It’s a new year, and many people look at it as being time for new beginnings or to wipe the slate clean. Some things won’t change though, and on of those things is our thirst for new music to enjoy. And so, on with this week’s roundup, which has a very Teutonic feel to it.
Creating an organic take on electronica can be a hard task, with the need to balance sometimes contradictory elements being difficult at the best of times, but German band Plateau Green do that with considerable aplomb on Fair. It’s partially to do with vocals which echo the likes of Thom Yorke or Chris Martin in their ability to convey complex emotions with a simple inflection, but the understated feel of the electronica and the way the vocals almost duet with the piano on Fair gives the song a warm, intimate feel. There’s a sweet sadness to the track that is very beguiling.
Staying in Germany, Andrew Applepie takes very similar musical building blocks but uses them to deliver a very different sound. It’s more upbeat, sonically at least, the piano and percussion easing the listener gently in to a sound that puts me in mind of a ‘shouldn’t work’ mix of Air and Radiohead. The vocals from NKLS are sweet but insistent, and the lyrics – about LGBT acceptance – boil a complex issue down to it’s basic essence: ‘Find a boy, find a girl, I just fail to see the difference.’ The track will feature on Applepie’s upcoming EP – you can listen to more of it here!
Continuing the German theme to this weekend’s roundup, we have Love Took Off by Berlin based duo uon. Another track that utilises piano in an initial, organic opening but this is with a twist – less melancholic and more inspired the classic rave piano sound. Love Took Off is far from being a club banger, instead it slowly unwinds, subdued techno nuances in the percussion giving way to vocals and synths that are beautiful in their stark yearning. I’ve yet to go to Berlin, but when I do, this is the song that will be playing in my mind as I travel the S-Bahn at night.
Moving a bit west to France, we have Away From Earth, whose sound harks back to a time when space was the future and the air was full of possibilities and excitement. He describes his track Moon Bird as a tribute to the first manned mission orbiting the moon, something that comes through in the minimal sampling of vintage records. But the piece also has a pulsating heart, courtesy of the booming bass and the rich tones of the retro-inspired synths which have faint hints of early Italo.
And back to another Germany based act, with The book of life by Very Well Project, which sees Anton Orlov joining up with guitarist John Wiesenberg. The song sees the jazz infused guitar gently spar with smooth female vocals, building up waves of warm emotion whilst a feather light electronica arrangement soothes the listener with easy tones. It’s a feel good sound, and sprinkles the coldest Winter day with hints of Summer.
Australians ACUARION could almost be from Germany, as their sound displays influences from that country’s techno and dark dance scenes. Omelas, which the band says was inspired by the Ursula K. Le Guin story, just bristles with a futuristic intensity as the synths exude a sense of bleak night time menace. It has a driving feel to it, surging forward into the unknown, taking the listener along on an uncertain ride. At nine minutes and with some weighty spoken word elements, Omelas is not an easy listen, but it’s certainly a rewarding one.
Bleed by Casey Chandler solo project Galapaghost is on paper something that really shouldn’t work. A scattering of diverse influences that seem to encompass everything from Placebo to NIN to Massive Attack, it sounds like a mix that would be hard to gel in to a coherent whole, but Bleed manages it. It can broadly be labelled electro rock, but that would downplay the complex textures of the song and the way it so seamlessly merges guitar and electronica into a wonderous whole. Pride of place goes to Chandler’s voice: he has toured with John Grant and you can hear echoes of his vocal phrasing here and there, and on Bleed Chandler’s voice sounds more like rich, dark treacle than Grant’s pollen filled honeycomb tones.
Catnip Cloud is the solo project of Kjartan Thorkildsen a 21-year old music producer from Trondheim in Norway, and they call their sound ‘ear candy’. Collaborating with Tiril Hognestad who supplies vocals and lyrics on Places, there’s hints of the PC sound bubbling through the song, giving it a nursery rhyme air for sure, but there’s also a strange electronic take on psychedelia that gives the song a slightly dislocated, experimental but ultimately whole-hearted ambience.
When you listen to Never Enough by Bajillionaire it’s hard to believe the Australian teenager has only recently finished high school! Featuring vocals from Amber Fahey, his ‘pop but not pop’ sound ransacks its way through so many popular musical tropes it’s hard to keep track – I’ll let you do the musical trainspotting yourselves! It’s an unashamed pop track, aimed at triggering all those neurons that make you stop what you are doing and instead run to the dancefloor and throw some silly shapes for a few minutes. It’s not throwaway pop at all, in part down to the rich vocals and lyrics, and the craftmanship on display makes sure that Never Enough is sure to hang around for quite a while. Spirited have found a real treasure here!
Last up this weekend is Black Fun Surgery, a two-piece band based in London, consisting of electronic producer Slight V and vocal artist Didi Delaroux. They cite acts like Crystal Castles, The Birthday Massacre, CHVRCHES and Purity Ring as influences, and some of that shines through on Black Smoke, particularly in the way the dark, almost gothic disco nature of their sound is tempered by a rock sensibility. Delaroux’s vocals have a bewitching air to them, as if plucked from the depths of a cold wave abyss, and they are laid down, layer by layer over stark and repetitive minimalist synths and beats. Black Smoke will feature on the bands upcoming Patches EP which is due out early this year.
Well that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed the slightly darker tone to some of our tracks. That’s my own personal taste coming through there – my inner teen goth still surfaces on occasions. Until next week then, be safe and happy!