Monday, 30 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Route One Or Die' by Three Trapped Tigers

So here it is, the first full length album from Three Trapped Tigers, released on the Blood and Biscuits label. If you've got any of the band's 3 previous EPs you might be wondering what's changed. Well, the tracks all now have names instead of numbers, but given that some of the titles seem to contain made-up words ('Cramm', 'Zil' and 'Ulnastricter') I'm not sure it makes much difference. Apart from the naming convention this is very much an evolution of their sound, rather than a revolution.

Noticeably devoid of any vocals, the album still manages to hold your attention through its 43 or so minutes as the music ebbs and flows on its journey. Recorded mainly 'live' by the three piece, this is the sound of a band completely in tune with one another, writing and playing complex tunes with innate skill. Managing to be both articulately clinical and touchingly emotional, the music is never less than intriguing, sometimes verging on the symphonic. For the best comparison of the album's extremes contrast the intensiveness of 'Noise Trade' with the calmess of the piano-led 'Zil'.

I'm not sure what we're calling this genre of music...hardcore electronica? Logarithmic Mathrock? Maybe we should name it 'Noise Trade' after the second track on the album? Who knows and frankly who cares? Labels are for supermarket shelves, whereas this music belongs more in an art gallery than a hypermarket.

You can listen to the opening track 'Cramm' below.
Cramm by Three Trapped Tigers

Three Trapped Tigers on stage at the Brick Lane Takeover, June 2010

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Still Life' by The Horrors

With 'Skying', the new album by The Horrors, due to be released by XL Recordings on 11th July, excitement has been mounting as we wait to hear some new material. Well wait no longer - previewed tonight as Zane Lowe's 'Hottest Record In The World', you can listen to the first new track 'Still Life' below.


Monday, 23 May 2011

Recommended music: 'With U' by Holy Other

If you thought that Triangle Records would struggle to keep up the quality level after brilliant releases from oOoOO, Balam Acab and How To Dress Well, then I'm afraid this record will very much prove you wrong. The mysterious Holy Other has produced a record as startling as it is sensual, as gothic as it is gorgeous.

Recorded in Berlin, Gothenburg and Manchester, this is more 'witch mansion' than 'witch house', an expansive sound that takes apart samples and analogue keyboards, mixes in a healthy dose of 80s r'n'b sensibility (think what a spliffed-out Jam & Lewis would sound like), and emerges with an occasionally disconcerting but ultimately uplifting sound all of its own.

There are hints of Gold Panda and Star Slinger in here (final track 'Feel Something' reminds me as much of Star Slinger's recent James Vincent McMorrow remix as it does an ethereally-reborn baby Vandross) but overall this is a sound that exists as much in a parallel universe as it does in your head and your heart.

At only 5 tracks long it leaves you wanting a lot more (always a good sign) and there's no pint in picking a standout track as they're all equally excellent.

'With U' is out on June 6th on Tri Angle Records. You can listen to a couple of tracks below.



Sunday, 22 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Creature Dreams' by Tokimonsta

LA native Jennifer Lee, aka Tokimonsta, has just released this EP on Brainfeeder records, the label established by Flying Lotus. But unlike the frantic crunchiness of her boss's records this is a far more laid-back affair, verging on what we used to call 'trip-hop' back in the day. It's surprisingly light for an album that was recorded almost entirely between 2am & 7am. Guest vocals on a couple of tracks from  Gavin Turek give the album a chance to breathe, while the instrumentals perfectly evoke an early-evening feel as you gradually  wind yourself up for a night out. It's the sort of record that would have made perfect sense released on on Mo Wax back in the 1990s.

You can listen to the whole album below - my favourite tracks is probably album closer 'Day Job', possibly the darkest and moodiest track on the record with a classic trip-hop drumbeat that provides a perfect way to finish the album.

In pictures: Mercury Rev play 'Deserter's Songs' at the Roundhouse, Camden 21/5/11

Set list:

Tonite It Shows
I Collect Coins
Opus 40
Hudson Lines
The Happy End (The Drunk Room)
Goddess On A Hiway
The Funny Bird
Pick Up If You're There
Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp
Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel cover)
Car Wash Hair
The Dark Is Rising
Senses On Fire

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

In pictures: Roger Waters plays 'The Wall' at the O2, London 17/5/11

Arriving at the O2 - bring on the wall!

In The Flesh

Hey Teacher!

Mother do you think they'll like this song?

The wall cracks

The wall is nearly complete

Hammer time!

Pigs might fly...

They sent us along as a surrogate band...

The trial starts

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Everything's Getting Older' by Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

A break from the type of music I normally cover on here, but this is so good you really have to hear it.

Bill Wells (Scottish self-taugh multi-instrumentalist jazz-person) and Aidan Moffat (equally Scottish ex-Arab Strap front-man) have spent the past 8 years on and off creating this album, and it was well worth the effort. The music is exquisite, beautifully played and produced, with hints of jazz and rhythmic stabs. The vocals range from softly sung words to spoken diatribes, while the subject matter goes from the beautiful (The Greatest Story Ever Told) through the ridiculous (mentions of CBeebies) to potty-mouthed tales of prostitutes fucking squaddies for free in car parks.

Never less than honest, at times brutally so, and liberally sprinkled with swear words, Moffat's lyrics wear their heart on their tattered sleeve for all to see. One of the most moving tracks on the album (musically & lyrically) is 'The Copper Top', the tale of a man alone in a pub after a funeral and pondering on the uses of his suit -"birth, love and death, the only reasons to get dressed up" - and how everything is getting older and decaying.

Possibly the best album about birth, life, love and death that you'll ever hear, and undoubtedly the best work of Moffat's career.

  1. Tasogare
  2. Let's Stop Here
  3. Cages
  4. A Short Song To The Moon
  5. Ballad of the Bastard
  6. The Copper Top
  7. Glasgow Jubilee
  8. (If You) Keep Me In Your Heart
  9. Dinner Time
  10. The Sadness In Your Life Will Slowly Fade
  11. The Greatest Story Ever Told
  12. And So We Must Rest
Click here to download 'The Copper Top' for free

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Recommended music: 'Eye Contact' by Gang Gang Dance

The fifth album from New York's Gang Gang Dance has arrived, and it's a pretty stunning achievement. Immerse yourself in its widescreen, technicolor, 3D sound and you'll find an record that will constantly reward you with its intricacies.

The album starts with a snatch of dialogue - 'I can hear everything, it's everything time' - and then pretty much lives up to that statement, there really is everything in here. This is never more true that with the opening track 'Glass Jar', which is 11 minutes long and is somehow reminiscent of Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre, The Art of Noise and The Orb, all at the same time.

The vocals sound otherwordly throughout, sometimes they are more just like sounds than words, and it can be hard to tell if Liz Bougatsos is singing in English or a foreign language, or even a made-up one. Effectively her voice becomes another instrument in the mix, although it occasionally breaks out to take centre stage. On 'Adult Goth' there are hints of Kate Bush, particularly her 'King of the Mountain' track. 'Chinese High' starts off sounding like a track from Jarre's 'Souvenir of China' album, before taking a turn down the road marked '80s Japanese electro-pop'. Next, and recycling some of its lyrics from the old 'Mockingbird' song, 'MindKilla' hurtles along at a frantic pace with an offbeat rhythm that propels you along (in a weird case of synchronicity the Mockingbird lyric bit came on my iPod the other day at precisely the moment when a schoolboy walked past me reading a copy of 'To Kill A Mockingbird').

'Romance Layers' features a duet with Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, who sounds more spaced out and laid back than he ever has before, coming across like a space-age soul singer over the 80s funk background. Then 'Sacer' skips forward to a far east of the future, like music from Blade Runner if the film had been a rose-tinted vision of the future rather than a bleak warning. The track is in memory of artist Dash Snow who died from an overdose in 2009.

Closing track 'Thru and Thru' features the lyric 'Our dreaming space it is open' which is a pretty good tagline for the record as a whole, which definitely has its feet planted somewhere other than on planet Earth. The closing spoken words are 'Live forever', and this uplifting record makes you feel like you possibly could.

'Eye Contact' is out now on 4AD. You can listen to the whole album below, and you really should. It's undoubtedly one of the most strikingly creative things you'll hear all year.

Recommended music: 'Diorama' by Dominik Eulberg

No ordinary album from no ordinary artist. Dominik Eulberg is a German electronic act with a part-time job on a nature reserve who also leads guided bird-walking tours. On this new release he manages to combine his passions - in association with German nature magazine NABU he has selected the 11 natural wonders of the world, and written a track for each. Although themed in this way the music is quite varied - influences and sounds range from 'Belfast'-era Orbital to last year's Pantha du Prince album.

'Taeuschungs-Blume' starts the album in a reflective mood. Brief dialogue samples that leave you wondering what the person was going to say, over a simple beat and a tune that evokes dusk falling - it's a gentle introduction to the album. 'Echomaus' is next and is more of a beat-driven piece, with rythmic keyboards and a nice breakdown in the middle where you can imagine pilled-up ravers in the early days of E holding their hands aloft.

'Das Neunauge' (The Lamprey) is for me the only piece of filler on the album - nothing much seems to happen over the course of its 5 1/2 minutes. However, it is more than compensated for by 'Teddy Tausendtod'. This is the first track I heard off this album (on the Tom Ravenscroft show back in March) - it builds slowly into a hypnotic and repeitive melody that's completely absorbing.

You know how sometimes when you first hear a track it reminds you of something else, and once you've done that you can't forget it? That's how 'Islandmuschel 400' is for me, the first time I heard it I immediately thought of 'Behind The Wheel' by Depeche Mode and now I can't stop thinking about it, so much so that in my head I end up singing the Mode's words over Eulberg's tune.

The album is now really in its stride, with 'Die 3 Millionen Musketiere' the most Orbital like, a real hedonistic track. 'H2O' is less ravey and more cerebral at the start, but soon builds into another great rythmic track. 'Der Tanz der Gluehwuermchen' (The Dance of the Fireflies) keeps up the pace with another Orbital-esque tune full of light and movement, just like the fireflies themselves.

'Aeronaut' is where the comedown starts to kick in, as the tempo drops with some lush melodies. 'Wenn es Perlen Regnet' (If it's Raining Pearls) is a gentle hymn to the beauty of nature, a bit more up-tempo perhaps but certainly not a four-to-the-floor banger. The keyboards have a twinkly feel to them which fits beautifully into the final track 'Metamorphose'. This has a music-box feel to it, a beautiful and delicate melody that brings the album to a close on a reflective note, allowing you to think back over the wonders you have just experienced.

Overall it does feel almost as much of a homage to those early rave days as it is a homage to nature.

Definitely the best electronic album of the year so far.

Friday, 6 May 2011

'Kid Velo' by Rival Consoles - a 21st Century Charles Dickens?

Back in the mists of time, when England was poor and dark and people used to drink all the time (sound familiar?) young Charlie Dickens used to write books. And because people didn't have time to read whole books (the rich were too busy feasting and fornicating, and the poor were too busy begging and buggering) he used to publish them chapter by chapter, little bite-sized morsels for people to enjoy, safe in the knowledge that as soon as you finished one another one would come along.

Fast forward 150 years or so, and England is poor and dark, people binge drink all the time, and young Ryan West (a.k.a Rival Consoles) makes what we used to call 'records'. And because people's attention spans have shrunk to the size of goldfish, and no-one can communicate is sentences more than 140 characters long (including hashtags) Ryan and his 'record' company Erased Tapes have come up with the marketing wheeze of releasing his album song by song, little ear-nuggets for people to enjoy, safe in the knowledge that there'll be another one along every Monday for 11 weeks. Each track is being streamed by a different online location, linked to a different online store, before the official album release on June 27th.

As a public service to you all, I've decided to batch the tracks up for your listening pleasure - it'll be like having a new EP every month. The first four tracks - Kid Velo, Into The Heart 1, S.P.K.R.S and Amiga - are below - enjoy!

Rival Consoles – Kid Velo by erasedtapes

Rival Consoles – Into The Heart I by erasedtapes

Rival Consoles – S.P.K.R.S. by erasedtapes

Rival Consoles – Amiga by erasedtapes

Recommended music: 'Gob' by DELS

Straight outta Ipswich might not have the same ring to it as 'straight outta Compton' but I guess it's not 26 year-old Kieren Dickins, a.k.a DELS' fault where he comes from. As a British hip-hop album this is much more in the vein of acts like Roots Manuva than the likes of Dizzee Rascal - the music is well thought out, the lyrics alternate from deep, dark thoughts to more upbeat subjects, and everything is shot through with a sense of realism and perspective.

Musically, the album is a refreshing hybrid of indie & electronica, carefully crafted for DELS to spout his rhymes over. This should come as no surprise since the production duties are shared between Michachu, Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and Kwes. Roots Manuva, a label mate from Big Dada Recordings, makes any appearance on 'Capsize', affording us the chance to hear an introduction that goes 'Oi Del Boy, it's Rodney here, no fool and no horses' - classic!

DELS was recently described as 'what Jay-Z would sound like if he grew up with the London house movement of the 90s and felt no need to waste time with raps justifying a past career in drug dealing' (by CMJ), and it's a decent enough description of the boy DELS' talent. It's no exaggeration to say that this is a genuine new talent who could destroy most of the new US hip-hop acts of the past few years and go on to be a worldwide success.

You can get a free download of 'Violina' from the album here:
Violina (produced by Micachu) by DELS

PS Just imagine how great a duet with Adele would be - her great soulful vocals with his incisive raps - and the cover could say 'A DELS / Adele' joint release! If it happens in the future, remember you read it here first!