The most unexpected and thrilling post-rock record of the last few months has been the new album from Emma Ruth Rundle, Marked For Death (Sargent House); unless it makes her a household name, it’s almost certainly destined to be one of the most underrated releases of the year. It has one of the strongest starts of any record this year, in the form of the spine-tingling singles Marked For Death and Protection, followed by a soaring, ethereal Medusa. Taking her cues from her post-rock pedigree in bands such as Red Sparowes, as well as her main band Marriages, whose last LP Salome was a dark shoegaze masterpiece, Marked For Death is a singer-songwriter album minimal and ostensibly simple, but understatedly progressive and powerfully emotive.
In rockier circles, there’s a new double A-side from rising Scottish post-rockers Vasa, Burst/Open (self-released). A righteous development of the sound from their excellent debut LP Colours, it features Tom Peters from Alpha Male Tea Party on production and additional guitar, to great effect. Further south, jazzy math rockers All The Best Tapes are back after an extended absence due to illness, reimagined as an instrumental band. On the basis of their comeback single, Perfect Hibernation/Calle De La Cruces (Sunbird) their return has shades of Mars Volta and Dillinger Escape Plan in their upbeat experimental guitar riffing.
In the post-rock/dark electronic world, worriedaboutsatan are about to release their fantastic new LP Blank Tape (This Is It Forever), after several years’ hiatus. Shelving side-project Ghosting Season, they returned with a critically acclaimed performance at the Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank. Using an array of synthesisers, guitars and violin bows, they weave a rich and beguiling sonic tapestry – such as album highlight The Restless Wing, which features Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema (on the cover CD!).
Matt Calvert, the guitarist from post-rock-jazz-fusion-math-rockers Three Trapped Tigers has a side project, the jazzier, glitchier Strobes, and their brilliantly odd album Brokespeak (Blood And Biscuits) has finally landed. For an introduction to their alternately lush soundscapes and angular riffs, try the jazzy, stop-start Ok Please or frenetic Winder.
Finally, looking back to past releases, after hearing this year’s #N/A (On-U-Sound) it’s worth re-investigating Japanese avant-garde minimalists Nisennenmondai’s 2013 album N (Bijin). Described in some circles as minimalist techno as imagined by a rock band setup, a single thread of guitar binds the entire 40-minute piece together while driving drums and a Stewart Copeland-esque hi-hat swirl around the beat and padded textural explorations. It’s a carefully crafted, hypnotic work of mad genius that owes as much to krautrock pioneers as anything else.