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Heikki Sarmanto Serious Music Ensemble - The Helsinki Tapes Vol 1

Atila - Body

Atila is a dark electronic project hailing from Porto Portugal. Body is Atila’s latest full-length release, following on the heels of a series of roman numeral-titled EPs leading up to V their previous work. The product of Miguel Béco – known also for his black metal work under the name Örök – Atila fits somewhere comfortably between genres, incorporating elements of black metal ambience, dark techno, industrial and filmic soundscape into a sonic netherworld that, while not entirely singular, certainly marches to the beat of its own machine drum.

As a fan of somewhat disparate artists such as Emptyset, Burzum, Hound Scales and Robert Hood, I’m finding Body to be very listenable. Some tracks veer towards something halfway between serene and unnerving, while others drive harder with a machine/factory sound pulsating with pounding kicks on the low end, and buzzing with steam-like hissing high ends.

If any of the artists or genres I mentioned above appeal to you, Atila is going to be well-worth checking out.

Nachzeit - Sagor I Natten

Sagor I Natten is a short but sweet burst of old school black metal from Henrik Sunding of Östersund, Sweden. Clocking in at just 17-minutes, Sagor I Natten will appeal to fans of seminal Norwegian bands like Burzum, or the hypnotic buzz of Australia’s Striborg. Sunding is the loner metal man behind the ambient synth sounds of Lustre. Nachtzeit is very distinct from Lustre, though, focusing on the classic, relatively unadorned black metal sound.

Sagor I Natten features your typical agonized black metal howls over repetitive, relatively slow riffing, but with somewhat epic/pretty-sounding chords and progressions at least in the first track, Ett Fjärran Minne, that in a way – and this is admittedly a bit of a stretch – vaguely reminded me of shoegazey black metal bands such as Alcest.

The synths of Lustre, while not the main attraction here, do feature on Nachtzeit. Their sound here, though, is reminiscent of the martial/processional/folk/medieval sound of Burzum’s prison synth.

Like much of black metal, the mixing is – perhaps intentionally – thin. iTunes “Rock” EQ worked wonders for my appreciation of the record.

A solid album, Sagor I Natten proudly maintains and upholds the standards and templates laid forth by the progenitors of the genre.

Bombino - Akhar Zaman

Incredible track from Azel, the Bombino album produced by Dave-Longstreth of Dirty Projectors.

Saint Pepsi - Fiona Coyne

I think I found the jam for the summer of 2014!

Sunshining guitar samples with horns, mixed inbetween pop beats and beastly basslines, covered with glitz and sparkles, all underneath love calls, Saint Pepsi settles in this pop genre like home. The 7inch single, "Fiona Coyne" is a love song written for a Degrassi TV crush, and the 21 year old songwriter, Ryan DeRobertis uses music as the impetus for romance. On side B you have "Fall Harder". Keeping with the theme of summer romance, DeRobertis self proclaims that the inspiration behind the production is an analysis of the relationship between nostalgia and narcissism.

Using Ableton to compose the songs, DeRobertis breaks the mold of genre-bending pop and really focuses on what makes songs so catchy in the first place. Taking those elements, he shapes them with obscurities, only enough that the music geeks could pick out the nuances. He calls it, "Pop music for freaks."

Enjoy, Freaks!

Glass Animals - ZABA/ Pools EP

The re-making of the older EP "Black Mambo"; with KWES remixes, Glass Animals brings you "ZABA(Pools EP)".

The project is influenced by the South London bass scene and gives heed to a plait of artists like the electronic: Golden Antlers; and the soulful: James Blake x Anthony and the Johnsons.

Glass Animals blends modal samples that are cultural -instrumentally, with a faddy nonchalant nature that is completely taking.

ZABA follows excursions in world music, based on a childhood storybook, the album is "like a backdrop of man-made wilderness", says founding member, Dave Bayley. It's sexy and wild, with a modish chic aesthetic. "Pools" has a few versions and we're offering a stream of the KWES remix version below.

Glass Animals is a quartet of friends who collaborated with the recordings in bedroom studios and eventually brought it in, to Paul Epworths studio for the final touches on the production. Touring the US and select cities in Canada this summer/fall, you can catch them live at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern on September 12 or Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret on September 29th.

This offering hints towards Bayley's affections for Dr. Dre, Kanye West and Timbaland but it keeps it's own likeness and it is, in my opinion, soulful confetti that wins my affections too.

Nils Frahm - Says

Track off of the new Nils Frahm live album Spaces on Erased Tapes. Sounds a lot like a performance I heard him do at Mutek Montreal 2013 in the symphony hall. Beautiful!

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The Sea and Cake - The Sea and Cake (Thrill Jockey) & Toro Y Moi (Carpark) Collective Concerts Presents... The Phoenix Music Venue Toronto ON October 27th, 2013

The Sea and Cake:

Star-struck, I was; seeing The Sea and Cake in the flesh for the first time. Being a fan for years, I was trying to control my enthusiasm as I sauntered in during "The Weekend" off their 2008 release, "Car Alarm". The set was a collection of tunes that I hadn't heard of before and it was getting to me that I would let a new release by them fall by the wayside, until this event.

The minute they finished, I had to buy their new LP "Runner" (2012). It is so fantastic and it translated so well live. I remember dropping the needle and recognizing songs from the show instantly. The room was bustling with 1/2 obvious Sea and Cake fans and people coming in late for Toro Y Moi. The people who were there were just as huge fans as I was. I had my mouth covered with shock the whole time. The tasteful and teasing drum fills settling into surprising grooves from John McEntire (also known for his work with Tortoise and Soma Studios making records for artists like Wilco to Stereolab), the soft falsetto-soul and huffy-rhythmic vocals and guitar-lines trading off between Sam Prekop (also known for his work with, Shrimp Boat) and Archer Prewitt (also known for his work with Coctails and his art in the comic world). But watching the relationship between the bass player, Eric Claridge (also known for his work with Shrimp Boat and for his visual art) and drums was truly exceptional. Lines so completely suited to the songs, giving it a jazz-school approach but never overbearing.

Impressive is an understatement. The show was incredible. The musicianship was top notch, the songs were gorgeous and the energy was ethereal. I was experiencing total bliss. Then I took the feeling home after I bought "Runner" and it is my favourite effort by the band. It has a soothing sound that makes the mind wander through thoughts of contentment of the past and excitement of what's to come.

Toro Y Moi: The last time I saw Toro Y Moi was at Lee's Palace and it was about a year ago. The show was fantastic but I must say that they took it all up a notch this time around. First of all Chaz was rocking a pretty solid fro that you could see through the amazing light show that coordinated with the music. It was big and it was loud, in the best way. He had his usual 3-way set up of his Nord, synths and pedals. He sang fantastically although it was pretty low in the mix for the first half of the set. At times I was thinking, how is he managing all of those synth and vocal lines and I then discovered a guy tucked in the back playing more keys and singing pretty regularly. It was kind of weird how he wasn't up with the rest of the band. Either he is shy or they didn't want to give away all of the secrets!

The band was fantastic. Guitars came off so well. The drums were very present and kept perfectly to the sampled tempos. The bass looked like a lot of fun to play. As the set went on, I felt like the bass and sometimes Chaz were seeming a little tired of playing. That is when the lights got really busy. I would think it would a hard show to play, with the upbeat level maintaining itself from start to finish. We pretty much witnessed a complete dance party for 90mins. That would be tiring. At moments, they lost me and I would find myself thinking, didn't they already play that song about 4 songs ago? …but overall, I was dancing up a storm and really loving the experience of seeing such amazing work -live. People had their hands in the air for the hits from his most acclaimed records, "Underneath the Pine" (2011) and "Anything in Return" (2013).

I will go ahead and say that this show was and probably will be the best I have seen all year. A bill like that can't fail. I had a smile on my face for days after!

Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum

"The weather licked your face dry"

Cate Le Bon, can we be friends? It is almost like I am listening to some of my favourite musicians all at once… You have the instrumental sounds of Lou Reed or Mac Demarco: the nostalgic trebly guitars, the thumpy bass, the cute organ sounds, the sharp drums keeping tight time.

It's almost that I am hearing inspiration from Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab), Sharon Van Etten, and Victoria Legrand – without the reverb-effect (Beach House) in your vocal delivery. Such sweet melodies!

But the songs are sugary too and simple like Jonathan Richman's. Nothing is too heavy, it sits on a even plain, dynamically speaking… until you get about 1/2 way through the record. Then it starts to become a bit more of a psychedelic pop experience with a folk foundation, bending sounds and trying to rock out a little more. Slightly haunting, the songs become, playing with tonality and tempo, and every moment I tune into some great lyric lines that poke through and make me say, "Yessssss!"

Mug Museum is not something that you need to sit and pay close attention to but it is nice to. This album just has a sound and feeling that calls back to the 1960's UK and west coast pops. It's no surprise that the producer of this record had to do with the likes of Joanna Newsom and Devandra Banhart. Noah Georgeson had produced something quite special here in LA, but this album was an international collaboration with instrumentalists: Sweet Baboo, H. Hawkline and Nick Murray from White Fence!

Mug Museum is full of little gifts! It's nice to see new artists reminiscing through sound and Cate Le Bon does it brilliantly while leaving her own unique mark. (8.5/10)

Jungle - The Heat EP

London based Jungle awakens your inner rhythms with this collection of relentless beats, hooky melodies and soundscapes, they had me within the first 5 seconds of play time. Already, they have become BBC darlings. Jungle has won the hearts of many critics with their debut EP "The Heat" put out by B3SCI Records.

A short track-listing, will leave you begging for more. I have no doubt that you will be hearing these songs fill the airwaves of many radio and lifestyle playlists. Inspired by a soulful delivery of dance grooves with a collection of electronic subtle nuances. It gives off this understated hype that is completely tasteful and addictive.

"Platoon" starts with a 'Born to Run' style drum groove. A grouping of chimes, rhythmic synth blips, bring the hook to a near heart beat tempo. You can cherish the subtle reversed guitar and vocals for the break down. The pacing of the track is brilliant and my favourite part of Platoon is the simple, yet perfect bass line coupled with slow notes bends for the play-out at the end.

Soulful harmony-enriched vocals of "Drops" bring it down to sentimental love song that is full of emotion, arpeggio-played guitar, warm hum's and piano textures. You can definitely feel the this sophisticated misery of the subject matter but it has a mood that doesn't bring your emotions down, yet you just want to dance through them.

Heat is the obvious single. Everything about this track is a party. The video features two choreographed roller-skate dancers using a smooth up-rock style dance to the hit-track that is completely well-suited for this piece. Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4UckOGdZtI

Lucky I Got What I Want, was actually the first track I had heard by Jungle. It barely has drums, it's mostly vocals and electronic production with a touch of finger snaps. It is pretty even keeled, dynamically but it is still dramatically composed and this is where the vocal melody really shines. Organ and a 16th note bassline drives the song instrumentally.

Jungle would be the perfect soundtrack from runways, to clubs, to blasting it in the house while cleaning, to your headphones on your commute to work. There is a place for Jungle in anyone's life, trust me! It has this ease that is both therapeutic and stress-reducing. It would be hard to see one human not just loving this EP! File next to Toro Y Moi, Frank Ocean and Sam Cook. (9.5/10)

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