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


Inversia: the Arctic music festival lighting up perpetual night

Delivered... Andrew Dickson | Scene | Tue 11 Feb 2020 5:24 pm

In Russia’s frozen far north, Murmansk’s Inversia festival draws artists reflecting on the edges of the earth – including Brits, despite ever chillier diplomatic relations

In the Arctic Circle during the dim days of February, reality becomes a little attenuated. At 10am, it’s still dark, the streetlights colouring the pavements pale orange and making sallow shadows of the trees. When the forecast announces that today it’ll only be -11C, there’s a palpable sense of relief: someone gruffly makes a joke about global warming. By early afternoon, you’re into dusk, a meditative dwindling and diminishing that makes you wonder if it ever really got light. For what seems an eternity, the sky is rimmed with whitish-pink; the snow goes through every shade of blue, from azure and ultramarine through to deep indigo. The sense is that winter has frozen not only the ground, but time itself.

Given the sensory intensity, it’s little wonder that the wintry far north has proved so seductive to musicians and artists – or festival organisers. The Dark Music Days gathering in Iceland has been a mainstay of the experimental scene for 40 years, encouraging Europe’s most innovative composers and performers to flock to Reykjavik during late January. More recently, it’s been joined by Svalbard’s Polarjazz festival, Tromso’s Insomnia and at least two separate events, in Canada and Norway, named after the northern lights.

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One to watch: Pongo

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Sat 8 Feb 2020 3:00 pm
The Lisbon-based musician’s bold take on Angolan kuduro and quickfire rap are infused with a true survivor’s energy

After a few years when pop was all about emotional bloodletting, now stars are refusing to be defined by trauma – see recent records by Kesha and Selena Gomez, which celebrated survival over suffering, and Frank Ocean’s promise that he’s trading vulnerability for fantasy.

Pongo, 27, mainlines a similar philosophy. As a child, she and her family fled Luanda for Lisbon to escape the Angolan civil war. In Portugal she experienced intense racism, and claimed that the police abused her when she made a domestic violence complaint. Despite these hardships, her music is defiantly joyful: “a place to be happy with my memories of Angola”, she has said.

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HMLTD: West of Eden review – riotous rock and grand guignol glam

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Fri 7 Feb 2020 11:30 am

(Lucky Number)
The London band throw together glam, goth, electro, Kurt Weill … and have even added conventional pop to the mix

It seemed as though HMLTD’s moment had come and gone. A couple of years ago, their riotous gigs were the most fun you could have while paying too much for warm cans of lager, but a deal with Sony seemed a stretch for a band who, no matter how great they were live, didn’t seem to be rolling in radio-friendly hit singles. They were duly dropped and, as their contemporaries from the scene based around the Windmill in south London overtook them – Shame, Goat Girl, Black Midi – HMLTD seemed condemned to having been a brief but startling firework.

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Beatrice Dillon: Workaround review – a global future-folk manifesto

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Fri 7 Feb 2020 10:30 am

(PAN)
These exuberant electronic experiments in mixing 150bpm dub-techno with live instrumentation fizz with the joy of artistic creation

At the end of last year, the Guardian declared Beatrice Dillon “the most thrilling new voice in British electronic music”, and her first full-fledged solo LP, Workaround, demonstrates why. Put together during stolen moments over three years, it feels as though it’s been in the works for even longer. She released a solo mini-album in 2014 and has busied herself with collaborations, DJ sets and art commissions since. Her musical knowledge came through countless hours absorbing music as a record shop assistant. Visual art, literary and other cross-media influences began to crystallise some time after her fine art studies, lending themselves to her installation work. Dillon’s defining feature, however, is the insatiable curiosity for sound that sees her follow sonic leads to their unpredictable ends and beyond. Playful percussion and electro-acoustic experiments are central to her records with Rupert Clervaux, with dubby, jazz-tinged house and techno coming into focus on her club-peripheral productions.

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La Roux: Supervision review – obliquely beautiful, contrarian electro visionary

Delivered... Rachel Aroesti | Scene | Fri 7 Feb 2020 10:00 am

(Supercolour Records)
Her second release as a solo artist sees 1980s pop muted though Elly Jackson’s idiosyncratic and unique sound palette

When La Roux came to prominence in the late-00s with two shrill synthpop smashes – Bulletproof and In for the Kill – the duo were frequently discussed in terms of their nostalgia value. With their tinny, falsetto-driven, slightly wobbly electro – not to mention vocalist Elly Jackson’s gravity-defying quiff – it did seem a bit like the band were indulging in some 1980s new wave cosplay. Yet, funnily enough, those two tracks now feel headily redolent of the era they were made in. Not just thanks to their ubiquitous popularity, but because they chimed with the direction pop was taking at that time, being of a piece both with Lady Gaga’s dead-eyed, big-chorused anthems and the honking electro practised by indie acts such as MGMT and Empire of the Sun.

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La Roux review – synth star throws a joyously sleazy blowout

Delivered... Tara Joshi | Scene | Thu 6 Feb 2020 1:11 pm

Fabric, London
A tricky live setup can’t prevent Elly Jackson from laying on a display of mesmerising pop that leaves the crowd eating out of her hand

Whether it’s the spikier 80s synths of her 2009 breakthrough hits or the breezy disco stylings of her wonderful second album, 2014’s Trouble in Paradise, La Roux has the kind of back catalogue that can inject even the most lifeless dancefloor with a touch of euphoria. Hence why, in theory, Elly Jackson playing the legendary club Fabric seems like a foolproof match.

The place has been kitted out to fit her aesthetic – there are waves, palm trees and even a neon flamingo on stage. The colours change throughout in a way that’s fun and softly sleazy – Jackson announces that the stage is her “Sexotheque” after playing the tropical shuffle of a song by that name. But from opener Uptight Downtown, the venue feels surprisingly unwieldy for a live band set-up – downstairs, the sound desk mounted in the middle of the crowd means that many in the audience can’t really see, and for a club so famous for its sound system, the sound is overly bass-heavy, while Jackson’s words are unclear.

Related: La Roux: 'My label dropped me on New Year's Day. I was like, yippee!'

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Austerity, gentrification and big tunes: why illegal raves are flourishing

Delivered... Wil Crisp | Scene | Wed 5 Feb 2020 11:00 am

Amid disillusionment with mainstream clubbing, illegal events are harking back to the original spirit of rave – but police maintain they are as dangerous and criminal as ever

It’s an hour after midnight on New Year’s Day 2020, and a stream of revellers is gathering in an alleyway next to KFC on London’s Old Kent Road. They pass between piles of car tyres and through a gap in a gate where a group, wrapped in hats and scarves, are taking £5 notes from each person who enters the yard of a recently abandoned Carpetright warehouse.

Inside, the lights are on and groups of partygoers are huddled in groups talking, waiting and smoking as a behemoth sound system and makeshift bar are constructed against one wall. Next door, in a larger abandoned warehouse that was formerly an Office Outlet, an even bigger sound system is being built.

I played an illegal rave in a forest last night in Blackburn those kids are brilliant,there love for the music is pure! #dropjaw ⚡️

People are risking arrest to create a space where people can come together, no matter who they are, in a country where social divides are increasing

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Elon Musk’s new EDM single reviewed – ‘Bringing erectile dysfunction to the masses!’

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Fri 31 Jan 2020 2:04 pm

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has dropped Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe on Soundcloud – a wannabe dancefloor banger that somehow manages to doubt its own vibe

Like Charles Foster Kane splashing his millions on promoting his mistress’s disastrous opera career, very rich men have, in recent years, displayed a certain tendency to come to grief when dabbling in the field of music. First, the now-incarcerated pharma bro Martin Shkreli bought the only extant copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and, as a result, was first called “a shithead”, “the Michael Jackson nose kid”, “the man with the 12-year-old body” and “a fake super-villain” by the group’s Ghostface Killah, and then became the subject of a Wu-Tang Clan diss track. Not, one suspects, the response he expected when he ponied up $2m for their CD. Now Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk – net worth $34.4bn – has launched a parallel career as an EDM artist, posting a track called Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe on Soundcloud.

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Squarepusher: Be Up a Hello review – devilish, danceable return

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Fri 31 Jan 2020 10:00 am

(Warp)
Tom Jenkinson goes back to his mid-90s moniker and makes use of old electronic hardware in a fun, if bumpy, ride

Emerging in the mid-90s as part of the generation of artists defining Warp Records’ IDM sound, Squarepusher now presides over a discography that positions himself directly opposite the genre’s ideological associations. His dense, frenetic electronica interprets sonic complexity as a million open invitations, rather than as barriers to entry. Pairing machine programming with dazzling live performance and eschewing loftiness in favour of embracing the straight-up silly, his is a sound that presses its abundance of influences into something that can only be processed through movement. Drum’n’bass, acid and Essex rave collide with jazz, organ music and television themes to create something both devilish and danceable. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble that’s present once again on new album Be Up a Hello and, as with many Squarepusher releases, you’ll know where things start but nothing about where they’ll end up.

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‘No philosophy and everybody is welcome’: how Closer catalysed Ukrainian electronica

Delivered... Chris Williams | Scene | Wed 29 Jan 2020 11:19 am

From small beginnings in 2012, the Kyiv club-cum-cultural centre has become an eastern European scene-leader

You get the feeling you’re in for a big night as soon as you exit the taxi outside Closer. Climbing the graffitied staircase that leads to the Kyiv club evokes a childlike sense of adventure; not least at tonight’s Masquerade, an annual marathon session where everyone hides behind a face mask in celebration of the crew’s eighth birthday.

Many of the mystery figures inside will stay glued to the wooden dancefloor from Saturday night until the final glimmers of the party on Sunday evening. It’s not entirely an endurance test: while the main room is all whistles and whooping, the cushion-filled ambient floor has a similarly meditative vibe to Glastonbury’s Green Fields.

Related: 'The vibe was sex, sex, sex': Cocktail D'Amore, Berlin's free-love club night

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One to watch: Obongjayar

Delivered... Tara Joshi | Scene | Sat 25 Jan 2020 2:59 pm

Mixing Afrobeat and electronics, Nigerian-born Londoner Steven Umoh makes music befitting a self-styled ‘king’

Much of London’s recent music output is indebted to west Africa. Whether it’s the way that contemporary Nigerian pop genre Afrobeats has melded with rap and dancehall to create the breezy Afroswing that has become a chart mainstay, or the burgeoning jazz scene that pulses with the euphoria of Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat and Ghanaian highlife, the cross-pollination has created some of the capital’s most vital sounds.

Enter Obongjayar, AKA Steven Umoh. Since his 2016 EP Home, the south London artist, 26, who lived in Nigeria until he was 17, has been carving out a name for himself with music that oozes vitality and spirit, as his contributions to everything from Richard Russell’s Mercury-nominated Everything Is Recorded to rapper Danny Brown’s most recent album attest.

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Nicolas Godin: Concrete and Glass review

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Fri 24 Jan 2020 11:30 am

(Because Music)
The former Air member’s second solo album is a paean to various architects the veers between elegant and insipid

It’s hard to credit now how revolutionary Air’s first album, Moon Safari, sounded in 1998 – a soufflé of a record so light and fluffy it was irresistible. Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel had the same retro-futurist bent as Broadcast, but they also had a sweet tooth for bubblegum to go with their gauzy electronica. The range of musical reference has broadened since then, but Concrete and Glass has a familiar wooziness about it.

Where Godin’s first record, Contrepoint, was inspired by Bach – not that you’d know – this one is the soundtrack to a series of site-specific installations paying tribute to various architects.

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Nicolas Godin: Concrete and Glass review

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Fri 24 Jan 2020 11:30 am

(Because Music)
The former Air member’s second solo album is a paean to various architects the veers between elegant and insipid

It’s hard to credit now how revolutionary Air’s first album, Moon Safari, sounded in 1998 – a soufflé of a record so light and fluffy it was irresistible. Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel had the same retro-futurist bent as Broadcast, but they also had a sweet tooth for bubblegum to go with their gauzy electronica. The range of musical reference has broadened since then, but Concrete and Glass has a familiar wooziness about it.

Where Godin’s first record, Contrepoint, was inspired by Bach – not that you’d know – this one is the soundtrack to a series of site-specific installations paying tribute to various architects.

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The month’s best mixes: mutating moods and club-ready wreckers

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Wed 22 Jan 2020 5:11 pm

DJ Taj turns on the charm, Stellar OM Source hurtles towards revelation, while Elijah and Skilliam unveil a mix manifesto

Related: The best underground dance music of 2019

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‘No Fiat 500 techno!’: why electronic music in Cork is popping off

Delivered... Colin Gannon | Scene | Wed 22 Jan 2020 1:22 pm

A crop of hyper-imaginative producers like Lighght, Ellll and those on the Flood label all emanate from Ireland’s ‘rebel city’ – but can it hold on to them?

“Messy in the best possible way,” says Cork producer Doubt of the epiphanic experience he had in 2015 at a warehouse rave in Manor House, north London. “It was really relaxed vibes. Security – although I didn’t see many – were sound, and there were heavy bangers all night. I’d never really experienced anything like that in Ireland.”

He was in London because of English producer NKC, one of the originators of the club sound known as hard drum, then just a Soundcloud tag. Doubt (real name Ollie McMorrow) and compatriots Tension (Dylan O’Mahony) and Syn (Reneé Griffin) set up their own label, Flood, a year after their hard drum rendezvous in London. After learning, experimenting and dawdling with friends in Cork, all it took was NKC’s raucous parties to dissolve their collective inhibition.

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