Sunday, May 27, 2012

New : Errors 'Have some faith in magic'

I may have to create a subsection on this blog titled 'Insufficient Props' for records that have come out this year only for me to bag them and then not bother to put anything on here saying what they're like. There are a few in the standby gate at the moment for various reasons; records that are undeniably bitchin' but have fallen foul of my busy drinking schedule over recent weeks (Jack White, Cannibal Corpse), new shit that I haven't had time to big up just yet (new Cribs, Beach House and Torche) and stuff that's so far been left in the 'not feeling it' drawer (Actress, Breton). Errors had a foot in that last category for a while but it's taken the sun to come out for me to acknowledge this album's positive qualities - it landed back in February to an altogether less suitable climate which may or may not have played a part in me not feeling it. In hindsight this was rather harsh - 'Have some faith in magic' is a killer slab of laidback electronica which is well worth a detour. My initial reaction upon hearing this for the first time was that it reminded me of that M83 double album from last year, a nice yet ultimately unfulfilling journey through mellow synthscapes which is perfect for hangover sessions mainly because of its lack of any discernable edge. However after a few spins its strengths become apparent - the cover art makes me think of fellow Jocktronica stalwarts Boards of Canada with the whole people-with-no-faces shtick but Errors are less of the ethereal 70s nature documentary vibe and more pulpy, early 80s alternative electro - these guys are fully committed to the electronica thing but you can hear live drums and guitars on most tracks here. I presume these dudes have a background in Scottish indie, their sound has a gentle quality to this LP that only quiet Jocks in indie groups seem to be able to fully master, the blissful chillout soundtrack to the aftermath of another evening of Glaswegian guitar mayhem. Twin six-minute blissfests 'Magna Encarta' and 'Pleasure Palaces' deserve their place on any current DJ playlist and the rest of the album augments them rather than just filling in the gaps - these guys keep their sound constant enough to remain cohesive instead of just chucking everything into the mix and by the end their style is defined clearly enough that someone could throw you a random cover version from their archive and you'd instantly know it was them playing. Indeed, these guys are probably better live than on record which acts as a pretty good compliment in the realms of knob-twiddling indie electronica - I've been playing New Order's 'Power Corruption & Lies' a lot recently and Errors mainline the same vibe of seasoned indie types having mastered electronic music, keeping the foundations of a guitar band but adding layers of high-end synthetic elements to give them a lush edge that was previously unattainable. I pick a new favourite track every time I play this album which is testament to its strength - 'Have some faith...' is a less immediate charm than some of the other electronic releases I've chronicled on here but merits equal attention for its subtle infiltrations that will win you over in the long term. Flip this into your Sunday session along with the recent euphoric gems from Lone and Bear in Heaven and you've got the makings of an epic journey through synthspace to take the edge off Saturday night's hedonism.

Check out : 'Magna Encarta', although pick any of the ten tracks here for a good starting point.

New : Lone - 'Galaxy Garden'

More synth slickness for your eager ears here - this stuff is coming out faster than I can write about it. Lone is some dude who busts out rave-era electronica like it's still 1992, which is a good thing in case you were wondering. I first heard this guy via last year's 'Echolocations' EP which was a pretty blissed-out introduction to his sound but this new LP encapsulates his retro yet fresh approach in a more complete package. Lone is presumably around the same age as me judging by his affection for old skool breakbeat and Global Hydrocolour rave signature sounds but instead of using the era's iconography as a gimmick he's managed to make it the centre of his musical universe and build outwards and the results are deliciously danceable. Remember the 'new-rave' generation of scenester douchenozzles that co-opted rave culture as some sort of retro fashion statement to accompany their shitty art school forays into indie music a few years back? This is a whole different proposition - Lone succeeds in producing the fruits of a fantasy collaboration between all those old skool singles acts from the early 90s and the Japanese audio boffins behind the soundtrack to all your Sunday morning Megadrive sessions back in the day. I was always slightly peeved that rave stalwarts like Altern 8 and Messiah could never muster a full length album to rival the grunge acts filling pages of the music press back then - only Liam Howlett seemed capable of translating the strobefest euphoria of 12" rave into LP format, and The Prodigy's endearing debut 'Experience' from back in '92 could sit nicely next to 'Galaxy Garden' in the rave racks. Truth be told Lone's approach is less acidic than Howlett ripfests like 'Ruff in the Juingle Bizness' though, he prefers to chillax over crystal clear synth waves for most of this record - think along the lines of the 7-minute CJ Bolland remixes on the B-side of your favourite rave hits and you're on the right path. Not that he can't bust out a floor filler though - the mid-album twinstrike of 8-bit thumper 'Crystal Caverns 1991' and the audio-orgasmic anthem 'Raindance' show he still knows the value of 'the drop' for maximum dancefloor euphoria. 'Galaxy Garden' is the perfect synth fetishist LP for a man like myself raised on XL Recordings and Kaos Theory compilations but should still pack enough punch for those of you who missed the golden years of rave, these are sounds that are easy to love however they come into your world.

Check out : the impossibly gorgeous 'Raindance'. Wait for the drop....wait for it....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New : Bear in Heaven - 'I love you, it's cool'

Would you like another helping of hipster electro Sir? No I would not my good man! I would like gaggles of sexy girls with guitars playing dronegaze noise pop naked in my front room if you please, not some dude with a hitler tash wearing half mast trousers and dancing round his Casio keyboard. Where's the fucking Dum Dum Girls when you need 'em??? Anyhow, with things quiet on the chick rock front I've been checking out some Pitchfork-friendly electronica recently and Portland's Bear in Heaven eventually grabbed my attention with this luvved-up ravetronic indie gem. These guys seem to have flung out a couple of records already which sounded cool enough when I gave 'em a whirl but didn't jump out at you enough to warrant laying down some hard cash - although check out the promo for 'Shining and Free' from their previous LP 'Red Bloom of the Boom' which I may well come back to later on this evidence. Their singer looks like the guy from Korn who found God and comes in for some WEIRD treatment, so if the whole record trips as much balls as this then maybe I'll pick it up later. Right now newby 'I love you, it's cool' is my fave (new) rave of the minute and sees the dudes bathe deeply in electric ectsasy to awesome effect. Imagine Animal Collective if they dropped the whole hypnotic thing and floated further into the love dimension, or even Daft Punk when they go full-on disco throb. You can dance to this stuff but it doesn't panda to any clich├ęs of dance music (ha!), these guys have just hit a wave of warm energy and ride it out over ten tracks here for one luscious end product. This gives me the same buzz as prime-era baggy veterans Paris Angels (though it sounds nothing like them), gorgeous luvved-up electro-psychedelia tailor-made for wide-mouthed gurning on the dancefloor. OooooohwaaaAAAAHH! Bear in Heaven have a stupid name but their music RULES. Imagine a chilled-out grizzly bear relaxing in a fluffy pillow slurping on a pot of honey laced with quaaludes and flanked by beautiful girly bears with well-stocked pickernick baskets and you're most of the way there. This is the most yummylicious electro I've heard in ages, straight outta leftfield but well worth your time and attention. 'I love you, it's cool' sounds like the sort of thing hippies would say (you guys aren't HIPPIES are you?) but don't let that put you off, they're having too good a time for us not to join them. This is one synth snuggle you're not gonna want to miss.

Check out : 'Reflection of you' which has a cool video - but seriously, get the whole album.