In an industry where solid release schedules and corporate control over the output of musicians has become the norm, some of this year’s most exciting releases are abiding by different rules.
Musicians are taking control again. As consumers, we’ve gotten used to the record labels calling the shots on behalf of the artists: Musicians announce their new records proceeded by months of torturous marketing enabling ‘the suits’ a swift and large return on their investment. We find ourselves in 2015 it finally feels like musicians are using the Internet to its fullest potential. Below are five imminent releases that you should want to keep track of.
We begin with a release that actually has a solid release date, Tame Impala’s highly anticipated ‘Currents’. With four of the tracks appearing on the album already out in the open, fan’s appetites are truly whetted. Whilst some of these previews to the album have been released officially, others were just thrown onto the Internet by Kevin Parker through a Reddit ‘Ask me Anything’ in a true ‘rock and roll’ fashion. The new release sees Tame Impala take a more disco-infused direction, with some MJ-esque moments, which Parker handles with absolute ease. His voice sounds the best it has sounded in any of his records and production is unparalleled. With reports that the album has already leaked online, weeks away from the scheduled release, listeners have mixed opinions on the album online. Kevin Parker set the bar very high for himself, to the extent where fans expect more than his previous releases – but even if ‘Currents’ was anything less than older albums, it could still be a masterpiece.
Few artists make use of the Internet as a platform for releasing music as much as young label, PC Music. With only one ‘official’ release (which was a compilation of releases from their label only through iTunes and streaming services), PC Music have chosen to release music fairly spontaneously and without pomp: through soundcloud, one song or EP at a time, mostly for free. The music-makers who make up the label consist of computer-fiddling entities, usually with indiscernible identities to the extent where you wonder if it is art or music. ‘QT’, who has been signed to major independent label XL Recordings, has a single release which serves as almost an ‘advert’ for a fictional energy drink – which you could buy for a while in the US through the ‘QT’ online store. The music itself sounds exactly like you’ve had too many sweets at a primary school disco; for many, the sound of nostalgia. A. G. Cook, acting as ‘leader’ for this troop, cites Conlon Nancarrow (the 20th century pioneer of the player piano) as inspiration for the music the label churns – a mass of impossible sounds.
Devonté Hynes of Blood Orange is as much a collaborative artist as he is a independent musician. He has hinted online that a new Blood Orange record will be on its way very soon, and looking at his recent artistic output online can only make you incredibly excited for Blood Orange’s return. Having scored music for recent films such as Gia Coppola’s ‘Palo Alto’ and another which didn’t work out for reasons unknown (which resulted in Hynes posting the 40 minutes-worth of music online anyway), performing at New York fashion week and working on collaborative dance projects, Hyne’s output is extremely varied.
Another New York group of musicians, Battles, have also hinted towards a new release, not yet made official, following a string of pictures online detailing working track titles, and performing new tracks in Poland and London. As a die-hard Battles fan, this is only good news – Battles have such a unique musical voice in the industry, following their highly underrated release ‘Gloss Drop’ which saw them collaborate with Gary Newman and Yamantaka Eye. John Stanier’s ability to play like a metronome in some of the most diverse of time signatures against the warped sounds protruding from the electronics and guitars of Ian Williams and Dave Konopka. Camera-phone videos of new tracks online hold a lot of promise for the next release, which sees the trio stay true to their sound whilst maintaining the electricity their records are known for.
Lastly, the surprise announcement of a APX release, more widely known as Aphex Twin. Through Warp Records, the collection of music (presumably created between 2006 and 2008 judging by the work’s title) will be released during August. If you’ve followed Richard James’ recent online efforts, you’ll know that he almost broke the Internet. Almost immediately proceeding one of the biggest releases of last year (‘Syro’), James went on to release a one-of-a-kind EP of acoustic instruments controlled by computers and simultaneously uploaded hundreds of old tracks onto Soundcloud anonymously, which he promised some of which would see a physical release soon.