penelope's hyperdiary

Music I bought - 2022/05 and 2022/06

Posted: 2022-08-01
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In this post, I’ll round up my purchases for both May and June, since I’ve missed a post two months running.

Sad boy at the rodeo

I have never been a fan of American country music. Whereas some people find sincerity and simplicity in the genre, I have found it twee and plain - not unpleasant, just…yawn. At its worst, and this is exactly what I mean, commercial country music can be an unimaginative celebration of the elements of American life I find hardest to comprehend: gun-toting, bearded patriotism, drankin beer, driving recklessly in a pick-up, etc.

Which is why I took all the more pleasure in listening to the latest album by Orville Peck, a country musician who hides behind a mask fringed with tastles. Bronco, a 15-track project, is both expertly crafted and packed full of raw feeling. Peck’s compositions sound musically like country classics, but do not feel nostalgic in any way; instead, the personal lyrics root us firmly in the present day. Add in Peck’s clear, versatile voice and it’s hard not to marvel at the all-round talent on display.

Restlessness and heartbreak

Restlessness is perhaps what Orville Peck has most in common with the cowboys whose style he takes after. On Outta Time, a world-weary Peck complains of a tiresome life and how he escapes it all by driving down the PCH to the Malibu line. Though the lyrics tell of disappointment, it’s a certified roll-the-windows-down stare-for-miles turn-up-the-car-stereo blaster of a tune.

Orville Peck · Outta Time

Even on the ho-down-friendly swinger “Blush”, Peck is contemplative; he reflects on how temporary the men in his life, and the happiness they share, can be:

Still, there’s something about men I don’t understand,
They’re always leaving where they’ve been
Brush it off with a shrug, I don’t know much about love
Still I give it a try now and then.

Orville Peck · Blush

Perhaps this fear of settling down also includes Peck himself. Although his voice is accented American, he was born and grew up in South Africa before emigrating to the States, an origin he reflects on in “Kalahari Down”:

Orville Peck · Kalahari Down

As we listen to tales of riding a Kawasaki motorbike around the veldt, we are reminded that this cowboy has come a long way from his mountainside farm 12 miles north of Sophiatown. And we listeners should be grateful that he made it.

A brief tour of Edmondson’s garage

Edmondson, an electronic musician based in the North-East of England, seems to have done for UK garage what “lo-fi hip-hop” did to hip-hop: namely, turn an originally abrasive, exercising style into something smooth, subtle, even chill.

At least, that’s my impression from his latest EP, New Forest Mysticism. The title track is an example of what I mean: addictive percussion lines drive a complex pattern of synthy bursts, ripples and beeps over a glassy drone. I imagine that this is what it sounds like inside a euphoric wireless router.

A couple of the other tracks, such as “All Dressed Up & Going Nowhere”, remind me of Floating Points with their dreamy take on house, adorned with jazzy electric piano stabs and soothing vocal samples. Overall, this is hi-fi dance music polished to superbness, and I approve wholeheartedly.