Tuff nuts

Popular culture is overwhelmed with humourless, oversaturated electronic music that sounds like sucking a lemon, or perhaps eating bitter gourd. Extreme darkness can be combined with surprising good humour—a little like the tone in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men—and ugliness doesn’t have to sound sloppy. Continue reading Tuff nuts

Battles, a band with a capital ‘B’

Back in 2008, when they released their third album Dear Science, the world was justifiably TV On The Radio’s to take. The album was a bold statement as to the waters in which rock music should tread—sonically and politically bold—and it was also enormously fun. I saw TV On The Radio for the first time not long after, and the show was a heady carnival of funk and philosophy. They were staking a claim, unintentionally or no, to be the greatest band in the world. Continue reading Battles, a band with a capital ‘B’

The Jazz phase

Don’t ask questions, but I’m having a jazz moment.

As has been discussed elsewhere, I have a proclivity towards getting emotional when watching films on planes. Perhaps it’s the difference in air-pressure, or the single-serving capsular nature of flying. Some years ago, on a flight out of Dubai, the triple-whammy of The Wrestler, Changeling, and Gran Torino left me overwhelmed, hollowed-out, a remnant of a shell of a human being. Continue reading The Jazz phase

Summer well

Alex Turner as sleazy romantic-cum-nervous wreck is best evinced by “Do I Wanna Know”, in which he burbles on the brink of being overwhelmed with infatuation. “I’ve dreamt about you nearly every night this week”, he confesses in the first verse, and later, afraid he’s missed his chance, he asks, “Been wondering if your heart’s still open / And if so, I wanna know what time it shuts”. Continue reading Summer well

Waves of Brazil

I’ve written previously about Noah Lennox’s way with clockwork rhythms that sit behind assorted musical mischief. On his latest album as Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, the rhythms are more indebted to psych rock, but here and there (as on the nonsensical anthem “Boys Latin”) the older, dubbier affectations slip in – and on these songs, the chaos unfurling above is all the more effective for it. Continue reading Waves of Brazil

Slow down, dilettante

“You’re like a party, I heard through the wall.” — St. Vincent, 2011.

There is a fraying thread that separates true assimilation of an alien culture and mere appropriation of it.

Is tourism, or even tourism of the mind, a suitable fertiliser for the act of cross-breeding with forms of art outside one’s direct experience?

What, subconsciously, got me thinking about this was Fatima Al-Qadiri’s 2014 album Asiatisch, on which she uses her mind’s eye’s vision of China, coupled with the sensory overload actual images of the country have provided, to unwittingly alight upon the sound of sinogrime. But a deeper exploration of her unsettling art will have to wait for another day. Instead, I turn to three British releases of varying vintage. Continue reading Slow down, dilettante

Misty, you’ve won (two)

For when the frost bites at your bones, the air is unfeasibly crisp, and you’re waiting to be carried away on a pillow-like gust of warmth, Clinic (and Daniel Lopatin) wrote “Misty II“. Atop a shuffling, pattering electronic beat, organs quiver and flicker, squalls of feedback caress, and Ade Blackburn looms and loops between the channels, improbably promising both winter’s conquest and its vanquishing.

The cruel wisdom of Steve Albini

The premise of Gorillaz, André 3000 and James Murphy’s 2012 collaboration, “DoYaThing“, was based on a thirty-second encounter Damon Albarn had with Brian Eno. Somehow, this is stretched to fill a thirteen-minute wig-out in which André 3000 repeatedly yells, “I’m the shit!” in tones alternating between satisfaction, hyperactivity, frustration, and incredulity. The encounter in question (Albarn asked Eno, “How’s it going Brian?”; the professorial Eno replied, “Everything I’m working on is coming out great,” with a surprising amount of hubris and breeziness) is a stand-in for the wider social trends of self-publicising, self-aggrandising, and under-thinking. Continue reading The cruel wisdom of Steve Albini