MIMO 2016 Review

Adobe SparkRunning since 2004, MIMO (Mostra Internacional de Música de Olinda) is a free festival of music, film and education held in the Brazilian cities of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Paraty, Olinda and Rio de Janeiro. While originally celebrating music made in Brazil, in more recent years it has branched out to feature an international lineup. For the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro, mornings and early afternoons provided audiences with workshops on topics from Cúmbia to singing in West African music, while evenings saw artists play to thousands in the city’s public parks.

On Saturday, Brazilian singer-guitarist João Bosco was joined by bandolimist Hamilton de Holanda for their project ‘Eu vou pro samba’, a modern revival of samba classics. New arrangements of tracks by artists such as Dorival Cayma, Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso, highlighted de Holanda’s skill as a musician, while the familiarity allowed the home crowd to join in, singing and taking to Praça Paris fountain to dance barefoot.

The highlight of the weekend came in the form of Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band. Arriving on stage all in white, the Ghanian musician played an energetic set of highlife and afrobeat music that saw the crowd rarely standing still. As the rain began to pour, the revellers continued undeterred, the rhythmic bongos and punchy brass of the band creating a party atmosphere. Returning for an encore to cheers from the appreciative audience, Pat Thomas justified his name as the Golden Voice of Africa.

Taken from the January/February issue of Songlines.

Tindersticks presents Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009


Claire Denis is well known for her thought provoking films which contain little dialogue, instead focusing on individual themes portrayed through long drawn out shots, sounds and textures. Often abandoning a conventional approach to narrative, she lets actions and music do the talking, creating powerfully absorbing films.

This has in part been made possible through her long term collaboration with Nottingham based indie band Tindersticks. Crafting soundtracks during the creative process, as opposed to being added in the later stages of production, their songs have been made with the direct intention of capturing the various ideas at work in each scene.

A celebration of the ongoing work between Denis and Tindersticks, the Usher Hall put on an evening of live scores played to images of Denis’ films. The result is an original and altogether captivating experience.

Following a few minor technical problems, the band opt to open with one of their own songs “Bearsuit” from their 1997 album Curtains, before breaking in to the emotive title sequence from Nénette et Boni. With ethereal piano and whimsical glockenspiel set against images of Alice Houri floating fully clothed in a swimming pool, the result is enrapturing. It is amazing how the combination of video and sound can make the Usher Hall feel inescapably cavernous; meaningful even outside of the context of the film.

As the set progresses, notable moments are recreated live: the beautiful train scene from 35 Shots of Rum, with its touching acoustic guitar and melodica; the opening scene of Trouble Every Day, which features one of the few additions of Stuart Staples’ impassioned vocals; and the haunting scene from The Intruder, where a single distorted note resonates as two men carry a body dripping with blood over the crisp white snow.

As a live experience, this is undeniably innovative, however a second half featuring songs almost entirely from their own albums reduce it somewhat to a mere music gig. Although arguably their music easily stands on its own, unaided by Denis’ visuals, there is a definite feeling that more emphasis could have been placed on the cinematic element of the performance.

Taken from the Student published Tue Oct 25th 2011.

65daysofstatic Score Silent Running: Live


Douglas Trumball’s 1972 sci-fi classic Silent Running is a bleak look at a future devoid of nature and wildlife, where the last remaining specimens are preserved in huge, greenhouse-like geodesic domes attached to a fleet of space-freighters just outside the orbit of Saturn. A film that has received a relatively cult status due to its inherently green message (which has never been as efficacious as now), it seems to have aged well, outstripping many of its counterparts in what was a golden period for cinema.

The film follows a lone botanist and ecologist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) aboard one of the freighters, whose job it is to protect the natural habitats before their eventual reforestation on earth. When orders are given to destroy the domes, Lowell turns renegade, deciding instead to do everything he can to save them.

The original score from bassoonist and P.D.Q Bach creator Peter Schickele features performances from folk singer-songwriter Joan Baez. However a new project from Sheffield-based instrumental post-rock band 65daysofstatic sees an enlightening new live score produced for the Glasgow Music Film Festival.

The dimly-lit cavernous setting of The Arches complete with pipes and cabling provides a suitable backdrop for the performance, helping the audience get completely immersed in the spectacle.

Whilst the original seemed to contain a somewhat free spirited sentiment due to its orchestral folk prominence, hence retaining a powerful message due to its juxtaposition against the overwhelming emptiness of space, 65days have opted for an epic approach of industrial synths, drum samples, guitars and keyboards to create a captivating atmosphere that blends nicely with lead actor Bruce Dern’s role.

Commissioned by the GMFF as their first film score, 65days do brilliantly to retain the continuity of the film; enhancing the dramatic narrative and emotional impact of the scenes rather than simply having a 90-minute jam. Their precision and timing is so astute that the whole piece comes together like a carefully calculated system, synchronizing with the plot in a scarring mechanical fashion.

Known for their experimental attitude toward music incorporating all manner of blips and glitches, 65days appears perfect for the science-fiction genre. It allows them to explore the various themes of the film whilst giving it a futuristic edge.

The end result is a far cry from Trumball’s original, which emphasized the loneliness of space and the deterioration of mankind. However, its reinterpretation is one that is both innovative and highly entertaining, creating a prodigious eruption of sound which fits perfectly with the film’s beatific visuals. Let’s just hope this project isn’t their last.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 1st 2011.

Simian Mobile Disco Live at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh 31/10/10


It’s always a struggle deciding what to do for Halloween, especially when it falls on a Sunday, but this year Cab Vol’s weekly club night Killer Kitsch saw electro duo Simian Mobile Disco take to the stage in a night of eclectic dance music.

With James Ford donning a rather impressive Edward Scissorhands costume despite the obvious hindrance it must have caused with his mixing and Jas Shaw resembling what was presumably a zombie, although that could just have just been his pale hue, they lead an evening of electronic music to a cavern full of drunken misfits.

With their latest album Delicacies out later this month, their set provided a glimpse of what is to come but also an insight into their recent change in direction. Well known for their pop-electro sound which saw them obtaining considerable hype from last album Temporary Pleasures, their latest effort shows a divergence from accessible pop to a more techno influenced sound.

Opening with the epic “O Fortuna” by Carmina Burana, they proceeded to play one of the tracks from their forthcoming album, “Aspic”, a punchy techno track with a persistent bass line.

As the set progressed it was clear that their increasing time in clubs and away from the recording studio has meant that they have begun to realise what sort of DJs they want to be seen as. Whilst their albums offer an outlet for something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to listen to at home, their live show is clearly about dancing to good electronic tracks.

Techno and electro were slotted amongst more obscure numbers as the crowd continued to cavort in the sweat filled cess pit.

Building up to crescendo with hit tracks such as “Audacity of Huge” and “It’s The Beat” that were dropped in after such immense anticipation, the result was pure unadulterated goodness.

For the indie kinds that enjoy Simian for their geek chic and trendy videos it is certain that they would have had a terrible time but for the lover of decent dance music which is something of a rarity in Edinburgh, it was top quality.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 9th 2010.

The Black Keys Live at O2 Academy, Glasgow 28/10/10


A band that has only recently received the appreciation they deserve following the release of sixth album, Brothers, which reached number three in the Billboard 200 earlier this year, garage rock duo, The Black Keys, embody the epitome of the evolved blues-rock sound which saw a resurgence in the 1990s.

Hailing from Akron, Ohio, vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney capture the raw energy of blues but with the cutting distortion of rock to produce an electric sound that is best seen live.

Entering the stage to what appeared to be an off cut of the Blackroc album, the duo proceeded to play the title track from their 2003 album Thickfreakness, a slower blues number with heavy distortion but full of feeling.

Focusing on older material for the earlier part of their set, they reiterated what an impressive backlog they have; the older fans relishing the fact that they weren’t just playing their latest release, a problem found with all too many bands.

Difficult to comprehend as the work of only two men, the duo manage to have the energy and sound of a whole band without ever sounding sparse or weak. “Stack Shot Billy”, for example, provided an emotional outlet for Auerbach, whilst “10am Automatic” saw the two playing literally on top of each other, the intensity shared by both being truly remarkable .

As the set developed, they moved on to play some of their newer material, ably aided by Nick Movshon on the bass and Leon Michels on the organ from The Mighty Imperials. As a giant disco ball emerged from a box on stage, the band broke into “Everlasting Light”, with Auerbach’s falsetto resonating over the ensemble.

Despite the songs working very well,with the added band members allowing for greater flexibility, the highlights of the show were definitely when the pair were left on their own. As a two piece, the chemistry between them seemed to flow, the simple bond of guitars and drums creating a huge level of raw intensity. The deftness of Auerbach’s fuzzy guitar combined with the fervour of Carney’s drums allowed for a deep heartfelt passion of the music they were playing.

Ending with “I Got Mine”, which left the crowd in a frenzied stupor, they returned after due applause to play “Sinister Kid” and “Your Touc”h to leave the audience mesmerised by what they had just seen.

On the train home, it was impossible not to overhear countless numbers of people who had been truly blown away by what they had just seen. If you have yet to see The Black Keys live, then make sure you get a ticket, as it is something that really can’t be missed.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 2nd 2010.

Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz Review


It’s been five years since Sufjan Stevens last released a song-based full length album, and much pressure has been put on the Detroit born folk-rocker in the wake of the success of 2005 hit Illinois. Despite announcing that he would release 50 concept albums based on each of the American States, Stevens seems to have abandoned this idea, instead choosing to take a new direction with his music.

His latest effort breaks away from his signature baroque sound in favour of heavy electronics and drum machines. There are still the various instruments quintessential to Stevens’ style, such as flutes and horns, and these are incorporated into the automated modulation to varied effect.

Supposedly the album’s title (mysteriously pronounced “Age of Odds”) is a reference to the apocalyptic artwork of schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson and the album itself reflects this, being somewhat darker than his previous work both in terms of  its themes and sound.

The album itself begins very safely with “Futile Devices”, a beautiful expression of love, created through the medium of guitars and keyboards combined with Stevens’ ethereal vocals. The following track “Too Much” offers a gentle easing into Steven’s new electronic sound as, despite being heavily orchestrated with blips and punchy synths, it contains a highly catchy melody. Here, the combination of sweeping flutes with synthesizers and drum machines works surprisingly well.

As the album progresses it becomes increasingly experimental, ending with the epic 25 minute “Impossible Soul”, which represents the pinnacle of his tentative exploration and contains fetching melodies and a multitude of instruments; from some rather avant-garde guitar to truly bizarre strings.

Stevens is evidently multi-talented with his incredible instumental versatility. This is not his first electronic endeavour; his 2001 album Enjoy Your Rabbit, based on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, was entirely electronic. However, in some instances there is a feeling that his eccentricity has gone slightly too far.

Many of the songs are just too obscure, making them inaccessible and in some cases chaotic and disorganised: more of a cacophony than a symphony. For those into the likes of highly experimental music, this is definitely an album to explore, but for the standard Stevens fan the song title “Too Much” may be an apt summary of his latest effort.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 19th 2010.

Stanton Warriors Live at Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh 23/09/10


For over a year Edinburgh mourned the death of one of its favourite clubs, after Liquid Rooms was consumed by fire. But with the grand August reopening of the club, the city can party once again, especially since it has been accompanied by the creation of new nights to accommodate for the loss of those which were taken over by different clubs.

Thursday night’s new offering Scream, which focuses on house, electro and dubstep, has already seen the likes of Benga grace the decks on its opening night, and the upcoming line-up features an eclectic mix of some of Britains best electronic DJs such as dubstep heavyweight Jakwob and new electro stars the Filthy Dukes.

This week saw West Country duo Stanton Warriors take to the stage in an evening of breakbeat music which got the crowd up and dancing. Well renowned in the dance community, Mark Yardley and Dominic Butler blend hip hop, garage and electro to create a fusion of sounds to great effect.

As a live show it began relatively bouncy with some top breakbeat tracks giving a real feel of their defined sound. A collection of their own songs plus a number of remixes for esteemed artists were accompanied by tracks by other artists to initially create a well rounded set.

Unfortunately, as the set progressed it became increasingly bass reliant. The show once again became reflective of the country’s recent obsession with dubstep, which has often led to the inclusion of bass heavy reworkings of other dance styles in the sets of DJs who otherwise play alternative genres.

For fans of excessive bass levels this would have been a real treat but ultimately the duo were ultimately let down by a tendency to deviate from what they do best.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Sep 28th 2010.

New Daft Punk Track Leaked

I don’t know if anyone else is as excited about the new Tron film as I am but it looks like it is going to be amazing. Perhaps the best part is that Daft Punk are doing the soundtrack. With the track Derezzed already appearing in a promo for the film it has been enough to get Daft Punk fans excited. However, a potential leak of another song has meant that there is more to tease the avid fan with. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, Fragile is an awesome song whether or not it is the production of the legendary French duo.

Drever, McCusker and Woomble

Drever, McCusker And Woomble

A collection of some of the best young Scottish musicians come together to bring an astonishing blend of traditional folk and pop music. Playing much from their album ‘Before the Ruin’ as well as pieces from their individual works, the contrast between the mellifluous songs often played with the support of a single guitar from Kris Drever and more upbeat numbers which got the crowd clapping and stomping their feet was stunning. Accompanying backing vocals from Heidi Talbot were terrific, contributing to a highly enjoyable gig from an ensemble similar in sound to Idlewild (probably due to Woomble’s influence) but with a folky edge that seems to be rather fashionable at the moment.

The Queen’s Hall, 29 – 30 Aug, 8.00pm (10.00pm), £13.00 – £15.00, fpp 183

tw rating: 4/5

published: Oct-2010

[Alistair  Quaile]

Taken from Three Weeks

Kissing the Goldfish

Kissing The Goldfish

Cabaret seems to have bloomed at this year’s Fringe but Charlie Bicknell and Sebastian Michael are no strangers to the provocative genre, having performed at a number of previous Fringes. With a selection of various numbers – including a Sweeney Todd mixed with German medley and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ with added lyrics – they provide a good diversity of songs; However, the singing, unfortunately, is sub par, and too few moments of the show are funny, most of the material merely raising an eyebrow. The show is perhaps redeemed by the excellent keyboard skills of musical director David Harrod but generally, this is a rather average performance.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 20 -30 Aug (not 23), 11.45pm (12.40pm), £8.00 – £10.00, fpp 85

tw rating: 2/5

published: Sep-2010

[Alistair  Quaile]

Taken from Three Weeks