Gig Review : Palace Winter Smash Live London Debut

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Every now and then a new band comes crashing through the roof of the musicverse with sufficient clamour to attract my attention. One such band that hit me on the bonce with a blast of sonic rubble during the latter half of 2015 was Danish duo, Palace Winter.

Having met on the road in 2013, Caspar Hesselager and Carl Coleman cooked up enough of a connection to go into a Copenhagen studio in early 2014 and randomly rock out with each other to see what happened. What happened was the monstrously good ‘Medication’ EP and the bones of a debut album, which word has it, should see the light of day in Spring 2016.

To fuel an already lit London fire, the boys flew in for a whirlwind 48 hour whizz through an acoustic Rough Trade in-store and a very electric London debut at Birthdays in Dalston.

Rough Trade

Palace Winter add two musician friends to the mix for their live shows – drummer, Jens Bach and guitarist, Jacob Haubjerg and they certainly give depth and energy to what is an already pretty identifiable Palace Winter trademark sound.

A short but very sweet set-list consisted of a full sweep of the five-track EP with the addition of a cover of the Elliot Smith track, ‘Christian Brothers’ and the debut of new number, ‘Hearts to Kill’.

Psyched and full of vim, front-man Carl Coleman opened the show by launching into a blistering rendition of ‘Stockholm’ which saw him flex his guitar skills to the full. This guy can play some seriously mean electric guitar riffs.

Switching to acoustic for the wickedly good ‘Time Machine’, Coleman once again took his guitar playing to another level, rocking out on an extended instrumental during which he didn’t just make the guitar sing, he made it squeal with pleasure, and, the crowd hoot with delight.

After a strong performance of latest single, ‘New Ghost’ the guys launched into fan favourite, hit song ‘Menton’, during which Hasselager excels at some very complex synth layering and sampling. Probably one of their strongest songs, with its elongated rollercoaster instrumental it was certainly a crowd pleaser.

Interestingly, the songs lost none of their wide, cinematic feel during the live performances – something which could so easily have happened in the confines of a small venue. Instead, Palace Winter actually succeeded in making them sound even more “larger than life” than they already sound on the EP. No mean feat, and a testament to the proficiency of their adept musicianship.

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New track ‘Hearts to Kill’ goes down a more Rock n Roll road than Palace Winter have so far travelled. It’s a pacey, catchy song punctuated by a strong instrumental and some pretty deft drumming. Heavy on the beats is standard PW fare.

Coleman certainly knows how to work an audience and with his ebullient personality manages to cross over into the crowd without having to move – his extroverted, easy manner effortlessly takes him there.

Standout performance of the night was the electrifying cover of ‘Christian Brothers’ which I wish everyone had the chance to hear. It was an outstanding rendition of what is a crackingly good song, with Coleman taking the vocal by the proverbial throat and literally belting it beyond recognition of the original. This is a song that has been covered by rock-monsters Queens of the Stone Age, but Palace Winter smashed it to pieces.

The set closed with ‘Woke in the Night’ which I had initially thought a rather odd choice to round off the evening until I heard it live. This is a classic song in all senses of the term, highlighting not just Palace Winter’s exceptional abilities as singers and musicians, but also their finely honed song writing skills. It brought the set to a well-rounded close. As far as gigs go, this was one of the best live performances I’ve seen this year, and having now seen them play live, I am firm in the opinion that Palace Winter are going to become a musical tour-de-force over the coming twelve months.

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Palace Winter are a well synced, hugely creative and hugely talented pairing who have shied away from following their peers down the road of mainstream, instead choosing to go where their musical hearts take them. And it shows. They have chosen a blend of musical genres that allow them to flex their instrumental talents, lyric writing skills and production muscle. Undefinable but always identifiable, theirs is a sound that has caught the attention of savvy media across Europe, especially in Denmark and the UK, where BBC6 Music can’t get enough of track, ’Menton’.

So far the Palace Winter guys have done everything right,  Bubbling away just under the surface, it can’t be long before things start to heat to boiling point for these dudes.  One can’t help wondering how explosive things will get for Palace Winter when their album debuts next year.

Palace Winter will play a series of confirmed live dates kicking off in Aarhus end Jan 2016.  These include two slots at the prestigious by:Larm festival in Oslo, details on the official website here.

You can follow Palace Winter on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

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Review : Dayflower On Gold Celeste #Sunflower!!

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I think it’s really neat to have musicians talk about the music of their peers.  So to follow the trend we started some weeks ago, we now have another guest reviewer, in the form of David Dhonau, airing his lofty views on an album that has featured on this site – ‘The Glow’, by Gold Celeste.

David Dhonau is a bassist, cellist, composer and producer based in the UK. His work has ranged from ambient electronica to fuzzy alt rock, contemporary classical to improvised noise.  As a composer, arranger and session player his work has been favourably reviewed in NME, The Wire, Uncut, Muzik and the Sun.

Live performances have taken him to Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House and festivals such as Tramlines and Summer Sundae. He has had recorded work featured on television programmes such as BBC3’s ‘Ideal’ and Channel 4’s ‘Hollyoaks’.  David currently plays in Leicester based dream-pop band Dayflower and is a founding member of experimental rap collective 1,000,000,000,000 o’clock.

David Dhonau reviews ‘The Glow’, Gold Celeste.

Conjuring thoughts of something shining, chiming, transcendent and precious, Gold Celeste is a band name as evocative as it is beautiful. It came from a simple appreciation of the sky, saturated with colour during sunrise or sunset. The Glow is the debut album from this Norwegian dream-psych trio: an equally appropriate title for a record that exudes warm, luxuriant, brilliance from start to finish.

It begins with a collage of reversed voices, odd tape effects and swooning strings (found, one might imagine, on a dusty, worn film reel); a mini overture which builds and swells until a clattering drum fill shatters the reverie and ‘Can Of Worms’ opens properly. Suddenly we are in the midst of a legion of multi-tracked voices, repeating a world weary mantra: ‘They said it would be good for you’. These fall away to leave a wistful lead vocal alone against a backdrop of meandering chords and ambient textures: elements which form a blueprint for much of what will follow.

After a few false starts with outside producers, the band chose to handle production themselves. Not surprising for a group of friends who first bonded over a shared love of Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine, bands known for their attention to studio craft. (Gold Celeste covered the former’s ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’ at their debut London show recently, apparently to great effect.) It was clearly the right decision – they have meticulously sculpted a record which is a truly gorgeous listen.

There are no hard edges on ‘The Glow’. Multi-instrumentalist Eirik Fidjeland lays down drifts of guitars and washed out keyboards that meld and merge, sometimes barely distinguishable from one another. Cinematic strings seep into tape echo, enveloping the listener in a warm, analogue embrace. Effects are applied with painstaking care, never muddy or vague. The whole sound scintillates like sunlight reflected in clear, rippling water.

Still Benedikte Olsen
Still Benedikte Olsen

While the high end floats with diaphanous lightness, a solid anchor is provided by the masterful rhythm section of Petter Haugen Andersen (drums) and Simen Hallset (bass, keys, lead vocal). Swaggering tom fills and deft snare flourishes interweave with melodic bass, summoning memories of Paul McCartney and Ringo at their peak. No coincidence that the somnambulant organ stabs at the heart of ‘The Dreamers’ make it feel like Strawberry Fields Forever’s comedown.

Each instrumental part is played beautifully, making the intricate seem effortless. Shrewd arrangements draw an orchestral hugeness from the band, heightened by additional instrumentation and nuanced, abstract noise: it’s Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson exploring the surface of another planet.

While these ‘golden age’ influences loom large, The Glow also resonates with a more contemporary avant pop tone. ‘Open Your Eyes’ is a near perfect gem of a song (a clear highlight on a consistently strong album), relying on woozy synths and a syncopated breakbeat, which call to mind Tame Impala or MGMT as recorded by American neo-psych production maestro Dave Fridmann.

Hallset’s top-of-the-range vocal strongly recalls the fey, quavering delivery of Jonathan Donahue, Fridmann’s bandmate from his days as bassist in Mercury Rev: a group famed for its reckless experimentalism and symphonic grandeur. But whilst Donahue and Co’s latest offering,’The Light In You’, fell somewhat flat (at least in part due to Fridmann’s absence as producer) ‘The Glow’ succeeds in the same way as Mercury Rev’s finest work – synthesising a varied palette of sonic influences and weaving them into a lush, timeless landscape, uniquely and on its own terms.

It may not contain anything as obviously anthemic as ‘Goddess On A Hiway’ or as unhinged as ‘Chasing A Bee’, but ‘The Glow’ is a sonic trip of remarkable depth, imagination and beauty. It’s an LP which unfolds more richly with each listen and is designed to be experienced as a whole, joyfully rubbishing any notion of The Album being a outmoded concept. Gold Celeste are revelling in the format, down to the carefully paced track order.

The longish opening track is followed by ‘But a Poem’: a succinct ditty based around acoustic guitar and vocal. Tantalisingly brief instrumental interludes fade out when they’ve barely begun. Subtle shifts in key and tonality lends the music a weightless dream logic. When Gold Celeste open a door in front of you, expect to float out through the window instead. As Revolver did with Tomorrow Never Knows, the song cycle ends with a beginning, and a dramatic one. ‘The Start of Something Beautiful’ is propelled by an urgent beat as chords climb restlessly, beckoning the hopeful radiance of a new dawn.

‘The Glow’ is as ambitious lyrically as it is musically, addressing societal malaise, global progress and personal, spiritual transformation. ‘Grand New Spin’ searches for ‘some kind of answer’ and longs for ‘a place where truth is not a sin’. Gold Celeste are treading in Lennon’s footsteps: dreaming with clear, open eyes, not to escape the world but rather to imagine a better one. As with the music, the earnestness with which such grand themes are presented is offset by an artful playfulness which banishes any sense of self indulgence.

A band after Gold Celeste’s heart must surely be those pioneering Oklahoman freaks, The Flaming Lips. Before their glorious ‘Do You Realize??’ rises to its final crescendo Wayne Coyne sings of how ‘the sun doesn’t go down. It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round’.

In offering up this exquisite album, three Nordic dreamers have done something sublime: a reminder that maybe the direction the sun is heading is less important than taking the time to enjoy its glow.

‘The Glow’ is available now via Bandcamp, iTunes or Spotify

Gold Celeste’s latest single, ‘The Wonder of Love’ is available here

You can find Gold Celeste on FacebookDayflower also grow there!

Listen to Dayflower’s Fresh on the Net favourited track, ‘Heart Shaped Tambourines’ here –

Things That Made Me Smile … 2015

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Those of you that know me well, know that the one thing I have, head and shoulders above everything else, is a very big and very childish sense of humour.  I love to laugh, and I laugh a lot, probably inappropriately half the time, but hey, you know I never mean any harm right? (You do, don’t you???)

So I thought in the Spirit of Christmas (as opposed to the Spirit of Gin…not a drop, swear) and for something a bit different, I’d share with you, some of the moments that made me laugh, smile, snort, fall off the bed (and there were a few of those), splurt and take a turn for the worse, red face and coughing wise!

Before I begin, DISCLAIMER!  This piece is not mean to offend…it is a lighthearted look at some of the stuff you bands/singers/musos/writers have put out there this year, which YT just happened to find hilariously amusing.  I am not laughing at you….well, I am, but in a nice way.  You made me smile, for which I’m thankful.

JR Moores DIS Leeds Festival Review

This time last year I barely knew who JR Moores was…he certainly didn’t know who I was…he does now! Call it the pester effect!  JR is a music writer for The Quietus and DIS.  By-times, he reviews comedy festivals.  I personally think he should be doing stand up.

JR is to insanely quick witted writing as Rodney’s face was to OF&H.

I knew he wrote well (he writes a mega-watts psych feature for TQ – go check it out – I’ve embedded my personal fave), but when I stumbled upon this baby one quiet September morn, I realised that I was in the company of the Dermot Morgan of festival reviewers.  Intelligent, articulate, insightful – tick, tick, tick.  Entertaining – check.  Hilariously funny – side splittingly so.

So the Award for – MADE DERV SPILL HER TEA ALL OVER HER LAPTOP goes to – JR Moores for his hugely entertaining review of the Leeds festival.

(I’m sure he’ll be thrilled – you are JR aren’t you, secretly … very secretly!).

http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4149334-leeds-festival-2015–the-dis-review

See, you thought it was going to be all musicians didn’t you….well, er!

Anyone who’s read the reviews on this site for the past 6 months will be only too aware that one band has featured more than any other (though the golden glowers have been chasing their tail of late).  Yip, the boys from Dråpe get a mention on here today.

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Dråpe have put a smile on my oft forlorn face, above and beyond any other artist this year.  The reasons are varied, but in this instance, it’s the lyrics to the track ‘?’ from their album ‘Relax/Relapse’, which combined with the zaniest of loop-the-loop guitar riffs, produced a near death experience due to the resultant choking of said reviewer (who was eating a toffee whilst lying on the bed at the time!!).  Front-man, Ketil Myhre, may have an ear for a good tune, but it is the sharpness of his eye for a crackingly good lyric that is his forte.  Myhre is one of the wittiest, most perceptive and trenchant lyricists I’ve come across in a long time and is the winner of the MOST MORDACIOUS LYRICS OF THE YEAR AWARD with this piece of astringent brilliance (see track 3 – but please play the whole album, it’s RAD).

Colon cleanser – Low carb diets – Gluten free food only

Fashion blogging – Silicon buns – Botox injected lips

Your way of life

It is the only way of living
It makes so much sense, those things you do
Well-knowing the world is getting warmer
still nothings as cool as being you

It’s: black or white – High concept interior design
Anal bleaching – Louis Vuitton  – The list goes on and on

I’m in a band – Choose second hand – I’m an original
I am so free – just look at me – I am the prophecy

 

Deadpan faces kill me … and one guy more than any other deadpanned me to comic death  with his performance in an in-studio music video.  But it wasn’t the DP face (you’ll catch it near the end, during a close up!) that won him this award…oh no.  This was one of those moments of pure comedy gold where the camera hits the right place at the right time (courtesy of the wonderful film maker Benedikte Olsen who shot the video for the lustrous The Wonder of Love) and bam……you’ve got your “money shot” (in fact she actually got three – one courtesy of Mr Eirik Fidjeland and two courtesy of the Petter HA).  Mr H.A. you have a natural disposition towards the comedic! X

Eirik Has Eye Issues
Petter
Go Away, You’re Scaring Me!!

The 2015 comedy money shot goes to Petter Haugen Andersen from Gold Celeste, winner of the RANDOM DRUMSTICK THROWING MID SONG COMPETITION (and in a lesser category, the YOU’RE SCARING ME (CAN’T YOU SEE THE LOOK IN MY EYES) AWARD with a nod to Mr F for his, THAT GUITAR STRING JUST WHACKED ME ONE IN THE EYE vibe.

Kudos to the guys for being big enough to leave these shots in the video.  They actually serve to make it fresh and human!

AHA! A-ha

“In fact, during the course of our 45 minutes together, it will often seem that Harket hasn’t heard me at all …”

Back to words….Another music media dude that I’ve got to know over the past year has been one Mr Wyndham Wallace; journalist, author, PR manager, record company executive, art lovey and general all round Mr Culture Personified.  He also happens to have a love for things Norwegian (especially NO isles in the Arctic circle and feral cats) and a bit of a gra for one Mr Mark Hollis & the music of Talk Talk.

Back in September, Nordic music gods, A-ha, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the release of their UBER pop hit, ‘Take On Me’ and so, being one to see a perfect opportunity present itself to put a Grand New Spin (see what I did there?) on an archived 2013 interview – (why not?) – WW set about bringing it into 2015 with additional words and music links unearthed during some pretty indepth research.

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The result was not only a fascinating and detailed exploration into the background of the band and the song, it was an uproariously funny account of his meeting with A-ha frontman, Morten Harket, who by the sounds of things, might just be a few cards short of a full deck!  You can read the full bells & whistles below.

Winner of the, HUNTING HI AND LOW FOR AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTIONS AWARD, Wyndham Wallace ‘Talking Away: A-Ha On The Making Of Take On Me ‘ for The Quietus.

http://thequietus.com/articles/18805-aha-hunting-high-and-low-take-on-me-review-anniversary

Snippet Mascot
Snippet Mascot

Some songs make ya smile, some songs make ya grin like a Cheshire Cat.  And so it was with this next smile inducer.  Johnno Snips Snippet Cuts Casson (mouthful innit) is a singer, songwriter, musician, FOTN moderator and Toaster.  He lives in Essex and claims to have never been in an episode of TOWIE.  Cough.

Earlier in the Autumn, as the sun was beginning to take on that lovely autumnal red glow in the sky and the evenings were beginning to draw in around our shoulders like comfy woolly scarves, along came this ray of Sunshine.  Snippets ‘The Sunshine’ EP has all the smiley feelgood of Morecambe & Wise and Brenda Lee’s ‘You Bring Me Sunshine’.  It brought me Sunshine and a lot of Smiling … and here it is

Winner of the YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE AWARD – Snippet Cuts

 

Penultimate awards go to two gentleman who made me laugh louder than anyone else this year…albeit unwittingly.  I’ve never met either of them, though I do know one of them quite well through our mutual modding escapades.

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The first source of mirth is to be found quite early on in the latest Dråpe video – which itself is hilarious and will easily put a smile on your face.  (Much laughs induced at .27in with Eirik F doing his best grounded Albatross impressions) but it’s the shot at .30 here that’s the prize winner.  Yep, winner of the THE ICONIC “THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY” HAIR IN THE AIR AWARD, is our witty wordsmith from a couple of awards above, Ketil Myhre. To be fair, the dude has sufficient sense of humour not to have asked for that shot to be removed – the more ‘anally bleached, silicon bottomed’ diva-types would have.

Second is the presence of Number 8 in the Northern Portrait video – he comes in around 1.30.  Now long story short…one very dark and boring night, a few of us mods were bothering Steve on Twitter (we do that, it’s called free childish entertainment).  Along popped Big Jim and his – “did I tell you when I did a dancing part in a video” – line in chat.  Then he dropped this on us….to much hilarity, raucous laughter and red faces with aching sides.  Debs, the lamb, has never been the same since, and now avoids much social media contact for fear of a relapse into her immediate post No8 state.

When you see No8 – you’ll understand why this caused so much hilarity (and if you knew Jim as we do, you’d understand  it even more). Winner of the MY SHORTS DON’T COME ANY SHORTER AND MY WIFE TONGSED MY HAIR, WHAT YOU THINK DEBS? AWARD is Big Jim Cambo, Modertor with Fruit and Nut.

A sincere thanks to you all for making me laugh, smile, cry with laughter, howl, belly laugh and collapse with glee.  Without your putting yourselves, your music and your words out there, the world (well mine anyway) would be a much darker and grimmer place.

Finally, my last award goes to Debs, Steve, Jim, Paul, Johnno, Alex, David D, Damian, Jo Marie C, Mme Catherine, Eddie S and my BAES Andrew B & Ieuan B.  Not only have you been solid, but you have made me laugh when all I wanted to do was give up, cry, scream and/or invariably get drunk, which I usually never seem to manage!

Winners of my THANK YOU FOR THE SMILES OF FRIENDSHIP AWARD…I give it to you with all my heart X       Much love & Merry Christmas XXX

‘When All Else Fails’, there’s Classic Rock!! #NRWY

NRWY

Bit of classic rock for you for a change!

Yes folks, today we present ‘When All Else Fails’ by Norwegian rockers, NRWY (no prizes for guessing how that is pronounced).

There’s no sparkling synths, dreamy vocals or bouncing electro-pulses. What there is lots of though, is scorching guitars, thumping drums and thrumming bass, topped off with a confident, strong vocal.

These guys allegedly sound like NIN – I couldn’t tell you – I’ve never listened to NIN in my life.  What they DO sound like to me is a cross between Manic Street Preachers on ‘Found that Soul’ and a meld of ‘old-style’ Rainbow and ‘new stylee’ Queens of the Stone Age.

NRWY is a five-piece made up of Erik Grov, Per Christian Grov, Sjur Vidar Lilleås, Jonatan Uranes and Lill Katrin Bødal.  They’ve been around for a while, developing their sound and song-writing style, and it would now appear that they have hit upon the right balance with this their latest production.

“When All Else Fails” is NRWY’s fourth single from upcoming album “Not Now”, scheduled for release in February 2016, via indie label, NO FOREVERS.  It was produced by Roar Nilsen and mixed by ‘Mr Klaxons’ Nick Terry.  What’s more interesting, is that it was mastered by Dave Collins of, cough, Queens of the Stone Age fame! Coincidence?  Hmm. The resultant sound from this new collab of metal maestros, is one with more edge, weight and definition.  #Sharp.

‘When All Else Fails’ is a very strong track, with a lot of bloody good guitar playing and a powerfully performed vocal.  It’s an old-school classic rock song with a twenty first century feel.  And folks, that can’t be a bad thing!

“When All Else Fails” will is available online from today, here.

Best of 2015 … Norway

Gaffa.no
Gaffa.no

2015 was a magnificent year for Norwegian music … here are what I consider to be the best ofs …

Norway          One to Watch                    Antler

Relatively new to the Norwegian music scene, electro-pop outfit Antler have already caused quite a stir with their debut tracks ‘Animal’ and ‘The Dip’ which were released in late 2015 via newbie Trondheim label, No Forevers.

Antler’s style shifts between electronic dance-pop and alt-pop jazz, with a heavy reliance on multiple layers of synth and electronica and their sound  is a sticky confection of quirky harmonies, come hither vocals, slinky synths and strong percussive beats. It is catchy, offbeat electronic pop that is as charmingly captivating as it is irresistible.

With an album already recorded and scheduled for release in March, 2016 will see Antler hit the live circuit taking in Phonofestivalen, Bergen, in January, and Trondheim Calling in early February.  The coming year should prove both interesting and exciting year for this young  band.  With luck, it’ll also prove to be hugely rewarding!

 

Norway          Breakthrough                    Slutface

Neo-punk come riot grrrl quartet, Slutface,  stormed their way into the Norwegian  music scene this year with their fresh, feisty and fun flavour of frenergetic noise.  Four articulate, intelligent students, Slutface have also effortlessly grabbed the attention of UK media, with their insightful, acerbic lyrics and raucous, catchy sounds.

The band dropped their debut single, ‘Shave my Head’ in November, to universal acclaim.   With its urgent, high energy guitar riffs and drum beats, and attitudinal vocal,  ‘Shave my Head’ is indie-pop-punk at its punchy, addictive best.

Currently working on material for their debut album, which will be released next year, Slutface, a 2015 Nordic meld of Sleater Kinney, No Doubt and Elastica, are on the cusp of becoming one of the biggest acts to emerge out of Norway for quite a long time.  Bring it on grrrl …

 

Norway          Best Solo                             Farao

Multi-instrumentalist, Kari Jahnsen, aka Farao, is like the Nordic embodiment of an Amazonian warrior-woman.  A vocal, musical and visual tour-de-force, Farao released her debut album, ‘Till It’s All Forgotten’ in September and to say it blew the critics away, is putting it mildly.

Resistant to classification, Farao’s music is as unique as it is memorable.  An intricate musical network of sonorus layers and varied textures, it is a complex sound that is quite unlike any other, unique to Farao, and to her alone.

Farao’s vocal goes slightly against the cool, clear, crystal Norwegian grain.  Not unlike Sundfor when she dips down from those iceberg sopranos, Farao’s voice has a warmer, darker, husky tone that whilst being undeniably lovely, gives her vocal ‘an edge’.  Quite apt really considering how defiant her neither indie, nor electronic, nor pop, nor rock sound is.

‘Till It’s All Forgotten’ is a triumphant showcase of Farao’s songwriting skills and instrumental talents.  What happens next, should be even more remarkable.

 

Norway          Best Group                        Dråpe

To be honest, there was a three way tie for this one – in the end what swung it in Dråpe’s favour was continuity and consistency.

2015 has seen this five-piece change lineup, release the single ‘Together We’re Pstereo’, hit the festival circuit, record and release an album plus three further singles, complete a looping tour of Norway and self-produce and release their first music video (more of which anon!).

Second album., ‘Relax/Relapse’, saw them change their recording MO, opting this time around to record on a 24-track tape recorder, which by confining their options, conversely gave them the freedom to be more selective with their choices of what stayed, over what was, “non requis”.  The end result was a more defined, mature and experimental sound, that highlighted the breadth of Dråpe’s abilities as musicians, as well as the depth of front-man, Ketil Myhre’s song writing skills.

February will see Dråpe kick start the new year as part of the Trondheim Calling line up, which will be this reviewers first glimpse of the band live.

One feels that Dråpe are within touching distance of something big.  Will 2016 be the year that sees them follow their ‘friend’ into the ‘stratosphere’?  One certainly hopes so!

 

Norway          Best Video                          Dråpe ‘Round and Around’

From the first clip of Dråpe’s 60’s vibing video, you just know you are in for a fun ride.  An hilarious take on stilted pysch videos a la Procol Harem, with a dash of farcical self-deprecation and some comic genius scripting, this is without doubt the most individual and entertaining video of the year.

No flashy gimmicks, no big budgets, this wittingly conceived of video for the brilliantly sardonic ‘Round and Around’, was scripted, filmed, directed and edited by in-house filmic gurus, Even Hafnor and Lars Boquist, with the help of Hafnor’s professional film-making partner, Lisa Brooke Hansen.

Shot on location around Oslo, the vintage style visual, with its washed out colour grading, bonkers building shots, priceless choreography and deadpan Dråpe expressions, is a stroke of pure visual genius.  Enjoy x

 

Norway          EP of the Year                    Frøkedal ‘I See You’

Anne Lise Frøkedal has thrown everything, probably including the kitchen sink, at 2015 and it’s worked!  This incredibly talented, inventive artist has released single after single, debuted EP ‘I See You’, and rounded off 2015 in style, with the release of hauntingly beautiful electronic-pop song ‘Kid’.  To put the cherry on top of the musical cake, she has also announced the 2016 release of her debut album, which she will promo with a lengthy tour that will include a slot at the “Norwegian Glastonbury”, Oya Festivalen alongside backing band Familien.

Frøkedal’s transition from simplistic folk melodies to dark electronica via a detour through quirky pop, has showcased not only her ability to change and diversify, but also exemplified her seemingly boundless song writing talents.

Without doubt a solo Anne Lise has had a standout 2015 – one wonders what myriad routes Frøkedal will take her sound down in 2016?

 

Norway          Album of the Year

Susanne Sundfor has had a jet propelled 2015.  Unleashing the magnificent opus, ‘Ten Love Songs’ upon the musicverse at the start of the year, she has toured extensively, been feted by the creme de la creme of radio hosts including those at the Beeb, headlined festivals, made stunning visuals, and even now, still shows no sign of letting up, with more dates pencilled into the diary for 2016, starting with PolarJazz.

‘Ten Love Songs’ is Sundfor’s musical diary of her relational experiences – the good, the bad and the bleak. It is a paradoxical menagerie of every feeling of bliss, every ounce of pain, every spasm of venom, and every wave of euphoria, that anyone who has ever loved, been loved, or been flailed by love, has experienced.

Part electronic adrenalin rush, part neo-classical sublimeness, always unique, ‘Ten Love Songs’ is as electic a range of songs as you could hope to find on album.  With Sundfor’s pitch perfect voice, as cool and clear as a Norwegian mountain stream, her adept keyboard skills and an exacting ear for a wonderful arrangement, this is the album that has brought her closest to the holy grail of all albums, the ‘magnum opus’.

As the song goes, “things can only get better”!  How much better, we will have to wait and see.

Farao ‘Til It’s All Forgotten’

Gold Celeste ‘The Glow’

Susanne Sundfor ‘Ten Love Songs’

 

Norway          Song of the Year

Once heard, never forgotten!

Beautiful, wonderful, awesome, amazing, stunning, superb, classy…the amount of adjectives I have both seen and heard describing this song, could fill several pages.  ‘The Wonder of Love’ by Gold Celeste, yet another act that defy classification, is the hands down, standout Norwegian song of 2015.  And, that’s not just my opinion.

Everyone to whom I have sent the link, shared the video, directed towards Spotify, have all said the same thing – just using different words.

This honeyed, soulful stunner, is musical elegance personified.  In a league of it’s own, it is a disarming wonder of musical loveliness conjured up by three exceptionally gifted musicians.

Having seen Gold Celeste play live, I can attest to their superb musicianship – these guys know no musical boundaries, there are no sonic hills they cannot climb.  Brilliantly creative, lyrically insightful, vocally sublime and instrumentally unparalleled, musical magicians Gold Celeste have, what I can only hope is, a truly wonderful future ahead of them.

Genius deserves to be rewarded … and Gold Celeste are instrumental Einsteins!

Maribel ‘And Back In’

Susanne Sundfor ‘Fade Away’

Gold Celeste ‘The Wonder of Love’

Best of 2015…Nordic

Palace Winter

Nordic                   Breakthrough                    Palace Winter

The stars were aligned the day Carl Coleman met Caspar Hesselager during a brief music tour of Denmark in 2013.  Both playing with different bands at the time, it was Danish native Hesselager’s astute foresight in identifying Coleman’s ability to fill  the lyrical and vocal voids in his creative armory, that led him to approach the Australian to see if he might be interested in collaborating.

The pair decamped to Caspar’s Copenhagen studio, rocked out some tunes, and Palace Winter was born. Nine months later, the duo finished recording and mixing their debut EP, ‘Medication‘ but before they even got past first gear, were promptly snapped up by the uber eclectic record label, Tambourhinoceros. (which to this day I still have difficulty in saying).

Since the Summer, Palace Winter have released their stunner of a 5-track EP, wowing audiences across the Euro-zone with their live performances.  They have hit the highs of Hype Machine, been played extensively on the musical mecca that is BBC6 Music, and are now on the cusp of releasing their debut album.

Hold on tight 2016, it’s gonna be a country-rockin’ roller-coaster of a Palace Winter ride.  Yeehaw!

 

Nordic                   Best Solo Artist                 Nils Frahms

Words fail me when it comes to Nils Frahm.  There is too much to say, and not enough words to say it with.  Probably one of the 21st century’s musical geniuses, certainly one of a kind, Frahms has continued to stun worldwide audiences with his ingenious, unique and evocative compositions.

From his various collaborations with Ólafur Arnalds, to his standout, hair-raising performance for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall;  from his sell out European tour to his ‘Solo’ project, Frahms has been at the forefront of the ambient classical music scene for most of 2015.

An exceptionally talented composer, musician, performer and producer, everything that Frahms has turned his hand to this year has turned to musical gold.

There are very few music artists who have so consistently inspired such awe, who have so frequently reduced their captive audiences to tears – Frahms is one of them.  And if you have any doubts, watch his spine tingling Proms performance, which was championed by the lovely MaryAnne Hobbs, here.

Nils Frahm sir, I salute your genius.

 

Nordic                   Best Group                         Blaue Blume

Copenhagen based Blaue Blume have pretty much dominated the Danish music scene this year.  Having released their debut album, Syzygy, a Danish term for lunar or solar synchronicity or concurrences, to rapturous acclaim, Blaue Blume have pretty much beceome the darlings of Nordic music media.

Having achieved huge success in 2014 both internationally and domestically where ‘In Disco Lights’ was P6 Radio’s most played track, 2015 saw this uber cool quartet take it to another level.  Syzygy took Blaue Blume’s hugely evocative sound, adorned it with operatic vocals, and laced it with strands of tempestuous instrumental and haunting harmonies.  Trimmed  with swatches of rock around the edges, it is an hugely diverse musical meld.  Meticulously produced, with more polish than HRH’s Sterling Silverware, Syzygy is easily one of the best Nordic albums of 2015, giving Blaue Blume a clear edge over their Nordic peers.

Standout track, ‘Sky’, sends shivers up the spine.  Listen to it here.

 

Nordic                   Best Video                          The Chopin Project ‘Eyes shut’

Classical maestros,  Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott, make up Chopin Project, whose exquisite crocheting of Chopin sequences into original scores, took the world of electro-classical by storm in 2015.  The highlight for this reviewer was the tear-inducing ‘Eyes Shut’, the beautifully filmed visual for which, adeptly conveys the raw emotion of the music in the most understated way.

Directed by Mani Sigfusson, a long term collaborator of Arnalds’, who created a complete set of immaculate visuals for the project, this is a film whose only aim is to invoke a unique reaction from each individual viewer. Shot entirely in Iceland during the summer, in a stunning if bleak landscape, it is a beautifully simple visual. Strikingly edited, it has allowed the imagery to flow seamlessly with the movements of the musical tide. With the visual for ‘Eyes Shut’, Sigfusson has created a perfect symmetry between film and music.

 

Nordic                   Remix/Cover/Edit            Moonbabies ‘Undone’ The Glass Children

Swedish electro-duo, Moonbabies, got a bit of a thing going on in 2015 with their English counterparts, The Glass Children.  They did a bit of “I’ll do yours, if you do mine” kind of remix thing, and lo and behold, produced two very worthy listens indeed.

The Glass Children took the Swedes’ track ’24’, blew the froth off it and covered it in a dark shroud of pulsing electronica.  Ditto, the Moonbabies who whipped TGC’s sombre ‘Undone’ into a vigorous percussive storm.

Picking which one was the best, was really 6 of 1, but I opted for the Moonbabies remix as it was more appropriate to the Nordic nature of the best of list.  Both are wonderful songs, in their original formats and in their remixed states.

Hopefully, 2016 will see more such collaborations between Sweden and the UK!  Come a little ‘Undone’ with the Moonbabies remix here.

 

Nordic                   Album of the Year

Chopin Project is the ground-breaking partnership of improv and ingenuity between German Japanese pianist, Alice Sara Ott, and Icelandic electro-classical wizard, Ólafur Arnalds. Together they have formed a perfect symmetry that has created their eponymous album, an overwhelmingly emotive opus, filled with humanity, sincerity and a great deal of love.

Born from Arnalds fond memories of a childhood filled with Chopin by his grandparents, the project lovingly and tenderly used pieces of the composer’s works, to form an arc through their critically acclaimed compilation of perfectly imperfect, fragile tracks.

Chopin Project is a the coming together of two exceptional talents, to produce an elegant, serene and heartfelt collection of beautifully arranged and outstandingly performed pieces of music.  Standing Ovation.

Bjork ‘Vulnicura’

Blaue Blume ‘Syzygy’

Olafur Arnalds/Alice Sara Ott ‘The Chopin Project’

 

Nordic                   Song of the Year

There was only ever going to be one winner of this and it’s been top of the 2015 pile since the first day I heard it on the Fresh on the Net Dropbox!

Hooked from the very first beat, this fast paced, country-rock-dance track, with its  whacking great beats a la Christian Rindorf and driving Carl Coleman guitars, bit down hard and infected my bloodstream with its addictive potency.

While Coleman also contributes a dreamily enticing vocal, multi-talented Great Dane, Caspar Hesselager, plays out several starring roles on synths/keys/bass/production and mixing.  This tidy little unit has produced such a huge, widescreen, cinematic soundscape with full bells and whistle surround sound, and with such little fuss, that it really quite beggars belief.

 If you don’t already realise how good Palace Winter are, then you really need to get online, download their ‘Medication’ EP and wrap your ears around what is probably going to be one of the biggest Nordic sounds of 2016.
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Rangleklods ‘Lost U’

Blaue Blume ‘Sky’

Palace Winter ‘Menton’

Interview : Ómar Sverrisson talks about his visual for Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher’s exquisite ‘Hringur’

by ÓVÁ Elliðaárdalur
by ÓVÁ Elliðaárdalur

Mid September saw the release of the magical, atmospherically charged, electro-classical album, ‘Eitt’ by Icelandic maestros, Futuregrapher (Arni Gretar) and Jón Ólafsson, which of course, was featured on this site.

Since then, the pair have held an enraptured audience in their thrall at the Iceland Airwaves festival, with a live performance of their amazing collaborative works, and, most recently, played to a captive audience in an Icelandic church.  How’s that for a dramatic setting?

Speaking of amazing, #Ólagrapher, has just unveiled a mesmerising monochrome visual for ‘Hringur’, one of the eight tracks featured on ‘Eitt’.

Filmed and directed by renowned Icelandic photographer and film maker, Ómar Sverrisson, the video is a timeless, minimalist evocation of the concept of inter-connectivity behind the song.  I spoke with Ómar about how the project came about, and how he set about filming the images.

I started by asking him about if he had come up with the concept for the film…

“Yes, I came up with the concept one evening as I was walking home while listening to the track! I had the camera with me and it just came to me.  I just shot it mostly by feeling.  How I felt at that moment was a little bit sad and tired, as most of us are at this time of year.”

I agree, it’s like a little part of us dies in the winter.

‘Hringur’ is Icelandic for ring, or circle.  My take on the visual is  that it is about a series of interconnections – life with nature, the moon with the tides, man with man and so on? Was that your intention??

“Yes, you are spot on with your words about it.”

Where was the film shot?

“It was shot in Reykjavik by the downtown harbour, and in Elilðárdalur(doesn’t that just sound like a place you’d expect to read about in ‘The Lord of the Rings’!)

What type of video equipment did you use?

“I mainly use my old trusty Canon mark2 and sometimes Blackmagic pocket camera with lots of vintage lenses, but this video was shot with my Canon mark and a basic 50mm lens.”

Still from hringur
Ómar Sverrisson

Towards the end of the film, during the river scenes, did you slow down some of the images.  Also, in those frames around 5.10+, where the images go very psychedelic and the water looks as if it’s flowing into the earth as two rivulets (images) merging with each other, did you film that in one shot and split it?

“Yes, I slowed the film down to 60% and for the “psychedelic” images, yes, I mirrored them.”

So did you work the whole project from end to end yourself- direction, film, photography, editing etc?”

“Yes,  I did everything.”

Do you work in film making full time?

“No I am a full time photographer/artist, but also shoot videos and work as a graphic designer.”

Is this the first time you’ve shot a video for Arni Gretar//Futuregrapher?

“Yes, this is my first video for him,  but not the first time I’ve worked with Arni.  I shot his Futurgrapher, ‘Skynvera‘ album cover released in 2014, as well as the cover from his single Elisa released 2013.”

How do you know Arni/Futuregrapher? How did you guys comes to work together back in 2013 (or is the Icelandic community so small (like Norway) that everyone knows everyone in the business?

“I know him for years now.  I got know him through some common friends! Futuregrapher contacted me after he had seen a portrait I did of him in 2012 and he ended up using it on the ‘Elsa’ single sleeve.

Yes, Iceland is super small when it come to the creative field and almost all of us know each other.”

So this is your first video for Arni, but is it the first actual video you’ve shot?

“No, my first video was for the Reykjarvíkurdætur ft.Tanya Pollock track, ‘Hlustum á hjartað slá’.  I did the cinema-photography and edited it- you can watch it here.”

You said you’re a full time photographer, where can we see some of your photos and portraits?

“Yes, you can check them out here, on my Tumblr account.”

Will you work with Futuregrapher again do you think?

“Yes, we are good friends and I hope to work on many projects again with him in the future!”

I hope so too – the stars aligned when these three guys came together – you can check out Ómar’s beautifully understated video for the exquisite ‘Hringur’ here.

‘Eitt’ is available to buy via Moller Records.

You can follow Futuregrapher and Moller on Twitter.

Are Coldplay #Bootylicious Enough for Beyonce ??

Coldplay 0412

So today’s the big day when Coldplay drop their latest musical bomb, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’, onto the musicverse.
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Already on the receiving end of a bit of a drubbing from Guardian Music, the new Coldplay opus has pretty much caused the same mixed reaction as Adele’s latest album, released just a few weeks back.
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Be that as it may, there are some really interesting, “off the beaten Coldplay-track” songs going on in there, one of which is, ‘Hymn for the Weekend’, which the group recorded with the Queen Bey of funk-pop herself, Beyonce.
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The track unfurls with delicate wisps of a capella Bey vocal hanging in the air,
until trademark Coldplay bass-drum beats kick off and in swoops Martin’s familiar glass half full vocal.
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The song itself is about love, and the adrenalin rush and dopamine highs that cupid can bring with one shot of his arrow.  No wonder then the track is takes Martin, “higher and higher”, as the music line curls upwards with the usual CP hand clap synth, not so usual funky beats and horns, and the added featherweight punch of Beyonce’s tour-de-force vocal.
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The track is expertly choreographed by Norwegian (yes they get everywhere don’t they – remember the Vikings!) super producer duo, Stargate, (Rihanna), who have cleverly allowed Martin to subtly lead the dance on this one.
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Although it’s more rhumba than tango, it all nonetheless makes for a very fresh sound – catchy, attractive, well oiled, easy on the ear – one that is never going to win any groundbreaking awards mind you.

Is it #Bootylicious – um, probably not.  But what ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ is, is a very good, interestingly arranged, well crafted, well sung, well performed, RnB meets indie-pop “Beyplay” track, and you can listen to it here.

Coldplay’s new album, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’, goes on general release today – you can buy it on iTunes.

Remix News : Bror’s Dream Turns to Gold

Still Benedikte Olsen
Still Benedikte Olsen

This week is certainly proving to be an interesting one, from a Norwegian perspective!

Just when the cat had settled down for a snooze in front of the fire, and the kettle had boiled for a nice cup of charlie, out bounces Bror Forsgren with his single drop, the string-licious, ‘I Had A Dream Last Night’.  Soaring higher than Santa’s sleigh up into the Norwegian skies, this is one truly beautiful arrangement of horns, strings, synths and the instrumental kitchen sink.  It comes gift-wrapped with a delightful video that sees the protagonist popping up around various neighbourhoods, serenading the skyline with declarations of love; all very 21c orchestral manoeuvres in the Oslo dark.

Twenty four hours anon, the cat is chillaxing after clawing more paper off the wall, the coffee has just been made and … poof! Out of the golden Aladdin’s lamp of celestial Oslo pops non-album single ‘overraskelse’, ‘The Wonder of Love’.  Not content with releasing one album, four singles, and touring Europe, the Gold Celeste triumvirate decided, nah, not enough, let’s gift the world another precious gem before Christmas.  And what a sparkler it is!  Their best so far, and one if not the best of 2015.

Another day another rain shower; the cat is now on high alert and in a constant state of nervous tension.  Curtains closed, glass of wine poured, all nice and cosy when whoosh!…Up pops this little glitter ball of dreamy gorgeousness. Puller of heartstrings Forsgren, melds with purveyors of aureate delights, Gold Celeste, to create the perfect orchestral-gaze remix.  Think of it as a sweet psychedelic symphony or a little classic lite meets colour-pop chill.

So, sit down, kick back, relax, and enjoy this very special opus.

Oh and that glass of wine I mentioned, raise a toast to this very special Nordic alliance for giving us what has truly been a very wonderful week of music.

PS – the cat is now on the garage roof and refusing to come down!

Bror Forsgren

‘I Had A Dream Last Night’ is out now, details on social links here – Twitter and Facebook.

The album, ‘Narcissus’ is available to buy here.

Gold Celeste

‘The Wonder of Love’ is now available via iTunes, Spotify and Tidal.

Gold Celeste play the Sebright Arms, Bethal Green, Monday 7th and the Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, Weds 9th.

Single Review: The Wonder that is Gold Celeste

The Wonder of Love

Strong contenders for Norwegian band of the year, Oslo based Gold Celeste have presented the musicverse with an early Christmas gift in the form of,  non-album single, ‘The Wonder of Love’.

Neatly packaged with a refreshingly “human” shot-in-studio visual, this is one that will melt your heart, unless of course, it’s made of stone.

I could happily throw every superlative in the dictionary at this track and still not be able to describe how magical it is.

‘The Wonder of Love’, an immensely well arranged and skilfully performed track, is what might have happened back in the 60’s if Burt Bacharach had teamed up with The Doors.  Instrumentally speaking, Gold Celeste are pretty much moving into a league of their own with their consistently inspired, stylish and classy musicianship.  That is not to say that they are not lyrically strong – they are, and very smartly so, but it is in their musical performance skills that their strength lies.

Manzarek style keys and scintillating synths abound here, amidst a background of inspired percussion by Petter Haugen.  Vocalist Simon Hallset, has an enchanting softness to his vocal tone, which gives the song a dreamy, soporific quality.  In addition, Eirik Fidjelands superior mastery of restrained and intelligent guitar playing, adds depth and earthiness to the track’s loftier elements, thereby providing it with the requisite balance.

‘The Wonder of Love’ is quite like a musical rainbow bursting out through a mass of gauzy clouds, bright and vibrant but blurry around the edges; the overall effect is really quite intoxicating.  It is without doubt, the best song I’ve heard this year!

Gold Celeste, released their critically acclaimed debut album, ‘The Glow’ back in September via Riot Factory.  Since then, they have been busily touring the Euro circuit, and happily for us GC fans this side of the North Sea, will land in London next week for two gigs, details below.

‘The Wonder of Love’ is now available via iTunes, Spotify and Tidal.

Gold Celeste play the Sebright Arms, Bethal Green, Monday 7th and the Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, Weds 9th.