March was really quite a month for new music and with so much to choose from we have whittled it down to 10 choices, including Manchester Collective, YAANG, 6a6y 6 and many more.
Manchester Collective - The Centre Is Everywhere
Known for their experimental programming and daring collaborations Manchester Collective have brought us their debut album, 'The Centre Is Everywhere', a truly radical human experience.
Opening up with 4 short movements of Philip Glass' 'Company' you are immediately washed into this place of freedom and limitless, time slips away from you and you are left in this strange new land. Rakhi Singh, the collectives musical director put it like this, "You will experience time and space in a different way' and I couldn't agree more. Like the uncertain times around us during the pandemic these opening movements offer up a hypnotic rise and fall of rhythms and textures and they are beautiful to get lost in.
You are then dropped into the world of Edmund Finnis with the title track, a friend and colleague of the collective. This track continues the uncertainty of the air around creating and recording the track, with layering strings taking you to another place. The clever arrangement of the track truly allows you tell your own story behind your closed eyes with such certainty.
The final track, which comes in at 28 minutes long and the bombarding audio journey is worth your time. The claustrophobic and thrilling first half truly puts you back into your seat with jarring composition winding up to the crescendo. That brings you into second half filled with their 'wooden, earthbound instruments', helping us to reach the height of the album. The wildness of this Shoenberg string sextet from 120 years ago sets apart from this album with much more of a journey through the long play of the track.
The beauty of this release is the collaboration that goes alongside it. Ella Skinner, an audio/visual artists based at Islington Mill is responsible for the album cover, a dark invitation into this gripping and aggressive, abstract world that the collective have made for us. Ella works in a bold, textured approach and that is what intrigued the collective about her work. You can read the whole interview between the collective and Ella here - https://manchestercollective.co.uk/articles/2021/3/23/turning-sound-into-visuals-in-conversation-with-artist-ella-skinner
The other fantastic collaboration within this project is with artist Simon Buckley and performer Black Haine. Together they created a short film, made in lockdown, which features a tormented soul stalking the deserted streets of Manchester. The collective have accompanied this with Philip Glass' Company 1, which is the opening track to the album.
Listen to the album here - https://manchestercollective.bandcamp.com/album/the-centre-is-everywhere
William K.Z - Worried About The Same
William K.Z brings us some more lovely solo stuff away from the beast that is Bethlehem Casuals with a new offering called 'Post Coital Jazz', firstly we have the track 'Worried About The Same'. A floaty sonic offering that puts you straight on a San Francisco beach enjoying yourself in the sun.
Akin to the new Lemon Drops album and classic Mac Demarco you are carried by the bouncy layering of keys and chorus riddled string instruments. The accompanying video takes you a wonderful tour of the Manchester streets that make you want to travel through the city listening to this bop.
Portable Radio - S/T Album
Imagine if Brian Wilson and Wayne Coyne had a beautiful child together and made perfect dreamy, harmony led pop, then you've got Portable Radio. With a real love for The Zombies, ELO and Todd Rungdren the band have formed with the knowledge that their music had to have beautiful melodies and cynicisms in line with the strange times we have lived through.
The lead single 'Hot Toddy' is a radio ready track that can go straight onto your summer playlist with the bubbly piano that keeps you hooked all the way through.
With a ground swell of moody pop coming out of the likes of Neal Francis, Weyes Blood and Cate Le Bon, Portable Radio fit straight in and we hope to see them out playing the sunny festivals this summer.
Listen to it all right here -
YAANG - Security Dave (PVA Remix)
A dirty, moody remix of the class track 'Security Dave'. When I heard PVA were doing the remix I was unsure about it because I didn't know what else you could do to that track to change or improve it but PVA have found a way to really make the vocals of YAANG sing louder than ever.
This track shows how YAANG are moving away from their post punk/alternative style and back into their original electronic ways after the big work they have done with the Slowdance Records Compilation. In this new setting they sound very Goth and New Romantic but also very Manchester with a clear Northern prang to the voice. The pulsing synths and layered electronics give you a beautiful basis to get your groove on. I am very ready to hear this in a club.
French Terry & Eskimoh - French Eskimoh
Released on Brainfruits, the sister label to Inner CIty Records, we have a collaborative split between French Terry and Eskimoh where both artists remix each other's signature tracks.
Both tracks take you on a lovely calm journey through a Burial style atmospheric landscape with vocals on both cutting through the undercurrent of the electronic pulse that steers the tracks forward. I look forward to more from this pair in the future.
Listen to it right here -
Kavier Gruppe (6a6y 6) - Medicine To Sleep
6a6y 6 Collective just keep on bringing out more and more stuff and I'll be honest, it's fucking great. From the pop bliss of Sonny Bliss to this, an esoteric barrage of experimental jazz.
This Klavier Gruppe release melds together the terrifying ambience of a maybe detuned piano and striking saxophone that on paper shouldn't work, but it instead sounds like an outsider musicians masterpiece.
Put out on the fantastic experimental label Do Your Best with a cassette release and a wonderfully ornate fashionable piece of neckwear this whole package is something fantastic for the stranger music lovers out there to sink their teeth into.
Parallel Action (Feat. Charlie Boy Manson) - 10/10
Filmed in a grimy warehouse somewhere in town lies this beast of a song, pulsing synths from the outset with a definitive Chemical Brothers twang you are consistently propelled through this through this track with the harsh lyrics of acid and fighting.
It's a collaboration we have been super excited to listen to and you shouldn't miss out on it! The juxtaposition between the two artists creates a beautifully harsh sonic landscape for you to venture through, very unsure whether you're gonna get hit by some sort of juggernaut.
Listen and watch the video for it right here.
Nara - Fashion
New fresh talent on the block come in the package of Nara. Imagine you're back in 2005 Manchester amongst the days of Britpop revival with some indie thrown in there and you have this radio ready pop tune filled with solos and talk of 'fashion'.
With a classic riding bassline keeping you bobbing your head throughout the fantastic mixing of the psychedelic guitar keeps you entertained from start to finish. If you're a fan of Ocean Colour Scene and The 1975 then put them both together and you've got 'Fashion' by Nara.