Archive for the ‘Introducing’ Category

Eight days after a Guardian interview belatedly introduced me to the works of iamamiwhoami I still cannot make sense of it all. Thus instead of weaving a non-too-clever story around the facts, I shall merely go forth and present them in list format:

1) iamamiwhoami is a multimedia entity/audiovisual/viral marketing project

2) iamamiwhoami is a Swedish-born concept fronted by Jonna Lee

3) iamamiwhoami debuted on YouTube in December 2009

4) iamamiwhoami videos predominantly feature Lee prancing around in snow-white skimpies, oddly-behaving yeti creatures and an even more baffling range of imagery and symbols

5) iamamiwhoami is addictive

Out of these five nuggets of information, the second was the last to come to light. Not until iamamiwhoami’s twelfth video ‘t‘ was singer-songwriter Lee unmasked from sellotape & black make-up (amongst other things) and crowned as the face of the project. Up to that point fans had been agonisingly drip-fed video releases on a fortnightly basis beginning with the mysteriously encoded first sequence Prelude 699130082.451322-5.4.21.3.1.20.9.15.14.1.12.

Prelude proved something of a phenomenon, arousing wild speculation and amassing as of today, knocking-on 350,000 views. Was Gaga behind the strange 55-second clip that featured human limbs protruding from trees? Or could it be Aguilera, Little Boots even?

Following on its heels was 9.1.13.669321018, appearing to show a tree exuding semen. In total, the first six clips followed a similar theme with their numerically-encrypted titles and each containing an animal symbol ranging from owls to llamas. Very clever teasers.

The next six video titles combined to spell “b-o-u-n-t-y”. Finally, nine videos have been released in the last six months that could signal iamamiwhoami’s evolution into a (slightly) more conventional artist. My favourite however, Clump, is excluded. No prizes for guessing what the subtleties in this video signify.

 

Quit with the history and describe the music itself I hear you cry! Well… in all honestly, it’s insignificant, forgettable, wishy-washy, amniotic electronic waves if you like. One thing that does need to be grasped is that iamamiwhoami music plays second fiddle, the visuals are what makes it all a little special.

Two hours on from when I started writing this article and I’m more confused than ever. So, to avoid the onset of madness, migraine and other maladies I shall leave you to make your own mind up on iamamiwhoami. The debut album kin will be released on 3rd September on Co-operative Music, an independent label – big up! Save your money though, you’re better off watching the YouTube videos. ABsorbing!

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For anyone without the luxury of 3G on their mobile, you will understand my frustration at Shazam‘s inability to work without internet connection. Whilst perusing the racks of bargain t-shirts in Topman today I heard this rather groovy track played overhead. Of course, due to the aforementioned technological inferiority of my mobile telephone I was unable to detect whom the artist was. Fortunately the lines “you thought you’d set the bar” and “cog in a machine” stuck fast in my mind.

Turns out the culprit is a Scottish four-piece bearing the exotic name Django Django. The double D apparently released their self-titled debut back in January, something I was previously oblivious to. Default (below) has gained them some notoriety, amassing over 800,000 YouTube hits. It’s no fluke either, these boys have their own brand of music and paint a colourful canvas of art-rockFurther tracks like Drumbeats and Life’s a Beach justify why The Guardian elected to award their debut 5 out of 5. 

Because Music records have the luxury of Django Django’s signature. The London & Paris-based independent label can also boast amongst their ranks synth supremos Metronomy, Justice and the highly individual individual Connan Mockasin!

Django Django will play Latitude and T in the Park festivals this summer. Check them, and double check them, on Soundcloud here.

Toy are a band causing a stir. How many time have we heard that before?

Visually they resemble (to me at least) a reshuffled, slightly unkempt Slade-looking outfit, plus señorita Alejandra Diez on keyboard. They are also three parts Jing Jang Jong: singer Tom Dougall, guitarist Dom O’Dair and bassist Maxim Barron having since separated from Joe Lean.

Motoring,  below, is a blur – and I’m not just talking about the video’s psychedelic effects. No acute guitars, Toy’s second single is fuzzier than a heavy night on the juice. To use a cliché, Motoring is a “wall of sound” with the drive of an Ash song.

Released on Heavenly Records, a London-based label under the mighty umbrella of EMI – can Toy be truly classified as indie? Probably not.

 

Under their YouTube clips, Toy are described damningly as “the best Horrors tribute band out there” – a statement backed by the act’s close association, support slots and public receipt of praise from Faris Badwan’s troupe. However for me Toy’s sound is a lot less dark and dismal.

Listen to Toy’s first single Left Myself Behind here.

Dionysos are a six-piece, six-album rock band hailing from the Rhône-Alpes région in south-west France, one of the country’s 27 regional jigsaw pieces. The band hit homeland fame with their first major label record release entitled Haiku (Coccinelle video here). It is for two reasons that Dionysos are special: their eccentricity and their linguistic abilities.

To illustrate the first point, Dionysos have songs in their locker called bizarre things like Le Roi en pyjama [The King in pyjamas] … L’homme qui pondait des œufs [the man who lays eggs] and Le retour de Bloody Betty [the return of Bloody Betty]. Secondly, the act fronted by Mathias Malzieu write and sing in both French and English. How many English bands can reciprocate?

A particular song I have chosen to extract from the Dionysos catalogue is called Thank you Satan. Taken from the group’s Whatever the Weather: Electrique album (2003), Thank you Satan is a romp of a tune that grows in force towards an eventual blunderbuss impact. A ukulele – overlaid with Élisabeth Maistre‘s soothing voice – provides an alluring yet harmless opening, only to be replaced by feathery violin strings and Malzieu’s pitch-perfect vocals. Later a baritone guitar begins the devastating march towards the end.

 

Dionysos (named after the Greek god of wine, theatre & ecstasy) certainly instill ritual madness in the listener with this frenzy of strings and percussions. More infectious than a supervirus…

Another reason I like this song is because of the Leo Ferre album hommage on the YouTube video which recalls the album art of The Futureheads – News & Tributes. Oh and the lyrics, which can be viewed here underneath the clip, are fantastic. References to the Bastille, Mr Mozart, Chateau Margaux and mon préféré – “the laughter of skulls”.

Ever wondered why French music persistently fails to cross the “English” Channel, swamp our shores and pervade our playlists? Strange, non? Especially given that the Irish Sea continually fails to drown the wails of Jedward, Westlife, B*Witched & co. Neither did the North Sea successfully submerge the Barbie Girl antics of Aqua. The mighty Atlantic Ocean rarely proves an insurmountable obstacle for the hordes of American acts. Mysteriously though, the 21 mile stretch from Dover to Calais is some kind of Bermuda Triangle for the tricolor-waving troops of French bands…

This next post aims to change that fact, beginning with an introduction to a most eccentric act called Dionysos that I shall label the French Bellowhead.

Hopefully this post will help the English & others unearth French bands from across the Channel, or what the French call la manche [the sleeve]!

Merci et aurevoir.