I have a somewhat eclectic mic of recommendations for you for today’s One-Liners column. If you’re a regular reader from any point in the past 5.5 years, then this is old hat to you. For newer readers, enjoy the ride. It’s impossible for this website to have a narrow focus. And I love that.
Dan Romer and Mike Tuccillo – Love Life (Music from the Original TV Series)
This is exactly the kind of electronic, synth-laced score I love — fun, inventive, musically transcendent, and just blasted with beautiful colors. I haven’t yet seen the HBO Max show, but this music makes me want to. Romer has scored the films Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zoe, and Beasts of No Nation and the video game Far Cry 5, so perhaps you were already aware of the depth and breadth of his talent. For his part, Tuccillo has worked with Romer on a few of those titles, in addition to scoring the series Ramy with him. What a pair! (Stylistically, Love Life has the vibe of Rob Simonsen’s Nerve score and Jesse Novak’s work on BoJack Horseman.)
Various Artists – Next Lightyear Vol. II
This compilation, released by Berlin-based Black Catalogue and Johannesburg-based Stay True Sounds, is the second in a series highlighting South African electronic music. Here’s what they have to say officially on the Bandcamp page: “Once again, we have chosen seven songs we feel represent the signature sound of forward-thinking, deep, and club-ready South African electronic music.”
Jason Priest – Is Missing
The latest album from Antoni Maiovvi’s new wave project is an extraordinary display of songcraft and aesthetic. Like Lust For Youth or Drab Majesty, Jason Priest recalls a specific time in 1980s post-punk/new wave without sounding like a cheap knockoff. It will take you about three seconds into opener “When The Clown Cries” before you’re comprehensively hooked.
Vandal Moon – Black Kiss
Speaking of modern new wave acts that don’t sound derivative, Starfield Music’s Vandal Moon recently released a captivating record called Black Kiss. One noteworthy feature of the album is that it shows Vandal Moon growing deeper into its own identity without losing sight of the early ’80s influence the band’s always used as a lodestar. Bonus points: Starfield boss FM Attack guests on a few tracks.
Seahawks – Island Visions (KPM)
Seahawks, the duo of Jon Tye and Pete Fowler, is emphatically one of my favorite acts of all time. Their Balearic-infused modern ambient/new age/marine drone/ocean gaze cultivates a sense of groovy serenity and earnest interconnectedness drawn from a broad palette of sounds and colors. Among the latest offerings of this band celebrating 10 years is Island Visions, which is inspired by verdant and ethereal textures and captivating eccentricities from across vast stores of KPM, the vast library of catalogue music. Joining them are Sven Atterton on fretless bass and keys, Nick Mackrory on percussion, and the Seahawks live crew of Dan Hillman and Alik Peters-Deacon.
As always, Seahawks transports the listener to far-off places without ever having to leave your home (this time infusing more ’90s house vibes than what we’ve been previously exposed to). Home-based, imagination-centric travel is a noteworthy feature during this unending COVID-19 pandemic. We can be thankful that KPM asked Seahawks to contribute this music to its library and that Be With Records has opted to release it on vinyl.
System of Touch – “Gemini”
A beautiful and transcendent debut number from the Brooklyn-based dreamweavers. (Worth noting that the singer is Scam Avenue’s Devery Doleman.)
Kraków Loves Adana – “The Ocean Between Us”
Part of the newer class of Italians Do It Better artists, Kraków Loves Adana’s work is downright brilliant. There’s a warm humanity infused in the duo’s synth-driven compositions. They capture longing, love, and perception effortlessly. “The Ocean Between Us” — a recently released single from forthcoming fifth album, Darkest Dreams — is a particularly noteworthy display of this. Interestingly, there is a splash of ’80s influence on this modern minimalist synth-pop gem, but it’s not deployed at the expense of true meaning.
Waveshaper – The Disk Hunter
The Sweden-based producer is back with a very French-sounding EP that makes dystopia danceable. As he has on past releases, Waveshaper infuses an emotional intelligence into his music that sets it apart from other French Touch-inspired synthwave acts.
Club Intl – “Crush”
Club Intl is one of the newest acts on Italians Do It Better (and notably it features Cults singer Madeline Follin). John Eatherly’s tender, folk-tinged vocals blend quite well with the wall of ornate synths and other electronic expressions. The ’60s girl-band melodies and big sound recall that era’s Phil Spector-produced numbers, even if it’s very conspicuously a Johnny Jewel production.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – I Can Hear the Birds
A magical and cinematic display of expert electronic composition from one of Britain’s finest modern musicians. I don’t see anywhere that he has scored any films or TV shows, which sounds like a massively missed opportunity to me. An artist with this understanding of writing, sound design, and recording techniques would complement a visual narrative very well.
(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. Entries are almost never one line, but they could be. Check out the most recent One-Liners post.)