Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Alain Weber – Hoover Cover (Poor Records)

Alain Weber is a musician and DJ from Switzerland that has been writing and producing music for the past twenty years. However he shows no evidence of this on his latest release ‘Hoover Cover’. Forgive me for being blunt here, but very little if any musical experience is displayed through this painfully dull forty minute album. 

The melodic ideas are that of an extreme beginner; someone who has sat down at a piano for the first time and played a couple of notes. Broken chords are used and overused throughout by a plethora of cheap sounding instruments. I can only think that Mr Weber has never listened to an album by an esteemed artist before. In fact he may not have listened to any music before. If he had then he would surely realise that a few chromatic scales, broken chords, drone notes and randomly placed timpani don’t actually create music per se. 

It is embarrassing that artists like this (and I use the term ‘artist’ loosely here) can get a record deal and release music when there are so many more incredibly talented musicians/ composers/ producers out there that are getting no recognition for what they do. I don’t really want to give this album a mark out of ten, however as I have in the past, I have to praise Alain Weber for being so brave as to release something that in my opinion is utterly terrible. So for that alone ‘Hoover Cover’ gets a solitary 1/10 


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Caro Snatch – Til You’re No Longer Blinkered (Emms)

I always look forward to hearing something slightly obscure, and with the likes of James Blake and Jamie xx hitting the headlines in recent months it seems obscure might just be the ‘cool’ musical genre to be part of for the foreseeable future. Caro Snatch is definitely going for a place in this genre bracket with her mix of avant-garde, electronic, spoken word and operatic stylings on her latest release ‘Til You’re No Longer Blinkered’. So how does she fare alongside the likes of Blake and Jamie xx? 

The only answer I can come up with for that question upon listening to this, her second full length album, is “not very well”. Caro Snatch has been releasing music for the last seven years and all I can think is that now, when her style would be appreciated most, she has run out of ideas. The songs on ‘Til You’re No Longer Blinkered’ are long and drawn out: The spoken vocal style is quite uncomfortable to listen to (imagine your grand mother talking to you in what she considers her ‘sexy voice’, it’s not very pleasant). Then there is the attempted singing: I say attempted because it isn’t very melodic, and any harmonies added are painfully out of tune. The only saving grace for this album is that some of the backing tracks are beautifully crafted. The transitions from electronic to classical influences are seamless and add a real depth to what on paper might seem quite empty and bland. However the vocal lines are so overpowering that it becomes near impossible to block them out meaning it is often hard to be able to appreciate the great production on the backing tracks underneath. 

‘Til You’re No Longer Blinkered’ definitely can be categorised under ‘obscure’ music, however that doesn’t mean that it is also musically viable. Without the terrible vocals this record would be worth listening to, but then it wouldn’t be a Caro Snatch album. As it is, I can’t help but feel like some great musical ideas have gone to waste. 3/10 


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tahiti 80 – The Past, The Present & The Possible (Human Sounds)

I have been accused in the past of passing judgement on some bands far too quickly, which although it hurts me to admit is probably true. Well Tahiti 80’s latest offering ‘The Past, The Present & The Possible’ was one of those moments that I realised I need to give bands a chance. As I started listening I immediately decided that it was going to be another standard electronic pop album and was ready to give up. But I didn’t and am so glad that I carried on intently hoping for something more, because what I discovered after my first full listen was that in fact this album is a great mix of genre flipping, electronic rock full of highs, lows and lots in-between. 

Album opener ‘Defender’ gets the ball rolling with layers of fuzz bass, dirty guitars and synths building up until it explodes allowing room for luscious vocal harmonies and big drum fills aplenty. They switch from electronic drums to live drumming taking the chorus line to a whole new musical level; a technique that is used effectively throughout the album. The songs are fast paced, eccentric and very memorable with a style that is similar to Super Furry Animals at one moment, ‘Kid A’ era Radiohead the next, and with the occasional hint of Aqualung in there for good measure. But it is when the band really let themselves go that everything gets that little bit more exhilarating: Their extended version of ‘Crack Up’ comes in at eight minutes long and is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Initially sounding like a pretty standard disco rock song, it is allowed to grow into something much more spectacular as synth tracks are layered on top of one another. The resulting sound is heavy and dance driven, like it were plucked straight out of The Chemical Brothers’ album ‘Come With Us’. 

This French six piece (as they are now) have gone through a lot in their extensive career, and have made many attempts at releasing something that will not only be able to define them as a band, but also help to make a name for themselves. It may have taken fifteen years to come to fruition but better late than never – ‘The Past, The Present & The Possible’ could indeed be that album. This is a record created by a band that are experienced at what they do and quite obviously love every minute of it, and that comes across perfectly in what is an outstanding sixth album for Tahiti 80. 9/10 


Emmy’s Unicorn – Singular [Demo]

Emmy’s Unicorn are singer Emmy-Lou Kay and Welsh composer/ producer Mr Ronz. Having made a name for himself working on many television and film scores previously, Mr Ronz’s sound falls somewhere between a cinematic soundscape, hip-hop and electronica. Emmy’s Unicorn are no different on this front, being very hard to define maybe Emmy-Lou Kay describes it best when she labels them ‘Dream Pop’. However you would like to think of it, ‘Singular’ itself has a dreamscape that is easy to get lost in: Charmingly smooth pads layered with delicate arpeggiated synth sounds and clean guitars are contrasted perfectly by a busy rolling drum track. Add to this the quite haunting 'Number Station' breaks and giant vocals from Emmy-Lou Kay and you have something quite special. 

After the success of their two shows at the end of 2010, Emmy’s Unicorn are planning a host of other live dates in the near future with the accompaniment of a string quartet which will be something not to miss. However if you can’t wait until those dates are announced, they will be releasing a free single soon to whet your appetite; recorded at their show at The Union Chapel in December, it is sure to give you a taste of what is no doubt going to be a great year for the duo. 9/10