One-Liners Reviews

One-Liners: L’Impératrice, Clint Mansell, Mitch Murder, Betamaxx & More

It’s been ages since I last published a One-Liners column. Ages, I tell you. Below you’ll find an offering of fantastic releases, most fairly recent. As always, it’s not just one genre or type (not just scores or just synths or what-have-you). It’s just good stuff you need to, at minimum, listen to and, ideally, purchase. Support these artists!

(Oh and as always, I definitely didn’t follow the “one line” guideline I’ve set for this column. In fact, for those who are new here, it’s kind of a running joke that I never follow the rule.)

Anyway, here’s the music:

Clint Mansell — In The Earth (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

It goes without saying that Clint Mansell is one of the best film/TV composers out there — and has been for 20 years. He’s certainly a Vehlinggo favorite through and through, owing in part to his work on fare like Requiem for a Dream or Black Mirror: San Junipero or Mute, but really I’m talking about his whole oeuvre. His latest, a masterwork for director Ben Wheatley’s horror film In The Earth, is a gorgeously bleak and sometimes dissonant onslaught of reserved minimalism through the prism of enchantingly dark electronics. Available digitally via Invada with a vinyl pressing coming sometime this spring or summer. Absolutely do not miss this. (The High Rise director’s film is out in very select theatres.)

L’Impératrice — Tako Tsubo

The Paris-based disco/pop act L’Impératrice returns with the delectably addictive Tako Tsubo, replete with sexy, tightly woven grooves, catchy hooks, and singer Flore Benguigui’s captivating vocal expressions almost entirely in French (with some English for good measure). Pick it up via their store or stream it all over le monde.

Mitch Murder – Then Again

The Swedish synthwave pioneer’s return to Mad Decent, which released his 2014 album Interceptor, is decidedly not synthwave — the Kung Fury king instead has traveled down a 1990s route that leads us to the early ’90s vapory new age of the Numero 95 compilation but also in part to the video games of the decade. (Never fear ’80s heads, his nostalgia for that decade hasn’t been expunged entirely — this is Mitch Murder, after all.) Vinyl pre-order abounds at your favorite outlet.

Betamaxx — Sarajevo

Another Kung Fury alumnus returns with an album markedly different from previous releases — in this instance quite different. The Pittsburgh-based, 5 Years contributor has recorded a concept album based on the 1984 Winter Olympics in Bosnia, and the result comes off as a nuanced, chilled-out synth score for a film not yet made. It’s fucking great. It releases May 1 exclusively on Bandcamp via Perfect View Records in digital, special addition vinyl, and cassette formats. He didn’t post any full songs in advance, but below is a teaser from a tweet.

Drum & Lace — Deadly Illusions (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Drum & Lace (AKA Sofia Hultquist) has made a name for herself as a gifted and versatile composer for film, TV, and more. One of her latest works is the beautifully captivating music for popular Netflix film Deadly Illusions, director Anna Elizabeth James’ supremely divisive film about a novelist (Kristen Davis) who descends into that area between what’s real and what’s illusory, when a mysterious nanny named Grace (Greer Grammer) arrives. Hultquist’s largely acoustic/organic score is an evocative and engaging complement to the film; however she never strays into histrionic cheese, although the film certainly begs for it. (Here’s a 2019 Vehlinggo Podcast episode with an interview for some more info about Drum & Lace, although there are a few more articles going back to 2017.)

Glitbiter — Glass & Steel

It’s been four years since LA-based synth artist Glitbiter released her Short Stories EP and her followup builds on the darkly contemplative beauty of that release.  She retains her minimalist tendencies on Glass & Steel, but this time the arrangements are more complex and her vocal expressions more nuanced.

Ampersounds (Fred Falke & Zen Freeman) — “Nightdrive (1984 Mix)”

In 2021 it’s an act of cynical laziness to name a song or album after some variation of “Nightdrive” and even worse to use the oft-used 1984 year in any capacity. However, I’ll give Falke’s and Freeman’s new project a pass because (a) they were a part of the Aughts French Touch movement that birthed this ’80s retro stuff to some degree and (b) this remix is killer. (Also check out “Burning Down the House.”)

Jex Opolis — “Gem”

Jex made his name in Brooklyn, but during the pandemic he returned to his native Edmonton, Canada, and the result musically is downright great and even a bit surprising. This boisterous, breakbeat-informed dance number is stacked with hooks bathed in shiny colors, with some of the synths recalling his earlier project, DVAS, which had the excellent Valerie & Friends track “Inner Sanctum.” This is a must-listen. The song is from the upcoming LP It’s Me, Jexy, which releases on May 14.

(Editor’s Note: 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.)

Feature Photo: Betamaxx – Sarajevo cover art by Trina Richie Hines.

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