My relationship with Icelandic krautrock psychsters Fufanu is a perfect example of how ridiculously small our island nation is. Lead singer Kaktus Einarsson’s first band Capybara spent most of it’s formative months playing in a youth centre I was running in Reykjavik at the time, and my unbridled enthusiasm for their loud presence in said youth centre resulted in one of their earliest songs being called ‘Við Erum Pönkararnir Hans Árna’ – which translates as ‘We are Arni´s Punks’. A few years later Kaktus has clearly grown out of his naïve punk silliness and the duo, completed by guitarist/programmer Gulli, has signed to One Little Indian. Their first single ‘Circus Life’ is a hypnotic seven-minute long arctic-shoegaze piece that certainly got me excited for what’s to come.
Fanfarlo’s Cathy Lucas joined us as a live member on a tour around Asia late last year, and it was during that tour that I first listened to her solo-project Orlando. Self-described as ‘Music For Telepathic Amphibians’ Orlando’s sub-aquatic, space synth pop showcases Cathy’s love for weird and wonderful instruments and sonics. I know there’s no such thing assub-aquatic space, but check out ‘Earth Moon Earth’ to see what I mean.
Stonesthrow’s love for a good drug pun (think Silk Rhodes) continues with their latest offering Mild High Club. This solo venture of LA lounger Alexander Brettin (that’s an assumption, I’ve got no idea where he’s from) is aptly named though as his woozy dream pop sounds like a stoned afternoon lazying around on Venice Beach but doesn’t quite reach “throwing-up-from-paranoia” levels of high. A fractionally less sleazy, but equally sexy Connan Mockasin.
But the king of LA stoners must be Trance Farmers. I’ve had his massively under-appreciated debut album ‘Dixie Crystals’ on repeat since I started writing this, and the fact it’s taken me two and a bit hours to scribble down a couple of hundred words is testament to the record’s haze-inducing effect. Its industrial/rockabilly 50’s crooner-inspired concoction is hardly something you’d put on in a club, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard a better Sunday record.
The best gig I’ve been to this year was with a three-piece that carries the easily Google-able – but equally impossible to memorise – name Febueder. Whilst their EP ‘Lilac Lane’ is a very engaging record full of restrained beats, soaring vocals and total disregard for traditional song structures, it’s their live show that impresses the most. Think This Heat playing James Blake. Mesmerising and abrasive. Whatever that might mean.