New releases for 8 September 2023

First out of this week’s treasure chest is An Ever Changing View: an expansive, immaculately conceived project that presents trumpeter, bandleader and composer Matthew Halsall’s signature blend of jazz, electronica, global and spiritual jazz influences. Halsall, who has been hailed as one of the leading figures of the UK jazz renaissance, has never seen himself as part of any one sound or scene: he builds his own sonic universe instead. An Ever Changing View finds him at his most experimental yet, once again expanding his sound and production techniques to create his unique brand of deeply meditative music.

Recorded in The Chemical Brothers’s own studio near the south coast, For That Beautiful Feeling is a record that hunts for and captures that wild moment when sound overwhelms you and almost pulls you under yet ultimately lets you ride its wave, to destinations unknown. It’s a record that pinpoints the exact moment you lose all control, where you surrender and let the music move you as if pulled by an invisible thread.

Fleetwood Mac was at the top of its game in August 1977 when the band returned to its adopted home in southern California to play three shows at The Forum in Los Angeles. Rumours had only been out a few weeks when the band left in February to tour the world before returning six months later to play three shows at The Forum for nearly 50,000 fans. Rumours reached #1 in the UK and became one of the most successful albums ever released, certified 14x platinum in the UK. Rumours Live captures the energy and excitement of the band’s opening night at The Forum on 29 August 1977. The nearly 90-minute performance includes live versions of most of the songs from Rumours and Fleetwood Mac, the group’s first multi-platinum #1 album, which came out in 1975.

Kristin Hersh’s new album, Clear Pond Road, is a cinematic road trip: a series of personal vignettes from a fiercely independent auteur, sitting plush with layers of all-consuming strings and mellotron. It’s a watershed moment in a career overflowing with creative firsts and inspirational thinking: an elegant piece of personal reportage, a home movie caught in time. The juxtaposition of light and dark has been essential to the drama of Throwing Muses and 50FOOTWAVE, but this solo set is something of a departure: more inward-looking, quieter but outspoken, underpinned by background noise for ambience and awkwardness. Clear Pond Road is a life-affirming statement, a further part of the jigsaw, a very personal memoir, from street signs to snapshots; a late blossoming and coming-of-age from a true icon of independence. The record is both intimate yet expansive, written largely within the confines of Hersh’s home, making the proceedings ever more personal.

The Handsome Family’s new record, Hollow, began with a scream in the night. “It was a bleak winter during the middle of the pandemic,” says Brett Sparks. “One night around 4 a.m. Rennie started screaming in her sleep. She screamed, ‘Come into the circle, Joseph! There’s no moon tonight.’ Scary as it was, I thought, man, that’s a good chorus!” The Handsome Family (songwriting and marriage partners Brett and Rennie Sparks) have been defining the dark end of americana for over 30 years.

Our release of the week is a poignant but exciting one: Bird Machine is a never-before-heard album by Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous that was originally recorded in 2010, in the months before Mark’s untimely death, and mixed by Mark Hamilton (who also worked on It’s a Wonderful Life). Mark’s brother Matt notes: “Great care has been taken to archive and preserve Mark’s music. We are very thankful for Mark and the beauty he brought to this world.” Described as an artist who “compelled listeners to heed the beauty of darkness” by Pitchfork, Linkous released a number of influential records with Sparklehorse, including the renowned albums Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot and Good Morning Spider in the ’90s, It’s a Wonderful Life and Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain in the early aughts, and collaborative album Dark Night of the Soul in 2010.

Sparklehorse - Bird MachineMatthew Halsall - An Ever Changing ViewThe Chemical Brothers - For That Beautiful FeelingFleetwood Mac - Rumours LiveKristin Hersh - Clear Pond RoadThe Handsome Family - Hollow

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