New Soundbites: November 21-28


James Murphy’s jogger’s delight finally gets a UK release while Led Zeppelin release their Mothership – yet again.

LCD Soundsystem: 45:33Album of the Week
I fucking hate jogging. What’s the point?
To get fit? Oh really, why not shed some weight down the disco on a Saturday? I probably sweat-out more carbs and flex more muscles on a weekender in Liverpool than the average gym-head does in a week.
Stuff your workout videos, it’s not my bag – and judging by James Murphy’s physique it’s hardly his either.
Imagining the podgy, grizzle-chopped King of DFA pounding the streets of downtown NYC is complete fantasy but you can certainly see why Nike commissioned him to produce their latest in the Original Run Series.
What you get is a slow building track, supposedly based on ‘an arc designed for running,’ which peaks in intensity before a gradual climb down which fizzles out after 45:33. It reads ok, it sounds magnificent.
What Nike have brought to the table is an idea which has allowed Murphy’s eccentric genius to go creative-mental in what’s a colossal seamlessly mixed, six suite disco-prog mix.
Gurgling analog synths and light pianos begin our ‘workout’ before morphing into a Chic-like riff complete with schtick ‘Shame on you! You can’t hide – your love away from me!’ pronouncements.
It’s a fabulous, intriguing beginning, which morphs into an instrumental remix of one of this year’s greatest singles, Someone Great (taken from LCD’s Sound of Silver) before a monstrous, motorik rhythm takes us into territory reminiscent of his earlier singles Yeah and Losing My Edge.
At this point, if you were jogging, ‘the burn’ would surely be taking hold, so Murphy cranks up the drama adding the funkiest horn section this side of George Clinton.
Most exciting of all is the fifth suite, a kind of intergalactic boogie with robo-vocals, unremitting percussion and skewed, improvisational brass, all of which implode under the sheer mass of clogged funk after nine supercharged minutes.
The final glittering eight-minute wind-down errs on the side of superfluous, but then again, I’ve not just built up a body’s worth of lactic acid while jogging my way round Central Park.
The additional bonus material proves Murphy is no slouch with his offcuts either; there’s the 12-minute tribal, cowbell stonk of Freak Out/Starry Eyes, and a completely revamped dub take on North American Scum and the glitsch-rocker Hippie Priest Bum-Out.
If ever Murphy needed to prove he owned 2007 – this record is the icing on the cake.
For fans of: Whacked-out kraut-boogie. Maracas.

Phosphorescent: Pride
Dead Oceans
Brooklyn’s Matthew Houck is barely here.
Like Akron/Family or Grizzly Bear, Houck shares a folky, wilderness hinterland, but his is evermore desolate.
Much of Pride paints the scene of Houck sheltered away surrounded by little but peeling wallpaper and a smoking fire desperately close to choking while he faintly strums, plucks and whispers into the breeze.
But, there’s a huge sense of warmth and subtle instrumentation which only reveals itself after numerous listens.
Persevere and marvel at the delicate, haunting beauty of Wolves or the harmonious ghosts of the Beach Boys cloaking Cocaine Lights.
Houck is barely here, but thank goodness he is.
For fans of: Willo the Wisp and Bonnie Prince Billy.

Kiln: Dusker
Ghostly International
Another week, another great electronic record.
Following hot on the heals of Matthew Dear, Ghostly International’s Kiln have received nowhere near as much press as Dear’s Asa Breed did, but boy how they deserve it.
Kiln blend the minimalist textures of Pole but inject a rhythmic, soothing soundscape which is nowhere near as clinical.
See the acoustic washes of guitar and brushed strokes of The Colourfreak or the mellifluous piano tones of Airplaneshadows which conjure up impressionistic swirls akin to a Monet.
And what makes Dusker such a triumph is that while straddling so many stylistic terrains – see the liquid-like guitars of Sunsethighway, or the Massive Attack-esque triphop of Rustdusk – the soothing ambience is as fluid as it is absorbing.
Let the electronic renaissance continue.
For fans of:

Frightened Rabbit: Sings The Greys
Fat Cat
Frightened Rabbit are the musical equivalent of a prick tease. Camped in between Twilight Sad and Snow Patrol, the Glaswegians offer impassioned Celt pop which frequently delights but too often promises a thrilling climax before failing to deliver.
Music Now epitomises their infuriating come-on; taking four minutes to ply its dirgey melodic mountain it comes to an abrupt end when it should catapult into the stratosphere.
Instrumental interludes throw up electronic pulses of warmth which glisten with electricity only to tail off just as things get interesting.
Far better is the frazzled, gritty stomp of Be Less Rude and the lo-fi acoustics of Behave!
There’s a mighty beast lying in wait here, they just need to let it off the leash.
For fans of: Urban sprawls, lighters aloft, fuzz.

Sigur Rós: Hvarf/Heim
Sigur Rós are an extraordinary band.
You should know the script by now: an enigmatic Icelandic quartet who serve up glacial post-rock echoing their homeland’s mysterious imagery, all conveyed by singer Jónsi Birgisson‘s fantastical choral wailing in a language (Hopelandic) which he invented.
Shame then that their latest offering feels decidedly ordinary.
Where their previous four records have been built on a progressive fearsome experimentalism, Hvarf/Heim, feels merely like the stop-gap record it is in support of their quite marvellous documentary tour film, Heima.
Their trademark beauty is in plentiful supply – lush strings provided by regular female backing Amiina, crescendoing pianos and glockenspiels and Birgisson’s elven vocal tremors. But that’s nothing new to longtime fans – and not enough for new ones to be brought into the fold.
The six live performances on Heim are fine, but its not until the nine-minute closer Hafsól, on Hvarf, that we hear them truly add to their palette – a one note guitar buzz is aligned to Birgisson’s most direct vocal with heavy cello appearing from the mist. There’s a brooding malevolence absent elsewhere; a quality which is pivotal to their best work and at the three-minute mark Amiina’s dancing strings provide giddy inspiration.
In many respects it’s the most sparse track on offer – soaked in feedback it’s not until the frantic horns rush in at the end do things become truly orchestral – but where the rest of the record is same-old this positively leaps out and excels.
Sigur Ros are an extraordinary band, pity they leave it late to prove their worth.
For fans of:

Led Zeppelin: Mothership
If ever a band didn’t need a greatest hits collection it is Zeppelin.
With a double disc Remasters best of, two further volumes chronicling their early and later days and a monster boxset all readily available, Mothership reeks of corporate fat cats replenishing their wallets to neatly tie in with Zep’s much-anticipated O2 date.
That said, you can’t fault the music; each and every track is an absolute belter delivered by the greatest ever rock supergroup. If you’ve yet to invest forget this and gobble up Physical Graffiti and go from there.
For fans of: RAWK, Tolkien, Riffs.
10/10 (for music) 0/10 (for needless rehashing of back catalogue)




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