The alternative Mercury prize 2013 shortlist – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | martes 29 octubre 2013 6:13 pm

These New Puritans Field of Reeds

It seems faintly astonishing that These New Puritans’ Field of Reeds hasn’t been nominated: it’s so obviously the kind of music the prize should be rewarding. It’s brave, original and beautiful. It exists in a space of its own, somewhere between experimental rock and modern classical music. It’s made by a band whose creativity seems impressively restless: it bears almost no resemblance to its predecessor, Hidden, which in turn sounded nothing like their debut album Beat Pyramid. The Mercury has a raison d’etre when it points up a fantastic album that people might otherwise have missed, and Field of Reeds fits that bill perfectly: it stalled at number 90 on the charts. It could have used the spotlight a Mercury nomination confers. Alexis Petridis

Pet Shop Boys Electric

There’s not enough pop in the Mercury, dammit, but here’s some that deserves to be. Two millinery-loving pop warhorses, after 32 years in the paddock, have made a record that feels fuelled by the spirit of 2013 – as the album of the year is meant to be. It’s absurdly British, which fits the criteria, too. Here’s Purcell meeting David Lodge at a rave (Love Is a Bourgeois Construct), dirty techno inspired by Michael Gambon’s description of theatre (Shouting in the Evening), a collaboration with Example which doesn’t sound fusty, but fresh (Thursday) plus tons of ambition, life, light and noise. They wuz robbed. Jude Rogers

The 1975 The 1975

This one sneaked out just before nominations closed, so perhaps the judging panel could be forgiven for not realising this debut would be a No 1. But they might have noticed that rare thing: an album that combined real emotional heft with a terrific pop sensibility. Maybe they were put off by the array of styles – the 1975’s Matt Healy says they tried to make an album that reflected the way people listen to music these days, flitting from anthemic guitar rock, to bouncy pop funk, to ambient interludes, via most points in-between – or maybe they just thought an album whose core constituency was teenagers was a little beneath them. Whatever the reason, they were wrong. The 1975 is an album with so many delights that, despite the instant sugar rush, it also works as a slow burn, yielding more pleasures than one could ever have expected. Michael Hann

Booth/Josefowicz/Wood/Watkins/Wigglesworth/BCMG/BBCSO/Knussen Knussen: Choral; Autumnal; Whitman Settings; Violin Concerto; Requiem: Song for Sue etc

Not only should this have been on the shortlist, it should have walked it, even and especially in the face of Bowie et al: it’s a release of eight pieces, all recorded for the first time, of Oliver Knussen’s music on the label NMC Recordings. Haven’t hear of Knussen, or his music? Make up for it right now, as this disc is the perfect place to start. And there’s as much magic in one bar of, say, Knussen’s Violin Concerto, or any of the songs from his nakedly expressive Requiem: Songs for Sue, or in the glittering piano writing of Ophelia’s Last Dance, as there is in the rest of the Mercury shortlist put together. In my (not-particularly-humble) opinion, at least! Tom Service

Ikonika Aerotropolis

Ikonika was part of that second wave of dubstep producers who took Kode 9’s anything-goes (as long as it involved sub bass) approach and ran with it. On Aerotropolis she took that idea to another level. Inspired by the idea of a city built around an airport (she grew up in Hounslow, near Heathrow), it leaves behind the constraints of any one genre, meandering through R&B-inflected garage (Beach Mode), instrumental grime (Backhand Winners) and Omar S-style stripped-back melodic techno (Eternal Mode). It’s an album that represents the UK underground’s current obsession with amalgamating styles, and its healthy melting-pot ideology. Lanre Bakare

Mutation Error 500

Conceived by Brit rock hero Ginger Wildheart and featuring a stellar cast of maverick hooligans – including Napalm Death’s Shane Embury, Mark E Smith and even Japanese noise terrorist Merzbow – Error 500 is brave, inventive and startling in a way that the actual nominees plainly aren’t. A bewildering collage of brutal noise, warped psychedelia and demented electronica, songs like Bracken and White Leg are not for the faint-hearted, but they offer an adrenaline rush and third-eye vision that deserves to be celebrated, cherished and played at life-threatening volume. Dom Lawson

Hacker Farm UHF

Few self-respecting music journalists would make the claim, but there’s good reason to argue that when the Mercury jurors gave the 2010 prize to the xx, Mumford & Sons were robbed; their Sigh No More better captured the zeitgeist with its absurd faux-rural aesthetic, its contemporary take on the retreat-to-a-rural-idyll schtick that groups like the Band once espoused – the musical equivalent of a Shoreditch homeware store that will sell you a tin of twine. Of course, the great British countryside was never as twee as that – a point made forcibly by the second album from mysterious electronic collective Hacker Farm. It’s an unsettling, very necessary work, the exact opposite of so much tasteful ambient music. Indeed, to say that this is a record that often sounds like a field recording of a slurry pump slowly leaking power is to garland it with the highest praise imaginable. Caspar Llewellyn Smith

My Bloody Valentine m b v

Kevin Shields is not a man known for holding back, and so it was with his reaction to My Bloody Valentine’s m b v not being included on the list of nominations. «To be as independent as we are is … virtually illegal,» he railed, before muttering about «sinister forces at work.» Whether or not the dark arts really were behind the inclusion of Jake Bugg over m b v – and it certainly makes you wonder, right? – you can’t help but sympathise with Shields’ anguish. The band’s first release since 1991’s classic Loveless trod a familiar path, but it was still one that only they have the map to follow. Indeed, m b v sounded like exactly the kind of record you thought the Mercury was invented for championing: challenging, baffling and at times – as on wonder 2, essentially a drum’n’bass rave taking place in the middle of a tornado – utterly jaw-dropping. Tim Jonze

Boards of Canada Tomorrow’s Harvest

The Scottish duo Boards of Canada have a bunker mentality. Whatever else may be happening in music, they doggedly pursue their own esoteric fascinations and Tomorrow’s Harvest is their most haunting album yet. Even without the clues sown throughout the album (Palace Posy is an anagram of apocalypse), it audibly suggests a hollowed-out landscape in the aftermath of some terrible event. Partly inspired by the soundtracks to arcane horror movies, it’s a meticulously constructed, cinematic work that moves from eerie paranoia to tentative optimism, painting vivid mental pictures as it goes. Estranged and obsessive, it may initially seem low-key but it gets into your bones. Dorian Lynskey

King Krule 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

King Krule’s debut is not perfect. It’s repetitive and a bit too long, in fact. However, Archy Marshall has the makings of an artist capable of greatness. The album – 14 stoned insights into the mind of a prodigal 19-year-old submerged in bleak inner-city paranoia – may feel disobediently unbrilliant at times. But his talents deserve shortlist recognition, at least. From the opening chords of the raw, romantic Out Getting Ribs, to his savage and sneering live renditions of Has This Hit?, King Krule has shown the spark of electric ingenuity. He is a maverick, a teenager – and dabbles in enough off-beat skits to fill that token jazz category. Harriet Gibsone

Maya Jane Coles Comfort

Maya Jane Coles made the often-tricky transition from acclaimed house DJ to album artist feel effortless. Comfort was a fully formed aesthetic statement that owed as much to the trip-hop Coles began her career making as to the London house scene that she’s helped bring back in vogue. It’s both slinky and murky: her arrangements are thick with bass and rich with melody, which means her gothy introspection feels luxuriant and immersive rather than mopey. In many ways, Comfort feels like a night-time counterpart to last year’s dreamy Playin’ Me by Cooly G, another debut album from a cutting-edge London producer overlooked by the Mercury panel: this year’s shortlist may feature more dance albums than ever, but it’s evident that those in charge simply don’t know where to look beyond those whose commercial success makes them unignorable (Rudimental, Disclosure), or those that offer polite, 6music-friendly takes on dancefloor innovations of eight years ago (Jon Hopkins). Alex Macpherson

Steve Mason Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time

The former Beta Band frontman ticks all the boxes of a potential Mercury winner. He has enormous respect that hasn’t yet transferred to the mainstream, and his second solo album pulses with the zeitgeist of our times. It’s a hymnal drift through dub, funk and ethereal electronica, topped off by insightful musings on everything from the origins of his depression to the state of the world. Of course – as Fight Them Back underlines – the Scot is politically outspoken. It would be dismaying if this was the stumbling block to wider recognition. Dave Simpson

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