Listen Up

From French psych-pop and Danish hip-hop to enchanting covers and collaborations

Ana Roxanne: Suite pour l’invisible

From LA-based ambient musician Ana Roxanne’s upcoming Because of a Flower (out 13 November) comes the lush and languid “Suite pour l’invisible.” With sparse and delicate vocals, the tranquil tune is the first from the album, which centers on “gender identity, beauty and cruelty.” Themes and sounds informed by “the experience of identifying as intersex” (which Roxanne publicly imparted last year) permeate the entire record, with the “flower” in its title referring to the body. Truly stirring, “Suite pour l’invisible” delicately glides across seven sublime minutes.

Bilal: DAY THREE – Voyage to a New World

Across a sprawling six minutes, Bilal’s “DAY THREE – Voyage to a New World” features a slew of talented artists including Erykah Badu, Nick Hakim, Madison McFerrin, Robert Glasper and others. Opening with birdsong and Badu’s poetry, the tune begins as a kind of meditation before taking various twists and turns. Distorted vocals and chaotic percussion lead to a lush, soulful flute-laden melody that soon morphs again. The track features on VOYAGE-19, an experimental EP (co-produced by Tariq Khan) that was recorded over three days, with 30 musicians and vocalists contributing from their home studios in real-time as part of a live online event.

Katia + Marielle Labèque: Paul is dying (by Philip Glass)

Legendary French sibling pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque breathe life into the stunning Philip Glass composition “Paul is dying (Part 1).” It’s the first synchronous taste of the duo’s highly anticipated album with Glass, Les enfants terribles (out 23 October). The release comes complete with a thoughtful video directed Ronan Day-Lewis, which extrapolates and embraces moments both human and element, and stars Lena Christakis and Rocco Rinaldi-Rose.

Amanda Palmer + Rhiannon Giddens: It’s A Fire

With recording artist Amanda Palmer on lockdown in New Zealand and MacArthur “Genius” Grant-recipient Rhiannon Giddens quarantined in Ireland, the duo determined to collaborate remotely on “It’s A Fire,” an entrancing Portishead cover with a message that resonates through current circumstances the world over. Palmer tapped regular collaborator Jherek Bischoff to arrange the track from LA (where he hired local string players to record in isolation, as well). From Melbourne, Australia, French illustrator Jessica Coppet contributed scribble portraits for the album art, rounding out the global roster of talent. All profits from the collaboration will go to the Free Black University Fund.

Stormzy: Superheroes

British grime artist Stormzy (aka Michael Owuo Jr) has released Taz Tron Delix-directed visuals to accompany his mellow but moving “Superheroes.” Dedicating the animated video to Chadwick Boseman, Stormzy shared a statement with fans: “You are a superhero in your own right, and don’t ever forget that.” While referencing Nina Simone, Little Simz, Malorie Blackman, Venus and Serena Williams, the lyrics ultimately focus on young Black people, who the South London-born artist refers to as his young Black kings and queens throughout, offering encouragement and admiration for their resilience. The uplifting, powerful song samples the theme for British kids’ show Tracy Beaker, based on the book series by Jacqueline Wilson, who—when asked about Stormzy’s sample—said, “What a treat.”

La Femme: Paradigme

French psych-pop band La Femme returns with a new single, “Paradigme,” full of larger-than-life horns, celebratory melodies and an ear-worm chorus. It’s their first release since 2016’s acclaimed LP, Mystére, and teases to an upcoming third album. The track debuts through a dazzling music video— directed by the band and Aymeric Bergada du Cadet, with support from Alma Jodorowsky—which weaves in secret references and converges upon a cliffhanger conclusion.

Eartheater: Volcano

Avant-pop artist Eartheater (aka Alexandra Drewchin) recently announced her upcoming album Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin, and from it releases the gorgeous, powerful “Volcano.” Beginning with acoustic guitar and piano, soon skittish percussion and stunning harmonies lead the song into an indefinable realm. The album (out 2 October) is composed, produced and arranged solely by Eartheater who drew inspiration from “geological imagery, whose turbulence and potential for genesis mirror the trajectory of her own life and relationships.”

Szim: Dårlig Til At Svare

Translating to “bad at responding,” Danish musician Szim’s “Dårlig Til At Svare” combines rap and pop to create an upbeat, dynamic, club-friendly track. While those who don’t speak Danish won’t understand the lyrics, the song boasts a blithe, buoyant energy that transcends language.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel. Hero image courtesy of Stormzy/Taz Tron Delix