Friday, 30 March 2012

ALBUM REVIEW : WHIRR - PIPE DREAMS

"Loud music from California" boasts the Tumblr homepage of Whirr, the 6-person shoegaze set up formerly known as Whirl. "Pipe Dreams" is the debut full length following up last summer's EP 'Distressor' - and slips comfortably in with the international shoegaze revival of recent years.

With sonic ancestors in the way of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Chapterhouse and 90s shoegazers of their ilk, Pipe Dreams is a sensual vintage mesh of all pervading reflective sound: angelic multilayered vocals delicately etched beneath heavy guitar fuzz. The watery prog-rock may have something to do with guitarist Nick Bassett, also of post-metal band Deafheaven. The acts share a similarly explosive, guitar driven emotive weight that adds a tumultuous energy to tracks like 'Junebouvier', and sunny undulating noise-poplet 'Bogus' (a catchy standout in my humble opinion).

But apart from wearing the right Grandpa hat, Whirr manage to articulate and express with a rare emotional eloquence. 'Reverie' and 'Toss' display a shadowy pensivity not typically seen in a genre that often works on pure aesthetics (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Tracks like 'Wait' are infused with a cold, goose-pimple-inducing potency brought through by airy electro pulses and buzzing crescendos.

Then a brave turn in the form of lo-fi number 'Formulas and Frequencies’ - the basic yet captivating circular melodies and defined unrelenting rhythm featured throughout the record are this time underpinned by jangly un-distorted guitar and acoustic piano. ‘Formulas’ is almost threadbare in its emptiness amongst those other thickly adorned tracks, but adds to a pensive, miasmic air. Fortunately indie melodic dream-pop 'Toss' is about to lighten the mood.

Watercoloured yet bold, dreamy yet energetic - injected noise-pop zeal with an electro water wash: Whirr are a confidently self aware contender in the so-named nu-gaze scene of the new decade. These hypnotic curtains of layered on sound reveal something new on each listen. Eyes shut, headphones on, volume up: wrap yourself in a fuzzed-up 90s flashback.

Whirr // Buy 'Pipe Dreams' from Tee Pee Records.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

ALBUM REVIEW : GRIMES - VISIONS


I could start off by whining about the lack of decent female producer/artists on the electronic scene but it’s been done before. Besides, I know at least 3, and Montreal based vocalist, composer, and all round artiste Claire Boucher aka Grimes is definitely one of them.

A one man (sorry - one woman) machine when it comes to making the most bewildering disarray of stunning beat based electro sound - drawing influence from people like Prince and Enya, from vintage pop to state-of-the art electronic, from the hazy aural landscape of the Indian orient (Symphonia) and more, calling Grimes’ sound weird is like calling a daVinci colourful: Visions is a dizzyingly catchy eclectic fusion of everything that sounds great. Boucher describes her work as an ‘ethereal escape’ - that’s a good place to start.

According to the prolific music maker (this is album number 4 in two years) “Visions” was the result of weeks of self-imposed solitude - she didn’t see the sun for weeks. If insanity is the mark of the real artist and pasty skin the mark of a true producer - then she’s got both in buckets.

Boucher has an ear for what’s hot and hits the nails on the head - a genius at pulling together and knotting up everything that is in knife edge vogue. With throwbacks to 90s pop and dirty R&B beats, classical instrumentation (Nightmusic) and aggressive crunchy industrial beats topped off by waif like vocals (think Lykke Li) it’s great to see someone who is unafraid of crossing genre boundaries in a work of art like this. And I bet she’s a nice person too...

'Burial' is the pick of the bunch in regards to being the most commercially linear: and the disgustingly catchy beat/melody. There is however something to be said for the more erratic watercolour chillwave rivulets of 'Genesis', the off kilter melodies of 'Infinite - Without Fulfillment'. Personal preference means I shy from tracks like ‘Eight' that cross too far into modern RnB, but I’m loathe to say I enjoy infectious electro/dance pop 'Circumambient'. From the aggressive runway strut of 'Be a Body' to the angelic ethereal love song of 'Symphonia IX' that bubbles into murky depths - you really can’t see where this chick is going next. An obvious hit in indie circles, with wider appeal to pop and rnB, the hype is well deserved

Grimes // Buy 'Visions'

Monday, 26 March 2012

INTERVIEW : 21 PERSPECTIVE

Having recently reviewed his debut EP titled 'My Ideal Woman' we thought it would be quite nice to interview the chap himself; 21 Perspective. Our boy from the hood, well Clapham, Tom Nash asks the questions.

Tom: So have you found your ideal woman, or is she still out there somewhere waiting for you?

21 Perspective: Haha how apt a first question. Maybe I’ll find her..maybe one day.

Tom: There aren’t many rappers that would prominently feature an ode to their mother on their debut release (Rahila). It’s a great track- you probably say what most of us would like to say to our mum if the majority of us fellas weren’t crippling stunted, emotionally. Has your mum heard it? What was her reaction?

21: My family doesn’t really know I do music but I did play my mum this track. She hugged me when she first heard it. Then when she heard it on radio (her name is Rahila), she blushed. I love my mum.

To be honest whatever. I don’t really follow norms. Never have. Never will. Women deserve much more respect than they are given.

Tom: You have a great ear for beats! What’s your process? Do you write to the beat or find the right backing to fit your lyrics?

21: Thank you. Both. More often than not I’ll find a beat and just zone out to it. My BB and rhymebook are full of song concepts, bars and ideas I need to develop so occasionally I do start with a set idea of what beat I need.

Tom: I’m not sure which is my favourite track on the EP is Rahila or Till I Looked @ You. Do you have a favourite?

21: Lights Down Low. I have a few mic personalities – noticeably I’ve been working on the Suicide Kid and the Romantic. That song introduces the latter – I usually use a faster flow and exaggerated romanticism with that character.

My debut single I Will Be Waiting (out on 2nd April) is from the Romantic.

Tom: You’ve seen the music industry from the business side and the artistic; which do you prefer?

21: Not even a question. Artistic. This whole industry’s an illusion and it’s graft. It can kill your soul if you let it.

Tom: The subject matter of My Ideal Woman and the title of your upcoming mixtape #StraightAStudent suggest an approach to Hip Hop that is far from the stereotype of guns, bitches, bling and bragging. Is this a conscious effort on your part or should we expect you to “get ig’nant” on #StraightAStudent?

21: You’re correct but I’m not really a conscious artist. I just do me. Just me on a microphone. Some of my music’s about morality, some of it’s about relationships, some about my struggles. It’s everything and anything.

But at the same time there’s a lot coming in 2012 from the Suicide Kid – the angry, aggressive part of me that’s screaming to be heard. Everything’s a part of me and I’m just trying to express myself as best as I can.

Tom: So you’ve got a Philosophy degree and a medical degree, have a film you’ve written, directed, produced and starred in on the way (Rivers of Blood) AND a mixtape too… Where do you find the time???

21: I only sleep about 5-6 hours a day, I only eat twice a day if I’m lucky. I got 3 jobs to try and support myself and music. Most of my friends either walked out on me or I cut them out of my life so I don’t really socialise. Music, medicine and religion. That’s basically my life.

If you love something, you’ll strive through the struggle to achieve your dream.

Tom: Is there going to be an accompanying soundtrack to Rivers of Blood?

21: I’m thinking about it; I’ve had a few ideas. If time and promotion allows. That’s all I can really say about that at the minute.

Tom: Your Wordpress site features entries on Existentialism and Middle-Eastern Philosophy as well as musings on Politics and medical research- Pretty meaty stuff. Hip Hop isn’t a genre known for tackling issues like the human condition, how has your training in Philosophy influenced your creative output?

21: It made me think. A lot. So when I put pen to pad I’m always trying to experiment whether it’s with rhyme scheme, a story, a chorus or whatever. People will see that a lot with my newer material.

But for example on each verse of If I Could Find You on My Ideal Woman EP (available on iTunes may I add!) I took 8 bars then turned them inside out to make a complete 16 bars so it went: AA BB CC DD DD CC BB AA

I’ve never seen or heard anyone doing that.

Tom: Do you feel you will need to ‘dumb down’ your content to reach a mainstream audience?

21: To be honest I write whatever’s in my soul at any given moment. I just hope people connect with that.

Tom: You’re a poet and rapper, or should they be classed as the same thing? Is there any difference in drafting a poem to writing bars?

21: Yes and no. Hip hop is just modern-day poetry; only difference is that it’s over a beat. I firmly believe that. I’m trying to just develop what I’ve learnt from Rumi, Shakespeare, Marlowe and implement that into music.

My spoken word poetry allows me to forget rhyme scheme and regulations. Maybe it’s a truer reflection of myself. Who knows?

Tom: I studied a bit of English Lit. at university so can’t help myself here- you mention Christopher Marlowe as an influence. Some say he was the original rock star. So what do you reckon- killed in self-defence or assassinated?

21: I would agree with you there. I prefer his nuanced over-emphasis of romanticism that I felt other contemporary playwrights didn’t have. Personally I believe and have heard Shakespeare had him assassinated…precedent to Tupac and Biggie eh? Haha..

Tom: What was the first single you bought? Mine was ‘Here Come the Hotstepper’ by Ini Kamoze. Not bad for a 10 year old…

21: Ummm honestly I think I’m a little embarrassed. It was a remix of J. Holiday ‘Bed’ at the age of 17 that I couldn’t download anywhere. Sorry!

Tom: What’s on your iPod at the moment?

21: Drake, Dappy. I have a stupid amount of respect for both of them. They’re absolutely mind-blowing from a musical angle. Lotta slow jams too. Just vibing off that right now.

Tom: When can we expect #StraightAStudent?

21: It’s been a long road. It was one set of songs ready for December 2011 as an EP. Then it became a mixtape in early 2012. Now it’s back to an EP with none of those original songs. I just wanted to perfect it. It’s all done and mastered now. Just juggling it with a few other separate singles now. Just tossing up options.

Tom: Anything else you want to let our readers know?

21: Debut single “I’ll Be Waiting” (Beat by Zaheer) out on 2nd April.

Trailer is up at www.Youtube.com/WhatsYaPerspective

Tom: Thanks for taking the time to speak to Music Liberation.

21: No thank you. Come and say hello at:

Twitter / Wordpress / Facebook

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

NEW VIDEO: SPRING OFFENSIVE - WORRY FILL MY HEART

This is brilliant. One of our favourite bands from the last couple of years, Oxford's Spring Offensive, have a brand new track out and a super awesome video to go with it.

In previous times we've picked up on singles 'The First Of Many Dreams About Monsters', 'A Stutter And A Start', and album 'Pull Us Apart', and like those records this new one sees the band once again pushing the boundaries of conventional pop music.

It's a song that will certainly make you think, with the lyrics touching upon subjects which most of us go through or have been through, and like contemporaries such as WU LYF, Foals, and Bombay Bicycle Club, the music behind is spacious enough to accentuate the vocals, allowing time for you to get caught up in the whole experience, with the ending being truly uplifting.

The superb video directed by Dave Matthams only heightens the themes of the song, but I won't go into too much detail as the opening viewing is a joy to discover.

The band are heading out on a UK/European tour at the end of the month, check the dates here. // Spring Offensive

Friday, 16 March 2012

EP REVIEW : 21 PERSPECTIVE - MY IDEAL WOMAN

21 Perspective is one of those annoying people that is not happy being more proficient at one particular skill but seems to master anything they turn their hand to.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UCL and continuing his education as a medical student, 21 Perspective is also an accomplished actor and is currently producing, directing and starring in a film he also happened to write…

Ever feel like you don’t make the most of your time?

Having entered the entertainment industry managing artists- he played a major role in SwiftKnight’s signing to District 6 Publishing, the home of Donaeo, K Koke (Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label) and super-producer Just Blaze - and with 'My Ideal Woman' 21 Perspective showcases even more talents.

A precursor to #StraightAStudent, his mixtape due for release any time now, My Ideal woman is an EP that hip hop fans can call upon when yet another accusation of hip hop being nothing but shallow boasts, violence and misogyny is levelled at the genre.

Opener 'Rahila', a relaxed but heartfelt ode to the lady in Perspective’s life, features some delicious Spanish guitar licks and a chorus sung in Urdu and serves to set the scene for the remainder of the EP.

While 21 Perspective will never beat Pharoahe Monch or Eminem in a ‘best flow’ competition, his diction is clear and his voice is engaging. Like some of Talib Kweli’s earliest work, there are times when 21 Perspective tries to stuff a few too many syllables into a bar, which can make his flow sound a little unpolished.

The EP’s real strength lies in the beats 21 Perspective chose to weave his narrative over. The guitar on 'Rahila' and 'Say That You Like Me' is lush and beautiful while the vocal sample on 'Till I Looked @ You' provides a bounce and pace that counteracts the introspective lyrics wonderfully.

With a great ear for beats and a refreshing approach to a genre of music that often faces accusations of stagnancy or even ‘death’, if his flow and lyrics develop and improve, 21 Perspective’s brand of hip hop could prove to be a breath of fresh air amongst the UK’s increasingly commercialised rap scene.

21 Perspective // Download 'My Ideal Woman'

And check out this brand new track from 21 Perspective - 'Personality Disorder'

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

EP REVIEW : SALO - SALO

Noisemakers Salò have crafted a truly remarkable EP considering the three members haven’t even been playing live together for a year. The five tracks (plus bonus track) included on this self titled EP contain candid hardcore punk, with sufficient freshness and dynamism to produce (some level of) a unique voice.

Presumably, Salò are named after the town Salò in Northern Italy, which was the capital of the Fascist portion of Italy (the Italian Social Republic) – either that, or the brave 70s Italian movie made about it. Anyway, that’s kind of irrelevant – this review is about the band Salò. The Glaswegian trio formed in 2010 through the demise of their previous bands: The Ocean Fracture and No Kilter. Their brief history involves commencing their live shows in June 2011 and (originally) releasing the Salò EP in December 2011 on Overlook Records.

The first thing I want to get out of the way is production talk. This EP was helmed by Ross McGowan, who has produced Dananananaykroyd (RIP), United Fruit, etc. in the past. The problem with debut hardcore punk and/or post-hardcore releases (…actually, with most types of punk, indie, etc.) is balancing the polish with the necessary rawness. Now, Salò EP has a fiercely raw overall sound – which perfectly captures all the desired aggression of the vocals and guitars. However, where McGowan has partially failed is with the consistency of the vocals – particularly in the transition between the screaming and clean singing, resulting in the latter occasionally sounding rather thin.

That being said, the music is damn fine (and it’s the music that matters right?). Salò’s sound of preference is situated right bang in the middle of post-hardcore and mathcore. Opener ‘Hunger Artist’ is the heaviest track of the EP, featuring jarring guitars that weave intricate hardcore riffs with discordant noises and stabbing guitar lines. ‘2-3-74’ is less abrasive than the first track, with the slower pace allowing a more noise-rock atmosphere to develop – more in line with the oldschool post-hardcore of bands such as Jawbox and The Jesus Lizard (but not so much Fugazi, as the press release suggests). All three members contribute vocals to the EP, and unlike what one review implied, I can distinguish between the various vocals parts just fine – with the coarse screams complimenting, rather than devaluing, the clean singing.

The technical alt-rock of ‘Pickmans Model’, which features screams and post-hardcore built around a simpler, more melodic foundation, is reminiscent of early Biffy Clyro – with scream/sing vocals that sound a hell of a lot like Simon Neil (and no, not just because both bands are Scottish). ‘Useless Marksman’ is more straight-ahead, melodic mathcore – with the gritty guitars, grumbly bass, and screamo vocals providing a real Shapes vibe. It features the lump-in-throat, vibrating, emo gargle that former From First To Last singer Sonny Moore used to wail out (aka Skrillex, that guy who is currently treading s*** all over dubstep). The best is track of the EP is undoubtedly the closer ‘Iphis Breathes/Black Contrail’, an excellent 9-minute slab of progressive post-hardcore. It kicks off with a blistering riff in that would rival any by Pulled Apart By Horses, and contains the Salò members’ best vocal performances – both the clean singing and impassioned screams. But what really marks this particular song out is the instrumental second half, which features the kind of intelligent guitar-work – both heavy and melodic – that is normally saved for the prog or math bands that reach god-like status. Also the glorious, groove-orientated bass-work (which is reminiscent of the latest output from Glassjaw) nears perfection.

Salò’s debut EP is certainly a necessary listen for any fans of the bands name-checked in this review. They have struck an ideal position between math-core experimentalism and melodic post-hardcore – all the while clinging onto a straight-up, hardcore-punk-rock essence, and even splicing some garage-y jangle into the guitars. My only gripes with the EP are that it could have done with a few more vocal hooks, and (more crucially) a few more instances of the final instrumentation of the closing song – hearing that musicianship just makes you wish that Salò had incorporated more prog-rock grooves and prolonged, melodic guitar-lines into their music. Hint Hint.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

NEW VIDEO: BETH JEANS HOUGHTON AND THE HOOVES OF DESTINY - ATLAS

Having made many peoples 'Ones to Watch' lists for 2012 (as well as the inaugural Blog Sound of 2012 top 5), it's fair to say that Beth Jeans-Houghton (& The Hooves Of Destiny) have been high in the Music Liberation ones to watch list (since she didn't quite make our 'Future Sounds' post for this year).

February saw the release of their debut album, 'Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose' through Mute Records, and this week details were announced of the latest single, 'Atlas', to be taken from it. 

Set for release on April 23rd, as well as a special Record Store Day release two days before on the 21st, the single also has a pretty cool video to go with it. Shot in Los Angeles by Juan Iglesias, the black and white video portrays actress Brenda King and a rabbit. Yep a rabbit. Its all a little surreal to be honest, which is great, and the track itself is joyously upbeat and genuinely refreshing. Check it out below!

// Beth Jeans Houghton // Mute Record \\

Monday, 5 March 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: BEAT CULTURE - TOKYO DREAMER

Released earlier this year through Bad Panda Records, 'Tokyo Dreamer' is the new album from 17 year old South Korean Sunik Kim. Going under the moniker of Beat Culture, this exceptionally talented young man is already onto album number two, after releasing his debut LP 'Goldenbacked Weaver' in July of last year when he was just 16.

His new record, 'Tokyo Dreamer', is a collection of 10 tracks which demonstrates Beat Culture's impeccable knowledge and skills in electronica. Kicking off with sound effects of water, the premise of which this album is based around, the opening track 'Shoreline' is an atmospheric beast, with huge soaring synths and a powerful beat as the progressive undercurrent. 'You're Hard To Resist' continues the theme, with the melodic synths driving the track along as Beat Culture expertly floats basslines in and out of the song, creating a soundscape which is hard to not get sucked in by. 

By the time of the third track 'Stars' it's pretty clear you've stumbled onto something quite special, and if you've not had a massive smile slapped on your face by the opening two tracks then you will do now. Continuing the liquid theme, 'Coastal Sentiment' brings a change of pace, but things are no less interesting and the fusion of female vocals that are weaved in and out of the track bring a further sense of the young Korean's musical appreciation. 

'If Only' and 'Midori' contain a mesmerising combination of chopped up piano, beats, vocals, and time signatures where you are once again whisked away to a magical world of lush audio bliss. 'Complete Me' is a 6 minute plus track of time stretched awesomeness which sways from one style to another. The last song of the record is the title track, and is perhaps the most uplifting of the lot, ending the album in a state of pure electronic euphoria.

The songs that make up Tokyo Dreamer have a great deal of complexity to them and yet somehow Beat Culture seems to make it all sound so simple, and for any audio fan its literally like food for your ears. Taking inspiration from the likes of Burial, James Blake, Fourtet, and Gold Panda, Beat Culture fuses a range of electronic styles such as dub, hip hop, house, and breaks, to create songs which not only get you moving, put you in a really fucking good mood, but can also transport you wherever you'd like to go.

Grab the album now as a free download on Beat Culture's bandcamp. // Beat Culture // Bad Panda Records