Animaux | UK

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.

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.

Sacha Robotti & Kevin Knapp – Stay With It EP

Mar
17

This April sees Sacha Robotti and Kevin Knapp‘s newest EP’s – Stay With It – release on Lost Records. This is not the first time the pair have worked together – 2015 saw their tune “Thump Bumper” get released on the ten-year anniversary compilation of Claude Von Stroke’s Dirtybird label.

I had a chance to hear “Stay With It” EP and I will not lie – it caught me a little off-guard. I enjoy tech-house quite a bit, however, the sheer amount of releases, most mediocre, means that often I am left with ten songs that sound the same. This is especially evident when it comes to EP’s – usually one original track bundled with a few remixes that all sound the same – there is just so much iteration even I can take. This meant I went into this EP with zero expectations and I was very pleasantly surprised.

It all starts with the title track “Stay With It” – groovy tech-house rhythm peppered with male vocal samples and a bouncy bassline. Sounds all too familiar so far, right? Wrong. Groovy synth stabs, a long quirky lead, manipulation of the bassline you had come to rely on while going through the song, multiple sound effect samples and great breakdowns are what make this track an absolute joy to listen to. The sounds of summer are here!

The same thought process of layering vocals, a constantly building up synth in the background, the now familiar vocal applies to the second tune of the EP – “The Hip”. For the first four minutes, I was entranced by the bouncy rhythm and being told to watch the hip, after that, however, they pull out the rug from under you in the best way possible with a beast of a build up. Once you realise what the hell happened you are back down grooving away to the beat shouting “THE HIP!”.

The two remixes are on point too – Toucán strips “Stay With It” of its tech-house roots and reshapes into a lovely “sun-is-out” kind of house jam. Dale Howard, however, took his remix of “The Hip” in a different direction with a 90s twist on things. Old school synths, mangled up vocals and an absolute beast of a breakdown bring a smirk to my face every time I hear it and I cannot wait to lay this one down at the next Animaux.

Sacha Robotti and Kevin Knapp’s “Stay With It” EP drops sometime in April on Lost Records.

Zutekh Presents: Ricardo Villalobos, at Gorilla

Mar
14

It’s the first time since 2012 that Ricardo Villalobos has graced the damp streets of Manchester with his world-renowned minimal magic. So it’s with heavy anticipation that I approach the entrance to Gorilla and descend into it’s dark steamy underbelly. It’s about half eleven and already the place is being filled with an eager looking crowd. A lively warm up set from Zutekh’s, Daniel ‘Quixano’ Henriques fuels the building energy, as the room steels itself for a night that many have waited too long for . As the floor begins to fill up the atmosphere is one of anxious anticipation, it’s tight but there is space to manoeuvre. Space which is being utilised to the full by the white leather jacket in front of me, who seems intent on teaching anyone who will listen how to slut drop.

Photo by Gemma Parker Photography

In what seemed like no time fellow Chilean DJ Umho, with a face dominated by a wide cheeky grin, takes over the decks. Since playing alongside Villalobos at Cocoon, Amnesia in 2009 Umho has spent the last six years spreading his spellbinding minimal tech sets all over the world, in a style he calls “groove travelling”. He warms up the scene well, moving away from the more hard-hitting tech house, settling the show into a much more subtle, elegant sound, caressing the amassed with warm kicks and euphoric melodies. The set continues to maraud through the night, gathering a steady momentum that charges the room. The strip lighting and well refined sound system – kudos to Zutekh – start to come into their own, delivering an enthralling and engaging wave of atmospheric bliss.

The scene is set perfectly, as a blast of appreciation from the crowd heralds the return of the maestro himself, the four-year wait is quickly forgotten as the humid energy reaches fever pitch. The intimacy of the night takes hold, an international headliner playing to 700 people, as the four to the floor techno kicks whip the crowd into a cluster bomb. Villalobos floats the vocals from C’hantal ‘The Realm’ over the driving melody of ‘Hows Your Evening So Far?’ Josh Wink & Lil Louis, masterfully moulding the crowd into one giant restless wave. Constantly keeping the crowd in limbo between recognition and uncertainty, unable to identify seemingly familiar tracks I was never really certain of what I was hearing.

The effect was completely hypnotic, I found myself craving each change in bassline or key, just desperate to hear what he was going to do next. Momentarily the trance was broken as the crowd respond to Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ with outstretched arms and a bellow of appreciation. A spectacle which, over three and a half hours became something a ritual, as Villalobos with a deep, devious grin on his face filled the room with resounding, unrestrained techno, from all corners of the globe.

Photo by Gemma Parker Photography

Heading home, out in the inky early morning dampness, I was more than impressed with everything the night had to offer. Both of the Chilean spinners held nothing back, and looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves as much as everyone else. Zutekh didn’t put a foot wrong either, providing a good sound system and creating a captivating atmosphere, without overfilling the venue. Lets just not leave it another four years ey?

Check out Zutekh’s Facebook page for more events!

Tessellate: Konstantin Sibold @ The Pickle Factory, London

Feb
16

It would have been hard to find The Pickle Factory if we weren’t looking for it. Its anonymous façade artfully conceals the many wonders that lie beyond the sound-proof doors, squeezed between the street and a modest tower of stacked shipping containers. The Pickle Factory, I am told, used to be an actual pickle factory back in the days, stoking the wild fantasies of many pickle enthusiasts. It’s glorious pickle days came to an end some time later when the building was converted into a medical supply storage. Eventually, the building found its true calling when Oval Space — the iconic East London music venue — carved out of a derelict storage facility the slick and intimate venue that it has now become.

The Pickle Factory

Sometime in 2013, Oval Space took over the neighbouring used-to-be pickle factory envisioning a polished, fresh, and cosy environment; a welcoming nook in the grimy, punchy skyline, dominated by the towering gasometers of Bethnal Green. The venue was specifically designed to deliver unrivalled sound quality and clarity. Stripped of visual tinsel of any sort, at The Pickle Factory the spotlight shines on the sound system as warm, curvy bass lines and limpid highs wash through the minimalist room. The unrivalled sound quality is complemented by the venue’s impressive booking policy. Indeed, The Pickle Factory can boast amongst its guests some of the most interesting names in contemporary electronic music. Up-and-coming event brand ‘Tessellate’, brings to The Pickle Factory, London non other than Konstantin Sibold of Innervisions.

Konstantin Sibold

“Konstantin Sibold (Innervisions/Caramelo) [All nacht long]” read the RA event description. And indeed, as commanded by a longstanding German tradition, Konstantin Sibold thumped the dance floor for seven long hours until the crack of dawn. Known for becoming Stuttgart’s club Rocker 33 youngest resident in 2009, Konstantin Sibold was newcomer of 2013 for Groove Magazine and is widely appreciated as an innovating force across the spectre of electronic music. With Mr. Sibold, techno and house meet as if for the first time; brushed by indie and disco, his sets reinterpret the intersection of these genres in a distinctively fresh, full-of-life way.

The format at The Pickle Factory, seven hours of Sibold and only Sibold, met exceedingly well with his style, allowing for a thorough induction to the sounds that define Konstantin Sibold as an artist and a music lover. The marathon-set allowed for a nuanced understanding of Konstantin Sibold’s work, highlighting the unity of his style: eclectic, one could say, when contrasted with some of his colleagues’ lengthy sets. Heavily indie-influenced, the set alternated fuzzy, dazing tunes and thumping beats: and the crowd faded into a subsided lull, only to rise in frenzy again, as if rhythmically breathing with the set. Disco also made occasional appearances, much to the audience’s delight. Indeed, if you needed further proof of disco’s resurgence, Konstantin Sibold at The Pickle Factory would probably have convinced you. Masterfully weaved into the fabric of the set, its joyfully forceful entrances stoked boys and girls alike, and the crowd devoured any tune that would only just hint a 70s resemblance.

Leaving our beloved Pickle Factory, the clear blue sky slowly drifts from a deeply intense blue to a glowing pastel azure, against the suggestive post-industrial relics of East London. Bathed in the dawn’s chilly wind, I make my way back through the shuttered gentrified streets leading to Shoreditch. All in all a fantastic night! Special thanks to Konstantin Sibold and the guys at Tessellate!

Konstantin Sibold will next play in his hometown, Stuttgart, on the 23rd of February at Kraftwerk Rottweil. Check out his schedule HERE.

Tessellate returns to Corsica Studios in London with: Space Dimension Controller (Clone / R&S), Murat Tepeli (Potion/OstGut Ton), Dorisburg (Aniara / Bossmusik), and residents on the 12th of March. Check it out HERE.

Intergalactic Journey or Bart Skils – “Black Vans”

Feb
12

It was a busy summer for Amsterdam’s revered techno zealot, with his own festival ‘Voltt Loves Summer’ celebrating a decade at the forefront of the dutch techno scene. Opening it’s doors to some 20,000 people it’s fair to say that Bart Skils’ 20 year-long mission to bring the world’s most exciting and innovative techno to his home city looks to have been, somewhat accomplished. However, I don’t think he sees it that way. Somewhere between hand picking a line up of some of the most exciting artists from around the world, and juggling a tour schedule with more dates than the Mayan calendar, Skils always makes time to retreat into his studio, or as he calls it, his “personal music heaven”.

Renowned the world over for creating some of the most spellbinding and concise techno of his era, an esteem reinforced with the release of his fourth EP ‘Lost Boys’ on Drumcode last June, there is no doubt that the announcement of his new offering produced a ripple of excitement amongst the techno faithful. ‘Black Vans’ marks a fifth release on, Adam Beyer’s Swedish behemoth Drumcode, a feat which is a testament to Skils’ consistency, and luckily for us his scintillating recipe for creating deep, driving techno hasn’t lost any of it’s potency. Leading the charge, title track ‘Black Vans’ definitely fits in with Skils’ own description of his music as “stripped rolling techno”. A deep pulsating kick drum forms the backbone, lurking beneath an undulating, and menacingly tentative bass synth which teases you throughout. Occasionally pierced with sharp, discordant highs, the combination produces a subtle sense of urgency, which slowly grows, becoming a theme throughout the release.

The next track ‘Fifth Gear’ feels like a step up in energy. Flowing well from the urgency of ‘Black Vans’, the leap in key creates a feel of imminence, almost as if the two songs have been building up to a climax and have now reached the precipice. Once again foreboding and heavy bass forms the foundation, slowly followed by a carefully woven high synth which reverberates during the build ups to elicit a tense choral effect. The well crafted mixture of repetition and subtlety work together to create a solid tune, one that reflects Skils’ description of “stripped techno”.

‘Starfighter’, the third installment, really puts pay to Skils’ versatility in the studio. A heavy
repeating drum loop is overlayed by a lingering, distant vocal, dripping with an almost static charge. Suddenly the atmosphere is perforated, high-pitched needle like notes sting through the established beat, heralding the introduction of the lead synth’s repeating, warped verse which seems to orbit your ears. The way this track’s illusive groove resonates inside your head like a trapped wasp really sets it aside as something that feels genuinely fresh.

The fourth and final track in his latest offering, really outlines what an accomplished producer Skils is. Filled with deep, piston like drums, delicately placed reverberating vocals and clever, enticing lead synths, ‘Rising Sun’ has a real kinetic feel, with bags of potential energy. To my mind, ‘Black Vans’, as a whole, seems to hold a real feeling of motion. It’s as if each song represents a new stage of a compelling, evocative journey. A theme which is prominent throughout the release, Skils uses a clever combination of tension and release giving each track a definite purpose or destination. Whether you agree or not, one thing is certain, Skils and Drumcode have produced an EP that continues a long running theme of dark masterful techno from a partnership that continues to push boundaries.

You can get Bart Skils – “Black Vans” EP over at Beatport.

The Warehouse Project, unique every time.

Nov
17

For the past few years, since my interest directed itself towards the clubbing scene, there has been one event everyone around me has been talking about. The annual line-up announcements are preceded by weeks of chatter; booking speculations and defiant statements of intent, swearing attendance to this apparently momentous occasion. I never quite understood the hype, the cynic that I am, associating excitement with inevitable let-down; and so with mixed emotions I made my way to Manchester, home of the Warehouse Project, to see what the fuss was about.

One of the most historic Warehouse Projects yet, showcasing the final stand of the 50Weapons label, with Rødhåd, Siriusmodeselektor, Truncate, Dark Sky, Clark, Addison Groove, and the rest testing British build quality. The label’s end has been lamented as the biggest tragedy of dance music this year, as saying goodbye to ten years of service and an all-star roster can be, but there were no tears shed at this event.

The venue is hidden away near Manchester Piccadilly station, the entrance a gap in a wall under a bridge. I say hidden, but it was hard to miss with the amount of security set up outside – from pat-downs to dogs – methodically ushering the crowds into the dark innards of the bridge. There was a feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing this location, hidden in plain sight, that hundreds of people unknowingly walk past every day. Upon entering the structure I was immediately lost in cavernous red-brick (as if you can tell in the dark) rooms full of bustling ravers, all facing two stages at opposite ends of the venue. The light shows were impressive and unique to every artist, each performance is clearly separated from the last, making it seem like a kind of honour for the artist to be present. Surprisingly, I found gourmet food being served in the smoking area and a variety of affordable cocktails at the bar. This is an event that is prepared for anything its patrons might desire, leaving it hard to not have a good time. After a short wander around the space the fuss friends, strangers and acquaintances had been making was explained.

Even more impressive was the religious following of this event, as it seemed people had travelled from around the world for this night. These were not just students or young professionals living in Manchester, they were people who had travelled from France, Switzerland, Spain, even Germany (a Berghain regular proclaimed his love of the event to me) just for the weekend, or even the night. If this is the crowd that attends every Warehouse Project, then it is a crowd that has invested hundreds of pounds to live it up on this one night, undoubtedly contributing to the unique atmosphere.

Of course, the system and the music did not disappoint. I was particularly surprised by Clark’s live set, beginning with the somber melodies that define him before ramping up into, what must have been over, a 140 bpm marathon set. From this Truncate made his appearance on the main stage, delving into what a bystander announced to be “sounds of scratching metal”, in a set showcasing the best of 50weapons techno. From the gloom of Truncate, Modeselektor built up to a live-set with Siriusmo. The performance was unbelievably varied, moving from left-field house to dub before the crux of German Clap and Evil Twin. The level of interaction with the crowd was incredible, Gernot Bronsert grabbed the microphone and began cheering “modeselektor” before breaking out the deep vocals of Evil Twin, joining the crowd’s cheers. Last but not least, I enjoyed Rødhåd’s militant thumping, that I’m sure we are all acquainted with by now, adequately placed in the closing slot. I remember the bitter-sweet, minor-key synths escorting me to my 4.50 am train.

Needless to say, I will be attending the Warehouse Project again. If you haven’t been you should go, there aren’t really any excuses especially if you live in England and enjoy dance music. This is the closest you can get to a festival in the winter months, without the inconvenience (to some) of having to camp out. Those Europeans were having the best time, and you could be too.

More info on the rest of WHP shows: https://www.thewarehouseproject.com/

Review: Grimes’ newest venture “Art Angels”

Nov
11

Since about late 2012 until last Friday I have been ready to slate this album. After she quite rightly gained international stardom with Visions (2012) Grimes kept hinting at a move to pop music, so we knew her fourth full album would be a pop one. I took this perhaps a bit too personally – Grimes has acted as an inspiration for thousands of people, in particular young women (like myself), to become involved in electronic music so her move felt like a betrayal. Pop doesn’t need you, I do. But after 3 years of saving up lots of ideas of mean things to say out of spite Art Angels is not actually deserving of it.

Claire Boucher

No, it isn’t revolutionary or brimming with brilliance, but it isn’t a bad album. Claire Boucher remains a talented musician and has creating some catchy enjoyable songs that I’m not embarrassed to say I listen to. At first I was convinced that Art Angels is carried by the obvious singles of the album. One frequently noted qualm is that a lot of the songs fall flat and are soon forgotten, so I wasn’t the only one with this fear. However, after giving myself the weekend I have come to accept that it is a grower. No one would claim it is an album full of hits, but the more you listen the more you find the songs have something that pulls you back.

So what can you actually expect? The first thing you notice in the orchestral opening track laughing and not being normal is she hasn’t forgotten her ambient tones that helped build her and we do see her unique personality continually in Art Angels – it isn’t the cold, straightforward pop album so many feared. Hell, most people probably wouldn’t even call it a pop album. Too much weirdness for that. The second thing you notice is that it has a build in “fuck you” to everyone like me who spoke ill of Grimes for changing. The second track, California, is the first where you can actually make out her lyrics and opens with:

“This, this music makes me cry
It sounds just like my soul, oh
Oh I’m not ready to win
Oh lord cause I don’t wanna know what they say
Cause I get carried away
Commodifying all the pain

Well now I just feel bad. Sorry…

The third thing you notice is just how much variety there really is in this album. There’s some Americana sounds, K-pop, guitars, violin, ukulele. Much more than the synth-heavy songs of previous work. This increased diversity and globalisation works. It increases her appeal which, let’s face it, is just good marketing and it prevents stagnation. Grimes fans would be complaining more if she had stuck with the old ways. Turns out I quite enjoy listening to Grimes songs where I can’t do a direct comparison to Oblivion (considered song of the decade), which was probably the aim.

Finally, the fourth thing you notice is that a lot of heart and thought has gone into these songs. Layered, rich and well produced they are clearly objects of affection. Kill V. Maim, Pin, Realiti and Venus Fly (feat. Janelle Monáe) are probably the highlights.

Concluding remarks? I have to admit, I was wrong to judge so quickly and so harshly, I don’t hate Art Angels. It isn’t going to change the face of music, or even become one of my favourite albums, but it does what pop should do – have you humming along whilst you focus on something else.

Jamie XX’s ‘In Colour’ tour – Hackney and back again [Luxembourg]

Oct
23

Warming a chilly autumnal evening, Jamie xx visits Den Atelier in Luxembourg. His “In Colour” tour is elegantly designed to offer the world a taste of the UK’s clubbing scene and its heritage, as well as to challenge first impressions by exploring the vast and varied sound of his debut album. Jamie xx offered a surprisingly heavy set to a very demanding audience, occasionally dipping into the mellow sounds of “In Colour” that have so pleasantly painted our summers.

Jamie XX

Just as days shorten rapidly and the October skies turn grey, suddenly invaded by uninvited clouds, Jon Rust opened lulling the crowd into a colourful flashback, bathing the room in countless shades of blue, red, and green. He welcomed the swelling crowd with sounds reminiscent of summer and spring. His opening set leaped from mellow ambient tunes to house bangers, before eventually introducing the audience to the characteristically rich basslines that thump in London clubs every weekend.

Acclaimed by the impatient pack of 800, Jamie xx cheekily announces his arrival on stage with his own “Stranger In a Room” and quickly follows with Radiohead’s ethereal “Everything In It’s Right Place” to produce a misty, tense atmosphere. The haze quickly dissipates, however, as the unsuspecting mob was thrust deep into what was to become the body of Jamie’s performance: an all-round guided tour of the unique sounds of British clubs. A tour regularly punctuated by an encompassing selection of Jamie’s own repertoire, exploring the malleability of the tunes that we have become so accustomed to hear since “In Colour”’s release in late May.

Throughout the night, Jamie xx provided a hand-picked selection of the sounds that define British nightlife steering the set through years of morphing musical realities, meshing UK garage with house, grime, and bass-heavy techno. All along the way, the set highlighted similarities between Jamie’s production and the varied genres that were touched. With imposing delicacy, the crowd was teased into appreciating the versatility, depth and complexities of Jamie’s top-charters. Complexities which can often go unnoticed given the ease with which the album flows from open to close, and the seemingly simple sounds that permeate every track, from “Gosh” to “Girl”.

As the bass subsided a little, leaving scope for more melodic genres, the room was again submerged in a colourful haze and tracks thought to be known inside out revealed new dimensions. Introduced by tribal percussions and jungle beats, and followed by the hottest grime tune of the night, the single “All Under One Roof Raving” morphed into a distinct yet identical version of itself, acquiring a new location in the spectrum of electronic music. “I Know-How There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” was announced by The Persuasions’s 1972 tune that it samples, highlighting strong R&B vibes otherwise muted by more prominent features of the track. After flirting briefly with trap, dub finally fades over the tail of Popcaan and Young Thug’s lines: the beginning of the end.

Jamie xx leaves the stage after engulfing the room with Girl’s warm flow. Like his album, this fantastic musical journey could only have ended with an ode to the cradle of Jamie’s unique and irresistible sound.