Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tujiko Noriko - Solo

The joys of living in a globalized world can be found in little things like this: discovering a singer from far far away (Japan, in this particular case) and being overwhelmed by the familiarity of its imaginary. Tujiko Noriko has been branded "the japanese Björk" by the press, only because she mixes odd avant-garde electronics with cute-voice pop-melodies, but I would say that her universe is mostly located somewhere between Cibelle and Niobe, while also being totally unique. Meaning? An album full of warm and involving whispered melodies over subtle and not-so-subtle glitch-pop sculptures, layered trip-hop ambiences and alien electronic landscapes. Even with lyrics in japanese, there's definitely much more in here that is not lost in translation. A balsam for our subconscious dreams. (7/10)

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Lisbon as the new Berlin? Maybe not yet, but still... The story goes something like this: musician from a famous and well-respected american band (Animal Collective) goes to Lisbon to play in a concert; musician meets girl there and falls in love; musician moves to Lisbon to live with his new-found love and has a daugther; in the intervals of the activity with his main-project band, he makes his second solo album at his new home-city and ends up with the best record so far coming from the Animal Collective constellation. All very nice, but why the Lisbon reference in this text, you might ask? Because that album, "Person Pitch", is luminous in a way that could only be possible when influenced by the most beautiful thing that Lisbon has to offer: its unique light. Beautiful, distant and serene melodies (with harmonies not far from what Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys have done in their best moments, like the ones heard in "Pet Sounds") and a concentrate of subliminal musical ideas that, pretty much, summarize most of modern music history so far: folk, electronica, concrete music, pop, indie rock, experimental music, dub, minimalism... An encyclopedia that will surely become one of this year's most original and magical moments. (9/10)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Studio - Yearbook 1

Classifications are what they are (next to nothing), but this one comes from their own Myspace page, so it must have some truth in it: "Experimental / Afro-beat / Pop"... Sounds interesting, right? And listenning to "Yearbook 1", we have to agree, it's really not far from what it sounds, so be it. What does this mean? Mostly that we have a new project coming from Sweden (wait, another one?), pushing bounderies and doing something new, mixing references to create their own unique language. In Studio's case, we have long hypnotic instrumentals that are sonic explorations full of groove (some of them between 10 and 15 minutes long), but also short infectious pop songs not far from what New Order did 20 years ago. Everything done with a really strong sense of space and time, and a no-limits approach to its poetry, making the whole package a compelling and addictive audio experience. Simple, easy to like and beautiful as only the simplest things can be, but also full of small rewarding details, to discover slowly and with an open-mind. (9/10)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Music Videos # 37 and # 38

Menomena - Wet And Rusting

Deerhunter - Strange Lights

Two videos for two of my favourite albums of early 2007. Menomena show us that they have a great sense of humor in this feel-good video for the beautiful "Wet And Rusting", taken from Friend And Foe, with special guest appearance by Mr. Death himself. Wait, a feel-good video starring Death? Hard to believe? Just watch it. Deerhunter, on the other hand, make a literal translation of their song's title and, suiting their own music, the video for Strange Lights (taken from Cryptograms) results in an immense hypnotic experience. Ahhh, the joys of combined audio and visual delight!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Volta II

Here's the first image revealing Björk's insanely awesome new look for the upcoming album "Volta".
And some recent quotes:
"All I wanted to do for this album was just to have fun and do something that was full-bodied and really up."
"We're all fucking animals, so let's just make some universal tribal beat. We're pagan. Let's just march."
"Emotionally, I was just really, really hungry for something quite full-bloodied and visceral."

*More massive drooling with anticipation*

Monday, March 19, 2007

!!! - Myth Takes

These last few weeks have been really prolific in comeback records and, with a few rare exceptions (like "Some Loud Thunder" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and, most of all, the new lifeless and uninspired "Pocket Symphony" by Air), I can't say that I've been disappointed. Now considering that "Louden Up Now", the previous release by !!! (commonly known as "Chk Chk Chk"), was the seminal album of the New-York-based punk-funk revival that took place a few years ago, to say that "Myth Takes" doesn't disappoint is quite a compliment. What's even more surprising and fascinating is that, even though we can easily recognize its sound as coming from !!!, this record has an identity of its own, one that easily distinguishes itself from "Louden Up Now". Denser and with a fuller and grander sound, "Myth Takes" is basically an unstoppable psychedelic party, full of various references all put together in an enormous virtuous cauldron, making it virtually impossible to resist diving into its infectious waves. My only (very small) complaint is that sometimes it may seem a bit less focused than its predecessor, but I suppose that's a fair price to pay for having so many excellent ideas concentrated in one piece. And with a kaleidoscopic and addictive album like this one, who cares about anything else? (8/10)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Music Videos # 36

Battles - Atlas

Speaking of originality, here's another good example from Battles. I have to confess that during the first times I listened to this, the voice treatment was slightly annoying me, but with a few more auditions and after realizing that the voice was actually to be heard like another very peculiar instrument, I've totally managed to overcome that. Truly an addictive song, very well constructed and with an infections rhythm. As for the video, directed by Timothy Saccenti, it's so amazing that it has to be seen to be believed, so there you have it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Shining - Grindstone

Maybe I've been listenning to too much music and looking too hard for new sensations and never-heard-before sounds, but anyway, when I hear something that fuses metal with experimental jazz and, hum, something not far from Disney fantasy soundtracks mixed with horror movies, I can't help but foolishly fall for its challenging new musical language and play it over and over again while being taken aback by its originality. It helps that there's a raw and visceral energy coming from this norwegian project, one that makes the experience of listenning to this record quite an esctatic one. (7/10)

Myspace page

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Polaroids # 11

The sea, the sunset (and spring is coming!)

(Pictures taken on the 10th of March 2007, near Lisbon)

Gui Boratto - Chromophobia

"Do androids dream of electric sheep?". The ability that machines may have to feel emotions is a possibility that has been present in our culture since a long time ago and Philip K. Dick's novel title from 1968 was just putting in words what had been in science fiction imaginary since its early beginnings. With "Chromophobia", Gui Boratto - a brazilian DJ and musician - may very well help us to find an answer, with a record that is also to be heard like a journey, from start to end. Using minimal techno's common tools (very few sparse and looped elements around a mechanical and repetitive beat with an austere atmosphere), Chromophobia's first half gradually involves its listenner in a dense and hypnotic set, with subtle textures that have rarely been this effective and humanized, proving once more that, in good hands, a beat can be more sensual and powerful than a whole set of instruments. Having our minds completelly immersed, the second half - starting with "Mala' Strana" - then comes, and the atmosphere keeps gradually changing to warmer environments, resulting in its listenner being literally blown away. While still using just the same old elements, with a few computerized and looped sounds, some of the most human and emotional music that has come out of minimal techno is then heard, reaching its peak with "Beautiful Life" (which is just the best dancefloor anthem I've heard in years). How can such strong emotions be suggested with just a few minimal computer-made sounds and, in the case of "Beautiful Life", a sampled voice? I guess androids really do dream of electric sheep...and much more, as "Chromophobia" seems to show. (8,5/10)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Music Videos # 35

Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow (2007 version)

Klaxons have re-recorded their video for Gravity's Rainbow and, although the concept and most scenes and shots are very similar, it has a totally different approach. Where last year's version was all colorful and almost childish, with a do-it-yourself feeling, this one is much darker and explores a spookier imaginary while also looking more professional (and with a bigger budget). Objectively I really can't say which one is the best, although my subjective feelings go for the older version, as it was one of my first contacts with their fascinating universe. In case you want to compare and form your own opinion, here's the old version again...

Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow (2006 version)

The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse

And while I'm still being totally blown away by each new audition of "Neon Bible", this is also a perfect moment to look into what Canada's indie scene has been offering lately, besides of course Arcade Fire. After discovering bands like Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, Islands or Bell Orchestre here's another one to add to the list: The Besnard Lakes. "...Are The Dark Horse", like most of its native counterparts records, is a lesson on how to harmonize chaos and create good solid rock music out of apparently disparate instruments and intricate sounds (including the usual strings, horns, psychedelic guitars, reverb and a few suprisingly sunny melodies). Having a strong attention to small details, it creates, at the same time, an epic and spacious atmosphere that is also dark enough to avoid big mass celebrations. A record that never stops to contradict itself: Big yet intimate? Positive melodies inserted in gloomy instrumentations? With an unfinished touch that celebrates imperfection (something which is starting to become really common in most of nowadays best-loved indie records), this is, well, a perfect companion for your own private celebrations, or any other good occasion to connect these songs dots. (7/10)

Audionom - Retrospektiv

I apologize for the cheap comparison, but the best way I can think of to describe this band is really like this: imagine that, after Ian Curtis death and instead of going pop and forming New Order, Joy Division had turned even darker and moodier and developed an interest in instrumental metal. Retrospektiv is that: lots of guitars, reverb, a few almost imperceptible voices, more layered guitars, drums, synthesizers, keyboards and even more guitars. I don't know much about Audionom except that they are a Swedish art collective, their label - Kemado - is usually associated with a movement called "hipster metal" and that this is their first album, but the mistery suits them and their unique sound. Definitely not an easy record, being so cold and distant to the point of almost impenetrable, but it's also so hypnotic that we can't help but keep playing it and being absorbed in an almost masochistic way. (8/10)

Myspace page

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Music Videos # 34

Simian Mobile Disco - Hustler

This blog was probably one of the last rare few in the world that still hadn't posted this video by new-rave / maximalism group Simian Mobile Disco. But it's such a damm brilliant idea that I can't help but jump into the bandwagon and proclaim it the sexiest video I've seen in a long time. Also, why on earth didn't I think of it before?

LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver

After years in the underground being the coolest guy in the world, James Murphy's second album as LCD Soundsystem is destined to send him into fame's stratosphere. Why? Because in a very efficient way, it condenses everything he has done until now, being a magnificent catalogue of what DFA records and LCD Soundsystem are supposed to be. So we have the usual cosmic travels, ironic vocals and messages, addictive basslines, cowbells, punk, funk, disco, and everything else put together in an infectious way. Only problem? Something called "45:33", a track with that exact length, that LCD Soundsystem did for Nike some months ago as a digital-download-only release. Conceptually made to be heard while working-out, "45:33" was, quite frankly, a masterpiece, something two-steps-ahead-of-anything-else, even including all of his previous work, sending LCD Soundsystem into places they never were before, like italo-disco, microhouse or ambience electronics and, on its way, keeping us hypnotized (and jogging) for, hum, 45 minutes and 33 seconds. A few months later, "Sound Of Silver" seems to put him back on tracks and unfortunately that also means it goes one step back after "45:33", with a couple of songs dangerously approaching predictability. Even so, the truth is that this guy can still do no wrong, and there's enough material in here to send us to space. And with that, the coolness factor is intact. (8/10)

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Whoa, finally!! As I'm still massively drooling with all the enthusiasm, here's the press-release with the details, taken from Björk's website:

"Musical innovator Björk releases her next studio album ‘Volta’ on May 7th 2007.
‘Volta’ is Björk's sixth studio album and follows the release of ‘Medúlla’ in 2004.
Featuring ten brand new and original tracks ‘Volta’ is entirely written and produced by Björk.
In the role of producer Björk has brought in various other musicians to work on her songs and ‘Volta’ features some of her most interesting collaborations so far with Antony Hegarty (Antony And The Johnsons) singing on two tracks, and Timbaland (Jay-Z, Missy Elliot etc) working with Björk on beats that she created for three further songs.
Other artists that feature on ‘Volta’ include electronic pioneer Mark Bell of LFO and two unique drummers – Chris Corsano (the improvisational drummer who has worked with Sonic Youth amongst others) and Brian Chippendale from Lightening Bolt.
Björk also brought in two acclaimed African artists for ‘Volta’ - Toumani Diabate, the Malian kora player and Konono No1 the experimental band from The Congo who won a BBC World Music Award in 2006. She has also put together her own 10 piece female brass section of Icelandic musicians who play on three further tracks. Meanwhile Chinese pipa expert Min Xiao-Fen plays on one song."