The best album releases of the month, August edition

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Swans 'The Seer'
my review (the 405)

"The Seer is a superlative album which ranks amongst the very best work released under Swans name. With its excessive length it effectively gives two fingers to the commercial music industry. It is simply too much to take in a few sittings, but it is so rich and varied that every new listen reveals more. Thirty years on and Swans are growing, developing and building on their rich legacy."

Holy Other 'Held'

Another mysterious electronica producer who invites comparisons with Burial, partly for the insistence on anonymity but mainly because of the music.
This is a ghostly ambient dubstep album, and the best full length of its kind since Balam Acab last year. Incredibly atmospheric, and at its heart it is downbeat and melancholic.

Dan Deacon 'America'

'America' projects Dan Deacon's electronic sounds on to a much bigger canvas. This album is harmonically rich and filled with strong tunes, as well as incorporating elements from American composers, particularly on the ambitious four-part 'USA' suite. I guess that comes across as a pretentious touch, but it works very well, and never feels forced. 'America' is going to reach people who have previously dismissed this guy.

Goat 'World Music'
A seamless and powerful album touching on psych-rock, voodoo, afro-rock and krautrock, which is straight out of Sweden, of all places. I suspect this will creep up on more people as time passes, but for now I'll just tell you that is an essential listen for anyone interested in the music I've shamelessly pigeonholed it within.

Dead Can Dance 'Anastasis'

The first album in 16 years from this talented duo, and they've chosen the Greek word for resurrection as its title. It carries on where they left off, with Eastern and medieval influences to the fore and the two dramatically diverse and spellbinding voices of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. There is even a rare duet between the two, 'Return of the She-king', which is worth seeking this album out for alone.

Willits + Sakamoto 'Ancient Future'
my review (the 405)
A collaborative effort between Christopher Willits and Ryuchi Sakamoto.
"At 32 minutes in length, it feels quite brief, especially as the tracks merge so well together, but to make it any longer would have just been extending it for the sake of it. In a way, Ancient Future is a musical exploration of the very art of collaborating itself, as it works with its divergent parts in an interesting way and ends up creating something worthwhile and often quite beautiful."

James Yorkston 'I Was a Cat from a Book'
Due to the timing of this release, this new album is in the shadow of the superlative 'Moving Up Country' album which was reissued earlier this year, and I do hope people try to seek this out as well. No Athletes this time around, but an assembled band including Luke Flowers from Cinematic Orchestra and guests such as Kathryn Williams, lend their hand to Yorkston's skilful songwriting.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti 'Mature Themes'
The thing is, Ariel Pink was always into agitating and annoying, and now that he has moved on from the classic rock influences of 'Before Today' some people have been unfairly hard on 'Mature Themes'. There are some naggingly catchy earworms on this album, and another rich palate of influences. This time I'd guess they have been listening to the Byrds and 80's goth for a start. Closing track 'Baby', a cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson's obscure love song from the 1970s is taken somewhere odd but it's still passes as pop music. Mr Pink has still got it, though I reckon some recent converts may pass this one by.

Six Organs of Admittance 'Ascent'
Well, to my ears this sounds more like Comets on Fire than Six Organs, as Ben Chasny delivers an impressive array of guitar solos and riffs that blur the boundaries between psych-rock and metal. Some lovely noise, even if I was expecting something more centred around drone or trance.

Bill Fay 'Life is People'

In a story that will be familiar to fans of Vashti Bunyan and Mark Fry, here is another folk artist put back into the public eye after a few decades away, thanks to the support of fans like Jeff Tweedy and David Tibet.
'Life is People' is only Fay's third album, his second release actually came out in 1971, and I must admit I had never heard of him until a few weeks ago. His music fits comfortably beside the likes of Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman, although some of the bigger arrangements hint at the bond with Wilco and Tweedy does actually feature on it.

Jogging 'Take Courage'
One of the defining bands of Dublin's excellent, sadly defunct Richter Collective, Jogging are perhaps the most hardcore punk of that lot, yet they have a neat line in catchy, uptempo guitar riffs. 'Take Courage' is their second album and it is a pretty intense listen at times. Forceful, upbeat and impressive.

Four Tet 'Pink'

Pretty much a compilation of tracks that have been released as 12"s over the last year or so, with a couple of new tunes for good measure. This marks his transition away from the jazzy samples and live drums towards something fully electronic. Steady elongated grooves.

Yeasayer 'Fragrant World'

A lyrically bleak third album from Yeasayer, though one that sees them move from experimental/ prog leanings towards a strange sort of pop music, with big influences from disco and current rnb. I think there is enough oddness and edginess to keep old fans happy. 'Henrietta' will probably make it onto my top 50 at the end of the year I reckon.

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