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Dirty Beaches' 2011 LP, Badlands, broke through with an arresting aesthetic - 50s rockabilly put through a grainy lo-fi filter. But clocking in at under 30 minutes, its style more memorable than its songs, it felt slight.
Drifters/Love Is The Devil, Alex Zhang Hungtai's new double album, does not. The Taiwan-born Canadian composed the album while drifting between Montreal, Berlin, Belgrade and Paris, and it echoes that feeling of displacement.
The first of the two records, Drifters, follows the loop-based approach of Badlands but abandons that album's Lynchian Americana, instead wrapping those ominous noir grooves in funk and techno.
The second album, on the other hand, is all instrumental soundscapes that present a more emotionally present artist than you might expect from his former greaser dress-up act, or from music (mostly) without words. Slowly unfolding ambient pieces still display a gritty, second-hand quality, but that fits the vibe of the record: never-ending travel, where the only constant is loneliness.
Top track: ELLI