‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Trust” by Hanne Hukkelberg

After a week’s sabbatical, Spillin’ The Beans is back and in fine listening fettle. I am looking at a forthcoming album by Norwegian experimental musician Hanne Hukkelberg called “Trust” which is due for release on the 20th October. As this is not yet available, I cannot post any links to the music, apart from one track, IRL which is on YouTube, but The ‘Spill does have a review-only preview.

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The press release says that “the new album explores the duality of human life in the digital age – largely inspired by writers, scientists and philosophers including George Orwell, Zygmunt Bauman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Yuval Noah Harari and Simon Sinek, alongside the more pop-cultured forecasts of sci-fi series Westworld and Black Mirror.”, which is all well and good, but for me the question is always “What does it actually sound like?”. This is Ms Hukkelberg’s first album in five years, so she has clearly had a lot of time to ponder these bigs questions. let’s see how she treats them in musical terms.

On a first listening, the first point of reference is R ‘n’ B-influenced electronica, which I have to admit isn’t my first choice as Go To listening. However, the music is a lot more than that. It has a quirky, insistent quality that takes it away from the mundane. I suppose it (sort of) occupies a similar space as the likes of Lorde, Little Boots, FKA Twigs and others working with dance and electronica. In the past, Hukkelberg has sounded pretty different to this, experimental in different ways. I think that this music is most interesting when it moves away from the more “poppy” sound and goes to less definable places, which is what happens as the album progresses. I think that from the sixth track, Raindrops, onwards, the music becomes very interesting and unpredictable. I especially like the following track, Silverhaired, which introduces a male voice to good effect. Having said that, none of the music is dull or predictable.

On subsequent hearings, I found more things to listen to that were adding interesting and sometimes unsettling textures to the music, like the sound of howling wolves or dogs in IRL. In fact, the more you listen, the less like electronic pop the music becomes. You end up concentrating on the weird, which is not to suggest that the music is dominated by weirdness, because it isn’t. It is more the case that your ears stop holding on to the familiar and start finding what is the essentially eccentric and imaginative core of the songs. There are themes of alienation here, but also, I think of spurned love and a fear and distrust of the way that technology swamps us and divides us from human contact. She sings “I don’t wanna be perfect, I wanna be me” in The Whip, which in many ways is a curse of the digital age, where perfection is served up everywhere and us mortals are made to feel inferior. The monetisation of the internet and the howling mobs of armchair warriors on social media are deeply alienating aspects of modern life and I think that this is a major concern for Hanne. It is certainly what I am taking away from this music.

Musically, I suppose that some people might try and make Björk comparisons, but they would be wide of the mark, because she doesn’t really sound like her at all.

Anyway, if you are intrigued by the album, or are a fan from her previous four releases, it is available for pre-order here. Hanne is also available on Facebook, Soundcloud and Spotify.

‘Spillin’ The Beans – El Ten Eleven x Emile Mosseri “Unusable Love: A Vocal Collaboration”

This weeks; beans are being ‘spilled on the forthcoming EP by El Ten Eleven (featuring Emile Mosseri), entitled “Unusable Love” and described as “A vocal collaboration”.

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Here at the ‘Spill we’ve had a private preview of the music, which is due for release on 18th August and Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Hide” (EP) – by Reighnbeau

‘Spillin’ The Beans has been on holiday. I sorted out reviews to schedule while I was away but didn’t manage to get anything prepared for last week when I was actually back at home. Anyway, normal service is now resumed and this week I am looking at the latest EP “Hide by Albuquerque-based artist Brice Hample, who works under the name Reighnbeau.

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‘Spillin’ The Beans – To Chechnya With Love: A Benefit Compilation for Chechen LGBTQ+ (Vol 1)

This week, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is stepping sideways to some degree to listen to an album that is all about a particular cause, LGBTQ Rights in Chechnya.

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‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Divination” by Emerald Suspension.

Emerald Suspension are definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste, but what they do is definitely going to appeal to people who like their music from somewhere Out There.

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Balearic sound – Discuss

I’m away this weekend.  This post comes to you via the mystery that is “scheduled posting”.   As it goes live I should have a beer in my hand at the end of my first ride of the weekend on one of the Balearic islands.  I’m not on the club loving island, but I am sufficiently close to inspire this week’s topic.

The Balearic sound is difficult to pin down as Ibiza has a long history of drawing clubbing crowds.  Even before super-DJs like Carl Cox started endless residencies at the island’s bigger clubs, there were DJs laying the foundation for sounds that would morph into what we all think of as classic Balearic – lyrically emotional, blissed out, sunset, piano and strings.   These foundations came in the form of Carly Simon, Roxy Music and Fleetwood Mac – anything with a danceable beat and groove.  Just listen to Big Love enough and you can hear the basis of later club tracks; up-tempo beat, breathy loved-up noises and soaring vocals.

To me the Balearic sound is about blissful club classics and chill out tunes – but you don’t have to be heading to the club at 1am or coming down at 5am to enjoy these tunes; I love tracks like Sebastian Tellier’s La Ritournelle, I find it calming to have on when driving home after a difficult day at work.  That one is relatively recent.  Other favs are these:

Richie Havens – Going Back to My Roots.  An older funk track rediscovered by the Ibiza massive and played everywhere in clubs favouring the Balearic sound.  Oh those pianos!

I have Sweet Harmony somewhere (not to be confused with the great house track by Liquid), however The Sun is Rising is a lovely end of the night/start of the morning chill out track.

I rediscovered Antena’s Camino del Sol only the other week when I was listening to stuff out at around the same time as Young Marble Giants.  This is such a sweet track with a samba sound to it.  Lovely.

Then there’s the Andrew Weatherall mix of The Grid – Flotation.  Perfect mix of heady chill-out room vibe and club favourite.

I realise I’ve gone for the tamer end of the scale with my choices here.  With summer fast approaching I thought it would be a nice idea to find some new tunes and get a Balearic playlist together.  I’m looking for songs that defined the roots of Balearic Beat, classic Ibiza club tunes and Cafe del Mar style chill out tracks. I won’t be around to read your discussion or comment until Monday, but trust you to get the night going and the chill out room relaxed.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

 

Anna Meredith – Discuss

Anna Meredith’s first full length album has been championed by DJ Mary-Anne Hobbs for a long time.  MAH was playing tracks from Varmints on BBC 6 Music back when it was first released last year.  I’d heard none of Meredith’s previous work – if it was ever played on national radio, I never heard it.  She is well known in hipper classical circles though: first and foremost she is a composer.

I’m not really sure how to categorise Varmints; I guess it’s electronica, but at the meaty end of the scale.  It’s energetic and almost demented in places.  She uses horns and synth drums to great affect, creating soaring atmospherics racing along at light speed.  Listen to the repetitive beat of  the track R-Type and imagine careering along at pace on a train.  Some of the tracks on the album have vocals and provide a calm respite to the manic feel of the tracks surrounding them.  I particularly like Nautilus and The Vapours on the Varmints album, although all of it is good.  Anna’s earlier releases are also captivating; there’s an interesting cover of an Erasure track on one of her EPs.

The other week Shane mentioned Emily Wells in the comments of another post – she is a pretty awesome new find.  They are sort of comparable and yet not similar at all – Emily sings on many of her tracks.  It got me wondering about who else is out there pushing the boundaries of classical music and electronica.  I know plenty already, but it would be good to hear of more.

I am also drawn to this album because “varmints” is a word my sister loves and has used it to describe all the children in the family at some point or other.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?