Caught in the Net: The trouble with Monae
Friday 13 August 2010
Janelle Monae has received admiring glances from all sides for her boho-futurist sound, style and general outlook. "Tightrope", the opening single from her acclaimed LP The ArchAndroid, has made a strong bid for the year's best song.
Last week she got further plaudits for the video for her new single, "Cold War". The song is rather good (though it's no "Tightrope") and the video is pretty nice: shot in a single take with Monae's face on a dark background, it's essentially an update on Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" video (including the tear), but with more BPM and higher definition. Watch it at jmonae. com. So far so good, but then she had go and to spoil it all with a bout of overly earnest emoting about the video and its effect on her fans on Twitter (@janellemonae). It was like some horrible combination of a Kate Winslet Oscar acceptance and The Oprah Winfrey Show. I fear we will never be able to consider Janelle in the same way again.
Squelchy bass from Squarepusher
Later this month the UK electronica artist Squarepusher will team up with the French label Ed Banger to release a new EP. Called "Cryptic Motion", the two-track release is billed as "Squarepusher presents Shobaleader One". I'm not entirely sure what that's all about, but regardless, the first track is a squelchy, bass-driven dash of electro-funk, while the second tune is a more frenetic remix by Mr Oizo. Both take a little getting used to, but there are some nice sounds in there. They are streaming on Soundcloud at ind.pn/bOcCwR.
Concentrate on a free download
Sticking to a squelchy bass-driven electro-funk theme, at the start of the week Dam-Funk marked the end of his European tour by putting a link on Twitter (@damfunk) to a new free download. The track, "Concentration", is a previously unreleased, seven-minute long demo. Get it at ind.pn/d4r1Ex. It's a minimalist electro-funk jam, full of repetitive beats and smooth, barely-there synths. The sort of music that should soundtrack a nocturnal drive through a seedy stretch of Dam-Funk's native LA streets.
The Portland resident Liz Harris is the face behind Grouper. She makes music of quiet beauty that jumps between spare acoustic tracks and washes of ambient sounds, all shot through with her hushed vocal tones. Her latest effort is "Hold/Sick", a limited edition 7" vinyl and download release through Room 40. It's available from 6 October at room40.org. The first song "Hold" is streaming there already. On it, with vocals low-down in the mix, she coos softly over waves of gorgeous yet stark synths and electronic noises.
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