Animaux | UK

Sūpynės Festival: Mud, Woods and Techno [2017]

Jul
03

Sūpynės Festival returned after a year hiatus for an eleventh time to the majestic Dūburio Ežeras’ woods with an onslaught of art, talks and a variety of niche electronic dance music. The year off seemed to let the Minimal.lt team focus on what made Supynės great in the first place – they reduced the capacity to make it more intimate while, increased focus on quality local talent as well as expanding on some ideas from the past.

The festival boasted four stages – MORE, LESS, HIGH and PLAYGROUND. The MORE stage hosted local newcomers and indie-music types during the day but during the night turned into a house and techno Mecca with artists such as Awanto 3, Brawther, Shed and Neel bombarding the crowd with bass. My favourite has to be Shed who delivered a UK bass tinged set mixed with the finest selections of German quality. The rain and unrelenting techno did make the field into a muddy mess, however, that did not stop the festival goers to keep dancing well into the morning.

The LESS stage played host to the more minimal side of things. Set snuggly among the trees it has to be one of the most beautiful stages I have seen in my life. More eclectic sounds of noir electronics to new wave, drone and experimental filled the woods with highlights being Black Merlin, Dataline, INRA and Patricia Kokett. This stage specifically is why I can wholeheartedly recommend checking the festival out.

The aptly named HIGH stage was only open from six am as a unique after-party place. Incredible sets from one of Lithuania’s greatest export Manfredas and the Smala crew as well as Mountak kept the late (or early) dancers moving up until noon.

PLAYGROUND stage was new to this year – a place intended for interesting talks: everything from glitch art, headliners talking about their approach to creating music to the more interdisciplinary and freeform activities with emphasis on collaborations, discussions and workshops. During the night though, artists such as Octatanz and one of my highlights of the festival – Elektrus Erektus showed off their talent.

For the first time in Lithuanian history, the festival also had a drug awareness tent. With the support of the Lithuanian drugs and tobacco control department (NTAKD) anyone interested in the effects of psychoactive substances had someone to talk to without fear. This is a huge step forward as beforehand most festivals would have a single ambulance to which they would not go even if they had issues due to the absurdly strict laws. Free condoms, tea, water and people who you can talk to were there not to promote drug use but to inform those who choose to do them on how to do so safely.

All in all the festival was a massive success, even though the revellers were drenched in rain and mud all you could see were smiles and all you could hear was incredibly selected music. Cannot recommend it enough!!

Primavera Sound Review [2017]

Jun
24

From a personal perspective, Primavera turned into a prime example of times when you might enter a festival rattled up for particular artists and perhaps see a few that almost seem dispensable to the acts you’re eager to see. In an interesting twist of fate, these dispensable acts might just be the highlights of the night, or even, some of the most memorable shows you will ever witness. When was the last time you went to a concert and ended up watching a fully grown and talented man fashion his boxers as a g-string and set fire to his leg hair? What about seeing a 69-year-old performing while wearing a strap-on? What script could we have written that would have showcased any of this?

Aphex Twin

Thursday kicked off in jazzy hip-hop high-tops by BADBADNOTGOOD, and Kate Tempest – who through conveying complex emotions musically was example #1 of unexpectedly entrancing performances. Headlining the evening was Aphex Twin, with a set filled with drawn-out, aloof and prickly transitions that left many describing it for the rest of the weekend as “I’m not too sure what I just watched.” Things were turned down a notch with a theatrical-like show from Tycho, which looking back perfectly resembled vanilla – nice, pleasant, safe. Nothing to get too excited over.

Some sort of effort has kind of happened with Primavera’s stage layout, which results in most alternative/”mainstream” artists performing in the main body of Parc del Forum, with a long, constantly overcrowded bridge connecting this torso to a predominantly electronic music limb. Here, as #2-5 of unforeseen goodness, Fatima Yamaha gave a fittingly lofty and upbeat set, followed by a deliverance of subterranean levels of deep house by German producer/cult figurehead Henrik Schwarz and a truly chilling live set of breakbeat and broken vocal sample wading into moments of old school dubstep from Bicep to an enthusiastic and amicable crowd.

Mogwai

For many, Friday was from the very start not going to live up to the heightened expectations people had set themselves, considering that just the Sunday before, headliner Frank Ocean pulled out his performance as a result, the momentary trend of the festival “Prank Ocean” was born and available on t-shirts, bags and hats.

Regardless of this, the bill promised a rather organic affair of indie and alternative acts, starting with an impromptu show of smoke which somewhere amidst, Mogwai was playing. Mirroring recent albums, things were, once again, a bit vanilla – if anything, they were a perfect beginning for those just arriving and talking to each other while laying on one of the only grassy areas on site.

If anyone were to ask me what Primavera 2017 was like, seeing Mac DeMarco get halfway through “Together” before jumping onto a speaker, giving himself a thong and in the process the cameraman a good old view of his behind whilst carnally lowering himself towards the naked drummer and wincing when he caught himself burning his armpit hair would probably be the first thing that came back to mind. As someone who doesn’t take himself seriously, even as a musician, we, as spectators, were truly given a performance.

The contrast came heavy, then, when on the main stage of the festival, The xx somehow managed to give thousands of people a truly intimate and slightly sombre piece. I was someone who saw the debut album as a lover you never really got over and felt like everything that you experienced afterwards couldn’t compare to. Yet, a compelling interaction between singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim throughout playing, not to mention the iridescent personality of the group conveyed something that I’d never noticed before in the recent albums I’d so strongly stayed away from. In the vocal harmony alone lies a duet that is captivating and yet is almost obsolete in music today. It was clear that the trio had considered a wide range of elements for the set and combined a well-ordered set list with glistening visuals and faintly subdued lighting, which together exhibiting patterns of refracted light, left many in absolute awe. It was, in many ways, so precious, that it seems a shame to have to denote serious issues with sound, as was, in fact, to become a recurring theme throughout the weekend.

The xx

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, sound troubles continued on the Bowers & Wilkins stage, which considering is celebrated for its ingenuity in sound systems, it was almost agonising to listen to legendary force Âme play a live set through a crackling speaker. Despite this, it is impossible to characterise the tandem as anything other than a pure energy drive; it’s instantly clear why the duo has such a powerful reputation between them. This kind of vigour consequently feeds into its audience, which was spaciously formed of techno freaks and house heads.

Friday was signed off with panache by Flying Lotus, who has created himself as a type of cosmic jazz/contemporary electronic music alien. Exalting oomph in both a collision of musical genres and accompanying visuals (of which at one point starred a computerised human tied up on the floor, another feminine body with a face similar to FlyLo’s own twerking over) he unceasingly showed himself to say “no thanks” to conventional style, obscure and haunting one moment, hilarious and mocking the next. Talaboman, the duo outfit that is John Talabot and Axel Boman, moved light-dark/dark-light as the final act of the night when it starts to become morning. Stragglers of all stages transfixed to modern day landmarks of intelligent electronic music, a subjective climax peaking with the sunrise and moving to “The Sun Can’t Compare” in its full and entire glory.

Grace Jones

With a tendency to present older names and long-celebrated artists on Saturday, the atmosphere at Primavera is usually significantly different. The atmosphere gets a bit more relaxed, the crowd dies down and things become, or so it seems, a little more for the locals. The groove sets in earlier than previous days – this time in an oriental fusion with Junun, a project of different cultures and nationalities, usually including Jonny Greenwood. As a mixture of traditional Indian instruments and Israeli influences with electronic coding as the backbone of the outfit, Junun is a multi-cultural, polyrhythmic discourse; their performance giving colour and vitality and making it impossible to stay still. Later, diva/musical icon/Jamaican disco goddess Grace Jones created an absolute storm on the main stage, her entrance somewhat improvised after a dramatic and wind-induced curtain fall. Between bearing a force of a stage persona by asking for a “Coke” in an ambiguous manner midway through the set, to unveiling herself wearing a dildo, she showed herself to a society obsessed with youth and as limitless and unapologetically ageless.

John Talabot

In fact, Primavera proceeded to go down a Saturday Night Fever route in which disco proved to be king. Since Primavera is also an international phenomenon in both acts and audience, there is something intangibly special when John Talabot, who hails from Barcelona, comes back to his roots and performs in front of an appreciative and melody-hungry audience. Playing a disco set, Talabot continuously manages to capture this essence of bliss and yet take the whole of humankind on the same journey at the same time. Weval were a stones’ throw away making some similar magic – as a live and downbeat edition. The Dutch duo is a bit like how a priest might describe God – personal yet impersonal; transcendental yet immanent. Moving away slightly from the intricate power they’ve consistently mustered throughout their studio work, Weval led all eyes on an emotional thread and offered an all-encompassing performance that takes electro-pop, dreamy dance and touching vocals to finish in a state of rapture.

Regardless of the hushed-up malfunctioning sound system and the constant clashes of interest in the programme, reputations happen for a reason. Primavera is now recognised in international lands as a leading festival for its line-up, and this year, excluding the heartache of Prank Ocean, was no exception. An almost predictable outcome of this is a melting pot that allows attraction of like-minded people from a plethora of countries. Where other festivals might offer better food, boutiques and camping, few festivals can compete with the feeling of leaving in the early morning sun to head to the beach and walk back to base in the magical city with borderline mythological architecture and infinite springs of culture that is Barcelona.

Check out http://www.primaverasound.com/ for more info.

Nuage – ‘Wild’ Review

May
24

A follow-up to his 2015 widely acclaimed album ‘Neida’, St. Petersburg’s Nuage has devoted a year of complex production and travel to the opposing ends of the earth to create the seemingly complete and more mature LP Wild on the consistently marvellous Project Mooncircle label.

Wild, in many ways, contrasts and challenges itself, often in the same moment. Starting track ‘Occur’ eases in with a strong and ambient introduction; the album continues to flit between feelings of warmth, world and leftfield-tinged instrumentals that breathe fresh remnants of summer, and cooler climates, delving downtempo; the first frost of winter is just about as crisp. Nuage at times comprises self-styled drum and bass, yet at others indicates brisk moments of tribal origins, broken beats and deep house rudiments.

Wild by name, Wild by nature – in its entirety, the album expresses several boundaries of mood, playfully explores within and often merges each limit. ‘Arrival’ immerses and dreamily gravitates, while ‘Habitat’ combines cut up vocals with a deeper bass, with a classic synth sample and joyful fleckles of organic instruments. The album is stunningly vocalic throughout, still keeping itself to a lofty signature, rolling up and down, in boundless kaleidoscopic motion.

You can buy vinyl, digital or stream it by clicking here.

Callahan – Callous EP

Nov
30

As we race, headlong through November into the ever shortening nights of December, it’s hard to remember the sun soaked and beat drenched parties of the summer. It’s a time to look inwards, to the warehouses and basements where the onset of winter is nothing more than an opportunity for a good stomp.

Callahan

So it’s with perfect timing then that Callahan returns to DEXT with his second offering on the label – Callous EP . Kicking right off with a warped, haunting synth and a raucous bassline, the title track Callous makes no attempt to ease you in softly. The pace of the kicks and the dystopian tones of the synth are a blissful assault on the senses, which leaves your foot tapping absent-mindedly.

Bringing you back down to a more familiar – well – planet, the second track OB, really hits home Callahan’s ability to mastermind a four to the floor techno groover. Rolling drums and an infectious pace come together, fists will pump for sure to this one.

Chipping in on remix duty is another DEXT ally, Lo Shea with his scintillating 4am Strobe Tunnel Remix of Callous. The remix’s title alone, paints a pretty clear picture of Lo Shea’s intentions on this one. Vicious kicks, masterful hooks and dark yet playful synths hiss through a brilliantly industrial techno roller.

Stripping everything right down to basics, Callahan hasn’t worked from a particularly varied pallet for the final track Memorex. Yet, defined by a cacophony of 808 kicks and a hypnotising three-note hook, he really condenses everything into a formidable and potent peak time stormer.

Give DEXT a follow HERE and buy the release HERE.

[Review] Rain Dog – There Be Monsters

Oct
17

The gasp of a disbelieving woman begins a wondrous voyage through There Be Monsters, Rain Dog’s second full-length venture. As a pretty lengthy project, There Be Monsters is altogether an expedition that tinkers on the verge of consciousness. “What should I see?” another voice calls out in My Hands Make Shapes, the first track of sixteen. Post-step sounds echo and commence the journey from an imaginary dark space. The album in its very first moments of life draws parallels to standing on the edge of an unknown mental obscureness and taking the first steps to go inside.

There Be Monsters has been crafted to play out in its entirety, telling a story filled with personal experience. The second track, Loneliness Is Not A Function Of Solitude plays key to the intimate concepts behind the album. It’s textured, vigorous synth combines with soft percussion and punctuated beats. The title is a memorable quote from Infinite Jest by David Foster-Wallace; a dystopic novel that blurs lines with the idea that the remedy for loneliness is in fact seclusion, or better put, solitude.

Rain Dog

There’s an ever-present appreciation for the relationship between words and music in There Be Monsters. A poetic intermission with a linger sentiment draws into Choreoathetoid. Choreoathetoid is a struggle between light and dark, incorporating organic and electronic elements as well as well-fitted vocals. Who Do You Love? springs from garage roots, sliding deep into thoughtful and unearthly down-tempo ambience in the later track, Eyes On The Aether.

Hierlera strips away broken beats and synth patterns to a raw and haunting instrumental, before launching into the final part of the album’s expedition. Intensity creeps in throughout the last few tracks. The final chapter kicks off with a 2-step pace and an enduring amount of purring bass from the aptly named Tahiti (Take Me To Infinity), culminating with In Your Arms, a superlunary refix of Laurie Anderson’s Superman.

Throughout integrally downbeat and illusory, There Be Monsters is a clever and precious piece. Released as a limited, marbled vinyl, it’s befalls as a sensory gem. Featuring collaborations with Finn Ryder and Monsoonsiren, it’s a celestial body that embraces curiosity and the darker parts of our mind.

Check out Project Mooncircle to get it.

Review: Farr Festival 2016

Jul
26

Farr festival, now in its eighth year, has grown considerably since its beginnings as a small party for friends. With a very affordable ticket price and many big names on the bill, a visit to Bygrave Woods this year was a must. I headed down with 5000 other dance music fans to check it out.

Thursday evening was a fairly quiet affair, with only three smaller stages open and music finishing at eleven. Nebraska played an enjoyable live set followed by Detroit Swindle who treated us to ‘Edit Channel XXX’ by JV, the early finish was a little disappointing but understandable for a Thursday.

Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now

Friday gave us a chance to check out the site in its entirety. Upon entering the arena you find food stalls and attractions (no sign of the dodgems that were advertised on social media) in a field just outside the woods. The woods are where Farr really comes to life. Five stages are dotted around the woodland and real attention has been put into the ramshackle decorations, it really is a wonderful setting for a festival.

Having got our bearings we headed over to the Hidden Palace for a varied set of chilled house such as Pepe Bradock’s ‘Deep Burnt’ along with some funkier stuff from Funkineven. Towards the end of his set he took to the the mic saying, “This is one of the best festivals I’ve played this year so far.” The crowd seemed to agree.

Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now

Having left to go to the bar I was told the stage was at capacity, this seemed odd to me as I had just been in there and there was plenty of room. After standing around for ten minutes, I found that the place was practically empty. I’m all for safety but this seemed to be overkill and was slightly ruining the atmosphere at the Hidden Palace.

The festival really got going with the brilliant decision for Joy Orbison, Ben UFO and Midland to play a 6-hour back-to-back set at the terrace. It was a great combination of styles and although I had intended to spend more time at other stages I just kept getting drawn back to them. I did drag myself away to see Move D, however, about an hour in, a power cut brought his set to an abrupt halt.

Upon returning to the terrace for the last few hours of the three-way b2b we did notice a serious lowering of volume levels. Fortunately tracks such as Four Tet’s Kool FM edit of ‘God Made Me Phunky’, Boddikas ‘Mercy VIP’ and Bizzare inc.’s 1992 hit ‘I’m Gonna Get You’ kept energy levels high. Hunee closed out the evening at The Shack, playing one of the wide-ranging sets he has become well known for, dropping Kiki Gyan ‘Disco Dancer’ a personal favourite of mine. With a great light show bouncing off the tree canopy above The Shack has a lovely feel to it and Hunee’s selection made for a quality conclusion to day one.

Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now

On Saturday having enjoyed sets from Maurice Fulton and Young Marco I would have loved to catch Gilles Peterson but due to the hidden palace being at capacity I was unable to. At ten we headed to The Shack for an excellent performance from Palms Trax dropping ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, which went down a storm. He then mixed that into ‘Women Beat Their Men’ by Submission it was a great transition and a standout moment of the weekend.

I was completely blown away by Helena Hauff who played two hours of relentless hard-hitting acid techno that went to show why she has become such a sought after booking these days. Again as the night wore on volume levels at all the stages were a real problem, I had to get really close to the speakers in order to avoid music bleeding in from other stages. As some of the stages are quite close together it may make more sense to reduce the number of stages and keep them further apart to avoid this.

For the final hours, I moved between Optimo and Mike Dunn and finally settling on John Talabot for the closing moments. Towards the end of his set he dropped Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ this was the fourth time I had heard that track over the course of the weekend. Finally bringing the festival to a close with ‘Everybody Dance’ was a nice touch and went down well with those of us still dancing.

Image Credit: Michael Njunge for Here & Now

Farr festival is great value with an intimate feel, however, more food stalls in the campsite would help sooth morning hunger and volume levels can be a little frustrating. These problems aside, the small number of attendees, delightful setting and well-curated line-up mean Farr is certainly one to keep on your radar.

Primavera Sound Festival 2016: In Its Prime

Jun
14

The photovoltaic cell, a sloping sculpture visible all year round from Barcelona’s man-made beach creation, pinpoints Parc del Forum, the concrete home of Primavera Sound Festival. There’s no camping, no glimmers, no gimmicks. Turn off your mind, flip a 180º on your sleep cycle and let the only worry of your days be choosing who to see from one the most fruitful line-ups of 2016.

After a month of Prima’s preparation across the city in daily events, Thursday was the first day in full festival swing. Electronic songwriter Jessy Lanza showed her skills on the decks with a seriously funked up sun-soaked afternoon set in the Bowers & Wilkins tent. B&W was a mental trek away from most of the festival, but with speakers coming from all angles, the stage was a humble abode to the best audio layout of the entire venue.

The well-anticipated BEAK>, made up of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Billy Fuller (Robert Plant), took to and tore up Primavera’s own stage, their darker, slightly bitter sound merging with Barrow’s own Bristolian-infused warming character. Later into the night, in the same grassy spot, my mind was metaphorically and unexpectedly blown by experimental noises of Suuns. Violent, raw, unapologizing and totally captivating, Suuns melted all transient limits of their 2013 album Images du Futur and whizzed music with cleverly thought-out light and visual effects and made nothing short of art to their audience’s every sense. Sam Shepherd, otherwise known as Floating Points, drifted through a jazz-drenched set that similarly combined light and an ageless sound, grounding a handful of us into the grass in a serene state of mind.

CREDIT: Adela Loconte/WireImage

Thursday wound up on the Heineken stage with LCD Soundsystem, playing a set of songs that will be cool for as long as the colour black is. James Murphy is, as always, effortless and unruffled without saying a lot except his thanks. The only thing that could have been more of the definitive mic-drop than the band’s selection of “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends” as an encore, would be an actual mic drop.

Friday’s line-up was the one that right until 9pm that night, people scoured the internet for and queued outside, just in case of the slightly unlikely chance anyone decided at the last minute that they didn’t want to go after all. From the H&M stage Beirut played a smooth set of wind and Balkan percussion in a sweet harmony to Zach Condon’s distinct vocals, personal favourites from their 2007 album The Flying Club Cup seizing the hour. Between the magic here and the setup of future magic on the Heineken stage directly opposite, this was probably the closest Primavera will ever be to the feeling of giddiness you get on Christmas Eve.

I’d be lying if there wasn’t one band every man and his dog wanted to see on Friday. Though perhaps reluctant to be accepted as the headlining act of a festival, Radiohead have inevitably through incidental popularity become just that. Not to mention that, where the audience might sometimes divert their attention from the performance, the entire crowd maintained silence throughout, right from the off, opening with ‘Burn The Witch’ and moving into ‘Daydreaming’ – where a portion of the crowd turns and hisses at the sound of an iMessage jingle. At times, Thom Yorke sings with such unrefined grace that the body reacts to the sound of his relief. In the composed simplicity of ‘Nude’, his vocal range reaches its height at the line “you’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking,” leaving the audience with goosebumps and without breath. Where other artists have used the screens bordering the stage to increase the visibility for the audience, the set is shown through obscure angles and filters, flitting through the band with cinematic sharpness. Considering all the ways Radiohead might have curated their set, spanning from the sombre, sumptuous and sometimes bleak album A Moon-Shaped Pool recently released there was something ‘final’ about their performance. Some festivalgoers even gambled that this might be the final chapter altogether, somewhat enforced with choosing ‘Creep’ as the last song, “I don’t belong here” left to hang in the air.

CREDIT: Xavi Torrent/Getty

Friday slowly unravelled into Saturday with Beach House showing a darker side than the floaty-hippie sounds we know and love them for on their studio albums. Victoria Legrand moved something witch-like under a synthetic set of stars, her voice occasionally but beautifully breaking. At the darkest point of night, Evian Christ thrashed out one of the most twisted fusions of grime, R&B, hip-hop and tech beats from the Pitchfork stage to a brilliant crowd of friendly faces in snapbacks and golden shorts. Daybreak began to the last of implausibly happy jingles from DJ Koze, teasing the last of Primavera’s crowd with a conclusive sound of summer.

CREDIT: Chris Graham

Closing Primavera Sound comes along Brian Wilson with a ten-piece band, making perfectly apt renditions of Beach Boys classics. Through the cheer and figurative sunshine songs like ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ make, there is something a little sad in Wilson’s performance on a personal level, that coincidentally matches the bittersweet tones of the festival’s finale soon upon us. Marching to the same stage later in the evening with band in tow, the ethereal PJ Harvey is nothing short of spellbinding. A true lady who has been making music longer than I’ve been alive, she delved into a playful, darker performance, bringing new life to old classics, mastered by slight theatrics and clear chemistry between the band and herself. Moving from the sinister tinge of uncertainty in ‘Let England Shake, Harvey becomes pure power in ‘To Bring You My Love’ – menacing, unchartered, unavoidable. Into the alien, Sigur Ros huddle closely together and open with debut Óveður, revealing themselves as evolving and progressing, revamping signature songs and delivering them with some incredibly impressive light work on stage. The neighbouring screens become heat-sensitive patterns, spouting geometric lines of Birgsson singing a strong falsetto. The only nag comes not from the trio’s deliverance, but the constant noise of the audience.

CREDIT: Chris Graham

German techno project Moderat moved us into the early hours of the morning. Having seen Moderat at Pitch festival (Amsterdam) in 2014, the group has transitioned from performing for a moderate-sized crowd in a small old industrial factory to a major act and highlight for many people at Primavera. Their performance mirrors the ambitions of the album III (2016), and is geared more to an audience who really digs the album. Back in Middle Earth on the Bowers & Wilkins stage, we found Dorisburg exploring old and new sounds of tangy minimal techno in a live set to a smaller but more interactive crowd. All finished in an expenditure with the growling force of Ty Segall and The Muggers, who’ve gone through the growing pains of angry drag in the past and into restless dynamics that ate up the last of our energy. Segall’s sign off made a physical ending to the Primavera Sound adventure and sent us into a two-day recovery from the previous three days. Until next year, Prima.

Alga – Aralia EP – Inter-re-view

May
25

Available for free on Lost Oscillation’s website, Dan Egdell’s first outing as Alga is a 2 track EP showcasing an original and inventive mind.

Four Tet, Caribou and other associated acts have a lot to answer for when it comes to the current crop of SoundCloud wannabes. Luckily, sometimes the slew of homebrewed imitations and rip-offs is interrupted by tracks or EPs which genuinely develop and respect the fundamental successes of their inspirations. Aralia is one such EP.

By avoiding the temptation to smash random sonic textures together in pursuit of a rich and lush soundscape, Alga sidesteps the type of error a lesser producer would leap headfirst into. Still a student, his promising work thus far has shown him maturing into a canny aesthetic operator. Bringing his skill as a DJ to bear on these tracks, elements transition seamlessly; in fact, it seems like the main aim of both pieces to effortlessly end up far from where they started.

“This Is Your Carnival” spins itself a semi-demented fairground ride out of some propulsive brassy pomp. The selection and deployment of instrumentation is ingenious, allowing the track to retain its character even as the constituent parts are piled up, taken away, demand attention, or subtly change the direction. It pays rich dividends here as the midpoint of the track finds the layered pieces stripped away. The hand drumming, satisfying kick and rising mania of the synths is the highlight of its 8 minutes (and it truly is the better for being that long).

Moreso than simply grasping at sound and texture, Aralia illustrates Egdell working as a songwriter and a selector. The joy of “This Is Your Carnival” is in the details: the slight dissonance of the climax; the interplay of the reverbing horn blasts in the introduction; and the finely woven percussive textures that underpin the whole thing.

“Patina” relies even more heavily on Egdell’s percussion work. However, for much of the track these elements are foregrounded in the mix, rather than underpinning. Synth chords, rich basslines and ethereal vocal samples slowly emerge from beneath and behind them. This inverts the formula of the first track and though it leaves some sections feeling paradoxically sparse considering the variety of percussion instruments present, the payoff more than makes up for it.

At just two tracks (albeit two eight-minute tracks) long, Aralia is a teaser of what’s to come from Egdell. Having emerged from an album containing 8 tracks, it is a little disappointing not to be able to hear more of that body of work just yet.

I sat down with Dan (albeit over Skype) to discuss the EP, his musical history, and his inspirations.

EM: So you weren’t Alga to start with, you started out as Slyside?

DE: Yeah, I started as Slyside about 2 years ago when I was in second year. I just kinda decided to start making music, needed a name, went with Slyside and then released something through Anonymous Records in York. Which was great, I really liked the Slyside stuff, but it felt like I’d finished, and it didn’t seem right with the kind of stuff I was writing. So I decided to start from scratch.

EM: Would you say there’s been an obvious progression since your Slyside material? It’s no longer on SoundCloud, so it’s hard to view the material that came before Aralia.

DE: Well yeah, I kinda wanted to ditch the whole thing. Maybe it was a bit of a rash decision looking back but I didn’t want anyone to be able to find out about me and go “oh, you used to be Slyside”; I liked the whole anonymous thing.

EM: Would you change your name again for another project or EP?

DE: Well, probably not because I’ve found a sound and Alga seems to make sense with it. You can still find the Slyside stuff on YouTube. I’m not too happy with that. I like that stuff, but I felt like I needed to progress and it was holding me back to try to sound like Slyside.

EM: When it comes to creating, do you have a procedure? Are there particular elements that you start with, or things you like to have in your mind at the start of a project?

DE: I wish I did! It would make my life a lot easier. No, I don’t. I get ideas when I’m walking around and I record a little bit on my phone, or I find a sample that I like or I find a groove that I like. There’s no real routine, what happens – happens and some tracks dissolve into nothing and others take off.

EM: Were there a lot more tracks that you could have put on this EP?

DE: Yeah, there was actually 8 tracks. I was writing an album in my 3rd year as an equivalent to a dissertation. I handed it in and I was happy with the results but I felt that there were some tracks that could be chipped away and weren’t really needed. And when I sat down it turned out there were 6 tracks that weren’t needed.

EM: Do you do live performance stuff, or do you have any plans to?

DE: I was thinking of getting a band together to do some of the Alga stuff, but now I’m writing again. The plan was to do some gigging but that’s on hold until I have a little more material I think. We might do it after that.

EM: In terms of the EP as a whole, what kind of influences have played a part?

DE: John Talabot, I love the way his tracks progress and his production style and how percussive it all is. I was listening to a lot of his stuff while I was making it. Caribou as well, which is an obvious choice but it was a big influence. Also Nicolas Jaar, even though it doesn’t really sound anything like what I make, it was definitely an influence. And again, jazz, even though it’s not really a direct influence and you might not hear it.

EM: And you play a lot of the instruments on the EP live?

DE: All the drums, all the brass, all the bass is recorded by me. The synth line at the end of TIYC, all the synth stuff was recorded into the computer but the rest was real instruments.

EM: Both tracks are 8+ minutes; did you consciously aim to create a long and smoothly transitioning track?

DE: It wasn’t a deliberate choice, like I didn’t sit down and say let’s create a 10-minute track that’s gonna evolve. It might just be because I’m bad at being concise, I don’t know. It starts with an idea and then I couldn’t end the idea without it changing. I started with it and it was like, this isn’t done yet. I kept going until it felt done and it felt like it morphed into a different song in the second half, but I kinda like that. They both do a similar thing as well which I think works, they both match that pattern.

EM: Thanks for your time Dan.

You can download Alga’s Aralia EP for free from Lost Oscillation’s website.

Gottwax EP 3 – Review (with Ponty Mython)

Apr
16

Ah, April… The sun is finally starting to come out from under the clouds, thus warming our hearts and minds, as well as reminding us that the best season is almost upon us! Summer? No, of course not, it’s the festival season! With April comes Gottwood Festival vinyl imprint Gottwax‘s yearly offering of their carefully selected grooves.

This year we are treated to a bright orange four track EP with grooves coming in from Appleblim, Bonar Bradberry, Ponty Mython and Krywald & Farrer. “Phosphene” by Appleblim eases us in with a lovely slow crawler. Layers upon layers of synth goodness peppered with incredible drum programming, have a listen:

Next up, we have one-half of PBR Streetgang‘s Bonar Bradberry with his dreamy entry – “MOD”. Slow and steady rhythm oozes TRON – futuristic synths intertwine with a slow kick drum and very minute percussion to deliver what I can only describe as that feeling you get just after a good festival. Echoes of a storm.

On the flip, Lithuania’s fast up and coming star Ponty Mython picks the mood up with “Ruddy’s Loop”. Disassembled breaks, a powerful jazzy double bass, clever piano samples as well as an uplifting synth line drive in the “summer is here!” feel. A clever vocal cut about sampling makes the whole effort quite cheeky in the best sense of the word.

Ponty Mython

Ponty Mython

I managed to catch up with Ponty Mython and ask him a few questions:

Mantas: How did the partnership with Gottwax come about?

Ponty Mython: Tom from Gottwax found one of my unreleased tunes in some podcast and asked me to play it. I sent him a 4 track playlist with “Ruddy’s Loop” on it. He liked it so much that we decided to release it.

Mantas: What is the idea behind “Ruddy’s Loop”? Where is the quote in the song from?

Ponty Mython:  I thought a lot about Roni Size’s 90s stuff while making the tune. Wanted to make something with a live bassline, classic breakbeats, but served as a house song. Then I found that quote about sampling in an interview with Roni Size. So it is like an ode to sampling. Every time I play it people ask “what is that?!”, haha. I guess it is a very bright spot in my discography. 🙂

Mantas: Who’s Ruddy?

Ponty Mython: It is just my imagination – it is a guy from the 90s, who just found that fat bassline loop and was excited to do something with it.

Finally, it is Krywald & Farrer‘s turn to close the proceedings with “Innacamo”. The end, however, is tropical and the jubilant African vocals are what keep a smile on my face when the dreaded April showers loom. A guitar sample helps keep things interesting and the bassline mixed with copious amounts of bongos flesh this one out into a truly fun floor filler.

As a whole this is a great entry yet another year by Gottwax and annoyingly is getting me even more excited about Gottwood – most of these guys will be performing there. Why annoyingly? Because it is still April and Gottwood cannot come fast enough.

Available 16th April 2016 – Record Store Day release, record available from selected RSD outlets and Gottwax online store. You can pre-order online via the Gottwood shop.

Dixon & Âme – All Night Long – Albert Hall, Manchester.

Mar
26

Although both Dixon and Kristian Beyer (one-half of Âme) are very well known for their individual work, it’s hard to talk about either of them without mentioning Innervisions. Now in it’s eleventh year the label has grown to become one of the most talked about and innovative institutions in the industry. Since breaking away from Sonar Kollektiv Dixon, Beyer and Frank Wiedmann,­ the other half of Âme,­ have slowly, and not so quietly established the label as a beacon of quality in a saturated digital world. Their simple approach to their work, placing quality above all, has clearly paid off, with Dixon topping the resident advisor DJ chart three years running, and Âme (Beyer) in the top twenty in the last four, they have developed a solid pedigree. So when I discovered the Warehouse Project was bringing them to Manchester, I needed about as much persuasion to get tickets as a dog eyeing up an unattended burger stand.

More recently Innervisions have become known for their ‘Lost in a moment’ parties, a concept which has hosted some of the most unique, and perfectly crafted events on the industry calendar. ‘Lost In A Moment’ is all about finding that sweet spot where everything at a party clicks; location, sound system, music and lighting. Now I know it can’t really be said that The Albert Hall is not different compared to many other venues out there, it’s a four-story gothic chapel after all, but it is in danger of seeming run of the mill to a collective who are used to holding parties on their own island (Osea Island). Nevertheless, the atmosphere is gripping as we enter the main hall. The floor and upper tier are filling up with an excited looking rabble while the Innervisions pair gear up for what is sure to be a night of palpable emotion and energy. The stage is framed by the huge, century-old organ towering high above them, which seems to be pumping out the music with an almost demoniacal efficiency.

As we enter its Dixon who is in control, moulding the mood, his famous brand of melodic, brooding music, softly washing over everyone. With impeccable subtlety, the gentle harmonious tracks coerce our attention away from the bar to the stage. A slick lighting set up pulsates into view, greeting those arriving with lush vibrant orange and blue rays. His his first stint comes to an end and the headphones are casually passed to Kristian, the crowds movement starts to synchronize with the beat, the room submitting to their spinning wizardry. Kristian steps in, providing a new sense of urgency to the starting pace set by Dixon, his masterfully picked techno starts to reverberate round the room to a chorus of whoops and hollers. The crisp punching kicks are layered over and under with haunting dark distortion that gradually increases over the next 45 minutes, building in intensity. We’re 3 hours in and already it’s pretty clear, the German masters have no intention of slowing down, quite happy to leave a good many people around me in a state of hypnotised anticipation.

As the next few hours flowed over us, Beyer and Dixon casually rotate every 45 minutes or so, always with a few words of intent into the others ear. The energy still continues to build, Beyer coming in with the injections of heavier, driving techno, fueling the throng of bouncing heads oscillating up and down, with military precision. Dixon moves in again, black cargo pants tucked into heavy black boots, it looks for a second like an army is drilling in front of its stern unflappable leader. He uses Beyer’s change of pace to weave in his felicitous beats, no doubt bespokely edited to fit exactly where he wants them. He cements the atmosphere with a newly flourished vehemence as track after track of pounding techno permeates everything in the ex-methodist church shelter.

Unable to pinpoint exactly where the time has just gone the night draws towards its ultimatum. In the last hour and a half, we are emotionally dragged between hair-raising hand in the air build ups riddled with feverish anticipation, and colossal mind mincing drops that smack a look of ecstatic perplexion onto everyone’s faces. All except Dixon whose steely demeanour is replaced with a sly, cheeky grin. Gradually the house lights begin to brighten, the organ is bathed in a diffuse deep orange light, the inky shades of night artificially turned to dawn. Dixon, sympathetically switches the pace to an ethereal chorus, chiming around a lingering bassline which slowly fades out, leaving the room to revel in the contented afterglow of what has been, simply a special night.