mon 22/04/2024

Albums of the Year 2023: Lana Del Rabies - Strega Beata | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2023: Lana Del Rabies - Strega Beata

Albums of the Year 2023: Lana Del Rabies - Strega Beata

Another year of fine live music as well as plenty of new tunes

Strega Beata: hallucinatory and eerie

2023 was a year that was best defined for me by some astounding and unanticipated live performances. Iggy Pop for one put on a fine show, that was enhanced by an unexpected brass section, at Crystal Palace on one of the last weekends of glorious sunshine before the Sogginess set in for Festival Season.

Rattling through a cracking show that took in high points from the Stooges, the Berlin Years and the forty-plus years since then, his band spent the evening putting big smiles on the faces of those present and even had space for a few tunes from his latest Every Loser album. And this was after storming support by Blondie and Stiff Little Fingers – even if Generation Sex and the Buzzcocks didn’t quite fulfil expectations.

That was by no means it as far as live performances went in 2023 though. Goat were spinning heads and shaking souls back in the Spring, as were Suede. Siouxsie Sioux and Death Cult both put on fine and unlikely comeback tours. WOMAD managed to swerve most of the rain but brought a deluge of spectacular shows, including life-affirming sets by the Jungle Brothers and Horace Andy, and the Supersonic Festival managed to bring the ferocious Backxwash over from the USA for the first time. And that only scratches the surface of the feast of fun that was available.

The song that ruled the Summer of 2023 was, of course, Kylie’s “Padam Padam” but the track that got considerably more time on my turntable and which plugged more completely into the prevailing zeitgeist, was Goat’s “Join the Resistance”. A tune which unapologetically thrust a fist into the air while getting hips swinging. As far as new albums went, however, 2023’s highlight was provided by the superbly named Lana Del Rabies, who unleashed Strega Beata (the Blessed Witch), a disc of hallucinatory and experimental Gothic eeriness that combined industrial, darkwave and ambient textures and which came on like a soundtrack to a magic mushroom enhanced midnight stroll through a dark and haunted forest.

Other albums of note included New Age Doom’s collaboration with Tuvaband, a wild cacophony of free jazz, global roots music and relentless percussion, which still managed to plug into a mesmerising groove throughout. Acid Arab again put out a fine disc that combined the sounds of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean with plenty of fizzy electronica, while psychedelic barbarians Black Helium’s Um was an invitation to see just how loud your stereo could go without cracking windowpanes.

Three More Essential Albums of 2023:

New Age Doom & Tuvaband – There Is No End

Acid Arab – Trois

Black Helium – Um

Musical Experience of the Year:

Iggy Pop’s Dog Day Afternoon

Track of the Year:

Goat – Join the Resistance

It's a soundtrack to a magic mushroom-enhanced midnight stroll through a dark and haunted forest

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