Sunday, May 27, 2007

Polaroids # 12

Water Lights

(Pictures taken on the 18th of March 2007, in Lisbon)

Ben Frost - Theory Of Machines

Australian born Iceland-resident Ben Frost may surprise quite a few people, considering that his "Theory Of Machines" album could be classified as ambient electronic music but is actually not the sort you'd come to expect from our northern island friends. No, this doesn't consist only of beautiful atmospheric sounds or candid and spacious melodies, although it also has them. "Theory Of Machines" is mostly a complete study on the sort of dense melodic sounds that can come out of distorted noise imperfections and layers of reverb. Exploring sound impurities and with a raw and nervous feeling blended all over it (sometimes even approaching death-metal-like atmospheres), this album is very evocative but it mostly brings to mind things associated with words like dark, visceral or menacing. With a very strong composition behind it, we're taken into a detailed world full of involving crescendos, intense peaks and groundbreaking industrial sounds. If ever there's a thing like placid and beautiful nightmares, here's your soundtrack to it. (8/10)

Myspace page

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Music Videos # 47

Fujiya & Miyagi - Ankle Injuries

Back again to some of last year's greatest musical moments. This time it's Fujiya & Miyagi, our favourite fake-japanese-duo-that-is-actually-a-trio-and-comes-from-England, now with a recent and incredibly creative animated video. Simple, almost innocent, colorful and vintage fun. And even more interesting, I bet you don't need any special and rare technological tool to achieve this, just lots of patience and some good old imagination. The result speaks for itself: how cool can a fake-japanese-duo-that-is-actually-a-trio-and-comes-from-England be?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Battles - Mirrored

After starting an underground interest around their name with a string of rare EP's (later grouped together in the EP C/B EP compilation edited last year) and following a brilliant first video that has been making waves around the internet for the last months, the Battles debut album is finally out and destined to send them into the stratosphere of critical acclaim and cult adulation. With an uncommon line-up (ex-Helmet member John Stanier – drums; ex-Lynx member Dave Konopka – guitar and bass; ex-Don Caballero member Ian Williams – guitar and keyboards; and Tyondai Braxton, son of Anthony Braxton - guitar, keyboards and vocals), the Battles carefully studied approach to music resembles also an hallucinating adventure. Their sound is rich and full of complex textures and infinite micro-details; no wonder that it's sometimes classified as "math rock". But besides this, there's a frantic approach to the sound molecule as a source of experiment, building something that could be classified as mutant adrenaline. Full of infectious hooks and riffs, insane rhythms, extreme keyboard sounds and unusual vocal samples, this is something that is both challenging and taking music to new extremes. The reward is that the energy emanated by "Mirrored" is strong enough to take anyone with an open mind into an alternative reality, populated by "bionic" (thank you Pitchfork) creatures and crazy substances. Post-rock? No this is actually post-post-everything. My bet is that this year we won't hear many other things as insanely physical as this. (8,5/10)

Myspace page

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Music Videos # 46

Gui Boratto - Beautiful Life

Smiley people, happy family moments, joyful situations, positive attitudes, at first glance the video for this über-wonderful anthem song (taken from Chromophobia) is the exact visual translation of what its feel-good vibes suggest. Until the final moments, when you discover that it's all a fiction. Disturbing, to say the least, no? (oh, and did I mention how I love this song?)

Maps - We Can Create

"We Can Create" is one of those rare records whose greatest assets are far from any logical explanation. Here's a sound strongly inspired by old bands like My Bloody Valentine or Spiritualized that manages to sound deliriously fresh and young. Here's a project that could be associated with the shoegazing revival, a genre that is mostly known for its self absorbed songs, and yet sounds so open and spacious. So, how to explain it? My only guess is divine inspiration to write grandiose tunes and intense choruses and carefully build epic anthems that want to touch the sky. Or the ability to create something unique and truly original out of so easy-to-spot references. With just a handful of basic elements (layers of distorted guitars, keyboards, drums, synths, fragile vocals and discreet electronics), and the help of producer Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk) and mixer Ken Thomas (Sigur Rós), Maps (an english solo project of James Chapman) has created the perfect soundtrack for everyone that likes to dream about the stars. Beautiful, intense, hypnotic and heart-stopping. (8,5/10)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss

Coming from Germany, Hendrik Weber (under one of his pseudonyms, Pantha Du Prince) could be called a sound scientist. Hearing "This Bliss", it seems that each sound was mathematically studied to be inserted in its exact right place, as if the act of making music (in this case, ambient / minimal techno) consisted mostly of solving complex equations. We could call this process as sound designing, with the final goal of building smooth aural travels of extreme elegance. Of course that with a concept like this, monotony could easily take over, but thankfully this is not the case. His savoir-faire was strong enough to also insert subtle changes, each track having a life of its own and evolving into distinct places. And ultimately, this fine evolutions are what take "This Bliss" to higher levels, serving as elements that slowly hypnotize its listenners, making this music, at the same time, formal (mechanical) and risky (human) as few other electronics acts these days. Touching many anthagonic atmospheres (dark / bright, cold / warm, austere / luxuriant) as if they were just close twins, the best example for this can be heard in "Saturn Strobe", one of the most formally perfect and also beautiful songs that we'll probably hear this year. (8/10)

Myspace page

Monday, May 14, 2007

Must-have objects for a survival kit # 7

Björk Concert Ticket

If more reasons were needed besides the ones already known, to understand why this is a must-have object just look at our girl going all punk at this year's Coachella festival:

(aka: yay, i'm gonna see Björk in Switzerland this summer!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Music Videos # 45

!!! - Must Be The Moon

Excessive, decadent, sinister, hallucinating, dangerous, crazy and, most of all, fun, it seems that !!! know how to have a hell of a good time. My only question is: where's that party?


This movie has been talked about mostly because of its sex scenes, which is a bit unfair. True, there are some very explicit ones, not common in this kind of movies, but for the matter, most of them are at the very beginning, so let's just overcome it, and move on, ok? Shortbus is mostly a complex, emotional and unpretentious look into the daily lives of a small group of people in New York, exploring their relationships, their frustations, hopes and obsessions, in a very realistic, natural and free way that goes back to the spirit of the 1970's, while the "Shortbus" itself in the movie is the name of a club very similar to what the private rooms in Studio 54 must have been like in its glory days. And even if all characters are somehow very peculiar, you end up worrying about their destinies, in a movie that slowly builds up a sense of involvement, until it finally explodes in its literally orgasmic finale. In the end, we all have sex and want to be happy and find love, right? And therein lies the beauty of this movie.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Music Videos # 44

Jamie T - Calm Down Dearest

Speaking of Jamie T songs that can save a day, here's one of them with the corresponding video. Very low-budget, of course, a guy has to keep his attitude.

Jamie T - Panic Prevention

Like Plan B last year, here's the most recent english candidate for spokesperson of the younger generations. Musically he's not so futuristic as Plan B, preferring to insert more traditional genres like folk, blues, reggae or rockabilly in his raw pop vision, but the way he mixes all his references is intriguing, to say the least. And then there's his voice, half-singing-half-rapping, with a very british I-don't-give-a-fuck insolent accent and his tales of decadence, rudeness, urban poetry, humour, daily routine, drunkeness, London pubs and sex, using words as weapons of mass destruction. And, in case you don't identify with his attitude, at least you have to admire the fierceness of it all (there are not many albums starting with the words "fucking croissant!" shouted loud, right?). Truth to be told, somewhere in the middle the album seems to slightly lose its otherwise strong inspiration and can get a bit tiring to listen to if you're not in the right mood, but those are small details, as "Panic Prevention" does have some moments that are pure genius. My personal vote goes to "Salvador", "If You Got The Money", "Alicia Quays" and the uber-catchy "Calm Down Dearest", songs of the sort that can save a day. (7,5/10)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Blonde Redhead - 23 / A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Scribble Mural Comic Journal

After living the longest revival ever (the 1980's comeback), pop music continues its natural evolution and finally turns its head into...the 1990's. We've already had the new-rave movement (with bands like Hadouken!, the disappointing Shitdisco and, most of all, the excellent Klaxons, who wisely enough have already jumped off this bandwagon for higher levels) and now, for y'all, here's shoegazing again. Consisting of very self-absorbed and dreamy sounds (hence the name), and usually ethereal female voices and layers of distorted guitars, its main ambassadors were bands like My Bloody Valentine, who are strongly influencing a new-wave of quite interesting projects, each one with a different approach. Hell, we've already had a techno/trance-y take into shoegazing with wonderful results (The Field with From Here We Go Sublime), so I'd say we're off to something promising (tip: write down this name - Maps've been warned...).
In the meantime, here are two north-american projects worth listenning to:
Blonde Redhead approach shoegazing with the word "melody" in their minds. That is to say, their song-writing skills are what take them apart from regular bands, with some gorgeous results that wonderfully serve vocalist Kazu Machino's voice. Upon innumerous layers of guitars, synthesizers, percussion and vocal tracks, we have ridiculously beautiful songs and charming choruses (and for some reason, I got reminded of Charlotte Gainsbourg and 5:55), putting what should be a normal atmospheric rock project into an unique place of its own. (7/10) Myspace page
A Sunny Day In Glasgow are different, building their strenghts from a limitless sense of risk and experimentation, head to head with a feeling of distance that is present from start to end. Atmospheric samples, layers upon layers of noise and reverb, techno elements and surreal details are heard in an album that, more than songs, uses lots of cut + paste to build concepts. It may sound too confusing and unfocused at first, but after a few listens, all this chaos does start to make some very luminous sense. (8/10) Myspace page

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Music Videos # 43

Junior Boys - In The Morning

Here's an unexpected take into this song's universe that ends up making a whole lot of sense. It starts in a decadent mood, turns into something humorous and ends up with some surreal and quite beautiful scenes. Needless to say by now that this song is pure heaven.