Last week, while in Italy, my friends and I asked ourselves: What happened to Stromae?
The answer came sooner than expected. On Friday, the celebrated French artist finally released a new song. Santé is as quirky as you can imagine. And I've to admit: The more I listen to the track, the better it gets.
However, Stromae isn't officially part of Weekly5 because he doesn't need this humble platform. I instead feature hidden gems, newcomers, and obscure discoveries.
That said, today's selection brings you an ass-kicking load of fuzz rock, archaic synth sounds, weird rap tunes, dreamy melodies, and breathtaking ambient. Let's dive in!
Already nine years have passed since I first saw Bell Baronets perform live. I've been in the same squad as guitarist and singer Silvan Gerhard in the military service. They played at the visitor's day.
The band has been more and less active over the past years. But rest assured: When they pop up, they shred through the sea of mediocre indie music. Bell Baronets play heavy fuzz rock.
Fainthearted is their 2021 comeback, after they released the record Tied Up In Red in 2019. The single starts reduced, a distorted guitar breaks the silence; Gerhard's raspy voice pushes out the lyrics with passion. But when the drums and the bass guitar kick in, Fainthearted builds up the pressure. It's not a fast track but violent nonetheless—sparks of raw energy light the fire.
Tærar stjörnur tindra inni í þínum augum
en sogast inn í svarthol yfir mínum baugum
ég reyni að fela þig frá öllum mínum draugum
en drekki þér í dimmum, djúpum táralaugum
Bright stars twinkle in your eyes
But get sucked into black holes above my dark circles
I try to hide you away from all my ghosts
But I drown you in deep, dark pools of tears
Darkness awaits. Kælan Mikla is an Islandic trio that conjures a nightmarish atmosphere. Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir (drums and keys), Margrét Rósa Dóru-Harrysdóttir (bass) and Laufey Soffía Þórsdóttir (vocals) collaborated with the French blackgaze force Alcest to create Hvítir Sandar.
The song starts almost dreamy but soon develops into an abyss of despair. The eery synthesizer and screaming guitar drag you down. Together, Kælan Mikla and Alcest are building a temple for their archaic ritual of black sounds while Þórsdóttir's repetitive lyrics create a trance. The coldness in Hvítir Sandar penetrates the core of every bone in the body.
This uneasy ceremony reaches its final climax at the last minute. The sound is a tsunami that crushes your body, and the distant growl by Stéphane "Neige" Paut throws you irretrievably into the maw.
It's a weird tune, this track named Personal by Swiss duo Zooey Agro and Tomas Holla, aka Tommy Lobo. Part of the double single Ibuprofen/Personal, this B-side is danger distilled in music.
The stuttering beat sounds like something in a vintage video game went terribly wrong—a post-apocalyptic horror sound lined with hushed lines by Zooey Agro. You instantly know there's darkness within the sound, yet you find yourself oddly attracted.
While Ibuprofen is leaning more towards bizarre electro-pop, Personal stays in the realm of rap—aggressive, obscure, fierce. "Don't take it personal!"
(YouTube unfortunately not available)
The second EP, Femina Bellator, by Utrecht-based group Borka Balogh, released on the 1st of October, features a song that stayed with me in the past weeks: ALOM. Every time I listen to this song, I cannot help but fall in love with it again and again.
The band around Hungarian-born frontwoman Borka Balogh demonstrates in ALOM a simple beauty and gracefulness. And yet, there's a dark, vulnerable undertone to the song as ALOM, like the other songs on Femina Bellator, talks about the recurrent patterns that generations of women with trauma adopt and carry onto their lives.
And there's one thing that makes ALOM especially stunning: Balogh's voice drives the song, fills liquid silver into your ears. Regret, hope, and vulnerability swing in her angelic singing.
Something about AVAWAVES' Danu reminds me of the score to the must-watch BBC adaption Sherlock. But that's not surprising, as Anna Phoebe, composer and violinist, and Aisling Brouwer, score composer and producer, are the two women behind this incredible sound.
Danu, like every song on their new record Crystalis, is highly cinematic. They synthesize classic elements with contemporary electronic-driven ambient; the result is dramatic, like storm clouds on the horizon.
And Danu is incredibly atmospheric, somewhere between tense anticipation, short, oriental bursts of strings build the excitement, but then, all of a sudden, the song falls into a slow, sweeping sermon of melancholic violins. It sounds inhumanly tragic, hurt – the soul has been stabbed – while beneath the beat keeps on fighting. It's a fight between life and death—a gripping, macabre fascination, a haunting experience.