The UK is slowly becoming a tragedy masquerading as farce, and at times like this I find music to be a refuge, regardless of its tone or content. As long as it takes me away for a few minutes or maybe even a few hours, the world doesn’t seem so forbidding a place for a little while. Speaking of which, on with the playlist!
First up this weekend is the light and airy There to Fight by Hindu – a dream-pop project by Tania Yankovska, originally from Kiev. The song is very much from the electronic end of the genre, with Yankovska’s ethereally light vocals floating angelically over tight percussion and waves of soft, uplifting synths. Tonally, it puts me in mind of the Cocteau Twins, Strawberry Switchblade and The xx, especially in the way it effortlessly achieves a sense of Spectoreque awe. There to Fight is the first single from Hindu’s second album, which is due to be released in early 2018. Be sure to check out the rather wonderful video for the track as well – it’s something special!
Motion features on the debut album from Portuguese rock-infused electro act Peltzer – it’s a driving, brooding number that successfully relies on a bewitching blend of electronic and guitar influences to take the listener on a real journey of musical discovery. A fusion of Underworld style rave rhythms and rock elements that wouldn’t sound amiss on music from Ride or Spaceman 3, Motion is a successful and bewildering marriage of seemingly disparate styles of music. You can check out more tracks from the album over on the band’s Soundcloud page.
We’re big fans of Los Angeles based The New Division (aka John Kunkel), who has made a welcome return with Inside. The track has the sublime aura of the slow-burning anthem – gentle guitar riffs glide their way over sublime banks of synths, giving the song a melancholic feel musically. Lyrically it has a very heartfelt air about it, Kunkel singing about the inability to get through the emotional walls of another person. Inside features on the current No Pride in Paradise single, which is a taster for the upcoming Fader album that’s due out January 25th.
Hyena from Canada’s Tio sees the Toronto based, cold wave artist create an icy, imposing track – distant sounding arpeggios creating a sense of dislocation, which is reinforced by the pulsating bass line and the spectral, sometimes doom-laden other-worldly vocal lines. As the cascading sequence fades in and out of range, glacial synths ally with the bass line to track that creates a sensation of altered states, as if being summoned to church in Twin Peaks on a Sunday morning. He says the track was originally conceived in 2009 but has only now come to fruition – it’s fair to say it was worth the wait!
French electro artist The Toxic Avenger has just dropped the final part of his Globe trilogy, which features this track recorded in conjunction with singer Sophie Tith. Gone is dark and brooding, with a synth sequence that builds a sense of awe and dread, and a doomy bassline that fuses with Tith’s majestically ‘gothic blues’ vocal performance to add layers of almost cinematic passion and intensity as the track unfolds. The Toxic Avenger is often characterised as part of the retro synth scene but there’s nothing dated about Gone. If you liked what you heard, you can check out more of Globe, Vol 3 here!
Back in August we featured Northern Lights – the Satin Jackets’ collaboration with David Harks – and the band have followed that up with another fine slice of sophisticated electropop in the form of Mirage. There’s a real Nordic feel to the track, in part supplied by Sweden’s Louise Lennartsson – whose vocals evoke comparisons with Frida Sundemo or Susanne Sundfør – but there’s a disciplined sophisticated aspect to the nu-disco arrangement on Northern Lights that gives it Germanic steel and French flair. Though Satin Jackets have a substantial and praiseworthy back catalogue, Mirage is for me one of the best tracks they’ve ever recorded.
Because I by Scere is a real jewel of a song, featuring the musical partnership of Ged Denton (known for his work with Industrial super-group C-TEC as well as current project Der Prosector) with previously unrecorded musician Coral. Their blend of experience and raw talent has enabled the duo to come out with a sound that takes inspiration from hip-hop, but infuses it with layers of rock and dark gothic sensibility. I described the track to a friend as having the imperiousness of Killing Joke and the humanised fragility of Portishead – a mix that should not work, but it does and with considerable aplomb. Be sure to check out the video, which features Shannon Berry from the hit Australian TV series Offspring.
French artist Away From Earth traverses familiar terrain but with surprising results on his latest track, Voyager. Taking influences like Jean Michel Jarre and Kavinsky then allying them to the retro-futurist sounds of retrowave and vaporwave, AFE – who is the main member of Away From Earth – adds delicate films of space-inspired electronica to make a sound that is both cinematic in scope and personal in nature. Voyager is a tribute to the NASA Voyager spacecrafts, and mirrors in sound the way those musicians of space travel created instruments to transcend space and time. The track features on the Apollo EP, which you can check out here.
MADANII is the Berlin based trio fronted by Iranian-German singer Dena Zarrin. Working under her mother’s maiden name, along with Philo Tsoungui on drums and Lucas Herweg on electronics, the trio say they aim to combine elements of pop, RnB, trap and electronic music with the more earthy sounds of the Persian music world. It’s a fusion that works well on DRKNSS, which the band have had reworked by GEISTHA. It’s a pulsating, driving number, the Persian influence tempered by and reinforced with dark electro and downtempo sounds. Zarrin’s vocals have an uncanny similarity to Billie Ray Martin, which gives the song an additional infusion of human emotion and dark grandeur. MADANII are a band to watch in 2018!
Last up this week is New Zealand’s Laura Chapman aka Elcee. Her track Windchimes very much echoes its name – the bright and airy electronica breezes gently though the ether as Chapman’s vocals swoop and soar on a track that melds folk and electronica to take the listener on a poppy, very catchy and slightly left-field musical journey. It’s a bright light in dark days, as it’s slightly wistful but ultimately uplifting tone wins the listener over.
Well that’s it for this week, hope you like something you heard, be sure to check out the artists other music, social media and maybe the odd live gig! Until next week then!