Monday, 25 April 2011

Bandcamp vs Topspin


*Independent artist or label? Set aside an hour to watch this

I admit I was on the fence. Bandcamp was an amazingly simple tool which (at first) let anyone sell or give away their music for free in return for fairly valuable data (email addresses and post/ zip codes). Topspin was a paid service that only approved artists could use and they focused more on their marketing advice as a benefit.

In the last couple of months, Topspin has become available to anyone, and (I'm so sorry Bandcamp, you tried!) it just wins hands down. Having had to train artists up on how to actually make use of the data they were collecting from Bandcamp, set them up with mailing list provider services to send emails, and generally try to turn artist friends in to digital marketers the above Topspin demo is like an answered prayer. They have literally thought of everything at the click of a button, and because its an all in one solution it works out cheaper. If you're an artist or a record label and you haven't checked it out yet, make a cup of tea, set aside an hour and watch the video above - it is a game changer.

Stream: Valentina "Heart Of Glass"

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I think this might be the one. I think Valentina's Weights EP is my favourite project of the year so far (and it has been quite a year for music already), primarily because of this song. Two things - if you attempt listen to this on your laptop speakers I will physically come through your screen and harm you. Second thing, if you cannot see how insanely beautiful this piece of music is please keep listening until you get there. I mean, just look at the waveform when it gets to 2:42! Funnily enough this version sounds slightly less polished than the version you can buy. Which you really must.

   Valentina - Heart Of Glass by facultydigital

Valentina "Weights" EP - [iTunes]

Mix: oki-ni presents TRUTH by DâM-FunK


Some people could be accused of sounding a bit precious (see quote below), but not Dâm, because he's one of the most authentic creatures on the planet.   

This mix is what I simply listen 2 on any given day, while living life. It's a pleasure to share these tracks with my new oki-ni friends. I own all of these records. No fake shit or fads; just the truth. 

It's always such a blessing to come across something Dâm has put his heart in to.


Via Oki-ni

Documentary: Mobb Deep "Start of Ur Ending" Pt1.


MOBB DEEP "Start of Ur Ending" from Q-Butta on Vimeo.

Three suggestions for best viewing results - 

1. Allow video to buffer, skip to 1:40 [thus avoiding waste of life watching pointless close ups of Mobb Deeps fish etc].
2. Watch fascinating Prodigy monologue, [remind self not to drive around with a gun in your car in order to avoid three years of incarceration].
3. Ensure you switch video off before 12:30 if you have epilepsy. Or functioning eyes.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Unofficial Video: Nicolas Jaar "Keep Me There" [Dir. Lucas Duchemin]


Nicolas Jaar - Keep Me There (The Unofficial Music Video) from Lucas Duchemin on Vimeo.

Nicolas Jaar is such a lucky man, the production values on this unofficial video for Keep Me There are ridiculously impressive. More importantly it's funny. Jaar's album Space Is Only Noise [iTunes link] has been a real slow burner in my house this year, I would highly recommend listening to it on the night bus home at 3am.

Thanks to MVMVMV

Friday, 15 April 2011

New Girl - Lianne La Havas

  Everything Everything - Final Form - Lianne La Havas Cover

I know, I love her too.

Micachu: Recent Offerings

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The woman most of my nerdy female music fan friends would take a bullet for, Mica -CanDoNoWrong- Levi has been quietly dropping treats over the past month. First there was the Micachu vs Kwake Bass Meat Batch mix for BTS Radio.

Next Micachu and The Shapes revived their collaboration with the London Sinfonietta Chopped and Screwed as part of the Southbank's Ether Festival and released it as an album which you can listen to on Spotify or grab on iTunes.



Following that Micachu dropped this 15 minutes of dub mix for Banana Klan. Talent without boundaries.

   Micachu's 15mins of DUB UP!! Mixed by Micachu by Banana Klan Soundsystem

Video: Bon Iver, One Minute Man.



Yes 45,000 people and counting have gotten inappropriately excited about a one minute preview from the new Bon Iver album in the past 9 days. I would argue however that it is not our fault. Humans are drawn to paintings of optimal living conditions (lush green landscapes, river nearby etc). Bon Iver clearly knows this and has found a way to create music along the same lines - ethereal harmonies delivered through a hefty beard are probably also optimal for human living conditions in some way. It's not our fault.

Video: 2000 Black Share Their Current Inspiration



"To inspire myself, I turn to myself". I imagine at the end of this video you too may also become one of the legendary originators of two musical genres and numerous amazing albums - Dego shouldn't have shared his secret.

Via 2000Black

2011 Trend: The Obstructed Windpipe


Eska "Rock of Ages" at Bookslam


Marques Toliver for Bounty from BOUNTY TV on Vimeo.

Yes darling, you're nobody if you can't sing whilst accompanying yourself on the violin and partially obstructing your windpipe. Nobody.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Interview: Chairman Kato on "Underbelly"

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This week I headed to the basement of Teasmith in Spitalfields Market, East London to check out an intriguing audio-visual installation called Underbelly, created by electronic producer Chairman Kato and spacial animator Christ Stoneman. It's on until the end of the month, you can find more details here. 

How would you describe "Underbelly" in under 140 characters to someone on the other side of the world from East London?
Hmmm...shit losing characters already....It's an immersive audio visual experience. The dark heart of an oriental teahouse. The witching hour. Damn you, Twitter.

It's quite an unusual project for an electronic producer, how did you and Stoneman first come up with the idea to work on an installation together?
I guess so, but I always go out and see art and installations, so it didn't feel like a step too far for me. I did have Chris to help me through the initial stages of conceptualising things, which was new for me. And in the end he told me to stop wibbling and just get on with it anyway like I normally would. The idea originally came from the fact that I was offered the space in the first place. To be offered a space in such a ridiculously prime location...it was something I just knew I couldn't turn down. Other projects had to take second place for a while. Chris was someone I'd been exchanging ideas with a while and had him earmarked in my mind. So when the opportunity came up I knew straight away who to discuss it with.

There are some really interesting harmonies and layers to the work, is there a singular inspiration behind the piece or did you approach it from different angles and find ways to collaborate?
I started by making a sample of music from which the rest of the piece was to evolve, and I think because the aesthetics of science fiction and its immersive qualities were on my mind people like John Carpenter influenced the initial synth work on that starting point. After that though I just let it flow really, but you can hear ambient influences, hip hop and (in my opinion) Detroit house in the final section. To be honest at first I wasn't really getting anywhere, and realised it was because I was overthinking. Once I realised that I just went back to the usual organic process and it fell into place. I ploughed so, so much energy and emotion into that piece of music.

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The environment you've created is far from a traditional gallery setting, can you describe some of the creative and practical process behind realising the piece?
Very true and that's something that I am really enjoying. The fact that it contrasts so starkly with the refined atmosphere of the teahouse upstairs is something I'm pleased with, and that idea formed the initial creative brainstorming; I wanted to create an environment that confronts you, something that you don't expect and takes you by surprise. Hopefully when you've disarmed people's expectations they can go along with it a bit more. Chris was totally into that too. We wanted to create somewhere that looked like it could have been a crime scene, or an alien quarantine or something, although ultimately it's down to the individual to take what they want from it.
The practical process was probably the biggest learning curve. Trudging back and forth to B&Q in Leyton in search of industrial polythene! I looked like a total weirdo carrying plastic sheeting on the bus. And neither Chris or I are exactly handy with a hammer....or even a stapler for that matter....there was a lot of trial and error building this. But it was a lot of fun.

What is a "false shadow"??
Haha Chris should probably be answering this....Chris' area of interest is animation, bringing things alive, making something an experience. We have a very simple object suspended from the ceiling that casts a shadow onto the far wall of the structure. Chris has done some clever stuff with that shadow to make it come alive. I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't seen it but he transforms that shadow using mapping techniques that I don't really understand and the end result is, in my opinion, beautiful.

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Launch party @ Teasmith

Seeing as it was your first audio-visual installation, did you come up against any challenges or unexpected moments during the creation of "Underbelly"?
Oh yes. There was a lot of pain. Worse than childbirth.... Building the environment with the industrial polythene was a massive challenge and it's a good job that it's low lit because our handywork was seriously shoddy. I think we convinced ourselves that we had somehow made a virtue of it. I tied myself in knots a little bit during the initial conceptualisation stages until I had some good advice and stopped over analysing things. I wasn't expecting so many people to turn up to the opening, that was definitely a surprise. The most unexpected thing for me is probably just how rewarding the experience has been after all the hard work and obstacles we came up against. Amazing.

Do you have any other projects up your sleeve that take your music out of peoples stereos and in to new spaces?
Definitely. I want more. I've got an idea for the next project. Started to pitch it to people this week, getting some positive noises. This experience has opened my mind to more projects, and I'd even be open to doing something that I don't have to do music for.

All photos by Bruno Costarelli

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Film: Bosco + Phil The God


Bosco. from philthegod. on Vimeo.

Miss Bosco likes to keep us waiting. This is a film she has created with Phil The God, of which the lady says "I want it to evoke an emotion from people" - I found it hard not to jump in to the screen and offer to lend an arm. The music and film are entwined and not to be sold separately.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Preview: Jamie Woon "Mirrorwriting"

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension

A dear friend with laser beam eyes and ears asked me what I thought of Jamie Woon's new album "Mirrorwriting" yesterday, so I write this knowing if I hold back because I'm in public I won't get away with it.

I began by telling aforementioned friend that I really like it, but that Jamie could sing almost anything (probably even Rebecca Black's Friday) and I would really enjoy it. The gift of a voice like that could easily make an artist a really lazy songwriter, much like a man with an oversized appendage or a beautiful girl in the sack (or so I'm told). Luckily for us Jamie remains deeply introspective, hardworking and humble - he asked permission to send it to me so I really don't think he quite understands what's happening yet.

It takes a long time to erase the original version of a song you've loved, and after years as an official Onetaste Collective stalker (the mythical birthplace of Jamie, Portico Quartet, Tawiah, Polarbear, Tanya Auclair, Jono McCleery, Stac, Inua Ellams and so many others) it's hard to let go. The stripped down looper and guitar versions of songs like Night Air and Shoulda made me fall for Jamie back then, and I was sad to find Robots didn't make it on there, but that doesn't detract from what is a lovely album you want to listen to all the way through. If a couple of perfect lilys sprinkled near the start must be gilded with some club-friendly synths and keys, he has certainly succeeded in keeping hold of his beautiful harmonies and subtlety.

A couple of tracks in and Jamie does what he does best - pouring his heart out and tearing yours up simultaneously on Shoulda. I couldn't even begin to pick a favourite, though Gravity has reduced me to tears a few times, and the added layers of production noticeably heighten the intensity and atmosphere both here and on Spiral. Spirits gets an awesome choir effect worthy of early 90s pop-soul (Kenny Thomas would be so jealous, in a good way), TMRW and Middle are more up-tempo classics, and you could imagine a Jamie Woon/ Bill Withers duet on Waterfront (the highest honour I can accord a human).     

It's strange critiquing something you've yearned for years to have, it feels ungrateful, because my most overriding feeling about this album is honour and privilege to listen to such a beautiful voice and spirit whenever I like.         

Mirrorwriting by Jamie Woon is out on iTunes now

Nihon Kizuna

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I decided to hold back to help ensure this great project got a second wind (nothing more annoying than a charity project consigned to the depths by hyperactive blogging). In the past two weeks the people behind it (Broken Haze, Laurent Fintoni, XLII & Audace) have managed to raise just under $18,500 at the last count, and I hope it will reach the $20,000 target shortly.

There will also be a launch party fundraiser presented by Kidkanevil at the Vibe Bar in London on 20th April with Slugabed, Om Unit, Blue Daisy, Throwing Snow, Danny Drive Thru & Kid K - click attending here.



The tracklist is extremely impressive, as it features Kode 9, Kuedo, Rudi Zygadlo, Broken Haze, Circulations Records, All City Records, Daisuke Tanabe, Yosi Horikawa, XLII, Memory 9, Ninja Tune, Kid Kanevil, Om Unit, Paul White, One Handed Music, BD1982, Illum Sphere, Fink, Emika, Mux Mool, Ernest Gonzales, Paper Tiger, Sesped, Jay Scarlett, Elliott Yorke (Royalty), Kan Sano, Onra & more. Possibly the most exciting thing about it however is the ability for a project like this to be conceived and executed in such a short space of time, involve so many people and raise such a substantial sum of money - it's a beautiful testament to the power of art and artists.   

For more info about Nihon Kizuna, or ‘bond of friendship with Japan’ see nihonkizuna.com

The Amazing Kutiman

Forgive the rather trite title but as far as I'm concerned, this is what the internet was created for. You can (and should) watch every video Kutiman has ever made here.





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