Hi Robert. Which album do you recommend this week?
‘Airports and Ports (★★★★★, 9 songs) by the very unknown, Dutch artist Hunter Complex. I was pointed to the record by my fellow critic Gijsbert Kamer, and such a reference is often the only way to discover such a person. Hunter Complex – alias Lars Meijer – also has no one to promote him: he does send an email to the newspaper himself. He’s with a nice little label, Burning Witches, that releases a lot of soundtracks.’
‘So he has nothing to do with anyone, doesn’t have to match anything, and you can hear that clearly from his free music. A bit of jazz, a bit of ambient and easy listening, and sometimes quite heavy synthesizer music. Lars Meijer is free and autonomous in his artistry, and that radiates from this record. you belong Airports and Ports that Hunter Complex doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a box. But he does appear to have an impressive collection of synthesizers.’
‘Meijer’s older records sound a bit like John Carpenter horror soundtracks from the eighties, but Airports and Ports goes a step further and sometimes skims past jazz, with trumpets, flutes and pianos. His music also reminds me of Harold Budd, the pianist and avant-garde composer who made beautiful ambient records in the eighties and nineties.
Meijer also touches on the New Age, a movement from that time that often also has an edge of kitsch, but gives it a kind of facelift. This results in a melodic and varied album in which a different synthesizer has the leading role in every song. It’s wonderful to randomly bump into an album like this and then find out that you’ve discovered a world-class record.’
Sounds good. And you have another little pearl for us?
‘Yes, of course. Something More Than Love (★★★★☆, 11 songs) by Lera Lynn. Expect dark, somewhat sultry music in which a kind of threat can be heard. Piano included, a lot of echo in it, mystical texts about the decline of life. Like Hunter Complex, Lera Lynn is not that well known to the general public. She has released a number of albums, but really only the music she makes is for the series True Detective popular.
In any case, streaming service and television series have had an enormous influence on the development of pop music in recent years. Not only because old hits can become completely hip again, like with the eighties hit Running up that Hill from Kate Bush happened through the series Stranger Things, but also because a special kind of music is made for series. That genre is often referred to as “dark folk” or something along those lines.
Something More Than Love fits right into that genre: ominous, dramatic and philosophical. Lera Lynn has a beautiful sighing voice, like French singers from the sixties, but sings folk-like americana. It fits well together. What’s This Body? for example is a crazy number. Slow and menacing, with a cello, and her voice swirls through it beautifully. Meditative but with a strong chorus. We will probably hear that again in a series.’
Also worth listening to this week:
sahara (★★★★☆, 10 songs) by Tamino ‘modern western folk has a subtle oriental colour’, writes reviewer Pablo Cabenda. A carefully arranged record full of majestic melancholy.
After six years there is another album by ‘folktronica’ singer-songwriter Beth Orton. Weather Alive (★★★★☆, 8 songs) this time mainly the acoustic sounds are present, and they feel ‘warm and organic’.