Fuck Buttons are finally back with a new album. Out 22nd of July in the UK (23rd for the US) the new record is titled Slow Focus and follows the brilliant 2009 release Tarot Sport; a wonderful building wall of distortion, pounding rhythms and blissful electronics that was backed by one of the greatest live experiences I have ever had. They’ve had a few exciting years culminating in tracks being used at the recent Olympics opening ceremony.
This time around pitchfork reports that Slow Focus will be a self produced effort released via ATP Recordings. Debut Street Horrrsing was produced by Mogwai guitarist John Cummings and Tarot Sport by Andrew Weatherall.
Slow Focus comes in at just 7 tracks so expect some epic pieces as before.
02 Year of the Dog
03 The Red Wing
05 Prince’s Prize
07 Hidden XS
We’ll update as soon as any tracks or audio previews become available.
Finally here it is! Without further ado I present you with Brazil, the first single from Gold Panda’s upcoming album Half Of Where You Live. After January’s Trust EP left many salivating for the expected full-length follow up to 2010’s brilliant Lucky Shiner we finally have something to sink our teeth into and a date to pencil into the calendars for that very follow up.
Brazil is hypnotic, full of detail and a joy to listen to. Without a doubt Gold Panda through and through and while not a huge leap from previous material, that’s fine by me. Not many artists have that perfect balance between catchy songwriting and pure experimental sounding electronic bliss. If the album follows suit, fan’s will have nothing to worry about and it’ll be another wonderful record from one of Britain’s current finest electronic musicians.
2013 is off to a good start with album announcements left, right and centre. It seems we’re in for an excellent year in electronic music, in particular with Emancipator and Bonobo having announced new albums and free singles to accompany press releases. After a scattering of 12 and 7″ releases, Gold Panda is joining them and making a return after 2010’s joyous debut Lucky Shiner with his Trust EP, the first new material released since last May.
So here we are with the final four albums of our twelve that make up the Universal Wax top 12 of ’12. This time it’s Toms selection which is as broad as ever and features some really fantastic records. I couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of the Journey OST which has been one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard for a long time and as any long time readers may recall we’re already big Andrew Bird fans here at Universal Wax. This will be our final post of 2012, however we’ll be following this one up in the new year with our notable mentions (those that didn’t quite make our top twelve) and some upcoming artists to look out for in 2013. In the meantime, from all at Universal Wax, we hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are about to have a fantastic New Year, enjoy our now complete Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 and let us know what you think in the comments below! – Sam
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 →
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 mentioningArchipelago is overflowing with guest talent. Czech musician/composer Floex joins cellist Su-a Lee, Mary MacMaster and Phil Cardwell who accompany core members Joe Acheson, Poppy Graham, Tim 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).
One of the most striking features of the XX is their visual identity. It’s simple, effective and because they’ve so firmly stuck to it, it has become a firm compliment to their music as well as a bold statement about their ideas. That vision is now spread across two albums as the XX return with Coexist the follow up to their vastly successful and celebrated debut XX. It’s been an ongoing discussion in the office since the excitement surrounding the release of their mercury winning album subsided, just how they would follow it up – would they forge a new path and deviate from the already unique sound they revealed to the public back in 2009 or would they stick to their craft and further hone the sound they created. Personally because there’s no one else out there quite like the trio, I’ve been hoping for the latter. Yes there are similar artists in terms of the ideals and basic execution but no one does the dual vocals or carefully considered minimalistic sound like Romy, Oli and Jamie.
So maybe the important question is if you didn’t like the XX three years ago will Coexist be enough to lure you back in for another listen? Perhaps. It leaves the young, almost naive innocence of the debut for a more developed and focused sound that shows the extensive world touring the band has partaken in over the last three years. it also sounds a little more introspective, mature and the band have opened themselves to the use of their peers styles incorporating almost club suitable beats at moments. It’s remix friendly yet again and thoroughly cinematic – expect to see many of these tracks cropping up on adverts and campaigns post release. However, in turn there doesn’t seem to be any tracks that jump out on a first listen. This is a shame when thinking back to the debut with tracks like crystalized and VCR instantly standing out from the get go with catchy melodies and clever use of dual vocals. I have listened to the album extensively now and I’m not sure I could pick out a specific melody or moment. So it’s a different beast this time, and maybe a little harder to get into, but despite this it’s still a deeply rewarding album with absolutely stunning production. It’s warm basslines throb, subtle percussion layers in unobtrusively; the unmistakeable XX guitar tone is there and compliments the entwined vocals wonderfully. There’s a haunting fragility throughout which crackles with electric energy and there’s space for every instrument to breathe and stand out. It’s also stylish with new instruments being introduced to the sound, among them strings make an appearance and even a steel drum which is used to perfection on the suitably atmospheric Reunion. It’s exciting to listen to and demands a certain level of attention to get the most out of. What it lacks in catchy melodies it simply overflows with atmosphere and creativity throughout. It is genuinely exciting to listen to on a set of decent headphones in an undistracted moment.
There will be reviews that extensively praise the band for sticking to their sound and continuing that identity they have forged over onto a follow up record, there will also be reviews that slam them for staying safe and making the XX part two, not adventuring out to find a new sound. Either way, it’s unquestionable that the XX have serious talent and a sound that is very much their own. Coexist is an incredible album in so many respects and though it only refines the sound the band created four years prior and even if it’s not your cup of tea, it definitely deserves your attention for at least one listen. The band have stuck staunchly to a vision and that’s commendable in its own right. It’s refreshing to hear something so thoughtful, genuine and exciting, and to know it’s being consumed and celebrated on a mass scale is truly wonderful.
Coexist is available for streaming here and is released on September 10th via Young Turks
The long awaited Burial EP Kindred is finally with us and is now available over on the Hyperdub store to stream and purchase. What’s evident from a quick spin of the three tracks is the evolution of Bevan’s sound from his previous works. This could be attributed to collaborations with both Four Tet & Thom York, and Massive Attack last year, whose influences creep into the new tunes. It’s a thicker, polished and darker sounding EP with more presence than previous Burial tracks which have tended to verge more on the laid back side despite being full of tension and atmosphere. The latter is still present but this bolder edge works well and the latter two tracks, Loner and Ashtray Wasp stand out in particular against previous Burial tracks. It’ll be interesting to see where Will Bevan takes this sound for a full length follow up, it’s clear he’s not afraid to evolve and embrace other genres of electronic music, it’s been a long time since the brilliant Untrue and hopefully we wont be waiting too much longer…
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.