The ecstasy and ennui of a thousand nights spent watching the game and then getting on it is the backdrop to new London trio Real Life’s first song, "Deeper". The kind of happy-sad dance-pop song that could only be born from a British climate, it’s got instant classic written all over it and makes me mourn for early-90s Top of the Pops. Film maker Rollo Jackson's video is a snapshot of a night out in our capital: the lagers, the laughs, and the loneliness. A laser dances across the three faces of Real Life, a delicate piano melody slides toward the sunrise, and all we’re left with is a phone number; a memento from the night before. (via Dummy)
The work of producer and artist Lawrence Lek, aka Radiant Dragon, has an architectural spirit. In London last summer he exhibited a skeletal wooden sculpture that looked like soundwaves suspended in the air, then in September he released "Terminal," which sounds like the streamlined surface of a warp-speed spacecraft. His debut album, Screengazers, has finally surfaced after spending the past few months studying in New York. The title track hovers somewhere between sci-fi symphony and prog-rock odyssey, envisioning eternal suspension from the present moment and somehow sounding noble and tragic at the same time. (via Dummy)
Following the pop subversions and techno exercises, respectively, of her King Felix and Hour Logic EPs, Laurel Halo’s debut album Quarantine confirms the artist's thrilling, fearless range. While more concerned with exploring song structures than building grooves, Quarantine doesn't speak like a pop record. Instead, unexpectedly, it shares more with the folk of '70s sister trio The Roches, whose striking vocal harmonies at times converged with their instruments to the point of indistinction. Halo also uses her voice as instrument on Quarantine, at times layered in chorus as if she too were three. Resonating with an unpolished warmth like the analogue synths she has been known to favour, her vocals guide us through undulating, densely textured landscapes.
But the world she shapes is observed from a distance rather than inhabited. Quarantine imagines a hermetically sealed chamber from within which Halo sings of eye contact, letters, and signals cutting out. While sharply aware of the self-isolation that contemporary forms of communication encourage-- we’re not so far off the sea of hermits reaching out in disembodied form across the Internet that sci-fi writers once dreamt of--, Quarantine’s quarry is the impossibility of communication itself, a conundrum as old as the hills.
The failings of language provide the album’s arc. Halo’s gaze is brutally honest, yet she documents with tenderness every shade of emotion that springs from miscommunication, from the frustration of “Years” to the neediness of “Holoday”. On “Thaw,” fragments of conversation are caught like prehistoric mosquitos in amber to startlingly moving effect. By closing track “Light + Space,” it becomes clear that Quarantine has a rare restorative and cleansing power. “Words are just words that you soon forget” she sings, finding solace in memory’s knack for being cruel-to-be-kind, smoothing away life’s detritus. Yet, in so deftly capturing the minutiae of the fallout in our endeavors to connect, she preserves the moment for future understanding.
The meditative moment, an elevation of feeling over thought and a freeing of the distracted mind, is the axis on which the music of Shah Marg revolves. Recalling the dub explorations of Sun Araw and influenced by '70s Arabic psychedelia, the 22-year-old from Chennai, India coaxes introspective zones from his Roland SP-404, guitar and old movie samples. “Blown-out funk” is how he describes the aptly titled ‘Ashram’ from his forthcoming, self-released Desert EP and, pleasingly, that sensation of being lifted, carried, pervades long after the riddim fades. (via Dummy Mag)
The tug-of-war between metropolis and wilderness is one of the modern world’s most enduring stories. Symbols of solidarity and solitude, the two states/spaces are alternately celebrated and demonised in art, music, and literature. But they're not necessarily opposites. There is harmony to be found in aloneness, and loneliness in togetherness. That tension is central to the music of Joel Ford in his solo guise, Airbird. You don’t need to know the back story-- that last year Ford moved from the hubbub of New York City to the countryside of North Carolina, for one-- to hear the feeling of release in "Goodnight," a track from his debut EP Trust, on Software. It’s there in Ford’s vocals as he calls out into a clear night sky, unobstructed by high-rises and the glare of streetlights. Both looser and earthier than his previous work, this is electronic soul that stretches and soars. --Ruth Saxelby, Dummy