EP Review – R. Missing – Unsummering

R.Missing is the name of a dark or cold wave electronic project between New York based Sharon Shy and Toppy, otherwise known as Indie duo The Ropes. This project sees them embrace a darker and introspective form of electronica and experiment in a middle ground between acts such as The Knife and Austra. Their EP is called Unsummering and was released on March 3rd. 

‘Kelly Was a Philistine’ is the lead single from the EP and is evocative of the general sound and feel of the album. With a steady, punchy beat warping synths and reliable, oscillating rhythm section that run beneath Shy’s calm and emotionally detached vocals, this track retains a cool and cold feel with shimmering electronica fading into space providing a glacial atmospheric quality. The title track delivers a driven piece of Electro Pop that has a deep, whirring synth, a more rapid beat and ringing riff as its engine. It is just as coolly delivered with more delicate, vocals responsive to the music. Tracks such as ‘Birthright’ have a pulsating beat with whirring synths flashing and extending from it. The blocky verses feed into the light of the chorus for a dynamic track. 

The EP is full of coolly delivered and well produced music with eerie vocals and misty soundscapes. The lyrics of detachment marry with the music produced and in many ways goes beyond The Knife and Austra comparisons; in parts it screams of John Foxx or even Gary Numa and an earlier dark wave sound. What makes this different are not the robotic or morphed vocals of Numan or Foxx, but the dispassionate delivery of Sharon Shy which hints for the sake of the lyrical narrative that a emotional person was once there. Their investment into their theme has fully paid off for well functioning piece of sophisticated electronica. 

Owen Riddle 

Austra – Future Politics Review 

While most people were stressing over the President Trump’s Inauguration Last Friday; Canadian new wave band Austra released a new album to keep the world’s angst at bay. The tone is fresh and clean like a crisp sunny morning, Austra’s ‘Future Politics’ has the power to heal and soothe. The founder & producer Katie Stelmanis even said their third album is “a commitment
to replace the approaching dystopia”.
I have to say, I am not the biggest fan of electropop so initially I was apprehensive but to my surprise my experience was positive. The beats are befittingly revitalising giving a feeling of purposefulness and realism. This is juxtaposed by the sci-fi synths which provide this space-age dream like picture. My favourite song ‘We Were Alive’ starts with Katie’s comforting voice over eclectic synths & strings and a hard beat: “waking up got somewhere to go / I’m making sweat fall”. As the title suggests the song makes you feel alive, the sense of hope makes you feel warm on the inside. 
This album is great for relaxing, dinner parties or even a Sunday run – it is a welcome gift for the new year and will have you feeling like nothing is impossible as we step into the unknown quite literally.

Austra – Future Politcs = 5.5/10

Ony Anukem

Single Review – Austra – Utopia 

The Toronto based synth pop group headed by Katie Stelmanis have announced their third studio album Future Politics; their first since 2013’s Olympia which had flashes of brilliance, but was underwhelming everywhere else. Their new single ‘Utopia’ isn’t a huge stray from the key sounds of Olympia, but the arrangement is less cluttered and the production refined instead adding to the musical furniture. The harmonies and melodies hang from a steady and drawn out beat with a more solid beat layered atop it. With this arrangement, Katie’s siren-like operatics are given a greater focus in the grand scheme of things and her vocals hauntingly linger as they fade into the synths. It would be nice to have her raw vocals impose themselves on one of the tracks of this upcoming album however as they can only be echoed and faded so much. If anything this is more noticeable now they’ve refined their sound. A decent opening to their album release.

Owen Riddle 

This Weeks Music Video with Paul McCartney, Lily Allen, Little Dragon and Austra

Paul McCartney – Early Days

Lily Allen – URL Badman

Little Dragon – Pretty Girls

Austra – Hulluu

Austra – Olympia Review

There has been something of an electronic music craze coming from Canada in recent years. It’s similar to the course that the neo-psychedelic scene from Down under has took in that perhaps it hasn’t got everyone’s undivided attention. From it all, Austra (From Toronto) are one of the stand-out acts and on Tuesday they released their their second album. Which is the signal for intense scrutiny for the music press who love to tear apart bands on their second attempts. But Austra were already under a bit of scrutiny due to the nature of their lead vocalist Katie Stelmanis. She was classically trained as an opera singer from a young age and so many question what she’s doing in a band and all the over nonsense about hidden motives and all that crap. Having said that, her voice is of an acquired taste. You either like it or you dont. Imagine Florence and the Machine and Bjork someone said. It does at times seem a little forced and wavery but she knows what she’s doing vocally so it’s more a case of choice than a requirement to sound the way she does.

The album is said to have a more ‘bombastic throb’ to it and this is the case with the lead single ‘Home’. It features a typical textured build up of the instrumentals from the opening with the dramatic piano and really generates a sense of atmosphere with Stelmanis’ highly considered and powerful vocal. The simple percussion sample joins and change of key from the piano which then all follow the return of the original key from piano. This then triggeres a back and forth of all elements in the chorus with the rousing vocals and back to the more bare verses. Beyond that, it’s thrown in a percussion driven instrumental which is great apart from the brass perhaps which was a little too much. Nevertheless it blends right back into the grand feel of the chorus with ease and the song as a whole has been worked well with it’s broken and back and forth nature to ensure the chorus is that little bit more intense and atmospheric while Katie’s vocals adapt well to the changes as you’d expect. The ‘bombastic throb’ is the epitomisation of ‘Painful Like’ with the deep bounce-like synth to begin with which is complimented by a higher pitched synth sound. The vocal progression from verse to bridge then chorus is excellent with the instumentals constucting a bigger sound in conjuntion with it. The song also featues backing vocals too and generally more synth frills and extra contributions to all in all make it more of a dance tune but while maintaining the thought that’s went into the song as a whole. The two singles are pretty solid offerings and generally give you an idea to the sound of the rest of the album.

However that does not mean the rest of the album is of the same standard. The album opener ‘What We Done’ has a great muted, dark and slightly sinister synth sound to start with and when Katie’s vocals are isolated it really works effectively to give her the space to explore her vocal range a little. ‘Sleep’ too starts off well with the retro synth organ sounds that suddenly break into the chorus with Katie enhancing her vocals while some percussion from an actual drum kit joins in to create a great pace and rythm to the song that works well with Stelmanis’ vocals that are not going at the same pace, but the two meet well in the middle. But after about five or six tracks in you have heard all you need to hear really. Nothing really stands out after that and the tricks used elsewhere are largely used here too. ‘Annie (Oh Muse, You)’ has sort of a 90’s dance feel about it but everything else just seems to been filler for the album. Songs such as ‘Reconcile’, ‘We Become’ and others are by no means bad but they are just a little uninspired compared to the first part where the two singles sit. It does let the album down slightly like Bankrupt’s album fillers did for Phoenix earlier in the year. However it’s not to that extent and what’s good about Olympia is that the albums good songs are of a higher standard than that of Bankrupt and are have been more considered at every detail to create the sub-effects that Bankrupt didn’t do for Phoenix. It’s by no means the second album disaster but it could be prepped up in places.

Austra – Olympia = 7/10

Images from www.northerntransmissions.com / www.festivalrykten.se