I am not good in words, I am not a music connoisseur.. and I am not a lot of other things.. I will stick to what I know: sharing (my biased) music appreciation.
“Because I am worth it “
Alina Astrova is a tiny girl who likes to keep her distance. I saw her performing @Plastic People in Shoreditch last May, at the launch of her album ‘Because I Am Worth It‘, which she released by herself and not on any label, avoiding any patronising experiences.
Alina was born in Russia and lived in Estonia until the age of 17 when she moved to London to study art criticism at St Martins college. She became the vocalist of the duo Hype Williams (Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland) but she now performs solo under the name Copeland.
Tracklist / 01. Faith OG X 02. Advice To Young Girls feat. Actress 03. insult 2 injury 04. Serious 05. Fit 1 06. DILIGENCE 07. Inga 08. l'oreal
Alina uses minimal sounds derived from her environment. The use of lurching synths stuck on the same two notes, a continuous high-pitched buzzing and the noise of rain on a window or a toy drum (maybe) describe her sound as experimental electronic, far from the easy listening category and she rushes to make that clear by using a sustained bleep in the opening track called ‘Faith OG X’. She uses delayed drums to create a refracted club groove and she flirts with dub and hip hop but always with a bass producer’s perspective.
She talks about her heartbreaks, the power of the feminine presence and contradictions of personality. In Advice To Young Girls, she encourages young girls to sneak out during the night put on makeup and take the city. In “Inga,” Copeland sings “The significance in what we do… everything’s being judged in numbers/ Looked at,”
I found her word-like vocals cold, almost unemotional and I was wondering if that reflects to her personality, but she did smile when I told her that I liked her album.
Her imperfect vocals , the atmospheric loops, the familiar noises of the city , the sharp use of synths, made me really love this album. If you disagree, that’s only your problem (or your prerogative). Because she is worth it,,,
Jon Hopkins @TheForum, KentishTown, 22/02/2014
I bought tickets for Jon Hopkins in September when Shan had told me that his set at Bestival was amazing plus I had fallen in love with his album Immunity, nominated for a Mercury Prize last year. The night was sold out months ago and the anticipation was big, so big that I had to cut my holidays in Amsterdam a day short to make it back in time for Jon Hopkins.
The news at his official site read : “I am playing my biggest live AV show to date on Feb 22nd at the London Forum.”, so I have to admit I had great expectation for the night.
He came on stage around 11:30, after an unexplained 45′ minutes of uncomfortable standing around time. Yet 50 minutes later i couldn’t feel reconciled. Having read his quote on his official site and knowing that he would play only for an hour, I was expecting a set for the fans, a set for festival people. Afterall, it was a Saturday night at the Forum, a dark enough place to dance off to electronic music.
His set had brilliant moments (see Collider) but it lacked continuation. Many times I felt like a kid who was given a cone of ice cream and as I was about to take a bite of my favourite part, the ice cream fell down on the floor. One of those moments was during Open Eye Signal, mainly because I was expecting an extended version rather than exactly the album version, and not even as loud as I usually play it at home.
Disappointed as I was, I still enjoyed him on stage. He has a great dynamic and I loved his dance moves. In general I was receiving a good vibe from him and during his limited great moments, his talent and originality overpowered everything else.
Support came from Daphni, Luke Abbott and Objekt, with the last one taking over after Hopkins with a very good dance set. Despite feeling personally hurt by Jon Hopkins, it was still a good Saturday night as I got to feel “kinda” cool arriving at the venue straight after the airport carrying a suitcase, I got to catch up with friends and listen to Jon Hopkins.
Soundcloud is an online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote and share their originally- created sounds. Launched in 2008 from Berlin, SoundCloud became a fast favorite in German city’s electronic music scene. In soundcloud, artists can get direct feedback from their peers, while users can browse new music according to genres or similar bands. Although it belongs to the family of social networking sites, soundcloud focuses on music and it caters both creators and listeners.
Simon Hutchinson is a musician, a PHD student, an artist, a producer, a Londoner. He was born in the UK but lived in the USA for 15 years, before moving back to UK for studies. He grew up playing the cello and played in solo performances and orchestral arrangements during his adolescence. He studied physics in Scotland and then moved to Cardiff to play electrified cello in an alternative stoner-folk-rock band called Mwsog. «It was during this time that I started to learn how to produce my own music and and released my first attempt at an album entitled “7 Pi Over 3 AM“, which was a reference to the fact that I was a math geek seeking the alternative life-style: if you convert 7pi/3 from radians into degrees you get 420. I wrote most of the music in the middle of the night, hence 4:20 AM. The album was a mess of ideas, that were poorly mixed but it was my first effort and I was happy to have self-produced my first album». It was the beginning of Synau.
The name Synau means noise in Welsh. Welsh is a language that is lyrical in how it sounds but undecipherable in meaning. Using the welsh word for noise was a way of saying that Simon’s music is meant to have recognisable concepts, yet be weird in the delivery of those concepts. «..perhaps another way of understanding what I’m aiming at is: “Weird and wonderful noises”.»
His first two years back in London were spent trying to make sense of ultrafast laser physics (as he started a PhD course) and completing his second album entitled Spectral Entistry. That album was much more coherent and received much better feedback than the previous one. «Though, I still felt as though I never really understood what it was that I was trying to express… I just knew exactly that I wanted to express and I put everything into the sound»
Soundcloud is not only a way for SYNAU to share his music, but also a way for Simon to build up groups of pieces of work. He makes several different types of music, and the way Soundcloud is structured makes it easier to represent different sides of his musical persona. He started to invite people over to record lines for his songs and at that point he started to consider himself a producer. «While I’ve only got about 23 followers on Soundcloud, I’ve got about 8000 plays, averaging about 40 plays a day. All of this time I had been making music on my own with no input from anyone else. I have never tried to emulate anyone else and just created from my interpretation of what I thought was good and representative of my emotive state»
«The music scene is a lot more saturated these days because it is a lot easier to create and share music, but I think that that is a good thing. The more there is, the greater the chance of variety – eventually people will get tired of hearing the same old stuff again and again, and they will search out different types of artists, which is good for the global music community.I’m not a live performer , at least not yet, and Soundcloud is my only ‘stage’.»
2013 was undoubtedly the year of guitar music’s comeback, meaning not that guitar music ever left us, but there was nothing new out there for a while. Yet in 2013 we witnessed the rise of guitar music from new or existing acts (like Jake Bugg, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire…). So when a friend mentioned the name Lola Colt with a description as weird as psychedelic pop cinematic guitar music, I was curious to see if 2013 was hiding another surprise in guitar music.
Lola Colt is a London- based band who rehearses twice a week in Stoke Newington, confirming East London is musically happening strong. Their name sounds like a show animal but it’s after a 1967 spaghetti western film, with all clichés included. Their soundcloud page includes five songs with the older one Diamonds dated 10 months ago. Their newest tracks Jackson and Time to Burn are included in their second single named Jackson which was released on the 2nd of December. It is this same single’s release that the band celebrated last Tuesday night at the Lexington.
I haven’t been on the first floor of The Lexington before, and I really liked the venue. It is a very intimate venue with a red light spread all around making you feel comfortable and relaxed. There was a great mixture of people around and although the night was officially sold out, there was plenty of room for each one of us to stand and enjoy the gig.
The opening act was Neils Children a London band with four members (guitar/vocals, bass, drums, keyboards). Their sound (I really don’t like genre tags but something like indie-psychedelic-pop-rock) was interesting although I would prefer them with no vocals, not as without the vocalist/guitarist and co-creator of the band, but as in music with no lyrics and less responsibility to the guitarist. I really believe that this idea would help him, as he seemed distracted during most of the performance, while the rest of the time he was trying to perform all the tricks he has learnt in guitar and demonstrate all the skills acquired during many years at once. Interesting bass line and ideas though.
And then three guys and three girls took over the stage and I couldn’t help finding myself being attracted to all of them, men and women. Their sound was warm and seductive and her voice is powerful and full of emotions. I found myself remaining thoughtless, which never happens, for several minutes. I was just listening to them, just watching them, just enjoying the moment. The multi-coloured lights on their faces along side with their powerful performances created a great psychedelic atmosphere. The one that doesn’t require acid consumption in order to be enjoyed.
I knew I was watching a great performance by great musicians and their individual body language said that they were all enjoying it as much as we were. Deep, emotional sound with brilliant alterations. I can definitely detect their influence from Nick Cave, as when I saw him a couple months ago performing with the Bad Seeds I remember having very similar reactions. The quality and the time spent behind their sound make them as professional as Nick Cave. It was the next day that I found out that their album will be produced next year by Jim Sclavunos, current member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Grinderman.
Although I am looking forward to seeing them perform on an outdoor stage with much more space for them to move, I consider myself lucky to be one of the few that saw them on this small, intimate stage just before they become famous. I don’t know their names, I don’t know the names of their songs but I know this, I absolutely loved them. You have to catch them live.
The complexity of the ideas that can be brought by two drummers while inhaling the fresh air of Brighton is a reason to like this project. Rachel & Ed, aka Gaps were experimenting with electronic and folk sounds during the past year and the outcome can only promise great things. Very fresh and interesting sound with atmospheric vocals that reminded me why browsing through soundcloud is always rewarding.
@KOKO, Camden Town, London
The first signs of winter arrived yesterday night in London with the mass appearance of people wearing scarfs and gloves as they queued outside KOKO with anticipation for the performance of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, aka Mount Kimbie.
The London duo was formed in 2008 and recently released their second album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth through Warp records joining the celebrated list of bands including Nightmares On Wax, Grizzly Bear, Boards of Canada etc. The genre of Mount Kimbie is often described as dubsteb, a false label to both my ears and my brain as the album also contains strong elements from electronic, indie rock even the jazz scene. The release of their album was great timing for me personally, appearing just when I questioned whether the English electronic scene could ever offer anything new.
KOKO remains a great venue to find a mixed crowd and have a great music night, although on this occasion the venue was so packed that you literally had to fight for your right to get a view to the stage. But the fight was undoubtedly worth it as the boys were changing instruments, changing positions, calling other artists on stage, enjoying their show as much as we were.
The great quality of the sound, due to both the band and their sound engineer, became clear on Home Recording, a personal favourite, which is a so atmospheric, emotional, headphones song that I thought it would be difficult to capture outside of a studio recording, yet the live experience was brilliant. Blood & Form gained a new personality during the live performance, overcoming the controversial album version.
The duo was thanking the crowd after almost every song, which to me seemed as a sign of modesty and appreciation to London crowd. King Krule came on stage to sing along You Took Your Time to crowds acclaim. The structure of the live was cleverly put as there was a constant uphill to the tempo and mood. The last twenty minutes of the night (including Made to Stray) reassured me that there is in fact a new London electronic scene.
Tindersticks – Across Six Leap Years
Across twenty-one musically vibrant years, the band from Nottingham marks their anniversary with the release of their tenth studio album. Across Six Leap Years becomes part of the proud list of albums recorded in Abbey Road Studios by bands as famous as The Beatles or Pink Floyd. The sound of a band can change over twenty years and if these ten songs from the past were first recorded today, this is how they would sound.
The message that this isn’t an attempt to correct old songs is established by the first two tracks. Both Friday Night and and Marseilles Sunshine retain their originality while gaining fresh layers of new sound. Stuart Staples’ baritone voice keeps seductive and sentimental with a new sense of confidence, only a result Abbey Road studio can bring. He has one of those riveting voices that you would find yourself being hooked by its timbre even if he was just reading a shopping list out loud.
The new ending of Sleepy Song with the dithyrambic trumpets, violins and cymbals, is almost like an emotional outburst of the song itself after being trapped for many years in a pre-sleep state. Dying Slowly, originally written as a response to Cobain’s death, seems to lose its former negation of life and becomes, instead, an emotional narrative that tells a story. If You’re Looking For a Way Out brings a new swing and Say Goodbye To The City gains new life with the female vocals.
With two decades of experience, reworking old songs while keeping their essence solid can yield great outcomes. On this occasion, even if the only difference had been the Abbey Road recording, undoubtedly it was worth it. This album is for fans and for fans only.