Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Tommy Tempa : The Quixotic EP

02:45 PM

The second release of Berlin-London label Somethinksounds is also just the second for Tommy Tempa, a London-based computer music producer familiar with many different genres and one third of Mancini & the Creepers. His new EP The Quixotic slides between warm-hearted and reserved sounds, open and heady ones, easily filling the air.

The seven blending-into-each-other tracks are headed by “Fragments”, starting with klingklang reminding one of baby mobiles before rising up. “Rejoin Rejoice” (stream below) then sounds the first depths, while “Micro Ballistics” stays a sketchy intermezzo, followed by the almost sacral “Light Medium”. The video for the latter (watch above) by L.P. Palmer comes as turned-film illustrations from magazines. “Now or Never” leads us to South then as number five, “Warm Glow of the City” experiments with all kinds of minimalistic fuzz and finally “Roma” manages to be a slightly abstract end.

The EP is an uplifting and diverted pleasure, which you can listen to as complete stream here (and buy everywhere now).

Tommy Tempa The Quixotic was released via somethinksounds.

File next to: Sampha, Walls, Caribou Swim

Tommy Tempa : Rejoin Rejoice

Even more

Peter and Kerry : Knees (Tommy Tempa Remix)

Stream : Altrice : Stem (Caribou remixes)

06:38 PM

Pivontingly and slowly the track pushes up and up, spreads itself until shortly after minute in the original song title and its simple chorus raises for the first. What follows in the next two minutes is just a beautiful sonic catharsis, as beautifully put together as a Swiss clockwork. “Only What You Gave Me”, the remix-contest-winning rework of Caribou‘s magnificent “Sun” by Altrice alias Arizona based talent Mike Sadatmousavi, was indeed able to capture and reflect its original’s beauty, letting it shine in new light.

So Dan Snaith should have been really confident when he gave Sadatmousavi the stems of complete album Swim‘s tracks to create the remix album Stem. And he shouldn’t be disappointed now, when Merge and City Slang release it today (for now only as download).

Stem keeps the high creative and production level of throughout its nine songs. Whether “Abe” (of the anyway indestructible “Bowls”), the now mellow ambient tune “Modern Song” (“Found Out”) or the perfect sacral dream “We Are Not Forever” (“Leave House”) as the album’s new best song: They are all unique and a good match for their audio parents.

And the good news don’t run out, since Oneohtrix Point Never got confirmed as second support act besides Emeralds for the Caribou & Friends concert in Berlin – tickets are selling fast at the moment.

Altrice : Strem [Original titles of the here re-mixed Caribou tracks]
1. Siphon Away [Odessa]
2. Only What You Gave Me [Sun]
3. Peace Of Minds [Kaili]
4. Modern Song [Found Out]
5. Abe [Bowls]
6. We Are Not Forever [Leave House]
7. House Feels Empty [Hannibal]
8. Elsa [Lalibela]
9. The Man [Jamelia]

Gaspard Augé & Mr. Oizo : Rubber OST

05:02 PM

Electro producer and director Quentin Dupieux alias Mr. Oizo already created his first music video for Laurent Garnier’s “Flashback” in 1997, so even before the release of his first EP on F Communications.  But it took another ten years before the minimalist comedy Steak on two schoolmates’ struggle for acceptance marked his film debut. Then, in the last festival summer and fall, his second work called Rubber followed, in which the Frenchman (with by now three released full-length albums) takes 85minutes to portray a marauding tyre trekking through the Californian desert. Even more clearly breaking with traditional cinema’s convention, the controversially received film sadly won’t be available on DVD here until May, but its soundtrack already is.

Rubber (Trailer) (Video)

So does the hereby transformed into a gedankenexperiment plot still work out well this way?

Yes and no. The obscure setting in the best case promises a mixture of Ennio Morricone’s classic western soundtracks and Kraftwerk’s legendary Autobahn and indeed, Dupieux and his partner Gaspard Augé, who can be heard here for the first time outside of Justice’ corset since his solo productions as Microloisir back in 2003, meander between the two not seldom. There’s some nostalgic klingklang, some flute sounds, sometimes just whistling, but not much for the club in here. The duo even seems to re-produce the typical rough and creaking sound design of a Mr. Oizo record ironically in the title track (listen at the end). Then again, “Sheila” and “Tricycle Express” are pretty close to the interstellar beauty of electronic pioneers like Kraftwerk.

The rest of the all in all 14 tracks is always shorter than two minutes and a half, mostly just staying one-dimensional themes. Instead of a real police car’s sirens speeding through town a fuzzed frequency noise wails in “Bellyball Road”; the ghost of Serge Gainsbourg wafts through “Racket”; “Le Caoutchouc” (French for ‘rubber’) is a claustrophobic psychosis at its best. And yes, you get scared to be surrounded by corny polos when you listen to “Polocaust”, the final showdown.

But does a tyre, this soulless round being “feel” this the same or a different way than we do? At least, for the vulcanisation of human thoughts this score is too sketchy, too tentative and too far behind the radicalism of its original film. It’s an interesting listening, though.

Gaspard Augé & Mr. Oizo Rubber OST was released by Ed Banger / Alive. Arte has an interview with Quentin Dupieux on the film here. Sadly only available on the Rubber EP is the “Unprotected Sex” remix by Flying Lotus, who recently and finally released the second Mr. Oizo LP Moustache (Half A Scissor) for the first time on vinyl via his own label Brainfeeder, six years after the originally releasing label F Communications refused to do so.

Mr. Oizo & Gaspard Augé : Rubber (Stream)

Mr. Oizo & Gaspard Augé : Rubber (Flying Lotus ‘Unprotected Sex’ Remix) (Stream)

Barbara Panther : Empire EP

12:02 AM

She was the  “Snake” for Acid Washed, covered the Talking Heads with Kid606 and sang on tracks by Sneaky, Jahcoozi, the Rhythm Monks and T.Raumschmiere. Now Barbara Panther, a Berliner of choice, is taking her first proper solo step into the limelight, presenting her debut EP Empire on German super label City Slang. And no less than British sound magician Matthew Herbert took over the producing part to create flickering shapes of Klang with Panther, who already had a first, but apparently unsuccessful try-out with Moses Schneider (Beatsteaks, Tocotronic) last year.

Now, on Empire music, vocals and setting at first appear randomly constituted, before revealing themselves as conflicting with both, each other and their inner, when put under a closer, holistic view. There a beat bluntly drones, before getting distorted, metallically interlaced and, finally, thrown out of step within a clanking, buzzing, throbbing battle. In the meantime the singer enjoys her play with the words: instead of wah-wah-guitars Panther onomatopoeically sings, “I don’t care if that makes me a wa-wa-wa-witch!” Her voice tumbles, Herbert runs a riot on the volume control.

But here and there is always an almost disconcerting moment of warmness and lights in this wildly rooted mahogany undergrowth. Once as unwieldy perceived choruses suddenly becomes danceable.

Thereby the EP in even two respects turns into a (downright enjoyable) antithesis to the currently dominating ideal of modern pop, the (wo)man-machine.* Musically, in the above mentioned deconstruction of the technique, and lyrically, when Panther demands the return of nature’s reign in the title track or when she stylises Dr Frankenstein as the waker of the “evil in me” in the follow-up “Voodoo”. Thus an associational circle is closed, leading to Björk or Karin Dreijer-Andersson, of whom the Rwandan born artists’ inevitably multi-faceted voice reminds. It’s a hoarse child and a powerful in one, quite contrary to one’s expectations as Panther herself suggests in the press text, “I may also create a futuristic and mystic feeling because I’m black and the music doesn’t sound black at all.”

Well, surely there has been more than one other black non-soul-or-R’n’B artists in pop history, but indirectly this observation is underlined by the media and her own label’s inability to put her unconventional live performances into other words than the repetitive comparison to Grace Jones. Anyway, Barbara Panther and her band’s new set-up can be seen live this Friday at the highly recommendable Berlin Festival and throughout the whole November and early December as support act of Caribou.

As first preview for this can already be watched in Woof-Wan-Bau-directed video to “Empire”. The beginning of 2011 shall then see the release 13-song-strong debut album taking place. So the “Last Dance”, for which Panther and Herbert ask us to at the Empire‘s end, apparently won’t be the last.

Empire will be released digitally on September 10 via City Slang.

Barbara Panther Empire EP track list:

01 Empire

02 Voodoo

03 Deeper Purple
04 A Last Dance

Barbara Panther live:
10.09. Berlin Festival – Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin
14.10. Club Gargar-in, Moscow (Russia)
08.11. Feierwerk, Munich
14.11. Central Theater, Leipzig
15.11. Uebel & Gefährlich, Hamburg
16.11. Enjoy Jazz Festival, Heidelberg
29.11. Gloria, Cologne
04.12. Fluc, Vienna (Austria)
05.12. Mounsonturm, Frankfurt a.M.

*See Wibke Wetzker’s essay “Menschmaschinnen” (German only) in the Spex #328 for a proper introduction.

Nite Jewel: Am I Real? EP

06:34 PM

Just today I somehow recognized that most of our recent articles consisted to about 42.7 percent of dry talk on the weather, which must have felt like some lame-duck-reading for you, since as a kid that crew up on the countryside I knew , that talking about the weather is by far the most absolute manifestation of empti-, eventless- and hopelessness, if not to say, everyday village life. I guess, this was the key reason for me (among the great, expressive optics of the piece) to put the glaring red, legendary poster of the SDS (Socialist German Student Union) from 1968 saying, “Everyone’s talking about the weather. Not we.”, on bedsit’s wall. But it in the end it turned out to be not the best idea to have Marx, Engels and Lenin greeting from out of your window, when the previously mentioned countryside was located in the former GDR.

On the other hand, and here we are back with the weather, it’s just about 20 degrees (°C of course) in Berlin today, which feels like the deepest winter after all these days of boiling heat. And there’s this apparently bipolar-disordered rain-not-rain outside of the house going on my nerves. So actually I’m extraordinarily happy to have the new Am I Real? EP by the high-rated Nite Jewel from L.A. with me.

With Am I Real? the just recently turned-to duo (Mister Cole MGN officially joined Ramona Gonzales aka Nite Jewel) puts out it’s by now seventh, smaller release following their 2008 Gloriette-Records-album Good Evening – with two 12″s on Italians Do It Better! among them. But the hereby compiled six new tracks were, in parts and as earlier versions, already featured on last year’s European tour EP Your F O. Still, the new record is pure listening pleasure.

We have a pleasantly calm start with “Another Horizon”, which is trying to catch the last sunbeams from the very same one, evoking the first beach feelings inside of us. Then “We Want Our Things” comes with a harsh, but favourable and danceable synthie hook like from the hands of Johnny Jewel daher, while in the gloomy, wistful “Forget You & I” the question”How shallow can I be?” is (fortunately) all masquerade. Next one on the track list is  “Falling Far” – another soft, arcane ode to somnambulism. By far better than the band of the same title is “White Lies”, which gains its great plus from the minimalistic, fuzzed keytar play. Finally Nite Jewel got together with their local friends of Teen Inc. for the EP’s title track. Once again Ramona’s tender, a bit washed-out sounding voice nestles up to the music, which this time turns into a fantastically woozy late-night funk before it breaks away, loosing itself in its own repetition. Somehow this could be the perfect soundtrack  for a little, sophisticated erotic movie, couldn’t it?

Nite Jewel Am I Real? EP is available digitally from the band’s website from now on. The vinyl version follows on August 16 via Gloriette in the US and No Pain In Pop and Big Love in Europe).

Ganglians: Monster Head Rooms

06:50 PM

Let’s anticipate this thing directly before we start to pudently hem and haw around it: Yes, Ganglians do sound like the Beach Boys, the do it a lot, and yes, they’re pretty good in it. Their parent’s record collections and their Californian origin (they call Sacramento their home) may let us condone this fact. But we should never reduce them to this! Therefore, their debut album Monster Head Room, which got released in the US already last year, sounds too diverse and bares its teeth way too often.

They can sound really arid when they ride out into the desert on their moll chords and twanging guitars (Lost Words), but they already have the perfect bonfire anthem with them (The Void), although it’s delivery appears to stop dead by the landing of a space ship. Then silence. Crickets are chirping, birds tweeting and frogs croaking. A new day cuts its way trough the thicket (To June) and finds its echo in the by the hitherto darkest track “100 Years”.

We recognise: This has become a really cinematic album. Earlier, the intro “Something Should be Said” already projected a 1970ies’ roadmovie’s trailer onto our heads’ internal walls, now there seems to be a creaking garden gate in the background of “Valient Brave”. Eventually, there’s the great final with the bonus track “Make It Up”, the happy end which turns into a stomping postpunk theme á la the Cramps – closing credits that even Tarantino couldn’t have done better.

Oh and yeah, the Beach Boys references. A track like the harmonic, but drunkenly almost-lullaby with football choir schalala-applications, that is “Voodoo”, should even wrest an acknowledging nod  from Brian Wilson. Chapeau!

Monster Head Rooms was released by Souterrain Transmissions / Rough Trade in Germany and the UK last month and can be pre-listened at the article’s bottom. Ganglians are around in Europe these days to play a gig in Berlin tonight and further ones in the Benelux and the UK. See all dates and a live video below.

Video: “Ganglians live” by Ray Concepcion

Ganglians live:
22.06. Bang Bang Club, Berlin, Germany
23.06. Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
24.06. Pleasure, Ghent, Belgium
25.06. Bodega Social Club, Nottingham, UK
26.06. Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK
27.06. Bardens Boudoir, London, UK

Ganglians – Monster Head Room by souterraintransmissions

Mathew Jonson: Agents Of Time

08:29 PM

Ambient ambition against complexity: Just ten years old he began to play drums, piano and percussion, which lead him into the electronic music business at first, now, Canadian producer Mathew Jonson presents his solo debut album Agents Of Time after another more than another ten years of numerous collaborations (f.i. Cobblestone Jazz) and singles and EPs.

The track list reads itself like a book, built on different chapters on avant-garde subjects (Thieves in Digital Land, New Model Robots), which can not really leave the presence of modernisation behind (Agents Of Time). Hereby Mathew Jonson begins calmly sedating. But the indulgence of “Love In Future” in its inherent atmospheric shape is only temporary, since he’s already showing this track’s antithesis with “Girls Got Rhythm”. As bass-heavy, almost club orientated and crowned with vocals Jonson elaborates his oriental sounds even stronger on the albumsnoch verstärkter.

On Agents Of Time his will is primarily focused on the relation of happy and sad emotions, which shall carry the compositions. However, the tracks appear not as completely produced as his earlier ones (except “Marionette”, ironically an already in 2004 as single released song, which is here represented in an edited rough draft).

Hence, Jonson’s compositions own a kind of co-hyponyms, which lacks a greater hypernym, the perfected sophistication.

At least one, with rising sympathy, needs to emphasize the recurrently meditative structure, which became Mathew Jonson’s significant characteristic on his way to one of the world’s most popular producers. Now he can be even prouder on the release of his first ever solo album on his own Wagon Repair label, which recently also put out the second full-length of his collective project Cobblestone Jazz (together with Tyger Dhula, Danule Tate and The Mole) in April.

01. Love in the Future
02. Girls Got Rhythm
03. Thieves in Digital Land
04. Sunday Disco Romance
05. Marionette (the Beginning)
06. Night Vision
07. Pirates in the 9th
08. New Model Robots
09. When Love Feels Like Crying
10. Agents of Time
11. Too Late to Change

Agents of Time was released by Wagon Repair and is digitally available f.i. at zero”.

The Drums “The Drums”

11:05 PM

Sometimes things are just passing one by. People keep talking this or that, equally whether good or bad, but you don’t really care about, since it doesn’t spark you, doesn’t grab you. So for a few months new people were talking about a New Yorker band called The Drums without me ever getting into their music at all. However, it’s said, that they are more than just good and do sound like The Smiths, which wouldn’t be too bad, would it? Hence I approached their untitled debut LP (let’s call it The Drums) with a bit of both, excitement and scepiticism.

All of a sudden the next 40 minutes spent listening to the album were more than I’d expected. The band easily needs just few seconds to attract all my attention, an undivided one of course, creating a rather nice, but kindly demure pressure. The Synthesizer form a solid basis complementing one another with the guitars and the Jonathan Pierce’ memorable voice. The result is a soft and untroubled sound, which nevertheless however loses its energy.

It takes the fourth track, “Book of Stories”, to calm down a bit again. Here the drums (the instruments, not the band) are less pushing, leaving the leading role to the synthesizer pads. The fith song, “Forever & Ever Amen”, is then one of the sweetest and most beautiful pieces of this LP. At the same time, melancholy stays this record’s leitmotif until its bittersweet end. Amazingly, the Drums’ music doesn’t lose its pressure and always remains colourful – despite its simplicity and the obvious similarity of some tracks.

On their debut, the Drums fuse the sweetness of The Smiths with the gravity of Joy Division, still able to create their own style. And the pick of this is, that The Drums is a sickly-sweet masterpiece brightening up your life like a cold ice cream at a hot summer’s day.

The Drums will be released on June 7 via Moshi Moshi / Island in the UK and on June 4 via Moshi Moshi /Cooperative Music / Universal in Germany.

The Drums track listing:
1. Best Friend
2. Me & the Moon
3. Skippin Town
4. Book of Stories
5. Forever & Ever Amen
6. Down by the Water
7. It will all end in Tears
8. We tried
9. I need Fun in my Life
10. I’ll never drop my Sword
11. The Future

The Drums live:
27.05. Paradiso, Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
29.05. Primavera Festival, Barcelona (Spain)
31.05. Postbahnhof, Berlin (Germany)
01.06. Molotow, Hamburg (Germany)
02.06. Vega, Kopenhagen (Denmark)
04.06. Doornroosje, Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
05.06. Vera, Groningen (the Netherlands)
07.06. Garage, London (UK)
08.06. Heaven, London (UK)
09.06. Heaven, London (UK)
10.06. La Cigale, Paris (France)
25.06. Open Air St. Gallen, St. Gallen (Switzerland)
27.06. Glastonbury Festival, Glastonbury (UK)
29.06. Junction, Cambridge (UK)
30.06. Hyde Park, London (UK) supporting Kings of Leon
02.07. Hove Festival, Tromoy (Norway)
04.07. Eurockeennees, Belfort (France)
05.07. Montreaux Jazz Fest, Montreaux (Switzerland)
08.07. Optimus Alive, Lisbon (Portugal)
10.07. Oxegen Festival, Punchestown (Ireland)
11.07. T in the Park, Kinross (UK)
13.08. Flow Festival, Helsinki (Finland)
14.08. Way Out West Festival, Gothenborg (Sweden)
15.08. Dockville Festival, Hamburg (Germany)
17.08. Atomic Café, Munich (Germany)
19.08. Frequency Festival, Salzburg (Austria)
20.08. Highfield Festival, Grosspösna (Germany)
21.08. Pukkelpop, Hasselt (Belgium)
22.08. Lowlands, Biddinghuizen (the Netherlands)
24.08. Ibiza Rocks Hotel, Ibiza (Spain)
28.08. Leeds Festival, Leeds (UK)
29.08. Reading Festival, Reading (UK)

Who Knew: Bits And Pieces Of A Major Spectacle

11:36 AM

Current associations with Iceland are pretty easy to guess – Björk, Sigur Rós and world famous glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull, that’s it. Luckily we can add another item to the string, no volcano – don’t worry -, but a young, new band called Who Knew. From the land of fairies they’re now bringing us their debut album Bits And Pieces Of A Major Spectacle via German Devilduck Records/101 labels.

One could expect, Who Knew would like Björk have put a great number of expressionist sounds and noises on their first one, but that’s not the case. Instead singer Armann’s voice is overtaking the part of an instrument delivering dramatical connotations. From time to time this sounds like  cry for help from an Icelandic hill down into the shady deep.

Sadly Bits And Pieces Of A Major Spectacle quickly despairs in it’s own monotony and appears by this not completely sound and unripe. After all, Who Knew do release a piece of fine Icelandic mythology with interesting musical interventions here and, too, will tour with it through Germany soon.

Who Knew Bits And Pieces Of A Major Spectacle will be released on May 21 2010 via Devilduck Records/101 in Germany.

Who Knew live 2010:
23.05. Knust, Hamburg supporting Kashmir
24.05. Label-WG Party, Hamburg
30.05. Café Wagner, Jena
02.06. Hafen2, Offenbach
04.06. Bang Bang Club, Berlin
05.06. Lunatic Festival, Lüneburg
06.06. Astrastube, Hamburg
08.06. Stadtgarten, Erfurt
10.06. Franzi’s, Wetzlar
12.06. Seaside Rendezvous Festival, Flensburg

Kissy Sell Out “Youth”

07:00 AM

It’s no secret that music’s face is turning more and more electronic. Charts are dominated by (more or less) plastic dance like Lady Gaga or Ke$ha and, in case they aren’t available for a longer time, ex-‘indie’ acts with synthie woof like La Roux or Gossip bridge the gap. No wonder, one classic rock band of the other is experimenting with electronic elements and new DJs pop up everywhere – sadly not seldom at quality’s expense.

One of those new artists and DJs is Kissy Sell Out alias Thomas Bisdee. This young Brit’s vita reads like the plot for an average Hollywood movie. Born as only child in a small village, discovering ‘dance music’ with 13, scoffed underdog at younger age, then move to another town and adaption of cultural ‘mainstream’, which leads into rising popularity among his classmates and friends – although he always sticked to his former affections like painting, albeit secretly. After this metamorphosis the young lad becomes a graphic designer, producer and in the end DJ and radio host with a flat at the hub of the world, big city London. It might not be career from the dishwasher to a millionaire but one from dusty the pavement to the shiny skylines.

After mainly deejaying at clubs and hosting his own show at BBC’s prestigious Radio1 Kissy Sell Out released his first self-written album in late March 2010. The debut work is called Youth and was recorded by Kissy himself and his cousin, who takes on the vocals here. In his songs Bisdee non-surprisingly re-telling stories from his on teenage days and listeners quickly recognize, that the same must have been neither notably exciting, nor varied.

Opener “Through the Leaves” might begin very promising with some nice strings but then enter the vocals and one start thinking about of what they remind you – weirdly enough, my first thought was ‘Bloc Party’, only jazzier and more electronic. Then it’s getting dancier: more rhythms, drums and synthesizer sounds, though, with no remarkable climax and so we start hunt for the very the same through the next ten tracks listening to one eagerly put together tune after the other.

After 38 minutes there’s suddenly silence, the ultimate one. The CD is over and one’s wondering, what he / she has been doing during the last half an hour. All we can remember are some lengthy and unspectacular synthie hooks, various hey!-shouts fleeing from a evenly singing and, somehow, a lack of real bass and beats. This album literally chokes you to boredom with its monotonous jazzy style, shining only with its unvariety.

If Kissy would have meet some cool and true guys and not some backstreet boys, the LP could sound way different today. But after all, you can be curious to see him giving it another try reaching out for electronic music’s Olympe with a follow-up called Adult or not. We only hope for him that his life gets a bit spicier till then – more dusty pavements and less shiny skylines maybe.

Kissy Sell Out Youth was released by Rykodisc / Warner in Germany in 2010 and already last year by ADA in the UK.

TRANSLATION: Thomas Vorreyer