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


Banks: III review – a break from dark R&B doesn’t quite pay off

Delivered... Aimee Cliff | Scene | Fri 12 Jul 2019 10:00 am

(Harvest Records)
Her third album is a less-than-convincing attempt to lighten the old experimentalism in favour of chart-friendly ballads

LA singer Banks was heralded as part of a wave of “alternative R&B” when she emerged in 2014. Her distorted vocals and experimental beats were categorised alongside Tinashe and FKA twigs – though the latter refuted the label, saying that her music was “punk”, and only tangentially related to R&B. Twigs was right, and with the benefit of hindsight, Banks’s murky trap-pop offerings sound little like the other artists she was grouped together with when she released her debut album, Goddess. After another album and a two-year break, Banks is back with III, an LP that kicks against this pigeonhole with streaming-friendly electronic soul ballads and post-Kanye West maximalist pop (colourful Glaswegian producer Hudson Mohawke had a large hand in the record).

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K Flay: Solutions review – reasons to be cheerful

Delivered... Emily Mackay | Scene | Sun 7 Jul 2019 8:01 am

(Night Street/Interscope)

Joining the many trying to find hard-won notes of positivity amid climate catastrophe and political car crashes, Illinois native Kristine Flaherty has dedicated her third album to mustering “green lights, brighter views… to pull me through”, as she puts it on Good News, which rubs dirty analogue synths up against a pure pop chorus.

There are both stronger songs and a wider range of styles here than on her previous records: Not in California brings a grungy, fuzzy languor to its environmental end-times singalong chorus, while the irresistible I Like Myself sits somewhere between the lo-fi pop of Cults and the rhythmic attack and playful cheerleading choruses of Sleigh Bells. The latter spring to mind again on the hard-faced and heavy Bad Vibes, in which she dismisses lazy doom-lovers: “You think it’s cooler to have dark thoughts, never eat ice-cream.” Sister is equally adorable, with a jubilant yell of a chorus over a barrage of those synths, while DNA closes with a widescreen hip-hop epic that sends you off heartened.

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Hidden gems on the 2019 Glastonbury lineup

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 26 Jun 2019 2:47 pm

Bewildered by the hundreds of acts at Glastonbury? The Guardian’s music editors pick the best names from lower down the bill

The must-see musical experience of the weekend is this brand-new stage from the Block9 crew, whose club spaces routinely provide the festival’s best after-hours moments. IICON will have artists playing from a giant sculpture of a head, and they’re a who’s who of cutting-edge electronics: galaxy-cartographer Larry Heard, dub geniuses Raime, thunderously angry poet Moor Mother, junglist poet Lee Gamble, South African pairing Okzharp and Manthe Ribane, and tons of forward-thinking techno: Bruce, Zenker Brothers, Karenn and more. Sleep all day, bring a carrier bag of falafels, and you could happily spend your entire weekend here.

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Philippe Zdar: a studio master who gave pop a peerless joie de vivre

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:00 pm

The French producer has died after a freak accident – but leaves a legacy as a bon viveur who sprinkled everyone from Phoenix to Kanye West with his magic

Philippe Zdar knew about the beauty of chance moments. On his first day as a tea boy at Studio Marcadet on the outskirts of Paris in the late 1980s, he earned respect when it turned out that, improbably, he was the only person present who knew how to roll a spliff. On his third day, Jane Birkin came to record, before a performance that night. She was suffering from chronic back pain and required a cortisone shot that nobody knew how to administer. The show would be cancelled if she didn’t get it. Zdar, fresh from his national service stint as an army nurse, volunteered to inject her. You can picture the scene: French music veterans holding their breath as a young scrapper performs DIY medicine on a national icon. It worked: the show went on, and studio owner Dominique Blanc-Francard hired the young Zdar.

After providing nascent productions for French rapper MC Solaar alongside Hubert Blanc-Francard (AKA Boom Bass), Zdar had a revelation on a dancefloor: in December 1992, he took ecstasy at a rave and realised he had to pursue his love of Detroit techno and Chicago house. He was encouraged by an offer from James Lavelle of Mo’ Wax to release his and Blanc-Francard’s Solaar productions as instrumental tracks. In 1994, the pair released two influential EPs of house, techno, hip-hop and breakbeat as La Funk Mob, before forming Cassius. Zdar also formed Motorbass with Étienne de Crécy, and helped define the sample-heavy, filtered take on house that would become known as French touch. But he turned down label deals, and remained sceptical of the scene and the speed with which this new sound coalesced into cliche.

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Cassius’s Philippe Zdar dies in fall from Paris building

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 20 Jun 2019 7:26 am

French producer worked for acts including Phoenix, Kanye West and the Beastie Boys

The French DJ and producer Philippe Zdar has died after accidentally falling from a building in Paris, his agent has said. He was 52 years old.

Zdar, born Philippe Cerboneschi, and Hubert Blanc-Francard had produced tracks for the French rapper MC Solaar before founding the dance music duo Cassius in 1989.

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

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Sounds like summer: the ten best niche music festivals

Delivered... Kate Hutchinson, Ammar Kalia, Tara Joshi, Jude Rogers | Scene | Sat 15 Jun 2019 3:00 pm

Festival Fomo? Fear not. The big ones are sold out, but here’s our pick of the smaller gatherings that still have tickets

Eridge Park, Kent, 21-23 June

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Mary Anne Hobbs: ‘I’ve been given licence to dream’

Delivered... John Still | Scene | Sat 15 Jun 2019 6:00 am

Queens of the Electronic Underground finds the DJ curating a line-up featuring Holly Herndon, Jlin and Aïsha Devi

Curating a cohesive line-up with international artists can be a challenge. Sometimes, things fall into place so quickly it seems that serendipity had a hidden hand in proceedings. “These things are often very complex and require a lot of dialogue, because of the way the world works. It’s a remarkable moment when something like this coalesces so quickly,” says Mary Anne Hobbs of her Queens of the Electronic Underground show at the 02 Ritz. “All of the artists involved immediately wanted to do it. It was beautiful for me, with everyone so excited to play alongside the others. We all wondered: ‘Why hasn’t this happened before?’”

Related: On my radar: Mary Anne Hobbs’s cultural highlights

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Hot Chip: ‘Escapism is the opposite of what we should be doing’

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sun 9 Jun 2019 10:00 am

On the eve of their seventh album, the best British pop act of their generation talk about two decades of music-making

A quiet Friday afternoon by London’s Regent’s Canal. Two dads who have known each other since they were 11 – they’re now 39 – are having lunch without the kids. One is a smiling, broad-shouldered bear in a pink T-shirt. The other is smaller and bespectacled, hiding under a baseball cap. They look slightly hipsterish, but blend into the background seamlessly. A huge yellow bag and rucksack under the table contain their rather different outfits for later that day.

Five hours later, Alexis Taylor is in front of thousands at the All Points East festival in Victoria Park, Hackney, his cap removed to reveal rainbow-coloured hair, a DayGlo lifejacket with holes around the nipples swaddling his body. Joe Goddard, meanwhile, is rocking back and forth behind a bank of synthesisers, wearing a colourful jacket with a pattern by artist Jeremy Deller (also unfolded from the dad bags). Joining them are the rest of their crazily dressed band: guitarist Al Doyle in a linen tunic and trousers like a latterday apostle, brightly clothed multi-instrumentalist Owen Clarke, and synthesiser player Felix Martin smiling under his mop of madcap curls. Rob Smoughton (bass, congas, silvery beard, straw boater) and Leo Taylor (drums, lime-green top with pagan symbols) complete the live line-up.

I wrote the songs for people to bathe in, or be lost in in an active way

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Kylie Minogue, Bad//Dreems, Paul Keating v Paul Mac: best Australian music for June

Delivered... Nathan Jolly and Guardian Australia | Scene | Thu 6 Jun 2019 10:00 pm

Each month, we feature 20 of the best new Australian songs. Read about 10 of our favourites – and subscribe to our Spotify playlist, which updates with the full list at the start of each month

Related: Best films of 2019 so far

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One to watch: Galya Bisengalieva

Delivered... Ammar Kalia | Scene | Sat 1 Jun 2019 2:00 pm

She’s played for Radiohead and Frank Ocean, but now the violinist welcomes you into her own musical world

You’ve probably heard Galya Bisengalieva’s violin before. Her sweepingly melodic and yet piercingly brittle bowing and plucking is a distinct, elevating voice on everything from Jonny Greenwood’s soundtracks for Phantom Thread and You Were Never Really Here to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. As leader of the London Contemporary Orchestra, the Kazakh-British violinist is used to making other people’s compositions her own, but with her second solo release, EP Two, Bisengalieva moves centrestage.

Comprised of pieces written by turntablist and composer Shiva Feshareki and experimental composer Chaines, as well as one by Bisengalieva herself, the resulting record is a deep dive into a digital orchestra of her own making. Opener Zohra, by Feshareki, features droning strings scraping across fractal drum’n’bass, while Chaines’s Claycorn resolves into captivating techno, reminiscent of Bisengalieva’s work with the producer Actress on 2018’s Lageos. The highlight comes on Bisengalieva’s Umay, where she builds siren-like strings into a terror-inducing crescendo.

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One to watch: Galya Bisengalieva

Delivered... Ammar Kalia | Scene | Sat 1 Jun 2019 2:00 pm

She’s played for Radiohead and Frank Ocean, but now the violinist welcomes you into her own musical world

You’ve probably heard Galya Bisengalieva’s violin before. Her sweepingly melodic and yet piercingly brittle bowing and plucking is a distinct, elevating voice on everything from Jonny Greenwood’s soundtracks for Phantom Thread and You Were Never Really Here to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. As leader of the London Contemporary Orchestra, the Kazakh-British violinist is used to making other people’s compositions her own, but with her second solo release, EP Two, Bisengalieva moves centrestage.

Comprised of pieces written by turntablist and composer Shiva Feshareki and experimental composer Chaines, as well as one by Bisengalieva herself, the resulting record is a deep dive into a digital orchestra of her own making. Opener Zohra, by Feshareki, features droning strings scraping across fractal drum’n’bass, while Chaines’s Claycorn resolves into captivating techno, reminiscent of Bisengalieva’s work with the producer Actress on 2018’s Lageos. The highlight comes on Bisengalieva’s Umay, where she builds siren-like strings into a terror-inducing crescendo.

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Natalie Portman criticises ‘creepy’ Moby over ‘disturbing’ account of friendship

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Wed 22 May 2019 10:16 am

Musician says in memoir the pair dated, but Portman disputes account, saying ‘my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me’

Natalie Portman has criticised Moby for a “very disturbing” account of their friendship in his new memoir Then It Fell Apart.

In the book, the musician, now 53, claims the pair dated when he was 33 and Portman was 20, after she met him backstage in Austin, Texas. He recounts going to parties in New York with her, and to see her at Harvard University, “kissing under the centuries-old oak trees. At midnight she brought me to her dorm room and we lay down next to each other on her small bed. After she fell asleep I carefully extracted myself from her arms and took a taxi back to my hotel.” He says that he then struggled with anxiety about their relationship: “It wanted one thing: for me to be alone … nothing triggered my panic attacks more than getting close to a woman I cared about.” Later, he writes: “For a few weeks I had tried to be Natalie’s boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out,” writing that she called to tell him she had met someone else.

Related: Then It Fell Apart by Moby review – sex, drugs and self-loathing

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Rosie Lowe: YU review – seductive, minimalist soul probes power balance

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Fri 10 May 2019 10:00 am

(Wolf Tone)

Rosie Lowe’s 2016 major label debut, Control, explored the need to retain – and occasionally, learn to relinquish – power, especially relating to a woman in the music industry. Three years and a switch from Polydor to Adele/Florence producer Paul Epworth’s indie label later, the 29-year-old Devon-born Londoner slightly changes tack. When YU– pronounced ‘You’ and also ‘Why You’ – investigates the same themes, it’s within a relationship. It’s an album about love: insecurities, desire, contentment and the shifting balance of power. Her vehicle, again, is smooth, sultry, minimalist, electronic soul and R&B, somewhere between James Blake and Sade or Minnie Ripperton. There’s a hushed stillness to the way Lowe’s words glide over the stripped-down, becalmed grooves, before gentle soul gives way to more uptempo beats and sentiments. With that template, it’s a varied mix.

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Holly Herndon: Proto review – dystopia averted! AI and IRL in pop harmony

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 10 May 2019 9:00 am

4AD
Herndon’s own AI, Spawn, augments her group’s flesh-and-blood vocals to challenge our fear that machines are taking over

There’s something soothing about how rubbish Google’s new predictive email tools are – if AI can’t work out what you want to tell your accounts department, then it won’t be organising a Terminator-style insurrection any time soon. So what hope does AI have for composing music, if bland office missives are too creatively challenging?

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50 great tracks for May from FKA twigs, Sunn O))), Stormzy and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 8 May 2019 6:00 am

From Bruce Springsteen’s return to Dorian Electra’s magnificent electropop – read about 10 of our favourite songs of the month and subscribe to our 50-track playlist of the best new music to start summer

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