News Round-Up: 10/2/17

Tributes paid to legendary composer David Axelrod. Details of Korg Gadget for Mac announced. AIAIAI launch Discovery headphone service.

RIP David Axelrod. You might not immediately know the name, but this multi-instrumentalist and composer’s vast discography is one of the most pillaged of all time. Everyone from J Dilla to DJ Shadow has reached for samples of his jazz, funk and soul work, and to that end Who Sampled have explored his fine legacy, here. Check out Benji B’s tribute mix above.

Korg’s Gadget gets firm release. The all-in-one software studio will be released on February 28th for an introductory price of $199, going up to a full price of $299 at a later date. Find out more in the video above and read the full details here.
FL Studio update for Mac soon come? They have been teasing for a while, but the team behind much-loved production software FL Studio seem to be getting closer to releasing an updated version of the putative Mac version of the DAW, currently in alpha testing. The company is asking for “a little about your machines and how they work”. Fill out the survey here, then keep your eyes peeled for a proper release date on future updates. A beta version is due imminently according to Image-Line.
Configure your AIAIAIs. The headphone company have linked with Spotify and Moodagent to analyse listener tastes and habits, using the info to add a new function to their website that, when coupled with sound profile information of AIAIAI modular combinations, suggests the ideal TMA-2 headphone configuration. Head to AIAIAI’s website to test it out.
New KLF material. Having recently teased us about some sort of return to action, the stadium house veterans now come through with a new book. Entitled 2023: A Trilogy, it is a "utopian costume drama, set in the near future, written in the recent past". Read Thump’s news on the matter here. http://ift.tt/1UBq9jI

Lupe Fiasco – Drogas Light

104441

‘Fiasco’ sounds about right. It certainly offers a quick capsule method in which to describe the wildly scattershot first taste of a previously abandoned trilogy in favour of apparently divine-signaled retirement announced in the wake of anti-Semitism accusations. Got all that?

Press release gold if nothing else and yet the accompanying notes for Drogas Light go hard on Lupe Fiasco hitting his ‘creative peak’ as words like ‘genius’ and ‘legacy’ are bandied about. Fair enough, the furore that emerged following the release of his ‘N.E.R.D.’ freestyle in December – offending lyric in question: ”Artist gettin’ robbed for their publishing by dirty Jewish execs that think his aims from the covenant” – was unlikely to result in a shrewd marketing campaign even if Lupe didn’t seem to appreciate that the days of putting out a track like ‘No Vaseline’ and it not bringing a career to a screeching halt are long over.

The knee-jerk decision to take his ball and go home shouldn’t have surprised anybody, given this isn’t the first time he’s threatened to hang it up. His is a most frustrating case – an artist of undeniable skill who never quite hit his potential but is nonetheless still capable of unearthing diamonds. 2015’s Tetsuo & Youth, for instance, is a considered work packed with both lyrical dexterity and cutting social commentary, most notably displayed on sobering short stories ‘Mural’ and ‘Deliver’.

Drogas Light on the other hand is… well, it’s hard to tell, to be honest. Is it the first of a laser-focused three-part story and thus very deliberate foundations? Is it the distillation of a multi-layered epic into one flowing narrative? Or is it simply a bunch of leftovers and warmed-up scraps that’ll suffice to meet an ever-shifting deadline? After 14 mostly uninspired tracks, it definitely at least feels like the last one.

A pity, as early signs are at least somewhat promising. Serving as an official intro, ‘Dopamine Lit’ is an effective curtain raiser, all energy and defiant claustrophobia that sets the scene for the more expansive ‘NGL’, itself a controlled flurry that isn’t harmed by the lukewarm background presence of Ty Dolla $ign. Despite it feeling much too early, ‘Promise’ takes things right down, its mix of languid vocals and flat production serving only to anchor the flow after just two tracks. ‘Made In The USA’ is so familiar that it floats by in monotone but at least it picks up the pace.


Praise be, then, for the bizarre ‘JUMP’, a throw-it-all-at-the-wall concoction of pop, rap and trap that finds Lupe Fiasco finally telling a story even if this tale is completely bonkers by design. He finds time to playfully shine meta light, referencing breakout song ‘Superstar’ in a way that should satisfy both lovers and haters. ‘JUMP’ is a ridiculous handful of minutes, and maybe the strongest throughout. ‘Tranquillo’, bolstered by Rick Ross and BIG K.R.I.T., proves a sharp rival, throwing out different but no less intriguing hooks on the kind of effort that proves Lupe can do the sleepy thing but still keep pulses racing.

So why bother with so much obvious filler? ‘City of the Year’ feels like it’s meant to have substance but you won’t find it. The begging ‘Pick Up The Phone’, meanwhile, is an astonishing misstep; the kind of violently saccharine nothing that B.O.B. made his mainstream-bothering Featured Artist name on several years back. If that’s not jarring enough, Drogas Light goes all disco-funk, ushering in its big finish with two knock-off ‘Chic x Timberlake’ gilded affairs before bringing the listener all the way back to the closing credits of an early-Nineties romantic comedy with some played-out R’n’B.

Quite the mess all told. The second part of a trilogy is often the best though, right?

![104441](http://ift.tt/2l02HDW)

http://ift.tt/2ficmRZ

Lupe Fiasco – Drogas Light

104441

‘Fiasco’ sounds about right. It certainly offers a quick capsule method in which to describe the wildly scattershot first taste of a previously abandoned trilogy in favour of apparently divine-signaled retirement announced in the wake of anti-Semitism accusations. Got all that?

Press release gold if nothing else and yet the accompanying notes for Drogas Light go hard on Lupe Fiasco hitting his ‘creative peak’ as words like ‘genius’ and ‘legacy’ are bandied about. Fair enough, the furore that emerged following the release of his ‘N.E.R.D.’ freestyle in December – offending lyric in question: ”Artist gettin’ robbed for their publishing by dirty Jewish execs that think his aims from the covenant” – was unlikely to result in a shrewd marketing campaign even if Lupe didn’t seem to appreciate that the days of putting out a track like ‘No Vaseline’ and it not bringing a career to a screeching halt are long over.

The knee-jerk decision to take his ball and go home shouldn’t have surprised anybody, given this isn’t the first time he’s threatened to hang it up. His is a most frustrating case – an artist of undeniable skill who never quite hit his potential but is nonetheless still capable of unearthing diamonds. 2015’s Tetsuo & Youth, for instance, is a considered work packed with both lyrical dexterity and cutting social commentary, most notably displayed on sobering short stories ‘Mural’ and ‘Deliver’.

Drogas Light on the other hand is… well, it’s hard to tell, to be honest. Is it the first of a laser-focused three-part story and thus very deliberate foundations? Is it the distillation of a multi-layered epic into one flowing narrative? Or is it simply a bunch of leftovers and warmed-up scraps that’ll suffice to meet an ever-shifting deadline? After 14 mostly uninspired tracks, it definitely at least feels like the last one.

A pity, as early signs are at least somewhat promising. Serving as an official intro, ‘Dopamine Lit’ is an effective curtain raiser, all energy and defiant claustrophobia that sets the scene for the more expansive ‘NGL’, itself a controlled flurry that isn’t harmed by the lukewarm background presence of Ty Dolla $ign. Despite it feeling much too early, ‘Promise’ takes things right down, its mix of languid vocals and flat production serving only to anchor the flow after just two tracks. ‘Made In The USA’ is so familiar that it floats by in monotone but at least it picks up the pace.


Praise be, then, for the bizarre ‘JUMP’, a throw-it-all-at-the-wall concoction of pop, rap and trap that finds Lupe Fiasco finally telling a story even if this tale is completely bonkers by design. He finds time to playfully shine meta light, referencing breakout song ‘Superstar’ in a way that should satisfy both lovers and haters. ‘JUMP’ is a ridiculous handful of minutes, and maybe the strongest throughout. ‘Tranquillo’, bolstered by Rick Ross and BIG K.R.I.T., proves a sharp rival, throwing out different but no less intriguing hooks on the kind of effort that proves Lupe can do the sleepy thing but still keep pulses racing.

So why bother with so much obvious filler? ‘City of the Year’ feels like it’s meant to have substance but you won’t find it. The begging ‘Pick Up The Phone’, meanwhile, is an astonishing misstep; the kind of violently saccharine nothing that B.O.B. made his mainstream-bothering Featured Artist name on several years back. If that’s not jarring enough, Drogas Light goes all disco-funk, ushering in its big finish with two knock-off ‘Chic x Timberlake’ gilded affairs before bringing the listener all the way back to the closing credits of an early-Nineties romantic comedy with some played-out R’n’B.

Quite the mess all told. The second part of a trilogy is often the best though, right?

![104441](http://ift.tt/2l02HDW)

http://ift.tt/2ficmRZ

Clock Opera’s Track By Track Guide to Venn

104440

A darker beast than their 2012 debut Ways To Forget, the distinctive sound of Clock Opera — the agile alto voices, a sleek and supple rhythm section, immaculate production — is still present, but there’s a marked shift in lyrical tone. A lot of the album is about loss, absence, holes, haunting, and questioning identity. To be specific, the majority of the songs were inspired by a miscarriage, and a lot of the others were driven by the fallout from it. Although a darkly cerebral and grief-ridden record in theme, Venn is as uplifting as it is sinister, and ghostly, menacing, and euphoric in equal measure.


In Memory

I spent a lot of the time writing this album feeling enveloped in fog, so when we made these samples it resonated with me at once. Our first album was sonically busy and we wanted to step away from that. It’s about being judged on who you are vs what you were vs what you were expected to be vs what you might end up being. Pretty easy to get lost on those paths, especially if your compass if already spinning. Also, I was thinking about how we are collectively undergoing a transition from memory held in individual and societal brains to an online consciousness. Obviously, we’re not all robot husks just yet, but a lot more of what we ‘know’ doesn’t live in our brains any more and it’s a trajectory that I expect to continue. Kind of relates to our first album title (Ways To Forget). Most people go a long way in order to forget things, me included, and I think we’re getting what we asked for.

Changeling

After a long period of writing ideas & songs that didn’t satisfy us, this appeared. I started using a virtual 4 track i.e. I let myself have only four usable tracks on my computer rather than the usual unlimited supply. I also had the rule of only allowing one sound to occur on each track, chopped up a phone recording of some church bells I made whilst on our last European tour, on a day off somewhere in Germany. Added basic drum & a synth line and then sang most of the eventual lyric and melody using scraps I’d written from some automatic writing that morning. We refined the song a lot over the next couple of years, but kept that original nub, which we all responded to immediately and knew a new door had opened, a way out. It was written days after my partner and I discovered we’d had a miscarriage, when I was numb and shocked, struggling to differentiate waking hours from dream. Previously I’ve taken a long time to respond to an event in my life in song, accepting that’s how my creative brain works. But this came out very quickly after, when the event hadn’t finished happening yet.

Closer

This was written about how quickly paranoia can turn to conflict, under the guise of misguided self-protection. Being at war in your own house. At the lowest point, turning on each other. In order to fire at/attack/turn on someone, do you need to consider yourself fundamentally different to them? Doubt leads to suspicion leads to fighting leads towards freefalling towards being in opposition. More recently a connection has emerged about how, when that small scale process is unchecked and magnified by access to enormous power, it can escalate into something else entirely, something terrifying. You might end up with a man who says, on his second day in presidential office: “I can understand the other side. We can all understand the other side. There can be wars between countries. There can be wars. You can understand what happened. This is something nobody could even understand…And the generals are wonderful and the fighting is wonderful. But if you give them the right direction? Boy, does the fighting become easier. And boy do we lose so fewer lives, and win so quickly. And that’s what we have to do. We have to start winning again."

Whippoorwill

Lonely song. Wrote in an empty house when stuck in a loop, can’t escape feeling something is missing. Fairground being set up in the park I can see from my window. Came out all at once.

Hear My Prayer

From an inability to let go to relinquishing control. Letting an outside force take control when I couldn’t. I had a (very rational, sober) friend who once saw an intense light source from Hampstead Heath, which then moved about the sky with great speed in an unnaturally rigid pattern of movement, then flew off at unbelievable speed. I also had a brief religious period in my early teens. Both of these unlikely sources fed the song.

Ready Or Not

If you have nothing to hide…pigeonholing, the need to fall within acceptable boundaries, socially, nationally. The movement towards the illegality of hiding anything, ownership of your own body, images, online identities, the small print. Pretty Orwellian I guess, initially inspired by the movement of the Right To Be Forgotten, but feels pretty current to me.

Dervish

The most actively political song on record. Inspired by the famous image of the Turkish dancing dervish in a gas mask; Occupy Wall Street protesters occupying a TV set reproduction of their dismantled tent village a few years ago (‘We Are A Movement, Not A TV Plot’); disobedient objects in general.

Cat’s Eyes

Loss of sense of self. We only meet at our intersection. Coming out the other side, having started to overcome the loss I had come to define myself by and not knowing who I was. I reminded myself of a science experiment I once did. You can blow air at an insect in a harness to make it think it’s flying, then fire a strobe to make it appear to be flying in very slow motion. Around then, I was pretty obsessed with life cycles too. The flying stage of the mayfly lasts for twenty-four hours. Hence the line ‘I’m a mayfly caught in a strobe’. Requires a bit of unpicking, I realise.

Tooth & Claw

Regained power, pretty simple and strident. What will you stop at to regain a feeling you need to experience again?

When We Disappear

Venn took a really long time to write, much longer than we hoped or expected. This song existed throughout the whole period, morphing through about ten variations. Other ideas came and went but I couldn’t let go of the heart of this one. Partly inspired by passing of a couple of people. My friend’s dad was the A of the ABC in the 70s and I was inspired to learn more of his life story when he died. So I guess the song is kind of a death lament. What and who makes a mark? Does it matter if we do? Acts like a bookend to other songs which mark the loss of one who never had the chance to make a ripple in anyone’s lives but ours. I’m a drop in the ocean, I’m an ear on the plain, Are we the ones we’ve been waiting for?


Venn by Clock Opera is out on Friday 10 February via League Of Imaginary Nations/!K7. For more information on the band, including upcoming tour dates, please visit their official website.

![104440](http://ift.tt/2kZWQP1)

http://ift.tt/2ficmRZ

DiS Meets Chris Olley from Six By Seven

104436

Later this month the original line-up of Six By Seven – Chris Olley (vocals/guitars), Sam Hempton (guitar), Paul Douglas (bass), James Flower (keyboards) and Christian Davis (drums) – will share a stage for the first time in nearly seventeen years for an in-store show at Nottingham’s Rough Trade venue on 22nd February. Essentially a warm-up for the two proper shows they’re playing at Nottingham’s Maze and London’s Garage venues on the 4th and 11th March respectively. The first of which will see the band perform their second album The Closer You Get in full to coincide with a vinyl reissue and retrospective Best Of CD that comes out on 17th February.

Last week, DiS visited Chris Olley at his home and spent a couple of hours discussing Six By Seven and the making of The Closer You Get, the music industry and his adopted city of Nottingham.

It’s seventeen years since The Closer You Get came out yet it still sounds quite relevant today. Were you conscious of making something back then that would go on to be so timeless? 2000 was a pretty barren time for music and that album felt like a breath of fresh air.

It wasn’t a great time for music. That’s one thing I can’t really get my head round because things have changed so much. If you were an alternative band like we were you didn’t really have a chance to play to a lot of people. I remember going to see bands like Spiritualized, Mercury Rev, Sonic Youth and Pavement and about 200 people were there. If that. I remember going to Rock City to see Dr Phibes And The House Of Wax Equations – I’ve still got the ticket – and there must have been about 150 people there. In the main room. We used to go over to Derby a lot to watch bands. Places like the Wherehouse and the Dial. Nottingham didn’t have a great live scene back then. Bands either played Rock City or the Old Angel. There was no in between. There was no place for up and coming bands to play. It was such a different time and it was difficult. The way we saw it was like this; if you were in a band like we were you either followed what the music industry wanted you to be. So for example, when The White Stripes broke through record labels were literally falling over themselves to tell bands to get rid of their bass player. And it was no coincidence that suddenly a load of bands started appearing with no bass player.

Post-Oasis there was this signing frenzy for bands like Embrace. What happens then is it gets snapped up and sold then diluted. Then it fades away. Then a new maverick somehow slips through the net that no one is expecting and we’re onto the next thing. To us, the industry looked like it was following itself. Because we’d just done our first album and toured it, then played on Jools Holland, it didn’t feel like a real thing. What we thought it would be was not how it turned out to be. As the lyricist, I voiced that in the songs. It wasn’t just me. The whole band were feeling like that too. When I came out with stuff like ‘Eat Junk Become Junk’ it was no surprise to them because that’s how they were feeling. The industry was chasing bands like Gay Dad, and I don’t know if they were concocted just to extort money but to us it was frustrating.

So we were making The Closer You Get and the label and publishers were saying it sounded great yet we knew enough about the music industry to know that we’d probably get a load of good reviews. But it’s not the quality of the review that counts. It’s the size of the review. So the fact you were on page three of the reviews page with a fantastic five star review is insignificant compared to Gay Dad who were on the lead page. We’d see these sort of bands getting so much publicity and it felt like everyone was taking the piss. We didn’t necessarily want that. We wanted our records to be angry and vitriolic and misanthropic. Talk about success and what a commodity it is and the fact it’s a junk culture.

What’s also interesting about The Closer You Get are the number of direct references to Nottingham many people from outside the city may not have picked up on. ‘Slab Square’ and ‘100 & Something Foxhall Road’ for instance.

I did that on purpose. I put as many references in as I felt were needed without becoming too overtly localized. What I wanted to do was put in things people from Nottingham would understand. Basically, I wanted the band to sound particular and insular, rocking out from an island of its own making. Initially we were going to record the album somewhere else, in South Cornwall with John Leckie. He was lined up to do the whole record, so we said to him we’re going to stay in Nottingham because it’s our town and we don’t want anything going on around us. We’d just been on tour, we wanted to be at home and the studio here is fantastic. We can walk to it. We were fed up of staying in residential studios and being in strange places, so John said OK but we were already in the studio doing it. And John had stuff to do with Muse at the time so just came up when he could. He came up on two occasions so he recorded other stuff with us as well that didn’t go on the album. He recorded my favourite Six By Seven song ‘Always Waiting For…’ which ended up on an EP but it was all part of The Closer You Get sessions. So it was important for me to put in a couple of references to the town I was living in at the exclusion of everything else.

Whose idea was it to get the original line-up back together for the two shows you’re playing in March, and was it hard getting everyone on board?

It was the record label’s idea. If you’ve got a live working band you’ll sell three times as many records. Also, it gives you a lot more to hang the release on. It wakens up press and radio. There’s a show. There’s stuff going on. What happened was Lesley (Bleakley, Beggars Banquet) came up from London so I met her at the railway station. We had lunch at the Pitcher And Piano and talked about what the record would be. And the first thing she said was do you think we can do some gigs? And I knew she’d ask me that! I was fully expecting her to. So I said I could talk to the boys about doing some gigs but we really need to give them something. The band has reformed in the past and we’ve gone out and played to 30 people. It’s heartbreaking. We’re just completely fed up of doing a full on Six By Seven show at the Exeter Cavern to literally 15 people. Then all 15 of them come up to us in tears and say why aren’t you headlining Glastonbury? We’re just fed up of it. We’ve had enough. Everybody in the band has reached a point where it’s no longer viable to play to that many people. You just can’t do it. It was the label’s idea, and then it was me that went to the rest of the guys and said they’re gonna bring out a record, and if we give them a couple of shows it will make it even better. And everyone said yeah.

With Six By Seven still being a going concern, did any of the current members who weren’t part of the band back then feel aggrieved that they wouldn’t be involved in these shows?

Pete Stevenson who plays in Six By Seven now is too nice for that. This is about reforming that line-up and doing two shows for helping with the marketing of that record. Pete’s alright with that. It’s not about me or him. It’s about The Closer You Get being re-released and the band doing a couple of shows to hang around it.

You’re only booked to play two shows at the moment. The Maze in Nottingham on 4th March and The Garage in London on 11th. Will there be any more shows later on in the year?

No.

The Maze is billed as primarily The Closer You Get played in full whereas the one at the Garage is a "Best Of" show. How will the sets pan out on the evening? Will there be more than one set at either show?

The one at the Maze will be a "Best Of" to start with and then we’re going to play The Closer You Get in full. Because we did this through Kickstarter ourselves we decided to play ten songs of our choice then go off stage for a break, come back and play the album in full. In London we’ll be playing a much shorter set where we’ll shuffle things around and maybe add a few bits. It will be completely different from the show in Nottingham. London will be more like a greatest hits show, whereas the one in Nottingham will be drawing material from the first three, mainly first two albums.

Why did you choose those particular venues?

We could have probably played a much bigger venue in Nottingham. But me and Ric (Peet) who produced The Closer You Get have got a little studio space above The Maze. We know them and they’re really great people down there, so I said to Gaz (Peacham) who runs the venue how many does it hold? And he said 200, so I said let’s do it here, keep it really small and intimate.

Was it difficult revisiting some of those songs on The Closer You Get again, both from a personal and rehearsal perspective?

There’s some songs off that record we didn’t play live. Also, the idea of playing an album in its entirety was not really something we ever thought about doing back when we released music. We just used to make an album then go on tour. I think the band in the rehearsal room was totally different to what it was live. We never once came up with the idea that we should play an album in its entirety. Mainly because the way it’s listed and the way it’s put together is for the benefit of the record it goes on. When we signed our record deal it was just that – a record deal. It was for a minimum of eight tracks lasting no less than thirty-four minutes spread across two sides of a plastic sound carrier. Which from here-on-in shall be called "the record". I don’t know if you know much about making vinyl but when the needle gets towards the middle of a record you lose bass. Generally, you put your favourite song first then your singles around the third place. The second to last song on side two is called the boneyard. That’s normally where you find the drummer’s songs. If you have a look at any record by The Police you’ll find whenever Stewart Copeland wrote a song it was always in the boneyard. If you have five tracks on each side it will always be in the fourth on side two. It’s the least memorable slot on a record.

The Kickstarter target wasn’t reached for the London show so DHP came in and promoted the show instead. They’ve been a focal part of Nottingham’s live music scene for some time. What’s your relationship like with them? Do you think they’ve had a positive influence on the city?

They seem to have a monopoly on the city’s music scene, but quite rightly. They started Rock City in 1980 and it’s a legendary venue. It’s right up there with CBGBs for me. It’s like we were saying earlier about going to Derby Wherehouse in the early 90s to see the fringe bands. DHP addressed that by opening the Bodega and the Rescue Rooms. I remember when the Rescue Rooms was just a horrible sports bar. Now we’ve got venues of all shapes and sizes, it’s absolutely fantastic. They’ve opened up venues in this city and made music come to town.

Going back to that Kickstarter, it was more of a publicity stunt than a failure. I did that on purpose. I set the bar incredibly high to £10,000 and what I wanted to do was generate a bit of ill feeling. What was great about it was it clearly worked because I suddenly had people emailing me and going on to my blog. Also commenting on Facebook that they thought it was outrageous we should get paid £10,000 to do a show. I just thought how brilliant is that? All I did was write to people and say we’re not asking for £10,000. We’re asking for £20 a ticket which is a reasonable price for what we’re going to give you and pretty much what bands charge now. And we’re trying to sell 500 tickets so that makes £10,000 net. But then we’ve got to pay the venue and all the rest of it. What was brilliant was so many people didn’t like the idea of us making £10,000. It didn’t sit well with them. On Kickstarter you have to write what it is you want the money for and I put rehearsals. And there were people writing: "How dare you demand money to pay for your rehearsals!" What I find amazing is how artists are frowned upon if you make a living. Even if you sell all 500 tickets at £20 each, by the time we’ve paid Kickstarter fees, the venue, people to run the door, the band to go into a rehearsal room… these are all costs. Now the very people who were writing to us and saying: "I think it’s outrageous you’re asking this amount of money to do one show", they’re probably earning a fixed rate and paying a mortgage which is probably more than we’d be getting for doing a load of shows.

The same people who’d rather download music for free from torrent sites than pay £0.79 from iTunes.

There’s another can of worms. Is it the culture now to download music for free? The whole thing we were singing about on ‘Eat Junk Become Junk’ back then is relatable to this. You have to remember back then it was the time of Tony Blair. Everyone had a credit card and was spending money they didn’t have. The age of boom and bust was over. It was about to bust much quicker than they thought. It was the onset of greed and the time when the internet was just waking up to destroy the music industry. And we were very much in the middle of that. It’s alright for Elton John’s wages to drop down from £8 million to £3 million. It’s obviously bad for him, but he can still survive. When you’re an indie band like Six By Seven with five people and you’re earning £20,000 a year, and then you drop down to £8,000 it’s impossible to carry on. And that’s what was going on at the time. So how many of these people starting downloading music for free? What was good about that Kickstarter campaign was it made people think.

I grew up in Germany, and when I came to England I looked at this country from the viewpoint of an outsider. Germany doesn’t have a class system. The class system they had was destroyed in the first world war. The German mentality is if you’re good at something and work hard, you’ll probably make a buck out of it. In this country if you’re good at something and work hard at it, you’ll probably make a buck if Johnny Ravenscroft is pulling a few strings for you at such and such, and that is the way this country works. It looks to me like a country of middlemen. We are fixated by this idea of protecting our own. I can make a great record like Love And Peace And Sympathy, but that record does not exist in the grand scheme of things. It will only exist if I pay £2,000 to make it exist. The system is in place, and set up by those in place. They make their own establishment, and what they do is look out for their own. They protect themselves. If you want to break through and have that success you have to go through the right route. It will not get played on that radio station, and you will not get interviewed by that person unless it’s coming through the correct channels in the right way. Because if you circumnavigate those channels the people in the middle aren’t going to get paid. Everything I’ve achieved in my life has been through someone I know. It’s been given to me by connections and not on merit. It’s not what I do.

It’s not like sport; you do not get through on merit. In sport for example, you can be as thick as you like. You can be racist. You can be anything. But if you’re absolutely the fastest runner or hardest boxer then you will do it, because a lot of people will make a lot of money out of you. In music and the arts it doesn’t work like that. It is subjective, but then the subjectivity itself comes under scrutiny by the way in which it’s fed through the grinder. So it backfires on itself and you end up with those that play the game becoming successful. Love And Peace And Sympathy is probably a better album than The Closer You Get but no one wants to know about that record. We did a great record called 04 after we got dropped by Beggars Banquet and nobody talked about it. All they talked about was us deciding to carry on after being dropped. We very much felt we’d been kicked out of the club. For me personally it’s been a tough road because I’ve had to accept that. I’ve had to sell everything that I owned to keep making music. The only thing I kept was my guitar, and I even tried to sell that.

You came back with (The Death Of) Six By Seven project in 2012. What preempted that idea?

(The Death Of) Six By Seven was a way of saying we’re not dead.

Sonically it was a huge departure from what people had been accustomed to with Six By Seven. The song structures and arrangements were a lot more stripped down and traditional.

What I wanted to do to try and survive was keep the name alive. And the best way to keep the name alive was to kill it within the title. So that became it’s own brand but it was intrinsically linked to Six By Seven. Imagine a band with Pete Kember in it called (The Death Of) Spacemen 3; you’d be really intrigued. I sat and thought about it and decided that’s what I’m going to do. Then (The Death Of) Six By Seven will be Six By Seven without drums. So that’s what it was. Because music doesn’t become alive until you drag a real drummer onto it. Put a drummer into rock music and the whole thing comes alive. So I decided to create songs that sounded like Six By Seven but without a drummer. If you think about it, with drums those songs would sound more like Six By Seven than Six By Seven do. That’s actually what Love And Peace And Sympathy is.

It was actually supposed to be a collection of (The Death Of) Six By Seven songs but with drums added. But then when the drummer heard these other songs I’d written like ‘Crying’ and ‘Fall Into Your Arms’ he said we’ve got to do these instead. I had a huge argument with him to begin with but then Love And Peace And Sympathy began to take shape. With (The Death Of) Six By Seven I plugged a loop pedal into my guitar, then recorded four minutes of that loop pedal on my eight track. Then I’d write a song over the top of it with an acoustic guitar. Then I’d add a Moog synthesizer, string machine, Hammond organ and bass guitar to it. Finally, I’d take the acoustic guitar out because that is like a percussive thing; when you replace it with an electric guitar you end up with a flat sound. Then I’d start adding Velvet Underground style kick-ride, kick-ride to it. Those were the songs I was writing back then. At the time, I was reduced to just my guitar, my acoustic and my string machine because I had to sell everything. The Moog, it came and went. I’m on my fifth Moog now. The thing about the Moog synthesizer is if you buy it for £500 you can sell it for £500. It never depreciates. It’s like a Rolls Royce. So I’d buy the Moog then the car would break down and we’d have to sell the Moog to pay for the car to be fixed. So I’d spend eight months saving up for a new Moog then something else would happen and we’d have to sell it again! (The Death Of) Six By Seven was pragmatic. It was trying to link to the name, trying to kill the name, trying to be ironic in the sense that it’s dead but it isn’t.

Will there be another Six By Seven record?

I’m working on one at the moment. In fact, before I met you today I was working on a new (The Death Of) Six By Seven record. I’m going to change (The Death Of) Six By Seven into something a bit more otherworldly. I’ve been working on a couple of tracks which I’m just about to upload on my blog and give away in secret. I’ve started making these Barbara Kruger style visuals with cryptic messages on them that people can hover over, and if they click on them it might give them something for free. At the moment I’m actually working on one that says "Trust me! Click me!"

Are there any new artists that you would recommend Drowned In Sound and its readers should check out?

I find that the most interesting new music is on the peripheral and under the radar. That’s often more interesting musically because it doesn’t pander to what the industry wants.

Do you see or hear any bands in Nottingham at the moment that were clearly influenced by Six By Seven?

I Am Lono. I’ve been hassling them to join that band for months. The problem is if you’re Chris Olley from Six By Seven you can’t join another band! No one lets you in because they think you’re just going to take over. So I keep saying to them I’ll just shut up and play the guitar! I think they’re just brilliant. They have all my favourite music rolled into one; Suicide, early Cure, Joy Division, Killing Joke. They’ve got all those sounds. The singer’s absolutely brilliant. He’s a great singer and he plays this string machine on everything that takes over the sound. It’s absolutely fantastic. There are other great bands in Nottingham as well. There’s so many. What’s interesting is twenty-three years ago when Six By Seven first started, we were the only band in Nottingham making that kind of music. What we found was every single band around us was trying to get signed to Earache. Silencer, Bob Tilton, Pitchshifter, Hard To Swallow. There were all these bands, and the only places to play were either the Narrow Boat or the Old Angel. There was nowhere else to play. Everything was rooted in post-hardcore or leaning towards the rock kind of side. Whereas we were into bands like Spacemen 3, Can, and Neu! Those bands we used to play endless gigs with weren’t like that. Yet after a while we became part of their scene and they began to respect us.

Do you think Six By Seven’s longevity is down to the fact you never really fitted into a scene or genre?

What you have to do is analyse why we are here. I read a review in Uncut the other day that said they didn’t deserve to become Radiohead but they didn’t deserve to be forgotten either. When I hear the word "deserve" I think of the end of ‘The Unforgiven’ where Clint Eastwood is holding a gun over Gene Hackman and he’s about to kill him, and Gene Hackman goes, "I didn’t deserve to die like this. I was building a house." And Clint Eastwood replies, "Deserve has got nothing to do with it" and he blows his brains out. When I read that it made me think why are we here? Is it not because I’ve refused to give up? That’s a big part of it. People don’t want to hear another album. Maybe you do and about 400 other people. They’re the only people I’ve managed to keep. There are no more. You mustn’t be fooled. There is no longevity. The Closer You Get happened years ago. It was that band led by me talking about the world it was living in back then. I’ve never stopped making The Closer You Get. I’m doing it at the moment. I did it with The Things We Make and The Way I Feel Today and every record I’ve made since. I’ve never stopped. The trouble with me is I can’t do anything but carry on. That’s why we’re here. There is no Six By Seven. There’s only these two shows and this album. But there is me carrying on with what I was always doing. Unfortunately, because I’m not part of the system – and I think the system now recognises that I don’t really want to be – it would take a very brave label to sign me because I’m only going to do it exactly how I want to. If I want to give some of my music away for free and they don’t like it we are immediately at loggerheads and the relationship falls to bits. From now on Six By Seven will be what I want it to be.

Are record labels really that important in 2017?

When we first started we had to get a record deal, we had to go through that route. What did the record label do? They paid for the recording but then they only did that so they owned the copyright. That was a two-way thing that worked in their favour. Then they promised you they’d exploit your music to the best of their ability. They’d get it out there through their contacts. Create an identity. So you had to do a lot of things on their terms. You then had the choice whether you wanted to be an alternative, independent band or join the mainstream. There was no other way of doing it. Whereas now, you can do it yourself. The trouble is, you’re still not invited to the party! I’ve stopped haggling with the guy on the door. I’m the one sitting in the garden selling lemonade! But I’m actually doing alright.

What advice would you give new bands just starting out?

Try and get a record deal! And I really mean that because ultimately the best way to do it is go through those channels. When we were a new band the record label built something around us, but now if you”re a new band you have to go on tour straight away. But then how can you make a living out of touring if no one knows who you are? It’s like I was saying earlier, they’ve created a system where it doesn’t matter how good you are. Unless you’re invited to the party it’s not going to make that band a career. Record labels still know what they’re doing.


![104436](http://ift.tt/2luTost)

http://ift.tt/2ficmRZ

Trevor de Brauw: Uptown

For almost 20 years, the guitarist Trevor de Brauw has anchored the stalwart instrumental rock band Pelican. His chiseled riffs, stretching skyward from a crust of doom metal toward the wide skies of post-rock, have long been its real hook. As prolific as that band has been, de Brauw has kept busy with a litany of side-projects, too, from his new trio RLYR to the slow-motion creep of the drone collective Chord. Still, as late as last summer, de Brauw confessed to a lack of confidence in his guitar prowess, doubtful even of his ability to reproduce songs onstage. Making music, he said, was an emotional and mental necessity, not some chance to flex his technical abilities.

That compulsive approach is critical to Uptown, de Brauw’s solo debut. Instead of serving as a showcase, Uptown instead collects six open-ended, marvelously textured guitar instrumentals written during the last decade. Sure, there is a certain level of wizardry here, especially with guitar loops that wrap into Moebius strips of sound or the army of ways de Brauw warps the signals from his six strings. During the record’s tremendous finale, the twelve-minute beauty “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” de Brauw manages to conjure and control a symphony of guitars by himself. The piece suggests the choir-like calm of Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail or Growing in its prime a decade ago.

There’s sophistication, too, in the ways that de Brauw patiently peels layers apart or puts them together. “Distinct Frequency” is little more than three minutes of a powerful drone and a broadcast of what might be the evening news, pitted against one another. But de Brauw pulls them apart so slowly that the music is dramatic and demanding, as if always on the verge of some major revelation. But Uptown is a subtle record, and both signals just fade into silence.

Indeed, the complexity and real delight of Uptown stem more from its commingled, nuanced emotions than its instrumental execution. These six songs are, alternately, messy webs of anxiety and comfort, frustration and hopefulness, fatigue and energy, together always pushing past simple binaries of happy or sad, light or dark. The deliberate chords of “They Keep Bowing,” for instance, seem at first caustic. But as they decay, they blossom into something beautiful, with individual notes suddenly circling above like halos.

Likewise, “Turn Up for What” (who said solo guitar records couldn’t have a sense of humor?) transitions from chimes and bells into a loud electric groan into, finally, a riff that aims for liftoff. The boundary between each phase is fuzzy, implying that each state is linked to the others. Like the intertwined loops and nested layers, there are no discrete or easy feelings to Uptown. It is, de Brauw says without a word, complicated.

The world of solo guitar records isn’t really the domain of urgent, timely statements. They are, more often, practiced steps on a continuum, sometimes speaking only to like-minded practitioners and listeners. Despite its long gestation, though, Uptown feels surprisingly necessary and somehow reassuring. There’s confusion and clarity within these songs, an understanding that these ideas and emotions only make sense in the presence of each other. During Uptown, the darkest parts sometimes allow for flickers of light, though other times the darkness swallows the light whole. It is an apt soundtrack for the start of 2017, then, when signs of pending apocalypse and revolution seem to bleed into one.

http://ift.tt/IL1ERz

Trevor de Brauw: Uptown

For almost 20 years, the guitarist Trevor de Brauw has anchored the stalwart instrumental rock band Pelican. His chiseled riffs, stretching skyward from a crust of doom metal toward the wide skies of post-rock, have long been its real hook. As prolific as that band has been, de Brauw has kept busy with a litany of side-projects, too, from his new trio RLYR to the slow-motion creep of the drone collective Chord. Still, as late as last summer, de Brauw confessed to a lack of confidence in his guitar prowess, doubtful even of his ability to reproduce songs onstage. Making music, he said, was an emotional and mental necessity, not some chance to flex his technical abilities.

That compulsive approach is critical to Uptown, de Brauw’s solo debut. Instead of serving as a showcase, Uptown instead collects six open-ended, marvelously textured guitar instrumentals written during the last decade. Sure, there is a certain level of wizardry here, especially with guitar loops that wrap into Moebius strips of sound or the army of ways de Brauw warps the signals from his six strings. During the record’s tremendous finale, the twelve-minute beauty “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” de Brauw manages to conjure and control a symphony of guitars by himself. The piece suggests the choir-like calm of Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail or Growing in its prime a decade ago.

There’s sophistication, too, in the ways that de Brauw patiently peels layers apart or puts them together. “Distinct Frequency” is little more than three minutes of a powerful drone and a broadcast of what might be the evening news, pitted against one another. But de Brauw pulls them apart so slowly that the music is dramatic and demanding, as if always on the verge of some major revelation. But Uptown is a subtle record, and both signals just fade into silence.

Indeed, the complexity and real delight of Uptown stem more from its commingled, nuanced emotions than its instrumental execution. These six songs are, alternately, messy webs of anxiety and comfort, frustration and hopefulness, fatigue and energy, together always pushing past simple binaries of happy or sad, light or dark. The deliberate chords of “They Keep Bowing,” for instance, seem at first caustic. But as they decay, they blossom into something beautiful, with individual notes suddenly circling above like halos.

Likewise, “Turn Up for What” (who said solo guitar records couldn’t have a sense of humor?) transitions from chimes and bells into a loud electric groan into, finally, a riff that aims for liftoff. The boundary between each phase is fuzzy, implying that each state is linked to the others. Like the intertwined loops and nested layers, there are no discrete or easy feelings to Uptown. It is, de Brauw says without a word, complicated.

The world of solo guitar records isn’t really the domain of urgent, timely statements. They are, more often, practiced steps on a continuum, sometimes speaking only to like-minded practitioners and listeners. Despite its long gestation, though, Uptown feels surprisingly necessary and somehow reassuring. There’s confusion and clarity within these songs, an understanding that these ideas and emotions only make sense in the presence of each other. During Uptown, the darkest parts sometimes allow for flickers of light, though other times the darkness swallows the light whole. It is an apt soundtrack for the start of 2017, then, when signs of pending apocalypse and revolution seem to bleed into one.

http://ift.tt/IL1ERz

The Gals of Gunn

Easy-to-love-introducing-linda-lawson-bonus-tracks

Earlier this week, I featured a clip of Lola Albright singing How High the Moon on TV’s Peter Gunn in the late 1950s. The other young actress-singer who appear on the detective series was Linda Lawson, whom I’ve posted about in the past about her sole superb album, Introducing Linda Lawson. She was cast on Peter Gunn as Lynn Martel, a nightclub singer under the control of a thug in "Lynn’s Blues" (season 1, episode 7, November 1958). Lawson, like Albright, had a wonderful husky voice that epitomized Los Angeles during this period. It’s the sound of humid melancholy and a dash of hope while driving along Sunset on a late afternoon in September.

Here are a bunch of Lawson clips:

Here’s Lynn’s Blues arranged by Henry Mancini. The camera pans to actor Craig Stevens (who played detective Peter Gunn) and Lola Albright (girlfriend Edie Hart). Favorite line: "She’s just saying goodbye"…

Here’s Lawson singing Somehow, a 45 arranged by Henry Mancini…

Here’s Never Like This, another Lawson-Mancini single collaboration…

And here’s my favorite, Lawson singing More Than Ever, a single arranged by Mancini…

More Than Ever

JazzWax tracks: You’ll find Linda Lawson’s debut and only album (arranged by Marty Paich) along with four singles arranged by Henry Mancini on a Fresh Sound release here.

http://www.JazzWax.com/

sans serif

A remixed, retro-infused audiological project from days of future past (& a favorite mix for chilling)…presented for your enjoyment in present tense.
79:48

01 Blue Hell – Prayer Machine
02 Christian Fiesel –
Beyond the Silence
03 Steve Brand –
The Web
04 Brian Eno –
As if your eyes were partly closed as if you
honed the swirl within them and offered me … the world
05 Herion –
The Hanging Glacier
06 Bob Ohrum –
Deepest_Blue
07 M. Peck –
Operative of Relative Obscurity
08 Carbon Based Lifeforms –
Inertia
08 Andrew Lahiff –
Obscure Landmarks
10 1 Mile North –
The Sick

[Mixcloud]

D/L:
http://ift.tt/2lpYkTG

sans_serif

http://ift.tt/2kRlH58

The Promising State of the Actor-Musician

The Promising State of the Actor-Musician

Donald Glover is having a moment. A month after his alter-ego Childish Gambino released Awaken, My Love!” to the best reception of his musical career, Glover found himself taking home two awards at the Golden Globes, winning for both his show “Atlanta” and his acting within it. The FX comedy-drama is a love letter to blackness, a funny but painful look at race relations in the South, and a chance to show off both dramatic chops and his musical taste for the actor and musician. Or is that musician and actor? Perhaps Glover’s biggest achievement is the fact the trajectory of his success in both fields forces us to place the two words side by side. Glover manages to not merely do both, but do both well—and, at this point in time, simultaneously.

The actor who makes music, or the musician who acts, is certainly not a new phenomenon. Frank Sinatra won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1953’s From Here to Eternity (a role that heralded the revival of both his acting and singing career), while Oscar winner Cher continues to release music and occasionally act 50+ years later. Separate from the all-singing and acting (and dancing) Broadway star, the musician/actor of the silver screen is not a byproduct of the stage. Anecdotally, it seems as though there are more musicians venturing into film careers than the other way around, maybe for the simple reason that it’s easier to attempt to act than it is to try and create music. While acting is obviously a difficult skill to master, pretty much anyone can act (badly, at least) if they know their lines and repeat them on camera. Musical talent is arguably harder to fake; you either can play an instrument and hit the right notes, or you can’t—the line is a little more defined, AutoTune be damned.

These days, musicians who become known as credible actors often reach the public’s attention via roles that require musical talent (à la Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls, Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard), though that approach can also lead to, well, Glitter. Actors who make music—like Oscar winner and Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto—can find it difficult to shake off the “actor” tag despite mainstream musical success. In most cases, the famous artist’s second venture is seen as a quirky side project at best (see: She & Him, Ryan Gosling’s short-lived band Dead Man’s Bones, Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits tribute), and a wildly self-indulgent dip into an already crowded field at worst.

Even those actors and musicians who bypass accusations of artistic hubris and achieve success in their second field will still find themselves viewed primarily as one profession or the other. It is rare for the two sides of the creative career coin to be held in equal esteem, particularly at the same time. Instead, successful crossover artists tend to transition between acting and making music, with the peak of one career coinciding with a lull in the other. Rappers like LL Cool J, Ice Cube, and Ice-T have forged successful acting careers while continuing to make music to varying degrees, but only after the big musical successes of their youth were firmly in the rearview. Juliette Lewis’ 2003-2009 run with indie rockers Juliette and the Licks coincided with smaller and fewer roles, and the longest period in her career without any acting awards. On a bigger scale, young West Philly rapper Will Smith used “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” a TV show he only took on to help pay a massive 1990 tax bill, to launch what would become a movie star’s career. Smith has stopped making music in the years since, but his final Grammy nomination in 2001 was only a year before the first of his two Best Actor Oscar nods (for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness). Now there’s a whole new generation that only really knows him as a smooth-talking leading man with a famous family, not the late ’80s rapper who doesn’t curse.

So the question remains: Is it possible to sustain a career at the top of your game as both an actor and a musician? Alongside Donald Glover, this year the Golden Globes nominated Riz Ahmed, aka rapper Riz MC, for his acting in the HBO crime drama “The Night Of.” The nomination came days after the release of Star Wars: Rogue One, where Ahmed plays the rebel pilot Bodhi Rook, and in the wake of both an inspired album with Swet Shop Boys and Englistan, a solo effort. Meanwhile, six-time Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe may not have released new music since 2015’s “Yoga," but she also walked the Globes’ red carpet after strong turns in two of the biggest films of the year, Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

Looking back over the last two decades, the biggest examples of juggling both simultaneously are folks like Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Jamie Foxx. Connick Jr.’s relatively balanced paths are perhaps a privilege of coming from Broadway, and certainly it helps that he’s a jazzy crooner as opposed to the most capricious whims of pop. His acting roles have rarely strayed from more wholesome corners of the mainstream—emotional TV movies, rom-coms, and cartoon voice work. His fellow “American Idol” judge J.Lo, whose breakthrough was playing slain singer Selena, has fared even better: Lopez holds the distinction of being the first woman to have a No. 1 album (2001’s J.Lo) and film (The Wedding Planner) in the same week, and her career in both fields has continued consistently since then.

Despite the occasional scathing review for Foxx, by commercial metrics, he’s actually been the most successful of the three at both. The “Gold Digger” guest’s 1994 debut Peep This only peaked at No. 78 on the album chart, but the four LPs he released since winning his Oscar in 2005 have all hit the top 10. Like Sinatra 50 years before him, Foxx used the momentum of an Academy Award to relaunch back into his musical talent—something moviegoers might not have even been aware of before Ray.

It hasn’t always been like this. Half a century before J.Lo topped the box office and Billboard, the biggest stars of the screen were routinely singers as well, from Judy Garland in the ’40s to Barbra Streisand in the ’60s. The decline of the musician/actor coincides with the decline of the musician/actor’s natural home: the movie musical. After the notorious Hays Code on “morality” in movies was abandoned in 1968, shifting cinema audience demographics led to a sharp downturn for the cheery musicals that shaped post-war cinema. The live (not animated) musicals that were successful in the time directly following this often had an adult or ironic edge (Grease, Cabaret, Labyrinth, The Rocky Horror Picture Show). With the exception of Liza Minnelli (who navigated music and film as yet another Broadway baby), and Olivia Newton-John (a singer whose Grease success was followed by a series of TV movies and middling box-office flops), the stars of these musicals were firmly pigeonholed as either actors or musicians.

Since the 2000s, the movie musical has slowly risen as a vehicle for “serious actors” to flaunt their singing skills in exchange for Oscars. This year, the narrative around La La Land (and its 14 Oscar nominations) as some sort of awards season underdog by virtue of its musical status is a fiction: since the turn of the century, over a dozen musicals or music-heavy biopics have been nominated at the Academy Awards, from Chicago to Moulin Rouge to Les Miserables. One big difference now is that proper triple threats are no longer cast as the leads—it’s mostly A-list actors who retreat away from musical roles after collecting their awards.

Perhaps the future of the true actor/musician—someone who acts and releases music as independent endeavors—can be seen as a reflection of a new culture we’re in, where creatives are generally doing more. Young people find themselves with not one creative job, but two or three or four, and it’s no wonder that the art we are consuming comes from people doing the same. It’s telling that many Disney and Nickelodeon stars of the past decade have been able to flit between acting and music with little fanfare. Even Hailee Steinfeld, who was nominated for an Oscar when she was just 13, was ably to score a Top 40 hit with the tepid “Love Myself” in 2015 like it was nothing. An older generation of Disney kid, Justin Timberlake has been in a substantial amount of movies at this point, and no one ever says, “musician/actor Justin Timberlake.” He had to choose a lane, and his voice made it for him.

Donald Glover’s dual success is, in many ways, an anomaly. Over the years, he has steadily received higher and higher praise for both his music and his acting work. In our 2013 review of Childish Gambino’s Before the Internet, Craig Jenkins described Glover as a “restless polyglot” who “could ultimately do well with a little less multitasking.” The irony here, of course, is that the more he seems to do, the better he seems to do it. With Glover’s success riding high alongside that of Ahmed and Monae’s, perhaps we’ll see more Golden Globe wins celebrated alongside Billboard chart-toppers in the future.

 

http://ift.tt/19LFOV5