Friday, 22 June 2007

Prima Pt. 2- The Fall & Beirut


The below post was actually published on 19th June, not 13th. Though that's when I started working on it... Oh.

Anyway, today's post concerns the best double-whammy I saw of the festival. It was a combination that never should have worked and yet it did because they were so different that any kind of imitation or similarity would be a disadvantage. I bring you-

PART TWO- The Fall and Beirut


Yeah, so Beirut got bummed to pieces when his/their (does the name refer to the music Zach Condon makes, or also his band? CONFUSION!) music first appeared and I suppose a good few readers will at least have read about it if not already heard the album, Gulag Orkestar.

There are two things I found remarkable about their performance at Prima-

1) Even though there's only one album so far, they have a glut of other material to play alongside it. There's other compositions and oddities but there's also a range of Balkan and non-Western music for them to draw on. His voice handles the various languages and dialects like each were his mother tongue, so it's pretty amazing to watch.

2) Zach Condon can sing and perform perfectly despite clearly being as drunk as a stoat between songs.

It was starting to darken in Barcelona as Beirut took to the stage, and the stage itself was right next to the sea. There was a large open flight of stairs leading down to the coast from the rest of the Forum site, meaning the stage could be easily seen from the top of the area. Looking back and seeing a wall of music fans was a pretty amazing sight.

And then he played stuff like this-

Beirut- Mandaccordian (live)

Beirut- Ederlezi (live)

The Fall

The Fall are evil. Menacing. One of the few strands in common they have with Beirut is that it's not what Mark E. Smith sings, it's how. Maximo Park were due on later playing the very same stage, and an initial glance had me fearful. There was no way those genteel Geordies could follow this, but fortunately the schedule allowed time for Beirut's Eastern European party.

Like Beirut, there's been a lot written about the Fall, albeit over many more years. To truly understand this band, you need to see them live. I am kicking myself for not seeing them in Edinburgh or Glasgow a few months ago. Mark E. Smith OWNS the stage, the twin-bass attack is monstrous. The stage lighting was a willing co-conspirator, dazzling the dusk crowd as their ears fell prey to the cavalry charge of noise.

I cannot profess to know much about their recorded output, but everyone must hear Blindness. It was one of the highlights of their set. I can't pick between either Beirut or The Fall as my favourite band on the second day, two completely different acts. Equally awesome.

The Fall- Blindness

Part 3 coming soon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Prima Pt. 1- Girl Bear


Sup team, I've been away/crazy busy for the past month. I did one big trip where I flew to Rome, stayed there for 10 (!) days, then flew straight to Barcelona for Primavera Sound Festival in the amazing Parc del Forum.

The line-up was seriously unbelievable. You can see for yourself on their site. Obviously, there were clashes and it wasn't physically possible to see the 100+ acts over 3 nights/mornings (Barcelona do their festivals PROPERLY) but over the next week or two, I'll go through some of the best I saw.


Girl Talk

Girl Talk is just one guy and as the pic shows, he definitely steers clear of the DJ label. He also hates the term 'mash-up', though his work doesn't so much sit on that fence as barrel through it like a Paris Hilton-helmed Porsche. [incidentally, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA]

This is actually his biggest strength though. In light of traditional copyright's increasingly short shelf-life, we are gradually seeing fewer inhibitions in sampling. Advances in digital technology have meant that musicians can contort (and manufacture) their samples into unrecognisable shapes, but Girl Talk brings a big shiny swagger to this type of music.

He takes a sample, throws another down, whips one away, and lays a big chunk of a summer hit that fits PERFECTLY over the top. All in 15 seconds. He chews through samples like a grizzly baby ruins toys.

He has an intrinsic sense of songcraft and this is what separates him from many goons with a laptop making noise. He also puts on a great show, leaping out from behind the DJ lectern in a full suit and tie, tearing layers off as he cranks the tempo up further and further. At Prima, he finished with a cover of Scentless Apprentice [whilst sampled for his album, the actual cover isn't on it. And I have a special cover to show you later in this post]. He leapt off the stage and into the crowd, clutching his mic like it was the last connection to rock histronics left in this century and yelled into it as the crowd swept him back and forth. In an open dance enclosure.

The album is awesome, here are two of my favourite tracks. You should DEFINITELY see him live if you get a chance.

Girl Talk- Ask About Me
Girl Talk- Bounce That

Night Ripper on Amazon Marketplace [not distributed in the UK yet]
Girl Talk Myspace

Grizzly Bear

This is a band with a fairly conventional line-up, but they don't make conventional music. It has the usual components, but the way it's arranged raises goosepimples. To say the vocals are ghostly is something of a trite simile when it's more accurate to say that they sound as though they come from the transparent lungs of passing spirits. Something particularly astonishing to note from their live performance is the reliance upon a clean electric guitar for the main melody, with the vocals, drums, and occasional clarinet swooping in and out of the soundscape.

This sounds pretentious, but this music is not easy to explain. It's not immediate, and immeasurably better for it. This is music that gently seeps into your pores and leaves a trace. Here are two of their (relatively) well-known songs.

Grizzly Bear- Knife
Grizzly Bear- On A Neck, On A Spit

'Yellow House' UK Quicklink
Grizzly Bear Myspace
Ed Droste's blog


And now, the sum result of their parts. 'Knife' smashed together with a Clipse track [a good a place as any to confess my Neptunes love and shame for not having heard their helmed (ahahaha Paris) and critically-acclaimed album yet) by that scamp Girl Talk.

Grizzly Bear- Knife (Girl Talk Remix)

Enjoy, I will try to post again soon and continue the Primafest. Goddamn life getting in the way of blogging!