Thursday, 06 September 2007
Sigmatropic is the pseudonym of Greek folktronica producer Akis Boyatzis and although 'Dark Outside' is his debut album it's not the first time he's appeared on disc, having produced a good proportion of the Walkabouts album. You should know what to expect with this comparison then, high fidelity, well produced electronic pop with a whimsical side leaning towards 90s indie and occasionally trip hop. It's not something that will appeal to everyone given its pop cred, but it's a good listen all the same.
So after something of a burst of life last year, the decaying post rock sound has gone into a sharp decline in 2007. Maybe we should have expected it, it's been going on for quite some time now, and you can't keep pulling the same old tricks forever, but I can't help but be slightly sad about the whole affair. Lucky then that Japanese symphonic post-rock poster-boys Mono don't show any signs of letting up with this latest full-length from the Temporary Residence label which collects some of their more difficult to obtain tracks. You see Mono are one of those bands who seem total… Read more
Wednesday, 05 September 2007
Well here's a nice surprise, just as I was beginning to think the whole instrumental hip hop genre was dead and buried (thanks Shadow, thanks a bunch) along comes Mr. Sixtoo, production demi-God and emcee extraordinaire to shake me out of my apathy and teach me how to love again. It's high time too, it's been bloody ages since his last album (also on Ninja Tune) and since then there's been something of a blunted drought. 'Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man' might be Six's umpteenth record but there's no shortage of imagination, the record has been hacked together using tape loops… Read more
Krautrock eh? What gives it such lastability and such effortless cool? I'm not sure but right now it doesn't get much better for me than having Neu!, Can, Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel records on repeat, and clearly I'm not the only one. I managed (somehow) to miss Brooklyn/German duo Cloudland Canyon's debut album 'Requiems Der Natur 2002-2004' last year, but on hearing this EP (the band's first recording for Kranky) I know I've got to track it down instantly. There are plenty of Kraut imitators at the moment, but sadly most end up sounding something like Stereolab with rough edg… Read more
'American Dreamscale' is the sophomore full length from US singer/songwriter John Wolfington, following on from his 2001 eponymous debut. So why has it taken him nigh on six years to get the record together? Well that's the story that frames the album - he took a trip across the USA from New York over to the West Coast, stopping when his car broke down and when he wanted to see a little of Mexico and eventually setting up a base in Los Angeles. The album is even sequenced in chronological order to reflect this trip, with each track representing another step in his journey, quite an i… Read more
Another crucial selection of archive recordings from wartime, this follows the D-Day and RAF Bomber cds which almost brought us to tears on their release and I'm happy to say it is just as interesting. The wonderful thing about these cds is that they are genuine historical articles, and unlike a book or television re-construction you're hearing the voices of these men, as they were, without commentary or interruption. This particular disc details Dunkirk and the battle of France and Flanders and we're presented with plenty of news recordings and military … Read more
Only this morning I was listening to Erykah Badu's seminal 'Baduizm' and wondering to myself why there weren't more records around that totally ape the style. Of course there was Jill Scott's 'Who is Jill Scott' soon after, but where I expected a long line of reverential producers and singers trying to recreate the smooth (but acceptable) atmospheres and tilted vocals there were precious few others. Then the debut album from Goteborg four-piece Little Dragon landed on my desk today and it seemed like fate had struck. You see, Little Dragon, the latest signing from Peacefrog, are a band that … Read more
Monday, 03 September 2007
'Under the Balcony' is the second album from Berlin duo Chica and the Folder following 2003s '42 Mädchen', and reunites musicians Paula Schopf and Max Loderbauer. Schopf being a well-known Berlin DJ (part of Gudrun Gut's Ocean Club collective incidentally) and Loderbauer being an influential producer (he was one half of electronica pioneers Sun Electric!) there shouldn't be any problem for either of them to drum up some intriguing sounds, but little could prepare you for the electroid avant-pop onslaught of 'Under the Balcony'. Taking cues from hazy 80s pop much in the same way as… Read more
King Creosote is allegedly poised for superstardom, and if this latest single is anything to go by he's certainly doing the right thing at the right time. With the folky twang of Jose Gonzalez and the 4/4 friendliness of the Klaxons I reckon it's a surefire hit. The 7" version comes with a gorgeous extra track in the shape of 'Faux Call' and makes me hope the album will be just as promising.
Thursday, 30 August 2007
Has it really been eight years since the last Michael Fakesch solo album? It seems almost yesterday when 'Marion' was gracing our stereos with its clipped idm sounds and peculiarly infectious melodies. Since then Funkstörung, the German musician's primary project (which saw him team up with Chris De Luca) has split, and since Fakesch describes the split as 'like a divorce' it can't have been easy on the old creative juices. Well, surprisingly, this latest from Fakesch is a relatively upbeat affair as he shakes off the emotive and glitchy shackles of his label and previous incarnations and attempts a… Read more
Coming from the official hotbed of new indie talent; Portland, Oregon, Menomena certainly have a lot to live up to. A Pitchfork friendly indie act from Portland, it's hardly newsworthy is it, but that's why they have to try doubly hard, and eventually that's why they succeed so magnificently. Every part of this album is just made to make you prick up your ears and pay attention - the cover's the first thing you notice, with gorgeous laser cut artwork and phenomenal illustrations from Craig Thompson you're probably not likely to see a cover more lavish this year. And then onto the music - from be… Read more
Love them or hate them, the great thing about Ipecac is that they clearly have the balls to do exactly what they want, and neither you (nor I) can do a damn thing about it. This debut album from Qui is sure to polarize listeners, but I can safely say that if you're a David Yow fanboy (come on Jesus Lizard listeners, I know you're out there) then 'Love's Miracle' will be like nectar to dehydrated ears. The band was formed in 2000 by Paul Christensen and Matt Cronk, but the attention really diverted to them when legendary drunk Yow joined in 2006, pushing them into the mainstream press. A skronking, ro… Read more
This release by Peter Marshall (aka Kendrick Andy) and The Revolutionaries sets the original dub recordings by the band (laid down between 1976 and 1978) at Channel One studios in Jamaica alongside the vocal versions put together by Marshall at Channel One in the UK (is anyone else a bit confused by all this?) in the mid-nineties. The vocal tracks were previously available on a limited 10", but for this new CD edition you get alternating vocal & dub renditions with the bonus track 'Outer Dub' tacked onto the end.
On searching for Windmill on the internet this is what I found "Windmill : To swing your penis around in a circular motion to appease the ladies." Surely this couldn't be a reference to Melodic's newest hopeful, Windmill - or Newport Pagnall's answer to Mercury Rev? This latest single comes to us as a limited edition 7" and cheap cd single, and is already being favourably compared to the Arcade Fire - and who are we to argue with that?
It's fair to say that Erik Satie work has slowly seeped into modern life - but still, for most regular folk his name is totally unfamiliar. 'Avant-Dernieres Pensees' is a collection of some of Satie's most well known work and even if you're not sure who the Frenchman was there's not a chance you won't have heard at least one of these peerless compositions. Following on from LTM's essential series of Satie re-issues nicely, we've finally got into the real meat, and the arguably the most important pieces the composer ever put his name to are here; 'Trois Gymno… Read more
Resonant aren't half churning them out at the moment, what with the recent Small Sails, Port Royal and Stafraenn Hakon albums all causing a stir. This latest venture comes from Carta, a group comprising Subtle's Alexander Kort and Jared Matt Greenberg of Charles Atlas. A close point of reference would be Hood, particularly on the moody sonic vistas conjured up on 'Simultane' and 'South Circular', there's something yet more earthy and organic about tracks like 'Perdido' and the swooping Rachel's-style opener 'Kavan'. Taking an entirely different path is the title track, which features an Espe… Read more
I can't say I've come across Little Annie before, but after doing a bit of research I've discovered she has quite an extensive recording history. I can't really comment on her previous work but this album is quite a revelation for me; ten perfectly realised tracks of smoky home-spun cabaret jazz, quite unusual in the fact that they totally avoid being camp. Maybe it's thanks to the input of Antony (he of the Johnsons fame) who appears here as co-producer, co-writer and backup vocalist - a match made in heaven. This is impeccably cool music, maybe best served with a chilled c… Read more
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
New Zealanders Bevan Smith (of Signer fame) and jazz guitarist Matthew Mitchell have been quietly causing a merry old stir in their homeland, but thanks to Type Records the rest of the world can enjoy the duo's considerable charms. Anyone who heard the recent "Future Life" Remixes 7" will have an inkling of what to expect from Skallander, although this full-length offering demonstrates the musicians' awareness of more traditional forms. Skallander occupies an alternative universe to the sort of singer-songwriter material that you're likely to encounter elsewhere, fusing electronic trickery and p… Read more
We find Matthew Bower's Sunroof! Project at its most explosive on Panzer Division Lou Reed, featuring a line-up including Sunburned Hand Of The Man's John Moloney punishing the drums and Vibracathedral Orchestra operative Mick Flower on guitar. The album begins with'Slow Plateaus 1', a crescendo of sorts, Flower and Bower's twin guitar presence ascending into a Moloney percussion wigout that carries the nineteen-minuter into ecstatic convulsions. 'Etoile Sauvage' reverts to solo feedback and noise with emphasis on a dirty high end, not too far away from Yellow Swans-style filth. Next, B… Read more
Belaire are a band composed of members of several other groups, including Voxtrot, Flashlight Fiction, Arkay, Fancy Feast and Fozlur. The Austin, Texas quartet have a schizophrenic policy on their sound, which shifts between Broadcast-style retro soundtrack tactics, Deerhoof-like synth-heavy new wave stylings and sparklingly complex passages of melody reminiscent of Stereolab. The palette of bright, breezy electronics the band tends to employ results in some seriously buoyant, shamelessly tuneful ear candy all held together by peppy vocals and a heavy-duty range of prog flavoured backbeats.
London-based solo artist Johnny Daulkes is yet another entrant into the great British singer-songwriter continuum, although few can boast having been described as the "Dennis Potter of indie rock". Many of Daukes' identifiable influences are a bit of a stretch from the usual suspects. You can hear the likes of Pink Floyd, Luke Haines and on a track like 'Radio', there's a harnessing of the glacial mournfulness you'd expect to hear from Sparklehorse. The album has a lo-fi intimacy to it that goes beyond stylisation, characterised by a home-recorded sound that has more to do with ambition usurping means rather than the usual hiss and kookiness. A very strong debut indeed.
Thursday, 23 August 2007
Johnny Cash passed away in 2003, but this is the sixteenth album released since his death and one of the most sought after for fans of one of America's great artists. Recorded in 1990 only years before his career would be revitalised by producer Rick Rubin on the now legendary American recordings, this captures a performance which saw Cash joined by the Carter family, June Carter and Lucy Clark as he played for an excitable New Jersey audience. It might be on the tail end of Cash's least popular period but he manages to pull out all the stops for what comes across as a heated and … Read more
So it's finally time for ex Orbital man Phil Hartnoll to make his return, and under the Long Range moniker he's put together nine pieces of retro electronics which would be enough to convince you the band never went away. It might be a little dated sounding now, but you've got to remember that this was the guy responsible for 'Chime' and 'Belfast', we can afford to cut him some slack. So 'Madness and Me' might occasionally sound like late 90s IDM and breakbeat, but since most of those artists were influenced by Orbital in the first place, I reckon it's a fair trade.
The word on the street is that this is Michael Gira's best record since those heady Swans days - and indeed it would seem that "We Are Him" is a hugely impressive collection of new work from this master craftsman. The 52 year old impresario has again found himself joined by omnipresent folk/rock gang Akron/Family, but he's also roped in a whole gaggle of extra musicians to flesh the record out into the multi-layered masterpiece it is - we've got Julia Kent from Antony and the Johnsons, folk vocal virtuoso Larkin Grimm, Swans man Christoph Hahn, Robyn Hitchcock of REM, ex-God is my Co-Pilo… Read more
These 17 tracks recorded by a bunch of home schooled kids (groups who didn't have access to publicists, stylists, Dance Instructors or songwriting teams) represents one of the most incredible collections of music issued by the Numero label to date and has quite simply blown us away. As usual the release has been impeccably put together, from the artwork and liner notes all the way through to the mastering and track selection, and it gives you the feeling that the people behind it have a deep love of music and an understanding of just what we, the music fans, reall… Read more
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Aurora Borealis is quickly becoming one of those labels which is a badge of quality, a label where you know whatever the record is, no matter whether you've heard of the band or not it's going to be worth listening to, and this latest from The Stargazer's Assistant is no exception. 'The Other Side of the Island' is a soundtrack produced to accompany a series of sculptural works by Guapo drummer David J Smith, and Smith together with some very able collaborators (namely Finnish electronic whizz Antti Uusimaki and Guapo's Daniel O'Sullivan) the three make some quite … Read more
Monday, 20 August 2007
A band built by American child actors sounds like a dubious proposition, but Rilo Kiley founders Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett are just that (IMDB them at your leisure). After spending time on cool indie hotbeds like Barsuk Records and Saddle Creek, the band have finally made the jump to a major. Those familiar with the band principally for Ms. Lewis' solo work (on Rough Trade) are in for a bit of a shock: the Nashville stylings of "Rabbit Fur Coat" are thrown out in favour of some brassy AOR indie pop, LA-style. That might not sound too promising, and the sheer poppiness of the band put… Read more
After the blanket adulation he received for Coles Corner, Richard Hawley returns with what's sure to be another Mercury-baiting long player. Lady's Bridge is an album that has no concern with pushing anything forward or reinventing Hawley's musical persona, instead it's an album that bases itself in unashamedly classic principles of songwriting. Hawley taps directly into a variety of artists past - evoking Lee Hazelwood and Neil Diamond for starters - but with a very current preoccupation with social commentary and regional relevance. Hawley is as much a Sheffielder as… Read more
Thursday, 16 August 2007
Here's a bit of an odd one. Cardiff's Drone make a kind of 'without portfolio' brand of electronica that strays between vocally-assisted post rock ('Cutting Teeth'), wispy drum 'n' bass ('Bellydance') and Morr-ish post-IDM as exemplified by 'Hopscotch', which evokes the kind of melodic, cosy 'tronics of E*Vax but with some oddly off-key synth lines that come across like Boards Of Canada with a Midi interface problem. The key to this album's appeal is how utterly homely it all sounds. Colourformoney's melodic laptop high jinks come from the most humble, lo-fi sources, but because of that you get a real sense of a personality behind the music.
"Ashes And Dim Light" is Camera's debut album and includes all three of the singles the band have released thus far ('Hurt', 'There's No Way' and 'Out On The Water'). After belting out the melodious rocker 'Where you Are', the band stir up an amiable indie jangle in the shape of 'I'm Not Ready', which throws some vaguely experimental studio techniques around the mix to great effect (backwards vocal harmonising, etc.). There's something about this album that brings to mind the sort of scene-less bands that were floating around in the musical nuclear winter that was the post-Britpop UK indie … Read more