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

Lady Gaga: Chromatica review – Gaga rediscovers the riot on her most personal album

Delivered... Michael Cragg | Scene | Fri 29 May 2020 1:11 pm

Returning to the sound of her maximalist electro-pop heyday, Gaga explores buried trauma, mental illness and the complexities of fame on this return to form

A criticism often levelled at Lady Gaga is that the fantastical imagery she constructs around her albums eclipses the music itself. But it’s a sliding scale – and one that certainly mattered less when she was knocking out undeniable dance-pop party starters like Poker Face and Just Dance, or cementing her status as pop’s freaky outlier on the twisted Bad Romance. That she appeared in alien-like form in that song’s video made perfect sense: here was a chameleonic pop superstar in the vein of Bowie, Prince and Madonna opening a portal to an escapist dimension. Later, it made sense that she would lean into the imagery of hair metal on 2011’s gloriously OTT, Springsteen-referencing Born This Way. Yet on 2013’s bloated Artpop – billed as an exploration of the “reverse Warholian” phenomenon in pop culture, whatever that may be, and featuring at least one performance in which she employed a “vomit artist” to puke green paint on her chest – the aesthetic felt more like desperate distraction tactics.

Related: Lady Gaga's 30 greatest songs – ranked!

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The 100 greatest UK No 1s: No 8, The Prodigy – Firestarter

Delivered... Chal Ravens | Scene | Wed 27 May 2020 9:00 am

A surreal and terrifying mix of big-beat pyrotechnics, lyrical vitriol and tabloid outrage. ‘Ban This Sick Fire Record,’ squawked the Mail on Sunday – but it was much too late

It starts with a riff: not a distorted guitar but a contorted squeal from a twisted fairground. It’s a riff nonetheless, the instantly sticky sign of an unstoppable hit single. Firestarter was one of the biggest pop-cultural events of 1996 and by the end of the year the Prodigy were one of the world’s biggest bands. The Essex four-piece’s first No 1 was a flashpoint of teen angst, TV infamy, moral panic and tabloid outrage, carried aloft by big-beat pyrotechnics and a lethal barrage of lyrical vitriol. “Ban This Sick Fire Record,” squawked the Mail on Sunday – but it was much too late.

The Prodigy were already a dominant force in pop. All but one of their singles since 1991 had made the Top 15, including 1991’s Charly, the cartoon-sampling hit that famously “killed rave”, according to clubbers’ bible Mixmag. Liam Howlett, the band’s musical engine, was bored with cranking out rave hits to a formula and started experimenting with elements of hip-hop and rock on their second album, Music for the Jilted Generation. Now the Prodigy were ready to reintroduce themselves as stadium-sized heroes with The Fat of the Land, taking dance music deep into the moshpit while promoting dancer-cum-hypeman Keith Flint to songwriter and vocalist. As an opening salvo, Firestarter was flamboyant, surreal, terrifying – and, like all the best pop songs, totally novel.

Related: Keith Flint: the neon demon who started a fire under British pop

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Lockdown playlists for every mood, part three: chosen by Bat for Lashes, Neil Tennant, Jason Williamson and Mike Skinner

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sun 24 May 2020 1:00 pm

Music stars pick soundtracks to get you through the next phase - for moments of melancholy, optimism, escapism and contemplation

At her home of three years in Los Angeles, Natasha Khan and her boyfriend are having a particularly unusual lockdown, because she is six-and-half-months pregnant. “Going through all this on our own is a bit sad,” she says. “But weirdly, it’s a bit of nesting time, anyway. It’s been good to bed down.” She’s also been loving the “incredible colours” of spring blooming all around: the jasmine, tropical plants and orange poppies on the mountains.

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Lockdown playlists for every mood, part two: chosen by Norah Jones, Joe Talbot and Flohio

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sun 24 May 2020 11:00 am

Music stars pick soundtracks to get you through the next phase - for when you’re feeling peaceful, spiritual - or full of energy

In lockdown in New York, Norah Jones and her husband, Pete, have started a new musical tradition: playing Christmas songs every Sunday. Their children – a six-year-old and a four-year-old whose names Jones has always kept anonymous – aren’t impressed. “We’re basically doing it to cheer up the grownups in the house. The kids also don’t like the fact they don’t get any presents! ”

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Lockdown playlists for every mood, part one: chosen by Jarvis Cocker, Haim and Lianne La Havas

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sun 24 May 2020 8:00 am

Music stars pick soundtracks to get you through the next phase, for when you’re feeling angry, in need of a boost - or ready for a dance

Cocker and his partner, Kim, have been keeping their spirits up during lockdown by doing domestic discos on Instagram Live. “You’ve got to go for the uplifting music, haven’t you?”, Cocker says from his home outside Sheffield. “The world’s on pause, after all. It’s time to remind yourself you’re lucky to be here.”

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Lorenzo Senni: Scacco Matto review I Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s album of the week

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Thu 23 Apr 2020 12:00 pm

The Italian producer charges the euphoria of dancefloor anticipation with punk spirit in these joyous, poignant tracks

‘Where’s the drop?” This was a complaint often howled at festivals or in YouTube comment sections during the EDM years (usually by a hench guy in a vest), when mainstream dance was all about extreme peaks and troughs. They would get annoyed if a track just simmered without delivering a thunderous pay-off, accompanied by a blast of confetti, which in turn was annoying, because for many people the simmering – the coiling tension as a track builds or is allowed to just be – is the best bit.

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

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New Order: where to start in their back catalogue

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Fri 10 Apr 2020 2:30 pm

In Listener’s Digest, our writers help you explore the work of great musicians. Next up: the band who rose from the ashes of Joy Division to wed guitars and dance music

Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)

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No shape: how tech helped musicians melt the gender binary

Delivered... Sasha Geffen | Scene | Tue 7 Apr 2020 12:57 pm

In new book Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary, Sasha Geffen explores music’s new gender nonconformists - here’s an extract

In the 21st century, the proliferation of internet-equipped consumer electronics enabled a new generation of gender nonconformists to communicate across any distance. Trans kids no longer had to move to New York or San Francisco to speak with others like them; they could use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube to find community. Communication didn’t depend on the presence of the physical body, and even the voice was no longer necessary to speak instantaneously to another person in a different town or a different continent, which was useful if you were trans and still literally finding a voice that felt right in your throat.

Against this cultural backdrop, an increasing number of musicians have begun to make work that unstitches the gendered body from its usual schematic of meaning. In 2010, the Seattle songwriter Mike Hadreas released his debut LP under the name Perfume Genius. He wrote Learning, a raw collection written on piano, while living with his parents and in recovery from drug addiction. The album was quietly popular and Hadreas soon had to figure out how to tour his new songs. He enlisted help from Alan Wyffels, a friend who had taken Hadreas to AA meetings in the early days of his recovery. They proved an excellent musical match, and while playing Hadreas’s songs together, they also fell in love.

Related: Pop star, producer or pariah? The conflicted brilliance of Grimes

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Yaeji: What We Drew 우리가 그려왔던 review – dance music for an existential crisis

Delivered... Aimee Cliff | Scene | Fri 3 Apr 2020 9:00 am

(XL Recordings)
Straddling the blurry line between dream pop and DIY house, the Korean-American’s first full-length effort is a diaristic work of startling emotional clarity

Korean-American DJ and producer Yaeji – full name Kathy Yaeji Lee – is the queen of introverted club music. She broke through with her squelchy house track Raingurl in 2017, contrasting a bold bassline with deadpan vocals about her glasses fogging up in the club. On her new mixtape, her first release for XL Recordings, Lee digs even further into her interior landscape, with diaristic, spacious house music on which she sings about subjects like the difficulty of getting out of bed (on the glimmering lead single Waking Up Down). As we enter a nightclub-less era of isolation, she’s timed it eerily well: this is dance music to soundtrack – and soothe – an existential crisis.

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The month’s best mixes: industrial dancehall, digital anxiety and ‘the Techno Columbo’

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Tue 31 Mar 2020 1:52 pm

In the final instalment of our monthly mix column, Tayyab Amin listens to Brazil’s Badsista, Ireland’s Sunil Sharpe and texture obsessive Beta Librae

Related: The month's best mixes: romantic grime, reverberant birdsong and more

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Forty Australian bands couldn’t play South by South West. Listen to their music here

Delivered... Steph Harmon | Scene | Thu 19 Mar 2020 12:28 am

The conference in Austin, Texas, was cancelled – so they organised a showcase livestream. Then that was cancelled too. Here’s a playlist instead

  • Read more in The good place series here

This week, in an alternative universe devoid of coronavirus, more than 40 emerging Australian acts would have been in Austin, Texas, knee-deep in the now-cancelled South by South West, showcasing their work to the international industry in hopes of taking their careers to the next level.

“It is a huge achievement to have been selected from the 7,000-plus artists that apply each year,” said Millie Milgate, executive producer of the industry body Sounds Australia, after the conference was cancelled. “To have lost this opportunity after spending several months and thousands of dollars preparing and planning is devastating.”

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Jon Hopkins review – recital turns rave as fans embrace one last gig

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Mon 16 Mar 2020 2:51 pm

Brighton Dome
While his music has been criticised as being too cerebral to connect with on a visceral level, try telling that to this crowd

Sunday evening and the atmosphere in Brighton Dome feels curiously subdued. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that you can’t escape current events. Jon Hopkins’ most recent album, 2018’s Singularity, unexpectedly made the Top 10. This sold-out gig is nevertheless pockmarked with empty seats. There seems every chance that this is the last concert anyone here will be going to for the foreseeable future, but some ticket holders have clearly decided that even that isn’t incentive enough to leave home.

Or perhaps a muted atmosphere generally prevails at gigs by Hopkins, a sometime Coldplay and Brian Eno collaborator whose music exists at a distinctly cerebral nexus where contemporary classical meets soundtrack-y ambience and egghead techno that would once have earned the frightful generic label intelligent dance music. It’s where profile-boosting appearances on Spotify curated playlists called things such as 4am Chillout and Atmospheric Calm meet generative sound installations.

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

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The Rise of the Synths review – the world’s most nostalgic music scene

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 13 Mar 2020 2:52 pm

This documentary exploring the 80s-obsessed synthwave sound has admirable production values, but trades deep analysis for platitudes and boring asides

If you have ever strutted around in sunglasses and a silken bomber jacket, and didn’t even have to try to keep a straight face, chances are you’re into synthwave. This subcultural genre of music, characterised by anthemic analogue synth lines, is explored in this stylish but shallow documentary.

The partly crowdfunded film makes a reverse historical sweep of the genre, ending where the music started with the sober, even ascetic work of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. This was gloriously cheapened by Giorgio Moroder, who made the sound aspirational and decadent, inspiring not only pop but also film soundtracks, where synth sounds were easy signifiers for the future. The style fell out of favour as the 90s embraced guitars again, but Daft Punk became the key act to bring it back – their light-up pyramid stage set is the defining icon of the synthwave aesthetic – and influenced a host of new producers.

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Jax Jones review – gym-playlist workouts from potent hitmaker

Delivered... Huw Baines | Scene | Mon 9 Mar 2020 1:30 pm

SWX, Bristol
The London chart fixture needs to add some danger and mayhem to his efficiently delivered series of set pieces

The stage is heaving with bodies, including a lion, a medical school skeleton, and some stragglers from a Día de los Muertos parade. They’re orbiting a pogoing Jax Jones, and in its dying moments, the producer’s set has finally tumbled into the sort of mayhem it has only previously hinted at.

In response, the crowd throws itself into hokey choreography as Instruction, his exuberant combination with Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don, reverberates around the room. Jones’s pop-house workouts are perfect for moments like this, joining the dots between gym playlist and boozy blowout, and live it would be wise to facilitate a few more of them in future.

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The month’s best mixes: romantic grime, reverberant birdsong and more

Delivered... Lauren Martin | Scene | Tue 3 Mar 2020 10:17 am

Amid the bushfires, Ciel highlights Australian sounds, while Carista, Galcher Lustwerk and Anunaku are among the other selectors in our underground dance roundup

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