‘Friend’ is the follow-up to NY-based singer-songwriter Samina Saifee’s debut single, ‘Prom’, released earlier this year. With a talent for producing songs that seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and which reflect back the often tragic poignancy of memories, ‘Prom’ was an ear-catching debut for both its heartfelt lyrical quotient but also its simple, understated delivery.
Her new single is, according to Saifee, “a letter to the one who got away, the person who was never yours but who somehow still managed to break your heart.” Across a delicate, fragile backdrop of swooning, dreamy pads, subtle beats and an omnipresent layered, bell-like melody, ‘Friend’ is a diaristic outpouring of intense emotion, almost like Saifee is narrating a moving scene from the movie of her own life. There is catharsis here but it is a bitter, difficult transcendence that you hear on ‘Friend’. Its final moments, as Saifee accepts that the elusive object of her affections is just that – a fleeting, impermanent person yet whose imprint on her heart is indelible – is nothing short of tragic to hear.
Two singles in and Samina Saifee is displaying a knack for delivering complex emotional epithets that document the pivotal moments in her life; the events that have shaped who she is and the way she views the world. The equivalent of the novelist’s roman-à-clef, Saifee’s music is personal yet relatable, and carries a subtle, stirring depth.
‘Feeling The Effects (Of Saturday Night)’ is a new track from Fujiya & Miyagi and finds David Best, Steve Lewis and Ed Chivers in a reflective state of mind.
It’s also an old track – well, sort of. The track was a half-written idea lurking on a hard drive dating from 1999, before the group had released their debut album Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style. Alighting on the idea after almost twenty years, David, Steve and Ed began a process of building the track remotely during the early days lockdown.
“A vehicle for examining past triumphs and defeats, and the conflicting feelings such thoughts provoke,” according to David, the track carries subtle disco reference points and svelte electronics, bubbling away beneath gentle pads and searching half-melodies. The effect is like looking back on the person you were twenty years ago and being both remorseful at the passing of time but also thankful that you grew up and got all those crazy impulses out of your system; like contrasting doing shots and dancing in a club on a Saturday night in your twenties with watching Strictly Come Dancing with your kids while a drinking low-calorie beer in your forties. A brief swerve by David into what could be an unused line from ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ doesn’t sound remotely out of place here, even if any sense of joyous euphoria is held in check by the uncertainty and tentativeness that the track’s structure suggests.
A departure from recent Fujiya & Miyagi concerns – awkward funk, Italodisco, electro – ‘Feeling The Effects’ nods to David’s parallel work with Julian Tardo in Slippery People but points to a new (old?) direction for this group. Metaphorical hangovers rarely sound so serene.
Feeling The Effects (Of Saturday Night) by Fujiya & Miyagi was released November 20 2020 by Impossible Objects Of Desire
The latest single from Edinburgh’s Alex Tronic somehow manages to capture the weird feeling that has been omnipresent through 2020; a disconnected, disbelieving feeling that things just aren’t right. Even in the wake of a monumentally important day that will at least change the global political landscape, ‘The Strangest Times’ taps into a peculiar, almost dissociative detachment that many of us have felt as we’ve drifted without purpose through this year.
Key to the song’s distinctive outlook is a bedrock of serene trip-hop gestures – woozy sounds, muted beats, strings, echoing melodies – through which are laced snatches of news broadcasts from the heart of the pandemic and sirens, each new sound creating a sort of dislocated, nauseating tension and anxiety.
The track features the arresting, soulful vocals of Shuna Lovelle, imbuing the song with a sense of reflectiveness and an admission that no one really knows what’s next for humankind. Thought-provoking stuff from the epicentre of uncertainty.
Watch the video for ‘The Strangest Times’ below.
The Strangest Times by Alex Tronic & Shuna Lovelle was released November 6 2020 by Alex Tronic Records.
Stay Safe is a brief new release from New Orleans-based electronic composer Elizabeth Joan Kelly, comprising two new tracks (‘Stay Safe’ and ‘Cohntagious’) packed with more ideas in their fifty-odd second durations than most electronic musicians can muster in anything far longer.
The foreground of each these two pieces is a robotic voice delivering a public service announcement-style message offering advice and guidance during the global COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Stay Safe’ features a soothing female voice encouraging the public to stay home, delivered over a frantic, post-electro framework of twitchy beats, nauseating siren-style sounds and gently reverberating tones that eradicates any sense of reassurance. ‘Cohntagious’ – named for the inability of the synthesised and vaguely Johnny Rotten-esque robot voice to correctly pronounce ‘contagious’ – encourages you to avoid your partner if they’re exposed to the virus through their place of work, its backdrop a snarling, uncomfortable stew of jackhammer beats, post-industrial clanging and a general feel of unease.
Sounding like the infinitely looped announcements you might expect to hear in a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland where no one survived, something about what Elizabeth has done here seems to tap directly into the sensation of paranoid dread and existential panic that have become the cornerstones of our daily locked-down lives.
Immy is London-born, Falmouth-based singer-songwriter Imogen Leach. ‘In The Morning’ is her debut single, showcasing a lightness of touch and a haunting vocal intonation that prompts comparison with the work of First Aid Kit. Ostensibly a frustrated paean to the transiency and impermanence of one-night stands, ‘In The Morning’ concludes with a firmness and resolution, even as Imogen delivers the song with a quietly stirring grace and subtlety. Expect great things. Released September 28 2020.
Spacelab – Kaleidomission (Wormhole World / HREA’M)
A joint release by the ever-dependable Wormhole World and HREA’M labels for Spacelab, a mysterious electronic project with absolutely no biographical backstory. Containing 36 short tracks, Kaleidomission is an exercise in plunderphonic dexterity, taking in freaky little segments of speech or birdsong culled from the ether, wonky loops of jazz drumming and ambient texture like ‘We Love Can’ and ‘Astral Dynamics’ that sound like they’re being broadcast from a broken AM transmitter in the overgrown grounds of Aleister Crowley’s house. The title of the standout skewed electronica of ‘Fucked Casio Melody’ requires no further explanation. Released October 16 2020.
Lagoss is a collaboration between Discrepant label head Gonçalo F. Cardoso and Tenerife-based electronica duo Tupperware. The 37 short tracks on Imaginary Island Music, Vol. 1 are like listening to Les Baxter or Martin Denny at a post-apocalyptic exotica club on a broken soundsystem. Swooning tropical lushness abounds here, but it’s skewed to the point of nauseating discordancy as vibraphones wobble and shimmer into dissonant sprawls and hip-hop / electro beats lurch awkwardly. If you listen closely to tracks like ‘Chipude’, you can hear the sound of waves lapping around a wrecked beach bar run by an old stoner dude in a Hawaiian shirt mixing Mai Tais for thirsty ghosts. Released October 9 2020.
For his first electronic album under his own name, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante (aka Trickfinger) delivers an energetic tribute to two vastly different things: his recently-departed feline companion Maya, present with him in the studio since RHCP’s Stadium Arcadium, and his hitherto unknown love of jungle and drum ‘n’ bass. A time machine back to the period 1991 – 1996, tracks like ‘Brand E’ and ‘Amethyblowl’ fizz with turbulent breakbeat edginess, while his instantly-recognisable awareness of melody offsets that rhythmic freneticism and intensity with stirring ambient colour. Released October 23 2020.
Volutes is the debut album by French duo Christine Ott and Mathieu Gabry. With a title referring to the spiralling patterns evident in both architecture and nature, Volutes is a breathtaking masterpiece full of gentle, emotive twists. With a palette of sounds including piano, electronics and the expressive violin of Anne Irène-Kempf, moments such as ‘Trapezian Fields’ are freighted with an unpredictable, austere, haunted quality full of intricate detail. Ott’s work with Yann Tiersen can be heard in the mesmerising Ondes Martenot-led ‘Ultraviolet’, wherein layers of the instrument’s characteristic reedy alien sounds are encircled by Irène-Kempf’s savagely heart-wrenching violin as it plunges into minor key despair. Un album d’une beauté poignante. Released October 16 2020.
Fragments is the debut album from LA’s Body/Negative, the pseudonym of nonbinary multi-instrumentalist and producer Andy Schiaffino, and follows their Epoche EP from 2019. Beginning with an instrumental cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Figure 8’ that sounds like it’s being heard through the gauzy vestiges of sleep, Schiaffino has produced an ambient album full of unique personality and highly personal, almost diaristic reference points. Here you can just make out their classical musical roots poking through on pieces like ‘Catholic Guilt’, but they are presented like elusive memories appearing out of the haze of long-buried emotions, making the fifteen minutes of Fragments one of the most haunting and transcendent albums I’ve ever heard. Released October 23 2020.
Paradise Cinema is a trio consisting of Portico Quartet multi-instrumentalist Jack Wyllie with percussionists Khadim Mbaye and Tons Sambe. Recorded while Wylie was on location in Dakar, Senegal, his vision for the album was prompted by the ceaseless rhythms he’d hear through the night and the faded aspirations and historical grandeur of the city. The timbres on pieces like ‘Liberté’ are immediately recognisable from Wylie’s day job with Portico Quartet, all shimmering ambience and considered, absorbing electronics, but it is their fusion with the Mbaye and Sambe’s percussive backbone that focusses the attention. ‘It Will Be Summer Soon’ is a restless, urgent highlight, sounding like rush-hour traffic on a hopeful Senegalese morning. Released October 9 2020.
Espen Eriksen Trio – End Of Summer (Rune Grammofon)
Seven tracks of piano jazz from the versatile fingertips of Espen Eriksen, recorded in Oslo during lockdown after the trio of Eriksen, double bassist Lars Tormod Jenset and drummer Andreas Bye saw all of their shows cancel in quick succession. Released as the strangest of summers drew to a close and the dork Norwegian autumn commenced, pieces like ‘Transparent Darkness’ carry a ruminative, reflective quality in their melodic structures, while the Latin rhythms of the album’s title track carries a sense of quietly chilled optimism. There is also a sense of catharsis and energy in the pieces here, borne from the trio finally getting back together in the studio for a vibrant, socially-distanced session. Released September 25 2020.
YOVA – the duo of Jova Radevska and Mark Vernon – have today released their new single, ‘An Innocent Man’. Not a cover of a Billy Joel song, ‘An Innocent Man’ contains a tender narrative inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird, encapsulating Scout’s love and empathy toward her father and his anxiety at trying to do the right thing in the face of immense pressure.
Jova’s quiet lyrics are delivered over a fragile tapestry of music box and Ondes Martenot melodies from Rob Ellis, violin from Anna Phoebe and cello from Nick Holland. Its presenting is immediately arresting, carrying an introspection and uncertainty that leave you feeling ever-so-slightly changed at its conclusion. “It came about so unexpectedly,” explains Jova. “When jamming with Mark, I found myself starting to narrate scenes from To Kill A Mockingbird, completely unplanned, and that was that.” Much like the book that inspired it, ‘An Innocent Man’ gives you pause to reflect, both on a world still prepared to tolerate the racial injustices that Harper Lee so vividly documented, and also the strength of family ties.
The song is accompanied by a powerfully stirring animated video from Tim Burton collaborator Jess Cope that takes place inside a music box. Here we observe the care and affection of the song’s narrator toward her father, the heavy weight that he must bear in his pursuit of moral rectitude, and a savage reflection of a world still unable to tolerate equality.
Today, Further. brings you the lyric video for ‘An Innocent Man’. Jess Cope’s video will screened at various film festivals over the next few months.
An Innocent Man by YOVA is released October 23 2020. Listen here.
‘Before The Storm Hits’ is the new single by Amongst The Pigeons, the avian-inspired alias of producer Daniel Parsons, and the first evidence of his forthcoming fourth album. The track finds Parsons in collaborative mode, with vocals from Fast Trains (Tom Wells).
Over snaking electronics and turbulent (but never intrusive) rhythms, ‘Before The Storm Hits’ is a moment charged with latent energy and the portentous uncertainty of not quite knowing what’s about to hit you. Think back to what life was like in January, back when COVID-19 vaguely felt like someone else’s issue and that nagging feeling that maybe your confidence wasn’t actually justified.
Many-layered and working short, sharp ideas that appear quickly and disappear just as rapidly, ‘Before The Storm Hits’ has a sculpted sonic anxiety about it; a restless, edgy disposition befitting the subject matter. Wells’ vocal is, in contrast, delivered with quietly detached soulfulness, for the most part a calming contrast to Parson’s electronics in spite of observational lyrics that sound nightmarishly bleak.
“I taught myself how to play guitar when I was 15, started writing songs at 18, and now I’m 20 and there are few things I love more than music,” says Samina Saifee, a Detroit-born, New York-based singer-songwriter.
Samina has just released her debut single, the delicate and moving ‘Prom’. “It’s is a love letter to the summer after high school,” she explains. “It’s funny to me that everyone knows prom as a night that never quite lives up to our dreams. Finishing this song was my way of closing a chapter in my life even though it’s been years since that night, and even though it didn’t live up to my dreams.”
‘Prom’ is built up from gentle, ebbing layers of guitar, piano and discrete electronics, presented with a gauzy ethereality as if looking back on an especially poignant memory. There is a plaintive, wistful, dejected quality to Samina’s beatific lyrics, full of expectation and ultimately disappointment at going home alone. “Can’t tell you how small the world feels when you’re seventeen,” is the song’s final line, left hanging in the empty school halls of Samina’s hopes and dreams as she looks back on the naivete of youth.
Prom by Samina was released July 25 2020. Listen at Spotify.
“Don’t throw it away like a disposable razorblade.” – Slippery People, ‘Resuscitate Our Love’
Today we bring you the first play of ‘Resuscitate Our Love’ by Slippery People, a new project from the Hove-based duo of David Best from Further. favourites Fujiya & Miyagi and Ex-Display Model, and Julian Tardo of Insides.
Named after a seminal Talking Heads track, Slippery People nods firmly in the direction of the skewed, twitchy, awkward funk sound instantly familiar from David’s work in Fujiya & Miyagi, but hitches that to a solid disco beat.
With the addition of euphoric vocals from Siggi Mwasote and intense percussion from Noel Watson, ‘Resuscitate Our Love’ is both reverential to the era my parents still get all misty-eyed about, while also giving it a fresh, ultra-modern edge infused with a distinctively DIY ethos. Full of hi-NRG synths, ridiculously funky bass sounds and some of David Best’s wryest lyrics to date, the track contains an inner rumination on love gone stale and desperate efforts to revive it, all wrapped up in a breezy, infectious groove.
“I’ve known Julian probably since 2004,” explains David of Slippery People’s origins. “He invited Fujiya & Miyagi to record in the much-loved Church Road Studio in Hove, which is where we recorded the Transparent Things album, and most of our other records after that. We both really love electronic disco, and that’s how Slippery People came about.”
The product of three years of sporadic recording around their other groups, ‘Resuscitate Our Love’ and its B-side ‘Swimming In The Shallow End Of Love’ are the first, essential tracks to emerge from the duo, prefacing other singles that will featuring contributions from Ben ‘Faz’ Farestvedt. Expect a sudden resurgence in disco balls and flared trousers.
Listen to ‘Resuscitate Our Love’ and watch Julian’s advert video below.
Slippery People · Resuscitate Our Love
Resuscitate Our Love / Swimming In the Shallow End Of Love by Slippery People is released July 10 2020.
Further. favourites YOVA release their new single, ‘You’re The Mirror’, today.
The duo of vocalist Jova Radevska and multi-instrumentalist Mark Vernon here offer up what appears to be a slice of breezy soulful pop that masks a set of lyrics dealing with mental health and the myriad concerns that have entered our thoughts since lockdown began.
With the addition of treacly bass from Daniel O’Sullivan and a jazzy keyboard lick that sounds like an outtake from a late-period Talking Heads session, ‘You’re The Mirror’ taps into a soul / funk tradition that showcases a different side to this talented group. Smart pop for pondering life’s uncertainties while enjoying a languid summer sunset.
Watch the video for ‘You’re The Mirror’ below. Listen to ‘You’re The Mirror’ at Spotify.
You’re The Mirror by YOVA is released June 19 2020.