Saturday 30 July 2011


I found this Barcelona-based producer thanks to a recent remix (or 'vocal refix' as he calls it) he did of the wonderful Teengirl Fantasy's underheard 2010 anthem 'Cheaters'. It's great - completely chilled with deepened vocals, giving the already-classic song a completely different vibe.

This song below, 'Leave Me (friendly pattern version)' is a solo effort by John Talabot and certainly not his first. It's a masterclass in giving a song time to build up by letting it breathe and lift organically, rather than forcing dynamic with sudden syncopated changes in volume or tempo.

Though repetitive (and what dance music isn't?) this chilled house is extremely easy on the ears, a sampled "Don't leave me..." gradually finding its way through the chords to become the main focus of the song around two thirds of the way through, when Talabot really goes to town, messing with the sample till the close of the track. Nearly perfect, you'll be melting in the sun to this track.

And if you like that, and if you like house music, you'll love his 'Summerized mix'. Released a year ago to his SoundCloud page, it's an hour-long festival of sun-dreched poolside cocktail-soaked chatter-driven party-forged obscure disco house tunes, mixed together with more than a small dose of knowledge in how to create and sustain an atmosphere. I'm listening to it in the garden right now - this mix chills to the max.

So now you'll know exactly what to play when the starts setting at your next Saturday barbecue; summer is definitely, and finally, here.

'Leave Me' is soon being physically introduced to the world via German label Permanent Vacation's latest compilation, beautifully named If This Is House I Want My Money Back Zwei. Due for release on 26th August, and if John Talabot's input is anything to go by, it's going to be a delightful experience. Have a listen to a quick teaser mix of the album - the quick and dirty Megamixx.

• Have a listen to more of John Talbot's music on his Myspace page
Check out his amazing tracks and mixes on SoundCloud
• Check out his or even Like his Facebook page
Permanent Vacation's official site
• And here's their Facebook page

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Discovered whilst nursing a headache in bed, this is the sound of a Swiss guy who according to the blurb on his SoundCloud is an "ex member of a bunch of punk hardcore bands but
too tired to play the guitar" - so he's now a DJ/producer. And he makes music like the track below, 'Lightless'.

This is hardcore electro - not surprising given his background in hardcore punk bands - and it's good, too. The cut-up nature of the synth lends itself to a very French kind of electro (he's Swiss, but...) similar to Justice at its heaviest, and someone like Mr Oizo in his more stable moments. Mess Me manages to capture a rough-housing hard electro sound, chainsaw synths grinding and exploding all the way through - though the drums are a little weak and could do with packing much more a punch behind the wall of bending elastic fuzzed melody. Not a song for a hangover, but I can see its potential - a sweaty Paris nightclub or something.

And if we're lucky, we might just get to hear more of his stuff in a more official way:

• For more electro goodness, listen to Mess Me on SoundCloud
• And check out his Facebook page

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Friday 29 July 2011


It's about time I shared some Teengirl Fantasy (great name right?) songs here. Though these are probably about two years old, I've still been blasting these out every so often because it's simply so good. But who are Teengirl Fantasy? Made up of Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, it's a little like a musical revolution - so different to anything that I've heard in a while. Predominantly, these songs are a mix of dance, techno, trance and EBM, super chilled and more catchy than a cold circulating through an airplane.

Watch out for this psychedelic video for the glorious 'Cheaters':

Having that trippy visual within the video actually really helps to focus on the song itself - unless you're listening to it in the background, in which case that's a terrible shame! No, I'm only joking. But on this heavy grey morning, what else could you ask for but the blessed vibes and chilled modulatory waves of this anthemic dreampop number cuddled by its pulsing beat?

And great advice too in this brilliant song too - "Cheaters never win, winners never lose, that's why I'm sittin' here crying the blues." Too right.

A wonderful mix of emotion and complete carefree dancefloor-dreaming disregard for anything exterior (or interior) pervades the atmosphere of these two tunes, floating in the air like a tipsy neon cloud of absolute pop-heaven and raining down heart-shaped parcels of ethereal electronica.

With that in mind, I think we can safely say that this slightly melancholy-sprinkled next song, 'Dancing In Slow Motion', is the complete harmonious manifestation of what I just said above.

Featuring soulful heart-wringing vocals from the powerhouse Shannon Fuchess (part of !!!), this song is a triumph in sound. Simply put, this song is perfect - slow in speed but huge nonetheless, its sense of 80s nostalgia by way of the chimes and the pre-drop toms, the voice - everything is great. I hope you have enjoyed listening to this should-be-known musical outfit.

Both songs come from Teengirl Fantasy's 7AM, released mid-late last year.

• Listen to more Teengirl Fantasy on their Myspace
• Have a laugh at their crazy old homepage (no longer updated)
• Check out their Facebook page
• And follow Teengirl Fantasy on Twitter while you're at it

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Tuesday 26 July 2011


Spooky, eerie, strange, controversial, stupid, bad, not up to scratch, brilliant, wonderful, different, wreathed in mystique, fantastic - these are just a few of the words that the 200,000+ minds who have listened to M.I.A.'s new tribute track '27' might have thought of it. What do you think of it?

It is indeed a spooky sound, a thin beat applied like an exotic lotion throughout and speckled with crackles and fizzes that sound so ephemeral that MIA might have made this in some alternate dimension. The lyrics to this song are darkly honest, and pertain mainly to the whole 27 club thing, charting her friendship before a friend killed themselves at the age of 27 (whether this is analogous to an actual real event, I'm unsure). The stand-out line, for me, is the bleakly mundane, "I bought you coffee and a muffin, and you quoted me some Lenin", followed by the stark and pretty horrible closer: "When I left, you befriended a rope, and I saw you both were hanging."

Obviously this is a tribute to Amy Winehouse - whether or not it's actually about her, her death clearly sparked the making of this song. But how did she do it so quickly? Well, it's actually an unfinished demo that the superstar music-maker had made previously, and she said it was a dedication to "all my friends who died at 27", announcing this with a tweet that read: "I recorded this song B4 vickileekx and never put it out. It's a unfinished demo. R.I.P Amy".

Typically, The Daily Mail has reported this with some amount of contention - "However, it has been seen as not only being too soon after the singer's death, but in very bad taste as well." This is due to the subject matter, purportedly being too much about the tough times that people go through with addiction, plus romanticising the whole 27 thing. But what can be seen as harrowing can also be seen as the truth, and what can be seen as romanticising can equally be seen as a folly of youth.

Either way, in all fairness, it's a song and it was done as a tribute. It's controversial, but if people see it as negative, be that on their own thick, closed-minded heads. And it's a decent track too. Shut up.

• Check MIA's one-track SoundCloud - I'm sure there'll be more stuff up soon
• Here's her official site
• Follow MIA on Twitter

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Sunday 24 July 2011


Hold on to your hats this Tuesday 26th July because YACHT are playing Hoxton Bar and Grill at 8PM in association with Eat Your Own Ears. Yes indeed.

Now, YACHT are a strange one. Established since 2002, it all started off as the solo project of Jona Brechtolt - a young musician who since his high school days has been focused only on making music. Later, in 2008, YACHT welcomed in long-time collaborator Claire L. Evans and since then more band-members have joined the fray - most recently including Rob Kieswetter (aka Bobby Birdman), Jeffrey Brodsky and Katy Davidson as mainly touring members of the band.

Now, according to their official site, YACHT seem to be (much like Pictureplane) much more than just music, evolving to encompass some kind of philosophy in carving the way forward for progress in their music. Or so that's what I understand from it.
YACHT will continue to travel, speak, sing, give ontological birth, and seek to know the importance or insignificance of existence. YACHT and the YACHT Trust will strive to build a larger and larger community. The path will be long and strange.
(excerpt from 'What is YACHT?')
But aside from all of this philosophising, YACHT are essentially a two-piece, Brechtolt and Evans hailing from Oregon and Texas respectively, who create upbeat electronic music with a light smattering of grunge in occasional studio drums and guitar riffs. With their musical output being rather too prolific to begin to go through all sorts of different tracks, here are two - the first being 'Summer Song', for which the odd-humoured video is below.

As you can hear it fits pretty snugly in the ranks of indie/electro/dance that nearly personified the general sound of 2007-8. With its completely disco-entrenched beat and bassline, 'Summer Song' reeks of dancefloors and summer evening barbecues - it's soft with a sharp edge, combining noisy high pitch synths with who-cares group vocals to create one achingly non-sedentary piece of music. There might be a little owing in this one to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture.

The second track is much newer, coming from Shangri-La released earlier this year; here is 'Dystopia':

Encompassing the same pop sensibilities as 'Summer Song' with its catchy refrain and razor-edged hi-hat disco beat, 'Dystopia' is a carefree announcement of Earth's demise. The sounds in this song are tinged with an upped production value, bound to come with years of practice and notoriety, yet the charm is still there: the happiness, the life within the music, and the overall earworming nature of it all.

So if you liked these two, that's probably a good enough criterion to get yourself down to Hoxton Bar and Grill this Tuesday 26th July, where YACHT will be gracing London with their presence alongside some special guests.

Tickets are £8.50.
Doors open at 8PM.

• Check out YACHT's beautiful-looking but ultimately weird official site
• Have a listen to some tracks on their Myspace (no longer in use, but still...)
• Or have a look at YACHT on SoundCloud
• And follow YACHT on Twitter

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I heard this last night - Jaguar Skills' latest mix for Radio 1Xtra, celebrating their visit to sunny Majorca recently. Here in the UK we've lacked the sun for such a summery-sounding mix of music, but luckily the sun is out today and this has been blasting intermittently inside and outside my house.

The mysterious DJ has been making mixes for Radio 1 and 1Xtra a while now, having a weekly slot on the Trevor Nelson Show with his 10 minute mixes. Though the comprehensive cast of artists and their songs featured in this pool party mix is impressive, it seems a little predictable at times - especially with Will Smith's large share and the crowdpleasing 'Jump' in all its various formats. But overall this is perfect for the atmosphere in sun-baked Majorca - Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. with 'Bang Bang Bang' is a surprise and very welcome appearance, as is the luscious 'Coma Cat' by producer Tensnake and of course Dizzee Rascal's 'Fix Up Look Sharp'.

Look out also for the very oddly placed "Santa baby..." - it works!

Music featured
Matti Roots — Jag Skills to Pay The Bills
Isley Brother — Summer Madness
Roy Ayers — Everybody Loves The Sunshine
DJ Pied Piper — Do You Really Like It
SebastiAn — Embody (DJ Premo Remix)
Wiley — Summertime
Brandy — Talk About Our Love
Cassie — Me & U
The Game — Ain't No Doubt About It feat. Justin Timberlake
R. Kelly — Ignition (Remix)
112 — Only You (Bad Boy Remix)
Jamie Foxx — Extravaganza
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince — Fresh Prince Of Bell Air
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince — Girl's Ain't Nuttin But Trouble
Cheryl Lynn — Got To Be Real
Sister Sledge — He's The Greatest Dancer
Will Smith — Gettin' Jiggy With It
Patrice Rushen — Forget Me Nots
Will Smith — Miami
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince — Summertime
Tina Moore — Never Gonna Let You Go
Tensnake — Coma Cat
Stardust — Music Sounds Better With You
Kings of Tomorrow — Finally
Katy B — Broken Record
DJ NG — Tell Me What It Is feat. Katy B
Nightcrawlers — Push The Feeling On
Fish Go Deep — Cure And The Cause
Nightcrawlers — Push The Feeling On (Adam B Remix)
Innercity — Goodlife
Katy B — Goodlife
Eric Prydz — Pjanoo
Blaze — Precious Love
Mark Ronson — Bang Bang Bang
Daniel Bedingfield — Gotta Get Thru This
De La Soul — It Ain't All Good feat. Chaka Khan
Funky Dee — Are You Gonna Bang
Yellowman — Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt
Damian Marley — Welcome To Jamrock
Buju Banton — Ring The Alarm
Reggie Stepper — Drum Pan Sound
Pinchers — Bandelero
Wayne Smith — Golden Hen
Barrington Levy — Here I Come
Yellowman — Zunguzeng
Mr Vagus — Hands Inna Da Air
Beenie Man — Who Am I?
Shabba Ranks — Ting A Ling A Ling
Shabba Ranks — Wicked In The Bed
Snoop Dogg — Ain't No Fun
Pharoahe Monch — Simon Says
A Tribe Called Quest — Scenario
DMX — Party Up In Here
Dizzee Rascal — Fix Up Look Sharp
KRS-One — Sound Of Police
House of Pain — Jump Around
Kris Kross — Jump
The Pointer Sisters — Jump
Harry Belafonte — Jump In The Middle
Magnetic Man — I Need Air
Rusko — Everyday (Netsky Remix)
Kanye West — Power
Jay Electronica — Exsibit C
Drake — Forever
Sub Focus — Let The Story Begin
Diddy — I'm Coming Home
Roy Davis Jr. — Gabriel
Rihanna — Only Girl
The KMDS — Never Stop Believing
Jaguar Skills — Outro

• Check Jaguar Skills' official site and blog
• Listen to more music on his Myspace page
• Or Jaguar Skills on SoundCloud
• And why not follow him on Twitter?

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Saturday 23 July 2011


Search 'Amy Winehouse' on Google images and instantly you will see the rocky late-night drug-infused path that has lead precariously to this sad day. Out of the 8 million-plus results, there are only a few good pictures - you know, like this one to the right, and other pictures of her looking resplendent as indeed she was. However, she was a troubled soul - though a talented singer unrivalled by many others in her generation, her scuffles with drugs and one bad romance in particular became larger problems in her life.

Often spotted making drunken appearances around London (there are many instances you could list - for example, heckling Bono during his acceptance speech at the Q Music Awards 2006 with a drunken "Shut up! No one gives a fuck!") it all came to a head most recently at a performance - or lack of one - in Belgrade; too drunk, she threw her microphone, stumbled on and off stage mumbling her words. Ultimately this resulted in her cancelling the remainder of the tour.

Sadly, today has seen the death of an amazing singer who had potential to continue creating songs that resonated strongly in everyone's hearts. At age 27, she joins a host of musical talent who died at that age - Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrisson and Janis Joplin being just three. It's a sad fact of life that often with creative talent, or let's say genius, it comes accompanied with a large appetite for yielding easily to psychological problems - often in the form of drink and drugs. That in mind, here is my favourite Amy Winehouse song for your listening pleasure: the wonderfully black-humoured drug-referencing relaxed motown-styled and upbeat 'Addicted'. RIP Amy Winehouse, 1983 - 2011.

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This is the video for Kap Bambino's new single 'Obsess', taken in advance of their latest album Obsess which is chalked for release of October this year. There's a while yet.

Directed by Carl Burgess, this is a little showcase of some actors showing a wide range of emotions - perhaps in reaction to the song or perhaps not - I found out from Creative Review. But direction aside, the song is a loud electro-fest founded on a sweeping modulation of scratchy synth whilst ADHD hollow keyboard arpeggiates above during the chorus. It's a galloping number, something that stands out against a lot of music at the moment that is reverting backwards to 80s, even 60s nostalgia - Kap Bambino stick to their guns and electrify the air, producer Orion Bouvier providing the slightly askew mechanical metallic sound and Caroline Martial yelling with such engaging power that it's impossible not to listen.

Here it is:

Are you still sitting down? I'm not.

• Listen to more Kap Bambino on their Myspace
Check out their official site
• And follow them on Twitter

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Thursday 21 July 2011


This is new video for Chris Ward's superchilled dance/lounge project, Tropics. I touched on these guys whilst I was at Glastonbury (the glory of scheduled posts) and will be posting up some live recordings of their set.

For the moment, let's focus on the video for new song 'Mouves' (released this Monday 18th July) - premiered on The Fader, it was directed by Japanese director Yasuyuki Kubota and features two men running through the streets and forests of Japan, eventually into the sea. Seemingly innocent enough, especially when put to Tropics' wonderful sounds, the enigmatic Kubota insists it's something more:

There you have it. Though these messages must be buried pretty deep within the video itself, it's still a really nice concept - the flowing nature of Chris Ward's Fourtet-like liquid synths and softly galloping drums suits these running men perfectly as they ignore the hustle and bustle of their country, and even the country itself, getting lost in the pure escapism of their travels.

• Listen to Tropics on SoundCloud
Follow Tropics on Twitter
• And find out more about Yasuyuki Kubota

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Wednesday 20 July 2011


Afrikan Boy, who got his first big break featuring on the MIA song 'Hussel', has received another leg-up into the mainstream with his next guest spot on new DJ Shadow song, 'I'm Excited'. Released digitally 31st July, the single comes ahead of the producer's newest album The Less You Know, the Better, set for release on 2nd September.

But far from being handed opportunities by artists bigger and more well known than him, the other side of the story perhaps isn't addressed. Could it be the case that DJ Shadow is just using Afrikan Boy (real name Olushola Ajose) to his advantage? Either way, the star of the track is clear - with his vocal stylings, the Woolwich-based Nigerian lends to the track his distinctive grime dish (themes of immigration resurfacing in lyrics like "I am an alien living in the ghetto"), served with Afrobeat flavours and urban swagger.

'I'm Excited'

Though I'm being unfair to DJ Shadow. He's definitely made an impact with this song. The variety of sounds within just the bare bones of the beat is a jumble of metals, beefed-up bongos, and woodblocks that cascade around Afrikan Boy's flow like sparks around a fire. The song is so strong in fact that it can rely wholly on its insane drum beat alone to get us from 0 to 2:50 without realising it's happened. More Afrobeat than grime, more dancehall than dance, 'I'm Excited' is a mix of styles that feels more dirty DIY than it probably is.

More than anything else, however, DJ Shadow - though pulling punches throughout the song - has managed to not divert attention away from Afrikan Boy whatsoever, it being a perfect collaboration and not just a 'feat' appearance from the 22-year-old rapper. With this in mind, could we ever expect a DJ Shadow-produced Afrikan Boy album? Probably not, but at least we have a little taster, a little answer to the 'what-if'. Who's next then?

DJ Shadow on Myspace
Afrikan Boy on Myspace!
• Here's the Afrikan Boy official site
• And you should probably follow him on Twitter

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Tuesday 19 July 2011


This is the new, eye-wateringly glitchy video from grime D Double E for his new song 'Bluku! Bluku!' featuring the now-veteran Dizzee Rascal, putting the punch back into the lulling genre.

Like dubstep bathed in fuzzy synth under the light of eternal swagger, the song is bursting at the seams with high-octane pulled-punch bars from D Double E, a dark, nearly violent undertone running through with aggressive, late-night, wet-tarmac sentiment - and with the repeated war cry of "Bluku! Bluku!" this song is big, bad, and it means business.

It's been a long time since Dizzee's dazzling debut, Boy In Da Corner, yet we're still reeling from it. Arguably one of the best pieces of raw grime made in the last 10 years, it's still a cornerstone of comparison for his later work, and his feature spot on D Double E's latest, unusual effort is no exception. He spits as if he's fresh from his first effort, and it's wonderful to hear his voice in a more raw environment than his latest releases have offered.

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This is another video directed by MENZ - the same duo who did the magic for Pictureplane last week. Featuring a fruit-fighting martial artist, the new video for kooky art rock fourpiece Ponytail captures the colour, power and technical ability of the band in this latest song 'Honey Touches'.

Coming from their April 2011 album, Do Whatever You Want All The Time, the song mixes experimental math rock guitars, frenetic ska-like drums, and vocals from Molly Siegel that are uniquely free - seemingly unconstrained by conventional rhythm or even style. This comes all together into a melting pot that comes out strangely sounding like shizoid pop - this being the original direction of the band, and the resultant sound: the BBC described their sound as "wonderful, crazy, whipped-up."

Having toured internationally with the likes of Battles and Don Caballero, and been chosen by Matt Groening to perform at 2010's All Tomorrow's Parties, this American fourtet are definitely ones to watch if you're not already watching them. Listening to them, even.

• Have a listen to Ponytail on Myspace
• Check their strange blog
• And follow them on Twitter if you like

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Monday 18 July 2011


Round about two years after their first, and arguably best, song hit the world, The Drums are back and they sound to be on absolutely top form. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the disgustingly catchy new single 'Money'.

Beginning with a deep-voiced vocal that I was finding difficult to place - sounding strangely grown-up - the New Yorkers' new song winds into a rhythmic guitar riff that hooks you in alongside makeshift-sounding drums. There's more than a little owing to The Smiths here, from the complicated fretboard-hopping bassline to the Morrissey-aping vocals (listen out for the little grunt before the first chorus and he's got it spot on).

It's a touching little tale - and a classic one at that; the kind of 'I'd buy you something if I had money but hey it's the thought that counts' attitude. But it's that jaw-achingly addictive chorus you've got to watch out for: "I want to buy you something / But I don't have any money / No I don't have any money." You'll be singing this all day.

It sounds much more English indie than 'Let's Go Surfing', which pertained a little more to surf rock Americana lo-fi than anything else - so is 'Money' telling of what's to come? The new album, Portamento, is out 12th September, so there's a little while to wait yet. Until then, you have this catchy little number and after such a long time, what else could you wish for from The Drums?

• Check The Drums on Myspace
• Also their official site
• And follow The Drums on Twitter

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Mid-June saw a new release from rootsy reggae lord Lutan Fyah, the wonderfully bitesized Pon Mi Head EP. He's been around for a while, active musically from 1999 onwards with 9 albums under his belt. Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and a follower of the Rastafarian Bobo Shanti movement, his music embraces the dub side of reggae, and has worked not only on his own music but also on covering songs by the likes Dr. Dre and The Fugees. A bio describes his journey: "After years of toil in the dancehall where he built an underground following, the diminutive vocalist is on the brink of a major breakthrough."

Indeed, there's somewhat of a resurgence in dub reggae at the moment - the obvious reason being the huge popularity of now globally recognised and much loved dubstep genre. That half-time drum and bass rhythm has become the metronome by which a lot of pop music lives and breathes by, utilised by a host of people from Britney Spears to the Sugababes, and done to death in all sorts of remixes (the most notable still being Skream's remix of La Roux's 'In For The Kill').

So you can understand that Lutan Fyah's services are rendered quite useful given the current climate - that breakthrough coming ever closer. He features on Rusko's 2009 Babylon: Volume 2 with energy-laden dubstep reggae ska choon 'Sound Guy Is My Target'. You can listen to that below if you're not au fait with it (amazing little breakdown just after 3:10 btw).

'Sound Guy Is My Target'

As you can hear, Lutan Fyah (real name Anthony Martin) puts his all into the vocals, mixing smooth talk-singing with scratchy impassioned yells. But what does he sound like minus the glossy production afforded and endorsed by Rusko? Like the below. This is Lutan Fyah's new single, 'Pon Mi Head' - referencing the dreadlocks and headscarves (or turbans) worn by Bobo Shanti Rastafarians, a constant theme and refrain throughout the song that adds not only authenticity but heart to its dub flavour.

'Pon Mi Head'

Brimming with classic roots reggae elements, lyrically this song encompasses beliefs of the Rastafari Bobo Shanti, namely wearing long hair in dreadlocks - "yes me grew de locks pon mi head, de wool pon mi head" - and wrapped in a headscarf/turban: "Yes man a real Bobo Shanti be no Taliban, come check my turban" - contemporary comment on perhaps mistaken identity. The groove of the drums locks with the laidback bass rhythm, presided over by the offbeat guitar rhythm, dub horns and delay chord every so often - a reggae set-up if ever there was one.

The descent into sparse synth at the end of the song, combined with Lutan's faraaway vocals, sound somehow alone - as if maybe the subject matter of the song is something that is understandably esoteric and unknown by the rest of the world. Filled with references of who he is, where he comes from, and what he believes in, this feels like quite a personal song and one lit with the 'fyah' of his voice.

The Pon Mi Head EP is then graced with a wordless instrumental version of the single, 'Pon Mi Dub' - lacks Lutan's vocal passion, but the fluid rhythms remain. This comes before the third and final song of the EP - a dubstep remix of the song by Illoom (aka James Loomis). Here it is for your aural entertainment:

It's a minimalistic dubstep rendition, founded on a solid beat complete with slap-in-the-face snare and stompy bass, making use of space instead of filling it all up with typical dubstep wobble - intelligently respecting the quiet between sounds. Cutting up the dub horns, he throws them in with lashings of delay, adding to the mix a low-attack buzz-saw synth that creeps subtly into your ears. It's a simple remix, respecting the original but adding just enough difference to ensure it sounds fresh and personalised by Illoom.

If you like reggae, this EP is something for you, definitely. And, if so, why not raid Lutan Fyah's prolific previous discography?

• Visit Lutan Fyah on Myspace
• This was released by King Dubbist Records (Facebook page)
• Check out Illoom on SoundCloud

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Sunday 17 July 2011


Cults, who released their debut self-titled album like a month ago (featured here if you fancy reading what I thought), have released a new video for standout, commercial-friendly, ear-warming and ear-worming single 'Go Outside'. Directed by Isiah Seret, a few days ago it premiered on Boing Boing. See below.

It features footage from Jonestown - the scene of the Jonestown Massacre; a mass suicide/mass murder at a commune in Guyana set up by pseudo-Christian Communist cult Peoples Temple, led by the enigmatic Reverend Jim Jones. The sentiment of the video accompanies that of the song; with the happiness portrayed by members of the People's Temple and their actual contention with being unable to leave and their ultimate untimely end, set to the music of 'Go Outisde' - a song whose lyrics struggle with each other "I really want to go outside and make it light all day... You really want to stay inside and not care where you lay".

Perhaps a comment on how things seem and what they actually are like? Whether you read into it or not, it's a great song, perfect for summer - if indeed the sun ever comes out again.

• Here's the Cults official site
• Listen to Cults on Myspace
• Or just as well on their SoundCloud
• Check their Bandcamp
• And of course, you can follow Cults on Twitter

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Though with a distinct risk of being a little Pictureplane-heavy today, I present to you my thoughts on his new album, Thee Physical. The interesting thing about beginning to piece together my opinion on this album is that Travis Egedy - the face, body and brains behind the music - has written a "concept manifesto" to accompany the album.

But then again - not everybody is going to have access to this piece of writing before during or after listening to the album, so I could just as well disregard it. But it's just too intriguing. Inclusions like "New forms of techno fetish in a world with no true physical limits. Anti-physics as new cultural paradigm" and "Stone, crystal and jewel. Bone marrow, blood, and earth. Thee vibration of the physicality of the planetary being" give an insight into the mind of the creator of this equally ethereal esoteric musical creation. Is Thee Physical something more than music, or are the music and person that created it separate - something that passes into the hands and minds of the people when it is publicly released? Bit heavy. Sorry. Let's get on with it.

(Below is a stream of the album for your listening pleasure.)

Overall Thee Physical is a tour de force of distorted synth, powerfully assertive beats, well-placed samples and emanating positive frenetic energy. It's this last thing that you notice the most - the amount of care and attention taken to make sure each track makes the most impact; a good example of the energy of Pictureplane's work is in the gloriously, understatedly infectious and beautiful single 'Post Physical' (check out the video here) and penultimate 'Breath Work'. With its totally trancey synth and anonymous syllabically drawn-out sampled vocal, all with a hefty dose of repetition, the track sounds a little like a Faithless number. This one's a box clearly marked 'dancefloor tunes' - everything from the pumping anticipatory drumroll that lifts the last quarter of the song to the dark trance atmosphere gives it this label. Though all songs include an element of dance (mainly the heart-pleasing eardrum-vibrating drumtracks - for example the brutal beat of noisy closer, 'Thee Power Hand'), another that swells with get-up-and-move energy is 'Real is a Feeling'.

Heavily modulated synth starts the song off, becoming its thick bassy backbone. The hip-hop beat invites you to sway as a suspended high-pitched synth reminiscent of Crystal Castles waves in the noise. The punchy drumtrack seems to have given Travis more swagger in his electro virtuosity - arguably at its best here with sawwaves. A lovesong for thinkers, the sentiment is echoed in the entire album, catering to connective theories on existence and conceptual ideas about the nature of reality. Similar conceptual thought is at work on neighbouring 'Trancegender' - two instances of Zola Jesus lending her unmatched vocal talent (and singing to the melody of 'Just Be Good To Me') make this a standout track. This is even before considering the gravelly bass, the subtle emulation of The Cure's 'Close To Me' melody in a hollow synth, and the fidgety futuristic fanfare that comes in at 2:13 and rocks your world for about 30 seconds. Lyrically, the repeated "If you could be my boy, and I could be your girl: genderless, and we could be trans" suggests that Travis is very hot on the idea of oneness, not only on like a spiritual level, but also sexual.

Travis mentions it himself in his manifesto: "Thee obsolete gender. Sex. A fact. A feeling. Thee new sex/sexuality." This sexuality is not only suggested, but explicitly implied by some of his song titles, like the short and sweet 'Negative Slave' dripping with muffled electronica, fast-fingered synth and a genius use of a yelping cut-up sample in the chorus; 'Sex Mechanism' with the anonymous female lyric "satisfy me, don't deny me, baby come on show me" and glitchy chiptune stylings definitely mix a fleshy sound with something utterly mechanic; and the instantly dark repetition of 'Techno Fetish'. But it's not all sex and darkness.

Pictureplane seems to act as a pivot between the endless sea of pop and the desolate mountains of no wave noise outsiderism (a picture plane is actually the imaginary space between a viewer and a piece of art). This is most evident in his use of ear-friendly samples - emphatically placed at the very start of this new album is a sample of Fatboy Slim's 'Renegade Master', "Back once again with the renegade master", helping 'Body Mod' add to its own projective drum and bass dynamism before diving headlong into the clunky arcade game trance of club disco 'Black Nails'; again in 'Touching Transform' there is comfort in the classic 90s piano of dance song 'I Love You Baby' (by The Original). This familiarity might help people to get on board with the ideas of Travis - he writes "Understanding/remembering" in his manifesto, leaving me guessing that his quite upbeat and positive attitude that he wants to share with the whole world, the universality of "The human body/humanity understanding new forms of communication."

And so it is that you're brought crashing back to reality after a trip in the Pictureplane through spaces of energy, atmospheres of electronic distortion, rhythms dipped in molten happiness, ever sharing its warmth. It's great stuff, honestly, and so accessible that it's a little difficult to understand why the whole world over isn't listening to this album.

Thee Physical is released 19th July.

• This is the Pictureplane blog. Follow for first-look exclusive news
• Here's the SoundCloud for more tunes
• Here's the Myspace
• And while you're on the internet, why not follow Pictureplane on Twitter?

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Saturday 16 July 2011


On Stereoboard yesterday the video for Pictureplane's single 'Post Physical was premiered. Here it is here - here, take a look:

Directed by MENZ - a joint effort between Mike Giambra & Bill Benz (thank you Anonymous saviour) - Pictureplane's new video is an imaginative effort, perfectly matching the mix of unconventional/conventional in the music with grainy footage of Travis on some theme park rides, flecked with colour and tinged with a certain element of darkness - mainly in the gimp-suited guy and the leopard-print-wearing girl. But that's Pictureplane: dark positivity, polished lo-fi, and mainstream esotericism.

I've already talked about the song, so I won't bore you again.

• Check out MENZ at

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Friday 15 July 2011


Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene) is a fantastic new star in the world of chillwave, lo-fi, bedroom-producing artists who are storming music blogs the world over. In a wonderful culture of give-and-receive, Washed Out has remixed and been remixed a number of times, and the music that comes of it is nothing short of astoundingly beautiful, stark and dreamy.

Greene's own stuff is phenomenal. Taking influence from hip-hop, he creates a strong eye-watering beat and layers delayed and reverbed synths and samples to build for his listeners a world awash with music that takes you away in currents of soaring modulation; 'Eyes Be Closed' - the single from his fresher than fresh new album Within And Without (released 12th July) - is no exception to this unspoken rule.

'Eyes Be Closed'

Beginning with a super slowed Balearic-style synth that reeks of Cafe Mambo at sunset hour, an offbeat hip-hop drumtrack comes in to give it some seriously beefy foundations. It sounds a little like a lo-fi Mylo - it has that same summery hypnosis-induced lying-on-grass-watching-clouds-in-a-trance kind of feel to it. Following a repetitive synth breakdown at about 2:50, the main refrain of the song blasts over again until the end, featuring crash cymbals that sound like I'd imagine they'd sound having been caught on film in super slowmotion. It's a track that's not very hard to fall in love with, addictive as it is in equal parts gentle and brimming with potential energy.

• Check out the sounds on Myspace
• And follow Washed Out on Twitter

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Thursday 14 July 2011


Oxford band Fixers had this great song debuted on Zane Lowe's show last week. Touted by NME as "a cartoon Animal Collective", the sounds of the band scream to be remixed, having been given the once-over by the D/R/U/G/S, Memory Tapes and Chad Valley amongst others so far - they're pretty new to the scene and already making friends, which is nice.

Strangely named 'Swimmhaus Johannesburg' is a crazed mix of synth that sounds straight out of the amazing 1992 game for SNES Top Gear, late 90s piano-led house music, a beat that couldn't be more solid if it tried, and the strange euphoric atmosphere of a dark sweaty hotel nightclub - the kind of place where the music seems to come from another world.

Fixers' latest offering is nothing but otherworldly. It's as if aliens looked at the music of pop culture over the last 20-something years and put this all together in a mixing pot. Starting which a distorted guitar Black Betty against a backdrop of tumbling tropical toms, that classic rave piano chord struck on the offbeat comes in, coupled with a drawn out virtuoso synth sound that reverberates in your skull. Soon we are at the chorus, where the vocals though slightly thin lead the song forward accompanied by a host of 'aaah's in the background, and a boiling kettle schizoid synth sound gathers energy as it rises up towards the next break. All the while a disco bassline crunches deeply behind the madness.

There's a lot going on in the song, all coming to a head when the chorus jumps out of the verse to raise you up out of your seats and off the ground it seems. It's very ADHD, jumping from a Duran Duran-style breakdown one minute to a ravey comedown the next; heavily layered, energetic and progressively electro-rock-disco enough to be more than just a quirk, it's not exactly something that you can listen to without an aural doubletake.

• Listen to Fixers on SoundCloud
• Or their Myspace
• Check their official site
• And follow them on Twitter

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Wednesday 13 July 2011


Being a fan of Bombay Bicycle Club, I was pretty excited to see them at Glastonbury for a second time (I saw them at the John Peel Stage in 2010). They're a lovely bunch of lads who play indie alternativia fronted by the charismatically humble Jack Steadman, whose heartfelt lyrics about (mainly) girls, love, and romance leave a long note of resonance wherever they are heard. I'm even more excited at the prospect of a new album in the wake of first single 'Shuffle'.

Sounds like someone in the band's been listening to Wild Beasts' first album Limbo, Panto - or perhaps it's just the honky-tonk piano and the occasional falsetto from Steadman that makes me think this. Either way, this song marks a definite move away from the guitar-band indie dancefloor killer anthems of the first album I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose ('Always Like This' and 'Evening/Morning') and the revivalist Brit-folk acoustic softness of second album Flaws, and a transition into perhaps something more experimental.

Released on 23rd June, 'Shuffle' sounds like neither of the above. Although the piano adds an almost timeless quality to the song, as pianos do, it might turn off some fans who were there for the twiddly guitar bits and chunky bass riffs that defined them as a band before 2010 - but that's inevitable. The most recognisable quality in 'Shuffle' is actually the beat, those skiffly yet precise and distinctively "indie" drums provided by drummer Suren de Saram are second cousins of those found in the hit 'Always Like This'; first cousins of the drums that accompany the lovely 'Ivy & Gold'.

Overall it's a song with enough going on to warrant it being a single, but understated enough to allow it to wash over your ears instead of infect them with repetitive strains and refrains. There's a wonderfully gentle breakdown that comes after the halfway point, demonstrating BBC's skill with and execution of effortless changes in pace and dynamic. I'm hoping it's a taster of what will be come next - a new album and another change in sound for the band whose loyal following will be happy with the result.

• New album A Different Kind Of Fix out 29th August
• Check out their official site
• Their Myspace for more music
• And their SoundCloud
• Also, follow them on Twitter

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Saturday 9 July 2011


Morphing organically from previous electronica project, Worredaboutsatan, the Leeds duo who now steer the fate of current undead-themed Ghosting Season. But is their first EP under this new moniker, 'Far End Of The Graveyard', halfway between this world and the next, one foot in heaven and one on the earth - is it in limbo?

Super dance make-a-stand here-I-am darkly anti-anthemic dirge title-track 'Far End Of The Graveyard' busts on the scene first and is a fantastic opener. This really brings to the forefront Gavin Miller's and Tom Ragsdale's talents in creating an atmosphere by slowly introducing you to different sounds and themes, both geniuses in patience and certainly not exposing you to everything all at once. The intricate weave of perfect jigsaw sounds comes to a head around two-thirds of the way through this one when a simple brutally modulated two-note synth bridge disturbs the drums so much that they disappear for half a bar each time it repeats itself. Wonderful stuff, something I've written about before here (also the post-post-modern video is on the past post too).

Second track 'Exercise Us' opens with a hugely desertificated slow symphony of strings and horns, like a dark Lawrence of Arabia on ketamine. It's chilled pseudo-dubstep with an auxilliary beat that sounds like the beat played to the music inside the pyramid of Mario 64's Shifting Sand Land, and for this the soundscape is automatically tied to sand, pyramids, and spirits guiding you through it all (that's Zelda - sorry).

However this is far from soundtrack music, and would do just as well in a misty club at 3:00 in the morning with 12,000 units down you, dancing as if your legs don't exist - i.e. swaying. There's a wonderful breakdown in this song, displaying some attitudinal wobble and providing some bassy breathing space as the strings come back to take centre stage before we are back into the groove.

So when 'Washed Ashore' surfaces it's a welcome break. What you notice about Ghosting Season is their subtle intensity; after the first two tracks you are kind of reeling from their sound. Totally not in a bad way, but it's in their progressive build-ups that you suddenly find yourself miles away from the start of the song - the elements are still there, but so much more has risen out of the speakers that you almost find yourself looking down on the idea of a song whilst you float above it all watching its original concepts swirl around.

Thus 'Washed Ashore' - with its ambience, swooping synths, and gentle wave-crashing imitations - comes perfectly positioned; after the brooding storm of 'Far End Of The Graveyard', the lost-at-sea hallucinations of 'Excercise Us', it's nice to be washed ashore with 'Washed Ashore'.

Then we travel inland for 'Dead Man's Switch' - to some dark place, who knows where. It's a hearty chunk of progressive trance house, once again showing the skill and effort put into their songs. Sounding much more like electronica than its counterpart 'Far End Of The Graveyard', the distorted sounds bubble up after a moment of silence - this is the dead man's switch being activated (yeah I just learned what this was too). Though strangely more than any other song there's some kind of hope in there, a totally major theme running throughout the duration of the track, meaning you end on a high. Albeit a strange high, as the claps that erupt in the second half of the track add a witch house quality to it, though we all know this is far more progressive electro house with a dark twist than anything inherently dark. For me, anything that takes the focus from clinical dance music with a conceited euphoria is on the light side, ironically.

So are we in limbo? No. We've been taken on a wonderful journey filled with highs and lows, astonishing attention to detail in creating atmospheric soundscapes that you can positively get lost in, and a wholly deep, organic sound that is a joy to listen to. We're in heaven.

Listen below. I recommend it:

• Check out their SoundCloud for extra remixes
• Their official website
• Their Vimeo for the supercool 'Far End Of The Graveyard' video
• Their Bandcamp to download the EP (minimum payment £1.50)
• And follow them on Twitter

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Monday 4 July 2011


I was going to go see these guys at Glastonbury, they were playing after Crystal Fighters at the West Oxylers stage in the Dance Field but for some reason or another I missed it.

This was on the Sunday when the sun was positively beating down on the festival, so to hear the funky Duran Duran meets Robert Smith at Club Tropicana rhythms of Egyptian Hip Hop song 'Moon Crooner' would've been perfect; the mud would've turned to sand before our very eyes, I'm sure:

The colours and weird haircuts of the video suggest that the 80s revivalist sentiment running through the music runs deeper. It sounds a little like Black Kids (remember them? "You are the girl...") with that funky bassline, which adds to the picnic-in-the-park synth popping in. There are also slices of Late Of The Pier in there, too, with that almost DIY, new-pop sound. The real phenomenon, though, is how singer Alex Hewett gets away sounding so much like Robert Smith. Surely there's some legality in sounding exactly like something else?

But then again, we can see it as one big homage. Their influences are "new wave/prog/pop circa 1979-1984", explaining the sound entirely. It's a fun sound, one I'm not sure for how long it'll stay interesting, but one that is piquing a lot of people's curiosity at the moment. Here's an interview with BBC Introducing... from early 2010 as EHH were about to embark on their first UK tour - all members at just 17 years old.

What's next from the Manc pop foursome? Who knows.

• Here's their Myspace for more music (I recommend 'Wild Human Child')
• And their regularly updated Facebook Page to get you interested

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Friday 1 July 2011


I've just heard the house duo sensation 2 Bears on Radio 1 chatting to Pete Tong. I was going to see them at Glastonbury, but got inevitably sidetracked by I don't know what.

Made up of Raf Rundell (aka Greco-Roman Soundsystem) and Joe Goddard (one part of Hot Chip), they're set to be pretty big this year. Their shared enthusiasm for house music, discovered whilst sharing DJ booths on various club nights, led to plans for collaboration - and eventually it happened. Thus 2 Bears was born. Have a listen to their wonderful union in the form of their new EP (released 20th June).

From the very beginning of the moody, tribal house vibrations of 'Take A Look Around', softened with pop vocals, gradually becoming full of energy thanks to a disco lifted hi-hat, to the beat-heavy bass minimalism erupting in 'Banger', beautiful in its repetition as much as in its progression, with new sounds being added in every part - a new bassline, erratic snare, or the strange electro euphoria of its breakdown; the Bear Hug EP is something special.

Sped-up twisted Hot Chip-esque sounds at the beginning of the eponymous 'Bear Hug' give way to a strangely nonchalant-aggressive spoken word vocal, expressing and espousing the virtues of having a bear hug: "We've brought you all a gift for maximum dancefloor uplift, it's called a bear hug" Halfway through Joe Goddard's distinctive voice comes in to provide a wonderfully gentle few bars of singing before the "bear hug" refrain comes back in. Catchy, unusual, a tad frightening, but what a thing it would've been to hear this song at one of their sets at The Hub in Shangri-La last week. Oh well.

The epic dance flavours of 'In My Brain Is Like A Computer' explode throughout the 5 minutes this song plays and it's my personal favourite. I love everything about it, from the incessant clapping and cowbelling at the beginning, to then the dulled euphoria tones of the aggressive piano chords (could be a giant keyboard, in reference to the song's title) and the "oohh... aahhh" vocal sample, bringing a softness to such a hard sound. Just before the halfway mark the song drops entirely, bringing everything together with some monstrously relentless wobbly bass. The last 2 minutes of the song, following another flay-you-alive kind of breakdown, are frantically calling you up to dance. Near-perfection in terms of unique house music.

Like what you hear? Check 2 Bears on SoundCloud

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