Prince, "Mary Don't You Weep" (Warner Bros.). The first glimpse of the posthumous Prince album Piano & a Microphone 1983 (featuring nine tracks, out September 21), "Mary Don't You Weep" finds the late legend in minimalist mode, yet exuding maximal, heart-shredding, soul-gospel grieving. Oddly, Prince's extreme vocal contortions kind of resemble Tim Buckley's circa Starsailor. This is powerful stuff—maybe too powerful for radio (do people still listen to radio?).
Immersion, “Propulsoid” (swim~). Colin Newman (Wire) and Malka Spigel (of the Israeli-Belgian band Minimal Compact) are Immersion, a project that's been exploring the married couple's electronic-music and post-rock proclivities since 1994. "Propulsoid"—off Immersion's Sleepless album, out June 15—caught my ear immediately, because I am an eternal sucker for the motorik groove that epitomizes a certain strain of krautrock (see Neu!'s "Hallogallo" for the definitive example). So, yeah, "Propulsoid" cruises down the proverbial Autobahn with friction-free, swift exuberance, bolstered by Holy Fuck drummer Matt Schultz's metronomic snares and kick, gnomic swells of keyboard, Spigel's repetitive, Czukay-like bass throb—and even a bit of Michael Karoli-esque guitar heroism from Mr. Newman. "Propulsoid" is perfect krauty linearity and efficiency, a marvel of engineering. (Immersion play Barboza June 27.)
The Gods Themselves, "Marilyn Monroe" (self-released). With each new release, Seattle's the Gods Themselves fine-tune their glossy-yet-gritty, danceable rock, and I keep thinking that this will be the time they're going to blow up. It hasn't happened yet, but their new Glamour & Grime EP (talk about a title that captures their aesthetic) continues the group's trend toward high-quality accessible songwriting and tight playing that should be saturating all the spaces in which music can be absorbed in 2018. "Marilyn Monroe" is a million-watt disco-funk dazzler that sets off serotonin explosions in your pleasure centers with poised decadence. (Side note: TGT appeared on the Seattle episode of the late Anthony Bourdain's Part Unknown. RIP, good sir.) (Glamour & Grime is released June 15.)
Steve Roach, "Phase Reverie" (Projekt). Right now outside my window at The Stranger, jackhammers destroy pavement with brutal insistence. I can hear the mechanical blastbeats even with my headphones on and the volume on my computer turned way up. This situation calls for some motherfucking ambient music, y'all. And few are better at manifesting sonic calm than Tucson, Arizona's Steve Roach. The veteran keyboardist/composer's track record of spacey minimalism is impeccable, and he continues to deliver quality Klaus Schulze-ian mind food with the new Molecules of Motion. "Phase Reverie" is a relatively concise (for Roach) 10-minute piece of tranquil, gaseous tone float and meditative ripples in the cosmic pond of analog-synth circuitry. Creating sublime chillout music seems easy, but in actuality it's difficult to avoid toppling into anodyne dullness or innocuous cheesiness. Roach has never not kept his sound elegant and elevated. Take that, construction workers.
Eartheater, “C.L.I.T.” (PAN). Eartheater (aka Queens, New York-based producer/vocalist Alexandra Drewchin) sculpts craggy, emotionally fraught electronic music that takes the difficult route to catharsis. "C.L.I.T." trudges through a powerful force field of striated synths and methodical, off-kilter beats toward a zone where Fever Ray, Gang Gang Dance, and Björk at her most tumultuous converge. Drewchin's three-octave vocal acrobatics lift this track into adventurous, high-drama, post-club echelons. The only words I can make out here are, "Yeah, I rejected the culture/Do you blame me? No." Further research is necessary.
Noteworthy June 8 album releases: Kanye West & Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghost (G.O.O.D.); Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Adrian Younge, The Midnight Hour (Linear Labs); Lily Allen, No Shame (Warner Bros.); Lykke Li, So Sad So Sexy (LL/RCA); Snail Mail, Lush (Matador); Eartheater, IRISIRI (PAN); Gruff Rhys, Babelsberg (Rough Trade); Jorja Smith, Lost & Found (FAMM); Howlin Rain, The Alligator Bride (Silver Current); The Body/Uniform, Mental Wounds Not Healing (Sacred Bones); Dennis Coffey, One Night at Morey's: Live (1968) (Omnivore); Colin Stetson, Hereditary OST (Milan); Beechwood, Inside the Flesh Hotel (Alive Naturalsound); Flasher, Constant Image (Domino); Apostille, Choose Life (Upset the Rhythm); YOB, Our Raw Heart (Relapse); Pllush, Stranger to the Pain (Father/Daughter); The Fall, Levitate (Expanded Edition) (Cherry Red); Dott, Heart Swell (Graveface).