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Apr 082014
 

DARKSIDE02

When I told DARKSIDE (Nicolas Jaar & Dave Harrington) over the phone that I thought new album Psychic sounded like traditional rock, they were rather amused (and bemused, I suspect). And whilst, it is true that their improvisational performance style was somewhat experimental, it was not difficult to hear the echoes of Pink Floyd (Harrington did a fair Gilmour impression) and other psychedelic space-rock acolytes in the duo’s well-received set at the Ground Theatre *SCAPE on Sunday, 6th April.

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PoP RECOMMENDS: BIBIO

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Jan 312014
 

BIBIO 

Psychedelic flourishes. Alt-folk quirkiness. Excellent mix between technology and organic sounds. Welcome to the modus oprandi of Bibio!

Watch the trippy video for “Dye the Water Green” below.

Michael Robinson (Director) - To me the video for “Dye The Water Green” held a certain identifiable quality linked with a sense of possibility and exploration – when there is a new place to go, another bend around the corner to uncover, or a different vista coming into view.

Off Bibio’s 2013 album, Silver Wilkinson. Listen below via Spotify.

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May 312013
 

Underworld’s Karl Hyde has been in the music business since 1980 and Edgeland is Hyde’s first solo album!

Having fronted Underworld through different genres within the electronic music sphere – before making the big time in the 1990s with techno dance music – it’s refreshing to consider Hyde’s musical approach to his debut solo work.

On Edgeland, Hyde takes his new role as singer-songwriter seriously with a clutch of well-crafted pop-rock songs which exploit his electronic music background to the hilt. The result – memorable melodies, thoughtful lyrics and fresh song arrangements/instrumentations and a worthy addition to the essential listening pile for 2013.

Outstanding tracks include “Angel Cafe” with its ‘found sound’ percussion and heavenly atmospherics; “Your Perfume Was The Best Thing” with its chorus synth hooks and textured harmonies and “Cut Clouds” with its ambient stylings and fragile demeanour. Brilliant.

Official Site

Apr 152013
 

Some new (official) music videos we’ve come across recently … enjoy!

RENDEZVOUS “EGYPT”

TEGAN & SARA “CLOSER”

CINEMASCAPE “PRIVATE PROPERTY”

DALE EARNHARDT JR JR “IF YOU DIDN’T SEE ME (THEN YOU WEREN’T ON THE DANCEFLOOR)”

BAKER “OVERLOAD”

Yeah I know I know, it’s all fookin’ dance pop innit? NEXT!

 

Mar 042013
 

Message from the NUS Electronic Music Lab: –

Sat & Sun 09 & 10 Mar | 8pm University Cultural Centre Dance Studio | $15

An hour-and-a-half long audio-visual showcase featuring original electronic music by EML members.

Our contemporary environment has been evolving at a tremendous rate and while many struggle to find meaning and purpose in the ever changing environment, some attempt to solve this quandary through the creation of a persona. They view this persona as a safeguard, a comfort zone, and a form of self-empowerment.

Faces, masks, identities – how many do we have, and how real is each one?

Persona is an enhanced audio-visual performance tracing the path of an android and her quest for the perfect persona. She escapes the laboratory where she was programmed to be the perfect alter-ego, and instead travels through the diverse landscape of electronic music – a rendered universe of constructed identities and originally composed music.

Developed by humans as part of a research project in the name of scientific recognition and reputation, it is symbolic of the struggles of the creator and the created over control.

Is the creation of a persona the answer or the problem? Is it the end or the beginning?

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Tickets available from SISTIC.

Jan 042013
 

There are numerous landmarks achieved with this, the debut album of synth-pop combo, Depeche Mode. Released by Mute Records, it was a rare genuine indie album for its time. Speak and Spell contained also many songs which were amongst the first electronic numbers heard on the airwaves e.g. “New Life”, “Just Can’t Get Enough” and my personal favourite, “Dreaming of Me”. The use of synthesizers instead of the usual guitar, bass and drums instrumentation was so refreshing back in 1981. But what made the music of early Depeche Mode so memorable and timeless are the brilliant songs. Pop songs filled with hooks that captured the imagination of the post-punk generation, and taking Kraftwerk’s uncompromising electronic agenda to its logical conclusion. The album was also the only Depeche Mode LP with then-prinicipal songwriter Vince Clarke (who’d go on with further success with Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure). Martin Gore would come to the fore in Clarke’s absence, turning the outfit towards the darker material it would become world famous for in subsequent years. Three decades later, thanks to the post-punk revival, Speak and Spell is as relevant as it ever was. Essential.

Dec 152012
 

It’s no secret that I have been incredibly wary of the current wave of the Post-Punk Revival, believing that it is mostly warmed up leftovers from a special musical epoch now 25 years old. But of course, there is an exception to every rule.

Chromatics.

This Portland-based band started life as a spiky noisenik outfit and released a debut album in that vein in 2003 viz. Chrome Rats vs Basement Rutz. However, in 2005, Chromatics would undergo radical changes to its lineup with Ruth Radelet (vocals), Johnny Jewel (producer/multi-instrumentalist), and Nat Walker (drums/synthesizer) joining, with guitarist Adam Miller the remaining founder. The result was a sophomore release – Night Drive – that having taken electronica fully on board, with strong hints of the Post-Punk Revival. The track “Tick of the Clock” gained recognition after it was featured on the Drive soundtrack.

Which set the stage for the latest album – Kill for Love – released earlier in 2012, and in my humble estimation, one of the best albums of the Post-Punk Revival era, let alone 2012. Right from the opening cover version of Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) – the haunting “Into the Black” (video below), it is obvious that Chromatics is not interested in sounding like the rest of the sheep copycat hipster bands out there in the modern rock wasteland.

“Kill for Love” may superficially recall the 80s with its New Order/Depeche Mode references but there is a distinct attitude especially in Radelet’s languid vocal delivery. Miller’s guitar work helps songs like “These Strings Will Never Look the Same” and “Dust to Dust” escape the usual hipster cliches by channeling a hybrid of older sounds coupled with the now-traditional dance pop styles. Not only that but the band’s penchant for emphasizing soundtrack designs in songs like “Broken Mirrors” and “The Eleventh Hour” keeps the aural experience intriguing always.

More thoughtful (and less trippier) than its predecessor but Kill for Love demonstrates that it is possible for uncompromising intelligent and artistic bands to make challenging original music during these fallow years.

You can also listen to Kill for Love in its entirety at Soundcloud!

Nov 092012
 

Swedish House Mafia invades Singapore for the first time on their farewell tour!

(Midas Promotions Press Release)

Sweden’s own Swedish House Mafia is a rousing group of DJs and house producers that are dance floor favorites all over the globe, and for good reason. The crew of electronica powerhouses Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso exploded onto the music scene in 2010 with their first album Until One featuring mega hit singles “One” which achieved international success, hitting #7 on the UK Singles Chart and #3 on the US Dance charts, and “Miami to Ibiza”  which charted at #4 in the UK, and became the groups first #1 hit on the US dance charts.

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Oct 102012
 

It’s hard NOT to be impressed by what you hear when you listen to Little People - the moniker of UK based downtempo electronic musician Laurent Clerc. He returns with his second full length album We Are But Hunks Of Wood on Youth & Progress Records. As “Aldgate Pattern” demonstrates (with colorful and intriguing music video to boot), Clerc is a wildly talented electronic artist with amazing insight into blending the right sounds together. Can’t wait for the new album.

Official Site

 

Oct 092012
 

Harlan began as a solo project of musician/conceptual artist John Norris that has fine art origins - Norris conceived Harlan originally as a recording project that would coexist with a body of paintings for his Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition. Night Loop is the electronic outfit’s third album and this video of “You’re A Teenager” is suitably disturbing and arty at the same time. Review of Night Loop to come.

Harlan – “You’re a Teenager” from John Norris on Vimeo.

 

HOT CHIP – IN OUR HEADS

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Jun 242012
 

ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD

FACT. Any band worth its salt transcends genre and style. UK band Hot Chip is commonly labeled as a electronic band and whilst it certainly uses synths/electronics to play its songs, it’s the way the band mixes and matches forms and styles to create something distinctively its own that marks Hot Chip out as one of the greats.

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I HATE THIS PLACE

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Jun 102012
 

AT THE CONCOURSE 9 JUNE 2012

Gayle Nerva and Sean Nerney out of electropop wonders I Hate This Place made their inaugural appearance at the Esplanade Concourse somewhat bewildered by the surroundings but overcoming nerves and unfamiliarity to deliver what they are best at – strong melodies with cool vibes!

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Jan 182012
 

At the recent Singapore Music Forum I met a unassuming young man who introduced himself as Sean. Then he mentioned that he had a band/music project called I Hate This Place. Instantly I loved the name and then finally got a link. Whoa! IHTP basically comes from a similar place as Owl City except that IHTP does not suck! Am not being facetious here! As regular visitors would know, I love my synth pop nice and sweet (but not saccharine!)  and Future Girl, Retro Style fits the bill perfectly – you will be singing that chorus by the end of the track, believe me! Check it out below and make sure you come back for more electronic goodness from I Hate This Place.

Official Site

PoPTV – SKYLAR GREY

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Oct 282011
 

INVISIBLE (DIRTY SOUTH REMIX)

You know I should probably hate ‘hipster’ shit like this, what with the goth chick in hoodie and skinny jeans and all that. Damn song doesn’t even have a chorus and its tonality is predicated upon dance and bass beats. Still… there’s something oddly compelling about this which I cannot shake. Hypnotic even. Oh no… can this mean that I have gone over to the… dark side?

Official Site

LOLA DUTRONIC

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Aug 192011
 

LOLA DUTRONIC New York Stories EP (Red Star)

With this Lola Dutronic review, it would be marked down in history – at least for me, as they will be the first artiste that I have ever reviewed for a second time; and maybe with that, more would come in the near future. So let me pen my thoughts diligently as this review progresses…

New York Stories EP is the follow-up to Musique EP, and contains five (only five!?) covers of originals by Blondie (In The Sun), Suicide (Cheree), Johnny Thunders (You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory), Alan Vega and Martin Rev (Keep Your Dreams) and The Fast (Kids Just Wanna Dance), the latter written by the late Miki Zone.

With the first two songs on the tracklist (Kids Just Wanna Dance and Cheree), I had initially thought that Lola Dutronic had ditched and progressed from their previous “lounge-y” sounds and ventured back into the basics of electronica. However, leaning towards my favour, they swing back in style with the remaining tracklist of the EP. I guess it has got a lot to do with the original songs and their lyrical contents, as well as finding the best and most suitable arrangement to improvise the Lola Dutronic sound elements into the tracks, without screwing up the classics.

Pizzicato Five floats into my mind, and even though one is clearly targeted with French pop and the other disbanded with Japanese, one can easily feel the connectivity between both artistes, despite the time lapse and the distance of miles separating them apart. Of course though, nothing really beats P5.

The usual naggy commentary about the number of tracks in an EP and to have more creative writing inputs (instead of just covers) is applicable here to this EP review as well, but don’t let that stop your outreach to this release, unless you are generally put off by artistes doing covers and releasing albums filled with nothing but.

The end result is procrastinatively chilled, and it seems like we’re still stuck in the same hotel room as we were at the start of the Musique EP review, if not, several floors higher and slightly more complexed (with a beautiful room view). Let’s not ever check out.

[CJ]

Buy New York Stories at Amazon

BON IVER

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Jul 212011
 

BON IVER Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

If you’re an indie music fan, then there’s not much more to say about Bon Iver. Having almost come out of nowhere with a debut album of mythological proportions (you know, the lo-fi cabin recording and so on). Comprising delicate shades of folk, electronica and avant-garde soundscapes, that debut (For Emma, Forever Ago) captured the imagination of indie music fans worldwide.

This eponymous sophomore album builds on the austere foundations of the debut to deliver greater sophistication without sacrificing an iota of the artistic integrity that Bon Iver has come to represent. Consisting of songs named by places, the high art pretensions become irrelevant once the music plays as Justin Vernon and company strip away every artifice and construct to present the raw essence of soul.

Vernon maintains his trademarked affected falsetto double-tracked vocal style as well as the various electronic loops and soundscapes but this time, we have organic instrumentation as well. Acoustic pianos and strings embellish these gorgeously fragile tunes that transport the listener into wind-swept landscapes and snow-topped mountains. Expansive and insular at the same time, songs like Perth, Minnesota WI, Holoscene and Wash. (to name but 4 prime examples) leave no doubt as to the deft ability of Bon Iver to touch and invigorate with melancholy charm.

2011 continues to spoil us music lovers with beautiful musicality that proves conclusively that in the end, good music wins out, no matter what.

Official Site

Jun 152011
 

FUTURE ISLANDS – BEFORE THE BRIDGE

For some reason, this song reminds me very much of the Canadian 80s new wave band, Men Without Hats. I suppose it has something to do with the very idea of North Americans singing with a baritone Anglophile accent. Whatever the form, this Baltimore-based band have enough synth-pop savvy to make good use of the now-popular style. In any case this new single Before the Bridge will be the A-side from the 7″ of the same title, out July 19 on Thrill Jockey. Check it out and make your way to Future Islands…

Future Islands – Before the Bridge by thrilljockey

Official Site

ADEBISI SHANK

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May 252011
 

ADEBISI SHANK This Is The Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank (Sargent House)

This album is well, er, the second album from Adebisi Shank, an electronic band hailing from Ireland. The band is to say the least, ambitious. They aim to “create a global new form of music” which captures “the anthemic optimism of your era (which) will eventually enrich the entire world”. And do they match up to their aim? Well, whether it will reach the entire world is one matter, but it does create a type of futuristic-progressive-electronic-robots-talking-to-each-other music I’ve never heard before. d.v.d, recently in town for the Mosaic Music Festival, produces the closest type of music found in this album.

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CHEMICAL BROTHERS

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Mar 232011
 

CHEMICAL BROTHERS Hanna: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Yet another electronic duo scores a major motion picture, in this case the artist is Chemical Brothers and the film is Hanna. I must say that I really only understood the value of Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy when I saw the movie. No such problem here. Although it would be impossible to assess how successful the soundtrack music is in embellishing Joe Wright’s spy movie, there is little doubt in my mind that this film score is more than able to stand on its own, even without visuals.

There is a childlike motif that permeates through many of the tracks here (due to the subject matter of the film – a teenage girl trained to be a killing machine by her father), which makes for enjoyable listening. Naturally, there will be the gritty fight/chase music, the emotional fear-inducing soundscapes and the Wangerian string-laden epic ‘epiphany’-type moments, one can expect from most action movie scores, but overall, there are enough unique electronic musical highpoints (eg. Hanna’s Theme, The Devil Is In The Details, Marissa Flashback, The Devil Is In the Beat, Bahnhof Rumble) to satisfy fans of Chemical Brothers.

Now available from iTunes.

Official Site

 

 

Mar 222011
 

CHEMICAL BROTHERS The Devil Is In The Beats

This new song comes from the critically acclaimed electronic duo who have made an intense and hypnotic score for the upcoming adventure thriller Hanna – in theatres April 8th through Focus Features. A little short but an interesting teaser, one might say…

The Devil Is In The Beats by The Chemical Brothers by Hannamovie

 

DEATH KIT

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Feb 142011
 

DEATH KIT Devadesi 7 inch single (Fort Lowell)

Devadesi is Death Kit’s debut physical release following the digital release of their first single, I Can Make You Love Me, in 2010. Said to have been formed in response to “a Los Angeles indie rock scene too witheringly lazy to pursue the potential and precision of electronica”, the band clearly has a lot of confidence in what they have to offer to the scene.

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PENGILLY’S

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Jan 242011
 

PENGILLY’s Ode Vii single (Good Foot)

“Pengilly’s is the project of 20 year old Ric Hollingbery and his band.  Pengilly’s mix orchestral arrangements with beats; shouts, choral phrases and processed sounds.  They play live with strings, brass, laptop, bass and drums” goes the official press bio. Not far off the mark certainly, as this debut single fully demonstrates. Stripped of the electronics, one could conceivably describe Ode Vii as baroque folk-pop and in this way share affinity with the current wave of British neo-folk. A refreshing combination. Augers well for the full length album to come.

BuyMyspace

TECHY ROMANTICS

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Dec 222010
 

TECHY ROMANTICS Touch (Party Bear)

When I first saw Philippine trio Techy Romantics at Baybeats 2010, I was struck by how much it seemed to be a hybrid of electronic music and twee pop! With Dondi Virrey manning the machines, Ryan Villena playing guitar and Camyl Besinga singing on top, it all just seemed perfectly engineered to present the best of technology and romance. Voila! Techy Romantics, indeed!

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BLURB-O-RAMA

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Dec 182010
 

The mainstream strikes back? Well, not really. The major labels have slowly but surely been losing ground as fans continue to rip and download CDs. There may be less of them now but the stronger labels will survive even if they will have to be leaner and meaner in the process. There are still successes out there, that manage to retain certain aspects of musical artistry whilst being commercial enough to justify major label backing. We look at three examples, either released or distributed by Universal Music.

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