Category Archives: Review

OFF Sonar Barcelona

HD returned a little bleary-eyed yesterday from the 2015 edition of OFF Sonar, a week of parties put on in stunning locations around Barcelona.

OFF Sonar

Once a year, the Catalan city plays host to Sonar and its partner festival OFF Sonar, producing line-ups that rival Ibiza opening week in venues ranging from hillside monasteries to hidden beach coves. We know you’re busy, so here’s our best effort at summing up the madness in your 5 minute coffee-break.

First up was Poble Espanyol, the 1920s museum in hillside of Mt. Montjuic, for the showcase of Mano le Tough and The Drifter’s label, Maeve. Despite a lineup that boasted Innervisions‘ head honcho Ame and the emerging talent of Aera, it was Mano himself that stole the show with a sunset session that will stay long in the memory. Here’s a taster:

Next up was Resident Advisor’s night at el Monasterio, another stunning hilltop spot on the outskirts of Barcelona. With a varied lineup that featured Pearson Sound, Felicita and Andy Stott, the music flew across genres, sometimes giving the night an uneven feel. That was until the much-anticipated duo of Gerd Janson & Jackmaster took to the decks for a disco masterclass, playing tunes like THIS:

Saturday night meant a trip to the beach to enjoy the delights of Solomun’s Diynamic Records, specifically David August’s ambient live set followed by Adriatique. The Swiss Duo unsurprisingly played a lot of their productions, including this beauty

Sunday brought around the crux of the trip, the Social Music City night at Plaza Major, an old town square inside Poble Espanyol. The lineup boasted wall-to-wall giants including DJ Koze, Maceo Plex and Tale of Us. DJ Koze, given the difficult earlier set, appeared to single-handedly bring the sun down with this one

Facing down the festival equivalent of Day 23 of the Tour de France, we summoned the last of our energies for the evening session. Feeding off a crowd on their last night of a draining week, Maceo Plex laid down a closing set piled high with emotional melodies. Imagine a full orchestral breakdown followed by this and you’ll pretty much get the picture.

Despite all this, we barely scratched the surface of the events on offer. We missed an all-nighter curated by Tim Sweeney, a Villalobos pool party, Nina Kraviz in an aircraft hanger and countless others. Where we did make it though, the venues were surreal, the crowds were friendly and the tunes were always spot on. See you there next year.

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Human Drizzle’s Top 10 Tracks of 2013

Having bid a fond farewell to 2013, it’s time to reflect on the year’s key musical moments. The brouhaha this list caused amongst the specially-appointed Human Drizzle panel will take time to die down but, as time goes on and wounds heal, we would welcome your thoughts in the usual places (the comments below, and here and here).

Oh, and listen to them on our Best of 2013 playlist. It’s lovely.

1. CHVRCHES – Lies (Tourist Remix): It’s always difficult to put one tune above all others after a year like 2013, but we’ve had to do it for you guys. For you, the reader. We think this rework of bright young things CHVRCHES (who also blew us away live) by HD favourite Tourist, deserves that acclaim. It’s a slow-burning, ear-worming piece of vocal house and it hasn’t left us since it landed in our inbox all those months ago. Expect an awful lot more from both artists in 2014.

2. Paul Woolford – UntitledAlong with Todd Terje’s ‘Strandbar’, ‘Untitled’ was the summer house anthem of 2013. Released whilst Paul Woolford was prepping the primal ‘Soul Music’ under the Special Request moniker, it was heralded by pretty much everyone who clapped ears on it. A thrilling combination of crushing bass and slapping kick-drums leads into the echoey piano loop, which is then chopped and re-chopped over the track’s six minutes. Together this produces hands-in-the-air euphoria on a scale that was rarely matched this year.

3. Breach – Everything You Never Had (We Had It All) (Ft. Andreya Triana)Ben Westbeech had quite the year. Human Drizzle were perhaps in the minority when we didn’t fall arse over tit for ‘Jack‘, Breach’s huge hit in the first part of 2013. However, when we first heard ‘Everything You Never Had’ on T Williams’s Rinse FM show, we were spellbound. It may not be fashionable to say it, but the final drop is pretty much perfection in terms of what we would want to lose our shit to in a club.

4. Wayward – Love Jones: The hot-as-you-like London-based label Aesop’s third release came in the form of ‘Love Jones’, by London duo Wayward. The infectious vocal loop and glorious piano intertwine wonderfully, gradually building to a heartfelt crescendo. Very much looking forward to hearing more from these guys in 2014.

5. Agoria – ScalaRegular readers will know HD’s feelings towards Innervisions, and that we are partial to the odd piano-driven house banger too. So, when French producer Sebastian Devaud aka Agoria released ‘Scala’, a piano-driven house banger on Innervisions, it was highly likely to be welcomed into our top 10 with open arms. Innervisions have been releasing elegant house and techno since they started out, but they seemed to reach new highs in 2013, with Ten Walls’ ‘Gotham‘, Marcus Worgull and Peter Pardeike ‘Lenoix‘, and then the exhilarating ‘Scala’. After lush synths open the track, ‘Scala’ pauses to finally introduce a rolling piano line that is just perfect. No surprise that it was a monster hit at the end of the summer.

6. James Blake – RetrogradeDespite an eye-catching collaboration with RZA in 2013, James Blake was at his most intoxicating on ‘Retrograde’. The track constituted less of a departure from 2011’s eponymous album but it is a gorgeous piece of haunting, fragile, atmospheric music.

7. Midland – Trace: When it first came out, ‘Trace’ was unlike anything else we had heard. A warped, indecipherable sample repeating over and over on top of an infectious beat, it builds to a shuddering crescendo that melted the dancefloor every time it was dropped. It feels as fresh and exhilarating now as it did on first listen. Released on one of our favourite labels – Aus Music – Midland’s biggest hit so far is an instant classic and has paved the way for his meteoric rise. 2014 promises to be a huge year for Harry.

8. Todd Terje – Strandbar (disko): In Todd we trust. This summer we were treated to the return of Mr. Terje. The unstoppable producer penned over eight minutes of D.I.S.C.O fun that soundtracked festivals far and wide. With the recent release of ‘Spiral/Q’, he shows no sign of slowing down. HD royalty.

9. George Fitzgerald – I Can Tell (By The Way You Move)This one was everywhere in 2013, and rightly so. Taken with the thumping remix by renaissance man Paul Woolford, the tune stands out as house with one eye on the future. Bring on his new album on Double Six.

10. Clean Bandit – Dust Clears: It’s been a huge year for Clean Bandit and, with their live show winning plaudits and recent single ‘Rather Be’ heading for chart success in January, you suspect 2014 is going to be even bigger. ‘Dust Clears’ is an altogether gentler affair, but its lush melodies and brilliantly barmy video epitomise what we love about the band.

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Human Drizzle Presents @ Peckham Palais

With the chapter now closed on the fourth instalment of Human Drizzle Presents, we’d like to say a massive thank you to all those who came down to the glamorous Peckham Palais on Friday night. Massive props to Clancy, Mighty Mouse, Black Magic Disco and newcomer Hot Karl, who kept the dancefloor jumping all night with banger after banger.

The list really is endless but Black Magic Disco’s garage-infused set was finished superbly with the above excellent Friend Within remix of Fatboy Slim’s classic. Mighty Mouse kept the momentum going with two hours jam-packed with feel-good tones, paving the way very nicely for Clancy to take things an incy bit deeper before the close of play. The epic piano house of Kolsch’s ‘Der Alte’ is still ringing in our ears:

Check out the first photos below (courtesy of the excellent Associated Luminosity) and keep your eye on our Facebook page for the full set. That was the last Human Drizzle Presents of 2013, but fear not. Plans are already coming together for our next night – a post-January pick-me-up/pre-Valentine’s Day blow-out on Friday 7th February 2014.

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Review: Clean Bandit @ Brixton Electric, 26.10.13

Clean Bandit are going to get very, very big. If Human Drizzle were a marketing agency, that is what we might describe as the ‘key takeout’ from Saturday night’s barnstorming show at London’s 1500-capacity Brixton Electric.

Human Drizzle isn’t a marketing agency, so we won’t – but the point remains. We have made our feelings on Clean Bandit very clear, have had the pleasure of seeing them several times in the past – and while their previous shows have been full of mischievous energy and vibrant melody, they have also been pretty much identical. We’re not going to sit here and tell you that finishing your set with a cover of Dario G’s seminal ‘Sunchyme’ is in any way a bad thing (it’s not) but it’s not a trick that bears much repeating.

Clean Bandit

All of which explains our delight at the sheer novelty of Saturday’s set – with a veritable avalanche of new material. ‘Novelty’ is a word Clean Bandit must fight against, and it is true that the classical elements could occasionally be better-integrated with their overall sound. Violinist Neil Amin-Smith spends more time grooving than playing, and a closer interplay between strings and beats (as on brilliant debut single ‘Mozart’s House’) would counter accusations that the presence of a violin and a cello constitute little more than gimmickry.

The fact is though, that these are minor gripes when the tunes are so good. ‘Dust Clears’ is a triumph and ‘A&E’ has the place jumping, but it is the new ones that are most revealing. A track that will presumably be called ‘No Place I’d Rather Be’ reeks of chart success. It encapsulates Clean Bandit’s blend of 90s nostalgia and contemporary sensibilities, of intelligence and fun, and (at the risk of sounding like Louis Walsh) it has ‘hit record’ written all over it.

Clean Bandit also deserve credit for their live show. On Saturday they were fronted by Elisabeth Troy, who lent her vocals to bona fide classics like MJ Cole’s ‘Crazy Love’ and, still more prestigiously, appeared on these pages last year following a collaboration with B Traits. Several other singers appeared during the set, including the charismatic Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka for ‘Mozart’s House’.

Some feel that the rotating cast of vocalists is distracting, but it also keeps things fresh and diverts attention away from the traditional frontperson onto the (incredibly talented) musicians around them. The aforementioned strings can be genuinely affecting, while the Patterson brothers comprise a compelling rhythm section at the back of the stage. Jack beavers away masterfully on a variety of instruments, devices and controllers whilst younger brother Luke is a blur of frenzied control on the drums. Crucially, and unlike many artists performing ‘live’, there is a visible correlation throughout between action and sound.

With the definition of live performance increasingly problematic, there is a real sense when watching Clean Bandit that you are witnessing something unique. And if you want to do so in small(ish) venues, we suggest you get on it soon – because they’re about to be huge.

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Ady Suleiman, Hejira & Andrew Ashong

HD was lucky enough to join Gilles Peterson last night for the first in 2013’s Autumn Culture Series at guilt-free members club House of St Barnabas, and it was a delight.

Playing acoustic sets in the House’s chapel (look up ‘intimate’ in the dictionary for further details) were 20 year old Notts singer Ady Suleiman, new Accidental Records signing Hejira, and producer cum singer Andrew Ashong.

All three turned in top performances but watch out for Ady in particular. It came as no surprise to hear that there is a major label bun-fight for his signature. He’s got quite the pair of lungs on him.

We should also give props to House of St Barnabas, which is a not-for-profit private members’ club that supports London’s homeless back into employment through its Employment Academy. It’s also totally lush.

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Beacons Festival 2013

There are those who say that there are too many festivals in the UK these days. Certainly the last few years have seen the births (and, in some cases, the deaths) of many a ’boutique’ summer shindig and, as Adam Buxton tells us, the experience is unrecognisable from what it once was. But our problem with festivals isn’t the quinoa salads, childcare facilities and wacky fancy dress.

It’s the rampant commercialism that means paying through the nose for watery Red Stripes and inaccurate programmes, and being treated like David Miranda whenever you have the temerity to move from one area to another. Beacons promised to be different – with its reluctant booking feesencouragement of public transport, and talk of local ale houses. And indeed it was: the setting was spectacular, the staff were accommodating, and the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed than many of its competitors.

And then there was the music. T Williams is one of our favourite live acts at the moment and he delivered again here, kicking the weekend off in style with a barnstorming Friday night set on the Red Bull Music Academy stage (well, truck). Resident Advisor’s tent played host to crowd-pleasing sets from John Talabot and Dauwd, and the main stage was treated to intense performances from Gold Panda and SBTRKT.

There were even guitars on show, with Local Natives impressive in the headline slot and Dutch Uncles proving a captivating spectacle (mostly due to frontman Duncan Wallis’s unbelievable shapes – for more on them, head here). And culture too, in various guises – including a screening of the amazing ‘Made of Stone’, with a Shane Meadows Q&A and everything.

Rodigan & Iration Steppers rounded off the weekend with a reggae-themed Sunday, sending the crowds on their way and warming them up for Notting Hill Carnival the next weekend. A top weekend, then, and props to the organisers for doing things a bit differently. Roll on Beacons 2014.

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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

“Don’t these times fill your eyes?”, asks Ian Brown in the chorus to the track from which Shane Meadows’s documentary takes its title. This triumphant documentary certainly does. It would have been easy to be cynical about the project when news of it first emerged. We have already seen the documentary about the band who “thought it would never happen” but then put personal differences aside to reform and conquer the world. The Blur documentary, ‘No Distance Left to Run’, is this documentary (and it’s excellent, incidentally).

But where ‘No Distance Left to Run’ focuses on Blur the band and their relationships with each other, ‘Made of Stone’ is (at the risk of sounding trite) all about the fans. That’s not to say it doesn’t look at the relationships (there’s some amazing archive footage of Brown and John Squire racing mopeds as kids) or the music (an extended live version of ‘Fool’s Gold’ is mesmerising and a rehearsal of ‘Waterfall’ is possibly the best scene in the film, which is saying something). But the main subject of Meadows’s documentary is the people for whom the Stone Roses meant everything.

A key moment occurs when the band offer tickets for an intimate warm-up gig in Warrington to the first people to arrive at the local box office. What follows is astonishing, as we see hordes of people drop what they’re doing and charge across the town’s previously quiet streets to get in line. One builder has abandoned a half-built house, an office worker has lied to his boss about a death in the family, and a father has bought his newborn baby to wait with him in the queue.

There’s something melancholy as well as brilliant about the accounts of these fans: most of whom have grown older with the band and are now in middle age. Looking at the footage of the Roses from the late 1980s, they clearly feel that they are invincible. On top of the world and at the top of their game, they can do anything and take on anyone. Their fans no doubt felt the same. Both are different now: older, with faded looks and fast-growing children, and perhaps a sense that they didn’t quite achieve what they might have done, that they weren’t invincible after all.

And that’s what makes this record of last year’s events so powerful. Meadows may have avoided asking his heroes the difficult questions, but that’s never what this was about. As the film builds to its climax at Heaton Park, he uses as a backdrop the Roses anthem, ‘This Is The One’. For the band and their fans (Meadows included), it couldn’t be more apt.

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Human Drizzle Presents @ The Bussey Building

Thanks everyone: more photos to come in the next 24hrs on https://www.facebook.com/HumanDrizzle

And whilst you’re here, why not listen to our April playlist? It’s top.

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Human Drizzle’s Top 10 Tracks of 2012

‘Tis the season to make lists and, whilst our sensible side would call into question the validity of comparing tracks in this way (what are the criteria?), our other side thought it would be fun. So here are our top ten tracks of 2012, in order. If you disagree, please let us know in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook. We won’t take it personally, promise.

1. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve2012 was Julio Bashmore’s year, and the ‘bam bam bam, bam bam bam’ of ‘Au Seve’ sent dancefloors loopy across the globe this summer. It somehow managed to retain the the bass-led, atmospheric subtlety of Bashmore’s other work, whilst simultaneously becoming nothing less than a singalong anthem.

2. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse‘Inspector Norse’ has been equally ubiquitous this year, and with good reason – with Terje’s cosmic squeaking and killer hook bouncing their way into the collective consciousness with joyous abandon.

3. Jai Paul – JasmineWhen Jai Paul released his second ever record in April, a lot of people got very excited. Was this finally going to be his year? Sadly not, as we still await a third – but in the meantime ‘Jasmine’ remains one of the most compelling tracks of recent times.

4Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Cyril Hahn remix)Cyril Hahn is one of our favourite artists of 2012, having produced a series of excellent remixes for SolangeHAIM and Alpines as well as this aching, melancholy interpretation of Beyoncé and co’s R’n’B staple.

5Dan Croll – From Nowhere (Ben Gomori’s Staring You In The Eye remix): The title of this track is appropriate, in the sense that neither artist had crossed our radar before we heard this. More’s the pity, because it’s a triumph: combining layered production with fantastic melodies and a vocal that doesn’t leave you.

6. Casino Times – I Wanna KnowSlothBoogie first brought this to our attention, and it’s been in our heads ever since: a rolling house track with genuine groove, it’s addictive. This duo are going places (and TEED’s a fan too).

7. Duke Dumont – The Giver: Another contender for personality of the year, DD has mastered some incredibly infectious beats this year. This house anthem is a party starter, boasting one of the most recognised vocals of the year. Listen out for this early 2013 release too, it’s going to be EVEN BIGGER.

8. Jessie Ware – 110%: What a year it’s been for Jessie Ware. She heralded the spring with this gem of a tune: on an album with many highlights, ‘110%’ stands out as three and a half minutes of pop perfection.

9. PillowTalk – The Real Thing: There’s been some great samples this year and this track sees the San Fran trio from the Wolf + Lamb family do the nip and tuck on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s classic ‘Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing’. If this song don’t make you smile big, you’re dead inside. It’s glorious.

10. Ultraista – Gold Dayzz (Maribou State remix): Maribou State’s rework of Ultraista is a thing of great beauty: a fragile start gives way to warm synths and gorgeous melodies in one of the most pleasant tracks of the year.

And they can all be heard on our Best of 2012 playlist. It’s a real treat.

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The xx @ Brixton Academy 16/11

HD had the pleasure of being at Brixton Academy on Sunday for a triumphant homecoming gig by The xx. Honed but not dulled by a busy tour schedule, they put on a masterclass in atmosphere, drawing out the sultry first album classics and turning up the volume for the more beat-driven second album tunes. Jamie xx pulled the strings expertly, never more so than when he weaved ‘Movin’ Too Fast’, ‘Another Groove’ and The Streets’ classic ‘Blinded by the Lights’ into a beefed-up, nostalgic version of ‘Chained’. No doubt it was influenced by the recent John Talabot remix which leans heaving on The Streets’ sample. Oh, and did we mention that John Talabot was the SUPPORT ACT…
Oliver, Jamie and Romy have also got into the festive spirit with a surprisingly upbeat take on ‘Last Christmas’, done for the Live Lounge:
They’ve still got it. Oh yes.
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