Welcome back to Violet Music Digest – Pastel Wasteland’s monthly music retrospective.
Part of me has worried about whether or not I could post this VMD. With so much fear and chaos and outrage choking the world right now; I’ve wondered if it would even be appropriate to do so.
But musically, October offered up so many joyous works by incredible artists. Every new work listed here provided me with so much comfort and respite; and I want to share that around if I can. So…
#1 – When Love is Glitter
We begin with two releases from San Francisco based performer/producer Vylet Pony. First the short, four part suite Old Heroes dropped on the 4th, followed by the full length album Glitter a day later.
Old Heroes combines mournful strings, exquisite keys and Vylet Pony’s smoky, stirring vocals to produce sublime neoclassical pieces. Despite its brief length and graceful, almost dreamlike vibe; it’s powerfully emotive, and one of the most beautiful works I’ve heard in years.
Glitter is far more diverse, but no less inspired. “Keepsakes” would fit in nicely on Old Heroes, but it’s contrasted against a number of different styles. The synth-funk of “Pancake,” and the potent, twisted cabaret of “The Magic of Mischief” are two great examples; but there is so much more going on here.
For my money, it’s the title track which really knocks it out of the park. “Glitter” is soaring, wondrous EDM which would, in any sane universe, be dominating the charts.
If you can only spare time for one of my recommendations – make it this one.
#2 – Coming Around
I seem to remember two very different versions of French producer Kimaera’s Libération EP. The first was well crafted, but disposable, future garage. Coming back to it several weeks later, I found addictive, achingly cool future garage. I’m not really sure what happened here.
Despite the overall differences in style, I can draw a strong comparison between Kimaera and Vylet Pony. They’re both incredibly confident masters of their craft.
Opener “Tell Me Something” is buoyant in tone; and while it doesn’t stretch featured artists Aeiko & Léa lyrically, it still draws wonderful performances from them.
“Paris By Night” would rate highly on any chillwave playlist; and “Light and Sorrow” (with its more brooding tone) reminded me of OVMEGACVRSE: another obscure producer who I’ve become evangelical about.
Libération is a great showcase for yet another creator who deserves far more attention than they currently receive.
#3 – It’s Not a Suggestion, It’s a Command
Google translates Zekkei Kujira to “Superb view whale” in English. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that this band is on fire.
I missed the June release of the Japanese trio’s Seasick EP. This video for its first track “Get Down” was uploaded on October 7th, and I’m so grateful that it caught my eye.
This is giddy, riotous indie rock done right. Killer riffs, gymnastic vocals and the kind of epic bass line that I’m a total sucker for. Another thing I’m a sucker for? Off kilter videos which make the band look cool as fuck. Random inserts, charismatic stage presence, slick rotoscoping. I love every goddamn thing going on here.
There is no debating this: Zekkei Kujira deserve to be one of the biggest bands on the planet. I want them to top every chart, I want them selling out stadiums and fronting every advert. And most of all I want to hear them coming out of every speaker.
#4 – Join The Conversation?
The 13th was the first official UK National Album Day. The NME kind of got into the spirit of things, calling it ‘The not-at-all-made-up day for albums.’ It’s a curious turn of phrase (as all days are made up); but okay. The Guardian’s Michael Hann was less sarcastic, writing:
Officially, it’s all in honour of the 70th anniversary of the album. In reality, given it’s being organised by the Entertainment Retailers Association and the British Phonographic Industry, it’s all in honour of trying to do something about those declining sales figures. That’s fine: but there’s no need to pretend it’s all about a “national conversation” about albums.
The BPI’s line was that:
National Album Day will mark the culmination of a week-long series of events and activity around the country that will celebrate all aspects of the UK’s love of the album – new releases and classic recordings across all genres of music.
I strike somewhere in the middle on this one. The obvious profit motivation made me uneasy (which is ironic as I work in music retail). But being on the ground meant I could experience the generally positive reception to it. A reception which largely played out on social media too.
There may not have been ‘a national conversation;’ but honestly I like the idea of National Album Day, and I hope it becomes a staple. If nothing else it adds variety to the calendar, and considering that vinyl sales on this year’s Record Store Day hit an all time high (including 60,000 albums shifted in the UK alone); there’s cause for optimism.
#5 – Another Contender
I may struggle to pronounce your name, but I’m so in love with you Mø.
The Danish singer/songwriter/producer/heavenly-being-from-on-high released her second album Forever Neverland on the 19th. Her debut, No Mythologies To Follow, is one of my favourite albums of the past decade (if not all time). In some ways I was hoping that she’d never release another album; as diminishing returns can be a thing.
But it is here and it is glorious. One thing I find most striking about Mø is that not only does she make exceptional pop music – she clearly loves making pop music. I can imagine her pouring the same energy and enthusiasm into her work; even if the only listener she’d ever attract was her cat.
“Way Down” really sets a high standard, blending a magnificent beat with an inspired use of a shakuhachi flute. “Nostalgia” is a song I want to drown in; and Mø has brought in some impressive collaborators. Diplo is back, and she’s served by some great support from LA’s Empress Of on “Red Wine”. But for me it was the stomping, bittersweet “If It’s Over” (featuring number one angel Charli XCX) which convinced me that Forever Neverland could be album of the year.
#6 – Bleeding Flowers
I was hoping to find something suitably Halloween themed to share with you. The closest thing I found was YouTuber Nyx Fears’ The Body Will Poison The Mind. But that came out in March.
In my defence, Pastel Wasteland didn’t exist back then.
So I haven’t got anything Halloweeny for you*. But Valuemart’s loving tribute to gothic 80s post-punk – Homegrown Vandal – could suffice. If you’re reaching like me.
Fans of The Cure and Sisters of Mercy will love it. However, Valuemart’s sole member, Tory Knowles, isn’t simply playing dress up. The reverb on his vocals, the pulsating bass and striking guitars all feel so authentic. Compared to a lot of retrowave; Homegrown Vandal feels like the genuine article; as if it were warped in from an era many are nostalgic for. Even those of us who were fetuses around that time.
* “Ruby’s Got A Demon” is about murder and has “demon” in the title. So that counts.
And that’s it for this month. As ever, if anyone has any material they’d like to share over the coming weeks; please drop us a line.
Also, Pastel Wasteland is looking for writers and reviewers to join us. If you’re interested in producing content based around music, film, fashion, graphic design or any kind of art form we would love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send Twitter DMs to:
Rob Ulitski (Chief Editor) – @pastelwasteland
Ryan Cole (me) – @violet_cause
Have a great one.