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What would we do without art during times of struggle? Well we wouldn't have the music of Akiko Kiyama, for one thing, who reportedly pulled herself out of a severe emotional slump by learning and writing techno tracks back in 2001. Fast forward to 2008 and we find the Berlin-based, classically trained producer licensing tracks to Richie Hawtin, performing around the world, and, now, releasing her debut solo album, Seven Years. A collection of club bangers, wild percussion moments, Japanese string arrangements, and plenty of melody, the album also marks the first release for the District of Corruption imprint. Expect much more from this lady in the coming months.
Rafter Robert's Sweaty Magic EP began long before he decided to lay some tracks onto an actual disk. Some time back, he hooked up with photographer Lizeth Santos, who was up for the task of completing one art project a day so long as Roberts made one song a day, entirely from scratch. A number of these tracks were published, along with their corresponding artwork, last year on the AK website, and now Rafter has taken several of them to use for the EP. "Juicy" is, like much of Roberts' music, a genre-defying affair that features accessible acoustic guitar melodies and bizarre electronic noises over a helping of falsetto vocals.
It's surprising that songwriters Praveen Sharma and Benoît Pioulard have only met a few times, because tracks on the forthcoming Songs Spun Simla sound as though they've spent the last two years in the same room arranging the musical pieces of each song. In fact, the two found one another mutually, and after Praveen returned from a trip to India, began collaborating on tracks that eventually became Songs. The lush, dense instrumentals and digital effects on the album are the work of Praveen, while Pioulard was at the helm of all things voice-related, weaving layered vocal harmonies throughout the music in chillingly pretty patterns.
The four members of Chandeliers are set to unleash their debut album, The Thrush, this October, and have pulled out all the art funk goodness for the occasion. The Chicago-based band has spent the last couple years blossoming in the city's avant-rock scene, perfecting its own version of the laptop-meets-guitar sound. "Mr. Electric" features punchy keyboard melodies over rapid snare drums, with a slinky funk flavor underneath. Groovy is generally a word to avoid when describing music, but in this case, the term fits perfectly.
Ben Vida's been unleashing a steady output on kranky since 2000, and a forthcoming untitled release marks the third full-length under his Birdshow guise. Calling Vida a multi-instrumentalist is pretty much the understatement of the year, seeing as he wrote the majority of the music on this album, then proceeded to play the Hammond XB-2, microKorg, Moog Voyager, guitar, pan pipes, Vietnamese jaw harp, congas, a wooden flute, the violin, a 10-stringed harp, and about ten other instruments during the recording process. A little help from bandmates Greg Davis, Robert AA Lowe, Adam Vida, and Michael Zerang, and the new album was born. "Green Vines" is a fine example of the many ways in which Vida is adept with arranging instruments. Photo by Katy Fischer.
Germany's not exactly a hotbed for rappers, and it's perhaps the fact that he doesn't have many local influences to pull from that gives Sepalot his own unique flavor when it comes to music. His recently released Red Handed album finds the Munich-based DJ as influenced by electro as he his by Detroit hip-hop, with artists like Frank Nitty (of Frank 'n' Dank fame) rapping over buzzing club beats. The resulting sound constantly darts between grinding, aggressive production and a light, partygoing feel–an intriguing juxtaposition. Photo by C. Boehm.
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