Damon Albarn recently traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with a bunch of his muso friends - T-E-E-D (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), Dan The Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine, Alwest, Rodaidh McDonald and Kwes. They all made the trip with a plan - to make an album in 7 days and release it for charity through Oxfam. The DRC is home to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises – it's been wracked by years of conflict. Proceeds from the DRC Music album will help Oxfam support thousands of the DRC's poorest people. Damon & Friends recorded with a bunch of the local musical talent and the first fruits of those sessions are in. No release date yet. Lovely stuff.
DRC Music - Lingala (featuring Bokatola System and Evala Litongo)
DRC Music - Ah Congo (featuring Jupiter Bokondji and Bokatola System)
DRC Music - Hallo (featuring Tout Puissant Mukalo and Nelly Liyemge)
A fine selection of tunes to get your groove on to - a few choice remixes, a couple of covers of Nirvana & Donna Summer songs, two hot Euro jams and the Chaka anthem, written by Ashford & Simpson - RIP Nick Ashford, who passed away his week.
As I've mentioned in the past on this blog, I spent 6 years in the UK in the late '70s and early '80s. Those years had a major impact on my musical tastes, especially when it comes to anything synth driven. One of my favorite acts of that time is Ultravox. Not the Midge Ure version mind you, but the John Foxx era. They were pioneers in combining art rock with drum machines and new synthesizer technology. The music combined with Foxx's eerie vocals and futuristic lyrics really impressed me. They managed to have some success before Foxx left the band to chart a solo career. Of course Ultravox went on to become very successful with their new singer and song writer, but they lacked the artistic coolness of the original band. I was a big fan of Foxx's solo stuff too - all cold and synthetic and robotic, it sounded like no-one else. Lots of acts went on to cop his steeze and some of them even had greater success with it than he did - hello Gary Numan!
Fast forward to 2011 and John Foxx is still making music. Over the last few years he has released a bunch of stuff, and much of it has been on the ambient side. He has collaborated with UK electronic musician/producer Benge, who is also a collector of vintage studio gear. Together they have released Interplay as John Foxx & The Maths, using old machines to make totally modern music. It is a delightful record, faithfully recreating the music of Foxx's early years but in a totally modern style. Interplay sounds to me like the album Ultravox would release in 2011 if Foxx had never left the group. His themes remain futuristic and so is the music. The beats are both classic and modern, as are the synth sounds. Everything is beefed up and full of speaker rumbling low end. There are a lot of really good pop moments on it, including the new single Evergreen and the track Watching A Building On Fire which features Mira Aroyo from Ladytron on vocals. Falling Star is a gorgeously dreamy ballad while Shatterproof and Catwalk add a dash of glam rock stomp. I am captivated by it. If you are a fan of electronic music you would do well to check this record out!
As a little bonus enjoy their freshly recorded version of the Pink Floyd classic Have A Cigar. The cover mount CD from the October issue of Mojo Magazine features this song. However it has been announced that the version on the CD was unfinished. The version I offer today is the full, finished version.
Paul Weller's new single is a straight up return to the sweet, funky sounds of his old band, The Style Council. Listen to the original on the Soundcloud player, then nab the Drop Out Orchestra remix - they smooth it out, add the slick disco vibes, strings and bongo goodness. I think I like this remix better than the original!
Neon Indian's new album Era Extraña is out on September 13th. He has already leaked one song - Fallout - and today brings another. Polish Girl is quite the little pop song - not as dreamily abstract as what you might have expected. Still has that Neon Indian sound though, so fans should like it!