Archive for the ‘Electronica’ Category

Islands

The XX – Islands (Live)

There’s not much more to say about the XX that’s not been written, blogged or delicately whispered over electro beats, so I’ll keep this short! As you will inevitably know, in an eminently sensible and thus utterly unpredictable decision, the Mercury Music Prize judges awarded the now trio with album of the year earlier this week.
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Re:Up

06 Re-Up

Since I first heard Burial’s South London Burroughs EP a few years ago (no I’m not fronting I don’t think I heard it till he was already fairly famous, although still anonymous at that stage) I’ve enjoyed dubstep but tended to for a couple of years at least, think it was a little limited as a genre, and probably destined to not be very long lived. In the last year or so a few things have changed my mind about that, or perhaps have changed dubstep to make it a little more diverse, and a little more likely to outlive it’s creators popularity.

After Burial’s Untrue album got so much attention, every advert seemed to borrow a tune or too many from a dubstep album, and it seemed to go a little stale. But a few new producers emerging – best of whom is Ikonika by a long way I think – and then the release of what for me is already a contender for album of the year from Skream, Outside The Box, seems to have re-energized the genre.
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Waves and Radiation


Waves and Radiation – Twisted Science

So to Mars, or the aftermath of some shocking nuclear accident, a Three-Mile Island for Theydon Boise, a Chernobyl for Chertsey if you will. Or, perhaps more prosaically what you can do if you take everything but the infrared spectrum out of an image and then tweak it to the edges of reality using Photoshop.
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Sunrise


Yeasayer – Sunrise

This post was promised a few weeks ago on the back of a trip to the coast and a four am start for a sunrise photo trip… The first results of that trip and a track from Fleet Foxes can be found here, but I took enough photos that I’m pleased with that morning, that I wanted two bites of the cherry, as it were.
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Tunglid


Olafur Arnalds – Tunglid

Five years ago, had I asked you to tell me a few things you knew from Iceland, I guess you would probably have said Bjork, Sigur Ros, and then either the Sugar Cubes, Eidur Gudjohnsen or perhaps the most expensive beer in Europe. Unfortunately, the cold little island’s reputation has taken something of a hammering since then, with the collapse of Icesave robbing thousands of their savings, retail group Baugur collapse sending high street stores close administration, and then to top if off, ash from Eyjafjallajökull closing European airspace for days and ruining thousands of holidays in April.

So it might not only be known for it’s quirky musicians and their unique jangly pop anymore, but that doesn’t mean that Iceland isn’t still turning out the tunes. As well as the prolific work of Sigur Ros main man Jonsi, this week saw an announcement about a proposed collaboration between Bjork and New York’s Dirty Projectors… But away from the big names, for an island with a population less to Norwich, there is a flourishing scene of new young artists producing unique, original music, almost out of the sight of the international music scene.

Compilation series Made In Iceland is doing something about that, grouping together a pretty diverse range of artists united by their nationality. That’s where I heard Olafur Arnolds’ music for the first time; along with the afore-mentioned Jonsi and 18 of his other countrymen, he features on the 3rd installation of the series.

I knew I wanted to use something from the compilation on shotwithsound, but unfortunately, to date my adwords revenue won’t quite stretch to a ticket to Reykjavik to take some photos to accompany it, so I’ve improvised a little to use the above. It was actually shot using an infrared filter, hence the dark sky and black lake, which I think gives the photo a mysterious, ethereal nature that fits the song nicely.

You can find more info about the compilation and sample more of the songs on the Iceland Music Export site here

Disappear Here

Bloc Party – Song For Clay (Disappear Here)

Part of my ongoing drive to avoid the pressures that come with relevance means that I very rarely post about new music on the day that it is released… That and a sense that in most cases it’s a bit unfair to make something brand new readily available for free.

For this post though, I’m changing the rules slightly – it’s about an album that is out today, but doesn’t feature music from it. You see, today marks the release of The Boxer, first solo album from Bloc Party main man Kele Okereke, and given my strangely never posted upon love of his band, it seemed reasonable to bend my rules to post about it.

Judging from the lead single Tenderoni, it seems (having only bought it on a lunch time trip to Fopp, I’m yet to listen to it) that The Boxer will continue the development marked by each of Bloc Party’s three studio albums – pushing towards a more dance-edged, electro feel. In a way that’s a shame, because the initial indie kids who like keyboards and drum machines niche they carved has now been filled with a series of derivative acts ploughing similar fields and a new direction would have been nice, but when you have your niche and your still better than your imitators, why move too far I guess.

The track above is the opener from Bloc Party’s sophomore album, A Weekend In The City, and draws heavily on Bret Easton Ellis’s Eighties debut novel Less Than Zero for it’s lyrical themes – even utilising a version of its opening line “People are afraid to merge on the freeways in Los Angeles” in the chorus – hence the photo above!

With Clay being the novel’s protagonist, and Disappear Here featuring on billboards across LA in the book, the influence is apparent, although I’ve never noticed the band explain it in an interview. If anyone knows why they chose that particular treatise on Eighties alienation for the song, I’d love to know.

Strangely, as if timed, Bret Easton Ellis has written a sequel to Less Than Zero called Imperial Bedrooms that is due for release on July 2nd… Hopefully with band or alone, Kele will write a sequal to Song For Clay too!

You can buy The Boxer from Amazon here or download it from iTunes here:Kele

Kele also has a very good blog in the style of Kanye West here.

HI / LO

Battles – HI _ LO

To my mind, Battles’ music sounds like it is being carefully crafted as it is created. You start with a foundation, be it a bass line or a drum beat, and like any construction project, you build on it gradually creating something more than the sum of its parts. In fact that’s probably a fairly accurate description of all music, and a lot of other art for that matter: but it’s probably only in certain genres, math rock for example, and you also see it in prog, techno and some electronica, is it as transparent as the building metaphor implies.

With a lot of Battles’ music, the subtle creation of a larger whole from its constituent parts is more obvious and at times it feels as though you can literally pin point each new layer, each innovation, each extra floor and light as it’s added to the building.

Perhaps that’s because their music inhabits a rarified hinterland that sits at the cross section between math and prog rock, and techno and electronic, but listening to their first album, Mirrored, sounds like seeing a neon city being built and soundtracked before your eyes. Hence the photo above being chosen to accompany their music – with it’s repetitive details and orderly, futurist facade, it seems to complement perfectly their beats.

HI/LO is from Battles’ first EP, confusingly titled EP C, which unbelievably was released way back in 2004, before they issued their first album Mirrored in 2007. The fact that have only released three EPs and one album in seven years shows something about their productivity, but when they’re consistently so good!

However, in a post on the band’s Myspace today they announced a new track, part of yet another amazing line up for the next Twilight soundtrack, is available to listen to online here but only for 24 hours: get on it!

You can buy both Mirrored and EP C (as part of a set with B EP) from Amazon here and here, and both are also available from Battles

My Red Hot Car

Squarepusher – My Red Hot Car

This photo is basically an example of a played for fluke, a bit of inspiration, a bit of perspiration and a whole lotta luck.

I’ve spent weeks trying to nail motion blurring the background while keeping a moving subject crystal clear, trying with bikes, mopeds, cars, cyclists and even at a horserace, but with no real luck… That was until I was stood at some traffic lights last week, camera round my neck and spotted this guy pulling up.

Camera comes up; driver glances over; lights go green; car goes boom – maybe he was showing off, or maybe he leaves half his tire rubber at every traffic light, but speedy take off or not, I got a shot I’m pretty pleased with.

So the question was, how to get it on here? Well, perhaps it’s cos popular music emerged at pretty much the sane time cars became widely available to people young enough to rock, there are a hell of a lot of tunes about driving – as everyone who’s ever bought a motorway music compilation will know to their chagrin and embarrassment.

But for this shot, I wanted something a bit special and a lot suitable, something that goes fast, but is stylish as fuck, something that terrifies you with its growl, but seduces with its purr. Squarepusher, in his own words, is the fucking daddy, so if he’s got a song about a dope moter, it was always gunna be a goer.

A relaxed but raging, comfortablely chaotic charge through tempos, textures and time signatures, Sqaurepusher’s music is rarely less than challenging, complex genius. My Red Hot Car is one of his biggest tunes, and along with Windowlicker came to define the sound of the appallingly named, incredibly sounding music of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM). The music of Squarepusher, or Tom Jenkinson as his parents know him, has moved from techno, drum and bass and glitch, to jazz and music concrete, but is always engaging and ahead of the game.

My Red Hot Car was released on Warp (where else) in 2001, just before the album it featured on, Go Plastic, the track was recently included in the best thing I bought last year, the Warp 20th Anniversary box set. The collection features five CDs and five 10″ vinyls, as well as an exclusive digital download, of music, and the best packaging I’ve seen for years, alongside a catologue of every piece of Warp music’s artwork. It’s truly a thing of wonder and beauty, more information is here but unfortunately it appears to be sold out from Warp. You can still pick it up elsewhere online, and it’s well worth the £100+ price tag.

The original Go Plastic album can be bought from Amazon here or downloaded from Squarepusher - Go Plastic

Watercolour

Pendulum – Watercolour (DeadMau5 Remix)

After they released their second album a few years ago, I wasn’t really 100% convinced about Pendulum… I wasn’t really sure what they were supposed to be for, and I’m not sure they did either. I basically felt that despite having one of the most promising debut albums in dance music for the past decade with Hold Your Colour, since then they hadn’t built on the variety and magnificence of ideas they displayed in those 14 songs.

Their second album In Silico did contain some orginal stuff that developed Hold Your Colour, a little, but relied far to much (in my view!) on the ‘what would it sound like if a drum and bass act sang rock songs’ gimmick that frankly, Pitchshifter were doing better a decade ago.

So following the announcement of their third album, Immersion, I’ve been kind of hopeful that it will fully realise their potential and surprise with some new departures. The signs on the back of the debut single Watercolour are at least partially positive: yes they are still sticking to the rock and bass thing, but I think they’ve got a lot better at it. And even if you say nothing more, they pick a wicked pair of remixers: dubstepper Emalkay and the artist behind the version above, electro producer du jour (and hopefully du many more jours) Deamau5.

Looking at the image above, you might think, how cheap, he’s just punning the fact that the song’s called Watercolour, and his picture of a harbour has some colours in it. True, but I think the slick harbour waters, the twinkling lights and the futuristic sense of movement in the panorama all work really well with this particular version of the song, with it’s slow builds and pulsing breakdown.

The track is out now and available to download from Pendulum - Watercolour - EP

Both the original and the spacier, dubbier effort produced by Emalkay are worth checking out, especially for the sub £2 price tag.

The album itself is out on May 24th and can be pre-ordered from Amazon here. Despite my initial reservations, on the strength of this single, I’ll certainly be picking it up.

… And The World Laughs With You

Flying Lotus feat. Thom Yorke – …And the World Laughs With You

My empty words of last week aout trying my hardest to get my numbers of posts in April up towards my average of 4 or 5 a month clearly came to nothing and poor old April 2010 is now set to forever languish with a mere (1) next to it on the archive bar of shotwithsound. Oh well, I blame Hong Kong – and being stuck there for a week with o way to upload shots or sounds to blog about.

The good news is that not posting last week gave me enough time to listen to the new Flying Lotus album, including his much vaunted collaboration with Thom Yorke, and work out a photo taken during the afore-mentioned, ash-induced stranding in Asia’s Global City, to fit alongside it on here. If, as everyone keeps writing, this is the future sound of hip hop, leaving the bling and the blame behind, then what better accompaniment than the sight of the future tearing towards in all its neon and glass glory?

Cosmogramma is FlyLo’s third album, his second for Warp, and despite not being officially released until tomorrow in the UK and Tuesday in the States, is now available to download on iTunes (link below).  Building on the instrumental hip hop style he really started develop with his Warp debut Los Angeles, it is more influenced by some of his label mates’ work – particularly Boards of Canada, Plaid and

… And The World Laughs With You is reminiscent of Yorke’s 2007 collaboration with Modeselektor, The White Flash and Harrowdown Hill from his solo album The Eraser. It’s a shuffling, paranoid-sounding track that owes more to click house and glitch pop than any recent hip hop record I can remember: a ticking, popping bounce past half heard lyrics and half seen places.

If you’re reading this before May 3rd, you can pre-order the album from Amazon here and apparently download it from Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

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shotwithsound

shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website www.nicstevenson.com.