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.

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.

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.

Felix Cartal Live at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh 26/05/2010

It was a very pleasant surprise when I received a facebook message yesterday not only saying that Montreal DIM MAK dj and producer Felix Cartal was playing in Edinburgh as part of his ‘Popular Music’ tour but also that it was free. It’s suprising that a producer as talented as Cartal would play a venue like Sneaky Pete’s but his popularity was obviously considerable as he packed out the tiny venue.

I am always hesitant about a dj that mixes from Ableton Live, he certainly got everyone in the mood but in contrast to the quality of the music he produces I have to say I was slightly disappointed. It definitely leaves you ambivalent and you go to bed feeling as though you have been somewhat cheated, a band actually plays their instruments the least a dj could do is properly mix.

I managed to catch a quick chat with him afterwards but unfortunately I was too drunk to record the interview which I expect wasn’t particularly good anyway. One thing that did strike me though was how young he was. At 23 and looking relatively fresh faced he has already seen a substantial amount of success being signed to Steve Aoki’s label and releasing a quality album which has been dropped in the sets of some of the biggest names in House music.

All in all despite how much I admire the artist I feel he should definitely stick to producing rather then delving into the djing side of things unless he actually learns to mix.

‘Popular Music’ is out now on DIM MAK Records

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip Live at The Classic Grand, Glasgow With Support Acts B. Dolan and Sound of Rum 21/03/10

I first heard of Sound of Rum on BBC 6 Music where Scroobius Pip was talking about the importance he found in choosing really good support acts. Part spoken word, part rap and part hip-hop, Kate Tempest proves that there is such a thing as talented female rappers. Their closing song ‘Promethius’ was particularly good beginning chilled and atmospheric, breaking down to a rock riff and heavy drums.

B. Dolan provided a very animated set and was excellent in getting the crowd fired up for the headline act. Coming on wearing a mask of our dear Queen of England but with a bushy beard sticking out, he was comical from the start. Dedicating ‘Joan of Arcadia’ to Sarah Palin who he referred to as sexual chocolate, wearing an Evil Knievel suit under his clothes and claiming a crippled blind boy who had cancer of the aids told him that the spirit of the daredevil must live, he epitomised all that we British like to make fun of when we speak of American’s. Saying that, he was a good rapper.

As Dan le Sac came to the stage of the old porn cinema he began by playing electric bagpipes especially for the ‘weegie’ audience before breaking into ‘The Beat that my Heart Skipped’ from first album ‘Angles’ which immediately got the crowd into a frenzy. Scroobius Pip then entered wearing his trademark beard and baseball cap with a bottle of Rosé. Having released ‘Logic of Chance’ last Monday the set was very heavy with this new material and a strange gig as the new album is very dance orientated in comparison to the more hip-hop sound of the first record making it seem to be almost half gig/half club night.

The first single ‘Get Better’ from the latest album was a massive crowd pleaser as was ‘Thou shalt Always Kill’ where the addition of the lyrics ‘the Proclaimers, just a band’ didn’t go unnoticed. ‘Stake A Claim’ saw Pip make his defence for why he should be made the first president of the UK which he read from a prodigious leather bound book while there were very touching moments in the cases of the harrowing track of self-harm ‘Magician’s Assistant’ and ‘Look for the Woman’ with its beautiful piano part and backing vocals from Dan le Sac.

It is always nice to see a dj that doesn’t simply play off a computer or even just decks but instead uses an electronic drum machine, does live sampling and looping and a whole host of other things I don’t understand. Not just that but I feel Dan le Sac is underrated in his vocal contributions to the duo which fit very appropriately.
The encore saw Pip read ‘Letter From God to Man’ from a tattered piece of paper where he arguably shows his finest lyrical side, he then proceeded to leave the stage as Dan continued to fervently play a five minute long instrumental to finish and thus end what was a fantastic night of live music.

Frank Turner Live at HMV Picture House, Edinburgh With Support Acts Crazy Arm and Chuck Ragan 16/03/10

Sadly I arrived too late to see any of Crazy Arm’s set and instead was met with the gruff voice of Chuck Ragan as I entered the Picture House. Playing with a simple band consisting of Jon Gaunt on violin sporting one of the best beards I have ever seen and Digger Barnes on the double bass, it was an excellent start to the evening and surprising to have such an established musician playing a support slot. Like Frank Turner, it is interesting seeing Ragan’s switch from punk rock to folk following the split of ‘Hot Water Music’ in 2006 when he took up a solo career. His hoarse vocals and accompanying harmonica are appropriate for his change and tracks such as ‘Geraldine’ were striking.

Frank Turner played one of the jolliest and most uplifting gigs I have been to. All his songs contain stories that give you an insight into the life and person of the Winchester born musician and seeing him live is like an invitation into this world and his circle of friends. A big change from his post-hardcore band ‘Million Dead’, Turner manages to effortlessly combine elements of folk and punk rock, encapsulating the very ethos of a ‘man and his guitar’ with everyone in the crowd seeming really up for it, knowing all the words and dancing arm in arm.

The set list contained a good combination of new and older material with Frank powering through close to twenty songs. Opening with ‘Photosynthesis’, the lyrics seem highly appropriate when he sings: ‘now I’ll play and you sing, the perfect way for the evening to begin’ whilst ‘To Take you Home’ combined a catchy guitar part with heartfelt vocals, Ben Lloyd on Mandolin and the rumbling of the floor tom as drummer Nigel Powell stood up to deliver the epic ballad. ‘Sons of Liberty’ from his most recent album ‘Poetry of the Deed’ was a personal favourite, an exclamation against politics and the ‘establishment’ with an excellent floaty keyboard part and brilliant solo from Turner although slightly disappointing that it didn’t contain the violin part that features on the record, I was half hoping that Gaunt would come out and rock the solo.

The encore saw the addition of Ragan and Gaunt to the fray as they played one of Chuck’s songs, ‘Revival Road’, it seemed strange that Frank was headlining the tour and that a musician he enjoyed in his younger years was supporting him although no hard feelings seemed to be shared. The Edinburgh crowd were given a special treat as Frank gave us a rendition of one of his much older tracks ‘Casanova Lament’ delivered beautifully with nothing but his acoustic guitar. ‘The Road’ closed the show where Frank posed a sly nod when he sang ‘to the north’ and the bridge of the song where the guitar part breaks down and becomes quite heavy and reminiscent of a Million Dead Frank was a fantastic crescendo to finish on.

All in all it appeared as though it wasn’t just the crowd that were having a really good time and it always vastly improves the enjoyment of a gig when the band are messing around and acting as though they are merely really good friends having a jam. If only Frank really was my friend.

Grizzly Bear Live At Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh With Support Act Beach House 09/03/10

It’s exciting enough when you hear that Brooklyn based folk-rock band ‘Grizzly Bear’ have decided to play Edinburgh despite most remotely successful bands choosing to bypass the city and head straight to Glasgow where the music scene is more thriving, but when you learn that Baltimore dream-pop duo ‘Beach House’ are supporting as well, it’s like a dream come true.

‘Beach House’ who arrived to a very dimly lit stage set the motion for the evening, Victoria Legrand’s long curly hair hung over her keyboard and Alex Scally reclined on a chair, their atmospheric music entrancing the crowd. The combination of coloured lighting and smoke machines with the haunting vocals of Legrand was truly hypnotic. The highlight had to be ‘Norway’ off their latest album ‘Teen Dream’ with its wonky guitar and ethereal vocals and ‘Zebra’ with simple guitar sliding and a sweeping voice building up to an epic chorus complete with keyboards.

On to the main act, the set lit simply by a collection of glowing glass jars, few bands have been so successful in their captivation of the audience’s attention, with songs such as ‘Foreground’ with its modest keyboards from Daniel Rossen and chilling vocals from Edward Droste being simply beautiful, the crowd not daring to make a whimper. Often described as chamber pop, the constant switching of lead vocalists meaning no noticeable frontman and the multitude of instruments played especially from Chris Taylor who flits from bass guitar to flute to clarinet to saxophone is not only extremely impressive but adds an orchestral feel to the music. The only downside to this would have to be the addition of the omnichord played by Droste which (and I may just be ignorant) seemed to merely consist of single chord being played thus defeating the point of it being there and only adding as a spectacle and not to the musical content.

The set was very ‘Veckatimest’ heavy breaking straight away into ‘Southern Point’ and playing numerous songs from the album although they weren’t afraid of delivering older tracks with ‘Colorado’ and ‘Knife’ off ‘Yellow House’ being particularly good.

Perhaps the highlight of the set had to be when Victoria Legrend joined the stage to sing backing vocals on the much loved ‘Two Weeks’ which she appears on the album for as well as taking the lead for ‘Slow Life’ a track that Grizzly Bear produced for the film ‘New Moon’. Other excellent tracks were ‘While You Wait For Others’ where the crowd all seemed to join arms and revel in the happiness of the music and ‘On a Neck On A Spit’ with its phenomenal guitar and hoarse vocals from Rossen.

The encore which consisted of a single acoustic cover of ‘All We Ask’ was the perfect ending to a terrific set, the audience hanging on to every last note building up to a succession of clapping as they really got into the song and giving the band a huge showering of praise as they left the stage.

Hot Chip Live At HMV Picture House, Edinburgh 13/02/2010 with support act Casiokids

Norwegian band Casiokids bravely opened for Hot Chip at the HMV Picture house last Saturday. A relatively new band they did well to please the fans of one of the UK’s most popular electropop acts. The vocals which are entirely in Norwegian didn’t seem to put people off as their exuberant stage presence made for an enjoyable set. Despite this however, their focus on an array of eclectic electronic sounds seemed to deviate from the coherence of the music as a whole and as a result there were moments where the music sounded a bit sloppy and confused with too many contradictory sounds. A band definitely to look out for in the future and to do them justice they are still in their early stages and have already come a huge way in such a short time although I feel that they need to focus on the basic structure of their song writing before experimenting with different sounds/instruments.

As a warm blue light filled the stage Hot Chip emerged to hungry fans, their array of synthesizer’s, guitars and the latest addition of steel drums made for quite a spectacle. The thump of the kick drum announced the start of the set as they broke into the opening song ‘Thieves in the Night’ from their latest effort ‘One Life Stand’. The perfect start to a Saturday night the crowd were ecstatic from the get go with the impeccable blend of dancey and affable numbers appealing to everyone. Having just released a new album the set list as would be expected reflected this with highlights including ‘Brothers’ which they claimed was the first time they had played live and was beautiful with the gentle trumpet from Al Doyle. ‘Alley Cats’ another personal favourite from the latest album provided a mellow contrast to the more disco-house orientated songs such as ‘One Life Stand’ and ‘Take It In’.

Perhaps the highlight of the show was the alteration of some of their more classic songs which gave the audience a pleasant surprise. It’s always a bit depressing when a band reproduces their songs sound for sound when played live and the best live acts are those that add something different to the songs to satisfy the fans. In this case the addition of steel drums to the intro of ‘And there was a Boy from School’ was a refreshing change whilst in the case of ‘Ready For the Floor there was a completely different intro altogether and it was only when Alexis Taylor broke in with ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it do it now’ that the audience acknowledged what song it was. Other songs which the crowd loved include ‘I Feel Better’ from the latest album which really got them going and ‘Hold On’ from ‘Made in the Dark’ where a sea of people filling the 1,500 person capacity of the picture house bopping along was quite a sight.

A terrific show to mark an excellent album although their choice of ordering of songs was a bit confusing. As they left the stage before the encore one was left wondering what they would play having already given us the likes of their most popular records and thus it seemed a strange choice to be playing tracks such as ’Slush’ which I really don’t rate very highly in what should have been the pinnacle of their set. Apart from this their actual playing cannot really be faulted and so it is not something that should really be questioned in relation to their overall performance which was far above par.