Twice (Black Room Session)
Little Dragon - Twice (Black Room Session)
Little Dragon have gradually been emerging into the social conscious through their genre-defying music. They have continued to break new ground with each subsequent release and with luck, they will continue to win over fans worldwide.
The Swedes released their self-titled debut album in 2007. Twice is the opener.
Beginning your album with a song like Twice is setting the bar high. Its deadpan melody and sparse production brings out the rawness of Yukimi Nagano’s vocals. That piano riff is contemplative and has been sampled to great effect by hip hop artists A.Dd+ on Under and Zion I & J. Period’s Likwid (Dubplate).
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this song is that it is a live rendition of Twice. You can watch Little Dragon’s performance of this on Youtube.
Massive Attack - Lately
A couple of years ago, I’d been out with a group of friends in Melbourne for far longer and later than I’d anticipated. Home by 1am? Add four hours on to that and you’d be closer to the truth. Despite my sleep-deprived state, this track from Massive Attack’s 1991 debut managed to wade its way through the fog and into my memory during the eventual car-ride home. Too tired to bother asking what the track was, I noted some lyrics down and vowed to Google them when I was a little less narcoleptic.
Blue Lines is critically regarded as one of the best trip-hop albums of the early 90’s, but with tracks such as Unfinished Sympathy and Daydreaming receiving the most attention, this gentle penultimate number may slip past many radars.
Whilst now a partnership of Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall, the Blue Lines-era membership included a third lad from Bristol - Andy Vowles. The beauty of Lately lies in its simplicity - effortlessly laid-back, but without being boring - evidenced in the fact that it grabbed my attention rather than sent me to sleep during our first encounter.
Shara Nelson was something of a fourth member during the recording of Blue Lines, co-writing tracks and lending vocals, and it is her voice that leads the way, guiding the listener through the murky bass and well-timed industrial hammers of Lately.
I’ll always associate this track with nighttime, but it can be enjoyed any time of day - particularly during this season, for, like Shara, summertime always gives me the blues too.
Phoenix - Entertainment
Now that it has been a week or so since Phoenix’s new single Entertainment was released, I think it’s time to assess its quality.
The track has definitely capitalised on the band’s pop crossover appeal and longtime fans will find the familiar hook-driven melody, but there is a dominant addition that is instantly evident on Entertainment and that is synth.
Synthesizers have had a patchy influence over pop music, coming to have an insurmountable stronghold over much of the popular music in the 80s but dying off considerably in the 90s. But ever since electronic production has been made more accessible through cheap hi-fi home software and recording equipment, their influence in pop has skyrocketed. Having said that, most longtime Phoenix fans will fight to the death that their music is not ‘pop,’ but let’s face it, Entertainment is definitely looking to appeal to new fans as much as old and with the watertight performance, it looks set to continue doing just that.
Phoenix’s new album Bankrupt! will be out on April 22nd 2013 if it manages not to be leaked beforehand.
Jai Paul - Chix
One of the most promising r&b acts from the 00s and the 10s is Jai Paul. He has such a revolutionary approach to production, fusing symphonic synthesizers, an etherial voice and a mysterious persona that would make the most reclusive hermit seem like a showpony.
Like the limelight Jai Paul has recieved so far, Chix is short-lived. The 50 something second track is over before it can really morph into a fully recognised song but there is more than enough presence and feeling behind the song than 94% of music on the radio at the moment.
If you aren’t up to speed with Jai Paul’s criminally short catalogue of demos and leaks, I suggest you get acquainted with the recently released (or leaked?) mixtape Everlasting which features all of the music he has made that has surfaced to date.
You can download all 10 tracks for free from here and finish off the mix in 20 minutes flat. Much more efficient than the speed it has taken Jai Paul to actually make the music. Listen to this in the meantime, as we can only hope against hope that an album does eventually does materialise from the incognito British icon.
Vivace From Concerto In C Minor
Jacques Loussier Trio
Jacques Loussier Trio - Vivace From Concerto In C Minor
Take one percussionist, one bassist, and one pianist with an impressive aquiline nose. Add classical training, and juxtapose with the desire to break rules. Combine, and the result is the Jacques Loussier Trio.
The Trio (originally comprising bassist Pierre Michelot, percussionist Christian Garros, and Loussier leading on piano) began recording during the 1950’s, transposing compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach - taking them from former lives as strictly classical pieces, and transforming them into fresh jazz numbers.
During the mid-1970’s, Loussier disbanded the trio, in order to develop some original compositions. However, the Trio re-formed (with a new lineup) in 1985, still focusing on Loussier’s love of Bach, but also branching out to include pieces by Handel, Mozart, and Satie (among others) in their repertoire.
Of the Trio’s Bach interpretations, Vivace From Concerto In C Minor is a personal favourite. While the ear is drawn to the elegant piano, the percussive and bass work is impossible to ignore, gifting the listener with the best of not one, but three worlds. This recording is taken from the Trio’s 50th Anniversary release, and features the post-reformation lineup of Vincent Charbonnier and André Arpino (handling bass and percussion, respectively).
Despite octogenarianism calling, Louisser still has a lot of Bach to work with. Here’s hoping for a few more recordings of the man with the masterful hands.
Cutup Piano And Xylophone
Fridge - Cutup Piano And Xylophone
Four Tet has a pretty large fanbase nowadays, but not many fans of his music would know that before building his reputation as the godfather of folktronica, he made music in a trio called Fridge.
The group was pretty prolific in the late 90s, early 00s, producing four albums in five years. The very descriptively titled Cutup Piano and Xylophone is taken from their third full-length effort Happiness. It blurs the line between sampling and live instrumentation in a fresh, unconventional way.
Download - Cutup Piano and Xylophone (control-click & save)
Stormy Weather (LarryOh Remix)
Little Dragon - Stormy Weather (LarryOh Remix)
For those of you who don’t know, Little Dragon are a quartet out of Sweden who specialise in innovative electronica. Aside from having the amazing Yukimi Nagano as the lead singer, they also experiment with soudscapes to great effect. My two favourite songs from the group, Twice and Ritual Union are good places to get acquainted with the band.
The Stormy Weather (LarryOh Remix) certainly acknowledges their relaxing sound and draws on samples to reconstruct a dreamwave tune certain to soothe you after a hard day at work or on a night time drive.
According to Pigeons and Planes, this track was available for free download, but I can’t find any link to suggest that is the case. I suppose you’ll have to get creative in working out another way to secure a copy.
Bonobo - Cirrus (radio rip)
Bonobo has a reputation for being one of the premier ambient / electronic producers in the world. This is a reputation that has been building for several years and there are more and more fans anticipating the man’s next move.
Thankfully, three years after releasing his last original album Black Sands, Bonobo has returned with Cirrus, premiering the tune of Giles Peterson’s BBC Radio 6 show and rumour has it that he is due to release a new album in 2013.
The track features complex percussion and predominantly live instrumentation that has been masterfully mixed to create a minimalist tune. The end result is Cirrus. One listen to this song will induce the same brain wave frequency patterns as mediation. Unfortunately that state of mind will be broken by Giles Peterson talking over it.
Keep your ears peeled for the legitimate copy when it is released later this year.