Category Music

Purity Ring – Shrines

Canadian duo Purity Ring’s highly anticipated new album is out tomorrow and it’s well worth seeking out. At first listen it’s all shimmering, dreamy electropop with some strong melodies, nice effects and singer Megan James’s highly distinctive voice cutting through the beats. Nice certainly but unremarkable. Listen closer however and what appears to be disarmingly innocent is anything but – the lyrics reveal a world of menace, of darkness nestling at the heart of this music. As the video that accompanies one of the album’s best tracks testifies…

You can buy a copy of the album here

Sigur Rós – Varðeldur

I think this is one of the loveliest  songs I’ve heard in a long time. Sigur Rós always completely captivate me when it comes to music that reaches deep down inside. It’s from their latest album: Valtari. Hope you enjoy it. G’night.

Play track: Varðeldur

Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Crown and Treaty

This wonderful album has been keeping me company this past week. If nothing else at least listen to Arrived at Upside Down and Shadow Captain – they’re both stunning. And then buy the album

Julia Holter – Tragedy

Last Saturday I blogged about Julia Holter’s amazing new album Ekstasis. Well, her debut album has also just been released on CD for the first time (previously it was available only on vinyl and in limited quantities). And you know what? It’s just as astonishing. Albeit somewhat less accessible.

It’s called Tragedy and is, at its heart, a concept album. I know I know. But bear with it. Holter’s concept is an “interpretation”of Euripides’ Hippolytus in so much as the structure of the album has an introduction, interlude and finale and uses a chorus. The lyrics are also taken from the play but, as Holter says, “positioned by an aural logic rather than in the chronological order”.

Frankly, the lyrical concept, whilst giving an interesting depth and context to the album, isn’t what’s important. It’s all about the landscapes that the work conjures and how it leads your thoughts through the world that contains them – whether they be inspired by a long-dead playwright or your own meandering experience.

The first track is a deeply atmospheric collage of sounds cut through by the unsettling blast of a foghorn. The second track descends into a bit of a racket, indeed were you to go straight to this track you might immediately wonder what’s going on and dismiss it all rather out of hand. Now I’ve said it you may well click straight there on the stream embedded below – but the point is that this is a work that needs to be listened to “whole”. It’s the structure of the concept of the album that’s important here. As it is with her other work, Ekstasis. It’s all about the journey.

Rather than talk about each track I’ll quote a a great review (on the FACT website) that said that this is, “a brilliant fucking planet of an album”. And it really is. It’s also music that demands to be listened to. Actively listened to. It’s a work that eschews the playlist and the shuffle and it’s a far richer and more sophisticated experience for it. Hear for yourself

You can buy a copy at Rough Trade: here

Ekstasis – Julia Holter

Ecstasy,(or ekstasis) from the Ancient Greek έκ-στασις (ek-stasis), “to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere (from ek-: out, and stasis: a stand, or a standoff of forces).” It is used in philosophy usually to mean outside-of-itself.

If ever a piece of music could be said to transport you to somewhere outside of yourself or indeed itself then this is it. It’s a remarkable work of art by musician Julia Holter. Complex, nuanced and beautifully crafted – this is music that rewards on a multitude of levels. I’m almost loath to include tracks in isolation here as they simply won’t do justice to what an immersive and richly rewarding experience it is to listen to the album in its entirety. Her vocal whoops and ticks can sound slightly misplaced and mannered when listening to a single track through the tinny speakers of a computer. But as a complete work of art this really is an astonishingly good album.

But what type of music is it? Well, it’s hard to define – you could say it’s ambient but that would be to denigrate it somewhat.  It’s accessible, it’s melodic and its beautiful. But also wonderfully strange. And you can tell by her rich, polyphonic vocal harmonies that Holter is classically trained. What’s important is that those harmonies, the tonal shifts she employs and the sheer joy of melody sink their hooks into your mind, transporting you to somewhere – outside yourself.

It’s that good.

Here’s a taster:

Rough Trade has an exclusive 2-cd set and it’s well worth buying:

Bon Iver at AIR Studios (4AD/Jagjaguwar Session)

This set, recorded at Air Studios by the band’s label, is Bon Iver stripped to the bare essentials:  two voices (Justin Vernon and his collaborator Sean Carey) and two grand pianos.  The result is 25-minutes of beautiful, fragile and gentle renditions of songs that have previously featured on Bon Iver’s albums and EPs. I found it absolutely captivating. I hope you do too.

For those with an eye on the detail, here’s the set list:
1. Hinnom, TX
2. Wash.
3. I Can’t Make You Love Me
4. Babys
5. Beth/Rest

Rachel Sermanni – Black Currents EP

This must be one of the most beautiful EP’s I’ve heard since Valentina’s gorgeous Weights EP was released last May.

Sermanni hails from the Highlands of Scotland, which immediately gives you an indication of what style her music will be. We’re talking folk of the most haunting kind here. Anticipation around her debut release (although this isn’t strictly speaking her debut as she put out a very limited cd last year on a small imprint) has been building for a while – albeit under the mainstream radar.

Black Currents holds just four songs but each one is perfectly balanced and her voice is almost heartbreakingly lovely. It’s one of those records you put on, lie back, completely lose yourself in and don’t want to end.

Here are two of the tracks and a link to buy the EP is below…

Buy it from Rough Trade: here 

Bonobo – Black Sands Remixed

Simon Green (aka Bonobo) released an album in 2010 called Black Sands; it was a magnificent piece of work and widely acclaimed. Trip hop at its finest. It was inevitable then that a remix album would follow. And here it is. And it is a truly superb album. Anyone with even the remotest interest in multi-layered, hugely atmospheric soundscapes has got to get their hands on this.  It’s trip hop and dubstep all mixed and mashed with some wonderfully jazz/electro moments – the whole kit and caboodle of electronic music.

There are several standout tracks by some seriously talented producers here. Google the album and you’ll find some good, solid reviews. For me, the tracks that immediately lift this album far and above the parapets of its peers are these:

Play track: The Keeper (Banks Remix)

Play track: Black Sands (Duke Dumont’s ‘Grains Of Sand’ Reconstruction Edit)

The album is out on Monday. And you can grab a copy here

Leo Zero – Acid Life

Well, the Leo Zero tracks are coming thick and fast this week. But then his debut album came out this week and it’s a belter. So here it is, well a couple of  the standout tracks from it. It’s a Friday night after all. Ready? Let’s go…


Play track: Let’s Go

Play track: Electricity

Grab it and the exclusive promo disc from Rough Trade here

Bowie – Moonage Daydream Rmx

Bowie. Moonage Daydream. Brilliantly remixed. What more could you want? Essential.

Leo Trax – DJ Leo Zero’s Digital Label

Checking out Leo Zero’s blog last night whilst listening to his new cd and he’s set up a brilliant new digital label called Leo Trax. The label’s a veritable treasure trove! You should definitely check it out.

Here’s one of his latest releases, which is available to download on soundcloud and is top-notch – so go get it!

And for those who want a bit of disco (you know who you are and you know you want it!) Check this out:

You’re welcome.

Leo Zero – Rough Trade Exclusive Promo

Ah old school acid house…
New album by the brilliant Leo Zero arrived this week from Rough Trade (will blog about the album proper in the next few days). But what sets Rough Trade apart (and is the subject of this brief post before I head to catch my sleep train) are their often brilliant exclusive promo discs. It’s one of the main reasons that the shop remains an essential visit. I’m happy to pay over the odds for a new release if it comes with a cracker of a promo. And the Leo Zero promo really is an absolute cracker – easily as good as the main release. So, here for your delectation are a couple of tracks and a link to where you can get your paws on a copy before they sell out…

Play track: Close To Me

Play track: I Know You Got Soul

Buy it by clicking: here