Clipping - Body & Blood

Clipping. – Body & Blood

 

Clipping - Body and Blood4/5

Release Date:  May 23rd, 2014
Genre:  Experimental Hip Hop, Rap, Hip Hop
Record Label:  Sub Pop


So it seems, ‘Yeezus’ can be utilised as a yardstick in the progression of contemporary hip-hop, with a discernible alteration between a pre and post-’Yeezus’ landscape. It’s an album of divisiveness that split the hip hop community. Finally, the experimental sounds that had been floating around the internet’s gloomy corners, emitted to varying degrees of exposure, success and artistic intent by the likes of Death Grips and the Flying Lotus ‘Brainfeeder’ sound, finally penetrated the mainstream conscience. In a somewhat desperate yet equally commendable attempt at re-establishing himself at the helm of cultural advances, Kanye employed the services of some truly exploratory producers in an attempt to break new ground. The result: a hip hop world split between those who welcomed such a turn with adulation and those who saw it as a harbinger of the death of some of the genres enduring tropes and the much-feared growing prominence of the “beta male” within the genre.

As with all other modern music genres- from hardcore punk, to electronica and folk, the fracturing of styles has been exacerbated by the internet, promoting in turn an equally fractious mind-set where attention spans are short but taste is wide. The experimental hip hop ‘scene’ is perhaps the most tantalising manifestation of this fractured consciousness, buoyed by a rather nihilistic world view that perhaps comes as a result of trawling through the darker recesses of the internet under the curse of incurable insomnia. Enter LA trio Clipping. a thoroughly experimental outfit whose debut record-cum-mixtape ‘Midcity’ attempted to re-evaluate what constituted a hip hop track through searing blasts of white noise reminiscent of Merzbow and crunching beats that heralded a continually cascading destruction. It was Death Grips devoid of hooks yet injected with a sumptuous flow thanks to the group’s Oakland-based MC, Diggs.

Latest track “Body & Blood” offers an aggressive assault of distorted hammer-blow beats reminiscent of found-sound from an industrial assembly line. It’s a copiously more abrasive and harsh outing than their previous single “Work, Work”, which saw the group flirt with a more poppy tendencies and incorporated truly catchy vocal hooks; the group’s experimental tendencies were still undeniably present in the xylophonic beats but toned down exponentially compared with their trademark noise attacks. In that respect,“Body & Blood” is a return to the grating digital cornucopia they had made their own on ‘Midcity’. It’s Clipping going in hard, the central beat conjuring images of a sledgehammer attempting to smash a cement mixer into oblivion. If Einstürzende Neubauten had attempted to produce hip hop in the guise of their early industrial equipment-utilising oeuvre, the result wouldn’t be far from the grinding electronics and harsh distortion abundant in this track. Vocalist Diggs provides his biting and rapid-fire flow once again, providing observation upon the darker elements of sex and the appalling greed of men with additional shout-outs to both ketamine and rohypnol. It leaves “Body & Blood” as fervently menacing and almost beautiful in its ugliness, the misanthropy extending past the lyrical fare and prowling through the aural makeup. It leaves Clipping stranded on the fringes of rap, banished by their self-imposed extremity, but most importantly it posits the trio of noise-mongers as thoroughly intriguing. As inescapable, crushing heaviness and ever-present darkness goes, “Body & Blood” is a severely engrossing exercise in aurally aggressive hip hop.


Tracklisting:
Body & Blood

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

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Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars

Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars

Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars

2/5

Release Date:  5th May, 2014
Genre:  Indie, Dance, Alternative Pop
Record Label:  Parlophone


No other band seems to polarize public opinion more so than Coldplay. On the one hand, a legion of Martin-ites loyally flock on an annual basis to colossal sports stadia, parting with hard-earned cash in order to bear witness to Chris Martin jump around a bit from an eye-straining distance. For others, Coldplay are the punch line to many a joke, an object of derision that arises from a self-righteous Bill Hicks-ian view that Martin and co are nothing but a beige monstrosity in a deal with Satan to subsume mankind in mediocrity and blandness.

With a certainty equivalent to that with which most people reserve for the daily rising of the sun, Coldplay return with their sixth record- Ghost Stories. The record has already spawned two singles, the low-key post-dubstep influenced “Magic” and the equally understated electronica of “Midnight”. On the face of it, Coldplay seem to be doing a “Radiohead”, casting off their rock-ist shackles and immersing themselves in a world of synthesizers and vocoders whilst receiving remixes of album tracks by the dance world’s DJ elite. Latest outing “A Sky Full Of Stars” is another fully electro jaunt, but is it a work of true experimentalism; an astounding departure from the contemporary musical cannon; a paradoxical cacophony and harbinger of a renewed zeitgeist? In other words, is it a Kid A statement of a fresh blueprint; on opening of infinite possibilities, or is it just Chris Martin belatedly jumping on the EDM bandwagon?

From the off, it appears that we are in fact being subjected to a return of Coldplay’s trademark mid-noughties piano-centric number one’s, those piano chord arpeggios which enshrined the band as premium stadium fodder prematurely suggesting a regression into their “Clocks” era of grandstanding balladry. Soon enough, however, there’s an indication that there’s change afoot: the piano is filtered through EQ and brought down into a slowly rising build-up. But a build-up to where? A gorgeous skyward arching post-rock crescendo? A grandiose chorus of minimal irritability? No, it’s a full on David Guetta-inspired drop- dance music’s primary and timeless incendiary dance-floor device. Yet, it’s performed in a style that could have originated from the fingertips of any of today’s gargantuan dance producers: four-to-the-floor bass kicks and a plonking chord progression that has perpetuated the upper echelons of the charts for several years now.

It is, however, a somewhat logical continuation of the musical lineage they had been flirting with on Mylo Xyloto, culminating in what is essentially a gaudy and formulaic contemporary pop EDM track, differentiated only by Chris Martin’s crooning falsetto. If Coldplay weren’t the perpetrators behind the track I think it is fair to assume “A Sky Full Of Stars” would be met with decidedly less interest rather than racking up tens of millions of Youtube views. Whereas “Magic” and “Midnight” derived their affecting power from the sultry and laconic; from texture and nuance, “A Sky Full Of Stars” is alive with a yearning bombast that sounds exactly like how one would imagine a David Guetta/Coldplay collaboration to end up.

Derivative, unimaginative and irrevocably plain, “A Sky Full Of Stars” operates like a Balearic remix of a spectacularly average Coldplay track, primed for the holy grail of club/radio crossover smash. Expect to be sick of it very, very soon.


Tracklisting:

  1. A Sky Full Of Stars

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Album:
Amazon || iTunes

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Parlour

Parlour – Devil’s Eyes

Parlour

4/5

Release Date:  March 1st, 2014
Genre:  Dream Pop, Experimental
Record Label:  Independent


“Devil’s Eyes” is the second track imbued to the world by ex-Carousels guitarist turned bandleader Angela Won-Yin Mak and what a pure exultation of searing noise it is. Opening with dreamily strummed chords and heavy-eyed, soft-spoken vocals that hover arond the fringes of the comprehensible, it’s laid down in a similar vein to Parlour’s first publicly released track “My Love”. Reaching its pinnacle around the two-minute mark, the dreamy aspects succumb to galvanizing rapture, an eruption of squaling sound. It slices like an aural knife through the maelstrom; a coruscating outburst that’s visceral, quite unsettling, yet thoroughly addictive. If the forthcoming debut E.P continues in the lineage of “Devil’s Eyes” than Parlour may find themselves on to something truly spectacular- a co-existence of hypnogogic dream-pop and holocaustal noise exodus. Until then, “Devil’s Eyes” exists as a sublime example of the cathartic power of sound, exuding at differing times both haunting distance and all-consuming noise feast. Delectable stuff.


Tracklisting:

  1. Devil’s Eyes

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

 

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Telen Rodwell - Mr Million Miles Away

Telen Rodwell – Mr Million Miles Away

Telen Rodwell - Mr Million Miles Away

3.5/5

Release Date:  November 12th, 2013
Genre:  Pop
Record Label:  Borough Records


It’s worth stating up front that if you’re not a fan of pop music, then you might as well stop reading this review now. The new single from Telen Rodwell, Australia’s latest export, is as pure pop as they come, and unlikely to win over new fans of the genre.

Those who do take the time to read on though will discover a rough diamond of a talent – a singer-songwriter who loves a catchy chorus and an overproduced vocal (though autotune is thankfully not evident).

Starting with a piano melody that soon gives way to a simple verse vocal and then an excellent pre-chorus of falsetto vocal, it’s a song that doesn’t truly go too far, but doesn’t really have to. Pop fans will know what to expect, won’t be disappointed, and will have plenty to enjoy.

The chorus, while infectious, doesn’t really grow the sound too much, staying withing the safe confines of a well worn chord pattern. Overall then, this is pleasant, a good song fixed in a genre that will be loved by fans and dismissed by others.


Tracklisting:

  • Mr Million Miles Away

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Album:
CD || MP3

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Steve Murray - Audio Book

Steve Murray & Kingbird – Angels & Butterflies

Steve Murray - Audio Book

3.5/5

Release Date:  October 9th, 2013
Genre:  Acoustic Rock
Record Label:  Independent


Released earlier this year to raise funds for heart charities, album ‘Audio Book’ features ex-Fast Cars front man Steve Murray and his new project Kingbird. ‘Angels & Butterflies’ is the latest single taken from the LP, an uplifting acoustic rock track with a real sense of positivity.

With more than a fleck of Americana/Country to the sound, the lilting tempo and acoustic guitar lines are warm and fuzzy without feeling slushy. This is a mellow number lifted by a gruff vocal that bears comparison with Tom Waits in its tone if not its register.

The minimalist chord patterns allow all of the tics and tricks to make their mark – a mini-guitar lick here, a vocal riff there – and keep things interesting. It’s these tiny building blocks, not overly complex but combining well, that make ‘Angels & Butterflies’ into a charming little country rock track, more than the sum of its parts.


Tracklisting:

  1. Angels & Butterflies

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Album:
MP3

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Teen Canteen – Honey

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4/5

Release Date:  October 29th, 2013
Genre:  Folk/Indie
Record Label:  Neu! Reekie! Records


If the latest week of news coming out of Scotland have left you thinking of more of job losses, plant closure (and non closure) than anything else – then perhaps Teen Canteen could make some effort to the contrary.

Recorded at The Old Mill Studio, Strathaven,”Honey” is a hark back to a mythical land: two parts celtic love song, one part sweet harmony-driven indie with a sweet spot for shape based metaphor – “He is perfect like a circle / and a summer sheet of purple… so it pains me to say / that I’m a square tryna’ fit in a circle.”

Recorded in striking Scottish twangs, “Honey” is charming pop with pleasing pace.


Tracklisting:

  • Honey

Band Links:
Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Single:
MP3

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