Posted by: Dominic Umile | 05/07/2009

May Commutes I: Papercuts, Jesse Somfay, Francoise Hardy

Francoise HardyThe rainfall in the Northeast has made for some considerably sour mornings. Not only is it not the weekend yet, but we’re dealing with perpetual downpours with no trace of sun, almost hourly. Ok, it might not be that bad, but it certainly feels like it. I’ve been listening to a bunch of stuff in between the few records that I’m currently writing about (feature update & review status on the way), and here’s what has been scoring the morning shuffle. Downloads and more after the jump.

You Can Have...There are plenty of storm cloud melodies on the new Papercuts album — I won’t dispute that. Weekend Music this isn’t, for the most part, but it’s a wonderful album. When I see The Zombies referenced in record reviews or press materials, I usually conclude that this allusion is part of an obviously ill-advised buzz machine effort, or that a critic is reachin’ a bit, etc. In the case of the Papercuts, I actually do think of early minor-key-heavy Zombies efforts like “Leave Me Be,” or (later) “Beechwood Park,” where the vocals are only padded with a nudging bass line and organs nicked from a second-hand shop…the guitar is less prominent, or just contributing a skeletal, subtle lead. My current favorite from Papercuts‘ shoegazey You Can Have What You Want is called “The Machine Will Tell Us So.” It’s lush with the kind of sounds that make a damp week feel even less dry, and it comes off like the five debate-team-looking geniuses who wrote “Leave Me Be.” Listen to Papercuts‘ “The Machine Will Tell Us So” here, or watch the “Future Primitive” video at Prefix and right-click to download that one here. I predict that I’ll be talking about this record at the end of the year — I encourage readers to pick it up.

A Catch in the Voice

I only just bought A Catch In the Voice this week — the new full-length from Jesse Somfay, a Canadian peddler of ultra melodic techno and ambient electronic work — and I really cannot get over how lovely these productions are. Again, I’m still digesting the album’s sixteen tracks and not-quite two hours, but I haven’t found a reason to complain about any of it. There are rippling Aphex Twin-like rhythms here, but the colorful washed-out stuff plays like Ulrich Schnauss. Rich, decaying synth textures fizz and gurgle over gentle beats for what seems like the more club-end of the album, while the morning music-half is gradual and dreamy. Breaking the “Commutes” tradition here and offering that I don’t have a particular song to address (maybe “Ex Astris, Ad Astra”); the whole album is really quite captivating. A sample will never come close to doing these long-developing pieces justice, but check it out here and at the Archipel site.

HardyFrancoise Hardy’s Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp is an album’s worth of lush, orchestral (French) pop focusing, as far as I can tell, on things like heartbreak and the end of the summer. It was released in 1967 and Led Zep’s John Paul Jones arranged a handful of the songs (the bulk of the backing tracks was produced by Charles Blackwell, who’d by then been working with Hardy for years). Can you think of a more potent formula for a 60s record? I’ve always considered myself to be an ardent enthusiast of Hardy’s early- to mid-60s work. A strong collection of songs written primarily by the artist, Hardy’s Ma Jeunesse is as beautiful now as it was when I first heard it (probably 30 years after it was released). I don’t know anyone who has felt anything but deep admiration for this album when it’s come to their attention. Its “En Vous Aimant Bien” is extraordinary and dramatic — a slowly percolating base of harpsichord, waltzy acoustic guitar, strings, and Hardy’s heavenly double-tracked vocal. Listen here, buy the album, and play it for other people.

Thank you to any readers who’ve continued to stop by when I’ve been less than current with updates. I hope to be more attentive to this space in the coming days.

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