Thursday, August 17, 2017

UNKLE: The Road, Part 1 review – cinematic, orchestral and pensive

(Songs for the Def)

When James Lavelle ran hip 1990s label Mo’ Wax, his genre-busting UNKLE project called on stars from Thom Yorke to Ian Brown, before Lavelle’s career nosedived in a blizzard of cocaine. Today, the guest list – ranging from soul singer Eska to Tricky-like rapper Elliott Power – isn’t so starry, but it is effective, and Mark Lanegan delivers the strings-soaked symphonic goth of Looking for the Rain with typical aplomb.

Elsewhere, Lavelle’s bankruptcy has brought reflection. UNKLE’s cinematic first album in seven years opens with actor Brian Cox asking, “Have you thought about the mistakes you’ve made?”

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by Dave Simpson via Electronic music | The Guardian

Ghostpoet: Dark Days + Canapés review – grey-sky thinking about modern life

(Play It Again Sam)

Poet and musician Obaro Ejimiwe’s fourth album opens with a groan. So the mood is set for the rest of this exhaustingly bleak record; a grey-skied documentation of modern hot-button issues such as the refugee crisis (“No-one knows / How many / On the boat / Violent skies / Won’t tell us / Where to go”), social media (“Instagram your foes”) and modern dating (“we swipe left and figure it out”). Often its lyrics are a little on the nose, but musically it’s subtle, atmospheric – macabre Massive Attack ominousness on (We’re) Dominoes, tetchy, barbed post-punk on Freakshow, and aching elegance and eeriness on Dopamine If I Do, while Trouble + Me seems to rework the burgeoning reverence of Radiohead’s Street Spirit. Of course, Ghostpoet is merely exploring the world around him, but unlike Radiohead’s OK Computer, incredibly insightful and prophetic 20 years on, its unambiguous, unbridled hopelessness is wearing.

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by Harriet Gibsone via Electronic music | The Guardian

Chase and Status: Tribe review – dubstep duo can't decide between chart and club


London duo Chase and Status have long been a paradox. They thrash out meat-and-two-veg drum’n’bass and brostep for North Face-wearing teens, and have written for the likes of Rihanna, but also have enough cachet on the dance music scene to attract a variety of cross-genre collaborations on this fourth album. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it feels like at least three projects haphazardly packaged as a single unit.

There’s lots of good stuff: the dancehall-flecked Big Man Skank and the contributions from grime heavyweight Kano, rising soul singer Tom Grennan and rap crew Section Boyz, to name but a few. And then there’s the clunky: Craig David’s by-the-numbers garage on Reload, and extremely bland features from the likes of Blossoms and Slaves, offering a poundstore Prodigy impression on Control. Plus, Emeli Sandé-featuring Love Me More, which, minus the breakbeats, is pure Radio 2.

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by Hannah J Davies via Electronic music | The Guardian

Matthew Bourne: Isotach review – piano at its most spartan and hypnotic

(The Leaf Label)

With his recent Radioland tribute to Kraftwerk and his Moogmemory projects, Yorkshire-based pianist Matthew Bourne has shown that he’s one of those rare jazz musicians who knows how to grapple with a synthesiser, rather than simply playing it like an organ or a piano. Weirdly, these solo piano pieces – completed over an 18-month period when Bourne had virtually stopped practising his instrument – sound as if he is interrogating an alien sound source on an upright grand. On tracks such as Isotach and Isopleth, simple phrases are stated and restated, as if Bourne is thrilled by the sound of a piano for the first time in years. The parallel fourths on Extinction nod towards Radiohead’s Everything in Its Right Place; the parallel fifths on Isothere recall one of Harold Budd’s ambient piano pieces; while Isotherm sounds like Bourne is lingering quizzically on a single Erik Satie riff. The results are spartan, hypnotic and beautiful, if gloriously unresolved.

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by John Lewis via Electronic music | The Guardian

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What’s it like to pull off a DJ set at eight months pregnant? Anna Lunoe explains

Visibly pregnant women are seldom seen on stage, but the Sydney-turned-LA DJ says she never considered stopping

“I didn’t even imagine that I would keep DJing pregnant, cos I just didn’t think anybody wanted to see that,” says Anna Lunoe, down the phone from Los Angeles.

The Australian-born, US-based DJ has just stopped working for the year, but not before capping off a tour with a set at California’s Hard Summer festival, which saw her climbing the decks while eight months pregnant.

no words.. ❤️ @coachella @skrillex . @jbasjel

good news! ur gonna get 2 lunoe's for the price of 1 all summer long c u tomorrow coachella !

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by Stephanie Convery via Electronic music | The Guardian

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sunfall festival review – dance goes deep as Princess Nokia hits the heights

Brockwell Park, London
DJ masterclasses from Helena Hauff and Ben UFO ease the sting of entry queues, while rising hip-hop stars and techno parties create a 16-hour marathon

On paper, this audiophile event showcasing the dance and hip-hop underground is one of the smartest, most necessary dates in the festival calendar, but harsh reality intervenes. As at Boomtown the previous weekend, the British tolerance for queuing is pushed to its absolute limit by the three-hour wait to get in, followed by another serious queue for booze to soften the pain; many attendees have their day unacceptably truncated.

If it helps them feel better, they didn’t miss much early on. London producer Romare flirts with some intriguing polyrhythms, but his Latin percussion breaks have their rangy funk smoothed out by being too neatly looped; the very tame live sax and flute lines, devoid of passion or direction, worsen matters. Similarly directionless is Roy Ayers, who has some enchanted devotees, but whose interminable, fussily meandering vibraphone lines are a struggle for the rest.

Related: 'It's all about feeling': Chicago dance great Larry Heard takes house to the heavens

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oneohtrix Point Never: Good Time OST review – stunning thriller soundtrack includes standout Iggy ballad


Following seven albums of shapeshifting electronics, Daniel Lopatin is tasked with scoring a Robert Pattinson crime drama, Good Time. Divorcing film scores from their visual cues can feel alienating and pointless, and on initial listens it’s hard to stop wondering what those cues might be. But by garbling snatches of film dialogue, Lopatin starts to create a sense of this being a separate psychological thriller, and dedicated headphone immersion proves thrilling. The film nods are everywhere – the futurist grandeur of Brad Fiedel’s Terminator soundtrack, heavy shades of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s malevolent, exacting synthscapes, and touches of Vangelis and Popol Vuh’s ambience; Romance Apocalypse recalls the amphetamine clatter of Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice theme. But the sheer density and erratic energy is all Lopatin’s own. It ends with one of Iggy Pop’s great late-period triumphs, a stunning ballad called The Pure and the Damned where Iggy, blending vibrato with catarrh, asks: “Death, make me brave.”

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Ricardo Villalobos: 'Techno music melds the classes together'

The Chilean-born DJ and producer has endless stamina – and a 20-year career to prove it. As his music gets ever more nuanced, he tells of where his passion started, and where his growing family is taking it

It’s 7am when I walk into Fabric, and it smells terrible. The superclub has been open since 11pm, hosting an afterparty for the Lovebox festival where many of the patrons spent the day. With everyone’s antiperspirant a distant memory, the air is rich with a summery musk, a little like rotten peaches.

Until 11.30am, a period when most other Londoners are walking dogs, burping babies and pondering an elaborate fry-up, the dancefloor remains packed for what is one of the great techno pilgrimages: an early-morning set from Chilean-born DJ and producer Ricardo Villalobos. He has been on since 6am, and is now vogueing happily around the Fabric booth, long arms reaching this way and that as he pulls together a set of extraordinary, often contradictory grooves. Around the minimal techno he is known for, there are bits of flute, salsa rhythms, a commanding edit of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax, and a 10-minute stretch of ultra-slow dub.

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Readers recommend playlist: songs about France and French things

Our reader has listened to your suggestions and picked tunes from Debbie Harry, Jean Ferrat and Black Box Recorder among others

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

It’s fair to say that the UK and France haven’t always been the best of neighbours. That said, I do think there’s a certain unique, mutual love and admiration – they send us their cheese and wine; in return we send M&S and decent music. France and French things in general have inspired some great songs. My selection is both something of a compare and contrast exercise and a little amuse-bouche to tickle those musical taste buds.

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by Pairubu via Electronic music | The Guardian

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dom Servini at Casper Bar in Montenegro on 23/08

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Dom Servini at Casper Bar in Montenegro on 22/08

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Friday, August 4, 2017

'It's all about feeling': Chicago dance great Larry Heard takes house to the heavens

A prog rock kid who created existential club tracks with two tape decks, the producer known as Mr Fingers is a true pioneer. He talks about loneliness, day jobs and why Instagram is killing the dancefloor

When you listen to a Larry Heard track, the first thing that hits you is the bassline: elastic, erotic, condemned to endlessly repeat itself. It may dart distractedly from place to place, climb upwards only to fall back to where it started, and always sound sad and fraught, but it presses doggedly on. It’s an existential crisis you can dance to.

The cosmic bassline on the 1986 smash Can You Feel It helped open acid house’s spiritual dimension; on 1987’s Bring Down the Walls, the bassline chafes against the kick drums to create claustrophobia amid a song of freedom. Last year, fellow Chicagoan Kanye West slowed down the bassline of Heard’s Mystery of Love for his track Fade, in thrall to its nagging power.

If someone turned up the bass and the people went ‘Yay!’, you knew people liked bass. It was supply and demand

Everyone's peering and leering, taking pictures and video. It’s awkward, the opposite of how clubs were

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Björk announces new album: 'This is like my Tinder record'

Icelandic singer marks a change in mood from her breakup album Vulnicura, saying her new songs are about being in love

Björk has announced an as yet untitled new album, saying it is “about being in love”.

The Icelandic singer’s previous record, Vulnicura, was a dark and fraught album that reflected on the breakdown of her marriage to artist Matthew Barney. Conversely, the new LP is “my dating album,” she told Dazed magazine. “This is like my Tinder record.”

Related: How cruising, graveyards and swan songs inspired Arca’s new album

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Elza Soares: End of the World Remixes review – samba legend gets an electronic victory lap

(Mais Um Discos)

Despite being in her late 70s, the Brazilian samba legend Elza Soares had a banner 2016, putting out the triumphant and progressive album The Woman at the End of the World, and performing at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, imperious in a purple wig. She gets a victory lap here, with a raft of remixers showing how easily she slips into modern Latin dance. A line is drawn with another Portuguese colony, Angola, and its kuduro style, with DJ Marfox getting hectic while Nidia Minaj pitches Soares down for a minimalist take on Pra Fuder. Omulu, meanwhile, brings her voice right to the front of the mix for the title track, in all its glottal vibrato and gloriously audible salivation. As with every remix album, there are some inconsequential versions, but the curators do a smart job of showing the breadth of Brazil’s electronic scene, from Ricardo Dias Gomes’s placid ambient to Marginal Men’s sinewy reggaeton shuffle.

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Marc Almond webchat – post your questions now

Various artists: Re:works Piano review – tiring, tedious and boring


In 1917, Erik Satie coined the term “musique d’ameublement” – furniture music – in a radical stunt of deadpan performance art. “It’s new!” he wrote in his manuscript. “It isn’t tiring! It isn’t boring!” Satie’s rogue irony pre-empted muzak by several decades and set in motion (or anti-motion) the slow cogs of ambient music and experimental minimalism. Then there’s the dross. The most callous kind of crossover saps the integrity of both forms being crossed. Decca – once a stamp of prestige, now part of the Universal label group cashing in on the trend for insipid “neo-classical” – releases the next in its Re:Works series with this grim chillout collection of electronic remixes. Cheerless, senseless and overproduced, it smothers the remaining life out of Pachelbel’s Canon, weirdly straitjackets Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and trashes the maverick surrealist stasis of Satie’s Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. It’s not new, it is tiring, it is very boring.

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by Kate Molleson via Electronic music | The Guardian

Brian Eno reissues review – back to the future with his most beautiful music | Alexis Petridis' album of the week

After leaving Roxy Music, Eno created solo albums – Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Before and After Science and Another Green World – presaging everything from post-punk to My Bloody Valentine

Glam rock made stars of some unlikely people. From Sparks’ Hitler-moustachioed Ron Mael to Slade guitarist Dave Hill, it was an era packed with people who, at any other point in rock history, might have struggled to get any further than a record company’s reception area.

Among their number was Brian Eno. It wasn’t that he didn’t look the part – a man who can carry off blue eyeshadow, a diamante choker and a black cockerel-feather collar in broad daylight is clearly possessed of a je ne sais quoi that’s handy in the world of entertainment. It was more that no one seemed able to say what he actually did, including Eno himself: in interviews he would describe himself as “a non-musician”, and his role in Roxy Music as vaguely involving “treating” the other band members’ instruments with a synthesiser and “talking about the ideas behind the music”.

Related: Brian Eno: ‘We’ve been in decline for 40 years – Trump is a chance to rethink'

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by Alexis Petridis via Electronic music | The Guardian

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I Feel Love review – a moving celebration of sexual freedom and LGBT rights

City Hall, Hull
Will Young, Alison Moyet and others raise the rafters in a heartfelt tribute to the end of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act – with a reminder of how far there is to go

Headlined by Will Young, Marc Almond and Alison Moyet, this concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of sexual freedom – simultaneously broadcast on Radio 2 - doesn’t lack party atmosphere. There are ticker-tape explosions and massed singalongs of the Village People’s YMCA and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, led by the Gay Abandon choir. The celebratory piece de resistance is surely the guy in the crowd singing along with a ventriloquist’s dummy, which has been glammed up in a silver wig. Yet for all the massed outbreaks of joy, the most effective moments are more downbeat. Presenter Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters reminds us that in the 1967 so-called Summer of Love, “a section of society could be dragged before a magistrate for holding hands in the street”. Actor Allan Corduner reads from Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, written while the literary giant served two years hard labour for “indecency”. He dreamed of a quiet life by the seaside but was dead within three years.

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by Dave Simpson via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Fall: New Facts Emerge review – bright pop riffs lift the eerie drama

(Cherry Red Records)

The tracklist for the Fall’s 32nd album made headlines when it was first announced, thanks to a song called Victoria Train Station Massacre – a title which had unfortunate, accidental, parallels to the Manchester terror attack. The song itself turns out not to require that additional allusion to deliver something disturbing, with its chilling refrain of “I crave drama” and a midway flip into reverse – a style that has long enjoyed satanic connotations. The eeriness creeps into other tracks too: Segue is skin-crawlingly lo-fi, while Couples Vs Jobless Mid-30s sports cackling submerged under the chugging guitars. Yet there is lightness too – bright, poppy riffs on Second House Now and O! ZZTRRK Man bulldoze Mark E Smith’s slurred vocals. Despite their past volatility, these days the outfit have a relatively stable lineup – although scholars will note that Smith’s wife, keyboardist Elena Poulou, has now left. It doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on New Facts Emerge, however, which continues to plough a familiar, fractious furrow.

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by Rachel Aroesti via Electronic music | The Guardian

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dom Servini at The Bonaparte for Notting Hill Carnival on 28/08

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Dom Servini at Spiritland (King’s Cross) on 27/08

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dom Servini at Bussey Building (Peckham) on 26/08

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House 4 Soul feat. DJ Dom Servini at Omeara on 28/08

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Wah Wah 45s DJ Dom Servini at Giant Robot on 26/08

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Dom Servini + Auntie Flo + Andrew Ashong at The Jazz Café on 25/08

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Dom Servini + Scrimshire at Bussey Building on 19/08

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Dom Servini + Norman Jay MBE at The Jazz Café on 18/08

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Monday, July 24, 2017

DJ Dom Servini at Merchants Tavern on 17/08

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Scrimshire at Beat Of Brazil at The Jazz Cafe on 11/08

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Dom Servini at Fat!Fat!Fat! Festival (Italy) on 05/08

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Soothsayers ft Dele Sosimi + Honeyfeet at Bussey Building on 29/09

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Observer critics’ guide to the summer holidays

Make cultural hay while the sun shines with our suggestions for reading, viewing and listening, from dreamy R&B to vintage Keanu Reeves to op art in the country

Beyond the boutique tag, Houghton festival in Norfolk (10-13 August) specialises in high-end electronic music, from minimal techno to reggae. Sensitively curated by Craig Richards, artist-cum-Fabric DJ, it boasts a cogent bill – Ricardo Villalobos headlines, Nicolas Jaar and Floating Points promise lengthy DJ sets – and an atmospheric lakeside setting with an abandoned warehouse for those old-skool rave vibes. The festival boasts proper art, too, with works by James Turrell, Richard Long and Rachel Whiteread on the bill.

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by Susannah Clapp, Laura Cumming, Kitty Empire, Simran Hans, Tara Joshi, Guy Lodge, Fiona Maddocks, Rowan Moore, Miranda Sawyer via Electronic music | The Guardian

Daphni: FabricLive 93 review – euphoric moments from Caribou’s Dan Snaith


Caribou’s Dan Snaith continues his trek from psych pop’s backwaters to the heart of the dancefloor with this mix entirely made from his Daphni project’s productions. This sort of tracklist narcissism would once have been ill-judged on club albums, but now that they have been overshadowed by not-mixed mixtapes and streamed playlists, it’s a spectacular act of generosity to give up 27 new songs to a DJ mix. Snaith’s joy at intermingling delicate melodies with steroidal rhythms and scything hi-hats persists, and he delivers several moments of handbag-dropping euphoria that will thrill whether you’re listening on a laptop or in Fabric’s room one.

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by Damien Morris via Electronic music | The Guardian

Avey Tare: Eucalyptus review – brilliant, but infuriating, beats


Avey Tare’s second solo album starts with a simple strum and ends, via reflections on the qualities of coral, with strange whirring sounds and a cry of rage. Audacious, cryptic and meandering, Eucalyptus is both brilliant and infuriating, thanks mainly to the Animal Collective man’s refusal to ditch the half-formed workouts that litter this LP. When Tare reins in his more outlandish instincts, as on Melody Unfair’s rococo folk and the jumpy tribal pop of Jackson 5, he shows he is capable of producing songs as good as any in his band’s oeuvre. Best of all is the candid When You Left Me, in which raw emotion supersedes sonic quirks.

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by Paul Mardles via Electronic music | The Guardian

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flying Lotus on his gross-out movie debut, Kuso: 'You’ve never seen black characters like this – ever!’

The LA producer and musician discusses his first feature film, an unholy mashup of stoner comedy, body horror and incest. But will it simply prove too disturbing for audiences?

A woman tries to find her baby down a portal to a hellscape and has her legs conjoined with another woman for a sitcom called Sock, before being consumed by a ravenous turd. A murderous multicoloured yeti with an HD screen for a face, voiced by the American comedian Hannibal Buress, aborts a foetus, which is then used as a marijuana pipe. A crustacean cures a man’s fear of breasts from within George Clinton’s rectum.

These are just some of the scenes in Kuso, the debut feature film by Steven Ellison, who as Flying Lotus has become one of the most popular and psychedelic voices in electronic music, attracting the likes of Thom Yorke, Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu to sing over his tracks. But that psychedelia has taken an apocalyptic, scatological turn in Kuso, a series of vignettes set in a Los Angeles ravaged by disease after an earthquake.

Related: Kuso review – Flying Lotus-directed horror stakes claim as grossest movie ever

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Chester Bennington: five of his best Linkin Park performances

From the howls on debut single One Step Closer to the still incendiary vocals of his later years, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was one of rock’s most emotionally dextrous frontmen

Linkin Park emerged at the tail end of the late 90s’ landfill-grunge period, their crisp and confident melding of rap and metal a world away from the sloppy fuzz-worship of their peers. It was frontman Chester Bennington’s dynamic range that really pushed them ahead of the pack though, and on debut single One Step Closer they proved themselves immediate alpha dogs. Bennington’s brooding, increasingly maddened take on a fractious relationship built up towards the breaking point: a howl of “shut up when I’m talking to you”. The punchy, emotionally wrought middle-eight refrain would quickly become the consistent ace up Bennington’s sleeve.

Related: Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington soothed the angst of millions

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by Tom Connick via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Damian Marley: Stony Hill review – sweet, lamplit nothings and odes to weed


While others in the Marley family carry on Bob’s name through premium headphones, gourmet coffee and decaffeinated tea, his youngest son continues to push reggae forward. Blockbuster trap production is put to skanking service on Here We Go, but there’s still room for classic roots on Looks Are Deceiving. Lyrically, it’s what you might expect, with odes to the medicinal properties of marijuana (Medication), lamplit sweet nothings (Grown and Sexy), and a string of socially conscious lamentations.

Related: 30 minutes with … Damian Marley

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Dizzee Rascal: Raskit review – the grime kingpin reclaims his crown

(Dirtee Stank/Island)
Returning to a pop world in which the music he pioneered is huge, Dizzee has gone back to basics with a stripped-down album that shows off his lyrical skills

In July 2008, Dizzee Rascal released the single Dance Wiv Me. It was both the biggest hit of his career to date and the sound of a man exasperatedly throwing in the towel, abandoning grime in a craven bid for commercial success. But who could blame him? His records had sold respectably, but not in a way that reflected the level of excitement caused by 2003’s Boy in Da Corner, the debut album that brought London’s grime scene into the mainstream’s consciousness. From now on, Dizzee Rascal would make music for lads’ fortnights in Shagaluf, the kind of records that play in provincial city centre bars while patrons tuck into the two-for-one Jägerbombs.

And so would a lot of his peers. One by one, grime MCs from Tinchy Stryder to Skepta took the same pop-rap route. If they’d all been as successful as him, perhaps they’d still be at it now, but in 2014, while Dizzee Rascal was still promoting an album that featured collaborations with Jessie J and Robbie Williams, Skepta put out his pop-repudiating, back-to-basics track That’s Not Me – one of a handful of singles that marked the unexpected commercial renaissance of the music Dizzee Rascal had pioneered.

Related: Dizzee Rascal: ‘I’m the one person who can say, Grime? Nah, I seen it, sorry!’

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by Alexis Petridis via Electronic music | The Guardian

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lovebox review – Solange amazes but Frank Ocean seems in a field of his own

Victoria Park, London
The two US R&B stars took opposing but equally successful approaches to wowing a festival whose bill mixed the navel-gazing and the forward-thinking

Lovebox has always been a festival for the pop omnivore, a glitter-speckled mishmash for weekend hedonists and fancy-dressers. But this year’s edition felt distinctly segregated, and not just because of the VIP loos (accessible with a £15 wristband). Both days were nostalgia-free events, with a focus on new rather than heritage acts, yet the curation led to a drastic front-loading of expectations, with all eyes and ears waiting for one man.

Frank Ocean’s Friday night headline slot was the subject of anxious anticipation, following a spate of festival no-shows from the R&B recluse. For many of his fans – and they are legion and obsessive – tonight marks their first live encounter with Ocean. The hardcore queue for hours to buy one-off screenprinted T-shirts commemorating the occasion. When he finally appears, 25 minutes late, he confines himself to a tiny platform jutting into the crowd, a setup both intimate and isolating. Kicking off with Solo and Chanel from last year’s album Blonde, the singer skulks around his desert island accompanied by a minimal backing band, placing his vocals – quivering, note-perfect – rightly to the fore. He is dwarfed by three video screens behind him, relaying camcorder-style visuals captured by a roving cameraman who turns out to be Spike Jonze (the director is rumoured to be filming a tour documentary).

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by Chal Ravens via Electronic music | The Guardian

Mura Masa: Mura Masa review – a cutting-edge swordsmith

(Anchor Point/Polydor)
Electronic wizard Alex Crossan conjures shivers and warmth on his star-studded debut

It gets harder every second for an artist to nail their own signature sound. With every bedroom bleepist tinkering away on Ableton, and with every track that goes up on SoundCloud – there are around 120m on there, as the platform wobbled financially earlier this week – the fewer niches there are to exploit.

A veteran poster on SoundCloud, Mura Masa – 21-year-old Alex Crossan – entered industry consciousness around 2014-5 with a flurry of liquid digitals and arpeggiating marimbas. Just as, from 2009 onwards, the sound of rippling steel pans became a marker that Jamie xx was producing (or that Jamie xx was being ripped off), Mura Masa’s arsenal of Japanese flutes, African thumb pianos and synthetic quicksilver quickly became unmistakable.

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by Kitty Empire via Electronic music | The Guardian

Cotton Panic! review – a story of solidarity that deserves better

Upper Campfield Market Hall, Manchester
Jane Horrocks stars in a collage of song, history and drama whose most powerful presences are its stage projections

“Can you help me a bit?” A spotlit Jane Horrocks revolves through the space where the audience is standing, hemmed in by three giant screens. She waves her arms. Her white floaty dress floats. It’s a clear case of Kate Bush-itis, but the paramedics are busy reviving audience members who have become faint from standing in the crowded arena of this atmospheric but hot market hall. Horrocks, unhelped, returns to the stage. Here, she is once more spotlit – and backlit, through her flimsy frock – as she sings and dances in front of three male musicians, who appear and disappear, as spotlights determine. The effect is amateurish. It shouldn’t be.

The words deserve better: they echo the pleas of Manchester factory workers suffering appalling hardships in the “cotton panic” of 1861-5, yet still standing in solidarity with the as-yet unfreed slaves of the then disunited states of America. This is the subject of what is billed by Manchester international festival as an “industrial music drama”, but is redefined by a publicist on the eve of press night as “a gig”. It comes across as a collage of songs (folk, pop, blues and hymn) montaged with samples of 1860s texts, presented within a soundtrack of soft-focus industrial synthpop, provided by Wrangler (the trio, including Stephen Mallinder, formerly of Cabaret Voltaire, are credited with co-creation, alongside Horrocks and her partner, writer Nick Vivian; Wils Wilson directs).

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by Clare Brennan via Electronic music | The Guardian

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Music you missed: 10 Australian underground releases from Cable Ties to Au.Ra

Our quarterly music column returns to dig up the best releases you may not have heard in the past three months

Despite my lack of interest in theming this column, a theme has bubbled up. Half the acts listed here are living overseas.

It could be because Australia is a tough country to live in as an artist. That notion has floated about for ages and was finally anchored last year when a survey pointed to serious health and wellbeing problems in an entertainment industry in “severe distress”. Living in cheaper cities with less distance between gigs, and a larger audience for niche scenes, is one way to relieve that distress.

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by Kate Hennessy via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Shabazz Palaces: Quazars review – finds the sweet spot between weird and direct | Alexis Petridis' album of the week

The Seattle rap duo stay weird without losing their edge, with two concept albums about a visitor from space – Quazars: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines

In years to come, when the career of the Seattle rap duo Shabazz Palaces is viewed through a historical lens, it may well be opined that these third and fourth albums were substantially more straightforward, even more commercial, than their predecessor, 2014’s Lese Majesty. Said opinion would be correct, although it’s worth noting that these two interlinking conceptual works about an alien called Quazarz (“a sentient being from somewhere else, an observer sent here to Amurderca to chronicle and explore as a musical emissary”, explains the accompanying blurb) involve muffled, lo-fi instrumentals; tracks that sound like several entirely unconnected pieces of music spliced together; and at least one song on which the rapping appears to be in a different time signature to the backing track. Among a panoply of obscure special guests is the Shogun Shot, who raps with a pronounced lisp, and a man who calls himself Fly Guy Dai, a name that carries the suggestion, alas unfounded, that he might be from Aberystwyth.

So a judgment on the relative commerciality of these albums tells you rather more about how wilfully abstruse the music on Lese Majesty was, than about the potential of Quazarz: Born On a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines to unseat Ed Sheeran from the top of the album charts.

Related: Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler: 'Starry is a way I can kind of describe myself'

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by Alexis Petridis via Electronic music | The Guardian

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dom Servini – Unherd Radio Show #3 on Soho Radio

The Diabolical Liberties – East of the Dub Canal feat. General Rubbish (White)
Jordan Rakei – Sorceress (Ninja Tune)
Dexter – Bells of Lorenz (Money$ex)
Osage – Guanguan Riddim (Bastard Jazz)
Michael The Lion – Get it on feat. Amy Douglas (Bosq Remix) (Soul Clap)
Kiki Gyan – 24 Hours in a Disco (Soundway)
Sabrina Malheiros – Clareia (Far Out)
Same Speed – Samba Operator (Same Speed Edits)
Phase 7 – So Good to be in Love (Aloha Got Soul)
Domenico di Vito – Spensieratamente (Fly By Night Music)
Keith Florence & the Associates – Future (Florence)
Michael Gregory Jackson – Risin’ Up (Alex Attias Edit) (Lilly Good Party)
Black Peaches – Tight Squeeze (Free DL)
Biosis Now – Independent Bahamas (Bahamas Nationhood Ltd)
Soulful Dynamics – Jungle People (Lee Douglas Edit) (My Rules)
Merry Clayton – Sparrow Love (Scrimshire Edit) (Dubplate)
Hoffy – Makei Klap (Forgot)
Marcel Lune – Disco Mantra (Local Talk)
Marcel Lune – Mr Strings (Pusic Records)
YGT – UWTB (Jazz Cabbage)
Hector Plimmer – Bossa B (Deoke Remix) (Albert’s Favourites)
Ellen O – Uneven (Babygrande)
Hunrosa – All (Wah Wah 45s)
Ash Walker – Bush Weed (White)
Diggs Duke – Gravity (Bandcamp)
Eamon – Before I Die (Huey Ave Music)
Profusion – Time’s Up (First Word Records)

The post Dom Servini – Unherd Radio Show #3 on Soho Radio appeared first on Wah Wah 45s.

via Wah Wah 45s


  1. The Diabolical Liberties – East of the Dub Canal feat. General Rubbish (DL)
  2. Same Speed – Samba Operator (Same Speed Edits 12)
  3. Michael Gregory Jackson – Risin’ Up (Alex Attias Edit) (Lilly Good Party 12)
  4. Soulful Dynamics – Jungle People (Lee Douglas Edit) (My Rules 12)
  5. Hoffy – Makei Klap (Forgot Promo DL)
  6. Profusion – Time’s Up (First Word Records 12)
  7. Keith Florence & the Associates – Future (Florence 7)
  8. Marcel Lune – Disco Mantra (Local Talk 12)
  9. Phase 7 – So Good to be in Love (Aloha Got Soul 7)
  10. Dexter – Bells of Lorenz (Money$ex 12)

The post DOM SERVINI’S ALLO LOVE CHART :: JULY 2017 appeared first on Wah Wah 45s.

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  1. Chaka Khan – Sommer Love (Scrimshire Edit) (Dubplate Test 12)
  2. CMon Tigre – Welcome Back Monkeys (Populous Remix) (Original Cultures 12)
  3. Daphni – Face to Face (Self-Released DL)
  4. Osage – Guanguan Riddim (Bstrd Jazz DL)
  5. Amir Bresler – Afro Golden Line (Raw Tapes 7)
  6. Washed Out – Get Lost (Stones Throw DL)
  7. Jun Kamoda – Blind Disco (Black Acre 12)
  8. Werkha – Shakedown Radio feat. Bryony Jarman-Pinto (Tru Thoughts DL)
  9. DJ Ciderman – Summer Groove EP (This is Our Time 12)
  10. Jordan Rakei – Sorceress (Ninja Tune DL)

The post DOM SERVINI’S ALLO LOVE CHART :: JUNE 2017 appeared first on Wah Wah 45s.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pierre Henry obituary

Composer whose inventive work in the musique concrète genre saw him hailed as the grandfather of techno

Pierre Henry, who has died aged 89, was a key figure in the 1950s glory days of electroacoustic music, a term he may have invented. The tape recorder, newly developed at that time, opened the way to composing with any sound that could be recorded and thereafter transformed. It also changed the way composers could work, no longer creating music for others to perform but testing possibilities as they went and producing a finished composition within their own studios. The result was an art as different from concert music as film is from stage drama, and Henry took to it immediately.

Though he had a full classical training as a musician, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to electroacoustic work through a creative life of six and a half decades. He also realised that this new art needed new means of presentation: radio, albums (he released dozens) and public events.

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by Paul Griffiths via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Public Service Broadcasting: Every Valley review – poignant elegy to coalmining


By their own admission, as “middle-class Londoners”, Public Service Broadcasting aren’t obvious candidates to musically chronicle the rise and destruction of the Welsh coalmining industry. However, they have put a shift in: relocating to Ebbw Vale, conducting painstaking research and recording former miners’ testimonies to set to music along with select historical narratives. Richard Burton powerfully describes “the arrogant strut of the lords of the coalface” and a 1970s television advert cheerily urges viewers: “Come on, be a miner! There’s money and security!” There is no mention of the Aberfan disaster, Margaret Thatcher or Arthur Scargill, meaning that the political context is implied and the focus remains on the job and the communities. The Beaufort male choir are in fine voice on Take Me Home. Elsewhere, vocals from Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield and Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell glide over quivering strings, brass and Mogwai-like guitars, as the music beautifully captures a sense of awesome industrial power and a crushing sense of loss.

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by Dave Simpson via Electronic music | The Guardian

Monday, July 3, 2017

How we made Theme from S-Express

‘We launched UK house with just £500 – and a few cans of hairspray’

I was one of the first DJs in the UK to play house music, and I had this idea for a record made of a load of samples. At the time, the dance label Rhythm King had opened across the road from where I was living in London, so I was always hanging out there. They paired me up with Pascal Gabriel [co-writer of Bomb the Bass’s sample-heavy Beat Dis] and I played him all these bits off various records. We put them on to a cassette – taping 10 seconds of this record, three seconds of that one – and when Rhythm King heard it they said: “We’ll put you in the studio.”

Related: S’Express on ecstasy, acid house and why drag is the new punk

Back then, no one knew what the law about sampling was – it took five years to settle

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by Interviews by Caroline Sullivan via Electronic music | The Guardian