WOMAN by RHYE                            Click here for: Depositive Playlist

Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal (the components forming a duo called Rhye) must have found themselves in a most luxurious position. The former boasts such an amazing and striking voice that they could have written a handful of plain pop tunes and probably would have had reasonable commercial success nonetheless. Instead, they opted for a more difficult route, writing a coherent set of soulful songs that still showcase their singer’s incredible sound. The end result: the full-length studio album Woman.

Although Milosh’s beautiful androgynous voice demands the most attention, the first thing that grabs the listener’s ear is the superb production. The opening song, so fittingly named Open, starts with a beautiful string/woodwind intro, ending with a subtle clarinet motive that introduces us to the rest of the song. The key word here is subtle – an attribute that dominates the entire song and album. Open is loaded with strings, synths and even trumpets, yet the song feels perfectly laidback and even sensual, thanks to the careful placement of every sound. The follow-up song, The Fall, displays the same craftsmanship, but now more up-tempo, driven on by a set of catchy piano chords and a funky bass. The fact that the bass sounds ‘funky’ is not a coincidence either; Woman draws elements from all sorts of styles and moods, not shying away from either intimate, almost bedroom-esque ballads, nor from flat-out happy, worriless tunes. Milosh’s voice flawlessly accompanies these ever-changing styles, even though his voice barely changes throughout the album. This is in no way a bad thing though, since the sigh-like quality of his singing never fails to impress, always smooth as silk but also creasing and crackling just enough to give it an ever so slight edge.

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I could work through the entire album this way, listing the strengths of each song as I go along, but the bigger picture of this body of sounds and sighs is something that appeals a lot more to me. Although I am usually not a fan of meta-analyses in a review, the red thread running through this album is quite a distinct one and deserves a bit of the spotlight in my honest opinion. This encompassing thought is one of mellowness, of low-key, subtle emotions - not only in the songs themselves, but also in the message behind them. Nearly every song has a relationship as main theme, but the feeling that they all emit is different from your typical love-story ideas (e.g. broken hearts, newfound love). Instead, we are presented with a sense of the ordinary, the everyday things that all relationships contain: feelings of losing that initial spark, not being willing to give in to your lover each and every time, joy over nothing but the beauty of a single day. Yet, the most impressive part is that none of these things is brutally forced upon the listener. It is delicately placed between the lines of the lyrics and fits seamlessly with the mood of each song. The song One Of Those Summer Days is the perfect embodiment of this message: a repetitive broken guitar chord, simple yet gorgeous harmonies and a seeming lack of destination or clear hook all solidify this song as harbinger of the normality. In this sense, Woman becomes most impressive to me: as a beautiful celebration of the ordinary.

- Joram

 

Posted
AuthorJoram Bauwens

SHAKING THE HABITUAL by THE KNIFE

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As a long-time lover and collector of dance music, it's easy to get upset over the current state of the genre. Still, while EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has overtaken the charts all over the world, far more interesting things are happening in the periphery of the dance scene. Like this new record by The Knife.

Since 1999, Swedish duo The Knife has made four albums filled with infectious electronic pop and pumping dance tracks. The exciting vocals of lead singer Karin Dreijer Anderson (who sounds like a curious mixture between Kate Bush and Björk) form a big part of their success. The duo, consisting of Karin and other half Olof Dreijer, received a major boost in popularity when one of their songs was covered by Swedish-Argentine singer-songwriter José González, whose rendition of the song Heartbeats (used in a Sony commercial) became a big hit.

The title of the new album, Shaking The Habitual, says it all. The Knife isn't here to serve us a re-hash of their earlier work. Already the first track A Tooth For An Eye surprises with an electronic afro-beat, introducing us to what will be their most adventurous album effort to date.

Track two is The Knife in full effect, over nine minutes Full Of Fire indeed. Karen's distinctive vocal delivery ("Let's talk about gender, baby") is sensually draped over the bouncing beats. The extravagant video to go with the track is worth checking out.  

But hold on right there. We're in for something different. A Cherry On Top slowly evolves into something that sounds like the soundtrack to an ancient Chinese theatre piece, complete with dancers and hovering dragons. It's the first of several tracks that will take the listener on a trip into a world of dreamy, ambient soundscapes. The smooth transition into the next track Without You My Life Would Be Boring finds us back dancing again, this time to tribal rhythms, flutes and vocals. The percussion stays on Wrap Your Arms Around Me, slowing down the groove to reach the centerpiece of the album, a 19 (!) minute track called Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized. Deep synth lines, dark bell sounds and eerie percussive grooves build up a tension that is only released towards the end. It's quite a lengthy undertaking, and it may put off the casual listener. Nonetheless, it's a daring and exciting ride. We move forward to Depeche Mode-like grooves, which take over on Raging Lung, after that it's back to fast, jittering beats and pulsating synths and vocal fragments on Networking.

Beats break and vocals whirl in the frightening Stay Out Here, while Fracking Fluid Injection combines distorted voices with rhythmic noises, laid on an almost beat-less background, recalling some of Björk's more experimental work. The wonderful closer Ready To Lose combines the many styles on this album into a satisfying whole.

With Shaking The Habitual, The Knife is inviting the listener to immerse himself in an album that may take some time to fully enjoy, but after a few listens just grabs you, and makes you want to come back to it again and agian. Back to the true beating heart of electronic dance music.

- Erwin

 

Posted
AuthorJurre Thuijs

AMOK by ATOMS FOR PEACE

It's easy to lose yourself in a sort of tunnel vision, in which you appreciate everything a musician you love makes, simply because it's made by that musician. But don't these musicians deserve this kind of appraisal? Isn't this something that emerges when a musician and his work have meant so much to you, that you started to love and praise him and his work? And when this tunnel vision results in the enjoyment of music, is it really a bad thing?

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For me, this is the case with Thom Yorke. It's almost frustrating to me how everything he touches turns into audible gold. Of course he does not do this all by himself, but he is the biggest creative influence in all of his projects. Nevertheless,  I heard him say in an interview once, that if he didn't have the guys from Radiohead around him, he wouldn't have been able to produce the songs that they did. I imagine he can be an unguided missile when he's not contained by his band members, much like his extravagant dancing.

This aside, with the live performances of his solo-album The Eraser, the Atoms for Peace project started. This new project consists of Radiohead-producer Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker, RHCP-bassist Flea and Thom Yorke.  And now, their first album AMOK is in stores. I've heard many say that it sounds just like another Radiohead album, but I do not see the resemblance all that much. If you listen to The King of Limbs and then to AMOK, they're clearly miles apart. AMOK is driven by synthesizers and drum computers, while The King of Limbs is much more an electronically enhanced 'acoustic' album. Songs like Lotus Flower were written on a guitar, and later adapted to the album version which is much more electronic. On AMOK, you can still hear this guitar on a few songs, but it is drowned by the electronics that are very much present throughout the album.  This difference also means that with Atoms for Peace, Yorke and his men went through a different process of making music. I can imagine that with AMOK, the writing was done in a different matter than with any Radiohead album. Writing in a studio with synthesizers and drum computers is an entirely different experience than writing with a guitar, piano and/or in the setting of a 'rock band'.  AMOK is based on electronic rhythmic patterns, which form a structure on which melodic material is built. Because these beats are repetitive by nature (because of the drum computers they are made with), the melodies also become more repetitive. A lot of producers of electronic music lose themselves in copying and pasting of simple melodies on a 4/4 beat. Therefore, a lot of electronic music sounds generic and becomes dull very quickly. This danger also existed while making AMOK.

The key in electronic music is to transcend this copy-paste mentality and to differentiate your music from the mass. Atoms for Peace does this brilliantly, with complex rhythms, strong variations in melodies and on top of that Yorke's amazing singing. With these weapons, they arm themselves against the evil Genericist, with his hands ready to strike CTRL+C and CTRL+V. Yorke and his men of Atoms for Peace saw this, conquered it and defeated it. 

- Jurre

Posted
AuthorJurre Thuijs

TRUANT / ROUGH SLEEPER by BURIAL

Imagine an internationally acclaimed producer who has gathered so much attention over the past few years that every piece of work he puts out is extensively discussed and scrutinised. Now add to this the murdering competition and the fact that this producer only releases a handful of tracks once in a blue moon. These elements combined should give us a good idea of the pressure that London-based producer Burial must have felt before giving us his latest Truant / Rough Sleeper. The EP is only two tracks long (aptly named Truant and Rough Sleeper) but is nonetheless packed with rhythmic layers and stylistic variations.

The first and foremost element that stands out in comparison to Burial’s earlier work is a more frequent use of silence. Both tracks are scattered with pauses where we are showered with distorted vinyl cracks, crackling thunderstorms and tinkling keys that have become a synonym for Burial’s subtle style – however, he now seems to add, subtract or completely change sounds whenever the music resumes again. A quick listen to Ashtray Wasp, the final track on his earlier EP Kindred, tells us that the producer was already thinking about pasting different styles together and framing them with his crackling goodness. Yet, his newest endeavour successfully manages to incorporate even more drastic changes than Kindred gave us, without losing sight of the EP as a whole. A quick spin actually gives listeners the feeling that they are listening to one long, shape-shifting, 25-minute track.

Another delightful aspect that Truant / Rough Sleeper brings to the table is a vast array of samples and sounds with countless amounts of timbres: chimes, saxophones, shifting voices…the list goes on for a while. Truant kicks off with an eerie synth, accompanied by a shuffling, iffy beat. Burial uses two delicious vocal samples, one distorted and pitch-shifted, the other drenched in reverb and repeating the phrase, “I fell in love with you” over and over. The track then evolves into a slow, club-like beat, bringing a vibe that feels as something we hadn’t heard from Burial yet, but still works wonderfully well. The closing minutes of Truant are indescribable; it continually morphs into something else, until the changes succeed each other so rapidly that it is hard for the listener to keep up – all shadowed by the constant presence of swooshing noises.

The second track, Rough Sleeper, starts off with an organ and a sampled voice, and immediately feels like more familiar territory. Despite this recognisable sound that brings back strong memories of Kindred, the build-up by means of added breaks remains intact. The track seems to reset at a certain point around the four-minute mark, only to return with a slightly altered rhythm and melody. This formula is repeated several times throughout Rough Sleeper, enabling the track to forge a growing identity, instead of skipping through different flavours like its little brother. Nevertheless, the song quietly collapses into cascading noises and synth leftovers near the end, after which a moaning sample of a horn-like sigh (the same one that is heard at the start of Rough Sleeper) introduces an entirely new, snappy beat, followed by yet another variation that, quite suddenly, ends the EP in an abrupt halt.

Although the ever-changing characteristics of the two tracks might give off the impression of a disjointed, doubtful and vague effort, the very opposite is true. Burial has managed to create an atmospheric, coherent EP with many faces; not much unlike the mythical Hydra, we seem to get two new heads for every single one cut off, but even with twenty different faces it is still one beast.

-Joram

Posted
AuthorJurre Thuijs
ATOMS FOR PEACE

The new project of Radiohead-frontman Thom Yorke consists of Radiohead-producer Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker and RHCP-bassist Flea. Together, they form this super group called Atoms for Peace. Its origins lie in the performing of Yorkes solo-album "The Eraser" (on which there is a song called Atoms for Peace). After these successful performances, they decided to make an album together, which will be released this February. They have released a 12" vinyl containing the piece above and "What The Eyeballs Did", which are really great. Run or click to the shops everyone, and enjoy this brilliant music!

Posted
AuthorJurre Thuijs

This is the first message on this site, also known as Deposit #1. From now on, messages or posts will be referred to as Deposits. 

This site will contain only positive Deposits concerning music. That is because negative, pessimistic nonsense does not help us in our real lives or our Internet-lives. Enjoy!

Posted
AuthorJurre Thuijs