Browsing articles tagged with " Drum Beats"
The Pan-Asian Music Festival has been a musical odyssey for founder and artistic director Jindong Cai, and 10 years in, the journey continues. He sees endless possibilities for future festivals built around Asian countries, regions and artistic forms. With the 2014 festival a few days behind him, Cai is already thinking of 2015 and beyond and he is prepared to venture across the globe to find more artists representing the musical riches of Asia.
This year’s Pan-Asian Music Festival featured performances of music and dance from Mongolia.
“The Consul General of Russia attended this year’s Mongolian concert and suggested the inclusion of Russian Siberia,” said Cai, who will add that to a list of ideas under consideration, including the music of Southeast Asia, Myanmar and Thailand, the sacred music of Buddhism and symphonic music by Asian composers. The Asian soundscape is indeed vast.
Cai’s goal, starting with the inaugural festival in 2005, has been to promote an understanding and appreciation of music in contemporary Asia and provide an opportunity for students to develop the cultural awareness that is essential to a 21st-century education and global leadership. With each festival, Cai tries to answer the question, How does music play a part in today’s life?
Over the years, Cai has expanded the music festival to include programs that support the performances: symposia, demonstrations, family concerts, film screenings, exhibitions, tea ceremonies and workshops. Last year there was a musical instrument “petting zoo” for the younger patrons in the lobby of Bing Concert Hall.
“I feel fortunate to have strong support for the programs not only from the Department of Music but from so many different departments across campus,” said Cai in reference to both financial support and faculty participation in the programs. “The festival embodies the Stanford spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration.”
Superstars and zithers
Festivals past have included non-Western superstars, such as A.R. Rahman, the Indian Bollywood composer known for his contributions to Tamil and Hindi films, and Cui Jian, the godfather of Chinese rock ‘n’ roll.
Abbas Milani, director of Stanford’s Iranian studies program and a festival partner, recalls a superstar highlight from 2011. “The Iranian musician Mohsen Namjoo had been a visiting scholar for our program and at the Humanities Center. He embodied the new spirit of musical revolution in Iran, taking aspects of Iranian classical music, forging a new sound and rhythm by fusing it with a wide variety of other musical traditions, from jazz and hip-hop to folk music and punk rock.
“One of the proudest moments of my 12 years at Stanford was when I was sitting in the audience and the Stanford Orchestra, conducted by Jindong, performed a sublime piece of Persian music, with Namjoo as the soloist.”
The breadth of the festivals speaks to the diversity of Asian music. In addition to regional presentations (“From the Steppes,” 2011), festivals have also focused on illuminating themes, such as “Visions of Asian Music” (2010), which explored visual subject matter in Asian music.
In the case of “Drum Beats of Asia” (2007), a single instrument type was played by artists from Burma, India, Japan, Korea and Thailand in a giant pan-Asian jam. “Transforming Traditions” (2012) featured three masters of the instruments descended from the ancient Chinese zither – Japan’s koto, Korea’s gayageum and contemporary China’s gu-zheng – all on the same stage.
Gordon Chang, another festival partner and director of the Center for East Asian Studies, believes the Pan-Asian Music Festival has been an extraordinary contribution to Stanford’s intellectual, cultural and artistic environment. “As a self-conscious ‘Pacific’ university, Stanford is fortunate to have enjoyed the festival. I have attended several performances over the years and each has been unique and incredibly educational as well as enjoyable,” said Chang, who is a professor of history.
“It has been a remarkable 10 years during which we have explored many of the rich and diverse musical cultures from Asia,” said Cai. “With the festival as our looking glass, we hope to continue bringing people and traditions from East and West together through music here at Stanford.”
A dance group from the Bronx is the only New York-based company invited to perform at a New Orleans festival highlighting music and dance of Africa and the Caribbean, but the group still needs some help getting to the Big Easy. NY1′s Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Rhythmic drum beats and vibrant movements characterize the Bombazo Dance Company, a Bronx-based group started by professionally trained dancer Milteri Tucker.
It showcases Bomba, a traditional music of Puerto Rico that blends Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures and focuses on the relationship between dancers, percussionists and singers.
“It’s just more of a way for me to broaden my horizons within my craft and what I do as a dancer,”" said Kharis Collins, a member of the Bombazo Dance Company.
Tucker wanted to blend her Puerto Rican culture with a passion for dance and introduce Bomba to New Yorkers in an environment where people of all ages could grow and learn together. Six years later, she has a diverse group of about two dozen who range in age from early 20s to their 70s.
“I feel so honored to be among them, and I feel like one of them,” said Elena “Mamarazzi” Marrero, a member of the Bombazo Dance Company. “Sometimes I talk to them like, you know, I’m their age, and I forget, ‘I could be your mother.’”
Tucker’s long-term goal is to create something like the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in the Bronx.
Bombazo currently conducts classes and workshops and performs all over the city, but in two weeks, the group will get its first opportunity to perform outside of New York.
Bombazo is the only New York dance group invited to perform at the Congo Square Rhythms Festival in New Orleans, but they need some help getting there and have launched a fundraiser on the website GoFundMe.
“The fundraising is actually for the traveling and expenses down in New Orleans,” Tucker said. “We’re 22 group members traveling, so it’s quite a few funds that we have to generate.”
The group doesn’t have much time, though, to raise the rest of the $20,000 Tucker estimates they’ll need. The festival begins on March 22, and the group plans to leave by the 20th.
You can help out by visiting Bombazo’s website at bombazodanceco.com and clicking on the link for their fundraising campaign.
After a teaser and JPJ Putrajaya sightings, Naza Kia has officially launched the facelifted Kia Sportage at the nationwide Kia World Cup Bonanza Customer Day, which runs from today till March 16. The fresh Sportage is said to have 25 enhancements, including some under the skin.
Outside, you’ll find redesigned grilles, new front and rear bumpers, new and “structurally-enhanced” 18-inch alloys and a shark-fin antenna. The projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights, fog lamps and LED rear combination lamps have revised looks, too. It’s a mild facelift – the pre-FL front looks like this.
Inside, the leather-wrapped steering wheel now controls a Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS, Hyundai-Kia’s EPS) with Flex Steer, which provides three steering weights for the driver to choose from – Comfort, Normal and Sport.
Click to enlarge spec sheet
Other cabin highlights include push-start ignition (with redesigned smart key), panoramic roof, dual-zone air-con with ionised filtration, illuminated and cooled glove box, two-step adjustable rear seats, eight-way electric seat for the driver, Infinity sound system with seven speakers (two tweeters, four door speakers, one sub-woofer), head unit with 4.3-inch touch screen and reverse camera, and an upgraded Supervision cluster with a 4.2-inch TFT LCD screen.
Naza Kia says that the new Sportage rolls with reduced noise thanks to improvements on the mounts and windscreen. Revisions to the drive shaft and mounting system (now with laterally assembled bracket) contribute to a smoother ride and better NVH.
Under the hood, the Sportage is now powered by the Group’s current “Nu” 2.0 litre MPI engine with Dual Continuous Variable Valve Timing (DCVVT), 154 PS and 191 Nm of torque. A six-speed auto does transmission duties. The old motor was the previous-gen Theta II 2.0L with 166 PS and 197 Nm.
The five-star Euro NCAP rated SUV (six airbags, ABS, EBD, hill-start assist, traction control) is priced at RM138,888 on-the-road with insurance, unchanged from the June 2011 launch price despite the added kit. It is available in five colours – Clear White, Mineral Silver, Bright Silver, Sand Track and Signal Red – and comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
UPDATE: Live pictures from Kia’s Red Cube showroom in Petaling Jaya have been added.
2011-2013 Kia Sportage 2.0 AWD
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Midday Veil (Photo by Dan Rogers)
by Ian Cunningham
Photos by Dan Rogers
On Sunday night, Chop Suey featured the SXSW Send-Off show for Seattle locals Midday Veil, NighTraiN, and Airport. It was a fairly quiet house, being late on a school night and in competition with the Oscars, but the bands didn’t hold any punches. Well, all but the first artist, Airport, whose solo electronic set seemed better suited to a small Paradiso tent than a rock concert. Airport, a.k.a. Jayson Kochan (primarily a member of Midday Veil), is a live beat-creating experience in which Kochan seems to channel the soundtrack of TRON to mix sample after sample. It reminded me a lot of my first experience with a drum machine; making 10-minute beats that never went anywhere and became so repetitive that my whole family was driven insane by the monotony. That’s really all there was to the music of Airport; no sustainable melodies, no climax, just a constant flow of rhythm. To make matters worse, he lacked any sort of stage presence that could have potentially made up for the mundane set. Kochan remained rigid and stiff with his head down – not even bobbing his head to the beat – throughout almost the entire performance. The carrying case for his equipment, about the size of a full keyboard, had a cover that remained upright as a wall between him and the audience as he would often crouch down and hide behind it while he twisted knobs. For those of us there to report on the show, it was hard to muster any excitement. Writers and photographers all sat in the back of the club, mostly checking their phones. Imagine a professional photographer taking pictures of you as you stood in line at the DMV. That would have been more exciting than Airport’s set. Finally, almost 45-minutes later, Kochan finished and the ladies of NighTraiN were ready to triage the wounded.
NighTraiN is a fantastic merger of garage rock and classic punk with the influence of RB/funk. The Ronettes from hell, they maintain the synchronized clapping and classic Oohs Aahs of Motown while defiling it with tattoos and sexual innuendo. An apparent influence on the band would be The Cramps, heard in the way that their music remains dirty and haunting yet somewhat whimsical. If these girls have anything, it’s an abundance of stage presence. Bassist Selena Whitaker-Paquiet stole the show, particularly during the song “Mating Call”, with her over-the-top facial expressions and ability to bring her entire body into her performance. Simple, yet effective drum beats, mixed with a heavy guitar reminiscent of 1960s garage bands like The Sonics, give it that rock roll attitude, while the Casio keyboard keeps the audience anchored in irony. The instrumentation is gloomy, as front woman Rachael Ferguson sings that she will put her foot so far up your ass, “you’ll have to call your sponsor.” It’s an extremely engaging show that will assuredly win over fans in Austin later this month. In the words of the band, “Choo-Choo, motherf—!”
In a concert that seemed to exponentially increase in visual production as it went along, Midday Veil pulled out all the stops with a smoke machine, incense, and a psychedelic video projecting in the background. Images, ranging from spiraling colors to what seemed to be members of the Vatican, danced across the screen as the six-person band played what I can only simplistically describe as an electro-jam set. Driven by their rhythm section and synthesizers, Midday Veil seemed to mesh Chromeo with Jefferson Airplane to create a new justification for the intake of illegal substances. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the right mind set to truly grasp what was happening. It’s one of those projects that would probably seem completely genius if you were on acid, but I wasn’t, so all I heard was a cacophony of random beats with the uncomfortable moaning of vocalist Emily Pothast sprinkled on top. The band explained that this was their first live performance after five months of being sheltered in their basement writing new material. Sometimes, staying secluded for too long can cause some separation to occur between the artist and the rest of society, and I think that’s what happened here. Midday Veil seemed more like a piece of performance art than a band. Not to say that they weren’t talented; their rhythm section was extremely impressive and created a number of rich textures for Kochan to layer Robby Krieger-esque guitar patterns over. I’m a few hair trends too young to have seen the Grateful Dead back in their heyday, but I can only imagine that if a similar movement were to take place today, Midday Veil would spearhead it. Get ready to turn on, tune in, and drop out Austin, because between these two bands, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Ian is a contributing writer at SMI. He currently studies English at UW and is drummer for the local band The Mama Rags. Follow him on Twitter at @iancunn
 I’m not really sure what AA has to do with my rectum, though…
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It’s 4.15 a.m. There’s a nip in the air. The bustling alleys (mada veedhis) by day are shrouded in silence and darkness. Men in crisp white dhotis with vibhuti smeared across their forehead walk briskly towards the Kapaleeswarar Temple. A small group of women seems excited to spot an old man setting up his flower stall so early in the morning. His honest confession nethi poo ma (yesterday’s flowers) doesn’t deter them from adorning their still wet hair with a few mozhams. The small white lights on the majestic gopuram of the centuries-old temple cast a refreshing glow on the miniature sculptures and carvings. The still waters of the temple tank appear like a quiet spectator to the grand proceedings. And as you enter the vast precincts of the temple, the celebratory atmosphere immediately draws you in. The Adhikara Nandi procession, an integral part of the Panguni Uthiram festival of the temple, a landmark event in Mylapore, is about to begin.
Behind a satin curtain, the designated make-up artists (read senior priests) of Kapaleeswarar are giving the last touches to his special avatar for the day. Young men carrying huge colourful umbrellas take position as the sambrani smoke creates a haze. The crowd gets bigger and bigger. Some stand with hands folded, a prayer on their lips. Young parents desperately try to find vantage positions for their children to have a clear view. A few overwhelmed elderly gather their breath to reminisce about this celestial spectacle as they had seen it over the years. Lakshmi ammal, in her early eighties, says she has never ever missed this annual festival for the last 60 years, while her friend Shakuntala has been a regular for the past 30 years. There are many NRIs and people residing in other cities across the country who time their visit to Chennai during this 10-day Brahmotsavam (Arubathimoovar on day eight draws the maximum crowd). Girish Rao, who grew up in Chennai and is now settled in Pune, is one such. “More than religious sentiment, to me it’s about an emotional bonding,” says he. “Each time it takes me back to my childhood when my father carried me on his shoulders as he walked along with the procession. It also reminds me of how I would serve buttermilk and water through the day at the kiosks put up by my grandfather.”
And finally, the curtain goes up amid resounding drum beats and sacred notes of the nadaswaram. Devotees crane their necks to catch a glimpse of Siva bedecked in heavy colourful garlands, luminous jewellery and resplendent silk. But most of them are busy capturing the spectacle on their mobile phones. They follow the diety, clicking every move and position. College-goer Sukanya even immediately emails the pictures to her aunt in Mumbai. “She is usually here during this time but could not make it this year,” she smiles.
The presiding deity is then brought out to be placed on the huge silver nandi made 97 years ago. Seated on his gigantic vehicle, he is carried around the temple before he sets out on his journey around the mada veedhis. The Lord gracefully swings as he steps out of his abode. This dance of joy is what inspired legendary composer-singer Papanasam Sivan to come up with the song ‘Kaana kann kodi vendum’ that captures the beauty of this vibrant procession in emotion-packed lines.
Making its debut in 2013, Zya is a free iOS music app that lets players remix today’s top tracks with a few taps of the screen. Developer Music Mastermind brought the latest build of the digital DJ game to SXSW 2014, showing some new features while revealing special plans to let one lucky player win a record deal and $10,000 cash.
If you’ve never given Zya a spin, its gameplay consists of choosing a popular radio song like Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” or Lorde’s “Royals,” and adding your own flavor to it. Once a song is selected, you choose from a range of animated avatars like the mohawk- and tattoo-laden Solo Rex, and Python, who rocks a flame-colored bass and wears an actual snake around his body.
MORE: 12 Best Music Apps
Your avatar determines what type of bass or guitar sound you’ll get, and you can add whatever drum beats and vocal tracks you desire afterwards.
You can tap out your own drum beats for use in any song. Don’t worry about having rhythm; Zya will quantize the beat for you. For vocals, you can either sing your own hook or swap in lyrics from any other song featured on Zya. Want to hear Lady Gaga sing “Poker Face” over the music of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”? Go nuts.
At the end of every song, you’ll earn points that you can use toward unlocking new tracks.
Music Mastermind’s latest build of Zya gives more options to aspiring hitmakers, including an all-new EDM category to capitalize on the rapid rise of electronic dance music. New EDM-themed avatars include Metric, a guitarist that brings Buzz Lightyear to mind, and Pulse, a female vocalist who sings through her floating pet alien.
New to Zya is the “Fame Map” mode, which is a single-player campaign meant to simulate the experience of going from a budding bar musician to an arena pop star. This new feature ties in with the brand’s #ZyaStar contest, which will allow one dedicated iPad producer to score a deal with Emblem Records, a spot on DigiTour 2015, and $10,000 in cash.
If you’re looking for your big break, you’ll have to share your songs within the app using the #ZyaStar hashtag. Your tracks will be judged on originality, how high your game score is, and how much buzz you can generate through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Finalists will be chosen from May through the end of 2014.
Zya is currently available for free on iOS, and comes optimized for both iPhone and iPad. If you’re looking for an easy and free way to make some music (and potentially make some cash) it’s certainly worth a spin or two.
Follow Mike Andronico @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.
Walking up the tunnel at halftime Saturday night, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear was pleased but admittedly bewildered.He expected his perennial MLS power to give the orange-clad crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium a great show, and he was optimistic about beating the New England Revolution.
The Dynamo, after all, usually win at home. But Kinnear was stunned at how quickly and consistently Will Bruin and the Dynamo dominated the Revolution.
Most fans were barely getting back in rhythm with the drum beats emanating from the south end of BBVA Compass Stadium, and some were trying to find their seats when Bruin set the best possible tone for the 4-0 victory.
Bruin needed only 64 seconds to find the back of the net for his first of two goals as the Dynamo established firm control in the MLS season opener.
“I thought the first half an hour, possibly you could say it’s the best I’ve ever seen this team play, and that’s saying something,” Kinnear said of the two-time MLS Cup champions and four-time finalists. “I thought the goals were excellent. Our reaction when the ball turned over was really good and we were really sharp in front of goal. A great night for us.”
An Orange crush
Bruin added an assist before a BBVA Compass Stadium-record sellout crowd of 22,320, dominating what was expected to be a competitive match between two teams that reached the Eastern Conference playoffs last year.
The rout could have been worse if goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth had not made sensational saves to deny Bruin and Omar Cummings goals on breakaway, one-on-one opportunities.
Shortly after kickoff, Brad Davis fed the ball to Bruin just outside the 18-yard box. Bruin then sent it out wide. Midfielder Tony Cascio redirected it to right back Kofi Sarkodie, who curled a cross back into the box. Bruin stretched out to keep the ball in front of him before turning and firing a half volley into the net to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead in the 64th second.
Bruin added a goal in the 13th minute after Corey Ashe delivered a brilliant cross from the left corner of the 18-yard box. Desperate to extinguish Ashe’s threat, the Revolution defenders descended on forward Giles Barnes at the near post and didn’t realize Bruin had escaped unmarked toward the far post. Ashe delivered a perfect assist at Bruin’s feet.
“That’s a great start to the season getting that goal in the first two minutes,” Bruin said. “It’s kind of a dream start as a forward and then you get to play more freely and you go forward and you get to take chances to get more goals.
“The second one Corey put a great ball in. Giles brought both defenders with him on the near post, and I just had to tap it in. That was good, and then I think I had three minutes on that breakaway that I missed. When I start thinking that’s when I miss.”
Bruin, who vowed to be more of a provider this year, delivered an assist in the 23rd minute from inside the box for Boniek Garcia to rip a rocket past Shuttleworth.
Cummings capped the scoring in stoppage time when Ricardo Clark’s shot deflected off his noggin and into the net.
“You’re happy that it’s 4-0,” Kinnear said. “But like I said, you don’t come to the stadium saying ‘We’re going to win 4-0 tonight.’
“Obviously we have the potential for that to happen, but at halftime walking up the tunnel I was a little bit dumbfounded because we didn’t expect it. But I will say I have a great seat watching these guys play, and they were excellent.”
Cpl. Timothy Norris
A Marine plays the piano during a jam session at the chapel aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 28. Cmdr. Kim Donahue, the Marine Aircraft Group 31 group chaplain, started the jam sessions last year to give service members aboard the Air Station a place for musicians to meet, practice and learn from each other.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. – A Marine walks into a chapel with a guitar and is greeted with the rolling sound of drum beats, piano chords and the pickings of a few more guitars. The jam sessions hosted by the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Chapel have started back up after a short break during the holidays and a busy new year.
“It’s a way of practicing, to play outside of their own comfort zone and support the person who is playing,” said Cmdr. Kim Donahue, the Marine Aircraft group 31 chaplain. “Music stirs the heart and adds conviction to their commitment.”
Donahue started the jam sessions last year to give service members aboard the Air Station a place for musicians to meet, practice and learn from each other. The sessions are held at the Air Station every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Air Station chapel houses the session because “music and spirituality go together,” Donahue said. “If there is anyplace one this base where it makes sense to host the jam sessions it’s the chapel.”
“Chapels are designed with good acoustics because music is part of just about every religious tradition, with or without instruments. So it’s a good place to play because the chapel is acoustically live.”
For Donahue, however, it means more than just a couple of hours of good music and camaraderie.
“For me, everything starts with my faith and convictions,” she explained. “My understanding of God developed from music. My mother was an organist and pianist so music was everywhere in my life. I spent a lot of my time as a child listening to my mother play. She gave her heart and soul to it.”
The jam sessions are informal and musicians are encouraged to bring music they want to practice. At the first session of the year, musicians played songs from ranging Johnny Cash to Snow Patrol.
“All music has a spiritual value whether it’s secular or sacred,” Donahue said. “Music conveys and communicates things that words sometimes can’t. It’s similar to faith. I look at music as a spiritual grounding that allows people to express who they are beyond words.”
In addition to the intangible rewards, last year a chapel band was formed as a result of the sessions. Some of the jam session members have started writing their own music, and several played in a public forum for the first time.
The jam sessions are open to musicians with every kind of instrument and Donahue also encourages people to come to sing or just listen.
Air Station chapel…
A Marine plays the guitar during a jam session at the…
Air Station chapel…
A Marine plays the piano during a jam session at the…
This work, Air Station chapel continues to host jam sessions, by Cpl Timothy Norris, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.
Pic: Huda Jaffer
Drum beats and illuminating LED bulbs powered by the sun… do they have anything in common? Naah, nothing! Ponder over it for a minute.
How are drums made? The typical response would be that the workers gather raw materials, add their labour and voila, the drums are ready.
Here we have workers who actually make drums under light bulbs powered by solar panels. Isn’t that exciting? Eco-friendly drums!
A 500 year old craft
In Thannisandra, a locality of Bengaluru, there is a small community of Mirasis living under the roof of tarpaulin tents. The Mirasis are a nomadic community originally from Uttar Pradesh. They make various types of drums, ranging from small damarus to huge djembes; this has been their craft for the past 500 years. They excel at creating beautiful carvings on delicately crafted percussion instruments. This is now a dying art form, that needs to be preserved.
SELCO Foundation – a sustainable energy NGO, based in Bangalore, looked at this threat to survival, as an opportunity to innovate. The foundation helped create a community-owned business model, called the ‘solar cart’. Under their mentorship, a cart with solar panels on its roof, charges batteries through the panels during the day and illuminate the homes of 30 families at night.
Lighting up their lives
To access the solar power, every family needs to pay Rs 100 a month. This has turned out to be benefecial and cost-effective for the Mirasis. They would earlier spend Rs 15 to 25 a day, to buy kerosene oil, and this worked up to anywhere between Rs 450 to Rs 750 for the month.
Moreover, the light emitted by the kerosene lamps was not bright enough to do minor carvings on the drums. Now, under the glow of solar-powered bulbs, drums are made, family members are fed, children study, and babies too have been delivered (as accessing medical facilities works out rather expensive). In addition, they also charge their cell phones with the additional energy that is stored in the battery.
Since the installation of the solar cart, the Mirasis‘ income has increased by 10 to 20%. With respect to the environmental impact, the carbon emissions saved is equal to that of carbon sequestered by 18 trees every year. And this is precisely why the drums that the Mirasais make are eco-friendly.
A start towards self-sustainability
In order to enhance their livelihood, SELCO Foundation is facilitating projects that can help increase the Mirasis’ access to market linkages. With some support from the foundation’s Urban Community Lab, a stall is being put up at the Sunday Soul Sante on March 9th to sell drums.
The proceeds from the sale of drums at the Sante will be used to initiate a cooperative of drum-makers, to ensure that the intervention becomes self-sustainable.
So here’s calling all music, art and craft lovers to visit their stall – to keep the sound of eco-friendly, hand crafted drum beats and this 500 year old craft, resonating!
Venue: ITPB Grounds Whitefield, BangaloreDone
Date: Sunday March 9th 2014
by Jason Stives, edited by Erik van Rheenen
For UK outfit Bombay Bicycle Club, standing in the same place for too long is never an option. Between 2009 and 2011m the quartet released three incredibly different albums, altering styles from being indie rock stalwarts, to folk aficionados, to dance pop underdogs. As confusing as it was, the British public has embraced them in larger degrees each time. Here in the US, where their following is much smaller and confined, you are almost remiss to yell at the band, “Where are you going?” as they run from one sound to the next.
Changing up form and style isn’t an issue. As their peers Arctic Monkeys have shown, changing things up with each release can be the smartest choice you can make, both creatively and commercially. However, there has to be a logical progression: not ripping up the floor plans after the first draft. The band’s long awaited fourth effort, So Long, See You Tomorrow benefits greatly from that scattered mentality, and the result is their most enriching and creatively successful album to date.
Opener “Overdone” starts with soft strings and shimmies its way into a Bollywood number that builds to the sky, culminating with some creeping guitar work and agitated drum beats. From here, it’s hard to skip a number for at least two thirds of the record. Every song falls into itself in varying forms, usually complemented by some newly found bit of equipment that the band has uncovered. A track like “Carry Me” pistons and moves with drums that snap and crack alongside lead singer Jack Steadman’s foreboding and insecure vocal style.
While his singing is the least developed thing on the record, it is constantly complementing itself with each song. His work alongside Rae Morris on the keyboard-twinkling “Home By Now” and the frantically building, African rhythm of “Luna” gives new texture to his voice without really altering the techniques he already employs. Both “Eyes Off You” and the title track take things down a bit into ballad territory, but it never hurts the albums consistency. On the contrary, the inclusion of these numbers flow very well with the record but their tone is uprooted by unexpected yet welcomed drum heavy instrumentation with the title track really heaving the funkiest of grooves to close out the record with a bang.
Admittedly things are flawed and the lyrical influences are hard to pinpoint at best. You get caught up in the throes of an album rich with escapist pop music that somersaults with every passing moment. Even when the album feels the weakest in track quality, the stellar production keeps the listener firmly planted against the speakers. Latter album tracks ultimately slow the frontload, but it’s not without a sense of care; it simply feels like having the means to explore became paramount in comparison to the actual craft. “Feel” in particular has a bit of autopilot fatigue trying to loop together the best qualities of the previous tracks, and it ultimately feels like a tacked on attempt at making a perfect specimen.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is no doubt Bombay Bicycle Club giving themselves a cohesive style and identity but nothing that will appeal to wide audience stateside. Despite notching their first number 1 in their home country with this tour de force mass of sound, dance and pop it’s nothing that hasn’t graced some landscape of music here in the smorgasbord of our music culture. Even if the popularity doesn’t come here, it is Bombay Bicycle Club’s strongest effort that finally sets the band in place with a style to call their own.