Monday, 10 June 2013
Katie Stelmanis is back with Austra who are set to follow-up to 2011's Polaris nominated 'Feel It Break' with 'Olympia' on June 17th and NPR Music have the entire album to sample before the band return to London's glorious Square Bar & Kitchen on the night that the new album is released.
I'm just four tracks in as I cobble together this update and current single 'Painful Like' has more than a little bit of Inner City Detroit about it having been remixed by Techno legend Sir Kevin Saunderson.
'Olympia' will now dominate my evening as I practise some new electro moves in time for next week's Austra gig...
Click here to hear the new album in full.
Austra official site
Berlin based Emika is also back with a new album entitled 'DVA'. Some of you may have heard her eerie new cover of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' recently on trailers for new BBC drama and its nice to see a EY fave from 2011 get some mainstream exposure via the UK idiot box.
Heavily influenced by Delia Derbyshire who kick started electronic music with tape loops and clunky equipment back in 1963, Emika's talent for dark and delicious sequencing are finely tuned for the sightly bonkers new single 'Centuries' that ventures briefly into classical opera for a moment before the synths fade back in.
Promo videos tend to be a bit humdrum and forgettable these days but they've put a bit of effort into this one with a few visual nods to David Lynch.
Emika official site
With thanks to melodeewrites
Posted by Rob G at 11:39
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Is it really a whole month since the last update? Time does indeed fly on a diet of cheap cider and entire nights trapped in eBay land and watching auction countdowns on obscure slices of vinyl.
During these past few weeks, my fledgling collection of albums that shook the world (in my little Universe) now includes the 1980 debut from New Musik - 'From A To B' featuring top pop tune 'Living By Numbers'. Arriving into work's reception area today, this was the first album I ever owned - the collective led by Tony Mansfield - a master at creating haunting and atmospheric soundscapes and who would later go on to produce a-ha's debut 'Hunting High & Low'. I managed to snap up this particular gem for just 99p. Slightly more expensive is an original 1977 UK pressing of Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express' that has a delightfully retro inner sleeve and 'Capitol' label - the whole thing looks and feels like it was pressed in the 1940s. Waffle and a copyright free photo to follow on that lovely item soon...
After several failed attempts since I became so hopelessly vinyl obsessed, I finally managed to secure another original 1977 pressing and arguably David Bowie's finest collection of tracks: 'Low'. From the moment I opened up the package, I loved the whole look and feel of this album together with the orange RCA Victor label - minimal markings on the actual vinyl and an absolute bargain at just £4.99.
Having two older brothers who played Bowie extensively throughout the 70's, many of the tracks have already been lodged deep between my ears, buried deep by all those years of one fingered synthypop that followed. Side 2 of 'Low' is made up of four moody and quite brilliant electronic instrumentals - collaborations mainly with Brian Eno. Whilst Side 1 is up there with Bowie's finest collection of songs, the flipside is surprisingly of more interest to me. All four tracks would have shaped most of Marsh & Ware's instrumentals for definitive MK1 League and latter Heaven 17 efforts such as the haunting 'Decline of The West'.
The sci-fi coated 'Low' track 'Art Decade' had me falling down a time tunnel to the last time I heard this track when my brother played it to me back in 1978. I believe he was trying to tell me that Bowie had ripped off 'prog-rock-gods' Yes. I loved listening to this instrumental back then that made me conjure up images of exotic space. When asked 'what does this track remind you of?' and with my brother hoping I would say 'yes', I replied innocently; 'Blake's 7' (the one TV series that everyone was watching back in 1978).
Flipping back over to A1 of 'Low' - 'Sound & Vision' remains for me as one of Bowie's finest singles - even on 36 year old vinyl, Bowie sounds like he's in your living room, up close and personal and I would say that it's Bowie's best vocal performance. After watching a fascinating BBC documentary on the Voyager spacecraft the other night which is sill out there beyond the rim of our solar system and sending back signals - perhaps technology was much better back then? The vocal capture on 'Sound & Vision' is really quite impressive all these years on. Another instant 'Low' fave for me is 'Always Crashing in The Same Car' and I'm amazed that this was never a single. The track is essentially a bible for every Arcade Fire track between 2005 and 2007. The Fire's excellent second album 'Neon Bible' does tap into the strange joy of 'Low' - no wonder Bowie himself would later become a fan of this Canadian super band - performing live on stage with them .
During the dying months of the site formerly known as 'Electronically Yours', I did a podcast with Bowie's biographer David Buckley that is still lurking over on Soundcloud here and there was quite a bit of Bowie waffle that might soften the shock of that brutal 'Red Wedding' eppy of Game of Thrones...
The BBC last week screened one of the best music documentaries that I've ever seen that featured five of Bowie's most important years in the 70's. In years gone by, I had been a bit unkind to Prog Rock Wizard Rick Wakeman but to actually see him all these years on playing 'Life on Mars' on the piano totally changed my opinion of him. As a pianist, he was really quite brilliant..
I'm quite worried that I may now be entering into a new love for prog rock vinyl....
iamamiwhoami Live at Brixton
Electronic music for advanced human beings returned to London last Thursday as Iamamiwhoami enchanted a packed and incredibly diverse crowd at the lush Brixton Electric and the first time I had been there.
Everyone loves a venue just a stones throw from a major tube station with very little fuss from Waterloo but Brixton Electric excelled with wonderful old show room decor - it seemed like London's answer to Amsterdam's Paradiso.
My last visit to Brixton was to see New Order last year at the Academy with the worse PA in the world to add to the misery of seeing a much loved band that was missing one crucial band member. Thankfully, the sound was much better a the Electric though it couldn't quite match the crispy sound reproduction of iamamiwhoami's live debut on the South Bank late last year.
I never learn and was advised against it but the warm lager on offer at venues is always unappealing and so I opted for some equally warm Blossom Hill at £14 a bottle, a wine I usually avoid in the real world...even when its on offer for 4 squid. A few glasses of that and supporting act Rex The Dog were blasting out to ringing ears. An EY fave back in the days when hopes were on Ladytron to bring electro back to the Top 40 (such innocent and optimistic days), Rex did some terrific remixes of tracks including The Knife's 'Heartbeats', Depeche Mode's 'Photographic' and his brilliant 2008 take on Yazoo's 'Too Pieces' that I really expected to be a huge UK Top 5 smash but alas...
Some of those remixes were played on the night along with tunes by Robyn and the overplayed but still brilliant 'Blue Monday'. I moaned a little at this point as something more recent could have been played in its place but I was reminded by my delightful black and white striped gig companion that the tune was actually making people dance. I chilled a little, tapping my foot to the sight of fabulously spiky and brightly coloured haircuts walked in and out of groups of very stylish individuals. It seemed in places like a return to the New Romantics but with a much warmer atmosphere - there were an awful lot of very smiley people and one of the best crowds I've seen in ages.
iamamiwhoami's stage dominating cube slowly began to light up and Jonna Lee appeared in her trademark skin tight all in one black body suit - pulling enchanting dance moves to pulsating layers of proper analogue electro - you can't really wish for more if buzzy basslines are your thing.
Much of tonight's live set is focussed on 'Bounty' - a prequel album of all the tunes released on youtube prior to last year's brilliant 'Kin'. I didn't fall under Jonna's spell until 'Clump' so all of the Bounty tracks were new to me on the night. Many of the earlier tracks were more ethereal than than 'Kin', a bit more abstract in places whilst one or two tunes did remind me of Bjork's illustrious 'Homogenic' phase. The hardcore were totally captivated during these tracks with it being the first live airing and I gave a huge cheer to my personal fave 'Clump' when the opening few bars thundered out across the Electric. I was always quite gutted that this track never made it on to 'Kin' with its Mode-esque chord changes and sublime sequencing. I pretty much felt complete after finally hearing that one live.
The biggest cheer of the night though was quite rightly reserved for the recent single 'Goods' - one of the best nu-electro tunes of recent years and the Electric gathering go manic as the venue's foundations shake to an unbelievably loud drum pattern. Hopefully all that love and demand for on encore will send Jonna and her mysterious collaborators back into the studio for their unique take on a genre that has sadly dipped in recent years.
More pics and views from the night can be enjoyed over at melodeewrites
One act who have remained a shining beacon of electro hope since 2006 and have remained remarkably consistent are premier UK knob twisters Hot Chip and Alex and co are set to release a brand new single 'Dark & Stormy' exclusively to vinyl 10"! How fantastic is that?
I'm not sure if this was recorded during the 'In Our Heads' sessions or something they've recorded during the recent tour (rather shockingly, I've still yet to see them live believe it or not), and if it was recorded a while back then it should have been on the recent album - it is that good.
This gem is released July 22nd...C'mon! Blast it out!