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136: Nicolette

I have to admit that I have something of a crush on Nicolette. The cover to her album, Life Loves Us, doesn't do her justice. At all. Try this or this. But cute as she may be in those pictures, what draws me to her in that voice. The style is influenced in equal parts by her musical and cultural upbringing. Her parents were Nigerians living in Scotland, her father was obsessed with music, which clearly rubbed off on her. I had heard about her because of her collaborations with Massive Attack and Plaid. Then I came across her release on K7's DJ-Kicks series. To this day, it's still my favorite mix CD. The diversity of the music is brilliant spanning everything from Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire to Roni Size to Aphex Twin. Every track is brilliant (even if her choice of Aphex Twin's Ventolin can be a little bit grating to listen to). Since then, I've followed her career. Her first solo album, Now is Early, created with the assistance of production duo Shut Up and Dance, is something of a forgotten classic. I hate to call the music on that album a sort of deep bass house because it would belittle it. Production wise it almost sounded that way, but with a worldly sound, eccentric rhythms, unique instrumentation, and the soulful voice of Nicolette (something she considers nothing special). The following album, Let No One Live Rent Free Inside Your Head, was more experimental. Plaid, from Warp Records, played a major production role, as did Alec Empire. The result was an eclectic, something dark, but oddly playful record.

Then sadly, since 1996, we didn't hear much from Nicolette (other than her appearance on Plaid's Not for Threes). I doubted that she'd ever release another album. But now, on her newly formed Early Records, she's returned with Life Loves Us. I have to admit that it's a more challenging record. It takes a few listens to really appreciate it. The second track, Sunshine, particularly reminds me of the strange ambient textures of The Irresistable Force (another brilliant musician who seems to have disappeared from the scene). Down Day starts with an unusual downtempo beat before breaking down into a flange soaked synth line. The single, Wholesome, as well as I'm Where the Party's At and High Wave are a bit more upbeat and at points even more accessible. Unfortunately, if not for my loyalty to Nicolette, I might have been tempted to cast this aside with giving it a proper time to develop.

There's more samples (and pay per downloads) here. There are also explanations behind the creation of each track. If you'd care to give it a chance, I don't think it will disappoint.


135: AGF/Delay, QUIO, Safety Scissors, The Dolls, Lappetites

For a while now I've been wanting to post something about Helsinki producer Vladislav Delay and his collaborations with Antye Greie-Fuchs (AGF) as agf/dlay. While both of them have a lot of side projects going on at the moment, so I thought I just try to combine them all into one long post, with a ton of mp3's to go with it. This is a pretty big post and it was done a bit hastily, so I apologize for any errors. There's definitely a lot more that these artists have done and if you follow the links around, you can find more downloads if these aren't enough for you. Now to the music.

First, Vladislav Delay's solo work. The sound ranges under the different names he goes by. As Vladislav Delay, the sound is a Mille Plateaux style of blip hop, very mental with ambient textures thrown in. As Uusitalo, his music is more along the lines of the Berlin DJ's who lifted the Detroit techno sound of classics like Model 500 and gave it a minimalist slant. His last album was called The Four Quarters and is out now on Huume Recordings. There is a pretty impressive back catalogue of his works though, a sampling of which I've included here:

Vladislav Delay - Raamat
Vladislav Delay - Viite
Vladislav Delay - Karrha
Vladislav Delay - The Super Has Left the Model
Vladislav Delay - Huone
Vladislav Delay - Putki
Uusitalo - One's Groove
Uusitalo - Dutchwallpaper
Luomo - We Melt
Luomo - Body Speaking
Luomo - Could Be Like This

On top of the last album, Delay did some work on a new Safety Scissors album called Tainted Lunch on Scape. It's a bit more tongue in speech blip hop (evidence of this can be found in the title of the opening track, I Am the Cheese), but not enough to turn King of Convenience, Erlend Øye, away from collaborating on Sunlight's On the Other Side. The album is a refreshing way to escape the seriousness and inaccessibility that you sometimes find with IDM or other experimental artists. Audio samples are available here. I recommend Breastbone.

But the more famous collaboration was probably with producer and musician AGF as AGF/Delay. I don't know very much about AGF, other than that I love her voice. Together, they move in more of a trip hop direction, though with a hauntingly deep and minimalist bass that keeps the mind wondering and thinking. My favorite track, which is a little more trip hoppy, is Break Doors from the album, Explode Baby. Another collaboration between the two was Luomo, which did pretty well on the CMJ charts a couple of years ago. This is Delay displaying a kind of funk. It's more human sounding, even incorporating more vocals from himself and AGF, but without losing too much of the experimental side of his work.

AGF/Delay - Break Doors
AGF/Delay - Return to Us 2002
AGF/Delay - Still Eatin

For an even more mellow version of AGF/Delay, one need only add the talent of composer Craig Armstrong to form The Dolls. Armstrong, who has previously composed music for Moulin Rogue and Romeo & Juliet (though he sticks in my mind as the guy who played piano on Massive Attack's Protection) adds some stability to a couple of experimental producers, but their self titled album has still impressed me a lot lately. One of the best albums I've heard in a while. Martini Never Dies is a good example of what to expect from the rest of the album. This version of Choices is more piano based than the album version which includes a sped up version of the beat from LCD Soundsystem's Losing My Edge (that's what it sounds like at any rate).

The Dolls - Martini Never Dries
The Dolls - Choices (web exclusive version)

But AGF is much more than the vocalist for Vladislav Delay. She's also done quite a lot of her own work on her own record label. On top of her solo material, she's become a part of the Lappetites, an experimental, all female group. Each of the four members comes from a different culture and generation. AGF herself is German, Elaine Radigue is French, Kaffe Matthews is British and Ryoko Kuwajima comes from Japan. Together they've engaged in "sonic linking games" as they call it. The results are a pretty interesting, cross cultural project.The Lappetites album, Before the Libretto, comes out on Oct 25th on Quecksilber Music.

And finally, another personal favorite of the moment, the AGF produced QUIO. This is perfect for anyone who loves M.I.A. but doesn't think she's grime enough. Maybe a better comparison would be to the Grime compilations on Rephlex, but with female vocalists. A bit dirtier sounding than the Run the Road CD on Vice, but no less impressive. Highly recommend downloading Great.

QUIO - Great (featuring Lise)
QUIO - So Dazed
QUIO - Gliding (featuring Lise)
QUIO - Gazon Gasolina
QUIO - So Dazed (Minimally Dazed Rmx by AGF)


134: Björk & Bogdan Raczynski

A while back there were rumors about Björk and Polish idm artist Bogdan Raczynski doing some music together. It was a little disappointing to see that it didn't make it onto Medulla, though I wasn't very surprised. Even though Björk was willing to add a extra layer of silliness to the album in the form of Japanese beatbox artist, Dokaka, his input was minimal. Bogdan, on the other hand, is no minimalist. Having him on the album would have alienated a lot of fans who can't keep up with the energic 200+ beat per minute, high pitched drum n bass that he is famous for. Well now Rephlex is putting it out. But their usually, cryptic way, it's being released simply as Who Is It (Shooting Stars & Asteroids Mix), with no publicity given to the fact that it's a collaboration between Björk and Bogdan. Fortunately, Björk's web site fills in the gaps for us, explaining that this song, originally called Embrace Fortress, was the original version of Who Is It, created with Bogdan Raczynski. A couple of mp3 samples are below. The release comes out on Rephlex on Nov. 21.

Björk & Bogdan Raczynski - Who Is It (Shooting Stars & Asteroids Mix) (sample 1)
Björk & Bogdan Raczynski - Who Is It (Shooting Stars & Asteroids Mix) (sample 2)



133: Hauschka

Every since I first heard the piano tracks on drukqs, I've been interested in the prepared piano. As the story goes, the legendary composer John Cage was asked to create a percussion based soundtrack for a modern dance ensemble. The space he was given for this performance was not large enough for set he usually played with, but it could fit a grand piano. Cage's answer was to turn the piano into a percussion instrument. The piano was opened up and objects were placed inside. Screws were wedged in between strings. Objects would be placed in the way of the strings and the hammers. Anything to alter the sound of the instrument. Since then the prepared piano has been used by some of the more ambitious composers of the past few decades, as well as prepared guitars, violins, or whatever other instruments we can alter.

Now Hauschka (aka Volker Bertelmann) has created an album called Prepared Piano which, as the name suggests, uses little else (although you can hear some synths, bass and drums as well) to create some incredible music. This is music that could fit perfectly to a melancholy yet eccentric movie. It's almost jazzy, almost classical, almost freeform, but all of these terms belittle it. A previous album, Substantial, explored single note, sustained piano notes. Below is an unreleased track from the Substantial sessions.

Hauschka - untitled

132: DJ Pierre (AFX Remix)

It seems that Rephlex has been nice enough to give us some free music. Maybe Aphex Twin is following through with some reported rumors that he would one day start offering his music free on the internet (although trusting Aphex Twin rumors is not always the safest bet). While there's no track info included with this file, it appears to be a reworked version of a track from 2 Remixes by AFX (now out of print) that wasn't included on 26 Mixes for Cash. It's actually a remix of Box Energy by DJ Pierre. This should hold me over until Warp re-releases Hangable Auto Bulb.

DJ Pierre - Box Energy (New Remix by AFX)

131: DMX Krew

It's been about a month since Ed DMX completed the Collapse of the Wave Function series, five 12" records inspired in equal parts by quantum physics and the Rephlex braindance style. Definitely, his most experimental stuff to date. The first two releases were anonymous and then later revealed to be a new incarnation of DMX Krew. Later releases started to sound a bit more familiar with minimalist pop vocal tracks like William the Conqueror. For those who prefer CD's, now there's Wave, a best collection from the last three EP's with some exclusive vocal versions. A bit more exciting is the bonus CD for this release, which is closer to a proper Best Of collection called Our Most Requested Records. The best of DMX Krew from the past nine years on Rephlex Records, with 8 songs re-edited for the release. This is an ideal release for anyone who's never heard DMX Krew before, the perfect collection of experimental electronics balanced out with the braindance pop that Ed DMX is known for.

I posted this mix before, but to anyone who'd rather heard a bit of the style first, here's a dj mix by DMX Krew, tracklisting is here.

eDMX - on the mix


130: Bloc Party Remixed (Contest)

I'm still hosting the contest for free Bloc Party swag. Read about it below this review.

There's a handful of bands that I've always considered to be sort of blogger success stories, that is favorites among the blogosphere that have gotten pretty big and gained recognition across the music scene. Often I'm tempted to stop paying attention to a band when they become too big. It's not so much a mainstream thing, as much as a sign that maybe they've run their course on my iPod. But I still like Bloc Party.

The second curse is sometimes the remix album. Silent Alarm Remixed is coming out this tuesday and while I can't claim that these are the most drastic re-inventions ever, they tend to compliment the original songs pretty well, something that's often lacking in a remix album. Besides the fact that the remixers include the likes of Ladytron, Four Tet, M83, Phones, Mogwai, DFA's Automato, and Death from Above 1979. To sweeten the deal, they've included b-sides and acoustic tracks, for the less remix inclined among us.

[Contest is done, thanks for entering. If you did]

[Sorry, I had to take the link to download the album down. I had agreed to only host it for a limited time. Suppose you should have gotten here sooner, eh?]


129: Pellarin

Experimental dance music from Pellarin. This strikes me as music for when you have insomnia, but you don't really care. These tracks are only available for the next month though before they'll be taken down.

Pellarin - Tango for Berlin
Pellarin - Combing

And another video. The song's more upbeat than the tracks above. Reminds me of the early EBN stuff.

Tape vs. RQM - Rainy Summer (video)



Also.... just in case you were a little behind on the times (like me at the moment) and missed this.