It’s Friday! (Pretty sure you’ve worked that too.)
And while it’s always good to let your hair down and dance up a storm, it can also be good to sit back, chill and take in lovely meandering tunes that feed the soul and ease away the stress.
So this post’s selections are skewed rather deliberately to the latter, giving you a chance to get acquainted with five artists who appreciate the power, beauty and simplicity of taking things down a notch, and sound entrancing doing it.
Time to grab some wine, put up your feet and float away on a bed of musical bliss …
“Station” by Låpsley
Like I am sure a lot of people have done, I automatically assumed that Låpsley must hail from the furthest climes of snow clad Scandinavia.
It’s not simply the umalut-adorned name that suggested that; it’s the stripped back, minimalist melody that wafts along punctuated by ethereal vocals, slow, rhythmic handclaps and beguiling bleeps and swirls of sound, pretty yet melancholic all at once.
It’s one of the things I love most about Nordic music – its mix of the arrestingly beautiful and the soul-searing sadness of introspection, a rich musical tapestry that delights and informs with every listen.
Låpsley is, contrary to what you might surmise at first, is an enormously talented 17 year old singer from Liverpool, England, who goes by the name of Holly Lapsley Fletcher, a music artist and producer with a gift for crafting tunes of such delicacy and beauty that it is easy to slip into a reverie of sweet, quiet contemplation before it is even halfway through.
And if you’re wondering who the co-vocalist on the track is, it’s Låpsley herself who in the spirit of true independent music production, simply tinkered with her own voice, declaring on her soundcloud page that she “dropped the pitch of vocals btw, no co-vocalist, aint nobody got tym fo dat”.
She is one of the entrancing new faces of chilled ambient electronica and one to watch very closely in 2014.
“Bonfire” (feat. Suntalk) by The Golden Pony
The Golden Pony, vividly evocative name aside, a talented twosome from the hip climes of Brooklyn, New York.
Having earned a name as remixers of great renowned and note – they’ve worked with Avicii, Swedish House Mafia and Peaches, and even tried their (very successful) hand at mixing tracks by Simon & Garfunkel and Tears For Fears – they have also started releasing original songs such as the slow burning brilliance of “Bonfire”.
According to edmtunes, “Bonfire” was inspired by a proverb called “The Zen of Work,” which reads “When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of your self.”
The pleasingly thoughtful lyrics are accompanied by the irresistible melange deliciously deep house sounds, urban sensibilities and retro disco vibe that have become their trademark, and feature the suitably warm and languid vocals of electronic-alternative Suntalk, creating a slice of chilled heaven sure to soothe away the aches and pains of the everyday.
You might think you’ve heard everything there is to hear in electronica but The Golden Pony confirm that there is a still a place for producers willing to mix it up a little or a lot, to play around with sounds until they conjure up something very special and all their own.
And The Golden Pony have summoned up something very special indeed.
“Everything” by Neneh Cherry & Four Tet
Neneh Cherry is one of those artists who might very well be lumped into a “Where are they now?” special by uninformed fans and members of the press.
But the fact is that the Swedish singer-songwriter/rapper/DJ/is there anything she can’t do well; I think not, who first shot into the public’s musical consciousness with 1989’s album Raw Like Sushi, which featured the chart-topping single “Buffalo Stance”, has been anything but idle in the 18 years since she last released solo material (1996’s Man).
She’s been busy working husband Cameron McVey (and daughter Tyson) in a jazz combo called CirKus, joined an experimental jazz group called The Thing (inspired by her father-in-law Don Cherry) and collaborating with a host of artists such as The The, Peter Gabriel and German producer Timo Maas.
So hardly sitting in a funky rocking chair watching the royalties roll in from Buffalo Stance then has she?
I can’t imagine this imaginative, genre-defying, adventurous artist do anything as lax as that, her desire to create new and interesting music seeming like it’s as vital to her as air and water.
And if you needed further proof that she isn’t done yet with one of a kind, hard to ignore tunes, you can have a listen to “Everything”, recorded with British duo RocketNumberNine and produced by Four Tet‘s Kieran Hebden, and one of the tracks off her forthcoming solo album Blank Project.
It is, in the words of prettymuchamazing.com, “a seven-and-a-half-minute weirdo banger that figures Neneh’s singular vocals over very of-the-moment, skittering, hyper-minimalist production” and it is refreshingly, wonderfully and chillingly different, an antidote to the same-old, same-old if ever there as one.
“Skin” by Rae Morris
Fresh from collaborating with the musically-renewed Bombay Bicycle Club on their single “Luna”, Rae Morris has delivered an ethereally rich tine of her own, “Skin”, which comes complete with an evocative black and white clip.
A preternaturally talented piano-playing 19 year old singer from Blackpool, Morris has a beautiful voice that is all raw, intimate emotional vulnerability, an artist who fills her songs with love and heartache, living them rather than simply singing them.
There is something deeply immersive about a song like “Skin”; you can’t just listen to it, it simply won’t let you be that passive and uninvolved.
Rather you can’t help but feel every melodic high and low, every whispered vocal about the heartfelt mysteries of life, the passion for her music as real and palpable as the trials and tribulations that inspired it.
It’s a heart on her sleeves sensibility that extends to her live shows which are, in the words of louderthanwar, “a sight not to be missed, with reports of tears in the audience caused simply by a piano and her raw and powerful voice.”
Rae Morris is as real as they come, an artist who is bound for an amazing future which, if the pristine, raw beauty of “Skin” is any guide, will be filled with songs that nurture the soul as much as they caress the ear.
“The Woods Are Gone” by Solander
Back to Sweden and the gorgeously laid back delights of Solander, a Malmö-based duo consisting of Fredrik Karlsson and Anja Linna.
Solander started out as a solo project in 2005 for Karlsson, who along recording and releasing three EPs, also created music for the short film short movie En död kråka (A dead crow) in 2006, as well a longer cinematic effort Hata Göteborg (Hate Gothenburg) which came out a year later.
Now broadened to a folk/rock inclining duo, Solander has just released Monochromatic Memories, an album of lush, quietly epic music that reflects its film soundtrack antecedents with mood and suggestion in abundance.
“The Woods Are Gone” is the second single of the album, a song whose sounds reflects the musical landscape the band occupies, which is, in the words of pigeonsandplanes, “somewhere in between Fleet Foxes and Sigur Rós”.
The vocals are distant and haunting, yet intimately near at the same time, and the music softly swoops and dives and percolates along, evoking a sense of walking across a bleak and wintery landscape, a divinely beautiful, melancholic beauty always present in every note and word.
It’s a song that will stay with you, long after the last embers have died in their fireplace, and you are lost in your thoughts.
*And if you’d like arrestingly quirky music clips, famed French director who has a knack for conjuring up playful, colourful, one of a kind images, has outdone himself with the video for Metronomy’s new song “Love Letters”.
It recalls the gloriously hype cartoon colours and eye-popping style of movies like The Science of Sleep and Mood Indigo.
Enjoy one of the most fun clips you will see this year.
* This week’s unexpected musical highlight comes courtesy of the talented twosome of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn, collectively known as Pomplamoose, whose talent for extraordinarily infectious mashups and clever visuals on a shoestring budget (they used a projector and some white foam board) came to the fore with the following tuneful hybrid which they explained this way:
For the verse of our mashup, we used the chords from “Get Lucky” with the vocals from “Happy.” For our prechorus, we used the vocals from both “Happy” and “Get Lucky.” The chorus of our mashup is the chords and vocals from “Happy” and the vocals from “Lose Yourself to Dance.” (source: screenrant)
It sounds and looks amazing and you’d do well to check out their other minimalist-inspired work which is as equally impressive as this brilliant effort.
* I will be profiling the duo next week on the blog so keep an eye out for that!