Black Strobe - I'm A Man (EP)

Black Strobe - I'm A Man (EP)

Quite a Depeche Mode sound going on here. Rocky guitar riff, somewhat reminiscent of On The Road Again. Their own remix of the track is blessed with the kind of filthy electro bassline I really can't get enough of.

The Audion’s Donation remix is long (11 minutes) but good.

Not such a big fan of the remix of Shining Bright Star (sAd VErsiOn By [k37!]) on here. Downloaded another version (Phones Industrial) which is really cool though.

I really like this stuff - why isn't the album on EM yet? Damn nation.

Sonar Festival - In Brief

Sonar Festival - In Brief

Mica & The Cluster

The band themselves were very South London. Dirty grimy beats. Pretty cool. At the end Mica(?) did the cutest little ukulele ditty. Still stands as one of the highlights for me.

The Invisible

Another UK group. Really really tight performance. I'd like to hear their studio work. Reminded me of both Seal and P.J. Harvey. Possibly a bit safe. Worthy of investigation though.

James Holden

DJ set. Kind of how my mate described it - "the guy's sexually frustrated". Pretty fitting. I thought it was generally a good set, it would crescendo without ever quite getting to the punch-line.

Beastie Boys - Instrumental Set

Goddamn I'm glad I got to see the Beasties doing an old school instrumental set. They only played tracks off the first few albums. Lots of stuff off Check Your Head which suited me just fine - it's my favourite.

Haswell & Hecker

I was trying to get to Sunn O))) but I completely screwed it up. Anyway I'm glad I did. Possibly the pick of the festival for me. Intense beyond belief - my hearing is still suffering. A single laser sat in the middle of the stage pointing back into the crowd (as seen above). The music is constructed by feeding footage of disturbing scenes (the Madrid bombing for example) into computer software. The sounds created were so intense that a section of the roof came down - plaster everywhere. Loved it.

The Executives

I have a DJ set of theirs around here somewhere - I need to dig it out to give it another listen. Very funky, 80's electro beats.


Finland 80's electro power pop revived. These guys were fun. Great image, great tunes. Cheesy keytar goodness. I'm desperate to get more of this.

Richie Hawtin

I have friends who have been banging on at me to see this guy for years. Glad I finally did. Technically he's an absolute genius. The basically just used the turntables as simple sound generators and then created the songs out of layers of effects. Very cool. Still too downbeat for a good dance as far as I'm concerned.

Dizzy Rascal

He's slipped a notch in my books now. When I first heard his stuff I thought it sounded fresh and interesting. Watching him play was a bit disappointing - very much like any other Hip-Hop act. Should I be concerned that he too now performs with a plaster on his head?


French turntablist perfectionists. Hell of a display - very well organised. Amazing to watch 4 guys knocking out a song in perfect sync on 4 different turntables. Lovely.

All in all I had a really good time. There was certainly a huge variation of music to listen to - that is what I love after all.

Kiki Bohemia

Kiki Bohemia

One of the acts I was lucky enough to stumble upon whilst in Berlin last week. She was actually playing at the place we were staying (Bar 25). Great place by the way. Fun and friendly people supplying/enjoying a great selection of cultural highlights.

I don't really have that much to go on with this - just what I heard at the gig and the scattered bits I've found around the internet. The older recordings I could find have a Portishead quality to them (I think that's actually got a lot to do with the Phillicorda Organ she uses).

Great songs. Great twisted melodies. Check out Woodfull of Love on her myspace (sorry) page.

You can grab a few mp3s from Kliklak (Berlin music blog) including a cool little cover of Nirvana's Something in the Way.

Biffy Clyro - Puzzle

Biffy Clyro - Puzzle

Ahhh, so this is Emo? I've been avoiding Emo, well, as much as one can when it's blaring from nearby TVs and Radios. For those not in the know it's all about Emotions (get it?)... and showing them. I guess we had the same thing - just Teen-angst music like The Smiths or NIN or whatever your particular flavour happens to have been. The difference is that here it's given an official name and has the culture/fashion stylings to go with it.

The sound has clearly evolved from skater punk, though it now comes equipped with a rock/metal edge. The singing style is that nasally thing Greenday and so on used to (still) do. Oh, and the lyrics speak for themselves - "Look out kid, 'cos here it comes - you're not the lucky ones". Basically they've taken the it's-fun-to-be-a-kid soul out of skater punk and replaced it with it's-hard-to-be-a-kid angst.

Truthfully is actually pretty good, overproduced but that seems to be the norm these days. Really over-compressed too. Someone needs to tell those dickheads up at the big labels that making the whole thing loud at the expense of dynamic range won't sell more records. It just spoils the impact.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Another one that's been kicking around in my collection for ages waiting to get a good listen. Another one I should have paid more attention to ages ago. I think I wasn't listening to it out of protest really - it's always hard work trying to enjoy a band that the radio have taken a liking to.

These guys aren't like all that other stuff out there. I pictured them sounding like a typical modern rock band but that's not really the case at all. The production is really big. Lots of wonderful noises (some of them backwards - always good), strings aplenty.

I've actually only got copies of the first few tracks, though not for long I'm sure.

Fanfare Ciocarlia - Queens and Kings

Fanfare Ciocarlia - Queens and Kings

Radio 3 naming you the years best world-music act (2006) is going to do wonders for your reputation. That probably goes a long way to explaining why the Barbican Centre was completely packed out for their performance last night. The enthusiasm shown by the crowd, however was completely driven by the band.

It was a hell of a performance and the crowd didn't hold back in displaying their appreciation. Most of the night the stage was dominated by 40 year old men with big brass horns - though flamenco dancers did slink past from time to time to provide the eye-candy.

The album is cool but it just doesn't match up to the live experience. Truthfully, there's no way it ever could - there are just a few times in my life where I've witnessed performances that even come close to matching this in energy. There's something incredible about hearing brass live. I love the way it sounds like it's tearing through the air - invokes the same satisfaction one derives from shredding paper. From what I saw last night everyone felt the same way about the gig I did.

Exploding Star Orchestra - We Are All From Somewhere Else

Exploding Star Orchestra - We Are All From Somewhere Else

I'm liking this more and more with every listen. At its core it's a big noisy jazz album, at times hectic like only a jazz lover could enjoy (check out the last 90 seconds of String Ray and the Beginning of Time, Pt. 1 for a demonstration). Annoyingly the EM version has 2 second gaps at the end of the songs which really ruins the effects of the transitions during the 4 part and 5 part tracks, ho-hum.

Every song exploits a different great off-kilter rhythm for its foundation. The orchestration is colourful, and the performance tight. Some of the melodies feel almost Eastern influenced (which currently finds favour with me).

According to their website:

We Are All From Somewhere Else is comprised of 3 distinct sections, and corresponds to a story involving an exploding star, cosmic transformation, a sting ray, the travels of the sting ray, intelligent conversations with electric eels, the destructive power of humans, the death and ascension of sting ray, the transformation of sting ray ghost to flying bird, and the transformation of bird to phoenix to rocket to flying burning matter to a new-born star.

I almost see what they're talking about - make of that what you will.

The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur

The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur

Ma Fleur is a beautiful album to be sure, but don't buy it with the expectation that you'll be hearing more of The Cinematic Orchestra you used to know and love. Gone are the hyped up jazz rhythms, sweet softly spoken melodies seem to have held a coup during The Cinematic Orchestra's absence.

It's all very ambient and mellow. In fact, there a only a few tracks that actually have a beat at all. As The Stars Fall is probably the most traditionally Cinematic song on the album, though Breathe - which features Fontella Bass familiar to us from Everyday's All That You Give - isn't too far behind and it's an exceptionally lovely piece of music too.

I can't fault the album really, other than to say it's not like anything they've done before - like that was ever a bad thing.

Fred Deakin - The Triptych

Fred Deakin - The Triptych

If there's one thing I can say about The Triptych it's that it's too short - even though it weighs in at almost 4 hours. Now that's just unreasonable. When was the last time you sat down to 4 hours of music and were gutted when it finished?

Diverse doesn't even begin to cover it. Why the hell can't every mix set sound like this? Hang on, I know why - it's the same reason that playing this in my workplace elicits mixed responses. Actually, mixed responses is probably the wrong term. People's responses are exactly the same every time, and feel free to try this experiment yourself - at some point they will ask "what the hell are you listening to?". Later on they're going to say - "I really like that. What are you listening to now?". Though they won't quite understand the significance of your response - "exactly the same thing that you didn't like before".

The mixing is very nearly perfect. The tune selection is another matter. 100% hits the mark. Every. Single. Time. There's not a single song on here that I don't now love and given that a good many of them I hadn't ever heard before that's no mean feat. It almost seems silly trying to describe the nature of the tunes given that it's so eclectic but the choices are wild. I never thought I'd see day where "The Durutti Column" appeared in a mix set, and that's not even scratching the surface (check out the tracklisting on amazon). DnB, classical, banjo covers, old-skool hip-hop, rock, euro pop - man, take your pick, it's all there. It's music by music lovers for music lovers.

One day, when I know enough about music, this is exactly sort of mix I want to make. And that's the highest compliment I can give.

Desmond Williams - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Desmond Williams - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Desmond Williams is soft/mellow/pretty in my mind. His only album I'm really familiar with is "Delights from the Garden". Says it all really, doesn't it?

This cover was not what I was expecting to find at all when I fired up EM (eMusic). I skipped through it on first listen - not really impressed at all, however I've since changed my mind. Listening to it now it's nicer than I'd first thought. Rather dark, and very break-beaty. The disc consists of the original work + a bunch of remixes. They're all worth a listen.

It's moments like this I wish I had my NZ record collection to hand (I can barely remember what Delights From the Garden sounds like right now).

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