Friday, 30 August 2013
This September, Sidi Touré returns with Alafia, his third international release for Thrill Jockey Records and his most focused recording to date.
Recorded between two locations - Nantes, France and Bamako, Mali - during what has become the most contentious political impasse for Mali since the country’s independence decades ago, Alafia mirrors the dramatic nature of the situation.
Listen to the first track Ay Hôra to be taken from it below:
Date Palms' Thrill Jockey debut, The Dusted Sessions, is more than a genre-defying slice of desert psychedelia.
Led by the core duo of Gregg Kowalsky and Marielle Jakobsons, the group excels at creating highly melodic and emotionally affecting compositions that draw their power from the balance of their cosmic ambitions and reverence for earth-bound beauty. "Sky Trails," is a previously unreleased track from the same sessions that produced the album.
The track finds the band revisiting melodic ideas that recurred throughout the record, unwinding and expanding the familiar themes atop a dramatic drone baseline. The track will appear on a special tour CD-R that features unreleased material and demos that the band will be selling at upcoming shows.
'The Dusted Sessions' album review on hiapop Blog
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Monday, 26 August 2013
Vieux Farka Toure – Mon Pays (Six Degrees Records)
26 August 2013
Being the Son of the great Ali Farka Toure can’t be easy if you’re wanting to follow his footsteps in the world of music, but, Vieux Farka Toure grips the challenge firmly. Mon Pays is yet another album from a Malian artist where the conflict in the homeland precludes a ban on music and slavery is once again a primary news story.
Mon Pays (My Country) is an album of sparkling quality, taking traditional music and adding a slight Western twist, the album stands out with its choruses of male voice backing some superb musicianship. Farka, like his father, has an incomparable talent for guitar playing and the tight arrangements are well presented and enthralling. Opener, the traditional song ‘Diack So’, has an instantly recognisable sound and has an almost Scottish or Gaelic fiddle in the background. One of many instrument combinations on the album that make it so interesting.
Currently available as a free download, ‘Allah Wawi’ is an hypnotic piece which is a perfect showcase to the album. Some gorgeous sounds from ngoni and violon and a steady percussive backing.
Toure reminds us of the current tragedies in Mali on ‘Yer Gando’, a calabash rhythm and a vocal arrangement which sees his own voice ‘echoed’ by the backing singers on every line. Instrumentals, ‘Future’ and ‘Peace’ are lovely pieces with the former having an oriental influence and the later having an almost Shakespearean feel at times.
The highlight of the album is undoubtedly Safare. Its melody is again almost familiar sounding and there’s something rather wonderful about hearing a voice in a foreign tongue which makes you actually listen to the song rather than be distracted by any words.
Mon Pays is a well-polished and accomplished album which (unknowingly) breaks down a few musical walls and genres and creates a sound very accessible and welcome.
Published on Louder Than War 25/08/13 - here
Thursday, 22 August 2013
First of all, let it be said, that I think the title and artwork for this album are fantastic!
In 2011, Numan released a straight-to-the-fanbase album, Dead Son Rising, but, this is his first self-penned full album since Jagged in 2006. In recent years he's been cited as an influence by everyone from Lady Gaga to Nine Inch Nails, and, has connected fans from the worlds of Metal, Hip-Hop, Industrial and Indie. He remains as focussed as ever in pursuing his own singular vision.
Whilst Splinter sounds like no-one else, perhaps it is 'that' voice - one of the most distinctive in modern music - that draws people to his songs. His singing is strangely emotional and almost soulful in places.
Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind), produced by Ade Fenton, will be released on 14th October (USA - 15th October).
The Gary Numan website is here.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Marc Bolan At The BBC (Universal Music)
CD Box Set
26 August 2013
In 1970, Marc Bolan sold 30,000 records. In 1971, he sold 5 million. His career, whatever guise it be in, started before I was born and ended before my age had reached double figures. I was barely aware of him in amongst the Gary Glitter, Suzi Quatro, Sweet and Slade filled Chart of the day, but, his presence in my musical knowledge has steadily increased through adulthood.
This collection, has brought together everything that the BBC still has in existence, and, it’s an incredible record and story of the man that invented Glam. A man that had the ability to write not only some of the finest songs the World has ever known, but also, some of the most enthralling poetry – at one point, his words outselling the Poet Laureate!
At 6 cds, it is nothing more than an incredible collection of hits and album tracks recorded for the Beeb. Starting with the psychedelic sound of John’s Children before evolving into Tyrannosaurus Rex and moving onto T.Rex, the tracks are interspersed with introductions to music shows a la Top Of The Pops, and, many interviews with the man. Also included are tracks originally recorded on cassette tape, which even though cleaned up for this release, are still of poor quality, but, instead of sounding sub-standard, they actually add to the complete package.
The interviews are of particular interest giving a fascinating insight to Bolan. Yes, he wanted to be a huge star and loved the adoration, but, listen to him express his desire to play to 100,000 people, with tickets as cheap as possible, and, all proceeds to charity. He loved ‘the kids’ and ‘the cats’. He loved his art, and, he loved talking about himself. He wasn’t big-headed – he simply knew that he was an amazing force in music and wanted everyone to know.
An interview with Nicky Horne sees Marc continually jibed about his work, where the ill-informed reporter makes accusations of continued formulaic songs to which Marc clearly becomes agitated and asks if ‘20th Century Boy’ and ‘Children Of The Revolution’ sound the same – ‘We’ve sold twenty-four million records, man’. He then leaps to the defence of the record buyers with a “Don’t underestimate the public. They know more than we do!” He turns Diva when asked to talk about the new album (Tanx – “No, I can’t do, just hear it”. Marc even predicts that music video will take over from music and the public will play movie discs through their home television sets!
His name-checked friends were quite something – Ringo Starr (who he later worked with), Elton John, David Bowie. He described Gary Glitter as “a sweetie” and he professed his unforgettable thanks not only to the BBC, but also John Peel the man who famously championed Marc and can be frequently heard introducing tracks and live performances.
You’d expect amongst the 118 tracks here to find versions of Bolan’s most well-known tracks, and you do – Metal Guru, Get It On, Jeepster, Debora, White Swan, they’re all here together with previously unbroadcasted songs like Wild Cheetah and TV/radio jingles. The sessions add a more rock/live feel to many of the tracks with several of them arguably bettering the original recordings.
Marc Bolan At The BBC is a must for any followers, and, an essential addition to any music fans collection. We can continue to marvel at where this superbly enigmatic performer would have headed had his untimely death not been forced upon us, but, we can also listen in wonderment and awe at one of the greatest songwriters ever.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Mountains – Mountains Mountains Mountains (Thrill Jockey)
19 August 2013
Great album sleeve. I love this album sleeve. Apparently it was created by pinning a piece of paper on the door to the entrance of their gigs and asking them to write the word. The colours of red on white are an inverted version of the album art that was originally released as a mere 500 copy run on Catsup Plate five years ago.
Does the album live up to the sleeve then? Well, it depends what you want doesn’t it? If you want simple, minimal sounds and scapes then it’s probably the thing for you. It glides along much like the Transmission 13 album Kaleidoscopio from last year and whilst I was writing this review, I found myself comepletely drifting off and doing other things. It’s a bit special to say the least and is thoroughly cleansing.
If the stories are true, The Whale Years was originally recorded in a Georgia hotel room in 2005. It’s subtle and beautiful. It has elements of drone and huge slabs of gorgeousness. Electronic effects flutter and fly like CGI butterflies and the mammal in the title slides through sumptuous deep blue waters like a gliding bird.
Nest contains some lovely guitar work over a backdrop of ebbing water and is more than effective in is tumbling simplicity. There’s a threat of huge walls of sound in Millions Of Time that never ever materialises as it borrows hints of Chariots Of Fire through a muffled, feedback of general nothingness.
The imagery created with fourth track and album closer, Hive, is quite remarkable. A busy mid-pitched bumble bee waggle dance slowly builds into the buzz that it is clearly meant to replicate when sounds, for this album at least, explode and reverberate slowly and majestically. Again, no percussion, and again, the inventiveness of the album shines through.
Thrill Jockey are initially pressing 1,000 copies of the album, but, the truth is, they should really be needing to press many more.
Published on Louder Than War 19/08/13 - here
kandodo – k2o (Thrill Jockey)
19 August 2013
Let not the fact that kandodo starts with a lower case ‘k’ deceive you. This is not an album to be understated. As a member of The Heads and a John Peel ‘sessionee’, Simon Price has been around for a while. k2o is an enthralling album of superbly put together guitar and keyboard instrumentals which reveal more hidden depths on every listen.
There are signs of the albums promise with opener ‘slowah’, fading in with synth before some interesting guitar layers make their appearance. A delicate throb throughout with the eventual reserved percussion moving the track along. Soundbytes from a tour of Elvis Presley’s home on the cleverly titled ‘grace and’, accompany echoing and louder guitars, and, sounds from a rippling shoreline feature in ‘waves’. You can imagine Price playing his guitar whilst sat on the beach.
The eleven minute ‘kandy rock mountain’ could be something taken from The Beatles’ acid adventures as it weaves a gorgeous, hypnotic myriad of sounds that drift in and out beautifully. It somehow resists the chance to introduce a crashing drum and is more the better for denying the urge. Synthesizers hold the track together whilst fragile guitar work adds a certain Eastern feel.
The Blues tinged ‘july 28th’ is the new soundtrack for your daily horse ride through dusty deserts with its crying guitar over an ancient Red Indian percussive back-drop. Not really going anywhere, but, at the same time taking you on a long calming journey.
The album of just six tracks closes with the mammoth ‘swim into the sun’. A twenty-two minute opus complete with chatting crowds, speeding cars and lapping water. On the vinyl version of the album, it takes up one full side, not surprising at its length, but, it’s well deserving. Slightly more upbeat with drums from fellow Head, Wayne Maskell, its length doesn’t really become an issue and it rises and rises. It is said that the track took two years to fully complete and it’s easy to see why, as its steady beat continually meets with washes of sound. It’s ambitious, and, could well have faded into nothing but obvious pretentiousness, but, it keeps going and is rather wonderful for it.
Published on Louder Than War 19/08/13 - here
Saturday, 10 August 2013
White Hills – So You Are...So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey)
19 August 2013
Space-rockers, White Hills, release their seventh studio album. Louder Than Wars Paul Scott-Bates gives his thoughts.
Another new genre to me. Space-rock, or, “psychedelic interstellar rock”, according to White Hills’ record label, Thrill Jockey. I shouldn’t really be surprised, as the label continues to bring exciting and unique aural delights our way. For me they’re up there with Mute and OnUsound for being pioneers and groundbreakers.
So what of the White Hills sound? Well, it’s a strange concoction of grunge, metal and rock which is powerful to say the least, but, it’s interweaved with slabs of electronic noise and effects which, on first listen sound odd to say the least. The second time around (and third, and fourth, repeat infinitum), it all makes sense and it’s a clever little thing to be honest.
The trio of Dave W (guitars), Ego Sensation (bass) and Nick Name (drums) have again been recorded by Sonic Youth/Swans producer Martin Bisi which will probably give you some idea of where their sound is heading. With synthesizers and vocals from W and Sensation, the sound is complete and it’s well worth a listen.
Opener, InWords is a barrage of electronic programming to create a blast of overloaded feedback and techno-screech from the future. A short, but quite menacing introduction before the mantra metal sound of new single In Your Room blasts into your eardrums.
Where the album has its biggest interest is where it changes style so dramatically. After the power-house sound of In Your Room, there’s almost six minutes of drone in The Internal Monologue which is then followed by what their PR info describes as “the post-Hawkwind transmission” of the title track.
The unusual mix of futuristic synths, drone and sometimes prog-rock is a hard one to contemplate, but given the chance, it’s actually quite a sound, and, that is where this album succeeds. In true originality, it sticks a two-fingered salute in the direction of music convention. Bravo!
Published on Louder Than War 9/08/13 - here
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
If asked to pick my favourite song of all time it would probably be between two slow tempo numbers. One would be Somebody by Depeche Mode which I just think is one of the finest songs ever written. The other, whilst undoubtedly a classic, and, recorded by well over 40 artists ranging from James Brown to Engelbert Humperdinck, is Nature Boy.
George Alexander Aberle, known as eden ahbez was born in 1908. He was an American songwriter and recording artist from the 1940s to 1960s, whose Californian lifestyle was a major influence on the Hippie movement. He was known to friends simply as 'ahbe'.
Ahbez composed Nature Boy which became a No. 1 hit for Nat 'King' Cole in 1948 and has since become a pop and jazz standard.
He lived an idyllic rural life from at least the 1940s, travelled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first 'L' in the famous Hollywood sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and lived purely on vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on $3 per week.
Stealing an idea from fellow Blogger Dukla Prague Away Kit, here are three versions of the song:
The first version I heard was by post-disco/pop/jazz-funk group, Central Line on Top Of The Pops in 1983. I don't really kow why but I seemed to recall it when I heard the Nat 'King' Cole version circa 1987. It was a time when I discovered Cole and fell in love with his voice. For me, he had the greatest voice ever - the vocal equivalent drinking Guinness.
The second version I've picked is by David Bowie. It was used in one of my favourite films, Moulin Rouge, although not the version sung by The Thin White Duke. The character of Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) performed his version in the opening scenes, and, the song lyrics play a huge part in the film itself. A remix by Massive Attack was used in the closing credits, and, both this and the Bowie version appear on the film soundtrack.
Version three is by Amanda Ghost. Her debut album, Ghost Stories, in 2000 is so far her only 'physical' album (The Download Collection was released in 2008), and, is an absolute corker - well worth checking out. She has written songs for Beyonce & Shakira (Beautiful Liar), James Blunt (You're Beautiful), Prodigy (Colours), Ian Brown (I Did It For The Glory), to name but a few. She was also CEO of Epic Records from 2009 to 2010. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the full song on the net, if anyone can help it would be much appreciated.
The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is, just to love, and be loved, in return.
The Unforgettable Nat 'King' Cole website
David Bowie website
Amanda Ghost website
Dukla Prague Away Kit Blog
Cabaret Voltaire – Red Mecca (Mute)
Thirty-two years! Count them. Thirty-two years since Red Mecca was first released. I’d like to say it sounds like only yesterday, but, it doesn’t. It seems a lifetime away. It seems as though Cabaret Voltaire were still testing the water for experimental industrial music, and that whilst everyone raved about how good the album was, they would soon move on and forget about it. In a well-timed move by Mute, the album heads a stream of re-released Cabs classics to have you whipping yourself up into a lather.
The final album with co-founder Chris Watson, Red Mecca, came during a period when tensions were high on the streets of Britain and it was seen as the alternative soundtrack of the time.
Opener, A Touch Of Evil, sets the scene for the album with its post industrial jazz theme, ensuring the listener is aware that this is no album for the faint hearted. There are early signs of the incisive Cabaret Voltaire drum sound and throbbing bass which would become a trademark of the band in later years as Richard H Kirk and Stephen Mallinder continued to break new ground.
The distorted, twisted vocals on Sly Doubt accompany the raw feel of the track and the introduction of electronic dub is also prevalent. In the wake of Joy Division and before the explosion of Britain’s electronic brigade of the early 80s, the Cabaret Voltaire sound unwittingly set the scene for the fellow Sheffield band The Human League with their Reproduction and Travelogue albums. Indeed their single Being Boiled could be seen as a commercial extension to what they were doing at the time.
What Kirk and Mallinder did with Red Mecca had never been done before, and, has never been done since. Modern contempories such as Portion Control clearly have a lot to thank them for, particularly on tracks like Red Mask. Does Red Mecca sound dated? Well yes, it does, but at the time it was relevant and so many things have happened in music since then, but, time doesn’t make it irrelevant, in the same way that Punk is still a milestone in British music, so is Cabaret Voltaire.
Red Mecca is an important album and should be heard by all. It precedes a mighty re-release of the groups mid-term albums from 1983-1985 due later this year and will undoubtedly re-ignite old passions. Hopefully, it will also create a spark in many new ones.
Published on Louder Than War 6/08/13 - here
Thursday, 1 August 2013
A day before Tortoise's appearance at All Tomorrow's Parties' in November, bassist Douglas McCombs will be bringing his solo project Brokeback to London for a rare live show at the Heath Street Baptist Church in Hampstead as part of the London Jazz Festival.
Expect to hear tracks taken from Brokeback's newest release Brokeback and the Black Rock, which came out earlier this year via Thrill Jockey Records in January.
Douglas McCombs' goal for his longstanding Brokeback project has always been to do service to those fleeting moments in life when everything seems clear and defined and beautiful and the hair stands up on the back of your neck. These moments are hard to describe and by their nature impossible to capture, but to try it is to be inspired. They’re not always auditory, but for their musical expression, think Roy Orbison when he's sad and lonely, or alternately when he’s feeling triumphant, a Tom Verlaine guitar solo, Stravinsky and Erik Satie, an Ennio Morricone crescendo. Or Billy Gibbons, in a lyric like "Ridin’ ’top the floodway on a Friday night / The landscape’s a fine and natural sight."
In November 2012, Turin Brakes returned to their studio to record material for their sixth studio album.
The band premiered a new song called Sleeper in Naples, Italy.
Their 6th album, "We Were Here", is scheduled for a September 2013 release on the Cooking Vinyl label. We at hiapop Blog will be reviewing the album, and, can confirm that it's rather good.
For a FREE download of their new single, Time And Money, click here.
Oliver Wilde – A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Lightyears (Howling Owl)
So, what do I know about Oliver Wilde? Well, he’s not related to Oscar, I don’t think, and, er, that’s about it. Oh, and he’s just released a rather splendid album with an even more splendid title. Having no preconceptions about an artist can help, and, that’s very much the case with A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Lightyears.
Oliver has created an album of complete and utter deliciousness and is a lovely way for Howling Owl to celebrate their first album release.
With influences from the likes of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, it’s hardly surprising that Wilde’s sound should be one of calm and feeling. With a voice like a lower toned Badly Drawn Boy, his songs float in and out and around your head and take you to a place that your dreams can only imagine. His unconventional style and often introspective approach to songwriting and presentation will only win him admirers, and, many they well be.
Lead single, Perrett’s Brook, accompanied by its somewhat strange and effecting video is a rather lovely. Its swirling electronics and melancholic guitars perfectly compliment the whispering vocals which is so delicate it feels as though it could break into a million pieces at the slightest mis-timed breath.
There’s a simply sumptuous guitar on Pinch as Wilde continues to deliver his woozy, fuzzy vocals over even more dreamlike backing, and, the trip through the unnatural lightyears of the albums title just keeps on going. The pace is increased on Walter Steven’s Only Daughter with a beat that is present but not overwhelming and a great hook.
The instrumentation to Marleahs Cadence has New Order (under) tones with a beat and driving bassline that pushes the song forward with intriguing vocals. It’s probably the catchiest song on the album but that doesn’t make picking a standout track any easier such is the quality of the tracks here.
Wiltshire can be very proud.
Published on Louder Than War 1/08/13 - here