Archive for the ‘Electro’ Category

My Top 5 for 2009

December 31st, 2009

After 42 shows in 50 weeks, heres my top 5:

#1 - Bobby McFerrin @ Royal Festival Hall
for his playfulness, outstanding performance, and inspirational interaction with the audience.

#2 - Max Richter @ Union Chapel
for his beautiful melancholic music, and perfectionin performance.

#3 - Alex Lloyd @ The Troubadour
for the heartfelt simplicity of his songwriting and performance.

#4 - Andrew Bird @ Union Chapel
for playfully weaving beautiful melodies with little else but himself.

#5 - Fever Ray @ The Forum
for their eye poppingly slick production and dark ambience.

In particular, Bobby and Andrew and a particular Buckley-ish flavour to their shows, with their energy on stage, and musical playfulness. A special mention goes out to Noah and the Whale @ Crisis Hidden Gig, Tori Amos @ The Savoy, Bob Brozman @ The Half Moon, and Massive Attack @ Brixton Academy.

Samples:
Bobby_McFerrin-Sweet_Home_Chicago.mp3
Max_Richter_-_On_the_Nature_of_Daylight.mp3
Alex_Lloyd_-_Beautiful.mp3
Andrew_Bird_-_Why.mp3
Fever_Ray_-_Keep_The_Streets_Empty.mp3

Fever Ray - HMV Forum, 5 December, 2009

December 28th, 2009

image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamtheloop/3991394517/Its taken a while, but tonight faired as a strong contender for gig of the year. For a show I almost opted out of, its production took me completely by suprise, and knocked me off my feet. Fever Ray take production to a new level - their performance almost trancends itself.

The show was more like some mysterious ritual- incense, secret signs, symbolic numbers, and strange movements. The entire stage remained dark for the entire show, with a massive laser show above, and glowing and flickering lampshades on stage. Even when you could see more than silhouettes through the smoke, they were all wearing costumes and masks, clearly wanting to be taken at the value of their production, rather than as individuals.

sample:
Fever_Ray_-_Keep_The_Streets_Empty.mp3
Fever_Ray_-_If_I_Had_a_Heart.mp3

image by iamtheloop on flicker.

Fuck Buttons - Heaven, 27 October, 2009

November 29th, 2009

Fuck Buttons

It is now 2 days after this gig, and my ears are still ringing. To say that it was loud with be a gross understatement. Superfluous descriptions just dont do it justice… To the untrained ear (heck, to most trained ears), this is was the sort of noise you’d frantically try to turn off if you heard it coming down your headphones.

Regardless, the Fuck Buttons domain is noise. the kind you don’t want to hear. Grating square waves, saw waves, distortion, screaming - its all there. So about now your wondering why anyone would bother, and theres a few very good reasons. They have found something. somewhere inbetween their noise there is a peacefulness and calm you just don’t expect. Its like an hard electronic version of Sigur Ros, perhaps mixed with God is an Astronaut. They have reached cult status in the experimental scene, and their most recent album, Tarot Sport is a testament to this, with a cohesiveness end to end, that you seldom see in albums these days.

If you like abit of hardcore post modern stuff, and you can get your head around the headache inducing aspects of it, there is alot to learn and enjoy from their music. check out the sample below, and go see em live, if you dare.

Fuck_Buttons_-_Encore.mp3

Massive Attack - Brixton Academy, 18 September, 2009

September 27th, 2009

Massive AttackFor the 2nd week in a row I find myself in awe of the production and sound at a live show, this time with Massive Attack. The style in which the executed their show was an awesome experience. The ever dynamic ensemble of Massive Attack performed with any number between 2 and over 7 people on stage, yet the sound never seemed to be compromised. In full flight - double drums, brooding bass, ripping synth and guitar riffs, silky vocal melodies - and for all the layers, there still seemed to be space in their music.

While so many other bands of their generation are washed out parodies of themselves, Massive Attack have kept their vision and resolve, and are still very much relevant today. Apart from musically hitting the mark, their show was well targetted. The weekly trash-filled headlines flashed across their backing screens, followed by more thought provoking political newslines, as if beckoning us to form our own opinions. Then, in a simply epic 8 minute version of ‘Safe From Harm’, inspirational quotes on freedom and current politics encouraging the audience to think for themselves.

They are just about to release a new EP - ‘Splitting The Atom’, to precurse a new album arriving early next year. So steam on the Massive Attack Juggernaut - if you get a chance, go check them out - I was suprised how much I enjoyed this show.

a sample:

Massive_Attack_-_Safe_From_Harm.mp3

Get Loaded In The Park - 30 August, 2009

August 31st, 2009

London festivals are a dime a dozen, but Get Loaded In The Park seems to have audience vote - maintaining a reputation for being a small, quirky festival with a good atmosphere. This and the fact its one of the last festivals on the summer calendar attracts a wide range of londoners up for their last summer fling.

This years Get Loaded fare was a strictly electronic menu. On inspecting the programme, it turned out i’d be missing 2 (The Bloody Beetroots, Mstrkrft) of the 7 I was interested in, but fortunately my more prized choices remained intact (Miss Kitten and The Hacker, Royksopp, Orbital, Steve Aoki, Peaches).

My timetable for the day was:
Marina and the Diamonds
Telepathe
Tom Middleton
Sneaky Sound System
Felix Da Housecat
Steve Aoki
Magnetic Man
Miss Kitten and The Hacker
Royksopp
Orbital

The only thing that detracted from the day unfortunately, was the sound. the Dim Mak tent suited the DJ’s well, but naturally was the least complicated tent. Miss Kitten suffered from no vocals for a good 5-10 minutes of her 30 minute set in the Clash tent. Royksopp could have been farting into the vocal mics for all we knew it was so woofy. The Main stage, directly in front about 20 metres back, (where there should have been perfect sound) lacked body, and suffered from phase issues (high speaker set where not fixed to the frame, but hanging in the wind). Fair enough i’m probably harder on sound systems and engineers than most, having come from that background, but - I paid for a ticket - I expected better sound, and professional engineering. For the final headliners, Orbital, we resorted to standing next to the left speaker stack, which, turned out not being such a bad idea - sound was great, and we edged into the front row, about 10 metres off center, giving us a great view also.

Heres set 3 of 3 30 minute sets by Orbital:

Orbital_-_Set_3_of_3.mp3

M83 - Koko, 7 July 2009

July 14th, 2009

m83Anthony Gonzalez (aka M83) started the show in the dark, with 25 minutes of new, solo instrumental music. Of course, while I thought this was pure genius, it appeared many of the Koko crowd were a little confused by the extra long ‘intro’.

In fact the entire set was a departure from their show I’d heard a few months ago, containing a larger proportion of old and new M83 instrumentals. M83 must have played at the most 4 tracks from the last album, and even those were virtually remixes of the originals - every time you expected a certain riff to kick in, it had either changed, or would be a new riff entirely. The ‘Kim and Jesse’ crew did not seem that happy about it - the girl next to me kept on shaking her head as yet another ‘unknown’ instrumental began.

While they didnt sell out Koko, they seemed to suit the bigger venue, if only for the vastly superior sound system. Having also seen Simian Mobile Disco - also reknowned for their improvisation and live skills - at the same venue, I must admit I preferred seeing M83. Call me a nerd for liking the more experimental of the two, but perhaps the fact you have to work harder to appreciate it appeals to me more…

check out some samples:
M83-Unknown.mp3 (new?)
M83-Coleurs.mp3

Simian Mobile Disco - Koko, 12 February, 2009

March 1st, 2009

Simian Mobile Disco, 2009-02-12, photo by me. :)

I was glad when the curtains finally went up for this Simian Mobile Disco gig, not so much in anticipation, but relief, as I’d previously panicked after reading on some uninformed internet booking site that this might be a DJ set. This, clearly wasn’t - massive pillars of lighting towered around the centre stage, where their unique circular rig was set up. I always marvel at all the wonderful gear electro artists have on stage, and their mastery as they dance around it all, waving their handles about twiddling nobs and sliders, and seeing Simian in action as truly glorious. Watching the 2 of them moving around, tweaking settings, adding layers of sound - it felt like living, breathing music, far from the automated feeling you often get from some electronic outfits.

This was their only non-dj set gig in london for quite a while, and looks like remain that way for the near future, and it looked like most of their London fans agreed that tonight was The Night to see them. Koko was full, and heaving with people, and I haven’t seen people bounce around so enthusiastically since The Presets gig I went to last year.

This was a most enjoyable gig for me, and helped renew my faith in electro after a fairly subdued Underworld gig that I went to at Brixton Academy last year. (I didnt review/record it, because they recorded the show themselves, available in FLAC, no less!) Underworld are the godfathers of progressive electro, and seeing them live was, at least to me, paying homage to that. Simian on the other hand, are fresh faced, vibrant, and very much riding the wave of modern electro. The Old and the New… Its all good…

No samples, (as how do you split an hour long mashup of tracks?) but you can find it in full as FLAC if you know where to look…

M83 - Scala, 22 October, 2008

October 26th, 2008

Photo by Adman JamjarM83 have lost it - or so my similarly music nerdy workmate seems to think. Of course, this theory is a subject of much conjecture at the office, but happily, having seen the live, I can totally refute it.

I suppose the debate actually starts with how you define M83. To pigeonhole them, you’d probably use words like ‘Shoegaze’, or ‘ambient’. Fortunately, their latest foray in music, the album ‘Saturday = Youth’, is not really either of these things. Perhaps this is why my colleague dislikes it. It diverges from M83’s roots, and expands into what could be considered mainstream, with more use of melody, and vocals than any of previous M83 records, resulting in quite a satisfying mixture of wholesome synthy-ness, pop, and rock. Without resorting to comparisons, or name dropping, I can really see the influence of the producers Ken Thomas (who produced the likes of Sigur Rós, and Cocteau Twins), and Ewan Pearson (Ladytron).

M83 where nothing short of epic tonight - all of these new aspects of M83 were evident, plus the old stuff my workmate yearns for. Their set was most of their new album, interspersed with their more cinematic instrumental tracks, but even the new stuff had the gradual build and climax of their more common to their old stuff. Their playing was so intense at times that it seemed like Anthony Gonzalez was almost making love to his keyboard. He really enjoys the music, and it really shows in both his composition and performance.

My workmates says ‘Kim and Jessie’ is the epitome of how M83 have changed, So without further-a-do - Stefan - ‘Kim and Jessie’. For you. enjoy :)

Tracks:
M83 - Moon Child.mp3
M83 - Kim and Jessie.mp3
M83 - Highway of Endless Dreams.mp3
M83 - Skin of the Night.mp3
M83 - We Own The Sky.mp3

Photo by Adman Jamjar - Check out his flickr page.

Ladyhawke - Scala, 7 October, 2008

October 10th, 2008

photo by Simon Leak - http://flickr.com/photos/simonleak
Ladyhawke are the new retro-electro-80’s-pop (take your pick) sensation of the moment, and having tweaked my interest with their scorchingly good self titled debut album ‘Ladyhawke‘, I went to see them live with a few workmates. Pip walked out on stage a picture of retro, in a Homer Simpson tee 2 sizes too big, and rolled up at the sleeves. As the album is fairly heavy on the electronic side, I was quite suprised when I realized she had a full band with her. (unlike one man band Gotye, who I saw last week)

While the band played well together, the beginning of the set felt like it lacked abit of energy. This probably wasn’t helped by how shy Pip appeared to be, but I’m sure this is something that will improve as Ladyhawke get some touring experience behind them. Of course, after a few songs, they seemed to all warm into it and Pip relaxed abit, giving the crowd good reason to mosh out to a few of their better known tracks.

so! heres a few tracks to have a listen to, and dont forget - if you like it, go buy it, and see them live too! :

Ladyhawke - Dusk Til Dawn.mp3
Ladyhawke - Magic.mp3