Unmissable music from October

Arts and culture editor Laszlo Szegedi has collected the best tracks from October that you may have missed. Like last month, there is something for everyone here, from film soundtracks to vibrant electronic dance tunes.

Photo: Stereogum

Photo: Consequence of Sound

Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch – Blade Runner 2049 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (album, 5 October)

While it was a shame to see Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson depart the project, fans of his work had the opportunity to give his original theme a listen when it surfaced on YouTube early in October. Of course, Hans Zimmer is always reliable, and his second collaboration with Benjamin Wallfisch (known for horror soundtracks such as the Annabelle sequel and It) after their Golden Globe-nominated turn on Hidden Figures brings enough ambient, suspenseful sci-fi melodies to the table. You don’t necessarily have to see the film to respond to its music: moody pieces like “Sapper’s Tree” and “Rain” are gritty enough to activate your imagination, and the cathartic 10-minute “Blade Runner” is guaranteed to satisfy.

Photo: Bandcamp

Shigeto – The New Monday (album, 6 October)

Zach Saginaw frequently relies on his personal experiences to create music. He has meditated on childhood, sampled his grandmother’s voice for an EP, and now he takes listeners to the music scene in Detroit with his mixture of pulsating electronica, mellow R&B, and occasional jazz. The New Monday is an ideal record for when you’re too lazy to go out: its robust percussions reminisce the best of what a busy club may offer, but avoids the predictable monumental heights and instead dives in directions that justify the five to seven minute average length of its songs. Album closer “When We Low” is an absolute highlight, but “Detroit Part II,” “There’s a Vibe Tonight,” and “Don’t Trip” stand out as well.

Photo: Resident Advisor

Kelela – Take Me Apart (album, 6 October)

The result of four years of work, Take Me Apart is R&B singer Kelela’s passionate, erotically charged first studio album. Infused with the glitchy electronica of collaborators Jam City and Arca, the album pulsates with emotion, and composes a layered sound accompanied by Kelela’s soothing vocals. Highly recommended for fans of FKA Twigs, it’s best to start with the radio-friendly first single “LMK,” continue with hits “Frontline” and “Waitin,” ultimately reaching the darker moments of “S.O.S.” and “Enough.”

Photo: Bandcamp

Daphni – Joli Mai (album, 6 October)

October was a great month for electronic music, marking the return of Canadian DJ Dan Snaith, also known as Caribou, Manitoba, and Daphni. Most tracks on Joli Mai may be familiar from the Fabriclive mix released this summer – these have been enhanced with structural complexity, and their combination provides a pleasurable listen. Daphni dives into club culture on this album, and while this work never quite reaches the high standards set by 2014’s Our Love (by his alias Caribou), the memorable bangers of the album’s second half prove that Snaith has turned to his roots. Do not miss the Bollywood-esque “Vikram,” and the four club anthems it leads to: “Tin,” “The Truth,” “Hey Drum,” and “Medellin.”

Photo: Bandcamp

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice (album, 13 October)

Recorded in the course of fourteen months, Lotta Sea Lice is the highly anticipated collaborative album of indie darlings Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. “Over Everything” opens with endearing solemnity, as the singers’ vocals complement each other like the black and white walls and outfits on the album cover. Clocking in at a mere 45 minutes, Lotta Sea Lice is like a road trip with the right company: it’s over too soon, but leaves enough impression for nostalgia in the future.

Photo: Universal Music Canada

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION (album, 13 October)

St. Vincent finally returns with MASSEDUCTION, an album filled with witty social criticism. While surprisingly less quirky than what she’s known for, there’s still plenty of essential St. Vincent-isms here. “Los Ageless” still stands out, while the latest single “Pills” goes even further in its sarcasm to highlight the frequency of substance abuse, and features Cara Delevingne’s vocals on the chorus. However, pop never quite dominates the generic scope of MASSEDUCTION, as the truly immersive tracks prove to be the melancholic, introspective ballads, such as “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” “Slow Disco,” and “Smoking Section.” As a little extra, search for the Japanese bonus track on YouTube, titled “政権腐敗” (“Power Corrupts”).

Photo: Pitchfork

King Krule – The OOZ (album, 13 October)

Archy Marshall returns as King Krule for his second album under this alias. The follow-up to 2013’s 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is a gigantic, 66-minute feat addressing the issues of finding oneself alienated from the world. Unlike Benjamin Clementine’s more optimistic I Tell a Fly in September, King Krule’s approach to the sense of isolation is dark and gritty, and as his distinctive voice echoes through the The OOZ, listeners may find themselves floating on a separate plane of existence with him. “This vessel was delayed / No objects in motion / A subject to smoking / The platform sighs, “My empty emotion” / As trackies walk on by / I’m alone, I’m alone / In deep isolation,” he confesses on “The Locomotive.” Besides the singles “Biscuit Town” and “Dum Surfer,” give a listen to “Sublunary,” “Lonely Blue,” and “Vidual” to warm up for the experience.

Photo: Wikipedia

MGMT – “Little Dark Age” (single, 17 October)

MGMT have been more and more divisive since their immensely successful 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular, and their first single after a four-year hiatus is no exception. The synth-heavy “Little Dark Age” has been labelled too dark by many fans, yet there’s an undeniable grooviness to the track, aptly timed for Halloween. It is certainly enough to make us look forward to their upcoming album.

Photo: Pitchfork

Joji – “Will He” (single, 18 October)

George Miller is the icon of non-pc, inappropriate comedy – many may know him for his numerous YouTube personalities, including Filthy Frank, Pink Guy, or Chin Chin. Under the increasing pressure of the video-sharing platform’s censorship and consequential demonetising process, Miller has decided to prove himself as a musician. As Pink Guy, he has channelled his dark humour into hip-hop on Pink Season earlier this year, while under the Joji alias he presents a surprisingly personal and heartfelt experimentation. “Will He” is an emotional R&B track, aspiring to introduce the sensitive man behind the taboo-breaking comedian.

Photo: Floating Points

Floating Points – “Ratio (Full Mix)” (single, 19 October)

A friend of Daphni’s Dan Snaith and a returning DJ in London’s Fabric nightclub, Floating Points is no new name to dancefloors. The full mix of “Ratio” is a 19-minute odyssey into the realms of minimal techno, by the end of which you will find yourself gazing into the post-rave 6 am sunrise.

Photo: Bandcamp

Wy – Okay (album, 20 October)

Up-and-coming Swedish duo Wy refer to their music as “cry-pop” – if you like introspective, sad melodies to catch yourself nodding to, their debut album Okay should not be ignored. With guitar-heavy instrumentals and passionate lyrics, they address the whirlwind of emotions we go through as we grow up – specifically in our twenties. “What Would I Ever Do” and “Bathrooms” are absolute highlights, but more monumental pieces like “Hate to Fall Asleep” and “Gone Wild” may remind you of The Cure’s operatic moments.

Photo: filmmusicdaily.com

Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – Stranger Things 2 (a Netflix Original Series Soundtrack) (album, 20 October)

Dixon and Stein proved themselves on the first season’s soundtrack, and their musical sequel matches the new season’s aspirations to be bigger. Besides the necessary eeriness of some Upside Down-scenes, Stranger Things 2 is infused with the expectable ‘80s nostalgia, hitting it off immediately on the first track, “Walkin in Hawkins”. As members of the band S U R V I V E, Dixon and Stein  toured the UK earlier this year and surprised fans with occasional tracks from the series. For devotees of the Netflix show, we have good news: they will be performing the soundtrack live in London’s Barbican on 8 April.

Photo: Resident Advisor

Visionist – Value (album, 20 October)

By channelling emotions and personal experiences into his noise-ridden grime, Value is proof of Visionist’s artistic complexity. “New Obsession,” “No Idols,” and “Invanity” reflect the influence of South London’s underground electronic music scene, and Visionist doesn’t shy away from bringing theatrical vocal grandeur to channel the pains of anxiety. Accompanied by occasional chants, “Self-” and “Your Approval” stand out as the more sombre, quiet pieces.

Photo: Bandcamp

Circuit des Yeux – Reaching for Indigo (album, 20 October)

A mixture of complex instrumentals, uncanny chants and spiritual folk compose the unique, experimental sound of Reaching for Indigo. Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr has always been great as a storyteller, and after exhausting touring and disturbed emotional states she has decided to capture her feelings in what is perhaps her most ambitious project yet. The whimsical “Black Fly” and “Paper Bag” are proper showcases of Fohr’s talent, as she elevates folk to a more atmospheric, almost gothic scale.

Photo: Bandcamp

Odonis Odonis – No Pop (album, 20 October)

No Pop is a surprising album for Odonis Odonis’s three self-proclaimed fans of alternative rock, as their evolution from garage rock-infused noise towards buzzing, hypnotic industrial couldn’t be further from their genre of inspiration. With their interests rooted in science-fiction and the dark side of technology, the heavy beats running throughout the album certainly cast a dystopian vibe on their narrative, and as the prevailing noise intensifies on tracks like “Check My Profile,” “Nasty Boy,” and “One,” their intentions to keep evolving in sound become clear.

Photo: Genius

Wild Beasts – Punk Drunk & Trembling (EP, 20 October)

In late September, one of the UK’s most popular indie rock bands announced their split along with a final EP. Punk Drunk & Trembling is a collection of outtakes, and while Wild Beasts admitted the songs were not intended to be their farewell pieces, they consider them a mature closure to their 15-year career. The EP comprises a mere three tracks, which may prove unsatisfying for fans, but it’s certainly an appropriate complement to last year’s Boy King.

Photo: Stereogum

Kevin Shields and Brian Eno – “Only Once Away My Son” (single, 25 October)

After notable collaborations in the past decades with artists such as David Bowie or U2, it was only a question of time to find Brian Eno produce a track with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. “Only Once Away My Son” features expectable ambient melodies; by the end of its nine-minute runtime you may find yourself floating in an undiscovered underwater world.


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