Saturday, 21 June 2014

Live review: James Holden, Meltdown Festival, London 17/6/14

My second trip to this year's Meltdown Festival saw a trip to The Purcell Room for Holden's live interpretation of last year's album 'The Inheritors'. Support came from Not Waving a.k.a. Alessio Natalizia (who's also half of Walls). He had some good tunes and a rather dubious taste in accompanying video clips.

Holden's live show sees him take to the stage accompanied by a live drummer (Tom Page). The addition of this one extra element elevates the show by such a surprising amount that it's about 5 times better that it was on record. The interplay between the two of them is great (they're positioned so that they face each other on stage) and, is weird as it may sound, the whole thing becomes almost jazz-like. Despite being another seated venue there's a great atmosphere (although I did see someone who got up to dance get forcibly told to sit down again) and people get completely absorbed by whatever it is that Holden's doing with his bank of coloured dials and spaghetti-wires.

James Holden & Tom Page, Purcell Room, London 17/6/14
The show closes with one of my favourite tracks, 'The Caterpillar's Intervention', at the unfeasibly early time of 9.45 and we stumble out, blinking, into the still-light London evening. In a way this was even better than the UNKLE show I saw a few days before - concise, compact but still creative, it showed that Holden is a force to be reckoned with and will be for a long time to come.

View of London from the Southbank after the show

Friday, 20 June 2014

Track of the Day: 'Avertissement' by Fouma System

It's taken some years to reach fruition, but this project from Mustaf Mbaye and Troels Kampmann sond pretty special. Keen to work together physically (rather than just collaborating via the internet) they hit the studio in Copenhagen in their bid to make "original, natural music that's a mix of traditions and inspirations". The first fruit of their labours is the 'Mind Mi Dem' EP, from which this track is taken. There'll be more EPs to come this year but for now sit back and take in this heady concoction - despite the fact that neither Denmark nor Senegal are in the World Cup it feels right for the current international mood. Listen and download the track for free below.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Track of the Day: 'Hunger of the Pine' by Alt-J

The first track from the new album 'This Is All Yours' is starts with a solitary keyboard with a Wild Beasts feel to it, but soon develops into something more recognisably Alt-J. The usual percussive flourishes appear, along with what sounds like a clarinet and some sampled brass. It's not a radical departure, more an evolution, but one which tees up the new album nicely.

PS apparently that's Miley Cyrus you can hear as the sampled female voice. I bet none of you saw that coming!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Live review - UNKLE: REDUX, Meltdown Festival, Royal Festival Hall London 13/6/14

The 21st Meltdown Festival kicked off in style last night with a show by this year's curator James Lavelle. Having admitted to feeling the pressure of the curators that had come before him (Bowie, Yoko Ono, Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave to name just a few) Lavelle and his collaborator Mara Carlyle pulled together a host of guest performers to effectively put on a greatest hits show with a difference. Songs were rearranged, different vocalists were used, old and new friends made appearances, and the whole thing served to showcase what a great body of work Lavelle has produced over the years.

Before we get into the specifics, a quick word about the support act Philip Sheppard. He first worked with UNKLE on 'Glow' for Never, Never, Land and it's clear he and James have a great respect for each other. A solo cellist might not be your idea of a great act but he did amazing things, creating loop upon loop of cello tracks on music ranging from the mid 18th century, through 'Amazing Grace' to a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (with a great accompanying story about Jeff Buckley).

UNKLE - James Lavelle & Leila Moss onstage 13/6/14
After the interval (and some shocking bar service, the only thing the otherwise excellent Southbank Centre need to address), UNKLE hit the stage with James Lavelle & Leila Moss (The Duke Spirit / Roman Remains) jointly taking on the vocals on 'Ablivion'. From then on it was a constantly moving feast of vocalists and band members, orchestra and choir, each adding their own individual flavour to the proceedings. Leila Moss has become something of a mainstay at UNKLE shows but she seems to have really developed of late and was definitely one of the stars of the show. A pair of tracks from 'Psyence Fiction' featured the legendary DJ Shadow, while Mark Lanegan was in fine voice - his version of 'Burn My Shadow' was immense. There were a couple of surprising cover versions, some great visuals, and they even used the Festival Hall's gigantic organ on a couple of the tracks. Lavelle was off stage for most of the night (from our excellent second row seats we could see him at the side of the stage, encouraging and coordinating), but returned just before the end of a round of thank yous. The evening closed with Moss and Lavelle again joining forces on last song 'The Answer', the live version of which is now a combination of the Trentemøller mix and the original. There's a partial setlist below - I was too engrossed to be taking notes so it's not got everything and it's not in the right order - corrections welcome!

UNKLE: REDUX setlist 13/6/14

  • Worship ( spoken word by Michele Lamy)
  • Hold My Hand (vocals by James Lavelle & Leila Moss)
  • Mayday (vocals by Leila Moss)
  • Bloodstain (feat. DJ Shadow)
  • Lonely Soul (feat. DJ Shadow)
  • Another Night Out (vocals by Mark Lanegan)
  • Ex-Factor (vocals by Mara Carlyle)
  • With You In My Head (vocals by Leila Moss)
  • Burn My Shadow (vocals by Mark Lanegan)
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (vocals by Keaton Henson)
  • Rabbit In Your Headlights (vocals by Keaton Henson)
  • In A State (vocals by Leila Moss)
  • Heaven (vocals by Mark Lanegan)
  • The Answer (vocals by James Lavelle & Leila Moss)

Before the show we had time to visit Urban Archeology, the Mo' Wax exhibition celebrating Lavelle's record label - it was nice to see my name on the wall having supported the campaign to put the exhibition together!

Once the UNKLE show had finished we headed downstairs to the Clore Ballroom for the free aftershow - it was great to be able to have a dance, it's the one thing you miss by having a show at somewhere like the Festival Hall or the Barbican. We couldn't stay for the whole thing but Don Letts' reggae-tinged set was great.

Don Letts on the wheels of steel
PS Philip Sheppard posted his live version on line a couple of day ago - here it is:

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Track of the Day: 'Hold Tight' by Sinkane

The first track from the next Sinkane album 'Mean Love' is a slow and seductive number that hints at a more mature sound. The rhythmic, circular groove is topped of with sultry vocals and some great falsetto. It's a brilliant vibe and definitely puts the new record on the 'to buy' list - it'll be out on DFA Records in North America and City Slang everywhere else.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

New podcast: Austerity Audio vol. 18

It's been a few weeks since the last podcast, but I hope you'll agree it was worth the wait as there are twelve great tracks in this edition.

Usual rules apply - everything on here is available to download legally and for free from the dark recesses of the internet. I've collected them all up into one handy package for you, in the hope that you'll hear something you like and go and buy a track or two from that artist. Just right-click on the picture above and 'save as' to download it. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. Phoenix - Chloroform (Gopher & Devin Remix)
  2. OOIOO - Atatawa
  3. J. Gundersun - Balcony (Paper Tiger Remix)
  4. Earl Sweatshirt - Chum (Left Brain Remix)
  5. Eyedress - My Hologram
  6. The Soft Pink Truth - Black Metal
  7. Cerebral Ballzy - Speed Wobbles
  8. Vökuró - Light
  9. Temples - Shelter Song (Leftside Wobble Rocks The Discoteque Mix)
  10. Nick Mulvey - Nitrous (Ben Gomori Redux)
  11. Bombay Bicycle Club - Feel (UNKLE Reconstruction)
  12. Rome Fortune - One Time For (produced by Four Tet)

Friday, 6 June 2014

Track of the Day: 'Em Todo Lugar' by Moreno Veloso

Another great find by the Luaka Bop label (home to William Onyeabor amongst others), this super-smooth Brazilian track is guaranteed to kick start your weekend, the World Cup (only 6 days away!) and anything else in your life that needs a slice of blazing-hot bossa-nova brilliance.

Luaka Bop will be putting out a new album by Veloso in September but in the meantime you can download this track for free to get you in the mood for Rio de Janeiro.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Track of the Day: 'Can't Do Without You' by Caribou

The first time I listened to this track, about 5 minutes ago, it literally put a smile on my face. At around 2 minutes 50 seconds in I could feel myself beaming. I've just listened to it again and exactly the same thing happened - see if it happens for you.

This is the first track from the next Caribou album 'Our Love' which will be out in the first week of October. Dan Snaith seems to have taken the best bits of Caribou and sprinkle on just a bit more of the disco dust from his Daphni alter-ego. The result is an absolutely massive tune that's destined to soundtrack the summer.

Remix of the Day: 'The Way To The Forest (Ibibio Sound Machine Remix)' by Francois & The Atlas Mountains

Two acts with some of the longest band names around combine to create a fantastic voyage through French Africa. The Marvellous Ibibio Sound Machine take the understated African rhythms of the original and hype them up to 10, in the process creating one of the most summery and upbeat tracks you'll have heard all year.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Chloroform (Gopher & Devin Remix)' by Phoenix

The perfect way to get your daily fix of French 'je ne sais quoi', especially if you also have a penchant for robots (and who doesn't?). No need to get your Euros out either as this is a free download - it makes the perfect amuse bouche for their album 'Bankrupt'