C I R C U L A T I O N v o l u m e 3 / i s s u e 3 / f re e
S A V A G E S + M O U N T K I M B I E / P E A C E / B E N P E A R C E / L U K E A B B O T T / R O B D A B A N K
[P]: David Shama PHOTO: CHUFF MEDIA
C I R C U L A T I O N CO-EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Jonjo B Lowe + Joni Roome — MANAGING EDITOR Olivia Head — E V E N T S C O - O R D I N AT O R Alice Brooksbank — F E AT U R E S E D I TO R Phoebe Rilot — REVIEWS EDITORS Alice Lawrence + Niamh Connolly — COMMENT EDITOR Jess Roberts — LIVE EDITORS Alex Beazley-Long + Will Olenski — WEB EDITOR Judith Borghouts
ARTS EDITORS Bex Liu Felicia Morizet — VIDEO EDITOR Lucy Watson — CONTRIBUTORS Karl Bos Roseanna Brear Oscar Burton Xi Beth Curtis Rory Foster Lev Harris Jacob Harrison Alexander Jasinski Alex Morden Osborne Kyle Picknell Steven RobertsAlex Theodossiadis — I L LU S T R ATO R S
T E A M
IMAGE CREDITS Savages Front Cover - David Shama Mount Kimbie Front Cover - Provided by Ian Cheek Press Conquering Animal Sound by Greig Jackson I Am Kloot by Jacob Harrison Peace by Jonnie Craig Bad Paintings by Andy Gaines Inkwells by Phoebe Rilot Savages by Richard Dumas + David Shama
ART DIRECTION + DESIGN bhavmistry.net firstname.lastname@example.org
“Finding the Right Words” Illustration by Jordan Licht “Dashikis to Sega” Illustration by Bex Liu “L.I.E.S and 50 Weapons” Illustration by Erin Cork
GEN R E C O LU M N S
UK Hip-Hop 02 Beats 02 Dubstep 02 Lyricism 03
Conquering Animal Sound 04 Peace 04 Pere Ubu 04 I Am Kloot 05 Spring Offensive 05 Rob da Bank 06 Festivals 2013 06
◊ Congratulations reader, you have correctly identified the front of the magazine! The cover of this issue caused problems for the team, did we go for the established and critically acclaimed Mount Kimbie, with their second LP due to hit the scene for Summer? Or did we back Savages and give them the front-spot? A new, all female band with an intimidatingly passionate live following and a debut album set to dominate the critics summer playlists. We went for both.
C O N TAC T ANY QUERIES / COMPLAINTS / COMMENTS? GET IN TOUCH IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN CONTRIBUTING TO ANY ASPECT OF THE MAGAZINE CIRCULATIONMAGAZINE@YUSU.ORG CIRCULATION-MAG.COM FACEBOOK.COM/CIRCULATIONMAG
C O N T E N T S
VOLUME 3 : ISSUE 3
As ever with student media, the production teams are constantly revolving and as such the next issue will be the last for the current team. We have a shiny new website and a summer of festivals, gigs and albums to review. If you think you have the passion for music and ability to string a sentence together then that’s enough to get involved.
FEATU R ES 07 Peace 07 Luke Abbott 08 Ben Pearce 08 Dashikis to Sega 09 Mount Kimbie 10 Bad Paintings 12 Inwell 13 Duchess 13 Savages 14 A LBU M R EVIEWS
Laura Marling 15 Mount Kimbie 15 Savages 16 Ghostpoet 16 Dirty Beaches 16 The Child of Lov 17 Marquez Toliver 17 Baths 17 LA BEL SPOTLIGH T
L.I.E.S and 50 Weapons
G E N R E
U K - H I P
H O P
◊ Jump back a decade – classic releases from Jehst, Mudfam and Foreign Beggars are solidifying a fresh direction for hip-hop, leaving the scene feeling like it’s about to receive real recognition. But it doesn’t. It falls into a slumber, while forms of its cousin grime find mainstream chart success and dance floor demand. The fractured UK hiphop scene remained characteristically underground, bubbling along through blogs and small events. The last few years, however, have seen an explosion of activity within the scene. No doubt bolstered by the recent rise of MC battling leagues like DON’T FLOP, UK hip-hop has found its feet again. Nothing symbolizes this more than Boombap festival, the scene’s first dedicated weekend festival which debuted last year. The festival itself was grotty and at times had the atmosphere of a Juggalo convention, but truly gave the impression of a scene that’s found cohesion after a while in the wilderness. Beat-wise, the scene has moved in more directions than a broken sat-nav. Traditional break and sample instrumentals remain the backbone with producers like Leaf Dog representing that kind of infectious nostalgic flow. Experimentation though is increasing, from the stripped back electronic beats of Ghostpoet and Edward Scissortounge, to dubstep inspired hype like Strange U and Defdfires. Equally, the involvement of more live bands alongside electronics is bringing rich textured releases from acts like Granville Sessions and The Mouse Outfit. As with any faithful resurgence, the sound has kept its character while adapting to the musical temperature of the day. Introspective melancholy tempered by dry humour remains the predominant mood of writing. Blending bravado and self-deprecation in equal measure, evoking that unique atmosphere you only get when chilling on a park bench at three in the morning clasping a can of something cheap. Staying true to classic hip-hop while trying to make money is a hard balancing act. Even UK Hip Hop’s most famous artist Roots Manuva has had little monetary success in comparison to similarly large names. This is unlikely to change in a scene that is happy to value artistic output over commercial gains. Recently, veteran producer Harry Love appeared in an Ikea advert extolling the virtues of shelving, somehow without seeming overly tacky. It seemed organic and truly from the heart. It is nice to see that even in the clutches of the advertising, a UK hip-hop act can come out true to himself and his music. Oscar Burton Xi
C O L U M N S
B E A T S
D U B S T E P
◊ Pretty much anyone these days can grab a copy of Ableton, download a box set of obscure 60s soul cuts, smash their heads on an MPC for 90 seconds to make a beat worthy of a SoundCloud upload, which make beats an emerging genre influenced by electronic, hip-hop, jazz, funk and everything in between, so hard to define. Based solely on sampling, it very easily gets overpopulated by part-time DIY musicians. Luckily for listeners, headhunter labels like Warp, Ninja Tune and Brainfeeder wade through the feeds for us.
◊ Two years from its peak and I’ve been hearing that dubstep is dead. But truth be told, it’s alive and kicking. Caspa’s label Dub Police is one of the biggest labels in electronic music, with a bi-monthly residency at Fabric. In radio, Sub FM continues to internationally broadcast shows featuring refreshing artists like Compa. Rinse FM, the seminal dubstep and bass station, is still going strong running nights across the country at Brixton Academy, The Warehouse Project and Tuesday Club. Dubstep founding father Mala is headlining this summer’s Dimensions and Outlook festivals with his live Cuban band. Swamp81 and Hessle Audio, rooted in grime and dubstep, continue to produce sounds you’d struggle to class under any other genre. Post-dubstep has never been so strong with the release of James Blake’s second album ‘Overgrown’. The underground still sees regular nights put on across the UK showcasing the best in deeper dubstep, with artists such as Kahn, V.I.V.E.K, Swindle and Phaeleh playing nights like SubDub in Leeds, Hit n Run in Manchester and FWD in London.Skrillex remains as popular as ever in the US and there is no reason why he or his label OWSLA should stop expanding after taking the world by storm. The Far East is a regular destination for Benga, who still sells out huge shows in Tokyo and Jakarta. Australia and New Zealand still hunger for bass music with dubstep tents at festivals such as Rhythm and Vines. Hardly small time places to showcase the best the genre has to offer. So if it is still clearly going strong, you have to ask why people are saying dubstep is dead.
The relationship between these labels is incestuous and necessary in defining beats as a genre. Beat-centred LA label Brainfeeder is co-run by Flying Lotus, but FlyLo actually releases on Warp, and Ninja Tune’s site is the UK stockist of Brainfeeder’s releases. IDM musicians Aphex Twin, Clark and Boards of Canada all call Warp their home, but so do Mount Kimbie, Hudson Mohwake/TNGHT and Letherette, who all have at least one leg kneehigh in beats. Ninja Tune is run by the electronic duo Coldcut, but is best known for its jazz and hip-hop artists like The Cinematic Orchestra, Roots Manuva, Mr Scruff and Bonobo. Each label currently has several notable records out: Lapalux’s ‘Nostalchic’ released on Brainfeeder, Bonobo’s ‘The North Borders’ released on Ninja Tune, and Letherette’s ‘Letherette’ released on Warp, and all represent different ways these labels are taking beats forward. ‘The North Borders’ is the most musically solid, blending live instruments with influences from Floating Points to Burial. However, ‘Nostalchic’ is the most forward thinking. The album is challenging and awe-inspiring, but unfortunately in doing so loses a bit of its popular appeal. Worth a listen are album cuts “Guuurl” and “Walking Worlds”, who provide an exception to this rule. As time goes on it seems that the quantity and popularity of releases owing something to this tradition is only increasing. Warp beat-master Hudson Mohawke has now signed on as a producer for Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label, which no one who listened to his pre-TNGHT work would have ever thought imaginable. The accidental release of Jai Paul’s self-titled but unfinished album was most definitely an expansion to the genre. Artists such as Star Slinger, Gold Panda and Baths are taking things forward in exciting ways too. Beats is a genre moving forward in both the quantity of emerging new artists and the quality of innovation with surrounding defined genres.
Electronic music goes in cycles of popularity, with music filtering into the mainstream from the underground, where it’s processed into something saleable for a mass market, and then slinks back down again. It happened first with Garage, then DnB, and then dubstep in 2010. The underground quickly became tired of the endless grating transformer noises of bro-step, a far cry from dubstep’s origin in the murky bowels of Croydon, and ditched it in favour of the UK’s next fad – House. After dubstep ‘died’, people started to look for a new genre to latch onto, and House is now that genre, hitting the mainstream very recently with Disclosure’s “White Noise” reaching #2 in the charts.
F I N D I N G R I G H T
T H E
W O R D S
[I]: Jordan Licht
◊ A few weeks ago, my six-yearold cousin came to stay. She has recently developed a fervent love for One Direction. As their tracks started to seep into my head like sugar encrusted pop poison, I became increasingly frustrated. ‘The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed,’ they professed to me for the hundredth time that day. And it got me thinking about lyrics. It’s pretty easy to point out the absolute rubbish, the teenage gargling and profanity-thick ranting, but trying to define what makes truly excellent lyrics is much, much trickier. First of all, there’s the obvious route of following rhythms and rhymes that make words roll off the tongue. Wild Beasts track “Reach A Bit Further” is a great
example of this. There’s a particular satisfaction to hearing, ‘I was crude, I was lewd, I was rude, I was not in the mood…tearjerker, shadow lurker, wonder worker, reach a bit further’. While their pure/half rhyming approach is simple, it makes for catchy and memorable lyrics. The lyrics of Alt-j, however, lean in a slightly more complicated direction. The lyrics of “Estocada” – ‘Fortyeight thousand seats bleats and roars for my memories of you / Now that I’m fully clean the matador is no more and is dragged from view’ – are more complex in their interlacing rhymes, found both in the middle and at the end of each line. Lacing the lyrics with references to obscure art as well a literature and film also adds an extra dynamic to the sound and also provides additional food for thought.
But it isn’t just about the sound of words either. Of course most artists tend to write in order to express something, to let something out, and while sometimes this personal approach can be a bit overwhelming, as in the case of Keaton Henson’s “I’m Looking At You”, it is an impressive feat to appeal to listeners on an emotional level without being cheesy. Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” documents what seems to have been a crushing break-up, but with layers of words with a mysterious veneer, maintaining a delicate lyrical balance that’s particularly poignant in “Flume” – ‘Only love is all maroon / Lapping lakes like leery loons / Leaving rope burns, reddish ruse’.
Above all, for me at least, lyrics should be about telling a story without having to say everything. I think it’s pretty important that musicians have a literary eye, like in The Divine Comedy’s approach to “A Lady of a Certain Age”. For me though, there is only one album that really hits the lyrical nail on its head, and that’s “Diamond Mine” by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins. Tales of midlife crisis and men at sea are intermingled beautifully with conversations in cafes and attics. It’s real, it’s raw, and that makes the words all the more hard hitting. So One Direction, take note: there is much more to lyricism than going “crazy, crazy, crazy ‘til we see the sun.”
Alex Morden Osborne
L I V E
[P]: Greig Jackson
CONQUERING ANIMAL SOUND: THE BASEMENT, 01/04/13 ◊ Since the closure of Stereo, The Basement remains as one of the few remaining smaller gig venues in York, it’s recently played host to a plethora of talented acts, both homegrown and from further afield. Still, I was interested to see how this cosy venue that lends itself so well to acoustic gigs would work with the glitchy, beatladen melodies of Conquering Animal Sound. Support act Voltage Black made the biggest noise of the night, despite comprising of just two members. The key to their anthemic, breakbeat inflected art rock was their mastery of live music software, allowing for huge bass synth lines to rattle the bones of the audience. Some herculean drumming efforts and chiptune synths meant this London two-piece live up to their self-proclaimed title of “maximalist sonic adventurers”.
PEACE: THE DUCHESS, 13/04/13
PERE UBU: FIBBERS, 16/04/13
◊ I was fortunate enough to see Peace the last time they visited York – a somewhat lowkey, remarkably intimate gig at Fibbers in late November. How quickly things have changed. Following the release of their sublime debut ‘In Love’, it is immediately striking how much bigger and bolder Peace have become in such a short space of time. Strolling out to the syncopated jungle rumblings of opener “Delicious”. Oozing confidence and barely pausing for breath the band tear through album highlights “Follow Baby” and “Lovesick” before frontman Harrison Koisser has a chance to acknowledge the reception.
◊ It’s a Tuesday night at Fibbers that belonged to two very eccentric bands: Variety Lights, and the cult rock band Pere Ubu who were on tour to promote their 15th studio album, ‘Lady of Shanghai’. Variety Lights’ robust frontman David Baker was in the initial line-up of Mercury Rev and since his departure has kept a low profile. Bathed in green lights, tonight he is a postmodern prophet yelling over reggae-influenced electronica. His mix of the spasmodic and the theatrical is utterly absorbing and it is Baker’s intense performance that remains at the centre of the act.
Peace’s infectious tunes do all the talking, and it shows. The debut effort has clearly been well-received and the songs are no less impressive live. By mid-set the entire room is helplessly crooning along to “Float Forever”, an uplifting ode to youth and freedom that serves as a manifesto-cum-dress code: “Sit atop the With the previous act still ringing in everyone’s ears, Conquering Animal Sound’s stripped down, Eiffel in your mind/If you’re not happy wearing denim, then you’re a devil in disguise”. People IDM inflected opening number was a pleasant change of pace and volume. In fact, their entire clamber onto each others’ shoulders and hang set was a masterclass in restrained songwriting, from the lighting rig; grown, respectable-looking men flail about like they’re 16 again. By the time as though they started each song with a wall the final trio of songs rolls round they have the of sound and chiseled it down to it’s most entire room caught in an unashamedly feelimportant parts. good groove. Watching the Glaswegian duo create their The pulsating funk staccato and desperately intricate layers of laptop beats, loops and romantic lyrics of “Wraith” are a perfect example sampled vocals from behind a desk hidden under a myriad of samplers and midi controllers of why the band has such a hold on the crowd was just as hypnotic as the music itself. I found – this is music that is easy to get lost in. Each chorus is a wave of euphoria and only the myself wondering just how they were creating gorgeous vocal harmonies of the anthemic this subtly complex music with such apparent “California Daze” provide any sort of respite ease. The answer is clearly down to sheer from the frenetic pace. Koisser coyly suggests attention to detail, with Anneke’s deftly placed “This is potentially our last song” before an vocal samples blending perfectly with her live initially unrecognisable “Bloodshake” swells into performance, and some very careful use of the its full-blooded tropical form and leaves the microphone, holding it up close to pronounce audience breathless. her whispered lines, then at arms reach to limit the louder sections. This microphone technique Closer “1998” is a brooding, sprawling leviathan gave her performance a personal and emotive of a track. A cover of Binary Finary’s trance quality without making any grand gestures, classic, Peace inject it with a chaotic menace which is what CAS’s music is all about. brought about by a stampeding rhythm section, a vampiric second verse and an irresistibly “The Future Does Not Require”, works perfectly percussive breakdown. It seems over in an in a live setting, slowly developing from instant but “1998” showcases everything the otherworldly synth pads reminiscent of Boards band are capable of within a ten-minute epic. of Canada to a minimal techno-meets-Fever Ray ending. Comparisons with the likes of Bjork, As they drift to a premature halt it occurs to me that momentum is everything. Peace are just Gang Gang Dance and Grimes immediately getting started. spring to mind when listening to this band, but they’ve carved out their own musical niche, which is a refreshing and genuine pleasure to indulge in. Jacob Harrison 04
Pere Ubu then entered the spotlight, with frontman David Thomas announcing “not a speck of irony in this manly beast before you”. These words define Pere Ubu’s set, as they ooze character from the get-go. While Thomas might be at the literal centre of the stage, it’s his relationship with the rest of the band that is central to the identity of Pere Ubu. The avantgarde element is evident in their expert use of a Theremin, synths and even a phone receiver hanging off the mic. David Thomas’ liberal approach to what is reality and what is not only adds to Pere Ubu’s appeal. It is also crucial to the setlist – for instance what was introduced leeringly as “a couple of songs for ladies” turns out to include a schizophrenic version of “Vacuum In My Head”. But amongst the old favourites such as “Breath”, there are plenty of pieces from ‘Lady of Shanghai’ such as “Mandy”, “Musicians are Scum” and “Free White”. But it is the aptly named “Road Trip of Bipasha Ahmed” with its obsessive recitation that seems a standout, alongside the nightmarish visions provided by “414 seconds”. While musically Pere Ubu might have been overshadowed by the stage auguries provided by David Baker from Variety Lights, Thomas manages to build and sustain a real connection with the audience. You might say however while they were very good, they weren’t great. However, despite any technical misgivings, you cannot ignore the fact that Pere Ubu are an exceptional experience. Thomas and his companions want you to leave reality behind for an hour and half and they won’t let you forget that, in their own quirky manner, they are here to entertain.
L I V E
[P]: Jacob Harrison
I AM KLOOT: YORK GRAND OPERA HOUSE, 16/04/13.
SPRING OFFENSIVE: THE DUCHESS, 22/04/14
◊ Kloot’s rise to fame isn’t exactly one you would describe as ‘meteoric’. A trio of 40-somethings having only recently found widespread acclaim, theirs is a rare story in the music business. It’s clear that slow-burning success has shaped their approach to writing and performing music. Even their most ambitious musical arrangements are informed by a sense of humility and kitchen-sink honesty. Bramwell’s one moment of frontman swagger was with tongue firmly in cheek: proclaiming “that is just a fucking excellent song”, after playing Bullets, the sleazy reverb-laden opening track from their latest album ‘Let It All In’.
◊ Spring Offensive were one of my favourite live bands of last year. After an extensive European tour last Autumn following the release of their latest, September single “Not Drowning but Waving”, the band are now on a UK tour with a number of stops including supporting Gaz Coombes in York. Having last seen them in the intimacy of Molotov Bar at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival, I was keen to see whether six months later and on a much bigger stage my initial reaction was justified.
Material from the new release was perfectly complemented by the extra session players who provided three-part harmonies, baritone sax, trumpet, piano, accordion, and some much needed grit from the spiky guitar solos. The one thing missing onstage was a string section; without the orchestral arrangement on the second half of “Hold Back The Night”, the song was left without the urgency and drama that makes the album version pop. “These Days Are Mine” was a perfect choice for a set opener, meandering around a constant drone on the bass, wearing its psychedelic Beatles influences on its sleeve, but punctuated by guitar stabs reminiscent of Television’s “Marquee Moon”. I Am Kloot come from the same school of British song-writing as Guy Garvey and Richard Hawley, blending big sound with small scale everyday musings, and this works very much in their favor. The moments that didn’t quite work during the night were when they strayed away from this formula, when Bramwell stood alone on stage armed only with acoustic guitar. Whilst their earlier material, such as the heartbreaking ‘No Fear Of Falling’, is perfect on record, on stage these incredibly personal moments made the already quiet and all seater venue feel oppressively empty. Whether or not they’d benefit from taking some lessons in rock-star braggadocio from fellow Mancunians Noel & Liam Gallagher, I certainly felt that they could get away with making a bit more of a racket. Minor criticisms aside, this is a band that deserve their acclaim after a long wait on the fringes. Despite being championed by the likes of Simon Armitage and Guy Garvey, they still clearly care about their audience. More precocious acts may have balked at the empty seats left in the Opera House, but this band were only concerned with the ones that were occupied, and delivered a stellar performance.
For their penultimate song, the band proceeded to unplug their guitars and assemble at the front of the stage to sing “Carrier”, a song that normally sees the band immerse themselves in the centre of the crowd for an a’cappella performance. While the steel crowd barriers halted them physically it did little in the way of stopping the groups five-part harmonies cutting through the room to be met with a roar of applauses they finally fell silent. When Gaz Coombes took to the stage he offered synths and laptops triggering loops whilst he switched between acoustic and electric guitars and his keyboard seamlessly mid song. Whilst musically developed and a world away from the music of Supergrass, Coombes’ showmanship on stage was incongruous with his bands technical ability. Away from Supergrass, Gaz Coombes is essentially a relatively new act in a post-internet age, much like Spring Offensive. It is the latter that shine on stage tonight; as a band they always do. Their forward thinking attitude and relentless touring, whether it is playing gigs in anything from a reclaimed church to a fan’s kitchen or giving mp3 download codes away with their merchandise, cements them as a perfect paradigm of the modern band. Will Olenski
C I R C U L A T I O N
Amidst worries of sound problems and the prospect of the unique character of the venue, the band seem initially apprehensive of their audience. An anecdote about visiting the Minster but not going in “not because we’re cheap, we just can’t afford it” is met by an understanding laugh from the crowd. As they launched into their first song, any anxieties were immediately dissolved and replaced by the confidence of a seasoned live unit. All five members take turns of singing duties, each effortlessly dropping in and out of harmony throughout their songs. This combined with the swapping between guitars, keyboards and percussion lends itself to a dynamic and engaging show.
M A G A Z I N E
Battle Lines/ The Disraeli Gears/ Joel B &
L AUNCH PARTY— The Graduate / one to be announced —
26TH MAY £3
tickets @ SU 8 — 12am
L I V E + F E S T I V A L
R O B D A B A N K B R I N G S B E S T I V A L T O I T S 1 0 T H Y E A R
F E S T I V A L S
I LOVE SPOTTING THE UNDERDOG EARLY AND SEEING HOW BIG THEY BECOME BY SEPTEMBER. I’D KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS PEELED FOR DRENGE, JAGWAR MA, MERCHANDISE AND LEWIS WATSON, ALL OF WHOM COULD REALLY BREAK THROUGH BY THE END OF THE SUMMER.’ ◊ You have to be confident to put on a festival in September, a time when most of the ‘big boys’ have had their fun in July and August. Bestival is the last big UK festival of the summer, taking place over four days in Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight, organiser Rob Da Bank tells us why he feels that his festival is so special. With an ever growing reputation, every year, the Best’ is saved till last. The big challenge for Rob Da Bank was how to top last year’s success. Stevie Wonder and four days of glorious sunshine were always going to be a tough act to follow but with Elton John, Snoop Dogg and a whole host of top bands and DJs, this year looks to be an amazing event. Bestival has a solid reputation based on choosing acts with true star quality rather than picking buzz bands or flash-inthe-pan successes. Duke Dumont has been announced as a recent booking and Rob professed his excitement about his appearance, along with M.I.A., Sinead O’Connor, Disclosure, Bastille and Wu Tang Clan. You are not likely to find a more diverse line-up anywhere else in the world. Even with all the big names, Rob puts a real emphasis on new talent,
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The festival also focuses on an inclusive and party atmosphere, never running the risk of becoming over-commercialised as Rob explains.
‘I SEE IT AS I SAW IT AT THE BEGINNING - AN EVER EVOLVING ARTWORK THAT WE BUILD ON EACH YEAR AND A HUGE PLAYGROUND FOR ALL OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND MUSICAL HEROES TO SHARE LOVE, MUSIC, GOOD FOOD AND A PINT OF CIDER OR FOUR. WE’VE CAPPED BESTIVAL’S CAPACITY SO WE CAN KEEP THAT UNIQUE VIBE. I JUST WANT PEOPLE TO KEEP COMING WHO LOVE NEW MUSIC AND FUN’.
25th May, Victoria Park, London,
TNGHT, Savages, How To Dress Well, Animal Collective, Chvrches
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Eastern Electrics, 2nd-4th August, Knebworth Park, London,
Richie Hawtin, Theo Parrish, Seth Troxler, Surgeon, Blawan
Love Saves The Day, Beacons , 25th-26th May, Castle Park, Bristol,
16th-18th August, Skipton, Yorkshire,
Ben UFO, Ghostpoet, Joy Orbison, Ms Dynamite, Julio Bashmore
Local Natives, Bonobo, Fucked Up, John Talabot, Julia Holter
All Tomorrow’s Latitude , Parties Kraftwerk,
18th-21st July, Henham Park, Suffolk,
21st-23rd June, Camber Sands, Kent,
Deerhunter, Steve Reich, Panda Bear, Black Dice, William Basinski
I asked Rob how, in this time of financial austerity, he would convince someone to choose Bestival over any other.
‘IT’S THE MOST MAGICAL, ESCAPIST NON-STOP PARTY FUN YOU CAN HAVE LEGALLY. AND IT’S ON AN ISLAND AWAY FROM THE DOOM AND GLOOM OF MAINLAND ENGLAND. SUCK IT AND SEE!’ I’m convinced, I’ll see you all there. Joni Roome
Night + Day, 22nd June, Hatfield House, London,
The xx, Poliça, Kindness, Mount Kimbie, Solange
Cat Power, Modest Mouse, Alt-J, James Blake
5th-8th September, Isle of Wight,
Elton John, M.I.A., Wu-Tang Clan, The Knife, Angel Haze
P E A C E
[P]: Jonnie Craig
Being “In Love”: We talk tours, debut albums and engagements with Peace ◊ Apologies to all you festival organizers, bedroom DJs and marketing executives, but I’m calling it now, 2013 is the year of the guitar. As if the distinguished returns made by icons such as David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine weren’t enough, new guitar heroes are springing up everywhere (such as of lo-fi savants Hookworms and Iceage). Throw in the fact that Madonna and Deadmau5 recently had a flame war about, ahem, ‘molly’ and every new Rihanna song sounds like a lost Coki dub and guitars are positively cool again. If all the kids at school are listening to Disclosure and saving up for CDJs, it’s pretty good motivation to do the exact opposite, and pick up a guitar.
ful countryside”, and that sense of Romanticism is evident on an incredibly assured debut. The songs are soaring and anthemic, very much the music of someone young and in love. Koisser’s impassioned voice cuts through the swirling guitars, and there’s a palpable sense of confidence throughout, yet also earnestness. Their music is at once wistful and exuberant. Peace are that rare band that sound like they could soundtrack both a BBC period drama and a drug-fuelled rampage with aplomb. In that sense ‘In Love’ is the perfect name for the album; it’s brash, genuine and honest.
To celebrate the release of their debut album, Peace went on a tour that culminated with a four night Which is kind of how I imagine Harry residency at the intimate Dalston venue Birthdays in early May. I was Koisser started Peace, except for curious to know why the band chose the fact that I can’t really imagine to end the tour this way as opposed Harry caring about, or even noticto playing a big show at one of Loning, what other people are doing. don’s more traditional venues such The cocksure lead singer of the Birmingham band is blithe in all the as Brixton Academy or Shepherd’s right ways. Simply put, he’s a hope- Bush Empire. According to Harry, less romantic who doesn’t care what the motivation behind this was the fact the band were “fed up of bands you think about him being ‘In Love’ showboating and pretending that (the name of their debut album). In they’re bigger than they are” and fact, he recently proposed to his girlfriend, Vice Magazine provocateur that “if you play the biggest venues whilst touring to support your debut Billie JD Porter, at an after party for album, what do you do afterwards?”. the final night of the NME Awards Along with this they were keen to Tour. Harry seemed typically nonavoid the corporate trappings that plussed at being engaged at just 21 years of age, simply saying “why come with bigger gigs, where apparently “loads of it’s out of our hands”. not?” and imploring me to get down on one knee also: “it’s a great idea”. At Birthdays they were able to He does hastily reassure though that the marriage won’t be for “some “run the entire show”. As a result, they booked some of their favourtime”. ite bands to support them on each separate night, such as fellow up and Peace’s debut album, despite its coming Brummie rockers Superfood brazen title, was actually recorded and the rather excellent Wolf Alice. All before any NME Awards Tours and in all, the nights were a great experiengagements, as Harry jokingly ence for both the band and their fans, refers to it “when life was simpler”. Harry tells me the album was record- prompting Harry to muse “I wish we could do it in every town”. ed in Lincolnshire, “in the beauti-
Despite obviously feeling slightly uneasy about the rapidly ascending commercial appeal of the band, Harry is keen for Peace to break America. A process that previous British guitar bands have found time consuming and ultimately futile. He really just “wants people to like us”. Many more people have been doing just that of late, in no small part due to the media attention the band have been getting. They were on the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2013, which Harry, with more than a hint of irony, remarked was “a huge compliment”, before bemoaning the fact that their nomination didn’t come with a “physical prize like a medal or a corsage”. A media outlet whose support Harry is slightly more appreciative of is NME, who have been big fans of the band from the off. Along with booking them for this year’s installment of the prestigious Awards Tour, the magazine recently gave ‘In Love’ a glowing review, brandishing them ‘songwriting naturals’. Despite his apparent nonchalance towards such things, Harry refuses to take this praise lightly. Regardless of what people may think about the publication, he has only warm words: “they are still important. Whatever people say about print media being dead, they still definitely have the power to make or indeed break a band. To any musician they are important, I definitely respect their opinion”. It took a while, but I finally found someone whose opinion Harry Koisser cares about.
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HUMAN AFTER ALL: LUKE ABBOTT WILL SOUNDTRACK YOUR SUMMER. ◊ Hailing from Norfolk, Luke Abbott makes unique, inviting and less club-centric electronic music than the kind currently dominating the charts. We caught up with Luke who is in the studio making his second album, a follow up to 2010’s ‘Holkham Drones’. Abbott’s debut LP came out on the Border Community label; home to James Holden and fellow Norfolk resident Nathan Fake. This album was a lot more intense and production heavy than his two 2012 EP’s released on Gold Panda’s NOTOWN recordings. Luke told me that “the EPs were great fun to make, they both feel like little experiments to me. I don’t think about things like direction too much, I just make music I want to hear so it kind of takes care of itself. I’m in the process of finishing my second album right now, and I think it sounds pretty different to those EPs”. A defining aspect of Abbott’s music is his refusal to limit himself to a particular sound: “I don’t think of myself as having a usual process, it’s more like I have a catalogue of techniques that I can use in a variety of ways. But no two tracks take the same path in terms of production. I’m always trying to learn... with music there’s always more things you can learn... I’ve explored a little bit but my real focus has always been composition”. “Modern Driveway” from the EP of the same name made it into many end of year lists with it’s warm and inviting
WHAT HE MIGHT DO: PLATINUMSELLING BEN PEARCE TALKS US THROUGH HIS NEXT MOVE. atmosphere with the emphasis on composition easy to see. I asked Luke how he feels about being labelled ‘human electronica’ along with people like Jon Hopkins and Gold Panda? ”THAT’S JUST HOW IT COMES OUT. PEOPLE TELL ME MY MUSIC SOUNDS HUMAN AND I’M LIKE ‘NO SHIT MATE, I AM HUMAN, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?’” As an artist putting out releases on relatively small labels, Luke’s attitude to modern music consumption was interesting. I pointed out his sparse soundcloud page, “I DON’T REALLY USE SOUNDCLOUD MUCH. TO BE HONEST, I DON’T REALLY WANT PEOPLE TO LISTEN TO WHAT I DO THAT WAY BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE SOUNDCLOUD, I DON’T LIKE THAT YOU CAN SEE A PICTURE OF THE WAVEFORM WHILE IT PLAYS, IT CHANGES HOW YOU LISTEN. WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW MANY PLAYS SOMETHING HAS HAD? WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?” It’s a valid argument that is paying off as Luke has managed to be a full-time musician for two years. He did concede that “IT CAN BE HARD TO MAKE IT WORK SOMETIMES, I’M NOT RICH, BUT I’M SURVIVING, AND I GET TO DO MUSIC ALL THE TIME SO I’M PRETTY HAPPY”. With a second album on the horizon and positive critical response to every release thus far, Luke Abbott can expect to have a music career for a long time to come.
◊ Ben Pearce’s enthusiasm for the various things he does is as infectious as his “What I Might Do” track that’s stormed the clubs and Beatport charts and the heads of all that have heard it. With teenage years steeped in alternative rock music, but the proffers of Manchester’s club nights tempting him into electronic music as a promoter, DJ, producer and now record label owner, he’s a man that’s hard to ignore.
a producer than I am”. He concedes that he spent a lot of time “digging into music and finding stuff that’s a bit different” but in the pursuit of sets to better warm up for other people, “an art that’s been lost”. Nonetheless, he credits girlfriend Gemma Roberts with procuring the vocal sample for “What I Might Do” - an Anthony Hamilton soul track.
Roberts also works with Pearce on his record label - Purp & It seems it is this early Soul - born of a blog last year predilection for guitar bands and now representing 9 new that spurs his musical interests artists. “You do have that nowadays - ‘growing up with that paternal feeling of wanting them kind of music meant I got more to do well, constantly trying attached to music and it meant a to push them out there. The lot more to me than if I’d always best thing about our label is listened to EDM’. A man who every time we play together, cites his favourite band as Brand it always just works, which is New, because “all their lyrics are surreal”. Aside from this month’s incredible”, I wonder if he finds sets in Italy (where “What I Might electronic music quite as laden Do” went platinum) and at Field with sentiment. Day and Love Saves The Day, he is most excited about a four hour ”MAYBE IT’S NOT QUITE AS back to back set with Purp & CLEAR, AND IT’S NOT AS EASY Soul’s Harry Wolfman - “We’ll get TO PUT YOUR FEELINGS ACROSS ridiculously drunk and there’ll be IN ELECTRONIC MUSIC BUT I such a good vibe”. THINK IT IT CAN STILL HAVE EMOTIONAL POWER” Pearce talks about everything as an exploration - from songwriting In the hope of re-igniting a love to learning piano to recording for Glassjaw through the ever “brilliant bits of chatter and prevalent deep house remix, I ask noises” at an after party, to if Pearce would consider marrying “going round trying different these disparate genres on one of beers” (see new track “Pale his productions. Ale”) to how he started music production itself. As his song and “IT’S WHETHER I CAN DO IT; I’D our chat suggest, there’s a lot he ONLY WANT TO DO IT IF IT WAS might do soon, and I suspect he’ll 100% RIGHT”. do it rather well. It’s this humility that makes Pearce’s enthusiasm genuine, not arrogant pie-fingery. He admits that the success of “What I Might Do” found him “thrown in at the deep end’ and created an illusion ‘that I should be further in as Alice Lawrence
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◊ In the US, Afrocentrism is the movement that was responsible for the aggressive and emotive lyrics of Lauryn Hill and even the creation of America’s musical television program 106 & Park and its parent channel BET. Ultimately, it is the ongoing attempt to preserve and celebrate African artistic influence. The 90’s saw a spectacular appropriation, where African-American artists like X Clan and De la Soul rejected ‘ghetto-appropriate’ clothes and wore the black, green, gold and red of African flags. In the music video for “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo”, A Tribe Called Quest road trip to Mexico in 90’s coloured Dashikis. However, despite the wide reception and commercialization of hip-hop, the celebration of African arts has always seemed to be limited to black communities. However, African melodies and their differentiating song structures are filling the music libraries of existing and budding musicians from genres outside the direct descendants of African spirituals and blues. In his March interview with FACT, Jamie XX spoke enthusiastically about the influence of African vinyl on his upcoming work with unnamed pop artists and how the continent’s influence on the whole is definitely ‘becoming more visible’. African sounds, musical technique and culture has been extending past hip-hop ciphers of the ‘90s and Def Jam’s spoken word poetry, and into other musical communities.
[i]: Bex Liu
released in February, the true fusion of the Sega music of his homeland, an original hybrid of Malagasy and European music, and the electronic styles of Western culture is revealed - ‘Knightly, we do it tightly’ he sings in his ode to Keira Knightley. More and more, African percussion is becoming a dominant voice in electronic music. Four Tet’s most recent release “Nina” is a collaboration with Neneh Cherry and The Jungle Brothers’ Afrika Baby Bam. Baby Bam’s voice brings the essence of hip-hop and Cherry’s references to ‘Bitches Brew wine’ roots us deep into the sounds of Miles Davis and into the storytelling rhythm of spoken word. Even on its own we can still hear the overbearing influence of African percussion in Four Tet’s production. The instrumental is a blended procession of African drums and ruminative house styles.
musicians with eclectic array of African influences. Belgian rapper Baloji, with French rapping and upbeat rhythmic guitar and dance, performed a set deeply rooted in his Congolese roots. His emotive lyrics ‘I’m going home to see my people’ created a sense of community in his music. It seems as if Boiler Room’s collaborations with Studio Africa is a motion to incorporate more biographical or cultural music into an initiative often celebrating more aesthetically or even technically focused music.
footwork, appropriately named ‘Meditations On Afrocentrism’. His original hope was to include each of the samples used on the back of the album sleeve as a kind of bibliography for readers to investigate the relationship between his music and other musical cultures. However, copyright laws prohibited Romare from listing his influences, so the 13-minute track “Footnotes” was created to convey his intentions instead.
However, the integration of African influence has also been subtler No other electronic producer is more and less intricate. Anonymous preoccupied with this narrative side designer A Hidden Place, is the of electronic music than Romare. artist responsible for creating the Not just in his use of percussion infamous indigenous looking masks The assumption of African musical but he also combines the rhythms of SBTRKT. In an interview with culture into genres outside of of West Africa with pre-existing Okayafrica, the visual art director jazz, blues, and hip-hop has been audio of the voices of prisoners, of attributes his inspiration to the mostly subliminal – hidden in the people from Harlem to explore the ‘ethereal quality’ he finds in native technique or motives. At a first connection between African and societies of which stem not just listen, the music of half-Mauritian African-American music. He splices from Africa but from India to South producer Mo Kolours seems mostly discussions of race and identity with America. He explains that his modern rooted in electronic composition. Boiler Room’s recent Paris and the voices of activists and samples interpretations of conventional A deeper listen will reveal a kind London collaboration with Diesel and of Lyn Collins and the Urban All ceremonial masks provide a kind of of unknown otherworldlyness, an Edun’s Studio Africa set Mosca and Stars in hopes of creating what he ‘escapism from the ordinary’. exotic drumming easy to attribute Culoe de Song in a back to back set believes to be a new synergistic to some sort of African or Indian that paired the most complimentary form of music found between drum rather than the moutia or sounds of South African House differentiating musical cultures. His ravanne of Sega music. In his third and UK Funky. From Little Dragon product is a documentary, almost track “Bomptious” from ‘Tusk Dance’, to Baloji, the set list included archeological type of afrocentric Jess Roberts
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[P]: Ian Cheek Press
SWIMMING IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS: KAI CAMPOS TALKS ABOUT MOUNT KIMBIE’S ‘COLD SPRING FAULT LESS YOUTH’, THE CONCEPT OF MUSICAL INFLUENCE AND THE RISE OF EDM-CENTRIC YOUTUBE CHANNELS. ◊ South London’s sky is bulging and bleak when I sit down to talk to 1/2 Kimbie-member Kai Campos. It’s been two years since their critically acclaimed, 2010 album ‘Crooks & Lovers’ hurtled into the dubstep-driven resurgence of Britain’s bass scene, spinning the characteristic, heavy reverb and fragmented samples back in the faces of forefathers Zed Bias, Skream and Benga with their own progressive adaption. Kimbie’s emergence fell perfectly at a time in which the near, dead-end crash of an evolving electronic scene was screaming over Doctor P’s “Sweet Shop” (2010) for a subtler and more sonically varied take on what was soon to be umbrellatermed as ‘brostep’. For original pioneers of the genre, a filtereffect of influence into the ‘works’ of Flo Rida (note: ‘Good Feeling’, 2011) has kind of killed off the initial ‘this shit’s cool’ buzz and drawn attention to its inherently repetitive form. As Kai is pertinently aware, “a lot has changed in two years”, and the electronic scene has progressed through the power and will of ever-developing technologies. After 24 months of devoting themselves to performing live, Kai and Dom finally got back in the studio at the end of last year, working on their second, May-scheduled album release ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’; a collection of songs that not only demonstrates their acquired musical maturity but a more refined and practiced instrumental approach to production. If music students look back at the 21st century and have to identify an artist defining the ‘musical avant-garde’, ‘Cold Spring Fault 08 10
Less Youth’ would make Kimbie a prime example. Intermittently deploying grungy guitar tones, Steve Reich’s 1972 ‘Clapping Music’, schizophrenic rap bars, calamitous brass sounds, asiatic synths and an always and everbuilding groove, it is a crosscultural, universal sound that speaks out through all the most beautifully basic elements. They don’t like the “reductiveness” of the label ‘post-dubstep’ and the controversial d-word couldn’t seem less appropriate, but the reactionary and collective nature of their enterprise makes it seem ‘post-something’ at least. We get talking and Kai speaks of getting back into the studio in the same way that a bear would going into hibernation. “Completely giving up doing everything” that they’d been doing on tour was like changing their way of life, even stepping down. He doesn’t play the role of God-gifted virtuoso but admits the recording of the album was far from easy-breezing:
”I MEAN WE LITERALLY HADN’T TRIED TO MAKE A SONG OR ANYTHING IN ABOUT TWO YEARS, SO, WE WERE KIND OF STARTING AGAIN EFFECTIVELY, COMPLETELY AFRESH, BACK IN THE STUDIO. I THINK IT’S SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO KEEP DOING AND SO IN TWO YEARS THAT PROCESS WAS A CHALLENGE” But worth it?, I ask; “It was a good thing and a bad thing in the end I guess. But grappling with the whole creative process is a big part of what it’s about”.
Kai and Dom became pals studying at Southbank university, and were inspired by going to nights at FWD during 2008. Making their own, self-admittedly, ‘bad dubstep’ led them to finding their own sense of creative identity. In 2009, their debut EP ‘Maybes’ came out on Hotflush recordings to warm reception. As I muse on whether brewing the same material live for two years might have stagnated or at least changed their creative output, Kai gets talking about their developed work dynamic: “For me the whole process changed quite a lot in the time between this album and the last. This time, we went in for it and knew what we wanted to get out of it. When we first started making music, we never really knew what we wanted the form of an album to be like. We spent a lot of time toying with ideas and trying to get excited about the music, even though it wasn’t always easy. And it’s frustrating, you know? It’s not a good feeling to spend months working and not feeling like you’ve got anything out of it.” So, it was easier this time, I ask, with a better sense of artistic clarity? “Umm”, he pauses tentatively.
As he says this, I can’t tell whether he’s being deliberately modest or just a modern day, artistic Sisyphus; indefatigably striving to set the stone higher but forever, fatefully knocked down and disappointed. But he gets on to talking about “Break Well” and seems at last a little more self-gratifying: “Myself and Dom both got asked which track was our favourite yesterday and independently said ‘Break Well’”. When I first heard the enticingly labelled number, I thought it was pure, unadulterated satire. The listener waits for three, entirely tantalising minutes for the title’s promised ‘break’, as the song teases and restrains, mocking the club-centric house tracks of today that’ll drop fives times in three minutes and at thirty second intervals. You know, the shameless crowd-pleasers. ‘Break Well’ rejects stricture to constant tempos, making it both hard to mix and an unusable source within the recyclable electronic community of Dj-cumproducers. Is it a statement track, I hesitantly ask? “Yeah I guess” Kai says as though shrugging
“THE INITIAL REACTION TO IT WAS THAT IT COULD BE A FIRST TRACK ON THE ALBUM. “NOT EXACTLY. CREATIVE IT FEELS LIKE IT’S SETTING FRUSTRATION IS PART OF THE SOMETHING OUT. AT THE SAME WHOLE PROCESS BECAUSE TIME I FELT LIKE IT WAS A BIT YOU FEEL EXTREMITIES TOO MUCH OF A QUESTION WITHIN YOURSELF. AND TO BE THE FIRST TRACK IN THAT’S A GOOD PLACE TO BE THE END. YOU NEEDED SOME SOMETIMES. I THINK WE’D STUFF IN FRONT OF IT FOR LEARNT NOT TO AGONISE THE CONTEXT TO SIT RIGHT. OVER SO MUCH SINCE OUT BUT I DON’T THINK ME OR FIRST RECORD AND LET GO DOM ARE PARTICULARLY A BIT BUT IT STILL TOOK A CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING WHILE TO FIND STUFF WE MIXABLE SONGS.” FELT EXCITED ABOUT”. 10
[P]: Ian Cheek Press
I talk about hearing “Made to Stray” for the first time and how I thought it prophesised a progression further into dancecentric environments, only for the rest of the album to prove otherwise. But Kai is sure the release of this song first was more of an artistic choice than an act trying to reflect and feel relevant to the current scene:
summatively represent; “So the whole album is like five, separate words that don’t necessarily come together to form perfect English, but create a series of images”. Is there a mayonnaise, an allimportant sandwich glue holding together these awkwardly varied though flavour-full elements? Kai says that it’s lack of cohesion, the fractious and disjointed tracks, that maintain the continuity. They picked the words ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’ because they “grasped each of these fractured sounds”.
INTERPRETATION, WE DON’T WANT TO LEAD PEOPLE TO A CERTAIN MEANING. I THINK THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT ELECTRONIC MUSIC, IT CAN BE VERY PERSONAL THING TO PEOPLE, IT DOESN’T LIMIT ITSELF TO ONE STRICT IDEA”.
WORKED WITH HIM”.
In true sicko-fan style, I tell him I’ve watched him on YouTube in the H∆SHTAG$ series episode on ‘Post-Dubstep’, smirking with Dom about images of aspiring page three girls spread across electronic blogs on the cyberspace. He sighs helplessly. Then, with feeling, says he just I asked how the direction of it all can’t stand “people [who] talk changed with regards to King Krule. about channels in the same “THE MUSIC YOU RECORD “The echoey vocals in “Took Your way that people used to talk IS PROBABLY LESS DIRECT Time” was actually Archie’s [/King about musicians.” He reflects THAN THAT. YOU PROBABLY Krule’s] idea” he happily admits “We on such individuals, those who CAN’T SEPARATE WHAT’S were in the studio and he said can can be heard speaking of their GOING ON NOW IN TERMS Beyond doubt, he seems to sum I try it like this? So we did a whole “favouuuurite channel” and OF US AND HOUSE TRACKS up the feel of the album aptly; other take with that underneath. says it’s a trend that neither WE’VE BEEN EXPOSED as King Krule’s voice is overlaid It’s interesting that you picked that him or Dom would “want to be TO. YOU KNOW, IT SEEPS and echoed on one of his three out”. I assure him I don’t think it’s associated with”. People should THROUGH THE WALLS. feature tracks “Took Your Time”, a rare moment of beauty within the “plow their own paths” and “put AND THAT’S THE KIND OF the English undergrad inside me album. He laughs, then continues: more of themselves” forward ENVIRONMENT WHEN YOU is trying to stretch a connection to instead of lumping other music FIND WHAT YOU REALLY WANT modern, urban alienation. Yet Kai “AT THE BEGINNING WE together and reducing the TO DO.” assures me that interpretation is DIDN’T WANT ANYONE ELSE individuality of meaning. Luckily something Kai aspires to evoke in TO FEATURE IN IT, IT SEEMED for him, they’re about to be too I suppose that no one of the his listeners: LIKE A REALLY BORING big to need to think about web tracks, each containing their own MOVE TO HAVE A SECOND promo anyway. individual sense of place, mood “I THINK IF YOU’RE DOING ELECTRONIC ALBUM WITH SIX and positioning, would do justice SOMETHING INTERESTING, GUESTS FEATURING ON IT. in representing the variety of the PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE BUT ARCHIE’S SOMEONE THAT whole record. Kai gets excited TO LOOK AT IT AND FIND WE WERE EXCITED ABOUT AS as I say so, claiming the album SOMETHING THAT THEY AN ARTIST. IN THE END, WE is “meant to do exactly what” I RELATE IT TO. WE TRY FELT LIKE HE WAS REALLY A “just said”. In naming the album, AND KEEP EVERYTHING PART OF THOSE SONGS. I JUST they realised how hard it was to THAT WE DO OPEN TO FELT LIKE STYLISTICALLY AND COMPOSITIONALLY IT Jonjo Lowe
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[P]: Andy Gaines
BAD PAINTINGS: YORK’S BEST AND ONLY RECORD LABEL. ◊ I’ve hashed out the ageold problem of the ‘York music scene’ in this magazine before. Whilst at first sight the city may not appear to be a hive of new musical activity, a deeper dig will reveal passionate people making things happen. One such example is York-based music label Bad Paintings, who I first became aware of at the spectacular Iceage gig in the basement of Bar Lane studios (they hosted and DJ-ed the night) back in February.
of members of Vivian Girls and Woods. The song “My Name” was recorded on the night and would later become the second ever Bad Paintings release, following a Fawn Spots EP, ‘Hair Play’, in October 2011. Then came the process of establishing what they wanted to do with the label before the “weird coincidence” of being asked to release an EP of remixes for Californian post-punk band Xiu Xiu. They now had a label with 3 releases, 2 of which were 7”’s from established artists, Intrigued to find out more, I a process which was “pretty much sought out the label’s founders chance” according to Jon. From to arrange an interview. A couple here they confess they had to of weeks later and I found myself “learn how to deal with people, at Bad Paintings HQ, being how to market (the label)”. served a huge Sunday brunch by self-confessed ‘foodie’ Mike and There is a DIY ethos at the heart label co-founder Jon. of Bad Paintings. The interview is punctuated with the recurrence Also a member of Fawn Spots of the phrase “we don’t have any (York’s premier noise band), money but…”. A far cry from large Jon has always “really enjoyed corporate music labels, they run recording music”. A York Bad Paintings with a lot of help University alumni, he remained in from various friends; “we rely on York after finishing his degree, people to do silly things- photos, and met Mike through various videos, etc- for us” says Mike. mutual friends and shared Jon notes that while it’s easy to musical pursuits. Whilst Mike has “bash the music scene [in York], admittedly “always had a proper we survive because we can rely job”, he’s also “always had a on people to help us out”. A real interest in music”. The two shout-out has to go to Jim, one were involved in running ‘Wrong of their biggest supporters, who Side of the River’, a night which goes to any event they put on ran in the basement at Bar and buys any release they put Lane Studios until late last year, out. He even bought a record when council/police restrictions player just to listen to the first forced it to end. Starting life as Fawn Spots EP. a private party, with “us inviting our friends”, word spread and This summer sees the label they quickly found people turning releasing ‘Chalk White Nights’ up they didn’t recognize. Clearly, by Stranger by Starlight, a the public were keen to frequent collaboration between Oxbow a night with something a bit front-man Eugene S. Robinson different on offer. and English composer Anthony Saggers, aka Stray Ghost. Jon It was through ‘Wrong Side’ that and Mike describe it as a more Mike and Jon had the opportunity “indie” record than their previous to play host to The Babies, a releases. Perhaps a better seller Brooklyn lo-fi band made up than the A-side of Xui Xui remixes 08 10
“I Luv Abortion”? Mike laughs and tells me about when he first sent it out to their distributors, stumping reviewer Brian from Norman Records (“why would anyone ever want to buy this record?”). Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the A, but the Kid 606 remix of ‘Joey’s Song’ on the B-side is weirdly brilliant and uplifting. Their favourite review was of the Fawn Spots/Cum Stains split EP ‘Wedding Dress’, which was described as “not sounding like anything else”.
with an environment in which to germinate their dream of running a music label. Jon describes the process of running the label as “just learning”. “It’s like being at school, but not totally shit”, he laughs. “Every release we do we get a bit better”. Therein lies the best thing about the ‘York music scene’: it is full of eccentric people, doing exciting things for no money. But best of all it’s a community, that welcomes and appreciates every member. With Bad Paintings Jon and Mike are doing something that no-one else A big part of the Bad Paintings in York is, and they are doing it experience is their shows, getting well. to see bands that they have managed to coax into playing in Bad Paintings Shows: Summer York (such as the aforementioned sees the return of Brooklyn Iceage). The last show they put rockers The Babies to York. They on, a Fawn Spots release party play the Duchess on 21st June, at the Rook & Gaskill, even came with support from Fawn Spots. complete with Fawn Spots own This is followed by a free show ale. There’s a loving attention from the ironically-titled Scott & to detail in everything that Bad Charlene’s Wedding (aka Craig Paintings do, whether it’s putting Dermody) at the Rook & Gaskill sweets in with every purchase, on the 10th August. There’s no or hand delivering me a tote bag excuse not to get involved. on the same day I ordered it from their website. “We’re not doing ALL BAD PAINTINGS RELEASES anything original”, admits Mike, ARE AVAILABLE AT THE “but when I ordered a record INKWELL. with sweets in it I thought ‘hey, I want to do that’”. Some things, like realizing they had to put barcodes on the records if they wanted to sell them, took a bit longer to work out. Both Mike and Jon “keep their ear[s] to the ground” constantly in the pursuit of new music, and crucially, in their search for interesting venues in York where they can put on their shows. Mike talks about fighting the “general malaise” that he sees in the city when it comes to getting people interested in music, with us agreeing on the sometimes lamentable turn-out at gigs. Ultimately, York has provided them Phoebe Rilot
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IF YOU MAKE IT THEY WILL COME: POST-INTERNET SHOPPING AT THE INKWELL
FIGHTING AT THE FOREFRONT: DEAN SHAKESPEARE STEPS UP TO THE PLATE OF YORK’S GROWING MUSIC SCENE.
◊ For those who have encountered Jack Black in High Fidelity, and who were likely born after the invention of CDs but at the perfect time to indulge in MP3s, the prospect of entering a record shop may not seem all that appealing. The Inkwell, nestled down York’s Gillygate, is fully aware of these hindrances, and is determined to conquer them in a refreshing and fascinating “post-internet shop”. In fact, rather than feared, it seems owner Paul Lowman is a man to be envied in many respects. After stints in retail and office management, and googling every aspect of business start-up, he has opened his vinyl-CD-popculture-book-retro-gift-coffee shop with his wife and as a consequence now makes a living out of investigating, talking about and writing about music (I recently discovered The Inkwell blog - A-Z of All Time Great Pop Singles).
◊ York is a small city and its university population can have heavy influence over the local music scene. New student run club nights can pop up and die on an almost weekly basis depending on what music is popular that week and the traditional paradigm of venues catering only to live bands in order to survive is fast fading. No one is more understanding of the importance to adapt than Dean Shakespeare, the Events Manager for The Duchess. “We understand the need to diversify and now have 3 club nights alongside 4 or 5 live shows every week. Local competition for both the live sector and club nights can only help enhance York as a city both regionally and nationally”. That’s certainly not the attitude of York’s larger ‘super clubs’ promoters who, having noticed the rise in popularity of these smaller run club nights at The Duchess and Fibbers, have been quick to try and incorporate the music into current nights in an attempt to keep up interest.
I suggest that it must have also taken a lot of faith in people to embark on this enterprise. “Belief that if you make something good, they will come to it”. But there also has to be “an element of absolute blind naivety about it, believing beyond the facts that this is a doable thing”. This must include some faith in the allure of music, and faith in his personal taste in music, which seems an applaudable thing. While the latter could easily translate into something insidious, Lowman stresses that the shop “isn’t some kind of pretentious hipster conceit; it’s someone genuinely passionate about this stuff. It has to be accessible to everybody”. Lowman’s shop, with its button-back sofa, array of intriguing stock and gleaming coffee machine, does indeed feel accessible and inviting, especially accompanied by his willingness to talk music. As far as collectors go, while they do frequent The Inkwell, Lowman recounts someone who came in enquiring about selling their copy of Black Sabbath’s first record. After responding to a few questions, Lowman asked if the man had a record player, to which he said yes, and was promptly told to “just go home and play it”. “The value of this record is that it’s a great record”. Lowman knows - “it’s about enjoyment” and The Inkwell certainly does so much to make it even easier to enjoy music.
A move he made just two years ago, I can’t help but wonder what rationale one can give to starting such a shop in the middle of all things economically dire, as well as claims of the death of music sales. He admits, “it’s not like the things I sell are essential, I’m not selling bread and milk here”, but un-arguably offers “everything in a shop that an internet can’t do” because “the internet’s not going anywhere”. It’s both encouraging and lamentable to compare this record shop to so many others that had been around since the seventies and were “thunderstruck by the internet”; “it happened so quickly they just didn’t have time to react” whereas Lowman has the experience of a few years entrenched in torrents, YouTube and online stockists. Alice Lawrence
Having worked as a promoter in Hull and after several years of commuting back and forth, Dean was quick to make himself available for the position at The Duchess. “It was the calibre of the artists that the Duchess was, and still is, booking and the ethos of the venue that appealed to me. It’s an old school venue in the sense that its family run, it’s dark and for artists and their crowd it’s intimate.” It’s not just the basement walls of The Duchess that Dean was interested in it seems, he and his team have set about organising a number of other events. “We’ve booked Ed Harcourt at The National
Centre for Early Music starting on 10th June and hope to work with both the Grand opera house and The Barbican in the future.” It is this forward thinking and collaborative approach that Dean hopes will help cement York on the national music circuit. “York has an exuberant music scene. There’s live music nearly 7 nights a week now, and if we don’t have something on then Fibbers, The Basement, The Habit, Fulford Arms etc. definitely will”. PHOTO:
We go on to ask what Dean holds for the future of the venue: “It’s still early days as I’ve only been here for just over 6 months, but my colleagues and I want to ensure we continue to be at the forefront of live music in York”. With sell out shows ranging from Miles Kane, Peace, Funeral For a Friend and Submotion Orchestra in the last few months alone there is clearly something being done right in The Duchess booking office. “How do you gauge what makes the best band though? Part of being a promoter is the ability to promote shows which may not be to your tastes it just has to be good”. Dean carries on: “York has an abundance of local talent and I ultimately hope the venue will in turn inspire new musicians within York to pick up instruments or form bands.” If this is the philosophy of those in charge of our local venues then the future of York’s music scene is very bight, for now at least.
Will Olenski 11 09
S A V A G E S
DYSTOPIAN POST-PUNK: SAVAGES WANT TO SHUT YOU UP. ◊ An all-girl four piece from London, Savages make darkly intense music in the vein of post-punk. Rising to prominence in 2012 through the power of their live performances, they have maintained an intriguing mystique. Typically all blackclad, they are rarely captured in colour, an aesthetic which suits the dichotomy of desolation and redemption in their music. A mission statement posted online in February 2013 declares that “SAVAGES’ SONGS AIM TO REMIND US THAT HUMAN BEINGS HAVEN’T EVOLVED SO MUCH”. In slight trepidation of their aforementioned intensity I sat down to talk to lead singer Jehnny Beth about the vision behind the band, maintaining control at all times and finding inspiration in gay poetry. Guitarist Gemma Thompson originally came up with the name ‘Savages’ whilst reading dystopian novels:
“PHILIP K DICK, JG BALLARD, KOBO ABE… I THINK SHE HAD THE DESIRE TO TRY AND FIND A SONIC REPRESENTATION OF THESE IDEAS ABOUT DEVOLUTION, THE HUMAN BEING AND THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD”. In conveying a feeling, an air to the music, the name is key. “It’s important to us, it even came before the band was formed. It evolves around the idea that savagery is in everyone but only a few of us find the need to use it”. Jehnny talks about the band addressing dystopian mores: “the voice of the individual lost in the cacophony of the world.” Their debut album, Silence Yourself, addresses this loss of voice and asks the listener to 08 10
[P]: David Shama
MAGAZINE, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES AND JOY DIVISION”.
POTENTIAL INSPIRATION, BUT IT IS THE PROCESS THAT IS INTERESTING. A CONVERSATION COMPARING It can be problematic for new BANDS IN TERMS OF GENRE bands in establishing themselves OR STYLE DOESN’T REALLY and their own sound under FIT INTO OUR FRAME OF the weight of such revered THINKING.”
fully appreciate the depth of the band’s sound. It is a testament to these early ideals that Silence Yourself sounds like an exercise in devolution, with Jehnny’s howling vocals piercing through angry guitar noise: on album opener “Shut Up” she announces that she is a ‘bullet to the sun’. Dystopian indeed. A lot of comparisons have been made between Savages and their post-punk predecessors. The Guardian described hearing their debut single ‘Husbands’ as
“MAKING US DREAM OF WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE TO HAVE BEEN AROUND TO HEAR, IN REAL TIME, THE DEBUT RELEASES BY PUBLIC IMAGE LTD,
comparisons. I ask Jenny how she feels about being seen as so indebted to the past; “I think it is ok to relate with certain artistic currents of the past, but not necessarily just music.” The complexity and depth of Savages music draws from their multi-faceted nature of taking inspiration:
“ALL WE DISCOVER FROM HOW THESE OR OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DOING THINGS CAN BE A
Their first single “Husbands” was released on Jehnny’s own label, Pop Noire. One of the elements which adds to the razor-sharpness in Savages music and performances is their control over every aspect of the band. As Jehnny explains, “there was a huge disagreement at the beginning with the people who worked for us about the fact that they wanted Savages to sign to a record label and I wanted to release the Savages
[P]: David Shama
records on Pop Noire. I started my label pretty much at the same time as we started forming the band. I’d had previously bad experiences with the music industry and didn’t feel the need at all to sell Savages to anyone after 6 months of existence.” Her stoicism in the face of the corporate music industry brings to mind the rebelliousness of their previously mentioned musical influences.
“I WAS ALSO DETERMINED TO KEEP WORKING WITH THE SAME PEOPLE I HAD BEEN WORKING WITH FOR YEARS, AND DEVELOP THE ARTISTIC DIRECTION OF THE PROJECT WITH POP NOIRE. UNFORTUNATELY I HAD
TO SEPARATE MYSELF FROM THE PEOPLE WHO DISAGREED WITH ME, I JUST COULDN’T DO IT ANY OTHER WAY”. Artistic integrity is clearly integral to the band’s success. I am amused by Johnny Hostile’s description of them as “a cure to the kingdom of indie-rock boredom”, but it seems more than apt. Jehnny says that deciding to keep Savages on Pop Noire in those early days “brought me a whole new understanding about our generation. Outside of the traditional I became really aware of how controlled we are and how much the elder generation is dangerous to us and manipulated by their fear. I think it is a shame
that young artists making guitar music have lost the desire to do things independently. Most young musicians I see are badly surrounded and their art suffers from that money-making environment. Savages was a sort of declaration of independence for me and I’m glad if that can inspire people too.” Looking at photos of the band, on their album cover and in previous interviews, it becomes clear that Savages meticulously control every aspect of their art. I have read previously that they are influenced by Dali’s surrealism and Monk. Guitarist Gemma Thompson, an alumni of Goldsmiths university, is in charge of the band’s artwork. “She works really hard on every
detail of the artwork with Pop Noire designer Antoine Carlier”, Jehnny tells me. Drummer Fay Milton also has a creative background, having worked in film production and direction for years before joining Savages.
“WE CONTROL EVERYTHING RELATED TO IMAGE AND VIDEO MAKING. IT DEMANDS A LOT OF WORK BUT WE COULDN’T DO IT ANY OTHER WAY REALLY.”
Phoebe Rilot 11 09
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L A U R A O N C E
◊ ‘Once I was An Eagle’ marks the fourth album release in five years from Laura Marling. Her progression from the light folk evident in her 2007 debut continues to shift towards a darker and wiser sense of purpose as she reunites with producer Ethan Johns, creating a sound that’s older. The record reflects the more serious themes of ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ yet provides a more diverse pace and sound, bridging the gap between fragility and ferocity. “Take the Night Off” ignites a sense of calm at the beginning of the album as she creates subtle riffs and elongates her vocals, gradually increasing power through the abrupt strumming. It presents a contrast, acting as an easy introduction into
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the album, but lyrically illustrating a fraught relationship.
conclusion, which is also adopted beautifully within “Pray For Me”. Her maturity is evident through songs “Master Hunter” provides a welcome such as the ballad “Once” and change of tone and is one of the “When Were You Happy?”, both slow more memorable tracks. She is moving, potent and packed with soulful, confident and ingeniously meaning; ‘I look at people here in drops a Bob Dylan reference. The the city and wonder if they’re lonely chorus “It ain’t me babe, no no no, it or like me they’re not content to live ain’t me babe”, will provide a moment as things are meant to be’. of euphoric realization over what Marling is doing, infusing Dylan’s “Love Be Brave” continues as an famous line and surrounding it with impressive track, which feels slightly her own rhythm. The tone of the influenced by The Beatles psychealbum changes again, “Little Love delic “Love You To” from ‘Revolver’. Caster” appears at first slightly Her slow and unhurried sound is boring compared to the previous what she is good at, enchanting energetic melody, but is continued and mystified, illustrating the extent within “Where Can I Go?”. of her talent.
potential to be dismissed by new listeners. “Undine” is particularly underwhelming and she fluctuates between speech and song. To her credit, what is so remarkable about Marling is that she never fails to surprise. Her sound has grown complex and although not as naively catchy, she has sustained her captivity, providing another album that has stayed true to her distinct sound, a sound that has is reassuringly not become commercialized after five years. For those who are unsure, “When Brave Bird Saved” is an impressive short film debuting the new tracks, assuring listeners to invest in “Once I was an Eagle”.
The track is more aligned to her older music mixed with a bluesy folk
The album is by no means perfect; some of the songs have the
M O U N T C O L D
◊ When Mount Kimbie released their debut album to critical acclaim back in 2010, they were heralded as the pioneers of ‘post-dubstep’. Moving away from bass-centric production, ‘Crooks and Lovers’ was a collection of aural collages built up from samples, field recordings, synths and live instruments. Drawing influence from electronica, garage and 90s IDM a la Aphex Twin, the London-based duo managed to forge a unique sound in a saturated scene. Now, after a couple years of touring and maturing, they return to tread new sonic ground with ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’.
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of the bedroom and in to the studio, after two years touring, Mount Kimbie have returned ready to expand. The result of this is a diverse, experimental record which for the first time features original vocals - by the band themselves and BBC Sound of 2013 nominee King Krule.
Lead single “Made To Stray” is a club ready tune with a jumpy percussive hook and rich evolving texture of swirling synths and filter sweeps. Once established, the infectious beat thumps on happily until the three minute mark, when a half-chanted/half-sung/wholly catchy vocal appears from nowhere. The transition from bedroom produc- Understated and delivered in unison, it’s ers to international performers has incredibly effective and before you know nurtured a new awareness of how it the song has thinned out to just material translates into a live setting; vocals and emphatic handclaps – they’ve begun to write for an audience if that’s not an encore track I don’t as well as themselves. Moving out know what is.
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Album opener “Home Recording” is the most logical progression from their debut. Staying true to the practice of making loops from field recorded ‘found sounds’, the beat bears a strong resemblance to the clunk of a photocopier augmented by an exquisite exploding drum sample. Atop of this is a dynamic blend of delicate vocals, echoing guitars and ghostly synths that tie the track together. From the pumping white noise of “Sullen Ground” to the rocky live feel of “Fall Out”, the eclectic production is solid. Although this fusion of ideas is handled with varying degrees of subtlety – “You Took Your Time” (ft. King Krule) seamlessly goes from grimey processed beats to a more organic guitar and cymbal driven backing as Krule cranks the passion gauge from nonplussed to venomous. Elsewhere
however, “Break Well” starts off as a synth jam before petering out into dreamy indie rock. It feels like two distinct songs bolted together. It really shouldn’t work, but melody beats logic every time. With ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’, Mount Kimbie went in search of a new sound and came back with five. As an album it lacks cohesion, but treated as a mixtape it’s a brilliant showcase of their talents. With a summer full of tour dates and this record likely to spawn a slew of remixes, the pair are on course to reach a much wider audience and with that a greater degree of mainstream success.
Karl Bos 15
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four-piece” in a review before. This debut record is an intelligent S I L E N C E Y O U R S E L F and striking one; it’d be difficult to find a similar current album on the shelves of any music store. Characterised by raw, gritty guitars echoing and layering in each track, Savages take the haunting ethereality of Joy Division and crank it up a few notches. Riffs such as ◊ Scraping the surface of the all- those in “Shut Up” and “She Will” female post-punk four-piece, Sav- are cutting and memorable, and ages reveal some pretty impressive prove the band’s guitar-based credentials. Having already toured mastery as well as their ability to with British Sea Power and shared produce textured, rich tracks that a manager with Sigur Rós, it’d be are heavy and powerful in equal difficult to argue against Savages’ measure. artistic edginess, not least beWhat truly makes the album is cause I’ve never been able to use Jehnny Beth’s deep, forceful vocals the words “all-female post-punk that demonstrate impressive range
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So I Say Light’ is just a continuation on his last piece.
To call it more mature would be denying Ghostpoet the respect he deserves, his first album already showed maturity much beyond his 28 years. Nominated for the Mercury prize, ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ was a hit with Radio6 listeners and 2012 festivalgoers alike. However, ‘Some Say I So I ◊ Some artists attempt radical Say Light’ is a very firm step further change for their second album. in the right direction and is a much Some try to reinvent themselves, more grounded, well-thought out some to better their first, some and developed album. simply carry on in the same Often nicknamed ‘The Melandirection with seemingly recycled choly MC’, Ghostpoet has certain material (I’m looking at you Mar- reputation for his gritty lyrics cus Mumford). Ghostpoet seems and downbeat melodies. This to have hit the happy medium. album is no different; sullen His new album is neither radically vocals cut through the harsh different nor depressingly similar slow beats and echoing drones to his last. If anything, ‘Some Say I on such tracks as “Thymethym-
D R I F T E R S D I R T Y
B E A C H E S
◊ What is Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai trying to achieve? It’s not always a question I ask; some artists make their intent clear, be it political punk or psychedelic funk, but Dirty Beaches isn’t among them. His work isn’t easy to classify – he avoids lazy slap-on labels and defies pigeon-holing. And if from this much already, you’ve 16
guessed that Dirty Beaches tends towards the strange and unconventional, then you’re right – you’d be hard-pressed to categorise this as ‘pop’. ‘Fuzzy-ass post-punk’ and ‘Suicide trapped in a disco’ were the first words I wrote down, due to the thrusting funk of basslines pinning down tracks like “Casino Lisboa”, or the retro drum loops swallowing “Mirage Hall”. I crossed it out five seconds later – these rhythms are the only element of constancy until these tracks get enveloped in industrial noise or swirling lo-fi fuzz or move into drifting acoustic serenity. It’s aimless, but it’s also sort of beautiful. The album title is a large clue: ‘Drifters / Love is The Devil’. These tracks do drift; they move without any perceived
and technique. Her tone is truly sombre, and is showcased brilliantly in “City’s Full” and especially “Waiting for A Sign”. There’s a PJ Harvey-esque quality to her voice that very much resonates, and projects perfectly the album’s wistful, frustrated and contemplative feel. The latter track really allows these vocals to take the forefront and provides a welcome break in the album’s otherwise almost fullfrontal heavy punk vibe. While “Dead Nature” incorporates some more experimental aspects into the album, with chiming clock sampling and eerie silences, the album’s flaw is its lack of diversity and variance of tone. The tracks all start to sound pretty similar by
“Hit Me” at the album’s close, and provide some pretty intense listening at times. Each track is composed carefully despite the rough-around-the edges styling. Every song feels polished and sonically rich, particularly in “Strife” and “She Will”. You can certainly feel the drive and commitment that’s gone into the production. There’s an undercurrent of power and forcefulness that recurs throughout the album, and the vocals are only serve to embellish this. Above all, the album has a unique quality and sound that sets Savages up for a very promising year indeed.
ethyme”. There’s his pessimistic outpour, perhaps most noted in Sloth Trot’s lyrics ‘is this all there is’. Though, like the first, it also includes more upbeat tracks that will be a hit with the crowds this summer, (check “Plastic Bag Brain” for something you can really bop along to). As an album it is undeniably more measured. Although a selfproclaimed ‘continuation of that journey lyrically’, the sounds are much more produced and feature a great deal more outside influences. Be it in the form of producer Richard Formby or the hand-picked featured vocalists on tracks such as “Meltdown”, you can really hear how Ghostpoet has soaked in all of the outside elements and incorporated it all into his own style and tone. One obvious difference is how, despite a proper production in
comparison to his home-grown debut, this album is far more minimalist in its presentation. The beats are slower, the melodies more simple and the vocals just croon over the top in tones so soft and effortless that you could almost mistake them for groans. One downside to this minimalism however is that at points the tracks can end up sounding soporifically similar, making it hard to discern between them. Having said that, if you’re planning on going to a festival this summer, make sure you get Ghostpoet on a line-up. Not only is he inanely watchable, but it’ll definitely be something to see his new material performed live, literally hot off the press.
direction, aloft on a cloud or a thunderstorm. Songs are content to let warm saxophones in “Landscapes in the Mist”, or confused flutes in “Woman”, or melancholic, sudden strings in the titular track, “Love is the Devil”, to simply linger on a cluster of notes. They’re content to let rhythms repeat constantly onward – be it airy synths (“ELLI”), bluesy guitar riffs (“I Dream In Neon”), or actual percussive work (“Aurevoir Mon Visage”) – until they’ve drifted away. Songs don’t stop, they fade, as if they’re all dreamlike interludes. It’s that freedom, which makes it sort of beautiful. ‘Drifters / Love is the Devil’ is a mischievous, teasing, piece of work, one that plays with emotive melodies and thoughts in their own time, and their own pace.
It’s quite content to let the blossoming love that grows through the album fall into melancholy, or even worse, fade away without conclusion, without climax. Its imperfections and its subtleties are what shine, and tempt you into the fantasy that hasn’t given you an invitation. What Dirty Beaches leave behind is an astoundingly creative work, uninterested in boundaries or conventions, that serenades you with grit, wit, and wonder, that pulls you into murky dreams and glorious nightmares – and lets you go. Without warning. Perhaps that’s the worst thing about dreams.
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RSPB updates and worrying library fine reminders, Renaissance man Toliver’s emails are always brimT H E L A N D O F C A N A A N ming with exciting things. These include, but are not limited to: playing the strings parts for Grizzly Bear’s ‘Veckatimest’ album, starring in Bat For Lashes’ “Laura” video, modeling for All Saints, launching his own aesthetics magazine - ‘Love Is The Law’, playing on Later With Jools Holland (without so much as an EP released), being ◊ It’s raining so I’m going to clear proclaimed Adele’s ‘new favourite out my email inbox. With Marques artist’, being a virtuoso violinist Toliver’s debut album for company, and an incredible vocalist. And I embark on a dull and momentous he’s just made an album that task. Toliver is not the ideal acsounds a lot like Beyonce circa companiment, however, for several “Love On Top”. reasons: 2. Toliver got discovered several 1. I’m very sure that, while I years ago busking in New York with discard Argos promotions and his violin. ‘Land of CanAan’ makes
every draw of the bow sound so effortless, it’s fluid and it flurries, everything is so casually orchestral, that I’m starting to believe I could pull out that violin I have under my bed somewhere, shake off the primary school dust and string myself up to the stars. 3. This is just not music to do administrative tasks to. This is an album for secretly falling in love, for craving, for dreaming about someone. And playing air violin. Land of CanAan is like swirling round the head of someone sitting, waiting, wondering if the other person will call, will ever knock again. They’re dream-like, perfect in their own absence. The violins and pianos cascade, like worries and fancies. In “Weatherman” the saxophone wails. In “Stay”, nerv-
ous strings play out what he can’t say - ‘there’s a possibility that you’re the one/Destiny told me to never give up on love’. In “If Only” they build like his hopes but they always fall eventually. By the last track, “Find Your Way Back Home”, he is still waiting - ‘I know love was here, love was so near’. On record, Toliver’s talents shine less than in the solo performances that first gained him attention, but this here is a very different creature. Opener “CanAan” refers to the slaves’ song - ‘I am bound to the land of CanAan’. He is bound. This album is binding. It’s so fluent in its movement, like molten yearning, its hard to find a place to stop listening.
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duction and lyrics that lie somewhere between the grandiose and the ominous. T H E C H I L D O F L O V Opener “Call Me Up” sets the mood with its deliberately melancholic piano line and erratic harmonies that prove an arresting combination, albeit a little distracting at first. “One Day”, featuring Albarn himself, is cut from similar cloth – a lethargic meditation in death and loss that ◊ Relatively little is known about juxtaposes a shimmering instruCole Williams, the soul crooner mental with restrained gospel flitting between London, Paris choir backing. Damon Albarn’s and Amsterdam under the alias vocal cameo is brief, merely addof The Child of Lov. His twitter ing some woozy vocals – but it account describes him as a ‘one- is elsewhere on the album that man collective’. His manifesto: ‘I his considerable presence is just want to give you that which really felt. Child of Lov’s other all other music out there lacks’. collaboration, with London-born, Recorded in Damon Albarn’s stu- American rapper DOOM on the dio 13, Williams’ eponymous debut track “Owl” is effectively Gorillaz is an interesting concoction of “Demon Days” revived. DOOM falsetto vocals, atmospheric pro- laces a meticulous, gravelly deliv-
ery over another overwhelmingly bluesy sermon ably accompanied by William’s soulful howl. The album is not all doom and gloom however (pun intended). First single “Heal” is funkinfused joy that owes a lot to southern soul revivalist Cee-Lo Green. Other tracks “Go With the Wind” and “Give It to the People” are similarly uplifting and display a far less intense side to the otherwise sombre Williams. When his sobriety is combined with just the right amount of bombast the results are spectacular. Album highlight “Fly” soars appropriately, all biblical imagery and grandeur. The clichés are here: the horn section, the gospel choir (yes, again) and lyrics about taking your wings and, er, flying. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Child of Lov’s powerful delivery and range matches the slick produc-
tion blow for blow where it has previously been overshadowed, no doubt aided by the flamboyant symbolism: ‘down by the River Jordan/ I’m going to bring the sun’. “Warrior” isn’t dissimilar; Willams comes across as Justin Timberlake in the verses, his vocals a perfect counterpoint to the dark electro backing. It is the hymnal chorus however that really captures the imagination. ‘I am the hurricane/I am the breath of rain/Look in the mirror/I am the deepest vein’ is appropriate to the album as whole – poetic and impressive in scale. It’s not quite ‘what all other music lacks’ but there is confidence and ambition here aplenty, which if nothing else, is worth some admiration.
his debut album drifted up and beyond the cerulean LA sky in its minimalistic latter half, the name of B A T H S his new ten-track release, ‘Obsidian’, would suggest an exploration of darker plains overlooked by its airy predecessor. In Baths’ latest endeavour, the harshness of mortality crowds the traveller’s mind: ‘might walk upright, but then again, I might still try to die.’ Opening track “Worsening” breaks off from a sombre monologue about ◊ The distinctive sound that psycho-spiritual suffering to introBaths (Will Wiesenheld) gave his duce a wave of tinny drums which debut album, ‘Cerulean’, proved poke through an overlaying gauze that acts such as Daedelus and of silky chanting. “Miasma Sky” Flying Lotus were not alone in begins with the organic sound of challenging the strictures of the heavy rain, more penetrating than “LA beat-heads scene” label often that of “Rain Smell” from Cerulean, used to group them. Baths is and trades the latter’s birdsong for capable of crafting both stepsharp saw-synths in a pop-driven sequencer busting rhythms and piece. Baths plays to his strengths sparse soundscapes which bring with a piano accompaniment, often his crunchy/soft mixture of noise alongside a violin, which culmiand cooing lyrics about love nates in playful flurries built for and longing to the fore. Whereas the refined but ‘tempestuous fore-
play’ of “Ironworks”. The tedious refrain about the suicidal wife of Theseus in “Phaedra”, during the album’s generally tedious middle, is in fact compensated for by poignant piano-playing. The only time Baths’ classical background fails him is in the arrangement of “No Past Lives”, where a quirky melody from the keys of a honkytonk enters into a feeble dialogue with some gloomy beat, and intrudes on sincere lines like “I love you” with the brusqueness of radio interference. The overall sound of ‘Obsidian’ is thicker than Baths debut because it is accompanied by a five-piece band. The rock influence can be heard in the overdriven sound of “Ossuary”, where synthesised guitars rumble along to a bleeping heart rate monitor like a Joy Divison bass line. However, the band generally lean towards the lightly plucked guitar strings and pitterpatter drumming of former IDM
group, Azeda Booth. In this manner ‘Obsidian’’s celestial conclusion, “Inter”, cinematically serenades a damp and sunny morning to bid the storm adieu. The only trouble with ‘Obsidian’ is that it is hard to get a grasp of the nagging concept of melancholy which seems to be assuaged at its close, though is not attended to throughout. Wiesenheld’s usually angelic voice is at times forced into awkward registers, even hoarse screamo. A wry address in the penultimate track allows his throat to relax in the more convincing, and overall excellent, “Earth Death”. Yet, the addition of an apocalyptic vision does not make it any easier to determine the true colour of ‘Obsidian’’s heart. Sympathetic listeners will more likely embrace the album’s wildness.
O B S I D I A N
Steven Roberts 17
L A B E L S P O T L I G H T : L . I . E . S A N D 5 0 W E A P O N S
[i]: Erin Cork
◊ In the name of concision, I have hand picked two labels that for the past couple of years have been making serious moves for techno, thanks to an unrivalled series of releases both in extended and long player formats.
surely to build up L.I.E.S’ credentials as an outpost for high water mark dance music. His efforts achieved, to the extent that they were honoured with a label showcase at one of Bloc’s run of nights around the capital that also included separate appearances from Omar-S, Model L.I.E.S 500, Green Velvet and Surgeon. With an acronym that stands for the Be it through the traditionalist techno ambiguously termed Long Island of Summers, Svengalisghost’s acid Electrical Systems, L.I.E.S are a label electro voodoo, Marcus Cabral’s post based out of Brooklyn, New York, punk stylings or the ghetto funk of run by head honcho Ron Morelli, Delroy Edwards, L.I.E.S has ducked that proudly and ardently stands as and weaved from being tied down a bastion for underground dance by genre or any particular ‘sound’. music. With an aesthetic that draws Despite an occasional flutter into in equal measure from the punk and the realms of straight laced house DIY scene of the 80s and the acid or techno, Morelli has focused house movement of the 90s, Morelli’s predominantly on dusty analogue mission statement has been to blur and roughed-up sonics, all of which the lines indefinitely between multiple means that L.I.E.S has well and truly genres with a steadfast aptitude earned its status as one of the most towards unearthing budding talent. vital labels in the sea of experimental Through such commitment to this electronic music. singular task, Morelli’s L.I.E.S imprint Other notable releases in L.I.E.S has seen its star rise considerably include: Steve Summers – ‘In The in the past year or so, specifically Mode For Love’, VA – ‘American Noise’ thanks to a heavy release schedule and Legowelt – ‘Sark Island Acid EP’. of limited editions and white labels in 2012 that still retained an impressive 50 WEAPONS level of quality control. If some 50 Weapons was originally created releases were to be singled out, then in a drunken haze back in 2004 near the top of the pile would have by Modeselektor as an offshoot to be the stellar ‘4 Club Use Only’ of Monkeytown Records. Their from Delroy Edwards and this year’s unique concept was for the label ‘Lifetrax’ 12” from Florian Kupfer to release 50 records and then call that included the memorable “Feelin” it a day. Since then, 50 Weapons that’s been on heavy rotation around has succeeded in coming to typify London dance floors for the past few everything that Modeselektor have months. been about for the past few years; a With their first release arriving in the home with an open-minded passion form of Malvoeaux’s 2010 ‘Targets’ for music in all its forms albeit with 12”, Morelli has worked tirelessly but a European twist, from leftfield
electronica to experimental techno, along with a roster of star studded producers that are regarded as being some of the foremost pioneers in their respective spheres. With a similarly prolific and diverse release schedule to L.I.E.S, the duo behind 50 Weapons haven’t been afraid to dabble in genres outside the usual house and techno template, with dubstep and electro receiving equal billing and gratification to the wider world. Like L.I.E.S, 50 Weapons also had their own specially curated night courtesy of Bloc, with Cosmin TRG and A Made Up Sound (a.k.a dubstep powerhouse 2562), stepping up to the plate with their brands of hard-nosed Detroit techno and dark sonics respectively. Indeed, as well as the Bloc hosted night, a sign of 50 Weapons’ growing stature arrived when Benjamin Damage, Addison Groove and Shed were recently invited to pit their wits against none other than Marcel Fengler, Barker & Baumecker and Function from the mecca of techno that is the Ostgut Ton stable at the Coronet in London. Cosmin TRG is the one artist who has perhaps the strongest affiliation with 50 Weapons, having become an essential cog in the label’s wheel with more than a handful of essential releases from the Romanian, Berlinbased producer credited with their name. He has returned to them again for his most recent album ‘Gordian’ that just released on April 26th. His strands of melodic techno have been recently jumped on by young Welsh producer Benjamin
Damage, whose album ‘Heliosphere’ saw him channeling the spirit of Berghain to devastating and gut wrenching effect. Following on from his collaboration with Doc Daneeka, ‘They! Live’, he also released on 50 Weapons at the top end of last year. What with recent releases from Bambounou (‘Full of Feelings’), Shed (‘The Killer’) and Addison Groove (‘Transistor Rhythm’) again pushing 50 Weapons’ eclectic boundaries above and beyond any preordained sonic palettes, it seems as though the Modeselektor boys will have no problem in maintaining the label’s status as a truly special imprint through to the very end of its planned 50 releases. OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES ON 50 WEAPONS INCLUDE: BAMBOUNOU – ‘ORBITING’, COSMIN TRG – ‘SIMULAT’, A MADE UP SOUND – ‘MALFUNCTIONS’, DARK SKY - RADIUS EP, AND MODERAT – “RUSTY NAILS” (SHACKLETON REMIX). HONOURABLE MENTIONS INCLUDE: CLEKCLEKBOOM (VA – ‘PARIS CLUB MUSIC VOL.1’), MISTER SATURDAY NIGHT (ARCHIE PELAGO – ‘ARCHIE PELAGO EP’ AND ANTHONY NAPLES – ‘MAD DISRESPECT’), NONPLUS+ (VA – ‘THINK AND CHANGE’), WORKS THE LONG NIGHTS (TRADE – ‘SHEWORKS 005’) AND LASTLY, AUS MUSIC (BICEP – ‘STASH’ AND MIDLAND – ‘TRACE’).
C I R C U L A T I O N v o l u m e 3 / I s s u e 3 / f re e
M O U N T K I M B I E + S A V A G E S / P E A C E / B E N P E A R C E / L U K E A B B O T T / R O B D A B A N K
[P]: Ian Cheek Press