Archive for the ‘Breaking act’ Category


Video: Darkstar – ‘Gold’

September 30, 2010

I spent a week of so banging on about this band on Twitter earlier in the month. Darkstar are on Hyperdub (run by Kode9, home to Burial and Zomby), one of the key labels behind dubstep and related urban electronic music, but they sound very different. It wasn’t always this way – before they added vocalist James Buttery they released a couple of dub/dubstep-flavoured singles on their own 2010 label (Spotify here and here), and their first two singles on Hyperdub – ‘Need You’/’Squeeze My Lime’ and ‘Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer’ – were synth-heavy, skew-whiff garage. But the video below demonstrates their new direction.

A cover of an old Human League B-side (inspired by hearing it at 33rpm rather than 45rpm, apparently), ‘Gold’ leans heavily on that early-Eighties synth-pop sound but brings it up to date – fucked-with vocals and crisp modern production blend with plaintive piano and a gloomy atmosphere. It’s typical of an album that also includes ‘Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer’, a new version of ‘Squeeze My Lime’ (now called ‘When It’s Gone’) and seven new originals. North, is out on October 18. Mark my words, it’s one of the albums of the year.

Track List (key tracks in bold)

01 In the Wings
02 Gold
03 Deadness
04 Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer
05 Under One Roof
06 Two Chords
07 North
08 Ostkreuz
09 Dear Heartbeat
10 When It’s Gone

PS: I interviewed James Young from the band for AU – check out the next issue for that, I’ll post the PDF link next week.


New Dälek side-project: MRC Riddims

September 13, 2010

At the end of last year I reviewed an amazing gig by New Jersey noise/hip-hop act Dälek, when they played in front of pitifully few people in the Black Box, Belfast. Those that weren’t there missed a treat – “imagine Kevin Shields adding his guitar onslaught to Public Enemy” as I wrote at the time.

It seems the band’s DJ Oktopus has read the review because he just emailed me out of the blue. Bizarre. Reason being, he has a new project on the go called MRC Riddims. It’s a collaboration with a NYC-based producer called Merc – Oktopus is now in Berlin, and the track below features vocals from John Morrison. It’s kind of discordant, but much less so than the sheer mayhem of Dälek – here we have buzzsaw bass, siren beeps and a doozy of a head-nodding groove. I’m into the production more than the rhyming but it’s worth a listen and a download.


AU61: Floating Points breaking through piece

January 4, 2010


REAL NAME: Sam Shepherd
BASED: London
FOR FANS OF: Boxcutter, Joy Orbison, Mount Kimbie.
CHECK OUT: Vacuum EP, out now on Eglo.

Sam Shepherd is a restless soul. Originally from Manchester, the young producer has put out a series of platters this year on various labels, but we are still no nearer to discovering what Floating Points is really all about. His contribution to Mary Anne Hobbs’ recent Wild Angels compilation, ‘Esthian III’, was glitchy and fidgety, while a swinging 12” single on Planet Mu, ‘J&W Beat/K&G Beat’, placed him neatly among that label’s roster of dubstep and garage icons. However, his latest EP, Vacuum, is another matter entirely. Here, Shepherd tries his hand at deep house and disco, and comes up trumps. The lead track ‘Vacuum Boogie’ rides on a 4/4 rhythm and a deep, rolling bassline, but the genius is at the top of the mix, where fluttering synth lines swoop in and out of each other, under an all-enveloping haze.

All of this oscillating between styles is a perfectly natural consequence of Shepherd’s background and stupendously catholic tastes. He studied jazz piano and composition at music school, then almost ended up at the Royal College of Music before thinking better of it and doing a degree in pharmacology instead. Now, he’s working on a PhD and sees the music as “just a bit of fun”. Serious enough for him to perform live with a 12-piece ensemble, though. His Dublin appearance at the Twisted Pepper on December 5 is down as a DJ set, and if we know Sam Shepherd at all, you can be sure that it will be no hostage to genre.


AU61: Let Our Enemies Beware breaking through piece

January 4, 2010

I love being able to shout about new bands that I love. That’s all this is – do yourself a favour and give them a listen. I can’t wait to get the opportunity to see them live.


MEMBERS: Shareef Dahroug (vocals, guitar), James Boast (guitar, artwork), Adam Elwin (guitar, vocals), Christopher Boast (drums).
FORMATION: Chatham, Kent, 2005.
FOR FANS OF: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Fugazi, Slint.
CHECK OUT: Against Karate, out now on Smalltown America.

It’s not overstating things in the slightest to say that Let Our Enemies Beware are one of the most exciting rock bands in Britain. For the time being, the Kent quartet fly under the radar, but surely not for long, because once word spreads about their utterly inspired debut album Against Karate, there will be no stopping them. “The band is a cathartic thing, I suppose,” says the band’s brilliantly unhinged frontman Shareef Dahroug. “It’s shaking off the usual boredom and drudgery of everyday life by shouting at a lot of people in the dark and them, for the most part, thanking us for it.”

The band came to our attention via the good people at Smalltown America records, who got involved after spotting them playing live in London. From there, a spot on one of the label’s Public Service Announcement compilations (#9 if you’re interested) and a tour with our very own And So I Watch You From Afar and LaFaro followed, and now LOEB have a rabid, slavering beast of a full-length to show for it all. This is 20 years of noisy bastard guitar music neatly distilled into 45 minutes – the mean ferocity of Shellac, the heart-bursting conviction of At The Drive-In, the creepy atmosphere of Slint and the utter fucking mayhem of …Trail Of Dead when Conrad’s in one of his moods. “Live, we are the aural equivalent of a nervous breakdown,” says Dahroug. “You can decide whether it’s any good for yourself if you don’t mind losing your hearing to find out.” Believe us, sir, we’ll take that risk.


AU60: Washed Out breaking act piece

November 17, 2009


MEMBER: Ernest Greene
FORMATION: Georgia, USA, 2009.
FOR FANS OF: Erasure, Walter Jones, Junior Boys.
CHECK OUT: Life Of Leisure EP, out now on Mexican Summer.

Apt artist names are always strangely satisfying, as if the perfect marriage of words and music elevates the whole package. And when a fitting visual image is thrown in too, well, it’s an open goal for the artist in question. So it is with Washed Out, the inspired alias of a young gent by the marvellous given name of Ernest Greene. Greene’s latest EP, the bewitching Life Of Leisure, is a hazy, soft-focus confection that draws on Eighties synth-pop and slo-mo disco, and key to his success is the wholly original sound he’s managed to come up with, drenching his solidly lo-fi productions with some soporific synths and dreamy, half-heard vocals. You could try dancing to it, but what we really want to do is listen on headphones while walking around San Francisco on a summer’s evening, the sun still an hour from setting and the air warm and soft. It seems like it would fit, somehow.


AU60: Mount Kimbie breaking act piece

November 17, 2009

Great to be able to write about these guys – one of the best new acts I’ve heard this year. Their Maybes EP is genuinely stunning. Seek it out.


MEMBER: Dom Maker, Kai Campos
FORMATION: London, 2008.
FOR FANS OF: Flying Lotus, Burial, Hudson Mohawke.
CHECK OUT: Maybes and Sketch On Glass EPs, out now on Hotflush.

You’ll be hearing a lot more from these two young Londoners. As Mount Kimbie, they emerged from nowhere at the start of the year with one of the finest electronic releases of late, debut EP Maybes. And then in the summer, they followed it up with a noticeably different follow-up in Sketch On Glass. Four tracks on each and not the merest hint of a dud. But why so good? Well, despite the handy little For Fans Of line up there, they really don’t sound like anyone else. Maybes, especially, is a revelation. Heart-stoppingly beautiful, it touches on dubstep, hip-hop and electronica but winds up inhabiting a space all of its own, where found sounds mingle with rich basslines and skittering beats, all overlaid with haunting, near-impercptible vocals and submerged underwater. It’s quite extraordinary. Sketch On Glass changes things up with bright synths, harder hitting grooves and instant gratification, but we must evangelise no further, and rather insist that you proceed forthwith to your favourite download retailer and buy both. Right now.


AU59: Liquid Vega breaking act piece

October 12, 2009

As with so many of my recent favourites, I found out about Liquid Vega thanks to the ever-fantastic FACT Magazine. The band were available for an email interview, so that’s where the quotes come from. Looking forward to some proper releases from these guys. (PS: now you see where my header image comes from. :-))

Liquid Vega 1


MEMBERS: Vincent Gomes (music/vocals), Genevieve Duprie (vocals/music)
FORMATION: Paris, 2008.
FOR FANS OF: Glass Candy, The xx, The Cure.
CHECK OUT: Tracks streaming at the band’s Myspace page.

Liquid Vega are the very definition of enigmatic. An unsigned duo who claim to be “from London via various other places” and who met at a party in Paris, they are still to release a note of music through official channels and yet they are already the subject of a raft of glowing articles in some well-respected organs, online and in print. And here we are, joining in. But believe us when we say that we would leave well alone if we weren’t completely smitten with their delicate yet darkly erotic sound, a blend of Disintegration-era Cure’s dramatic sweep and the sinister glamour of the excellent Italians Do It Better label – Chromatics, Glass Candy, Desire. Vincent and Genevieve call it “ghost disco”, and we honestly couldn’t put it better ourselves.

“We mean a certain kind of music that is of the night, that’s almost translucent, where you’re not sure what exists through what you’ve heard,” they explain. It’s hard to pin down what exactly is so intoxicating about this band, but more than the songwriting, the atmosphere is key – teardrops on the dancefloor, a slow dance in the moonlight, the sweet ache of longing. “To have that elusive something is crucial, we think. But there is a longing in the music that results from our relationship. We’d be lost without it.” The precise nature of that relationship is ambiguous – they say that they initially “got talking over spilt wine, records and kisses in the night,” and they claim that they are mainly inspired by “each other,” but this isn’t the kind of band where you need or want all the biographical details. Maybe it’s best if they remain unknowable, floating in the ether, haunting our dreams.

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