Sunday, 31 January 2016

Review - Snowpoet - Snowpoet

Snowpoet – Snowpoet (Two Rivers Records)


Out Now

8.5 / 10

London based nature-inspired poetry duo release their debut album.

A copy of the debut album from Snowpoet should accompany a letter to Collins Dictionary requesting amendment of an entry thus:

Gorgeous (ˈɡɔːdʒəs )


1.     strikingly beautiful or magnificent  
2.     (informal) extremely pleasing, fine, or good
3.     the 2016 album by Snowpoet

With 2014s Butterfly EP came a breath of fresh air.  Sumptuous melodies and angelic voices graced us with the mini collection from Lauren Kinsella and Josh Acroleo aka Snowpoet.  The time afforded to the making of their debut album is well worth the wait for this is no ordinary long player.

What makes this so special?  Love and affection probably. An acute attention to detail and a fascination with perfection.  Prose is intermingled with poetry as Kinsella’s often pure and virtuous voice whispers and softly caresses the delicate instrumentation.  Words often pulsating into the air with complete abandon for any backing music.

Opener, Mermaid is a fluttering beginning with a sung vocal, spoken words and almost improvised pianos and percussion.  It spirals upwards from a humble start maybe like a mermaid rising through the water from the sea-bed encountering creatures and turbulence along the way.  In A Quiet Place is introduced with faint whispers and will draw comparisons to Kate Bush and her Hounds Of Love album, similarities maybe also to Laurie Anderson from an avant garde aspect.

Incorporating folk and jazz, the album can be seen as a collection inspired by and made for nature.  It enhances everything that is natural whilst also involving skilfully inspired samples and electronic melodies.  It’s so easy listening that its almost untrue, it is rarely taxing and is the perfect soundtrack to a relaxing car journey or a lazy Sunday afternoon. It frequently inspires and ignites feelings of 
complete joy.

Glad To Have Lost is held together by an enigmatic drum loop which seems to lovingly caress Kinsella’s vocals which are stunning throughout, and If I Miss A Star and Little Moon Man provide little more than a piano and guitar respectively in their accompaniment indeed the later of the two is worthy of being an album highlight.

An experimental foray with Gathering shows that the duo isn’t afraid to be different at times as does album closer Eviternity which belies its seven minutes and slips by in a heartbeat.  Largely instrumental with some closing poetry, it brings a quite elegant album to a close.

Two Rivers Records
Snowpoet website
Snowpoet on Twitter
Snowpoet on Facebook
Butterfly EP review

Published on Louder Than War 22/01/16 - here

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Listen! - Jared Nueve - Glorified


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Watch! - Tortoise - Yonder Blue


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Listen! - The (Hypothetical) Prophets - Wallenberg (French Version)

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Listen! - Kowton - Utility


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Listen! - Zaflon - 7 Stalkers (feat. Gilan)


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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review - African Head Charge - My Life In A Hole In The Ground | Environmental Studies | Drastic Season | Off The Beaten Track

On 22 January 2015 On U-sound re-released the first four albums by the psychedelic dub collective.  

Formed around percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and driven by that man Adrian Sherwood, the African Head Charge ensemble has been making music since the early 80s along the way incorporating such luminaries as Jah Wobble and Skip McDonald.   The percussion of Bonjo was always the underpin to the sound which started as dub but not in its truest sense.  Taking the spirit of Africa and combining with psychedelic dub roots and electronica they remain a performing act to this day.
As part of the stunning re-release programme On U-Sound have seen fit to send the first four African Head Charge albums our way via vinyl and download.

My Life In A Hole In The Ground – 8.5/10

Seen as a ground-breaking album, the 1981 debut for African Head Charge not only played on the title of Brian Eno and David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, but also on the concept.  The idea from Eno was to create a ‘vision of a psychedelic Africa’ and that ideal was taken one step further by Sherwood and Bonjo with the ‘hole in the ground’ referring to London’s Berry Street Studios which were accessed via  a flight of stairs.

Samplers had not yet become part of the studio set-up so multi-edits were used as a way to enhance existing sounds.  The album was, and still is viewed as an experimental work combining African rhythms, dub and jazz.  From the opening sounds of the kuwenge (and African version of the Jews harp), the album is never simple to define moving from the downright weird to continuing strange.

Tracks Stebeni’s Theme and Far Away Chant were used in the David Lynch film Wild At Heart which gives an idea as to the esteem in which it was regarded.  Far Away Chant displays a sumptuous emptiness which must surely have been the influence for Mark Stewart’s Jerusalem two years later with it’s dubbed out percussion and spoken reverbed vocals, indeed several sounds which would appear in subsequent On U releases can also be occasionally heard.

The Race Pt One employs a near ska backbone as it skiffles and echoes along and Stone Charge has some near painful saxophone screeches and Primal Once Drop draws on oriental influences too.

Family Doctoring provides possibly the most commercially listenable track in an album that owes as much to the past as it does to the future.

Environmental Studies – 8.5/10

A year after their debut, African Head Charge released their second album Environmental Studies allegedly named after the Producers passing interest in the subject as school. 
Again working as a collective the album drew on the talents from members of The Slits, The Pop Group, Aswad and Rip Rig & Panic amongst others.  The sounds of distant drums were created by Sherwood positioning speakers and microphones in the stone built toilets at Berry Street making it literally the only place it could have been recorded. 
The album becomes less avant garde and progressively more ‘musical’ but is noticeable for having several effects and sounds played louder than the band itself.  Take opener Crocodile Had Luggage for instance with the sound of water and overpowering the sound of the music.  The bass voices resonate and reverb over a tribal beat creating a fine result.
Snakeskin Tracksuit has some wonderful dubs throughout and bounds along from start to end.  The use of heavy dubs is prevalent throughout the album often overtaking much of the music itself with High Protein Snack being case in point as it intermingles with freeform jazz interludes.
The dark vocals appear again on In A Tap, Breeding Space and closer Latin Temperament with the later sounding like a cross between Human League’s Do Or Die and The Clangers.

Drastic Season – 8/10

With the third African Head Charge album came intense tracks with Sherwood quoting them as "experiments in active frequencies, out of time noises, rhythms within rhythms, and endless tape edits”. 
Many of the effects used would form, or may already have been included in, the sound armoury of Sherwood.  Several noises would later appear in varying guises across many On U tracks particularly those of the Tackhead experimental spin-off Fats Comet.
African Hedge Hog and Depth Charge in particular were uncompromising pieces of avant garde collage and the band could now firmly say that they had indeed created a genre of their own with few dubs and more ‘weird’.  Drastic Season was largely instrumental with Sherwood now stamping his own inimitable style.
The eight tracks were certainly not easy listening, and one had to question the direction that African Head Charge were now taking and where their audience would lie.  The answer was simple and an army of On U aficionados was slowly growing. 

Off The Beaten Track – 9/10

With Off The Beaten Track came a slight change of direction fuelled by meets with Skip McDonald, Doug Wimbush and Keith Leblanc as the African Head Charge sound took on a funk fuelled percussion driven angle.  The new percussive side would meet with the approval of Bonjo and his wanting of ethnic chants.
Studio technology had leapt forward and the team were able to use loops ad samples to great effect and with the addition of guests Jah Wobble and several dogs, violins and sounds breaking glass it became the album to set the standard by.
One Albert Einstein even makes an appearance (presumably unknowingly) on the semi-ambient Language & Mentality and the beats employed throughout paved the way for the genre of World Music.  Throw It Away too sounds like the forerunner to albums of the mighty Tackhead as vocal samples combine with hard-hitting sound crashes.
Off The Beaten Track was probably the most ‘organised’ album to date.  Gone were the avant garde touches to be replaced by at times, a hip-hop pre-cursor and the act had now set the bar very high indeed.

Published on Louder Than War 19/01/16 - here

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Listen! - Erika - Fly Away Bird


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Watch! - The Magnetic North - Signs


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News - hiapop Radio is here!

After several weeks of Twitter chit-chat, I am delighted to confirm that I have been welcomed to the team at Radio Kaos Caribou (RadioKC) as a brand new Selector to regularly air the latest and best releases around.

Like hiapop Blog there will be no genre and no structure.  It will be a case of playing what we like whether it be unsigned or established artists, UK based or international acts, new or old tracks.

Born in April 2012 from the suburbs of Paris, France (Ermont), RKC's founder, Jerome Dumortier, known as "DJ NT" uses the online service Mixcloud to concoct amazing musical cocktails, designed to tell a story, set a mood, and always flow from one idea to the next. Using spoken vignettes from film, together with world-class music, DJ NT weaves together palettes that include classic rock (complete with rain effects) from the Doors' "Riders on the Storm", but that winds its way to the Doobie Brothers and disco, and eventually lands on Diana Ross' version of "Good Morning Heartache." 

In a statement today, Radio KC said: "As long time support of Ralph #Indie Show, The Online Festival, #TheConcept shows & many of the UK #indie acts we supported through the past 4 years, as well one of the early supporter of #RKC, Paul is someone I learnt to appreciate and always wanted to hire without daring to do it.

But it became more than ever an evidence he HAS TO join his forces to the wonderful Selector's Team of #RKC to launch his own show: hiapop Radio"

Having hosted a Community Radio show in the past, I have to say that I am excited to have been given a second chance to play my favourite tracks to the World!

Further announcements will come soon, and I expect the first playlist to be a representation of the hiapop Blog Festive 23.

Welcome to hiapop Radio!

Radio KC website
Radio KC on Twitter
Radio KC on Facebook

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Monday, 25 January 2016