It's been a truly brilliant year for new music, and choosing just ten was not an easy task – but after much deliberation, the Dreamhouse team reached a consensus. Yes, there were some arguments, and a fair amount of childish name-calling, but we're proud to say that our differences of opinion never descended into full-blown physical violence.
So here we go then...
It was a close run thing, but in the end Rozi Plain’s wonderful Prize just edged it. Over its 10 magical tracks, the London-based musician’s fifth album places the importance of feelings over meanings – and while on the hand it could aptly be termed a ‘mood’ record (other recent examples include Warpaint’s Radiate Like This), due to its love of textures and eschewal of pronounced choruses and middle-eights, it doesn’t skimp on gorgeous, catchy-as-all-fudge melodies and motifs.
Prize may sound effortless – and this is indeed part of the allure, for it’s an absolutely joyful and relaxing hang – but to realise an LP of such intricately woven, beguiling tracks requires a Titanic work ethic, confidence in one's vision, and prodigious talent in equal measure. Congratulations then Rozi Plain on taking the top spot – and thank you for the brilliant music. (Released: 13/01/23)
We'll be celebrating with a very special in-store live performance in the shop on Thursday 7th December. at 8pm. To be in with a chance of coming simply buy a copy of the very excellent 'Prize
', or any other album from the shop and tell us you'd like to come. You'll then be entered into a draw for entry.
Produced by long-time musical collaborator Mica Levi, trip9love…??? is a sublime mix of the kind of slow club fantasy zone space that Levi often operates in, and Tirzah’s singular avant-pop artistry. While on paper the LP’s unwavering blueprint of piano loops (clean and processed), distorted beats, and romantic vocal top-lines sounds slight, in the hands of two such talented artists, the self-imposed narrow parameters provide a jumping-off point for flights of wild sonic imagination couched within a rigorously constructed soundworld so intoxicating that it’s a wrench to leave. Tirzah’s finest work yet, trip9love…??? is the perfect album for both post-club decompression and contemplative flânerie. (Released: 17/11/23)
I remember seeing Jlin at small experimental music festival in Bergen, Norway, about 10 or so years ago, and she lit the place up. Granted, she was the final act on a day of extremely atonal avant-garde classical music, and by 10pm all of the Norwegian art-school fashionistas were desperate to turn give their brain some respite and dance like lunatics – but the wild, slightly dystopian polyrhythmical onslaught managed to both match the outré tone of the festival, and more than meet the night-time-right-time-let’s-go needs of everyone in attendance. Which is a hard thing to pull off, to say the least.
But even as good as the Indiana native was back then, how evident was her enormous talent, her evolution as an artist is still astounding – 2023 saw her being shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in Music; and then there are her brilliant collaborations with dance companies, especially those of Wayne McGregor and Kyle Abraham – to the point that, on Perspective, it seems inadequate to even call her music EDM, footwork, or whatever, because, simply, no one sounds like Jlin. (Released: 29/09/23)
The London-based dream-pop duo’s first EP is a must for shoegazers everywhere. There’s no hiding the fact that Deary’s signature sound – Ben's crystalline, chiming guitars and Dottie’s gorgeous ethereal vocals (I’m using their first names as, despite multiple Google searches, I can't find their surnames) – is heavily indebted to Cocteau Twins (indeed, the pair say they bonded over a mutual love of Elizabeth Fraser), but it’s certainly no mere pastiche, as all six brilliantly catchy tracks here evince a personality all their own. (Released: 17/11/23)
Lados B from the celebrated Panamanian, Chicago-based percussionist Daniel Villarreal was recorded over just two afternoons in Los Angeles in 2020, with two top-draw collaborators: the brilliant Tortoise guitarist (and solo jazz artist in his own right) Jeff Parker, and the gifted Australian bassist and composer Anna Butterss, whose performing and recording credits include Phoebe Bridgers, Jenny Lewis, and Bright Eyes. For all three musicians it was the first in-person ensemble recording session they'd done since the pandemic locked the world down, just seven months prior, and the sheer joy and relief of playing with each other in the same room is palpable.
Formed from the choicest cuts of those masterful improvisatory sessions, Lados B finds Villarreal leading the group through various rhythmical flows, informed as much by the Latin soul of Fania Records as they are by Brain Records-indebted krautrock, while Parker and Butterss draw on their extensive experience playing free together (as heard on Parker's recently-released Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy) to create inspired passages of harmony and melody. Lados B is the sound of the world opening up again, and it’s a wonder to behold. (Released: 06/10/2023)
Comprised of saxophonist and guitarist Takiaya Reed, who is of Tsalagi and African-American heritage, and percussionist Sylvie Nehill, who is of Māori and White-Australian heritage, Divide and Dissolve don’t just make top-tier instrumental avant-doom metal, but also harness its power for positive and altruistic purposes. Rejecting the obsession with the occult and/or the transcendental ego, the core inward-looking focus of many doom bands, Divide and Dissolve instead offer a resolutely humanitarian message, seeking to affect real change through their music by honouring their ancestors and indigenous land, and actively working towards a future of Black and Indigenous liberation.
Like its predecessor, Gas Lit, Systemic was Xproduced by Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra – which may seem like an odd fit, but works incredibly well, as not only does Neilson enable the full might of Reed’s guitar and Nehill’s brutal drumming to be unleashed (Stephen O’Malley could not have done a better job, honestly), but he also adeptly captures the stunning modern classical passages that work beautifully in counterpoint. (Released: 30/06/23)
There are certain labels that are so synonymous with taste and quality that you can buy any LP from its catalogue, safe in the knowledge that it will be a record that you will not fail to love and cherish. Ideologic Organ, founded by Stephen O’Malley and the late, great Peter Rehberg (also the founder of Editions Mego), is one such label, and Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi and Robbie Avenhaim’s debut, Placelessness, is one such record. To the uninitiated, Abrahams is a pianist and member of the incredible Australian avant-jazzers The Necks; his fellow countryman Ambarchi is a phenomenal guitarist specialising in the heavier side of free improvisation, who has collaborated with the likes of O’Malley’s Sunn O))), Jim O’Rourke, and the legendary Alvin Lucier; and Avenaim (also Australian) is a renowned percussion virtuoso.
Comprising two long-form works that sit at the nexus of ambient music, rigorous experimentalism and improvisation, and machine music, Placelessness could reasonably be described as a maximalist take on minimalism. Shimmering lines of repeating piano arpeggios ebb and flow, Avenaim’s machine gun-fire percussion somehow morphs into crystalline drones, and Ambarchi’s guitar masterfully delivers multifarious tonalities and textures. Despite being the first album by the trio, the three men have nearly 20 years of working together on the dial, and the mutual understanding this engenders makes for some of the most extraordinary real-time compositions that have been released in the last decade. Phenomenal. (Released: 27/10/23)
I generally eschew all types of artificial intelligence, believing, as all right-thinking and reasonable people do, that it will inevitably bring about the destruction of the human race – or at the very least end with us being subjugated by our robot/android/cyborg betters. And they won’t be friendly like C3PO, or Bishop from Aliens, but will be total dicks like Hal 9000, or Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner. But if I did employ such technology, I might be inclined to order it to make a band that sounds like a cross between Broadcast, Stereolab, Brazilian psych-jazz, Les Baxter, and John Barry’s The Persuaders! theme tune. Thankfully, however, I don’t have to abase myself with such silicon-directed entreaties, as London’s excellent Vanishing Twin already sound like all of these things that are dear to my heart – and with the magnificent Afternoon X, they have created their most kinetic and beguilingly strange album yet. (Released: 06/10/23)
"This is colossal" intones Damon Locks near the beginning of this remarkable album, and at the end of the 40-minute opus the listener can only concur. Locks is perhaps best known for his revolutionary, expansive latter-day gospel/jazz project Black Monument Ensemble, while fellow Chicagoan Rob Mazurek is feted for his blistering Exploding Star Orchestra (for which Locks provides vocals), and New Future City Radio is perhaps best described as a blend of the two projects’ sonic signatures – Locks’s BME-style sample-based sound collages providing the compositional bedrock for Mazurek’s Roland SP flourishes and arresting brass improvisations.
In a similar fashion to James Ferraro’s On Air, the 18-track suite plays out like a series of fractured radio transmissions – a pirate station for the people – through which the two prolific multi-media artists contemplate community, transformation, and the future. Featuring guests such as Roberto Lange (Helado Negro) and Mauricio Takara (Sao Paulo Underground), New Future City Radio is an outer-limits echo of the legendary Bomb Squad (Locks’ vocals even sounding a bit like a tape-delayed Chuck D), with beats spanning the gamut from pre- to post-golden era hip-hop – mixing an old Brooklyn boombox sound with the sci-fi boom-bap of the Definitive Jux and 75 Ark labels. Visionary, uncategorisable, New Future City Radio is a masterpiece from two legends of the Chicago avant-garde. (Released: 28/07/23)
Having been blown away by Klara Lewis and Nik Colk Void’s gig at Café Oto last year, the duo’s debut album couldn’t come soon enough – and, boy, was it worth the wait. The perfect marriage of Swedish experimental composer Lewis’s iterative, shape-shifting electronics and ex-Factory Floor vocalist Void’s ferocious-yet-playful beat-driven aesthetic, Full-On displays the glorious possibilities of abstract electronic music across 17 tracks (they don’t hang around) that take in guitars, synths, Euro rack modular systems, voice, sampling, and outboard processing. Lewis and Void simply make ear-crushing, wildly imaginative, coruscating, Throbbing Gristle-hat-tipping electro-noise of the highest order, and I truly hope that this is but the first of many records to come. (Released: 30/06/23)