Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win.

Oh, man – feast your eyes and ears on this thing of beauty, my friends. Spike Jonze, director of such classics as Being John Malkovich, Adapation, and Where The Wild Things Are, has teamed up with the Beastie Boys and given the world an epic, 11-minute short film for their first single off their latest LP Hot Sauce Committee Part II.

I just can't do this masterpiece of supermarionation (think Thunderbirds, the British 1960's puppet show about the organisation International Rescue and their various adventures) justice. Suffice it to say: There's GI Joe figures, an abominable snowman, action, brilliant set pieces, and ... zombies. Seriously, I am at a loss for words. This has to be seen to be believed.

Album Review: Austra.


"Dark synth." "Gloom synth." "Goth pop." These phrases, and many more, have been utilized by people to describe the pristine electronic goodness gracing the debut LP from Austra, a wonderful trio hailing from Toronto, Canada. Now, it's not like I completely disagree with these labels that have been given, but I can report that while there are indeed dark sparkles in their songs, I do not find Feel It Break to be an inherently gloomy work.

Rather, there's more of a mystical earthy feel to the album. It's certainly a sensuous experience, what with vocalist Katie Stelmanis's operatic and soaring voice – there are moments in these 47 minutes that have the power to take one's breath away, it's such a powerful and awesome instrument. Drummer Maya Postepski wields her sticks with fervour and panache, and Dorian Wolf rounds out the trio with his trusty bass.

My God though – this is a fucking brilliant record, from beginning to end. Opening track "Darken Her Horse" starts off like a funereal dirge as dreamt by The Knife, but as it slowly opens its dark petals, this slow-burning flower builds and grows, transforming into a solemn masterwork of sparkling, dreamy gloom pop (I didn't say it was completely free of gloominess). Like early Kate Bush? You'll fucking love this. "Lose It" is a fantastically punchy number, bringing to mind a-ha's early work; as with their keyboardist Magne Furuholmen's handiwork, the synths here are complex, sparklingly clear, and driven to a nearly confectionery sweetness. And then there's the sensual moodiness of the first single off the album, "Beat And The Pulse." Aural sex, pure and simple – it's simply amazing; a riveting track made even more compulsive with its accompanying video featuring mutated dancers. (Mildly NSFW, so you know.) 

All said and done, I find Feel It Break to be a nearly flawless record. There are no bum notes to be found, and repeated listens will reward the intrepid connoisseur of quality electronic music. I trust you all are well; and apologies for having laid so low for such a long time – my visa in Australia has been granted, and now is the time to find a job!

Here's the video for "Lose It." Hopefully you love it as much as I do!