Le Départ; Lonerism

This is the album. This is the album that started my new life, the album that created the new me.

There was a point in time where I just wasn’t happy. I had a catalogue of mistakes to my name, and started walking down a path absent of life. Day to day, my head would spin, yet remain still. There was no creativity, no aspiration and certainly no enthusiasm. I had dug an unclimbable pit and thrown myself to the bottom of it. None of my mistakes had meant to be harmful in any shape or form, yet I felt guilty. I didn’t know any better at the time of each error, but that didn’t matter. Redemption seemed so out of reach that I doubted it’s existence.

This album spurred drastic changes in my psychology and philosophy of life. I suddenly began learning so much in an incredibly short amount of time, and I loved it. I still love it. Acquiring knowledge about the world is something of utmost importance to me. I find myself striving to understand and interact way more frequently than prior to Lonerism. These newly found traits are a significant part of my personality, they are something I identify as now.

This is my first time ever articulating these emotions, and I am choosing to share them with the world. As I write this, I keep pondering through years of mental data trying to categorise and draw significance from every emotion, every memory, every interaction. This process is something I owe to Kevin Parker (aka Tame Impala). He has been the creator of my contemplation, and I am ever so grateful.

From the first listen, this work musically resonated with me unlike anything else before. It didn’t just send me to a different dimension, it fucking catapulted me. Each time this masterpiece flows through my earpieces I am under it’s control. In addition to being psychologically pummeled by these tracks, they command my physical movements too. For me, the music just has the perfect combination of spaciness, groove, melancholy, yet also hope. It draws me in, time and time again; something only a true work of art can do.

Listen as you read:

Recommended: Endors Toi, Apocalypse Dreams, Mind Mischief, Why Won’t They Talk to Me and Elephant….the whole album to be honest though, it’s incredible.

 

The Album…

The introductory track to this album is Be Above It. Opening with the repetitive whisper  of “Gotta be above it”, the song evolves quickly, sparked by the intense looped drums. I feel like it is a very bold selection for the opener. From a new listeners standpoint, initially this song could paint a false image of the album. But slowly, some beautiful sounds of Kevin’s layered synthesizer begin to become incorporated into the drum-heavy track. As a listener, I begin to anticipate some sort of monumental musical epiphany. The intensity builds as Kevin continuously exclaims “And I can’t let them all just bring me down”, each time more passionately than the last. Ultimately, this teased oracle never arrives… or so I thought. I recently realised that the rest of the album is the monumental epiphany, and this is the reason for Kevin’s seemingly obscure track placement.

Next, a personal favorite of mine; Endors Toi. Meaning “go to sleep” in French, this song floods me with euphoria upon listening. When I was blessed enough to see Tame Impala live, as soon as I heard the distinctive melody and strumming I braced myself for one of the most special moments of my life to date. My face erupted into a beaming ear-to-ear smile, as I screamed at my girlfriend, Jessie, to get ready. The bassist began to slowly pluck, Julien began to bring in the drums and I completely lost my mind. It is a mindbendingly intense song, which makes the three minutes go by in a flash. I would love to hear an extended version of the track, as I feel like the song could definitely benefit with two or three additional minutes. For me, this song always opens up my mind, allowing me to think in a more abstract and creative manner. It prepares me mentally for the tracks that follow.

Now for the rollercoaster that is Apocalypse Dreams. This seems to be a lot of Tame enthusiasts’ favorite song, and has been compared to Mahler’s second symphony by fans. The song actually starts out quite poppy, until the 30 second mark, where the listener gets a preview of what is to come. The drumming completely changes, and a smooth rolling bassline protrudes until the poppy chorus recommences and Kevin sings about his desire and journey to find something new. What comes next is simply sensational. Everything goes quiet as Kevin asks “Am I getting closer? Will I ever get there? Does it even matter?”. Kevin overthinks, asking a range of contradictory rhetorical questions . A ‘glorious release of tension’ ensues and all his desires and ideas of something new drift away into the meaninglessness of life. Check out live performances of this song, the outro in particular is simply sensational.

“Nothing ever changes,

No matter how long you do your hair”

Overthinking. Something that I imagine we are all guilty of at times. I doubt even the most tranquil, neutral being hasn’t built up the most complex mental maze sparked by certain events in their life. In fact, it’s so common that it is arguably human nature. It’s funny, often the most natural and purest emotions are the hardest to vocalize and share. Whether this hesitancy is due to the difficulty of expression or that the various social stigmas around these ‘vulnerabilities’ deter us, I do not know. I really admire Kevin’s honesty, it is reassuring that even the most chilled, cool individuals have moments of self doubt. As a sufferer, probably stemming from anguish in early teenage years, this has made me exponentially more comfortable with the inevitable mental practice.

The body of this album is what sets it apart, it’s in a class of its own. Not for one second does the LP hint at tapering off in terms of quality. Mind Mischief is a great example of the high standard among this group. The atmosphere that Kevin creates in this track, especially in the latter half, is beautiful. This is what I imagine drifting through space on a ‘lovey-buzz’ sounds like (if there was sound, of course). Why Won’t They Talk to Me is a very relatable track for those who have found themselves in situations of social solitude. It captures the emotions of looking at groups of people from the outside wonderfully, firstly somewhat pining about why one isn’t included, then later finally realising (or telling yourself) that the people aren’t as interesting or cool as you initially thought. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is also an element of this great grouping. Pretty much derived from only four chords, it’s definitely one of the more pop-orientated songs on the disc, and one of the most popular. The enchantingly catchy vocals for me demonstrate the range of the Perth man’s musical capabilities.

Image result for kevin parker

The man himself, Kevin Parker. 

Elephant is a cult favorite among the neo-pysch rock community. It’s completely different to anything else on the LP, which is just another reason to love it. I always viewed this song similar to the iconic Money from The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd for this reason. The jazzy, somewhat sleazy guitar riff is even packing the same vibe as Money. This sleazy riff is fittingly accompanied by Kevin aggressively describing another man that people seem to look up to. Once again we see Kevin observing social situations from a distance and forming complex thoughts and emotions, an act I can really relate to from certain points in my life. Upon contemplation, one knows the borderline envious feelings towards others are sometimes unjust, but are overwhelming and can’t be stopped.

Bet he feels like an elephant

Shaking his big grey trunk for the hell of it…“.

Envy. When one views life as an ‘outsider’, as I have done in the past, it is very easy to sensationalise peers. I began to become very aware of the social status of the people around me, including myself. Although I am not proud of it, I can admit to sometimes developing ill feeling towards those at the ‘top of the social tier’. This mentality is perfectly captured in Elephant. Upon reflection, I feel that this was possibly a coping mechanism to deal with my opinion of myself. It is hard to admit, but the insecurities that I possess sometimes dictate my actions (way more in the past than present). As of the last few years, I continuously work on improving the view that I hold of myself. It has taken time, but I am slowly getting there. The insecurities have become drastically reduced, and in contrast my quality of life has increased. I am happier.

We all find ourselves trying to understand things by projecting our experiences onto them. Perhaps this is a measure of a true work of art. Kevin has created such an evocative piece of music that it enables us to pan the landscapes of our consciousness, revisiting memories and feelings with a new-found optimism and understanding.

Lonerism

Lonerism album cover- Taken at the Jardin Du Luxembourg by Kevin himself. The sign translates to “Dogs, even on a leash, are not admitted beyond this point”.

 

Advertisements

Le Départ; Fusion

Welcome to the first edition of Le Départ; Fusion, where three incredible songs of every genre and type will be selected each time to mix up your listening. The aim of this series is to unite both modern and classic music, and appreciate the individual strengths of each generation and style.

Sit back and enjoy the variety.

1. Queen- Cool Cat

Groovy, slow burner this. Freddie Mercury was a very special vocalist, and demonstrates expertly why in this disco tune from 1982. The guitar is so funky, and makes me constantly bob my head. Daft Punk’s song ‘Lose Yourself to Dance‘ reminds me a little bit of it.

 

2. Ghostface Killah- Sour Soul ft. BADBADNOTGOOD

Ghostface Killah from Wu-Tang teaming up with one of the most promising jazz bands of the last decade. I’m really excited to see how BADBADNOTGOOD progress, because it’s clear that they have bags of potential. The young Toronto-based group have already worked with many big names such as Kendrick Lamar, Bonobo, Kaytranada and Tyler the Creator.

 

3. Connan Mockasin- Forever Dolphin Love (Enrol Alkan rework)

We’ve had disco and jazzy hip-hop, it only feels right to incorporate some electronic music into this first edition of fusion. This is a great rework of psych pop star Connan Mockasin. Connan brought out the original in 2011, and incorporated two great remixes of the track into the release, this being my favourite. The combination of spacey vocals and simplistic beat in this song set a really nice ambient tone.

 

Fusion.jpg

Fusion

Le Départ; The Holydrug Couple

The Band…

The Holydrug Couple are currently playing a vital role in Chile’s psychedelic scene, a movement that appears to be gathering a lot of traction. The heavy use of guitar pedals and rolling basslines pitch the listener back to the 60’s, while still keeping a fresh and modern element to their music. The band consists of  a duo from Santiago; Ivés Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra, who met each other in in their mid-teens whilst on holiday.

I only came across these guys early last year, following them being mentioned on psych rock community threads online. The song Paisley was my first introduction to the South American duo, which really resonated with me and went hand-in-hand with my love for the neo-physchadelia revival. Funnily, it was only until a couple of months later until I dedicated proper ‘listening time’ to them. Boy, I am glad I did.

The Holydrug Couple are briefly touring in the UK and Europe this May, but no Irish show has been scheduled so far. I contacted the band recently pleading for them to try and get a gig together here. They quickly replied assuring me how much they would love to, which is promising. Now I’m just waiting for an event company to realise this group’s potential and get organising.

Image result for holydrug couple

The Holydrug Couple; Manuel (left) and Ivés (right)

 

The Music…

Noctuary, the band’s first full length, was released in 2013 under the Brooklyn-based label Sacred Bones. With mind-bending melancholy-fringed songs such as Counting Sailbouts and Out of Sight (linked below) to the more funky, intense tunes like Paisley, this album has substantial diversity. Admittedly, Ivés‘ vocals can sometimes be a little weak at times. However, as the guitar, bass and keys player he certainly makes up for this with his instrumentation.

 

Moonlust was released two years later in 2015, and is my favorite work of theirs. Available on Spotify below, when listened to consecutively (as intended), this album works very well as a unit. I can’t recommend listening to this album in order of first to last enough. Atlantic Postcard, the opening track, is a great introduction to the album. Absent of vocals, this song will have you drifting away from reality almost immediately.

Next, the appropriately named Dreamy demonstrates how talented Ives really is on bass. His seemingly effortless flow and timing characterize the The Holydrug Couple’s discography to a tee. Likewise, Manuel Parra, on the drums perfectly compliments these traits. His dramatic drumming is perfectly illustrated in French Movie Theme, a three and a half minute psychedelic instrumental goldmine.

Arguably their most popular song is If I Could Find You (Eternity), and it’s relatively easy to see why. Compared to times in the previous album, Ives stays within his vocal range during this track and uses it as a strength rather than a limitation. Additionally, the guitar, bass, drums and pitched cyclic synth combined in a relaxed fashion compliment each other nicely.

Listen to the full album here:

 

Their most recent work was released in late 2016; Soundtrack for Pantanal. Overall, the album fits together well. Maybe a little too well, as I sometimes find that the tracks are guilty of blending into one another and no particular songs standing out. Although, if I had to choose, Everything’s so Wrong Pt.2 would be the pick of the bunch for me.

Despite preferring their earlier work, this is still without doubt a solid release from the Santiago duo. I have high hopes for The Holydrug Couple, and await with excitement their future work.

Image result for holydrug couple

Trippy image of the trippy duo.

Le Départ; Floating Points

The Artist…

Sam Shepherd, or Floating Points, is a progressive electronic musician and producer from Manchester, England. Interestingly, Sam has earned a PhD in neuroscience at University College London, and some might say this comprehension of the human brain is reflective in his intricate musical arrangements.

I first came across Floating Points in 2014, following the release of his single Nuits Soneres. According to his friend Four Tet, Shepherd composed the song on an airplane on the way to a Lyon festival, ‘coincidentally’ also called Nuits Soneres. Floating Points then mixed the song live in his DJ booth in front of the French crowd, and the 12 minute song was born. Genius. It really demonstrates how talented Sam Shepherd really is.

I strongly urge any Electric Picnic goers that happen to be reading this to check out his live performance in Stradbally this September. You won’t regret it, it’s a pretty moving experience.

In interviews, Sam Shepherd is a quiet, yet charming lad and amazingly can’t stand listening back to his to own pieces of music. A lecture in Tokyo a few years ago gives a great insight into Floating Point’s character. It’s evident that the man has a deep obsession for music of all kinds, and doesn’t limit himself to a particular genre. It’s a trait that I admire about him, something that I have learned from him.

Image result for sam shepherd floating points

Floating Points; Dr.Sam Shepherd

The Music…

As mentioned above, Nuits Soneres was thrown together on a flight from London to France and mixed live at a festival hours later. When listening to the song, it’s extremely hard to believe that it was constructed in a matter of hours. The song is a bit of a roller coaster, it rides a squiggly acid lead that periodically explodes in intensity before retreating into quieter passages. The song is sometimes an amalgamation of many seemingly independent elements. As chaotic as this sounds, Shepherd arranges them in his restrained manner, a sophisticated characteristic of his best discography to date.

Silhouettes (I, II & III) is a must-listen. Shepherd keeps with his theme of restrain throughout, not letting the sound get over complicated.  I absolutely love the drumming in this one, along with the delicate and cushioned harmonics make this beautiful track. The song is completely moving at certain stages, conducted by the gradual jazzy drumming and the introduction of a number of orchestral sounds, such as violin and cello.

 

Prior to these releases, his song Vacuum Boogie and his ten minute track Myrtle Avenue are the real standouts of early-era Floating Points’ discography. The latter of these two tracks was released as part of the five song EP, Shadows (2011)In retrospect, it’s evident that Shepherd based many characteristics of his later discog on his older track Myrtle Avenue . The guitar-riffs, drums, and synths are combined to perfection in this lay. Once again, the acid harmonic is present in some sections of the songs more than others, and is complemented by the neat drumming upping in intensity as the harmonics begin to make a dramatic comeback.

It’s impossible to leave out the banger that is King BromeliadOpening with what seems to be the noise of a party, a seemingly modulated bassy groove begins to seep through the walls and finally bursts through into your ears. With definite techno elements to this number, it’s likely to be his most suitable tune for grimy dance floors.

Image result for king bromeliad

All hail King Bromeliad.