Tuesday, 30 November 2010

BB / Ladywell // Joy Orbison // Doldrums

Joy Orbison has kept a relatively low profile this year after the ridiculous amount of attention he got last year from Hyph Mngo. This is his first release since The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow, which featured a much less immediate sound, but nevertheless had the tell tale signs of the talented producer. Also on that EP was an remix by Actress of The Shrew, which completely inverted the 2step track and transformed it into a stretched-out house tune, with all the weirdness and confidence of Actress' work.

That seems to have rubbed off on Joy Orb as BB and the flip Ladywell are almost unrecognisable as he has taken a step away from his 2step roots and created two gigantic house hits. BB is the most Actress influenced as a pitch-shifted vocal sample of someone muttering "they got us man", its seriousness is completely incongruous to the rest of the music, exactly like the vocal sample on The Shrew remix. It actually seems oddly similar to Jamie xx's remix of Gil-Scott Heron. The track has a very prominent 4/4 beat, which is to be expected, that acts as a skeleton for an immaculate bubbling synth riff, which is playful and flirts with a syncopated snare. The only remnant of the old Joy Orb is the distant rising synth.

Ladywell starts off very sparsely, it chugs along with a standard 4/4 beat and simple bass line, but this is used as a framework for the copious and idiosyncratic sounds he throws on top. First a vocal sample (this time singing) is dialed in with a simple riff, almost like a ringtone. But the initial simplicity becomes chaotic as spiralling synth riffs join, sometimes they mix together, sometimes they don't; it is very spontaneous and organic. That with the snare being introduced out of nowhere, the track soon becomes very unpredictable. Unfortunately it ends too soon, but both tracks show an amazing new side to Joy Orb, especially after some dismissed him as a one-hit-wonder.



Monday, 29 November 2010

NY is Killing Me // Jamie xx (?) // (young turks / xl)

Jamie Smith has been a busy man. Fresh from winning the Mercury prize with The xx, he has remixed a string of high profile artists, and even has a single forthcoming on Numbers records. But today there was a big reveal: he is remixing the entire of Gil Scott-Heron's album I'm New Here, (called We're New Here) with NY is Killing Me as the first glimpse.

The idea could really work well as Jamie's style requires great vocal samples to manipulate and contort into inhuman shapes, so the great range of emotions and tones of Gil Scott-Herons voice is ample ammunition for an album. NY is Killing Me is a great showcase Jamie Smiths' technique, the rough old-man vocals of Gil sound even more world weary when piercing through the clean half-time beat and throbbing bass; distinctly contrasting with the dark, dancey backdrop. For the first minute I was worried Jamie was afraid to distort the vocals out of respect, but soon a background pitch-shifted cry plays with the vocals, like distant conscience voices trying to be heard. And, as a whole, the repetitive beat and the echoey voice make it like and eerie dream, like half-remembering his tales in his corroded voice.

I am definitely excited to hear the whole album, which is released Feb next year.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Pariah // Safehouses EP // (r&s)

Pariahs 6-track EP is certainly grand in terms of length, but unfortunately he has not been able to craft something as spectacular as his previous R&S release Detroit Falls. Or at least the first couple of tracks are less than inspiring, taking a derivative approach in a scene (if you can call it that) which is devoted to creating new sounds and new beats.

Fortunately, perhaps with the pressure to produce a hit reduced, the EP picks up with Railroad. Upfront there is the funky beat, but the track has a melancholic core that is just hinted at; the flashes of sub bass, and the Burial like cries. Yes, this too isn't particularly forward thinking, but the production is crisp and full of subtleties: think more of a consolidation of Burial, Joy Orbison, Scuba and many other electonic artists, the crushed up drum'n'bass fill is an obvious theft from Ramadanman. The music is extremely dense and interesting to pick apart and the last four tracks are by no means boring, there are little flecks of synth and vocals that are constantly shifting and transforming. But is a little pedestrian, and you will have heard it all before, just perhaps not all on the same vinyl.

The eponymous and final last track is a fuzzed out, blissful soundscape, lacking beats. It functions as an unique turn for what is a reasonably good EP, and hints at future expositions into other sonic territories. There is a huge undercurrent of melancholia to all of Safehouses, and it is no surprise that 'melancholia' is another term for nostalgia: this is knowingly indebted to his precursors, the distant piano chords and sound of a playground on C-Beams shows that Arthur Cayzer is deliberately basking in the fun of theses past tunes. It is just too bad he did not attempt to break new ground, because he has the potential to be massive.


Crossed Out:

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Twisted Voices: Interesting Pitchfork Article //


Pitchfork often gets a load of flack, but this article is very well-thought out, it really taps into the big movement of using processed vocals for great emotional impact. I can't help but feel there could be a load more names on the list, but nevertheless there are some great tunes that I may get round to reviewing.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lucky Shiner // Gold Panda // (notown)

Over the course of a few relatively low-key releases, Gold Panda has carved himself a neat little niche in the current electronic landscape. He creates dance songs written about a forever on/off relationship with the east, using old, forgotten samples that are chopped up and sequenced rhythmically with the beat. The singles he has released have all been short snapshots into his interesting production technique, and it was no surprise Quitters Raga gained him a load of attention. The release after that, You (the first song of the album, not the last), whilst pretty, frustratingly seemed to be the same song with different samples. I cannot say I wasn't slightly worried that he had used up his creativity; a whole album of it could get boring very quickly.

No worries as Gold Panda's obsession with the east is fascinating for the listener to pry in on; Oriental influences are omnipresent on the album but never dominating, like he was writing standard dance songs but could not help but include them. The album is an aural recount of months spent in an entirely different culture; he exudes the confusion and fascination that any foreigner has in a strange country, especially the humbleness of ignorance at a daunting new way of life: never imposing himself, simply observing. This child-like interest perhaps has lead to the delicate and exquisitely pretty songs, which, unlike many of his contemporaries, seem happy to be so beautifully uncompromising (even unchallenging, if you ignore the negative aspects of the term), the music is able to exist just as it is without demanding the listeners attention. Lucky Shiner is a postcard sent back home to the listener: modest, spontaneous and desperate to convey more than the sum of its parts; even the packaging of the CD is basic but earnestly interesting.

Strangely, Gold Panda has stuck to his tried-and-tested rhythmic structure, but it becomes as essential to the whole album as the drums do. Instead of seeming overdone, they become his natural means of expression, playing with the repetitive riffs with background melodies and the beat. The repetition is like the endless travelling he must have undertook in Asia, it is both necessary and guides the listener through the album, whilst also used to build the tracks into climaxes like in standard dance music. India Lately is the best example of this, a small riff that is the forefront of the first half of the track is brought back after disappearing, both re- contextualised against the clatter of live drums and acting as a reminder of the change the track has been through.

However, for a brief period around the half way mark the music seems to complacent in being just pretty enough, and while never being boring or uninteresting, it lacks the dynamism of the rest of the album. This perhaps is the only downfall of Lucky Shiner, it seems sometimes too wrapped up in its own little daydream to be able to convey the experience to the listener, and instead just flows on by, and tracks merge into one another without change. That said, the album is undeniably a very pretty one, and deeper than one may expect from the previous releases. Gold Panda has accomplished something very special in Lucky Shiner, he is able to take the listener on a journey without the audacity to act as any kind of authority, these are his mixed-up memories, dreams, wishes for the listener to get lost in.

You can listen to the entire album here:

Monday, 8 November 2010

Something Different // Foals Covers //

With all the work I have at the moment I have been reasonably busy, so I haven't been up to any music reviews. So I thought I would mix it up a bit and write about something else, and anyway recently I have discovered some Foals covers (that is foals covering other bands) which deserve a listen.

Super Inuit (Holy Fuck Cover)

So this pretty much sounds nothing like the original, but the distortion makes a great change from their usual crispy clean sound.

One (Your Name) (Swedish House Mafia Cover)

The main riff is real easy to play on bass, and fun too.

Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani Cover)

The Bed's Too Big Without You (Police Cover)

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears Cover)