Unknown Pleasures #169 ft. Natalie Holmes, Lost Chocolate Lab, The Blaze

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Natalie Holmes (photo credit: from artist's Facebook)

Natalie Holmes (photo credit: from artist’s Facebook)

This week’s roundup of the finest up-and-comers sees Getintothis’ Mike Stanton track down a Bristolian singer/songwriter, a Seattle-based sound artist and a neo-soul inflected Parisian EDM duo.

Comparisons with Tori Amos and Imogen Heap may seem obvious but they will be inevitable; talented singer/songwriter uses piano as predominant instrument and creates lilting, haunting and hit-ready songs. Well, Natalie Holmes fits these descriptions and with Hideout she has perhaps released her most accomplished song to date.

Having already demonstrated an unerring instinct for melody, space and atmosphere on previous single Calm Places, Holmes has once again captured the genie and developed it on Hideout.

The melodies and lush production is stronger than ever and Holmes’ jazzy, silken soprano, in the vein of Norah Jones and Priscilla Ahn, is soft but far from sedate. Searching through Natalie Holmes’ back catalogue, her skill at crystallizing emotions in her music is abundant. Here on Hideout there’s a tangible sense of joy and euphoria, a mind and heart at peace and the flurries of uplifting melodic swells are heady and intoxicating.

Natalie Holmes possesses a sonic and lyrical punch with engaging melodies delivered in a voice reminiscent of The Bird and the Bee’s Inara George. We are witnessing an astonishing talent being fully-realised, demonstrating a new maturity, a new edge, transforming her music into something new and wholly unexpected.

Hideout is out now on

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Lost Chocolate Lab (Phot Credit: KB Kastbauer)

Lost Chocolate Lab (Photo Credit: KB Kastbauer)

Seattle’s Lost Chocolate Lab is led by guitarist Damian Kastbauer who became a noise-making unit following the disbanding of Minneapolis noisepop shoegaze pioneers February. Squall, the first release from his new album Lost Landscapes due out August 31st, is a concoction of soft blankets of distortion with hazy clouds of noise and is a long-lost love letter to the first wave of shoegaze and its six-string pioneers; all cascading guitars and reverb-pedal atmospherics.

Squall builds with feedback and noise that sounds pulled and tortured yet sonically balanced and textured allowing the underlying drones to slowly bleed through, creating a bleak expanse of otherworldly sounds hinting at subterranean textures and tones. These wide-scope atmospheres have a soundtrack familiarity to them, almost as if they have been pulled from slow-pan shots of a Werner Herzog documentary.

Lost Chocolate Lab combine improvisation, storytelling and teasing unearthly sounds out of effects-heavy guitars to conjure narratives of ethereal sounds. Meditative and haunting Squall is the sound of nature, of magnetic storms and the fall of autumn rain, it conjures images of ancient landscapes and the cold harsh vacuum of space.

Squall is out now, Lost Landscapes is out August 31.

The Blaze (Photo Credit: Artist's Facebook)

The Blaze (photo credit: artist’s Facebook)

Paris duo The Blaze are cousins Guillaume and Jonathan Alric who create soul and R&B influenced dance music. With latest release SHE they explore further the lo-fi piano-driven EDM they have been producing recently and it is both infectious and atmospheric.

Through their moving, emotive and self-produced music videos for tracks such as Territory from 2017’s Territory EP, The Blaze garnered worldwide attention winning several awards for both production and songwriting. With debut album Dancehall they are further becoming a force to be followed, channelling the French electro and EDM scenes and re-purposing the sound with a cool neo-soul vibe.

The Blaze‘s dance hall aesthetic is a different ethos to the Jamaican genre dating back to the 1940’s, The Blaze use it as a tribute to this historic scene. Guillaume Alric explains:

“The dance hall was created by a desire to simply come together and party, at a time when this was the only way to listen to your favorite artist. This was a place where people lived, loved and danced. We’re always looking to highlight youth in our music videos. The way you act with your friends, and family, the way you share moments, this freedom.”

SHE is out now, Dancehall is due for release September 7 via Animal 63/Believe.

 

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