Albums of the month

Crushed Beaks' rackety pop, John Wizards' cheerful bop, and R&B renovation from FKA Twigs and Banks

Forest Swords – Engravings

Record of the month, perhaps the year. This album arouses so much feeling, spans so much time, sets free such a vast torrent of spectres of lives, thoughts and passions; a grand work of art. Matt Barnes, embedded natural voices and electronic samples into these near supernatural-sounding compositions forming a record of elemental energy through digital manipulation. Epic, transportative, relentless, like the blackened, mythical and mineral undercurrents of the Wirral’s history that are etched into Engravings. Read our interview with Forest Swords, with an exclusive gallery of his illustrations to accompany the release here.

Cuushe – Butterfly Case

Cuushe’s second full length, released on Japanese label flau, hovers along the twinkling margins of somnambulism. Receding embers of the remnants of perceived reality flicker gently behind as you move through finely woven tapestries of analogue and digital synth, Cuushe’s siren call glittering across this softly undulating fabric. Cuushe, aka Japan-based Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi, created these songs in her new home city, Berlin, four years after her first release. flau label mastermind aus co-produced this extraordinarily pretty record. Read our interview with Cuushe here.

Banks – London EP

Yep, Banks again. This LA-based lady is totally worth all of the hype though. The slickly composed, but very human collection of tracks on the four-track London finds Banks working with Lil Silva and TEED again, as well as Jamie Woon (come back soon please, we miss you) and another act who currently exists within a vortex of well-deserved fuss, 4AD signee SOHN. London elegantly sets levels of anticipation for Banks’ debut record at respectably feverish heights, without the singer seemingly breaking even the daintiest mist of perspiration. Read our interview with her here.

FKA Twigs - EP2

FKA Twigs’ deistic voice would easily have wooed a vast crowd without the magnificently deft production work by Arca on this EP.  Sinister undertones form and dissipate, a Pan’s Labyrinth of doomed romance shared in celestial tones.  The scars of these experiences borne prominently, shared, can be very powerful things and they are given the right amount of space here to really haunt. Sort of made me cry to be honest. In public.

John Wizards – John Wizards

The debut record from the Cape Town duo formed of producer John Withers and Rwandan vocalist Emmanuel Nzaramba is a mostly cheerful concoction of glistening pan-global influences swept up into sharply written pop songs. It’s an excellent diversion, with spikes of pathos through Nzaramba’s delivery very occasionally coming to the fore. The thing to listen to to try stave off any dark thoughts of the encroaching winter. 

Jessy Lanza – Pull My Bair Back

Showing off inherent and finely crafted musicality and a mastery of sultry tone on this ultimate slow-burn, Lanza’s debut release on Hyperdub is one of the most exhilarating of the year. Her stunning voice is never overplayed, always teasing, a sly wink coaxed along by sterling production from Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys. Stream our interview and exclusive mix from Lanza here

Le1f – Tree House

Shy Guy, Boody, Falty DL and The Drum all bring production swagger to Le1f’s third mixtape (free download here), but it’s Le1f’s rapping prowess, now so astoundingly top of the game, that really shoves this tape into jaw-on the floor good turf. It’s sort of difficult to imagine his debut record, which will include his own production, topping this. It will though. In the meantime, here are 14 slices of the most stylish raunch you’re going to find this year. Read our interview with the rapper here.

Moon King – Obsession

An amalgamation of two EPs that came out in their native Canada last year now find full release on the UK’s exemplary Tough Love label. Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde's voices merged into one androgynous being, melding scuzzed recollections of deeply negative experiences into a teasing onslaught of guitar riffs piqued with those shivery, goosebump moments that, in our interview earlier this year, Benjamin sweetly called "golden spears".

Jackson and His Computerband - Glow

Glow is a rather dizzying accomplishment by French producer Jackson Fourgeaud and his imaginary electronic ensemble.  The record trips you up frequently, triggering a slew of initial emotional responses which spiral away, before you can quite grasp what was just awakened.  Not even attempting to be cohesive and never giving too much away, it’s nevertheless a synthesized world worth diving deep into, as Hudson Mohawke did for this ace remix. Read our interview with Jackson here.

Crushed Beaks – Tropes

The south London two-piece known for making a powerful, delightful racket have released a joyous EP, Tropes, showing off their new mastery of melodies. Four tracks of noisey pop music ripe for failed sing along attempts.  You can also currently celebrate the release by eating Crushed Beaks’ pizza - no bird flesh on it, thankfully - on sale at Peckham’s Gowlett Arms throughout September.

BONUS: Huerco S – Colonial Patterns

Too good not to deserve an additional nudge to check last week's Stream of the Week. Check it out.