Monday, 30 November 2009

Sona Di So Good For Me

Recently I haven't listened to a great deal of post-rock, it all started to sound boring, depressing and monotonous; Explosions In The Sky were starting to repeat themselves and Godspeed have pretty much collapsed as an entity. How refreshing, then, to find a post-rock band that doesn't preoccupy itself with playing the same dull guitar riff over and over again until the end of time - step forward, Sona Di.

Last night I was privy to a spleen-blowing gig at the Head Of Steam up here in sunny Newcastle, Sona Di were the opening act but nothing separated any of three bands. What made it an exceptional gig was the way in which every act complemented each other perfectly.

What sets them apart from, say, Explosions In The Sky is the passion in their performance and the fusion of other styles like drone and noise into a style of post-rock that peaks and falls with far more tension than their contemporaries.

I do like Explosions In The Sky but their performance when I saw them at the Sage was turgid, with very little progression. Sona Di, on the other hand, seemed to have planned their set perfectly, climaxing as it did with the literal disintegration of the stage.

As their set reached its zenith, so did their exertion: Angus Mason, the drummer, beat that drumkit so hard it shook throughout and collapsed right at the end as their driving beat crescendoed; Daniel Irving, the guitarist, rose from his seat at the same point and played with such ferocity that he too nearly collapsed. That with the intensity of Michael Marwood's vocals made for a truly impassioned performance.

Now look down for some (two) Sona Di goodies: a video of the performing live at The Musical Restaurant last year plus a free mp3 of my personal favourite Sona Di tune to indulge yourself in. Enjoy!

Download: Sona Di - Forest

Sunday, 29 November 2009

New Donna Summer mix for ZNMA Vodka!

Smashing new mix from DJ Donna Summer. Download the crap out of it if you like your basslines fast and wibbly wobbly.

"Boss man DJ Donna Summer was asked to make a new mix for this Russian vodka company called ZNMA. It’s actually pronounced “Zima” but that’s the Russian word for winter and there’s absolutely no connection between the two, so we keep the “N” in there because it looks cool and that’s how my man Oleg spells it… haha! This is available in a Deluxe Digi-pack format in Russia but we want the music spread far and wide, so here it is for free @ 320!

"The mix is 100% Nightshifters tracks with a lot of exclusive new tracks as well as a few of our older favorites. Comes with the artwork for the CD in the .zip as well, so take a look!"

Download: Nightshifters Mix for ZNMA Vodka (320 mp3)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

New Monolake album!

When I read what Robert Henke had written on the Monolake website I thought "What a load of pretentious wanky drivel." but then I listened to the album and I realised I was absolutely right. The new LP, 'Silence', should really have been just that.

I actually really liked Monolake's older stuff; it managed to blend elements of dub, techno, and minimalist drum & bass. Their first three records, Cyan, Magenta and HongKong were perfect ambient records and paved the way for the really early, breaksy dubstep.

Since then, though, they seem like they're just trying too hard to be 'weird'. There's intellectual snobbery in here somewhere, I'm just not sure if it's mine or theirs.

The whole concept of the album (by now alarm bells should have shattered your eardrums) was that music recorded live before digital cleanups and whatnot had dynamics - i.e. some bits would be louder, some softer, etc. - and that this was a golden age. The fact is, there's very little else to this album and it comes off as a really tedious experiment that I could've survived quite happily without hearing.

It's such a shame because they used to be such pioneers, both members now run Ableton Live full time, but now I can't help but feel like they're just doing it for the sake of it, and at times simply going through the motions - especially on the opening track.

For a much better experience just ignore this album and go back to their early stuff. And try to stay away from all the showing off and techno-cockery.

On the upside, Torsten Pröfrock also produces really spiffy dubstep as T++. His remix of 'Death Is Not Final' for Shackleton has taken off a storm on the ol' blogosphere. Go, prosper and stay away from this album.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Randy Twigg - Undone

After spending 3, count them 3, hours downloading this LP, I couldn't help but feel that it better be good. And honestly, I wasn't expecting much.

I hadn't heard of Randy Twigg before but the accompanying blurb from tigerbeat6 told me that she comes from:

"Deep in the bowels of Europe, well past the architecture and schnitzel hauses, past the sweating line-ups roped away from already packed clubs, past the throbbing mass on the dance floor itself, deep in the hot flashes of stages across Europe and Canada, slamming her beats, strapped into her bass, playing every note like her last"

With that in mind, I slapped it on and was underwhelmed to begin with. At first listen this sounds a little too much like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, without much of a signature. Having said that, 'Done Up' is a great opener, with a real Kraut-rock influence and a touch of MC5 for good measure.

After the first track things get a little hazy and border on lazy until you get to 'Photograph' and the bluesy electro-rock really kicks in. Any worries I had about Ms. Twigg not being able to find the right balance between electroclash and garage rock completely dissipated.

The vocals throughout draw on elements of Kate Bush and early Siouxsie Sioux, but what I love most is how the contrasting layers and the soundscapes they use reminded me of Einstürzende Neubauten with just a hint of Nick Cave. Shitty derivative Radio 1 electro it ain't. Which is nice.

I couldn't tell you what the lyrics are about, and if I'm honest I'm not sure she could either, but it's really great music and makes a nice change from the whole "kooky female singer" schtick with the likes of La Roux, Little Boots, etc. It does teeter on the verges of really boring girl-shouting-over-electro a la Fannypack and Fagget Fairies, but it picks up by the fourth track and there's some really great remixes of from Kid606, GD Luxxe and Khan to boot.

Stand out tracks: Suitcase, Made Of Mouse, Bona Fide, Assassin
Download: Randy Twigg - 3 Parrots (Kid606 Remix)

Title: Undone (meow154)
Artist: Randy Twigg
Out now on Tigerbeat6

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Durutti Column's tribute to Tony Wilson

It has been announced today that The Durutti Column, of which the creatively erratic Vini Reilly is a founding member, are to release a commemorative album to mark the death of Factory Records co-founder and manager of the Hacienda nightclub, Tony Wilson.

The release, A Paean To Wilson, was originally written by Vini Reilly as a personal collection for Wilson to listen to while he was seriously ill in hospital in 2007, shortly before his death. The tape, in its present form was commissioned by the Manchester International Festival of Music. It is scheduled to be released on 24th January next year, the 32nd anniversary of the day Factory Records was set up in 1978.

"A Paean to Wilson is part of a body of work which I started around the time that my friend, Tony Wilson died. Towards the end of his illness, I sent him an instrumental track and he loved it, so I decided that the right thing to do was carry on.

"I was at the hospital when he died. We were very, very close. Afterwards, many things were done in his name. They were all about 'Mr Manchester', and about what Tony had done for music, art and literature. I didn't attend many of them. I'd just lost one of my closest friends and I had all the grief that you feel under such circumstances. Once I'd got my act together though, I decided to do something for myself and for Tony.

"The Durutti Column was Tony Wilson's baby. We were the first act signed up to his Factory club night and the first band signed to Factory Records. Over the years we worked on many albums together and the one thing that Tony and I always argued about was that he thought that I should make music and write rather than sing.

"After he died, I decided to make a body of work which did not have traditional song structures and which was concerned solely with the musical content. My only objective was to create some music that Tony would thoroughly approve of. I think I've done that and, if his spirit lives on - which I like to think that it does - I want him to know that this is for him."
- Vini Reilly

As Reilly points out, The Durutti Column were Wilson's band. Rob Gretton had Joy Division (previously The Stiff Kittens and Warsaw, later New Order) but The Durutti Column were special to him, they were the first band he discovered and one of the few bands he discovered that could be taken remotely serious (A Certain Ratio anyone?). So it seems largely fitting that Reilly and his band would put together such a piece. And let's face it, a tribute by the Happy Mondays wouldn't have quite the same poignancy. Particularly, now that it's essentially Shaun Ryder and Bez with a few session musicians.

Anyway, I digress. The fact is The Durutti Column managed to give the angular, disjointed rhythms of post-punk an ethereal edge. They were also mocked (and still are) for being a bit weird and introspective, but that's what set them apart from bands like Joy Division who still retained a lot of the macho punk ethic. In closing, Reilly and Wilson had a lot in common, both were derided for being a bit different and not being macho or what you would consider "punk". They weren't afraid to be themselves and refused to do anything for the sake of it, making this tribute all the more apt. What's more, these songs are a touching tribute and further testament to Wilson's legacy as a man loyal to his artists 'til the very end.

So here's a little teaser of Vini Reilly performing part of A Paean To Wilson at the Pavillion Theatre as part of the aforementioned Manchester International Festival of Music:

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Chrissy Murderbot's Year of Mixtapes

Given the last post I thought it appropriate to mention Chrissy Murderbot's new project. It's an ambitious task he's setting himself, but he seems to be doing a good job so far. He has set to produce a new mix each week covering a different style of dance or electronica, and every now and again you get two mixes for the price of one! Impressively, he also promises not to repeat the same tune twice. So far we've had drum & bass, techno, two kraftwerk tapes, disco, soul, reggae and happy hardcore. And we're only on week 24. Aside from the party factor it's actually really educational if you're a bit of a nerd when it comes to music. Each mix comes with an incredibly informed introduction about whatever style or artist is covered that week.
This week it's Ghettotech and Chrissy sets us straight on the difference between ghettotech and juke:
"Ghettotech tends to stick to either four-on-the-floor style drum patterns or traditional Miami bass electro drum patterns, whereas juke is a lot more all over the place rhythmically; ghettotech makes a lot less use of the tom tom drum as a melodic instrument; and ghettotech tends to be 'techier' or more futuristic sounding, whereas juke has a lot more of a pronounced soul, hip hop, and R&B influence."

I have to admit I haven't heard of most of the artists he features, but that's the brilliance of it. Whole genres and styles of music you've never even heard before. And don't worry, because it can get quite "breaksy" here and there for anyone interested in something a little harder. My personal favourites have to be this week's Ghettotech tape, the Booty Music/Jack Trax tape and the Steppas Reggae, but believe me there's so much more in there and definitely something for everyone.
It may not be breakcore but it sure is fun. So go to his blog, check out the latest entry and catch up on what you've already missed!


Thanks to the limitless generosity that flows from Mr. Murderbot's very being, we're able to offer you the latest tape absolutely chuffing FREE!:

Download: Chrissy Murderbot - Week 24, Ghettotech Mix