Saturday, 3 May 2008

video: Justice - Stress.


Friday, 2 May 2008

April in Albums.

The time has come to round up the five best releases of the month gone by. After the amazing set of albums that graced our ears back in March, April was sure to be a quiet month. However, judging from the list below, it's been quite the opposite. Sorry I'm a bit late on this one, but here is April in albums:

The Fall - Imperial Wax Solvent
Imperial Wax Solvent is the 27th studio album from Mark.E Smith's The Fall. I think it's only fair to say that the last couple of Fall LPs have left much to be desired. However, Imperial Wax Solvent is one of the best 21st Century Fall offerings, right up there with 2005's Fall Heads Roll. Mark.E Smiths nonsensical stories and tight musical arrangements are sounding better than ever. Check it. 

M83 - Saturdays = Youth
French musician M83 (Anthony Gonzales) superb new album Saturdays = Youth was apparently inspired by 80's teenage pop culture a-la-John Hughes movies and borrows heavily from shoegaze conventions such as heavy usage of reverb effects and wonderful softly spoken lyrics. Yet it is really refreshing stuff, the first essential summer album of the year.

Portishead - Third 
Portishead fans have been waiting for the aptly named Third for over ten years now, and more often that not, anticipations like this always result in an upset. However, not only have Portishead finally delivered, they've created one of this years most exciting, genre-defying records along the way. Check out the mechanical marvel that is Machine Gun, the first single to be lifted from the album. 

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles 
Last Gang
April too saw the long awaited UK release of Toronto-based Crystal Castles self-titled debut. The duo have never really sat comfortably in the music press created genres of 'blog-house' and 'nu-rave'. This is reflected in the albums 16 tracks, which span disco, house, trance and glitch beats. All of which is topped with textured drums and front-woman Alice Glass oddly compelling vocals, creating something rather great. 


Boris - Smile
Southern Lord
Album of the month for me comes in the form of Smile. The 14th full-length from Japanese experimental-dooms band Boris. The album has a slightly altered tracklisting to the Japanese version (released earlier this year) and is apparently the weaker of the two. However, the album is still a sensationally schizophrenic, face-melting mix of psychedelic, metal and noise rock. Highly recommended.

Friday, 25 April 2008

label profile: BPitch Control.

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Did you know, Germany has the largest electronic music scene in the world? No, me neither. However, when you take into consideration the amount of outstanding electronic labels that are based in Germany today, it does not surprise me one bit. Amidst this impressive Deutsch collective are popular labels such as Studio !K7, Mille Plateaux and Kompakt. However, my personal favourite comes in the form of BPitch. 

BPitch Control is a techno and IDM label founded in 1997 in Berlin by DJ and produce Ellen Allien. Ellen started her music career as a DJ at legendary Berlin club Tresor back in 1992, from this spawned her own Berlin radio show and record label, both under the moniker of "Braincandy".However, due to poor sales, Allien was forced to shut down all Braincandy operations in 1997 and began organizing parties under the name of BPitch instead. In 1999 she ventured back into the world of record distribution and founded BPitch Control, which was highly successful from the word go, with heralded releases from the likes of Sascha Funke and Tok Tok. The label has since launched the careers of popular production outfits such as Modeselektor and Apparat. Starting with Ellen Allien, I'm going to take you through the core members BPitch family, exploiting their lovechildren and sharing a couple of mp3s along the way. Genießen.

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Ellen Allien.
The creation of BPitch allowed Ellen to distribute her own music, which is best described as a distinctive blend of techno and dance, with noticeable experimental tendencies. She released her debut album Stadtkind (an ode to her beloved Berlin) in 2001, and has since released 3 more LPs to much critical acclaim, as well as a collaboration with fellow BPitch family member Apparat (more from that later). She is also famed for a number of alarmingly popular Mix CDs, produced for the likes of Fabric and Boogybytes, as well as BPitch's own Control Camping Compilation. Her fifth studio album Sool is due for release next month. In the meantime, here are some mp3's for yo' asses.

Next up is Berlin-based Apparat, who started out making dance-floor orientated techno, however, but over time has leaned more toward ambient and IDM music, stating "I've become more interested in designing sounds than beats". Apparat has released five solo albums, the first of which was highly praised by the late John Peel, as well as a joint album with Ellen Allien Orchestra of Bubbles. Although signed to BPitch, Apparat co-owns popular German electronic label Shitkatapult. Here are some mp3s from his much-loved 2007 album Walls as well as a couple from Orchestar of Bubbles.

Now for my favourite of the bunch - Modeselektor, who too hail from - you guessed it - Berlin. The boys - Gernot Bronset and Sebastian Szary - draw heavily from IDM, glitch, hip-hop and electro, and produce all their material with self developed software. The band have released two superb albums, as well as material in collaboration with Apparat under the moniker of "Moderat". Modeselektor are a favourite of Thom Yorke, who frequently speaks of them in the press. Yorke even provided guest vocals on the bands 2007 album Happy Birthday!. Here is some Modeselektor (and Moderat) for you to enjoy.

Well that brings us to the end of our BPitch journey, I hope you get as much pleasure reading/ listening to the mp3s as I did writing this shit. Thank you.

For more BPitch information, check their official site here.

Monday, 21 April 2008

news: Burial DJ-KiCKS.

Always a good time for a rare bit of Burial news. According to a press release from Studio !K7 earlier today, the enigmatic dubstep producer is next in line to compile a DJ-KiCKS compilation for the label. For those who are unfamiliar, DJ-KiCKS is a series of DJ-mix albums mixed by various various artists, not dissimilar to the Back to Mine or Late Night Tales series. !K7 release roughly two to three mixes a year and past contributers include Carl Craig, Hot Chip and Four Tet. I'm not usually into mixes like this, but with rumors that Burial will treat his favored dubstep, techno and r&b tracks with his own unique production style before mixing them with exclusive material, I will defo be checking this out. 

Just like his identity, the tracklisting is still top-secret, but I will keep you posted. Burials DJ-KiCKS drops June 23rd. In the meantime, enjoy Archangel taken from Burials spectacular 2007 album Untrue and his dubtastic mix of Thom Yorke's And It Rained All Night. mp3s:

Sunday, 20 April 2008

video: Dan Deacon - Okie Dokie.

Ahh, a Sunday evening treat for you all, the brand spanking new (well not quite, but who's here to argue?) video from Baltimore-based electronic-eccentric Dan Deacon. Deacon lies somewhere between Daft Punk and Daniel Johnston in my record collection, which is funny because if you put the two in a blender, add a bunch of crazy shit and speed it up, you would probably get Okie Dokie, the latest single to be taken from Deacon's Spiderman of the Rings, another one of my favourites of 2007. 

The video, directed by David Hughes, does a fantastic job of transferring the energy of Deacon's immense live performances into a kaleidoscopic jumble of trippy skulls, vintage commercial footage, TV dinners, fighting robots, rockets, rainbows of feedback and a sweaty Deacon doing his thang. It also gave me a migraine. Enjoy.

Friday, 18 April 2008

introducing: White Williams.

Joe Williams hails from Cleveland, Ohio. He started playing music with local noise bands at the age of 15, some of whom got to open shows for the likes of Black Dice and The Rapture. Williams later gravitated to a more electronic pop sound, which resulted in his solo act - White Williams. William's debut album Smoke was released stateside to much acclaim last November on Tigerbeat6 and is set for a UK release next week on Domino imprint Double Six Records. The album, one of my favourites of 07 (I imported it because I care folks, and we have the same initials) is a coulourful collection of nostalgic and unapologetic pop songs. Mucho recommended, even if it does include a cover of The Strangeloves 1965 hit I Want Candy, which has been covered previously by the likes of Bow Wow Wow and er, Melanie C to name but a few. Album highlight and new single New Violence has been getting a lil' bit of Radio One airplay recently, which is always nice to see. Check it out below and be be sure to pick up the album on Monday. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

video(s): Yeasayer on Later.

Bit late on this one, but did anyone else see Yeasayer on Later With Jools Holland last week? The band performed two tracks - 2080 and Sunrise - from their debut album All Hour Cymbals, one of my favourite releases of last year, and they were remarkable. I had no idea they were so tight live. You could basically see the jealousy on the other acts faces as they watched the band play. And for those of you who caught the whole show, you too would've seen The Kooks announce Yeasayer as 'their new favourite band'. Lucky Yeasayer. Check it out below, and if you haven't already, go and buy All Hour Cymbals.

You can catch Yeasayer live at London's ULU on May 12th. Tickets priced £10. For more information click here.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


To my three/four dear fans, my upmost apologies for my three-day absence of posting, I've been rather busy of late (Mario Kart Wii - wahooo), but to make up for it, here is a longish post consisting of several things I have been feelin' recently and a couple of mp3s to accompany. Enjoy.

First up is Dirty Projectors (artist name of Brooklyn-based musician Dave Longstreth). It was announced sometime last week that Dirty Projectors would be replacing Liars for the support slot of the ATP-curated Battles date in May. Whilst I'm still in mourning of Liars having pulled out, boy I am I excited about seeing Dirty Projectors. For some reason unknown to me, I ignored DP's superb 2007 offering Rise Above, an album consisting of covers of tracks taken from Black Flag's seminal 1981 album Damaged as reimagined from memory. Longstreth replaces Black Flag's hardcore punk sound with a mix of classical orchestration, samples and skewed rhythms, creating something rather special in the process.   

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Next up is another act who too for reasons beyond my control passed me by in 2007. The delightfully-named Psychedelic Horseshit are a three-piece from Columbus, Ohio, who make music they themselves describe as 'shitgaze'. Their raw, jumbled fusion of fuzzy guitars, synth organs and brittled drums make them sound like Times New Viking's rougher little brother. Their first full-length Magic Flowers Droned came out on Slitbreeze Records at the end of the last year, it's really fucking good. Here is an mp3 for you to enjoy, my pick of the post.

My third pick is Graveyard Girl, the second single to be taken from French electronic musician M83 (real name Anthony Gonzales) new record Saturdays = Youth, which is out now on Mute. You may know M83 for his remix work, which includes tracks for Bloc Party and Goldfrapp to name but a few, however, it is his shoegaze (not to be confused with our new favourite genre shitgaze peeps) inspired solo work that stands out for me the most. Saturdays = Youth has a different kind of heft to his previous records, yet it still rich in M83 conventions such as heavy usage of reverb effects and softly spoken vocals. Check it out.

I won't pretend to you that I know loads of shit about African music, because I don't. However, I do know that the new album from Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté is great stuff. Toumani comes from a long family tradition of kora players and has been playing music for over 20 years now. Just like Konono N°1, he collaborated with Björk on her 2007 album Volta and is currently the opening act on her tour of the UK. The Mande Variations is Toumani's second solo offering, as well as his first since 1988. The album is just the man and his unadorned kora, recorded with maximum clarity as he pays tribute to his roots and peers. Defo recommended.

My last offering to you is the latest single to be taken from Why?'s highly-recommended third album Alopecia, which I first wrote about as one of my favourite albums released back in March. I seriously cannot get enough of Song Of The Sad Assassin, the line "Billy the kid did what he did and he died" is fantastic in its own right and the video for the single is directed by animator Mike L. Mayfield, known for his work on American Dad and Family Guy. What more could you possibly want? 

Friday, 11 April 2008

preview: No Age - Nouns.

I've been wanting to write about L.A experimental art-punk duo No Age for quite some time now. The band - guitarist Randy Randall and singing drummer Dean Spunt - formed in late 2005 from the ashes of hardcore punk band Wives and played their first proper show at downtown LA art-hole The Smell in April 2006. However, it wasn't until the release of Weirdo Rippers (a collection of five EPs released on five different labels early in the bands career) in 2007 that the band entered our lives. Weirdo Rippers was released on FatCat to much critical acclaim (it ranked 12th on Pitchfork's Top 50 albums of 2007 and 8th on Drowned in Sound's) and resulted in the band being whisked into the loving arms of Seattle's SubPop Records. 

Nouns, the bands 'proper' debut, consists of 12 new tracks and is set for release on SubPop on May 5th. The first single to be taken from the album is Eraser. The track opens with a chiming acoustic guitar, a bright tambourine and an undercurrent of fuzz, before turning into a textbook example of the bands noise-pop aesthetic. It may well be the bands most accessible song yet, definitely a good sign for what the album will have to offer. Check it for yo'self. 

You can catch No Age live alongside Ex-Models on May 21 at London's Highbury Garage.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

video: These New Puritans - Swords of Truth.

Swords of Truth is the latest single to be taken from Southend droogs These New Puritans debut album Beat Pyramid. The video (which appeared online sometime last week but was curiously taken down until today) sees lead singer Jack Barnett looking slightly awkward whilst singing to the camera as well as a lot of geometrical effects. Excellent. Sample-heavy, Swords of Truth is arguably the strongest track from Beat Pyramid. One Jamie Reynolds (of Klaxons) described the track as the "greatest black song ever made by white guys" - interesting stuff. Supposedly the tracks name was inspired by Liquid Swords-era GZA, which is certainly plausible as the band are self-confessed Wu-Tang fans. The track was also my ringtone for quite sometime for all you readers who are interested in my private life and whatnot... Enjoy the video.

Beat Pyramid is out now on Domino.