Review Summary: hayfever gonzo bullshit + ambient techno summer soundtrack

It is summer, endless daylight, days that refuse to die, the sun eating into indecent hours of the early morning, grossness and bloom, hayfever season. Your right ear has been blocked by histamines for over a week now. You muse that insofar as you were ever qualified as a music critic to begin with, you might as well forfeit all your remaining credibility until it clears out. You decide against this – do better, find a new way to listen – and minimalism wins the day. Basic Channel, Vainqueur, Thurston Moore's totalist monoliths on Spirit Counsel: textures concentrated around such spartan, repetitive centres of gravity that you don't need peripheral hearing to take them in. It's a lonesome time, mainly because you spend too much time with your friends, feeling like a shell of yourself when you can only follow half of what they say in the crowded pubs you naturally end up in. One of your pals asks if a DJ battle between various it-kids on London's comedy circuit sounds like a good idea. Why not? Out you go. Your half-deafness screws with your balance and coordination in ways you'd never expected: the big stuff is okay – walking, dancing, ***ing, couriering – but sometimes it hits you in ways you never expect. You take a sip of Lucazade as your train pulls in, slosh it without realising, and your t-shirt turns orange. You flail on reflex brushing it off, snag your headphone cable with your wrist, and suddenly your earplug has popped out, off, and rolled over the edge of the platform. It feels like a long ride. You make a quick detour to pick up a new pair of commuters from a Smiths at the station. They come in a small plastic bag, from which you extract them and then pocket unwittingly once they're plugged into your ears. A half hour later, the bouncer outside the venue gives you a full frisk. He retrieves the empty bag from your back pocket and you earn a filthy look. In you go. You were here half a year ago to catch Blonde Redhead, and clearly remember Kazu Makino taking a moment between songs to complain about the smell of piss and mouldy walls. The place seems cleaner since then. Hit the bar, and then your working ear is full of Britney, Girls Aloud, Kate Nash, and you have no idea how loud anything is anymore. An audience prompt flashes up on the projector screen at the back of the stage: SKINNY BOYS HAVE THE BIGGEST DICKS. You cheer with more force than you intended. A momentary lull descends on your corner of the dancefloor; a boy nearby gives you a bashful look. You reckon he could stand to gain several pounds. The night goes on, one competitive 3-song set at a time. It's fun, but not as fun as actual clubbing would have been, and you and your mate are both keenly conscious of this. You pretend to be drunk and dance with more vim than necessary to compensate for this. You both leave early (though late enough to be surprised at the time), diagnose the night as a good time though perhaps not time well spent, and part ways. Bus, McDonald's, night tube home: you trick yourself into believing you're a real Londoner for a moment, which requires such contorted powers of concentration that it takes you longer than it should to realise your full hearing is back. Mostly. The surprise is short and underwhelming, and you lack the headspace to process this abruptly restored sensory capacity there and then. Instead, you plug the hole with Priori's latest, an album quick to transport to the realm of nowhere-at-all critical to a brief-seeming tube ride, the flow of time lost on delicate soundscapes, evasive beats and cushioning thud-thuds of its opening numbers. Anyone could get lost in these, so mobile and atmospherically immediate that you'd recommend them to people who don't know what to listen for in electronic music that as soon as you would to returning fans of any of their constituent elements in ambient/dub/techno/breaks. You initially envisioned this as a 2024 equivalent to the cooling touch that Dreamweaver's air quotes dream-and-bass reveries offered you in the noonday haze on the Greek shoreline last year, but as you step out of the station and find the coldest part of the night seeping into your bones even as the early dawn begins to extend its unwelcome grip over the horizon, you can't deny that this fits Priori equally well. Though not as clinical as last year's stellar Pareidolia EP, this album's coolness is pronounced enough to complement an outright chill; you shiver, admiring how organic these tones sound all the same. It's a lush record, full of soft contours, underpinned by the kind of pulse that reminds you from your own rather than estranging you from it, as you've known and loved so many similar records for. It feels good deriving this kind of humanising influence from such an unlikely source. The man who left the station at the same time as you crosses over to your side of the street, slinking off to urinate against the wheelie bin inside the library. You are the only two people there, so alone that you'd almost feel comfortable telling him you know a better, far more discreet spot in a grove not thirty metres away. It is too late, and so you think better of this and carry on home with a spring in your step. By the time you've arrived, the album has thawed out, finding its groove in the most upbeat take on ambient dub you've heard in a hot minute ("Thick Air"). A sequence of classic dublike pangs creak and trickle from one ear to another like the minute cracking sound that comes as your ears open up again – God, could anything be more affirming? Is that your This But More moment? You shrug and embrace it for whatever it's worth. Warmed up and sat on your sofa, you find several minutes later that the grooves in this album make you want to dance as much, if not more than anything else you've heard throughout the night, and as "Moonstone" – a downtempo swooner that might just be the single most sublime track you've heard this year – comes on, you indulge yourself a couple of minutes of lethargic waving, swaying, flailing, twisting. Your girlfriend is asleep in the next room; it's 3:30 am and no one in the world knows what you're doing. You turn invisible, let the room disappear, come to, ruin the spell by making a note of this, play the song again, regret nothing, wonder if this is what music is there for. Your ear is thawing out in earnest; you're yawning heartily enough to hear that Eustachian tube creaking back into shape. "To See Our Secret Die" first felt a little busy to you as a closer for such a blissed-out album with the endless snare-rattle of its breakbeats and spiralling layers of synths, but right here and now it patters against your eardrums like some impossible form of massage. You peep out of the window as the album finally dies: the sun will be up any minute, and you once again find yourself cursing summer's tyrannical daylight hours. So what if This But More could be a perfect soundtrack for any of them? You suspected this all along, and it proved you right so effortlessly that it feels like nothing has changed.




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user ratings (9)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2024


60907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

this is not a music review

but you do need this album

Ryus
June 9th 2024


37312 Comments


sweet this dude has some good stuff
will check this one

Mort.
June 9th 2024


25594 Comments


a priori album?

next youll be reviewing a posteriori album!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2024


60907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I am never not reviewing posterior albums but lfg get on this both of you

jrlikestodance
June 10th 2024


1236 Comments


Will check. Homies said Priori had the best set at Four Tet's NY mini fest

markjamie
June 10th 2024


740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Moonstone really is quite sublime.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2024


3048 Comments


but this /is/ a music review! and it portrays techno in a light seldom cast! gogogofuckingfuckingfuckingletsletslets!

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24517 Comments


Enter key broken

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2024


60907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

LFG fuckin bask!!

and don't make me change my disp name to remedial frank herbert deprogramming textdumps you have survived worse

Cryptkeeper
June 10th 2024


2146 Comments


Johnny this is an intervention

Pikazilla
June 10th 2024


30048 Comments


this is cute

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2024


8364 Comments


interesting formatting/review it’s kind of perfect for something like this
pareidoia was cool will check!

Cygnatti
June 10th 2024


36071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Beautiful the whole way thru

Hawks
June 10th 2024


89540 Comments


Will be jamming this tonight for sure.

Cygnatti
June 10th 2024


36071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Moonstone being fuckin 2020s baggy revival song is so funny but doesn't really detract from anything. I personally find Basalt's sinister and laser-focused composition the album highlight though. Sorta wished more of this was like it!

markjamie
June 10th 2024


740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Basalt Tones and Silicate Tusks are definite highlights; the deeper I listen to this the more impressed I am.

mouldypigeon
June 10th 2024


116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Unpopular opinion maybe but I dig this review style (quite a lot actually) and wouldn't be averse to seeing more of it from regular writers here



Listening now

normaloctagon
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2024


4079 Comments


This is not a comment

You won’t reply to this

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


5980 Comments


^ I can and I will!

I like this review style too (when done sparingly and executed well), nicely done Johnny.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


60907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

lol thanks guys

i have zero plans to write in this style again any time soon (and would need good organic source material to do so anyway), but this was a fun drunken first draft and ig i'd rec it to anyone in the right headspace, or just tired of the three-para context/analysis homegame



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