Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rounding up to move on: James Blake, Hype Williams, Teengirl Fantasy

Once again it has been too long since my last post. I am my own worst enemy.

To ease myself back in, here are a few nuggets of audio joy, all of which I have been rinsing this week through my fucking awesome new soundcard. Even with lame Logitech speakers the following tunes sound heavy like a first day period, as Janet Jackson once said.


James Blake, 'Wilhelm's Scream'

[Had to choose a different video as the Radio 1 version is too wide]

This looped refrain has been pulsing through my brain on and off for the past week now, but the real joy is when I get home and stick it on and am reminded of how damn classy and 'mature' the production is. A lot of people seem a bit surprised/confused at the sound of JB's album, which is so sparse it makes the XX sound like Wild Beasts, but after you get over your initial shock at how many moments of pure silence there are, you start to warm up to all the little production treats scattered throughout. Not to mention his voice - one of my favourite games over the past couple of months has been informing people that 'Limit To Your Love' is not a sampled vocal...

Also I have to briefly boast about seeing James Blake at Plan B last Friday, which @Dummymag pointed out was pretty much a 'We were there' moment. Again, the voice is proper spine-tingly live, plus hearing the bass out of the venue's Funktion One's made 'Limit To Your Love' a quite literally visceral experience. Excited to hear that he's planning a residency in February at a church in King's Cross.

# 2

Hype Williams, 'Rescue Dawn'

Yes, yes, I know hipsters were on this 4real like waaay back in 2010 but I haven't blogged for ages, 'kay? So I've been listening to the elusive duo's album (released on De Stijl) for a while now, having been slipped the promo ages ago and utterly failing to act upon it. It's called Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Gettin Reel.

Initially the whole concept of Hype Williams made me feel a bit sicky, partly because of the extreme alt.coolness of it all, with its pixellated visuals and anti-aesthetic aesthetic. Strong Dalston vibes emanate throughout, combined with not so much the 3am night bus atmosphere we've had from so many great records of 2008-10, but more a 7am 'oh my God, why am I still awake' feeling, which marries perfectly with the dubious 'hypnagogic pop' label defined by David Keenan of the Wire (hypnagogic meaning the state between awake and asleep). See also, #3 of this post.

Also, something about the warmth of the warped cassette effects, twisted vocals and repetitive infinite loopiness all came together to take me back to being a carsick 7-year-old on the way to Gatwick at sunrise (really). In particular I recall a tape we had in the Renault 21 of Chris Rea's Road to Hell, the cover of which most chillwave bands would kill to have come up with, and which had some sort of profound effect on my developing only-child psyche as it whirred round on its own infinite loop. Listening to the opening track of that album now, I think I get it. It's amazing.

Anyway, Hype Williams' woozy conveyor belt of barely there vocals and distant reverbed drums finally sank in just before Christmas and I learned to accept the fear and love them anyway. I also really enjoy the track names, which sound like placeholder project titles on Logic that they never bothered changing ('Rescue Dawn', 'Rescue Dawn 3', 'Untitled'). It adds to the digital-DIY feel of their of pixellated home videos, which of course works in perfect ironical symmetry with the band name.


Teengirl Fantasy, 'Make The Move'

Yes, I KNOW, I know you've heard them and that 'Cheaters' was Fact mag's top song of 2010, I know all this. But I haven't blogged for a while and I'm seeing them at White Light tomorrow. After being informed that I missed the best show evah at XOYO a few months ago, where they supported Oneohtrix Point Never, I am looking forward to catching up. Sadly Becoming Real has now been demoted to DJ support, when I was expecting a live set of some kind. I dunno, a lot of new artists are having trouble working out how to do show-and-tell with their music now that everyone is a bedroom producer. Do you just bring in loads of musicians and mates to trigger sequencers and hit floor toms? Er, apparently so. But it seems a bit pointless. I applaud James Blake for having found a way round it (i.e. playing piano and singing, with live drums and a bit of looping thrown in).

So Teengirl Fantasy: another 7am 'why am I still awake' album, so much so that it's actually called 7AM. This time I don't feel carsick, just blissed out and over-tired. To me, this kind of beautiful glitchy techy music has a sort of cleansing quality to it, as though all those modulated crackles and stutters are washing out my furred-up insides like ice cubes spiked with bleach, or sugar-free lemonade... am I over-emoting that? Probably. But that's one of the pleasures of dancing about architecture, don't you think?


No comments: