Sprouting New Branches

I’ve just been invited to a gig, to see FKA Twigs in a couple of weeks, so gracing our iPods this fortnight will be her debut record, LP1, which was released only last month on Young Turks (label of the XX, Sampha and SBTRKT).

As I mentioned, FKA Twigs is currently touring the UK, so why not catch her live? (She’s playing Hackney Empire Wednesday 8th October, Fran).

FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs – LP1

Each fortnight Fran and Dave choose a new album to listen to. We write about the genre or artist during the fortnight, and post our reviews on Sunday. Want to join the musical adventure? Subscribe by clicking the link in the sidebar to get an email every time there’s a new post.
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Bushcraft – Dave’s Review

Hounds of Love by Kate Bush starts very strongly with the classic Running Up That Hill. The softness of the soldier drums and keyboards allow Bush’s dramatic singing style to take centre stage whilst the calmness of the music provides a gentle introduction to the album.

This is followed by the catchy single Hounds of Love with its sweeping, powerful delivery contrasting nicely with the cheery ‘do-do-do-do-do’ backing vocals. The crashing drums and strings help make this my highlight of the record. The Big Sky is another catchy tune, driven by a Talking Heads-like rhythm, through a gospel choir by someone with the youthful energy of Björk.

Things mellow sharply with the much slower Mother Stands For Comfort. Unfortunately I find the shift from such a lively opening section too abrupt, disrupting the flow of the record. Cloudbusting would have followed much more smoothly.

It is in the middle of the album where the experimental and artistic nature of Bush’s writing comes to the fore. The radio snippets that intercut the beautiful piano-based Dream Of Sheep are taken to another level in the rather odd Waking The Witch, which begins with a dreamy range of whispers to wake up before suddenly bursting into a roaring nightmare. Things get more varied with the Asian sounds of Watching You Without Me and the Celtic Jig Of Life, which builds to some Pet Shop Boys-style speak-singing.

Overall this is an interesting album that takes a while to get your head around. The opening few songs are very accessible, cheery pop, however the second half of the record is more dramatic and experimental, full of a range of styles and influences. Themes of sleep, dreams, birth, life and death run through the record, all delivered in Kate Bush’s theatrical and wonderful voice.

★★★★☆

 
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Love those hounds – Fran’s Review

This record is a delight! From its accessible opening tracks Running Up That Hill and Hounds of Love, to the somewhat manic Waking the Witch (the only acceptable use of heavy metal-style growling I’ve heard to date),  Kate Bush’s shrieking highs and atmospheric lows create a joyously otherworldly album.

Hounds of Love is a lyrically rich album, with a wide-ranging art rock style to match. This is an album of two parts, with the more grounded first five tracks serving as an introduction to the sea-themed bulk of the record. The two sections are focused on very different subjects, but their shared musical themes pull the album together. The often repetitive rhythms and prominent drums combine to create a powerfully driven undercurrent to the piece, which contrasts well with the occasional calmer interludes like the ethereal And Dream of Sheep. Kate Bush has a well deserved reputation as a bit of an eccentric, and this side of her is not lost on Hounds of Love; some of the most enjoyable parts of the album are the sudden stylistic changes and weirder moments like the whispered exchange on Jig of Life (over here!).

The weakest part of this album is definitely Mother Stands For Comfort, a slow paced and laboured exposé of motherly devotion that seems out of place in an otherwise entirely engaging piece. But one faltering moment is not enough to spoil this timeless record.

★★★★★

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Bush Tucker

In honour of her recent return to the stage, this fortnight we are listening to Kate Bush’s 1985 album Hounds of Love. With the Futureheads’ rocky cover to this album’s title track being my only exposure to Kate Bush to date, I am looking forward to hearing this iconic singer-songwriter in the original! Dave and I will be listening to Hounds of Love until next Sunday.

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

Each fortnight Fran and Dave choose a new album to listen to. We write about the genre or artist during the fortnight, and post our reviews on Sunday. Want to join the musical adventure? Subscribe by clicking the link in the sidebar to get an email every time there’s a new post.
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Bacon Lettuce Techno – Fran’s Review

Orbital’s 1993 techno epic is a sandwich of aural experimentation. The crusty bread surround is the symmetrical vocal loops that begin and end the record, moving slowly together then apart again. Which other Musical Adventure albums open to the melodic wisdom of Star Trek samples, I ask you? (None, obv.) And if the loops are the bread, then the satisfying main fillings are the hypnotic techno tunes like Lush 3-2 and Impact, spiced up with an occasional exciting hint of didgeridoo or tasty crackle of vinyl.

But in the middle of the sandwich, you encounter Remind, the tediously pervasive mustard of the piece. A taste that lingers, long after you wished it gone from your palette. Fortunately, the mustard fades by the time you get to the last few bites of sandwich, and just as you come to the terrible realisation that lunchtime is nearly over, your sandwich reveals the sweetest flavour of all. Halcyon + On + On indeed goes on and on, but in a fantastic, blissfully spaced out, dancing in the sea kind of way.

Orbital 2 (or the Brown Album) is an intriguing slice of the 90s, which leaves you thinking… that’ll keep me full ’til dinner time.

★★★☆☆

Sandwich

A sandwich

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Calming yet Danceable – Dave’s Review

Orbital’s ‘the Brown Album’ conjures a calming yet danceable atmosphere. The sort of music that would accompany a sunrise during a long night out for example.

The gradual, layered introduction to ‘Planet of the Shapes’ focusses on the machine-like, repetitive structure of the percussion and bass, for which the techno genre is best known. As like many tracks on the album, the beat drives the song forward with other elements fading in and out. Every now and again the percussion will pause, to rest those legs and soak in the moment, before starting back up again to carry the song on.

There are some lovely, simple riffs, for example that of ‘Lush 3-1′ which soars over a dense synth pattern and percussion arrangement. The airy vocals of ‘Lush 3-2′ and ‘Impact (The Earth Is Burning)’ complement one another well and form a dreamy section of the album. The mood becomes more tense in the middle of the record, with the keyboard lines of ‘Remind’ and ‘Walk Now…’ adding a sense of urgency. The occasional sonic experiments, such as the opening looping of ‘Time Becomes’ and ‘Input/Output’, add an extra dimension to the record and offer a glimpse into the sort of work that goes into creating the music.

The pinnacle of the album is reached with the near ten minute epic ‘Halycon + On + On’. It’s as if the dust is clearing and we have reached our techno destination. All the tricks from earlier in the record – the airy vocals; the repetitive, danceable beat; the chilled out feel – come together to form a soothing and pleasant finale.

★★★★☆

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Non Stop Techno Party

Orbital - The Brown Album

Orbital – The Brown Album

We’ve had a few weeks away as we were in Germany at a scorching Melt! Festival. While there were several genres of music on offer, the one I found myself drawn towards was Techno, with headliners such as Modeselektor, Ellen Allien and Kölsch among the festival’s highlights.

So to continue our musical adventure we will go back to the Music Tree and discover some early 90’s techno. For the next week and a half, we’ll be listening to Orbital’s second album, nicknamed the brown album.

Each fortnight Fran and Dave choose a new album to listen to. We write about the genre or artist during the fortnight, and post our reviews on Sunday. Want to join the musical adventure? Subscribe by clicking the link in the sidebar to get an email every time there’s a new post.

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