Author Archives: Eric

Jagwar Ma – Howlin

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Is it right to review an album that’s been out for a while now? Don’t think I should feel bad about it as I’m not working for NME or another hype machine. The three blokes from Jagwar Ma have been in the game since 2011 but their first LP Howlin has only been available in Europe since June this year and it quickly got my attention, to be quite honest.

The music can be described as a mix between Django Django and Tame Impala. Not that the latter do have something to do with electronic music but I personally tend to classify Jagwar Ma‘s music as slightly dreamy, yet hypnotic even if it’s dance music, in first instance. Maybe it’s too “soft” to be considered as psychedelic but it somehow totally stimulates my hypothalamus, which is a good thing.

The Throw, for example, is the best proof that Jagwar Ma isn’t just a typical electronic act. If first starts with a decent drum loop, reverb-loaded vocals, guitars and loads of other samples just to burst into some kind of dancy tune in the likes of Chk Chk Chk (a.k.a. !!!) or LCD Soundsystem. Four keeps the pace up and should be on every party playlist or whatever kids call it these days.

My favorite song is still Man I Need, not because it’s some kind of stomper or something alike, but it sounds like a perfect POP song (yes, pop music can be enjoyable sometimes). So does That Loneliness as it sounds like if The Beach Boys and The Beatles had a child. A dangerous comparison, I reckon, but the songwriting has these retro references and a feel good vibe with enjoyable melodies. This is obviously due to the production which used a lot of pan gimmicky in addition with shitloads of effects and samples coming out of nowhere, plunging the listener into a motley dreamworld making it irresistible to stand still and not to dance at all. Some call it Madchester but I don’t feel this music as a revival of that genre with the exception of The Throw which could be from that era, to be honest.

These blokes definitely haven’t re-invented the wheel but Howlin surely is a solid release and a pleasant surprise. You should give it a go and see them on stage anytime soon!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vU6a7Haw78]

Gold Panda – Half Of Where You Live

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There’s simply no way to avoid wonky music at the moment. Chillwave is a big thing right now and it’s a welcome refresher for sweaty summer nights. Compared to Lucky Shiner; the new album Half Of Where You Live by electronic wunderkind Gold Panda has a lesser pop approach, but is way more chilly and dreamy and stimulates every single muscle to dance your pants off. The key track Brazil delivers the best example of the quirkiness and hypnotic effect this album has to offer. It’s highly addictive, to say the least.

If you’re into offbeats, Community might be the best thing to expect. As already mentioned, Gold Panda knows how to apply a gripping ambience into his tunes and it might be too crazy to claim this, but I somehow feel the urge to call this music as psychedelic dance music. The main reason for this thesis are the cleverly inserted elements of Asian music that make the listener feel like he’s in India or Thailand, without plunging too much into world music kitsch.

This album really has the potential to become one of my favourites for this year and I recommend to every single one of you to see this bloke on stage, if you can. You won’t be disappointed and it will be the cheapest and fastest trip to Asia you’ll ever experience!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL26UcEwrBQ]

Trash Monday LXXVIII

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Ever wondered why no Portuguese woman ever won the “Miss World” award? May these mofos singing about the Portuguese beauty be your answer!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UigKZt7FtoQ]

Mr. Oizo – Amicalement

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Expect the unexpected, kids. You never really know what Mr. Oizo a.k.a. Quentin Dupieux‘s up to when it comes to a new release. Except that it’s gonna be electronic, trashy and yet geeky as fuck.

Amicalement‘s got every ingredient disposable that characterizes Mr. Oizo‘s sound and there’s still room for a surprising collaboration with Marilyn Manson on the second track Solid, which is a sick masterpiece. With 4 tracks on this EP, I have to admit that it’s just the right amount of electronic banter / genius you probably need in order to love or hate this guy even more; there’s no in between! If this is the way French electronic music should sound like, I’m all in!

You can currently get the EP for free on Mr. Oizo‘s fantastic website that looks and feels like an old Macintosh system or you can play some cool beats and samples on his Shit MPC, which also is a nice and  original gimmick.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/7336472″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Justice – Access All Arenas

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There’s no better way to start the festival season than with a live album by one of your favourite bands ever, in this case Justice‘s live performance on Access All Arenas. As a matter of fact, I’ll be rocking this year’s Rock Werchter festival once again and I’ve been able to experience the sheer power of Justice‘s live sets on that site twice, back in 2008 and last year.

The live set was recorded in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Nîmes, in best Pink Floyd manner, if you know what I’m referring to. If you ever listened to Justice’s previous live album, Across The Universe, you will instantly notice that the opener is still the same, with Genesis‘ colossal intro making the crowd go apeshit in no time! This is the best proof for the timelessness of the first album † , that was released 6 years ago.

Against all odds, Gaspar Augé and Xavier de Rosnay do not only press midi controllers every once in a while, despite the prejudices people have towards electronic-dance-music acts. It’s not like both guys are on stage pressing buttons and peeling onions additionally. The strength of this duo bases in melting both albums into one crazy multi-layered experience. No big deal, you’d say, but that’s not the secret in Justice‘s sound. The twist is, unlike any other EDM project, finding a compromise between pounding beats and a fresh, elegant attitude only Frenchman can handle. Hate’em or like’em, Justice have an unmistakeable sound and signature, which turns them into a rare jewel in an electronic scene that has fallen into disrepute due to artists who ride the maximal sound bandwagon.

† Et Justice pour tous! †

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m46S-VGCimY]

Pity Sex – Feast of Love

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Fear not, gender fascists! Michigan based band Pity Sex have what it takes to be politically correct. Having both male and female vocals Feast of Love provides variety in songwriting for not drifting into boredom. Pity Sex could be described as a lo-fi college rock sounding band that reminds one of Jimmy Eat World on benzodiazepines, which can be pretty cool, actually.

The opener Wind-Up and the second track Keep are the right kick in the face to start your day right. Uncompromising, catchy and short. Are Pity Sex able to keep that pace up?

The answer is mixed, frankly. Honey Pot and St. John’s Wort keep the rhythm of the opening tracks and really suit my mood for this time of the year. What I really dislike, are songs like Fold and Smoke Screen but that’s not Britty Drake’s fault. She’s a good singer but the tone of her voice reminds me of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries and that really destroys me. Call it a trauma, but I rely on my preconception that there really is no good band from Ireland, and no, Two Door Cinema Club are from Northern Ireland, but they still suck and yes; I am that obnoxious and luckily, Pity Sex are from the US.

I have to admit, in all fairness, that the songwriting is really good, though. It varies from powerful, bassdriven parts with a slight gothic note to parts with a more post-grunge a.k.a. “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. It’s just the slower songs that don’t really attract my attention.

You can get the album on Bandcamp for 5 quid, I say the album is still worth the money despite the parts that remind me of that one band from Ireland…

Trash Monday LXXIII

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I remember being invited to Leo’s bungalow, 7 years ago. Friedrich, a German student in European School, got asked what he would think of the accomodation; to which he stoically replied: “Your Haus is too BRRAUUNN!”
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_-Qtz70_z4]

Jon Hopkins – Immunity

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Truth be told, I have never heard of Jon Hopkins before, if it wasn’t for a friend who pointed out that he collaborated with Coldplay years ago with his song Light Through the Veins being the intro snippet for Viva La Vida‘s opening track Life in Technicolor. As the ambience and emotions caused in that track were far more stunning than Coldplay‘s LP, I was eager to hear what he was capable of doing as a solo artist and it turned out that Jon Hopkins can do way better than composing Chris Martin‘s delivery room soundtrack.

If it was to summarize Immunity in one, simple sentence I’d say that this LP is a perfect electronic / neoclassical hybrid. The opener We Disappear reminds me of Burial‘s wonkiness, especially during his Untrue phase. This is minimal electronic music as it should be and no overinflated bass-driven techno madness. Solid structure, fragile content.

Open Eye Signal sucks you right into the dancefloor. The pumping beat and the deep atmosphere make you forget time and space and you’ll be pleasantly noticing every fibre of your body moving to this groove. One of my favourite tunes on this LP.

Personally, I think that Breathe This Air stands out as the best example of Hopkins’ capabilities as a composer. He masters the quiet / loud game like a boss and captivates the listener with his unique blend of deep electronic compositions with frail classical elements. Collider, on the other hand, is straight-forward, hypnotic and stomping. This could be my soundtrack for cruising through urbanisation at night.

Fortunately, Hopkins did not opt to release a pure electro album. Tracks like Immunity or Abandon Window are the proof for his real talent, which is evoking moods with placidity. The soundscapes remind me of Sigur Rós, during their heyday (from Ágætis byrjun until Takk…), with the fragility of the tracks being the strongest point on this LP. This is as naked and intimate as music can possibly be.

Maybe it’s too early for my verdict but I somehow feel the urge to name Immunity as my personal biggest surprise for 2013 and I’m pretty sure this album will be on my top 5 for this year! I recommend this album for fans of Brian Eno‘s Ambient 1: Music for Airports who are not afraid to go full electro for a minute or two.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q04ILDXe3QE]

The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

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What’s the sense of Parental Advisory stickers, nowadays? I mean, seriously; is cussing really that kind of big deal to society? Wouldn’t you prefer to hear your beloved daughter cursing in pain than seeing her preggers?

One of us is the killer by The Dillinger Escape Plan is the cursing therapy against all odds. But one should still rethink the concept of the Parental Advisory campaign. In my honest opinion, health warnings adorning future Dillinger Escape Plan releases would make more sense to me. Quotes like the following would be more appropriate:

  1. “Do not listen to this album if you suffer from ADHD. You will explode and die.”
  2. “Do not listen to this album if you suffer from Parkinsons. Fukushima was bad enough and you will die.”
  3. “Do not listen to this album if you have Diabetes. You’re going to die anyway.”

See, it’s not my main goal to analyze and describe each track of this album as that is beyond my writing and rhetorical capacities. The Dillinger Escape Plan are pure madness. Always were, always will be. Not music for wimps. Chaotic to the max and quite challenging to be listened from first to last track. But it’s mad fun! Almost as enjoyable as riding a steroid-pumped mechanical bull.

If it was my purpose to describe the band and the music they create I had one special example. It is no secret that music styles like Djent are the big deal right now. Just imagine Djent as the single player campaign in a shooter game. You enjoyed the whole experience and brag about your achievements until you dare to play the multiplayer modus for the first time. One of us is the killer is the multiplayer platform. You see your whole world tumbling into decadence. Everything you knew until then was a lie. You will see and hear things you never thought existed (*cough* Lemonparty *cough*). Just like a trainwreck, One of us is a killer is cruel but you cannot look away.

Did I say anything relevant about the album? I sure didn’t. Did I make you curious, though? I sure hope so!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X01H4icz5aU]

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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First things first; don’t expect me to start this review with a quote like “They’re back!”. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo had never been away and this is not an ESPN sports announcement.

There’s been a lot of talk and anticipation about Daft Punk‘s upcoming release Random Access Memories. It first started with a 10 second guitar loop leaked somewhere on the internet until the first single Get lucky came out. Expectations were high, as people seemed to be a tad disappointed about their last release, the TRON O.S.T. , thus this album cannot be viewed as a regular album but a movie soundtrack instead, but people nowadays don’t need much input / change to quarrel.

Concerning the quarelling, Random Access Memories managed to perfectly split Daft Punk fans in two parties. The age of maximal techno / electro is long gone and climbing into the brostep / dubstep bandwagon would have been a fatal decision for a band that characterised an era for electronic music in the mid-nineties and as the new trend dictates it, disco and funk will be the next big thing; apparently.

In my defense, I have to say that I’m a disco kid, mostly influenced because of my parent’s music taste in younger years. What effect will Random Access Memories have on me? Will it work?

The opener Give life back to music dropped my jaw instantly. The sound, the groove; simply EVERYTHING has changed. Is this really Daft Punk I’m listening to, while unconsciously moving my hips in utter gusto? The guitar had me from the very fist second!

Surprisingly, the next track The game of love changes the pace to a smooth, sweaty groove that reflects the hot and horny mood disco has on people (or even couples). The vocoder may be a bit too much, but if you give this song 3-4 listens it becomes a subtle grower.

Giorgio by moroder is a masterpiece to me. What could be better than a “pseudo-documentary” intro with disco mastermind Giorgio Moroder speaking about his early stages as a musician, than to completely tear up the “interview” with a nasty synthesizer arpeggio that is addictive as hell? Right, a berzerk groove robot playing drums and a totally cheesy but awesome guitar solo at the end that catapults you to planet Disco Ball. This is a monumental ode to the emergence of disco music. It can’t get any better, or can it?

Just like the second track Within is what we used to call a slow, when we were kids. A welcome cooldown after a hot climax. The cigarette after; underlined with subtle E-Pianos, vocoder and slow percussion. Why not?

I am going to be completely candid with you, dear reader. I am not going to review any other song of the album, otherwise this review will risk to become another TL-DR review out there. Random Access Memories really is a cool album, but only if you’re into disco and if you’re willing to ACCEPT the big change of sound Daft Punk underwent. Don’t expect Homework Part 2. Just as in movies, remakes don’t touch the nerve of time; deal with it. The fat basslines are gone, there’s much more guitar on this release than on any other record and yes, this is pop music. Sceptics will welcome tracks like Get Lucky and Lose yourself to dance and won’t resist the urge to dance their asses off while considering tracks like Beyond as elevator music, but that’s understandable. Trends come and go and just as punk rock, disco never died. That’s awesome!

Hope to see you sinners on a greasy dancefloor next door, pumped with testosterone and nasty thoughts!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I]