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


Sampa the Great: The Return review

Delivered... Rachel Aroesti | Scene | Fri 13 Sep 2019 10:30 am

(Ninja Tune)
She’s charismatic and her challenges to western orthodoxy are welcome, but Sampa needs to find a fresher sonic palette

Over the past decade, hip-hop has relaxed its borders - welcoming in a flood of new styles, characters and concepts. One thing that still unites most rappers, however, is braggadocio; the aggressive, occasionally tiresome boasting that stems from rap’s battle past. As a Zambia-born, Botswana-raised, Australia-based woman, Sampa Tembo belongs firmly in rap’s inclusive modern age – but as her moniker suggests, she’s no stranger to a spot of rampant egotism. “I’m boutta blow up soon / I ain’t wasting time chilling with you”, she crows on Grass Is Greener, before describing herself in more biblically bombastic terms – as “The end / Beginning and on / and on” – over the intricate percussion of Dare to Fly.

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Charli XCX: Charli review – a raw, rousing step towards superstardom

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Fri 13 Sep 2019 9:00 am

(Asylum/Atlantic)
The embattled singer reveals her anxieties and coaxes brilliance from various guests in a candid, confident third album

In the five years since Charli XCX released her last album, she’s sworn that industry interference meant she would never make another. But here we are: after an overwhelmingly productive half-decade of unofficial releases and collaborations, Charli is an album proper, a diminishingly important semantic distinction but one that puts the 27-year-old firmly at its heart.

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The Shock of the Future review – when synths ruled the world

Delivered... Phil Hoad | Scene | Wed 11 Sep 2019 5:00 pm

A young woman in late-70s Paris explores the thrilling possibilities of electronic music in a drama with a timely feminist slant

From Vangelis to John Carpenter, synthesised music was a liquescent shot in the arm for late 70s/early 80s cinema. Now French musician and producer Marc Collin has mounted this perhaps over-reverential tribute, which makes a timely nod to a nucleus of female pioneers, among them Delia Derbyshire, Laurie Spiegel and Wendy Carlos. If that doesn’t have the needle spiking on the hipster gauge, Alma Jodorowsky – granddaughter of Alejandro – plays Ana, a frustrated jingle-writer in 1978 in Paris who is beginning to see the landscape-shifting possibilities of the wall of synths and sequencers in the flat she is housesitting.

Collin is clearly a stan, the camera lovingly worshipping the banks of dials and knobs, the soundtrack overflowing with the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Throbbing Gristle and Jean-Michel Jarre, the retro-futuristic love-in extending to all manner of directional brown-and-orange furnishings. Ana has a full-blown techgasm when a friend turns up with a Roland CR-78 beatbox.

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Objekt: the pioneering producer uniting chinstrokers and ravers

Delivered... Kit Macdonald | Scene | Wed 11 Sep 2019 1:45 pm

TJ Hertz grew up without a clue electronic music existed. Now he’s the genre’s most cutting-edge star – but the studio still gives him the jitters

It is 4am on a balmy June night in Barcelona, and on a beachside stage at Primavera Sound festival, one of the finest talents in electronic music is leaping into the unknown. TJ Hertz, AKA Objekt, is one of the most beloved DJs and producers around. His tracks and albums routinely top end-of-year lists in the dance music press; their density and technique pleases the chinstrokers at the back, while their goofiness and fun gets hands in the air down the front.

And yet this is his first ever live set, a show he brings to the UK this week. Hertz stands behind a bank of equipment playing crystalline, deconstructed club music and singing through a vocoder while Ezra Miller, a young American visual artist, stands opposite triggering mesmeric visuals in time with the staccato beats and broken melodies.

Objekt and Ezra Miller play at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on 12 September.

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Octo Octa: Resonant Body review – upbeat, free-spirited electronica

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Fri 6 Sep 2019 10:00 am

(T4t Luv Nrg)
Octo Octa’s trans journey is mirrored in her electronic palette, using crunching beats, ambience and supple synths on celebratory tracks

For Octo Octa, music has been a journey of self-discovery that’s mirrored the development of her own identity. The electronic music producer and DJ publicly came out as trans in 2016 and refers to prior albums such as Between Two Selves as a “coded message” for her experiences. Since that pivotal moment, she’s found herself embraced by queer scenes all over, a shift that goes hand-in-hand with her move away from live sets and towards DJing, following a year of heavy touring. Her dance music baptism came in the form of drum’n’bass and breakcore, where percussive chaos channelled the same free-spirited energy she now also finds in house music. All three genres serve as major influences for her latest album, created in her New Hampshire cabin home.

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‘My home got raided seven times’: the Criminal Justice Act 25 years on

Delivered... Ed Gillett | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 2:21 pm

Labrynth promoter Joe Wieczorek looks back at a career of antiestablishment mischief-making, and the moment 25 years ago when British dance music was politicised

Joe Wieczorek, long-time rave promoter and serial thorn in the side of the establishment, is marking the 25th anniversary of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJA) by cheerfully miming the insertion of a solemn legal document into a sensitive part of a policeman’s anatomy. The founder of the east London rave Labrynth, Wieczorek remains one of dance music’s most unique characters, all spiky irreverence, Cockney enthusiasm and relentless disdain for authority. Many of his peers have settled comfortably into rave’s middle age, but Wieczorek gives the impression that the culture’s real value lies in putting powerful noises out of joint.

“We employed someone called Brian: Mr 10%,” he remembers. “Drove a turquoise and grey Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, and he’d managed to get ‘the Right Honourable’ and ‘Sir’ put on his driving licence, so his sole purpose at Labrynth parties was to front the police when they showed up.”

Related: The month's best mixes: blood-pumping beats and meditative techno

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

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Stereolab: ‘There was craziness in getting lost and dizzy’

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 10:37 am

Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier pick their favourite tracks and reflect on two decades of pioneering electropop

Stereolab aren’t on the same page about why they’re touring again after a nine-year hiatus. “We’ve got seven albums coming back out...” says Tim Gane. “For the money,” Lætitia Sadier says simultaneously. They are the core duo of one of the best bands of the turn of the century: blending lounge-pop, punk, tropicalía and political poetry, they stuck out like a sore thumb during the Britpop era.

As Gane says, most of their albums are being reissued. But the pair were in a relationship for 16 years, separating in 2004; they weathered the sudden death of their bandmate Mary Hansen, and years of touring that Sadier describes as “crushing and exhausting”. So perhaps her deadpan cynicism has a grain of truth.

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One to watch: O’Flynn

Delivered... Kate Hutchinson | Scene | Sat 31 Aug 2019 2:00 pm
Flitting effortlessly between Afro disco and acid house, this young London producer is dancefloor dynamite

Nope, it’s not somewhere you’d end up on a wild out in Benidorm: O’Flynn is the alias of electronic music producer Ben Norris, purveyor of nimble, globetrotting house and disco jams. Since 2015, when James Blake played his track Oberyn on Radio 1, O’Flynn has been steadily releasing low-key secret weapons in DJs’ record bags. There’s Tyrion – inspired by the percussion he heard while on holiday in Morocco – which Four Tet dropped in a set on the streaming site Boiler Room. Or TKOTN, included by Bonobo on his mix for London nightclub Fabric’s esteemed compilation series.

O’Flynn’s music flits between contemporary takes on the Afro-disco revival and even, as on his recent Ninja Tune release, acid house. It calls into question the ease with which (largely white, usually male) music producers are using African samples (a children’s chant; a polyrhythmic drum beat) for some quick “exotic” flavour. But O’Flynn does it rather seamlessly, like a boogie-fied Auntie Flo. He has said his passion for African music runs deep and, in 2016, he was involved in recording the mataali drum and vocal troupe Mubashira Mataali Group in Uganda.

Aletheia is released on 6 September on Silver Bear. O’Flynn tours the UK from 16 September

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The month’s best mixes: blood-pumping beats and meditative techno

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Wed 28 Aug 2019 11:31 am

UNIIQU3 gives retro sounds a new sheen with her AFROPUNK mix, while MssingNo devastates with his glorious melodrama

Dazed Mix: Anthony Naples

Related: The month's best mixes: cosmic connections and oceanic electronics

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‘Dummy wasn’t a chillout album. Portishead had more in common with Nirvana’

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sat 24 Aug 2019 5:00 pm
On the 25th anniversary of their classic debut, Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley reflect on how the album came together

Twenty-five years ago, during the summer of Blur’s Parklife and Oasis’s Definitely Maybe, a darker, stranger record was released that would soon become huge. Its title and mood was inspired by a 1970s TV drama of the same name, about a young deaf woman in Yorkshire who becomes a prostitute. The lyrics spoke of emotional extremes, sung in an extraordinary, rural-tinged, English blues by the Devon-born Beth Gibbons, of “the blackness, the darkness, forever” in Wandering Star, or of the feeling that “nobody loves me, it’s true, not like you do” in Sour Times.

Its sound, woven together by Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley, helped define what is known today in music as hauntology, the sampling of older, spectral sounds to evoke deeper cultural memories (Boards of Canada’s TV-sampling electronica, Burial’s dubstep, and the Ghost Box label’s folk horror soundworlds would follow their lead). But despite its starkness, Dummy became a triple-platinum seller and a Mercury prizewinner, perhaps because it struck a nerve in what Barrow calls our “sonic unconscious… when sounds can merge with other sounds from somewhere else, and ultimately create emotion”.

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One to watch: Velvet Negroni

Delivered... Tara Joshi | Scene | Sat 24 Aug 2019 2:00 pm

The US singer-songwriter’s free-ranging debut is informed by the constraints of a strict evangelical upbringing

Artists such as Velvet Negroni are emblematic of the disintegration of distinct genres in the streaming age. Real name Jeremy Nutzman, under his current moniker he makes gorgeously expansive sounds that meld and melt the lines between everything from lush synthpop, experimental electronic and choppy rap to reggae and dub.

Born in Minneapolis, Nutzman was adopted by a white evangelical Christian family and boxed in by stringent rules. From the age of five he would play classical piano for at least an hour a day; secular music was forbidden. In an interview with the Fader, he described discovering a pile of abandoned CDs on his neighbour’s lawn, though all his attempts to hoard such treasures – even hiding them in air vents – were found out.

Velvet Negroni’s Neon Brown is released on 4AD on 30 August

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Chillwave: a momentary microgenre that ushered in the age of nostalgia

Delivered... Emilie Friedlander | Scene | Wed 21 Aug 2019 11:59 am

In a summer riven by financial meltdown, a niche trend for lo-fi retro pop couldn’t have seemed more trivial. Yet it was the first sign of a generation fleeing to the past to escape a bleak future

When I think of the so-called “summer of chillwave”, I remember sitting at a desk in a giant office in midtown Manhattan, shivering in the air conditioning and listening to songs about the beach. It was June 2009 – the summer after the sub-prime mortgage collapse had precipitated what was then the largest single-day point drop in Dow Jones history – and I was a recent graduate, working an entry-level temp job in the library of a corporate law firm. Whenever I wasn’t helping summer associates (or secretly updating my music blog), I was listening to Sun Was High (So Was I), a shoddily recorded love song full of fried guitar chords and easy-breezy rhymes by a little-known Los Angeles rock band called Best Coast fronted by stoner Bethany Cosentino. At a time when I couldn’t stop worrying about the future, its apparent effortlessness was soothing, like a blurred dispatch from an endless teenage beach hang where all you have to worry about is the sand getting in your fries and your crush not returning your texts: “Watched the cars go by / The sun was high / And so was I.”

It was the first song to give me that sensation. By the following month, it had a name. “Feel like I might call it ‘chill wave’ music in the future,” proclaimed the pseudonymous blogger Carles in a 27 July post on Hipster Run-Off, writing in character as the microgenre-obsessed creator of an mp3 blog that doubled as a satire of the proudly amateurish music writing bubbling up at the time. The tag described a new crop of melodic dream-pop artists such as Washed Out, Neon Indian, and Memory Cassette – artists that on paper were very different from a rock group like Best Coast, with an emphasis on cheesy-sounding old synths, vintage drum machines and an expressively degraded, echo-and-reverb-laden production aesthetic. But the spirit of the music – its delirious lo-fidelity, its fondness for the obsolete formats of our youth – was the same: “Feel like chillwave is supposed to sound like something that was playing in the background of ‘an old VHS cassette that u found in ur attic from the late 80s/early 90s,’” Carles wrote.

Related: Pop 2.0: how globalised music created a new kind of star

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Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild review – grief, rage and transcendent electronica

Delivered... Aimee Cliff | Scene | Fri 16 Aug 2019 10:30 am

(Sacred Bones)
Mourning the death of the planet and a parent, Ben Power has made an album that fuses existential fear with sheer beauty

Back in 2012, Blanck Mass sounded optimistic. Ben Power’s one-man electro-noise project (distinct from his work as part of the duo Fuck Buttons) was best known for his ambient headrush of a composition, Sundowner, which was used as part of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s buoyant Olympics opening ceremony. But, as the political mood of the country continued to sour, Power’s work darkened in response, leading up to 2017’s snarling World Eater, and now Animated Violence Mild: an album where blind rage and beauty commingle. In the accompanying press release, Power describes how the record was born of grief – he wrote it while musing on how consumerism is destroying our planet. In the final stages of recording, his father died, and so he also began processing this deeply personal loss alongside his global mourning.

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Unleash the sesh gremlins! Sunset Campout, California’s clubbing paradise

Delivered... Jemayel Khawaja | Scene | Mon 12 Aug 2019 10:00 am

With its mix of hippies, techno heads and hikers, this party deep in California’s gold rush country has resisted creeping commercialisation

The narrow road to Belden Town, California (population: 22), careens through hairpin turns, down a thousand feet of craggy grey stone to the white-tipped rushes of the Feather River. The only other vehicle for miles is a train running parallel, barrelling through tunnels blown into the mountainside. During the gold rush of the 1800s, a few boomtowns sprang up in the area. Now they are lonely outposts. But for one weekend a year, they host one of the west coast’s most durable and cherished party institutions: Sunset Campout. It’s like an early 90s acid rave meets Westworld meets Oregon Trail, and its story goes back 25 years.

In 1994, a teenage Bay Area upstart named Galen Abbott traded in his dreams of Olympic swimming for a set of DJ decks. The son of hippies and a newfound resident of the famed alt-culture haven of Haight Street, he was activated by the still-nascent San Francisco acid house rave scene, the transplanted UK party crew Wicked, and Future Sound of London’s track Papua New Guinea. Despite his enthusiasm, Galen’s homemade mixtapes – still actually tapes back then – couldn’t get him booked at any parties, legal or otherwise. A “psychedelic epiphany” at the nearby Berkeley Marina inspired him to throw his own event at that very spot, and Sunset Sound System – a free, weekly, renegade daytime picnic rave – was born.

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Ami Dang: Parted Plains review | Ammar Kalia’s global album of the month

Delivered... Ammar Kalia | Scene | Fri 9 Aug 2019 8:30 am

(Leaving Records)
Dang’s self-assured album brings elements of unease to stillness, with keening melodies and multilayered sounds

The line between ambient music and muzak can be a fine one. The former is “an atmosphere, a surrounding influence: a tint” to envelop the listener, music “intended to induce calm and a space to think,” according to Brian Eno’s liner notes on the topic, while the latter has become a watchword for unremarkable background sounds; stuff to merely fill a room’s silence. To the uninitiated, both can occupy the same murky generic space of the spa or hotel lobby – music that is as ignorable as it is interesting.

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