New Music Album Round Up

Recently there's been a glut of fascinating album releases, the best of which are diligently scrutinised by ASBO's Michael Sumison

Kamran Khan

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Kamran Khan is a Berlin-born, London-based artist who makes melodic, off-kilter guitar-pop, under the album title of Fake Laugh. Under his belt are performances at epic venues, The Japanese House, and Lovepark. Following the success of his two EPs in 2016, Great Ideas and Ice, what was once an endearing side project has now mutated into his primary focus. Khan's music has a newfound crispness and directness of production, after years of bedroom DIY tinkering.

Fake Laugh, is an eleven-song ensemble that sonically approximates the cover image of the singer snoozing in the sun. With nods to luminaries such as: Real Estate, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Beach House and Mac Demarco, Khan's hazy dream-pop is a handsome, out-of-time sound that draws upon a vocabulary that references rock, beach-pop, soul, psych and indie folk. From the stomping 'Melt' and sun-dappled 'Freely', to the swooning 'Hiding Place', Fake Laugh hits a consistent sweet spot thanks to an arsenal of delightful hooks and the reverb-heavy production courtesy of Theo Verney.

Mura Masa

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At a time when streaming and listening habits are engendering an elasticity towards musical genres, the Guernsey-born, London-based production wunderkind known as, Mura Masa (Alex Crossan), has delivered on the youthful promise of his Soundcloud missives. Crossan has created a diverse, star-studded eponymous debut album, that diligently encapsulates electronic pop music in 2017. 

Administering an impressive guest list, including names such as: Damon Albarn, A$AP Rocky, Jamie Lidell, Christine and the Queens, Charli XCX and Bonzai, Crossan elicits a soulful, sensitive electro-r'n'b-pop hybrid that's simultaneously catchy and experimental, celebratory and mournful. Blending razor-sharp melodies with sumptuously sculpted fusions of musical style, the producer's artistry lies in his feverish juxtapositions. The record orchestrates joy and melancholy in equal measure, from rattles of environmental found sound, A$AP Rocky's quicksilver wordplay, thumb piano, steel drums and Albarn's woozy vocals. 

Avey Tare

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Animal Collective member, Dave Portner, has recently release under the Avey Tare psuedonym, Eucalyptus, strikes a keen balance between the yearning acoustic thrum of his parent band's freak-folkish 'Sung Tongs' and the cosmic sprawl of Panda Bear's solo outings. Recorded with Josh Dibb, Portner's impressionistic, fifteen-song opus feels like a loose, wide-eyed stream of consciousness emanating from a homespun, off-the-cuff sense of improvisation. Never more than the sum of its languidly intonated parts, 'Eucalyptus' is a trance-like, rejuvenating affirmation of the impulse to meander: these are collage-like atmospheres more than songs in the traditional sense but they wield a strangely intoxicating power.

Badbadnotgood

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The Canadian quartet, Badbadnotgood, have cooked up a pristine twilight mix for the long-running 'Late Night Tales' series of compilations, that betrays both the electronic jazz-hoppers breadth of influence and immaculate taste. Veering from the analogue burble of Boards Of Canada, and incandescent jazz-soul of Esther Phillips, to Francis Bebey's Afro-electronica, and Donnie & Joe Emerson's word-of-mouth anthem 'Baby', this is a lovingly curated set that works as a series of richly textured movements stitched together with the band's customary mastery of mood and attention to detail.

Michael Sumison