Aigners Inventur: März & April 2023

What is a sure sign of having fallen into insignificance? Who makes the most contemporary R&B? Which record is a sure candidate for this year’s best of list? And which is surely a contender for the decade’s best of list? Our columnist distributes praise and blame.
Cracker Island
Warner • 2023 • from 30.99€

Regrettably, one of the surest signs of having become a footnote in the current discourse of pop and rap is when your album is released on vinyl relatively simultaneously with the release date. The new Gorillaz album is so far away from what made Gorillaz albums stand out during the first decade in all their megalomaniac calculation: adding a new chapter to contemporary pop music at the very least, if not writing a new book. On »Cracker Island«, Damon Albarn searches in vain for his edge and astonishingly resigns himself to the fact that his bland song writing and boilerplate melodies will no longer appeal to anyone under the age of 30. This is more human than it is dramatic, but does less justice to the Gorillaz' origin story claim than ever before.   

Florian Aigner
Lil Yachty
Let's Start Here
Universal • 2023 • from 38.99€

Lil Yachty has completely misjudged things as well. He obviously hasn't gotten over the early ridicule and gloating over his mumbling minimalism, and has now reached the obligatory ARRRRRRTSY phase. On »Let's Start Here«, that means white-washed Post Malone guitars, algorithmic crooning and a pop understanding stuck in 2014, somewhere between Tame Impala and Imagine Dragons. Ouch.  

Florian Aigner
All Dogs Come From Wolves
Scorpio Red • 2023 • from 19.59€

Speaking of which, Kelman Duran gives Holodec every possible freedom for his album début on Scorpio Red. »All Dogs Come From Wolves« sounds like Winding-Refn's L.A. without the neon filter, an unpredictable mix of screened AI ambient, disembodied R&B, beats to study to – feints and noirish club music sketches. An early highlight of the year.   

Florian Aigner
Warp • 2023 • from 31.99€

By contrast, on »Raven«, Kelela shows how to systematically clubify your sound and still stay true to your own core strengths, the snobbish alternative to the last Beyoncé album. »Raven« goes several steps further than »Renaissance«, relying not only on the club visions of LSDXOXO or Nguzunguzu, but also giving OCA's spooky hauntology a prominent place on an album bursting with ideas. This is the definition of R&B in 2023.   

Florian Aigner
Ghostly International • 2023 • from 26.99€

Khotin's long prepared departure from functional dance music, on the other hand, seems somewhat more conventional. Fortunately, »Release Spirit« never loses itself in too exalted auteur gestures, a large majority of the pieces could have existed at any time as B2 on an early Khotin 12" and, with a little skill, this might even be warm-up fodder for romantics. First and foremost, however, a dissertation on how to make it out of the club and into the kitchen on time. 

Florian Aigner
Choral Feeling
Nous'klaer Audio • 2023 • from 24.99€

Oceanic has made perhaps the best club album of the year so far, especially since »Choral Feeling« ends up on the dancefloor rather by chance than design and uses means that are often a hindrance: voices, lots of voices. Oceanic arranges the vocal contributions of close friends into an unusually maximalist wall of sound, which nonetheless sounds unusually fragile and transfers hyperpop production techniques into the ecstatic logic of house. 

Florian Aigner
Tolouse Low Trax
Leave Me Alone
Bureau B • 2023 • from 28.99€

Tolouse Low Trax not only cultivates the gruffness of his no-longer-so-new home town of Paris in the title of his next LP, but »Leave Me Alone« is also rhythmically more French than its predecessors. Contemporary rap shines through as a source of inspiration more clearly here than on many of Tolouse Low Trax's previous projects, but Warp-era quotes are also sepia-toned with the matter-of-factness of a musician who experienced it firsthand. Detached and impossible to criticise, as always. 

Florian Aigner
The Life & Times Of Gigi Black
Nation • 2023 • from 84.99€

The machines sound even rustier on »The Life & Times Of GiGi Black«, a monstrous 4LP package on the Traxx' Nation label. For me, the mass has already been read after one or two minutes, because rarely has anyone sounded so convincingly like Suicide between the first and second albums as S.S.P.S. do here. It gets a bit more acidic and kick drum-heavy later on, but it's been a long time since I've heard such a consistently brutal album that Jamal Moss didn't produce. 

Florian Aigner
Valentina Magaletti & Laila Sakini
Magaletti Sakini • 2023 •

Well, they did it. Valentina Magaletti and Laila Sakini are finally working as a duo and »CUPO« multiplies the best sides of both. Magaletti drums, delays, stumbles, reverbs, lurches, while Sakini breathes, strums, rubs his hands, freezes, sweats. Easily the hit of the year. 

Florian Aigner
South Of North • 2023 • from 25.99€

Also phenomenal and cleverly eyeing the replay button at under 20 minutes playtime: Nicolini's second LP for South Of North, which following the Lynch intro sends a cheeky electroclashy 4x4 hit into the running with the title track »Sopratutto«, only to then work off dancehall patterns as wildly as we usually only know it from Equiknoxx.   

Florian Aigner
Adela Mede
Night School • 2023 • from 23.99€

On »Szabadság«, Adela Mede mainly starts out with cucina povera recipes, but then breaks out of the fairytale forest with the thoroughly brute hit potential of Spolu, only to take refuge again in ritualistic folk whisperings. Great in itself, but I'm as done with this as I am with spelt bread. 

Florian Aigner
Never Cursed
O___o? • 2023 • from 24.99€

Oooooh, there's something new out on Dawuna. This time a largely instrumental, piano-heavy and in some way 2023 stoner version of a Mo'Wax tape, with the corresponding aesthetic updates of course. Skins oscillated between Sri Lanka, Toronto and London for »Never Cursed« and now you can finish writing your own narrative for this really good record.  

Florian Aigner
Joseba Agirrezabalaga & Mikel Vega
Urpa I Musell • 2023 • from 26.99€

Joseba Agirrezabalaga and Mikel Vega sound a bit as if Jon Collin had once sat on Sean McCann's veranda instead of under a bridge. The blues meets post-rock dissonance; the contrasting guitar droning repeatedly collapses into pure harmonic bliss for a few seconds and then dissolves again just as quickly. »Leopok« is edging in the extreme form, which is exactly why it is so hard to capture in a snippet or review. 

Florian Aigner
Kassel Jaeger
Shifted In Dreams
Shelter Press • 2023 • from 26.99€

»Shifted In Dreams« is also difficult to describe without falling back on clichés. My first association was to William Basinski with a no-loft aura, but does that really help anyone? Kassel Jaeger relies too little on the effect of singular loops for that anyway, but still acknowledges their shattering effect in all these droney molasses and so repeatedly sets beguiling punchlines in an otherwise very hermetic album.   

Florian Aigner
Japan Blues
Japan Blues Meets The Dengie Hundred
DDS • 2023 • from 31.99€

The first Japan Blues album still holds me spellbound; every time I listen to it, it's different. After listening to »Meets The Dengie Hundred« eight times, it's clear that album number two will also remain incredible, literally. In particular the 20-minute B-side sounds like nothing I've ever heard before, even though the individual elements can be clearly named. Hit of the decade, probably.   

Florian Aigner
Romance & Dean Hurley
River Of Dreams
Ecstatic • 2023 • from 30.99€

The second collaborative record by Dean Hurley and Romance is excellent for coming back to earth in the follow-up, because its reference points are so clear. This is not only because of Hurley's well-documented working relationship with David Lynch and Romance's unabashedly beautiful solo work. »River Of Dreams« cries out for secondary use for film school graduation projects and is actually so much better than such a fate would suggest.   

Florian Aigner
Bill Callahan
Drag City • 2023 • from 40.99€

Finally, the annual serving of dadcore homeliness, again expertly and sarcastically offered up by Bill Calllahan. »YTILAER« is totally ok, typical Callahan: shirt-sleeved, transparent, quintessentially American and yet emotionally complex enough not to feel patronising. At least as 30 plus as at the beginning, but in contrast to Cracker Days, receding hairlines are accepted with dignity.   

Florian Aigner

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