Monday, 25 March 2013

Retro Stefson - Retro Stefson

Retro Stefson's self-titled debut album hit the stands in the UK on March 25th, and it's well worth a listen, if only so you can name an Icelandic music act besides Bjork.

It's pretty funky stuff, probably best suited to have on in the background at your trendy cocktail party or, if you're cool, at your house party.

There's a decent chance of hearing it on a dancefloor too, although again it's more of a city centre sound than a cheesy suburban late-bar.

Decide for yourself with a preview of Glow below, which gives a pretty good indication of what you can expect from the album as a whole.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Dear Reader - Down Under, Mining

If you're a fan of beautiful things, the new video from Dear Reader should be just your thing. Down Under, Mining has been given a gorgeous shadow-puppet video to tell its story, which is every bit as evocative as the song itself.

The video also gives a glimpse ahead to Rivonia, the new album due out on April 8th and the third to come from Dear Reader, also known as Cheri MacNeil.

South African-born MacNeil was educated just round the corner from where, on July 11th 1963, 19 members of the African National Congress were arrested - and her third album pays tribute to that period of her life.

The arrests were largely a matter of chance - police had been told of meetings between black and white individuals at a location named Ivon; in fact, the meetings were happening at Rivonia, but several letters of its sign had faded.

MacNeil says: "That sign, with its faded lettering, makes me think about history as a whole, and how the versions we have must all have bits that have weathered away and gone missing, and how we'll never know the whole truth about anything.

"There are so many different realities overlaid on top of one another, but each of us only has the version we know."

If you're not afraid to incorporate issues like apartheid and slavery into your music collection, you can pre-order Rivonia by clicking the button below, and download it from April.

Rivonia (Bonus Track Version) - Dear Reader

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Portasound - Sacrifice EP

Portasound's four-track EP Sacrifice was out on February 11th, and while we've been a bit quiet here recently, it's an energetic production that helps to kickstart things with a bang as we get back into the swing of things for 2013.

First of all, if you're thinking four tracks is what you'd expect to get on a CD single, then in principle you're right, but in practice Sacrifice is very much an EP.

In this case, though, the 'extended' part of the play time comes not from having six or seven tracks, but from each track being at least four minutes long - not operatic in magnitude, but a long way from being just a handful of radio edits.

Combined, the play time is almost 20 minutes of auditory bliss, and the individual tracks are epic if not in terms of duration, then in their progression, layering, and sheer complexity of sound.

Give them a listen, and you'll spot the places where a different artist might have put an extra track break, and added to the playlist with a one-minute 'song' simply called 'Intro'.

For the best example of the acoustic genius that underpins this EP, skip straight to Ascension, the final track on the EP.

This could easily be lifted straight from the finale of an 80s sci-fi movie - and from me, there isn't much higher praise I can give to a tune than that.

It has the sense of a virtual world being stripped away to reveal the reality beneath, of elements interacting outside of any control, either human or otherwise.

Good electronic music has been making a resurgence in the past year or so, and this is definitely good electronic music, complemented by all of the necessary cymbal crashes and other such elements needed to flesh it out into being more than just a pre-sequenced synth track.

It's my personal high point on an overall great EP - and one that I'm delighted to finally get mentioned on Popsiculture.

Visit Portasound's artist page on iTunes: