ICYMI May 2018: Scratch Massive, The Woods, Grand Pax

The month of May wasn’t all about that Childish Gambino video or that Arctic Monkeys change of direction.  These may well still be talking points by the end of the year, such is the consumerist appetite for the well known and the desire to be a part of the wider discussion through bleary-eyed trend-skimming.  But it was Adam Ant who told us we shouldn’t ‘follow fashion’ but we should ‘set’ it.  At Fourculture, we’re not making grand claims of being trendsetters but we always like to look past the obvious.  Be a fan again, not a consumer.  Here are three songs from May that were not being talked about enough.

Scratch Massive – “Last Dance”

It seems we’ve covered a fair bit of new French music this year but when it’s as mouth-wateringly good as this then we aren’t going to apologise.  Duo Maud Geffray and Sébastien Chenut have been releasing full lengths and soundtracks as Scratch Massive for a while now but if their slow motion dark electro-tinged drama has yet to reach your radar then this is a great taster.

Taken from Garden of Love (out October) “Last Dance” is a mesmerising sojourn of building, brooding synthlines and breathy atmospheric vocals.  There’s a reliance on sounds rather than hooks to create something akin to a dreamier Ladytron.

The Jerome La Gerlache-directed video provides complimentary high quality visuals and cinematography, a tale of unspoken chemistry with an unlikely mixture of violence and grace.

Scratch Massive on Facebook

The Woods – “Armchair Expert”

Opening like an outtake from Air‘s Moon Safari, new single “Armchair Expert” loses any hints of Gallic ambience once the vocals of Johnny McFadzean (aka The Woods) come in.

Like a cross between Jeff Buckley and James Blake, they allow the musical backing to become more minimal as his harmonies take centre stage.

His voice took him from rural Scotland to join a world-famous choir so it is no surprise that he is getting a name for composing and singing.  His debut EP came out in 2015 but “Armchair Expert” gives a hint of more haunting and atmospheric things to come on his next one.

The Woods on Facebook

Grand Pax – “Comet”

Sometimes a song just grabs you and it’s hard to explain how it happens.

This debut single from Grand Pax has so many elements that are hard to pinpoint.  Like the challenge of trying to recall a dream from last night, “Comet” has you chasing and grasping for images and memories that creep up from fragments of sound.

There are several disparate ingredients that add to the intrigue.  Her drawled voice and lazy distorted guitars give a nod to the light and dark tones of Mazzy Star and Warpaint yet the synth loop and busy percussion has that hazy sound of a post-club walk home.  Again, there’s a certain déja-vu in the hook ‘Baby I know too much to get down’, whether it’s the strong melody that immediately feels familiar or in the world-weariness in her tone.

It’s a song to unravel yourself in, lose yourself and find yourself in, if you let it.  Like being on a carousel with the world around you, or your past spinning before you, in a blur of lights; it’s a circular, repetitive ride that stirs your subconscious.

She has an EP out in July with songs and skeletal recordings created in Kentish Town bedrooms but produced by the Northern collective Gotts Street Park.

Grand Pax on Facebook

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