Björk, "The Gate" (One Little Indian). I can't say that I like Björk's latest single, but I do admire its ambition—and its video's extravagantly expensive psychedelic aesthetic. "The Gate" is a billion-dollar ballad adorned with Björk's tender, palpitating heart splattered all over her diaphanous sleeve. The song's emphasizes how gd important mutual care is, and only a fool would dispute that. "It’s about rediscovering love—but in a spiritual way, for lack of a better word,” says Björk—whose last album, Vulnicura, detailed the dissolution of her relationship with her partner, Matthew Barney, and the subsequent recovery process. The music here's spare yet pregnant with drama; state-of-the-art, 2017 vaporwave whipped into a quasi-mainstream meringue of extreme romanticism. Somehow, though, I'm left wanting to listen to Post....
Chastity Belt, "Stuck" (Hardly Art). "Stuck" is the most purely beautiful song Seattle quartet Chastity Belt have written to date. Plot twist: Drummer Gretchen Grimm grabs the songwriting reins and she finesses out a shivery, subdued rocker that's worthy of Galaxie 500 or Damon & Naomi comparisons. It's a downlow highlight from Chastity Belt's recent LP, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. (Seattle's Leena Joshi directed the dreamily panoramic video.)
CCFX, "2Tru" (DFA). CCFX are the first act out of Olympia to sign to the prestigious DFA label (LCD Soundsystem, Black Dice, Factory Floor, Guerilla Toss, etc.). The trio's self-titled debut EP for the imprint (out October 20) finds them elegantly fusing dance and pop elements into emotionally fraught, dynamically piquant songs. "2Tru" is the most accessible track of the four on CCFX, and it carries the icy grandeur of early New Order, with the morose coo of vocalist Mary Jane Dunphe (also of VEXX) riveting your attention. Big things coming from this crew.
Bitchin Bajas, "Circles on Circles" (Drag City). Drawing inspiration from one of the universe's most inspirational composers, Terry Riley, Chicago's Bitchin Bajas continue on their journey to ascend to the loftiest levels of sonic enlightenment. If that involves engaging in Persian surgery dervishes to reach a rainbow in curved air, so be it. This piece is an endlessly renewing source of spiritual inflation, its concentric synth ripples fanning your mind's furnace of anxiety into cool calmness. It's doubtful a better world is possible under current intractably corrupt circumstances, but Bitchin Bajas' music at least can allow us temporary blessed escape from the dangerous political idiocy plaguing us. ("Circles on Circles" appears on the Bajas Fresh LP, out on November 17... if the planet isn't a cold black marble by then.)
Lusine, "Stratus" (Ghostly International). One of Seattle's most consistently interesting electronic musicians, Lusine (aka Jeff McIlwain) keeps pumping out the subtle crowd-pleasers, as this year's Sensorimotor proves. But this new clip (directed by Nenzo Risha with design and effects from Seattle visual artists Nick Bartoletti and Benjamin Van Citters and footage from several cities shot by ex-Stranger freelancer Trent Moorman) is an updated live rendition of "Stratus" from 2013's The Waiting Room album. The track features Moorman robustly pounding out mountain-leveling drums in 4/4 while Lusine homages Steve Reich circa Music for 18 Musicians on the synths. A low-key dance-floor anthem for non-flamboyant people.
Noteworthy September 22 album releases: The Clientele, Music for the Age of Miracles (Merge); Cut Copy, Haiku from Zero (Astralwerks); Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers (Constellation); Eric Copeland, Goofballs (DFA); Hiss Golden Messenger, Hallelujah Anyhow (Merge); Macklemore, Gemini (Bendo, LLC); Linda Perhacs, I’m a Harmony (Omnivore); Luna, A Sentimental Education (Double Feature); METZ, Strange Peace (Sub Pop); Marc Almond, Shadows and Reflections (BMG); Moses Sumney, Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar); The Blow, Brand New Abyss (Pledge Music); The Killers, Wonderful Wonderful (Island); Tricky, ununiform (False Idols/!K7); Amadou & Mariam, La Confusion (label); Van Morrison, Roll with the Punches (Caroline); Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun (Sargent House); Mastodon, Cold Dark Place (Reprise); Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven (Artemisia).