Hype. Probably worth it for these forthcoming titles.

August 26, 2011

Sometimes. Not quite as often as I’d like to, or used to. But sometimes. I like to play video games. And after a quiet summer – one of the most barren summers I can recall for new games – the schedule is beginning to bulge again (Deus Ex came yesterday – goodbye, weekend). So, for no reason other than looking at trailers for games is a good way to kill a few minutes before it’s time to hit the homeward commute, here are a few big titles due out between now and Christmas.

Gears of War 3 (due September 29)

Batman: Arkham City (due October 21)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (due November 11)

Rage (due October 7)

Dead Island? I’ve got Left 4 Dead already, thanks.


Loving this right now (right now being the end of August 2011)

August 26, 2011

So much good music, so little time. A kinda digest of what’s been in the ears lately…

Gazelle Twin – This girl’s got an album out now, called The Entire City (a ‘proper’ physical release is due on September 5). After some initial hesitancy I’m now pretty enraptured by her work. Think Fever Ray – albeit Fever Ray from the British seaside.

Gazelle Twin – I Am Shell I Am Bone

Nazca Lines – This Seattle outfit reminds me of loads of great post-hardcore bands I loved in the late 90s and early 00s (At the Drive-In, Hot Snakes, Fugazi). Their second album, Hyperventilation, just came out on the Stressed Sumo label and I covered it for the BBC here.

Nazca Lines – Bones In Boxes

Vondelpark – London/Surrey trio on the rise, Vondelpark are all dusky after-party vibes and post-chill ambiance. Their latest EP, nyc stuff and nyc bags, is reviewed over here. They manage to say a lot without doing a great deal. Props to Ghostpoet for tipping this lot my way.

Vondelpark – Camels

Stumbleine – More music in the vein of something half-remembered from a night out you never had. Sean Adams of DrownedinSound.com fame posted a link to this guy’s Soundcloud on my Facebook page a few days ago; I didn’t leave said collection of tracks for about three hours. Sounds like a hundred other things, but brilliantly so rather than in a derivative sense. Pop it in your cans and lose yourself for four.

Stumbleine – Ember

Hudson Mohawke – If you don’t know about this fella, make it a mission to do so. Get everything. He’s got one album out already, Butter, and his latest EP, Satin Panthers (review), keeps finding its way to the top of my iTunes. One reason: it’s the best five-tracker of 2011. The track below: so rude.

Hudson Mohawke – Thunder Bay

Of course there’s loads more. But take that five and run with it. Should keep you sweaty a while.


Space: evidently the place (for new music videos)

August 25, 2011

So it seems. Following Other Lives‘ wonderful video for their track For 12, British newcomers Breton have gone all sci-fi for The Commission, a preview for their debut album for FatCat, due in early 2012.

Breton – The Commission

Other Lives – For 12

Other Lives’ Tamer Animals album is reviewed at the BBC now – so click here to read about one of the year’s best LPs to date.


A few words on Polinski’s Labyrinths

August 10, 2011

Labyrinths

I’ve long been a fan of Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic (since day one – well, their very first ‘proper’ release, the Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP), so when I was asked to write some bio/PR words for the band’s Paul Wolinski’s debut solo album – released under the name Polinski (see what he’s done there?), I was thrilled. (Though I did also write similar words for the last 65days album, the mighty fine We Were Exploding Anyway.) As it turns out, though, the words I sent over to Monotreme HQ aren’t to be used in the campaign for Labyrinths – cover art, above. So they’re here, instead! Such a good album – ready your ears now for its October 31 release.

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Electronic music moves almost as fast as the sound that frees itself from speaker cones in sweaty bunkers and heaving arenas the world over. Accessibility of technology has enabled a multitude of effectively bedroom-based musicians to rise to public prominence; and behind their banks of MIDIs and MPCs, Technics and Denons, they remain anonymous to many. The mutations that play out, they do so with such minute shifts in pitch and pace that, on any given dancefloor, a multitude of micro-genres will play out over the course of a single hour.

But Polinski is different. He looks backwards to stride forwards, actively engaging with nostalgia to summon forth music from an era in dance development that many a contemporary producer wasn’t any kind of age to appreciate at the time. And he’s far from faceless, too, having spent the past ten years as a member of one of the UK’s most phenomenal live bands, 65daysofstatic.

Mask lifted – well, never worn – Paul Wolinski’s debut solo album arrives following four critically acclaimed long-players and a raft of EPs from his with-colleagues calling. And fans of said outfit will click instantly of some of what’s on offer across Labyrinths: the sweeping circuit-boards-ablaze cries of ‘Kressyda’, the piano-pitched-into-pandemonium of ‘Tangents’. But while there is an echo of familiarity to (some of) these tracks, an inevitability born of shared personnel, it dares to venture into territories that Wolinski has never explored as part of an ensemble.

“This is the album I daydreamed of writing when I was 15,” says its maker. “I was wrapped up in sci-fi, in the soundtracks to games on the Spectrum and the Amiga, and bands like Orbital, Underworld and The Prodigy.” Truly, Wolinki’s – Polinski’s – dreams have been fantastically realised. The title of this set’s opener, ‘1985-Quest’, establishes a tone before a note has been heard; and, quite brilliantly, the on-paper promise of flashes of 16-bit symphonies accompanying digitised superheroes across a 14” screen in a teenage bedroom is wonderfully delivered. This is John Carpenter as heard in the heads of The Chemical Brothers; Psygnosis sleeves brought to life with synesthesic brilliance. It’s music for a jilted generation that grew up, got jobs and forgot how to lose themselves in a moment, only to rediscover the joy to be had in such release courtesy of a collection that simply doesn’t compromise.

But although Labyrinths might well leave one breathless, it doesn’t run blindly into the past without acknowledging the dramatic evolution that’s occurred since dance music exited planet club and began orbiting wider audiences courtesy of a considerable crossover in the 1990s (‘Firestarter’, anyone?). Wolinski isn’t indulging himself at the expense of the listener, so catchy motifs bearing comparable similarities to chart-bothering producers can be discovered amongst the well-nuanced noise. Naming no names, but the silken synth hook of ‘Still Looking’ might just stir thoughts of one Dizzee-collaborating Scotsman. But at the other end of the electronic spectrum, traces of IDM’s glory years can be heard in the enveloping glitch of closer ‘Awaltzoflight’.

But it’s the man himself who can sum up this remarkable solo adventure better than anyone else. “I’ve become confident, after a decade with 65days, that even if I am expressing ideas that others have previously expressed, I’m doing so through my mouth. Which isn’t quite the shape of any other mouth.” So, the assimilated assumes a fresh identity, reconceived as a whole that is both evocative of the past and singularly striking in its own right in 2011. 65days might have conquered the world, thrilling festivals from continent to continent, but now it’s personal. Man to man, eye to eye, human heart to robotic pulse. Polinski hasn’t reinvented the rulebook, but he’s found a whole new way to interpret it.

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Sometimes I’m just too bloody wordy. #idiotme

A video preview/mix for Labyrinths can be seen below; find Polinski online here.

LABYRINTHS from polinski on Vimeo.