Tag Archive: Effi Briest


May has definitely been the best month for music this year. That is not to say that it’s all down from here. There is already a slew of releases that have been confirmed for the coming months that are well worth getting excited about.

I recommend twelve new releases and with one exception they were all brilliant. First out of the blocks was Flying Lotus with ‘Cosmogramma’, an exploration of jazz in an electronic context heavily influenced by his aunt Alice Coltrane’s spiritual albums of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Though I’ve yet to fully absorb the album, and it is one that will take a few plays before it properly sinks in, I’d say that it sees Flying Lotus finally live up to the hype that has surrounded him since signing to Warp in 2008.

Three very busy weeks followed, the first week saw releases by The Black Dog, Foals, Holy Fuck and Walls. The Black Dog’s ‘Music for Real Airports’ is an attempt to depict airports in a modern and more realistic setting compared to Eno’s original album, which painted a utopian airport.  I would go as far to say it trumps  ‘Music For Airports’ by some way. Foals have stepped it up a level with ‘Total Life Forever’.  I felt that their début ‘Antidotes’ was overrated and in some places overly repetitive. They have expanded and enhanced their sound while adding enough variation to keep everyone interested. Holy Fuck achieved a similar feat but more immediately impressive and though I loved the analogue murk that coated their previous albums after a short period of adjustment their new-found clarity is very welcome. You can read my live review of the band of top form here. Finally electronica duo Walls self titled début mixed synths that recalled Krautrock legends Tangerine Dream with modern beats with excellent results. Check the album out on the visually pleasing Kompact player here.

The following week was probably the biggest for much-anticipated releases. LCD Soundsystem kicked things off with ‘This Is Happening’ and though I admit to being a little disappointed with James Murphy’s latest effort, I think the reasons aren’t ones that should dissuade you from purchasing it. The album has disappointing moments because some of  the tracks are similar to previous ones and ‘You Wanted A Hit’ just doesn’t feel right.  Elesewhere Congo’s Konono No.1 delivered a superb follow-up  to their critically acclaimed début ‘Congotronics Vol.1’. ‘Assume Crash Position’ adds guitars, bass and a sublime feeling to their trademark abrasive likembe (thumb piano) sound.

Jamie Lidell’s emotional rollercoaster of an album, ‘Compass’, demonstrated he has lost none of his eclectic genre hopping after the relatively straightforward ‘Jim’ (2008). Made with fellow musical eccentric Beck on production and instrument duties the musical territory covered is as expansive as the range of emotions covered while managing to gel for the most part  and only falling when some of the more upbeat numbers (‘I Wanna Be Your Telephone’, ‘Enough’s Enough’) jar with album prevailing reflective mood.

The third week saw releases by techno queen Ellen Allien with ‘Dust’, noise manglers Crystal Castles second eponymous album and the long-awaited début from New York six piece Effi Briest with ‘Rhizomes’.  Allien shows a new level of maturity and accomplished pop nous, without sacrificing the techno trademarks established by her high watermarks ‘Berlinette’ and ‘Orchestra of Bubbles’ (with Apparat). Crystal Castles were the aforementioned singular disappointment and though they have progressed from the hit and miss sound of their début, many of the songs lacked that something extra to really draw me in. Lastly though I haven’t heard all the songs in full I’ve been impressed with Effi Briest and their combination of Krautrock and post-punk influences folded into a charming ramshackle mess of their own creation.

Spotify playlist (HTTP link, then Spotify link):

May 2010 playlist

May 2010 playlist

Recommended releases for June:

Diskjokke – ‘En Fin Tid’ 21st June (Smalltown Supersound)

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Returnal’ 21st June (Editions Mego)

Sleigh Bells – ‘Treats’  21st June (Mama & Pops/N.E.E.T.)

The Roots – ‘How I Got Over’ 21st June (Def Jam)

Tobacco – ‘Maniac Meat’ 28th June (Anticon)

Though April was thin on the ground in terms of new releases and reissues, I still managed to discover and enjoy a large range of music.

First up were two March releases. The first from Erykah Badu was ‘New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)’ the second in her trilogy of New Amerykah albums. The first is the excellent ‘New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)’ from 2008, which focused on politics, war and ghetto violence but for Part Two, Badu switches to discuss love in all its forms. At first this extreme left turn makes the album feel too slight but it is a fully formed, ambitious work of depth that will reward amply for those who give it time.

Next is Mulatu Astatke’s new release ‘Mulatu Steps Ahead’ which sees the founder of Ethio-jazz do himself proud with an album of subtle, slow burning grooves that centre on the downbeat tracks he explored on ‘Inspiration Information Vol.3’ with The Heliocentrics.

Noise was the genre that ran through the month with new efforts from Nice Nice and Growing. The former’s ‘Extra Wow’ (their first on Warp Records) is propelled by the motorik rhythms associated with early Kraftwerk and Neu! but far from being plagiaristic the band uses them as a springboard for developing their own sound. I was impressed with ‘Extra Wow’ and how everything just clicked into place after finding their initial singles underwhelming. Growing have long been an established feature on the noise scene since they formed in 2001, developing from a wispy ambient drone-based sound to creating walls of harmonically and rhythmically complex noise that emanates from their banks of analogue equipment. Latest album ‘Pumps’ adds new member Sadie Laska on vocals and drum machine rhythms are included for the first time. ‘Pumps’ has some great tunes yet feels like a transitional album, though it prompted me to investigate their previous works like ‘Vision Swim’, mini album ‘Lateral’ and ‘All the Way’.  The detailed harmonic waves of sound, dense rhythms created without drums blew my away and fortunately weren’t the headache-creating treble fests I had anticipated.

I also caught up with Caribou by buying his new album ‘Swim’ and my favourite ‘The Milk of Human Kindness’. Both are brilliant examples of modern psychedelia. I won’t go into too much detail about Caribou now as later this month I will be discussing him in the follow-up to the Psychedelia: The Return piece published in February. In a similar vein I picked up on a newcomer called Toro Y Moi who is Chaz Brunwick, a South Carolina based producer. His debut album ‘Causes of This’ is rightly being praised. Though he is being grouped with glo-fi/chillwave artists such as Washed Out and Neon Indian, and there are hints of this in the music, it reminded me of Animal Collective and Four Tet’s early 2000s era.

I finished April by buying Norwegian cosmic disco producer Prins Thomas’ self titled debut album, The Fall’s ‘Post-TLC Reformation!’ from 2007, which I found underwhelming (though almost all Fall albums are grower and/or have enough moments to justify having them) , and ‘Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk and Fusion in 70s Ghana’. I also listened to a highly recommended ‘Your Future, Our Clutter’, The Fall’s new album, the HEALTH single ‘USA Boys’ and MIA’s new song ‘Born Free’. Unfortunately it and the accompanying video’s true subject have been overshadowed by the misperceptions about the video’s metaphor and the controversy surrounding the violence.

Watch the ‘Born Free video below:

http://vimeo.com/11219730

I would love to hear what people who visit Sonic Fiction think of it. Any ideas on how I can improve the content are welcome. Critiques and debate are what I want Sonic Fiction to be about.

Spotify playlist (HTTP link, then Spotify link):

April 2010 playlist

April 2010 playlist

Recommendations for May (potential the best month of year…so far):

Flying Lotus – ‘Cosmogramma’  (Warp) 3rd May

Black Dog – ‘Music for Real Airports’ (Soma) 10th May

Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’ (Transgressive) 10th May

Holy Fuck – ‘Latin’ (Young Turks) 10th May

Walls – ‘Walls’ (Kompact) 10th May

Ellen Allien – ‘Dust’ (Bpitch Control) 17th May

Konono No.1 – ‘Assume Crash Position’ (Crammed Discs) 17th May

LCD Soundsystem – ‘This Is Happening’ (DFA/EMI) 17th May

Jamie Lidell – ‘Compass’ (Warp) 17th May

Crystal Castles – ‘Crystal Castles (2)’ (Polydor) 24th May

Effi Briest – ‘Rhizomes’ (Blast First Petite) 24th May

plus a couple that slipped me by:

David Holmes -‘The Dogs Are Parading – The Very Best Of’

Solex + Jon Spencer + Cristina Martinez – ‘Amsterdam Showdown, King Street Throwdown’

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