Sunday, 30 June 2013

THROWING UP MEDICINE [VIDEO]

Throwing up is something that I really don't like doing. The very thought of it is really disgusting. Even just thinking about it, before I've written about it, is enough to make me feel a little grossed-out. Yeah that's right, I DISLIKE emesis. And who doesn't? It's a vile, repulsive thing. Stinks so bad. Half-digested food and stomach doodads. G-r-o-s-s.

And that's what Throwing Up works really nicely as a name for a punk-type band. Fortuitously, there is a punk band called that. They are from London and there are three people in it, as you can see from the photo. NME described them as a "DIY shit-storm" - way to ambiguate, I can't even work out what that means. They themselves describe their genre as "errrrghhh" - and I'm with them there - but sometimes people like to read a label before they listen to something.

For me, they are more like a three-piece band from London who sound like a clash of double-time punk driven by undistilled distorted guitars, a little like the punkier dimensions of Smash-era The Offspring, and grunge-garnished vocals that almost growl at you with a contradictory mix of lassitude and venom. That's what I get from this song anyway: 'Medicine'.

I kind of... hate the video. The people in it really freak me out and one of them reminds me of a creepy character from The Mighty Boosh. But as for the song, yes, it's got that good 'n' hearty punch-to-the-face appeal about it that makes punk music so satisfying to listen to. Though I'm never quite sure who's doing the punching - am I being punched by the music? Punching myself whilst listening to the music? Punching the music? None of them actually. It's just a satisfying feeling of pent-up aggression and energy that nobody can deny.

It seems to have about it a little of l'esprit de l'escalier ("spirit of the stairs") - the feeling of knowing exactly what you should've said after the moment to say it has passed. Looking back on shitty things and vocalising your opinions. That's why punk's good. Cough it all up an' that. Anyway this comes from upcoming album Over You out 8th July on O Genesis Recordings.

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

MR OIZO FT MARILYN MANSON SOLID

Well this was a mega surprise. When I first saw the link to this news on Twitter the other day, I thought that it surely SURELY must be a joke. I mean, who could or would ever put Mr Oizo and Marilyn Manson together? They both make noisy music, sure, but other than that I was confused. I was already imagining M Manson singing a 'The Dope Show' style song alongside something like 'Gay Dentists'. I really didn't know what to expect.

In reality, the song - 'Solid' - features a rumblingly bass-heavy beat beset by frantic synths, which you would've heard from Mr Oizo before, if you are a fan, in songs like 'Positif' - the kind of song that gets everyone really worked up, pumped up, tripped out and losing their minds. In the right environment of course. Mid-set in a sweaty Paris club would be the perfect venue for this song. And what is MM's contribution? It comes in the form of a spoken vocal sample, played around with by Oizo of course, that simply says: "You look like shit when you dance".

Listen up.

It makes me feel kinda uneasy, for like the first minute, but then you really get into the beat and the sound of it, sorta sucked into that thundering bass as if it were made of molten Maoam or something. The synth totally creeps out, like an electrified version of the villain music used in silent films. It's dark, basically. And heartily electro. And I can see how it would be really easy to get crazy to this song. Except for the fact that the MM vocal sample would make me feel so self conscious that I wouldn't want to dance - what if I really DO look like shit when I dance? Do I look ok? Am I dressed like an idiot? Why am I even out? I give up.

But it's a fun song. In a sardonic way.

It comes from the upcoming Mr Oizo EP called Amicalement (it's like the French equivalent of the ubiquitous English sign-off "Best regards" or "Kind regards" or "All the best" or etc.) out 1st July. You can download it for free from his website, so get ready to do that on Monday!

Oh and if you're wondering how Mr Manson got involved with Mr Oizo, he's actually in Oizo's film Wrong Cops. Check www.wrongcops.com and MM's character is right at the start of the trailer that plays when you arrive. But then we have the mystery of how THAT happened...

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WASTED NIGHTS MIXTAPE #002 [FREE DOWNLOAD]

This guy is really pushing my buttons at the moment - and I don't mean that he is annoying me, but rather TURNING ME ON. Musically speaking, that is. Whilst the sun sits high in the sky I play this man's music and it just sounds perfect. He makes this sunny brand of sampling music, turning old sounds into new ones by chopping them up and mashing them together to create a future funk flavour. Sounds delicious right?

So anyway, yeah I wrote about him before. If you haven't already guessed from the title of this post, it's Wasted Nights of course. I wrote about him before, when I came across his song 'Palm' - I naturally went crazy when I first heard this, and I would've been dancing, juggling coconuts and attempting to make a tropical cocktail in every single vessel I could lay my hands on, but I have a broken knee. However, that's what my brain was telling me to do.

Little did I know he made these little mixtapes as well as his own music. They give you a nice insight into his - yes; his name is George Rosolac - taste in music. Which seems to be in the same vein as his own style, looking back to a when the music was happy and when most of the world was going through an economic boom (Cold War anyone?): yes, the 80s. I've heard people who actually lived through the 80s say that they hated it and the music was rubbish and the fashion was worse, but for me, yes for me and many others, who drew breath from the atmosphere for only a couple of years at the end of the 80s, it's an alien era filled with fun colours and fun sounds. The future was just around the corner. Then we got to the future and it's a bit troublesome - I've seen more revolutions and riots and civil wars on TV in the last 10 years than... well, than I've wanted to see.

So sit back and chill out to Wasted Nights's MIXTAPE #002, maybe even download it - cause ya can - and take it with you someplace nice, play it in your car and cruise round your local town, even if it's Nowhere-on-Sea or Lower Hibbingdon or whatever, and say with all your heart: "What recession? What war?"

It's gorgeous. Glitzing with muscle-bound drum machines, ice cold slap bass, infinity pool synth and soulful vocals, this medley of songs oozes the carefree, endless and unbeatable summer of youth, of fun, of pleasure, of dream-following unconquerable decisive happiness. Sun & rain, day & night, ebullient & chilled. Err... here's the track list. I've done links on em too so you also can explore the music of these artists.

1// Claws For - Can't You See
2// Audiosynthes - I Know We're Just Friends
3// No Crass - 4 p.m
4// Audiosynthes - Dead Cruise
5// Booty Thrill - Bungalow Funk
6// Sebastian - Arabest
7// Mattmiller - She Wants To Funk
8// Mix Chopin - Can't Buy It
9// Letherette - D&T
10// Bobby Tank - Sexy Thang

I hope that you enjoyed/will enjoy this. If not, then that's fine - the world would be a boring place if only ONE singular taste in music prevailed in the minds of everyone everywhere. If you did like it, you can also check out the earlier (1-month-old) MIXTAPE #001 - I hope these are monthly cause I loves em.

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Friday, 28 June 2013

MUSIC WEEK #11

Life, oh life. Oh life. That's from a song isn't it? Just popped into my head. I started writing this damn ages ago so that song is no longer in my head. Do you know what is in my head? Animal Crossing music, that's what.

Sooo, this week there's been some fun music floating around. The flow of time depletes, runs aground on the shores, and music flows out of it, like when all those motorbikes and other things were nicked from the containers of the MSC Napoli when it "ran into trouble" on the southwest coast of England. A crucial bit of English history for you there.

This week I also became a contributor for Dummy magazine. I have already written about Yosi Horikawa's album and also a remix of IKEBANA's 'Alone'. Movin' on up innit.

Here's what I have liked-and-had-time-to-write-about these last 6 or whatever days.


COSMICATT - DRINK LIMIT
Smooth hip hop sounds

HAILU MERGIA - SHILELA
Traditional Ethiopian music meets jazz + 1985 synthesiser

SHIGETO - RINGLEADER
Samba rhythms and a heavy atmosphere

TOYS - WE ARE A mix of big beats and pop melodies from Paris

CRYSTAL - GET IT [EP]
Quirky funky house from Tokyo

BEACH FOSSILS - CARELESS 80s jangle-pop meets urban punk

INTERVIEW: TOYS
An interview with the Parisian duo

CYRIL HAHN FT. SHY GIRLS - PERFECT FORM
Cyril's back with more DEEP music and his first actual single

SHE TALKS SILENCE - HOLY HANDS, HOLY VOICES
Japanese delicately noisy shoegaze

DILLON COOPER - KUNG FOO
Promising new rap with 90s beats

TIM BURGESS - THE ECONOMY
Floaty psychedelic acoustic chill

BOYS GET HURT - LOVE THE WAY U FEEL
Beach-invoking dance music

GAY - CHRYSOTILE
Afrobeat vibes and pop rock


So there you have it.

My favourite?

TOYS I think. Or Dillon Cooper.

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

GAY CHRYSOTILE [VIDEO]

Why this song is called 'Chrysotile' I have no idea - because it is the most commonly encountered (I say that like it's a Pokémon) form of asbestos going, and in the song there's pretty much no reference to asbestos. I know what you're thinking, "Forget about the song name yo - the band's called GAY!" Sure they are. They are called Gay. But a band name's different to a song name. There are loads of crazy band names in the world - you'd probably be surprised at the LACK of story behind a lot of them. They serve to grab your attention mainly. Maybe it was a joke to begin with, so they could get onstage and say "good evening everyone, we're Gay" and get a few laughs from the crowd or something. I don't know.

Just listen to/watch it, ok?

Fun frolicking in the video. I like to see that. Who doesn't? But about the song, it's nice. Kinda has an afrobeat vibe about it, certainly in the well-arranged verse anyway, where the drums are off-beat and the melodious guitar picks a zingy little sungura-style melody (sungura is the popular guitar style of Zimbabwe). But in the chorus it comes to a raucous sound and regular rhythm, whipped up by the appearance of a horn section and distorted guitar strumming. It's like a North American (they are from Toronto) pop rock song taking a laid-back stroll down a street in Harare.

Judging from the lyrical content of the song, which has an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new kind of feel to it, there could be a reason for it being called 'Chrysotile' - the act of replacing stuff built from asbestos as a parallel to being "restless, restless for newness" as the lovely falsetto harmonies sing in the song. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

N-E-WAY. If you like what you heard, it is the newest song from Gay's upcoming album Dance Mix 95, out 12th July on Pleasance Records.

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BOYS GET HURT LOVE THE WAY U FEEL

Totally love these guys. They always have such a nice sound in their songs that it's like nigh-on impossible to not like them. If you haven't been introduced yet, "these guys" refers to Boys Get Hurt - a Tokyo DJ/producer duo who make emotional dance music and try to have a fun time whilst doing it.

I interviewed Yuki Abe, one half of the BGH (the other half being Takumi Kawahori), a while ago so go have a read of that if you want to know more. You also might like to check out one of their earlier songs, a Justin Timberlake-sampling wonder called 'b e a c h'. But for the moment, right here and right now, we will focus on a new song of theirs that has appeared: 'Love The Way U Feel' - romantically themed, as always.

The pair have a knack for capturing an end-of-summer vibe, or else it's an endless summer vibe, within their songs. I'm happy to say that it's absolutely no different with their new track. Though it's slower than what I've heard before, falling within the "slow jams" category, this just serves to heighten the emotive atmosphere of the track - it's certainly illustrated very well with the gorgeous female vocals that fall like petals throughout the song, or in the smooth transitions between each changing dynamic.

Pounding bouncy bass kicks resound, sumptuously painted over with popping synth melodies that are arranged in such a way as to give it a tropical beach-party vibe. It sounds akin to some nameless house disco track of yesteryear - the sound that BGH go for. The romance is there, too - I get images of heart-aching dancefloors, longing bodies grooving to the beat, soaking up the rich house-piano and synth chords that flesh out the sound. A sense of sweaty bodies approaching each other, knowing each other through the music, caressing from afar. Maybe a bit deep but it's a DEEP song with a disco soul, made with love and care.

I like this song, in other words. It comes from a really nice mixtape called THE VIBE GUIDE Vol. 2, which you should check out. As ever, I am looking forward to more summer-infused Boys Get Hurt new songs.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

TIM BURGESS THE ECONOMY

This is just the kind of music that you need on a sunny Wednesday evening, chilled and gentle, like the gradual drooping of the sun as it glints upon the world from sideways. Long shadows and longer cocktails. Trimmed lawns and trees waving in languid rhythms. Clouds lightly dusting the sky. Yeah, just like these things.

It's just the kind of scene that this song - 'The Economy' by Tim Burgess - serves as a rather nice soundtrack. I have to admit, when I first heard it I was like "...what" - BUT! I was soon won over by the peaceful grooves of the song, smoothed and lulled into a state of chill. Verily.

What begins as something that you could find playing in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants - y'know, cause of the particularly beach-bum, lapping-waves feel of the subtle slide guitar in the background and the general happy feel of the skiffly acoustic guitar - turns quickly into a multi-layered well-textured almost, well - probably actually, psychedelic song.

Nice eh? Really nice. You can see what I mean though, right? It does start with this Hawaiian feel, but into this really nicely built monumental psychedelic soft rock/pop rock song. The falsetto vocals throughout peek just above everything else, always remaining audible and strangely soothing, keeping to a catchy melodic pattern. But it doesn't take centre stage, and actually - nothing in this song does take centre stage. Everything works as one, each element allowing the others their own breathing space and own little chances to shine.

A 60s-hippie type vibe bemists the song when a flute begins playing, cool and reedy, weaving a breathy melody around the staple strumming pattern of the guitar. But the real surprise is a guitar solo, a really overdriven electric guitar, playing understatedly but with force and passion, taking us soaring up into the clouds towards the end of the song, where all the sounds are culminating - support vocals enriching it with their harmonies, the thickening effects of distorted guitars joining the acoustic rhythm, a breezy synth filling in the gaps.

Full-flavoured yet gently chilled (like I said, it's perfect summer evening music), it comes from his second album Oh No I Love You, released last year. I had no idea but Tim Burgess is lead singer of The Charlatans, boy am I stupid.

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DILLON COOPER KUNG FOO [VIDEO]

It's really nice to find a fresh piece of music - something that isn't just new in the literal sense of the word, but something that also SOUNDS new, you know? It could be any kind of music, any genre, but for some reason to hear some new-new rap is quite a buzz - especially if it's GOOD. I think it's because of the amount of words that get thrown around in rap music: naturally, you get to know an artist quite intimately (well, as much as they want you to know) after just one song - I guess new combinations of words, fresh phrases, new and unpredictable flows are quite attention-grabbing.

And so it was that I got a bit giddy whilst listening to Dillon Cooper, a 20-year-old rapper from Crown Heights, Brooklyn who is dead-set on conquering his dreams. It's just as I said - new, GOOD, rap is exciting. And this stuff is fresh. Fresh is the right word. Fresh like... well, anything good is fresh, isn't it? Fresh food? Yeah, pass that my way. A fresh glass of apple juice? Yes please. Fresh rap in the form of 'Kung Foo' by Dillon Cooper? Of course.

Before you even begin to examine it any further than first impressions, you can tell - you can just tell. DC (can I call him that?) is a natural. You often hear rappers going on about how their rhymes are effortless like butter melting on perfectly crispy toast, but this really is just naturally smooth. It literally just sounds nice, like honey dripping into your ears but without the mess. It scans well - let's start saying that about rap, just as you'd say it about Virgil's Aeneid cause rap is kinda like the modern day version of those dusty Latin meant-to-be-read-aloud-anyway classics.

You better just watch the video and LISTEN more importantly to the song before I come out with any more bad similes or comparisons.

What I noticed first is the production, by Phenom (seem to be a few different "Phenoms" out there, so I won't link) - it's raw and reminiscent of 90s rap. The beat particularly is gloriously live: tight snare, swaggering kicks and nonchalantly hissing hi-hats. The faux-dirge of the horns, a sharp kazoo-like sound, adds jagged decoration to the already roughly hewn foundations; in other words, it's a great base on which to set some nice vocals.

These are indeed nice vocals - even the chorus is rapped, just like an old-school rap song (these days it tends to be sung by someone else other than the rapper). It's confident and brimming with an air of untouchability (i.e. "A lotta dudes I don't know claimin' that they don't like me - fight me") - that's I guess how his rap ends up sounding as good as it does, his words unfaltering as he seems to revel in the rhythm of them. It's clever, too, a clever boasting song - every rapper's gotta have one. The lyrics are bright with wit and bite, but even so there are some little gems that my ears caught more than others: "Physical lightweight but mentally I'm heavy" and "Puerto Rican cuties got Twitter names with an underscore" being just a couple.

If you like this, then you're in for a treat. Dilloon Cooper releases a mixtape, Cozmik, tomorrow.

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SHE TALKS SILENCE HOLY HANDS, HOLY VOICES

Here is some music from Japan. It comes more specifically from Tokyo, in the form of female duo She Talks Silence, which is made up of Minami, who takes care of the guitar and vocals, and Ami, who takes care of the drums.

I'm always pleasantly surprised by-- well, actually I'd revise that and say I am pleasantly surprised most of the time when it comes to band duos. They can make a lot of noise, just as much noise as a band with more people in it. I guess it doesn't really matter how many people are in a band does it?

I apologise for my babble. This is about a song from She Talks Silence called 'Holy Hands, Holy Voices' - it's like 3 months old but that doesn't matter because it'll most likely be new to you. I can't remember where I found them - I think it was actually this live performance of them covering the song 'Just Like Honey' originally by The Jesus and Mary Chain (1985). And I think that says a lot about them and their sound: shoegaze, 80s guitar music, Madchester - this kind of thing seems to be quite aspirational in Japan at the moment. Not surprised because it's a great sound.

The production is lovely, allowing a retro vibe to seep through whilst modern technology captures the rich and gutsy distortion of the guitar and the old-school sound of the drums, each snare having this lovely far-off splashing sound. The vocals are lost like scented smoke in the midst of an urban labyrinth, almost drowned by the thumping power of the gloriously overdriven guitar. A light synth melody gently caresses the surface of the guitar's wall of noise, adding a mellow variation to the crunching chords, as support vocals nonchalantly add their "ooo-ooo-ooo" to the medley.

Despite being beset with a wonderfully heavy-handed loudness - supported by booming drum machine foundations thanks to Ami - the song presents a simple beauty in its chord progressions and the plaintive singing of Minami. It sounds aggressive, noisy, unforgiving, but underneath that it is soft and mellow - you could almost say chilled. Perhaps this is down to the well-produced lo-fi sound; it sounds like a contradiction, but if you've listened to the song you'll know it's not.

Looking forward to new things from She Talks Silence!

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

CYRIL HAHN FT SHY GIRLS PERFECT FORM

Wowee... Cyril Hahn has come a long way since I first wrote about him around this time last year. From basically unknown remixer and SoundCloud uploader to being bigged up by various people, such as Annie Mac (and also literally just a few minutes being played on BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe), touring and widespread good reviews and success, Mr Hahn is a regular success story. And an internet success story to boot, and who don't love an internet success story eh?

Anyway, this song marks his first official single, out on PMR Records - which has such tasty-sounding artists on its books as Dornik (whom I wrote about the other day) and Disclosure - and features singer Shy Girls on vocals.

To be honest, although it sounds different - more busy and bustling with different sounds and elements, plus original vocals - to his earlier things, like his now infamous remix of Destiny's Child tune 'Say My Name', the same heart is embedded in the core of the song. He plays with an almost majestic sense of nostalgia, giving an epic dreamlike quality to the sounds of our generation's younger years - 90s pop and R&B becomes near spiritual in the hands of Cyril Hahn.

The song is constructed slowly, built up with soft, mellow synth to an understated house beat, adding in occasional bass bounces as the beat itself fleshes out with a conservative clap and hi-hats. The dynamic of the song, and in all of his songs in fact, lies in dropping the sound ever further into deep rumbling ambience in sections over the song's duration. He allows the vocals from Shy Girls to breathe - itself beautifully smooth-toned - and allows it to make its own impact before coupling it with tidal synth, washes of thick layered chords that is almost like a spillage of gorgeously vivid paint.

Before you know it, there are shuddering synth arpeggios, ambient breezes and a ground-shaking bass all whipped up together in Cyril Hahn's masterful mixing bowl of sound - it's that kind of cookery where you kind of don't even need to taste the cake at the end, just eating the batter is enough: it's simply that tasty. Ermm... cooking analogy aside, it's a great song. Poppy as you like but with a really sophisticated edge that Cyril Hahn has been honing for a while now with his various remixes (Jessie Ware, Solange, Haim, etc.) - the vocals are awesome too, real smooth, could've been lifted right outta the past. But they're original, and you'll have that haunting "Perfect form" lyric chanting in your head for days.

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TOYS INTERVIEW

Firstly I would like to thank the guys from TOYS (or is it Toys?) for taking the time to answer the questions of my "lazy interview". It is very much appreciated.

ANYWAY. Yes, this time around it's Paris duo TOYS firing over their answers to my carefully constructed questions. After hearing and writing about their Natural Plastic EP last year, I was almost literally gobsmacked at their unknown-ness: they had a completely unique sound, coupling dirty beats and noises with aching-heart pop vocals and melodies.

Now, following the release of new song 'We Are', the duo's sound has retained those same sensibilities - rough, urban production, pop melodies, and a kind of retro nostalgia - yet with this song it's a richer, fuller sound. I suppose we will all find out how things have changed properly until their new EP release later this year.

For now, however, have a little read and find out what makes TOYS tick.



Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?
P: I'm Paul, I'm from Paris and I'm a songwriter.

B: I'm Bastien, I'm from Paris and I'm a music producer.

Why did you decide to start creating music?
P: I started classical guitar when I was 6, then I discovered the piano and have been sticking to it ever since. I studied arrangements and music theory through jazz for years. Then Toys made me apply music theory to production work.

B: I started music as a DJ in the hip hop scene, this is how I got into music production. It became my job. I worked on others' albums first before focusing on the Toys project.

How would you describe your sound? What makes you and your style stand out?
B: We try to make a music that suits us, sounds from the past, a production a little dirty because I guess we like ghetto music, and dreamlike melodies showing our attachment to pop music.

P: Toys is one of these projects that intentionally uses a lot of codes and tries to get an original sound and identity out of the arrangements and the mix.

Although we are two to write and compose everything, we see Toys as a band. Electronic music can sometimes look and sound rigid and lifeless. This is why we like to use acoustic instruments too. On stage we play with 2 other musicians (rhythmic section) without whom it would be impossible to perform our songs.

Is there a perfect time and place for listening to your music?
While driving, in bed, at work, in the subway, in a club, we try to make a music that can be listened to anywhere..

What inspires you most when writing a song?
Difficult question. We like when music brings us into a nostalgic mood. This might be something that drives our songwriting.

What are your favourite three songs at the moment?
B: TGNHT - Bugg'n
Kendrick Lamar ft. MC Eiht - m.A.A.d City
Christine and the Queen - Loving Cup

P: S O H N - The Wheel
Kendrick Lamar - The Art Of Peer Pressure
Jai Paul - Jasmine

Who do you most admire in the music world?
Daft Punk for being able to make the whole world agree on their music, all generations considered.

In your opinion, what is the future of music?
En dépit de la crise du disque, nous pensons que les gens vont continuer à produire de la musique de qualité, et ca de plus en plus..

Despite the music crisis we are living in, we hope and believe that people will keep on producing quality music independently, more and more..

What's the future of your music - what do you hope to do next?
Our next EP in September and a tour to follow..

What, aside from music, is most important to you?
Our girlfriends, our families, our mates, bad jokes, good food, good movies, good daily moments we can share with people we like..



So there you have it. Two different people from different musical backgrounds making music together could go one of two ways I suppose: very bad, or in this case, very good. The mix of Paul's classical and jazz influences, as well as skills in arranging songs, with Bastien's DJ/production experience and penchant for hip hop has resulted in a great sound. It goes to show that individual differences are important within the music world, not just between bands and artists themselves, but even within bands. Out of the relative chaos comes order - in theory. Is that too deep?

Either way, I fully respect and endorse their views on people making music independently. If you want to do it and you feel like you can do it, just do it - if it's good, people will pick up on it and share it (that's not to say it's easy, however). I hope that you've had fun reading this anyway, whoever you are, and I hope that you check TOYS out. Like they said, their EP is coming out in September - it feels like a long time, but we'll be boogying to their sounds soon enough!

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BEACH FOSSILS CARELESS [LIVE]

Who said guitar music was dead? Anyone...? Probably no-one at the moment, but I guess someone said it at one time. And after that it's likely that someone said "who said guitar music was dead?" What's the point of this contrived extrapolation? I don't know. I'm sorry everyone. But guitar music is alive. "The band" as a concept is alive.

Fulfilling that statement is Brooklyn-based quartet Beach Fossils, a band that is very much alive - the proof being in the breakneck-speed, adrenaline-infused live performance of their song 'Careless'. I found this a few days ago and stuck it on my list but my list is like so damn long, so it's taken me a while to get to it - but I like that; each song I come to on the list is like a rediscovery of something good.

I haven't heard the studio version of this song - soz. It's ok though. Don't need a comparison. This live session for LIVE AT BRAUND SOUND (a series of live recordings, derr) is loud and exciting, just how I like it. Get yer ears round this.

Echoing guitars sweep the verse of cobwebs, jangling beside fretting vocals whose reverberations seem to bounce off the walls. Driving it along, like a pair of well oiled V8 engines, are the bass and drums - the former whose pneumatic pattern judders powerfully forward, the latter whose unceasing beat is brutal and induces severe headbanging.

In other words, it's NICE. It brings 80s jangly guitar pop together with pogo-stickin' city punk to create a nostalgically charged banger; it's strange, mellow yet with not-so-mellow sensibilities, like seeing a leaf floating down a stream but on that leaf is drawn an angry face. That kind of vibe. I like it.]

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CRYSTAL GET IT EP

Finally we're here. I'm writing about Crystal's new EP, Get It. This vivacious Japanese electronic music foursome are the latest addition to Paris label Sound Pellegrino, headed as you may or may not know by DJ Orgasmic and Teki Latex, the latter featuring in the first song on Crystal's EP, 'Get It?!', and I wrote about DJ Orgasmic the other day. They're active as opposed to passive label owners.

Of course, if you read YES/NO often you'll know that I have written about Crystal (or is it CRYSTAL?) before - a while ago they recorded a video-game-esque version of a traditional song called 'Haru no Umi' ('The Sea in Spring'), a song that's popular at New Year in Japan. On the other hand, in the UK we have Slade, I suppose. Anyway, it was a really cool song and I was excited to hear more.

Since then they have joined Teki Latex and co. at Sound Pellegrino, and this EP - their first release on the label - proves them to be capable of a variegated and vibrant sound, sometimes like this, sometimes like that, but always at the very root of it heralding a unique vibe; Teki should be happy to have them aboard.

And judging from the apparent fun he had making the video for and appearing on the first song on the EP 'Get It?!' he is happy indeed. The video itself is like a bizarre videogame, where Teki's disembodied head acts as the main character, sucking up various foodstuffs in bonus levels and trying to woo a robotic Japanese lady... it's directed by Shinya Seto, from Crystal and filmed by Daisuke Miyoshi. Listen.

The song combines retro sensibilities in percussion and synth sounds with a feeling of appreciation for the catchy melodies and experimental synthetic sounds of early videogames, too. One really nice detail is the 90s-type vocal sample of "G-g-g-get it!" - gives it a back-in-the-day vibe. Teki's contribution comes in the form of sung metallic vocals, as well as strange digitised deep-voiced spoken-word stuff - this comes between zany breaks of candy-popping synth. All in all, it's like a galactic arcade-turned-disco.

Bass-ridden 'Telephonic' is next, named seemingly because of the frequent sounds of a telephone ringing in the song - the samples have been twisted around and played with, sometimes sounding like a bitcrushed till opening, other times sounding like drops of sunlight or electricity falling on the ground; robotic voices creep in and out of the soundscape. Swooping rhythmic synth chords provide a break between the dancing snares and zipping hi-hats, giving an expansive nocturnal atmosphere to it all. Listening to this one is like getting an eardrum massage.

'Construction' actually sounds like construction. Albeit intergalactic, interstellar construction - but construction all the same. It's an alien building site, populated by robots. Everything works in rhythm: bouncy explosive kicks, a thin fizz, synths like laser drills, tight snares battling for space, electric shock hammer-blows - it's this energetic mélange of laser sounds and synthetic percussion. "Wait, those robots aren't building a spaceship - they're DANCING!" It's like that.

A contrast to the final track 'Crystal Forest'. Using the various sounds of the song, they create the soundscape of a forest - hissing hi-hats and trilling snares become unseen noisy insects, synth percussion is the call of frogs and birds. But then the melody begins to play and the size of the forest becomes apparent: it's huge. The drop is beautiful, really chilled - the melody, played by what sounds like altered steel pans, has a Japanese sound to it, all backed up by arboreal xylophone sounds and sweeping synth. Using dynamic, the song moves from these synth-filled sections to ones dominated by minimalist murky and bristling percussion (the two sides of a forest: stunning and mysterious) - all set to a dubstep rhythm. It's a summery number at the same time as it's evocative of exactly what the title says: a forest, done in Crystal style. The beat is beautiful pendulous, swinging slowly in time across the chilled sweep of the synth.

Lovely stuff. As you can tell, I really like it. They add quirks and an imaginative atmosphere to the occasionally unquirky and unimaginative sector of house music - refreshing. Anyway, you can listen along with the preview of the Get It EP, but you should probably just get it, get it? You can get it on iTunes (but I can't find it) or you can get it on vinyl along with some 3D glasses from Sound Pellegrino.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

TOYS WE ARE [VIDEO]

In November last year I wrote about Paris duo TOYS for the first time - their Natural Plastic EP was pretty cool indeed, dominated by the super-powerful track 'Noise'. They, namely Paul Prier and Bastien Doremus, are rather fond of music-making machines and analogue synthesisers, and it shows in the music they create - their first release boomed with bubbling-over energy and zinged with unique ornamentation; put shortly, a lovely sound.

I was eager and excited (PUMPED you could say) to hear what else would come from TOYS in the future... I even said it in the post, I literally said almost exactly that.

And the day has arrived. Finally. After a week of waiting since an announcement on their Facebook page they posted a video for their new single 'We Are'. The clip - directed by Maximilien Franco - features what seems to be an anti-Death kind of figure, giving people back their souls (the lyrics of the song's chorus being "We are the souls...") in a reverse-filled slow-motion gritty-city setting, Paris I guess, suiting the sound of the song very nicely.

Watch. But also, and more importantly, listen.

Everything that I first liked about TOYS is still there: the big beat - in this song it's thunderous and dotted with delicious 80s rock-drum fills; the catchy synth melodies, which hop about as sun-reflected arpeggios, jump out enticingly as chords in the chorus, scream in pentatonic keyboard solos; and the atmosphere - dark yet shot through with brightness. Heavy piano chords slam down throughout, fitting the thick sound of the song, yet the vocals are falsetto and fly above the music, like a bird watching scenes of life unfolding below.

But what's different this time around is an anthemic quality in the chorus, something that kind of didn't exist in their debut EP, but something that certainly puts a more arresting spin on things - it's more textured, the vocals are large and layered... there's more going on y'know. The ray-gun synth chords in the chorus follow a really catchy progression (and make a really nice sound, too), laser-beam solos are like melt-in-yo-ear, and there is generally more of a pop element to it I suppose. It's a different sound to what I was expecting but it has been warmly received.

Does this single come prior to an EP? An LP? Hmm? Well I guess we 'ave-t'wait'n'see.

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SHIGETO RINGLEADER

Today we have some more from Detroit-dwelling Shigeto. A few days ago I wrote about his pretty epic 'Detroit Part 1', a song that has all the raw roughness and empty-buildinged ghostliness of Detroit itself, a city pockmarked with voids of industry. This time we have another song from the upcoming album, No Better Time Than Now, out 19th August on Ghostly - it's called 'Ringleader'. It is also a little different.

It's different in that it has a completely different beat, namely a samba rhythm, coursing through this song like thick blood through robust veins, and because it isn't - as far as I can tell - an homage or dedication to anyone, place or thing. That samba rhythm is damn damn infectious though - it's like not really wanting to dance at a party but being convinced to do otherwise by the very fact that everyone else is dancing. Yes actually that's exactly what a samba beat is: a wave of people writhing rhythmically, inviting you to join the fun. I know there's such thing as a conga line, but here we have a samba wave. Much more fun.

The thickness-of-sound in this song, the triple-decker-sandwich vibes, is just lovely. Gigantic drums crash like waves in the background whilst xylophonic-marimbasome sounds clink & clonk, plink & plonk right in front of you, whilst a beat monopolises the foreground with shakers and hi-hats and bongos and who-knows-what-else. There is an actually fantastic bit (3:52) where everything except a faint synth disappears for two seconds and there's a drop that's like opening a door on a full-blown carnival, fish fly in the air and paint pours out, a mash of tropical colours that has in it all of the clammy mosquito twitchiness, the unknown faces frolicking on a beach, the legs working furiously to the rhythm, the drinks - all of it's in there.

Big sound big big sound, fully energised. And towards the end, synths like flowers opening almost sound like a sunrise as the beat calms down: the end of the party, everything whirling down the plughole, committed to hazy memory and there's the anticipation of attending that same party once again. Pretty much like the feeling of wanting to listen to this song again and again, etc. Roll on 19th August.

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HAILU MERGIA SHILELA

New new new. Actually it's not new at all. It's over twenty years old - you could even say it's nearly thirty years old. But it sounds great. It's really interesting and I am so happy to have stumbled across it because it is just a really cool sound: this is 'Shilela' by Hailu Mergia.

What? Who? Well, Hailu Mergia is an Ethiopian one-man-band who first released the record on which this song appears in 1985. It is only down to the good eyes and ears of Awesome Tapes From Africa, a record label which as far as I can make out started life as a blog (specialising, as you can guess, in music from Africa), that I heard this song last week. Now I find out that the Washington City Paper has written an article about the re-release of the album, as well as interviewing Hailu Mergia himself, who is now working as a cab driver in Washington - and I think: how amazing that a certifiably "dead" recording should be unearthed and resurrected in this way, written about in the press, listened to, liked and shared by a completely new generation.

BUT YES. The album is called Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument and is out 25th June. 'Shilela' of course is just one song from that collection of songs, but it gives a pretty good inkling into what you will find upon listening. Traditional Ethiopian music in the form of jazzy accordion stylings combined with synthesiser sensibilities.

The synth in this particular song is immense, bold without overpowering everything else, warm and soft-edged, like a set of winding waterfalls made of viscous cartoon-clouds instead of water. An electric piano jazzes out in the background, whilst the accordion - the integral part of this song and I believe the whole album - patters like drips of sunlight over the top, creating a virtuoso dot-to-dot of traditional Ethiopian music. Although it is generally unchanging throughout, I think that is the point: Shilela is also the name of a patriotic traditional song, and it is unchanging, almost as if the repetition plays a part in drawing you in to its melody.

In any case, I like it a lot. The fact that it sounds old gives it even more of a boost in my opinion: it's supposed to sound that way. It is wholly and wholesomely analogue, live and real - the accordion nearly sounds as though it is breathless throughout its performance. Lovely stuff.

You can pre-order the album on www.awesometapes.com.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

COSMICATT DRINK LIMIT

This strange picture - I feel like I've seen it before, but then again perhaps I haven't. Maybe it's just one of those weird things. Yeah, let's put it down to that shall we?

Anyway, it's the image for an artist called Cosmicatt. Or ćosmicatt. Or ĆosmicặƬ. I'm gonna go with the first one because I'm pretty sure I can't even make some of those accented letters on the keyboard. Who damn cares anyway cause it's not the point - the point is the music. Cosmicatt is from Paris, as far as I can gather, and is an independent producer who makes really lush beats. I spent a while yesterday afternoon chilling to many of his songs.

Most of which came from his most recent album, something he's put on his bandcamp page called Black art, released at the beginning of April. My favourite was quite difficult to pick out really, but I did it - so vibe along and chill down (?) to 'Drink Limit'.

The first thing you notice: the stumbling-forward-with-a-swagger, off-kilter hip hop beat is richly textured with subtle yet hearty kicks, a snare slap like the sound of a private eye's notes for his latest case smacking his desk, and downright abrasive hi hats. It's a huge part of the track, of all his tracks in fact. The bassline weaves around the percussion, gathering groove on its way and providing a pattern which slightly wah-wah synth chords follow, thickening the air with funk.

Over the top, hip hop strings soar. The resulting image is that of navigating a dense city with a swaggering stumble, or a stumbling swagger - drink limit innit. A funky post-drunk theme tune.

Nice stuff isn't it? If you think so, I urge you to listen to more.

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

MUSIC WEEK #9/10

Well, seems as though I forgot to post a MUSIC WEEK last Friday. It's because on that Friday I received Animal Crossing: New Leaf and a limited edition Animal Crossing-themed 3DS and, well, I got a bit caught up in it all and forgot that I existed in any capacity in the real world at all. The world of Animal Crossing is pretty fun though. If only life were that easy.

Accordingly I have decided to combine the posts of the last 2 weeks, making this either a MUSIC FORTNIGHT (fun fact: I used to think a fortnight was three weeks) or just MUSIC WEEK #9/10. I will remind myself somehow every week lest this happens again, o ye gods.


WAMPIRE - TRAINS
Laid back suburban indie vibes

MAY.E - あなた [YOU]
Pretty voice and mellow acoustic guitar

NICK HESSLER (CATWALK) - CAN'T LET GO
Lo-fi coastal pop

WHITE WATER - DAYLIGHT
DISCO DISCO DISCO

GOLD PANDA - WE WORK NIGHTS
Lush and imaginative

WASTED NIGHTS - PALM
Glitchy 80s fun

EARTHQUAKE ISLAND - THE LAKE AND THE MIST
Chilled fluid hip hop sounds

WASHED OUT - IT ALL FEELS RIGHT
Chillwave with psychedelic rock flavours

PIU PIU - CREEP
A hip-hop homage to TLC's original

YOSI HORIKAWA - WANDERING
Mystical forest vibes

STARLIT EVERGLADES - MYLOTIC
Sweeping chill

DORNIK - SOMETHING ABOUT YOU
Future pop

ARISTOPHANES 貍貓 - THE PEACH BLOSSOM
Amazing sounds - Taiwanese rap

LUVIIA - COPPERTONE
Sounds like deep ambient funk of yesteryear

HIBOU - DUNES EP
Dark and melodic 80s-inspired surf-rock

SQUARELOUD - B.T.T.B
Justice-type electro rock from Beijing

NEW BUILD - FALSE THING
Anthemic disco sounds

DJ ORGASMIC - DIAMOND FALLS
Bolero beats and a synth solo

SHIGETO - DETROIT PART 1
Rough & evocative hip hop pays homage to the city

AVEC AVEC - ONLY YOU
Lounge music fused with hip hop and cutesy electro-pop

METOME - WATER CYCLE
Complex patterns of vocal samples

SKATERS - I WANNA DANCE (BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW)
Garage rock Tony-Hawk's-Pro-Skater-soundtrack fun


Given the amount of VERY DECENT choice here, it's genuinely difficult to decide on a favourite. I will have to go with a top three, just for an exercise in expelling indecision from my disposition (in no particular order mind you): 1. Metome - Water Cycle, cause I love samples; 2. White Water - Daylight, cause I love disco dance; 3. Aristophanes貍貓 - The Peach Blossom, cause it sounds so lovely. And there you have it. Of course, that ain't to say that everything I've written about isn't good - I wouldn't have written about it if I didn't think that.

Till next week. I promise.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

SKATERS I WANNA DANCE (BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW)

This is a really enjoyable sound. Kinda like punk, but an updated version, pushed off the half-ramp of life and into the modern age - noticeable in the half-real/half-electronic drumkit, for starters. Things certainly have moved on. Yes, this is New York three-piece Skaters with their by turns pretty and thrashy punky style song 'I Wanna Dance (But I Don't Know How)'.

And even better, it's actually a live version of the song, played at BBC Radio 1's Maida Vale studios in London for Huw Stephens's show. Live is sometimes better, and in this case it is, because you can get more of a grip on just how much energy a band or an artist puts into not just their performance but into their music itself. The verdict in this case: a lot. It's a good thing. Nice and passionate. Just the way we likes it. Now for the dissection.

I love the fast-paced nature of this track, even though the gentle drums of the verse don't necessarily seem quick, it's a soft kind of sound that is echoed by the gnarly bassline, itself muffled and under-wraps. The bassline reminds me of one from an old-school punk song, the classic one-minute belters that appeared in such games as Tony Hawks Pro Skater - you know what I mean right? Dirty garage rock sound. It's just perfect for skating. And that's just perfect for a band called Skaters.

For a New York touch, there's the Strokes-sounding part to the verse, where the voice is actually a little Casablancas, and those sweeping guitar chords are totally Strokes. In my opinion anyway. What do I know. That's just how it sounded. And it's a good sound! The dynamic between that and the noisy chorus is great - the refrain "I wanna dance, but I don't know how" really gets stuck in your head. And again, the dynamic when the wall of distorted guitar and smacking drums falls away to reveal that low-key bassline again is fabuloso. It's pogo-stickin', virtual-skatin', city-tourin' fun.

This is as far as I know their first single. Let's see how an album of theirs might turn out, eh?

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

METOME WATER CYCLE

It's uncanny, but do you ever get that feeling when you just start listening to a song you've never heard before - and about which you have absolutely no preconceptions - and within the first second you just know you're going to like it? Love it, even. I'm not sure whether it's more evident of an accepting and happily yielding mindset, or if it's proof of a song's quality and thereby the song-maker's talent itself. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

In any case, when I first started listening to 'Water Cycle' by Tokyo-based producer Metome (otherwise known by his real name, Takahiro Uchibori) this is what I felt. Beautiful from the outset. Smart and clean and fresh, like freshly washed sheets hung to dry, like a clear brook rushing from a spring, it is a lush balance of complex sounds that breakdances energetically in your ears whilst at the same time providing a ice-tea-with-mint-smooth stream of chill.

Yep, it's kinda deep house with a funky edge, provided in part by a bamboozling arrangement of vocal samples that sound absolutely gorgeous against the textured synths. Sounds like the below.

The melodious synth that starts this song reverberates all around, supporting a whispering wind of a sample that almost whistles in the background. Then we're treated to a solo from the vocal samples, which Takahiro handles with expert sensitivity, twisting, reversing and plunging them into spaces between the soft synth glitching out in a gloriously off-beat rhythm. The beat shuffles, invades your toes and head, infects you to the very core with the joy of movement.

A drop in the latter part of the song, which starts building up around the 3:30 mark, gives you an insight into the kind of musical energy this guy can create - yet it's not too much, it doesn't leave you aching for an end, striking just the right balance between stylish chill and electrically charged build-up. But the details are too much to talk about - the whole thing, this song, is wonderful. I love it. Metome has a new EP coming soon.

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

AVEC AVEC ONLY YOU

I love the art for this song. That's the first thing I'll say - in fact, I've already said it. Cool colours. But this is about the music, not the art, classy as it is.

So yeah anyway this is quite a unique song. The mix of different styles is like a really adventurous milkshake that you've never tried before that overflows with all these zingy and different yet complimentary flavours, tangy yet familiarly sweet.

And that has all been swirled up by an Osaka-based producer and DJ who makes music under the moniker Avec Avec. Starting out in a duo called Sugar's Campaign, he started producing solo tracks in 2011 and now has made an impact just by himself, mixing styles together, bringing the retro forward with a modern mindset. The resulting sound that Avec Avec (real name Takuma Hosokawa) creates is summed up quite nicely in the hip hop/lounge/pop/glitch/80s medley that is 'Only You'.

Enjoy.

Resounding lift-music-type keys start us off giving a chilled lounge feel about the song, but then we're taken in a new direction with an explosive hip hop beat. Just after the first third of the song everything spills over and a rapidly cranking hi-hat whizzes overhead above a blissful expansion of glassy synth. A female vocal with occasional subtle harmonies gives the song a pop edge - whoa-ing vocal samples dip in and out. It's a sea of sounds, blipping bubbles of synth jostle with saw-wave chords with wonderfully smart progressions, all to the three-piece-suit swagger of the beat.

At the beginning of the final third we're treated glitchy snippets of chopped up vocal samples and then a drawn out 80s-style synth solo that rises up like a mountain of noise to then fade into a slow spread of bleeps. It's these little bits in the song that give it such a dynamic feel, rising and falling like a really fun water slide, or a person in a rubber ring bobbing up and down wildly in a wave machine. Fun is the right word - I think that just about sums up the vibe in this song.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

SHIGETO DETROIT PART 1

Songs that have a story, yeah they're quite nice aren't they - adds another level into what is essentially just a bunch of sounds stuck together. Hmmm that's a little reductionist of me so I'm sorry, but you know what I mean. The story behind a song can be told through the lyrics obviously, but if there are no lyrics to a song where does one turn? One turns to the title, one does.

So, from the title of Detroit-based Shigeto's new song (4 days old ok), 'Detroit Part 1', I think that we can safely assume that it is in some way connected to Detroit. It's a musical illustration of the city, one that instantly is typified by a raw jagged-edged sound surrounded by a hazy almost magical atmosphere, like knives cutting through smoke or the ghost of a city awaking bleary-eyed and trudging past its former glories.

There is an almost tragic atmosphere about it, something faintly hopeful against a present beset by woeful nostalgia. In short: it's beautiful.

Shigeto (real name Zach Saginaw) has created something that's eerie from the start with a metallic wind kinda sound, tinged with razor-sharp cutting sounds and aggressive shakers for percussion, all underpinned by a rumblingly bassy hip hop beat that sounds as though it's coming from somewhere else - a party in someone else's house, in someone else's city. It's a glitchy first half, meaty yet crumbed with hearty bubbling videogame bleeps and ray-gun zaps.

But then there's this perfect transition from that darker half to this next half, introduced by a ghostly marimba battling against percussive background clicks, joined by that same rumbling beat and now a deep bassline that is the foundation for a sad set of soft organ chords that take us to the end, with the marimbas echoing all around. Gradually it fades out, replaced with music that's entirely muffled slightly-square-wave synth for an outro, a tragic "bad ending" kind of vibe, sounding like something from Streets of Rage - is that what Detroit is like?

It's really nice stuff anyway and judging from the title there should be a 'Part 2' at some point. There is actually a whole new album, No Better Time Than Now, coming out 19th August on Ghostly.

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DJ ORGASMIC DIAMOND FALLS

This was a nice surprise today. There I was thinking that I had everything planned, but then something catches your eye which then subsequently catches your ear - you know how it goes. DJ Orgasmic (or is it for this song just "Orgasmic"? I dunno) - who is one half of the brains behind nifty Paris record label Sound Pellegrino along with Teki Latex - has created a song with a really nice vibe, something that I felt was initially quite hard to describe because it's not your usual kind of dance music. But I think that's mainly because of the scattered beat, something that actually gives the song an interesting edge.

Beginning as what could easily turn into a drawn-out progressive-techno-house kind of song, 'Diamond Falls' has an unpredictable beat filled by slowly flanging snares and a shifty shuffling set of hi-hat sounds, the percussion holds centre stage for a long time, fizzing distorted cymbals and turntable swipes entering the mix later on. But soon we're into it and a funky synth locks in with the kick drum before giving way to a set of sweeping chords overrun with claps. That's the build up.

The main part of the song consists of synths and punchy bass locking into the off-kilter beat as a foundation, whilst over the top a lovely hollow synth solo plays, really high-pitched, like a character from a video game playing a tiny flute or something - it sounds great, a lovely bit of retro virtuosity. The funky synths in the background have a bolero rhythm, giving the song an instantly danceable appeal despite not being in the traditional four-to-the-floor house standard.

There are nice touches all through this song, various noises that enter the fray like walking through a jungle and hearing different animals and insects making all sorts of different sounds - there are shakers, drips, pops, light vocal samples, all sorts. And this is what makes the song, which starts - and finishes - relatively minimalist, into a rich tapestry of such variegated sounds as to give it the impression that it is teeming with life, or if not life: energy. Nice nice nice.

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NEW BUILD FALSE THING

There is music in the world for all moods and for all occasions. One song that would be good for chilling out the mind and body wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for mid-set mid-night mid-season fun in Ibiza, for instance. This is quite obvious you'd think, but people actually do get it wrong sometimes because they have no sense. My point is that one genre or style should not prevail at any given time because there are hundreds of situations where that particular would work perfectly - sure there are modernisations and amalgamations within each one but the point is that you shouldn't limit yourself.

That's what I first thought anyway when I heard this song by New Build - it's quite a strange song: that was my first impression. But then I listened again and again and it grew on me pretty quickly. Before I knew it I was writing these words about it. Funny how that happens.

I didn't know anything about New Build prior to this but it's London trio made up of Tom Hopkins, Al Doyle and Felix Martin (both of whom are also in Hot Chip). Al Doyle has also happened to play guitar and bass, amongst other things, for LCD Soundsystem and you can kinda hear the same stripped down style here in 'False Thing' - especially in pummelling walking-pace bass of the verse. Liss'ntui'.

What I first noticed is the disco sound of the song, but not regular disco obviously, something a little darker. The kind of lips-curled hands-in-pockets eyes-half-open sound that bubbles with low-slung swagger. It reminded me of !!! (chk-chk-chk), who is classified as dance-punk. I wouldn't go so far as to say that about this song - there's definitely more in the way of beacon-like waves of sweeping euphoria here, yet it is indeed mixed with a sludgy impromptu disco sound. There is a simplistic and slightly murky sound in the verse, where reverbed vocals that sound almost a bit David Bowie croon over simmering synth and lo-fi, and female vocals come in supported by gloopy oil slicks of synths.

This is different to the poppy chorus, where synths play slow glimmering arpeggios and piano chords strike happy tones. And also different to the break at the end where both styles fuse together, crackling firework arpeggios against atonal bassline, where those piano chords join in once again. The sound of the song is nice and original, a fusion of styles, most noticeably a percussive disco vibe. Nice. Oh - this is the first single (out 29th July) from their second album, expected late this year.

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Monday, 17 June 2013

SQUARELOUD B.T.T.B

Gosh golly, my oh my, I haven't anything like this in a long time. It's a kind of sound that I suppose the world was first exposed to when Justice were first on the scene in like, I dunno, 2006/7. Whatever, it was in the past, quite a while ago, at the same kind of time when the joke-genre "nu rave" was being simultaneously reviled and revered. Ahhhhhh, those were the days...

In a sense, they were the days, but the days are also now. Each new day that goes by is another day of experiencing the music of the past for the music-makers of the present. They are standing on the shoulders of giants - every creatively inclined person who gets inspired by a sound from the past does this. Perhaps it's a little melodramatic to say that, but the sentiment is there: the past helps to create the future.

Anyway, Beijing-based duo (I think it's a duo, judging from the picture) SquareLoud has brought to the table a wondrous sound, reminiscent of Justice's electro-rock vibe except it's fresh and new, with no memories yet attached to it, more dynamic, epic-sounding, less-dance-oriented. Yes, it really is a fantastic piece of work. Turn your headphones or speakers up and prepared to get blown away, this is 'B.T.T.B'.

Pure electro-rock. It is a wonderfully noisy medley of distorted synths and deep slap bass to begin with, decorated with silver-glistening string sounds piercing over the top of the melting-pot foundations. Many breaks in the song give it great dynamism, with different parts literally grabbing your attention, introducing different sounds like a showcase of just how much they can do creatively. We get different overarching overdriven melodies screeching, with a full, epic sound before we reach the middle, where the distortion becomes brutally crunchy, chopped up to the rhythm of a wild punchy beat that's been twisted and tamed. The second half holds yet more variations, chopped stuck-record sounds and glitched-out synths, an orchestral cacophony of electro virtuosity.

I do not know what BTTB stands for, but as you can tell, I quite like it. The song kinda grabs a hold of you, shakes you, puts you down - perhaps this is what "future rock" (one of the tags for the song on SoundCloud) is supposed to do to you. Either way, I'm excited to hear where they will take this already nicely matured, energetic, and energising, sound.

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HIBOU DUNES EP [STREAM]

A friend of mine often sends me songs to listen to or tells me to listen to something and it's become a bit of a running joke that I sometimes don't like what he sends me. Or I like it, but I don't like it enough to write about it. Well, he told me to listen to Hibou a while ago, and I did. I liked it. What Seattle-native Hibou (pronounced 'ee-boo') - real name Peter Michel - makes is a kind of lo-fi, mournful-yet-energetic surf-indie-pop (I'm not very good at defining things, sorry). His Dunes EP was released recently and I decided to write about it now.

Beginning with 'Sunder', a pogo-sticking minimalist dark surf-rock-type song, we're introduced at once to one of the clear points: nice guitar work, which in this song outs itself as tasty jangling harmonies zipping up and down the fretboard, fitting the speed of the track. That focus on little guitar ditties is carried over to the delicate twiddlings in 'Valium', which appear sprightly in the middle of the song with an oriental twist on their melody. The bright guitar sounds contrast, purposely I would reckon, to the otherwise soft and muffled shade of each song, especially with the almost-mournful strings in 'Valium'.

The brightness of the guitar really comes across in the glittering ripples of guitar in 'Above Us', each note like an echoing flash of light in a darkened landscape, tremolo guitar zooming past as a solo later on. It's this guitar that also provides the totally groovesome hook in last song 'Motion'.

The general sound of the EP ranges from the speedy and intense, as in 'Sunder', to the still-quite-speedy-yet-tranquil as you can hear in 'Above Us' and which is followed by the dynamic 'In The Sun', whose final part is noisy and beat-driven. It is all blanketed over with thick reverb that gives the impression of each track being overcome with a blurry fog, where the sharpness of the instruments is replaced with softer tones that seem to merge into one another.

This almost muddy merging of sounds is a lo-fi quality that, whilst channeling some of the bleak atmosphere that typified much of Joy Division's music, gives each song a wide, warm tone - every space is filled by an instrument playing or reverb of that instrument playing. And in the midst of that full sound, the vocals come through not searching for anyone to hear them but still distinct with their own trail of echo - nonchalant.

Overall it is a rich sound dotted with flights of adept guitar brilliance. There. Nice one Mr Hibou.

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Saturday, 15 June 2013

LUVIIA COPPERTONE

It definitely feels like after unearthing this particular sound for myself a while ago - not this song in particular, but the general 1980s vibe - every new artist I find who makes music that sounds as if it is from the past is a new discovery. And that's despite having that retro sound. How can that be? Because I thought that anything that sounded even vaguely derivative of anything else wasn't new or exciting at all - oh, whoops, no, sorry I've confused myself for an ignorant person! It actually turns out that derivative sounds can still sound fresh.

This time, the sound comes from an artist from Taiwan called Luviia. After I found out about that Taiwanese rapper Li Mou (whom I wrote about yesterday) often played at the live hip-hop/beat/DJ-friendly music night MICRO'Session, I checked one of the line-up posters and had a listen to some of the other guys that play there. Luviia was one of them. And after a listen to their (gonna be ambiguous there cause I am not sure whether they're M or F) most recent song, 'Coppertone', I was happily surprised at the global spread of the retro-throwback sound at the same time as I found myself digging the vibe of the song.

And today I found a video of the song made by a guy called Quincy Lu, also from Taiwan. I'm pleased to have uncovered this seemingly unknown-outside-of-that-city/country music scene - just a few clicks can get you anywhere, if you are curious enough to bother. Here it is anywayz guyz.

The long fade-in on this song just adds to the artificial dreaminess of it, the image of an alleyway leading to the door of a nightclub - all in soft focus - with a crescent moon dipping in the sky, people queuing to get in, slow-pans of scenes inside the club, stills of people laughing and drinking cocktails bejewelled with olives and glacé cherries. It's that kinda vibe. Short but sweet, you have but a couple of minutes to appreciate the glassy synths, the stuttering guitar, the attitudinal bass and those slow, tone-bending keyboard solos. All the time it sounds as if it is going to drop into a faster groove, being - for my ears - quite similar to the start of Luther Vandross's 'Never Too Much', but with a beat-maker's hip hop-sensitive ear. Then a fade-out, and the image conjured begins to disappear like smoke. Chiiilled.

Luviia is an artist on the label Darker Than Wax, a label based in Singapore dedicated to supporting hip hop producers, beat makers and MCs. He has actually released an album on bandcamp called HypnosisJoint, filled with the same delectable stylings as he showed off in 'Coppertone' - sample-decked hip hop with one foot in the 80s: it is definitely worth a listen or two.

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