FREE / /MARCH 2022
MUSIC, CULTURE, ARTS AND MORE
Of Crooning, From Prince Caspian to King The many faces of...
Ben Barnes PLUS: NEWS / ALBUM REVIEWS/ WEST SIDE STORY / 2022’S HOTTEST GAMES BIMM INTRODUCING - VINCENT / SELF-CARE / THEATRE ROUND-UP / GET BACK
ello and welcome to our wonderful March edition of LDN! As I am sure you’ve noticed, the star of this month’s mag is the brilliant Ben Barnes, known for his roles in ‘Stardust’ and ‘Narnia’ and most recently showcasing his singer/songwriter side. Head over page six to find out all about his creative process and how he’s found his own voice after all these years. So much was happening as we went to press: we said goodbye to heritage musicians Gary Brooker and Nick Tesco, and, shockingly Mark Lanegan and SBTV founder Jamal Edwards MBE, both gone way too soon. We also saw a situation developing in Ukraine with occupation by Putin’s forces. We send support and love to all those affected and if you’re wondering how to help, visit ukrainewar.carrd.co to donate to causes that need our attention right now. Get involved, everyone! Ukraine needs us!
Emily, Anna, Jo, Dani & All of Team LDN
what's i n si de... 4. NEWS
Viola Beach, Jamal Edwards and the NFT company that's really p*ssing artists off
6. COVER STORY: BEN BARNES From movie star to serious songwriter: "it's time to do something for me," he tells LDN
10. CURTAIN UP! THEATRE IS BACK!
Four productions to wow you, from Finsbury Park to ‘Dirty Dancing’
12. MOVIES & TV ‘West Side Story’ and the ‘Get Back’ docuseries under the LDN microscope
13. THE HOTTEST GAMES OF 2022 Elden Ring, Zelda, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and more!
14. BIMM INTRODUCING: VINCENT SALGUEIRO The London-based composer meets LDN
16. ALBUM REVIEWS
Animal Collective, Bonobo, Yard Act, FKA twigs and Black Country, New Road – dissected!
The last blast of winter with Oodies, hot chocolate and fairy lights, aaaaahh!!
b e h e r e n ow
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Would you like to stock LDN in your shop/ café? Get in touch! We are looking for contributors and feature ideas, and for anyone who likes life and wants to communicate about it. Send us your idea/press release/basket of cakes to: firstname.lastname@example.org LDN is published by Jo Kendall and Dani Willgress with enormous help from Emily Cliff, Anna RunaUmbrasko, Gery Hristova, Bethan McConnell, Giulia Lombardo and Thomas-Bradey Riseley.
M USIC N FT COM PANY ANGE RS ARTISTS an d, yes, we'll explai n what N FT's are News edited by Bethan McConnell
music NFT website called HitPiece has been reportedly shut down, following industry backlash from a range of artists. HitPiece appeared to be trying to sell NFTs of artists, using their photographs, names and album artwork. They were founded in 2021, and according to an interview with Billboard, the company aimed to create NFTs of “every song”. The website gained traction after artists like Geoff Barrow (Portishead) and Wolf Van Halen spoke out against the new business. The industry figures suggested that the business “needed a good lawyer” and that it was “criminal”. ‘NFT’ stands for non-fungible token. ‘Nonfungible’ means that the token is unique, and essentially can’t be replaced with something else. An easy example of a fungible asset is something like money, as one £20 note can be interchanged for 20 £1 coins, or four £5 notes. What this means, is that there are a
variety of different values, depending on the NFT. Rather than owning a file, an NFT is essentially a digital certificate of proof of ownership of a token. This means that the original copyright lies with the creator. The issue with the HitPiece business plan is the fact that they do not have the right to make a profit from the artists’ likeness and cover art. Essentially, it’s like when you go to a concert, and there’s a group of guys outside selling bootleg shirts. The bootleg sellers are making a profit from someone else’s work, which is protected by copyright law. Following the pandemic lockdowns, artists have been particularly relying on the sales of merchandise and music to keep afloat. It could be argued that money invested in these music NFTs could be better spent on music merchandise, vinyl releases or future concert tickets, directly financially supporting the musicians you love.
n ews / 5
Music industry entrepreneur Jamal Edwards passes away AT 31 Edwards helped launch Stormzy, Dave and more
amal Edwards, founder of SBTV, has passed away at the age of 31. Edwards was a highly respected member of the music industry, described by BBC as a “pioneering figure in British rap and grime music”. SBTV was launched in 2006 by Edwards as a media platform dedicated to discovering emerging artists. The platform’s development helped to launch the careers of artists like Ed Sheeran, Dave and Stormzy. He initially worked independently, filming amateur footage of many British grime artists like Tinchy Stryder and Dizzee Rascal. SBTV was particularly notable as it provided an essential platform for grime artists, giving the genre a great deal of exposure. “For me, SBTV was about creating as much exposure for the genre as possible, and that in turn helps be a part of the story – in terms of SBTV being a part of the UK music story, with grime, rap and hip-hop,” Jamal Edwards told Why Now in 2020. In 2012, SBTV celebrated reaching 100 million views across all of their Youtube videos and as of February 2022, the SBTV YouTube channel had amassed over 818 million views. In 2014, Edwards was appointment a MBE to commemorate his services to the music industry, and became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, an organisation which looks to help young people launch their own businesses. Figures such as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Idris Elba took to Twitter to pay their respects to Edwards and his family. Khan described Edwards as being one of British music’s “biggest stars”. Jamal Edwards: ambassador, mentor, pioneer.
Viola Beach's first album is now available on vinyl
iola Beach’s debut album has been released on vinyl for the first time. The self-titled album features nine tracks, with some very special packaging. The vinyl has been released to mark the album’s fifth anniversary, featuring a rainbow coloured picture disc. Viola Beach’s iconic photoshoots featured a prominent rainbow umbrella, now immortalised in record form. The Warrington four-piece (and artist manager Craig Tarry) were involved in a fatal car accident in 2016, following a concert in Sweden. Six months after the accident, their self-titled album entered the UK Album Charts and reached the Number One spot. A variety of fan campaigns were launched, asking others to purchase and stream the album online. The tragedy led Coldplay’s frontman Chris Martin to commemorate the band in their 2016 Glastonbury set. Martin stated that Viola Beach reminded him of Coldplay in their early days, and wanted to give the band the opportunity to essentially perform at Glastonbury, posthumously. At the festival, Martin also urged the crowd to purchase the single of ‘Boys That Sing’, to help it rise in the UK Chart. The record will be released by Fuller Beans Records, the record label set up by Viola Beach and their management. The families of the band have shared that the artists would have been proud to release a physical record, and that “the boys’ lives will continue through their music”.
Ben Barnes: the Darkling buds.
“For 20 years I was pretending to be other people. Music is important as being something for me.”
cove r feature: BE N BARN ES / 7
Royal Male From 'Stardust' and 'The Chronicles Of Narnia' to 'The Punisher' and 'Shadow & Bone', British actor Ben Barnes has been a constant on screens big and small for nearly two decades. But Barnes has always made music and with recent EP 'Songs For You' he shows another, quite soulful and jazzy side to his creativity. Words: Lieke Gaudes Images: Jay Gilbert
ou might know him for portraying the role of your childhood crush as Prince Caspian in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, or as your current crush as The Darkling in Netflix’s ongoing ‘Shadow & Bone’ series, but Ben Barnes’ talent doesn’t just stop at acting. Recently, Ben has decided to add the title ‘musician’ to his résumé by releasing his debut EP ‘Songs For You’ and LDN got to sit down and talk to him about it. How does it feel to finally have released music of your own? I feel much more relaxed and peaceful than I thought I would. I thought it would be more of a fervorous feeling, like a sort of anxiousness about how it would be received. Whether people would respond to it musically or thematically, if it means something to people and whether they would be able to connect with it. It’s the first thing I’ve done that’s intimate and personal and even in my interviews over the years, the questions have tended to be about the projects I’m involved with and characters that I’m playing. Whereas in this instance, they’re a bit more about me, my life, my ideologies and my approaches to things and I think that especially after COVID, people just want to talk about who they are and where they fit in
in the world. And that’s what the songs are about. Do you have a favourite song on ‘Songs For You’? Well, the musicians that played on the album responded to ‘Rise Up’ a lot, and then the label that I used to release the music, they were big ‘11:11’ fans and they thought that was the most accessible song and the most pop of the songs, which is why agreed we’d put that one out first, but they’re all… they’re like my little babies now. They’re all special to me in different ways. They all went through phases of not quite working until we added something or took something away or sped it up or slowed it down. And it’s you know, now they’re all in a place where I can feel proud of them. Going back to the whole process of making the EP, how do you go about writing a song? I’m a bit of a logophile. I love words. That’s what I’ve done. My whole life I´ve been looking at scripts and choosing words carefully and knowing which words are important. I keep notebooks of little phrases that people say, or things I read. A lot of the songs quote poems or have
8 / cove r feature: BE N BARN ES
“I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t really get anxious about the reception of something.”
references to films in them. There are lot of easter eggs that I don’t think have all been found yet. I am definitely sewing in things that I love because I think that we’re all just a collection of our own experiences and memories and things that we found along the way. And then the music is a bit more painstaking because I’m not a very educated person in terms of music. But I’ll sit at that piano for hours and move my fingers around until it sounds like the feeling that I got when I wrote the words.
worked with. I wanted music videos that felt like little stories, as I felt like that’s what I know. And that’s what I’m good at. I didn’t want people to think I was completely coming out of the left field with it. Although I think I’ve played enough musicians in films, that it’s not completely blindsiding. But yes, I think the storytelling aspect has been very important because I think people can access music sometimes more readily if there are visual things to accompany them.
What are the things that inspire you when it comes to writing music? There are some words here and there from a poem that I love, or a John Lennon quotation, or things my dad used to say to me. You know, little things that I’ve had in relationships, intimate things that you share and then you realise everyone else has the same things, stuff like that. I think it’s those little details that make people feel the honesty of it.
Did it make you more nervous to release your music or something you have worked on as an actor? I’ve just sort of reached a point in my life where I don’t really get anxious about the reception of something. You would only be anxious if you’re fearful of something bad, and I just have let go of that fear. I used to be so worried about everything all the time and now I just sort of reached a point in my life where I just don’t want to be that anymore. So I’m not.
How do you deal with writer’s block? I stop [laughs]. Because I don’t have to do it. The pressure of having to write another album in the next three months would be unbearable, but I don’t, so I can just do it when I want to do it. If I got actor’s block, that would be a problem. But for this, it needs to feel honest and it needs to feel like it’s coming from a place where it wants to come out of.
Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome in your job? I think we all have, and that won’t necessarily go away but it gets easier once you realise that it’s coming from inside of you, rather than from anything outside. People are not whispering about you at the water cooler going “oh they’re terrible”. They’re probably saying how brilliant you are, but you’re just not hearing it.
A lot of things you do music-wise, you do on your own. Is having full control of your creative process more freeing or stressful to you? It’s very stressful and difficult, but it was very important to me to do something that was completely mine because when you’re acting, you’re carving a little slice of yourself and trying to spread it into the character to make the character feel honest. But for 20 years, I’ve been pretending to be other people, even in musicals when I’m trying to sound like other people when I’m singing, and it was just important for me to have my voice and my moment of doing something completely for me.
Is there any advice you’ve been given that you’d like to pass on to any other emerging artists? The advice that John Lennon gives, that my dad then passed on to me, that I then put in a song which is: “If it is not okay, it is not the end”.
Do you have any specific transferable skills that are both useful in your acting and in writing music? I wanted to kind of bridge the gap by making the videos and working with people I’d already
What’s next for you? I’ve just finished shooting a Guillermo del Toro horror anthology series called ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, so that was a very exciting, new different thing for me, because I usually don’t like horror. But I just really liked the script and the people putting it together and I had a really fun time on it. And then next is a season two of ‘Shadow & Bone’, and then we’ll see what else with the music… but it’s going to be an exciting time.
‘Songs For You’ is now available on your favourite streaming platform via Label Logic.
edited by Giuilia Lombardo
10/ movi es & TV
How The West Was Won
Tony and Maria: portrayed with grace and substance.
Perfect in its original form, it seemed almost impossible that classic musical movie ‘West Side Story‘could be improved. But then along came Steven Spielberg…
went to see this movie with my grandpa – who only likes westerns with two lines in them and a lot of fighting – and at the end of it he was just as excited and moved as I was. If this is not enough to prove that ‘West Side Story’ is a great movie for everyone, we’re going to provide a whole article to convince you. The task taken by director Steven Spielberg wasn’t an easy one, trying to live up to the expectations that the ‘Romeo And Juliet’-inspired musical by Arthur Laurents, which sold out on Broadway in the late 50s, created in us. The 1961 film by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise is almost untouchable, as it collected ten Oscars at the time, including Best Film and Best Director. But, when you combine Spielberg’s passion with experience and technique, there is no challenge to fear. Hispanics, Italians, Poles, Latinos, Irish. There, in what would eventually become the world’s capital, is a melting pot of ethnic groups and accents, and therefore of fractures, of misunderstandings. Landed on Ellis Island and thrown into a fighting-ring without rules or hesitation, lead character Maria has to face just that, a teenage Latina newly arrived in the city. Soon, 50s New York City has become a battleground for a tribal
war with Latinos (the Sharks) and Irish-Americans (the Jets) as its antagonists, and ‘Shark’ Maria and ‘Jet’ Tony at its centre. Fights, love, music, moments of laughter and moments of real sadness… from there, follows the tragedy: that tragedy that made generations and generations fall in love with this young pair decades ago, and their tender, pure love that does not care for ethnicity or social class. Able to give grace and substance to the legendary roles of Maria and Tony, we find Rachel Zegler – basically in her debut – together with an outstanding Ansel Elgort (even though we really disliked his outfits). Around them are the other characters: Maria’s brother Bernardo, played by David Alvarez (from Broadway’s ‘Billy Elliot’), Mike Faist (from Broadway’s ‘Dear Evan Hansen’) – who did an incredible job as opposing gangleader Riff – and Rita Moreno, who today returns romantically in the role of Valentina, exchanging the part she had in the 1961 version, Anita, which is played by an amazing Ariana Debose (‘Hamilton’, Broadway’s ‘Bring It On’ and ‘Motown The Musical’). Award-winning composerconductor David Newman’s arrangements make the original score by Leonard Bernstein even more – if even possible – majestic,
sweeping and captivating, and the incredible voices of the actors featured in the movie are also to acknowledge. Twenty-one tracks, including the legendary ‘Maria’, ‘America’ (a favourite, mostly due to Debose’s outstanding performance), ‘Tonight’, and ‘Somewhere’ (when this writer gets extremely and unnecessarily emotional every time), played by over 80 musicians of the New York Philharmonic, accompanied by six South American percussionists, in the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center: the historic recording studio in which Bernstein himself organised the rehearsals of his orchestra in the 1960s. With New York City itself an omniscient and decisive protagonist background, Maria and Tony – photographed by Spielberg as two teenagers overwhelmed with love – are brave in challenging themselves and the “rule” that would have them enemies by definition. So, yesterday as today, whether it’s Laurents, whether it’s Robbins or Wise, or whether it’s Steve Spielberg’s hopeful audacity, ‘West Side Story’ is a testament to how much love is more important than any discrimination and more than life itself, in a film that is pure cinematic art.
Peter Jackson’s Beatles docuseries generated a lot of excitement – and criticism. But what does LDN think about the Disney+ docuseries? Words: Ali Iannattone
n 1969, director Michael LindsayHogg spent 21 days witnessing the complicated process of The Beatles working on their new album ‘Let It Be’ - which then had the working title ‘Get Back’ - and filmed almost every minute of it. This became his 1970 documentary on the band titled after the album. Of the 56 hours of film and 150 hours of audio captured by Lindsay-Hogg, only one and a half made it on his documentary with the rest getting lost in time. This was until Disney+ announced that the same footage would be used in a docuseries directed and produced by Peter Jackson (‘Lord of The Rings’, ‘The Lovely Bones’), set to come out in November 2021 and titled ‘The Beatles: Get Back’. When asked about the project, Jackson called it “a documentary
about a documentary”; a deeper dive into those 21 days split into three episodes, each lasting two to three hours and amounting to a total runtime of almost eight hours. The series was also co-produced by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison and its film production team employed the same film restoration techniques that Peter Jackson used in his 2018 WW1 documentary ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. Some of the best moments from the series truly allowed the viewers to immerse themselves in the dynamics of the group. One that shocked the audience came from Harrison and McCartney’s ongoing feud over their contribution to songwriting which culminated in Harrison’s abrupt quitting of the band with a “See you ‘round the clubs”. This, of course, got resolved within the
week at George Harrison’s request of relocating from Twickenham Studios to Apple Corps in Savile Row. Another favourite moment for LDN was the mesmerising five minutes in which Paul McCartney scats over chords as the whole band slowly joins in and creates the song that we know today as ‘Get Back’. Peter Jackson was able to embrace both moments of harmony and discordance within the group and create a narrative of conflict and resolve for ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ which the public wasn’t aware of; usually believing that the time spent writing ‘Let It Be’ was a mostly tense and hostile period. All of these elements truly allowed the end result to come across as a product of admiration and respect rather than simple observation and made the series a special piece of music history.
‘Get Back’: moments of harmony and dischord.
10 / TH EATRE
Feeling overwhelmed with choice now we can actually go out again? With so much to do but not enough time to do it, you end up going around in circles trying to find something different fun and out-of-the-box of your usual choice of activities. Here at LDN we always have you covered, so here’s our theatre round-up full of indie and West End shows to make your weekends a little more dramatic (in the best way possible!) Words: Emily Cliff
Never Not Once
Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
To March 5 Winner of the Jane Chambers Award for feminist writing ‘Never Not Once’ has a story like no other. Supported by a beautifully diverse cast, this family drama follows the story of a young girl finding out who she is and where she came from on the search for her biological father.
The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone
March 9-19 Wanting to dip your toe into a bit of Shakespeare but not sure where to start? Or maybe you’re still recovering from the trauma of GCSE or A-level English. This version of the tempest puts a modern spin on an all-time classic, guaranteed to leave you walking home in bustling conversation and excitement.
Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside
April 22 - October 23 Another Shakespeare classic but this time at the iconic and beautiful Globe Theatre. This theatre is worth the trip just for its fantastic history and architecture and the best part? Tickets start at £5! Seeing a Shakespeare play at this theatre is a must whilst living in london.
Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road
to April 16 Sexy, stylish and altogether fantastic. The West End does not disappoint with an incredible stage performance of ‘Dirty Dancing’. Prepared to be wooed, swooned and swept off your feet with this amazing version of an iconic film. A show that is dripping with sex appeal this is one for your watchlist before it leaves the West End.
‘Dirty Dancing’: altogether fantastic.
gam i ng / 13
Hottest Games Of 2022 Edited by Anna Runa-Umbrasko New year marks the annual storage and dust cleaning on a gamer’s PC, gathering new video cards and GB’s for the anticipated releases and sleepless nights. Survival horror, Zelda, Gods of War and Pokemon are only a few titles that are going to destroy the video game markets in the year of 2022.
An obvious pick for this list, Elden Ring deserves a place here even if it was just another regular release from Software Inc., but the fact it has such exciting ambitions makes it even more intriguing. An open-world crammed with genius gameplay is something hard not to be hyped about. Already based on their previous releases, the story for Elden Ring has just been getting better and better. After reinventing the God of War in the best way possible in 2018, the developers of Santa Monica are back with a sequel that is promising to be an even bigger and better adventure. The main characters are facing the threat of Ragnarök and this sequel promises to bring the whole saga to an end. The excitement is there waiting to see how the turn of events will finally wrap up.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fans have been waiting for a full-fledged sequel for a long, long time. Due to many issues and hoops from the developers of GSC, the open-world survival horror game has finally been announced and based on the gameplay teasers released so far, it has been worth the wait. To be released in April on Xbox and PC, it has the potential to be one of the biggest games of 2022.
Breath of the Wild has always been one of the best games of all time. While there is a slight pessimism about Nintendo’s ability to recreate the same feeling of warmth and excitement in this sequel, the game will definitely make itself known in the market on the day of its launch. Even if it does not succeed, it is still going to be an excellent experience and a sprinkle of nostalgia for the OG’s.
Pokemon’s lack of ambition and unwillingness to change has earned it plenty of well-deserved criticism in recent years, but with Arceus, it might finally be able to break the mould and deliver a meaningfully unique experience. If Pokemon Legends can successfully establish a new direction for the series, it will be a momentous release and a new aesthetic discovery for the fans of Genshin Impact or even Animal Crossing.
Mortal Combat As Leo Tolstoy said, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” That’s how London-based musician and composer Vincent Salgueiro’s conceptual EP ’Cartesia’ was created – a year-long project fitted into five tracks. But time doesn’t matter here. ’Cartesia’ proves that it can take a while to find your musical voice, and some things are worth the wait. Words: Gery Hristova Image: Margherita Allievi
Tell us a bit about yourself. “I work as a freelancer, making music for films and games. At first, I was making hip-hop-oriented music which was really strange hearing it now. But once I started studying here [at BIMM] everything came together and by the time I had to submit my [third year] final project, I got that musical voice.” How would you describe your music? “My music is self-dramatic and pensive, it’s not very happy and it combines electronic and acoustic sound.” What is your creative process like? “The thing is, I stopped making music and then I started over again. Sometimes I need time to get inspired before moving to the next project. Of course, I’m music production-based so everything revolves around my computer, but for this specific project, I wanted everything to be bespoke. I wanted everything to be originally made. There’s one track that samples have been bought, but other than that everything was recorded, sampled from scratch. So it was like painting – it started with a draft and you do the fine stuff after. That’s kind of where I found myself on a more avant-garde way instead of just being playing the guitar as I used to do. I find it quite fascinating how you don’t
need to play many instruments to create a great piece of music.” Could you tell us a bit about ‘Cartesia’? “Essentially, this was my final project here [at BIMM]. So I guess I developed and then produced it over the course of a year. I usually leave things open but with this project, everything was very defined in terms of narrative. With this project, I wanted to explore new techniques, how I can make music differently from the way I’ve been doing it before. So a lot of the tracks were based on new ways of trying to do music - I made a lot of tracks and then I narrowed them down. I had this big kind of narrative world that the project was living already before I started making any music. That’s why the first track is a prologue. It comes to a conclusion of itself. But the rest of the tracks lean more to each other. It’s a story, which could be quite abstract sometimes.” What’s the concept? “It’s all about the mind and the body, and how it connects in different situations. I thought it was quite poetic, but that’s not all. I got interested in the subject of mortality. If the mind and body are living separately what does happen to a mind when the body is dead? ‘Cartesia’ is a modern twist and approach to the topic. So the concept shifted to this: if
the mind and body are separate then what’s happening when we only exist online? Is it our mind separate from the body? Is this a real connection that I’m having with the people I’m talking to online?” If you had to create another album today what would you do differently? “‘Cartesia’ is driven by a strong concept and I want this for my next project too. I want to get inspired in the same way I did with my previous project. I did some research, I took everything I could find and I represented it in sound. My last album was inspired by religion and I’d love my next project to be something like ‘The Next Chapter’.” What’s next for you? “I hope I can continue making original music and maybe do some collaborations.” What is the best advice you’ve been given? “Without sounding corny, someone told me: “You know you can do anything if you want, right. Yes, you have to learn a lot of things but you can do whatever you want.” So I give the same advice to other people.” Find out more about Vincent at vincentsalgueiro.com, instagram.com/vincentsalgueiro and @vincesalgueiro on Twitter.
BI M M I NTRODUCI NG / 15
don’t have to play many instruments to create a great piece of music.”."
AL B U M R EVI EWS Edited by Thomas-Brady Riseley
AN I MAL COLLECTIVE ti m e ski ffs
Highly experimental, legendary psych-pop band Animal Collective are back for their first studio album in over six years and after a string of audio-visual disasters, the band may have found their mojo again. The group haven’t been able to replicate the critical success of the back-to-back releases of 2007’s visceral ‘Strawberry Jam’ and 2009’s avantpsych ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ but ‘Time Skiffs’ does its best to crawl back. It is the first release that all four members have collectively worked on since 2012’s ‘Centipede Hz’, followed by a string of less-than-impressive projects which indulged their strange musical exploration. ‘Time Skiffs’ swings the other way and favours listenability and structure. Panda Bear’s drumming is less visceral and atmospheric, and Geologist’s synths have been mixed with more modesty. The vocals are deeper and recall the Beach Boys. This is the most focused AC have been in a long time and ‘Time Skiffs’ is, in parts, luscious and spacey but is in equal parts muddy and repetitive. It’s a return to form, just. tbr
BLACK COUNTRY, N EW ROAD
ants from up th e re
Less than a week before ‘Ants From Up There’ was due to be released, singer and guitarist Isaac Wood announced he would be departing in a joint statement with the rest of Black Country, New Road. Wood described himself as “feeling sad and afraid” and while it’s a shame that there’ll be no more Black Country without Wood, it is more important to protect and repair mental health. We wholeheartedly support his decision and hope he is doing better for making it. This is the second album from critically and culturally revered Brixton Windmill breakthrough band. After signing to Ninja Tune and the success of their 2021 debut ‘For The First Time’, it was hard to pin the band down with their sound being a somewhat confusing but impressive blend of English post-punk, jazzy post-rock and klezmer. ‘Ants From Up There’ builds on the dramatic tension of their debut and showcases the band’s growth and maturity as songwriters. The songs are more focused, with definite structures and less wild stylistic changes throughout the tracklist. Wood’s poetry is still sensitive and vulnerable and often tongue-in-cheek but with much improved singing. Controlled chaos has been replaced with melancholic and often baroque balladry with clear influences of classical musical theatre and lyrical themes beyond the pitfalls of being middle class. The theme of a space-crash survivor clutching to a deeply personal but ultimately failing relationship is raw and perfectly partnered with the Concorde video. The album feels cleaner, crisper and has a much better flow from song to song. Sitting in just under an hour total, there isn’t a minute spared. While stylistically it is more disciplined it still has its bursts of not-quite-chaos. Track two, ‘Chaos Space Marine’, is the album’s most lively song which makes the following 50 minutes or so even more impactful. Even the almost-three-minute saxophone interlude ‘Mark’s Theme’ is worthwhile. The closing track, the fan-favourite live repeat offender ‘Basketball Shoes’, is a masterful twelve-and-a-half-minute post-rock breakdown – remarkably, the band had been sitting on it before the release of ‘For The First Time’. BCNR have cemented their reputation as the UK’s most exciting band. tbr
ALBUM REVI EWS / 17
BONOBO FRAGM E NTS
Deep house is making a brief mainstream comeback after the explosion of the late 2010s. Artists such as DJ Seinfeld, Ross From Friends, Skee Mask and now Bonobo have transformed from making lo-fi sampled house beats to clean, smooth deep house. The Brighton-born LA-based Ninja Tune signee adds to what is a respectable year so far for the seminal UK electronic label.‘Fragments’ is the first studio album from Bonobo in nearly five years and just about justifies the wait. There are moments that are very impressive but also too many forgettable tracks. The features more than contribute to this albums quality; lead single ‘Otomo’ features label-mate and British electronic rising star O’Flynn, lo-fi low-key crooner Joji stars on ‘From You’ and multi-instrumentalist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson helps open the album on ‘Polyghost’. All of the more energetic dance tracks would sound fantastic performed live or in a set but in an album format are too inconsistent. tbr
YARD ACT th e ove rload
Ten years since the release of ‘LP1’, twigs is showing she is still as versatile and mysterious as ever all with an impressive growing network of collaborators. ‘Caprisongs’ from the opening line announces it isn’t an album: “Hey, I made you a mixtape”. Free from traditional album norms this tape is untamed and explosive. There are blends of, or sharp turns to; RnB, old-school house, dancehall and nu-pop all with an acid-electric twist throughout, even the interludes don’t allow much room for a breather. The feature list includes a lot of the UK’s underground; Pa Salieu, Jorja Smith, Shygirl and also The Weeknd, and boasts an even bigger production team which includes Mike Dean and long-term production partner Arca. ‘Caprisongs’ is brilliantly boisterous and keeps the listener on their toes. Broad and experimental production makes for a mixtape full of entertaining twists. Don’t be surprised when you hear ‘papi bones’ at your next rave. TBR
New Island Records signees Yard Act announced they’ve taken the next seat in the ever-popular English indie post-punk scene with debut album ‘The Overload’. For a band that have barely been together three years, they have a defined style and sound but fail to go beyond that. After the minor success of single ‘Fixer Upper’ in 2020, Yard Act have seemingly come out of nowhere, the Leeds-based band serving up throwbacks to Yorkshire alt-rock legends Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. Tongue-in-cheek social commentary focusing on wealth and its inequality, and the pitfalls of Brex*t delivered in a Jarvis Cocker-esque blunt delivery over early Arctic Monkeys tones and riff work make for a funny, groovy 38 minutes. Vocalist James Smith prefers to speak rather than sing in his accent, directly challenging the listener. The Overload is a great first go round. It has earned its success as a debut album but after five or so songs it gets a bit too repetitive as an album unless this is really your thing. TBR
Edited by Emily Cliff
18 / se lf-care
th re e ti ps to make th e rest of th is season cosy af wi nte r warm e rs to se e you th rough 'ti l spri ng
on’t be fooled by that yellow ball in the sky. Winter is still here. As ominous as that sounds, we promise you that White Walkers won’t start roaming the streets of London. Anticipating a chill in the air, it is time to bust out those blankets, dust off the fluffy socks, and reignite that hot chocolate addiction.
1) TH E OODI E
A big trend that crops up on TikTok every wintery season is the OODIE. An OODIE is a gigantic fleece hoody that can wrap you up into the perfect blanket burrito for maximum cosiness. And while the idea behind these OODIEs and their cosiness is extremely attractive, the price is not. However, in 2021 Primark released their own version, the Snuddie, at a price that was much kinder to the old money tree. Out of stock? Check Etsy and Amazon for bargains, too.
2) luxury HOT CHOCOLATe
Another way to make winter as cosy as possible is hot chocolate. Blowing up online last year was Hotel Chocolat’s famous Velvetiser. At £99 a pop it’s not exactly student-friendly, however, why should good hot chocolate cost a pretty penny? ASDA is currently selling a dupe of the hot chocolate machine at just £25, the George Home Milk Frother, so you can have the taste of luxury without the luxury price tag.
3) A PI NTE RESTI NSPI RE D MAKEOVE R
To maximise your cosiness you have to give your room the ultimate Pinterest makeover. And while some of those rooms you see on Pinterest look like they came straight out of a fairytale you can recreate it at home for a price that won’t break the bank. With Christmas well and truly behind us, some charity shops still have remnants of festive decor, and this means all things warm, glowing, and fairy-lit. Warm-toned lights are the cherry on top of your cosy cake, paired with command hooks and strips from BIMM’s favourite, Wilko. Now you have the tools, snuggle up in your new OODIE, with your luxurious hot chocolate in a perfectly-lit, cosy room. If you’re after something to watch head to our movie and TV section for a late winter watchlist.
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