In the past year, Karin Dreijer Andersson of Swedish electro duo the Knife scared the bejesus out of everyone with the strange and brilliant sounds of her debut solo album made under the name Fever Ray – not to mention a recent rather weird acceptance at a Swedish awards ceremony (tinyurl. com/yg7a2ol). She also found time, though, for a return to the Knife fold to create music for an opera about Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species'. Called 'Tomorrow, in a Year', it was commissioned by Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma and first staged in September. Now the studio- recorded soundtrack made by the Knife with the aid of experimental musicians Mt Sims and Planningtorock has been released. The physical CD version doesn't arrive until March but it is already available digitally at rabidrecords.com and is also streaming at theknife.net. The music is suitably weird and bizarre, but also rather spectacular and just plain great. I'm going to make a bold prediction and suggest that it's probably the best avant-garde "Darwin electro-opera" most of us will hear all year.
In at the harp end
Enjoyment of Joanna Newsom lives or dies by your predilection for the harp and that oddly high-pitched voice. Her harp-meets-avant-garde- meets- alt-folk sound has long been a favourite with critics and fans. While I've liked some of her music, I can't say I'm fully converted. Regardless, it will be interesting to hear Newsom's new LP, 'Have One on Me'. Released on 23 February, it's a triple album, which you don't get very often. Her label has streamed two songs from the mammoth record at dragcity.com. One of these, "Good Intentions Paving Company", is harpless and quite a departure for Newsom: it's a brilliant piano-led effort.
Maybe I'll be a true believer yet.
LCD line up UK tour
James Murphy, the brains behind LCD Soundsystem, continues to write long, humorous and quite rambling dispatches on his band's MySpace blog, tinyurl.com/ykpvbur. He's also lined up a UK tour in April. Both point towards a new album, which is due to arrive in April or May. Also presaging the LP is a video-blog series from Murphy and his cohorts, shot from their studio-come-mansion in LA, which we are informed is "fucking awesome", vimeo.com/lcdsoundsystem.
Is Latin the new language of rock?
Columbia's Aterciopelados didn't win a Grammy on Sunday but their nomination for Best Latin Rock Album pointed to a greater interest in modern Columbian music, with artists mixing rock and pop with the country's more traditional genres, such as cumbia. The radio show Studio360 reported on this music, listen at tinyurl.com/yj9hksj, while on their blog they compiled a primer to the best new music from Columbia today, tinyurl.com/yzemh54.
Bongo in the Congo
Careering through the streets of Kinshasa, the video for the "Karibu Ya Bintou" is a thrilling evocation of the city, and somewhat surreal too, with fire-eaters, local wrestlers and dancing skeletons thrown into the mix (vimeo.com/8907715). The song, which means "welcome to a life in limbo", is by French African rapper Baloji (baloji.com). His debut album, 'Hotel Impala' told of the rapper's attempts to find his estranged mother in Africa. For his new record 'Kinshasa Succursale' Baloji went to the city and re-recorded his first LP with Congolese musicians. The aforementioned song was made with the acclaimed Konono No. 1 featuring a great riff utilising a likembe, an electric finger piano.