Archives for posts with tag: Stereolab

grand veymontNot long after the release of Grand Veymont’s second album they are back (in time) with the LP (re)release of their self-titled debut album. Here’s “Les Rapides Bleus” – a song about travel and escape.

Grand Veymont is Béatrice Morel Journel and Josselin Varengo. They described their music as “long improvisations with only constraints the number of hands available and an installation of organs and synthesizers…[which] superimpose exotic-medieval melodies on a bed of Krautrock, Waltz or Tango rhythms” when releasing their second album, “Route du Vertige”, earlier this year.

This first Grand Veymont album is a slightly stripped back variation on the morphing long-form constructions of that excellent second album. “Les Rapides Bleus” here is the shortest and most “pop” of the 4 tunes here, and a perfect introduction to the French duo.

The album is a blend of minimalist motorik keyboard based music (synth arpeggios and dueling organs, vocals and occasional drums), sometimes reminiscent of Stereolab, as much due to Journel’s vocal delivery – sung in French (obviously, given their geographic location).

But Grand Veymont have their own character, with longer songs like the 13 minute opener “Je cours apres avant” morphing into classical styled twin-keyboard improvisations which take on an oddly psychedelic character – a theme taken even much further on their 2nd album.

The glorious layered 9-minute track “L’odyssée du petit parleur” is as quietly wonderful as anything on “Route du Vertige” and the closing track “Upie” a playful experimental adventure in grainy dub-electronica and looped, layered voices. These four very different tunes add up to an intriguing debut, now on LP on Outre Disque.

Their 2nd album “Route du Vertige” is available on LP on French underground pop label Objet Disque.




“Golau Arall” (which translates from Welsh as “Other Light” in case you are wondering) is from the 2015 Gwenno album “Y Dydd Olaf”

The song – and the whole album – evokes a different world. Part terrestrial (motorik bass & drum pulse) and part extra-terrestrial (the effect-drenched semi-whispered vocals and sci-fi electronic instrumentation).

Anyone with a fondness for the brightly-coloured retro-futurist pop of Stereolab or the playful sound-collage experimental pop of Broadcast will find plenty to entice them here.

Ten years ago Gwenno Saunders was part of  The Pipettes and singing about space (sort of). There’s a political theme here too – possibly even a concept album of a dystopian human-machine future where Welsh is used for cryptic human communication.

For non-Welsh speakers you might think the language used to convey socialist and feminist themes undermines the effectiveness of these messages. But singing in a minority language in the Western-UK-US music world is itself a political statement, a point made in this  interview with Gwenno from The Seventh Hex.

Here’s another brilliant song from the album”Chwyldro” (Revolution) –

Day Ravies_Liminal Zones press photo
PopLib usually features songs rather than album reviews. It’s hard enough to write about one song let alone a dozen or so. But an exception will be made for the exceptional “Liminal Zones” – the 2nd album just released by Sydney band Day Ravies.

Day Ravies have been a fixture on the PopLib stereo for the past few months since discovering their early 2015 releases – the “Hickford Whizz/ Taking Your Time” 7” single and the perfect 4 song cassette EP “Under The Lamp”. Both these exploratory releases indicated Day Ravies were moving a little further from their debut album “Tussle” and its generally ‘shoegaze’ daze.

In hindsight though, “Tussle” is a much broader, satisfying album revisiting it now than it was on first impressions. Amongst the gazey guitar effect shimmer there are plenty of hints of the raw guitar/ keyboard pop side developed further on “Liminal Zones”.

If there’s a new sonic template on “Liminal Zones” it’s the ‘co-lead’ role of keyboards – often outrageous squirty synth – duelling with the swooping, restless guitar lines. There’s not much shoegaze influence to be heard now but what’s here instead is a wondrous mix of a distinctly Australian gritty post-punk/ New Wave with something more timeless and European. Amongst an album of standout tracks an early favourite is the precocious New Wave art-pop of “Nettle”.

“Liminal Zones” has a solid foundation provided by Caroline de Dear’s weighty overdriven bass lines and Matt Neville’s inventive drumming (and occasional drum machine programming). Over top Sam Wilkinson’s guitar playing oscillates between scouring fuzz, swooping feedback dive-bombs and chiming chorus pedal effects. Lani Crooks’ keyboards dial in an exuberant mix of 80’s New Wave, European motorik, garage rock and Day Ravies’ own variation on Stereolab via Broadcast. Often all this is swirling around in the same song.

The other essential part of “Liminal Zones” is the more confident mixing of vocals which highlights another of Day Ravies’ strengths. Lani Crooks’ measured and sophisticated cool plays well against Sam Wilkinson’s melodic rasp. The variety and personality from each the two voices is a big part of the album’s appeal for me.

Sometimes (like pre-album single “Hickford Whizz”) those angular lead guitar lines, and Sam Wilkinson’s vocals, may suggest a reminder of the early sounds of Australian post-punk pioneers The Go Betweens . Other times (like the sombre “Skewed”) dark psychedelia of The Church in their early form may come to mind.

But there’s also frequent use of sounds and sensations which bring to mind My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and Stereolab. However, the way these tracks are crafted, arranged and recorded, together with the character the members of Ray Davies all collectively imprint on their songwriting, adds up to a distinctive and recognisable sound of their own.

“Liminal Zones” is a perfect combination of characterful songs and an eclectic variety of styles and sounds. It’s consistently fresh and engaging and frequently delights and surprises. It’s also a bit rough-hewn and home-made which keeps it real and vital for me. A new Australian classic album.

“Liminal Zones” is released on Day Ravies’ own label Strange Pursuit (CD and DL) and also on Sonic Masala (LP – neon pink & standard black options). Beko Records in France (which released the excellent 7″ single earlier this year) is stocking the album in Europe if you are in that part of the world and want to save on postage.


Sydney band Day Ravies are back with a couple of new releases in 2015. The first is a very fine 7″ single with “Hickford Wizz” and this song “Taking Time” –

The single sees the band move to a more stripped-down classic guitar-pop sound; less guitar effect pedals and textured noise and more pure indie-pop. “Taking Time” is a great slice of frenetic melodic post-punk guitar pop which would not sound out of place on the Sarah Records catalogue (although clearly a few decades out of time with that great label’s run).

There’s also a wonderful 4 track EP Called “Under the Lamp” released in March and limited to 100 cassettes (or unlimited downloads). It’s a strong collection of songs – all with a bit more dirty character and idiosyncratic exploratory touches than their more shoegaze-influenced debut 2013 album “Tussle”. There’s scuzzier grainy pop sounds and a bit of more experimental droning keyboard and DIY electronic pop, hinting a little of the likes of Stereolab via Broadcast (particularly on the brilliant title track “Under The Lamp”).

If you crave more of that Stereolab-styled motorik sound then check their fine standalone track “This Side of the Fence” as well.

I’m guessing each of these post-“Tussle” album slices is a combination of a band on a creative burst just releasing stuff as they forge their way, and also perhaps a chance to try out new approaches to music without the commitment of a 10-12 song album. It’s always thrilling to hear a favourite band confound expectations and demonstrate variety and substance, building that “what next?” anticipation.

UPDATE: We don’t have too long to wait in anticipation for that next album
Day Ravies_Liminal Zones_Sonic Masala

Death and vanilla1

“California Owls” is the introductory track to capture your attention for the upcoming Death And Vanilla album “To Where The Wild Things Are”, released on Fire Records in May 2015.

It’s a splendidly haunting slice of retro-futurist space-pop from this Swedish trio, coming across as a weird deep space synth-drenched infusion of the yearning spirit of The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” with the hyper-saturated grandeur of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”. And, if you’ll believe the press release, all recorded by the band themselves in their rehearsal space, using just one old Sennheiser microphone which they bought at a flea market for spare change.

Comparisons with the likes of Broadcast and Stereolab are inevitable but only part of the charm here. While it is likely any fans of those two bands will be at home with Death and Vanilla, they have marked out their own peculiar territory of spectral pop filtered through analogue circuitry and sprinkled with space dust.

Their previous albums and singles released on small Scandinavian labels have all been impeccably designed and as beautiful, timeless and cryptic to behold as they are to hear. It looks like this attention to detail will continue with their signing to Fire Records.

Death and vanilla

I don’t know much about Death And Vanilla. But I do know I love everything I’ve heard from them. They fly beneath the radar and appear to want it that way. Their records (lovely vinyl with stylish design aesthetic) are released in small runs (< 500) and sold via their label's Bandcamp page or discerning stores like Norman Records (UK) and Aquarius Records (US). They sell out very quickly. Here's what I know, or at least believe to be the case: they are from Malmo, Sweden. They may or may not be a duo.

Their first EP has recently been re-issued. You can listen to it here:

Anyone familiar with Broadcast and even early Stereolab will find some familiarity here. There's a shared love of 1960s film soundtracks and incidental music, retro-futurism, instrumental psychedelia, analogue synths and other old instruments. Their whole catalogue is a hugely satisfying listen, so this song and this EP is only really a starting point for your discovery.

Death And Vanilla – Ghosts In The Machine from Death And Vanilla on Vimeo.