There’s definitely a soft spot in my heart for New Zealand’s finest Indie-Electro export Pip Brown A.K.A Ladyhawke. Although her sophomore album, Anxiety, was a tad too Rocky for my tastes; her self-titled début (from way back in 2008) was the bomb. A slick and personal combination of funk-fuelled breezy ElectroPop with a dusting of New Wave layered over some truly catchy songs that spanned deeply heartfelt to party anthem. That album was in our headphones for a long time. And the reMixes, oh the reMixes! Modular really delivered, getting the top ‘Blog House’ producers of the day to work on the 12”s.
As mentioned, the second album was very good, just not-so-much my thing. A little too much emphasis on the guitars, a little less emphasis on the synths. There was some good songs in there, but the sound didn’t do much for me. So it was with a mixture of excitement and nervousness that I greeted the news that Pip was back with a third full length record.Titled Wild Things, the new album is due out on 3rd June via Polyvinyl and the first single from the LP is A Love Song. And it’s good.
A Love Song is upbeat and purely electronic, two things I wasn’t anticipating from Ladyhawke. The massive Pop chorus is unexpected, but not unwelcome ,making the synth bass heavy verses sound almost low-key in comparison as Pip quiet vocals deliver bittersweet lyrics over subtle beats and a slow build. Then the chorus happens; a big sing-a-long over huge sidechained leads. A Love Song has definitely got my attention again.
Check out the lyric video below. While I hate, hate, hate lyric videos, this one is kinda’ neat; featuring animation by Paul Robertson who Pip got in touch with after seeing his pixelated take on the Simpsons intro with it’s psychedelic couch gag.
This is the new video from Bristolian dubby ElectroPop artist Makala Cheung. It’s been sat in my inbox for about a month now, which means I definitely missed the Chinese new year launch; but 2016 has been one of those year, and you know I’m not so focussed on ‘news’ anymore, so here we are. Better late than never.
Makala is creating some of the most interesting music around right now. Haunting and beautiful; her sound draws from both downtempo ElectroPop and oriental instrumentation to create something truly unique. Addin in Makala’s ethereal vocals just make the tunes all the more enigmatic.
Feel The Rush is a symphony of sparse Hip Hop beats, relentless synths and sparse strings whose shuffling patterns provide a broken soundtrack for Makala’s heartfelt lament.
The video is obviously inspired by Audition and is surprisingly lavish for a DIY artist, looking every bit as pro as it should. By taking it’s cues from Audition, it’s as creepy as it sounds and put a whole new haunting spin on the track itself.
We’ll be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens tonight, or tomorrow morning (however you want to look at it) at 00:01. So excited! Ahead of that, though we thought we’d quickly post this little bit of cool news. Scandinavian Electronica Jedi Röyksopp, one of our favourite acts of all time, announced at their Oslo Spektrum a few days ago show that Disney had approached them to produce some Star Wars themed tracks. No idea how they will be used yet, but you can check out one of the tunes below. It’s sounding pretty amazing; a solid floorfiller with just a hint of a galaxy far, far away….
As you synth heads will probably be aware, Korg have launched their recreation of the classic ARP Odyssey synth. In line with their recent vintage synth re-issues (a model that is also being embraced by other synth manufacturers) Korg have licenced the Odyssey to release a version forty years later.
Amazingly, electronic rumors fam Starcadian got tapped to make the advert. Which is pure Starcadian amazingness. Out boy put together both the music and the visuals for this stunning clip.
Nathan Cooper, A.K.A. Kid Kasio is arguably the finest creator of 80s Pop music around today. Everyone one from the SynthWave scene, to the leftovers of the mid-2000’s ElectroPop boom, to today’s Pop-R&B artists are laying claim to the sounds of the greatest decade, but not one of them (even the devoted SynthWave scene) is actually making music that sounds genuinely like it came out in the 80s. But Kid Kasio is.
Emerging from the ruins of (almost massive) Indie-ElectroPop outfit The Modern (nee Matineé Club), Kid Kasio honed his skills on the singles leading up to is début album, Kasiotone. Referencing everything from the SynthPop of The Human League and mid-80s Depeche Mode to the slick Pop of Duran Duran and Nik Kershaw, Kid Kasio’s songs sound like you’ve just changed channels in 1984 and Top Of The Pops is on.
Kid Kasio has been quiet for a while, holed up in the studio, but now he’s back with a new song, and new video. Nathan’s videos are almost as good as his songs themselves, each one painstakingly crafted by Nathan himself (his family has a film making history; his brother being Howard Stark, sorry, Dominic Cooper) and each one looking as authentically retro as his music sounds.
His new one is titled The Kodo Song, it’s actually three years old and a collaboration with his long term writing partner Benjamin Todd, with whom co wrote the music for Sony pictures’ Tamara Drewe and more recently Miss You Already starring Toni Colette and Drew Barrymore.
Nathan tells the story: “The song tells the story of 2 friends called up to fight in the Anglo – Zulu war. The nonsensical chorus is the mantra the pair would chant on the battlefield. One of the friends dies in battle and his companion is left with the song as a reminder of their friendship, long after his death. I guess it’s all about the intensity of friendship and the power of music and its longevity.
The video is entirely Rotoscoped, inspired by A-Ha’s video for Take On Me, a process which Kasio begun himself without really considering how much work would be involved (hence the three year delay). Nathan continues: “Unfortunately I had little understanding of how time consuming the process would be. I began animating in October 2013. At one point I was getting up at 6am and drawing continuously until 2am in the morning. I’d get to the end of a day like that and watch back what I’d done, and there would be only 2 seconds of animation to show for it, it was utterly soul destroying, doing this day after day, month after month.
I felt like it was going nowhere, I hadn’t realised the people making this kind of animation were normally working in teams. It wasn’t just Morten Harket sitting in his room, tracing 3000 frames himself! I’d basically bitten off more than I could chew!”
Bizarrely Drew Barrymore, who Nathan met on the set of Miss You Already sparked a resurgence of Kasio’s interest in the song: “I gave the 2nd album to her on the set, expecting to never hear anything back and I got this gushing text from her the next day saying how both her and Toni Colette had loved the album and especially that song, and how I absolutely had to release this! It was the impetus I needed to get it finished I suppose”.
And here it is! 3,372 drawings later. The Kodo Song is classic 80s Pop, in the vein of The Riddle with a chorus that makes less sense as it is really catchy. Playing on that particularly 80s strain on pseudo-exotic synth instrumentation and an infectious digital bassline, The Kodo Song leverages it’s solemn subject matter with insightful choruses that make the chant-a-long refrain of the chorus feel like a break in the tension. Militaristic drums underpinning the tracks give way to compelling beats before asserting them selves again as an example of the song as a whole, slipping from stern seriousness to euphoric Pop brilliance.
The video could not be more fitting. Playing with effects that would have been cutting edge in the 80s, Zulu is rotoscoped to perfection with Nathan’s performance highlighted but unobtrusive. With knowledge of the amount of work that went into the clips creation, watching can be exhausting, but massively worthwhile.
We eagerly await Kid Kasio’s sophomore album, due for release in the coming months.
Little Boots is knocking outthevideos these days, isn’t she? Get Things Done is one of our favourite track on the recent third album, Working Girl (now finally out in it’s vinyl form) so we think it’s pretty cool that this slice of catchy, bounce-ified ElectroPop get’s it’s own clip.
The video, directed by Nova Dando, slips comfortable into the Working Girl aesthetic that Ms. Hesketh has build up around the album. The pastels and powersuits showing off just what a tight ship she;s runs at On Repeat.
Future R&B wrangler Leo Kalyan’s Get Your Love is his first track to make it to the screen, and a good choice for his début video it is too. A catchy, and Leo’s most accessible, tune that lend it’s soulful ElectroPop style well to video form.
Director Jim Barber heaps on the sumptuous visuals as he takes Leo on a road trip around southern France. Looks like fun. Thankfully they have nice weather. Check it out.
Remember Punks Jump Up’s Give It To Me from last year? The track was inspired by 80s Chicago House classic Donnie by The It, and featuring vocals from original Donnie vocalist Robert Owens, and was available on Exploited’s Secret Gold Volume 6 compilation. Well the jacking tribute to all things warehouse is getting a nice reMix package release on PJU’s own Musik Box label. The October release comes equipped with mixes from KiWi, Vanilla Ace & Berber, Musik Box (we guess PJU), Want More and Horse Meat Disco. The original is pretty amazing, we can’t wait to hear the reMixes.
It also comes with this particularly retro video which looks like any number of VHS tapes we have in the back of a wardrobe loaded with dance music videos taped off the telly. The perfect accompaniment to the track.
The awesome Continental Records (Jerry Bouthier’s baby) have just released their second single from French producers Romuald & Madji’k, a collection of reMixes following up their Stanza featuring Fastlane single. (check the MiGHty mOUse reMix for greatness). Alongside the release comes a brand new video for the track.
Directed by Romuald Lauverjon, the clip is a swirl of colourful retro imagery centred around a gorilla in a Porsche 911. Yup, a gorilla.
Romuald & Madji’k’s ‘Fastlane reMixes’ are out now.
To say we are massive fans of French synthesizer legend Jean-Michel Jarre would be an understatement. We’ve been pretty fascinated by the man ever since Channel 4 aired Destination Docklands in ‘89 and he’s most likely got something to do with our persistent love of electronic music. As you’ll know JMJ has been releasing collaborative singles in the past few months, all in the lead up to a new album, and album which was finally announced over the weekend. Electronica Pt. 1: The Time Machine (there will be a part 2 in Spring 2016) is released in October and contains 16 tracks, each one seeing JMJ teaming up with another, often contemporary, artist.
We’ve approached Jerre’s new material with trepidation. Legends making comebacks have been pretty hit and miss in recent years; and even when they have (somewhat) hit, they’ve still not been able to capture the essence of what made them legends in the first piece (Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers spring to mind) trying to hard to be relevant and up-to-date whilst missing the point of why people loved them in the first place. The fact that JMJ is collaborating with so many current artists rang a few alarm bells.
So far our fears have been, mostly, quashed by what we’ve heard. The first three singles, with Gesaffelstein, Tangerine Dream and 3D were all good, good enough for us to fork out for The Vinyl Factory’s 12” releases of them. Glory, the track he did with M83 was also good. His track with Armin Van Buuren was OK-ish. The announcement of the album came with a list of the remaining team-ups. Vince Clarke, AIR and John Carpenter will no doubt all produce some interesting results (the teasers of the Clarke and Carpenter tracks sound amazing). Fuck Buttons, Moby, Laurie Anderson, Lang Lang and Pete Townsend’s collaborations should be worth a listen. Boys Noize is their too, let’s hope feeling slightly more innovative than his 2007-Boys-Noize-by-the-numbers offerings of recent years.
And amongst those names sits one of right-now’s top tier electronic musicians. Little Boots. The Jarre/Boots collaboration is out now as an album pre-order track. It’s called If..! and, honestly, it’s the best thing we’ve heard from Electronica Pt. 1 to date. It’s just a massive Pop song. Built up over layers of synthesized bass; undulating kick drums pop and pulse coalescing into a summery swing, rolling and shaking from bar to bar. Victoria’s on fine Pop form as she delivers a catchy, carefree ditty wrapped in waves of warm electronics. We’re feeling like this might be the most commercially accessible track on the album and with the right push we could easily see this one charting. It’s definitely got a Jarre production sheen, being a thicker sounding track than the more stripped back production in Little Boots’ recent Working Girl album but with Victoria’s unique left-field take on ElectroPop permeating every second of it. We were around 50% excited, 50% nervous about Jarre’s new album, If..! has done a lot to push the swing-o-meter in the excited direction.
Check out the video below. We’re not 100% sure what’s going on there. There Jarre himself hanging out with some modular synths and lens flares, and some bearded dude and a girl being random. We’re probably missing something. Looks nice enough.
Jean-Michel Jarre’s Electronica Pt. 1: The Time Machine is released 16th October.