Sunday, 24 July 2011

Download + Video: Eric Lau "This Is For You"

It's not you it's him. That is if you don't fully understand or are vaguely impressed by something Eric proclaims to be simple, he's just a really humble person. He also hates interviews so it's nice to seem him so relaxed on camera.This might be the last of this kind of sound you hear from Eric for a little while, he's been working on a raft of new stuff lately - collaborations, pseudonyms and experiments I can't wait to hear more about. Eric and PMOI also have a little announcement coming soon I'm getting very excited about, keep 'em peeled...

Goodbye Amy.


"I'm not surprised" was the resounding conclusion on Twitter. I was.

Without going in to specifics I've spent most of my life around addiction, and it's a long time since I was amazed by the toxic volumes people can put in to their bodies and survive, the terrifyingly dangerous situations they can stumble through unscathed, and the heartfelt promises to stop they can't keep. The point at which most of us would have found shocking or surprising was probably a road bump long since passed. By the time someone actually does go too far, they've usually gone further than we can possibly imagine.

Like a lot of Londoners, I met Amy Winehouse once. It was years ago with my sister in Kentish town, she started pointing and saying to her boyfriend "look, those two are so pre-eeyy" as if we were puppies she'd like to take home. Not quite sure what to say we just told her we were fans of her album at the time "Frank" and ducked out of the way. I remember thinking how strange it was that she was Amy Winehouse, yet she seemed insecure. The stories about her hadn't reached our ears at that point, we were just impressed by her brave, honest (and funny) songwriting, not to mention that voice. 

Fast forward to last night as I watched people blame Amy, the people around her for not intervening, the media for their callousness - the list was endless and totally understandable, but wrong all the same. Addiction is a disease, and it often ends up killing its victims. It's hard to sympathise with because the outward appearance is that the addict doesn't care and it's their fault for not trying hard enough. Apart from the mental side of it, the physical experience can be a similar urge to needing to eat when you're starving or drink when you're parched - for those who blame Amy I hope they ask themselves if they would be strong enough to suppress an urge that severe every single day. For those who feel her family should have intervened further, short of tying someone up and never letting them out again there's nothing you can really do to stop them. You just have to watch the person you love kill themselves slowly in front of you, and it's every bit as painful for you as it is for them. As for the media, it is our responsibility to hold them accountable for their behaviour before someone dies, not just blame them afterwards.

I keep seeing talk of how Amy Winehouse will forever be as defined by her addiction as she is by her music. I beg to differ. I think that is up to us. I choose to remember Amy for her inspirational yet down to earth songwriting, how her music got me through sad times or made me laugh out loud, her incredibly special voice, and how she opened the door for talented female artists who don't fit the mould, and don't hold back.     

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: Baloji & Fatoumata Diawara at Rich Mix 18.07.11


I say "review" but technically "gushing outpouring of unbridled adoration" is probably far more accurate so I'll try to keep it brief.

I'd heard very little about Fatoumata Diawara which is strange considering what an incredible specimen of the human race she is. An electric guitar playing, mind altering beauty, 'human firework' dancing, limbs like a moving sculpture specimen to be more precise. Her style of singing was something I hadn't come across before, a beautiful tone and range but so expressive - one minute full of dry laughter and the next heavy with sincerity. At one point Fatoumata proffered an inviting description of how to get to her village and proceeded to take us there with her casually masterful band, which just intensified my longing to visit Mali - if ever there were a successful advert...  


I admit, I whispered "I would NOT want to have to follow that!" before Baloji and his Orchestre De Katuba took to the stage. How wrong I was. I think the brilliance of some of Baloji's videos (Karibu Ya Bintou, Tout Ceci Ne Vous Rendra Pas Le Congo) left me imagining he couldn't possibly be as exciting in person. As Orchestre De Katuba filed on stage looking every bit as slick as the Indépendance cha-cha video my hopes were raised, and when Baloji appeared in a shiny red tuxedo jacket with an aura of confidence so evident it was neon, I realised the videos were just the appetizer as they launched in to a set fueled by African funk that could have launched a jet.


Perhaps what struck me most (and there was a lot of striking, the band were incredible), was Baloji's mastery on stage. Every movement and moment seemed calculated and choreographed without losing any of the excitement - the attitude on stage was one of gleeful anticipation, *we know what's coming next and trust us you're going to like it*. The mood switched from playful to serious to steamy to jubilant but the barriers really came down when Baloji announced "they call this 'world music', but this is our music". From that moment on we all danced like the palm wine was flowing at an African wedding.


I'm not sure Baloji falls in to the traditional heartthrob category but the women to my right started squirming and screaming "tomber la chemise" as the jacket came off and the sleeves were rolled up with unmistakably suggestive intent. There's definitely something iconic about the man - I had that same feeling of intense absorption and awe you get when you watch one of the greats, as your soul pledges to return at every chance just to experience it all again.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Marques Toliver "Butterflies Are Not Free" EP

Marques Toliver "Deep in My Heart"

This EP came out back in April and went on a long list of things to check out I never did - face palm. JB III comparisons aside (Toliver could almost be a less vocally oversexed and overstyled cousin), there's something really magical and original about this guy. At the very least you must listen to this song past 2:46. The rest of the EP is equally juicy, I keep uncovering interesting new nuggets with every listen.

Buy: Marques Toliver "Butterflies Are Not Free" EP [iTunes link]

Download: Kae Sun "Outside The Barcode" EP

I've just come across this lovely artist of Ghanaian extraction based in Canada, Kae Sun. I really like the stripped down sound of his "Outside The Barcode" EP, which he released for free at the end of June. The video above was shot at the farm where the EP was recorded, he reminds me in places of both Nneka and Paul Simon, there's something warm and endearing about this music.

Download: Kae Sun "Outside The Barcode" EP

Video: José James & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble Gil Scott Heron Tribute

It's almost strange how similar José James sounds to Gil Scott Heron, particularly on the chorus of "Winter in America". Mr James will be performing a not very secret show at Jazz Re:freshed in London this Thursday.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Video: Cornelia "Aquarius Dreams"

I'm so cynical. My first thought when I heard this track was how incredibly sync friendly it sounds. Get money. Ahem. Luckily this painstakingly gorgeous video by the talented Mr Thomas of has forced me back in to fan mode alongside Cornelia's ultra-femme dangerous pixie vocal (seriously I've met her, she looks like she might lure you in to the woods to play then steal half your Haribo if you doze off - watch your back).

You can buy Aquarius Dreams through Cornelia's very own record label Camp Mozart now.

Video: Nneka "Soul Is Heavy"

New Nigerian national anthem? It's certainly more scathing than "Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's call obey..." As someone who left in August 1995  before they hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa three months later, I appreciate those brave enough to keep talking about the fact Nigeria has a long way to go. It's exceptionally difficult to tread the line between politics and art without compromising either but Nneka seems to have been put here to do so.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Video: Tawiah "Break Away" [Live Acoustic]

"So we have a new incredible artist called Tawiah that I reckon you’re going to like" says the PR email. How sweet. I'm pretty sure at least 90% of people I know are still playing Tawiah's incredible EP In Jodis Bedroom [iTunes link] from 2008 regularly. Looks like the major label push has begun however, let's hope they get it right because everyone with properly working ears will be supporting Tawiah, one of the most talented artists this country contains.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Video: Lianne La Havas "Don't Wake Me Up" (Live at The Slaughtered Lamb)

I do realise I have become Lianne La Havas's weird blogger stalker, because I can't stop posting everything she does, but can you blame me? I think not.

Video: Om Unit Vs Kromestar "Solar Cycle/ Merkabah"

Teaser really is the only appropriate term for this - you barely have time to fully screw your face before it's over. Om Unit sent me the MP3s so I guess you can come round to my house if you need to, or just wait for it to come out on 12" & digital via Om Unit's new label Cosmic Bridge.

Video: The Park "Twice The Zombie" + "The Process"

One take. I admit it's perhaps not the most captivating piece of footage [I screen hopped] but the music is brilliant - a juicy Little Dragon resmack to coin the Rustie-ism. Annoyingly it doesn't seem to be on their [equally brilliant] new album The Process. I will thus of course be paying them a visit at Lovebox to demand recompense. 


Video: Mountain Man - Come All Yee [Live at The Wiltern]

I first came across Mountain Man supporting Jonsi from Sigur Ros in Brighton last year and fell in love with their voices, sucker that I am for Appalachia. It could have been quite a risk for Jonsi to pick mountain folk as opposed to fellow magical woodland folk as a support act but it worked. Apparently this is an audio + video release, I can't find it in iTunes UK but am crossing fingers it's on the way.


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