Four Tet – Pyramid

It’s a special track that can get a crowd moving when they’re expecting known material and they’re served fresh stuff. Both times I saw Four Tet, Pyramid did just that. Clocking in at a steady 8:30, the song has movement for days – provided in no small part by the chugging looped vocal sample.

I can’t admit to being one who’s followed Four Tet through his long journey through IDM, jazz, and their fusion with electronica, but I am absolutely loving his fairly recent output of straightforward dance music.

Son Lux – We Are Rising & the making of the cover art

Album art for Son Lux's We Are Rising

There has been a lot of high-profile/0n-my-radar music released in the past few weeks, and for some reason only a small portion of it is living up to my expectations. One album that surpassed what I expected is Son Lux‘s sophomore album We Are Rising. I’ve mentioned Son Lux before, but I really think that this new offering deserves further note.

For an album made start to finish in 28 days, We Are Rising shines in so many different ways. I love the orchestral arrangements Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) has put together. It’s obvious from the beginning that he’s a classically trained musician fully capable of composing very complex pieces, and he doesn’t shy away from his abilities. “Let Go” – a short track near the end of the relatively quick 38-minute run time – is one of my favorites not because of any pop sensibilities Lott shows off, but because of the fact that multiple tempos overlap through different instruments and phase in and out of each other until the end when tracks are stripped away until a simple beat is left.

Other standouts include the bombastic “All The Right Things” and the Portishead-reminiscent “Leave The Bones.” But We Are Rising really should be listened to in its entirety. I’ve gone through it many times since its release last month and don’t plan on letting it slip out of rotation any time soon. Lott’s deep constructions will give me new facets to discover for quite some time.

Hanna trailer & new music from The Chemical Brothers

I’ve watched this trailer for Hanna probably ten times over the past few months, and I think the movie looks like it’s going to kick ass. At about 1:30 into the trailer, this song kicks in, and in the credits it says that the score is by The Chemical Brothers. Oh yes.

Well, now we have the full song that’s used in the trailer. It’s called Container Park, and it is indeed a Chem’s original.

Coachella 2008: Portishead

portishead thumbIt’s that time of the year again! The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will be held from April 25-27, and after months of speculation, the official lineup has been released. Just as I did last year in preparation for Coachella, I will be reviewing some artists that will be at Coachella. Some of these artists I will be very familiar with, and others I will review after listening to them for the first time. To kick things off, here’s Portishead!

Hailing from Bristol, England, Portishead (pronounced with a hard “s”) has been pioneering the genre of trip-hop since the mid-90s when they released their first album “Dummy.” While comparisons of artists can sometimes degrade one’s opinion of them, I think that Portishead is a mashup of Massive Attack and Everything But the Girl (both of which I love).

Portishead’s most recent release, 1998’s Roseland NYC Live was published with a VHS (the DVD came in 2002). The video was (obviously) a live recording of material from “Dummy” and “Portishead” (their sophomore release) played by a massive orchestral enseamble plus drums, a turntable (possibly Geoff Barrow), and a Beth Gibbons. The shear size of the total number of musicians was astounding and created a sonic quality completely different than Portishead’s LPs.

While I love Portishead and am avidly awaiting their third album (titled “Third”), I can’t help but be apprehensive of their live performance. I doubt that they will put a full orchestra onstage, and downtempo probably don’t make for the best shows. Regardless, the sound will undoubtedly be incredible, and I fully plan on seeing them closing Saturday.

Daftbastianvinskatatat Concert

Concert Montage

In case you don’t get it (I don’t expect you to), the title is to be translated to be Daft Punk/SebastiAn/Kavinsky/Ratatat Concert. This is the concert a friend and I will be going to on July 21 in LA. Words cannot really express how excited I am about this.

I will start with Daft Punk. I really do love their music. As much as it pains me that they are very close to stealing material and slapping their name on it, I feel that they are innovative in their sampling ways and deserve as much praise as they get. They have succeeded at not disappearing as so many electronic fad artists do. Why? Because they are more than their music.

Daft Punk has become a level of quality in persona and live shows on top of their amazing music that other artists can only strive for. One of the big reasons that electronic music isn’t big in the States is because of the difficulties of putting together entertaining live sets with real visuals. Just watch a YouTube video of a recent Daft Punk concert and you will see that this isn’t a problem for them.

SebastiAn is my favorite electronic artist in terms of music right now. Everything of his, from his albums to his remixes, blows me away. Just read my latest assessment of the Ed Banger crew for more on SebastiAn.

Kavinsky is still a bit mysterious to me. He is the artist who’s music I have heard the least of. I have his two EPs but I don’t feel that they do him justice. His sound is a retro-house electro type thing. Old 80s synths are all over the place in his songs. I like it, but I hope there’s something more for me to grasp at the concert.

Ratatat is the ugly duckling of this group. Not because I don’t like them (I LOVE them) but because they actually play instruments. I’m really looking forward to hearing their very unique sound blasted at me through a huge sound system. To me, Ratatat is a sort of a Dueling Banjos funneled through the electronica scene with a drum machine thrown in for size. I have never heard anything like them, and I love it.

So there you have it, a short assessment of the artists I will see on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at about 9pm. Jealous?

Coachella 2007: Björk

Bjork HeadshotMany people have called David Bowie a chameleon, but he is nothing compared to Björk. She has gone through many transformations both physically (how she looks) and sonically (how her music sounds) since her solo debut in 1993 with Debut. Being from Reykjavík, Iceland, her accent and tonal voice goes against nearly all of western culture’s pop sounds. Here is the progression of her sound though each successive album:

  • Debut: A very expansive album, probably more-so than any of her following albums. It contains a mix of dance, earthy, new age, beat-centered songs. The beat-driven aspect is a vein or theme that does run through all of her music.
  • Post: More abstract. Just listening to the opening tracks “Army of Me” makes it obvious where she wanted to go with this new album (following the platinum Debut.) Possibly a bit darker… just a progression. Björk describes it as being more “extreme”.
  • Homogenic: My favorite album. This album is definitely in my top 10 of all time. The beats are much more pronounced, scattered, and massive. Homogenic just has an epic sound to it. The song Pluto (2nd to last track) has become the song for her to perform and/or close with. Its griding and distorted synths, vocals, and beats make it raw and brutal. “Emotionally, this album is about hitting rock bottom and earning your way up. So it’s the darkest album I’ve done emotionally, but it’s got a lot of hope.”
  • Vespertine: Much softer. The sound that characterizes Vespertine is very angelic. “Vespertine is sort of a winter album for me. I think Homogenic was very summer, very hot, burning desert.” It has a light sound that seems to float away.
  • Medúlla: When it was released, Medúlla received quite a bit of backlash. It was Bjork going against what her fans had grown to know and love: beats and synths. It didn’t matter whether hard or soft, but beats and synths combined with her other-worldly vocals are Björk. Medúlla has nothing other than human voices on it. Being fairly new to Björk when Medúlla came out, I enjoyed the sound. It is her most different album so far. It pushes our voices as instruments to their limits.
  • Volta: Yet to be released, the sound of Volta has been revealed only through interviews with Björk and a leaked track titled “Earth Intruders”. Volta is said to be very brass centered. Björk collaborated with quite a few artists for Volta, including Timbaland. We’ll see how it turns out, but “Earth Intruders” is amazing to say the least.

So that basically wraps up Björk as an ever changing artist. Just go look at some pictures of her, and you will realize what I mean when I say that she is a chameleon. She is truely a musical genius who has remained relevant through the fickle tastes of pop culture that are constantly changing.