Category Archives: Dubstep

Floating Points’ debut album, “Elaenia,” is finally here

Floating Points mug

Although the stream of Floating Points’ debut album “Elaenia,” is no longer streaming at NPR Music, you can still hear it through a Spotify link there or on Soundcloud. It’s an extremely interesting angle on the electronic music scene.

Composer and producer Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) can sight-read music and once sang with the Manchester Cathedral Boys Choir. But he’s also a DJ, and began releasing singles as dubstep was finding its feet in England. That doesn’t completely explain his unusual music, which rarely involves vocals and relies often on live instruments like keyboards, as well as weeping string sections.

Shepherd incorporates jazz and its improvisations into synth and prog-rock. His take on these different styles (like on “Silhouettes (I, II, and III”) is freeing to hear, as experimentation in music should be.

In case you haven’t seen it, watch the gorgeous, trippy light show that is the video for “Silhouettes”:

Floating Points has just a few tour dates:


Oct 30 – Utrecht, NL – Catch Festival
Oct 31 Leuven, BE – Het Depot
Nov 2 – Paris, FR – New Morning
Nov 5 – Turin, IT – Club to Club
Nov 7 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Nov 17 London, UK – Islington Assembly Hall

Elaenia is out now on Luaka Bop in the U.S., and Pluto in the UK.

Floating-Points-Elaenia

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Filed under Dubstep, Electronic, Jazz, Progressive Rock, Synth, VIdeos

Emilystrax Year in Music: 2013

For my first year as a music blogger, there’s no getting around the fact that this is an incomplete list of the best of 2013. This year was finding my feet, working on contacts, and trying to catch up on the years I stayed away. There are volumes of great bands I heard that I simply couldn’t get to write about or couldn’t fit on this list– Foals, Daft Punk, The 1975, Parquet Courts, The National, Skaters, David Bowie’s “The Next Day.” I hope to bring you more comprehensive music news and reviews in 2014. Still, unlike that fruitcake you got in the mail, this music list won’t go stale in 2014. Here’s what rose to the top.

Dog Party- Lost Control

10. Dog Party: Lost Control– While their album has its ups and downs, the radio hit “Jet Pack” and “Go Flamingo” are good enough to overlook what are shortfalls. They can only get better.

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9. Potty Mouth: Hell Bent — Old-school punk-rockers just came to my attention only recently, but they’ve had a growing buzz and deserve to be on this list. Potty Mouth dives right in — no time for long intros. They’re direct in their voice and biting at that. It’s easy to guess they would be a blast to see live.

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8. Mount Kimbie: Cold Spring Fault Less Youth — This year I discovered dub-step, and learned to appreciate the artistry of techno, tonal disparities and mellow percussion. It’s mesmerizing.

LORDE-PURE-HEROINE

7. Lorde: Pure Heroine. The teen who brought us “Royals” may likely be one of the youngest divas to burst onto the pop-music scene since Madonna. Her album takes risks, and is even abstract at times, and that takes guts at 16. She updates the idea of romantic love but with a dose of reality. Her record does no disappoint.

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6. Mother Falcon: You Knew– This band of 18-20 musicians (yes, the number fluctuates) have put out some of the most original music to hit the scene in a long time. It marries classical and rock flawlessly. It flutters and shakes its way into your musical lexicon. Highly recommended if you want to broaden your musical horizons and simply listen.

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5. Haim: Days Are Gone — 2013 was THE breakout year for this pop/alt chick-sister act. They are not afraid to channel Laura Branigan, but remain super catchy and bring the 80s squarely into the now. They proudly wear their heart on their sleeve. Get it, if only for the devilish “My Song 5.”

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4. Deap Vally: Sistrionix– Two punk-rock vixens meet at a crochet class, decide to join forces, and destroy your vision of what the blues should be. Just listen here. My review of their EP Get Deap! is here.

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3. Arcade Fire: Reflektor — While there are stretches of enjoyable music in Reflektor– Forgive me, top music websites— this album was not as impressive as the tidal wave of media and ads hyped it out to be. Yet it draws you in with deep-storied melodies and dramatic crescendos. Reflektor creates an aura of French romance and intrigue that only Arcade Fire consistently does so well.

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2. Kanye West: Yeezus — There is no argument that outside the studio, the hip-hop king creates his own media firestorm, and that’s unfortunate. But the music is what should stand in the end if it’s good enough, and it is. The imagery he’s able to conjure is always vivid and engrossing and personal. Make up your own vision: West rocking a Wookie suit in “Guilt Trip” to being a newly risen pharoah in “Black Skinhead,” to being a guy so damn arrogant he’s barking for his damn croissants (that doesn’t need to be envisioned.)  His ballsy interpretation of Nina Simone‘s “Blood on the Leaves” only misses the mark marginally. West raises the bar for the rest to follow, and blazes new paths as others are just getting a hint of what he’s doing. Each release is darker and more introspective than the last. “New Slaves” is a far cry from “Gold Digger,” but the downward journey is ever sweeter.

Laura-Mvula-Album-Packshot

1. Laura Mvula: Sing To The Moon — Before the king goes the queen. Out of everything I’ve heard this year,  she’s been a constant. It was my anthem at summer vacation on the Cape, and had a hand on my shoulder on many a dark drive home. The music at times is intensely personal and takes its time. Mvula  also shows her strength— at one point singing, ‘Who made you the center of the universe/Who made you judge and jury over me?’. “Sing to the Moon” moves smoothly, anchored by her powerful vocals and piano ballads. Her style dances elegantly between classical and popular music.  It’s done to perfection.

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Thanks to all who read my blog and see you in 2014! ~ Emily

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Filed under Best of, Dubstep, Electronic, Features, Indie, Post-dubstep, Punk, Punk-rock, Review

With a new release and tour, Mount Kimbie is climbing the ranks

Mount Kimbie: Cold Spring, Heart Less Youth

Mount Kimbie: Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

The house-spun sound of Mount Kimbie‘s latest release, “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth,” has a quiet power about it that is somehow calming and colorful.

Each song is boldly original yet it’s all cohesive. It’s full of a labyrinth of different percussion sounds incorporated around a dance-house beat. Moody inflections meander throughout the tracks, while the lyrics take a comfortable back seat to rhythm and melody.

Mount Kimbie is a British electronic-music group with two people – Dominic Maker and Kai Campos. They are known for putting their mark on the post-dubstep sound, which  uses instruments like sequencers, turntables and personal computers. Back in 2011, Mount Kimbie was listed among 10 influential post-dubstep artists.  For new listeners to the genre, picture a technically clean sound landscape with precise tonal details in its rhythym and melody.

Mount Kimbie is Dominic Maker and Kai Campos

Mount Kimbie is Dominic Maker and Kai Campos

Their full-length debut, 2010’s “Crooks & Lovers,” appeared near the top of many critics’ must-have lists. Along with a string of EPs, released mostly through vinyl or download, they’ve been planted squarely at the epicenter of this burgeoning electro-techno sound.

The music on “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth” at times sounds like the music you hear if you were shopping in the type of high-end clothing store, with security guards and pocketbooks under glass. It’s classy. This does not in any way mean their music is artificial, just that it’s peaceful and introspective.

The young indie singer-songwriter King Krule provides help on two tracks. He deadpans on the song “You Took Your Time,” as the organ lays over it all. His voice then moves into another realm in the song; continuous cymbal tapping adds a level of funk.

The tune “Meter, Pale, Tone” has Krule singing dark and deadpan against a backdrop of tribal drum and frantic tone. Check out Krule and Kimbie’s collaboration on a recent BBC session.

“Blood and Form” also contains weird percussion, a stark single drum echoed in a dark room, like a heavy footstep or a deliberate stomp. By contrast, “Sullen Ground” is dueling percussion, as if someone is knocking on heavy metal doors. Competing tempos on “Fall Out” offer more variety amid an already vibrant set of tracks. Sounds morph into other sounds, like synth and guitar, such as on “So Many Times So Many Ways.”

On “Lie Near,” drums sound like a heartbeat as the song closes. Throughout “Cold Spring,” sounds are woven together in an electronic tapestry of bass and cymbals.

“Made to Stray’ portrays more weird but vibrant percussion; it’s as if the drumbeat is in the room with you. The organ provides a thin veil of calmness; the tone, almost primal as it builds toward the chorus. Listen to “Made to Stray” here.

The sounds in “Home Recording” hearken to the days of typewriters and tape decks. A homey organ spreads out spiritual notes.  When those notes and lines are on repeat, it almost becomes a holy chant, as if in a cathedral.

Mount Kimbie has now embarked on a world tour through December, hitting LA, Boston, NYC and a lot in between through October, before trekking through Denmark, London, Italy and a host of other countries to round out the year.

You can find “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth,” released May 28, on Warp Records.

Mount Kimbie seems very sure of their future and their music reflects that confidence and style. With all the cookie-cutter sound that floods the airwaves, it’s nice to know these guys are here to break down those barriers.

Dig It or Ditch It: Definitely dig it.

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Filed under Dubstep, Electronic, Indie, Post-dubstep, Uncategorized