Welcome to a Weekly5 special edition. What’s the occasion? While you’re reading these lines, I’m probably on the road back from my vacation in Italy. But instead of picturing me draped on the beach (Who wants that?!), you might have the chance to shake your head in disbelief about my lack of knowledge today.
Because in this edition, I shamefully admit: Yes, I’ve only discovered these five songs in the past few months.
On the off chance that you didn’t know these tracks, consider joining my club. Maybe we shouldn’t feel that bad: It doesn’t really matter when we get to the party as long as we get there at some point. Better late than never.
Released three years ago, In Those Woods by Dutch post-punk project Bragolin is a song for eternity. The mastermind behind it: Edwin van der Velde, best known for his contributions to Zwarte Poëzie. Together with Maria Karssenberg, van der Velde played over 40 shows, yet a sophomore album is still missed dearly after the debut I Saw Nothing Good So I Left.
In Those Woods begins with distant rumbling. Then, a stunning bass hook emerges, and the beat builds up breathtaking speed. In some regards, the song is pure-bred post-punk – classic as it possibly gets. The lyrics are inspired by a horror movie:
A growl, I stand out wide
But my axe has fear to strike
I see how it falls, I’m prone to run
Into those woods that hid the sun
However, the thick, electronic-heavy arrangement points to a contemporary take on the genre. Simultaneously a relatively refined and straightforward track, towering up and collapsing down like waves in rough sea. Finally, a song that might put you off with its dark ambience yet remains captivating through its irresistible drive.
I cannot believe how I could miss the release of this record. Gabriela Jimeno, aka Ela Minus, released her debut acts of rebellion last year. The producer/musician from Bogota, Columbia, received her fair share of praise for the album, synthesising electro-pop, techno, wave and punk into an addictive cocktail. At some point, I met now NYC-based Jimeno’s work through megapunk.
Immediately, the song demanded my attention with its deep, dark bass. And then, Ela Minus just lightly breathes out the lines, opposing the martial sound. Yet, somehow, megapunk feels aggressive, violent even. It’s a flying fist of anger:
We can’t seem to find
A reason to stay quiet
We’re afraid we’ll run out of time
To stand up for our rights
I never knew Kosheen, this three-piece band from Bristol, who broke up in 2016. But I guess Spotify’s personalisation sometimes has its good sides: It recommended Kosheen’s Addict from their 2012 album Independence.
She’s on a rebound
Can’t get enough of it
I get me when we talk about this starting to slip
I get stressed when you talk about your togetherness
The track’s dark ambience immediately caught my attention. There is this rather disturbing beat, spiralling downwards. There is greatness in the swelling synthesiser hook. Addict shines bright as a sinister hymn, somewhere between trip-hop, breakbeat, and drum and bass.
Turn up the volume, and press your foot hard on the gas pedal: It’s time for The Holy’s Fanfare III. Released on their 2018 record Daughter, this song is an escalating inferno of hellish proportions.
The Holy, a Finnish alternative rock group, formed in 2014, doesn’t compromise in this 6-minute long derailing of shredding guitars and daring synthesisers. The song hits the ground running, constantly swelling in its proportions, until it collapses spectacularly after more than two minutes.
Out of the smoking debris raises the second part of Fanfare III: Nothing of the urge is lost, but now, the guitar shines clean and bright. And singer Eetu pleads his lines with verve. But, again, this is simply bombastic, epic beyond belief.
It was at a farewell party in Zurich at a friend’s apartment. The hour was getting late, people left, only a couple of us held on to the night and beer bottles. I was talking to another guest about music. He suggests playing Reference by Faithless.
Obviously, everyone knows Faithless. At least the last part of Insomnia. And as we couldn’t get no sleep, we sat there and dove into Reverence, the intro track to the same-named record from 1996.
Take my words and the bass
Taste and then swallow me
No chasing the devil
Cause you’re level if you follow me
For quality, and I make no apology
For linking my thinking with computer technology
What a sophistication of trip-hop and downtempo! After 25 years, this groove is still unbeatable, the depth of the arrangement is a labyrinth, and the subtle twists and tweaks show true brilliance. But, on that night, I learned that Faithless is much more than the final seconds of Insomnia.