00:06 Mobius Band Secret Language
03:54 Nathan Fake You are Here (Four Tet remix)
09:07 Radiohead All I Need
12:51 Ez3kiel At the Day
18:08 Black Before Red Underneath Gold
21:39 Little Dragon Recommendation
25:28 Mus La Vida
This week’s podcast is introduced by Charles Martinet (Mario!). Has everyone got Super Mario Galaxy yet? It’s sweet as heck!
It’s those signature auroral crackles that make Heaven. No, it’s the bumbling bass lines. Wait, maybe it’s the way every drum beat punches the air in sweet succession or how the vocals only reach the saddest lows when the rest of the music is peaking in happiness… It could be anything, but it’s probably everything. Each part playing its own unique tune, yet all merging together in such coordinated beauty. And the best bit is that right from the dreamlike opening of Hallie to the peaceful, flowing ending of I am Always Waiting, Mobius Band manage to make every track really work. There’s an adhesive glow to the edges of each song as they melt into each other inconspicuously. It’s difficult to pick out highlights with everything hitting sweet spots so well. Whether it’s the red herring wind down of Control before it kicks back in or that bursting shiver that winds up Keys in the Door, you can’t fail to be impressed by Mobius Band’s radiant rock.
Their excellent debut album, The Loving Sounds of Static, seems timid in comparison. They’ve really taken the strengths of that release and added a bite and vigour which wasn’t quite there before. Heaven sounds like they took their first album, threw it in a rotting coffin, nailed the door shut, tied it to the end of a rope and dropped it in the Arctic Ocean to ripen. Except years later when they came back, the rope had weathered away and the coffin was gone; only playing to those few lucky Polar Bears as it floats along the icy waters, desperately trying to break out and causing ripples and vibrations through the frost.
This is quite a late release for an album that’s over a year and a half old, yet Nathan Fake’s Drowning in a Sea Of Love is still showing trails of the impact it left. Streams of twilight Techno softly glint on the horizon as Four Tet takes You are Here and runs away from the light. The original track is like a forest, that flourishes with a green sparkle as the sun gloats across every leaf. Here though, it’s night and it’s black. That’s when the forest really comes alive. Each branch stretches out to touch you as you fumble among the soil and roots. Soon, glimmering pairs of eyes wander through the plant life and the moon cascades dancing shadows across every open patch of land. You get lost in the midst of it all and never manage to find your way out. It’s only once the track abruptly comes to a stance that you move your hands away from your eyes and find yourself back in the daylight with friendly green in every direction.
Four Tet has managed to unearth parts of this track that were always subtly lurking underneath but never properly developed. It’s rare to find a remix that manages to uncover whole new layers of wonder without decimating what was originally there. It’s amazing how easily it takes you into another place without you even realising you’re caught in waves of ambient glitter. The release also feature a drawn-out, softer live version of the song and a live remix of Stops, but it’s the original track back to back with Four Tet’s mix that you’ll keep on repeat.
Radiohead’s In Rainbows takes a invisible and evolutionary step. You won’t notice it at first because of how light and easy the album is to enjoy. It’s not until a few listens later that you realise just how much thought and planning has gone into it. It’s ten tracks and 45 minutes long. Gone are the days of Hail to the Thief’s 14 heavy tracks nearing an hours length. It’s light and it flows impeccably. Gone too are the weighty political undertones and short filler tracks; In Rainbows skips unobtrusively from one track to the next, barely drawing attention to itself. The genius is that almost every track can be listened to alone and in pretty much any order because of how ambiguously each starts and ends.
It was worrying at first; the tracklist seemed to represent a scrapbook of Radiohead history, with fan-favourite live track Nude and the previously awful Reckoner showing that they might just have run out of ideas. As it works out, the changes and additions transform any versions you may have heard before. The astonishing part is how well Radiohead took all these tracks and made them sound as if they’d written them all in the same session. And they did all this out of contract and in their own time frame. It’s an important landmark because they’ve proved that without label pressures they had the time to get the album exactly right. A gimmick Internet release without artwork or CD quality downloads spoil the party, but at least they’ve made a step in the right direction, which can surely only lead to better things.
Naphtaline is a sticky toffee pudding. It’s dense and gooey to chew, but it’s sugared and sweet to taste. You wouldn’t have it all in one go, nor would you have it all to yourself. It’s an album to take in small bites and one to share out to other toffee enthusiasts. Some people don’t like toffee. It’s too buttery for them and it sticks between their teeth. However, we like the way Subaphonic’s caramel layers offer different depths of chocolate in every layer. We like how the fork struggles to get through the honey coating of At the Day, yet when it finally does there’s a trickle of honey-like goo behind it and the first chomp coats every taste bud with syrup. You’re already full by the time the sixth track of this heavy, hour-long record eases in and you might have to leave it for another night, but that taste still lingers through the rest of the evening.
Just three members make up the French ensemble and their classical influences shine through quite strongly. Yet there’s still something unusual and different about each of the tracks that gives Naphtaline a mysterious entity. It’s as if Ez3kiel have taken their favourite classical masterpieces and haunted every single note with a delicious but weighted sound. It’s the unfamiliar tingles throughout that make it seem like a stranger, but given time it can grow into something really loveable.
You can briefly hear this album and it will remind you of a million other sounds, but listen closer and it doesn’t really sound like anything else. That’s actually a hard sound to get so right. Belgrave to King’s Circle has some obvious influences, but it’s how well they’ve taken that and formed their own melodies that’s important. From the warm, fuzzy feeling left by the shimmering opening of Underneath Gold to the raucous, Pop swings of Halliberlin Petroleum it’s all in good heart and leaves you feeling like you want to listen all over again. It’s a really short album that peeps just over the 30 minute mark and for all the goodness that’s stuffed into it, that makes it a really nice length for enjoying the record in its entirety. It’s not overwhelmingly original, but the glimmers of sweet strums within make it well worth the listen.
Black Before Red are the harmonious foursome behind the agreeable beats and hail from Austin, Texas which is probably where the touches of folk spring from. It’s really easy to like this album because of the neat merges of our favourite bands. There’s a lot that emerges from within after subsequent listens and it really deserves the odd half hour here and there. Perfect for the occasional train and tube journey to get you smiling again.
This is an album to play at night. Late at night. Especially for the second half of the album. The first half plucks out delicate Pop swings and sweet electric plucks. Slowly though, it seems to settle back into a more uniform rhythm and stretches into a series of starlight waves. Place to Belong, for example, takes those initial beats and squashes them into a Jazzy midnight requiem. It’s the kind of sound you need to be sprawled out on the grass for, staring up at the stars and letting every subtle vibe flow out into the sky. When you get around to Test, you’ll be completely hooked on the moody, repetitive pulse and Yukimi Nagano’s sirenic murmurs. The album tries to make sense of confusion by unravelling it and coating it with shimmering throbs and crimson grooves, until it all clicks in harmony.
Arising from Gothenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon’s debut album manages to bring together all your favourite Pop, RnB, Jazz and House in one easy listening package. It’s obvious that each of the four members that make up Little Dragon have distinctly different influences, but it’s great that they’ve managed to bring it all together so calmly and beautifully. Make sure you turn up the bass for the full effect of those crisp, fuzzily-produced curdles.