The best album releases of the month, November edition

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As the rest of the blogosphere starts to assemble albums of the year list, I'm here wading through quite a few decent albums which have come out in the normally dull month of November. By the way, the only reason the new Guided by Voices isn't in this list is because I haven't heard it. This is a very varied list and there are some pretty challenging ones here, so delve in...

Emeralds 'Just to Feel Anything'

my review is here

"Just to Feel Anything is the sound of a band moving forward whilst holding on to the elements that make them special. At times it feels very different to their earlier work, yet still manages to fit perfectly with their other releases, and that's quite a good trick to pull off."

Jessica Pratt 'Jessica Pratt'
This almost slipped past me. It's a curiously out-of-time record that is really impressive; a young female singer who sounds old and wise. A delicate folk record that sits amongst the recent best of that genre. Surprisingly gentle and beautiful given that this is the first release on Birth records, the imprint of Tim Presley of White Fence.

Clinic 'Free Reign'
Great to see Clinic return, and this new album has lots to recommend it, not least the song title of the year 'Seamless Boogie Woogie, BBC2, 10pm, rpt'.
Overall though, it comes across as a mellower kind of Clinic than on some of their earlier albums, but that's not a criticism, in fact it's interesting to hear where they are taking their music these days.

Andy Stott 'Luxury Problems'
Full length debut from the pioneering techno producer, building on the strengths of his 2011 EPs. This doesn't give much of a nod to the dancefloor, it would rather get into darker, deeper and down right BASS-ier places.

Tim Hecker, Daniel Lopatin 'Instrumental Tourist'
I didn't see this one coming but this is a collaborative album between the two leading lights of experimental synth-based drone, 'Uptown Psychedelia' doesn't disappoint, full of experimental manipulations of instruments from around the world, stretched and distorted into something new and often pretty.

Holly Herndon 'Movement'
Considered up until now to be a voice-based artist, 'Movement' sees Holly Herndon work her vocal compositions around challenging electronic arrangements. The result is an album which explores the conflict between the natural and artifical. There isn't much of it which could be filed under "conventional songs", but as a whole it rewards repeated listening.

Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament 'The Violence'
Yet another ambitious project for the incredibly prolific Darren Hayman. This one is a 'concept' album about the 17th century Essex witch trials. It comes across as a prime example of modern English folk music, but it has a lot of touches that evoke Hayman's back catalogue, and fans of Hefner should investigate as well.

Oneida 'A list of the burning mountains'

Two tracks, 40 minutes total running time, this resembles a cut-away portion of some of the gentler moments of one of Oneida semi-legendary jams. The drums of Kid Millions are central to it all, as the band weave a shifting, cacophonous fuzz around them.

The North Sea Scrolls 'The North Sea Scrolls'
An unusual collaboration between Luke Haines, Cathal Coughlan and Andrew Mueller. Whilst Haines is fresh from his concept album about '70s wrestlers, I haven't heard Coughlan from his days in the under-rated Fatima Mansions and Microdisney. The album has grown out of an Edinburgh theatre show based on the premise that historical documents showing a different version of history were passed to Haines and Coughlan by the actor Tony Allen. It's original and intriguing to say the least!

Bjork 'Bastards'

Yes, I know it's a "remix" album, and Bjork has been pursuing a very singular trajectory of late. The contributors here have reshaped the material from 'Biophilia' and made a very varied collection. Includes contributions from Omar Souleyman, Matthew Herbert, Death Grips, Hudson Mohawke. As far as I know, all material has been previously released, but as I'm far from a Bjork completist, I thought it was worth investigating.

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