Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Covers and Kawehi

TCS - Robot Heart: Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana (covered by Kawehi) from Kawehi on Vimeo
Music covers and controversy go hand in hand. And I'm more a culprit of keeping this couple alive more than anyone. One of my first blog posts on here, in fact, referred to Leona Lewis's attempt (and I wouldn't call it much more than that) at Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) 'Hurt'. An undeniably great voice but the take was nothing much than a commercial butchering.

Yet where most disdain lies is actually in the use of sampling rather than covers. When artists take the catchy  choruses etc. of others, contemporary ignoramuses the world over consider these defiant fresh hits amazing when, actually, the only thing that begs any attention is what was snatched from their predecessors. Tupac did it with 'Changes', taking Bruce Hornsby's iconic piano work, and I still struggle to grasp what Derulo did to Imogen Heap. Shocking. What's even more frustrating is most of these arguably distasteful covers place central dominance on the previous work they're sampling and, by doing this, arrogantly imply it's theirs, leaving our poor naive listeners appreciating the large matter of the song that actually isn't the work of their jumped-up city boy with more snapbacks than talent.

They're not necessarily bad songs, but I think what pisses most people off, certainly including myself, is more the lack of appreciation for the parents that nurtured some of these ugly babies. If it's your bag, fair play, but hark back to the old boys once in a while, do your research: albeit it's often to no avail to our younger generations, but it's those musicians who did the real groundwork.

Sorry, I digress. Covers, not sampling. Clearly with covers the original work cannot surpass unacknowledged which is always refreshing. And the obvious beauty is getting to hear great music in a different light. For me, what's paramount to a cover is that, for all the new takes that ensue, the central element of the work should still be that of the original.

And this is where my newly found friend Kawehi comes into play. I discovered her through Esquire a couple of days ago and, oh my. It's been relentlessly on loop. I'm a sucker for loving artists who work with Ableton as I can truly relate to how complex it is to progressively build such a rich depth. And she's hit the nail on the head. On the first listen you'll wonder where it's going; but as it all builds together it'll delightfully hit you like a tonne of bricks. And then to top it all off, she's got one hell of a pair of lungs on her.

I write this in reference to her take on Nirvana and the late Cobain's 'Heart Shaped Box' (above). She's covered one of what Esquire described as "the uncoverable" and simply does so from her home...halfway through a large bottle of red. Her voice is slightly unrefined in places and if you listen closely you can catch her out; the same goes with her keys being oh-so slightly out of time here and there. But hear me out, I'm not just being pedantic: this is what's great about her covers (and sorry, I know it's petty I'm raising these tiny faults at all). To me, her covers become all the more warming through this relaxed approach. You get the impression it's her pleasure that prevails over her listeners. Late evenings, wine and a jam. I remember doing very much the same thing when I recorded DJ sets in my teenage bedroom with friends...although I daresay - as much as I may like to flatter myself - my old techno collection didn't sound half as epic as this.

Seek her out. She's yet another musical Youtuber, but unlike her fellow try-harders, she not only allows a different sound to the work, she let's you know you're still listening to the original which, if you ask me, is what it's all about. Whilst you often come away from covers thinking "God, I prefer the original", with Kawehi it's more likely to be "God, I love Nirvana".

Kawehi's website can be found here. She's covered a lot of other great work which is definitely worth checking out also.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Hype Vibes Review; Qbeck's 'Railway Mood EP'

Here's another review I've done for Hype Vibes on Qbeck's 'Railway Mood EP'. The EP is really worth a listen; it's definitely some of the best Tech-/Deep House I've heard recently.

You can check my article here and listen to a preview of the EP below;

 UPDATE (19/01/2014); unfortunately this article is no longer hosted on this website, however I've posted it below;

After making a big break through Seth Troxler’s Visionquest label with impressive work such as ‘Alice’, Qbeck is now full steam ahead with his Railway Mood EP.

Eureka has a slow and almost uncomfortable bounce; haunting whilst at the same time enchanting. Its distinctive breathing samples give a cinematic feel where you’d almost expect it to soundtrack a thriller movie. At the same time it creates an intimacy with his music, both giving it a personified identity and stressing the closeness of others in the urban dance movement.

The reality is that it’s more likely to soundtrack your night rather than a movie, and, considering the brilliant complexity of this EP as a whole, this is certainly not a bad thing. Both Eureka remixes are an imperative listen; the Hooved remix increasingly plays on the echoey vocal samples, giving an even more troubling and rugged take to the tune. Secondly, Mihai Popoviciu’s approach creates a deeper and more dance-compatible adaptation thus seemingly the most likely to make the club sets.

The EP closes with ‘Deadlock’: a rolling, chirpy piece. Whilst the breakdown maintains the bleak and empty feel heard throughout, the clappy samples and animated percussion really lets you know you’re ultimately listening to tech-house. Yet what is paramount on this EP is the title track. Setting the bar high for Qbeck’s contemporaries, ‘Railway Mood’, with its oriental-esque samples and slow rolling, pensive feel takes deep house to a higher level.

What Qbeck essentially does is combine some of the best elements of Tech and Deep House to create – and satisfy the need for – a darker side of house. Whilst the more commercial approaches to house music progressively advance, there’s still a thirst for a gloomier sound. Qbeck, with this EP and the rest of his unfailing back catalogue, definitely makes a decent stab at this. Following successes like ‘Alice’ with this EP, Qbeck seems to still be up and coming and definitely one to keep an eye out for in the future.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

'Hype Vibes' and Claude VonStroke

I've recently started writing for an online music blog called Hype Vibes. They cover big releases and news on the contemporary urban dance scene.

My first piece is on Claude VonStroke's new 'Urban Animal', one of my current favourites. You can check my article here. I've also embedded the Soundcloud preview of the album;

Also, here's a video which I found during my research which accompanies my article nicely. Turns out VonStroke seems a really decent guy! I love the way the entire album is based around liberation from what he calls the "9-5 grind" and that antipation that many feel for the weekend ahead. Check the video and see what you think;

UPDATE (19/01/2014); unfortunately this article is no longer hosted on this website, however I've posted it below;

Described as “spanning genre, space and mood” and “as unpredictable and bewildering as any living entity”, Claude VonStroke’s ‘Urban Animal’ certainly lives up to its name. With dirtybird’s 100th release expect to find experimental, metropolitan electronica combined with bouncy house beats, cleverly creating this idiosyncratic sound that delivers a fruitful depiction of the current Detroit techno movement.

‘Urban Animal’ opens with its title track. The dark tones and sharp, snappy beats immediately place you in VonStroke’s urban landscape. Along with the progressive bass undertones and rich piano, the track becomes a well-rounded uplifting piece of electronica, placing you in the right urban mind-set.

But the main energy is yet to come. ‘The Clapping Track’ and ‘Dood’ bring a whole new pounding dimension to the release. The former is a real crowd pleaser: happy and playful and no doubt a floor-filler; whilst the latter takes a more rugged approach, fuelled by squealing 303 synths and experimental, bendy vocals.

Whilst the album’s urban theme remains a constant, the genre is far from static. ‘Oakland Rope’ is the wild card that really shows off VonStroke’s eclectic skill. Collaborating with Fox & Py, the team have produced a really moreish drum and bass piece. With the echoey guitar samples and somewhat haunting vocals, it differs considerably to the heavy 4X4 beats that came before and in tracks such as ‘Can’t Wait’ which follow. Yet this differing style shows VonStroke’s diversity and how he is not confined to one field, consequently stressing the value of pleasure in dance music as an entire entity, and not in one particular genre.

The simple pleasure of dancing is exactly the impression you get of what VonStroke hopes of his listeners. He wants you to not just to listen to ‘Urban Animal’, but to be the urban animal; to thrive off the primitive pleasure of pounding grooves and flowing basslines. Don’t waste your time listening to this through small speakers. ‘Urban Animal’ is a dish best served loud and preferably in the collective claustrophobia of the city where it was designed to be listened to, amongst friends and strangers alike.

‘Urban Animal’ is available to buy on iTunes and Beatport. Alternatively, you can also listen to it on Spotify.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Album Review for The National Student - Phaeleh, 'Tides'

I wrote a review for Phaeleh's new album, 'Tides'. You can find it on the National Student website here. The album is out on both iTunes and Spotify so there's no excuse to not check it out! I've also linked the album below for Spotify users;

(09/07/2013) Update: Phaeleh has also just released an influences mix for Hyponik. Check that out below as well. Looks like I was right to make the comparison between him and Boards of Canada! Nice mix Phaeleh, you clearly have great taste.