When artists Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor harmonize their sounds under the moniker Azure Ray, listeners have come to expect a dreamy essence to the pop duo’s sound but on their forthcoming six-song EP, As Above So Below, Fink and Taylor take Azure Ray into an alternate universe. The dream-like quality remains, but these songs are almost eerie-sounding, far more electronic, minimalist and sonically rich. The album is inspired by parallel realities that seem cruelly just out of reach when lulled into a state of calm by their honeyed and wispy vocals, as though the words float above you like clouds your hands will never grasp.
Another year has ended; another list has been compiled. Often I get this feeling that in 100 years, all that will remain of today’s pop culture will be a number of well-thought-out lists. While many critics are driven to paroxysms at the thought of another year-end list, the fact is that they are essential to annual retrospective analysis. There is a feeling of security and consistency in ‘Best Of’ lists; inasmuch as one can feel safe in the presence of a numerically-ordered selection of things. But in truth, the rapid acceleration of technology and the advent of social media has completely changed the way humans organize their internal thoughts. We no longer think in prose, or even full sentences; we think in lists.
James Blake is pleased to release the video that accompanies his beautiful rendition of Joni Mitchell‘s ‘A Case of You’. Shot in London last week, it was directed by film-maker Seb Edwards and features his first choice actress for the role, Rebecca Hall (The Prestige / Vicky, Cristina Barcelona / Frost/Nixon). It turns out she’s both a fan of Joni Mitchell and particularly James’s version, so she jumped at the chance to be involved.
The concept of Sankofa is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Afrika.”Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated. Thus, Sankofa Music Series will examine our modern roots and the early influences of rock music in the hope that we can carry them forward in the creation of something new. Today’s subject is Joni Mitchell.
With a Mercury Music Prize nomination and sales of more than 200k worldwide for his eponymous debut LP under his belt, James Blake returns with ‘Enough Thunder’, a 6 track EP fronted by iconic imagery captured during his revelatory Glastonbury performance in June.
Alongside four original compositions are the now infamous cover of Joni Mitchell‘s ‘A Case Of You’ and James’ collaboration with Bon Iver, currently averaging well over 100k youtube plays per day since it’s world premier on BBC R1 last week. We watched James perform “A Case Of You” live at the Troubadour. It was a spectacular rendition.
Strip it down. Strip it all down to a basic function, something mathematical and quantifiable. Are there certain sights or sounds that stimulate the brain more than others? Maybe there are beats and rhythms that particularly excite the cranial muscle? How about specific note clusters and melodies that soothe it? What is the effect on forward melody when a counter melody played backwards is introduced? How wide a range of time signatures can the human brain follow and comprehend? And what happens when you introduce light and color to this mix? One can only reason that the overall effect might be of enormous proportion.
By Lukas Clark-Memler
Pop music will eat itself. Through commoditization and planned obsolescence, the self-cannibalization of populist music is something that cannot be avoided. Thus, purveyors of pop must attempt to transcend the genre, in order to avoid obscurity. Countless pop sub-genres have come and gone in the past few decades – rode the waves of hype, then died out as quickly as they came (disco, grunge, chillwave). But since pop has been prophesized to end in an implosion of Biblical proportions, it makes sense to distance oneself as far as possible from the musical black hole.