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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Pop and rock


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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Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia review – a true pop visionary

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Fri 27 Mar 2020 10:00 am

(Warner Music)
Britain’s biggest female star tightens her grip on the crown with a viscerally brilliant second album

Dua Lipa could have taken an easy path to sustaining her status as Britain’s most successful female pop star on album number two. A few Ed Sheeran co-writes, some savvy collaborations, 17 tracks (one for every Spotify genre playlist), a few on-trend lyrics about anxiety and skipping a party: deal sealed. But she’s done the complete opposite. The 11-track Future Nostalgia offers neither features nor filler, and makes a strident case for Lipa as a pop visionary, not a vessel.

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Kraftwerk: where to start in their back catalogue

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 23 Mar 2020 11:58 am

In Listener’s Digest, a new series to help you through self-isolation, our writers will help you explore the work of great pop musicians. We start with the German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk

While many of us worldwide are unable to experience live music during the coronavirus crisis, or even socialise as normal, we can still use streaming services. Now is the time to delve into that artist you’ve always wanted to check out more deeply – but where to start?

This week we’re starting a new series to run during the outbreak (and potentially beyond it) called Listener’s Digest, in which our writers guide you through the back catalogues of various musicians. These aren’t designed to be exhaustive or definitive, but helpful signposts to get you started in some of the world’s most exhilarating bodies of popular music. We kick off with Kraftwerk, and coming up in week one we will have Rihanna, the Fall, Alice Coltrane and Sleater-Kinney. We’ll include a 10-song primer playlist with each, in Spotify and Apple Music.

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Låpsley: Through Water review – intensely poetic and powerful

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 20 Mar 2020 10:30 am

(XL Recordings)
Låpsley’s second album is stripped of collaborators, but its clean aesthetic highlights the scars of real experience

On her 2016 debut, Liverpudlian electronic pop singer Låpsley worked with a brains trust of songwriters and producers to try her hand at chart anthems, trip-hop and – in the joyful Operator – a disco track that ruled festival season. For her second album, she seems to have brushed away the lint left by an excess of collaborators, instead writing and producing everything herself with input from a sole engineer, and honing in on a singular, clean aesthetic.

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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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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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50 great tracks for March by Christine and the Queens, Yves Tumor, Fizzler and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Mon 2 Mar 2020 12:26 pm

Subscribe to our playlists in Spotify and Apple Music, and read about 10 of our favourite tracks below

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Grimes: Miss Anthropocene review – a deep, dark trip

Delivered... Emily Mackay | Scene | Sun 1 Mar 2020 8:00 am

(4AD)

“I’ll never be your dream girl,” sang Grimes on the last line of her aggressively poppy 2015 album Art Angels. On her fifth record, the Canadian producer embodies a living nightmare: Miss Anthropocene, goddess of climate change. So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth, the slow and sensual opener (described by Grimes as “a super-dark, heavy ballad about fighting Balrogs in the centre of the Earth that is a sex metaphor”), fanfares a conceptual darkening with endless layers of synth and gravity-well bass. Grimes has been listening to a lot of Burial and Vangelis, and it shows in the sci-fi soundtrack gloss; 4ÆM’s racing breakbeats and peppy chorus will indeed grace forthcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, in which Grimes plays cybernetic-jawed rocker Lizzy Wizzy.

Darkseid sees a welcome return from Taiwanese rapper Pan, who guested on Art Angels under the name Aristophanes; her breathlessly intent flow adds urgency to the pulsing sub-bass and crunching beats. Delete Forever, meanwhile, written about the death of Lil Peep and the opioid crisis, reminds you Grimes can do beauty and emotion as well as worldbuilding, with heartfelt acoustic strums and even banjo; here and on the birdsong-and-melodica adorned headrush Idoru, her voice reveals new richness of expression. Miss Anthropocene is a deep, dark trip – shame the climate crisis bit isn’t also part of Grimes’s wild imagination.

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Caribou: Suddenly review – perfectly imperfect pop

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 27 Feb 2020 3:31 pm

(City Slang)
Dan Snaith’s project returns after five years away to confront grief and family, beautifully warping songs that are drenched in melody

Some artists’ careers seem to progress according to a carefully calculated plan, and there are others whose career seems to progress as a result of happy accidents and unexpected outcomes. Dan Snaith, who records as Caribou and Daphni, belongs firmly in the latter category. In the early 00s, he started out making critically acclaimed electronica that variously tilted towards psychedelia, krautrock and the wistful techno of Boards of Canada; he did it while studying for a PhD in pure mathematics, which added to its cerebral, rarefied air. There were artists who seemed less likely than Snaith to release an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger, but they largely resided in the realms of funeral doom metal and musique concrète.

This made it a surprise to everyone – including Snaith – when Sun, a track from 2010’s Swim, became an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger. To compound his amazement further, Caribou unexpectedly went from being a live act who played small venues to audiences that seemed not unlike Snaith himself – a self-described “music nerdy-type person” – to a reliably festival-rousing draw. He described Swim’s follow-up, Our Love, as “mind-numbingly straightforward”. It was anything but – wildly unconventional and dealing in subtleties and weird juxtapositions, which didn’t stop it making the UK Top 10.

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Caribou: Suddenly review – perfectly imperfect pop

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 27 Feb 2020 3:31 pm

(City Slang)
Dan Snaith’s project returns after five years away to confront grief and family, beautifully warping songs that are drenched in melody

Some artists’ careers seem to progress according to a carefully calculated plan, and there are others whose career seems to progress as a result of happy accidents and unexpected outcomes. Dan Snaith, who records as Caribou and Daphni, belongs firmly in the latter category. In the early 00s, he started out making critically acclaimed electronica that variously tilted towards psychedelia, krautrock and the wistful techno of Boards of Canada; he did it while studying for a PhD in pure mathematics, which added to its cerebral, rarefied air. There were artists who seemed less likely than Snaith to release an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger, but they largely resided in the realms of funeral doom metal and musique concrète.

This made it a surprise to everyone – including Snaith – when Sun, a track from 2010’s Swim, became an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger. To compound his amazement further, Caribou unexpectedly went from being a live act who played small venues to audiences that seemed not unlike Snaith himself – a self-described “music nerdy-type person” – to a reliably festival-rousing draw. He described Swim’s follow-up, Our Love, as “mind-numbingly straightforward”. It was anything but – wildly unconventional and dealing in subtleties and weird juxtapositions, which didn’t stop it making the UK Top 10.

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Sightless Pit: Grave of a Dog review – witchy trio unleash hell

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 21 Feb 2020 11:00 am

(Thrill Jockey)
The underground supergroup bin their guitars in favour of obscure sound-making – and conjure a gloriously hellish mood

‘When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning or in rain?” That’s what you can imagine this decidedly witchy trio saying to each other after finishing this study in brutality. They are an underground supergroup of Kristin Hayter (AKA doom-laden torch singer Lingua Ignota), Lee Buford (drummer from the utterly brilliant outsider metal duo the Body) and Dylan Walker (vocalist from the equally brilliant grindcore band Full of Hell).

The trio subvert expectations by doing away with guitars and live drums altogether, instead using drum machines, samples and more obscure means to scorch the earth. As ever, Hayter sound like she’s delivering a benediction in a church on fire, and she’s trying nobly to withstand the flames. When the group’s productions pare back to quivering ambient drift and pulsations from far below, on Violent Rain and Love Is Dead, All Love Is Dead, she seems to regard the wreckage around her sadly. Walker, meanwhile, is the sound of the violence that got us here, his unhinged howl often fed through a mesh of static.

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The Orielles: the hotly tipped band leaving Halifax for the stars

Delivered... Fergal Kinney | Scene | Fri 21 Feb 2020 9:00 am

Energised by gong baths and Korean dance music, the northern band are topping playlists with their cosmic psychedelia

Twenty minutes into the gong bath, Orielles vocalist and bassist Esmé Hand-Halford knew that she was ready to do her vocal take. Stockport’s Eve Studios – a shrine containing BBC Radiophonic Workshop memorabilia, original rugs from the 1951 Festival of Britain and Europe’s largest collection of vintage BBC equipment – became, she says, “like a commune” as the mellow, relaxing drone reverberated through the room.

The Orielles are a Halifax trio aged between 21 and 24: Esmé; her sister, Sidonie, on drums; and guitarist Henry Carlyle-Wade. They get heavy rotation on 6Music and are as in demand for their cosmic remixes for other bands as they are for their high-energy festival sets. Their penchant for a notably retro vision of the future means they are the latest exponents of the kind of woozy psychedelia played by Broadcast and Stereolab – bands who remembered the future as if it were yesterday.

Disco Volador is out on 28 February. The band are at Riverside Newcastle on 25 February, then touring until 6 March. They play the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival on 7 March at the Roundhouse, London

Disco Volador is the band’s second album, not their debut. This was corrected on 21 February 2020.

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‘It feels like an extra limb’ – musicians on the bond with their instruments

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Thu 20 Feb 2020 5:00 pm

Horrible things happen to instruments in transit – as Ballaké Sissoko and others have recently learned. Five musicians explain why the damage goes more than skin deep

One thing successful musicians have to do a lot of is travel, and when you travel with an instrument, you increase its chances of getting damaged. Early this month, the Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko’s kora was taken apart by US border agents when he left New York, something Sissoko only discovered when he picked it up in Paris. A few days later, Louis Levitt discovered a four-inch crack in his $100,000 double bass after it had been unpacked for security screening at Newark airport, and a few days after that, specialist instrument movers dropped Angela Hewitt’s £150,000 F278 Fazioli piano while removing it from a studio after a recording session, rendering it “unsalvageable”.

The loss of an instrument, though, is about more than inconvenience or financial cost. It’s about the loss of something that can feel like an integral part of a musician’s being – it’s their means of self-expression. And after years of playing one instrument, simply swapping to another isn’t as easy as it sounds – musicians and their instruments have relationships and losing one can be as hard as losing a lover. Here, five musicians talk about the instruments they play, and what those instruments mean to them.

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Grimes: Miss Anthropocene review – a toxicity report on modern celebrity

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 20 Feb 2020 1:00 pm

(4AD)
Notionally a concept album about the goddess of climate crisis, the Canadian’s fifth album is actually a compellingly chaotic statement about her own private life

Miss Anthropocene has had a lengthy, difficult birth. As perhaps befits an album that was announced in 2017, then derailed by ferocious-sounding spats between artist and record company, rerecording, and rejigging of the track listing, it comes with a weighty concept attached. Miss Anthropocene is, Grimes says, a work based around the idea of anthropomorphising climate change into the figure of a villainous goddess (“she’s naked all the time and she’s made out of ivory and oil”) whose name is a conflation of “misanthrope” and the proposed scientific term for the current geological epoch, and who celebrates the imminent destruction of the world.

'This is the sound of the end of the world,' she sings over a haze of noisy, shoegazey guitar

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