Here is part two of our new music picks for June. You can catch up with Part 1 here. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? Read on to find out.
[Note: We welcome a new addition to our review team, with Sam who is the new other half of the WCL Music Customer Specialist team].
Tubular bells : 50th anniversary edition / Oldfield, Mike
Sam says: When ‘Tubular Bells’ was released in 1973, it left a sizeable impact on the field of popular music. It was a tremendous artistic achievement, with the entirety of the writing process and majority of the vast instrumental performances undertaken by Oldfield himself, who was a mere teenager at the time! The compositions are colourful and endlessly inventive, driven by an epic, odyssey-like structure weaving through many varied musical movements. Over the decades since its release, it has played a significant role within numerous pieces of media (such as its iconic usage in the legendary horror film ‘The Exorcist’). It has also seen numerous reissues, and it has even garnered a number of musical sequels created by Mike Oldfield himself. Needless to say, 50 years later, the impact of this monumental piece of music is still clearly apparent.
Neil says: ‘Tubular bells’ was the first ever release on the Virgin label. It’s creator, the then, 19-year-old musician Mike Oldfield, incredibly plays every instrument on the album. Much of Virgin’s fate depended on the success or otherwise of the release, as no expense had been spared on the recording, and at the time Virgin enterprises was in its infancy. Initially the albums sales were sluggish, but the use of music from the album in William Friedkin’s visceral horror classic The Exorcist changed that and propelled it high into the charts. The rest, as they say, is history. It is a pastoral, progressive rock album with folk and classical elements, and one of the most iconic and popular albums of the 70’s. This 50th anniversary release features a new master of the original album “the gem in this rerelease” plus music recorded by Oldfield for the London Olympics and excerpts from an abandoned Tubular Bells 4 project. Arguably Oldfield would never quite reach the heights he reached in his first outing.
O monolith / Squid (Musical group)
Mark says: More post-punk, Krautrock, and post-rock aesthetics from this London based band, following on from 2021’s acclaimed Bright Green Field. Squid are definitely a band at the forefront of the ‘post genre’ style of music that is the template for many young bands now. Cool grooves and intense tracks, where it seems that anything could happen at any musical moment. Produced by Dan Carey (who also produced everyone from Black Midi to Fontaines D.C, Wet Leg and Goat Girl). There’s a maximalist/Minimalist juxtaposition at play, as tracks surge with a synthy, distorted noise before collapsing back into softer aesthetics. Radiohead seem a stronger influence than on their debut album, with more obtuse melodies and esoteric lyrics.
Neil says: Squid’s second album sees them building, and carefully expanding, on their critically acclaimed first album Bright Green Field. There is a new spectral, spacey opened ended sound to much of this latest release. Their core sound is still present, but they let the structure of the songs slowly evolve, rather than go for the previous ‘short-sharp-shock’ angular approach of Bright Green Field. The lyrics again are dense and multi-layered touching on many themes, and it is sure to win them even more fans and, one suspects, a lot of attention and nominations to feature on best of 2023 lists. I, for one, can’t wait to hear where they head to next.
Sam says: Hailing from Brighton, England, Squid burst onto the scene a couple of years back with Bright Green Field, which of itself was an impressive debut that, while not particularly original, displayed a highly developed level of musicianship for such a young act. With their sophomore effort ‘O Monolith’, they have stepped their game up notably. All the aspects that were so impressive on the previous album have been articulated in a stronger and more compelling way. The progressive elements that creeped through before are now much more fully-formed and confidently executed, whereas the more aggressive post-punk tendencies, whilst perhaps a little more sparse in their utilisation, are just as powerful as ever when they do come through. Most notably, the songs themselves feel more potent and memorable, making for a consistently engaging and rewarding listen. Similarly-minded new British groups such as Black Midi and Black Country, New Road really hit their stride with their respective follow-up albums over the past couple of years, with O Monolith it feels like Squid’s turn to show the world what they are really capable of.
Continue reading “June’s New Music for Te Awe: Part 2”