As this era of social distancing stretches on and on, distractions become all the more essential to keep us all from slipping into a completely grey state of “meh”.

With all the time on our hands, we’ve found ourselves delving into new discoveries and long-neglected favorites. After all, estranged from those around us, music remains both the great unifier and a much needed soothing presence.

So, Beats Per Minute is here to share some of our recent favorites that have been acting as a salve through these times. We hope these albums offer you a bit of shelter too. In the words of the great Dr. Steve Brule: It’s for your health.

Take a listen to the Spotify playlist here.


Raul Seixas – Krig-ha, Bandolo!

Alceu Valença & Geraldo Azevedo – Quadrafônico

[Philips; 1973] / [Copacabana; 1972]

It feels weird we’ve entered this isolation in full winter regalia and that we’re probably getting out of it in our tank tops and shorts. With spring springing outside and sunshine helping us not to depress too much whilst cheekily teasing us with proper terrace weather, it’s inevitable we turn to brighter landscapes in search of that warmth and vitamin D we’ve all been lacking. 

Yes, it’s been a particularly long cold lonely winter, but a twist of post-Tropicália might just be the thing that does the trick — it did for me, at least. I’ve been rediscovering loads of gems from that not-so-sunny Brazilian era (the early 70s marked the beginning of Brazil’s “Years of Lead”, with stricter measures reinforcing a military dictatorship that had been established in 1964), oscillating between established names like Secos & Molhados and Raul Seixas to more obscure, sometimes even forgotten releases. If you’re in need of a tropical twist to get your mood right for when we are finally allowed to lounge like lazy lizards in the sun again, I have two suggestions. First is Raul Seixas’ 1973 classic LP Krig-ha, Bandolo!, which contains legendary hits “Mosca na Sopa” and “Metamorfose Ambulante” and sees writer Paulo Coelho lending a hand with the lyrics. And secondly, a virtually undiscovered 1972 album from Alceu Valença & Geraldo Azevedo titled Quadrafônico (thank you, algorithm!) that features Rogério Duprat aka “the George Martin of Tropicália” as the arranger.

Ana Leorne



Ken Ishii

Jelly Tones

[R&S; 1995]

To say the least, these are unprecedented times. Alright, we can make historical comparisons, but for all of us, they certainly feel that way. If I’m being honest, on some selfish level, I enjoyed the quarantine at first. The cost to human life was always somewhere on my mind, but as an obsessive consumer of media – whether music, film, or television series – I initially revelled in wrapping myself up in a cocoon of music, Fallout games, and the Criterion Channel.

That was over a month ago (we started isolating much earlier here in Korea). Watching a truly beautiful spring roll into Busan from my window, isolated, alone and, worst of all, completely useless has taken its toll, a feeling I’m sure many of us have. I’ve even found my desire to consume music massively muted. It takes a special something to stir me from boredom and malaise, and my discovery of Jelly Tones was certainly that. Warm, hopeful ambient techno, complete with joyous synths and smooth basslines, this album is all Tokyo: it’s glowing, omnipresent, and damn near everything at once. There’s a certain edge lurking within it, but above all, it’s pure optimism. Oh, and for those in need of a visual companion, “Extra” boasts a music video from the animation director of nothing less than freakin’ Akira. It’s all just what the doctor ordered.

Chase McMullen


A Girl Called Eddy

Been Around

[Elefant; 2020]

If you’re like me, then this COVID-19-induced quarantine has had a significant impact on your stress and anxiety levels. In times like these, I find one of the best ways to alleviate that elevated stress is with triumphant, exuberant music. Recently, I was introduced to an artist known as A Girl Called Eddy that has filled this need perfectly. England-based singer/songwriter Erin Moran has been making music under the moniker A Girl Called Eddy for over 15 years, but you’d be forgiven if you don’t recognize the name since her new album, titled Been Around, is only her second full-length. After such a long hiatus, Moran is back with a record ideal for uplifting downtrodden spirits. Brimming with lively instrumentals, lush horn arrangements, and some top-notch songwriting, Been Around takes inspiration from a handful of genres including soul, soft-rock, and chamber pop. It’s a record that’s easy to get lost in, and only gets better the further you let yourself sink into its rich sound. There’s no sugarcoating how crummy the state of the world is right now, but A Girl Called Eddy is there to wrap you in a soft, warm blanket of music and gently remind you everything is going to be alright.

Grady Penna


Julianna Barwick

Circumstance Synthesis

[There; 2019]

You can be a huge fan of someone’s work, and yet have one of their releases slip by you somehow. This is exactly what happened to me with Julianna Barwick, who hasn’t released a full album since 2016’s Will, but managed to sneak out a new five-track EP Circumstance Synthesis at the tail end of 2019 while I was busily putting together my lists (one for Santa and one for albums of the year). That it came out as the second release on RVNG Intl’s new imprint There and was made in collaboration with a New York City hotel may account for my having missed it, though these facts do not impinge on the quality, which is, as always, stunning.

Using a camera on the hotel’s front, pointed skywards, Barwick programmed an AI to trigger certain instrumental cues for different visual appearances – birds, planes, clouds etc. What sounds prosaic in method actually turned out to be something utterly engrossing and organic, and a natural companion to the rest of Barwick’s work. Appropriately, the five tracks are named for the different times of day, starting with “morning” and finishing a brief-but-fulfilling 21 minutes later with “night”. It actually seems as though I wasn’t meant to discover Circumstance Synthesis until now, as it beautifully maps and soundtracks the shifting light of our days from a fixed position, which we all find ourselves now in. This gift of an EP is a reminder that the world is still turning unperturbed, even if we might feel like it’s ground to a halt.

– Rob Hakimian


Aztec Camera

High Land, Hard Rain

[Rough Trade; 1983]

Aztec Camera were jangle pop peddlers who never met a melody they couldn’t improve upon. Founded in 1980 in Scotland by Roddy Frame (the band’s only consistent member throughout its tenure), their music was enamored of new wave and pop aesthetics but was bristling with its own internal rhythmic intrigues. First appearing on a Glasgow cassette compilation for Pungent Records, and later appearing on NME’s C81 collection, the band released their debut record High Land, Hard Rain in 1983 to acclaim and even managed to hit number 129 on the Billboard 200. The songs on the album are propelled by uncertain mechanics, blending pop’s lucid malleability with punk’s strident swagger to staggering effect. They continued to stay active through the mid-nineties, and while their later releases were somewhat varied in quality, their debut remains a high-water mark for the new wave and alternative pop genres. 

Joshua Pickard


Carol Cates

Postcards From Behind a Slammed Door

[handmedown; 2019]

Flirting the line between devastating and hilarious, the second album from Irish cabaret siren Carol Cates makes for a compelling portrait of another person’s life – which is interesting and important to consider in our own little quarantine bubble. Cates fills her album with unyielding attacks on the patriarchy (“Some Men”, “New Myth”) and defiant proclamation of self-worth (“Unfuckable”), but slides them up against light-hearted takes about her ideal partner (“Admin Man”) and confessions about her sex life (“Big Oh”). The production values aren’t high – tinny electric guitar, MIDI drums – but it stands as a testament to hunkering down and setting the world to rights in your own time and on your terms. Plus, the backdrop doesn’t need to be flashy when you have a voice like Cates, whose impressive range is on show, but still doesn’t hit its full effect here (seeing her live will change your life).

With Postcards From Behind A Slammed Door you’ll laugh, cry, and maybe even sit in awe as Cates presents her version of the world. She can tear down whatever target she aims at in a single line – even herself: “By doing absolutely nothing I did everything wrong.” Our own battles are tough, but be sure to take the time to listen to how others are doing, because we’re all either suffering or laughing through the pain.

Ray Finlayson


Casual Nun

Resort for Dead Desires

[Hominid Sounds; 2020]

The UK is going through a resurgence of bands doing psych rock brilliantly. The Cosmic Dead, Sex Swing, Luminous Bodies and Mugstar are all blending aspects of kosmiche Musik and straightforward rock to explore varying avenues in a well worn, yet not extinguished musical trope. Casual Nun are front and centre of this explosion, playing angst-ridden psychedelia which nods towards a mix of Ash Ra Tempel, Part Chimp and Cherubs. So, pretty damn fucking good, then.

Resort for Dead Desires opener “Party Favors” sounds like a psych band fighting with The Fall, while “Zoetrope” and “A Light Plague” pour out the scuzzed-up garage rock that we expect from Casual Nun by this, their third album. There is room on Resort for Dead Desires for expanse and development as “Rabbits”, “Pink Celestial Heron (pch)” and “Panas, Tejas” shift the album’s trajectory so that it feels like a full body of considered work rather than just some rollicking good songs thrown next to each other. It’s a raucous affair, yet one that is confident enough to find space where needed. If righteous riffage, hollering vocals and pounding instruments are your bag then you’ll love this, if not then you need to reconsider your life.

Todd Dedman


Neon Bunny

Stay Gold

[Seoulight; 2016]

South Korean-native Neon Bunny’s glistening sophomore album Stay Gold has a lonely feeling to it. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and taking in its delicate, hushed vocals and smooth-as-silk dream pop instrumentals allows the commotion of the world to momentarily fade away. Though it takes some cues from mainstream k-pop, Stay Gold is a much more subdued affair and draws more inspiration from indie and synth pop. Opener “Romance in Seoul” begins with gently plucked strings and a sample of softly-flowing water. It’s a soothing introduction and sets the tone for Neon Bunny’s enveloping sound. With that said, Neon Bunny knows how to make a banger if need be and there’s no better example than “Room 314”. The track begins somewhat tamely, but soon explodes into an instrumental post-chorus filled with booming synthesizers and firm percussion. One of Neon Bunny’s most invaluable traits is her ability to blend multiple genres, languages, and production styles seamlessly into her work, and it’s on full display here.

Grady Penna


The United States of America

The United States of America

[Columbia; 1968]

Founded in Los Angeles in 1967 by Joseph Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz, The United States of America were one of the early experimenters of rock music that incorporated electronic instruments into its DNA. Alongside others like Silver Apples and Fifty Foot Hose, they were intensely fascinated with merging psych rock theatricality and the sounds of the burgeoning electronic music scene. Their 1968 debut (and only album) was a masterpiece of melodic tectonics and synthetic tones – utilizing primitive synthesizers and audio processors, they concocted a hypnotic ode to the boundless movements of their collective creativity. They had no guitar player but still felt like a rock band, even if their songs were as left-of-center for their time as you could find. Revolutionary in their aesthetic, the band would help to foster electronic music’s acceptance among rock communities and laid the groundwork for countless artists to come.

Joshua Pickard


Prince

Emancipation

[EMI; 1996]

I am listening to a lot of Prince at the moment. This is not hugely surprising for me, but I have found myself being gripped by albums that I’d previously seen as stains in his output. I think maybe I’m still mourning his death and yearning for a time long gone when things seemed a little simpler, and I was perhaps more content with myself and my situation. Maybe that time never really existed other than in my perception of the past **heavy sigh**.

Isolation does funny things to the mind. Still, there are some undeniable pearls on Emancipation, amongst the filth of tracks like “Courtin’ Time” and “Sleep Around” which are simply woeful. Reissued last year on SIX slabs of purple vinyl, tracks like “Slave” bring the trademark Prince funk which is always best when bubbling under, subdued rather than played-out like the worst session band at a Hard Rock Café in Little Arse, USA. “Right Back Here in My Arms” suffers from some overly polished production but retains the spirit of peak era Prince, while “Let’s Have a Baby” is the late-night cabaret song his father was well-known for playing, but it centres on a subject matter that breaks your heart – the album was released in the same year that Prince’s son, Amiir, died just six days after being born. It’s interesting how the current allows us to re-evaluate the past. I feel as though I am more readily connecting with someone who felt lost to me for a while.

Todd Dedman


IZ*ONE

BLOOM*IZ

[Stone Music Entertainment; 2020]

Needless to say, pure joy is in short supply these days. Truly great pop might as well be our collective quarantine pusher man: can we just get a fix?

IZ*ONE, to put it lightly, have just what we need. Speaking personally, my K-pop fandom had been wavering. Sulli and Hara’s deaths, a seemingly endless string of industry scandals, and more had taken their toll. So it’s no small thing for BLOOM*IZ to have, at least for its duration whenever it plays, reignited my passion for the genre.

The best K-pop is pure, unfiltered sunshine topped with bizarre mixtures of sounds that, by rights, shouldn’t work, and yet more than do. IZ*ONE bring that in spades, from the fantasy of “Dreamlike” to the spaced-out groove of “Spaceship”. They even swing for the fences on slower songs. “I can’t believe that IZ*ONE saved K-pop,” a friend texted me after I convinced them to listen. Is the man wrong? Even if you’re the type to grumble at bubbly pop, perhaps give this one a go during all this social distancing. For 40 delectable minutes, it might be just the escape you need. You can go back to pretending it didn’t make you dance around your room after, don’t worry.

Chase McMullen


The Incredible String Band

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

[Elektra; 1968]

The Incredible String Band were a group whose work was so wildly eclectic and strange that it would take decades before they were given their proper acclaim. Equal parts weirdo-folkers and psych-experimentalists, their music felt wonderfully spontaneous and unadorned with studio polish. Their 1968 record, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, encapsulates this rhythmic ethos better than almost any of their other releases. Wrapped in elongated folk mutations and psychedelic imagery, the songs possessed a pastoral fluidity, developing a bewitched fascination with the complexities of the natural world around them. Many years ahead of the freak-folk scene of the early aughts, The Incredible String Band were revelling in the inspired lunacy of these sounds before anyone even knew what to do with them.

Joshua Pickard


Eminem

Relapse

[Aftermath; 2009]

Took some goading on behalf of a certain editor, but I finally started listening to Eminem’s Relapse – the album which the rapper was already dissing a year later when he dropped the more-commercially-appealing but far-less-daring Recovery. Like his idol Redman on Dare Iz A Darkside, Marshall Mathers uses a doctor character to guide us into a word of utter hell, regardless of whether said medical professional has Dominic West’s charming English accent. Way past earning a spot in the rap hall-of-fame and winning an Oscar, Em wasn’t going to just spoon-feed his fans a carbon copy of one of his most-acclaimed albums. Relapse could never be mistaken for anything but Eminem, but the terror and tension are pitched up to such great levels that it’s hard to blame him for going easier on us with the follow-up. It’s not going to be in regular rotation, due to how grim it is, but if I’m in the mood for amazing Dr. Dre beats and being shrouded in lyrical darkness, I know where to turn.

Brody Kenny


Stars of the Lid

The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid

[Kranky; 2001]

Wonderfully sombre, eternally majestic and incessantly melancholic with a hint of undying optimism – these are traits that I share with Stars of the Lid. The duo of Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride produce neo-classical ambient gems that are simultaneously soporific and captivating. This, their album from 2001, is currently outdoing William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops as my go-to ambient masterpiece during lockdown, as there is a resonating feeing of hope on The Tired Sounds... that is needed.

Song titles such as “The Lonely People (Are Getting Lonelier)”, “Ballad of Distances” and “Requiem for Dying Mothers” are eerily prescient for the current shit-storm we find ourselves in, yet it is the stoic attitude and the introspective stillness of the album that reaps rewards for the listener. Meditative, pensive and contemplative, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid offers a space to reflect, and possibly reconstruct a sense of self previously flattened by the rush of life in late-capitalism. Breathe.

Todd Dedman


Wax Fang

The Astronaut

[Don’t Panic; 2014]

My Tale: I was due to perform in a play in late March, but, like pretty much everything else in the world, it was cancelled. It was a psychological space story called Castor 11, and in the weeks before the performance (before the world caught up with the current reality) I found myself circling on The Astronaut over and over as I learned my lines. It’s an obvious musical accompaniment, but this concept album is no less fitting because of that. Both the main character of the play and the album struggle with an identity crisis, become infused with space around them, and spend time gazing at the beautiful, horrifying, and dark emptiness that surrounds them in space.

In an efficient 40 minutes Wax Fang create a undulating soundscape: drums bellow and flurry like rocket engines starting up, guitars thrash like an astronaut fighting to get out of their spacesuit, and at one point a saxophone wails out into a void of reverberation like an unheard scream. On paper it sounds a little corny, but this a thrilling miniature rock opera that ebbs and flows like a living, breathing behemoth. Come the final act of the album – “Part 3” – everything sounds at stake: the album’s main character is fusing with the void around them (“I can’t tell where my skin ends / And the space around me, it begins”) and their spaceship sounds like it’s hurtling to its doom. “I miss my wife and I miss my children,” they shriek over and over in the song’s final moments. What fate befalls them? Like with Castor 11 (which I still hope to be able to perform in one day #hope), the ending is open to interpretation, but best experienced in person to make up your own mind. Put on The Astronaut and take a journey away from the world around you and head to stars for 40 minutes instead.

Ray Finlayson


Da Headbussaz

Dat’s How It Happen to’M

[Hypnotize Minds; 2002]

For a genre so dependent on collaboration, hip hop is depressingly resistant to full album0length link ups. Whether it’s for fear of brand damage, pride, clashing personalities, or something else, events such as Offset and 21 Savage’s Without Warning are are all too rare. This very scarcity makes Dat’s How It Happen to’M valuable.

In 2002, former No Limit soldier Fiend hooked up with Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul and Juicy J for for an LP of just what all three do best. That signature eerie Three 6 production is on full display, the likes of “Powder Cake” will have you fearfully stomping around your room in no time. This quarantine ain’t easy. Sometimes we need to release something that appeals to our baser instincts. A massively undervalued and underheard meeting of rap greats.

Chase McMullen


Vic Chesnutt

Is the Actor Happy?

[Texas Hotel; 1995]

One of the greatest lyricists of the last 100 years, Vic Chesnutt was a man whose bleak rural visions and heartbreaking prose would inspire the creation of over a dozen records that spoke to our collective feelings of mortality, desperation and a desire to be more than what the confines of our physical bodies allowed us. He never released a record devoid of his own dark humor and unimaginable wit, but 1995’s Is the Actor Happy? might just be the one which stops my heart every single time I hear it. I’m left shaken and dizzied by its experiences and revelations. A rambling trip through countless Southern folk histories, the songs freed Vic from the imitations of his wheelchair, giving him room to roam through these achingly beautiful environments where you’d meet characters unlike anyone else you might have come across before. With his self-inflicted death in 2009, a wholly unique voice was taken from us and hearts broke the world over, leaving the faint wisp of his Georgia twang echoing in our heads.

Joshua Pickard


Kishi Bashi

Omoiyari

[Joyful Noise; 2019]

Like you, I remember the old days when we could do stuff like hang out with friends and go for a walk on a whim. We’ll get back to those times, but for now those memories are golden and important to hold onto. Kishi Bashi’s fourth album, Omoiyari, is my memory, of walking to and from work through the park on late summer days. But this music is so serene and wonderful it can very easily be your memory too.

The glistening guitars and bright vocal melodies of “F Delano” and “Penny Rabbit and Summer Bear” will bring the sunny season into your ears, while the soaring declarations of “I am in love with you” on “Summer of ’42” are there to help you soar away from any worries you have. This album is a masterpiece, a fusion of Americana, classical, and Bashi’s own take on how to utilise a violin and a looping pedal. Even the minor-key tracks are divine, from the memory-infused delicacy of “Theme For Jerome” to the operatic flood of layers on “Violin Tsunami”. When the folk-shanty send off “Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea” swings around at the end of the album it’s impossible to not want to sing along and hit play on the record. And why not? We’ve all got the time we need to relive this memory of summer.

Ray Finlayson


Keeley Forsyth

Debris

[The Leaf Label; 2020]

My absolute favourite album of 2020 so far, and a perfect album for every mood that this lockdown brings. Forsyth is best known as an actress in some British TV shows that I’ve never watched, and I don’t want to watch them now that I know this version of her. It would be like seeing David Sylvian asking for a pint of Churchill’s in the Queen Vic (from EastEnders, for all you non-Anglophiles out there).

I digress. Debris is for those moments of lockdown when you start to wonder what’s going on, what day it is, and for when you need a soundtrack for staring out of the window at nobody and nothing. It is both despairing and desolate, yet with an undoubted beauty in its fragile sparseness that somehow offers a degree of optimism. You feel life exuding from every note and pause. Forsyth’s voice is a wonder, and she twists her delivery at moments that result in delight in the smallest of things. The rolled ‘r’ of the word ‘breathing’ on “It’s Raining”, the drained vibrato of “Lost” and the wilting refrain that opens “Large Oak” all bring shivers down the spine and elevate Forsyth above most others. She has been compared to Nico (thankfully for her voice rather than her racism) and Scott Walker (no, just no!) but quite frankly such comparisons don’t work as this is an album of unique splendour.

Todd Dedman


Rockpile

Seconds of Pleasure

[Columbia; 1980]

British rock band Rockpile had a very interesting tenancy, recording four studio albums before disbanding, though only one was actually released under the Rockpile moniker. Built around the talents of guitarist Dave Edmunds, bassist Nick Lowe, guitarist Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams, the band specialized in an odd confluence of sounds, working through bits of pub rock, rockabilly, new wave and power pop in just these few records. The first two, Tracks on Wax 4 and Repeat When Necessary, were released as Dave Edmunds solo records, while their third, Labor of Lust, was shared as a Nick Lowe solo vehicle. And while I do adore Labor of Lust, it’s their fourth album, Seconds of Pleasure (the only official Rockpile record), which holds due claim to it being their best offering. Buzzing with power pop hooks and defiantly catchy melodies, it possesses a singular pop vision, even when meddling in pub rock and rockabilly truancies.

Joshua Pickard


Bruxa Maria

The Maddening

[Hominid Sounds; 2020]

Super heavy, super intense, with splendid lo-fi production that hits all of the right buttons, The Maddening sees Bruxa Maria fulfil their potential as an important noise rock band. They play a dizzying racket of thrash punk with harsh guitars, throbbing bass and ear-shattering drums, all topped off with Gill Dread’s insanely cathartic vocals. “Brutal Attack” is exactly that – a soaring, senses-depriving adrenaline charge of vitriol and assertiveness, whilst the title track (and album opener) comes out of the gates like a massively pissed off Melt Banana. It’s a record for those tense times. It is primal scream therapy by proxy, when you want someone to vent the pent up frustration that you can’t for fear of the neighbours considering an intervention. Look, we are all going through the ringer with this situation, sometimes some peaceful music serves a purpose whereas others you need an absolutely raging bull of an album to smash up your sensibilities and reassure you of the sheer brutality of it all. “Lovely stuff” – not my words, the words of Shakin’ Stevens.

Todd Dedman


The Records

Shades in Bed

[Virgin; 1979]

A British power pop band best known for their hit single “Starry Eyes”, The Records have become a footnote in a much larger story – that being the punk scene in the UK in the late 70s. What was a power pop band to do when people were clamoring for The Clash or Buzzcocks (whose music, I should note, isn’t that far removed from pop)? Born from the ruins of pub rock outfit the Kursaal Flyers, the band would draw inspiration from bands like The Kinks and Big Star, artists who combined the giddy euphoria of pop music with darker melodic undertones. Their debut record, 1979’s Shades in Bed (later retitled to just The Records for its US release), was an energetic and mesmerizing trip through the fuzzy textures of garage pop, aided and abetted by brief detours through punk-lite landscapes which would come to influence a generation of musicians rightfully obsessed with these sounds.

Joshua Pickard


Nav Katze

Nobody Home (うわのそら, Uwa no Sora)

[Invitation; 1994]

I’ve stopped fighting my changes in music listening every time the weather changes. The cool temperatures and fresh air of fall send me to folk, country, and 70s songwriters, while the ceiling fans, hot window glass, and recycled air conditioning of spring send me into the embrace of classic new wave, synth-pop, 90’s fuzz, and J-pop. This illogical cycle bothered me at first—how does music convey temperature, anyway?—but what was once a conundrum has become a welcome nostalgia. This year’s season change feels like a taunt on all of us cooped up inside on our video calls, but the seasonal music change has hit me just as hard anyway. Maybe I need the old friend.

Nav Katze has been an annually fruitful band who exemplifies my spring music tradition. Their penultimate album, Nobody Home (うわのそら, Uwa no Sora), is a culmination of their debut album’s dream pop sound with a few 1994 touches, like a big breakbeat-like percussion (courtesy of Asa-Chang) and a shoegaze-like focus on texture. Both are showed off on “Cherry”, a cathartic, delirious gem with its pounding driving drums and a joyous blaring saxophone from—surprise!—Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay (and Phil Manzanera on guitar). Not long after, the listener is treated to an inexplicable Boston cover, “More Than a Feeling”, with enough disaffected 90s cool to (debatably) justify its inclusion. The back half, starting with “Wild Horse”, gives more room to Nav Katze’s distinct melodic style and calmer moments without losing the percussive drive that carries it all the way up to the dreamy closer of “Change”.

In addition to the good music, Nav Katze presents an enigma: two songs from this album have Aphex Twin remixes. Why? And not just him, Nav Katze was remixed by the biggest names in 90s IDM, including Autechre, The Black Dog, Seefeel, and μ-Ziq. The remix album, Never Mind the Distortion, was such a success that the band let a new producer drastically steer their sound in a new techno and IDM-influenced direction, in what ends up feeling like reversed cause-and-effect. The album, Gentle & Elegance, works so well it proves those IDM artists were correct to hear kindred talent from such a different background of music. While it was sadly their last, it capped a discography I know I’ll continue to revisit as the warm temperatures guide me, through future years hopefully much better than this one.

– Josh Sand