June 15, 2011

A Tribute: 10 Years of ‘Pause’…

Posted in Features tagged , at 8:30 pm by essentiallyeclectic

‘Pause’ – Four Tet. (Domino Records, 2001)

The tapping of a computer keyboard. A stumbling, uncomfortable acoustic guitar pattern. A loose, live breakbeat of neck-snapping proportions. Soft, calming loops of some hard-to-place gamelan type instrument. These are the elements that introduce and regularly reoccur in fresh disguises throughout Pause; the second album from sample-wielding Londoner Kieran Hebden, under the guise of imperious alternate identity Four Tet. The album has recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its release, and is yet to show signs of ageing.

Pause exposed a new world of sonic creativity that was suddenly open to all bedroom producers, and while Hebden’s debut, Dialogue, had tentatively explored these ideas, it was on the typically “tricky” follow-up that his stylistic concept was fully realised. Critics briefly flirted with labels such as ‘folktronica’ or ‘organic electronica’, finding it difficult to tie down such a unique yet perfectly natural sounding compositional technique. A ball park description would be that it was loosely based in the world of beat-led trip-hop introduced by a group of smoked-out Bristolians ten years prior (Massive Attack’s own debut, Blue Lines, was itself 20 years old this April), one that arguably peaked with DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… in 1996. However, Hebden’s approach to Pause was far looser and less rigidly structured, with the eastern-tinged instrumentation of Dialogue returning alongside guitars, xylophones, harps and keys sliding and glitching themselves into untethered loops, forever mutating, all held together by breakbeats that have been chopped up and sewn back together at pleasingly jaunty angles.

While albums by Portishead, Tricky, and Sneaker Pimps suffered the fate of many groundbreaking collections of “mood music” (yuck); ending up as background wallpaper to many a hard-hitting TV drama or fashionable dinner party, Pause’s levels of simple complexity removed the commercial appeal held by its advert-pillaged contemporaries, allowing it to slip under the wider radar and into the annals of treasured underground material.

Whether it’s the spacious opener ‘Glue of the World’, the jangling bells of the wonderfully buoyant ‘Twenty Three’ or the haunting ‘Untangle’ with its cascades of harps and four-to-the-floor majesty, Pause flows fluently from start to finish, simultaneously allowing the strength of its individual tracks to shine alone. ‘You Could Ruin My Day’, with its furious harpsichord-type loops and driving beats sits comfortably with the lingering acoustic guitar riff and rolling breakbeat that permeate the fantastic ‘Everything is Alright’, while the small interludes such as ‘Harmony One’ and ‘Tangle’ tie the whole thing together with snatches of twisted guitars and crashing waves.

Hebden’s influences were clearly varied yet prescient throughout the making of Pause, and, in an interview with Adam Park from Boomkat.com back in 2007, he revealed nine tracks that have had a profound effect on him throughout his life. While not all are obvious in his music, there are clues within these songs to the way in which Hebden’s style was developed. Indeed, put a sawtooth synth bassline underneath ‘No More Mosquitoes’, complete with a double-time jungle breakbeat at the halfway point, and you might be put in mind of DJ Zinc’s seminal ‘Super Sharp Shooter’ – number three on the Boomkat list. Number seven, folk artist Mark Fry’s Dreaming With Alice LP, exposes the source of Hebden’s interest in combining psychedelic folk sounds with break beats and other forms of electronica, while the minimal techno of ‘Untangle’ even predates number eight, Isolee’s ‘Beau Mot Plage’.

After Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings had given Hebden his start as Four Tet – and indeed the freedom to release debut single ‘Thirtysixtwentyfive’, a reference to the track’s colossal length – Pause went on to find a natural home at successful independent label Domino Records, where Hebden remains to this day. Taking Four Tet to Domino was a shrewd move, as it allowed the then 21-year old producer to separate himself from beat-making contemporaries at Ninja Tune or Tru Thoughts – artists such as Bonobo, Amon Tobin and Zero db – and not disappear into this albeit impressive group.

A succession of markedly unique and diverse album’s followed, each a progression, each unmistakably Four Tet. But Pause is, if not the peak, then a distinct highpoint in a career still developing; still changing; still challenging. Its influence can be heard on countless albums across several genres (Radiohead’s King of Limbs being a recent prime example), yet its impact on the musical map at the time of release was perhaps not as great as it deserved to be. It would be a travesty for Pause to slip from the collective memory, but unfortunately a real possibility. So, for that reason, we should celebrate its decennial anniversary and toast to another 10 years to come from Four Tet.

Read this review in context over at HYPONIK

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April 3, 2011

Eclectic Mixup: Clocks Forward Mix

Posted in Eclectic Mixup tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:42 pm by essentiallyeclectic

*Insert reverie about clocks going forward, spring time, longer days, sun etc here*

Bit late on this one, I know. But here’s some tunes for the better days…

 

José Larralde – Quimey Neuquen (Chancha Via Circuito remix)

A clever and subtle mix of old and new from Chancha Via Circuito’s fascinating Rio Arriba album of last year. The chosen moniker of Argentinian producer Pedro Canale, Chancha Via Circuito (an amalgamation of Canale’s train journey to and from Buenos Aires) gently reworks a lilting melody from fellow countryman, folk singer José Larralde.

Hype Williams – Blue Dream

Highly enigmatic producer Hype Williams (not to be confused with the director of the same name) may possibly be based in London or Berlin, or somewhere else. His productions are as elusive as his personal details, and the recently released One Nation is a dense mix of far away beats. Blue Dream is taken from previous album Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Getting Reel…

Kurt Vile – Goodbye Freaks

Having released the official Essentially Eclectic Album Of The Year So Far in the form of March’s Smoke Ring for my Halo, Kurt Vile makes it onto this mix with a bonus track from first Matador album, 2009’s Childish Prodigy. A riotous, driving instrumental, Goodbye Freaks is a uplifter, but in no way indicative of Vile’s usual songwriting.

Blackeye – Love Inks

Single teaser from Austin, TX based Love Inks, ahead of their debut full length release in May. Infectiously catchy 2-minutes of guitar pop.

Clams Casino – I’m God (Instrumental)

New Jersey-based Hip-Hop producer Mike Volpe, AKA Clams Casino, has just released his first instrumentals mix (download it for free HERE). I’m God isn’t on it, but shares the same euphoric production style as many cuts from this tape.

White Denim – Drug

White Denim return in June with a new album (D), with preview cut Drug doing the blog rounds at the moment. A semi-psychedelic rocker with a bit of a groove.

Burial, Four Tet, Thom Yorke – Ego

The Weeknd – What You Need

Peaking Lights – All The Sun That Shines

Galapagoose – Milkwood (feat. Panorama)

Four-in-a-row to induce a hypnotic state of being, including a radio rip of the upcoming Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke collaboration, a deep-frequency slice of R&B from flavour-of-the-monthers The Weeknd, the dubbed out Peaking Lights with a track from their recent 936 album, and a Galapagoose 2-stepper to snap you back out of it…

Manduka – Naranjita

Lastly, a track that just won’t leave me alone from south American Manduka’s 1972 debut. Intimately performed, aided by an over-saturated recording; one to fall asleep to.

December 20, 2010

Essentially Eclectic Top 40 of 2010

Posted in Songs of 2010 tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:11 pm by essentiallyeclectic

It’s list o’clock across Blogland at the moment. So, getting into the compiling spirit, here are the Essentially Eclectic top 40 tracks of 2010 (in alphabetical, rather than preferential, order…)

  1. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round (from Before Today)
  2. Babe, Terror – Summertime Our League (Four Tet Rework) (from Summertime Our League EP)
  3. Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo (from Teen Dream)
  4. Best Coast – Boyfriend (from Crazy For You)
  5. James Blake – Klavierwerke (from Klavierwerke EP)
  6. Bonobo – We Could Forever (from Black Sands)
  7. Botany – Waterparker (from Feeling Today EP)
  8. Broken Bells – The High Road (from Broken Bells)
  9. Caribou – Sun (from Swim)
  10. The Concretes – Good Evening (from WYWH)
  11. Cults – Go Outside (from Cults 7″)
  12. Matthew Dear – Honey (from Black City)
  13. El Guincho – Bombay (from Pop Negro)
  14. Floating Action – Could You Save Me (from Floating Action)
  15. Flying Lotus – Mmmhmm (feat. Thundercat) (from Cosmogramma)
  16. Fool’s Gold – Nadine (Memory Tapes Remix) (Unreleased)
  17. Four Tet – Circling (from There Is Love In You)
  18. Gold Panda – Same Dream China (from Lucky Shiner)
  19. Ice Cream Shout – Tattooed Tears (from True Love Waste)
  20. Junip – Rope & Summit (from Fields)
  21. The Long Lost – Woebegone (Flying Lotus’ Luckiest Charm) (from Woebegone Flying Lotus Remix EP)
  22. Massive Attack – Saturday Come Slow (from Heligoland)
  23. Mount Kimbie – Adriatic (from Crooks and Lovers)
  24. Pantha Du Prince – The Splendour (from Black Noise)
  25. Phaeleh – Afterglow (ft. Soundmouse) (from Fallen Light)
  26. Benoit Pioulard – Shouting Distance (from Lasted)
  27. The Roots – Right On (Feat. Joanna Newsom & S.T.S) (from How I Got Over)
  28. George Stanford – Meet Me In LA (from Roll Away EP)
  29. Still Corners – Don’t Fall In Love (from Don’t Fall In Love/Wish 7″)
  30. Tame Impala – Alter Ego (from Innerspeaker)
  31. J. Tillman – Diamondback (from Singing Ax)
  32. Toro Y Moi – Blessa (from Causers of This)
  33. Twin Shadow – Savannah Howl (Hard Mix Remix) (Unreleased)
  34. Twin Sister – The Other Side of Your Face (from Color of Your Life EP)
  35. Warpaint – Undertow (from The Fool)
  36. Washed Out – You and I (feat. Caroline Polachek) (from Adult Swim Singles Project)
  37. Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles – Back in the Game (from Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers)
  38. Neil Young – Rumblin’ (from Le Noise)
  39. Young Galaxy – Peripheral Visionaries (from Shapeshifting)
  40. Young Magic – You With Air (from You With Air/Sparkly 7″)

Essentially Eclectic best albums 2010 coming soon………

December 9, 2010

Remixology, 2010

Posted in Remixology, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 pm by essentiallyeclectic

A lot of my favourite tracks from this year have come via the medium of the remix; all too often the scourge of the musical earth, but every once in a while a piece of beauty existing as an entity entirely separate to that of the original.

I’ve included links to the originals (where possible) to show the work undertaken, and also to provide you with further avenues of listening should you take to these tracks as I have…

 

Fool’s Gold – Nadine (Memory Tapes Remix)

L.A. Afro-Hebrew-Poppers Fool’s Gold get the Memory Tapes treatment of their track Nadine, from last year’s glorious riot Surprise Hotel. The respect shown to the vocal melodies in this remix is particularly satisfying.

See the video for the original HERE

 

The Long Lost – Woebegone (Flying Lotus’ Luckiest Charm)

The Long Lost – Woebegone (Flying Lotus’ Like Woe Remix)

Two Flying Lotus remixes of this track by The Long Lost. Luckiest Charm shows the producer’s more than competent laid back side, while the Like Woe version gets the full face-melt workout and appears on the compilation Ninja Tune XX, celebrating twenty years of the influential imprint.

Check out the Satie-referencing original HERE

 

Twin Shadow – Savannah Howl (Hard Mix Remix)

Mustachioed Dominican-born Brooklyn hipster Twin Shadow has just released his debut Forget  on 4AD. It sounds very little like this gorgeously affecting remix from South Carolina producer Hard Mix, a beautiful collision of the two’s styles, but both artists are still worth checking out individually.

Find Twin Shadow HERE, and Hard Mix HERE

 

Babe, Terror – Summertime Our League (Four Tet Rework)

This track made the Essentially Eclectic Recent Listening: November post a few weeks ago, so apologies for the repost. So in the interest of continuity, here’s what I said about it then: Brazilian artist Babe, Terror soundtracks the night to his native Sao Paulo using only layers of his own voice and plenty of effects. Here, that voice is given a body thanks to a Four Tet reworking of a recent track from the Havai EP. (Remix also on the EP)

Video for this remix HERE, original can be heard on Babe, Terror’s myspace HERE

YOU SAY PARTY – Dark Days (Babe Rainbow Remix)

We end with probably the most drastic reworking on this list. Vancouver new wave/punks YOU SAY PARTY’s Dark Days, an uptempo tangle of distorted guitars and pounding beats, is transformed into an ethereal mass of noise and reverb by fellow Vancouverite Babe Rainbow. Spooky…

Watch the video for the original HERE

 


 

 

November 16, 2010

Electronica Britannia

Posted in Essentially Electronica tagged , , , , , , , at 1:33 am by essentiallyeclectic

 

BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Delia Derbyshire, a pioneer of electronic music

This year has seen the standard of contemporary British electronic music rise even further with a string of fascinating and challenging releases from bedrooms and DIY studios up and down the country. With so many influences to draw from now (post-Burial ambient dubstep apparently being the favourite), the synthesists of modern music are constantly raising the bar, bleeping their blips and wobbling their wobulators (a term that was coined by, and died with, the great Delia Derbyshire, pictured above) to form new and exciting music. Here’s some i particularly like…

 

James Blake – Klavierwerke

Perhaps the most considered production in this list, Klavierwerke appears on an EP of the same name, one of three released (so far) this year by classically trained producer James Blake. Blake’s skill lies in his ability to conjure atmospheric space into electronic music, demonstrated across his deeply Burial-influenced EPs. But it’s his versatility as a performer/producer that’s catching the ear of the critics. Soon-to-be-released single Limit To Your Love, a Feist cover, sees Blake introducing his not unpleasant vocal over more stripped-down production. An interesting listen (see the video HERE), but it’s the eerie minimalism of Klavierwerke that makes the Essentially Eclectic list.

 

Phaeleh – Afterglow (ft. Soundmouse)

IDM, atmospheric dubtronica, downbeat post-burial, neo-shoe-crocodile-anti-wave. Whatever you want to call it, that’s Bristolian Phaeleh’s sound. Any electronica artist from that particular part of the West Country existing after the mid ’90s is going to be given the Massive Attack comparison badge, but Phaeleh’s brand of post-rave, early hours downtemporia serves much the same purpose as Blue Lines and Mezzanine did. This slice from the 12″ of the same name features a nice turn from vocalist Soundmouse. I urge you to investigate further.

 

Mount Kimbie – Ode To Bear

Keen observers of this blog might recall I designated a whole post to Mount Kimbie a few months ago (see HERE) so I won’t bore you with anymore gushing praise. Just get hold of the album (Crooks and Lovers), if you haven’t already.

 

Gold Panda – Same Dream China

After a releasing a string of EPs and racking up a number of fairly high-profile production credits over the last few years, Peckham’s Gold Panda finally delivered his debut full length this month. Same Dream China has hints of early Four Tet in its use of Gamelan instrumentation, before breaking out into an off-kilter electro-beat du jour. For more Gold Panda, check out Back Home from a recent Essentially Eclectic Mixup HERE.

 

ISAN – Device

Regular Essentially Eclectic sounding board RM once told me of his misfortune when falling asleep to John Frusciante’s beautifully twisted Niandra Ladies And Usually Just A T-Shirt, only to wake up disoriented and terrified during the heroin-addled 8 minute horror show Untitled #8. I had a similar experience recently after falling asleep to some ISAN. While the soft pad synth work and gently scuttling beats initially seemed ideal for drifting off to, I ended up waking up with Device. A gloriously spooky cut from this year’s Glow In The Dark Safari Set, the track is yet another reminder of the mastery of Robin Saville and Antony Ryan, as if it was needed.

 

Bonobo – We Could Forever

Brighton’s Simon Green released 4th LP Black Sands earlier this year. Building on the work of its predecessor Days To Come, the album refines the already well-refined Bonobo sound further still; a mature work of an artist with plenty of experience under his belt. We Could Forever makes this list, but it’s unfair to cherry pick single tracks out of that now rarest of items – an album that plays as an album.

 

Four Tet – Sing

Not to be outdone, another (relative) veteran of British electronica released his 5th album in January, just making it eligible for this list. Continuing his forays into the four-to-the-floor rhythms of the dance floor (allegedly inspired by a residency at east London’s Plastic People), There Is Love In You shows Kieran Hebden’s willingness to experiment and instigate is still very much alive, without straying too far from the Four Tet magic.

 

Many more could have made this list, just as many non-British electronica artists have been lodged in my ears over the last twelve months (special mentions go to Caribou, Pantha Du Prince, Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Arovane, Matthew Dear, Fever Ray, Flying Lotus and Darkstar, who are British, but who’s debut North disappointed too much outside of a couple of tracks to make the list.)

Here’s some Delia Derbyshire to leave you with…

November 6, 2010

Recent Listening: November

Posted in Recent Listening tagged , , , , , at 6:57 pm by essentiallyeclectic

I guess, by default, this could be an extension of the Autumnal Mixup post from below; more cold weather music for the crisp days and cold nights ahead……

 

Babe, Terror – Summertime Our League (Four Tet Remix)

Brazilian artist Babe, Terror soundtracks the night to his native Sao Paulo using only layers of his own voice and plenty of effects. Here, that voice is given a body thanks to a Four Tet reworking of a recent track from the Havai EP. (Remix also on the EP)

 

Twin Sister – The Other Side of Your Face

Indie hipster-darlings Twin Sister open their Color of Life EP with this slow-building, minimalist slice of mood; all insistent rhythms and long, intermittent chords.

 

Kria Brekkan – Gömul Vísa Um Vorið

Iceland has produced some beautiful music over the years (cue periodical reference to Bjork’s Vespertine and Homogenic albums), and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir (aka Kría Brekkan) is pushing for top spot on that list. Former múm frontwoman, and wife of Animal Collective’s Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, Brekkan released this hypnotically spooky track on 2007’s Wildering 7″.

 

Benoit Pioulard – Shouting Distance

Oregon singer-songwriter (that term still makes me shudder, but is necessary for universal description) Benoit Pioulard continues his prolific streak of releases with lasted album Lasted. Vinyl crackle leads in to Shouting Distance, a jaunty acoustic effort with that would be unpalatabley saccharine in the hands of, say, Badly Drawn Boy, but has a weary feel here, with plenty of autumnal colour.

 

 

Grinderman – What I Know

A rare sanctuary of calm in the middle of the raw, ear-pounding rocker that is this year Grinderman 2 album, What I Know finds Nick Cave in an uncharacteristically relenting and nostalgic mood over ambient production. For those that need reminding what Grinderman are really all about after listening to this, please check out the video for Heathen Child from the same album…