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Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Monthly archive

May 2014 - page 2

SESSION: My Heart The Brave (Roskilde Rising)

in Roskilde Rising/Sessions by

Producer Caspar Hesselager’s brand of electro-pop relies on tightly syncopated rhythms and organic instrumentation. A classical pianist by training, Hesselager layers his songs with quirky riffs that encourage the listener to keep rewinding, in an attempt to prize the layers apart. The “Keep Me From It” single might seem to aspire to summer-hit status, but it’s off-kilter rhythms and steel-drum-imitating piano complicate the song and invite closer listening – which reveals a frantic bassline hidden under the heavy synth stabs. All these elements are brought together by Hesselager’s accented, low-key vocals.

Catch My Heart The Brave on the Roskilde Rising stage, Tuesday 1st July at 18:30.

James Blake (DJ set) | Culture Box, Copenhagen, 16.05.2014

in Photos by

Photos by James Hjertholm (www.jameshjertholm.com)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

LIVE REVIEW: Cloud Nothings, Loppen, 15.05.2014

in Live Reviews by

Photo by Tom Spray

There is something almost business-like to Cloud Nothings’ live performance. Both frontman Dylan Baldi and bassist TJ Duke are very contained in their movements, whether they are required to be at their mics or just driving out sheets of noise. It is extraordinary to see this limited movement when you consider just how loud they are. But drummer Jayson Gerycz isn’t complicit in this act. He’s a flailing, sweaty mess behind his kit, exuding almost enough personality for the three of them.

It’s not as though Cloud Nothings don’t make an impression live. There is a raw quality to their performance that doesn’t come through even on their already raw albums. Baldi’s voice is curiously dynamic, and has moments of clear, almost pop-like presence such as on “I’m Not Part of Me.” It’s generally restrained by the relatively coarse timbre, and he sometimes abandons all tunefulness in ragged screams such as with “Pattern Walks”.

In that fried vocal there is plenty of energy for the crowd to feed off of, from people who might like to see the band lose it on stage. Or at least there’s one guy trying to start a mosh pit, but he’s actually just shoving people with both hands. But after being at so many gigs where people talk through the set, it’s nice to be at a show where it’s not possible to talk over the music (or, at any rate, to hear other people’s conversations). You’re not going to be able to play the record that loud at home without the neighbors complaining.

Cloud Nothings | Loppen, Copenhagen, 15.05.2014

in Photos by

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Cloud Nothings (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings (Photo by Tom Spray)

LIVE REVIEW: Nine Inch Nails, Forum, 13.05.2014

in Live Reviews by

Photo by Tom Spray

As Tom and I remark again on the oddity that Nine Inch Nails, one of the biggest names in rock music of any description, somehow can’t fill up Forum in Copenhagen (seriously guys, the main guy on the poster outside the venue is Cliff Richard), we are greeted by the anachronism that is Cold Cave. I sense a common feeling of nostalgia towards the bombastic and cheap-sounding synths, the Robert Smith-inspired vocals, the leather jacked, black shades and shitty hair. If you squint your eyes, and find a way of doing something similar to your ears, you might just be transported back to the not so distant past when everyone on the deathrock.com message board collectively lost their shit over Crystal Castles. But squinting is annoying, and in the end, so are Cold Cave.

By the time Nine Inch Nails are about to begin their set, the venue’s insistence on not opening up the back section means we’re all squeezed together like cockroaches. The screen that spans the entire stage has obscured most of the tech set up, so it’s almost a surprise when the lights suddenly cut out and ‘The Eater of Dreams” starts playing over the PA. The band arrive on stage with little fanfare, apart from the roar greeting Trent Reznor, whose intensity has certainly not diminished in time. Initially the stage looks very minimalist, with nothing but three keyboards and a low-hanging lighting rig. It fits perfectly with opener “Copy of a”, from the band’s latest effort, Hesitation Marks. This is classic NIN dark but danceable minimalism, all drum machines and fast synth arpeggios.

NIN (Photo by Tom Spray)

But Trent and co. have fooled us: as “The Beginning of the End” starts up, with its prehistoric drum-beat, a gigantic black curtain falls to the ground, revealing one drum kit, and one giant lighting rig. The rig, together with the projections that from time to time appear on a ascending and descending screen, are by far the best visual show I have witnessed at a concert in a very long time. They are intense, but never bombastic or silly, a perfectly constructed accompaniment to the music.

Tonight NIN are showing off their fastest, heaviest side, and predominantly dipping into their earlier records: “March of the Pigs” rips through neural connections, knocking you off balance with its completely out-of-the-blue switch to major chords on the piano for a chorus. It’s like punching someone repeatedly in the face and then giving them a hug. Scary as hell. It seems like all the time spent on scoring films such as The Social Network and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, together with the How to Destroy Angels side-project, have not only reinvigorated Trent, but also pushed him to rediscover his more guitar-orientated side.

NIN (Photo by Tom Spray)

The only negative thing to say about the gig is that it simply didn’t last long enough. An hour and a half for a band that has been around for a quarter of a century is just not enough, and I for one would not have minded hearing some more songs from Hesitation Marks, particularly oddities like the funky “All Time Low” and freakishly uplifting “Everything”. Reznor instead gives us the classics, closing with “Closer” and “Hurt”, which are nothing if not crowd-pleasers. Not great songs to be singing along to on the train home, though.

VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE

VIDEO: First Aid Kit – “My Silver Lining”

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First Aid Kit have shared a video for their track “My Silver Lining” from their forthcoming third studio album Stay Gold, which is to be released June 10th on Columbia Records. The video was directed by Elliot Sellers and was shot at Paramour Mansion in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.

Watch the video for “My Silver Lining” below:

Article: Ice Cream Cathedral

in Blog by

About a month ago, I got on a bus to what felt like the middle of nowhere. I was taken about twenty minutes out of central Copenhagen to the industrial area, and then to the mysterious final stop, Refshaleøen Island, that looked a lot more like a set for an episode of The Killing than the venue location for the Eurovision Song Contest. After fifteen minutes of attempting to find the rehearsal space among the abandoned looking shacks, Anders, Ice Cream Cathedral‘s unexpectedly chatty drummer, let me in to a building with multiple soundproofed booths and a familiar weedy odour. The band are crammed into half a booth with notably messier neighbours, and a coffee stand and kettle in the corner. No pot in sight.

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This seems a pretty appropriate set up for the band. They’re focused, concise and at least appear to be pretty clean living. They’re also really, really nice. They sit forward as though they’re slightly nervous, but super eager to tell me all about their band and their new musical direction. Despite being one of Roskilde Rising’s most successful acts last year, and a recent US tour that involved playing SXSW, they are still tangibly humbled by the attention they receive, but they have a clear sense of self belief in their brand of airy dreampop.

Yesterday (12th May) saw the release of their second album, Sudden Anatomy, the follow up to 2013’s The Drowsy Kingdom. Arguably the biggest challenge in an artist’s career, the dreaded sophomore album can make or break you, label you as a one off, or mark you as a band that’s just warming up. But this Danish dreampop trio is young and ambitious, and are moving forward with their musical instincts. “I think we’re all really eager to explore and not stand still in a creative manner,” says Anders. “It really shines through on this new album because we’re experimenting a lot with the concept of Ice Cream Cathedral. The first album really went song by song. We were focused on the melody and a more accessible way of thinking. With the new album we wanted to keep that stuff melodically, but we wanted to do some more with textures and rhythmics. We were kind of experimenting with our own concept. When you do that, naturally you get some kind of reference to yourself. It’s a self referential album.”

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The more I talk to the band, the clearer it becomes that Sudden Anatomy is about reaction to the old form, and has a clear goal of development in mind. Anders is the first to answer when I ask about the beginnings of the new album. “The first album was written like a layer cake and recorded in the same way. It was recorded to a specific grid and template that was pre-determined electronically. The experience of transferring that rigid material made us want to transcend the feeling of the grid and play the songs more like a traditional rock band would do. That triggered the feeling of wanting to transfer back to the compositional phase. That was pretty interesting to experience; from the beginning of our gigs we said we didn’t want to play with pre-recorded stuff playing from a computer. We didn’t want a backtrack. We wanted to play live, even though we have a lot of electronics. Then from playing that way live we realised it was also fun to write that way, to have that much freedom. Even though from gig to gig things would fuck up.” Anja, the band’s vocal lead, adds: “We would’ve been quite doomed if we had used backtrack. It’s only because we didn’t that we had that possibility. It felt strange that the new way we wanted to write in was suddenly up against what we did on the old album. That was pretty hard to get around.”

Kristian, the guitarist/keys, tells me about the first ideas. “We knew that we wanted to do something different to The Drowsy Kingdom, but we didn’t exactly know what to do. We had a serious headache about what to do in the beginning. We just knew that we wanted to be more energetic. We recorded some really funny stuff in the beginning.” Anders chimes in “it really sucked,” to the nods and laughs of the others.

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And they haven’t just developed sonically either. Anja is keen to stress the changes to the lyrics that have taken place. “There’s definitely more storytelling on the new album. I’ve been experimenting more on this one; I’ve been reading about historical stuff and really concrete subjects. The last album was more abstract in a way; it had abstract universes… At the time that we started to write for the new album we were still at school in the conservatory, and I took a lot of classes in lyrics writing. I talked to a lot of poets and found inspiration for that kind of songwriting.” Anders says “The new lyrics are more in your face, whereas the old lyrics were more veiled. I don’t know if it’s more political than the old album… there’s definitely more social stuff there.” Anja nods. “Yeah you could say that. A social consciousness.”

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The new album has also seen the band’s first large scale music video release and on screen debut, for the seven minute long debut single, ‘The Swans’. Set on a spaceship, it takes the concept of “space pop” to a tongue-in-cheek level. “I think it’s very related to our old material, where we included a lot of space influences, and the visuals of the old material as well. But Carl [Marott, the Danish director of the video] really wanted to take the idea far out,” says Kristian. The video sees the band play on synthesisers and soundboards rather than a control panel. For Kristian, this made him feel at home: “You really felt in your element with the synthesisers and stuff. We had a whole day in the location with the pictures outside, and that was the main acting part. That was quite funny.”

Anders takes a more critical eye to his acting prospects. “The hardest part about acting for a camera is the facial expressions. For me, I really felt as a first timer in front of the camera that my facial expressions had to include some kind of apathy. You should look like you don’t care. If I had to show any feelings or emotions it would have sucked.” Anja is practical. “It was really cold inside the spaceship, which made the apathy thing really hard.”

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The band are all in agreement when I ask if dreampop has a naturally cinematic quality as a genre. As his bandmates nod, Anders says “it’s in the music. Dreampop tends to be dramatic in a way. If you listen to real dreampop bands like Beach House, it’s really all about the cinematic total music effect. It gets this scored, written down feeling. It has this organic feel like it’s a whole. In a lot of dreampop music, there isn’t one element standing out. It’s more like a sausage of sound.” That has got to be the best dream pop analogy I’ve heard. “I think our music is kind of a mixture; there’s a lot of things standing out sonically, but it has this cinematic feel to it because the vocal plays as big a role as the drums.”

I finish by asking the band whether the genre will be as timeless as rock and roll. The music students are quick to dissect the question to find the answer. Kristian starts. “Maybe it’s not actually a genre in itself. Maybe it is just rock music. I know what you mean, but I think the genre has developed into other things.” Anders turns the question. “It depends how you define timeless, and the definition of how music moves in time. That’s the beauty of music. It’s bounded by time, metrically and sound-wise, so I guess that if timeless is a metre of reference, as in, ‘will people still listen to Ice Cream Cathedral in twenty years’, then I would definitely say yes. Some people will. But if it’s asking whether there will be some kind of revolutionary vibe surrounding dreampop as there is around rockabilly, then I would say no, because it is in itself a hybrid of milestone genres like rock and pop, that have had their moments.”

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“I remember we said in another interview that the time of idols was over. I remember saying that I really missed Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson; social figures like that. But it’s not the time for that right now, because of the market and the way people regard music. It’s become a thing for every man, because of X Factor etc. It’s become ordinary, and that destroys the glow. That destroys everything that’s special about the people onstage. If I go to a show I don’t want to see someone like myself, or someone I can relate to. I want to see someone who I can look at and think comes from a different planet. That part of music is timeless. I hope some people see that in the stuff we do. I don’t want people to think ‘I can totally relate to the way the drummer moves’. I would really like for people to say ‘I really get inspired by the way he performs’, or the way Anja sings is like nothing else. When Kristian plays guitar it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before.’ Everything we play is bounded by time, and bounded by tradition. I guess the timelessness develops itself in the moment where you release yourself from the way society regards music today. I think the way society regards music today is destroying music. I really wish that some alien would land on the planet and do some fucked up stuff that people could understand, but not relate to.”

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It’s a slightly morbid note on which to end, but Anders makes a convincing argument, even when I ask whether Lady Gaga might be an alien (for the record, in Ice Cream Cathedral’s view at least, she’s not). In this small rehearsal space in industrial Copenhagen, I wonder about music and revolution, and whether the two go hand in hand, as this band so desperately hopes it does, even if now isn’t the best time to prove it. The band seem eager to spread something with their music, to inspire others as they’ve been inspired, and see a wealth of possibility with the power of their performance. They’re smart, driven and positive. Revolution doesn’t need to be taking to the streets or making your controversial lyrics hit the Top 40. Maybe it’s about something smaller; the desire to be inspiring. This band’s got it in heaps.

LIVE REVIEW: Hospitality, Stengade, 12.05.2014

in Live Reviews by

Early in their set, Hospitality ask the crowd in the semi-full room at Stengade — where everyone is standing a comfortable two to three meters away from the stage — who saw them at Roskilde last year. And it’s from this point forward that we know much of the crowd are repeat visitors, expecting a passably energetic show and a more involved set-up from a band that is formally a trio.

Much of Hospitality’s latest album, Trouble, is stripped back to a fairly limited composition. So that the band are bolstered by a fourth member and that additional instruments are featured on every song is a bit unexpected, but it does make the performance warmer and fuller where it could so easily have felt thin.

Their drummer and keyboardist switch places a few songs in, and Nathan Michel, previously playing drums, takes up guitar as well as keyboards. This is the way the B-side “Monkey” is played, which sounds positively dreamy. They aren’t exactly consistent stylistically, their songs vacillating between dream pop and grungier edges, and even at times tapping into big, 70s rock sounds. At one point their bassist taps out his beats on his own dedicated synth set up, though the vision may have not transferred clearly through Stengade’s PA.

Frontwoman Amber Papini comes back alone for the first song of the encore, “Call Me After,” from their new album, which sounds quite sweet and certainly less melancholy on an electric guitar compared to the sparse acoustic album version. The night ends on an upbeat note with with “Betty Wang.” As a quirky indie pop band, they may still be finding the right sound to fit them. As a live band, however, they definitely know what they’re about.

AUDIO: Lykke Li – “No One Ever Loved”

in Blog/New Music by

Lykke Li has shared the audio for her track “No One Ever Loved” from the film ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. The movie is based on the novel by John Green, that tells the story of a couple who fall in love while attending a cancer support group. The movie screens in cinemas worldwide from June 5, while the soundtrack is out May 19 via Atlantic Records.

Listen to “No One Ever Loved” below:

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