Friday, 29 January 2010
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
"Do you ever get that feelingWhen the guilt begins to hurt?Seeing all the children,Wallowing in dirt,"
Monday, 25 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
Friday, 22 January 2010
Taking their name from a song by the legendary band Roxy Music, Ladytron first made waves on the music scene of Liverpool, England in 2001 with their debut album, 604. The first single, the irresistibly catchy "Playgirl," got them some much deserved world-wide attention with that, their career blossomed. The next year, 2002, saw the release of their sophomore album Light & Magic, saw them take their 80's synth-pop revivalist sound to new, and more expansive heights. The gang of four - DJs Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu paired with dual singers Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie - take their cue from late-70's and early 80's technological tunesmithery (I know it's not a word - but here I am, making it up and trying to make it stick) - think Kraftwerk mixed with a touch of glam pop and a dash of nihilistic je ne sais quoi mixed vigorously and strained into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass - and then run with it in new and exciting directions. This, in essence, is what makes Light & Magic tick, and what makes it such an interesting and exotic addition to any electro fan's collection of modern classics.
Lead member Daniel Hunt has referred to his band's sound as "softcore techno," and when one listens to their music, it's not hard to see the definition take shape, for a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts are woven into their musical tapestry, flowing along effortlessly like a black snake through the boughs of a skeletal tree. I'm not sure if that analogy makes the record sound dark, for not all is gloomy here. But there's something that boils under the surface, a certain "something" that is ambiguously dangerous and fierce. But it's also a something that has quite an elegant structure, and is startling in its eloquence and dictation. Let's take a look at some of the tracks that make up this piece of work, shall we?
"Hey, where do you come from?
And, why don’t you stay where you belong?
Seek, everyone that you kissed,
Do they cease to exist, when you stop being missed?”
And thus goes the chorus for “Cease2exist,” just one of the thirteen tracks that make up Light & Magic. There’s an idiosyncratic quality to the lyrics here that, when superimposed over the song’s throbbing and vaguely menacing rhythm, make them particularly poignant and loaded with double-meaning and innuendo. One of the reasons that the songs work so well, besides the multi-layered density of the music itself, is the simple fact that the vocals are so damned dreamy. The singers, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, are in possession of starkly different timbres and styles. Marnie, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, has a voice that seemingly floats in the ether; it’s somewhat wispy, up there in the clouds, but one can tell there’s a toughness lurking beneath the airiness. Aroyo, on the other hand, is from Sofia, Bulgaria, and the deep richness of her Eastern European upbringing shows through in her stern and vaguely austere style. Now, when you put those two voices together, then voila! Magic happens.
Well, Light & Magic certainly happens. And that’s what makes Ladytron so special. Take, for instance, the track “NuHorizons.” Sung entirely in Bulgarian by Aroyo, it is, ostensibly, a paean to NuHorizons Electronics (unless, of course, it is not. But I like to think that it is). I don’t speak a word of Bulgarian, and lyrics are not helpfully provided, so it can mean anything – anything at all. And that, right there, is reminiscent of the power wielded on this album, foreign languages or otherwise. With its stark drums, a menacing organ blaring its dirge-like squawk, strange little bleeps and bloops careening in the background, and mysterious otherworldly voices whispering here and there, it’s hazily threatening, and I wouldn’t have the ambiguity any other way.
Then there’s the opening track, “Seventeen.” Deceptively simple, it pretty much repeats the chorus seven times, but there’s a dark undercurrent at work here. When Marnie sings,
“They only want you when you’re seventeen,
When you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.
They take a Polaroid and let you go,
Say they’ll let you know,
So come on,”
I personally look at it as a denunciation of our modern throwaway culture and how we tend to value women when they’re younger and prettier, and then discard them when their time has come. It’s a sinister song, but one with no easy answers. It’s completely open to interpretation, and I’d like to say one more time that that’s one of the aspects of Ladytron’s work that I find so utterly refreshing. Not that having solid and quite danceable music doesn’t hurt.
Ladytron have two other albums under their belt: 2005’s Witching Hour and their most recent, Velocifero from 2008, two pieces of work that are absolutely fantastic in their own right – full of vigor and a dense, psychedelic power that has the power to overwhelm the senses. But I would recommend adding Light & Magic to your collection first, if only to introduce you to Ladytron and their dark, brooding, and brilliantly realized soundscapes. You won’t be disappointed, not by a long shot, and you might even pick up some Bulgarian while you’re at it! Cheers, and have a lovely day.
While I'm on the subject, I'd like to share the video for "Seventeen."
And here's another track off of the album, "Evil." Enjoy!
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Monday, 18 January 2010
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
"You are my dark side of the moon,A room without a view,A song that ends too soon,A helium balloon ..."
Monday, 11 January 2010
It was a fascinating trip. I watched the barren snow-flocked landscape hurtle by, all black volcanic rock covered with ice and snow. Large volcanoes lurked on the horizen, shaped like Stepford tits, plumes of steam pouring like smoke from unseen fissures in the crust of the Earth. Timeless. One can easily imagine NASA practising the moon landing in this terrain (which they did). Chances are good that Aldrin and Armstrong were vaguely disappointed by the Moon after taking in this landscape. Ha ha, I kid - but not too much. It's fascinating to watch as it drifts past, and it gets your mind and imagination racing, visualizing the explosive power of exploding rock and magma as it violently pushes upward and out, creating this alien world of volcanoes, geysirs, fissures, and steam. The Sun said its bless and winked out, leaving behind a pastiche of purple clouds. It was night, and the bus turned off the major highway 1 onto a weavey winter road. Ice crackled underneath the tires. The engine rumbled like an old man and my seat vibrated ever so slightly. I thought Bjork would be nice, and I plugged her into my ears. "It's so quiet ... shh, shh ..."
... Speechless. I just ... it's so ... I ... I have never in my life experienced anything like it. Ever. There were no words or thoughts with valid meaning in my brain except a single, sustained whisper that echoed back and forth for minutes. Wowwowwowwowwowwowwow My mind returned to a somewhat normal level of reasoning, and I went out into the hot water to explore the place.
It's rather large, and on average is about three to four feet deep. The water, true to its name, is a bright milky blue in color, from the thick soup of minerals and algae that leach in from the porous lava. 70% ocean water and 30% fresh water from glacial ice, it has a distinct salty tinge should any of it get into your mouth. On average, the temperature hovers between 100 and 110 degrees, though every now and then a mildly cold or a wince-inducing boiling current will brush up against your body. Your skin feels slick and healthy as it absorbs the ingredients, and steam filters from the surface, making everything around you transform into dark silhouettes from time to time. I found that I liked to walk on my hands, the mud and black gritty lava sand squooshing between my fingers as I pulled myself through the water. There was not a single cloud in the sky, and the moon looked as if somebody had rubbed it vigourously with sandpaper. Bordered on all sides by lime-encrusted black rock that somehow still managed to maintain a solid dusting of their Christmas snow. Passed the mud pots and pulled out a semi-frozen lump of silica mud and clay with little flecks of rock inside and smeared it on my face like a warrior of old. It was freezing, but my skin was thanking me as it tingled. Out past those pots was the most interesting feature of the Lagoon - the steam vent!
Rising out of the centre at a height of about three feet, it burbled, spat and sputtered boiling-hot water from its peak, each little drop leaving a wake of steam behind it as it hit the rock and became one with the lagoon. Being in its close proximity was quite a bit hotter than the rest. Sometimes it was a little too hot, but I was willing to suffer momentarily. It made an interesting sound - I likened it to little brittle marbles of sugar being flayed alive by a dying vacuum cleaner. I relaxed my body in the water, surrounded by nature and the weird and somewhat ominous lights of the industrial power plant that provides Reykjavik with all its power (steam, it's the way to go!). People from all over the world drifted about here and there, and a bright spotlight turned back and forth over the scene, turning everybody into black silhouettes. The monumental amount of steam from the vent (I'm talking monumental in every sense of the word) changed directions every now and then and would sometimes pass over you, coming like a freight train. Everything would become white, and that, I imagine, is what being inside of a cloud is like. I floated on my back and pushed off into the centre of the waters. I stared up at the sky. And - just like that - pfoosh, pfoosh, two little shooting stars rocketed through the sky. Hmm. Maybe I was on the Moon.
Made it home, hugging myself slightly on the bus. Come to think of it, do you know how I feel right now? You know that sort of dreamy, sigh-y, lackadaisical feeling you get after earth-shatteringly awesome sex, and you're just laying about, maybe smoking a cigarette or drinking a coupe de champagne? Just an overwhelming sense of well-being? That's how I feel. Maybe I just had sex with Iceland! Maybe ...
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
"Poised with tooth and fire and paw, we would finally settle this musical score."