Single Review – Alice Merton – Lash Out

After the huge success of 2017’s No Roots, Alice Merton returns with the equally ferocious and addictive Lash Out. A funky opening riff paves way for fiery lyrics of rebellion, with Merton stating the song detailed the struggles of the industry: “Being an artist and a human in this world always means confronting people who make you feel like you have to act according to their rules. Like most people, I wanted and still want to live by my own rules. The idea, or, if you like, the need, to write and record ‘Lash Out’ was born of a feeling within me.” The track has an undying energy, peaking at the effervescent choruses. It’s the vocals of Florence and the Machine meeting the bold vitality of nostalgic 2000s indie pop classics.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Sara Hartman – Dance With A Ghost

Sara Hartman’s new single ‘Dance With A Ghost’ sees’ the Berlin based, New York singer songwriter building a clear, elegantly emotive lyric into a straight forwardly percussive chorus. ‘Straight to the point, nothing to prove, give it all away, nothing to lose’. ‘Dance With A Ghost’ wears its melancholic heart on its alternative indie sleeve. A warning, of sorts, against wallowing in the past as the present can hurt you enough without the added bite of self-torture thrown in. Hartman creates an empowering yet gentle track, reciting independence and self-worth as the goal of any happy ending. Hartman asks for honesty in the tracks, I’ll be fine either way, love story. ‘Better to dance alone than dance with a ghost’. Imagine Sara Bareilles’s Love Song covered by Lorde and infused with just a little Amy Macdonald folk-pop and you’ll be millimetres away from the enchanting allure of Hartman’s track.  

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Parcels – Older

The Berlin via Byron Bay quintet that makes up Parcels are to release their new EP Hideout on January 27th and have released a third single taken from the extended play. ‘Older’ still retains the Euro-Disco sounds of the previous singles, but the crackling production and loose riffs are set to a Indie jolt led by the percussion and brought home by the back and forth, airy pop vocals. It is an upbeat and infectious track, but sees them loose a bit of their novelty to pursue a TDCC type sound, though delivered better nonetheless. Hopefully they can go back to shamelessly pursuing Disco or perhaps drop us a surprise in the future.

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Parcels – Gamesofluck

 Parcels are an Australian five piece from Byron Bay, made up of five high school friends who decided to set up shop in Berlin to pursue their Disco sound. Clearly trying to gain perspective from the career of a certain Mr. Giorgio Moroder; the influence for Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013. Parcels are definitely honing that German Disco sound and are doing so perhaps a little more faithfully than Daft Punk did. Their new single ‘Gamesofluck’ is the perfect example of this with the shimmering pools of electronica and loose Niles Rodgers riffs with the steady hit behind it all screams Disco. Though it is nothing new, the delivery and arrangement all add to the smooth presentation and so making the track cool and sharp as opposed to cringeworthy. A neat little track from a neat little group that wear their influences on their sleeves.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Agnes Obel – Familiar

The Copenhagen born and Berlin based folk singer songwriter Agnes Obel has finalised the preparations for her third studio album Familiar. The single of the same name has been premiered this week and it sees Obel push forward her captivating folk style with fleeting moments of production flair. The spacious piano chords and brushed percussion meets naturally with Obel’s whispy, yet powerful vocals. She goes on to modulate and pitch shift her vocal to mirror her original and this generates wonderfully diverse melodies against the earthy violins that close the song. Another justification of her talent and a future highlight of the year. 

Owen Riddle

Sunday Suggestion – David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

As we reach the end of the week in which David Bowie moved on to the next phase of his career somewhere new, back on earth we’re still looking back at the life work of one of the greatest solo artists of all time. It’s difficult for me to pick an absolute favourite track but ‘Ashes to Ashes’ acted as the centre-point of his career as Major Tom neatly returns after 1969 and to his final appearance just last year. As well as this, this music in it’s experimental form encases in New Romantic aesthetic mirrors the experimentation of Blackstar. It was in 1980 with his return from Berlin, he used techniques such as cutting and pasting for lyrical content and embraced Electronica in a distinct and innovative fashion; moving the genre on from Kraftwerk, Numan and Foxx. The song tracks an elaborate path to it’s melodies and the lyrics meet in unaccustomed places. It brings the experimentation and peculiarities of Strawberry Fields and goes full circle in applying such methods to the cold electronic genre. This song and Scary Monsters (And Super creeps) was just another successful shift in the music life of Bowie and more where to come beyond 1980.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Marco Vella X Kyle Jorgensen – Shadow Mountain Review

Shadow Mountain cover art

Above Negative, a Berlin based label, are set to release their debut record, Shadow Mountain which is a cross-medium collaborative project between Sydney-based artist Marco Vella and American visual artist Kyle Jorgensen.  Part musical project, part art book, it explores the partnership between Vella’s sounds and Jorgensen’s visuals, a delicately crafted marriage that creates an aural and visual ambience that would be better described as a piece of artwork than a mere record.

The release has been a long time in the making, beginning in 2012 with Vella “trawling the internet for visual inspiration to encourage and inspirit my songwriting” he adds that “discovering Kyle’s work and re-listening to the songs I was writing, I was convinced of the aesthetic similarities between our art”. That connection between the two is clear to see throughout the record, the way in which the soft and subtle melodies draw the listener in, creating a landscape for Jorgensen’s visuals that is entwined with Vella’s delicate and moving sounds. There is a surreal feel to the whole record, the two mediums combining perfectly to create a landscape that entices the listener into a Dali-esque reality, the boundaries between visual art and music broken down, challenging the listeners ideas of music and how its packaged. The dark textures and layered synths accompanied with the warped nature of Jorgensen’s visuals create a new dream like sublimity where the realities between different mediums is removed from the idea that they are two separate entities, with each artist combining perfectly to create a new, forward thinking experience for the listener.

The record begins with ‘Tall’, an open and spacious soundscape layered with smooth drums. The cosmic scenery throughout the record is abundant, indulging the listener to begin a journey into a new dream like reality. The record moves onto ‘Why’ the first single to be released, hinged around a deep bassline reminiscent of the spaciousness and loneliness of New Order or Joy Division. The perfectly poised transitions allowing the music to flow – twisting

and turning through an endless maze, smoothly opening up textures within the song, enticing the listener into a full sensory experience that goes beyond the generic sounds often heard within electronics more commercialized compatriots. The surreal and dark world that the record seduces the listener into is clear throughout, with tracks such as ‘Pattern’ with its haunting melody or ‘Runner’ which opens a landscape far beyond the realities of the real world and into a synth laden existence that fits perfectly with Jorgensen’s dream like visuals. Tracks such as ‘On Set’ offer the listener deep, tight drums, increasing the pace of the album but never quite boiling over, keeping the smooth, laidback. The listener is brought back down to earth with the final track, ‘Awake From Noise’ buoyed by sprightly guitar sounds, its uplifting feel a perfect ending to a subliminal listening experience.

The ideology behind the record, that the visuals and music break down the barriers of art, refusing to be separated into their component parts, looks to have set a future template for further Above Negative releases. The visuals are a perfect match for the synth based tracks that offer a rare insight into the workings of the two artists and allows the listener to submerge themselves into a realm where barriers are none existent, where different components refuse to be restricted to one artistic medium and there is a world of endless possibilities. Through his exceptional vision and originality, Vella holds the ability to hypnotize with repetitive beats, sparse sound tracks and profound melodies, pushing the listener to lose themselves in the music, open their minds and enter a world encapsulated by deep atmospheric synths. Throughout this record one thing is for certain, Above Negative have managed to set a precedent for future collaborative releases with this exceptional release and hopefully there is more to come.

Matthew Kay

Single Review – Das Fluff – One Cent Plus Postage / Shut the Fuck Up

Das Fluff are a Berlin dark electronic group led by Dawn Lintern. Their gritty and murky electronica is something to be reckoned with and their latest AA release of the singles ‘One Cent Plus Postage / Shut the Fuck Up’ is the perfect example. The first track flashes and zaps off into a much deeper and shadowy synths base. The grinding and droning sounds are offset by rapid electronic flashes and rotations while Dawns vocals remain within those depths as she teases the song along with boldness and confidence. The lyrics are equally murky and this type of electronica is providing more lyrical and stylistic risk taking which Das Fluff and others such as The Knife and Gary Numan are willing to take. ‘Shut The Fuck Up’ has a quaking bass line like some of the more darker Depeche Mode tracks and these are flanked by scratching and churning of synths behind it. The vocals are more in your face and aggressive too along with the lyrics too. Lyrics more akin to a punk track from 1977 but ones that match the aggressive electronic sound here. Apart from this, it is the fact that they are being bold, taking risks and trying something that sounds a little different. Even if it doesn’t click with you straight away, the individualism has to be appreciated.

Image from www.dasfluff.com