This is probably the last recommendation roundup column that I’ll call One-Liners. I’ve used the name off and (mostly) on for the bulk of Vehlinggo’s eight years, but it’s time for a change. I don’t think I’ve ever actually adhered to the concept of writing a single-line review, so the title was always misleading. Furthermore, I generally am not precious about any specific feature of Vehlinggo — aside from the core principles of recommending great music and writing actually good interviews that are rigorously reported.
On that note, keep an eye out for changes. I don’t have any name picked out yet, although the utterly generic Recommendation Roundup isn’t even such a bad coinage. In fact, if you have ideas, please send them my way. Anyway. Enough navel-gazing. Here is some good new music you need to check out.
Krakow Loves Adana — Oceanflower
If you’ve been reading Vehlinggo for a while or listening to The Vehlinggo Podcast, you’re familiar with “When The Storm Comes,” the brilliant Krakow Loves Adana single with ex-Chromatics members Ruth Radelet and Adam Miller. But really, the whole album is fucking amazing. Germany-based Deniz Çiçek is a gifted songwriter and performer, tapping variously into post-punk, ’90s college rock, 2010s indie rock, and modern synth music to convey some deeply human emotions and experiences. These are real fucking songs and they stick with you long after they stop playing. Don’t sleep on this one. KLA is a star. (Note: There is another Chromatics-related cut on the record. Miller and former Chromatics drummer, Nat Walker, collaborate with Çiçek on “In Memories.”)
I want to go out on a limb here and say that if Radelet, Miller, and Walker wanted to be in a band together again, forming one with Çiçek would be a truly splendid idea.
Cliff Martinez — Touch of Crude (Soundtrack from the PRADA Short Film)
Cliff Martinez only has about two cues or so in Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest series, the excellent Copenhagen Cowboy on Netflix — a product of scheduling issues, as far as I know. But Martinez returns in full force to score a PRADA-related short film NWR recently directed. Milan Records released the score EP digitally today and it’s every bit as awesome as you’d imagine from my favorite composer. Martinez’s signature synth arps, Cristal Baschet legatos, ambient soundscapes, memorable hooks, and driving rhythms abound, with a beefier bottom end no doubt at least in part because of the fashion connection. Martinez also mixes it up a bit, turning out a unique score that doesn’t rehash his classic passages from the likes of Drive, Contagion, Solaris, The Neon Demon, and Only God Forgives. It’s utterly enjoyable. (Caveat: I haven’t yet seen the film, which according to Milan, “explores the lives of women and the scope of fluid modern femininity. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons invited Nicolas Winding Refn to conceive an experience around the SS23 collection as an opportunity for observation between two creative spheres.” Prada.com has the film. Now this is what I want from content marketing.
Speaking of Refn and Martinez, I haven’t yet finished Copenhagen Cowboy and so I haven’t tried to write anything about it. I will when I do. Although I will say the score, which features Refn stalwarts Martinez, Julian Winding, Peter Peter, and Peter Kyed, is really fucking great.
Sally Dige — “Our Secret”
Most people know Sally Dige for her impeccable darkwave and dark synth-pop cuts that somehow manage to cultivate concurrently the spirit and character of the 1980s and our decrepit modern era. However, on “Our Secret” the Berlin-based musician takes a primarily organic route to, according to her press materials, achieve a would-be score cue to an existing film. A minimal but steadfast piano leads a track that’s bathed in tempered strings. I really hope she crafts an entire score along these lines, even if we never learn which film she’s rescoring.
Drum & Lace — Frost
In addition to scoring or co-scoring various TV shows (Good Girls, Dickinson, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc.) and films (Night Teeth, Rosaline, The First Monday in May), the supremely talented Drum & Lace (AKA Sofia Hultquist) makes some killer electronic studio albums. Her latest release, the EP Frost, is an utterly captivating collection of electronic, vocal, and organic ambient works that are musically inventive yet still content to sit in the background and help glue all those lovely thoughts together.
Drum & Lace and husband/collaborator, Ian Hultquist, recently moved from LA to London and it will be interesting to see what kind of music the famously field-recordings-happy artist will create going forward.
Seahawks — Infinite Echo
Vehlinggo likely has the most comprehensive coverage of modern new-age duo Seahawks of any music publication in existence, and yet I totally missed this release. Not sure what that says about me or my website, but nevertheless Lo Recordings founder Jon Tye and Pete Fowler have yet again unfurled a delectable creation laced with the kind of serene marine-gaze/oceanwave/Balearic bliss that has for more than a decade drawn me to them. It’s good enough to make me forget the shame of missing this delightful release.
Bunny X & Thought Beings — “Promised”
Over the past six years or so, Bunny X have become a quite popular Italo Disco Revival/synthwave duo. Not only is their music ubiquitous — including on the 5 Years comp — but their faces are, too. Thought Beings are a much more enigmatic duo, who in true old-school synthwave fashion obscure the hell out of their true identities. On what is the second collaboration between the musicians, identities don’t matter, though. Their killer blend of freestyle and retropop is kinetic and memorable. (The Bunnies’ vox sound demonstrably Madonna-esque on this one, too!)
Code Elektro — Deeper Cuts
Danish project Code Elektro is one of the best instrumental synthwave/synthy acts out there. Vehlinggo has been on the artist-also-known-as-Martin-Ahm’s case since 2015 — I also wrote the liner notes for his live album — and the latest record, Deeper Cuts, disappoints not an ounce. A lot of synthwavers can pull off basic Carpenteresque fare, but Code Elektro taps into folks like Carpenter, Vangelis, Carlos, and others in a way that is more of a highly original, technically well-executed nod rather than any kind of bid to ape a sound. In many ways it’s ridiculous that he isn’t scoring some of these retro-tinged genre pictures that abound now. Seems like a missed opportunity, if you ask me. The inimitable John Bergin (Jarboe collaborator and Lakeshore Records’ art director) returns with some absolutely killer cover art.
(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 has been. Entries are almost never one line, and probably never will bee. Check out the most recent One-Liners post.)