Playlist: Disquiet Club Residency

Leeds-based four-piece English Teacher

English Teacher! The Orielles! Jockstrap! Robocobra Quartet! In this month’s Playlist, Disquiet Club’s Aaron Williams brings together the bands he thinks reflect the tumultuous times we’re living through… 

Forged in the white-hot fires of a post-truth world, each individual track on this playlist offers up an uncompromising reflection of the tumultuous existence we’re collectively asked to accept as a new normal.

Also – and perhaps most of all – they are simply fantastic songs, a conclusion I have reached with the help of science (don’t ask to see my workings); they are largely by early career or underground artists, which means I either know my onions or have a superiority complex (you decide). So, grab some headphones and make yourself comfortable – this is what I’m listening to this month.

In Yorkshire Tapas, and in contrast to the phallocentric angst and ennui that has dominated much of the modern post-punk scene, Leeds-based four-piece English Teacher offer an altogether different perspective. Tentative basslines and gentle cymbal splashes culminate in taught blasts of kraut-rock, over which Lily Fontaine tells a tale of flourishing romance, detailing all the mundane, idiosyncratic, and cheeky moments such an act entails.

“She howls about naming an owl after snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan”

A relatively short train ride away, we find ourselves on the equally hallowed soil of Manchester, where new-wave provocateurs The Orielles have succeeded in summoning up a hypnogogic quagmire of sonic delights. Alternating between guitar driven dream pop and formless wonder, Beam/s eventually collapses into a shimmering waterfall of arpeggiated synths and heavily processed vocal acrobatics.

From Prestwich to Pennsylvania (a feat one suspects Northern Rail would struggle with), Alex G returns with an irresistible indie-folk bop that oozes 90s nostalgia. Meandering guitars and expressive piano lines toe the line between the haphazard and purposeful, a feat that, along with the superbly understated vocal arrangement, has ensured Runner has spent the summer of 2022 on near infinite repeat in this household.

Closer to home, London duo Jockstrap’s Concrete Over Water deals in a futuristic brand of shimmering electro-pop balladry. Georgia Ellery’s voice skips across brittle layers of glacial synths, pirouetting and flipping with ease, putting in a seemingly effortless performance belying her skilled vocal delivery.

Ploughing a similar furrow of non-conformist electro-pop are audiobooks, who delight in offering up something a little more bombastic and twisted. Tryna Tryna Take Control commences with a swarm of staccato synths and finger snaps that eventually dissolve into a series of irresistible Brazilian-inspired guitar. As always, Evangeline Ling’s unmistakable spoken word threatens to steal the show, as she howls about naming an owl after snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Forgoing a vocalist altogether, Baltimore’s Horse Lords summon up a seething tempest of jazz infused kraut-rock that comes on like a collaboration between The Happy Mondays and Steve Reich (if you can believe it). In Mess Mend, guitar lines rapidly extend and contort with little regard for their own safety, only to be tamed by the deeply hypnotic nature of the rhythm section that burbles mellifluously beneath.

Meanwhile Belfast’s Robocobra Quartet are another band to dispense with tradition – their guitars having crawled out of the primordial ooze to have evolved into saxophones. Lyrically Wellness is an acidic and wry take on the on the toxic industry from which the track takes its name, told atop hot blasts of wailing sax that gradually build and release tension, ultimately transfiguring into a sultry lick over which drummer and vocalist Chris Ryan howls about being “so blessed”.

“The aural equivalent of being sucked out of an airlock into deep space”

From maximalist jazz-punk to minimalist modern Americana, next up is Pennsylvania’s Friendship, who typically deal in a brand of indie folk that will be familiar to fans of Kurt Vile or Wilco, yet on Alive Twice they strive to set themselves apart. Held together by a murmuring heartbeat of a kick drum, seemingly formless piano and synth lines delicately coalesce into an implied harmonic structure, creating the perfect backdrop for the poignant delivery of frontman Dan Wriggins.

Unwilling to hit the three-minute mark and call it a day (and why should they when this is the result?), “shoegazey” alt rockers Wednesday stretch every sinew of Bull Believer’s nine minutes to its absolute breaking point, firing off alternating blasts of sweet melody and sour atonality with abandon. Eventually, the band strip everything back to skeletal form, until a raging torrent of noise rushes into your headphones, making for the aural equivalent of being sucked out of an airlock into deep space.

And what better song to soundtrack our inevitable intergalactic demise, and to close out this playlist, than Louis Cole’s ethereally sparse Let It Happen. Perhaps better known for freewheeling jazzy pop, here Cole curbs such tendencies. He opts for a sound bed of gently processed vocals and delicate finger clicks, merging into a joyous blast of sonic confetti, as Cole subtly adds new countermelodies with each repetition of the chorus, before his voice falls away, replaced by a gorgeously arranged string quartet that seems to say “It’s time to go now”.

Aaron Williams

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Posted on 22/09/2022 by thedoublenegative