Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Review - Fader - First Light




Fader – First Light (Blanc Check Records)

LP / CD / DL

23 June 2017

8.5 / 10

British electronic stalwarts combine to make first collaborative album.  

This is quite some joining of forces and we should be thanking Steve Malins, the manager of both Neil Arthur and Benge for suggesting it.  Fader sees two major, if not often unsung, forces of electronic music come together for an album that will raise an eyebrow or two. Both names instantly recognisable in their own rights take a break from their regular projects and reveal an album which is bordering on perfect.

Neither artist needs any introduction of course nor do the resulting eleven tracks which contain, as you’d maybe predict, some of the throbbing basslines that you’d expect from Blancmange or the delicate intricacies of The Maths (John Foxx).  It’s an album of startling pop, of racing electronica and also some genuinely heartfelt moments.  Whether you think that Arthur’s lyrics are meaningless art or genuinely highbrow words of wisdom are often irrelevant, whether quotes of ‘put the rings back on the onion’ from album opener 3D Carpets are inspired by the works of Hunter S Thompson or not will render most of us oblivious, but the fact remains that his articulation serves of as much of an instrument as Benge’s programming does.

Commencing with three high powered tracks in 3D Carpets, Check The Power and recent single I Prefer Solitude, the analogue sound is firmly in flow and the wake of infectious basslines and electro ripples are incredibly addictive.  The latter of the three steams along from the first beat and it is often difficult to catch a metaphorical breath in between the constant percussion and manic voice.

Let’s not think of Fader as merely a Neil Arthur project either, the input of Benge is here in equal measures.  His instrumentation, sometimes complex and sometimes stark is the work of a man brimming with ideas.  There are hints of his other projects We Are Wrangler (and therefore by default, Cabaret Voltaire) and the almost cinematic sound of John Foxx on show here.  There is even a strong enough resemblance on the Way Out intro to Depeche Mode’s To Have And To Hold to have many folks expecting Dave Gahan to break into song.

Lead single and title track, First Light is full of dramatic beats and wonderful reverb and with lines like “blah dee blah, Lady Godiva” Fader are as much about feeling as they are about any hidden meaning and the melodies general feel of the album is very special indeed. 

There’s a tribute to (presumably) the amusement arcade of the 80s and 90s, Wonderland, which progresses along with an increasing pace, and the gorgeous Liverpool Brick with its lack of percussion is a quite lovely respite before the track of the album Guilt, Doubt And Fear hits you between the eyes and leathers you with power, aggression and electro punk-funk.

Trip To The Coast and Winter Garden may evoke memories of trips to Blackpool for Arthur or the statement may be wide of the mark, but such is the intrigue with his words that leave you interpreting as you like.  Album closer Laundrette again opts for simple ambiance in an effective and intelligent end to the album. 

First Light is a strong album which will not disappoint fans of electro pop or, of Neil Arthur and Benge and will hopefully see continued work in the future.  A fine album, well worth a listen.











Soundcloud
Twitter
Facebook





Published on Louder Than War 21/06/17 - here 









If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.






Review - Tamikrest - Kidal




Tamikrest – Kidal (Glitterbeat Records)

LP / CD / DL

Out Now

7.5 / 10


Review by Paul
On the fourth album by Tuareg rockers Tamikrest, they return to the place which first saw them assemble as a group.   Kidal, the Saharan town is one of hope and a spiritual home to many, the album is mostly written in the desert by front man Ousmane Ag Mossa to gain a full understanding of the surroundings.

For previous listeners of the band, album opener Mawarnhia Tartit maybe offers a surprise.  It is subtle and laid back and not the explosive start that would be expected with shallow waves of intricate guitar work and little else, it patters into existence rather than making an immediate mark.  What it does however, is set out the stall for another hypnotic and highly enjoyable album.

For the uninitiated, the band’s sound is like no other – hooks become familiar with an enthralling repetition and Mossa’s voice is like an instrument in itself.  Deep rooted in Tuareg tradition the album represents oppression, regression and ultimately hope. Wainan Adobat perhaps typifies the Tamikrest sound with its bank of voices against throbbing guitar, it feels like a call to arms and a song of unity.

Multinational over commercialisation is a constant threat to the desert and Ag Mossa writes about it with great concern for his people War Tila Eridaran speaks out the difficulties the people face.  The Tuareg are nomads but in 2012 they called the state of Azawad their own, the intervention of al-Qaeda and the French military then ended their dream within twelve months – their hopes however, live on.

Kidal encompasses the feeling of suffering and behind the electronic guitars hides simple, tradition.  The mix of customary sounds and modern technology provides a quite unique sound.  Produced by Mark Mulholland and mixed by David Odlum, the album sounds fresh and calculated whilst at the same time innovative and conventional.

It’s on the rockier number like Adoutat Salilagh where Tamikrest really shine but on the subtler, gentler tracks (of which there are several here) they show that they aren’t just a one trick pony.

Album closer Adad Osan Itibat is almost folk-like in its appearance and ends an album of defiance and hope which is well worth hearing.










Website
Twitter
Facebook






Published on Louder Than War 21/06/17 - here









If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Sunday, 25 June 2017

Watch! - Depeche Mode - Going Backwards (360 Version)









Website
Twitter
Facebook





If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Watch! - Cult Of Helix - Blood









Website
Twitter
Facebook









If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.









Listen! - Inca Maps - The Fall









Website
Twitter
Facebook









If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.









Listen! - Arrows Of Love - SIGNAL (Redux Version)










Soundcloud
Twitter
Facebook








If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.









Watch! - Sherwood & Pinch - Lies ft. Lee Scratch Perry









Sherwood & Pinch Website
Sherwood Twitter
Pinch Twitter
Sherwood & Pinch Facebook

Lee 'Scratch' Perry website
Lee 'Scratch' Perry on Twitter










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.








Listen! - Superhand - Hidden Agenda









Website
Twitter
Facebook










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.









Watch! - Rachel Mason - Queen Bee









Website
Twitter
Facebook











If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.















Listen! - Superhand - He Had A Vision









Website
Twitter
Facebook










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.








Watch! - Parsons Rocket Project - Exit Launch









Instagram
Twitter
Facebook









If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Listen! - Equinox - Mule (feat. Nat Lyon)





















If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.








Listen! - Fever Kids - Living In Fame










Website
Twitter
Facebook










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Saturday, 24 June 2017

Listen! - Chow Mwng - Sound Of Skin

















If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Listen! - Turtle - Solar









Website
Facebook










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Listen! - Andy K Leland - Home Grown Muck









Soundcloud
Twitter 
Facebook







If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.







Interview - Fader (Neil Arthur and Benge)




Electronic pioneers Neil Arthur and Benge have joined forces under the name of Fader and have their debut collaboration, First Light, released soon.  We caught up with them and chatted about then, now and the future

How are things?
Neil: Not bad, as long as I don’t think about football.

What brought you both together?
Neil: We were introduced to each other by Steve Malins who manages us both as artists.




I believe that the voices and backing were recorded at separate studios at different times.  Did you have a pre-conceived idea for the sound of the album or did it just evolve?  There’s a distinctly 80s feel, hints of Joy Division perhaps and your own previous bands, but with a modern technology twist.  It works incredibly well and the results are impressive.  Have you purposely drawn on your separate pasts?
Benge: I recorded the backing tracks a while ago when I was staying in LA. I had set up a little analog studio there and wanted to spend a few months writing. The atmosphere in LA was very intoxicating, especially as I was living there on my own for the first time. Because I was bought up in the 70s and 80s on Hollywood horror movies and thrillers my perception of that place was coloured by that. Everywhere I went seemed to be out of a John Carpenter film or an episode of Knight Rider. So the music I was making sounded like the soundtrack to a weird film I was living out.
Neil: No, I reacted to what Benge sent me and edited the stereo file to adapt the arrangement sometimes to fit the lyrics. But mainly I’d edit the lyric to fit the track before sending it back to Benge. 

Are there any stories being the names Fader or First Light?
Neil: We had loads of names bouncing back and forth via email. Fader seemed to fit better than others, its plain, uncomplicated, and slides off the tongue and brain easily. 




Can we expect more Fader releases in the future?
Neil: Yes, I think you can. We may even start the project by spending time together in the same room to formulate initial ideas.
Benge: That would be good. I like the idea of starting from a completely different point and see what we can come up with.

You’ve both worked with other artists recently, Near Future, Wrangler, Ghost Harmonic, how important is that to the creative process as an artist?
Neil: I for my part really enjoy the collaborative process.  It makes a welcome change from the loneliness of the long distance writer. Sharing the responsibility of the project sometimes helps to loosen me up and help in seeing things from another perspective.
Benge: From my point of view, I have always enjoyed working collaboratively, but in recent years it’s been amazing because I have got to work with some of my absolute musical heroes. I have to pinch myself sometimes.

(Neil) - You’ve had quite a musical output since you revived Blancmange in 2011.  Has your work as film score composer contributed to that?  
With the film work I was used to having to write to tight deadlines.  That may have spurred me on to be a bit more instinctive with less of deliberating and ponderous me. 




What’s the biggest change in recording and releasing music since you both began?
Neil: Midi and Digital audio editing.

(Benge) - You’ve worked with some very influential and pioneering musicians, notably John Foxx and Stephen Mallinder.  Have they changed the way you approach your music?
The albums I have worked on with these people have usually had vocals on them. I have never been able to write lyrics or vocal parts, it’s just never been part of what I do. Then when I met John Foxx and he added his vocals to the tracks we were working on, everything changed. It just opened up a whole new world to the music I was involved in. The same with Mal with our work on the Wrangler stuff. Originally Wrangler were an instrumental band with Phil and I wrangling the modulars. But with the addition of Mal’s vocals again it opened the project up completely.

Moby has gone on record as saying that Blancmange are “Probably the most under-rated electronic act of all time” and Brian Eno referred to Benge’s Twenty Systems as an important contribution to the history of electronic music.  Do you feel as though you have left your mark in music?
Neil: That’s very kind of them, but I hadn’t thought of leaving any mark.
Benge: I’m not sure either. It’s hard to say from the artist’s point of view. You just kind of work in the studio obsessively and do your own thing. Hopefully it produces some worthwhile recordings and then you move on to the next thing. I think if you keep true to your own passions it might seem in the long term to have an overall plan to it, but while you are doing it it never seems that way.




Did home-taping kill music, or has music streaming done that?
Neil: Neither has killed music, in fact without both of those it wouldn’t reach the corners sonically that at present and in the past it has. The thing it has killed or certainly effected is the huge ship that is the music industry, which needing tugs to help it turn cannot react whenever a fashions changed. They need a new business model.
Benge: Music survives everything of course, it’s part of human nature to express yourself through music. And technological advances ensure that it is always evolving in new and exciting ways

Thoughts on all the older bands re-forming and releasing new material?
Neil: No more, there’s too much competition already. Although I'd pay to see Talk Talk.
Benge: I always judge music on its own terms regardless of who has made it. If someone is inspired enough to record an album and put it into the public domain then it has to be judged on the basis of the quality of the material, not who is behind it.

Are there any new artists around now that excite you?
Neil: Anna Meredith. Howlaround. Hannah Peel. Powell, none exactly new.

What can we expect from the new Blancmange album and what does the future hold for you both?
Neil: Electronic driven songs with some guitar, hand claps and cowbells in a varying array of tempos and colours. Oh and a tour in October and November.
Benge: I’ve got albums coming out this year from lots of projects and collaborations recorded at Memetune studios. There’s the John Foxx & The Maths album The Machine, a debut album from Lone Taxidermist, a new album by Oblong, my own debut library album Haute Synth!, and my other solo synth albums that I release digitally (check out zackdagoba.bandcamp.com). Also I am doing a series of shows at Manchester International Festival which is a collaboration between Wrangler and Jane Horrocks called Cotton Panic! And then there is work with John Grant on his new album and another Wrangler collaboration with him as well. So a pretty busy year for me. 









Soundcloud

Twitter
Facebook





Published on Louder Than War 18/06/17 - here 










If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.