Remain Calm by Mica Levi & Oliver Coates

I haven’t yet listened to the score Mica Levi created for the new Jackie Onassis biopic, but the music she made for the 2013 sci-fi flick Under the Skin is some of the most gripping minimalist work I’ve heard in years. Levi, who also leads the band Micachu & the Shapes, worked with British cellist Oliver Coates for Under the Skin, and they recently engaged in a very different collaboration: the album Remain Calm (Slip), which dropped last fall. Both players have backgrounds in classical music and have spent significant energy exploring the periphery of pop, and they’ve both experimented with rigorous combinations of the two genres. For Remain Calm their sessions were loose and improvisational, and Levi reworked the results to create a series of short instrumentals that land somewhere between chill ambience and turbulent groove.

The best pieces split the difference between the two, as Coates’s classical-based pizzicato and vibrato-rich lines collide with the crawling beats and caustic textures of Levi’s post-hip-hop production. In general I think the album’s atmospheres could use a lot more bite, but there are some arresting moments—such as today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Xhill Stepping.”
Today’s playlist:

Mira Benjamin & Simon Limbrick, Linda Catlin Smith: Dirt Road (Another Timbre)
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
Anohni, Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian)
Monkey Plot, Here I Sit, Knowing All of This (Hubro)
Eighth Blackbird, Hand Eye (Cedille)