Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Loving ... the future music of Le Néon Noir's self-titled EP

I'm not sure who said it or where I saw this ... but I recall the idea being expressed that progressive music, especially rock, isn't a genre, more a way of thinking about music ... a drive to keep moving forward, a desire to progress. 

I like that idea. 

I like it when I consider the self-titled EP from Le Néon Noir, a band introduced to me by David Lawrie, who produced them and released them via his brand new label - Ishikawa Records

Lead by Dani Lacroix on vocals & bass and featuring J.W. Greenwood on guitar, Carl Banks on drums, Jim Atkinson on live programming and synths, and HARUKO on synth melodies on "La Petite Mort Synphonique" and "Proxima" ... Le Néon Noir create my kind of future music ... music that is wonderfully progressive, full of surprises and innovation. 

Le Néon Noir's self titled EP is one that takes multiple listens to fully sink in. The four tracks presented feel more ... somehow. I'm not sure how but they do ... maybe it's the numerous ideas than fill each track? 

The opening track - "ps..." - opens at a fast pace with some programmed beats, syncopated guitar & bass before rocking out with fuller guitars & big swirling synths. The piece alternates between these fuller sections & the earlier syncopated sound. All the time, the vocals are deliciously melodic & engaging. 

The second track - "Better than me" - is a full-on rock ballad but with an 80's drum machine ... one that builds towards the fuller sound of guitar / keys. As before there is a creative use of dynamics with periods of less balancing the periods of more. It really is a delightful track, more an extension of existing balladry than a replacement. Think a progressive evolution rather than revolution, especially when the guitar solo begins ... an earnest, heartfelt, soulful, bluesy solo.

The third & penultimate track - "La Petite Mort Synphonique" - is a more downbeat, electronic affair with syncopated bass, earnest vocals, and the dynamic use of guitar playing over sequenced synths. It is a delightfully dense & layered track that benefits from multiple plays for all the sounds used to become apparent. 

The last track - "Proxima" - has a jaunty vibe with a quirky synth melody, snare drum rhythm & vocals. The track opens out after a couple of minutes with guitar & keys building on the established sound. "Proxima" is an idiosyncratic delight & a fitting end to a rather lovely EP, one I thoroughly enjoyed & keep coming back to. 

I would highly recommend this EP and look forward to more from Le Néon Noir, from producer David Lawrie and his new label Ishikawa Records

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Kakimori Stationery Shop

kakimori stationery shop from imageMILL on Vimeo.

I saw this over on THE FOX IS BLACK and totally loved it. I love my paper and would love to visit a shop like this. I love the passion of the owner and particularly love his inclusive approach of working with the artisans in his neighbourhood.

Well worth watching.


Friday, August 01, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I can't express how excited I am to see Guardians of the Galaxy ... I've been a huge fan of the Marvel films and this film, from what I can tell, takes this series ... turns it up to 11.

I hope to catch it with Olly this weekend ... I'll let you know what I think.





After seeing it in the Vue in Hamilton on Saturday, I have to say Guardians of the Galaxy lived up to my rather high expectations. I enjoyed the ride & loved everything about it ... from the characters to the locations ... from the spaceships to the storyline ... even Karen Gillan's character surprised me. In fact, I really cared for all the characters & loved seeing the 'Guardians' develop into a team. I particularly loved Rocket ... the racoon.

One thing, however, puzzles me. It is a funny film ... in that is as much a comedy as it is a sci-fi / superhero flick ... there are some wonderfully comedic moments ... so many it passed Kermode's six laugh test. So my question is this ... how are they going to bring it together with the not-so-funny Avengers?

All in ... I loved it and intend on seeing it again with Dayna & Miriam next week.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

What I listened to in July 2014 ...

Here's what digital music I listened to in July, 2013.

Highlights include the upcoming *physical* release of 'The Sound of Silas' from Cousin Silas ... expertly mastered by Tim Jones. It features a number of previously released tracks that have been remastered along with some new music. It'll be a double CD and one of the highlights of my 2014.

Other highlights include Stems' album on Fluttery and Goat's album from 2013 ... love me some psychedelic rock right now.

Really enjoying the new Tommy Guerrero album too ... his sound has really matured and developed, and its great to hear the evolution in tone and expression ... wonderful, in fact.

Also enjoying Sun Lux, Brian Eno's collab with Karl Hyde, and Damon Albarn's solo album.

There really is some great music out there. Every artist on this list is well, well worth checking out ... in their own unique way ... apart from the new YES album which is pretty bland and dull, to be honest.


August 2014's Calendar / Wallpaper

I recently bought a Canon EOS 70d body. It is an early birthday gift, split between my wife and my parents. The intention was to get something I couldn't normally afford, something that I could use.

And boy do I want to use this camera ... its a cracker! I love it already.

I've been shooting Nikon for a while but wanted to use the lenses I had for my Canon 350d. The 70d takes my photography to the next level ... or, should I say, it has the potential to take my photography to the next level ... I need to rise to the occasion and use the 70d as extensively as I have my Nikon.

I have chosen a photo that I couldn't have taken before. It was shot in the evening ... with a shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second and an ISO of 6,400.

More photos from my initial few days with the 70d are available on Flickr:

Initial test run + Photosafari to the Merchant City and Barrowland Park + Commonwealth Games at Strathclyde Park

Usual flavours are available below.



iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar


Monday, July 28, 2014

Loving ... "Glasshouse" by Northcape

"Glasshouse" by Northcape is a remarkable EP, one where Alastair Brown comes into his own as an electronic musician of note.

Whilst his previous output may have brought comparison to the earlier work of Boards of Canada, "Glasshouse" stands alone as a uniquely Northcape body-of-work. It is a robust offering for anyone with a love of warm, unhurried, melodic and memorable electronica.

I really love the opening track - "Capillary Action" - with it's glacial synths, nuanced beats and deep bass; it sets the scene nicely for what is to come.

I am also particularly fond of the spacey vibe of the last track - "Green Wave" - with it's sweeping chords and grandeur, it is almost Berlin School in expression which makes me smile uncontrollably.

The remainder of the EP ... the bits in the middle ... all stand equally tall with melodic synths and thoughtful, skittering percussion. These are tracks to get lost in and are fitting soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon.

Already a highlight of 2014.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Circumambient 020 is now available

The latest edition of my podcast - circumambient - is now up on MixCloud, iTunes and as an individual download ... it is a guest mix from Allister Thompson, the man behind Make Your Own Taste.

Have a listen below then check out circumambient for the download and tracklisting.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Some LPs from Cousin Silas' personal collection no1

Last weekend I spent an overnight at Cousin Silas' house for our now annual waageekfest. It was a pleasure to see him and Kevin Lyons, Tim Jones, Colin Blake and 'Bing Satellites' aka Brin Coleman. It was a wonderful period of time, one that flew in way too fast.

An added bonus of making the trip was to pick up a 'few' LPs from Cousin Silas. He couldn't pass on his records to his family and didn't want to skip them ... at least until I had a look to see what I wanted.

I came away with approximately 200 LPs and a few singles too ... music from The Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Miles Davis, and Pink Floyd ... to name but a few.

Over the next wee while I'm going to work my way through the pile and post a pic of each album. Here's what I've enjoyed so far:

Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here" ... in original packaging.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - 'Trout Mask Replica" ...

David Bowie - "Heroes" ... and ... "Lodger"

Pink Floyd - "Meddle" ...

Kraftwerk - "Autobahn" ...

Tangerine Dream - "70 - 80" ... a 4 LP monster of a box set.

I'll post more as I work my way through the piles ... Tx

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seven questions with ... Tess Said So.

One of the many highlights on the recent compilation from Preserved Sound - "The Blinding White Heat of Summer Days" - is the opening track by Tess Said So, entitled "Intervention". Its a belter of a track and a fitting opener for what is an excellent showcase of the Preserved Sound label.

Recently Hayden from Preserved Sound caught up with Will Larsen and Rasa Daukus aka Tess Said So ... and asked them my wee blog interview. This is what they had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
Will: We’re a piano and percussion duo.  Rasa and I met when we were both still studying music at university.  We did a few projects together playing works by composers we both liked and just got on really well.

Rasa: We write and perform all our own material.  I guess it’s classical but we certainly apply a pop sensibility to it.  So the pieces we write are four to five minutes long and there will be all kinds of influences in there - pop, jazz, classical, electronica.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
Rasa: We’ve just finished recording our first album (“I Did That Tomorrow”).  I would start writing some of the pieces and hand them over to Will to add percussion.  Other pieces Will would start and leave me to finish.  It was all recorded in Will’s studio, Recliner Studios.

Will: I have just one more track to mix and master and then it’s done!

3) Who inspires you?
Will: That’s a really tricky one, particularly if you’re talking Tess Said So.  There’s a melting pot of ideas in there that’s not really a conscious effort to mimic anyone.  If anything, there’s a similarity to early 20th Century French music - Milhaud / Poulenc / Honegger.

Rasa: But then if you scratch just a little deeper, you’ll find Thelonius Monk and Dave Brubeck in there.  There’s also David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Massive Attack.

Will: The title track off the album is kind of a fractured, demented Argentinian tango, so you could argue there’s a bit of Astor Piazzolla in there too.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Rasa: George Crumb, Toru Takemitsu, Ravi Shankar ...

Will: Manu Katché, Wong Kar-wai, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

- Name a place that has inspired you.
Rasa: Hong Kong.

Will: ... and Singapore!

Rasa: We’re both obsessed with food.  Both those cities have the most amazing food everywhere you look.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Will:  Food.  Travel.  And Food.  I just have to say “laksa” and Rasa will ask, “When are we leaving?” (laughs).

4) What drives you to do what you do?
Rasa:  We’ve been talking about working on something together for a long, long time and for various reasons until now, one or the other of us has been busy with other projects.

Will:  I like the combination of piano and percussion and the way the two interact.  The harmonics and overtones generated are amazing.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Will: Tough question!  I guess, without wanting to sound too trite, music is best when it’s a shared experience.  I can write and sequence music on my laptop, but it’s not much fun if no one listens to it.  Better yet, writing and collaborating with Rasa is a much more exciting proposition, particularly when she takes an idea of mine and takes it somewhere I didn’t expect and I would never have thought on my own.  Better still, is then to perform that collaboration live in front of an audience and to share it with them.  Sharing that experience is what it’s all about.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
Rasa: We’re keen to collaborate with other artists, particularly from other disciplines.  We’d love to work with dance companies, creating both music and choreography from scratch.  We’d love to work with street artists in unconventional venues, or new media artists such as computer animators.  Something unconventional would be amazing!

7) What is next for what you do?
Will: We’ll do an album launch and then get out there to promote the album

Rasa: And tour!


I can't wait to hear Tess Said So's debut album ... if it is anything like "Intervention" then it will be a real belter.

Have a wee listen to "The Blinding White Heat of Summer Days" and hear what I mean:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cousin Silas' Dronescape series now 20 strong

Over the weekend, I was proud to release the twentieth Dronescape from Cousin Silas.

In the liner notes I waxed lyrical about what this longform drone reminded me of ...
This Dronescape reminds me of the first H.P. Lovecraft story that I read: "The Nameless City". I read it because it was the first story in an anthology that I had purchased for pennies for my Kindle. I remember vividly being hooked with the sense of mounting terror that Lovecraft conveys. My mind was brought back to this story when I heard this Dronescape and, in particular, a point where the terror had taken hold and the protagonist recalled the following: 
"I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated with him down the Oxus; later chanting over and over again a phrase from one of Lord Dunsany's tales - 'The unreverberate blackness of the abyss.'
The twentieth Dronescape is an excellent form of ambient impressionism, portraying, as it does so well, this quote from Dunsany - 'the unreverberate blackness of the abyss'. It is what came to mind when I listened to Silas' latest offering, for both the quote and the drone complement each other so completely.
For more go to weareallghosts.co.uk ... or have a wee listen below:


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