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

50 great tracks for May from Florence + the Machine, Christina Aguilera, Deafheaven and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 10 May 2018 9:00 am

From Róisín Murphy’s erotic disco to Onyx Collective’s post-bop jazz and Deafheaven’s soulful metal, here’s our roundup of the best new music. Subscribe to the playlist of all 50 tracks and read about our 10 favourites

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

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Positiva energy: 25 years of the legendary dance label – in pictures

Delivered... Electronic music | The Guardian | Scene | Tue 8 May 2018 7:00 am

The Positiva dance label dominated the 90s with their pumped-up trance and house tracks – and the iconic logo showcased on these flyers

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Jon Hopkins: Singularity review – well-crafted techno is oh so shallow

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 4 May 2018 10:30 am


Written amid calculated mind expansion, via transcendental meditation and naturally occurring psychedelics, Jon Hopkins, the Mercury-nominated producer who has credits with Brian Eno and Coldplay, hones his exploratory take on HD electronics on this smoothly sequenced trip. The level of craft is extremely high. The way the beats on the two big techno numbers, Everything Connected and Emerald Rush, crunch and splinter to blur the quantization requires expert sound design, and the latter swings with an almost reggaeton groove – it is exceptionally good. But what use is craft if you have nothing to say? Just as what seems universe-sharpeningly significant on drugs is revealed to be laughably obvious the morning after, the tracks in the album’s more ambient second half appear deep while being nothing of the sort. Luminous Beings pulses prettily for 12 minutes like a light-up mobile you let your baby stare at while you neck some wine, and C O S M nicks the reversed-strings effect Four Tet came up with 15 years ago – compare its blinkered emotional range with the brilliant peak of Emerald Rush, where anxiety and dread muscle in to push the chords downwards. The title track works as an overture but not in isolation, and Neon Pattern Drum’s mood doesn’t deviate from mild peril (though it may bang in his live set). The nadir is the three tracks – inevitable among him and his posh-trance peers – of maddeningly basic and unimaginative piano minimalism, like Ryuichi Sakamoto robbed of his spatial awareness. Too much of this album is the sort of thing people stick on to make their drug comedowns feel meaningful.

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DJ Koze: Knock Knock review – stunning songs from pop’s parallel universe

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 3 May 2018 12:00 pm

The eccentric producer uses samples and collaborations to brilliantly exploit the spaces between deep house, trip-hop and R&B on an appealingly odd album

In January 1987, Smash Hits tried to address the unexpected rise of house music by printing the lyrics to Steve “Silk” Hurley’s chart-topping Jack Your Body. In an attempt to circumvent the fact that the lyrics to Jack Your Body consisted entirely of the words “jack your body” repeated ad infinitum, the page was padded out with parenthetical descriptions of how the record sounded: “(Rather a long bit where it goes bing bong diddle a lot, then sort of dum-de-dum).” If the 21st century equivalent of the song words in Smash Hits is the YouTube lyric video – a phenomenon kickstarted by a cheap placeholder clip for Cee Lo Green’s 2010 hit Fuck You, and now warrants its own category at the MTV video music awards – then its Jack Your Body moment may have come with the release of DJ Koze’s Pick Up, a single that preceded this fifth solo album, Knock Knock. It was promoted with a video featuring nothing more than white words on a black background, offering not just its three lines of lyrics but a wry running commentary on the track: “vocal sample … beat kicks in … disco sample loop x6 … brain realises song consists only of these few elements … deep feeling of happiness” etc.

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Bicep review – muscular, head-rushing tech house

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 30 Apr 2018 1:06 pm

Roundhouse, London
The Northern Irish dance duo showcase their skill for ping-ponging melody and beautifully tooled drum programming, paired with magnificent visuals

Bicep cut a relatively rare shape in today’s live music scene – no longer mere DJs, they’re one of the few dance artists (alongside Eric Prydz and a handful more) to have built up a strong live show from their own work. The duo stand fairly statically behind hardware and a laptop as their symbol emerges behind them – a trefoil of three clenched biceps – and it is an apt one, hinting at the macho homosexuality of disco, the Celtic roots of their native Northern Ireland, and the sheer elemental punch of a kick drum.

The crowd is predominantly young twentysomethings from the “sesh” generation, all in Champion tees, with Ketflix and Pills on their phones and a propensity to get on each other’s shoulders. They cheer in recognition as familiar licks eke their way into the flowing mix, turning to festival pandemonium as the Indian vocal sample of Rain kicks in, an anthem for yoga-loving Ibizans. The exceptional visuals by Black Box Echo build to fill the stage like psychedelic Lego and, for Opal, Matisse-like colour blocking.

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Jon Hopkins: ‘Psychedelic experiences inspired this album’

Delivered... Killian Fox | Scene | Sun 29 Apr 2018 8:00 am
The musician on film scores, technological developments and the natural highs behind his new album, Singularity

Born in Kingston upon Thames in 1979, the musician and producer Jon Hopkins studied piano at the Royal College of Music before turning his hand to electronic music. He has released four studio albums, including the 2013 critical smash Immunity, and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Brian Eno, King Creosote and Coldplay. Hopkins’s mind-bending fifth album, Singularity, is out this Friday on Domino. He plays London’s Village Underground on 10 May.

You said on Instagram recently that you knew you’d make this record 15 years ago but only figured out how to make it in the past couple of years. What twigged?
I knew a few things in advance, including the title and the idea of the album starting and ending with a really simple tone. I also wanted there to be a symbiotic relationship between all the sounds, so that everything would seem to grow out of everything else. But I was still figuring things out back then – if I was a visual artist, you would say I was still learning how to draw – so I needed to get the basics right before trying to be conceptual and ambitious.

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Tangerine Dream review – despite loss of leader, the Dream continues

Delivered... David Stubbs | Scene | Tue 24 Apr 2018 1:48 pm

Union Chapel, London
For their first UK show without founder member Edgar Froese, the synth pioneers enlivened their proggy ambience with techno, but still created the same cosmic grandeur

Is it thinkable for a group to carry on when its creator and sole continuous member has died? Could the Fall conceive of carrying on without Mark E Smith? Of course not, no more than the Jimi Hendrix Experience could have regrouped following Hendrix’s death. Could Kraftwerk continue were their only remaining founder member Ralf Hütter to die? That’s a difficult one, but not impossible and not to be bet against.

Tangerine Dream’s founder Edgar Froese died in 2015 and, despite the qualms of his son, Jerome, Tangerine Dream have put the proposition to the test. Such is the nature of the group – more of an organic, ever-shifting and evolving sonic structure than a vehicle for an autobiographical ego – that they, if anyone, might just be able to pull it off.

Related: Edgar Froese obituary

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Yes, Avicii’s death should be a wake-up call – and not just for EDM

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 23 Apr 2018 1:05 pm

The death of 28-year-old star producer/DJ Avicii comes as a shock to many. It’s also easy to reduce to another example of party world excess, or to say it’s just about big-money EDM and pop. But it should be a bigger wake up call than that.

To me, the most alarming reaction I’ve heard from the electronic music world is, “oh, who’s that?” – not from people who genuinely don’t know, but from those who are making a show of pretending not to know. And the reason that should be unsettling is, it allows people in the larger industry of electronic music to try to separate themselves from their own connections to this story.

Some of the warning signs that we got from Avicii are relevant to all dance music – including the bits that like to style themselves as underground. Some relate to the dangers of the industry around music, and its priorities. Some are personal ones, for anyone working in music and creative arts. And some of those speak on a pretty basic human level to asking ourselves what we’re doing with our lives. These are not questions any of us should be somehow “above.”

They’re also relevant to music technology, because our business is fueled by the music industry, because we’re personally often involved in this other world, and because we have self-care challenges of our own.

But, okay, let’s back up. If you genuinely don’t know who Avicii is – which in today’s heavily fragmented musical world is very possible – here’s a quick review. (Yeah, Wikipedia is your friend, too.) His real name was Tim Bergling, hailing from Stockholm. While he wound up with a long string of blockbuster hit singles, he started out making music with more of the profile of a lot of typical readers of, like, this site. He was posting remixes in forums at age 16.

You either know his music, or you’ve heard his music without knowing it – even the most disconnected from popular culture can do a quick YouTube search now and go, “oh, that song” with a few of them. He’s one of a handful of people who made dance music as big as it is at the moment, especially in the US market. And he had that sort of magical talent with both sound and hooks that I personally think is tough to argue with (even if people do out of some reflexive snobbishness). It’s immediate; it reaches people.

But whether this is your music or not, watching this kid play around with a Game Boy and smiling in front of a DAW arrangement – of course, this is us. You might not be a guy or white or Swedish or Grammy-nominated or played in front of huge crowds in Vegas or even know how to operate a CDJ. But I know if you read this site, you know that feeling of being excited about some new music well enough to start to tear up even for the passing of a perfect stranger.

About health

You can bet that a lot of discussion this week will center on Bergling’s health.

Mental and physical health are about more than just party culture. One of my personal heroes growing up was Jim Henson of The Muppets fame, who’s about as far from Ibiza as you can imagine. I even met him as a kid in Indianapolis and took a photo with him. And part of what I loved about Henson was his endless devotion to his work. And as a kid as well as in adulthood, I’ve always been able relate to this desire to be consumed by creating things.

I was just twelve when Jim Henson died, but part of what I understood at the time was that this drive also took his life. (He was in production at the time, and even delaying seeking treatment seems likely to have advanced the course of the bacteria that killed him.)

So, when processing the news about Avicii, the first question we ask I think shouldn’t be “is this the sort of music I like?” or “is party culture too much about excess?”

I think we should ask, “are we taking care of ourselves and other people, in terms of their health and their happiness? Who and what are we working for, first?”

About signs

As I write this, there hasn’t yet been a discussion of an immediate cause of death, but Avicii’s health problems have been public for several years now. Billboard has an overview:

Avicii’s Health Struggles: A Timeline

Heavy drinking at least appears to have been a factor early on. That is itself significant, because both in his native Sweden and in my native United States where his career took off, prohibitions in the music scene have focused on the drug MDMA (or even, perversely, marijuana) but largely ignored alcohol. That’s something that has been criticized by many health advocates. (Without stepping into the ecstasy debate, it’s worth checking out the cannabis debate – as its history in the USA is beyond bizarre.)

But that’s just one factor, if an important one. Touring itself seems to have been a culprit. And there are many more signs something was wrong with Avicii and deeply troubling about the world around him that advanced his decline.

If you want to get fairly depressed, you can watch the documentary True Stories that came out last year for a vivid picture:

This was a message that Avicii the artist wanted to get out. He was even brave enough to actively promote segments from the film that put him and his promotional team in a pretty bad light. From DJ Mag in November, you can watch some utterly chilling moments with his doctors and with his publicist:

Avicii shares distressing new footage from True Stories documentary: Watch

This isn’t just about whether someone was drinking too much at one point. In this segment, it’s clear that Avicii and his team sometimes chose keeping up appearances and continuing work at the expense of getting complete medical treatment or recovery.

That is an important, important point. Lots of people can abuse alcohol or drugs or engage in self-destructive or suicidal behaviors. But – coming back to my Jim Henson example – it’s also possible for any of us to get sick and then fail to get treatment. Sometimes a few hours’ delay getting to a doctor can be fatal, even for a health adult with no history of substance abuse.

So, what does it mean if we’re part of an industry, or talking to professionals, who actively encourage us to do something that harms us? What does that mean about musicians – or fans? That motivation can be as much about money as it is about something like substances. It’s not to ignore the substance question (someone’s making money on that, too, ahem), but to try to understand a deeper sense of what this is about.

Deeper calls

As I write this, Avicii’s site hauntingly still shows the text posted as he announced his retirement from live shows and touring:


For me it’s creating music. That is what I live for, what I feel I was born to do.

Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it. But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense – the studio.

The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new.

Hope you´ll enjoy it as much as I do.

But it’s what he said in an interview in the Rolling Stone that I find most telling. And it’s actually not so much about his physical health per se as you might expect.

First, about partying, what he describes is more about personal relationships than about substances (even though the magazine’s question related to ecstasy, the pill):

“Parties can be amazing, but it’s very easy to become too attached to partying in places like Ibiza. You become lonely and get anxieties. It becomes toxic.”

Reading through this, it’s clear how traumatized he was by the experience. He also talks in the interview about not standing up to the people who told him to keep going, as seen in the documentary clip above in DJ Mag. But the part that really gets to the point in my mind is this one:

“I needed to figure out my life. The whole thing was about success for the sake of success. I wasn’t getting any happiness anymore.”

Avicii Talks Quitting Touring, Disappointing Madonna, New Music

Bob Dylan has the song Gotta Serve Somebody. This whole story can speak to that: we all have some questions about who and what we serve. That’s relevant to who we serve in our music, and for those of us making part or all of our living in music (including music technology), who and what we serve in those jobs.

The press and social media present an image of touring that is, oddly, devoid of both its real pleasures and perils. (And there are pleasures, too. I know people who really do love touring, and people who can be miserable stuck in their studio.)

Just don’t think for an instant that this doesn’t have anything to do with your corner of music.

In supposedly “underground” techno (check William Morris), in experimental electronic music and art-y festivals, there are now plenty of big agencies. Five figure fees are standard stuff on even that “adventurous” or “experimental” side of things. Do the math, and you have enough of an industry around touring artists – at the same time that recorded music is collapsing – that a lot of people serve that financial stream more than they do any particular feelings about music or the humans making it. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it only becomes one if you aren’t aware of the potential conflict of priorities. What makes money in a tour is not always what takes care of the artist – as Avicii says, “success for the sake of success.”

It’s also easy for those of us in music technology and musical instruments to pass the buck over to the music industry at large. But we feed off those same economics and desires; we sell a lot of our tech to the people who dream of being Avicii. And we have our own demons and burnout to consider, too – obviously.

I also find myself constantly in conversations about making ends meet, about staying happy and motivated, and indeed about this question of touring and keeping up with it – or just keeping up physically with demands in general. There’s a natural human tendency to ignore our own limits and mortality and even our own moods and emotional needs. Now we have social media presenting a continuous image that’s always young, always happy – a world without sadness or death. The bizarre thing is, attempting to live in that world will actually make you utterly miserable.

It’s so easy to turn this into prohibitions instead of self-reflection. And America is great at prohibition. So it’s great at cracking down on the “rave” scene or whatever it may be. It’s even just as easy to ignore what Avicii loved about his music career, while focusing on its tragic end. He did say that touring had ups as well as downs.

I think it’s better to ask some questions.

What does it mean for those of us who encourage music making that we make stardom its ultimate goal?

What does this stardom do to how we value music? To what extent are we weighing that music’s financial possibility rather than how it makes us feel?

Do we insist on presenting artists only in the positive sense, without talking about their struggles?

Are we purposely leaving out real discussions of health? Of mental well being? Of aging, even?

Are we placing all our emphasis on touring and not on other activities that can support artists?

Are we taking health and happiness as part of the goal of tours, of music careers?

Do we actively promote ideas that discourage mental health?

Are we stigmatizing mental health issues in music, even when music is often initially an outlet for people to find healing?

Can we reflect on the role of alcohol as the main revenue stream in so much of live music? What about other substances (including the impact of policies around both legal and illegal substances)?

Do we have accurate information for music-goers and event organizers of what health impacts of consuming substances or other behaviors actually are? (In the age of fake news and fake science spread via online communication and hearsay, accurate risk assessment seems essential, from infectious disease to alcohol to drugs.)

I’m certainly not claiming any kind of innocence either in behavior or intention, but – this is about asking questions, not just having answers.

And fundamentally:

Are we caring for ourselves and the people around us?

And how do we make music and musical instruments something that add to that care and that don’t just take it away?

Struggling with those questions need not be burdensome. I think it can be rewarding.

Remembering Avicii should be something all of us do. He’s been one of the biggest artists in 21st century electronic music, and what he chose to do was to make his personal struggles public. That isn’t easy, and we should be grateful he’s done that. And we should make sure that the questions he asked remain part of our conversation. Because just like last year’s chart-topping pop hit, the natural tendency of the music industry will be to simply move on – and we shouldn’t let them.

My deep condolences to Tim Bergling’s family, friends, and everyone who worked with him. I hope we can elevate the cause of health, happiness, and care that he worked to raise in the midst of his struggles.

I welcome any and all comments on those topics for music, creativity, and tech – this can absolutely be an ongoing conversation.

The post Yes, Avicii’s death should be a wake-up call – and not just for EDM appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Avicii death: Oman police confirm no ‘criminal suspicion’

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 23 Apr 2018 9:49 am

Two autopsies return no suggestion of foul play in the death of the 28-year-old Swedish dance music star

Police in Oman have declared there was no “criminal suspicion” in the death of Swedish dance music star Avicii, who has died aged 28.

Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, was found dead in Muscat on Friday 20 April, with few other details yet confirmed. Police have stated, however, that following two autopsies, no evidence of foul play has been found.

Related: Avicii: the poster boy for EDM who struggled with the spotlight

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Avicii: the poster boy for EDM who struggled with the spotlight

Delivered... Katie Bain | Scene | Fri 20 Apr 2018 11:11 pm

The death of the 28-year-old Swedish DJ and producer marks a tragic end to an illustrious career underpinned by pressure

Avicii was an avatar as much as he was a producer. Exploding on to the scene in 2011 with his unabashedly saccharine hit Levels, the Swedish musician born Tim Bergling represented, depending on where one stood, either the best or worst of dance music’s rise in the United States.

Related: Avicii: Chart-topping EDM star dies aged 28

Related: Avicii – a life in pictures

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Avicii – a life in pictures

Delivered... Electronic music | The Guardian | Scene | Fri 20 Apr 2018 9:50 pm

The death of the 28-year-old Swedish DJ and producer cuts short a globally successful career, filled with arena tours and big star collaborations

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Swedish DJ Avicii dies at 28 – video obituary

Delivered... Gary Marshall | Scene | Fri 20 Apr 2018 9:25 pm

Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, has been found dead in Muscat, Oman at the age of 28. The DJ, from Sweden, retired from live performances in 2016 due to a string of health issues. Bergling's representative who announced the death has said 'no further statements will be given'.

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Avicii: chart-topping EDM star dies aged 28

Delivered... Jake Nevins and agencies | Scene | Fri 20 Apr 2018 8:04 pm

The producer and DJ, real name Tim Bergling, was found dead in Oman

Swedish DJ Avicii has died in Muscat, Oman, at the age of 28.

His representative said in a statement: “It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii. He was found dead in Muscat, Oman, this Friday afternoon local time, 20 April.

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What, no Whitney? The biggest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame snubs ever – ranked!

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 19 Apr 2018 12:00 pm

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recognises the world’s greatest popular music stars – except for the ones it doesn’t, from Kate Bush to Kraftwerk

This week saw the latest batch of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, but – like many other uncategorisable, expansive, eclectic and influential singer-songwriters – Björk was nowhere to be seen.

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Field Day festival set to go ahead after organisers, council and locals do battle

Delivered... Ed Gillett | Scene | Thu 19 Apr 2018 6:00 am

A fraught process of relocation to south London’s Brockwell Park has laid bare the troubles faced by big festivals in the capital

The London music festival Field Day looks likely to be finally granted a licence by Lambeth council for its 2018 edition, following a long dispute between local councillors, festival promoters and local residents that has mirrored London’s wider struggles over public space and private profit.

Headlined by Erykah Badu, Four Tet and Fever Ray, Field Day is scheduled to take place for the first time in Brockwell Park, after 11 years in east London’s Victoria Park. But with accusations of council mismanagement, warnings of ecological damage and impending legal action, Field Day’s long-term prospects remain under threat – as do those of the capital’s wider festival scene.

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