shifted layers of vocals, frantic arpeggiators, and bombastic percussion. Lyrics about the mundanities of life are replaced with expressions of carnal desire which Dreijer somehow makes sound deeply moving. If there’s one album from this year worth hearing, Plunge is undoubtedly it.
Artist: Fever Ray. Label: Rabid Records. For Fans Of: Alice Glass; Björk; Röyksopp. Release Date: October 27th. 47 minutes