Flying Saucer Attack, Ratatat, MS MR, Flo Morrissey

2015 has been somewhat an interesting musical year, not to say that it hasnt been a good one but to us, it kind of feels like the world of free access music is really taking its toll.  With so much music to choose from, we seem to forget about great music that seems so far away, yet it may only have been a few weeks old.  There is just so much music.  We, of course love this, but we also feel that we just forget about music far too quickly, even before we have had a chance to enjoy it.  This week our writers listened to some varied albums from the guitar sweeping intensity of Flying Saucer Attack to the much anticipated Ratatat, another great band out of Brooklyn.   MS MR are well on their way with their Oz tour and appearance at Splendour in the Grass and Shan, from New Zealand was keen to give this one a listen, the review…well you got to read on!!!  Finally, its over to Jerome who writes from our secluded island of Reunion Island, steering his ears to the beautiful sounds of Flos Morrissey, it is quiet beautiful and majestic stuff.

 FSAArtist Flying Saucer Attack

Album Title Instrumentals 2015 

Label  Domino Recording UK

Genre Experimental noise

Moments Of  Dick Mills’ Radiophonic Workshop, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Jonny Greenwood, Steve Howe

Stand Out: Tracks 9, 10 & 11

jameslondon_ben_solidcolorYes, it’s a one-man noise-making operation. No, it’s not a B-grade science fiction movie soundtrack. Apparently. Essentially longtime experimental space rock composer from Bristol, Dave Pearce (and formerly with partner Rachel Brook), Flying Saucer Attack was founded in 1992, falling silent since 2000. “Instrumentals 2015” is Pearce’s fifth proper full studio release. Like most of his prior efforts, seemingly recorded at home with simple stereo equipment, with guitar as the primary sound source. Pearce was initially highly influenced by the one and only Syd Barrett (yes he of Pink Floyd founding fame).

Where do you start with this kind of thing? In the most literal sense, Flying Saucer Attack’s Dave Pearce does exactly what the title says on the tin with “Instrumentals 2015”. The majority of the record could soundtrack any number of 1950s B-grade sci-fi movies (“Killer Monsters From Outer Space”, or similar), or late 1960s Doctor WHO (think “Tomb Of The Cybermen”). Either way, if you like this kind of thing, it’s cool.

There’s no denying the variety of length going on among these tracks. Pearce pricks the ears at barely a minute on occasion, whereas other soundscapes meander for closer to 10 minutes. And that’s both a good and not-so-good point about this record.

Instrumentals generally can be beautiful reworkings of vocal material (see Bethel’s excellent “Without Words” series) or sum up entire cinematic concepts (see Trent Reznor’s recent output).

Pearce has, it must be said, put in what very much sounds like a lo-fi lounge room effort here, but weren’t the best like that back in the day? Jean-Michel Jarre, for example, made the 1976 classic “Oxygene” with an assortment of analogue synths balanced around his own kitchen.

Listening recently to Alessandro Cortini’s “RIsveglio” also arguably helps provide some context. While Cortini dealt in polyrhythmic pulse, Pearce prefers sub-Pink Floydian goings-on. And, to a later degree, Radiohead keyboard maestro Jonny Greenwood would also be proud.

After a somewhat faltering, gotta-get-used-to-it start, things really pick up around half-way on this album, rewarding those with patient ears. Trio 9-10-11 are the highlights. By turns sparkling, slight but deft, showcasing melody. Closers 14-15 (both epics) aren’t far behind, either. Pearce deploys his small-scale selection of tricks more than once, and, for what they are, you’ll not hear much else like them this year. The coda to the record puffs and wheezes slowly back into some misty lake, awaiting the next wave disturbance.

Elliptical guitar phrases erupt with fierce intent from said humming, droning mist, swirling with echoes of the ethereal sound moulding exemplified by 1970s guitar heroes Steve Howe (Yes), Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and Steve Hackett (Genesis).

There’s also something delightfully inane about it all. In an era of assumed three-minute pop hit-ness, we get this. A demanding listen. If you’re still here after track eight, you’ve done well.

Some of the harmonic offcuts don’t sound like they are going anywhere far. But they probably are. If you have the hearing spectrum frequencies of a nearby dog available to you. Track six sounds like a bunch of astronauts all succumbing to a martian mind control ray. Ouch. Track seven pauses at odd moments, only to resurface again.

Perhaps, in one sitting, it’s a little too much to properly digest. Over half the distance, as an EP of seven or eight pieces, it might have found another audience entirely.

Give Pearce high marks for effort and endeavour though – and an ear for the dramatic on his primary instrument of guitar.

 

Ratatat_MagnifiqueArtist Ratatat

Album Title  Magnifique

Label XL

Genre Electronic Rock

Moments Of: Queen, Daft Punk  

Stand Out  Abrasive, Chream on Chrome

Faceless 1Over a decade in the spotlight and Brooklyn’s own Mike Stroud and Eva Mast return with wit, shenanigans and surprising emotional depth. ‘Magnifique’ is a gorgeous piece which explores a wide variety of both genres and eras while managing to tie it all together masterfully in a way which allows for a diverse but natural flow though-out the album. After LP4’s more dark and almost sinister tones, Ratatat showcases an album of self-reflection and exploration of their life’s work thus far.

Four years of love, attention and dedication were poured into Magnifique, showing itself in both individual songs and the construction of album in its entirety. This is exemplified by little effects such as the end of a cassette clicking over, the jumps on a scratched vinyl, the sound of a worn down VHS tape. All of these components help to foster nostalgia in an album that traverses the vast musical and technological landscape with a sense of self-referential wit and heartfelt appreciation.

Magnifique kicks off with a classical intro that shows off the maturity and cheek at play within this album. Chream on Chrome and Abrasive – both singles – play off cheesy 80’s synth popularity owning it in a way that’s hardly ironic but absolutely sincere. Crisp tight riffs that nail their mark every time, powerful funky bass that rocks it with a mix of both acoustic and the iconic synth snare. These songs know what they are and you won’t be able to resist their call to the dance floor.  Not without it’s Sunday morning chill out moments, Magnifique is an excellent example with slow, sweeping guitar riffs and drawn out slides to an ebb and flow that will leave you feeling at ease.

Each single brings a new dynamic and while these can become repetitive through-out the album. These ingredient help to advance a subtle emotional depth that was a genuine and pleasant surprise.

Things do start to plateau somewhat with Countach, Drifts and Pricks of Brightness but with an assortment of Queen-esque rifts that land flawlessly, obligatory 8 bit game sound effects, slow circus tunes- reminiscent of childhood innocence. They never allow for these tracks to become boring let alone unimaginative.

Magnifique begins it’s ending with Michael Holm’s ‘I Will Return’. Staying true to its 70’s country rock themes, respectfully remixed with expert precision. Modern technology and guitar riffs bring new life to this classic. A spectacular wind-down supported by their short but marvellous outro that leaves you captivated with temporary finality as you hear the cassette stop for the last time.

This album is a beautifully crafted instrumental piece that has something to say if you give it the attention it deserves. Thoughtfully written, mixed and produced Magnifique has something for everyone without feeling like it’s pandering to the masses. Clever, ambitious, witty and full of excellent contrast. Don’t give Magnifue a miss.

 

MR MSArtist MS MR

Title­ How Does It Feel

Label Columbia

Genre Indie Pop, Alternative Rock, Dream Pop

Moments Of  Florence + The Machine, Kavinsky

Stand Out Painted

shan kapaNew York has become synonymous as a type of hub for aspiring musos. A proverbial city of dreams if you will. Gaga enjoyed a misspent youth belting her face off in the cities most unsavory venues. The Strokes (despite being Manhattan bred) gigged just as vehemently and Alicia Keys lamented the significance of maintaining an Empire State of Mind. So when NYC duo MS MR (phonetically Mz Miss – stah) dropped their sophomore effort How Does It Feel, the expectation was conceivably high. Did they live up to it?

I’m just as partial to pop confectionary as the next person. I grew up in a house where music was paramount and despite colourful variation where genre was concerned, even my burly uncles would often harness their inner pop tart with a bit of Madge before they geared up to go out in a Saturday night (Like A Virgin I can seemingly never go passed). But the evolution of pop has been somewhat quizzical in itself think. What we now consider pop music in reality occupies a very grey area and some might even say that it has taken on a hybrid – like kind of hue. Even counter culture is now mainstream and we routinely throw around colloquialisms such as ‘bae’. What exactly is happening in the world currently? I mean I couldn’t really tell you, I’m just genuinely asking.

Indeed, the world still turns and the constant change can at times be overwhelming. But music is constant, and I have always loved the visceral, frenetic and often avant – garde lacquer that seems to douse the talent that comes out of NYC. Now Ms Mr have drawn comparisons to the likes of Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey and Kavinsky. Not insignificant names comparatively I’m sure you can agree. Admittedly, Ms Mr offer up a curious kind of fare with this album. To be honest, in parts I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Lizzy Paplinger on vox and general gyration sometimes blunders lyrically – there is a kind of fumbling that takes place on occasion that makes the songs feel cumbersome in parts. Don’t get me wrong, there is good musical fodder to be had here as well. On production Max Hershenow does his thing but I don’t think it ends up being quite enough to disguise the lacking and superficiality of the writing. It borders upon generic at times which I found to be really unfortunate. Although, I quite liked Painted in its brooding, tension riddled and atmospheric symphony. There is a subtle build that takes place but I dare say it could very well be anti – climactic. I feel like this is MS MR’s wheelhouse, because when we come to the more grand, spectacle inducing tunes, something seems to inherently fall flat. I think there is a safety late that hasn’t been released here which is a shame because I hear some really solid potential throughout this album. I also think Wrong Victory has many redeeming elements that fall just short of something really spectacular.

All in all? Somewhat disappointed here honestly. I could just hear the potential beneath unfortunate dross on this album and frankly, I was sufficiently underwhelmed. It just falls flat, which is a shame because you can see the direction they were trying to move in here. Or perhaps they just succumbed to the dreaded sophomore curse.

 

flo morrisseyArtist Flo Morrissey

Album Title Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful

Label Glassnote Records

Genre  Folk

Moments Of  Alela Diane, Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins, Lyla Fox, Bat For Lashes

Stand Out Sleeplessly Dreaming

jameslondon_jerome_yellowAfter touring this summer across several big international music festivals (Including Glastonbury), Flo Morrissey, offers us in this New Born, an album full of warm and magic moments . This young Brit, barely 21 years, from Noting hill has surrounded herself with producer Noah Georgeson (the strokes, Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Philippe Zdar (Cassius) for this folk album full of melodic arpeggio played out like a musical poem. It’s gorgeous.

After the release in december last year of her single Pages Of Gold, Flo morrissey signed with the label Glassnote Records and releases her debut Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful. An album that reminded me of  Alela Diane where sublimation is emphasized, as well as with the beauty of the voice  than with the sweetness in the notes . Because this is exactly what it s about here . Large-scale melodies, with pretty layers of percussion that creates a warm and gentle, magical, soothing, airy, nostalgic. mostly composed with piano, acoustic guitar and string instruments, theses songs that can quiet hardy be described as musically magnificent.

Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful made me directly think of a  succession of poem wrote and performed by a young songwriter who does not lack talent, both in terms of writing and singing, in which the beauty and sweetness are betting on and , I think,  find their apotheosis in the musical mounted, successfully controlled from start to end. I found myself dragged through each song completely hypnotized by each piece. Sleeplessly Dreaming, for example, a soft folk ballad, just hooked me as early as the first chords begun, without allowing me to hang on every word for the rest of the song. The atmosphere, the choice of notes, the voice processing, plenty of reverb, all of this makes it hard not to find this album “magic” or particularly beautiful. Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful look like as if listening to an opera or as if contemplating a painting in a museum: noo ne can remain insensitive to the listening!

Flo Morrissey’s debut is testament to this very talented artist, who, through each of these songs and at such a tender age convey feelings or emotions. And isn’t it what’s first asked to an artist? For this first album, then I say it’s a successful test, which is able to bring out the music this  sadness, this nostalgia, this beauty, this magic that we all know!to Discover and certainly not to let go!

 

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