One-Liners: Chromatics, Dean Hurley, Barrow & Salisbury, Mica Levi, Highway Superstar and More

Hi there. Here are some recent releases I recommend quite highly. Most aren’t NEW MUSIC FRIDAY — they are a few days or some weeks into their time in the world — but all are excellent and all entries break the “one-line” rule I originally set for this column.

Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow – Luce (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Barrow and Salisbury’s latest score is an even bigger experiment than their now-classic turn for Alex Garland’s 2018 sci-fi film, Annihilation. Luce, directed by Julius Onah, is generally about a boy everyone loves who has some secrets, and is part of a broader look at the American Dream and the pieces that hold us together (or tear us apart) as we navigate it. Barrow and Salisbury — relying mostly on a church organ and some organic and electronic wizardry — have crafted a subdued and thoughtful score that evokes deep emotion from their compositional economy. (They make the small sound big.) Available now via Lakeshore and Invada. The film and score are must-see and must-purchase.

Chromatics – ‘I Want to be Alone’

This new Chromatics cover of a folk song by Jackson C. Frank, a once-protege of Paul Simon, is supremely haunting and achingly gorgeous. Ruth Radelet’s vocals are well suited to the realm of acoustic guitars — if I’m recalling correctly, she met Johnny Jewel while busking in Portland back in the day. Anyway, in true Italians Do It Better fashion, the accompanying video, directed by Jewel, is a delectable cavalcade of evocative imagery. You won’t want to look away and you won’t want your ears coiled around any other melodies. (I should note that the original, which is also called “Dialogue,” was featured in Daft Punk’s 2006 film Electroma.)

Dean Hurley – Anthology Resource Vol. II: Philosophy of Beyond

Hurley is a gifted manipulator of sounds, whether he’s crafting engaging compositions or mind-blowing sound design with visionaries like David Lynch, or mixing records and otherwise working on projects with friend Johnny Jewel. The first Anthology Resource released on Sacred Bones had passages from Twin Peaks: The Return. This one stems largely from Hurley’s sonic contributions to the recent feature film Perfect (2018, directed by Eddie Alcazar), in addition to material made in residency for Art Gallery of New South Wales’ event Masters of Modern Sound. It’s an extraordinary journey.

Mica Levi – MONOS (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Mica Levi is well known for her powerful and unconventional film scores (check out 2014’s Under the Skin and 2016’s Jackie). She has a penchant for using an array of minimal shapes and colors in extraordinary ways that complement the sometimes unsettling nature of the films she scores. It’s safe to say she’s one of the best score composers we have right now — and certainly one of my favorites. On her score for Alejandro Landes’ MONOS, Levi exceeds anything she’s done in the past with a blissfully poignant and abstract set of cues that rely on her expert musicianship and Lena Esequenzis’ sound recordings that stand as intensely on their own as they do as part of the film. Available via Lakeshore and Invada on digital, CD, and vinyl.

Private Agenda – ‘Aura (Max Essa Dub Mix)’

You know I love Private Agenda’s downtempo “Aura.” Now Lo Recordings has released a killer remix EP, The Space Between Swells, a collaborative project featuring contributions from Max Essa and Mark Barrott. The collection has fantastic interpretations of the original. One of them is Essa’s dub mix, which, like any good dub, highlights the strengths of the song while adding to the conversation the instruments are having with each other.

Highway Superstar – ‘Visiondome’

This one-off digital single from Highway Superstar is his most Maethelvin-sounding offering yet — a mid-tempo groover of galactic proportions. Starting with official remixes for St. Lucia and Memoryy, Highway Superstar (AKA Alex Karlinsky) has showed that he’s been refining his sound since 2015’s excellent Endgame LP (Rosso Corsa). I’m curious to discover where he goes next.

DJ St Thomas – ‘323’

NY-based DJ St Thomas (AKA Pedi Hashemian) has crafted an off-kilter and beautiful wash of synths, samples, and guitars that feels like a warm bath on a fall day. Just in time, too.

DEADLIFE – Rebel Nights/Singularity

A couple weeks ago NRW Records released a multifaceted double-album from British artist DEADLIFE. Rebel Nights is laden with vapory chillwave that recalls Phono Ghosts, HOME, and to some extent Neon Indian. It’s a delight to experience. Singularity finds DEADLIFE tackling darker sounds, though I wouldn’t say it was the heavy, crushed-out, EDM-laden, faux-metal fare that some think of when they read “darksynth.” This is more engaging and nuanced than that.


(Editor’s Note: As established in this post, the One-Liners column is a concise but meaningful way to highlight Vehlinggo-recommended releases. It’s not exactly weekly, but it can be. Check out the most recent one.

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