Tag: Savages

BOY HARSHER Careful

BOY HARSHER formed through an urgent need to produce and consume, so by the winter of 2014, Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller started to experiment with sound, video and text.

With just a few synths, a drum machine and a laptop, their second full length album ‘Careful’ was conceived in Massachusetts, with the duo utilising their minimal electronics and intense demeanour to create a compelling narrative of a deteriorating family and a need to escape from it, expressing an understanding of love and loss, fear and joy, tenderness and pain.

An introductory mood piece ‘Keep Driving’ opens ‘Careful’ with a building percussive mantra, but the stark drama of ‘Face The Fire’ is eerie and unsettling while also accessible, with driving drum machine rhythms and cosmic synth hooks all present and correct, despite Jae Matthews’ expressions of discomfort. Meanwhile, ‘Fate’ is a brilliant sister song to ‘Face The Fire’, coming over like ADULT. meeting THE KVB with hints of SAVAGES too.

‘LA’ features a wonderfully incongruous mix of icy string synths and orchestra stabs for an enticing display of mutant electronic disco, but brilliantly sinister thanks to its varied use of effects and Matthews’ mournful demeanour. Things get even more urgent and frantic with the pulsating ‘Come Closer’, its rhythmically threatening backbone and fraught tension providing an uneasy but thrilling listen!

What is captivating about ‘Careful’ is the fabulous range of synthetic sounds on display, as exemplified by ‘The Look You Gave (Jerry)’, a perfect number for those seeking substance craving a darker edge to their synthpop… and yes BOY HARSHER are pop because they do have tunes, even if they dress them up in an appealingly unconventional and morose manner.

‘Tears’ follows the pattern laid down of ‘Careful’, strangely chunky and danceable with Matthews all deviantly alluring, while the more abstract ‘Crush’ takes proceedings down in a suitably claustrophobic manner. A steadfast hypnotism appropriately directs ‘Lost’ towards the final straight before a short cerebral conceptual piece for the closing title track.

With ‘Careful’, BOY HARSHER have refined their template without losing any of their unsettling edge. This is the first really great album of 2019, with the six song sequence from ‘Face The Fire’ to ‘Tears’ particularly outstanding.

With that, the final third does suffer slightly in comparison but this does not detract from what an excellent work this is, a fine musical document confronting personal demons and traumas.


‘Careful’ is released on 1st February 2019 by Nude Club Records in neon orange vinyl LP, CD, cassette and download formats, pre-order from http://www.boyharsher.bandcamp.com

BOY HARSHER play the following UK dates:

Bristol Lanes (24th February), Leeds Wharf Chambers (25th February), Manchester Soup Kitchen (26th February), London Heaven (27th February)

http://boyharsher.com

https://www.facebook.com/boyharsher

https://twitter.com/boyharsher

https://www.instagram.com/boyharsher

http://nudeclubrecords.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Nedda Afsari
21st January 2019

KITE BASE Latent Whispers

KITE BASE comprise of two bass guitars, electronics, a Tempest drum machine named Alan and the haunting vocals of Kendra Frost.

Defined as: “One of the main starting points found in origami, an opening move made with simple folds to generate a firm and fertile foundation for creativity. It can become whatever you want it to be- simple or complex- based on the imagination of the creator, inspiration and chance”, KITE BASE started as a side project of SAVAGES bassist Ayşe Hassan.

While that quartet’s sound is distinctly conventionally driven, their association with TRENTEMØLLER has seen the band’s various members experimenting with technologically derived textures, notably on a remix of ‘Surrender’ and Jehnny Beth’s collaboration ‘River In Me’ for the Danish producer’s solo album ‘Fixion’. And now comes KITE BASE’s debut longer player Latent Whispers’.

Beginning with the wonderfully hypnotic ‘Transition’, the juxtaposition of rhythm machine and sequenced blops with rugged melodic four string inevitably recalls NEW ORDER. It’s a fine slice of modern gothic that captivates thanks to Frost’s forlorn voice. It is also undoubtedly the album’s highlight.

The appropriately named ‘Dadum’ is more steadfast with the cacophony of voices and bass noise fused into a cascading wall of sound. The stuttering ‘Blueprint’ provides a backdrop for buzzing synths and pronounced bass motifs, while the moody ‘Erase’ with its unusual rhythmic template of claps and flat toms is kept minimal, allowing Frost’s vocals to flourish.

On ‘Soothe’, Frost and Hassan offer plenty of feisty energy, tribal percussive mantras and deep programmed bass; it’s moody although less obviously electronic than ‘Transition’.

Synthetic percussion shapes ‘Peripheral Vision’ while with a penetrating live feel, ‘Nineteen’ makes more of the gritty scissored bass action.

The even livelier ‘Grids’ exudes a percussive rumble that JOY DIVISION would be proud of. However, ending with ‘Miracle Waves’, it is a shame that the more transient and superior single remix version isn’t included.

While there’s room for further development within their twin bass guitar / electronic mix, ‘Latent Whispers’ acts as a promising first salvo to showcase KITE BASE and particularly the vocal presence of Kendra Frost.

And with Frost’s appearance on a number of tracks for THIS MORTAL COIL studio legend John Fryer and his BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project, it’s a good job done.


‘Latent Whispers’ is available as a CD, vinyl LP and download via https://kitebase.pmstores.co/

http://kiteba.se/

https://www.facebook.com/kitebasemusic/

https://twitter.com/KiteBaseMusic

https://www.instagram.com/kiteba.se/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th May 2017

TRENTEMØLLER Fixion

trentemoller-fixion‘Fixion’ is the fourth album from Copenhagen-based producer Anders Trentemøller and rather than being an overtly electronic work, it draws from the gigging band sound of the artist with live bass and guitar at times prominent in the overall mix.

To even a casual listener, ‘Fixion’ would simply not exist if it weren’t for the template laid down by Manchester legends JOY DIVISION. The sound which latterly went on to inform that of THE CURE with their magnum opus ‘Disintegration’ is omnipresent here alongside distant echoes of GARY NUMAN.

What TRENTEMØLLER has done though is infuse the distinctive guitar/bass sound of these artists with electronics and overlay them with a selection of female vocalist including Jehnny Beth from UK post punk act SAVAGES and longtime collaborators Marie Fisker and Lizbet Friske.

Trentemoller-press-photo-2016Opening track ‘One Eye Open’ has a bassline which is a slowed-down dead-ringer for JOY DIVISION’s ‘Shadowplay’, even the key is the same. In an era where an artist can potentially face major legal action for just templating the overall vibe and sound of a song (see the ‘Blurred Lines’/ MARVIN GAYE case), it will be interesting to see if the lawyers come knocking regarding this work.

The brooding majestic sound and production of the backing track (including some nifty Linn Drum programming) isn’t however quite matched by the vocal melody, with Marie Fisker’s contribution never quite holding the listener’s attention throughout.

‘Never Fade’ is based around a “Never fade, never look down” vocal refrain; added to this are appropriately epic synth strings which are combined with a Robert Smith sound-a-like guitar sound. What takes the song away from being a straight pastiche are the downtempo electronic house drums, 4/4 kick and outro closed/open hi-hat pattern.

First single ‘River In Me’ is pretty sprightly in comparison with much of the material here, an interesting hybrid of uptempo drum machine mixed with live bass and the sort of hollow sampled synth riff that wouldn’t have been out of place on DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Construction Time Again’. Jehnny Beth from SAVAGES contributes vocals and the song is an undoubted highlight here if only because it raises the BPM and energy level.

‘Redefine’ has some great synth sounds and production touches, but again melodically isn’t a strong enough song to make you want to especially revisit it. ‘November’ is the longest track here, a beautifully atmospheric instrumental, full of washy synths, stereo-panned sound effects and reverbed guitars; whilst ‘Circuits’ is the only other track apart from ‘River In Me’ to break out of the overall downtempo sound of the album.

With TRENTEMØLLER providing the theme music to the AMC series ‘Halt & Catch Fire’, it is no surprise that in many places, ‘Fixion’ comes across as a soundtrack to a dark, imaginary thriller – the music is often textural rather than melodic and tends to feel like it should lurk sinisterly in the background rather than demanding your full attention.

It’s hard not to compare ‘Fixion’ with THE CURE’s ‘Disintegration’; both consist of mainly downtempo songs but whereas the latter had the soul-bearing mid-life crisis lyrics and vocals of Robert Smith as a focal point, the former lacks a comparable cohesion. Despite sounding appropriately epic and using all the right frames of reference, ‘Fixion’ never hits the heights of Smith and Co’s acclaimed career highlight despite being enjoyable as a late-night listening soundscape-based piece of work.

TRENTEMØLLER is undoubtedly highly talented as a producer/remixer and in many circles is seen as THE musician to produce a future work by DEPECHE MODE, but here it is nigh on impossible to listen to ‘Fixion’ without referencing the ghosts of other works and musicians.


‘Fixion’ is released by In My Room in CD, vinyl and download formats

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/

https://www.facebook.com/trentemoller/

https://trentemoller.lnk.to/Fixion


Text by Paul Boddy
Photo by Sofie Nørregaard
18th September 2016

LES PANTIES Cold Science

TWI1227CD_12pp_booklet‘Cold Science’ is a new singles anthology by Brussels cold wave indietronica combo LES PANTIES.

Founded by Hugo Fernandez (drums), Sebastien Decupere (guitars) and Paul Normann (bass), LES PANTIES are fronted by the deep, pronounced voice of Sophie Frison which at times, powerfully recalls Siouxsie Sioux.

While their sound echoes other Belgian acts like THE NAMES, the modern electronic sheen of SOULWAX also makes its presence felt.

Like SAVAGES’ Jehnny Beth, Sophie Frison exudes a stylish gothique. Released on the iconic Les Disques du Crépuscule and compiling material released between 2011 to 2015, inevitably the spectre of JOY DIVISION and THE CURE looms over ‘Cold Science’. But with Frison’s vocals and the presence of sparkling string synths, the mood is lighter but still laced with tension.

Beginning with the brooding ‘Velvet’, while a conventional backbone dominates, the use of technology is one of LES PANTIES’ distinguishing attributes. The melodic bass and scratchy guitars of ‘The Gate’ are offset by swirling synths and one could imagine this being covered by MARSHEAUX if the syncopated percussion mantra was replaced by a Motorik drum machine beat.

‘Diving’ actually sees a drum machine and synthesized melodies taking on a more central role; both remain as constants in the musical core as the lengthy track percussively builds to a sexy, passionate climax. Meanwhile, the retro-futuristic indiepop of ‘Factory’ unsurprisingly sounds like early NEW ORDER while ‘Hazy Days’ comes over as if Siouxsie had joined Robert Smith’s combo back in the day, as opposed to the other way round!

The moody ‘White Tiger’ is layered with prominent keyboards to boost the angst ridden atmosphere but as it progresses, the guitars get much heavier. This trend continues with LES PANTIES’ more conventional debut single pairing ‘Porkshop’ and ‘Westie’, as the tracklisting moves along in reverse chronological order.

However, the best is saved until last with a superb sequencer assisted ‘L’Arrivée V2’ as a bonus track. Already an excellent disco inflected tune in its original guise, it is considerably enhanced with the use of more electronics and even tighter drum programming, courtesy of producer Ian Caple whose previous credits have included SHRIEKBACK, TINDERSTICKS, A-HA and EMILIE SIMON. It is in here in its second half that the SOULWAX influences really punch their way through.

It’s an indicator of how good LES PANTIES could become if they pursue this indie electro hybrid direction. Whatever happens next, ‘Cold Science’ makes a promising shop window for now.


‘Cold Science’ is released by Les Disques du Crépuscule in CD and download formats

http://lespanties.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LESPANTS/

http://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/cold_science_twi1227cd.html


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd September 2016

TRENTEMØLLER River In Me

TRENTEMØLLER River In MeCombining electronics and frenzied digital drums with live bass, ‘River In Me’ is the first single from TRENTEMØLLER’s upcoming fourth album ‘Fixion’, out in September. Vocals are provided by Jehnny Beth of the acclaimed indie band SAVAGES.

Best known for his superb club remix of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Wrong’, it well and truly outstripped the rather ploddy original.

The dynamic edge of ‘River In Me’ has more than highlighted the short sightedness of the Basildon combo in not employing Anders Trentemøller to work on their new, as-yet untitled album.

Generally a remote collaborator, ‘River In Me’ is an unusual TRENTEMØLLER recording in that the SAVAGES frontwoman came to his home studio in Copenhagen to lay down the vocals. The end result naturally possesses a Gothic intensity but remains vibrant and melodic, with Beth’s Siouxsie-like tones complimenting the hybrid synth laced soundscape. Some have complained that ‘River In Me’ is not dark enough compared with TRENTEMØLLER’s previous work, but it is his most immediate song yet with a fine balance of accessibility and mood.

Directed by Åsa Riton and Andreas Emenius, the promo video for ‘River In Me’ filmed in Northern Sweden offers some appropriately icy aesthetics as a backdrop to the mysterious Nordic Noir love story.

The working relationship between Anders Trentemøller and Jehnny Beth began when the Dane mixed SAVAGES breakthrough album ‘Adore Life’. Beth said to Uncut earlier this year “he was not a traditional rock ‘n’ roll mixer, he was coming from electronic music, but with extensive guitar music knowledge”.

Trentemoller-press-photo-2016That should have confirmed TRENTEMØLLER’s credentials for working with DEPECHE MODE but alas, it is rumoured James Ford of SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO has got the job.

Having recently produced FLORENCE & THE MACHINE, ARCTIC MONKEYS, FOALS and MUMFORD & SONS, Ford’s work with the latter in particular would have no doubt sealed the deal for the rockcentric Dave Gahan.

However, all is not completely lost… if DEPECHE MODE are not going to have TRENTEMØLLER as a producer, then they should at least put him behind the desk to sort out the final mix. After all, he did a good job with ‘Wrong’.


‘River In Me’ is released as a 7 inch single and download by In My Room, available now from https://trentemoller.bandcamp.com/album/river-in-me

TRENTEMØLLER plays London Islington Assembly Hall on 18th September and an instore gig at Rough Trade East (London) on 19th September 2016

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/

https://www.facebook.com/trentemoller/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Sofie Nørregaard
6th July 2016