There doesn’t seem to be much of a musical theme to this weeks’ picks other than that they are ten very good tracks. What they nearly all have in common though is some amazing vocal performances, be they provided by singers, samples or a mixture of the two. Electronica by its nature can be about harnessing technology, but in conjunction with the human voice, magical things can happen.
First out of the blocks this weekend is Foreign Air with Chakra Daemon. The vocals are lightly brushed with reverb, and they provide splendid colour as the bass rumbles on with an ominous monochrome force. If you’re familiar with Charlotte Gainsbourg’s recently released Rest album, then you’ll know the territory Chakra Daemon in. Atmospheric electronica infused with a rock sensibility, the vocals looping lyrically giving the track an almost unsettling air, an uneasy sense of being almost, but not quite, part of its world. The track was inspired by email bounce back bot Mailer Daemon, which probably explains the aura of disconnectedness that pervades the song!
Staying in America, next up is Him by Dana And The Wolf. The bass line is to die for, bone-shakingly brutal to match the raw emotion of the lyrics. Though vocalist Dana Hobson and producer Daniel Wolf only recently started working as a duo, they’ve known each other for ten years, which might explain why the track comes across as such a singular vision. Trip hop entwines with and then tears away from an emotive rock guitar melody and it’s that battle which gives the track such incredible power. The band say the track is about a failed relationship, be it with God or with a person – you can walk away but you’ll never escape its repercussions.
It’s a welcome return to the blog for Klangplanet whose track Solitude we featured on the roundup back in September. Munich-based songwriter/producer Frieder Mollat has created his own unique sound which is expertly displayed on Falling; grafting space-inspired vocal sample leads on to an arrangement and structure that manages to capture the sensual side of deep house with the more languid daydream sounds of downtempo. If you wonder what Zero 7 hitting the dancefloor but still keeping that chilled feel would sound like, then you really should check out Falling.
A bit closer to home, In Time is a collaboration with Mark Bebb of UK band Shelter and Gijs van Ouwerkerk of HELIOPHILE. Despite never having worked together before, the duo decided to conceive and complete a song with 48 hours and they’ve done a great job with In Time! It has some references to retro synthpop, and the more upbeat elements of futurepop weave their way in to the track’s musical DNA, but the balance of light and dark in the vocals and arrangement give the track a wistful, yet positive edge, effortlessly reflecting Shelter’s light-hearted style and Heliophile’s more melancholic sound.
Can a cello sound ominous? If so, then Ouija II by Lost Ark is totally spooky and not in a Halloween sense! Sounding like the intro theme to a fractured folk horror movie, the cello slices open the electronic heart of the song, revealing a pulsating darkness and rhythmically dissonant beat. There’s a sense of humour in there amidst all the mounting tension like in the best horror movies, with a reference to a certain friendly ghost – but if it was a film, Ouija II is The Exorcist, not SAW – art not shock. The track is taken from the Ouija EP which will features amongst others the very talented and versatile vocalist, Nickesha G.
Copenhagen-based producer Sonny seems to have created a new but as yet nameless genre with his track Agoraphobia – the musical spine of the piece is acid jazz, at least initially, but the bass line wouldn’t sound amiss on an early Stone Roses song, with its trippy and tricky patterns. The track builds and falls away, then builds again until it reaches an almost unbearably forceful crescendo. Agoraphobia features on the C.E. EP will was released on the 8th of December on newly launched Danish label, Koldt Bord.
Cass Miller is a Los Angeles based artist and songwriter and has described her sound as Haze-Hop, but Running has a determined yet subtle mix of downtempo and Scandic tones, and her vocals give the track a very rich and emotional feel. I’m a bit of a sucker for melancholy and electronically enhanced emotion and Cass Miller has managed to hit the target with Running. They certainly know how to wrap chilled beats, ethereal vocals and rich tones into a small– the track comes in at just over two minutes – package.
IC3PEAK (pronounced I-SPEEK) have courted attention and at times controversy for their music and art in their native Russia, and have now spread their wings abroad after signing for US label Manimal. Monster is certainly that – it’s a beast of a track, as it veers from pop to art and back, evoking musical comparisons with acts like Grimes, Die Antwoord and Zola Jesus. It’s haunting and powerful and at times overwhelming, coming across like a gothic novel compressed into one perfect song.
From darkness to light, we move on to Future Fire, the LA-based electronic band of Darren Burgos and Dylan Willoughby from Lost in Stars. After working with the wonderful Kid Moxie on her Perfect Shadow EP, they’ve teamed up with her on their new track Beautiful Disguise. Underpinned by a bass and drum combination that wouldn’t go amiss in an industrial techno club, futurepop arpeggios and soaring vocals create a heady euphoria and a real desire to dance. In essence it’s synthpop at its finest and could be dropped in EBM and trance clubs with equal ease.
We round off this week with something special indeed – Anna Arco is a Swedish musician and songwriter who has previously released music in the jazz idiom as part of the Berglund Band. You can hear traces of that and her music training – she is currently finishing a masters in Jazz Vocals at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. On Ghosts; its pacing and the stripped-down opening initially rely on piano and vocals to successfully set the atmosphere. Loops and effects come in to play, at first almost imperceptibly, gradually increasing in electronic complexity and virtuosity, taking the listener on a musical journey of majesty and awe.
That’s it for this week, hope there’s something that tickled your fancy, be sure to check out more music by the bands, maybe give them a like on social media – it’s a tough world out there at the moment for musicians and labels, a bit of love won’t go amiss!