Τετάρτη 21 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Bjork - Vulnicura

When "Homogenic" was released, Bjork became an icon and a pioneer in electronic music, combining epic melodies, killer string arrangements, trip-hop beats and spooky vocals. It was the first time that it became actually obvious she is an elf from Iceland or something, leaving behind her dance and MTV era. "Vespertine" and "Medúlla" made clear that Bjork was not about to return to something mainstream anytime soon, thus revealing her constant desire to experiment with her productions. It took her three years to produce something you can call "almost mainstream" with "Volta" (Timbaland was involved), using percussions and horns all through the album, while her next effort, "Biophilia", was her first multimedia project with an extensive use of tablets, musical instruments especially designed for her and unusual time signatures. So what's next?

"Vulnicura" is next. Her brand new album has just leaked/been released, so it's available anywhere. With nine tracks written and produced by herself and Arca (Kanye West, FKA Twigs), this project could easily be the sequel of "Homogenic", using the same technology and the same instruments as "Biophilia". It's the most fragile and sensitive Bjork in years, for sure.

"Lionsong" is almost a pop song with an experimental arrangement, proving that when she wants it, she can write an actual chorus in a song (she did it in "Crystalline", too). "Black lake", the best track in here, creates a fragile utopia of her and her ex-lover ("Did I love you too much? Devotion and me broken. So I repent, destroyed."), but with a sense of an apology letter, not an actual situation. In "Family", The Haxan Cloak has helped in the production process, while in "Atom Dance", Antony Hegarty is singing along with her in full baritone mode and some heavy drum programming. "Notget" could and should be used in a brothers Nolan film about an uninhabitable planet. "Mouth mantra" works as a drug - you want to inhale every vocal, every violin and every sci-fi synth in it. It goes back, when Bjork used to sing electronic music produced by Nellee Hooper, so this is probably her most "Post" moment as far as "Vulnicura" is concerned.

Everyone is trying (once again) to figure out what Bjork and "Vulnicura" stand for. But the interesting thing is that Bjork stands for music, nothing else in particular. And that's all. She can write dance and pop music, but she does not give a fuck about doing so, she is beyond that. She uses technology, she arranges strings and horns the way no one has done in the past, she is constantly breaking time signature rules. She is the one and only musician today who has created something no one has not even dared to dream of creating. Bjork is a musical phenomenon. In 30 years, she will be a course in music schools and a legend in our laptops and our cd collections. That's what Bjork and "Vulnicura" stand for - music history, once again.

AnArtCalled... 9,5/10

Πέμπτη 15 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Oscar Nominations 2015 - Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Weird Thumbs

Thumbs Up

  • Julianne Moore, I would nominate you for the "Maps to the stars", too. I would give you an Oscar, even if you farted.
  • Laura Dern in the best supporting actress category. Jessica Chastain and Rene Russo, feel free to cry.
  • Marion Cotillard in the best actress category. Like it was supposed to be, duh.
  • 2 nominations for Alexandre Desplat. That's more than fair.
  • "Ida". No comments.
  • "Whiplash", thank you for drumming.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch for just being you.
  • Wes Anderson, you deserve every single award.
  • Wait... Richard Linklater, you deserve them too. So half-half?
  • "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya". The Academy Awards love Japanese animated films.
  • "Wild Tales" in the best foreign film category.
  • "Lost stars" from "Begin Again" is actually a sign that some people appreciated this smart film.
  • Dan Gilroy for the screenplay of "Nightcrawler". Smart choice for not nominating Jake Gyllenhaal.

Thumbs Down

  • "Selma". The only film to be nominated in the best picture category, along with the best song category. Only.
  • "Force Majeure" not being nominated in the best foreign film category. 
  • "The Lego Movie" only being nominated for the song of the year, "Everything is awesome".
  • Tilda Swinton not being nominated for any category this year ("Snowpiercer", "Only lovers left alive").
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, where are you for the "Nightcrawler"?
  • Bill Murray, you should be the winner.
  • "Gone Girl", an epic fail. Gillian Flynn, you are still brilliant.
  • "Pride" should be a major nominee.
  • Nolan, may the force be with you. Shame on them.
  • "Under the skin" by Jonathan Glazer. Epic Fail.
  • I got my hopes up for Tom Hardy and "Locke". I get it though.
  • I also got my hopes up for "Frank". That, I don't get it.

Weird Thumbs

  • Bradley Cooper in the best actor category? Really? Nominated three years in a row for an Oscar?
  • Ava DuVernay for "Selma". She could have written history, but she didn't. They didn't let that happen.
  • Jennifer Aniston still cannot prove she is a good actress for "Cake".
  • Amy Adams, next year is gonna be yours, no worries. Lana Del Rey, yours too. Tim Burton, yours... never, I guess.
  • Emily Blunt, someday you will take what you deserve (maybe a nomination).
  • "Everything is awesome" for best song is probably the biggest troll in the Oscar history.
  • "American Sniper", the last-minute call. Who would have known?
  • Paul Thomas Anderson's nomination in the adapted screenplay category for "Inherent Vice". Not bad, just weird.
The nominations are here: http://oscar.go.com/nominees  

Τετάρτη 14 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show

Miss Sullivan "Busted our windows" in 2008, released a second studio album in 2010 and went on a hiatus for 5 years. Well, in the meantime she was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards (not a single win). So, having already released a third studio album after all these years of "having some things to figure out", as she has stated in the past, it is a big deal. And it is, actually, a big deal.

The "Reality Show" is the first great album of 2015, along with the new Mark Ronson album of course. Contemporary r'n'b has finally found a way not to sound boring and old. Many artists have contributed to this the last two years (Solange, Janelle Monae, Miguel, Beyonce, Jessie Ware, Banks, Tinashe, D'Angelo), so maybe Jazmine Sullivan has taken advantage of the situation, in order to record her best songs to date.

If we were supposed to describe Jazmine's sound, it would be "Late 90's neo-soul records with an electronic twist, built on drum machines and angry vocals". She is not Whitney, Beyonce or Mary J, but she has a killer voice and she knows how to showcase its powers each and every time. She's not into vocal tricks, long notes or falsettos. She may not have a powerful head voice, she may not have a head voice at all. She is hurting her throat in order to hit the high notes and sometimes you think she needs a glass of water. Well, it's not that funny as you are listening to her album, cause her delivery is more than precise and soulful. In fact, she sounds like all the great gospel singers throughout the music history, who later became great r'n'b and soul performers (right, talking about Aretha). Plus, she sings with swagger and no diva attitude.

The album is produced by Salaam Remi (Fugees, Fergie, Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado, Nas) and Key Wane ("Partition" by Beyonce is more than enough), among others. "Dumb" works as a powerful urban intro, while "Brand new" serves as a standard contemporary r'n'b anthem that every Mariah or Alicia could kill for. Pianos in "Silver lining" help making the song great, though it's not. "#Hoodlove" is where the action begins to take place, as the singer sounds frustrated and determined for the first time in here. Yes, it's the "Bust your windows" sequel. The acoustic "Forever Don't Last" is the perfect surprise bridge for the rest of the songs, while... wait! There's a second "Bust your windows" sequel and it's called "Stupid girl". Smartass move. But "Stanley"? Not even close, almost a fail. Thank God for the "If you dare" outro. It saves the day.

Jazmine's "Reality Show" is a proof that once again the r'n'b/soul genre is stronger than ever these days. Swagger mode: ON.

AnArtCalled... 8/10

Πέμπτη 1 Ιανουαρίου 2015

D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah

We all know that it's been 14 years since the last time we had some D'Angelo music news. Well, that's almost a lie, he had many collaborations and featurings in other people's projects over the past few years, plus he learned how to play more musical instruments. So even if this was a hiatus or just a break or the time he needed to come back, it's OK. Not only because this album is a masterpiece, but also because he seems more determined and focused on something he can call his own - a unique material, a funk-guitar chaos all around, a vocal mess accompanied by haunted lyrics and neo-soul wisdom. That's what the "Black Messiah" is all about.

"Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.", says D'Angelo. But the fact that he penned every single track in this (with a little help from his friends, Q-Tip and Questlove from The Roots), playing almost all the instruments in the studio, suggests otherwise. And only one man can do this in such style and funkiness - Prince.

The structure of the songs is vague. Sometimes it's difficult to even spot the chorus or an actual melody. But somehow it works. It's a body of work that was inspired by pure fusion. You can mess around with the guitars and then drown in the soulful tender vocals of "Really love". You then go back to "1000 deaths" and yell at its aggressiveness, while you're thinking about the "Sugah Daddy" pianos and brass. But you cannot escape from the Erykah Badu-esque "Back to the furure", because that's the way this album rolls - You connect the dots from different songs and if you do it with love and respect, you can only hear one song, one voice, one guitar, one message.

"Black Messiah" is a tough-love project. It has been recorded in order to mess with your head and play with your emotions. It's a 14 year-old expirement that has just found its spot in the world. So be careful how you handle it.

AnArtCalled... 9/10

Αντί απολογισμού…

Η αλήθεια είναι πως ασχοληθήκαμε με την μουσική έως και αποκλειστικά την χρονιά που πέρασε. Το πιθανότερο είναι να κάνουμε το ίδιο και την επόμενη με την περισσή πάντα, ασυνέπεια που μας διακρίνει. Δηλαδή όποτε μας κάτσει κάτι υπέροχο η απαίσιο –την ίδια ένταση συναισθημάτων προκαλούν άλλωστε. Έχουμε αφήσει ολίγον στην άκρη τα υπόλοιπα. Αν δεις την αρχή του μπλογκ, αφορούσε και φιλμς και εκθέσεις και φεστιβάλ. Αλλά ακόμα και ένα απλό μπλογκ θέλει την αφοσίωση και τον χρόνο του…την φροντίδα του εν τέλει.

Εύχομαι απλά αυτό τον χρόνο να είναι όλα πιο ήρεμα και εμείς να κάνουμε αυτό που αγαπάμε συχνότερα και εντιμότερα.


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