Sunday, 31 January 2010
Friday, 29 January 2010
Following on from their January UK tour, Vivian Girls ended their thirteen date stint with 2 London gigs in 2 days concluding in Hoxton Square. Being my debut appearance at the fantastically named Bar and Kitchen (formally ‘Bar and Grill’) I was surprised and felt in some way a tad ignorant, to find out it was actually still a restaurant with a venue out back. Making the venue instantly unique.
Taking to the stage at approximately 10pm following support acts Blue on Blue, and Veronica Falls, they compiled a 40 minute set mixing tracks focusing from their 2 fantastic albums, 'Vivian Girls' and ‘Everything Goes Wrong', with one or two new songs thrown in for good measure. The Brooklyn trio consistently mesmerised the packed capacity crowd throughout with much of the set being performed at their usual fast tempo.
For me notable highlights were ‘I Believe In Nothing’ which as much as I love the recorded version I felt came across even better on stage than it does on record. However, the ultimate stand out was the gorgeous and out of the blue a capella the 3 piece sang together. The title of which is still unknown to me sounded as stunning as some of the 60s girl groups the Vivian Girls are affectionately influenced by.
Sound wise, the guitars and drums came across well to the audience and the vocals are often drowned out in parts due their distinctive lo-fi sound, but came across more so on stage. Although this may have varied depending on where you were stood.
The one disappointment for me was the lack of interaction between the band and the audience, which was a common feature when I previously saw the trio perform at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound last year. Although, I can understand this was possibly due to tiredness from their constant touring.
All in all most people left the venue happy with what they saw and heard. The lack of encore I felt was a wise decision as it would have come across strange given the stage setting, and also lets be honest. What is the point of encores anyway?
Words by Freddy Rothman
Photography by Mark Ashby.
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Like the spiritual inverse of Will Eisner, stood on New York's busy intersections with a sketchpad in hand, London photographer Nico Hogg manages to capture something of the traces that an entire city's population leave behind on each day's journey. People are often strangely absent, as though erased entirely from the hidden character they create through everyday objects and events.
See more of his photography here.
Her label Drag City has made a song from the new album, '81', available to stream on their site and it's a beautifully understated solo harp-and-voice piece that bodes very well indeed for the full release in February. More Celtic loveliness please.
This single moved straight to the pile of singles on my desk mainly because I love the artwork it came in, it’s always more alluring when checking out a promo if there is some great artwork to go with it. Of course this only really works if the song or album can match the great artwork with some great music and not just using it as a way of polishing a turd of a record (so to speak) but in the case of Chapel Club they just so happen to have an absolute corker of a track to back it up.
The London based five piece have only been around a little while, first gaining attention last summer playing various spots over the uber trendy Dalston and the word on the street spread fast giving these guys a much deserved sizeable fanbase.
‘O Maybe I’ mixes in catchy pop hooks the likes of which will no doubt get the NME radar going berserk with echoed guitars giving the whole track fairly dark undertones. If Chapel Club can write an album with songs as good as this then 2010 looks very bright.
Here is the video for the fantastic song.
Beach House have always offered us an amazing selection of melody and charisma but Teen Dream is the sound of an already startling band properly coming of age, the Baltimore duo have been on the radar for a while now with two albums producing dark, woozy pop with the ability to really place the listener.
Teen Dream is a very different album from the last two, it is the sound of a band growing up, taking heed of what they have achieved up to this point and changing things around just enough to create something truly majestic . Leaving behind all that they knew in Baltimore the duo isolated themselves with producer Chris Coady in a church somewhere in upstate New York to record this an intimate, nostalgia driven tale of young romance and love, Victoria Legrand fills her lyrics with cryptic diary entries which, despite written only for her to understand ring true for anyone lost in love.
Somewhere in between the first soothing melody of ‘Zebra’ to the epic fade out if ‘Take Care’ you lose yourself in the majestic splendour of their dreamy vocals and grandiose guitar based crescendos . If you had drifted off by the time Walk In The Park has faded out, the second half of the album may be enough to shake you back into consciousness with the five minute ‘Lover Of Mine’ which has a bit more substance created by a brooding dark bassline, ’10 Mile Stereo’s’ faster beat and the epic finale of ‘Take Care.’
Beach House have always been a well respected band known for their instantly recognizable ‘Dreampop’ but Teen Dream is the album that people will remember for years to come, truly a delight from start to finish, much as Animal Collective grabbed the headlines and were tipped for the year lists by almost everyone in 2009, Beach House will deservedly grab that sort of media attention in 2010 with the magically astounding/ astoundingly magical Teen Dream. Although whether they get nominated for a Brit will remain to be seen.
Next up are Coming Soon, the charismatic, multi-instrumental six-piece who deliver a charming and captivating performance serving up an enthralling set of songs with real quality sounding like a combination of Akron Family, Spiritualized and foot-stomping Rock'n'Roll. At one point the whole ensemble put down their Instruments and sing completely acoustically like a folk-infused Gospel Choir resulting in the guy who generally appears to take the majority of vocal duties wandering amongst the crowd singing at the top of his voice. Impressive, inspiring stuff. Coming Soon are a band that you would be more than happy to have singing the soundtrack to your day.
Etienne Jaumet: One man, one Saxophone and loads of Synth and sample gear, also one half of expermental, psych Electronica renegades Zombie Zombie who's last album was in the Rough Trade top 10 album list for '08. Here to represent the underground of French Electronica far removed from the usual "Ed Rec'" fair we're so used to in this country, Jaumet plays a one Hour engrossing, undulating set of Minimal synth and sample Techno loop-based epic soundscape similar to Black Dog meets Kraftwerk without ever losing the typical "french" synth sound that sets it apart from such associations. A moving and intoxicating experience. myspace.com/etiennejaumet
By Matt Pratt
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
You can download the mix here.
Monday, 25 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
It's amazing what someone truly talented in music can do with electronics. Germany's Pantha du Prince is one such talent and on his latest offering 'Black Noise', his first on Rough Trade, he spoils the listener with a series of different melodies, beats and textures that are entirely engrossing.
From the opening 'Lay In A Shimmer' it is clear that Pantha knows exactly the kind of sound he is aiming for, using chimes and trills to evoke in the mind of the listener the shimmer of the song title. 'Shimmer' is a vibrant and hypnotic opener and leads you to wonder why he decided to name his album 'Black Noise'.
The answer comes shortly after as you are led into a world of brooding beats and otherworldly synths. This music may have its origins in the same areas of electronic music as those played at nightclubs, but the only place you could ever imagine dancing to this is in some dimly lit alien disco in a far off universe; just one of the places your mind will wander to if you let it whilst listening to this album. This is an album rich in depth and is best only semi-concentrated on, allowing yourself to half get lost in the music and simultaneously letting your mind shift through various dimensions guided by the pulsating rhythms and claustrophobic scratching layers that accompany them.
The only true vocal on the album is provided by a guest appearance from Noah Lennox (better known as Animal Collective's Panda Bear) on 'Stick To My Side'. This does feel slightly out of place amidst an album that is otherwise entirely ambient, but nonetheless Pantha du Prince makes it work weaving his sparse electronica around Lennox's nasal voice.
Picking individual songs as highlights on this album is extremely difficult. The very best such as 'A Nomad's Retreat' and 'Satellite Snyper' (or practically any of them) do of course stand up on their own as single songs, but they truly flourish when listened to as part of the entire album. This is a piece of art that Pantha du Prince has created here and one that should be appreciated the way it has been presented; as one homogeneous piece.
The album clocks in at just over an hour, which is admittedly long, especially for an almost entirely ambient record. However, if you truly manage to lose yourself in this record as is intended you will have been transported far and wide and the time will seem to dissolve, and once you've reached the conclusion you'll be wondering where it all went.
By Rob Hakimian
Friday, 22 January 2010
Swell Maps - A Trip To Marineville
Swell Maps were probably one of the most underrated post-punk bands of all time, and 'A Trip to Marineville' is one of the more overlooked punk albums around. Please take the time to check out this album on spotify. Or you can just download it, or better still, buy it!
Meanwhile heres a video for Midget Submarines for y'all to enjoy.
RIP Epic Soundtracks & Nikki Sudden
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Something tells me 2010 is going to be a very exciting year and underneath is a mere glimpse at 10 bands who look set to make this year theirs.
The Texan four piece have been making waves on the scene the other side of the pond for some time now, creating delightfully raw Lo- Fi blues which combines familiarity with a very contemporary edge, after what can only be described as a non stop tour their organ/guitar driven grooves caught the attention of Rough Trade who recently snapped them up and will no doubt give the band a much deserved wider audience.
They will hit our shores later this year. Be ready.
MP3: The Strange Boys - “Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up”
There is certainly a trend at the moment for bass heavy punk and Divorce are right at the forefront. Heavy as hell scuzzy basslines throughout and a vocalist that's angrier than Johnny Rotten who's just been told they only have 'I can't believe it's not butter' left.
Check them out here.
Already counting major players such as Zane Lowe, Mary Anne Hobbs and Mr Scruff as fans, the Acton based producer/ Dj Bullion has a real knack for creating brilliant psychedelic tinged dance that has the power to amaze and uplift. With his latest single was released yesterday already gaining some great press and a couple of support slots with the xx, you should certainly keep your ears peeled for this one.
Just the sort of intense jangly indie that is really starting to catch on. Their use of minimalistic vocals makes way for these loud, high energy guitar lines that don't let up from start to finish. Cold Pumas is a name I have heard banded around select indie circuits for some time now with the band supporting seemingly any decent indie band going. 2010 should be a big year for these guys as they continue to play some great shows around London and Brighton.
They Made the Middle Boop single of the week not so long ago with their trippy, glitchy single 'High Down' and with their debut album being released in March time the Brighton based duo made up of composer Andrew Phillips and classical trained musician Marcus O'Dair look set to have an absolute stunner on their hands with an album that mixes in raw instruments such as the double bass and guitar with crazy samples and full on laptop glitches creating an album that they themselves describe as a reflection of life in contemporary England.
Unclassifiable in genre terms just think 'Folky with electronic knobs on.' Their album will finally see the light of day around March time.
Check them out here.
Enter the disturbing yet wonderful world of Gonjasufi, this is the sound of a full on space age mind fuck. His dark and eerie voice (recognisable from countless collaborations with Flying Lotus) croons over each track whilst the electronics move from odd funk beats to techno, described by Fly Lo himself as 'Timeless Incredible Filth' which is an apt a quote as any Gonjasufi will have a great year.
Check some of his music out here
Helen Page, the 19 year old behind the infectiously charming Paperplain whose darling take on the female singer songwriter role has much more in common with the beauty of Beth Orton and Joanna Newsom than any of the twee forgettable nonsense that seems to be clogging up the charts of late.
This unsung hero certainly hasn't had the hype that others in similar genres are getting at the moment but then again, does she need or does she even care?
Her debut mini album 'Entering Pale Town' drifts in and out of wonderfully written guitar melody and very gentle, soothing vocals mixed with an honesty that wraps everything up in a wonderful little package ready to tug the hearstrings more and more with each listen.
Kick back, dim the lights and listen here.
Swedish sisters Klara & Johanna Söderberg make up the wonderful First Aid Kit, they create Country tinged Folk the likes of which you literally have never heard until you hear these two. Their upcoming second album is stunning beyond belief and despite all this there is no ego between either of them and I don't think they quite know just how great they are.
When their second album 'The Big Black And The Blue' surfaces in the coming months they will almost certainly gain a much larger and much deserved fanbase. I missed their album launch a month or so ago and that was one of the shows I really regret not seeing last year.
This minimalist Techno star who hails from Berlin (and Paris) could well be a contender for one of the albums of the year already! I haven't been grabbed by music like this as much since I first heard Four Tet's 'Rounds' (and I love Rounds) ok maybe not quite as much but it's certainly up there with the greats.
With guests including !!!'s Tyler Pope and a man who need no introduction, mr Noah Lennox of Animal Collective Black Noise, Pantha Du Prince's Rough Trade debut has some brilliant moments that seem to get better with ever listen.
You can download 'The Splendour' here
With so much amazing music floating about already this year, this top ten was always going to be a hard one to whittle down but there is no denying the number one spot, Esben and the Witch who literally blew me away after seeing them recently at Soho's notorious 'Madame Jo Jo's' with their amazing showcase of carefully calculated drone, with members switching from synths, guitars to at one point all crowding around a floor tom hooked up to various pedals pounding away. Their tantalising melodies subtly intertwined in a haze of distortion and electronic beats create for an absolute mystical spectacle.
The Brighton based trio aptly described as 'Nightmare Pop' as you might have guessed create dark and brooding atmospheres with their minimal electronica and droney guitars, driven by the uber talented vocalist Rachel Davies whose stage presence is already something to admire.
Esben have a real talent for eclectic songwriting that gives their sound a very individual take with touches on Post Rock and there's even a bit of Dubstep in there somewhere delved deep in the haze and electronics, that's without even mentioning the abstract lyrics inspired by anything from silver oxide poisoning to James Joyce's depressive daughter (all happy stuff.) In the wrong hands lyrics that touch on these subjects could just sound completely unnecessary but for Esben it adds to their appeal.
This is mererly the beginning for a band that have huge amounts of potential.
You can listen to and donwload their latest album for free here.
Photo Lucy Johnston
Monday, 18 January 2010
This millennium has seen the music industry have an evolving stance in regards to the consumption of music. And as we enter into a new decade, social networking is becoming more and more a part of everyday lives where its got to the point that even releasing music is accessible through the click of a button. Yes i'm certain the vast majority of you reading this are aware of that so I wont go into this topic any further. But a recent example of an artist undertaking these music releasing developments is Dayve Hawk, aka Weird Tapes, aka Memory Cassettes, aka Memory Tapes, who has been making a bit of a name for himself within the Bedroom music scene. Having released compositions under these pseudonyms on his ‘We’re Tapes’ blog, his online following had been anticipating his first official release ‘Seek Magic’.
‘Seek Magic’ showcases 8 tracks of luscious dream-pop electronica in which draws notable comparisons with Cocteau Twins on the recordings opener ‘Swimming Field’. Proceeded by earlier single ‘Bicycle’ which for me is a highlight, where we begin to notice the outlook on the albums general sound. Drawing further dance shoe gaze comparisons like M83 and The Knife, especially in Hawks voice (yes. The vocals are indeed sung by Hawk himself), ‘Bicycle’ is unleashed with pleasant surprises as its sound seems to deliver something new on at least 3 different occasions especially In the melody. In ‘Stop Talking’ we hear the first example of a true club track with its broken down chorus and arpeggiated synths. Clocking in at just over seven minutes I can see why this wouldn’t seem out of place on the dance floor of any electro or indie club night. This is followed by ‘Graphics’ which as Hawks latest single you might all be more familiar with. You can see why it was a chosen single as it has a similar structure to
previous single and like ‘Bicycle’ it encounters musical surprises including a filthy beat a minute from the end. Instrumental ‘Run Out’ is a fitting closer on ‘Seek Magic’ not only in the title but in the opinion that it gives a looping effect as it would also work well as an opening track.
Memory Tapes I would hope to become a recognisable name in 2010 and with this late noughties release, the New Jersey one man multi-instrumentalist's bedroom produced ambient electronic synth pop are sounds that we at Middle Boop will hopefully be championing a lot more of in the forthcoming year.
By Freddy Rothman
Middle Boop contributor and general all round genius Barry Gray is putting on a new free club night in Southampton. The general idea is a platform whereby you all get to show off what a fantastic taste in music have by making your own mixtapes and CD's and exchanging them with other people who also have fantastic taste in music. Feel free to decorate your mixtape/CD cover too!
It is a great idea and will prove to be a night not to be missed.
The lovely Scottish lads who have been responsible for creating some of the most amazing electro tinged Post Rock are well on the way to having a bit of a masterpiece on their hands with an album sampler from their upcoming second album.
Check out their latest triumphs here.
Photo by Tomoko
Friday, 15 January 2010
It’s probably a little unfair to raise the subject when discussing Heartland, Owen Pallett’s latest opus - given that he’s done all he can to distance himself from his former nom de guerre, and tends to deflect questions about his gaming habits - but I lost a large chunk of my teenage years to Final Fantasy VII. It was so utterly divergent from my awkward thirteen-year-old world that its paradox of hard-edged pixels and oh-so-real characters took on a convincing sheen of hyper-reality. For a time I was more in love with the confines of its ones and zeroes than in the ebb and flow of the real world. Not an admission anyone should make in public really, but I only raise the subject as common ground – when, on the title track of his second album, Pallett sung “All the boys I have ever loved have been / Digital”, it was an open confession all too easy to relate to.
And there was something appropriately artificial about the demeanour of He Poos Clouds, a rigidity to its string arrangements that brought to mind a cartoonish world shaded in blocky colour and stark contrast. It was largely the product of its gestation: an ambitious album for string quartet written and arranged via the medium of a loop pedal, it was enchanting but self-contained. Heartland, on the other hand, shimmers with inviting warmth and a greater breadth of ambition. Given an orchestra’s depth of field – what a perfect development that’s turned out to be – Pallett has gone wild, and made his imaginary world a reality through attention to the most incidental details.
So the boy he loves on Heartland – Lewis, a farmer who worships Owen as his God, apparently – is anything but digital. The music’s almost impossibly lush tones are earthy and slightly sepia-tinted, but his characters are more real than ever. Happily, what hasn’t been lost is the deliciously voyeuristic slant to his lyrics. A sense of detachment from the subject, which in He Poos Clouds took the form of a computer game in which he controlled his object of desire, is more alive than ever in Owen’s self-imposed status as a deity. As ever, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that hidden beneath the surreal sheen of his wordplay lurks a cheeky album length innuendo. As if track titles like ‘Lewis Takes His Shirt Off’ weren’t enough, he throws the gauntlet down pretty clearly on ‘The Great Elsewhere’ when he invites the protagonist to “Wrestle, let’s wrestle / You can pin me to anything”. This God doesn’t just love, although he clearly does – he lusts. And better, he’s in control. Hardly the purest of role models then, but one with an impressive command of implied sexuality.
All of which wouldn’t matter a jot, of course, if Heartland wasn’t as heartstoppingly brilliant as it frequently is. Opener ‘Midnight Directives’ rattles with brittle drum hits and muted brass, and the ever-escalating strings of third song ‘Mount Alpentine’ are gloriously melodramatic. But on first listen it’s only with the keyboard lilt of ‘Red Sun No. 5’ that the album’s riches begin to reveal themselves – its central theme not a chorus but a startling chord shift, that in a single move changes from triumph to painful melancholy. ‘Lewis Takes Action’ is Heartland’s pop hit, referencing everything from Spirited Away to Greek mythology, but best of all is the album’s centrepiece ‘The Great Elsewhere’. Pivoting around a stammering, awkward arpeggio, it builds and builds to overwhelming percussive monster before a string overture steals the final minute. It’s also the finest song Pallett’s ever recorded.
At the risk of over-analysing for far too long, it’s probably suffice to say that Heartland’s riches are near impossible to confine within a review. It’s a record that teems with subtlety, revealing more with every listen. At this early point, Pallett has set a Merriweather Post Pavilion-high watermark for 2010, even eclipsing that record’s considerable charms. And in a worrying twist, I’m already finding that the real world is beginning to look and sound pale and sickly by comparison.
By Rory Gibb
Thursday, 14 January 2010
A little while ago I was asked buy the lovely people over at Computer Arts to create a new illustration and a tutorial talking about how I created it. So if you fancy finding out how I go about creating an illustration check it out.
The magazine hits the shops today.
The Whitefield Brothers, made up of brothers Jan ‘JJ’ and Max ‘Muggy’ as well as various other members who seem to come and go as they please are a bit of a cult hit on all accounts. They were the founders of Munich’s legendary Poets Of Rhythm and their last album 'In The Raw' which hit these shores in 2001 gained them incredible press for their abstract take on funk and soul.
Nearly ten years on from their debut, the Whitefield Brothers second album delves even more into the crazy world of heavy psych-funk with every track blending in influences from around the world, you've got the Arabic tinged offerings of 'Reverse Featuring Percee P & MED' and 'Taisho' on top of an obvious passion and devotion to raw African beats and polyrhythms. There are so many different funk/jazz-fusions that never seem to quite work but the German duo just seem to get it.
You can really hear the passion and the obvious work that has gone into making this shines through so well, their extensive research into diverse musical traditions and their list of instruments should be enough to intrigue any lover of the wierd and wonderful, combining commonly used with flutes and gongs from Asia, African xylophones and strings Earthology dips in and out of different styles but the underlying edge to every track remains as heavy, groovy funk. Be it the horn section on 'Sad Nile,' the percussion on 'NTU' or the experimental sessions with guest musicians such as Quantic, Edan, Express Brass Band and the Dap-Kings which have taken place as far back as 15 years ago, The Whitefield Brothers have taken their time but have created groove and beats the like of which you won't hear anywhere else.
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Legendary Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook is opening a new live music venue in the old offices of Factory Records in Manchester.
FAC251: The Factory launches on 29 January, with Hook performing songs from his whole back catalogue.
Hook said the aim of the three-floor club, which features a 350-capacity room, is to make it "a gigging venue".
The building has undergone a re-design by original Haçienda architect Ben Kelly.
"The thing that appealed to me was the propagation of music, bringing through new groups, because I think that new bands in Manchester are getting used and abused a little bit," Cook explained.
"So, the idea is to put a good old-fashioned venue, where music is the key, and give them a chance to grow. The whole story with the Haçienda is that we were rubbish at business, so the idea is that we try and keep some of the ethos, the heritage and attitude, and do it in a business manner."
This is not the sort of story I ever want to be writing, 29 year old Jay Reatard died in his sleep last night. He was found in his bed at 3:30 am.
Jay Reatard, real name Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr gained a solid reputation coming from the Memphis garage rock scene before bursting on the national scene with 2006's Blood Visions and subsequently signing to Matador. His most recent album, Watch Me Fall, came out last year to fantastic applause.
A statement from Matador reads, "Jay was as full of life as anyone we've ever met, and responsible for so many memorable moments as a person and artist. We’re honoured to have known and worked with him, and we will miss him terribly."
The nature of DJ Food’s shapeshifting, awkward inception has always managed to fit perfectly with the music’s often disorienting whirl of breakbeat trickery, schizophrenic dynamics and soft, jazzy cadence, and his latest EP is no exception. The Shape Of Things That Hum is a particularly ethereal beast though, less drifting out to ensnare than creating a humid jungle of sound within which to get hopelessly lost. It seems a fairly appropriate analogy, as it’s often difficult to entirely keep track of the music’s trajectory, forcing a listener to switch off and become subsumed in ‘Extract From Stolen Moments’’ maze of vocal samples.
‘Sentinel (Shadow Guard)’ opens with an ominous rattle of plucked strings and fragile electronic shards, before exploding to life in a full spectrum of elastic bass, death-rattle percussion and industrial churning. If all this sounds off-puttingly foreboding, it is – mixed by Ninja Tune’s master of the macabre King Cannibal, its effect is a like riding a pan-African ghost train, blending voodoo ritualism with a restlessly propulsive rhythm section to dizzying effect. An entirely unexpected but very welcome cover of The The’s ‘Giant’ traces similar lines, resurrecting the spectre of Fela Kuti’s drawn-out jams and making explicit the latent African influences in Matt Johnson’s seminal Soul Mining album.
The only real respite from introspection comes with the muted brass blasts and swing-beat of ‘To Brother John With L.O.V.E’. There’s still a little In A Silent Way in here, to be sure, but the track’s short, sketch-like runtime and jittery voices are too upbeat and engaging to be a total head-trip. Which is a pretty good description of this EP as a whole really, its entirety landing somewhere within that odd region where brain ends and body begins. An exercise in mind motion, perhaps.
By Rory Gibb
Oh yes that's right, Panda Bear of Animal Collective will perform a long awaited London headline show this March at Heaven. This is his first UK show since 2007 so naturally the Middle Boop team are very excited.
He plays Heaven on the 11th of March. Don't miss it
photo by hisham bharoocha
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
For anyone in the Sheffield area over the next month or so I recommend checking out the all new solo exhibition by awesome illustrator Lord Bunn at the old Sweet Shop the exhibition will be crammed full of amazing new illustrations from the uber talented man.
The special preview show starts
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 18:00.
Monday, 11 January 2010
So here we are, Middle Boop's number one album of the year has gone to the amazing Fuck Buttons and what a year it has been for these two lads, their second album 'Tarot Sport' being produced by living legend Andrew Weatherall who contributed in refining their sound, the album going on to tip the charts in pretty much every top ten that matters, a headlining tour that has seen them play to their largest crowds yet and with that, a huge new fanbase that has grown considerably from a group of devoted music lovers to just about anyone in the know. Despite this well deserved rise to stardom both members remain humble and totally grateful for what 2009 has brought them.
Fuck Buttons are gaining an increasing reputation for pushing the boundaries musically and creating some of the most challenging yet awe inspiring and engaging music we have seen in recent years but did you know they also create all of their own artwork and videos?
These guys are part of an ever growing list of bands with a very ‘DIY’ attitude having a hand in every aspect from the music to the visual aesthetic and anything else for that matter.
Their use of bold geometric shapes, vivid colours and striking imagery which can be found on their albums, posters and also has a running theme through all of their videos has already become very iconic, to the point where you see an album in the shops or someone wearing a t shirt and you know it’s Fuck Buttons before even needing to read the text.
I caught up with the lovely Mr Andrew Hung recently to talk about artwork, the album and any number of strange music facts.
MB: Do you feel that creating all of the artwork and videos is an important part of the process for what the band is about?
AH: We really enjoy having the control of our aesthetic for sure....(Pauses and laughs as Andrew Weatherall stumbles past clutching a bottle of whiskey.) The artwork itself is very important to us.
MB: Does the artwork you have created have a personal message? Does it relate to the music in any way?
AH: I think the consistency in both the music and the artwork has a lot to do with our working process and us specifically as we don’t tend to have a conscious intention when we first start making things musically and that’s the same with the artwork, we get together and let things flow naturally.
MB: So have there ever been any inspirations behind the artwork you guys create?
AH: Pretty much from the beginning we have always approached things in the way that we were very conscious of not having an intention which is definitely something that we try to approach with everything we do albeit music, artwork or the videos.
I guess it can just get very easy for something to become laboured when you start working on it and one way of making sure that doesn’t happen is by not having a concerning intention or ambition of a body of work.
MB: Were you guys interested in art and design before Fuck Buttons got to where they are today?
AH: Oh yeah totally, we both studied in creative areas for years, for instance Ben was studying in illustration and I did fine art and when we finished uni we both perused jobs in both of those areas, for a while Ben was doing graphic design and illustration and I was doing video editing after that.
MB: Is art and design still something you peruse? If so has there been any artwork recently that has inspired you or something that you’ve seen and just thought. Wow?
AH: Not really. I mean the album hasn’t been out long and we’ve really been concentrating all of our time on that.
MB: So talk to me about some of your favourite album covers
AH: Oh that’s a difficult one because you don’t really look at album covers any more what with the culture of downloading these days. Although I still think artwork is very important and it is really lush when it is synonymous with the music but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore which is why I’m finding this question quite difficult. I quite enjoy old, retro record sleeves that make me laugh.
Photos - Lucy Johnson
Sunday, 10 January 2010
Why is it that Delphic deserve to be on the BBC's shortlist for "Sound of 2010" ahead of several other perfectly good up-and-coming indie electro bands in the United Kingdom at the moment? The truth is that Delphic are not a gamble. From the opening track "Clarion Call" you can instantly tell that these young men and women have created music perfectly tailored for the mainstream. Their sound is electronic, but the simple kind, not glitch or any of the hundreds of sub-genres that have been created, it's something to dance to, but also something to sing to; it's expansive, but not experimental.
Delphic seem to have a simple yet effective formula for their songs; create a catchy and interesting electronic tune, couple it with a catchy vocal line, underpin it with a simple drumbeat and pumping bass and then allow that to manifest itself by adding various rises and falls through the song. On the best of tracks such as "This Momentary" they add additional pounding drums to the mix towards the end to keep the song building and to create a live atmosphere, on "Halcyon" a Bloc Party-esque guitar drives the song to its climax, whilst the guitar on "Submission" seems to be influenced by New Order.
Almost every song on this album has the potential to be a relative chart success, but the thing that will really catch the ear of Radio 1 listeners before everything else sinks in is their anthemic choruses. In an album full of trite statements the chorus of "This Momentary" stands out, demanding "Let's do something real," and will probably end up being one of the most chanted lines since Black Eyed Peas had a feeling. Not all of the quite reach the high standards of the majority; "Doubt" takes all the same ingredients as the rest of the tracks but fails to do anything ear-catching and the pedestrian "Red Lights" scuttles along without going anywhere interesting before fading out.
While most of these songs will be finding their way on to radio playlists between the likes of Lady GaGa and Keane there is one red herring on this album that may find itself sneaking into playlists of club DJs, namely the title track "Acolyte;" a lead vocal-less affair (there are atmospheric vocals in the mix) of nearly nine minutes of crescendos and electronic breakdowns. It has all the perfect ingredients for a genuine floor-filler, a danceable number that builds with multitudes of keyboards, synths and drums,then breaks before building again stronger and spazzing out in 16-bit brilliance. On "Acolyte" Delphic haven't limited themselves around a verse-chorus structure as they have on their other tracks and that makes this one all the more interesting for it.
These are the kinds of songs that fit into the mainstream perfectly, come summer they'll be stuck on repeat at festivals and will soundtrack the World Cup coverage. There's something irresistible about Delphic, and "Acolyte" would have been an indie success with or without the BBC's endorsemen.
By Rob Hakimian.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Even by itself, Sian Aherne’s voice would be a gorgeous, haunted thing. Backed by a band that effortlessly twist from minimalist, classically-influenced lullaby (on ‘First Song-Angelina’) to jazzy rock stomp (‘Close To The Ground’) it takes on a life all of its own.
Their purely infectious brand of folk pop has turned many a head this year, building up a solid reputation for blowing fans away with amazing live shows and their hypnotic début album gets better and better with every listen. A truly thrilling band that have a very promising year ahead.
This Vancouver two-piece create the best debut of 2009 and my favourite LP of the year. Post Nothing is a feel good summer record full of riffs n beats n glorious melodies that still doesn’t tire after countless listens going into these cold winter months.