Tag Archives: Astralwerks

Bryan Ferry – Olympia

Bryan Ferry - OlympiaBryan FerryOlympia (Astralwerks)

I’m straight-up hetero, but there’s part of me that believes Bryan Ferry could pitch enough woo to successfully get me to drop my trousers like an uglier, hairier Country Life model.

The ban from Wal-Mart would be justifiable and necessarily swift.

Olympia does much to get my naughty parts tingly, mainly prompted by the record’s unabashed nod to Roxy’s quintessential soundtrack for gettin’ it on, Avalon. Like a found bottle of Hai Karate, Olympia brings back a lot of the same sounds and textures, making it a no-brainer for any fan of that Roxy Music album.

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Kings of Convenience – Boat Behind

MP3: Kings of Convenience – “Boat Behind” from Declaration of Dependence, out now on EMI/Astralwerks.

Nothing unexpected here, but if you’re looking for something shocking from the Kings of Convenience, you’re probably looking in the wrong part of Norway. Here we’ve got more of the delicate harmonies and gentle fiddles over groovy, swinging acoustic guitars and upright bass that we’ve always loved from the duo. Quiet, once again, is the (no longer very) new loud. Or, as Johnny Loftus put it in 2001, Herbal Tea is the New Moonshine. And it’s still good.

Kings of Convenience: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

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Air – Talkie Walkie

AirTalkie Walkie (Astralwerks)

A pair of Parisians massaged their way into the musical canon five years ago with the landmark next-millenium soul album. Moon Safari was so affecting because on the brink of Y2K and fears of apocalyptic terror, it provided a window to a gentler, serene vision of what might come once the ball dropped on the old era. Under pressure to match such feats on subsequent releases, Air fell short—leaving romantics everywhere wondering if Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicholas Godin had made their full impact with one album. Each release brought about drastic change, leaving Safari fanatics with perennial Air pocket pickers Zero 7 to fulfill any desires for the group’s old sound. On their latest album the group reverses that pattern—Talkie Walkie returns to what made Safari such a well-received effort.

For the first time, the group has taken vocal duties entirely upon themselves, aiding the consistency on Talkie Walkie‘s ten tracks. On “Venus,” the vocals melt into the song’s background—cavernous gospel drumming very much reminiscent of Doves’ The Last Broadcast masterpiece “Satellites.” On “Venus” and other tracks, notably “Cherry Blossom Girl” and “Biological,” transmissions are sent through a prism, reappearing on the other side in shades of Loveless. Walls of sounds wash over the body in increments like waves from an echolocation device.

Talkie Walkie is as familiar as a favorite blanket, but—with help from Nigel Godrich—Air jars the calm with disorienting noise, such as the delayed keyboard stabs that slice through the verses of “Ran.” The result is something as painfully beautiful as it is frightening and alone. Talkie Walkie is addictive like the feel of soft, new lips. This is for the weak of heart.

The Faint – Danse Macabre Remixes

The FaintDanse Macabre Remixes (Astralwerks)

Remix album. The two words sound like a euphemism for a recording artist’s desperate attempt to make a quick buck out of recycled material. In some cases, however, an artist transcends this presupposed formula, reminding listeners that new versions of the same song can sometimes top the original. Danse Macabre Remixes is a different kind of remix album. First of all, The Faint produce an innovative sound in this dulled contemporary industry. Of course, it has 80s synth and pop as obvious influences, but why remix a sound that sounds like a remix to begin with?

From Photek and Junior Sanchez to electronica’s poster boy Paul Oakenfold, each track follows the typical remix recipe of repeated verses, complex layered beats, and most importantly, a completely different sound. The key to appreciating this album is to reference The Faint’s original material and to respect the creativity of spinning records. This particular combination comes out as the perfect album to wake you up after listening to Beck’s Sea Change or to get you moving while primping for a night of metropolitan frivolity.

You can compare the album to Bjork’s Telegram: innovative artists allowing their creation to be morphed into a more edgy version of electronica. However, Astralwerks should have packaged this CD as a set with the original Danse Macabre from 2001 (Saddle Creek). Listening to one will make you appreciate the other on an entirely different level.