Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Exclusive: Bonde do Role LIVE at Nag Nag Nag

As mentioned before, the lovely people at Domino have been kind enough to supply Tunetourist with some exclusive live footage of Brazil's premier funk carioca group, Bonde do Rolé. Our first installment sees a typically high-charged, enthusiastic rendition of the soon to be re-released single Solta O Frango. Stay tuned for more live treats over the next few days.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Incoming Hip Hop

With a glut of fine hip hop set to drop over the next couple of months, including albums from major players Common and Talib Kweli as well as more underground names like Oh No, here’s three that we’ve already managed to get our hands on.

Oh No – Dr. No’s Oxperiment (Stones Throw)
Released August 06

Like Oh No’s previous album “Exodus Into Unheard Rhymes” - built entirely from samples of music by “Hair” producer Galt MacDermot - this collection of 28 instrumental tracks comes with a new sampling conceit. This time the Oxnard, California producer and younger brother of Madlib has restricted himself to the lurid grooves of label manager Egon’s collection of Turkish and Middle Eastern psych and Italian prog. The result is the label’s most inspired instrumental offering since Dilla’s “Donuts”. But where that album celebrated those treasured and well-worn soul gems from Dilla’s childhood, “Dr No’s Oxperiment” revels in the extreme otherness of its sources, crafting the heaviest of beats out of the fuzz psych of 70s artists like Selda and mining incredible swing from the music’s non-western scales.

Talib Kweli – “Ear Drum” (Blacksmith Music / Warners)
Released September 3

Up until track 10 this is sounding like Kweli’s most rewarding effort since his true solo debut, 2002’s “Quality”. Rather than crowbarring smart rhymes into clumsy metre, he sounds on point, his flow natural and relaxed. He’s kept a fairly tight control on the contributions from his excellent production line-up, including Madlib, Kanye West, Just Blaze and Pete Rock. Even - current rent-a-hip-hop-hitmaker to any major label MC looking for a juicy crossover hit - has acquitted himself acceptably on the Jean Grae-featuring, “Say Something”. It’s a decent enough example of the typical 2007 major label hip hop album made by committee, with most of the right people sitting on the board. Why then does it labour its way on through to 16 tracks, with all the weakest material programmed into the record’s final 30 minutes? It’s a tired trick this scattergun programming and it falls wide of its intention to score mass appeal, only leaving the artist looking woefully unfocussed.

Cadence Weapon – Breaking Kayfabe (Big Dada)
Released September 24

Rollie Pemberton is the 21-year-old Canadian MC, producer and Pitchfork journalist who took time out of writing his popular Razorblade Runner blog to refix artists like Lady Sovereign and DFA 1979 and then release this Canadian debut back in 2005. Finally, the album gets a UK issue courtesy of the persistently forward-thinking Big Dada label where it finds a niche somewhere between the jarring leftfield efforts of signings like NMS and the electro-party bass of Spank Rock. The thrillingly claustrophobic “Grim Fandango” and “Black Hand” provide highlights and Pemberton proves a brilliant wordsmith and dextrous MC, when he’s not drowning his vocal in screaming, overdriven synth.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Animal Collective – Coronet, Elephant & Castle 11/07/07

If their forthcoming album suggests that Baltimore’s reliably eccentric -noise pop adventurers are reigning in the mayhem, there’s little sign tonight that they’ve lost any of their gleeful sense of adventure. Certainly, ‘Strawberry Jam’ errs towards more traditional and concise structures. Gone are the epic 15-minute excursions into the wilder recesses of the collective's brain, replaced by a new found sense of restraint, the longest track peaking at just under seven minutes.

That's not to suggest they've turned into The Fratellis overnight - they’re still capeable of wigging out and howling like banshees over a cacophonous mixture of electronics and guitars. And that’s perhaps why it’s so surprising that they can fill venues like the Astoria and tonight's 2,200 capacity Coronet without comprising their signature esoteric sound. Maybe it's their knack for balancing a pop sensibility with experimentalism that draws in such a varied fanbase. The regular assortment of straight up indie-kids, older avant-garde types and hardcore scenesters are all present this evening - eyes glazed, staring at the band, heads feverishly nodding.

Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist - resembling a trio of stoned Beach Boys circa 'Surf's Up' - take to the stage just after 10pm, mysteriously lacking guitarist Deakin. But this doesn't hold them back as all three take to their banks of kit and wring from their machines a mesmerising set, incorporating a sizable portion of the new album alongside old favourites like “Who Can Win A Rabbit” and “Grass”.

Strangely, there’s no live instrumentation this evening bar a couple of keyboards and a cymbal crash shared by Mr. Bear and Tare but those guitar sounds are coming from somewhere, perhaps from Geologist's bank of noises. In fact, it's this approach that makes them resemble more of a knob-twiddling techno outfit than an indie / noise band, emphasised as an array of percussive noises are looped into a swirling 4/4 beat for what seems like the majority of the performance. This driving rhythm is offset nicely by their three-part vocal harmonies, trademark screeching feedback and all manner of other melodic delights, to whip up a wondrous psych-out which lasts most of the evening.

With Domino behind the new album a new legion of fans may be about to stumble across Animal Collective’s raucous invention – next stop Brixton Academy? They’ll most likely remain far too willful a proposition for that level of success and that’s probably how it should be. Long may we cherish these mavericks.

Justin Steele

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wu-Tang Clan – Hammersmith Apollo, July 5

You don’t go to Wu-Tang gigs expecting to lose yourself in the music, in fact you’re lucky if you can hear the music over the dismally engineered sound and combined shouting of whichever members have deigned to turn up. You’re more likely to be there to pay homage to one of late 20th century music’s most enduring cultural colossuses, an affiliation of talent, innovation and raw energy the like of which has rarely been seen.

It’s a hit and miss affair this pilgrimage, often disappointed by shoddy turnouts from the Clan or worse than dismal live productions but at Hammersmith Apollo last week they delivered a full house, even bringing film star and errant child Method Man back into the fold. To add to the congenial atmosphere of family reunion, it also happened to be both Wu-patriarch, RZA, and Inspectah Deck’s birthdays, so each member was equipped with a bottle of Dom Perignon and the Cognac flowed liberally throughout the night. So much so, that both a virtually immobile Raekwon and visibly shitfaced Streetlife were seriously worse-for-wear.

Last time they attacked this same stage back in 2004 it was Ghostface Killah that led proceedings, rightfully hailed as the only member consistent enough in his solo efforts to have earned the unfailing respect of the crowd. But tonight, despite stunning triumphs with his last two albums, Ghost takes a back seat to the hyperactive Method Man as the crowd celebrates his return to the brotherhood. Meth - perhaps because he can hold his drink - bounds about the stage with the energy of a hyperactive teen, frequently throws himself into the crowd and even overshadows the RZA in his command of the audience. Finally, we get to hear “Method Man” and “Bring The Pain” as they were intended and verses from “Ice Cream” to the still-peerless posse cut “Protect Ya Neck” (“Can I get a "sue"? / Nuff respect due to the one-six-ooh”) are elevated by his utterly distinctive, artful drawl.

At the heart of the celebration is the communion between fan and group, both ecstatic that it’s still possible to draw all these people together to celebrate the Wu revolution so many years on. It's good to see an act evidently having so much fun for a change and a hip hop show where the performers really respect and appreciate their crowd. Whether or not we can plausibly expect great things from the forthcoming “8 Diagrams” – and, honestly, you wouldn’t write it off – its difficult to name another act that’s enjoyed 15 years quite like this.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some June highlights

Here's an assortment of treats that have descended upon the Tunetourist headquarters over the last thirty days. Top quality US indie from Road and Reckless, techno - of both the Detroit and minimal varities - from the likes of Hard Wax and Vinyl Club, some first-rate reggae from Aquarius and some personal selections thrown in for good measure.

Phat Kat feat. Elzhi – Cold Steel (Look Records)
Seems J Dilla saved some of his best beats for fellow Detroit resident and old buddy Phat Kat. A surprisingly hard beat for Dilla this fierce track thunders along with snapping hi-hats and a Neptunes-esque electric bass whilst Phat Kat rips it with his vitriolic commentary. It's been floating around for while now but it must be heard.

Animal Collective – Peacebone (Domino)
With this lead-off single from their forthcoming Domino-released LP ‘Strawberry Jam’ the Tunetourist favourites are doing what they do best: making manic, warm-hearted indie music that oozes creativity.

Shape of Broad Minds feat. DOOM – Let’s Go (Lex Records)
After last year’s ace Beat Journey LP Jneiro Jarel has returned – and he’s brought some friends with him. This highlight, and single, from the forthcoming LP ‘Craft of the Lost Art’ is a spacey, disco-laden effort featuring the not inconsiderable talents of the Super-Villain himself. Don’t sleep.

Pan-Pot – What is What (Mobilee)
It’s getting ever harder to separate the dwindling wheat from the chaff in Berlin’s over- saturated minimal techno scene these days but Pan-Pot shine through with their latest release on Mobilee. Perhaps influenced by Sleeparchive’s ultra-reduced production, it’s a similar aesthetic but with a far groovier edge.

Lavender Diamond – My Shadow Is A Monday (Matador)
A dreamy, almost anthemic indie-folk record courtesy of this LA quartet. Becky Stark and co effortlessly conjure the late 60s / early 70s country pop sounds of Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt to marvellous effect.

Alborosie – Kingston Town (Forward Recording)
A relative newcomer to the Jamaican Roots and Dancehall scene, this Italian reggae artist chronicles the highs and lows of life in the capital. An impressive and heavy roots tune not too dissimilar to Damian Marley’s recent efforts.

Kubra – Unknown Swimming Object (AW Records)
A very impressive debut 12” from these Rotterdam based neo-Detroiters. A loving homage to deep Motor-City techno, which also harks back to the Artificial Intelligence sound of early Warp releases.

Oh No – Hot Fire (Stones Throw)
Oh No tries to out-do older brother Madlib in the obscure sample stakes. Delving into rare and raw psych from Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Italy the Oxnard, CA native delivers on his third effort – ‘Dr. No’s Oxperiment’. With this track being one of many highlights from the 28 on offer.

Blonde Redhead – 23 (4AD)
The title track from the latest LP by Japanese and Italian NYC residents, Blonde Redhead, recalls early nineties indie rock in the best possible sense. My Bloody Valentine’s poppier moments weigh in alongside a sizeable chunk of St. Etienne for good measure.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Interview: Matthew Dear pt. 2

Apologies for the delay, here's the second part of our interview with Detroit 'experimental pop' producer, Matthew Dear. Incidentally, his album "Asa Breed" is out this week and we reckon it's one of the most exciting of the last few months, well worth picking up.

Q: How do you decide if you’re working on Audion, Matthew Dear or False stuff on any given day?

A: Well I’m always doing everything. Right now I’ve been a bit too busy touring and trying to get the album out, I honestly haven’t sat down in the studio for a couple of months. I’ve just done a couple of remixes and that’s it. I’d like to get some more Audion songs down and we’re probably going to put out another Audion album early next year. I like the dual personalities, I love techno music, I love the environment of the club and I love being able to DJ, stay up late and get into that style of music. I also like playing with the band now, so there’s really no ‘favourite’ in my book, I’m just going to try and do both really well and if one suffers, I’ll take a break from it but I don’t want to give up completely.

Q: What sort of live environment suits this record? Are you taking it to the clubs?

A: I’ve tried to pick more rock style stuff for these shows, I don’t want to play the same places that I’ve played as Audion. I really just want to make a split and let my audience know more about each act individually, rather than going to the same club they saw Audion.

Q: Have you done the full live show at a UK venue before?

A: No never, I’m going to hopefully. Right now we’ve just got a festival lined-up. It’s just tough because I have to re-write the book on everything I’ve built up so far in terms of touring. When you tour you obviously build relationships with venues and promoters and then if you come out with a completely new project that appeals to a different set of people you have to find new venues and it can be a bit tricky.

Q: You were compared to LCD Soundsystem in a recent review, which seems rather off the mark to us…

A: What I’ve found doing interviews and talking to people, everybody has their own favourite song and everybody has their own favourite comparison. I’ve heard everything from the ones I thought – Arthur Russell, Brian Eno, Talking Heads – to Joy Division, some bands I never even knew of, some really obscure bands that made me think I was more credible than I am. A lot of these artists were just future-thinking electronic artists, mixing rhythm and melody like you talked about, they’re mixing pop structure with art structure… And I’d like to think that’s what I’m trying to do. I think we’re all just trying to carry the torch of modern experimental pop music.

Q: Do you feel affiliated to any particular artists working at the moment?

A: Not so much, I think I just see myself as part of a generation of artists that are branching out and trying new things because of technology becoming so rampantly available. I don’t want to say I’m just a genre mixer; I’m not like an electro house, vocal micro-house singer. I don’t like those labels, I just like to think of myself as making experimental pop music. In terms of other artists I’d like to hope I’m something like Four Tet who takes a different approach with each album. Anyone who just tries something new each time, like The Liars, they’re not getting locked into one style. I like Susumu Yokota, every album I hear by him is a new experience, it's like he’s really trying to adapt technology and express himself differently with each album. We’re not the same artist over and over again and we can constantly reinvent ourselves.

Q: There’s a critical short-sightedness in the UK that insists on pigeon-holing electronic acts who transfer to the live arena…

A: That’s a shame. I’m not trying to be an Underworld or a Chemical Brothers, I’m not trying to make electronic music like that again. I think people do just get stuck in this genrefication, they need it to be one thing. ‘This is where he’s coming from – he’s a DJ, he plays at techno parties in Berlin so this must be what he’s trying to say.’ I’m not trying to be a techno frontman, I’m just trying to be a musical frontman.

Q: Putting aside the associations of 'minimal' as a genre of electronic music, do you consider your music as minimalist?

A: Well I use a lot of spare sound. My new definition for minimalism in techno music is, there are a lot of small sounds and minute sounds happening although the music can be very broad and very expansive, it can still be minimalistic to a certain degree because there’s a lot of detail and care put into the production. There can be a lot of little things happening at once. In my mind that’s what ‘minimal techno’ has become because, obviously, the songs aren’t very sparse anymore, they’re pretty energetic and club-storming. So really it’s just the attention to detail and I definitely have a lot of that in my music, I’ll spend hours on one loop and make every sound perfect in my mind. So in that sense I think its minimalist because I’m really stripping it down to the bare elements and really working on every sound, trying to make it perfect.

Q: What do you make of the music coming out of the techno scene at the moment?

A: It’s a bit oversaturated right now but I still hear the diamonds in the rough that are well worth the wait. Mainly, I think it’s because with technology these days – programmes like Ableton Live and computers getting a lot faster and cheaper – you’re finding more and more people all over the world, kids in some random corner of Spain or all the way over to Argentina, are making music constantly. Unfortunately with that you’re getting a lot of repetition and people just doing the same thing over and over again.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Fratellis Interview

More interviews from this year's Glastonbury Festival in the below posts, including a rather 'sleepy' Fratellis, not exactly showing the strain as they prepared for their first ever Glasto performance on the Pyramid Stage.

The Hours Interview

News: Doherty, UK festivals, Dizzee, Animal Collective

Pete Doherty pleaded guilty to charges of possessing crack cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis yesterday and has been ordered to undergo yet more rehab. Sentencing has been deferred until August 7, after the singer emerges from a likely 5-day course of treatment at a centre in Harrogate. After turning up two hours late, Doherty reportedly wept in court and struggled to give his correct address, eventually declaring that he is now resident in Hackney and no longer living with Kate Moss in North London. Leaving the court he told reporters, “It’s rehab or jail. I was going to rehab anyway, to be honest with you, but this is a little push.”

Meanwhile, here’s a great review of Pete’s “Books Of Albion” from yesterday’s Guardian.

The miserable British weather has put paid to nine planned open-air events planned by the Classical Prom Company, either by deterring potential customers from making a ticket purchase or simply by rendering proposed sites “completely sodden.” As a result the organisation behind the events has gone into liquidation. Obviously, the ramifications for the UK festival industry could be immense. If things continue as they are what hope is there for those events still struggling to sell tickets to the unprecedented number of festivals taking place this year?

Now then, here’s a couple of new videos that got us excited this morning

Dizzee Rascal – “Old Skool” (aka "Pussyole")

Animal Collective – “Fireworks”