Sigrid wins BBC Sound of 2018 poll

Sigrid-press-photo-cr-Francesca-Allen-2017

Norwegian Sigrid wins BBC Sound of 2018 poll

The Norwegian singer Sigrid has been announced as the winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2018 Poll. The Don’t Kill My Vibe star beat off stiff competition from the likes of Pale Waves, Sam Fender and IAMDDB to claim this year’s top slot.

The annual poll, which is voted for by 173 music industry insiders, has previously seen Ellie Goulding, Adele and Jack Garratt take the crown. The BBC Music survey asks industry professionals to name their three favourite new acts (whose releases have not yet made it into the UK Top Ten). By anointing Sigrid as the Sound of 2018, the cohort of music pros are essentially backing her as ‘the artist most likely to’ rise to the top in 2018.

With her unwavering, impassioned voice and faultless electro-pop production, the singer broke through last year with her critically acclaimed debut single Don’t Kill My Vibe, released in Feburary 2017. While follow-on singles Strangers and Plot Twist were also hailed as sonic success stories by music critics across the globe, the Norwegian youngster has yet to crack the UK Top 40.

On being told of her win the singer, who is signed to Island Records said: (It’s) “crazy … I’m just really happy and proud of what my team and I have achieved together,” … adding that she was “honoured as there are so many other artists I look up to who have won this before me”.

Following the announcement, the singer hit BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge for some live renditions of her singles. (If you missed it, you can still catch it on BBC iPlayer for up to 30 days from 12th January, 2018).

This year’s Runner Up was English artist Alex O’Connell who performs under the Rex Orange County moniker. His blend of quirky R&B and easy-going guitar pop have seen the 19 year old ratchet up guest slots on US Rapper, Tyler the Creator’s album, as well as lives with Skepta and Frank Ocean.

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‘Tis the Season, Merry Mercury

The Mercury Music Prize 2017 is nearly upon us. The annual music prize, currently being sponsored by Hyundai, is due to be awarded this coming Thursday 14th September in an event hosted by 6 Music’s Tom Ravenscroft.

Although it markets itself as a prize that promotes the best of British and Irish music, there is a distinct lack of the latter on this year’s shortlist, unless you want to take artistic licence to the limit by claiming Ed Sheeran’s ancestry qualifies him to fly the Hiberno-Celt flag.

The bookies have laid down their markers and here are the most up-to-date odds (per William Hill and Ladbrookes)

12/1 – alt-j – Relaxer
25/1 – Blossoms – Blossoms
16/1 – Dinosaur – Together, As One
20/1 – Ed Sheeran – ÷
12/1 – Glass Animals – How to Be a Human Being
8/1 – J Hus – Common Sense
3/1 – 9/4 – Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
8/1 – Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
4/1 – Sampha – Process
5/1 – Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
16/1 – The Big Moon – Love in the 4th Dimension
10/1 – The xx – I See You

If the previous bookies’ favourites and hotly tipped winners are anything to go by, we should probably expect a resounding victory for Blossoms!

When the shortlist was announced back in late July, DervSwerve predicted a win for either Dinosaur or Kate Tempest. Let’s see whose chickens come home to roost on Thursday night then, eh?

The Hyundai Mercury Music Prize takes place at the Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday 14th September 2017, and will be broadcast live on BBC 6 Music Radio from 7pm. Check out our Mercury Playlist for sample sounds from the shortlisted albums here,

DervSwerve x

Who Let The Dogs Out? The Mercury Shortlist & The Baying Hounds!

 

Rolling Stone

It’s only been a few hours since the Mercury Shortlist was announced and already a bloodthirsty cohort of baying hounds is chomping at the bit, desirous to sink their well honed canines into its juicy flesh.

Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, they smell the blood of more than a few Englishmen, cannibalistic appetite whetted, wolverine mouths salivating.

Why? Easy! These days, all anyone has to do to stir the blood of the whack-pack is print two words. Ed Sheeran.

The sheer mention of his name is enough to set every snarky schnauzer in the extended media pack barking their sardonic heads off. Having said that, some of the other nominees haven’t gone down too well either.

The inclusion of The XX, Blossoms and Alt-J has in some quarters, sunk heavier than your proverbial ton of lead.

For those who don’t have their snouts cocked so high in the air that they can’t see the gargantuan chips on their own shoulders through their green tinted eyes, the list is a diverse and refreshing combination of contemporary pop, spoken word social commentary, 21st century alt-rock, freestyle grime cum hip hop and much more.

Additions to this year’s judging panel include Marcus Mumford, Lianne La Havas, Ella Eyre, and DJ MistaJam. Singer Jessie Ware and jazzster Jamie Cullum are also on the panel along with broadcaster Clara Amfo, and Head of Music at BBC 6 Music and Radio 2, Jeff Smith.

The Hyundai Mercury Prize Awards Show will take place at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith on Thursday, 14th September, with most of the nominees expected to perform on the night.

This prestigious annual prize recognises the best album from the UK and Ireland, however, notwithstanding the fact Sheeran might be Ireland’s adopted ‘looper’, this year’s shortlist is decidedly short on Irish entries.

An interesting situation indeed, given that the Irish music scene, which has never been stronger, is currently undergoing something of a cross-genre, multi-cultural renaissance.

And the nominees are,

Alt-J: ‘Relaxer’
Blossoms: ‘Blossoms’
Dinosaur: ‘Together, As One’
Ed Sheeran: ‘Divide’
Glass Animals: ‘How To Be A Human Being’
J Hus: ‘Common Sense’
Kate Tempest: ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’
Loyle Carner: ‘Yesterday’s Gone’
Sampha: ‘Process’
Stormzy: ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’
The Big Moon: ‘Love In The Fourth Dimension’
The xx: ‘I See You’

While one might expect hip hopper Stormzy to be immediately installed as bookies favourite, it could very well be that fellow grimer Skepta’s 2016 win with Konnichiwa might have inadvertently put paid to the Croydon native’s chances of a win!

DervSwerve’s top tips would be Dinosaur or Kate Tempest, however, the Mercury Prize has an uncanny track record of throwing up the least obvious winners!

To see you off, we’ve put together a playlist featuring sounds from the nominated albums. Enjoy. DervSwerve

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Phonofile Nordic Music Prize Nominees Announced

Phonofile Nordic Music Prize
Phonofile Nordic Music Prize

The dozen nominees for the 2016 Phonofile Nordic Music Prize have been announced; they make for quite the eclectic list!

The nominees, whose music crosses the broadest of spectrums, hail from all five countries that make up the Nordic region, with each country getting equal weighting.  Established in 2010, the prize is awarded annually for that album which the judging panel deems best of year.  Previous winners include Mirel Wagner (FI), First Aid Kit (SE) and most recently Band of Gold (No).

The Nordic jury responsible for selecting the shortlist is made up of a cohort of industry heavyweights whilst the overall winner and commendations are chosen by an international panel including the BBC’s Stuart Maconie and Welsh journalist and Guardian music critic Jude Rodgers.

The artists nominated for the Phonofile Nordic Music Prize are:-

Denmark – CTM, Bisse, Værket

Iceland – Jóhann Jóhannsson, Skúli Sverrisson

Finland – Oranssi Pazuzu, The Hearing, Mikko Joensuu

Norway – Jenny Hval, Nosizwe

Sweden – Kornél Kovács, Cherrie

CTM Suite for a Young Girl
CTM Suite for a Young Girl

The shortlist is something of a spaghetti Bolognese the main ingredient of which appears to be diversity.  Encompassing shots of midnight metal and blasts of underground garage beats, the nominated albums run the gamut of musical taste.

From Jóhannsson’s cinematic widescreen soundscapes which could so easily have been recorded at the bottom of the coldest, darkest oceans, to Pazuzu’s compelling drone through Nosizwe’s idiosyncratic soul-style on the raw and unorthodox, ‘In Fragments’, to any newcomer to Nordic music, this multi-cultural medley is quite the Pandora’s box.  A box whose treasures once released, should be slowly savoured and enjoyed.

For this reviewer, my money is on either Iceland or Denmark to take this year’s prize – one isn’t prepared to take that any further; some impartiality is required.

And while one might have individual grievances about those Nordic albums not included, it must be said that all of the albums nominated are more than worthy of their place on this list.

An award ceremony to announce the winner of the Phonofile Nordic Music Prize, run in association with By:Larm, Music Norway and GramArtist Organisasjonen, will be held in Oslo on Thursday 2nd March, 2017, during the By:Larm festival.  You’ll find a full Spotify playlist featuring chosen tracks from the nominated albums below.

Pom Poko – Unleash New Single Ahead of Trondheim Calling & Cruise Into Urort Final!

Pom Poko Urortfinalen 2017
Pom Poko Urortfinalen 2017

Norwegian modernist collective Pom Poko have just released their third single ‘It’s a Trap’ accompanied by an impressive avant-garde ‘toon visual, the work of Olav Fangel Jamtveit, brother of the band’s vocalist, Ragnhild FJ.

A song about release and arrival, letting go to achieve self-awareness, ‘It’s a Trap’ is a quirky, punchy little sherbet that fizzes with pops of 90’s post-punk with more than a hint of glam psych.  Without doubt the track benefits from the experimental nous and masterly hand of Highasakite‘s Kristoffer Lo, a man who knows his way around more than a few instruments.  Adding his trademark guitar, brass and a.n.other sounds to the mix, Lo has taken Pom Poko’s sound in a more experimental and diverse direction, giving the original live jam the same depth and texture he brings to all his collaborations.

While the instrumental backdrop has some sharp edges, it is chasmed by sufficient wide spaces to counter-balance the intensity. As usual, vocal duties of the infinitely starlit variety are carried off with effortless ease by Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit and if her previous live vocal performances are the benchmark to go by, Pom Poko’s two gigs at Trondheim Calling should be something else and then some more!  During TC the band will also perform a live sesh for P3’s Ruben.  Unfortunately for me it’s happening on the Wednesday, ahead of my arrival ‘on scene’.

In addition to their saffron shot nocturnal cartoon visual accompaniment, Pom Poko have adorned their single with the cutest, candy-coloured artwork by Norwegian illustrator Erlend Peder which you can see here!  The floral bedecked character is as yet to be identified!

Illustration Erlend Peder
Illustration Erlend Peder

In other news, Pom Poko have made it to the Urort Final 2017 (a Norwegian national award for promising emerging artists); if you like what you hear, you can vote for Pom Poko to win this prestigious award, here. #doit

It is a testament to their punky quirkiness that Pom Poko give their facebook page “unofficial status” – hook up with it here to touch base with the band and keep up to speed with their lives at Trondheim Calling and their Urort escapades!

The future is definitely as bright as the characters in their ‘It’s a Trap’ video for this effervescent four-piece – I hope you’ll join me in wishing them all the luck in the world – for Trondheim Calling, for Urort and we-ell, for the future.

‘It’s a Trap’ is available now via Phonofile – http://phonofile.link/its-a-trap  .  Watch the captivating fam-made visual here.

The Clock Strikes ‘Won’ For Robbie Williams

robbie

ROBBIE WILLIAMS’ NEW ALBUM “THE HEAVY ENTERTAINMENT SHOW” GIVES HIM HIS 12th SOLO UK NO.1 ALBUM, MAKING WILLIAMS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL UK SOLO ARTIST OF ALL TIME!

Having landed himself a record twelfth successive chart topping solo album, it looks like the British music buying public have well and truly taken up Robbie William’s 1997 ‘Let Me Entertain You’ battle-cry.

Not only has hitting the top spot with ‘THES’ landed him his latest gong, it has also positioned him just behind the Beatles (at 11) on the leader-board for most number1 studio albums in UK chart history.

This latest record breaking milestone marks the end of a triumphant week which saw Williams joining David Bowie and Elton John to become only the third person ever to be honoured with a Brits Icon Award.

On hearing the news that The Heavy Entertainment Show, his first album on Sony Music UK, had hit the top spot Robbie said: “I’m chuffed that this album is No 1 and I’m humbled by these amazing statistics and facts. Thank you to the wonderful, wonderful team at Sony. I’m as proud of this album as much as any other, and hope that the fans enjoy it as much as I loved making it…this is for the friendlies. I’m very excited to be taking The Heavy Entertainment show on tour next year.”

On June 2nd 2017 Robbie William will embark upon a European Arena tour, kicking off in Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.  So far, there are 31 confirmed dates up to the middle of September which will see the singer take in 18 countries including Russia.

Just how Putin will react to Robbie’s devil-may-care charm & mock Russian partying is anyone’s guess. Expect the next album to contain some references to oligarchs closer to home #Trumpton.

There are still some tickets left for Robbie William’s Irish date at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium 17th June 2017, tickets from Ticketmaster starting at Euro 69.50 excluding handling charges.  ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’ is available through iTunes, Amazon etc and in physical format via your local record shop.

 

Why the USA will ‘Never Forget’ Zara Larsson

Zara-Larsson-Tonight-Show-640x427

Swedish hip-popstrel, Zara Larsson, is riding high on the crest of a musical wave, having taken American television chat show hosts and their audiences by storm.  Fresh from kicking it on The Ellen Show, where along with UK producer/singer-songwriter MNEK, the gold-lame adorned 18 year old gave a wow-tastically confident live performance of her smash hit ‘Never Forget You’, the dazzling singer can be found blazing a trail through the US Billboard charts.

Currently clocking in at 200million+ streams, ‘Never Forget You’ has already hit number 1 in the US Billboard Digital Dance Chart and is also striding its way up the Billboard Hot 100, where it’s sitting at No.15.
Photo TT
Photo TT 

Within minutes of Larsson appearing on the Jimmy Fallon hosted, ‘The Tonight Show‘, social media again lit up with praiseful comments about yet another dynamic live TV performance.

‘Never Forget You’, a dance-pop duet which Larsson recorded with MNEK, was originally released last year.  The Swede has recently released an acoustic version of Grammis nominated ‘Lush Life‘.

It would seem that Larsson is now clearly beyond One to Watch status … This butterfly has most certainly emerged from the chrysalis.

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’

Breaking News : 2015 #MercuryPrize Winner Announced

Mercury Price

Well there you have it….after months, weeks, days, hours of who, why, what, and bookies odds?, ascending and descending lists of nominees, not to mention endless speculative hilarities from Mr M Horton esq, the 2015 winner of Mercury Music Prize, in association with BBC Music, has been announced.  And the winner is … ???

In case you spent the last few hype filled weeks sitting under a rock in a transcendent state since the shortlist was announced on 16th October, you’ll be well aware of this years dozen nominees & their respective nominated albums:-

Award

Aphex Twin – ‘Syro’

Benjamin Clementine – ‘At Least for Now’,

Chris Duncan – ‘Architect’

Chris Duncan

Eska – ‘Eska’

Florence – ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’

Gaz Coombes – ‘Matador’

Gaz Coombes

GhostPoet – ‘Shedding Skin’

Jamie XX – ‘In Colour’ (BBC Fave)

Roisin Murphy – ‘Hairless Toys’ (Mr H’s Favourite)

Roisin Murphy

Slaves – ‘Are You Satisfied’

Soak – ‘Before We Forget How To Dream’

WolfAlice – ‘My Love Is Cool’

Wolf Alice

The award ceremony, presented live by Lauren Laverne, was broadcast  simultaneously by BBC Four television, and BBC6 Music via the Tom Ravenscroft radio show.  It featured all twelve acts playing live, which was pretty wowsers!

Award MP

And from that list of uber-coolies, this year’s “chosen one”, the mercurial muso of 2015 is … BENJAMIN CLEMENTINE

Bcx

Interesting to note … per the bookies, electronic music producer Jamie XX’s debut album, ‘In Colour’ was beating singer-songwriter’s Benjamin Clementine’s debut, ‘At Least’ for No by a nose at 9/2.   However, William Hill confirmed that Clementine had pulled in 50% of all bets placed since Tuesday.

“Benjamin Clementine started the betting as the 10/1 outsider, yet he is the most popular selection among our punters and his odds have tumbled recently,” said Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

We’ll leave you with some superb sounds from the man himself …