Friday, 27 August 2010

Fram // Blawan // (hessle audio)

Little is known about Blawan apart from that he is from Leeds and is signed to Hessle audio, and has released this impressive 12-inch. Both of the tracks are built on a skeleton of a tight dubstep beat, sparsely accompanied by whispers and sub-bass flicks. He may use the same formula on either track, but the intricacies of the beats are enough to drive the waxing and waning of the subdued synth ever onward. The whispers, omnipresent and ever hidden are a conversation that you can't quite discern in a crowded club, adding a slight hint of anxiety to the moody forefront. The components may be few and and simplistic, but they play off each other to create a danceable, if oppressive atmosphere. He may not do much to differentiate himself from his peers (Pangaea, for starters), but the tracks, Iddy especially, are a great introduction to this mysterious producer.



Saturday, 21 August 2010

Forever Dancing // Masks // (fear & records)

A record with the word "dancing" used to be a pretty straightforward signifier that it was a dance record. But perhaps I have been jaded by songs like We still got the taste of dancing on our tongues by Wild Beasts so that now the word "dancing"seems too eerily simplistic to be used in the title of a dance song. The word is superfluous: if you are meant to dance to a song, you'll know about it by listening to it, and besides, "dancing" seems too twee a label, when compared with "skank".

Anyway, the eponymous opener does nothing to change my view of that word, as Forever Dancing opens with a jangly guitar line, but soon a monolithic and distorted guitar rumble piles on top, and so the record goes: the two piece add layer upon layer to their sound creating a dense but penetrable wall of noise. They harness the sound with a repetitive and fairly simple drum beat, but their biggest trick is an apparently offbeat electronic high hat that spontaneously joins the pounding bass and snare drums, a similar trick seen on many dance (there's that word again) records, revealing an innate rhythmic core.

Tribal Fangs doesn't hesitate with the house influence, opening with a four-on-the-floor beat, as an abrasive guitar noise rises. Masks make the best of the contrasting ideals of dance beats and noise music, much like Fuck Buttons on their second album, but here the songs are shorter and more accessible whilst including a more upfront melancholic edge; there is a definite shoegaze undercurrent on these tracks also. Unfortunately, the middle track I covered myself in furs plays the emotional edge too far forward and seems like it is trying too hard to be "epic", which is a shame as the second half is stellar.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Run Overdrive / Fuck Youth // Civil Civic // (self-released)

Like a Death from Above 1979 for 2010 , Civil Civic makes heavy, lo-fi dance-punk; anarchic in sound but not in tedious political ideology. The band is only a duo, Aussie ex-pats Ben (on bass) and Aaron (on guitar), but they make so much noise that you would never notice. Their overflowing energy means they never stay long on one idea, the tunes wind around myriad riffs, which are tinted with just enough emotional impact to make a vocalist unnecessary: call it a cliche, but they let their guitars do the talking.

Run Overdrive / Fuck Youth is a so-called double b-side, but this label gives the wrong impression as their music isn't modest or humble in the slightest. Actually, Run Overdrive does open with a wistful and melancholic riff, but 30 seconds later it explodes with huge bass and astral synths, before heading into synth-less 'verses' with slight emotional inflections. It is the sound of manic depression, and I would love to hear some lyrics that can keep up with the mood.

Fuck Overdrive is more straightforward in it's state of mind, starting with an aggressive grungey riff which opens up into a great dance-punk chorus, including liberal use of whammy bars. Both songs are insanely dancey and unapologetic about it too. They could do with a live drummer as the repetitive drum machine seems out of place.

Run Overdrive by civilcivic

Fuck Youth by civilcivic

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Camera Day // Flying Lotus // (warp)

Not much time has passed since potential album-of-the-year Cosmogramma was released, yet FlyLo has announced a forthcoming EP entitled Pattern+Grid World, and Camera Day is the promo track.

It shows a departure from his jazz influence and instead relies on an unusually chilled out beat and 8-bit sounds. It is quite interesting, and features some impressive stereo effects, but I can't help but be slightly underwhelmed after his incredible previous work. However, the track may work better in the context of the whole EP, so I won't get too disappointed at the moment. The EP, with the creepy artwork above is release on September 21, on Warp.

Flying Lotus - Camera Day (taken from Pattern+Grid World) by Warp Records

Island Barbados // Ghost Hunter // (house anxiety)

Island Barbados is the first proper release from the Sheffield based producer Ghost Hunter. The track fits loosely into the post-dubstep style, but sounds more like an electonica cover of the chillwave stuff coming out of the US at the moment, like Memory Tapes. Swirling synth lines contrast with the heavy, mechanical beat creating a rigid but organic feel to the track, whilst also having an extended ambient coda (outro) for the come down. It is a very solidly produced track, yet much like some Mount Kimbie tracks, it isn't particularly attention grabbing, requiring a dedicated listen to pick up on the nuances. Not that this is a bad thing, but seems unusually modest for a first single.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Crooks & Lovers // Mount Kimbie // (hotflush)

There was very little to go by to guess what this record would sound like, but the hype surrounding this release has been incredible nonetheless .Mount Kimbie have vaguely come from the disparate dubstep scene, yet they have obviously distanced themselves by incorporating a wide variety of other styles, especially minimalism. I don't want to get too hung up on pigeonholing the band or the record, for one it is boring and secondly this LP is so sparse, so formless and so natural that it stands on it's own.

Mount Kimbies' two EPs showcased a sleek production sense, a juxtaposing sparse areas of sound with areas of complex beats. The songs where highly complex and protean, swapping intense beats for blissed-out melancholia at a moments' notice. On Crooks & Lovers the two-piece has used the larger canvas the format offers to draw out this dynamic over 35 minutes, heightening the contrasts of dubstep-inspired beats and ambient soundscapes, extracting huge emotional power from minor changes. The process, surprisingly, is entirely natural and what is most striking is the bands' confidence to be so subtle and minimalistic on their first major release. It just shows that they have a clear vision of what they want to create.

Furthermore, the inclusion of live instrumentation has warmed what was some coldly electronic parts of the EPs. The first track Tunnelvision and near-identical mid-track Adriatic feature a sampled acoustic guitar over a shuffling beat, while Field acts as the antithesis of the duos defining track Maybes featuring a lofi guitar in its second half. The live instruments are fittingly modest, being mainly the acoustic guitar on nearly half of the tracks, and a broken harpsichord on the swaggering Before I Move Off, which allows the band to use them live. Not to say that the album is completely pastoral, Carbonated and Ruby both explore very electronic worlds, the latter sounding similar to Burial. Like Burials' Untrue the album flows between songs effortlessly, with the intention of creating an overarching atmosphere rather than individual songs.

Overall, the album seems like a sleeping giant, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is exquisite, yet it seems that it could rear it's at any time and get frantic. The closest it comes are on the closing tracks Field and Mayor, where the beat gets more insistent and, on the latter track, funkier. Their place in the album shows that Domonic Maker and Kai Campos are intelligent DJs, using the short time on the album to create and release tension; idea that the music could explode spontaneously. It is a shame that it never quite does, but the rhythmic and emotional journey that Mount Kimbie take the listener on is more than enough to make up for it.

Mount Kimbie - Would Know (from Crooks & Lovers) by Hotflush

Monday, 16 August 2010

Georgia // Yuck //

No picture as this hasn't been released as a single yet, but the band really caught my attention at Field Day.

My journalism skills have failed me and I can't find much information about Yuck, except that some of them were in Cajun Dance Party. No worries however as the band itself is much easier to describe; they are a 4 piece who make some brilliant 90's sounding alternative rock. Georgia is possibly the best of a few songs that sound similar, with a grungey and slightly shoegazey sound not dissimilar to The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, whilst the same four people release slower, stripped down songs under the name Yu(c)k. This song works as it has a wistful feel as the voices are drowned out by loud guitars. It may be a bit formulaic, but the riffs are great and very evocative of the sound of their inspirational bands, imbuing the track with a distant and daydreamy vibe that a lot of other bands aim for but miss. They are solid live, as well, so are well worth looking out for.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Glitter // No Age // (sub pop)

So It's been a while since I updated this blog, but this new track from No Age has inspired me to continue writing. It's the first single from No Ages' Third album Everything In Between, after their awesome LP Nouns and the slightly experimental Losing Feeling EP. Although the LA two piece's sound is pretty easily identifiable, the new track follows from the EP with a slightly laid back vibe, a sharp contrast to the frenetic punk seen on the previous album. Paradoxically, Dean Spunt's voice seems emphatically sneering, fed-up, and desperate, having been unveiled from behind the usual wails of guitar. Musically, Randy Randalls noisy guitar has been sampled and twisted creating a surprisingly understated drone which covers the track, more of a distant rumble of thunder in the distance rather than a full-on storm. Their new live musician has allowed them to play with their sound more, utilising loops and guitar samples without fear of being unable to recreate the sound live, a mix of lo-fi ideals and hi-fi equipment and techniques.

No Age - Glitter by subpop