Monday, April 25, 2016

Archive – Controlling Crowds (2009)

Martin Eisenschmidt

Controlling Crowds is the sixth studio album of the British trip-hop progressive / alternative group Archive which was released worldwide on March 30, 2009.
The album is divided into three different parts and the group originally wanted to also include a fourth part, which was later released as “Controlling Crowds – Part IV” on October 19 of the same year.
As the album is divided into parts by Archive, it is arguable they tried to tell a story with the album. The name of the album, the lyrical content and the music, all invoke a feeling of an Orwellian dictator society. The first song already starts with a very repetitive synth that feels just a little uneasy yet mesmerising.
Repetition is actually a fairly important tool, which Archive employs in many of their tracks, to further advance the Orwellian theme. In the song Bullets, during the final parts of the song, the lyrics start repeating the words “personal responsibility”, yet after a while the lyrics have changed to “personal response insanity”. In the track “Dangervisit”, while the background vocals repeat “Feel, trust, obey”, the main vocalist starts singing “swing your love, swing your love, swing your love, swing it” which changes into “sleep along” (sounds like a play on the classic remark “wake up sheeple!”, whenever conspiracy theories are talked about). The changes were so subtle, that they escaped me during my first listens.
Musically, Controlling Crowds ranges from progressive rock tracks to your stereotypical hip-hop background tracks to ambient ballads. It is definitely not an easy to listen album, as it requires you to pay attention to really appreciate and notice the changes and additions to the mood and ambience the group tries to make. This is further made more difficult by the fact that the average track length is about six minutes (ranging from 3.5 minutes up to 10 minutes) and many tracks employ musical repetition to build said atmosphere and to hide the changes made to it. This means, that while listening to the tracks as a background music while walking or driving, it is hard to appreciate them all, yet some songs have a haunting enough theme to still be stuck in your head long after you have stopped listening.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Go crazy, punch a higher floor (FURTHER UPDATED)

I did announce a session at the end of our last meeting but this change of plan is quite obvious - for next Wednesday, let's read Simon Reynolds on Prince...

...and here's some listening to go with it

Also, a different, technical angle by Tom Moon.

NEW! Nestor ja Morna (or this time solely Nestor) presented this selection of rare&unreleased tracks + Prince's 1984 birthday live. And here's more on Camille by Derek Walmsley.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Stop me if you've heard this one before (UPDATE: blind test tracklist, 6 April)

Here's a sprightly little teaser for this week's blind listening session - left that one out as it's probably not that hard to date (and the artist's name might not ring any bells at all) but that eclectic obscure album is well recommended. By inference - the session itself will mostly contain a few big acts doing something rather out-of-character...

...such as...

1) Paul McCartney - Ou Est Le Soleil ("Figure of Eight" SP B-Side, 1989, also on some of the deluxe editions of this album):

(YouTube also has a video clip version but with end cut)

Non-English continued with
2) Gwenno - Stwff ("Y Dydd Olaf" 2015 - did I mention that the album was inspired by Welsh cult sci-fi novel?)

Staying (kind of) Celtic with this one:
3) Chris De Burgh - Sin City ("Far Beyond The Castle Walls" 1974)

Then changing continents:
4) Toyomu - スメケに逢いたい ("Imagining "The Life of Pablo"" 2016 - Kanye West's Arthur Russell-sampling "30 Hours" being imagined allegedly without hearing the... pro-riginal?)

One your parents might know (though unlikely by this track):
5) Czesław Niemen (N. AE) - Mleczna Droga ("Katharsis" 1976)

Staying in Eastern Bloc with an Olympic disco cameo from a UK Christian band (click for back story and the link to the song):
6) Living Sound - Olimpiada-80 (1980, also available on "Давид Тухманов. Звездная песня неба" 2006, which also includes this better-known hi-nrg version)

A different kind of epicness:
7) Bo Hansson - The Black Riders & Flight to the Ford (De svarta riddarna / Flykten till vadstället)  ("Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings" 1972)

More synth wizardry by an erstwhile Frank Zappa sidekick, latterday jazz/funk/disco king:
8) George Duke - Nigerian Numberuma ("The Inner Source" 1973)

 ...and the closer, Russo/Estonian lounge with Maria Faust connection:
9) Dzuma – Lift Porno ("Dreambox" 2002) is not available online yet, so I'll play it in my Fantaasia radio show on Friday 10 pm, Klassikaraadio, consequently providing the link to it... (the video on YouTube is mistitled, it's actually "Letter From Tokyo" from the same album)