Well, the festivities are beginning, but many of us are still working over the holiday period, some doing very important jobs, while others of us are just providing a little colour to people’s lives. A big thank you to those that keep the world running so that the rest of us can spend time with those we love. And also spend some time listening to music! And so, on with the show…
We featured Hive Riot back in September with their track With My Body, and the duo are back with another cracker in the guise of Lovers In Outer Space. It has a similar ambiance to the previous track; less uptempo yet just as catchy, and the lyrical concept is witty, expressive and full of clever wordplay. It’s a light and fun song with a strong emotional heart, and shows that the duo have real song-writing skill under the layers of hedonism and happiness. With Lovers In Outer Space, Mindy and Dustin Gledhill have another winner on their hands!
Miami based producer Leitvox combines trip-hop style beats, laid back synths and the most sensual vocals and lyrics – courtesy of Jette Kelly – to serve up a chilled and electro-infused take on trip-hop with Ingenue. Lewis’s vocal style is reminiscent of Elena Fossi from Kirlian Camera, with her soft but imperious tones bringing out the track’s more modern gothic undertones. There are nods to the cinematic style of Portishead, but Ingenue functions on a more intimate, personal level and is all the better for that.
Matthew Chastney records under the name The Dreamless Sleep, and on Tarka he fuses elements of downtempo, classical and trip-hop to present a sound that I’d describe as upfront ambient. It comes across as very much about setting a mood and keeping the listeners’ attention with gentle persuasion. The minimal and at times whispered vocals function as an instrument in their own right and provide as much colour and depth as the emotive strings. There’s a feel of Ludovico Einaudi about Tarka, but it paints a much broader canvas both sonically and emotionally.
Capac take a very experimental approach to making music. On Ach Bittrer Winter the UK electronic collective use organic elements and influences – such as folk sounds from Greece in this case – and much more. On top of the organic elements, they use digital processing techniques, ambient and drone effects coupled with light percussive tones to create a real sense of Winter. An almost primal feel pervades the track, as if a ghostly snow from a pagan past has appeared in the modern age. Ach Bittrer Winter will feature on the upcoming THROUGH THE DREAD WASTE album – you can find out more about it here.
Michael Rogel is a very regular visitor to Electronic North – in fact we interviewed him in June this year, and that is down to the sheer quality and consistency of his output. His latest offering Fear is atmospheric electronica at its finest, a sublime mix of hip-hop beats, world music influenced samples, driving percussion and house music with a dash of gospel imbued inspiration; but most of all there’s a real sense of awareness here, and he certainly knows how to use sound and rhythm to elicit an upbeat emotional response.
Regards Coupables has a high profile as an illustrator – he also does all the artwork for the Splinter label and his erotic art has quite the following on Instagram (be careful – not suitable for work!), but he is best known as a producer and musician. He has teamed up with Venezuelan singer Lulannie on Infinito. The initial grunge like intro is deceiving, as downtempo leads, oriental style effects and Lulannie’s Yé-yé influenced vocals deliver a track that is dreamy but driving in tone, as if Daft Punk had developed a more reflective edge to their music. Oh, and be sure to check out his work for Splinter – it’s kinda cool!
Crossing the Channel to the UK, next up we have Proof by Apis. With a sound labelled ‘Gothic R&B’, that seemingly contradictory conflation is actually very accurate. Vocally and lyrically there’s a very old school almost blues feel to the track with it’s almost rough and ready nature, but musically Proof is very much of the here and now. It invites comparison with diverse acts like Drab Majesty and Boy Harsher, in that the modern gothic tone of the track is more about attitude than sound. If you’re alone but not lonely, then this track will strike a chord with you – musically and emotionally, as its minimal and repetitive nature makes it feel like a long-time companion.
Much lighter in tone is Brighton from HINDU. Tania Yankovska, who hails from Kiev, whips up an intoxicating blend of electro-driven dreampop on a track that has a tough inner lyrical core, subtly hidden under the driving and chiming nature of the song. It you like the arch synth-pop of Marsheaux and the indie-pop of ALVVAYS then you’ll find plenty to like in the bittersweet tones of Brighton. If you like kites, you’ll love the official video for the song.
In a Pinch, is the second single from Joel Stanton, and it’s a track he says is about ‘the line between infatuation and paranoia’. It’s a musical departure compared to his other project – Perfect Families. There’s a pronounced move towards a more electronic pop sound, though Drifting still features his beautifully fragile vocals and left field approach to tried and tested genres, with the track applying an indie sensibility to an electropop template. The unhurried nature of the arrangement works well with the more intense lyrics, giving In a Pinch and welcoming but slightly disconcerting overall feel.
Last up this week is the simply wonderful Ionnalee and her track Gone. Jonna Lee is known to many as the outstanding live vocalist with Röyksopp on their recent string of dates, but as a musician, producer and artist she has been through a staggering number of re-inventions and guises over the years. Currently releasing music under the Ionnalee name, she continues to maintain her impossibly high musical standards with Gone: an almost tribal opening giving way to a throbbing bass line, using striking synth leads and euphoric melodies to perfectly capture the emotions involved in the melancholy of loss.
And that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed some of what you’re heard and read. Be sure to check out more music by the featured artists and be sure to share what you liked. Good music is not just for Christmas!