Monday, February 26, 2007

Home Videos # 3

Cibelle - Minha Neguinha (live)

Is she a nice girl or is she a nice girl? Here's Cibelle being cute and wonderful last week in the show she gave in Lisbon. I went there not real in the best mood for a late-night concert and ended up being overwhelmed by the contagious simplicity and intimacy of the evening. The perfect balance between simple and beautiful songs, some experimental sounds and an overload of good feelings.

(filmed on the 22-02-2007 in Santiago Alquimista, Lisbon)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Two years later, there's not a music lover (nor a hipster wannabe) that doesn't love "Funeral", Arcade Fire's first full-length album. It's not difficult to understand why, being one of those records that defines a generation, such is the power and strongness of the emotions transmited by its songs, like a celebration of love and urgency in its innumerous forms. With their second album, it was easy to disappoint, but that definitely doesn't happen, right on the contrary. More studied and elaborated, I would say that there was a lot of ambition put in Neon Bible's recording sessions, as it's obvious that every sound was carefully inserted in here to build a feeling of grandiosity. True, this makes it less fresh and spontaneous, but in the end that doesn't matter a tiny bit, because the intensity is not taken down. Why? It's difficult to put in words, but it seems to me that the secret behind this guys music is the love they feel for it, a love that is palpable from the first until the very last note, and probably the ultimate reason behind the goosebumps felt at each listen. As for the title, it's really to be taken seriously: Neon Bible is to be heard like being in a very intense and cathartic religious ceremony, where we even have the church organs, the angel choirs and the emotional explosions. And after it, we can't exactly understand what's just happened, but there's a smile in our face. And I'm not even religious... Amen. (8,5/10)

Boxcutter - Oneiric

Dubstep continues its logical progression. After years of being confined to underground clubs, pirate radios and white labels, we already had two genre-defining records ("Burial" by Burial and "Memories Of The Future" by Kode9 + The Spaceape), a lighter and infectious approach ("Skream!" by Skream), a successful attempt to mix dubstep with folk songs ("The World Is Gone" by Various) and now a new twist, bringing industrial and metalized electronic sounds to dubstep's trademark elements. Keeping with the same old comparisons, Boxcutter is doing something very similar to what Photek did to drum'n'bass exactly ten years ago. What does all this mean? If last year we had post-apocalyptic records, "Oneiric" is the apocalypse itself, harder and faster, full of furious, hallucinating and difficult-to-decipher rhythms, with a nervous and confronting atmosphere that, with a few rare exceptions, makes it almost impossible to breathe. Yep, as intense as that. And no, this is definitely not music to relax. (7/10)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Music Videos # 33

Air - Once Upon A Time

They're back! This is the new track & video from their forthcoming "Pocket Symphony" album. It sounds very familiar but, in their case, that ain't a bad thing and, truth to be told, there are actually some new features, the best of which is having the grrrreeeeat Tony Allen on drums (yay!). This very-solemn video was directed by Mathieu Tonetti and the album is out on the 6th of March.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

James Holden - The Idiots Are Winning

"Horizontal Dancing" is an expression more than 10 years old, invented in the mid-90's to describe those electronic songs made to be heard at home instead of clubs. So, after all this time, it's not surprising anymore when some of nowadays so-called "dance music" is virtually impossible to dance to. James Holden is the latest example. Knowing that he's done remixes for people like Madonna, Depeche Mode or New Order, it was natural to expect basic trance-a-like sounds from his first solo album, sounds made to bring ecstatic pleasure to dance-crowds in clubs all over the world, right? Wrong. The Idiots Are Winning is surprisingly a beautiful and impressive collection of home-made electronic sounds mostly aimed to feed your brain with intelligent sources and sonic poetry. Some leftovers of house, techno, trance or even disco can be heard, but mostly to be twisted and distorted until being almost impossible to recognise them. So mostly what we have is a minimal and hypnotic language made of small detailed dance elements, great to let your imagination fly...while laying down on your sofa. (7/10)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Music Videos # 32

!!! - Heart Of Hearts

Louden Up Now was one of my favourite records of recent years and if this first song is to be taken by, Myth Takes, the new album by !!!, promises to be even better. Love the way it is built to fully involve the listenner until final hypnosis and how it incorporates new elements, like trance and dub effects or soulful background voices, while staying faithful to their unique and unstoppable psychedelic funky sound. Unfortunately, this web-only video cuts the song by half, but it's still quite funny to watch, presenting them as some popular stadium rock stars, which they really aren't, with the corresponding cliche poses. Myth Takes is out in the beginning of March (still so long!).

Official Site
Myspace page

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity

Martial drums, hallucinating rhythms, hard-rock guitars, epileptic horns, seductive organs, strangely familiar melodies and a japanese voice coming directly from a manga cartoon. These are Deerhoof, an art-rock San Francisco collective already in their ninth album that I've just recently discovered and have fell in love with. One of those unique bands with a very much unique sound, experimental and futuristic, humurous and catchy, full of intricate details and odd structures, too exquisite at first but seducing in a strange and unpretentious way and in the end reaching insanely addictive proportions. So much so that I have the feeling I'll be coming back to this record very often in the near future until I fully realize what the fuck is going on in here. (7,5/10)

Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

The "difficult 2nd album" is one of the biggest pop culture's myths: if you have success with your debut and do something similar afterwards, you're accused of being limited; if you follow it with something radically different, you risk yourself of alienating your fans. This pressure can ultimately ruin careers or block an artist's creativity (as a recent example, just listen to the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album and ask yourself where their inspiration to write instant anthems has gone, underneath all the unnecessary pseudo-experimentation). After their debut "Silent Alarm", one of those fresh albums full of teenage urgency that defined the post-punk revival, Bloc Party have managed to find a balance between those two choices, including new elements and presenting new paths to their trademark sound but still being able to write those catchy choruses that seem to get stuck in your head. That's called evolution. With an ambition felt from start to end, A Weekend In The City is a collection of epic tales about London and its present, full of pessimism, desperation and doubts, with a seriousness that seems almost naïve. With less urgent songs and more detailed structures, a grandiose sound is constructed with the addition of computer programming, electronic synthesizers and surprising arrangements, while you can totally feel the almost mathematical dedication put into the making of this record. With a darker and moodier second album, it's true that they've probably lost some of that fresh approach that made "Silent Alarm" so irresistible, but their updated musical ambitions almost compensate for that. (7/10)

Friday, February 09, 2007

2 Comebacks (Music Videos # 30 and # 31)

M.I.A. - Bird Flu

LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum

They've been having all the hype for the last few years and now they're back with the first tracks / videos from their forthcoming albums. M.I.A.: a song to go gaga about...vicious and infective, killer beats, love it! LCD Soundsystem: good track, though slightly too similar to his previous works. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Berg Sans Nipple - Along The Quai

Listenning to this record, it's hard to believe that it doesn't come from Iceland. Its ambiences evoke vast landscapes of raw nature and luminous beauty, full of harmonic contrasts, much like we're used to associate with Icelandic music, while its use of instruments remind me a lot of the bricolage play that was so present in Múm albums. But, after double checking, it is confirmed: The Berg Sans Nipple consist of Frenchman Lori Sean Berg and Nebraskan Shane Aspegren. Out of the unknown, they offer us their own interpretation of what they think electronic music should be: dreamy, soft, ethereal, full of liquid sounds, with occasional dramatic and epic moments and complete with small details made of organic matter that insert human life and emotions into its whole. Literally the stuff that dreams are made of. (7/10)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Deerhunter - Cryptograms

A concept record that actually lives beyond its ideas and theories. Divided in two parts, the first one is the nightmare side, or the representation of evil: intense songs constructed around distorted guitars, creepy atmospheres and scary thoughts. The second part is its antagonic twin brother, or the good dream: more melodic and open, with spacious ambiences, like the sunshine after an evil plot. Uniting everything is a very strong hypnotic feeling that is present in every song, with the continuous use of various sound loops, and a sense of risk and experimentation from start to end. The references are visible, like Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine or the more experimental side of Sonic Youth, but even considering those external influences, this record still sounds very self-absorbed. But not in a bad way, on the contrary, making it a rewarding experience to enter its own unique and fascinating universe. Slightly pretentious? Could be, but a small touch of genius makes a big difference, creating something at the same time so radical and so compelling. So yeah, I prefer to call it successfully ambitious. Mission more than accomplished. (9/10)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Little Children

It seems that living in the american suburbs is pretty much like living in hell, at least according to the way they are shown across cinema and television. This movie is the latest example and I have to say that is one of the most interesting. Telling us the stories of various characters living in a small american town, their relationships and the way they intercross, it also shows that 1- there is a child with dreams and still learning in everyone of us (the "Little Children" of the title), 2- that child is hidden most of the times because of social conventions and 3- the world is a very fucked up place and things can go very wrong. All this with an almost neutral point of view, where we can go from comedy to drama without realizing the transition, much like real life. In the meantime, Kate Winslet is turning out to be one of my current favourite actresses.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Paul Murphy - The Trip

Mixing jazz with electronic music elements is something happening since at least 20 years ago. The downside is that by now we've probably heard it all, so it's very difficult to avoid a sense of repetition and monotony. The upside is that in 20 years, there was enough time for maturation and for reaching an ideal of fusion that has perfected itself until very large scales. "The Trip" by Paul Murphy is a reminder of the later. Even if not bringing anything new, its savoir-faire has managed to provide us with a collection of sounds that, more than being another page in the jazz-electronics history book, is a catalogue of the world and its ambiences (and the title "The Trip" is really to be taken seriously). From Africa to India, from Latin America to Eastern Europe, from the Middle East to New Orleans, there are subliminal influences from everywhere, in this slightly cinematographic and hugely elegant album. (7/10)

Sally Shapiro - Disco Romance

Our dear scandinavian friends have presented us with another record of luminous and ethereal beauty. Sally Shapiro is the pseudonym of a mysterious singer (some people even say that she doesn't really exist, as she refuses to make live appearances or give out her real name), but whoever she is, this album is the first u.f.o. experience of the year, sounding from out of this world and time. With the help of Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn, she delivers candid and melancholic songs in a disarming and innocent voice, full of 1980's electro synthesizers and heavily influenced by italo-disco. Coming from a place of its own, it won't change the world, as it's too delicate for that. But it definitely does make the air around much more breathable. (8,5/10)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Menomena - Friend And Foe

2007 is shaping up to be a very good year to rock music, especially the derivative commonly known as "indie rock" (side note: in our times, what is "indie" anyway?). With their third album, U.S. band Menomena may very well and surprisingly lead the rise of indie rock to a new stage, such is the intelligence and novelty of their music. You name it, this album has them all: complex textures, abstract constructions, intricate compositions, surprising elements and a clever use of instruments, everything is here. That and a very strong pop sense for constructing compelling melodies and ambiences, making us want to come back over and over again. Challenging music for your brain to cuddle with, isn't that wonderful? (8,5/10)