Friday 25 May 2012


Hot Chip are back! I covered the first single from their upcoming fifth LP, In Our Heads, the wonderful 'Flutes' - but this new one, 'Night And Day' is no different. Well, of course it's a different song, but it's no less wonderful. Not at all.

The video is crazy. It's mental. It's directed by Peter Serafinowicz. But the song. It's a catchy, radio-friendly, car-windows-down kind of song - instantly electro. It has this galloping hi-hat going throughout, makes you feel like you need to keep up with it - so you're always listening. There's a breakdown towards the end of the song that could easily be from a 2 Bears number. It's much less glitch-oriented than their earlier stuff, but I am not complaining.

I am dancing in my chair.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hot Chip's official site
• And here's Hot Chip on SoundCloud
• They're on Myspace too
• Become a fan of Hot Chip on Facebook
Follow Hot Chip on Twitter
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Marconi Union have an album coming out June 18th this year. Judging by this song, 'Broken Colours', it's going to be a collective anthem of beautiful sounds and such utter chill that you won't even know which way to lean or recline, a completely legitimate anthology of ambient prettiness.

The song is slow and has at its core a never ending wash of sound, warm and fuzzy, like a teddy bear, but like a teddy bear which is actually a vast ghost that is nowhere and is intangible. It's a study in dynamics and build-up, going from understated, almost tidal sounds, to a busy, bustling highway filled with delicate synth sounds. A busy afterlife, the plane beyond: an ever-shining limbo of electronica.

Underneath it all there's this muffled, metronomic dub-like beat, carrying with it the gentlest bass sounds and a snare that comes only every so often, but reverberates as if it would go on echoing forever.

It's the perfect kind of music for the weather we are currently experiencing in London. A fluid sound to wash over us like an ethereal sprinkler as we melt in the glory of the sun, languidly going about our lives in the oneness of the heat. What an illustration of the friendly sun! 'Broken Colors' is a wonderful effort from the Manchester-based Marconi Union, and I am anticipating their album very gladly. More than that, I hope that the weather will continue to match these skyward, totemic and all-encompassing sounds of vast comfort.

Listen for yourself below.

They are a very relaxing group. In fact, a little Google threw up this article on the Telegraph's site. Have a read. But for the moment, enjoy this quote:

Boffins say the eight minute track, called Weightless, is so effective at inducing sleep it should not be listened to while driving.

Manchester trio Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create the soothing tune, which also slows breathing and reduces brain activity.

Scientists played the song to 40 women and found it to be more effective at helping them relax than songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay.

The study - commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa - found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea.
Nuff said.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Marconi Union's OFFICIAL SITE
Follow Marconi Union on Twitter
• Find out more about them on Wikipedia
• ... And they're still on Myspace.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Thursday 24 May 2012


'Channels, Okinawa n. (oki-nawa) : def. Neutral objects become active. Surfaces form conduits for distant messages.'

Whatever it means, 'Okinawa Channels' by rising star NZCA/LINES is a force to be reckoned with. I'm talking about this one a bit late in the day, but there is always time to feature wonderful music and this song counts as particularly wonderful indeed.

Please listen/watch video below if you have never heard 'Okinawa Channels' before.

Somehow it captures a sunny early 90s pop-song vibe, pure electronica but with a retro throwback that gives it an indomitable sound. It's a tribute to, or sounds like a tribute to, this style of music. The execution is fabulous, the sounds rising up in waves, delivering fuzzy synth straight into the pleasure centre of the brain. It is lush and refreshing, like a water fight on hot grass.

It reminds me of having the radio on in the kitchen in summer. School has broken up and all the windows in the house are open, letting a breeze blow in. That's what it sounds like, anyway. NZCA/LINES writes some great melodies, including a nice little, Japanese-inspired refrain that keeps coming back like a happy yo-yo over the top of a dextrous, warm bassline. A satisfyingly complex (to an extent) beat carries the song on its back, including the singalong vocals.

A brilliant song. I cannot stop listening to it. Comes from the album NZCA/LINES.

And I am very happy this guy is from London.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NZCA/LINES official site!
Follow NZCA/LINES on Twitter
Listen to more NZCA/LINES on SoundCloud
Facebook page for NZCA/LINES
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Monday 21 May 2012


My God. My sweet Jesus. I'm not religious, but I almost became so after I confirmed my suspicions: the song on the Max Payne 3 advert IS by HEALTH!

I love HEALTH, I have loved HEALTH for a long time. They're an interesting band. Their earlier stuff is characterised by brutally vigorous drums, crunching, alien-sounding distorted guitars and screeching electronics, topped with faint vocals that float ghostly above all the chaos. It was also characterised by a flagrant, revelling disregard for time signature or normal track dynamics.

Both of their albums, the self-titled HEALTH and their somewhat milder second outing, Get Color, have been turned into remix albums (HEALTH DISCO and HEALTH DISCO 2). This is a clever move as it gets some very good names, Salem and Crystal Castles to name just two, involved in the process of getting HEALTH's name to the masses. This next move is even cleverer.

HEALTH have created hundreds of hours of their gritty, no-frills, balls-out electro/noise/rock for Rockstar's new Max Payne 3. Probably comes as a surprise to many, not least to me, but it's a very smart move: both by Rockstar and HEALTH. It's a benefit for the two. The videogame gets some amazing music; HEALTH gets recognition they'd probably never have imagined. Listen below, if you haven't heard it already.

And if you have heard it already, you know you'll want to listen again.

'Tears' - what a song. It towers above you, distorting and relentless, insanely repetitive but addictively so. Their scratchy bleeps are sheer gems of production, turning what was just a strange Noise band into a fully-fledged, albeit underground (but for how long?), electro-rock band. A lot like HEALTH DISCO 2 track (not a remix), 'USA Boys'.

The crazed drums have gone, but remain strong. They are the heart of the track, played with a thunderous force and augmented electronically so that everything fits nicely, but jumps out at you at the same time. That's not to forget what gave it away for me in the beginning: the vocals. The phantomlike, nearly monotone, slightly altered, quiet and unassuming vocals - these wind in and out of the stamping sounds calmly, with all the minimalist, meditative philosophy of a Zen koan.

I cannot get enough of this song. I want the soundtrack.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
HEALTH on Twitter
HEALTH on Myspace

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Friday 18 May 2012


Self-releasing things these days is the norm. Why not? It's a really simple way to connect with thousands of people very quickly. There's no use messing about with a record label or a PR company, or both, if what you want to do is get your sounds out there as quickly as possible.

As such, wild Philadelphian soft rockers The Interest Group are joining the self-doers, musical polymaths who all think that do-it-yourself does it best: they have released a two-song EP (I suppose) on both their Bandcamp and SoundCloud pages. It's called ∞. Infinity? Infinity sign? Either way, it doesn't matter.

They seem to have found a bridge somewhere in the world that spans the gap between now and the psychedelic freewheelers of the late 1960s. From the sounds of it, they frequent this temporal crossing quite often, revelling in beauty of it. They basically sound like this picture above.

'The Passenger' soars as a kind of melancholic Nancy Sinatra-esque airship above any kind of modern sound. Complete with guitar sounds straight from a spaghetti Western, not only does this song scream Americana, but it also whispers darker, more sombre themes. 'The Girls And The Boys', on the other hand, is a little more sunny, starting with a chaotic intro that makes it seem as if a surf rock song is coming along. However, what ensues is a Jefferson Airplane-meets-lo-fi-Beatles chill-out of a song - from the washed-out vocals to the poppy bassline, it's a soft, cushiony song that presents less hard edges than 'The Passenger'.

Get to know. Can't wait for more songs. The enigma of The Interest Group will reveal itself soon!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Interest Group on SoundCloud
Here's their Bandcamp page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Thursday 17 May 2012


Electro is a wonderful thing: unmistakeable rhythm and utterly hedonistic melodies designed solely for the brain's tempopleasure centre. And electro such as that displayed by Junior High in their song 'PSA' is indeed a wonderful thing.

There's a brilliance of carefree sentiment infused into every sound of this track, just like the attitude previously preached in the heyday of electro-dance music by artists like Justice and Simian Mobile Disco. That was back in the block colour haze that was 2005/6. Junior High pick up the flaming torch of red and yellow construction paper and bring it hurtling to 2012.

'PSA' pays tribute to Junior High's electro ancestry, tracing lines back to dance music of the 1980s but adding modern grooves. Like Smarties with E numbers, like hot chocolate with cream, like a non-non-alcoholic piña colada, it's already good before it's polished with a wholly modern, post-millenial varnish.

The bass synth is warm and kind of creeps into your veins, coaxing your blood cells to leave their duties and dance around for a while. It is an acrobatic bassline, stretching yogically between octaves, always locked in to the track's sturdy gym mat of a beat. The synthesised chords that wash over you like a Super Soaker in summer are deliciously modulated, soaring and echoing beneath the happy-happy vocals. But it wouldn't be complete without the little guitar licks that pop up after the halfway point. It gives the song a peak to climb, from which it sends you the guitar's zesty distortion. Joy!

This single comes ahead of their S/T LP, scheduled for release on 22nd May.

Check this video. Colourful, lo-fi and playful, it fits the vibe of the song entirely.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
• Here is Junior High on Bandcamp
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday 16 May 2012


Listening to Mode Moderne's new EP Strange Bruises (released on Light Organ Records yesterday, 15th May) is a wonderful experience. It's like travelling back in time on a cloud or a magic carpet. And while you're travelling back, soaring through the skies of the past, the voice of Ian Curtis sounds in the air like a charm or magic amulet. Maybe that's unfair. There's an acrobatic side to the vocals, at times, that is more reminiscent of Morrissey, as in EP opener, 'Nightly Youths'.

Either way, twofold irony and non-irony of a name that means 'modern fashion' is quite a nice touch. It is not modern music as it sounds like the post-rock-synth-pop of the 80s. But it is modern because bending our necks, and ears, back to this era is a trend at the moment. Realising this is like hearing birds sing on a May morning as the trees rustle under the sleepy gaze of a cool sun.

'Guns' is brilliant, displaying the pop-rock sensibilities of the band, sounding like a cross between Joy Division and The Stone Roses - kind of like Editors, too. It's earthy, rich and altogether a joy to listen to (no pun intended). At other times, the sound is entirely a more psychedelic, more cheerful and less darkly lo-fi as Joy Division, as in the flanger-happy earworm breeding 'Private Library' and the agoraphobics' nightmare of a last track, 'Open Air'. This last one really gives a sense of being outside, a kind of warm suburban feel of languishing exploration twinned contrapuntally with a been-there-done-that ennui.

This darker side to Strange Bruises is highlighted by the natural melancholic desperation, which creeps in the crooning vocals, noticeable especially in the aggressive minor vibes of 'Electrocute Me'. This is evident also in some of the painfully contrasting lyrics of the track: "Some things lead something, others lead to nil"; "I apologise, but I wanna die"; and "I cross my legs, uncross my legs, and cross my legs".

Other lyrical statements include the gloriously inane, "Raise your hand for sugar in your tea, raise your hand for luxury" in title track, 'Strange Bruises'. There must be plenty of others, but I cannot quite transcribe all of the lyrics here. It deserves a couple of listens, basically - you catch something new every time.

There's a lot of energy, as shown in most of the songs, but the wall-of-sound, sunny overdrive of 'Foul Weather Fair' is a good illustration, as is the demi-sad 'Electrocute Me'. This is an energetic anti-dirge of a dirge about, I suppose, being in a constant state of two minds over something or other. The refrain that begs "Electrocute me..." is a plaintive cry amidst the jangly distortion of the guitar and it sounds positively, or negatively, great.

It's new new-wave. If you like The Drums, or Editors, and want something that sounds more authentically past-future (or future-past) than both, then get on board with Mode Moderne.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It's Mode Moderne, on Myspace!
• And here's their Facebook page
Their Tumblr site
• Find Mode Moderne on Bandcamp
• You can follow Mode Moderne on Twitter
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Monday 14 May 2012


I love Ritualz. Naturally, I also love when Ritualz himself posts a tweet that advertises some of his new music before anybody else gets their hands on it. It's the way music is going. Or at least, it's the way music should be going. It's probably not heading exactly in that direction because there are still a lot of record labels out there, but there are people who are promoting this DIY ethic, artists like Ritualz, enough people that it is taking root just deep enough to warrant calling it a movement.

Maybe. Maybe it is. It's certainly moving and its definitely progressive, so why say otherwise? Well, say what you want, but that's what I've just written, so there. (Pictureplane did the same thing a while ago with his track, 'Post Physical'. It's not completely unfounded music blog tripe).

I love Ritualz. He is typically associated with the Witch House genre - or nonre (non-genre, come on) as many naysayers will tell you - which is a bone of contention for many people, mainly because: "it's been around for ages" or "it's basically just drone". Go on any YouTube video for Ritualz, Mater Suspiria Vision, oOoOO, White Ring, Modern Witch (least favourite) etc. etc. and you will see these pointless arguments and pretentious vox pops for yourself.

Anyway, to the music.

It's dark, impressive, atmospheric Ritualz stuff, though without the noisy, apocalyptic darkness that pervaded his previous work. He created the tracks for Outworld Music I as "A WAY TO EXPLORE NEW SOUNDS BEING 90S TRANCE, WORLD AND NEW AGE MUSIC THE MAIN INFLUENCES BEHIND THESE FIRST 4 TRACKS." Has he succeeded?

I wonder if he might have heard John Talabot's new album (which for me is a very good example of how house music can be amazing at the same time as it can be dark and odd). 'Atmosphere' is a kind of sunny rave when the lights have gone off, Ritualz employing some jungle-themed bongos and/or xylophones and scintillating, dappled synth to give it a rainforest-in-mourning kind of feel.

Second song, 'Spiritual' sounds like a twisted version of something you'd find on an Ibiza chill-out album. Whilst it's very Baleric in that sense, it's also Ritualz: expect the muffled screeches of synth and a many series of handclaps. This one is very trance indeed. Then we move underwater for third track, 'Resurfacing'. I didn't even look at the song title before I decided it was water-themed - always a good thing. Drum and Bass!?

Yes, Ritualz goes Drum and Bass. It's a fluid number that utilises the trademark Ritualz synth distortion, running all all the way through is this ambient sun of synth that is like some cosmic blanket, cut through with piercing beadlets of high pitched squeals. Short, sweet and packed full of energy.

'Melancholia' ends the EP with orchestral richness and cool breakbeat-esque drum track that sounds raw and real. It's a warm track, euphoric and trancey - the last third of this song, also, is pure house gold. I am far, far, far from disappointed in his 'break' from the regular sound. This marks a new step for Ritualz as a artist; his foray into something other than the darkness of the genre he's been associated with for a few years now; an exploration of other kinds of music that will only make his sound stronger and more accessible.

Because everyone should be listening to and appreciating an artist like Ritualz.

Outworld Music I is out TOMORROW, 15th May, on Ritualz Bandcamp

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ritualz is on SoundCloud.
• And Ritualz is also on Twitter.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


It's handy when you have a surname like Masekela. You can reverse it to spell something quite similar to that universal magic word, alakazam. Very handy.

This is the convenient nomenclature that has fallen into the lap of Selema Masekela, aka Alekesam.

He is releasing an LP tomorrow, 15th May, called The Sound of Alekesam and if it's anything like the teaser song 'Summer Jams', it will be well worth a listen - if not a purchase. Take a listen for yourself below to discover the summer goodness of this song:


As you can hear, it's a great, dance-friendly, blare-it-out-your-car-window, play-it-to-your-friends-at-a-balmy-night's-social-gathering, groove-laden, refreshing track about summer in a summery place. There's this pulsing bassline that goes steady throughout, becoming rather addictive by the end of it, overlaid with glistening synth sprinkled like tiny beads of the sea.

Sal (as he is known - he is something of a personality, having presented the X Games on ESPN quite a few times) provides some ultra-smooth vocals over the top, cruising words that dip in and out of the water, that roll in the sand, cascade like sunshine itself through cool windows and weave in and out of the bare legs that promenade wonderfully in the hot, breezy air of summer. It's poetry. And matched against the silken virtues of the delectable drum and bass rhythm, it's much more than that. It's R&B for people who don't like R&B, basically: cool, tropical, atmospheric. Forget all those summer staples, which would no doubt along the way include something by Will Smith; all you need is Alekesam.

To help illustrate, here's a helpful caption on his Twitter bio:
A black cowboy riding a dolphin, shoveling sunshine!
Sounds like that.

Don't forget: The album The Sound of Alekesam is out tomorrow, 15th May

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Here is Alekesam on SoundCloud - listen
Follow him on Twitter if you like
The official site of Alekesam
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Friday 11 May 2012


Last Days of 1984 sound lovely. Their new album Wake Up To The Waves (released 7th May on Osaka Records) is a good indication of just how lovely they are.

First song 'Francois Truffaut-Event Sociologique' lays down a funky, rhythm-laden bassline, supporting some powerful afro-tropical percussion. Those delicious percussive flavours, shakers and bongos and whatever else, are something of a constant for the band. Being quite noticed in the acoustic-guitar-supported 'Safari'. Third track on the album, it adds a certain mellowness - with its interplanetary campfire vibe and warm harmonies - to the parade of sunny, energy-soaked songs.

As the opener is kept in a steady house beat all the way through, we are entertained by the floating, delay-heavy guitars and electronic noises that sound like spectral-cosmic intects chirruping in some otherworldly night scene. Happy to hear the thin vocals, at once sounding as if the guy is standing 100 metres from the microphone, very much like Animal Collective (whom I love).

Like the second song, 'River's Edge' (which you may've heard before, having been released last summer), they utilise a wonderful dynamic that sees them switching between simplistic minimalism and electro-complex soundscape affairs. About halfway through 'River's Edge' there's this amazing distorted noise that pierces through the coziness of the track, dissonant and vicious, giving way to a bubbling underwater sound. Remember Sonic the Hedgehog? You know the sound he made underwater when you swam into a bubble? That strange 'bow-wop' of sucking in more air? That's what some of the noises in this song are like.

It's wonderfully obtuse with pop-sensitive vocals. And also just as pop-driven is the dancehall-esque booze cruise that is 'Wave Life'. It's tiki lights, Orangina, cocktails, colourful music. The vocals swim in and out of it like fish alternatively scarpering and lazing around under the crystal gaze of a glass-bottomed boat, one decked out for a tropical haven party, however.

Listen to the album, Wake Up To The Waves, here on SoundCloud

I very much enjoy the Baleric synths that start track four, 'Kismat' (much like the following track, 'Season', which does a similar thing, but slightly slower and in a more subdued way) - then comes a strong 4/4 beat. Again there's the same sound from 'River's Edge', a watery, sharp and destructive synth. But this time it persists, held down like a train alarm till it explodes into different streams, joining together again to become its coherent, laser-like oneness. No vocals, just pure instrumental.

'Season' is like some kind of lovesong to the coast, to the sea and the beaches. This kind of music belongs just there: in the sunny wash of coastal empires that are buffeted by the warm winds of leisure and pleasure. Then we move away from the coast to album closer, 'Woods'.

The kick has this light crunch after its initial pounding sound, a great detail, reminiscent of heavy footsteps in sand. As I write this I am convincing myself to book a holiday. Somewhere hot. This album is stunningly beautiful and not so epic as to become too emotionally driven. 'Woods' has this distorted synth going to work throughout, and these fuzzy slaps of a snare that catch you and reel you today's catch. You can almost smell the barbecue fizzling in the grand cathedralic oranges and pinks that soar in the sky like mighty murals. That's what 'Woods' is all about: watching the sun go down. A fitting finish.

Need I say more?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
• Last Days of 1984 on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter
• Listen to their stuff on SoundCloud
• And BandCamp, too, why not.
This is the page for Osaka Records
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday 8 May 2012


This is a lovely little song by new artist MacGibbon, released on LYWat Records. Called 'Utee One' it starts with some unintelligible samples of a bit of spoken word French. Combine this with a horde of stretching ambient noises that sound like some kind of floating machine sparking into life, and the inane, persistent blip that acts like a countdown till the perfectly crafted kick comes in, and you have an interesting start to a song.

A small break and it starts properly. A hovering, staccato synth comes in and out of focus as this sharp kick carries on thumping in time to a clean, meaty bassline. Slow electronic ambience at its best. The London-based MacGibbon may certainly be one to watch.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Check out MacGibbon on SoundCloud (just one song, though more to come I'm sure)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -