Scott Walker’s “Thanks for Chicago Mr. James” is one of the best songs about a gay romance written by a straight man. It’s a sincere, string-drenched thank you from a country boy to his sugar daddy. And its subject is the least wholesome thing about it. This is one of the only Walker songs where he treats gay sexuality as a fact rather than an abjection, and it was his last great song for a stretch. He spent most of the ‘70s making potboiler cowboy pop, prior to the full flowering of his powers on Nite Flights.
The new Moritz von Oswald Trio is devoid of original members save for the titular German (and descendant of Otto von Bismarck!) who invented dub techno in the ‘90s. It’s a shame we don’t get to hear the late Tony Allen behind the kit anymore. And Heinrich Köbberling’s touch is lighter than that of his octopuslike predecessor, but Laurel Halo brings her usual, brainy sensibility to the piano playing. Dissent is as cold, steely and exploratory as you could want from your Northern European tech jazz.
Book of Hours, the knotty new album from local musician Morgan O’Sullivan’s Boreen project, sounds like a field of static gradually arranging itself into a lost ‘90s Northwest indie classic. The distortion isn’t the piercing punk kind but instead a billowing low end that wreathes even the shortest, most economical songs in atmosphere. It’s a rock album to get lost in, and if the first nine tracks don’t do the trick, the beatless eight-minute “Fantasy Suite” at the end will.
Canadian drone conjurer Sarah Davachi moved tentatively toward song-based semi-pop on last year’s Cantus, Descant, but her comparatively obtuse Bandcamp Friday freebies are the best actual predictors for Antiphonals—one of her most austere and forbidding albums. Davachi has a knack for making music that sounds like ancient church ghosts bottled up and let loose on tape, and this is some of her most spectral music yet. So little happens that you start imagining things, and it’s spooky.