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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Damien Morris

Flying Lotus: Flamagra review – stuck in a cosmic time-warp

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 26 May 2019 7:59 am


Steven “FlyLo” Ellison usually releases an album of his collapsed nu-jazz every other year to roaring acclaim, but has spent much of the past half-decade producing for Kendrick, mentoring Thundercat and rowing back his imbecilic defence of alleged rapist the Gaslamp Killer. This long-delayed sixth album, weakly based around the concept of fire, is a mixtape sprawl with high-profile features including David Lynch, Solange and Little Dragon. Yet despite being so revered for futurism, Ellison often settles for retreading his past. It feels like these are 27 job applications for top production gigs, rather than songs.

It’s a treat to hear Anderson .Paak and the flame he always brings to a booth on More, but it’s a rare highlight. Burning Down the House refamiliarises us with late-period George Clinton, sounding more than ever like a man struggling to unfold a map on a tram, backed by funk that’s far more Z than P.

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The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe review – heartbreakingly brilliant

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 17 Mar 2019 8:45 am

(Ninja Tune)

I’ve always found the Cinematic Orchestra too pretentious, too austere, a band whose ambitions outran their abilities. With this fourth album, 12 years after their last, that austerity is over. To Believe is heartbreakingly brilliant: a collection of exquisitely assembled songs that appear delicate from a distance before revealing a close-quarters core strength. Band leaders Jason Swinscoe and Dominic Smith have loosely arranged seven lightly jazzy tracks around the themes of belief and what it means to believe. Much as the pair attempt to make movies with their music, the best song has no dialogue: the meandering instrumental Lessons is a glorious balm, nine minutes of murmuring conversation between the players, dominated by Luke Flowers’ gently military drums. It has depth and meaning without context, the ideal soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist. The sweeping grandeur of A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life is another cinematic collaboration with the always articulate and engaging Roots Manuva, a sort-of sequel to the epic All Things to All Men, and just as good. Every song here could easily be five or 10 minutes longer. A triumph.

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Rudimental: Toast to Our Differences review – a big grab bag of party tunes

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 27 Jan 2019 9:00 am


Rudimental are the perfect band for people who like music and enjoy dancing but don’t really care about either. They’ve collected another grab bag of party tunes that sound as good on your phone as in an arena, fronted by a dizzying number of featured vocalists. Largely they steer away from the polite, very British drum’n’bass that made them famous, toward Jamaica and America, landing comfortably in the profitable hinterland between Calvin Harris’s cold calculation and Major Lazer’s wild abandon.

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One to watch: Ider

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sat 29 Sep 2018 2:00 pm
The London flatmates combine introspective lyrics with gorgeous harmonies and memorable melodies

“I’m trying to enjoy myself, love myself/ Who the fuck is myself?” is a very Ider lyric. Lily Somerville and Megan Markwick (Ider is the “mysterious third band member” that manifests itself when they harmonise) may not have found themselves yet, but were lucky enough to find each other at university, and they’ve sung and written their way to a promising career since. Now flatmates in London, their shared setup allows constant collaboration and produces a series of thoughtful, gorgeous songs that mostly attempt to map the worlds outside and within.

If you’re not a lyrics person, tracks such as Does She Even Know bring enough beautiful, indelible melodies, power synths and ghostly, funky fingerclicks to decorate all the damage and eviscerated hearts. You’ll hear everything from Haim to Frank Ocean and Portishead in Ider’s anxiety dream pop and heartbreak ballads. Their latest track, Mirror, broods over identity, imposed or chosen, but with a steroidal kick fattening their spare sound to radio strength.

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Simian Mobile Disco: Murmurations review – hypnotic genius takes flight

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 13 May 2018 8:00 am

Murmurations is inspired by the pleasing patterns of starlings in flight. It is full of indecipherable songs, swaddling the brutal clarity of the techno DJ-producer duo’s early singles in something unpredictable, off-kilter. Choral vocals make you feel everything from terrified to strangely soothed.

Simian’s Jas Shaw and James Ford recorded a few singers from London’s all-female Deep Throat Choir, then asked the others to wander in their wake, as starlings would. What gives their oftenindistinct murmurs wings is how Simian warp and manipulate them, like an auxiliary analogue synthesiser. It relocates the drama that normally comes from an electronic instrument to the ancient organic thrill of voices raised in unison, which humanises – and adds tension to – the work.

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Jon Hopkins: Singularity review – not enough fuel for the feet

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 6 May 2018 8:00 am

Hopkins’s last album was an intriguing meld of expansive and introspective compositions, hitting a sweet spot between Nils Frahm and Four Tet. Where Immunity was the soundtrack to an imaginary big night out, Hopkins delineates a natural psychedelic experience on Singularity. To get you to share his trip, he weaves wordless vocals around warped found sounds in his pointillist, semi-improvised productions.

Strangely, this creates an album pretty similar to its predecessor. Intricate floorfillers dissolve into austere piano pieces and recombine, with lots of longueurs. Even weirder, Hopkins deliberately starts and ends Singularity on the same note. Being brought back to where you began is what you want from a hire van, not a psych trip – it’s why the Merry Pranksters didn’t get the Circle Line.

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Fischerspoon: Sir review – not worth the nine-year wait

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 18 Feb 2018 8:00 am


Fischerspooner were key to the electroclash movement that briefly twinned Europe’s gay capitals and New York almost 20 years ago. The American duo have finally resurfaced with their first album in nine years, produced by REM’s Michael Stipe. In an unfortunate choice of phrase for British readers, W magazine described frontman Casey Spooner’s voyage of discovery after ending a long relationship as “bumming around Europe”. Sadly, the album doesn’t sound half as much fun as the journey.

Yes, Stipe’s work is often impressively feral, pitting harsh junkyard-dog synths against mountains of reverb. Yet the songs are largely weak, paralysed by unresolved tension. They lack the explosive catharsis that made Fischerspooner’s very first single Emerge an underground classic, or the radio-friendly arrangements of their best album Odyssey.

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Tom Rogerson With Brian Eno: Finding Shore review – improvisation in the right key

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 10 Dec 2017 9:00 am
(Dead Oceans)

Three Trapped Tigers frontman Tom Rogerson plays piano and submits himself to Eno’s improvisational techniques on his debut solo album. In a very Enoesque way, a chance meeting outside a toilet led to the producer training infrared beams on the pianist’s keys and improvising around signals created when the beams were broken. The results are easy enough to digest, even if the process isn’t, with just enough repetition and structure to prevent attention drift. Most of the pieces forgo any sort of rhythm, although the baleful ambience of March Away’s percussion is so good that it’s a shame the pair didn’t pursue it.

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John Maus: Screen Memories review – nihilistic synth pop

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 29 Oct 2017 9:00 am

Apparently John Maus has spent some of the six years since his last album finishing his doctorate in political philosophy. Perhaps he should have taken a degree in common sense, given his worrying assignations with the “alt-right”, and daft assertions such as “the notion of the homosexual is really an invention of the 19th and 20th centuries”. Luckily, Screen Memories isn’t particularly political, and all the better for its lack of lyrical ambition. Instead, it’s the teenage nihilism of songs such as The Combine, its muffled vocal presumably due to the presence of both feet in his mouth, that proves the perfect subject for Maus’s gothic synth pop.

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High Contrast: Night Gallery review – muscular rhythms, winning melodies

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 8 Oct 2017 8:00 am
(3 Beat/Universal)

Lincoln Barrett pushes himself further out of his drum’n’bass comfort zone on this sixth High Contrast album, with varying results. Disconcerting glam call-to-arms Shotgun Mouthwash (which puts forward the uncontroversial proposition that the former is “a good substitute” for the latter) doesn’t quite succeed, but on the marvellous, audacious Tobacco Road he effectively invents drum’n’blues. Barrett’s latest shot for the charts, The Beat Don’t Feel the Same, is tepid Chic-ish house, yet the previous single, Questions, is a glorious success. The best songs are smart, bassy takes on EDM, blending muscular rhythms and winning melodies reminiscent of Barrett’s anthemic Adele remixes.

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Andrew Weatherall: Qualia review – sumptuous take on dancefloor solitude

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 1 Oct 2017 8:00 am
(Höga Nord)

Qualia” is a lovely word for the private sensations of experience. Or the private experience of sensations. Either way, it’s an excellent take on the communal solitude of the dancefloor, all of us alone together. Appropriately, where Weatherall’s last album Convenanza was largely expansive and vocal-led, Qualia is more insular and instrumental. Over the last few years, the DJ-producer has been proselytising for slower, lower dance music, but this set goes for a mid-paced, light feel with live-sounding drums, no brass and little bass. Apart from Vorfreude 2’s militant chug, it’s unexceptional. Sumptuous listening, immaculately constructed, but lacking the malevolent heft of his classics.

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Deadmau5: W:/2016ALBUM/ review – desperately lacking in personality

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 11 Dec 2016 9:00 am


Masked pop-techno producer Deadmau5 has long been as famous for online beefs with Madonna and Kanye as for his music. His Twitter trolling is frequently hilarious, even as it hints at the underlying persona of a man who’d be at his happiest shouting up at an ex’s window at 2am about how he never cared anyway. This first album on his own mau5trap label will struggle to redress the balance back towards the tunes. When it’s good, it’s usually something that sounds like the luscious, clinical opener 4ware, or cow-brained stomper Three Pound Chicken Wing. Otherwise there are too many generic pompous 70s-prog synths grafted on to basic beats. Compared to his tweets, this desperately lacks personality.

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Powell: Sport review – lost in discord

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 16 Oct 2016 8:00 am

The underground electronic producer Powell has caught some sun in the past year with a couple of playful/terrifying singles, as well as a commendable willingness to butt heads with his heroes like the dance-despising Nirvana producer Steve Albini. Sadly, the aggressive discordance of Powell’s kitsch-glitch aesthetic drags horribly on this debut. It’s all treble, no bass, all foreplay with no follow-through. If only it had more of the intensity of the anti-faker spoken-word track Skype, or Jonny’s antic joy, which effectively upcycles dusty gothic riffery. Sport sounds lost, neither serious enough for IDM connoisseurs, nor crass enough for the EDM mob, and lacks the otherworldly melodies of pioneers like Gold Panda or Nicolas Jaar.

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Clams Casino: 32 Levels review – sleepy, punch-drunk symphonies

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 17 Jul 2016 7:00 am

Clams Casino’s three Instrumental mixtapes - and the gauzy, slump-hop productions they advertised - have redrafted the outer limits of rap, while various versions of his syrupy, discombobulated sound seep into the charts. At best, Clams’s beats seem beaten, staggering in a space filled with distortion, as if someone’s trying to hoover up the song before it finishes. 32 Levels begins and ends strongly but sags in the middle like an old sofa, never bettering Casino classics such as A$AP Rocky’s LVLor FKA twigs’ flutteringly majestic Hours. However, indie-pop growler Samuel T Herring and a returning Rocky have the personality to make a success of their contributions, and a bundled vocal-free version hints at endless possibilities for Clams’s sleep paralysis symphonies.

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Beth Orton: Kidsticks review – sunny side up with a shard of ice

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 29 May 2016 8:00 am


Twenty years ago, Beth Orton’s breakthrough Trailer Park correctgently dripped tasteful electronics over folky confessionals. Her latest collection, created in California, dives fearlessly into deeper waters. Although dependent on repetition of small riffs, syllables and phrases, these 10 songs are pleasingly unpredictable, uncoiling languorously around layers of synthetic and organic sounds. There’s grit too – the bass-strafed Petals wrestles with itself until its brawling, bawling end, collapsing into the jaunty single 1973. Orton’s alluring vocals decorate rather than dominate, making chilling lyrics like “the phone book is filling up with dead friends” (Falling) even more shocking when they surface. Despite its sunny origins, there’s a shard of ice speared through Kidsticks, a frost that burns fierce as fire.

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