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Changeling – DJ Shadow (1996)
Calling back to and combining early 90s sounds of The Orb and Portishead, DJ Shadow’s 1996 album ‘Endtroducing…..’ is personified by an eccentric introversion that is rarely accessed as ably and powerfully by other artists of the time.
‘Changeling’ is a track of unease and simmering tension that, while tapping into darker tones, maintains an addictive character thanks to it’s looseness in arrangement and sparsity in sound. It offers hypnotic captivation and ethereal liberation in equal quantities, with each second of its seven-minute stint as vital as the next.
Island Song – U.S. Girls (2011)
While known for more danceable compositions in recent times, Meg Remy’s solo project U.S. Girls displayed effortless capability in creating more unnervingly harmonious tracks a decade ago.
‘Island Song’ is a child of Berlin-era Bowie, transporting the arresting sounds of ‘Warszawa’ to the 21st Century. The subtle fusion of melodic vocals and understated percussion rejuvenates such soundscapes without comprimising the influence of her artistic forefathers.
Y/o Dragon – Cross Record (2019)
Led by an imposing and all-powerful percussive stomp, ‘Y/o Dragon’ is a track of defiance and fragility. Vocalist Emily Cross’ presence is delicately poised throughout; at first the reluctant spearhead, she becomes the elusive overseer of her territory who floats elegantly across the beautifully destructive disarray left in her trail.
The lyrics also provide an additionally resistant dimension (“Watch me drag in / The space to move ahead / And climb a mountain / Keep climbing ’til I’m dead“), evidencing further the emotional tension and brutal realism the track so effortlessly brings.
Offence – Little Simz (2019)
An imperious and swaggering number, ‘Offence’ blends influences of Zamrock, jazz and East Coast rap to devastating effect. It grooves without being pastiche, asserts itself without overpowering, and attacks without losing composure. Every aspect of this song has been intricately and carefully constructed to optimal power and delicacy – a truly brilliant track.
Pendulum – Broadcast (2003)
In ‘Pendulum’, Broadcast demostrate their ability to mould throwback sounds to more jagged and disorderly ends. Departing from their usually more ethereal and dreamy sound, they deliver a punchy, synth-laden post-punk stunner while maintaining their unmistakable distinctiveness.
While Trish Keenan’s vocals standout for their chilling restraint, the unrelenting percussion is the real leader in ‘Pendulum’. Distorted and compressed to the max, they sustain an attitude of meticulous ferocity throughout.