Thursday, 24 April 2014

To Rococo Rot - Many Descriptions (feat. Arto Lindsay)

To Rococo Rot's distinctive blend of ambient and electronic sounds has been a hallmark of their sound over the past 18 years, and long-term fans will be pleased to hear of the upcoming full-length album release of Instrument.

It will be To Rococo Rot's eighth album in all, and their first since 2010, and is due for a July 21st launch date, accompanied by a launch show at Cafe Oto in London.

Until then, fans will have to be satisfied with preview tracks, and the first of those is Many Descriptions, featuring vocals by Arto Lindsay.



It's an elegant reintroduction to the musical world of To Rococo Rot - I could happily listen to four minutes of the intro before any vocals were introduced - but it also marks an evolution in their sound.

"We wanted to make clear that something is different," says Robert Lippok, and while that is true, the signatures of Robert and his brother Ronald, as well as collaborator Stefan Schneider, are written all over the track.

The launch of Instrument may be some way off, but you can already preorder it via iTunes - click the button below if you don't want to miss the launch date.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Day of the Doctor

There's an awful lot that could be said about The Day of the Doctor, but I'll try to be brief and avoid spoilers as far as possible (but if you've not seen it yet and want to, you might still prefer to watch it before reading on...).

Firstly, let's get the most important thing out of the way - it was good. The first 30 seconds or so, before it all goes a bit adventurey, are a pleasing link from the very first episode to present day, and the last shot of the episode - without wanting to give anything away - is a nice way to round off the first 50 years of the show.

In between those opening and closing shots, there's 75 minutes of spectacle with a plot that, at least as far as I can tell, holds up to scrutiny better than many recent episodes of the series itself.

The feature-length piece also, of course, INTRODUCES JOHN HURT AS THE DOCTOR, but the lack of subtlety with which he was shoutily announced at the end of the preceding episode has been smoothed out slightly, and he fills the role nicely without stealing the show as the biggest 'name' among the cast members.


Subtlety is, for once, to be found in abundance in The Day of the Doctor, which manages simultaneously to give a nod to the classic era of the show, the early days of its modern-era revival and its current incarnation with Matt Smith at the helm of the TARDIS and of the show.

Billie Piper's appearance (again, hardly a spoiler by the time you've watched the opening credits) is handled well, allowing her to feature without getting bogged down in the Tenth Doctor/Rose storyline - which, remember, younger newcomers to the show may not have seen.

And there's a curious Wizard of Oz undercurrent throughout - look out for the ruby slippers in the Black Vault, Clara (IIRC) calling herself the 'Wicked Witch of the West' and Ingrid Oliver's character name 'Osgood' (Clara is, of course, varyingly known as Clara Oswald or simply as Oswin in previous episodes).

I've been trying to work out if the three Doctors are meant to represent the Scarecrow (Smith), Tin Man (Tennant) and Cowardly Lion (Hurt), but it's not a perfect fit - maybe it's all just my imagination.

I could spell out all of the references to the earlier Doctors, but I won't - I'll leave that for somebody far more familiar with the show than I am, and for a page that's less careful about spoilers.

But needless to say, as a viewer who came to the show in the mid to late 1980s (I wasn't born until 1983, so I like to think I have an excuse), there was enough of the spirit of Doctor Who as I knew it then, balanced nicely with the modern-day sense of the show as the new generation of fans have come to know it - not to mention a couple of surprises thrown in purely for the older fans, which seems fitting for an anniversary of such magnitude.

I do wonder how they got from the end of the previous episode to the beginning of this story, but perhaps that doesn't matter too much - it really needed to stand alone, so viewers who tuned in only for the anniversary did not feel lost from the outset, and I suspect it achieved that aim fairly well.

The focus now has to be on Peter Capaldi - it's no secret that this year's Christmas special is likely to see Matt Smith bow out and regenerate, which will ruin Christmas Day for a few kids, but never mind.

Can Capaldi continue to unite the two eras of Doctor Who? Restore The Doctor to his true, original character as a grumpy grown-up, rather than a clown? Bring back the darker side of the character and the show, for a generation of fans who came to the show as adolescents but are now reaching maturity in their own right?

I had all but written off Doctor Who until this anniversary episode; now I greet the oncoming storm with optimism. I have loved Matt Smith but, like Sylvester McCoy, he has rarely had the storylines he needed to shine to his fullest potential. Bring on Capaldi.

Friday, 22 November 2013

An Adventure in Space and Time

If you're already sick of watching Cybermen faint under the lights of The One Show studio, you probably decided not to watch An Adventure in Space and Time.

But while much of the build-up to this weekend's 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who has been bordering on the vapid, this 90-minute dramatisation frankly blew everything else out of the water, and has probably set the bar impossibly high for the 50th anniversary episode itself.

Not to worry - it's a small price to pay for what was not just a perfectly time-shifting glimpse at the show's earliest days, but also a touching tribute to The Doctor himself, William Hartnell.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Son Lux - Lanterns

The new record from Son Lux, 'Lanterns', is an energetic and uplifting fabric, a kind of musical weave that envelops the listener and begs to be played again and again.

Complex and thought-provoking, it's a symphony of instruments and voices that helps to drown out any stresses left over from the day, and lull you off to sleep - or help you relax or, contradictorily, help you prepare for a night out by creating a musical buffer between the working day and the evening's festivities.

Whatever you use Lanterns for - even if just to provide a soundtrack to your morning commute or journey to school - you definitely won't be bored by its detailed soundscapes and often haunting refrains, particularly in the case of Easy, which although minimalistic is one of the most sit-up-and-listen tracks on the record.

Click through to our full review below to preview Easy and other tracks from Lanterns.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Love Inks - Generation Club

It may be more than two years since Love Inks last featured on Popsiculture, back around the release date of E.S.P., but now they're back with Generation Club, and there's a whole ten more tracks to fall in love with.

For those of you who bought or remember E.S.P., Generation Club continues in the same style - an almost sensual combination of electronic sounds and purring vocals that perfectly show off lead singer Sherry LeBlanc's range.

If you're new to Love Inks, prepare yourself for something a little different from the norm. Think end-of-the-night slow-dancing on the greatest dancefloor of your life, but in the middle of the day and stone-cold sober, and... actually that sounds like a nightmare, but what I'm trying to say is, Love Inks feel like the crescendo of a great night out, but can be enjoyed at any time of day.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Crystal Stilts - Nature Noir


Nature Noir is the new album from Crystal Stilts, due out on September 16th through Sacred Bones, and it's currently having aural sex with our earholes here at Popsiculture.

It's an effortlessly stylish, stereophonic masterpiece that begs for a decent pair of headphones or set of speakers - so do yourself a favour, and give this one a listen on something other than your laptop or phone's built-in speakers; you won't regret it.
 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Junip - Walking Lightly

Walking Lightly, due for release on September 16th via City Slang, is a lush balance of percussion and Jose Gonzalez vocals, rich and mellow, and provides a perfect follow-up to the self-titled sophomore album released by Junip earlier this year.

You can preview the track using the SoundCloud player below, but also look out for the EP - also entitled Walking Lightly and due out on September 16th - for more tracks, including remixes by Maps, To Rococo Rot and Tobacco.


Like many people in the UK, we've been fans of Jose Gonzalez since his version of Heartbeats featured on the Sony Bravia 'bouncy balls' advert - and it's great to hear his work with Junip offering a different side to his distinctive vocals.

What's more, there's currently the chance to see Junip perform live on their European tour, which includes UK dates at:

14th Sep - Manchester, Ramsbottom Festival
15th Sep - Glasgow, No Mean City
16th Sep - Leeds, Brudenells Social Club
17th Sep - Bristol, Fleece
18th Sep - London, Shepherd's Bush Empire


It's a hectic schedule, sandwiched between further dates in France, Germany and the Benelux countries - and with the single and EP due out to coincide with the Leeds date, Junip are likely to be making a fair few appearances in the trade press over the coming weeks.

To download Walking Lightly from iTunes, use the button below, or look out for the full release of the EP if you're interested in the remixes.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth Doctor

In the worst-kept Doctor Who secret since the 2005 reboot episode Rose was leaked in Canada, Peter Capaldi has been named as the Twelfth Doctor, and fans seem, for the most part, to be quite happy.

As usual, I've got mixed feelings, although they're generally very positive - and it's certainly good that they haven't tried to cast another Matt Smith, who always seemed a natural for the role.


Yes, Capaldi is a rather more familiar face than is usually the case, but I think the show needs a safe pair of hands in the driving seat for now.

And to the critics who say he won't stay for long, as he'll be lured away to other (bigger?) things, I refer you to my June 2nd post and the fact that only four actors - including the two most recent Doctors, David Tennant and Matt Smith - have ever held the TARDIS keys for more than three years at a time.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Anna von Hausswolff - Ceremony

Ceremony, a spectacular, triumphant album from Sweden's Anna von Hausswolff, defies description and explanation - although naturally, I'll give it my best effort.

Let's be under no illusions though that this is not a sequence of compositions that's best heard, rather than discussed; so take full advantage of any previews you can get your hands on, or just take the plunge and buy it outright.



If you don't know what to expect of Anna von Hausswolff, then you're in for the greatest treat of all - and you may as well enjoy it, as you'll only get to 'discover' her for the first time once.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Doctor Who...?

With the news that Matt Smith is to leave the role of The Doctor (let's call him Eleven from here on in) at the end of the show's current 50th year, Doctor Who's producers have a crucial decision to make in appointing the right actor - or actress - to take on the role of Twelve.

I've been a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, although in my case I was still only four years old when Sylvester McCoy became Seven, so don't really have clear memories of any of the Doctors who came before him.

Before I list some of the options, let's remind ourselves of the Doctors of the past:

1. William Hartnell (1963-1966), 2yrs 11mths
2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969), 2yrs 8mths
3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974), 4yrs 5mths
4. Tom Baker (1974-1981), 6yrs 9mths
5. Peter Davison (1981-1984), 3yrs 0mths
6. Colin Baker (1984-1986), 2yrs 9mths
7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989), 2yrs 3mths
8. Paul McGann (May 27th 1996), 1 day
9. Christopher Eccleston (2005), 3mths
10. David Tennant (2005-2010), 4yrs 7mths
11. Matt Smith (2010-2013), 3yrs 11mths

Although it might feel like the actor playing The Doctor has changed quite a lot since the show's return in 2005, that's actually not the case - with the exception of Eccleston's admittedly short tenure, Tennant and Smith have been two of only four actors to play the part for more than three years (with Davison piloting the TARDIS for almost exactly three years, but falling just a few days short of the milestone).