Music and technology were very much in the news this week, for two very different reasons. The Guardian has published an article on the ramifications A.I. will have on music; with a few clicks Jukedeck will create a new track for you once you select genre, mood, tempo, instruments and track length. The catch is that they retain the copyright unless you pay them. A few days before, Shelby Hartman has written about the effect ‘the click’ has on modern music, making it a slave to regularity and repetition whilst stripping out the human side from the music. He may have a point that this need for precision is resulting in a uniform sound, at least for chart music but I’m not convinced just yet. After all, people are dismissive of ‘laptop’ bands and DJs, but the technology is but a tool to aid creativity – it doesn’t make and artists a better musician or imbue them with greater talent. Yet now it looks like we could be the edge of another musical revolution – with a bit of money, an A.I. somewhere could turn anyone us in to a musical genius and the flick of a switch. And the flexing of a credit card. On to the music!
First up this week is Elderbrook and his track and his track Woman. It’s the first track from his upcoming release and sees producer, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alexander Kotz score another winner to add to his long list of sophisticated club tracks. It’s a slow burner, showcasing Kotzs’ vocals which really get under the skin. The track will feature on the 7 track Talking EP which is due out in September via Kobalt.
Based in Los Angeles, queer pop duo TWINKIDS are Tokyo born Gene Fukui and Floridian Matt Young. Gene and Matt first met while studying at prestigious Oberlin College and the Conservatory of Music. Following hot on the heels of previous singles ACBTY and Overdressed, Body Wonder sees the duo create a dreamlike accessible pop sound, it’s smooth vocal harmonies working sublime magic over sultry synths and sparse percussion. Body Wonder is out now via Om Records.
L.A. based Gabriel Brenner releases music under the name of pastel and on silhouette he brews up a soft storm of emotion, with the tracks’ mournful vocals over an at times almost hymnal backing giving me goosebumps. Think Anohni channelling the spirit of Jeff Buckley and that gives you an idea of how haunting this sounds. You can pre-order a cassette copy of the EP via his Bandcamp page, with half the proceeds from the limited run of 20 cassettes going to Freshet Collective who provide legal support to those involved in protests at Standing Rock.
Dreamcatcher is an appetiser for Geneva White’s upcoming debut EP Surface which is due out this October. This glitchy pop/soul track is a perfect showcase for White’s powerful and versatile jazz-tinged voice, which you may recognise from Low Steppa’s Can’t Rise which she co-wrote as well as providing the vocals, and from her previous work with Kan Wakan. It’s all about the voice on this track!
Silent Silence is the debut solo release from BRAUN aka Ben Braun. Previously half of the synth-pop duo Mackintosh Braun, the track sees him move away slightly from their eighties influences but still retaining that pop sensibility, to create a driving, danceable synthpop sound that features some of the most melancholic hooks you’ll hear this year. You can order the track via Diving Bell.
We’ve featured Mimra before and she’s certainly welcome back to the blog on this collaboration with Slow Shudder. He’s All Yours is her fourth self-released single, and it sees Icelandic singer, songwriter and producer María Magnúsdóttir take a slightly less experimental approach than previous releases, with her expansive and raw vocals perfectly complementing the brooding, almost hymn-like arrangement.
Silent Strike once again teams up with vocalist EM on Melancholia – a voyage through a woozy, bluesy world of emotive trip-hop. With some slightly downtempo yet cinematic leanings (fitting really due to his soundtrack work), it’s a song that demonstrates that trip-hop as a genre is still capable of evolving and surprising the listener.
Nottingham alt-poppers Twin Kidd really captivated me with their new track Retrograde which sees the trio compromising of Stef Williamson, Sam Davies and Rich Lyon whip up a light and airy take on synthpop. With honey sweet vocals wrapping themselves around an upbeat and assured track it’s a real grower. Think of a more wistful Avec Sans or CHVRCHES and that gives you an idea as to how good this blissful song is.
Swedish lo-fi dream pop artist Summer Heart hits all the right buttons on Follow: “To follow your dreams you must figure out what they are,” Alexander says of the tune. Follow is about that moment when you think you have it all figured out, only to realise you’re not one bit wiser”. The song feels like memories from a summers day in your childhood, when you can’t remember specific events but just the emotions around them, like lying in long grass on a still, warm day.
Last up this week is London duo Tender with their track Machine. It’s a precursor to their debut album Modern Addiction due out in September and features a shimmering, muscular take on downtempo with it’s tight hi-hats and reflective lyrics giving the song an electronic soul. You can order the album here, and it’s sure to be a highlight of the year.
That’s it for this week, and as ever thanks for reading this far, and I hope you heard something to tickle your musical taste buds that sends you off looking for more new sounds and experience. Until next week!