EXPERIMENTAL BJORK/DIRTY PROJECTORS & BJORK Biophilia/Mount Wittenberg Orca (One Little Indian/Domino) ●●●●●/●●●●● Clearly Iceland’s premier musical export has no interest in writing another ‘Big Time Sensuality’ to please the casual listener, but these new albums demonstrate how far off the track of the mainstream she’s travelled. Björk’s four-years-in-the-making comeback Biophilia betrays a fascination with new technologies, having been recorded using an iPad and released in the hitherto unheard of ‘app album’ format. The result is a recording aiming for the symphonic, yet sounding decidedly intimate. Her lack of fear of alienating the more easily-pleased is to be adored rather than pilloried, and the frosty understatement of these works sounds glorious. For example the chamber concerto of glitching noise, ‘Hollow’, and ‘Mutual Core’, merging Warp-style ambient experimentalism with a burst of breakbeat. As ever, though, her unique voice is the glittering prize at the heart of this music: this is not a pop album, but a niche experimental curio by a huge artist. In many ways Mount Wittenberg Orca, a bold but slightly repetitive experiment in vocal harmony composed by Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth, is the better record for its rustic humanity. (David Pollock)
CHAMBER-POP/ALT-FOLK LOCH LOMOND Little Me Will Start a Storm (Chemikal Underground) ●●●●● ELECTRO-ROCK JUSTICE Audio Video Disco (Ed Banger/Because) ●●●●●
After Band of Horses’ ‘Funeral’ helped launch Danny MacAskill to worldwide fame when it featured on his breakthrough viral video, the Scottish pro-cyclist then gave Portland six-piece Loch Lomond a punt by picking their ‘Wax and Wine’ to soundtrack another of his epic stunt montages. It gives this, the band’s fourth LP, extra profile as they impressively open their account proper UK-side on Chemikal Underground. Fellow Portlanders Sufjan Stevens and The Decemberists are key touchstones for their busy, decorative chamber- pop; tenderly sung and delicately arranged enough to give shivers to your shiver’s shivers. The sextet nestle somewhere between Adrian Crowley and The Unwinding Hours in their new Scottish stable. (Malcolm Jack)
Hip Parisian electro label Ed Banger’s leading lights aren’t the first dance artists to make like rock stars – see The Chemical Brothers and fellow French duo Daft Punk among others. But between their wiggly synth freakouts, hair metal guitars and stadium handclaps, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay nimbly walk the tightrope between homage and parody on this long-awaited second album – which combines serious ‘ed banging (sorry) and having a laugh.
The likes of the ‘Baba O’Riley’- sampling ‘Civilization’ and prog-funk rifforama ‘Canon’ draw a neat line between the new Justice and the sugary highs of ‘We Are Your Friends’ et al, and offer loads to enjoy. Just be prepared to ditch notions of good taste, and look out your sweatbands. (Malcolm Jack)
CHOIRBOY ELECTROPOP ACTIVE CHILD You Are All I See (Vagrant) ●●●●● Linda Ronstadt; Jon and Vangelis; the Chariots of Fire soundtrack – all this and we’re less than a minute in to Active Child’s debut album. The electro-dreamy output of bygone choirboy Patrick Grossi, Active Child’s aural vocabulary is colonised by familiar pop culture: it conjures Bon Iver, R Kelly and Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ (on ‘Hanging On’); and Antony and the Johnsons and Sigur Ros (on ‘High Priestess’). Recent single ‘Playing House’, meanwhile, highlights Grossi’s ethereal R&B chops, with vocals from How To Dress Well. There’s little variety in tempo or tone, but these choral shimmers and electro pulses make for a lovely, and welcoming, debut from an LA nightingale worth watching. (Nicola Meighan)
84 THE LIST 20 Oct–17 Nov 2011
ELECTRONIC NOISE-POP ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER Replica (Software/Mexican Summer) ●●●●●
Oneohtrix Point Never, aka US composer Daniel Lopatin, became a torchbearer for the hypnagogic pop movement thanks to his audio- visual 80s synth reveries.
After two lauded lo-fi anthologies – 2009’s Rifts and last year’s ace Returnal (not to mention earlier DIY releases and a Ford & Lopatin LP, Channel Pressure) – Lopatin makes his studio debut with electronic song-cycle Replica. It’s an album which furthers the artist’s knack for blurring synthesisers, disembodied vocals, TV advert samples, piano riffs and nostalgic found sounds into a cohesive, if disorientating, whole – as best evinced via the chopped-up hip hop and MOR snatches of laser-ballad ‘Child Soldier’. (Nicola Meighan)
INDIE POP THE HAZEY JANES The Winter That Was (Armellodie Records) ●●●●● DREAM-POP M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Naïve) ●●●●●
For those looking to uncover evidence that the reservoir of originality has truly dried up on contemporary music, this new effort from Dundee’s Hazey Janes might well seal the deal. After an intriguing, brief opening salvo which sounds a bit like a wormhole turning inside out, each and every single track has a line, riff or vocal delivery that will make you wonder why you’re not just listening to Teenage Fanclub, Springsteen, Aztec Camera or The Stones instead. In particular, ‘Aspen’ features 20 seconds that will make you think a Crowded House tune has managed to infiltrate the CD. The Winter That Was is not without its heartwarming moments; it’s just that they all belong to someone else. (Brian Donaldson) French dream-pop auteur Anthony Gonzalez’s last album, 2008’s magnificent Saturdays = Youth, well deserved this double-album follow- up, which came trailered by a teaser video – all flowers in bloom, jets in flight and misty city skylines. But while the tune on that clip – ridiculously epic ‘Echoes of Mine’ – and others deliver, much distracts from what might have worked better as a single-disc set. From the massive crescendo of ‘Intro’, featuring Zola Jesus, through 80s cheese-pop homaging electro banger ‘Midnight City’, it starts well. Then things get a bit wishy-washy until the skyscraping final ten minutes, by which point spine- tingle fatigue has set in. A strong album watered-down by several should-be B-sides. (Malcolm Jack)