Monday, 27 June 2011

Honorary Mention: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine (2011, Double Six Records)

"It's your young voice, that's keeping me holding on to my dull life"

If an album has made a big impact on me before the existence of this blog, I will occasionally just have to talk about it. Folk legend King Creosote's collaboration with electronic producer Jon Hopkins is one of those albums.

I have been a long follower of anything released by Jon Hopkins. His 2009 release 'Insides' was fantastic, mixing lush Ulrich Schnuass style soundscapes with Aphex Twin-esque IDM. As a live experience it was incredible, turning a bunch of indie loving scenesters into bouncing club goers as Hopkins dropped banger after banger. Hopkins is known for the variety of his releases; scoring underground movies (Monsters, 2010) and even making an appearance on a Coldplay album with a haunting section from 'Light Through The Veins'. That last one actually made me die inside a little. However, this latest release is none of the above.

Described by KC as a "romanticised version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village", one would forgive you for assuming that this is going to be some kind of pretentious concept album. In some ways, you would be right. Consisting of the same emotive, lyrical and celtic vocals we have come to expect from KC but now supplemented with Hopkins' soundscapes and atmospheric samples, it is an odd sounding combination but it works seemlessly. We have haunting vocal harmonies, simplistic yet effective acoustic guitar lines, and subtle, soothing piano lines. This is all soaked in Hopkins' luscious production; this really hits home on the last phrase of second track 'John Taylor's Month Away', as chilling female vocals surge back and forth effortlessly.

At a mere 7 tracks, this album is over before you know it. But the journey is exceptional. Every track is heartbreaking and essential, each encapsulating an emotion of a certain period of time in one's life. I cannot wait to see these guys live in September.


Walter-High: 'Bats In The Attic'

Listen HERE

Live: Shangaan Electro @ Rich Mix (25/06/11)

Shangaan Electro: Tshetsha Boys, DJ Spoko & Nozinja

No combination of words would ever prepare you for the experience that is Shangaan Electro. This isn't music made for listening to on your ipod; this is music for dancing. Or in this particular case, music for pretentious, white, middle class London wankers to make arses of themselves to South African electro.

So the gig begins with a number of DJs testing the water with some unknown (South?) African pop/hip-hop/electro records (reminding me exactly how much Vampire Weekend have ripped off African music). Enter a bloke who sounds remarkably like the guy from Real 2 Real of 'I Like To Move It' fame, who 'adds' to the music with inspired remarks such as 'yeah', 'uh huh' or 'la la ley la la ley la la ley'. A cringey rave horn is also sounded far too many times. But we are just getting started. It's getting busy and it's getting hot. England's mini-heatwave laughs at us all.

Now then. Around 9:30pm cues Shangaan Electro; a combination of South African DJs/artists/dancers. A number of which are dressed in boiler suits and clown masks. I'm not sure I remember this being traditional South African attire. The fat dude in the middle delcares that the whole event is to push their tempo to "one... eight..... FOUR!!!" beats per minute. This, as I would later discover, is very, very fast.

So what is the music like? The only way I can describe it is this. Take some African style drumming/grooves. Take away the traditional drums and acoustic instruments and replace them with fairly cheesy digital sounds. Add a number of African whistles and tribal style vocals. Speed up the tempo by a thousand. Now press play. Dance about jiggling your ass and hips ridiculously for 3-4 mins. Press stop. Turn up the tempo. Repeat.

Now, this may sound a bit bizarre. It is. There are no intros or outros. There are just ever-increasingly fast grooves. It is better than it sounds and highly enjoyable after a number of Stella Artois Cidres. This is not so much a gig, but an experience. The African dancers are going mental on stage (all the while dressed as clowns) and the audience is doing the same.

After you realise that each 'track' is essentially the same thing sped up ever so slightly by a few beats per minute (the bpm is announced prior to each track..), it does become a little tiresome. I swear the fat guy is literally setting the tempo and pressing play. But like anything that is repeated enough, the enjoyment comes back around and you are dancing like a twat (or attempting to move your body quick enough) well into the night. At the climax of the show, there is no fat lady singing; just a fat guy gyrating centre stage.

Conclusion: absolutely random, silly, wearying yet awesome. Youtube it to see them move.


Listen HERE

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Banger of the Week (20/06/11): Wild Beasts - Lion's Share

Lion's Share: 4:15
Taken From: Smother (2011, Domino)

"Boy, whatcha running from?"

Having lost the way with Wild Beasts over the last few years, I have recently discovered their new album 'Smother', delivering less falsetto vocals than expected based on past experiences. This has to be a good thing. The album's opener 'Lion's Share' sets the scene nicely, acting as a beautiful crescendo leading into the rest of the LP. Emotional.

Listen HERE

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

LP of the Month (May 2011): Son Lux - We Are Rising

New Release: Son Lux: <i>We Are Rising</i>
Son Lux - We Are Rising (2011, Anticon)
With a long running fondness of Why? and cLOUDDEAD and since my brother bought me 'Baths - Cerulean' for Christmas last year, I have had to check out anything that has been released on Anticon. Although generally not a fan of traditional hip-hop as such, these artists manage to combine hip-hop style beats with haunting melodies, electronic elements and in the case of Son Lux, prominent trumpet/orchestral lines. This provides epic vocals and is vaguely reminiscent of favourites Animal Collective and The Tough Alliance, all submerged in an Anticon goodness.

Walter-High: 'Rebuild'

Listen HERE

Monday, 20 June 2011

Banger of the Week (13/06/11): Maybeshewill - An End To Camaraderie

Maybeshewill - I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone

An End To Camaraderie: 4:17
Taken From: I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone (2011)

More instrumental, electronic-infused post-rock from Leicester film reference enthusiasts, Maybeshewill. This track is a personal favourite on a new album that has a distinct lack of the band's trademark pretentious spoken word taken from little-known cult movies. Nevertheless, it is still epic.

Listen HERE

Tellison - The Wages of Fear

Track List:
01. Get On 4:10
02. Say Silence (Heaven Earth) 3:22
03. Know Thy Foe 3:27
04. Collarbone 2:41
05. Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart 2:46
06. Horses 3:14
07. Rapture 3:47
08. Tell It To Thebes 4:02
09. Letters From Pre-Med 2:41
10. Vermont 3:36
11. Edith 3:15
12. My Wifes Grave Is In Paris 4:39

"So tell me I'm the work of your life, and I'll say you'll be the work of mine"

"I think that if you'd not met me, you would not be so sad"

On first listening to 'Hanover Start Clapping' from 2007 album 'Contact! Contact!', Tellison became another one of my short lived obsessions. It was one of those albums that reminded me of a certain period of my life studying in London, if not only for the amount of repeats it managed to rack up on my Itunes. The album was consistently pleasing if not ground-breaking or particularly moving. As a live band, they supplemented this with a lot of energy and deranged looking singer Stephen Davidson giving every member of the crowd the 'eye' throughout the set at the Lexington. Entertaining.

So 2011 has arrived and Tellison have released their second long player. On first listen, it doesn't seem like Tellison have come a long way. We are greeted with more emo-infused indie rock and melancholy lyrics contrasted with major chords and vocal harmonies. The album opens with a short-lived, sombre piano phrase in 'Get On', only to break into distorted major guitar strumming; any fans of Tellison will be immediately at home.

The album is consistently upbeat with an obvious placement of a token slow song mid way through the album to break the pace; 'Freud Links The Teeth and The Heart'. Unfortunately this isn't delivered particularly well; appalling lyrics rhyming 'France' with 'pants' (didn't Busted use this?) put a damper on the whole affair. Disaster disaster. This brings me to another concern. Having had the album on repeat on the way to work and blaring out of my speakers at home for the past week (it is an album that should be played at high volumes), I am struggling to pinpoint a stand out track. Don't get me wrong though, I am grinning from cheek to cheek and jigging around like a child that's been given way too many Wham! bars the whole way through. You will be singing lyrics for days but somehow you will combine most of the track's choruses into one mega-song, wondering which band you have rattling around your brain. It's not special. It's not innovative. It's damn good fun.

Penultimate track 'Edith' exclaims "Someone's gonna get hurt tonight". I think Davidson is mistaken. The only way you will get hurt listening to this album is if you fall over pulling air guitar lunges in your bedroom.


Walter-High: 'Rapture', 'Edith',
Walter-Low: 'Freud Links The Teeth and The Heart'

Listen HERE

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bloggers = Tools

So, in the boredom of a Sunday afternoon, I have created myself a blog. Why? I am still unsure.

I have judged every single person that has created a blog, whether they have used it to post insights into their giant egos or to just update the world with tiresome information about their mundane lives.

So why have I become one of these tools? Possibly to share some good music that I have come across. Possibly to write something desultory that I feel needs to be shared with the minimal amount of people that may end up reading it. However, it is more likely that I end up not writing anything on here ever again; we shall see.

To those that do waste their precious time reading this, be warned that my ramblings will be at best 'mildly entertaining'.