Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Watch! - Gazelle Twin - Glory







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Listen! - Primate - Exposed







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Review - boycalledcrow – Hyperlight







boycalledcrow – Hyperlight (Hairs aBlazin’)

Cassette / DL

Out Now


UK electronic/vapourwave artist release his debut album.

A studier of music technology at Limerick University has put boycalledcrow in good stead as his first album, Hyperlight is a simple yet accomplished affair.  Delightful riffs are repeated and effective to the point of absolute satisfaction bordering on ambient but retaining a mellow electro-pop feel maybe akin to Jean-Michel Jarre after a night out with Brian Eno.

With the opening CloudHEAD Pt 1 comes a looped glistening effect like a gentle beast waking after long slumber.  Echoed beats in the background add to the sleepiness as it sets a feeling of anticipation for what follows.  There’s a lovely organic feel to the sound of boycalledcrow and second track Frost, follows the follows the simplistic feel as once more a shimmer of sound covers the whole piece with a clever arrangement that makes quality the overriding factor over quality.

Throughout the album, sounds are repeated to the point of complete addiction and carefully avoid becoming tedious.  yPop adds beats to a piano sound and a squirmy bass sound almost tease the track into dance territory.  What is key to the success of this album is the ability of boycalledcrow to make some incredibly infectious material no doubt aided by the musical education and teased along with a keen ear for melody within a minimalistic scenescape.

One of several highlights is Glide which is simply beautiful with its delicate sounds and it’s alternation between slow and medium paced backing. Again, a well-placed bass sound links everything together.  Forest once more hints at the genius of Jarre and Lost is a wonderful trip into ambience which boycalledcrow executes expertly.

Hyperlight is a simple album, pleasing and entertaining.  Perfect for driving and late evenings with headphones and most of all for enjoying.  Certainly one to watch.





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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Simon Tucker Celebrates National Album Day



With the first ever BBC National Album Day well underway, Louder Than War / Radio Europa's Simon Tucker tells us why the album will always be his favourite format.

Before we start I must stress that I am not about to go on a format tirade or how things were better "in my day". They weren't as you will know if you are watching any of the Top Of The Pops reruns (Claire & Friends?? Sam Fox?? Jimmy effing Nail???). No, this will be just my musings on why I personally fall at the long-player altar and why the shuffle button shall never be knowingly pressed.

So with that in mind......

It starts with the artwork. The album artwork was key to my intrigue. Some of my earliest memories are of pouring over the LPs in my living room. It didn't matter one bit what the music was like inside, if I liked the artwork I will still hold warm memories of the album to this day. Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rod Stewart's Atlantic Crossing, Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and my personal favourite, Queen's News of the World. News of the World holds a special place in my memory and not just for sentimental "family moments". I still love it because it scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. I had a recurring nightmare about the giant robot coming for me. I was one of those screaming people scattering for their very lives. Every time I woke after one of these dreams I would head downstairs and check the album cover over. Had anything moved? Had it come to life overnight? No all was as it was the day before and once again I would start examining every detail of the sleeve.




Artwork remains pivotal to my relationship with the album. I have bought some wonderful albums over the years based on the cover alone (Antichrist Superstar, Unknown Pleasures, The Idiot to name but three) and I have bought some shockers as well (Kula Shaker still gives me the willies whenever I see it in a discount section).  My love of album artwork really exploded with my dive into the genre of rock / metal. Iron Maiden were masters of the album sleeve. Every single release demanded hours of investigation. You would hunt for the symbol that was hidden on every cover and look forward to seeing the setting that this new Eddie would find himself in. Metal is a genre that still excels in cover art when it doesn't fall into cliché font and gore.

The second biggest genre that I found my way around via mainly the artwork was hip-hop. Where I lived hip-hop was not a genre that many of those my age were in to. It was through the record collections of friends  / girlfriends older siblings that I discovered hip-hop. I remember being instantly drawn to Onyx's BACDAFUCUP & Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle. Viewing the art on display in record shops like Spillers, HMV, MVC etc helped me make some great discoveries in the world of hip-hop with the first two Public Enemy albums being the high watermark. 




The album remained my favourite format even when I entered the rave scene. Whilst dance music in general was focussed on the 12" single I was more interested in how that song would fit inside a DJ's set. The set was everything to me. Listening to isolated tracks at home could be enjoyable but what really set my pulse racing was how a good DJ would sequence their mix. There can be a "big" anthem doing the rounds and you could see seven different DJs use it in their set over the course of the night but in some hands it would sound cliché, tired, bored  whereas in others it would sound huge, communal, and life affirming. I am blessed to have some very close friends who are incredible DJs and even though the sets they would perform in the clubs would be great it was always the after-hours house parties where they really opened up and released their deep cuts giving a true artistic representation of themselves...an album created on the spot at 4am. 

Over time dance culture would start to produce some seminal albums and it is these that stand the test of time for me personally. I can enjoy No Good (Start The Dance) if I hear it on a night out or on the radio (the latter being more likely due to my increasing hermit like behaviour) but it doesn't excite as much as it does when I hear it sandwiched between Poison and One Love. The isolated single version of Inner City Life is a pivotal track between hearing it as part of the opening suite Timeless from Goldie's classic album its power is boosted to the nth degree. 




I feel an important aspect in my preferring of the album to the single in artistic terms is I grew up in an era where CDs started to dominate. Like I said at the top of this ramble, I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination. I love CDs as much as vinyl and in fact there were many years where it was my format of choice. Not only was I still getting the sleeve art and the lyric sheets (very important to me) but I was also now able to listen to a complete album without having to get up out of my bed to turn the thing over. This suited me perfectly for many years as there was a long time there when I would smoke enough slate or soap bar to put a small elephant to sleep so the fact I could just press play, lay my head down, and immerse myself in an album was bliss. It was during this period where I believe I became a true music obsessive and started to focus on the nuances and little details that the musicians were putting into their albums (weed and mushrooms helped but they were the springboard not the crutch). Around this time I started discovering the "classics" and this is where the CD format really helped as I grew very fond of Pink Floyd and got to hear their celebrated albums Meddle, Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here flowing freely with no interruptions.

Albums represent a true artistic statement in my eyes. I have often had debates with friends (my boss Matt at Tangled Parrot Records never says he prefers one or the other but will always get defensive when I say I am not a fan of the 7" single....it's the aging punk in him haha) over what it means to make a "great album" and this is an argument that will never be resolved. In my eyes, a great album should have a flow and thematic narrative running through it (no I am not talking "concept album") and not just be a collection of singles stuck together with some added songs to pad it out, YET there are examples of some seminal albums that are exactly that. Never Mind The Bollocks is the Pistols' only long player and is basically their singles with a few other bits thrown on yet it feels like one slab of concept and ideals that refuses to be pulled apart. Richard D James' self-titled album is skittering and fires off in all directions yet it never once feels jarring or forced. Every track feels like it belongs on there. I know there are many who really dislike The Wall (hi Greg!) but for me it is the Floyd's greatest achievement and their truly most avant-garde album. This is certainly due to the fact that I first heard it when my mind was fractured and falling apart and the sheer desolation, nihilism and no-fucks-given attitude of the album resonated deeply with me at the time.



Albums will always be my preferred format. It is the reason I get excited when one of my Twitter friends suggests an album that I may enjoy. It's the reason I still read album reviews constantly. Singles to me are feeders for an album. If I hear a song I like I get excited about hearing the album not just the next single. It is there where I really find out what an artist is about.

Albums can help you through so many different life obstacles. They can soothe you through grief and accompany your thrilling first sexual encounters with a new partner. I once worked with someone who only had music as background to nights out or on the car radio. When I suggested using music as a way of getting his girlfriend "in the mood" and to soundtrack the rest of their night he was slightly apprehensive. I lent him three albums on the Friday and on the Monday he was in work promising to name his first born after me. You don't get that with a 7" (sorry).  Albums can make you laugh and they can make you cry.  They may say that the format is dead due to the listening nature of young people but only yesterday a young trio from West Wales (Adwaith) released an album (Melyn) which was a perfect example of what an album should be about as it did indeed include some singles but then the band fleshed it out, experimented, surprised  their audience with different textures and musicality making Melyn a statement unto itself. Young people in bands or in bedrooms still dream of making albums and that is why the format will never die out.  




Simon's Top LP tips for a wet and windy day:
Coil: Music To Play In The Dark
Joy Division: Closer
Aphex Twin:  Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Iggy Pop: The Idiot
Kathryn Joseph: From When I Wake The Want Is
Brian Eno: The Ship
Slint: Spiderland







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Listen! - Quimper - Fearfully Upward








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Listen! - The Fog Ensemble - Lighthouse







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Friday, 12 October 2018

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Listen! - Love Song For An Island (Xqui - Back Home Mix)






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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Review - Bokante and Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley







Bokante and Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley – What Heat (Real World Records)


LP / CD / DL


Out Now




International music ensemble, Grammy-winning ensemble and English conductor team up on one album. 

This is special, this is very special indeed. A newly formed supergroup of musicians from five countries and four continents joined forces only earlier this year to create Bokante, a blues/jazz collective with distinct connections to Malian sound have created What Heat with sometime symphony orchestra and sometime jazz big band Metropole Orkest under the watchful eye of conductor, composer and musician Jules Buckley. Sounds intriguing? It is.


With opener All The Way Home comes a distinct feeling of class. Class in the way of a superbly produced album arranged by a clear expert with an ear for perfect sound. What Heat isn’t an album of ideas hastily thrown together, instead it is an often dark, often uplifting collection of cinematic quality, swathing orchestra with clear and precise voices and instrumentation.


Bokante are headed by Michael League, he of Snarky Puppy fame and joined by the likes of fellow band members Chris McQueen, Bob Lanzetti and Roosevelt Carter. Ex member of the London Symphony Keita Ogawa and former Berkeley music Professor Jamey Haddad adds percussion after stints with Paul Simon and Sting. Unusual sounds are added by Andre Ferrari (goat nails, grouse pipe and Japanese bicycle bell) and Weedie Braimah (Ghanaian djembe). Vocals are added by Guadeloupian Malika Tirolien whose powerful breathy voice adds a soft sense of control over proceedings.


The feeling of drama cannot be ignored and the sheer expanse of sound is wonderful, each note is perfectly executed, each exhale is made with seeming ease and beauty. It’s hard to decide if the orchestra adds to the band or vice versa and, in terms of listening pleasure for What Heat, it really doesn’t matter. It swings from uplifting to downbeat in the blind of an eye and is placed in positon faultlessly.


Lè An Gadé-w En Zyé (When I Look In Your Eyes) is stunning, subtle and yet expansive whilst Réparasyons (Reparations) lifts the beat to a tribal sound and a clear afro-beat influence. The jazz touches are few but are effective and bring a little bit of improvisation perhaps and, interspersed with banks of violin and accompanying orchestra, sounds massive.


A slow, mulling start to Bòd Lanmè Pa Lwen (The Beach Is Not Far) couldn’t really prepare you for the exciting, race-along track that hits home after three minutes. Crossovers of several genres backed with the incredible string section make for exhilarating listening and Maison En Feu (House On Fire) once more becomes an incredible trip in the world of the cinematic.


A word of warning with What Heat – be careful not to let it pass you by. This is stunning beyond expectation and will have you pausing for breath on many occasion. Amazing.

 



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Published on Louder Than War 03/10/18 - here.









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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Sunday, 7 October 2018