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


Pale, male and stale: does modern classical have a gender problem?

Delivered... Lanre Bakare | Scene | Thu 18 Jul 2019 7:00 am

Compilation album by Wayne McGregor criticised for only including two works by women

Modern classical and electronic music is still dominated by stars who are largely “pale, male and stale”, leading industry figures have warned, after learning of a major new compilation album featuring only two works composed by women.

Collaborations, which will be released by Mercury KX – a label that claims to cross “the borders between electronic, ambient, classical, alternative and modern music” – is compiled by choreographer Wayne McGregor and was billed as “a collection of music from the biggest names in modern classical and electronic music” in a tweet sent by the label. But the dearth of female artists was immediately picked up on – with footwork artist Jlin and Finnish contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho the only women represented over the 15 tracks.

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Lisbon Beat review – energetic musical odyssey to the city’s edge

Delivered... Peter Bradshaw | Scene | Wed 17 Jul 2019 12:00 pm

This brief but engaging documentary celebrates Lisbon’s vibrant African-Portuguese music scene

There is a short, sharp blast of energy in this brief music documentary by DJ Rita Maia and cinematographer Vasco Viana about the African-Portuguese music scene in Lisbon’s outer suburbs, the “corrugated villages” that appeared after the 1970s. It is not quite right to call this ghetto culture; the milieu is more nuanced and complicated than that in terms of nationality, race, generation and class, although it is certainly pretty male.

The music is an engaging mix of digital and analogue, new and old. A lot of it comes from DJs with Mac Book Pros and music-editing software and who play marathon-length parties. A lot more comes from traditional instruments such as a Ferro player, a percussive instrument lying over the shoulder like a length of steel that produces a weirdly hypnotic thrumming noise, and a kora, a 22-string instrument from west Africa that has been in use for hundreds of years.

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Banks: III review – a break from dark R&B doesn’t quite pay off

Delivered... Aimee Cliff | Scene | Fri 12 Jul 2019 10:00 am

(Harvest Records)
Her third album is a less-than-convincing attempt to lighten the old experimentalism in favour of chart-friendly ballads

LA singer Banks was heralded as part of a wave of “alternative R&B” when she emerged in 2014. Her distorted vocals and experimental beats were categorised alongside Tinashe and FKA twigs – though the latter refuted the label, saying that her music was “punk”, and only tangentially related to R&B. Twigs was right, and with the benefit of hindsight, Banks’s murky trap-pop offerings sound little like the other artists she was grouped together with when she released her debut album, Goddess. After another album and a two-year break, Banks is back with III, an LP that kicks against this pigeonhole with streaming-friendly electronic soul ballads and post-Kanye West maximalist pop (colourful Glaswegian producer Hudson Mohawke had a large hand in the record).

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Mother Earth’s Plantasia: the cult album you should play to your plants

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Tue 9 Jul 2019 3:00 pm

It was made by an easy-listening songwriter and given away free with mattresses. Now thanks to YouTube’s algorithm, Mort Garson’s Plantasia has become an underground hit

In the early noughties, Caleb Braaten was working in a secondhand record shop in Denver, Colorado, when he came across an album that looked intriguing. The cover of Mother Earth’s Plantasia featured a cartoon of two people cuddling a houseplant, and came with a free horticultural booklet. Best of all, it claimed that its intended audience wasn’t human: you were supposed to play its “warm Earth music” to plants “to aid in their growing”.

“So I put it on and, man, I absolutely immediately fell in love with it,” says Braaten, who now runs Sacred Bones Records. “There’s something about it that is immediately nostalgic. It takes you to this warm place in the past. It’s tickling those same senses as something from your childhood. I think people who didn’t even grow up with that stuff also feel that same warm sensation of … I don’t know. It’s very interesting.”

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New Music Biennial review – from the novel to the

Delivered... Philip Clark | Scene | Sun 7 Jul 2019 4:16 pm

Southbank Centre, London
From a turntable artist’s orchestral remix to Gazelle Twin’s melodic revelry, composers reimagine classical

However deeply electronic composers and turntablists journey inside their own world of sound, the invitation to map their primary musical concerns on to a symphony orchestra usually proves impossible to resist. At the Southbank Centre’s New Music Biennial, some dealt with that crossover opportunity more resourcefully than others.

Dialogue by the British-Iranian turntable artist Shiva Feshareki failed to deliver on the promise of its premise: the material, which Feshareki composed for BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor André de Ridder, was pre-recorded, giving her the opportunity to transform it electronically before our ears. This throws up, she explained, the alluring prospect of hearing a transformation before the thing itself has been played orchestrally. In reality, though, the orchestral drones felt too broad and loosely argued to instigate a full-on dialogue between turntable and orchestra.

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New Music Biennial review – from the novel to the

Delivered... Philip Clark | Scene | Sun 7 Jul 2019 4:16 pm

Southbank Centre, London
From a turntable artist’s orchestral remix to Gazelle Twin’s melodic revelry, composers reimagine classical

However deeply electronic composers and turntablists journey inside their own world of sound, the invitation to map their primary musical concerns on to a symphony orchestra usually proves impossible to resist. At the Southbank Centre’s New Music Biennial, some dealt with that crossover opportunity more resourcefully than others.

Dialogue by the British-Iranian turntable artist Shiva Feshareki failed to deliver on the promise of its premise: the material, which Feshareki composed for BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor André de Ridder, was pre-recorded, giving her the opportunity to transform it electronically before our ears. This throws up, she explained, the alluring prospect of hearing a transformation before the thing itself has been played orchestrally. In reality, though, the orchestral drones felt too broad and loosely argued to instigate a full-on dialogue between turntable and orchestra.

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K Flay: Solutions review – reasons to be cheerful

Delivered... Emily Mackay | Scene | Sun 7 Jul 2019 8:01 am

(Night Street/Interscope)

Joining the many trying to find hard-won notes of positivity amid climate catastrophe and political car crashes, Illinois native Kristine Flaherty has dedicated her third album to mustering “green lights, brighter views… to pull me through”, as she puts it on Good News, which rubs dirty analogue synths up against a pure pop chorus.

There are both stronger songs and a wider range of styles here than on her previous records: Not in California brings a grungy, fuzzy languor to its environmental end-times singalong chorus, while the irresistible I Like Myself sits somewhere between the lo-fi pop of Cults and the rhythmic attack and playful cheerleading choruses of Sleigh Bells. The latter spring to mind again on the hard-faced and heavy Bad Vibes, in which she dismisses lazy doom-lovers: “You think it’s cooler to have dark thoughts, never eat ice-cream.” Sister is equally adorable, with a jubilant yell of a chorus over a barrage of those synths, while DNA closes with a widescreen hip-hop epic that sends you off heartened.

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The month’s best mixes: infectious singeli and full-throttle floorfillers

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Wed 3 Jul 2019 12:34 pm

DJ Duke and MCZO take flight for 48 minutes of east African dance music, while Gabber Eleganza goes back to the early 90s

Related: The month's best mixes: steely funk, Lisbon tarraxo and hardcore psychedelia

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‘Michael Eavis didn’t know what dance music is’: a history of rave at Glastonbury

Delivered... Joe Muggs | Scene | Sat 29 Jun 2019 9:00 am

At some point in the late 80s – though no one remembers exactly when – Glastonbury festival became a nexus of the traveller, free party and acid-house scenes, and the festival was never the same again

Giant rubber duckies; tunnels of flowers; bassbins disguised with gingham tablecloths; sitting in upturned burning cars as entertainment. As if it weren’t enough of a struggle trying to get people to untangle their first Glastonbury raving memories from three decades ago, the things they do remember feel pretty hallucinatory on their own.

Nobody can be quite sure when raving first started in Glastonbury. Obviously all-night dancing predates acid house, but through the 80s that meant dub reggae: Youth of Killing Joke and the Orb remembers Saxon and Jah Shaka soundsystems as “the only music you could go dance to all night long that wasn’t acoustic around a bonfire”. The Mutoid Waste Company’s dystopian wreckage sculptures hosted pagan-industrial metal-banging dances throughout the night. Dance music as such wasn’t unknown, though. Mark Darby of Exeter’s Mighty Force collective says: “The first traveller soundsystem playing dance music I personally heard was Crazy Dave’s Record Bus – an old green coach with huge speakers – going through a disco phase, one afternoon at Stonehenge 83!”

Glastonbury is banning single use plastics. The world’s largest greenfield festival wants to avoid scenes of the area in front of its legendary stages being strewn with plastic after the shows have ended. In 2017, visitors to the festival got through 1.3m plastic bottles. 

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Hidden gems on the 2019 Glastonbury lineup

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 26 Jun 2019 2:47 pm

Bewildered by the hundreds of acts at Glastonbury? The Guardian’s music editors pick the best names from lower down the bill

The must-see musical experience of the weekend is this brand-new stage from the Block9 crew, whose club spaces routinely provide the festival’s best after-hours moments. IICON will have artists playing from a giant sculpture of a head, and they’re a who’s who of cutting-edge electronics: galaxy-cartographer Larry Heard, dub geniuses Raime, thunderously angry poet Moor Mother, junglist poet Lee Gamble, South African pairing Okzharp and Manthe Ribane, and tons of forward-thinking techno: Bruce, Zenker Brothers, Karenn and more. Sleep all day, bring a carrier bag of falafels, and you could happily spend your entire weekend here.

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Euphoria here we come! Fatboy Slim on his ‘silent’ Ibiza film with Julien Temple

Delivered... Sam Wollaston | Scene | Tue 25 Jun 2019 12:53 pm

Norman Cook has spent three decades blowing the Ibiza party crowd away. The DJ reveals why he teamed up with the director to capture 2,000 years of the island’s wild, strange history

Superstar DJ Fatboy Slim was recently thinking about – and questioning – what it is he does. “I’m just a middle-aged man playing a lot of loud squelching noises to young people, waving his arms around in the air. What really is that?” he asked himself.

But then it does make them dance and smile, and he, Norman Cook, still enjoys doing it. “It’s not what I would have chosen to be doing at this age” – 55 – “but I’m loving it so much. It’s the best job in the world because I love music, and my love of music involves sharing it with people.”

Ibiza: The Silent Movie is out 5 July and screens at Glastonbury on 26 June.

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Philippe Zdar: a studio master who gave pop a peerless joie de vivre

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:00 pm

The French producer has died after a freak accident – but leaves a legacy as a bon viveur who sprinkled everyone from Phoenix to Kanye West with his magic

Philippe Zdar knew about the beauty of chance moments. On his first day as a tea boy at Studio Marcadet on the outskirts of Paris in the late 1980s, he earned respect when it turned out that, improbably, he was the only person present who knew how to roll a spliff. On his third day, Jane Birkin came to record, before a performance that night. She was suffering from chronic back pain and required a cortisone shot that nobody knew how to administer. The show would be cancelled if she didn’t get it. Zdar, fresh from his national service stint as an army nurse, volunteered to inject her. You can picture the scene: French music veterans holding their breath as a young scrapper performs DIY medicine on a national icon. It worked: the show went on, and studio owner Dominique Blanc-Francard hired the young Zdar.

After providing nascent productions for French rapper MC Solaar alongside Hubert Blanc-Francard (AKA Boom Bass), Zdar had a revelation on a dancefloor: in December 1992, he took ecstasy at a rave and realised he had to pursue his love of Detroit techno and Chicago house. He was encouraged by an offer from James Lavelle of Mo’ Wax to release his and Blanc-Francard’s Solaar productions as instrumental tracks. In 1994, the pair released two influential EPs of house, techno, hip-hop and breakbeat as La Funk Mob, before forming Cassius. Zdar also formed Motorbass with Étienne de Crécy, and helped define the sample-heavy, filtered take on house that would become known as French touch. But he turned down label deals, and remained sceptical of the scene and the speed with which this new sound coalesced into cliche.

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Cassius’s Philippe Zdar dies in fall from Paris building

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 20 Jun 2019 7:26 am

French producer worked for acts including Phoenix, Kanye West and the Beastie Boys

The French DJ and producer Philippe Zdar has died after accidentally falling from a building in Paris, his agent has said. He was 52 years old.

Zdar, born Philippe Cerboneschi, and Hubert Blanc-Francard had produced tracks for the French rapper MC Solaar before founding the dance music duo Cassius in 1989.

Related: Sign up for the Sleeve Notes email: music news, bold reviews and unexpected extras

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Mike Dunn: the funky freak still uniting rap and house

Delivered... Lauren Martin | Scene | Tue 18 Jun 2019 2:00 pm

A thwarted deal with P Diddy left the Chicago house star ‘in a real dismal place’. But by reconnecting with the propulsive hip-house genre that he pioneered, he’s bounced back brighter

‘Well all right, you squares …” So begins Mike Dunn’s 1995 house classic God Made Me Phunky, as if he’s settling into an acid-tongued children’s story. The track becomes a rambling tale of how God takes him “on that spaceship up to, y’know, the funkiness”; his voice, full of sensual braggadocio, booms out over the beat, where raw drums crash underneath a looping piano hook. It’s one of the hip–house genre’s finest moments, a blend of dance and rap music that Dunn pioneered and is still pushing forward.

He’s just released his 2017 album, My House from All Angles, digitally for the first time, 29 years after his 1990 debut Free Your Mind. The ups and downs in the intervening years are a key part of house history.

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Sounds like summer: the ten best niche music festivals

Delivered... Kate Hutchinson, Ammar Kalia, Tara Joshi, Jude Rogers | Scene | Sat 15 Jun 2019 3:00 pm

Festival Fomo? Fear not. The big ones are sold out, but here’s our pick of the smaller gatherings that still have tickets

Eridge Park, Kent, 21-23 June

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