Rock, January 2022

hfnalbum.pngThe War On Drugs
I Don't Live Here Anymore
Atlantic 0075678642050; LP 0075678641299

'Maybe I was born in the wrong way, born in the wrong day?', Adam Granduciel ponders on 'Change', willing things to be different over metronomic drums and minor chord changes. It's both poignant and typifies TWOD's ability to surge from intimate to anthemic on their follow-up to 2017's Grammy-winning A Deeper Understanding. The music was built up from years of sessions and the circumspect, rueful 'Victim' has a bluesy feel but is full of throbbing electronic pulses and treated instruments. On the title track, over big drums and bolstered by keyboards and female backing vocals, Granduciel reveals an influence, laying a trail of lyrical references to Bob Dylan as he strides towards redemption via 'Desolation Row'. MB


Ben Chasny
The Intimate Landscape
Drag City DC810CD; LP: DC810

Guitarist Ben Chasny's output is delightfully unpredictable. Under his Six Organs Of Admittance alias he has tackled styles from free improvisation to folk to psychedelic raga rock, and here he unplugs for his first acoustic album for 17 years. He was approached by the British music library KPM and with his sponsor in mind, decided to compose and record a series of short, song-like tracks adding only a handful of overdubs, and an occasional hint of synthesiser and wordless vocalising. There are many exquisite moments here and Chasny fingerpicks with crisp articulation and a silvery tone. Fans of John Fahey and Jack Rose are cordially invited to attend. MB


Circuit Des Yeux
Matador OLE1788CD; LP: OLE1788LP

Chicagoan composer Hayley Fohr also has a spoof country alias, Jackie Lynn, but her eighth album under this name is serious stuff, a musical exploration of personal loss: 'where everything is ending all of the time'. It opens with a vertiginous string glissando and on each song a lavishly arranged string, brass and wind ensemble backs her extraordinary voice, which ranges from a near masculine depth akin to late Scott Walker, to the freewheeling intensity of PJ Harvey. –io encompasses the stark landscapes of 'Walking Towards Winter' and the dark sensuality of 'Neutron Star'. It's gripping, and harrowing at times, and in a way that's ultimately cathartic. MB


Marconi Union
Just Music TAO065; LP: TAOLP065

The enigmatic Mancunian instrumental trio purvey an atmospheric mix of rock and electronica, which, over the last two decades, has ranged from motorik propulsion to ambient drift. Here they show the influence of the mesmeric drumming styles of Can's Jaki Liebezeit and Tony Allen, who played with Fela Kuti. They also sought to achieve a song-like structure in these compositions. It's a welcoming and immersive sound made from sweet guitar lines, electric piano melodies and ethereal synthesisers. 'Strata' glides along smoothly in an appropriately linear manner, while the 8m 'Breaking Point' serenely pivots around some lovely guitar chord changes. MB