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C I R C U L A T I O N v o l u m e 3 • i s s u e 2 • f re e

Bastille also —— Ben UFO + Star Slinger + Mazes + Please Please You Photo:

Chuff Media


C IR C UL A T I O N

CO-EDITORs-IN-CHIEF Jonjo B Lowe + Joni Roome — MANAGING EDITOR Olivia Head — EVENTS CO-ORDINATOR Alice Brooksbank — FEATURES EDITOR Phoebe Rilot — REVIEWS EDITORs Alice Lawrence + Niamh Connolly — COMMENT EDITOR Jess Roberts — LIVE EDITORs Alex Beazley-Long + Will Olenski —

ARTS EDITORS Bex Liu Felicia Morizet — VIDEO EDITOR Lucy Watson — Contributors Chris Bennigsen Karl Bos Olly Brassell Roseanna Brear Judith Borghouts Milo Boyd Jacob Harrison — illustrators Rose Basista Camilla Byles

T E A M

Image CrediTs Bastille Cover - Chuff Media Ice Age - Phoebe Rilot Wild Nothing - Tom Nugent AlunaGeorge - Olmo Rodríguez Roces Bastille - Harry Lawlor Ben UFO - Anže Kokalj Mazes - Fat-Cat Records Star Slinger - Life or Death PR

CONTACT Any Queries / Complaints / Comments? Get in touch if you’re interested in contributing to any aspect of the magazine C i r c u l at i o nm ag a z ine @ Y u s u . O r g C i r c u l at i o n - M a g . C o m F a c e b o o k . C o m / C i r c u l at i o n m a g

Art Direction / Design / print bhavmistry.net bhav@bhavmistry.net

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Editor’s note

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Live Reviews

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Iceage 03 Purity Ring 03 Wild Nothing 04 Craig Charles 04 YO1 / Gig Listings 05

◊  When one team steps down, another must follow. With shoes to

Features 06

cont e nt s

volume 3 : issue 2

fill that painstakingly strove to interview the likes of Jessie Ware and How to Dress Well for previous covers, our feet had some fast growing to do. As I proudly present you 2013’s Winter issue of Circulation Magazine, I’d like to thank the largest editorial committee to date for the combined sweat, phone credit and sacrificed lie-ins without which this wouldn’t be in front of you. With our firm belief in promoting and discovering newly emerging artists, we bring you interviews with both Bastille and Mazes. As talk with Bastille reveals the difficulties of mastering wide-ranging appeal, our closing comment piece ‘We Live in Public’ explores the changing nature of musical interaction in the face of growing and isolating technologies. It is through the overriding and poignant discussion of electronic music mediums that our interviews with the strong-standers Star Slinger and Ben UFO are tied together. With our usual array of album reviews grounded by an emphasis on York and Leeds’ immediate music scenes, this edition stands as a tribute to Circulation’s growing profile both within and beyond the North’s musical community. As the end of January saw our collaboration with Bangers & Mash successfully bringing Kreature to York, it is with open arms that I welcome the month of May and our appearance at YO1 festival. As Circulation comes to be a stronger presence on the air, the web, in its events and through the words it puts forth, I believe the next year can only take us upwards. Read on and join us for the ride.

Folk & Acoustic Winter Mixtape

Bastille 06 Ben UFO 08 Mazes 10 Star Slinger 12 Please Please You 13 ALBUM REVIEWS

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A$ap Rocky 15 I am Kloot 15 Mountains 16 Widowspeak 16 Everything Everything 16 Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Lab. 17 Villagers 17 Trus’Me 17 Spin - Off

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3D Printing Meets the MP3 The Power of Love We Live in Public

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C OLUMNS

Fo l k

◊ In a genre where it’s now almost impossible to be totally original, up and coming folk and acoustic artists are under increasing pressure to find a niche. Be it the profound lyricism of Laura Marling or the tuneful complexities of “The Tallest Man” on Earth, it’s still tough to escape the domineering shadows of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and other acoustic greats. 2013, however, looks promising for diverse and fresh sounds and no more so in the emergence of a new trend: the folk girlband. Stealing Sheep intermingle traditional folk concepts such as strict vocal harmony and steady beat with undertones of electronic mysticism, creating a tone

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A co u s t i c

that maintains the genre’s core while allowing for a greater range of material. The Liverpudlian trio released their debut album ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ last year. “Shut Eye” is a pleasant track to get a feel, combining a subtle folk entry with slightly heavier electric riffs. Set to tour Europe with Alt-J in February, we could be hearing a lot more from these three in coming months. Smoke Fairies, a Sussex based duo, incorporate the same vocal harmony and electric-acoustic layering as Stealing Sheep but with a heavier, bluesy feel. The American influence of a year spent in New Orleans to develop their style resonates through

tracks such as “Living with Ghosts” and “Strange Moon Rising”. The depth of Katherine and Jessica’s vocals has earned recognition from numerous critics and even attracted the attention of Gary Numan who listens to their album ‘Through Low Lights and Trees’ in the car. “Reason to Believe”, the duo’s newest single, is to be released in January. Returning to the genre’s more traditional, simple roots are The Staves. Honest, endearing lyrics fuse with enchanting vocals that blend together effortlessly. One listen to “Winter Trees” will hook any fan of classic, lucid, and earthy acoustic melodies. Having released their debut album in No-

vember, the group will surely have guaranteed themselves the smallstage festival slot come summer. On the local scene, the folk quartet Bird play the Duchess on the 22nd of February, who are well worth a listen for their ethereal, almost eerie vibe, which has been complimented by the Cocteau Twins and Steve Lamaq. And for the simple pleasure of seeing a man finger-pick a guitar at light speed, look no further than the wonderful Sam Carter who plays The Basement on Friday the 8th of March. Alex Morden-Osborne

Winter Mixtape (01) Ghetto Symphony ft Gunplay & A$AP Ferg - A$AP Rocky (02) More Than You Thought - Flume (03) Marriage - Gold Panda (Star Slinger remix) (04) Coalition - Iceage (05) Raw Code - Pev & Kowton (06) Earthly Pleasures - Villagers (07) Shoeless - I Am Kloot (08) Pompeii - Bastille (09) What I Really Need - Applebottom (10) Truant - Burial (11) Cirrus - Bonobo C h e c k o u t o u r w e e k l y r a d i o s h o w , F r i d a y 9 - 1 1 p m o n URY + playlists on our website circulation-mag.com. 02


LIVE

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Iceage: Bar Lane Studios /25th November 2012

Phoebe Rilot

has not run in a while though, amid rumours of license problems for the gallery, but with the visit to town of Iceage threatened by Stereo’s sudden withdrawal from their Gillygate home, Wrong Side of the River was resurrected for one last mosh. The only added accoutrement to surroundings (aside from the fridge) was the projection of a 1970s Sexploitation film on the wall behind the bands. These odd and jarring images accompanying the music created an effect reminiscent of Andy Wahol’s Plastic Exploding Inevitable events, equally arresting and disconcerting. Bad Paintings very own Fawn Spots provided the main support, playing an energetic set of their pop-Punk stylings delivered at a breakneck speed. Conflicting guitars and harmonised vocals combined to create music that had grand populist intentions whilst still being decidedly lo-fi. They proved to be the perfect warm-up, creating a fevered atmosphere. After making their way through the crowd to the front of the room and a brief warm up, lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt announced ‘Iceage’ in a brusque monotone before launching into the first song. Along with the names of the songs,

these were to be the only words the band would say to the crowd. You would never say that Iceage were averse to crowd interaction though, they just heed to that age-old truism ‘actions speak louder than words’. Two songs in Elias dropped his red Fender to the ground, pulled the microphone off its stand and proceeded to skulk and flail (mostly the latter) around the crowd. With hair and a leather jacket like Justin Bieber but the same regard for his health as Iggy Pop, Elias is some kind of post-modern artistic experiment. He was a sneering and menacing presence, trailing his microphone cord in and out of the crowd. His boyish good looks and demonic, basically unintelligible vocals combine to create an aura of aesthetically-pleasing nihilism. Pretty vacant indeed. All the while, the rest of the band were a picture of studied Scandinavian indifference, managing to thrash out their incredibly taught songs without breaking a sweat, looking like fashion models on a fag break. Whilst obviously being in debt to early Punk in both sound and attitude, Iceage are undeniably modern, their music much more complex than their 70s forefathers, more industrial and washed in

reverb. “White Rune” is the best evocation of this, its stomping, shout-along-ability proving to be equally rabble-rousing as bloodcurdling. Elias and his antics may take the headlines but Iceage are a serious musical proposition. The crowd throughout was in awe, not quite able to quantify or process what was happening. It felt like a momentous occasion, such a big band performing in such a unique space. Used to a more raucous atmosphere, Iceage probably bemoaned being treated like a quaint curiosity as opposed to the violent devotion they usually inspire. However this is where Bar Lane came into its own as venue. Without a stage to separate the act from the audience, both were forced to confront the intimacy and it led to an exhilarating, if admittedly bizarre, experience. It was decidedly Punk yet inherently York. Punk is dead, long live Punk.

of hitting trigger pads to play loops which in turn control these lights. Struggling to move any further forward than the middle of the ◊ The visual aspect of Purity Ring’s crowd, we stopped and waited live performance is as important for Purity Ring to take the stage. to them as the musical. So when After a seemingly long wait the 300 people poured into to The band appear on stage as if out HiFi’ Club, one of Leeds’ more of nowhere and pick up their intimate venues, being able to see instruments as the house lights the band suddenly became much die down to blackness. Then they more important and infinitely more play. Immediately we were drowning difficult. The band’s stage setup in synths and stuttering drums consists of a number of hanging forcing  us  to look to Megan James’ paper orbs, LED lanterns and a voice for guidance,  where we were large backlit bass drum. Using a met with emotionally flat vocal homebuilt midi controller, multidelivery - left both psychologically instrumentalist and drummer Corin and physically lost in a dark sea of Roddick has developed a system strangers.

Purity Ring’s lyrics are adopted from Megan James’ written work, which she did not originally intend to release. They play earlier singles such as “Ungirthed” and “Belispeak” at the beginning of their set that conjure brooding images of mortality and fragility. Meanwhile, later songs feel somewhat patched together from half-finished ideas and motifs as she has run out of usable material. This is no more true than in “Lofticries” which, whilst arguably most lyrically developed, feels like it has lost the harrowing simplicity of their earlier work. This was particularly evident here, outside of a studio setting, when James’ relatively short vocal range, made

many of the songs’ melodies start to repeat and sound monotonous. So, for the final time, James raised her microphone in one hand and waved her hanging lantern in the other, bringing the crowd standing before her under an enchantment of droning electronica and filtering lights. As she struck her bass drum to mark the end of their set, the spell was broken and the audience slowly remembered their hands as they started to applaud. As we filtered out just under an hour later than it had begun, we commented that it had felt a mere 5 minutes, and not necessarily in a good way.

◊ When you think of iconic Punk locations, places like Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, Vivienne Westwood’s Kings Road Boutique and New York’s CBGBs spring to mind. Bar Lane Studios probably does not. However if the Punk ethos is all about iconoclasm then why don’t we dispel any notion of historical reverence and posit the York art gallery as a venue worthy of such high praise. After the visit of brazen Danish neoPunks Iceage, this would not seem too far-fetched a statement. Gigs in Bar Lane are not held in the plush surroundings of the gallery itself, but instead in a basement below comprising of nothing more than a tiled floor and exposed brickwork. These combine with the low ceiling and lack of a stage to produce a minimal yet characterful atmosphere. If you want a drink, there is a fridge at the back full of Red Stripe, and if you need to go the toilet you have to ask the bouncer for a key. No wonder then that for the last couple of years Wrong Side of the River, a Punk night in part organised by local record label Bad Paintings, has called Bar Lane its home. The night

Purity Ring: HiFi Club/ Leeds/ 26th Nov 2012

Alex Beazley-Long

Will Olenski

Will Olenski

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LIVE

W i l d C r a i g

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N ot h i ng C h a r l e s

Petrus Olsson

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Wild Nothing: synthesiser. Being a guitarist Brudenell Social Club/ myself, I was desperate to steal a Leeds/ glance of their impressive pedal29th Nov 2012 boards and understand how they ◊ A recurrent complaint in previous live reviews of Wild Nothing performances is founder Jack Tatum’s lack of charisma and the band’s overall flatness. This wasn’t apparent tonight. While Wild Nothing is essentially the solo project of Tatum, the musical interaction between the band members made them come across as a cohesive force. Their sound was a delight to the ear, in particular the combination of two harmonising guitars and a

Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show: The Duchess/ 30th December 2012

were making such beautifully atmospheric music. Tatum’s clear Rickenbacker sound and the melodies that road guitarist Nathan Goodman delivered on his Jazzmaster blended perfectly; complementing one another like insecure schoolgirls. Their performance was only heightened by the audience’s excitement. The crowd was dancing to such an extent you forgot you were at a Wild Nothing show. Though the frivolities were largely the result of alcohol

crowd. Charles’ widespread fame and mass appeal, from his standout BBC 6Music show to his appearances in Corrie and Red Dwarf, meant that the ◊ Any hopes of writing about this audience had an age range of night without mentioning Craig fifty years, with seemingly as Charles’ wider fame as The Guy many newcomers as avid Funk & From Robot Wars were dashed Soul followers. The reason for his before I even set foot in The popularity as a DJ is certainly not Duchess. Waiting in the queue, down to his skill – any purists the excitable chatter amongst the hoping for artful mixes and skill crowd was not speculation as to full turntablism will be let down – whether he would drop any early it’s the unhinged, slightly chaotic Funkadelic, but about whether stage presence, mixed with an Chaos 2 was better than Razor. obvious love of his music. Anyone After putting someone to rights on who’s listened to his muchhis ludicrous assertion that Sgt. loved radio show will know that Bash could take Sir Kill-a-lot, I he’s a pretty odd guy: in equal ventured down into The Duchess’ measures music nerd and surreal basement for what I hoped to be entertainer. His unique presence a robot-free night of high quality is undeniably charming though, funk and soul. and within minutes of his opening Having seen his show twice statement of “you may know me already, I wasn’t surprised from Red Dwarf, you may know me to see an incredibly diverse from Robot Wars, you may know

04

TOM Nugent

consumption, it didn’t seem to bother Tatum who said that their show in London was like playing at a funeral in comparison. The crowd’s enthusiasm seemed to be contagious, as the usually serious band members started to throw some shapes on stage. A common criticism levelled at Tatum has been that there is hardly any difference between listening to Wild Nothing on CD and seeing them live. I couldn’t disagree more: whilst their albums may give you a glimpse into Tatum’s dream world, you ascend to become a part of it when you see them live. They sound richer and deeper live;

the different layers, details and clever compositions become all the more apparent. This was no more true than with their delivery of “Paradise”. It is a song which shows what a talent Tatum really is. Tatum noted it was their third time playing at Brudenell. Hopefully they come back soon for a fourth time, because I can guarantee I’d be buying a ticket. We all need an escape from reality sometimes, and Wild Nothing’s “Paradise” is the perfect place to go.

me from Corrie”, anyone feeling too self-conscious to dance stopped caring and got moving. The array of music we were treated to was a perfectly selected mix of old classics and lesser-known gems, interspersed with some genius remixes, covers and mash-ups. Charles more or less wore out the back catalogue of remix artist The Reflex (find him on Soundcloud), whose re-workings of Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five and Average White Band are worth the ticket price alone. To give the audience a breather following the big-band cover of “Killing In The Name Of”, half an hour of laid back ska and reggae followed. A brass band version of The Specials’ “Ghost Town”, and my new favourite track, “Rocket Man” by the Stiff Naked Fools, prompted some of the most enthusiastic middle-aged skanking I’ve ever seen.

Toward the end of the night, the remixes became more bassheavy, drawing on some recent electro-swing tracks from The Electric Swing Circus, among others. Unfortunately, this also led to some unforgivable remixes, including a drum ‘n’ bass reworking of “Son Of A Preacher Man”. Craig Charles’ all-encompassing approach to a Funk & Soul set list might not be to everyone’s tastes – trying to incorporate a little of everything, he’s sure to step on a few people’s toes – but coming to his shows with an open mind always pays off.

Judith Borghouts

Jacob Harrison


LIVE 1 2

Y O 1 G i g

F e s t i va l L i s t i ng s

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One to Watch: YO1 Festival/ 5 May 2013

Olmo Rodríguez Roces

9th February

4th March

◊ Manchester’s Parklife and Leeds Weekender often dominate our image of northern festivals leaving York cast aside and seen as lacking any music scene. However, due to the work of York based John Drysdale in creating YO1, the self-titled festival is set to put itself firmly on the future festival circuit. After the success of last year’s event, the festival returns to Knavesmire, just outside of the city centre. Hosting 4 stages of live acts, a variety of street food and a micro Ale festival, the festival promises to cater for everything. Acts such as Jackmaster, Rudimental. AlunaGeorge, Oneman, DJ Yoda and Channel One Sound System are amongst the names already confirmed to play alongside a number of other international and local promoters. Amongst these is Please Please You, featured in this edition, as well as the University’s very own The Marzec Group who will return to the festival stage after a stellar performance at Beacons last year.  Together with the main stage, a variety of local establishments are curating stages including Beacons Festival, Bison Coffee, Irie Vibes and Circulation Magazine itself.  Drawing together talents from all backgrounds we will be hosting Milli Vanilli, Breakz, Bangers & Mash, Lucent, Tuff Wax and many more. A day of this will be enjoyed in York at only £20.

Pure Love

Disclosure

10th February

6th March

Delphic

Egyptian Hip Hop

16th February

7th March

Ben UFO

Lianne La Havas

16th February

9th March

Mala

The Travelling Band

19th February

9th March

Michael Chapman

Foals

20th February

10th March

Swim Deep

Bastille

20th February

29th March

Tickets are available from the YO1 Festival website and with more acts to be announced it only looks to get better. 

Mazes

The Basement, York —

Jake Bugg

22nd February

21th April

Julio Bashmore

King Charles

4th March

22nh April

Cyril Hahn

Gaz Coombes

www.yo1events.co.uk Will Olenski

The Duchess, York —

Cockpit, Leeds —

Mint Club, Leeds —

Beat Bar, Leeds —

The Duchess, York —

The Duchess, York —

TBA Leeds —

The Wire Leeds —

Cockpit, Leeds —

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds —

Stylus, Leeds —

The Duchess, York —

LMUSU, Leeds —

Stylus, Leeds —

The Barbican, York —

The Duchess York —

The Duchess York —

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Interview

b a s t i l l e

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◊ My eyes are fixed to the clock slowly rolling from 12:58, 12:59 and onto 1:00pm. My phone eventually rattles on the desk. Bastille’s press agent Jenny is calling, less than two seconds behind schedule. In a few minutes, she’ll connect me to their lead member Dan Smith. It’s all handled very clinically; just before I’m put on hold to wait for him, examination-style instructions inform me I’ll be allowed “exactly 20 minutes”. The announcement that Bastille would be supporting stadium sellout artist Emeli Sandé on her 2013 tour was a turning point. It was a moment that marked the beginning of Bastille’s ascent to huge commercial success; one that began with an aspiring Smith, progressed with the addition of his band and culminated in the present with their songs exposed to the masses through mediums from the FIFA 13 soundtrack to Hollyoaks. The release of their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ is set for March. 1:03pm and Jenny’s back on the line, robotically apologising and 06

asking if I’ll wait a little longer. As soon as she beeps off the line I play “Forever Ever” featuring Kate Tempest from their latest, freely released EP. As the hook bridges between Tempest’s hair-prickling bars and Smith’s chorus, his voice carries a dignity that seems too refined to have been set to one of Made in Chelsea’s multiple melodramas. My phone picks up a crackle. I flap around to turn the song off, embarrassed that he might’ve heard it. His measured voice streams down the phone line and I’m set at ease. Small talk reveals that he and the band have been rehearsing for their 2013 tour in my hometown. He talks just like your average guy and so I plunge in and ask how it feels to be suddenly facing the next year. “To be honest, I’d never really thought about giving music a go myself”. He’s frank about it; “I really wanted to work in film at a point, either shooting or editing.” He sounds much like myself or any other directionless humanities stu-

Harry Lawlor

dent. As I tell him his references to images of clouds rolling over hills in “Pompeii” led me to believe he might’ve studied English, he dryly laughs. “I studied English Lit at Leeds. I’ve never been massively into poetry” he says with a halfassed-undergrad’s bluntness, “but always liked novels and short stories”. It’s the response I expected. Each track of his is almost like a short story in itself, lyrically setting the landscape around characters who vary to such an extent that you can’t imagine Smith has met them all at only 26. And he hasn’t:

Dancer” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” are rendered nearly unrecognisable as they are overlaid with samples from films and other tracks, and seamlessly blended through to one another. Each track is an episode in Bastille’s own epic, heartbreak compilation. “I put the mixtapes out there as a way of trying out new stuff that I wouldn’t have done on the album and giving people some free material to listen to. I wanted to use it as a space to gesture towards the films I really like and create a fun collage of music across different periods and films”. “I try not to write too auto— With samples from some of the biographically. I like to think greatest cult films of our generaof each song as its own selftion including Donnie Darko and contained little thing. I’d say American Beauty, all of the tracks that other people’s stories have on the EPs carry a relatable resoalways been a huge influence nance. A notable gem on Pt. 2 titled for my music.” “No Angels” merges the lyrics of I’d suspected this philosophy to TLC’s “No Scrubs” with the chords have been the premise behind his of The xx’s “Angels”, climaxing with two, free-release EPs, appropriate- a dialectic sing-off between Smith ly titled ‘Other People’s Heartache’. himself and the featured Ella. We Iconic pop songs of the last twenty talk about the samples from Psyyears including Turner’s “Private cho and how they reinscribe the


disturbing mother-son relationship onto TLC’s otherwise harmless, ‘I don’t need no man’ lyrics: “If you live at home with your Mamma...I’m talking to you”. I feel as though I can hear him speaking through a smile as he gets into the discussion. “I’ll find myself watching films and inspired by a scene, moment or conversation. I suppose I use it to try and help get a point across.” He pauses tentatively. “Then again, the whole process is wrapped up together. I mean I’d already started writing “Laura Palmer” when I decided to call it that and make it about the character. Initially the song was just going to have been about things I was thinking at the time.” Found ‘dead, wrapped in plastic’ at the opening, Laura Palmer’s murder is the centre of David Lynch’s mystery series Twin Peaks. It turns out he’s been watching it again recently. The videos for both “What Would You Do?” and “Requiem for Blue Jeans” were filmed by Smith himself from the passenger seat of a car; camera glued to his hand and Lynch stuck on the brain. “When I was younger I really wanted to work in film and I really wanted to be an editor. I shot a lot of stuff and just edited it together for the videos. I love the eeriness of the road at night. In Lost Highway, the lines and the light

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Chuff media

look amazing. I tried to recreate that whilst getting the mood of the song across”. The same kind of visuals are used to accompany his cover of Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”; a track which once again strips the song back to its lyrics, placing them to the piano part of “Requiem for a Dream”. “It just fitted” he says effortlessly; he “found the writing for some of Lana’s tracks really evocative and noticed that “Blue Jeans” was written in the same key as Requiem.” With the product successfully revamping an already epidemic pop song, I wonder whether the mixtapes are also a means of tapping into the existing fan-bases of other artists. Considering my suggestion, Smith refers to another of their covers of City High’s 90s hit “What Would You Do?”. “I remember hearing it when I was a kid and it was a massive pop song” he tells me wistfully. “We started playing it live as a bit of a joke for the crowd because it’s one of those songs that everyone seems to know from somewhere. Then we recorded it and realised it was actually quite depressing behind its sugary, hiphop framing. The lyrics are really dark and quite incongruous with us as band, so it was a nice scene in itself just trying it out.” It can’t be denied that this is something Bastille is known for delving into influences from nearly

every genre and somehow managing to make them work as his own. Hints of dubstep, trap, hip-hop and rap creep in, mixing up the known cliches of the very conventional indie. But “it’s not calculated at all” he insists;

Just before his sentence trails off, I hear a beep on the line again signifying Jenny’s return. I look at the time and see I only have a minute left on her allowance. She chips in, asks us to wrap it up and disappears with another ‘beep’. Smith sheepishly apologises for “The mixtapes have allowed the time constraints. us to try different stuff out I tell him I was curious to know and different production who used the triangle symbol first, techniques. We just want to try them or ALT-J(∆). He humours my stuff out and have a good time question with another laugh, this bringing in influences from time he sounds a little nervous. “I everything that we like”. think we did it first”, he says, quiBeing so accessible can be as eter, as though somebody’s watchmuch a vice as it is a virtue. In ing. “We met them at a festival in June, The Guardian dubbed BasHong-Kong recently and joked tille as the band most likely to be about it. It emerged that we kind ruined by Radio1. It’s a title which of got there first but there weren’t carried the minor, back-handed any hard feelings over it”. compliment of predicting their suc- As Jenny tells us that time’s up, I cess. But it also casted them right in hear Smith fall silent. She beeps the middle-of-the-road and into the off the line once more, leaving plethoric line of oncoming artists in me time to ask how he felt about their wider genre. I hesitantly ask if hearing “Flaws” on Made in Chelthis sort of thing worries them. sea. He didn’t even try to hide the “To be honest, wanting to try out fact that he beeping hated it. loads of different sounds comes out of pleasing myself and not other Jonjo B Lowe people.” He seems pretty accepting of whatever any critical music journalist has to throw at him. “I’ve never wanted Bastille to be one genre or one particular kind of band. If being that way makes us Radio 1 material then so be it. We’re just doing it the way we want.”

07


Interview

b e n

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UF O

Max Zerrahn

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◊ Dance music is big business these days, with ‘EDM’ becoming the latest music genre to roll off the tongue of venture entrepreneurs. Whack a few songs up on Soundcloud and the next thing you know, you’re DJing to the frenzied masses in stadiums around the world. Even on a smaller scale, every promoter is clamouring to book the latest hot producers for their nights, often off the back of nothing more than a few YouTube rips. Simply put, there seems to be a perverse (and widely accepted) notion that the ability to make a few good minutes of music will translate into assuredly delivering a captivating DJ set for over an hour. Big names jump out from posters and get crowds in venues, and these big names are producers. All things considered, it means Ben UFO is one of a rare and dying breed, the specialist DJ. Even rarer, he’s also an incredibly nice guy, as I found out when I sat down to talk to him about his latest mix, the 67th entry into the prestigious Fabriclive series. 08

Photo:

Ryan Muir

Ben Thomson is something of a hero in the UK underground scene, mostly due to running the record label Hessle Audio, which he set up with his good friends Kevin McAuley (Pangaea) and David Kennedy (Peason Sound). The label has been responsible for bringing music by the likes of Blawan and James Blake to a wider audience as well as continuing to be the best place to find superlative releases by the label heads themselves. He and Kennedy also helm the Hessle Audio show on Rinse FM, the former pirate radio station and now legitimate dance music touchstone. Every two weeks, Ben treats listeners to a blistering display of turntablism, each minute rich with detail and innovation. Even more frequently, he is out in the clubs doing what he does best. As he says, “I still love playing music to people more than anything else”. The success of Hessle Audio led to their residency at the legendary London club Fabric. The monthly events are no normal club night,

Anže Kokalj

however, “I would say that the nights we program are a natural result of the way we approach the curation of our record label, and the artists we choose to release music by”. There exists a symbiotic relationship between label and club, as Ben tells me, “Fabric have always been open to experimentation, and have allowed us to give opportunities to acts who might otherwise not get the chance to perform in bigger spaces and on such good sound systems”. Another one of the label’s admirers in the dance music community is Four Tet. The peerless producer recently asked them to be involved in his all-nighter at Brixton Academy. Having been there, I was keen to ask Ben what he thought about it: “It was a great experience. The event was partially funded by the Arts Council, and we were able to involve local youth groups in the promotion and organisation of the event. It was fantastic to be able to play to that many people in the city where I was born”. The tickets were priced at only £5 and the

night was noticeably lacking any retina-damaging light shows or corporate sponsors. I ask whether this lo-fi attitude encouraged Ben to be a part of it, “One of the reasons I was so happy to be involved was that it’s hugely rare to see big venues taken over with no frills whatsoever, and with ticket prices so low. A lot of young people are essentially priced out of going to events at these kind of venues, but because we were able to keep the ticket price so low this event was essentially open to anyone who wanted to come”. The night was a huge success, and in my opinion a perfect evocation of how vibrant and positive the UK dance music scene can be. Ben agreed, “club experiences are supposed to be collectively engaging and uplifting, that’s the whole point”.

Whilst these events attested the importance of the label, being asked to contribute to the Fabriclive series is a personal honor for Ben. It is an acknowledgment of his position in the scene and


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a confirmation of his continuing relevance as a DJ. For producers, mix CDs are a chance to demonstrate how their music works in the context of a club environment. Ultimately though, the mixes are merely a caveat to their own musical output. For the specialist DJ however, they represent much more. Although the internet has made it much easier for mixes to be distributed and appreciated, mix CDs still represent the best way for DJs to creatively convey themselves to a wider audience. Simply put, it’s an opportunity for the DJ to define themselves, something that Ben picked up on: “I wanted to produce a mix that would accurately sum up what I aim to do as a DJ, what I am attempting to do as a record label owner, and represent what [Hessle Audio] do when we put our nights on at Fabric. I wanted to try and communicate something beyond the scope of a 70 minute mix; to imply a broad musical direction and to hint towards what I do when I have longer to play with”. Ben’s first mix CD for Rinse FM

included songs by the likes of How To Dress Well and Andrew Coltrane. This is music that you would perhaps not immediately consider dance-floor friendly: “I think that programming mix CDs is a fun opportunity to expose people towards music they might not come across otherwise”. His Fabriclive mix contains tracks of a similar vein by Herbert and Jam City. Ben admits,

tracks that get somewhat lost in translation. By including tracks by Pangaea, Pearson Sound and Elgato, Thomson was looking to “contextualise some of the records we put out on Hessle Audio last year, which I think often work best when used creatively by DJs”. DJs who are willing to take such risks and take a creative attitude towards their mixes are obviously kindred spirits for Ben, “my inspi“I like the idea that music can ration at the moment is primarily function differently in different provided by DJs who are happy environments and to different to take control of club environlisteners, and that’s the fun of ments for long periods of time, and DJing for me. I like the idea that in who have the ability to construct club situations people are open to cohesive narratives that work a wide variety of stuff, which they and make sense across a whole might not give the same credence evening, or a whole club night.” A to when listening at home”. DJ who definitely does that is Ron It is this attitude that continues Morelli, head of the dynamic New to drives forward Hessle Audio. York record label L.I.E.S It turns Releases on Hessle are not tied to out Ben is a fan, “Ron’s become a a specific genre or theme, but what good friend and I admire his way they all have in common is a proof doing things a lot.” L.I.E.S. were gressive attitude to electronic mu- responsible for some of the more sic that can still translate to clubs. compelling dance music records The label has however received released in 2012. As a nod to their criticism in the past for releasing huge success Ben has included

Will Bankhead

“Feelings” by Delroy Edwards in his Fabriclive mix. Whilst being similar in terms of ideals, in practice Ben admits that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the high octane nature of the label: “releasing that many records and keeping up with such a frantic schedule wouldn’t come naturally to me.” I notice that both the record labels have a commitment to demonstrating a harmony between functionality and experimentalism in electronic music, something that Ben describes as “the dream” when it comes to running Hessle Audio. The ultimate aim of the label, and by extension his DJ sets, is to be “a perfect hybrid of continuing exploration and experimentation without compromising dancefloor effectiveness.”

Which, in a world of David Guetta and Will.i.am, is something we can all get behind. Alex Beazley-Long

09


Interview

M A ZES

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◊ It was a cold, wintry December afternoon when I sat down to talk to a sniffly Jack Cooper, lead singer of London band Mazes. Originally formed in 2009 in Manchester, the band has seen several alterations to its line-up over the years. This is in no small part the result of the copious amounts of touring that they have undertaken. They embark on a nationwide headline tour this February, in support of their new album ‘Ores & Minerals’, coming out later this year. Signed to Fat Cat, with a well-received first album that was recorded on a boat and released on cassette, Mazes are a band with a genuine DIY aesthetic. They make music in thrall to late 80’s and early 90’s US alt, authentically lo-fi but surprisingly catchy. In a session recorded for BBC 6music Marc Riley called them ‘a sort of really garagey Kinks’, an accurate description. I spoke to Jack about his penchant for pop hooks, touring with The Cribs and why he won’t write a song for your girlfriend.

10

Maxime Quoiline

als’ involves cutting up “little bits of drum loops and things”, the interesting things being electronic, “because it’s just easier to cut up that kind of thing anyway”. A self-confessed “not very good drum programmer” he says he then had to “make the instrumentation more interesting to counteract the repetitiveness of the drums”. Mazes are prolific live performers; touring extensively in support of acts such as Wavves, The Dum Dum Girls and most recently, The Cribs. They also play a lot of their own headline gigs, a lot of the time. In our age of free downloads, it seems that the only vaguely financially viable way to be a band “Definitely. There’s a lot more gois to tour, almost constantly, as ing on, every song has really cool Mazes well know: “when you’re a bits that I’m still into and I mean, band at our level there’s an asI’d like people to dance to it”. sumption that we’re kinda doing It’s interesting the impact that okay and we put out a record on electronic music, and it’s increas- a good indie label and we’ve been ing ubiquity, has had on tradion tour a lot”; he pauses, “but tional guitar bands within the past it’s really really hard work”. This couple of years, an influence not degree of gigging makes it more lost on Mazes. Jack tells me his like a job than ‘living the dream’. writing process for ‘Ores & Miner- Jack explains to me that potential The first single from ‘Ores & Minerals’ is “Bodies”, 6 minutes of slightly distorted but sweetly-contained guitar riffs underlay Jack’s vocal musings on bodies. It’s a departure from the rapid pace of ‘A Thousand Heys’, their debut, and takes their sound in a distinctively dance-orientated direction. “I would always get frustrated last year [playing songs from A Thousand Heys], it became apparent that everything we would play is just very very difficult to move to” says Jack. Would he agree that the new record has a New York disco/ Arthur Russell/ Talking Heads vibe?

employers aren’t thrilled about the prospect of you leaving for months at a time to tour, returning just to leave again in a month. The band’s only option became to tour all the time. “It’s almost impossible” Jack adds. When they first started Mazes the idea behind it was that “it would be all about the song and we wouldn’t put too much thought into it... It would all be about the creation of the song, the first buzz and it being interesting”. How did this transform to live performances? “We didn’t really pay much attention to the arrangements and the instrumentation and stuff, it was just bashing out songs”.

Jack sighs, “then it just got really boring playing live”. The material from the second album, being more dance-orientated, requires a more crafted live performance. I ask if they’ve tried out the new material yet. Jack explains, in his own words, that the band pulled “kind of a dick move” on tour with The Cribs last year: they played all their


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new material, taking the attitude that the crowds weren’t there to see them, so they would play stuff they were excited about. How did it go down? “They were receptive to it. Some of it’s really guitar-y and jam-y”. Touring with The Cribs must have been an interesting experience? “We were in two minds”. Jack expands on the monetary aspect of supporting a well-established band, “usually those sort of tours will require loans from your label, and not breaking even”. A slight problem when live performances pay the bills? The Cribs were kind to Mazes: “they paid us really good. They understand your position, and they hold that ethic dear”. There was slight concern that, as is the problem for every support act in history, the crowds wouldn’t have time for them. However, pleasantly surprised, Mazes were only heckled once. Still, once more than is ideal? “We get heckled much more than that when we play headline shows so...”. He laughs, “yeah, it was really good. [The

Cribs] are nice people”. As a fan of their music I’m intrigued to ask Jack about a recent Twitter post I saw expressing outrage that Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland’s 2012 album Black is Beautiful had not been nominated for the Mercury Award. “It’s my favourite record” he explains. Can we expect to draw any comparisons between their sound and Mazes’s sophomore album? “I don’t know if there’s a direct influence...”. Perhaps in a (very) well concealed love of pop-style hooks, as in Mazes’s previous material: “I really like pop music and melody, I think it comes from when I’m writing a song I never record things straight away, I always have it going round my head for a couple of days so the catchy things stick I guess”. Thinking about it he says “[Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland] actually have some songs that if they were covered by Rihanna they would be pop songs... but they just fuck them up”. I’m keen to ask Jack about one of his Mazes’ side-projects, Art

Fat-cat-records

is Cheap, a Tumblr page of songs that he wrote for people. He charged a £10 minimum admin fee, and wrote all of the songs on one day. He asked people to send him a tidbit of inspiration for the song, whether that be a message, photo, melody or a word. Giving free reign to the public for inspiration is always going to be a double-edged sword; “it was fun for a while but I just got too many unimaginative requests, people would send me an email and it’d be like ‘it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, here’s what she likes, will you write a song for her?’... and I’d be like what the fuck do I do with that”. It wasn’t all bad: “some people got really into the swing of it and they’d send me a poem or a little recording they’d done”.

Although it doesn’t seem to be an experience that Jack will be repeating anytime soon, “I’d like to post some of the emails I got, there was one...” He trails off, laughing. Phoebe Rilot 11


Interview

s ta r

s l i ng e r

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◊ Fresh out of the swimming pool after a hectic start to 2013, Star Slinger (Darren Williams) is taking a day off after a busy few months DJing around the world and compiling his forthcoming LP. A remixer, producer, DJ, club night curator and all round nice guy we talk about Slovenia, his forthcoming album and the future of hip hop. Originally from Nottingham, Williams studied Music Tech in Leeds before settling in Manchester. As Star Slinger he produces a broad spectrum of music from hip hop club tracks to warm soul-inspired instrumentals and dancefloorready remixes. No stranger to hard work, Star Slinger spent the last few months of 2012 supporting DJ Shadow in Istanbul, playing in France and ending the year with a midnight New Year’s Eve DJ set in San Francisco. All of this while taking his Jet Jam club night around the world. Darren tells me about the night which started in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I mentioned that it seems a strange place for an Englishman to start a club night - “it all started two years ago, the two guys in Slovenia were the first people to book me in Europe. We stayed in contact and became really good friends. I really liked the city and the clubs and it just seemed like the

right place to start things off. My girlfriend Michaela was the visuals girl for the night; I felt ill the first time I met her so I didn’t try it on, but the next time...” He breaks into a laugh and we change the subject to the other destinations the night has taken place in, “we’ve taken it to London, L.A., New York and Seattle so far, the only focus was taking it worldwide. With me curating the night, I can choose who I want to play whilst the promoters deal with everything else. It makes it so much easier to take on - and ensure everyone gets paid!” Supporting the DJ on his London and New York dates were teenage duo Bondax. I asked how Star Slinger got to know the boys - “they sent me a demo when they were unsigned, they really have their own sound - it’s like dance and pop but in a good way. They’re just really good guys and I thought it’d be good to have them come as support for the Jet Jam nights. They’re getting a lot of attention now which they deserve”. Along with releasing a constant stream of remixes, Star Slinger released the full length LP ‘Volume 1’ in 2010. An instrumental mixtape sampling old soul, funk and disco records like Black Pepper’s “Keep Running Out of Gas”, it was a warm and human collection of hip-hop

life or death pr

beats. With a few tracks already recorded for the follow up, I asked him what we can expect for the next release - “I’ve gone back to the same production techniques as ‘Volume 1’, I’ve got this big sampler - you can programme in 16 separate samples, but no one apart from Daedalus, Daft Punk and me seem to use it!”. The musical direction will be slightly different even if the production remains the same, “my music is influenced by what I’m listening to at the time. I think it’s going to be less hip-hop based and more dancefloor orientated”. A prolific remixer, with the likes of Jessie Ware, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Drake and Gold Panda all receiving the Star Slinger treatment, I asked him his thoughts on such big names - “I’m honoured when I’m approached to remix these people who are so big in my eyes”. Star Slinger’s solo productions often feature guest rappers, such as 2011’s “Bad Bitches” ft. Stunnaman and Lil B as well as “Chain Dumbin” ft. Juicy J, Project Pat and Reggie B. “It’s pretty awesome that these guys are on my tracks... I’m a huge Three 6 Mafia fan so I play the fuck out of the Juicy J drop he recorded for me, it’s just a huge fanboy moment”. With one eye on the future, he did concede, “I’d prefer to slowly start making my

own good songs without the guest spots”. With a stream of producers such as Clams Casino, Harry Fraud and Hit-Boy producing thoughtful, layered and textured hip-hop beats, instrumental tracks are getting more and more mainstream attention. Star Slinger as an occasional hip-hop producer had an interesting take on the matter. “Everyone’s kind of doing their own thing now, but Kendrick Lamar is the most credible, most true. I think now you can’t just be street to be cool and be successful. Also, Kendrick has these beats that move away from the typical hi-hats and 808 snares - they’re dying out. I mean, talking to producers and engineers in New York, L.A., it’s a widespread opinion that they’re over, everyone is bored of them. I’m ready for a change, I think 2013 will be more substantial in terms of beats”. I asked about future plans for the year apart from his upcoming album but Star Slinger’s modesty shone through, “Right now, I’m thinking my dream has already come true, I’m loving what I do and just want to keep doing it”. With a new album on the horizon and remixes always in the wings, 2013 is sure to be Star Slinger’s biggest and best year to date. Joni Roome

12


Interview

PLE A SE

◊ “The York music scene” is not a phrase that is often heard in casual conversation. There is a general consensus that you need to jump on a train and make your way to Leeds if you want to hear bands you’re interested in seeing live. Beneath that unpromising surface, however, there is a small but dedicated assortment of people who have made it their mission to bring music they want to hear and want you to hear, to York. One such person is Joe Coates, the man behind promoters Please Please You who put on shows at the Basement (in the City Screen cinema) and, until recently, the beloved Stereo. We met one evening in another great York institution, The Habit, to talk about upcoming shows and “the York music scene”. Joe describes Please Please You as a set-up with himself at the helm, assisted by “occasional helpers”. “There are good friends that will help out when needed”, he explains. How did he start promoting shows in York? “I just wanted to do a show with a guy called Kelley Stoltz who wasn’t coming anywhere near York so I got him to come and

PLE A SE

play, and it came out of that”. So, from a desire to bring more music that he wanted to hear to the city, a common trope, Joe tells me he used to work in Track records, a long-standing record store in York, “I listened to all manner of weird and wonderful stuff in there. It’s kinda handy it closed [in 2007] or I’d still be working there” he says, laughing. We talk about the sad demise of Stereo (“we had a lot of fun there for a short amount of time”) and what it means for promoters such as PPY who have had to relocate to other venues. Their upcoming shows are now at the Basement. Despite being “awkward in every manner as a venue”, as Joe puts it, “the shows [at Basement] have been really good, some of the best attended gigs I’ve done recently”. There is a tendency to label small venues ‘intimate’ by default, but the Basement deserves that description. Some of PPY’s first shows were held there, so this is more of a homecoming for Joe, who says it felt natural to move back there.

Whilst Joe also organises gigs in Leeds, his heart belongs to York (“always lived here, that’s why I’m still here”). He jokes about the group of “hard-headed people who don’t want to leave York” creating the music scene in the city. When I bring up Freakin (purveyors of house nights in York for 15 years) he says, laughing, “no-one has offered as much high quality musical output and earned nothing from it... they’re very dedicated”. I’m interested to know about his process for choosing acts: “99% comes down to whether I want to watch the bands or not. Sometimes I’ll book a band as a favour for a friend, or because an agent has asked me to”. Does he find people online or does he prefer local bands or...? “I have a spreadsheet. It has about 200 lines on it. In terms of York acts, there’s plenty of them, and some really good ones too. There’s some exciting stuff about”. Local punk band Fawn Spots are “magical”, and he has only good words for York record label Bad Paintings, who are assisting with promotion for the (very

Y O U

exciting) Mazes show on February 20th. Joe is particularly excited for Mazes to return, having played for PPY before over the last couple of years, he’s expecting it to be a “cracking” night, with excellent support acts as well. We end the interview talking about promotion in the city, and the difficulty of making sure that people know what’s going on. There is no denying that “the York music scene” is alive and kicking, but Joe doesn’t want to take too much responsibility for telling people what to do: “York’s only got 3 live music venues now, and if you’re interested in music and you live in York and you don’t know what’s happening at any of those, you don’t know if there’s something you would actually enjoy happening, then you’ve only got yourself to blame”. Blunt words, but they ring true. Phoebe Rilot

13


VANDERGROUND house/tech/garage

Harry J Sikh & Destroy

// //

Kit Munro Ramzi Meh (Breakz)

31st Jan (Thursday Fortnightly) Kuda Tiki Bar £2.50 Earlybird/£3.50 O.T.D. 10pm - Late facebook.com/vandergroundtiki in association with:

MAZES, GOLDEN GRRRLS, SEX HANDS + BAD PAINTINGS DJs T H E B A S E M E NT, Y O RK. 2 0 TH FE B . 8 P M . £ 6 a d v.

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SPIRIT OF JOHN, TROY FAID + BUFFALO SKINNERS T H E B A S E M E NT, Y O RK. 2 0 TH FE B . £ 4 a d v.

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SAM CARTER

T H E B A S E M E NT, Y O RK. 8 TH M AR C H. 8 P M . £ 1 0 a d v.

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THE TRAVELLING BAND, ELLEN & THE ESCAPADES + PELICO T H E D U C H E S S , Y O RK. 9 TH M AR . 7 . 3 0 P M . £ 7 . 5 0 a d v.

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JOHN SMITH

Presents:

Acid House Gentlemen’s Club (Freakin) [All night long 4 hour set]

T H E B A S E M E NT, Y O RK. 2 1 ST M A R . 8 P M . £ 8 a d v.

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CONQUERING ANIMAL SOUND T H E B A S E M E NT, Y O RK. 1 ST A P R . 8 P M . £ 5 a d v.

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13th February Wednesday - Week 6 11pm - 3am @Fibbers

Tickets: Earlybird: £4 O.T.D.: £5


Reviews

A $ A P ◊ A$AP Rocky’s follow up to ‘LiveLoveA$AP’ has been a long time coming due to sample clearance problems but the wait has been worthwhile as ‘LongLiveA$AP’ hits a standard almost as gold as Rocky’s teeth. The album opens with title track “Long Live A$AP”, a cavern of reverb and haunting samples with A$AP rapping about living forever whilst in the game. The beats on the album are fantastic across the board and Rocky has to take credit for having such a good ear. Clams Casino provides the instrumentals for “Hell” (which features Santigold) and the fantastic I-proved-you-wrong track “LVL”. The high standard of the tracks sometimes upstages Rocky’s rather one-dimensional rapping and it’s disappointing that he rarely breaks away from his ‘pretty boy thug’ persona. The topics that Rocky covers are occasionally overworked; heavy

LongLiveA$AP

I

Let it all in

A M ◊ I Am Kloot’s percussionist Andy Hargreaves has called their latest album “a little bunch of treasure” and I’m very much inclined to forgive him his immodesty and wholeheartedly agree. ‘Let It All In’ opens with “Bullets”, a lissome, almost burlesque sounding number with a beautiful example of Bramwell’s bleak lyricism - ‘you treat your mind like a cheap hotel, somewhere you can stay but never stop’. If the guitar solo halfway through sounds remarkably like a strip tease, then this is Bramwell stripping off his guard and revealing his the dark depths of his thoughts. And so the bruised and complex world of I Am Kloot is laid bare for the rest of the album. While on previous records it seemed despair was always lurking in ashtrays and pint glasses, ‘Let It All In’ has left this behind and instead is troubled by a fear of the future, of being alone and unremarkable in the passing of time. They retain, however, their use of the sky as a source of artistic inspiration (if not also a sense of futility and loneliness). It is with this imagery that the orchestral surges fit perfectly, conjuring an ex-

R O C KY focus on bitches, guns and money can make the album a bit selfinvolved but he always manages to pull back the ego with a well placed reflective track (see “Long Live A$AP”, “LVL”, “Angels”). The album’s weak points predictably fall after the strong mid-section. These black marks come in the form of “Fashion Killa” - a list of clothing brands that a female acquaintance wears, and “Phoenix” - a track that proves A$AP can rhyme the n-word with the n-word for four minutes. Despite Rocky just about holding his own on the stellar beats, the albums undoubted high points are the collaborations on tracks “Fuckin Problems”, “Train”and “Ghetto Symphony”. “Fuckin Problems” is brainless catchy second single, “Train” is a showcase of some of the finest rappers today with Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and Action Bronson amongst others making an appearance.

“Ghetto Symphony” is perhaps the album’s strongest track, featuring a verse from Gunplay, its blaring background horns really push the album in a more positive direction after a lull in quality. “Walk For The Night”, the collaboration with Skrillex is a surprise as it almost works. The pitch shifted vocals over the reggae-esque opening is not instantly engaging, but as the beat speeds up and A$AP spits rhymes at double time with no vocal manipulation the track comes to life and then loses its edge by having a heavily Skrillex influenced chorus. This track comes at the strongest point of the album and certainly earns its place. Despite a few filler tracks, ‘LongLiveA$AP’ is a very strong release from one of hip-hop’s most promising starlets. Joni Roome

KL O O T pansive, dramatic panorama in the songs “Hold Back The Night” and “These Days Are Mine”. Producers Guy Garvey and Craig Potter have afforded the songs the billowing grandeur they deserve without imposing their Elbow in the extreme; it is a harmonious unity between artists, not their domination nor an imitation. As I Am Kloot’s sixth album, there is a deftly covered range of musical styles, delivered with precision and confidence that comes naturally from playing together for twelve years. From the simple Beatles-esque “Masquerade” to the rumbling “Even The Stars”, to “Hold Back The Night’’s very Nina Simone chords, the band explore sounds but tie the songs together with Bramwell’s hungover, croaky vocals and the erudite candour of the lyrics. In “Even The Stars”, Bramwell showcases his ability to move his lines effortlessly from the histrionic to the quotidian; he asks ‘did you crack the sky wide open?’ but also ‘did you cross the bridgeless gulf of chatter? / Did you say just one thing that really matters?’. There is a bittersweet derision lingering over

the album, which makes the J. Alfred Prufrock reference in “Some Better Day” seem entirely appropriate. There are less gloomy moments to the LP though. The crooning, catchy chorus of debut single “These Days Are Mine” has a woozy melody and trills of strings that perfectly capture the line ‘just one smile taking up all my time’. In the middle of the album too, there is suddenly “Shoeless”, an arrestingly tender song to Bramwell’s daughter, and a welcome respite from crawling too far inside his mind. The band are not unnecessarily miserable; they are perhaps too astute and honest for their own good. As their bassist Peter Jobson said, I Am Kloot are ‘all about love and disaster’. In the wake of ‘Let It All In’, it seems very few bands amalgamate these two things better. Alice Lawrence

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MOUNTAINS

music free of hooks and entirely instrumental, their fifth release ‘Centralia’ is hardly likely to garner much airplay. But it is not an album to be overlooked. Whilst a 66 ½ minute collection of ambient soundscapes doesn’t sound instantly appealing, it is most certainly worth perseverance. ‘Ambient drone’ is probably the most fitting descriptor for the music but a wide range of influences are clearly apparent – from the folky fingerpicked guitar of Identical Ship to the prog synth wanderings of Liana. Each piece is an exercise in texture with ◊ Hailing from Chicago, postsustained synth pads providing a everything duo Mountains have foundation, whilst melodies evolve been releasing music since and die away as instruments drift 2005, yet have remained largely in and out. under the radar thus far. With an The album opener “Sand” is average track length over nine perhaps the best example of minutes, not to mention a style of Mountains’ style; an ever-present

flickering synth note plays the ‘drone’ role – meandering in and out of prominence as other parts emerge and the music swells. The majority of the piece is a series of slowly changing, interlocking synth parts which merge together and then carefully separate, clearing space in the texture for the thunderous cello line which brings the track to a close. According to their label, the pair craft each piece a layer at a time. Preferring to use either wholly acoustic or electronic sources for each individual part and taking months to refine their compositions. Whether this purist approach is strictly necessary remains to be seen but a lot of time was obviously taken over details most people will never pay attention to.

Two of the tracks – “Liana” and 20-minute epic “Propeller” – were recorded live and fleshed out further in the studio. Whilst watching these tracks being crafted would be an interesting experience, live performances are probably only suited to the most die-hard ambient fans, who will happily stand listening to minutes of white noise on end. Despite the lengthy tracks, imperceptible structures and overwhelming pretension of the genre – the care taken in the composition of these pieces is unquestionable. Sometimes dull, often beautiful, ‘Centralia’ will leave you staring into middle-distance with a glazed expression and a smile planted firmly on your face.

a stronger bite to ‘Almanac’ than there ever was on their selftitled first release. The stronger guitar tone and bolder use of effects build a braver, progressive second record for the New York band. If you were to add a Brian Eno level of production and a good dose of Woodstock to The Jesus and Mary Chain, you would be somewhere closer to the sound of Widowspeak on this album. Often using folky bass under a combination of soft and harsh guitars, Molly Hamilton’s vocals don’t offer soaring melodies, but a darker reverb buried under the mix that adds an often subtly sinister element to the music. “Thick As Thieves” and

“The Dark Age” are both totally transformed by Hamilton’s voice; if it were removed you would be left with a fairly pleasant instrumental, but its inclusion adds a sudden unsettledness that draws you instantly in. While ‘Almanac’ is much more driven than Widowspeak’s previous album, it does drift. A number of tracks, like the disappointingly titled closer “Storm King”, fail to leave a lasting impression, and while atmospheric, don’t stay lodged in your mind making you wish for more. If the shoegazing had at times been replaced for a few more upbeat tunes, ‘Almanac’ would have made a greater impact. Rhythm-driven tracks “Devil

Knows” and “Spirit Is Willing” show Widowspeak’s greatest skill - in creating memorable but still atmospheric songs which don’t fade from memory as soon you hit pause. Immersive yet catchy, although somewhat muddled, Widowspeak have come out on top with their second album. Stronger and richer with a sense of purpose, and still retaining their likable trademark shoegazing atmosphere, ‘Almanac’ is the sound of a band moving on. They may not have quite reached their destination, but are coming close.

‘Kemosabe’, and unsurprisingly this is what the Manchester based band have opened the album with. It’s a strong start and shows how the synthyquartet have retained their rooted, Math-pop sound, and are still finding new melodies and avenues to explore. ‘Arc’ proves they’ve managed to develop a more established and deep sound while still having fun. There’s a sort of darker undertone to it all which allows the listener to track the changes and advances from their debut in 2010. Songs such as, “Undrowned” and “Torso of the ◊ After the storm that was their Week” are two examples of first album, ‘Man Alive’, Evewhere Everything Everything rything Everything return with seem to have lost the sound their highly anticipated secof their innocence. The songs ond album, ‘Arc’. You may have promote bleak outlooks that pull heard the two recently promoted the band in a completely new, releases, “Cough Cough” and  more mature direction. However

others such as “Duet”, represent an entirely different sound – it is uplifting, emanating a sense of positivity. We’re met by beautifully orchestrated violins in this track - finely replicating the ‘Math-pop-esque’ staccato guitar used so commonly in ‘Man Alive’. Fans of the last album will be pleased to hear the dramatic, long held, falsetto notes by singer Jonathan Higgs are still a large part of this groups sound. These are not boring vocals: they are passionate and Higgs still evokes passion into every vocal. They exude energy and really contribute to the thick, layered sound that exists within ‘Arc’. Everything Everything are definitely one of those bands who grow on you the more you listen to them. Every time I hear their original album that I fell in

love with two years ago, I notice something new about a song, whether that be an understated and yet masterfully complex bassline, or an engaging harmony against a fast pumped drum beat, there is always something new to enjoy. The album demonstrates that the sound has been developed, honed in, it’s bleaker and yet the band are still experimenting with their writing. This may be a tactic to break into a larger market, after being nominated for the Mercury Prize, by making their sound more approachable to the masses, and even if it is, it doesn’t matter. ‘Arc’ is arguably just as good, if not better, than the first release. Would I recommend this release? A hundred times yes. Go out, buy it...

C e nt r a l i a

Widowspeak A l m anac

◊ Dreamy and dizzy, Widowspeak offer something a little more substantial than their last effort. We still have the lazy guitar lines and hazy vocals, but there is a darker edge and

Everything Everything ARC

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Karl Bos

Chris Benningsen

Olly Brassell


Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory Ele m e nts of Light

◊ Accustomed as you may be to Hendrick Weber’s (aka Pantha Du Prince) haunting melodies and minimal beats, nothing quite prepares you for the journey you

Villagers { A wa y l an d }

◊ Probably the first time people became aware of Villagers was when lead singer and band founder Conor O’Brien ad-

Tr u s ’ M e T r e at M e Right

embark on upon your first listen of ‘Elements of Light’. A collaboration with little-known Norwegian musicians The Bell Laboratory, Weber takes his exploration of classical music-cum-techno one step further into the realms of the unknown. Du Prince is well known for his progression from the murky depths of heavy minimal techno to his self-titled genre of ‘sonic house’. As a producer, Weber has spanned the genres far and wide, from microhouse to dark ambient. ‘Elements of Light’, however, brings something completely new to the table. Despite being made up of only 5 tracks, nothing is lost in the near forty five minute long release, as it behaves more like a single composition than separate entities. Created with a thirty tonne, fifty-bell carillon (an assortment of heavy duty bells attached to a keyboard, more likely to be found in your local vestry than record-

ing studio) no expense has been spared to construct this gem of an album. Each track building upon the last, the music takes you on a journey across strange astral planes and snowy mountains. The album starts with “Wave”, a soft and subtle awakening that doesn’t quite seem to fit with Weber’s back catalogue or even in the genre of techno at all. But as “Wave” echoes into “Photon”, and Du Prince’s signature style starts to creep through, you start to grasp what this record is really about. Within the eerie chimes of the bells and steady beat, there’s something quite reminiscent of Bonobo’s untitled opening track of his Boiler Room set (tipped for release this year). Though lacking in the heavy basslines of Bonobo, the steady rhythm and repeated high pitch refrains marks a movement in electronic music. The pièce de résistance however comes in the triumphant “Spectral Split”. There’s something very

visual about the melody; each note and chime repeating themselves in a way that creates patterns in your head. A subtle drum beat, soft and repetitive, ties what previously sounded like random notes into a simple melody that grows as the track unravels. Then, suddenly, the sound explodes. Steel pan drums underlining the chiming bells, creating a masterpiece in ambient techno music. It’s like four tracks in one: the bells being the constant that remains strong throughout, and Weber’s other styles weaving themselves in and out in waves. Exhausted after “Spectral Split”, “Quantum” brings the release full circle, finishing where it began, with the visceral echoes of the bells fading into nothingness. As a record, it’s a work of art, and although it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, it’s undeniable that Weber is one very, very clever man.

dressed the audience of Jools Holland in April 2010. Despite vying for attention amongst the likes of Hot Chip and Paul Weller, O’Brien’s reedy voice, quivering eyelids and heavy Irish brow immediately stole the show. Three months later and on the back of topping the Irish album charts, Villagers lost out on the Mercury Prize, drowning in a sea of established artists and The xx. It seems Villagers’ inability (or perhaps reticence) to break into the mainstream of the UK music scene stems from their peculiar formation. At times they are a one man show, O’Brien steering their ship of promises with quietly beautiful lyrics and a gentle performing style. Elsewhere they appear as a five-piece,

slowly building up audiences into cymbal driven cacophonies. As such, it is impossible to view them as a singularity and O’Brien falls short of capturing the crooning revelry currently surrounding the likes of Ben Howard. The primary revelation upon listening to ‘{Awayland}’ is that Villagers have become a band. Opening track “My Lighthouse” offers a soothing bassy drone akin to Becoming a Jackal’s “Pieces”, gently moving the pace up with the beep driven “The Waves”. Elsewhere the instrumental and eponymously titled “Awayland” offers a soothing highlight in pleasant collaboration with the surprisingly cheerful “Grateful”.

However, as much as ‘{Awayland}’ shows the all important desire to change, hints of the album are reminiscent of an acoustic Caribou, it seems to lack the ingredient that brought tinges of ‘Becoming a Jackal’ into brilliance - songwriting. ‘{Awayland}’ is an undeniably good album and a better piece of overall work than its predecessor, but is without the vulnerability and warmth that established them as an abstract alternative to the love song dominated world of male-fronted, acoustic music.

◊ In the final song of Trus’me’s latest album, he samples dialogue from the film Le Grand Bleu, about a diver with almost dolphin-like talents whose love is torn between earth and sea. It seems that Trus’me is facing a similar dichotomy - the man has such a natural flair for house and boogie but seems determined to root himself in grittier techno sounds. ‘Treat Me Right’ isn’t as disastrous as a dolphin trying to walk on land; it’s just not what the Mancunian producer does best. “T’es Un Pute”, “I Want You” and “Somebody” are distinctly techno in their pace and punchy bass (the latter positively throbs) and thrive on interesting sample choices - French dialogue,

American Gangster quotes, bustling crowds of people and something akin to helicopter rotor blades. The tracks do have merit in themselves - “I Want You” should certainly and hopefully be found in this year’s late night sets - but they are far overshadowed by the less boisterous numbers on the album. Opening track “Hindsight” is set against a spacey, swooning backdrop and uses vintage vocal samples that sound almost like a soft motorbike growl. “Moonlight Kiss” bubbles over with house drum beats, trickling water samples and a far deeper sound. The album ends on a high with “Long Distance” - a swaggering hip hop beat with quiet cinematic synths. If

Trus’me would only re-immerse himself in these sounds he could be gliding through the ocean with ease. Really though, artists rarely chase ease, and I’m sure dolphins sometimes just fancy a stroll on the beach. Yes, this album is no ‘Working Night$’, but it’s difficult to begrudge Trus’me for his experimentation. He has been around the world and back in the last few years, and now returns to a hometown notorious for its rich musical variety. Only a fool wouldn’t want to dabble in all that’s on offer.

Roseanna Brear

Milo Boyd

Alice Lawrence

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3 D

P r i nt i ng M e e t s t h e MP 3

Illustration:

◊ Not surprisingly, the majority of 3D printing applications are pretty mundane, taking over assembly lines and monotonously manufacturing car parts and the heels of shoes. However, innovator Amanda Ghassaei has recently used 3D printing in a way that makes us fantasise about a DIY music revolution, a futuristic step back into the old school, a step towards putting music industry suits back on their toes. Pushing the limits of 3D printing technology, Ghassaei has created a program for converting virtually any format of audio file into printable 33s. Her prototype recordings of Nirvana and the Pixies are printed on a high-resolution Objet Connex500 and are fully

Camilla Byles

functional on standard record players. The album doesn’t fly out of the printer like pages out of a LaserJet but rather the record and its grooves are created by laying down layers upon layers of resin. Although ‘high-resolution’ does imply a superior quality, the larger grooves, redolent of Edison’s first phonograph, emit noisier audio signals and thus produce a resolution much lower than modern microgroove records. There is no question that the project is visually and conceptually titillating, but the sound quality makes a futuristic innovation seem quite primitive. A drastic evolution of the music box becomes a mature reinvention of the Fisher Price record

P O W ER ◊ Undeniably, the song that came to define the 2012 festive period was Gabrielle Aplin’s “The Power of Love”. Chosen as the soundtrack to this year’s blockbuster John Lewis Christmas advert, it went on to top the charts, going one place better than Ellie Goulding’s similar advert-backed hit “Your Song”. Behind this modern-day success however, is a story as old as time itself. The original song was by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, a band who are now more renowned for t-shirts but were incredibly successful and groundbreaking in the early 1980s. “The Power of Love” was their third straight single to go to number one. Written by openly gay front man Holly Johnson, the song was his at-

players of the 90’s. However, for Amanda the technology doesn’t mean to profess its potential for high-volume manufacturing. Nor does it attempt to replace conventional record production. With the eventual introduction of higher resolution printers, refined techniques and as the quality of materials increase, she hopes that independent artists and “tinkerers” will begin to experiment with the technology in creative ways. Perhaps the implementation of printed vinyl will follow the suits of colour pressings or, more eccentrically, Nicholas Jaar’s Prism Music Box, as a novelty but with the purpose of providing a unique listening experience. Sadly, 45 fans and aspiring record

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tempt to seek redemption, knowing that his sexuality caused a lot of dangerous provocation at the time. He would later say “I always felt like “The Power of Love” was the record that would save me in this life”. The message of the song is simple, that love is powerful enough to transcend all notions of hatred and prejudice; as long as you are genuine, honest and loving, you will be rewarded, both in this life and the next. The lyrics are backed up by the nature of the song, a classic 80s ballad, laden with ethereal strings and melodramatic orchestral flourishes. The overall effect is undeniably powerful. Albeit from an unlikely source, the song is the perfect Christ-

labels will not be printing their own records anytime soon without considerable investment. One album, with the capacity to hold six minutes worth of music, will set you back 200 quid just for materials as well as producing nearly indecipherable audio. However, it would be hardly shocking if 3D record printing eventually exploited our culture’s current obsession with 35mm and medium format photography and became another hipster playground. But until then, perhaps the frivolous future of 3D record printing belongs amongst designer portfolios and pin blogs with its cousin the BurittoBot. Jess Roberts

L O V E

mas song, delivering a message straight out of the Gospels with pomp and festivity. It was only prevented from reaching the coveted Christmas Number One slot in 1983 slot by the saccharine and painfully earnest Band Aid charity single. Its festivity and past success is probably why John Lewis chose it this year. However, there is something deeply ironic about a department store that is the personification of repressed middleEngland conservatism choosing a gay man’s spiritual paean as the soundtrack to their capitalist desires. John Lewis seem to have no appreciation of such things: this marks the third straight year they have chosen a song writ-

ten with honest and beautiful intentions (and by gay icons, may I add) and turned it into a twee slab of commercialism. Just like the fate to befall Elton John and The Smiths, Aplin’s cover version strips the original bare, undermining its power, and ultimately its meaning. No matter how infuriating and ridiculous this is, bitterness is not an option. Hopefully the popularity of Aplin’s cover will lead to more people discovering the brilliant music of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. There is only one way to respond really, in the words of Holly Johnson: ‘make love your goal’. Alex Beazley-Long

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W E LI V E I N PUBLI C

◊ Kids in a room, adults at a party, family by the dining table - sure, they used to be some of the ways that we used to share music, but we all know that the internet has changed our modes of listening. I open my browser and stumble upon a friend’s link to a new track by Shlohmo, so I click and listen. He’s in London and I’m in York, but that means nothing because we are connected by the internet. By this stage in the game, such a phenomenon is out to surprise no one. Music enthusiasts emigrated from the living room to the PC desk a long time ago as the blog killed Top of the Pops and HMV fell to .rar files. We’re at a point now where Michael Jackson’s 1982 ‘Thriller’ can be safely consecrated as the eternally bestselling album. However, it’s now an observation rendered irksome as it has become an outmoded trope; we all know it and they’ve all said it. But the internet has given rise to forms of appropriation far more nuanced than the illegal download of a compressed zip file. As a new year begins, it’s worth looking at what happens to the music scene when it goes online. Will 2013 be the year that the sofa is replaced by the Mac in the audio-nerd’s trash can? Over the past couple of years there has been a definite cultivation of a ground-level internet scene. Forget Bandcamps, Soundclouds and Lastfm, because you’ve got boys befriending R. Stevie Moore on Facebook and girls emailing Nathan Williams’s brother. Song-a-day artists and prolific writers like R. Stevie Moore, Ariel Pink and James Ferraro wouldn’t exist without the internet and neither would the throng of mixtapes that are thrown out into cyber-ether by rappers like Don Trip & Starlito. This is rough and ready, awkward web communication which moves in circles, miles away from the slick PRs, who collaborate this signing with that signing 20

in anticipation of accumulating higher buzz rates for their labels. Such collaborations are the fodder that blogs run on, and they serve as the flip side of the sonic-web coin. With the stress on daily news, website hits and links shared, the blogosphere is naturally fitted with a weak filter. “I don’t want to rain on this parade,” Jessie Ware sings on her Benzel ft. Jessie Ware cover-of-a-nineties-RnB-track, but the saturation of blogs with these forms of collaborations saps the creativity out of the music scene. You can bet your life that any next big thing will be thrown into the remix jungle of the French Fries and Joe Goddards. Cyril Hahn’s reshape of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” is a full on hit, but his heavy-handed go at Haim’s “Don’t Save Me” reeks of a clever young thing pulling strings at Polydor. After an initial wave of excitement on seeing artist name X alongside artist name Y, blog reader Z hears the music and judges it to be mediocre. It’s becoming a formula which is easy to identify and ignore. Such sites were initially interlocutors between musicians and music fans – as is defined by XLR8R’s name – but the music it features has become shaped by the journalists’ demands. Perhaps the blogosphere is getting too big for its boots. Are we about to witness the death of the blog? The power reversal between musician and journalism is something that Mark Richardson points out in his article ‘Follow People If You Like Their Music’. In it he says that in some new music “discussion of what the music is, how it works, and what it might mean to someone listening to it is far less important than the act of passing it along to others. For music like this, context, whether broad or narrow, takes a backseat”. Context is what gives meaning to music; it is not what you’re listening to, but why you’re listening to it which is worthy of attention. This context

is exactly what is missing in online music discoveries. Blogs ride on the thrills of boxfresh tracks but they can’t provide the emotional or physical connections that should come with it. The synesthetic mode of music and its canny ability to summon a past emotion or memory no matter where you are, is what privileges the art form above any other. You don’t stand there and look, and you don’t sit there and read, but you can move into a space of your own which can be shared with others. This is what makes music mean anything to anybody at any given moment. It is only when those tracks on blogs are taken away from the computer and into the kids room, adult’s party or any other tangible situation that they come to mean anything as a piece of art. Sites which aggregate music work under the pretence that their readers will appreciate everything that they post. Yet they catch the music before it can even begin to signify anything to listener at all. If we’d all heard Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ through an exclusive stream on Abeano then it wouldn’t be classifiable as dad-rock, and it probably wouldn’t mean a thing. Blogs give you the free stuff, the off cuts, the previews. This new crop of musicians is the first generation to have any decade of music at their fingertips, and it shows. In her feature with Interview magazine, Grimes brands her music as post-internet: “people my age had the internet when they were kids. So I think I just had a really diverse musical background, but from a really young age. People who are 30 and older don’t have that”. Claire Boucher inadvertently echoes the generation of Josh Harris, who believe that “the most important friend to me when I was growing up was, in fact, the television”. The Twin Shadow sort whose references are geared to a certain era (listen to Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” when revisit-

Illustration:

Rose Basista’

ing ‘Forget’), is being usurped by the Bouchers and the Miguels who acknowledge four or more decades of music history in one song. It might not be your Dad playing soft rock on vinyl but so what, maybe that doesn’t matter. Perhaps you can make meaning for yourself. The tool which can homogenise our listening patterns can also lead to a multitude of musical reappropriations. But if ‘We Live in Public’ says anything applicable to the state the online music scene, it is that the internet’s diversity can get boring. Josh Harris - the 90s dotcom yuppie who raked in and then lost his dollars by the


terabyte - opens Ondi Timoner’s 2009 film ‘We Live in Public’ with his reflection on the internet: “the internet is like this new human experience. At first everybody’s going to like it, but there will be a fundamental change in the human condition. Time goes by [and] you’re really becoming more constrained in these virtual boxes. Our every action will be counted”. Harris delivers the argument straight from the horse’s mouth. The tide that draws on the allure of the internet inevitably changes in direction. You can link up your Lastfm, Soundcloud, Spotify, Mixcloud and Grooveshark ac-

counts so that every track you listen to is accounted for. Blogs aggregating music like XLR8R and MTHRFNKR will get taken over by the Hype Machines and Portals which blog by aggregating blogs. Now it is not only what we listen to, but also what blogs we follow that is measured on a daily basis. The meanings that we create for ourselves resonate and provide meaning for others about who we are. It is a form of narcissism which shouts about what we like but not necessarily why we like it. Music and the listener are taken out of context so that they can be shared. Nitsuh Abebe states the

obvious that listeners “are vastly, unknowably different from one another in many, many ways-- but you would not know it from the way we usually talk about such things”. Blogs work off the premise that we are all interested in the same thing, and in doing so it becomes a self-perpetuating myth. We may feel a pressure to like poor online releases just because it could have had the makings of a great internet hit. Such music depends on the hype around a musician’s name, for, as Richardson follows, “to allow for such smooth passage through the social media sphere…there needs to be some-

thing inside of [the music] that is clearly recognizable, so the music itself becomes a kind of language based on common aesthetics and collective understanding. So when two people have the exact same ideas about song or artist, “sharing” can happen without friction”. Listening and sharing Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks’s collab was one of my deepest and darkest hours. If we get our heads out of the blogosphere, we’ll go back to using the internet the way that Grimes does; that is, to search for music in our own way. Hana Teraie-Wood 21


Circulation Magazine 3-2  

Vol 3. Ed.2

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