Bonobo – The North Borders [Review]

Bonobo The North Borders

It doesn’t feel too long ago now that Black Sands (March 2010) released to a wonderful reception from fans and critics alike and pushed Bonobo even further to success supported by a truly brilliant live set and extensive touring. Now just three years later Simon Green returns with another step forward for his sound and what will in all likelihood be one of the best releases in downtempo electronic music this year. Continue reading

Poppy Ackroyd – Escapement [Review]

Poppy Ackroyd has had a busy year it would seem. Many will know her as the talented violinist and pianist of the Hidden Orchestra whose superb second album launched in September to a positive review from us, however there appears to be a lot more to her than that. The classically trained Edinburgh based musician is now close to the release of her debut solo effort Escapement (due December 2012). A heartbreakingly beautiful record of intricate and very delicate compositions made exclusively, bar the odd field recording here and there, using the piano and the violin. It’s a wonderful idea and is executed to perfection to the point if you weren’t aware this was the case you probably wouldn’t question it. Continue reading

Hidden Orchestra – Archipelago [Review]

Like Nightwalks before it, Archipelago is a triumphant body of work with rich and detailed production, soaring instrumentation and a staunch visual identity complimenting it’s predecessor and reaffirming Joe Acheson as a master of his craft. Straddling jazz, electronic, ambient, hip-hop and classical as before, It’s also a considerably more varied effort with tracks that shake off the darker claustrophobic atmosphere of Nightwalks and open up to a wider, reenergised and genuinely further refined record.

Overture confidently opens the album with cuts from the rest of the record making fleeting appearances and building into a full track before debut single Spoken brings it down and starts all over again. It is an incredibly evocative piece with field recordings from the Outer Hebrides complimenting the record sleeves beautiful etched visuals. It’s this level of thoughtfulness that separate the Hidden Orchestra from their peers. The tracks run like the tides, building up and receding gracefully with layer upon layer being introduced and creating a bold tension; the dual drum kits playing off each other, teasing and coaxing the music forward. It’s brilliantly clever stuff and a pleasure to listen to, this isn’t a record to be relegated to background music but one to take the time to learn its nuances and be utterly absorbed by.

It’s varied throughout with other double AA single Vorka being positively playful and contrasting with tracks such as Reminder which have distinctly darker tones before straying close to a sound reminiscent of ex label mate Bonobo on Seven Hunters. It’s also worth mentioning Archipelago is overflowing with guest talent. Czech musician/composer Floex joins cellist Su-a LeeMary MacMaster and Phil Cardwell who accompany core members Joe AchesonPoppy GrahamTim Lane and Jamie Graham. Each bring their own element to Archipelago and sound perfectly suited.

On its own Archipelago is an absolutely fantastic record. Executed with both skillful musicianship and talented song writing it is without a doubt one of the more beautiful, poetic and downright cinematic albums you will hear this year; however taken as a companion to Nightwalks it really shines as one of the most focused and exciting records on the UK music scene. You could accuse the Hidden Orchestra of staying a little too true to their template but think of the considered evolution of their sound combined with Joe Achesons overall vision for Hidden Orchestra and it brings the tantalising imagery of the greatest trilogies of our culture to mind. Let’s hope this is the Hidden Orchestras Empire Strikes Back and not the Godfather Part II (we all know where that trilogy went after that).

Hidden Orchestra announce new album ‘Archipelago’ + Listen to new single ‘Vorka’ [News]

Update: The debut single from Archipelago has since been debuted on www.thelineofbestfit.com. It’s an upbeat and slightly more playful sound for the Hidden Orchestra yet retains the sweeping cinematic feel of their debut and live shows. The single is officially out in September, in the mean time have a listen on Soundcloud.

Original Story:

Hidden Orchestra have announced ‘Archipelago’ as the follow up to their inspired 2010 debut Nightwalks. It’s due October 1st on Tru Thoughts, which is tantalisingly close yet so very far…

Sadly there are no audio samples as yet. In the mean time check out Footsteps from the debut Nightwalks. Hidden Orchestra’s sound can be described as a sweeping,emotional and incredibly cinematic experience with strong jazz and classical influences layer with organic sampling.

On a side note, I’m particularly fond of the continuity between artwork which comes courtesy of Norman Ackroyd.

2012 Highlights in Music: Quarter One (January – April) [Feature]

It’s already been a busy year for releases and with the constant slew of new music it has been far too easy for things to fall by the wayside. I hope you are all suffering from a heavy chocolate hangover right now; hair of the dog doesn’t seem to have the same effect with this one unfortunately so why not spend your lazy sunday afternoon/evening reading through our run down of some of the highlights 2012 has had to offer so far! Lets hope the rest of the year continues in the current fashion! Without further ado and in no particular order:

Lilacs & Champagne – Lilacs & Champagne

Lilacs & Champagne’s self titled dropped at the tail end of January and we thought it was rather superb.

[Lilacs & Champagne] have managed to craft one of the most interesting and promising debuts I think I’ve ever heard. It’s a rich tapestry woven from samples and organic pieces strung together perfectly to create a sound that’s incredibly fresh.To put it crudely, if you take the Grails template from their recent efforts and give it a hip hop, sample focused twist, this is what you get. 

It’s followed up with some more excellent reviews from various other publications. We can’t recommend it enough!

Quantic & Alice Russell With The Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner

Will Holland reunites with Alice Russell, backed by the ever excellent Combo Bárbaro. As you’d expect it’s packed with Columbian grooves, soul soaked vocals, smooth strings and brassy funk. It’s a graceful fusion and throw in Quantic’s sublime production and it will bring sunshine to your stereo whatever the weather. This is another album that’s escaped a proper review for the moment, but it hasn’t left my CD player since it dropped on my doormat so expect one soon. Highly recommended!

Dodgy – Stand Upright In A Cool Place

90’s band Dodgy reformed for a new album after eleven long years. Think Crosby, Stills & Nash combined with all the good Britpop you’ve ever heard, then add a little Fleet Foxes and a dash of excellent song writing. It’s a winning combination and perfectly executed, if not released a little early as these songs sound like summer anthems through and through.

Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic

The four-piece band from Glasgow released their brilliantly catchy full length follow up to 2010’s Come Down With Me. It’s catchy electro-indie at it’s finest and really builds upon the sound they’ve made their own over the two previous records. Bold, pulsating rhythms and bright keys aside it comes across as a rather organic sound and most importantly a finely crafted album.

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

I still have yet to review this album, it’s been one of the best of the year so far on many levels. Stripped and spacious, John Paul White and Joy Williams have managed to bring together one of the most intimate sounding records I’ve heard for a while. It’s primarily acoustic, largely without any form of percussion and effortlessly straddles both modern and old creating a timeless album that should appeal to a great many people. It’s beautiful stuff indeed and shifts between mellow, tender tracks and bluesy roots tracks with ease. I believe it’s been out for a year across in the States but we’ve only had it over here for a short while so if you’ve missed it, now’s the perfect time to catch up.

Django Django – Django Django

The British Quartet sprung almost out of nowhere with this infectiously catchy psychedelic indie-pop debut. It’s hard not to mention legendary group The Beta Band but throw in a little Metronomy as well and you’re half way there to Django Django’s sound. Deep, detailed, throughly danceable, quirky yet entirely accessible, this album should not be overlooked and was a real surprise highlight of the year as yet.

The Shins – Port of Morrow

If any of you have read my review of Port of Morrow you’ll already know how highly I regard this album. James Mercer returns with a finely crafted and absolutely stunning slice of Indie Pop. Its addictive melodies, beautifully written choruses and superb production contribute to arguably the strongest Shins record yet. 2010’s Broken Bells diversion with Danger Mouse is evident with a more electronic influence and helps to bring the Shins sound forward. Miss this album at your own loss!

Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

Quirky, beautiful, haunting, charming. A mish-mash of various styles coming together to form something quite wonderful. It’s almost traditional yet thoroughly modern and has some killer whistling solos. Yes, you read that right, whistling solos. This was my first instruction to Andrew Bird and after reviewing it back in the first half of March it’s become a regular in my CD player. Blending traditional folk with a more modern rock approach it flits effortlessly between the two, forming an interesting flowing album that’s rich and detailed.

If you’ve made it this far hopefully you’ve either found something you’ve missed this year, or even better, maybe discovered something new. Let us know in the comments box if we’ve missed anything! I know I have!

Happy Easter from the Universal Wax team! I’m off to eat some more chocolate.

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner [Watch]

I mentioned this superb track a few weeks ago but now it has a nice and intimate live video to go with it. Sounds of the summer right here folks. The album’s out 2nd of April and the single is available now from various places on the net!

Live dates are as follows:

March
15th – 17 – SXSW Showcase Info TBA
22nd – Los Angles
24th – San Francisco

April
24th – Paris
25th – Massy
26th – Marseille
27th – Nice
28th – Bordeaux

May
2nd – Koko, London
3rd – Picture House, Edinburgh
4th – Band on the Wall, Manchester
5th – WDR Anniversary, nr. Cologne, Germany
6th – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner [Listen/News]

Quantic has teamed up with Alice Russell for a full-length backed by the Combo Bárbaro. It’s still only January right?

The first single and album opener Look Around the Corner has made it’s way onto soundcloud and seamlessly mixes soul, blues and Columbian vibes with Alice Russell’s trademark swaggering vocal style. It’s summer distilled and nails a classic 60’s feel with warm, dusty production, live instrumentation and excellent song writing.


Quantic and Alice Russell are a pretty big deal for UK based Tru Thoughts and this marks the first time the pair will have worked together on a complete album, having collaborated only on single songs previously. Backed by Quantic’s own Combo Bárbaro this looks set to be a bright and soulful release that will land just in time for summer. Look Around The Corner is out on deluxe full-colour 10” vinyl and digital download on 20th February; the album (of the same name) follows in April. Quantic will be touring with Alice Russell in the USA, Europe and UK through from March to May.

If you enjoy this, it’s worth grabbing a copy of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro’s excellent album Tradition In Transition.