Track Of The Day: Sharon Van Etten – ‘Beaten Down’

Dark synths, atmospheric keys, and sparse echoing beats permeate ‘Beaten Down’, the latest single from Sharon Van Etten. A poignant reflection on “love, patience and empathy”, Etten’s voice smolders throughout the track, which is accompanied by a beautifully shot black & white video, directed by Nicky and Juliana Giraffe (Giraffe Studios).

“‘Beaten Down’ is about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through”, Etten explains. This subtle strength permeates the song, in which she transforms vulnerability into sounds that help to strengthen a backbone in the face of adversity.

“Upon hearing the song, our minds automatically drifted into stark black and white, fever dreams, dark silhouettes contrasted against a barren desert landscape”, explain directors Nicky and Juliana. The visuals feature both Etten, and twin dancing duo Allison and Veronica Huber. “Our intention was to give Sharon’s song and performance space to breathe and echo” they explain further. “It was important to us that the dancers were strongly connected.”

This connection between the sounds and visuals makes Etten’s latest single a compelling, intensely repeatable listen. Watch the video for ‘Beaten Down’ below, and follow Sharon Van Etten on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: SHHE

Sparse, searching, and sincere; Scottish-Portuguese artist and producer Su Shaw – aka SHHE – creates captivating electronic sounds based around the concepts of identity, empathy, and intense personal change. She recently released her debut self-titled album via One Little Indian Records, and it’s an understated, yet dramatic gem that lingers in the memory long after the first listen.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Su to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her debut album at the end of this post.

1. Jenny Hval – ‘Conceptual Romance’
Jenny Hval is not just one thing, she is many things. If you are not already familiar with some of those things, take a five minute intermission and read her recent ‘Hi I’m Jenny Hval and you can ask me anything’ interview on Reddit. ‘Conceptual Romance’ from Blood Bitch was the first track I heard, but all of her projects are worthy of your eyes/ears/time. My girlfriend and I went to see her a few years ago, and it was one of my favourite gigs. Half-way through she admitted that most of the set had been improvised because the airline had lost their instruments the day before.

When I listened to ‘Lions’ for the first time [from her recent album The Practice Of Love] it made me want to cry and go for a very fast run. Those are strange things to feel simultaneously. She is open and honest and writes about the things that other people don’t write about, and I have a dream that one day we will be great friends.

2. Land of Talk – ‘Some Are Lakes’
I was 20 when I heard Land of Talk for the first time. I can’t tell you where or how I made the discovery, but I listened to this album [of the same name] on repeat that whole year. I was in a bunch of bands at school, I was always the only girl. At a school with more than 100 other people in my year, that always made me kind of sad. I didn’t pick up an electric guitar until I was 17, even then I never had confidence to play it on stage. I was the singer. Liz Powell did both. I wish we’d gone to school together.

3. Boards of Canada – ‘Music is Math’
‘Music is Math’ is taken from the Boards of Canada album, Geogaddi. It was released in 2002. I did not find Boards of Canada until they released Tomorrow’s Harvest in 2013. No one has found them since. In fact, no one knows much about them. It’s a useful reminder, at a time when everyone is obsessed with knowing everything, that the music is the only thing we need. If you’re not satisfied by that, there’s patterns and messages and codes that they’ve hidden throughout their albums to keep you busy. I like listening to Boards of Canada when I’m feeling confused and I need a break.

4. Jon Hopkins – ‘Luminous Beings’
The first time I saw Jon perform was in a village hall at a festival called Homegame in Fife. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt in a room packed full of people. There’s a great Song Exploder interview with Jon where he talks about some of the influences behind ‘Luminous Beings’ – meditation and altered states and psychedelics and ice baths. His Asleep Versions album is also a special record and has been the soundtrack to many late night/early morning drives.

5. Caterina Barbieri – ‘SOTRS’
Patterns of Consciousness is one of my favourite albums from the last few years. ‘SOTRS’ is perfect for riding a bike with no hands, if you’re able to do that somewhere safely.

Thank you to Su for sharing her favourites with us. Follow SHHE on Facebook for more updates.

Track Of The Day: Ah! Kosmos – ‘Wide’ (feat. Özgür Yılmaz)

Atmospheric guitar, captivating percussion and hypnotic vocals melt together on Ah! Kosmos‘ new single ‘Wide’. The track is taken from her upcoming second album Beautiful Swamp, which is set for release on October 5th via Compost Records.

Born in Istanbul and now based in Berlin, Ah! Kosmos (aka Başak Günak) is a sound designer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. She sweeps listeners up in to a rapture with her intense soundscapes filled with rhythmic guitar melodies, and her collaboration with guitarist Özgür Yılmaz on ‘Wide’ is another stunning example of this.

Speaking about her upcoming album Beautiful Swamp, Ah! Kosmos explains: “Swamp as an image represents this album’s process. Sinking into the step that I’m taking, and taking the next move from that sunken space. The ground was pulling me in and this slowly let me find my sensibility, softness, flexibility and also power”. This flexibility and power has been developing since her 2015 debut record Bastards, and we can’t wait to see where it takes her sound next.

Listen to ‘Wide’ below and follow Ah! Kosmos on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Fürkan Temir

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut