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Welcome to the Quarter Report – FACT’s favourite 20 albums released over the last three months.

Compared to this year’s January-March period, when EPs by DJ Rashad, Actress and more had us more excited than most of the albums released, April-June was bountiful, with a healthy combination of mixtapes (Acid Rap, Kismet, Harbinger),  high-profile releases (Random Access Memories, Yeezus), curveballs (Dean Blunt’s breathtaking break-up record The Redeemer) and just plain old weird shit (you’ll see what we mean) getting our office talking.

NB: The albums, as ever, are listed in no particular order. Read the first 2013 Quarter Report here.

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DEAN BLUNT
THE REDEEMER
(HIPPOS IN TANKS)

“While several obvious break-up tropes can be heard on The Redeemer, can we really believe that Blunt would be so literal? Every moment of apparently genuine heartbreak is undermined by a self-conscious awareness that these weepy strings and lachrymose vocals are just cribbed from pop culture’s lexicon of misery. “Nothing means anything anymore, so people should stop trying to make sense of things,” he once said. Faced with trying to communicate a feeling as raw as lost love, he too has reached for the cliches. They may be banal and apparently devoid of sincerity, but for Blunt, they capture our inability to say what we mean or mean what we say in these strange, post-ideological times.” – full review

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KANYE WEST
YEEZUS
(ROC-A-FELLA / DEF JAM)

“Faced with making a career defining album, [Kanye West] opted for a palette of uncommercial sounds and ideas that takes his artistry to a level unparalleled in hip-hop (and pop music, for that matter). Kanye isn’t the first artist to fuse rap, politics, and industrial soundscapes, but because of the size of his megaphone and his position in the culture at large, he is perhaps the most important and subversive artist to do so. “I think that’s a responsibility that I have,” Kanye told the Times, “to push possibilities, to show people: This is the level that things could be at.” On ‘I’m In It’, he wants to “pop a wheelie on the Zeitgeist,” and on Yeezus, he succeeds.” – full review

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COLLEEN
THE WEIGHING OF THE HEART
(SECOND LANGUAGE MUSIC)

“Listening back to Everyone Alive Wants Answers it becomes very clear that on The Weighing of the Heart Schott is writing the same songs she always has. There is a distinct sense that this is an album that’s been stowed away in the back of her mind for years, and that what has changed in the last decade is that she has finally developed the ability and the peace of mind to finish what she started. A creative leap forward doesn’t always have to mean changing your entire identity, and few albums show that as lucidly as The Weighing of the Heart.” – full review

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RP BOO
LEGACY
(PLANET MU)

“This is combative music, its sounds – particularly those excoriating snares and claps – designed to assault the senses rather than caress them. But while that makes this record a fatiguing listen in places, it also means that the few fleeting moments of softness are all the more striking … RP Boo’s music is not exactly an easy sell, but in a just world Legacy would be the moment when he begins to get the recognition he deserves.” – full review

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OMAR-S
THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BY MYSELF
(FXHE)

“Across his prolific and highly varied output Omar has always drawn upon a huge range of production techniques, but in this record there appears to be a cleanliness that probably sets the tone more than anything else. The Tevo Howard reference is therefore that much more pertinent – not in style, which is still distinctly Omar’s own, but a lightness and brightness of touch that wins out.” – full review

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STELLAR OM SOURCE
JOY ONE MILE
(RVNG INTL)

Joy One Mile is a rare gem indeed: challenging but fun, idiosyncratic but refined, and cerebral but bodily, it’s everything electronic music ought to be.” – full review

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MR MUTHAFUCKIN’ EXQUIRE
KISMET
(FREE MIXTAPE)

“Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire is New York, but a New York that isn’t simply happy to sit easy on the successes of the 1990s. His is the New York that enjoyed a flourishing art scene and the birth of a fresh, diverse genre, and there’s a sense that with this in mind, eXquire can accomplish whatever he desires.” – full review

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THESE NEW PURITANS
FIELD OF REEDS
(INFECTIOUS)

“An evolution, and very different to each of its predecessors. The kinetic aggression of Hidden is gone; in its place is a feeling of tranquility and space that echoes its title and mirrors the album’s lyrical explorations of England’s overgrown edgelands. An assortment of voices – men, women and children – weave through each other in complex arrangements, constantly veering off into dissonant directions over skeletal piano lines, brass tones and snapping drums. While you’d struggle to situate Field Of Reeds in any particular musical genre, its thematic cousins might include the exhumation of English witchcraft carried out by the likes of Demdike Stare and The Eccentronic Research Council, W. G. Sebald’s psychogeographical tour of coastal East Anglia in The Rings of Saturn, and Jez Butterworth’s magickal state-of-the-nation play Jerusalem.” – These New Puritans interview

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CREAM JUICE
MAN FEELINGS
(ORANGE MILK)

“So there’s weird and then there’s weird.  Cream Juice, the duo of Orange Milk Records heads Keith Rankin and Seth Graham, certainly fall into the latter category … Rankin and Graham have managed to completely lose their marbles on here and end up sounding like nobody else.” – full review

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JAMES HOLDEN
THE INHERITORS
(BORDER COMMUNITY)

“An album of frightening complexity, chaotic systems, hypnotic throbs and heart-on-sleeve emotion, all deploying [Holden’s] homemade machine to devastating effect.” – James Holden interview

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CHANCE THE RAPPER
ACID RAP
(FREE MIXTAPE)

Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper’s second mixtape, is in part an act of catharsis, a reflection on and reaction to the trauma of his best friend’s murder and, more broadly, growing up in a city with twice the homicide rate of New York. On ‘Pusha Man’, Chance laments the lack of attention to Chicago’s problems: “Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at?… Looks like we had a fuckin hurricane here.” But he’s all too aware that the news stories and stats refer to real people, rapping “My big homie died young / Just turned older than him” in the Jake One-produced ‘Acid Rain’. Though he may display standard-issue rap hubris, Chance’s openness is endearing: he’s a fallible guy, prone to protracted periods of reminiscence and escapist acid tripping. For better or worse, you’re always on his side.” – full review

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MILES
FAINT HEARTED
(MODERN LOVE)

“Listening to Faint Hearted is a bit like having Miles personally guide you through his extensive record collection, each selection prompting him to pick out another favourite. And though the journey might meander slightly, his aptitude across so many musical fields means that that’s no bad thing.” – full review

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BØNE SQUAD
BØNE SQUAD
(TOTAL FANTASY)

“Impeccably produced and well-realised, having all the energy of a Butterz production, but with a decent splattering of schlock too.” – full review

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DJ KOZE
AMYGDALA
(PAMPA)

“A kaleidoscopic collection of soft-focus dance and machine-tooled psychedelia … his richest full-length offering to date; boasting guest spots from Caribou, Apparat and Matthew Dear, it feels like the breakthrough record Kozalla has long deserved.” – DJ Koze interview

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TREE
SUNDAY SCHOOL II: WHEN CHURCH LETS OUT
(FREE MIXTAPE)

“Chicago rapper-producer Tree’s ear for samples has long been what has set his productions apart from his contemporaries. ‘Soul trap’ might sound like a hokey descriptor but it’s pretty accurate, and Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out is Tree’s most substantial example to date.” – full review

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THE KNIFE
SHAKING THE HABITUAL
(RABID/ BRILLE)

“At Shaking the Habitual’s core are the processes of deconstruction and reconstruction, so rare in the tradition of mostly reiterative pop music that the album feels transgressive, even though its underlying ideologies are reasonable rather than radical. “How do you build an album about not knowing?” the manifesto asks cryptically. Shaking the Habitual’s drive to defamiliarization is both an answer to that question and a solution to the problems it highlights: only by unlearning what’s familiar can we shake old destructive habits, and usher in change.” – full review

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DIRTY BEACHES
DRIFTERS/LOVE IS THE DEVIL
(ZOO MUSIC)

Drifters/Love Is The Devil is that great pop feat/folly, the double album, and it’s a very different brute to its predecessor. If Badlands saw Hungtai in a looping state of mind, Drifers shows him cutting loose, experimenting with ESG-style funk, shoegaze, pressure-cooked techno and EBM. Love Is The Devil, meanwhile, is a largely instrumental collection of drone and ambient, pitched somewhere between Angelo Badalamenti and Forest Swords. Considered as a single unit, Drifers/Love Is The Devil is Hungtai’s opus – ambitious, long and calibrated to spook.” – Dirty Beaches interview

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BATHS
OBSIDIAN
(ANTICON)

“By blending the conceptual drive of Post-Foetus and the organic songwriting of Baths, Wiesenfeld has delivered on the promise of Cerulean and found his place among contemporaneous pop experimenters like Grimes and Autre Ne Veut.” – full review

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THE DEVIL
HARBINGER
(FREE MIXTAPE)

“The shadowy project of Atlanta-based rap manager Derek Schklar, The Devil’s debut mixtape Harbinger has been put together with the kind of sinister flair you might rather expect to see on a Hospital Productions tape. Blessed with creepy monochrome visuals and a set of morbid titles, it would be reasonable to expect Schklar’s schtick to be on a par with Brooklyn horrorcore pioneer Necro, but you wouldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality The Devil is dark, sure, but Schklar keeps things pretty distanced from Necro’s comical horror or even the absurd ‘extremes’ of Odd Future.” – full review

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DAFT PUNK
RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES
(COLUMBIA)

“People have complained that Random Access Memories is cheesy. Another reality check: Daft Punk have always been cheesy. ‘Digital Love’? ‘Around the World’? ‘So Much Love to Give’? They’d all be howlers in less adept hands. Just as Discovery saw the duo graduate from house music to pop, Random Access Memories is the most natural reaction that a pair of rich men pushing 40 could have to a world where house and pop are spawning sewage at an all-time rate of knots: call some famous friends, block out the outside world, and make an album not just by their own rules, but for nobody else but them to enjoy.” – full review

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