Poignant yet fierce, striking and soft, the UK-born and Berlin-based Emika is a much needed beacon in electronic music, a space seemingly laden with emo-ridden dudes sporting thoughtful beards with a five o’clock silhouette for any given niche.
Emika shakes things up by bringing some serious skin to the game. She’s a force to be reckoned with — the anti-Ellie Goulding — leaving behind anything sugar-coated and sweet that offers a gently affected tonality for remixers to deepen. Emika singularly achieves depth by speaking through her superb technical and artistic prowess. Her style is unique with a tonality that’s consistent. And this is just her first album.
When we first heard the debut album from Bristol-based singer/songwriter Andreya Triana we were immediately hooked. So naturally, we jumped at the chance to sit down and chat with her about the writing process on the album, collaborating with Bonobo, and the scene where she grew up.
For more on Andreya, read my review of her debut album “Lost Where I Belong” over at Indie Shuffle. You can also see more live performance videos from an exclusive acoustic session (shot with my handy-dandy flipcam):
I saw avant-pop duo The Fiery Furnaces perform an acoustic set a few months back at the Largo in L.A. and was immediately captivated. The first thing I thought about was the remarkable result of the brother and sisters’ stripped-down set paired to their signature poetic lyrics.
“The cool affectation of Matt and Eleanor is gripping – they’re clearly favoring their art over any commercial notion of entertaining that coerces objectification.”
The second thing I thought was: ”God I’m starving! What’s for dinner?”
I had listened to albums by The Fiery Furnaces in the past. And like many artists, it took going to a live performance before I really understood what they’re all about. I expressed interest on Twitter that night for a book of their lyrics to read. Like a changing green light at just the right moment before pause, I was thrilled to learn that there was in fact such a book.
Arty? Refreshingly so. Entertaining? You betcha. Spoken word tends to validate itself well, particularly so on paper.
There’s something to be said about the anonymous producer, the artist who chooses to hide behind a mask and forgo all marks of physical identity. Greats like MF Doom, Deadmau5, and the gents from Daft Punk all perform in disguise. Why do they present themselves this way? In a culture where the creator can play the part of celebrity, is it a noble effort to force the hand of the art itself? Is it an attempt to retain personal privacy while in the public eye? Or is the artist simply… shy? What’s going on behind the mask?
Whatever the reason, SBTRKT is a producer who clearly puts his musicianship first by eschewing all norms and expectations for a mostly — in the traditional sense of the genre — electronic record. That’s not to say it’s not an innovative album. In fact, the opposite is true. SBTRKT incorporates the wobbly, arrhythmic sensibilities of fellow electronic and R&B line-toers like James Blake, Com Truise, and Jaime xx while infusing his own point of view.
We hear hints of dubstep paired with a similarly clean production sound, developed with the finessed ear of maybe a daylight-driven Burial or simplified Clubroot. The silent upbeats we hear are filled with meaning, just as the vowels omitted from his name.
Whether you’re a serious music aficionado or someone simply workin’ the biz, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the great new material out there. And with the amount of great stuff coming at us from seemingly every angle, it becomes difficult to tune in to everything that piques our interest — let alone find time to connect with that one great album.
That personal connection is at the root of what makes music great. Somehow, we need to get back to that crazy-good feeling of wanderlust. You know, the emotional part of the music experience that’s all about getting lost and descending deep within those arresting waves of sound.
Sounds like: El-P, The Roots, 7L & Esoteric, Murs, Aesop Rock
What’s so good?
Atmosphere returns with their seventh official studio album, The Family Sign, perhaps their most personal album to date.
As one of the most powerful storytellers in hip-hop today, MC Slug tackles issues close to the heart using past experiences to weave rhymes that are anything but superficial. Slug’s unmistakable voice describes losing friends, gaining new ones, and celebrating the people you love. The album reflects on larger concepts like life and death, love and loss, friendship, and knowing when to let go. Songs like “Bad Bad Daddy” take a dark turn, while singles like “She’s Enough” are upbeat and celebratory.
For those new to Atmosphere, the indie Minneapolis hip-hop group is comprised of Rhymesayers founding member MC Slug and producer Ant. On this record, they team up with keyboardist Erick Anderson and guitarist Nate Collis to give the album an edgy rock hybrid sound that’s definitely worth a listen. The album came out two weeks ago and is definitely floating around out there, so be sure to check it out!
When changing gears for an upcoming album, it’s not unusual for an electronic artist to succumb to a particular metamorphis tending to be slightly more in tune with popular contemporaries across all genres. What? Wait a minute, is that a nice way of saying “selling out?”
Thankfully, one of the best things about the new album from the Dirty Vegas fellas is that Electric Love does the complete and utter opposite. The record picks up right where things left off seven years ago with their last full-length, One. No easy task!
They’re not having an identity crisis. They’re not trying to go the way of electro, rave, rock, or heaven forbid, anything “wave.” Dirty Vegas has written a brilliant album that’s current, relevant to the dance music community, and catchy as hell.
The album goes in different directions but remains contant to their dance music roots. We hear big, club-ready dance tunes (“Little White Doves,” “Electric Love”) and more downtempo tracks tinged with hints of disco (“Emma”).
Due April 26th, Electric Love is a well-produced album that’s definitely worth a listen.
This post is syndicated from Yahoo! Music’s As Heard On.
A. R. Rahman,the film composer, singer, and musician who scored award-winning film soundtracks for the likes of Slumdog Millionaire, Couple’s Retreat, and most recently 127 Hours, is known for his ability to create memorable songs and deftly score music to accompany what we see on the silver screen.
127 Hours is his second film with renowned director Danny Boyle. The first film they worked on together was 2008’s Slumdog, a huge hit for the duo which garnered a Grammy for Best Soundtrack, Oscar for Best Song, Oscar for Best Score, BAFTA for Best Score, and Golden Globe for Best Score.
With two Oscar nominations recently announced for 127 Hours (Best Score and Best Song for “If I Rise” featuring the British singer-songwriter Dido), Rahman is quickly rising to the ranks of musical virtuoso leaving a serious mark in Hollywood and beyond.
“It was very exciting to get back with Danny,” Rahman says. “I read a script of 127 Hours and started getting ideas. I think Danny works in a way where most of the themes are driven by music. He was shooting and I was sending him ideas simultaneously, and the music had to play a very important part in this movie because the main character is stuck in this one place, and the music has to give the whole experience of, you know, cinema in the music and sound.”
“Danny has some very different visions for the music. It’s driven by his taste and instinct. So, as I go over this instinct and sometimes contradict something else, we compliment each other. And so far it’s been really good, and I really love working with him.”
A.R. is also pretty active to say the least on Facebook and Twitter. With over 3 million friends on Facebook and 320,000 followers on Twitter, he has the ability to reach his fans directly and does exactly that.
“If you want to give a message, or if I want to put out some music, which is unreleased, it’s a great way to do it,” he explains. “And also, it’s very giving. It’s not about a commercial…you know, it’s something you want to give for free, and then let people enjoy. It’s a great way to communicate.”
He’s also into technology, using it as a tool for the creative process. “I have an iPhone and most of the time it’s used for email and all the stuff, but it’s used for recording ideas. And most of the ideas come from just humming certain things and then taking it back to the scoring table and playing it on the piano and adding instruments on top of it. Nowadays I have Stickies and Sketch Pad on there, which you can put your lyrical ideas on and all that stuff.”
Up next is a film with DreamWorks, an animated picture tentatively titled Monkeys of Bollywood. “Monkeys of Bollywood is not a fixed title,” he says. “It’s a working title for the whole industry and all the people to get an idea of what it’s about. It’s about that part of the world but with a Hollywood point of view, which is very exciting for all of us as a team.”
“It’s a great theme, I think. Dreamworks has done some extraordinary animation films last year and the previous year. So, I think this is going to hopefully take it much more further, getting into a different zone of excitement. I’m looking forward to it.”
Each film he’s worked on has a distinctive sound, and this one will be no different. How does he keep the creative process fresh when he’s in such high-demand? Ultimately, Rahman cites his creative process as coming from a place of love.
“I think all of us creative people have to be in a zone of love, first of all, which is very giving and a motivating factor for creativity. It cleanses all the negative factors, cleanses all the confusion and you sit on it, you become an instrument of love. And music is about love in a way. And sometimes about — and all the other stuff is technical, but the basic attitude and the basic emotion is very simple, but very complex at the same time. [Laughs] So, that’s the motivating factor for me.”
Are you someone who needs several listens to an album before knowing whether or not it’s a keeper? And not just because you’re drinking whiskey at 1am while texting your significant other and watching Tech News Today with the volume way down? This is what “they’d” call a hypothetical situation. I digress.
Ventriloquizzing is the fourth studio album from the electronic trio Fujiya & Miyagi (note: they are not a duo, nor are they Japanese).
The first time I spun it, I didn’t understand the album at all (effects of aforementioned whiskey aside). It didn’t sound like the same Fujya & Miyagi who brought us the sly and snappy beats on tracks like “Collarbone,” or the rhythmic and somewhat quizzical lyrics about ice cream on “Knickerbocker Glory.”
On the second listen, I began to realize that, yes, the album is different, but in a good way. It’s much more layered in production and lyrically darker than to be expected. It’s clearly still F&M, but transmitting directly from a deeper and darker universe.
On Ventriloquizzing, expect more clever word play (“Taiwanese Boots,” “Minestrone”). You’ll also hear a unique marriage of the elegant with the just as equally disturbing. The track “OK” features a warm, beautiful keyboard melody with the chorus repeating “Let me whisper in your ear, tell you it will be okay.” The song “Pills” and “Sixteen Shades of Black & Blue” feature dark subjects while keeping the tone steadfastly upright.
On the fifth listen, I felt privy to someone else’s personal exploration. It was almost like I was listening to something I shouldn’t be — the feeling I’d imagine (again, hypothetically) if I happened to stumble across someone else’s private (or…Live?) journal.
Anyway, expect an album that’s darker, deeper, and more advanced than anything Fujiya & Miyagi has ever written. It’s a body of work that leaves you wondering what, exactly, came from the shattering side, the aftermath, and the wonderful wreckage that inspired it.
The latest album from Gang of Four, the iconic English post-punk group from Leeds, has been in the making for a while — Content is their first album of all-new material in sixteen years.
Known for their punchy, funked-up bass lines, distorted guitar, and hooky, shouty vocals lamenting social and political ills, 1979’s classic release Entertainment! has been cited as a trailblazer by many — a must-have recording that inspired bands from Fugazi to Rage Against the Machine to Nirvana.
While many groups have attempted to replicate Gang of Four’s exceptionally distinct sound, few have come close. As one of the leading bands of the late 70s and early 80s post-punk movement in Britain, they’ve been referenced recently in the emergence of the dance punk, synth-sprinkled crossover genre that birthed the likes of The Rapture, !!!, Bloc Party, and Radio 4.
Content is a groovy, kinetic piece of work that takes the listener on a journey from the arresting (“Who Am I?”) to the sublime. It calls to mind the original influence derived by the bands’ many imitators (evident in the drum and bass interplay on the downbeat track “A Fruitfly in the Beehive”). Diverse and brilliantly produced, the album opens with the powerful track “She Said” — a jump-starter that invokes fire in what’s to come.