Category Archives: Electronica

Worm is Green

Worm+Is+GreenI love Iceland. They really do have the best music, I don’t know how they do it. Worm is Green was started by Arni Asgeirsson in his basement in his hometown of Akranes. He soon enlisted longtime friends to help with his electronica project, and the result was this magic. I’ve read that these friends are always focused on their passion project, even one time in Asgeirsson’s grandfather’s jewelry shop, where the Icelandic stones became the source of inspiration: he recorded them rubbing together and it became a beat.

The bands first album, Automagic, released in 2002, has been critically praised throughout Europe, and it’s easy to see why. The album is very haunting, from the ethereal vocals of Gudridur Ringsted, to the amazing rhythm sections, the album has a totally chill vibe, it has that incredible ability to paint landscapes that seems to be common in so much Icelandic music. And it has these incredible electronic beats, which somehow enhance the ambient quality of the music. One can easily get lost in it. They have released to other albums that I know of to date: Push Play (2005), and Glow (2009), of which I only have the previous.

Sadly I couldn’t find much more about them anywhere, but they do have a website, so check it out: Worm Is Green


Trentemøller

Trentemøller is a Danish electronic music producer. He is perhaps best known for his remixes, which consist of mostly fellow Scandinavian artists, including Robyn, The Knife, and Röyksopp among many others. His BBC Essential Mix won “Essential Mix of the Year” in 2006 by listeners. Two studio albums have been released to date, The Last Resort, in 2006, and Into the Great Wide Yonder, in 2010. I’ve only heard the previous so far. It has an incredibly chill vibe. You can really lose yourself in it. The album was released in October 2006 and peaked at #5 on the Danish charts. It was also certified platinum in 2009, something quite rare for an electronic album. Trentemøller has released many more compilation/remix albums than actual studio albums, the first of these, The Trentemøller Chronicles, probably being one of the best known. It is a two-disc compilation, the first being a mix session, and the second containing full-length remixes.

Having heard The Last Resort, I intend to seek out many of these remixes, and I absolutely have to get The Trentemøller Chronicles on vinyl. You can find a lot more information and see a lot more media on his website: Trentemøller


Eurovision 2012 – Baku, Azerbaijan

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year, and I can’t believe it’s come and gone! – Eurovision 2012, hosted in last year’s winning country, Azerbaijan. The contest’s 2012 motto: “Light Your Fire”, adapted from the country’s nickname: Land of Fire. As usual the abundance of Europop was awesome! I was incredibly sad to see Poland not participating this year, but many that did were incredible. I thought Finland’s entry by Pernilla Karlsson, “När jag blundar”, was a great song. It was a beautiful performance, and I liked it’s quiet power.

Russia’s entry this year was very amusing. Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of eight elderly grandmothers from the village of Buranovo, Udmurtia, halfway between the Volga and the Urals in Russia. Their disco-esque song, “Party for Everybody”, was actually damn catchy, and this performance was adorable! Best part? The group had entered the contest before in 2010!

I really enjoyed Germany’s entry this year as well. Roman Lob’s “Standing Still” is mellow, catchy, and just a great song! It may be my favourite song from this year, at least I know I’m going to hunt for more music from Roman Lob in the future (it doesn’t hurt that he’s super cute!)  The song came in 8th place in the final round.

But this year’s winner was Loreen, with the song “Euphoria”. This song was incredible. A perfect example of euro-dance/club music. The slow build up, the powerful chorus – it’s just simply epic. There is no doubt this was the year’s winner. Last year Sweden placed third with the song “Popular” (one of my favourite entries from 2011). I can’t wait for more of Loreen’s music! And I can’t wait for next year’s Eurovision!

You can watch the contest online and see all the magic yourselves: Eurovision

 

 

 

 


Björk – Homogenic

I was in the car listening to this album today and thinking about how absolutely incredible it is. I would without a doubt have to say this is one of my top 5 favourite albums of all time. Björk is one of my favourite artists ever, and books could be written on her genius, her music, and her career (in fact there are several! This is one I’ve been dying to get, the first real book that is focused on the music itself:  Björk) But for now I choose to focus on the brilliance and musical experience that is Homogenic.

Homogenic is  Björk’s fourth studio album, released in September 1997. The album marked a change in her music’s style, a more trip-hop/electronica sound with acoustic stringed instruments. Before we even begin to talk about the album, we must talk about the album cover:  themes of the album are reflected in the album cover designed by Alexander McQueen. Björk had approached McQueen explaining to him the person who wrote Homogenic‘s songs was someone who “had to become a warrior. A warrior who had to fight not with weapons, but with love. I had 10 kilos of hair on my head, and special contact lenses and a manicure that prevented me from eating with my fingers, and gaffer tape around my waist and high clogs so I couldn’t walk easily”. Grant Scott says, “It’s an amazing composition: every element balances; every line leads where it should, all framing an enigmatic face, staring into your eyes through artificially-wide pupils”, about the cover taken by photographer Nick Knight. I have seen Homogenic‘s cover praised highly in many photo magazine articles as well, and is always high on any list of “best album covers”.

Now on to the music! The music of Homogenic is simply cosmic. From start to finish the album is a work of genius. The beats are raw, the sound worlds created by Björk are – to quote the album’s “Jóga” – ’emotional landscapes’ that could only come from Iceland, and only from  Björk. “Jóga”, the second track on the album, is one of my favourite, and one of 5 singles to come from the album. Written with Icelandic poet Sjón, because  Björk wanted to have “epic” lyrics – and this is without doubt achieved. The song is so emotional, so entrancing. I must share a video of PS22 chorus singing this:

I cried when I first saw this. Firstly, there needs to be more music educators like this man. These kids are feeling this song, and singing it with emotions which I never thought possible in children of their ages. The most amazing part is some of their faces as they sing, and how the song can inspire then to feel such musical passion.

“Bachelorette” is without doubt my favourite song on the album, and one of my absolute favourite songs of all time. Sometimes I listen to it over and over. The lyrics are simply incredible. Just an amazing piece of poetry. The heavy beat throughout the song is something that moves me. It is hypnotic. I can’t help but drift away into another world of music ecstasy when I listen. I can’t even put into words how much I love this song. And the video is another brilliant piece of art. Funny story: when listening to this one evening with a bunch of friends, a good friend and I both envisioned this music playing behind the orgy seen of the Penthouse movie Caligula. (X-rated so I won’t post a vid!) but for those who are curious, hunt down a clip of that scene and play this song with it. It’s uncanny.

“Alarm Call”, the album’s 8th track, contains one of my favourite stanzas in all music lyric history: “I want to go on a mountain-top /With a radio and good batteries/And play a joyous tune and/Free the human race/From suffering”. Something about that just speaks truth. The song of course is amazing and it has another amazing video. The remix for the video is different from the video, and I prefer the original on the album, but they are both great!

Now you cannot talk about his album, or  Björk’s videos and not mention “All is Full of Love”. The song is ambient bliss. It completely envelops you. The electronic sounds and flow are painfully sensual. The video is one of the greatest videos of all time. As a piece of art it is on permanent display in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. Incredible. The video is just as sensual as the song. This is a video that everyone must watch at least once in their lives. The remix for the video is for me much preferred to the album’s, the one remix I wish had been on the album instead! I once watched this video at least ten times with my good friend Monique, overwhelmed by it’s pure sensuality.

Homogenic has been hailed as critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine calls it “if not the greatest electronic album of all time, it’s certainly the greatest of its decade”.


Skrillex

I was helping one of best friends, Aisha, assemble some crazy Swedish furniture from Ikea (by way of what appeared to be a colouring-book instruction manual – not a single word!) when some dub-step came on her i-Tunes playlist. I told her I wish we could go to a really good dub-step event, because just this summer I went to a dub-step party in Montreal and found myself rather disappointed at the music – and it was Ministry of Sound! If there is one thing Aisha and I agree on when it comes to our dub-step, it is that we like it dirrrty, and one artist who never disappoints us is Skrillex.

Skrillex is a producer/DJ from Los Angeles (and former front man of From First to Last). He left the band in 2007 to pursue a solo career and released several demos via Myspace. In 2008 he began producing and performing in Los Angeles clubs under the name of Skrillex, and in June 2010 released the EP My Name is Skrillex as a free download. In the summer of 2010, Moore provided programming and vocals for UK metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon on their third studio album There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret’.[6] Later in the year, Sonny began a nationwide tour with Deadmau5 after being signed to mau5trap recordings and released his second EP, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. In June 2011, “More Monsters and Sprites” was released on Beatport.

What I really enjoy of Skrillex are his remixes. Just the kind of dirty dub-step I like in these remixes which are great to dance to! Check out his website: Skrillex


Sneaker Pimps

Sneaker Pimps were a British trip-hop band formed in 1994. There first album, Becoming X, is a trip-hop classic. By far there most popular single (and my personal favourite) is “Six Underground”. It is definitely one of my favourite trip-hop tracks and would be on any trip-hop mix I make. I really like Kelli Dayton’s vocals on the album, which is why I was so sad when she was asked to leave the band after this album. Only recently have I listened to their other two albums: Splinter, and Bloodsport, and while the music is still great I really can’t get into the vocals. I think this is in part because it is a male vocal, which I find very rarely works in trip-hop.

Another one of my favourite tracks from the album is “How Do”, which I just learned is a cover of “Willow’s Song” from the original Wicker Man movie (a great movie! And I thought that song sounded terribly familiar!). Apparently the band took their name from an article the Beastie Boys published in their Grand Royal magazine about a man they hired to track down classic sneakers.


Jem

Jem is a Welsh singer-songwriter whose first album, Finally Woken, had a lot of amazing songs in the trip-hop genre. A friend of mine bought the album when it first came out and we listened to it for the first time together. I remember immediately loving it. I recently rediscovered Jem and was just asking if she had ever released a second album, which I just discovered she had in 2008. “They”, and “Come On Closer” are definitely my two favourite tracks on the album. I also love “Just A Ride” which I had totally forgotten was a Jem song until I released to the album only a couple of days ago.

I also forgot how diverse Finally Woken is. The first several tracks are darker, more electronic/trip-hop, but as the album progresses we get more acoustical sounding/”folktronica”. I just listened to her second album, Down to Earth, for the first time the other night. I need to give it another listen for sure, but it had some great tracks. Nothing compares to the singles from the first album though. It seemed much lighter, although there were some tracks which were more like her earlier style.

A lot of Jem’s music has been in all sorts of media, which is why some of the songs I had forgotten were hers until relistening to the albums. Her music has been featured on numerous T.V.  show such as Damages, The O.C., Desperate Housewives, Wonderfalls, 90210, Six Feet Under, Crossing Jordan, Grey’s Anatomy, Medium, and “Wish I” was used as the theme tune to the ITV show, Celebrity Love Island. According to her website: Jem is working on a new album that is supposed to be released the summer of this year (and it already being August this weekend, should be soon!) Fun fact: Jem (along with Guy Sigsworth) wrote the song “Nothing Fails” which was eventually reworked for Madonna’s American Life album! (Madonna is my all time, absolute, hands-down, favourite artist of all time!!!)


Lamb

One of my all time favourite genres of music is trip-hop, and one of my favourite bands in that genre is Lamb. The duo is made up of producer Andy Barlow and singer-songwriter Lou Rhodes. Their music is mostly trip-hop, particularly the Bristol brand of the genre, but they also use many elements of jazz, dub, and drum and bass. The duo has had 4 albums to date, and I am most familiar with the compilation Best Kept Secrets.

One of their most famous tracks is “Górecki”, which is inspired by Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which is an absolutely amazing symphony. It is heart-wrenchingly sorrowful and Polish so you know I love it! Their song ” Górecki” starts off with simple beats and a beautiful melody, and about a third of the way through the beat really picks up and it is an incredible moment.  “Gabriel” is another of their big singles, and it is one of my all time favourite trip-hop songs. The way the music builds is incredible, the lyrics are beautiful, and the sounds completely captivate me.

“Angelica” is definitely one of my favourite Lamb tracks. It uses part of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” and you know how much I love the fusion of electronica and classical!  I could go on and on about so many of their tracks so definitely check them out! Lamb


Émilie Simon

Émilie Simon is a trip-hop/electronic artist from France. I first ran into her single “Fleur de Saison” from her second album Végétal and immediately loved her! Her self titled debut album was released in 2004 and went on to be a big success. Simon toured and appeared on TV shows all over France promoting the album. Simon wanted to orient her second album towards a more wintry or polar setting, and she proceeded to record sounds which relate to coldness such as the sounds of smashing ice and footsteps in the snow. Coincidentally, in the midst of her search for sounds for the album, she was contacted by producer Luc Jacquet to compose the original soundtrack for his documentary film La Marche de l’empereur (March of the Penguins in English), concerning the migration of emperor penguins during their annual migration (which I loved! Morgan Freeman is the best narrator!)

The album of hers I am most familiar with is Végétal, released in 2006. The album definitely has more rock elements but is still heavily electronic. “Fleur de Saison” and “Opium” are definitely my favourite tracks on it. The first is an energetic song which is absolutely one of my all time favourite French singles, and “Opium” is incredibly haunting. I believe she uses prepared piano for the track which is pretty badass.

She seems to have a thing for flowers, as in most of her videos she is surrounded by/part of a flower and many of her lyrics (particularly on Végétal) relate to flowers. AND her compilation is called The Flower Book. Check out her site: Emilie Simon


Najoua Belyzel

Najoua Belyzel is a French pop rock/electronic singer. I remember I found her song “Comme Toi” a while back and absolutely had to have it! I couldn’t find the song anywhere on the Internet so it was the first CD I had to import! She has had two CDs to date: Entre deux mondes (2006 – which is the one I bought), and Au fémininEntre deux mondes peaked at #7 on the French charts. Her biggest single has been “Gabriel” (also from Entre deux mondes) which peaked #3 on the French charts and #1 in Quebec and Belgium.

I wish I knew more about her but you can check out her website:  Najoua Belyzel (en Francais). I haven’t been able to get a hold of her second album yet, but j’adore Entre deux mondes! The music is just fun and you know I love some fun dancy electronica! I think her voice is perfect for the style she is going for =) Another great French pop artist!