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Posts Tagged ‘Beach House

Mixtape: When Time Flies [A Fractured Air Mix]

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When Time Flies [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. David Allred ‘When Time Flies’ [Oscarson]
02. Beach House ‘Levitation’ [Bella Union/Sub Pop]
03. Air ‘Empty House’ [‘The Virgin Suicides’ OST / Virgin]
04. Laurel Halo ‘Focus I’ [Honest Jon’s]
05. Arthur Russell ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’ [Audika]
06. Dawn of Midi ‘Algol’ [Erased Tapes]
07. The Bad Plus ‘Never Stop’ [EmArcy]
08. Sun Ra ‘Plutonian Nights’ [Strut]
09. Cheech & Chong ‘Basketball Jones’ [‘Being There’ OST]
10. Peter Broderick + Gabriel Saloman ‘Lament For Philip Seymour Hoffman’ [Beacon Sound]
11. Guillaume Roussel ‘Meurtre du fou’ [‘La Connection’ OST / Gaumont, Légende Films]
12. Symmetry ‘Streets Of Fire’ [Italians Do It Better]
13. Max Richter ‘Lullaby’ (feat. Robert Wyatt) [130701]
14. Julia Kent ‘Heavy Eyes’ [The Leaf Label]
15. Julia Holter ‘Have You In My Wilderness’ [Domino]
16. Harold Budd & John Foxx ‘Adult’ [All Saints]
17. The Band ‘I Shall Be Released’ [Capitol]
18. Georges Delerue ‘Camille’ [‘Le Mépris’ OST / EmArcy]

This mixtape will be our final post on Fractured Air. We’d both like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has helped or supported us in one way or another over the last 3½ years. It has been a real pleasure for us to have found ourselves in a position to be able to do our small part in helping promote the true wonder that is independent music. Most of all, we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our readers who helped us keep going as long as we did. Thank you.



Chosen One: Beach House

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Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally together have mastered their unique dream-pop sound over the course of their four albums to date. The most recently released ‘Bloom’ (Bella Union, 2012) is a further showcase of Beach House’s unrivaled talent for musicianship and songcraft

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

Beach House’s concert in Cork was very special. A Saturday night as part of the Cork Jazz Festival, Beach House transported me far away, to unknown territories of infinite possibilities. It was the Baltimore band’s first time to play in this part of the world and the rapturous audience were grateful for their long-awaited arrival. I was fortunate to see them several times before-the last time in a sold-out Vicar Street venue on the tail-end of their ‘Teen Dream’ tour. In the summer of 2010 I saw them at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, where Victoria Legrand, Alex Scally and Daniel Franz were responsible (along with Grizzly Bear), for being the standout act, taken from a long list of indie-greats. This time around, the 2012 tour is promoting their latest, fourth studio album, ‘Bloom’. For me, ‘Bloom’ is the crystallization of all things Beach House. Each element of their ethereal pop sound is refined and heightened to new levels. Songs like ‘Lazuli’, ‘Troublemaker’, ‘On The Sea’ and ‘Irene’ are some of the finest of their unique sonic creations to date.

A scene from the LCD Soundsystem documentary ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ comes to my mind when talking about Beach House. There is a scene where James Murphy discusses his hero Nick Cave, about how he sees Cave as this mythical figure. Murphy explains how he can’t visualize this larger-than-life figure having a coffee or doing normal, everyday routines. He exists in another realm, apart from us mere mortals. Watching that scene, I immediately thought of Beach House. A band whose unique and ultimately transportive music of mysterious dream-pop creations, Legrand and Scally must exist in this very realm. It is the musical telepathy that exists between Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally that creates sparks of true wonder and amazement. The beautiful reverb guitars of Scally cascade onto Legrand’s soulful, otherworldly vocals and keyboards/organ.

My first hearing of their unique sound was the 2008 Bella Union album, ‘Devotion’. The artwork itself introduced you to a whole new world of forgotten dreams. A candle, brightly lit, stands on either side of a dinner table, where either half of Beach House sit, both in deep thought and prayer. Three candles glow from the top of the table and in the centre, an iced cake lays, spelling out ‘Devotion’. It’s an album I’ve listened to and cherished since its release four years ago. Songs like ‘Gila’ and ‘Holy Dances’ were performed during their set in Barcelona and immediately transported me back to the magical moments of first discovering Beach House. Two years later ‘Teen Dream’ was released. Could there be an album more perfect and complete as this? The piano-led ballads of ‘Real Love’ and ‘Better Times’, the anthems of ’10 Mile Stereo’ and ‘Silver Soul’ and infectious pop of ‘Norway’ and ‘Used To Be’, makes ‘Teen Dream’ an album of unrivaled sound and vast emotion. The most transcendent moments that are felt during a concert are impossible to forget. One that stands out for me is ‘Take Care’, the song that closes ‘Teen Dream’. The chorus refrain of “I’ll take care of you/take care of you/that is true” filled the Barcelona evening’s sky and the Mediterranean seas beyond. The heartwarming guitar notes and organ tones hung perfectly in the night’s air, long after the music ended.

‘Irene’ is the song that had a similar effect on me, during their live performance in my hometown, just a few nights ago. The song closes ‘Bloom’ and was also the set closer of this inspiring night. The trio of Scally (stage right), Legrand (stage centre) and Franz (stage left), performed the majority of their latest opus, ‘Bloom’ and many songs from the previous ‘Teen Dream’ album. Onstage, giant wind fans stood behind the band, further heightening the ethereal space the band wonderfully inhabit. ‘Irene’ showcased the live spectacle of Beach House at its stellar best. Victoria Legrand’s voice transports you far far away. Drone of electric guitar and a hypnotic drum beat created a heavenly building of sound before Legrand’s vocals and keyboards returned. “It’s a strange paradise” is sung in refrain over dazzling guitar notes that graced the air’s atmosphere of the opera house. The drums get louder and the guitar turns into white noise of sonic marvel. In front of this  crescendo of noise is the main instrument: Legrand’s voice. “It’s a strange paradise” epitomizes Beach House’s sound. Witnessing these mythical figures in real life, seeing their art unfold across your very eyes is just that and more. Strobe lighting covered every angle of the venue whilst the climax of ‘Irene’ penetrated the chamber of hearts present in the venue space.

Holy Other’s ethereal and ghostly beats and vocal samples provided the perfect prelude to Beach House’s arrival. The intriguing sounds and textures breathed a spectrum of emotion, filled with hazy darkness and scattered light. Beach House would soon tap into this vibe of otherness and take you to the other side.  ‘Myth’, ‘Wild’ and ‘Lazuli’ were all played near the beginning of the set. The lighting changed throughout, at times the band were enveloped in darkness, only silhouettes to be seen. A full spectrum of light shone on the stage during the ‘Bloom’ standout ‘Lazuli’. The blend of voices (Legrand/Scally) towards the end of the verse is sublime; “When you couldn’t see/you would come for me”. A fantasy world steeped in beauty is unlocked before your very eyes. The chorus refrain of “Like no other you can’t be replaced” was another divine moment steeped in beautiful magic. Songs like ‘Norway’ and ’10 Mile Stereo’ were full-blown anthems, particularly Legrand’s hushed vocals on  the intro to ‘Norway.’ Alex Scally joked that the next song was their one “party-song” for the festival crowd to dance to, before erupting into ‘Silver Soul’. Scally’s electric guitar meandered through the cosmic space amidst spiritual organs and vocals from Legrand. Amazing. One of my favourite Beach House songs.

‘Troublemaker’ from ‘Bloom’ is another crowning jewel of Beach House’s songbook. “Like a hand you reached out to me”, Victoria sings on the opening line of the fist verse. This song live simply blew me away. Organ notes are first heard before drifting guitar notes float into the flame’s ethers. The backing harmonies share the glorious tones of ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Surf’s Up’. The rise of Victoria’s voice is a true awakening of the senses. ‘New Year’ provided compelling dream-pop with Daniel’s drums being the bloodflow of the song. The swirling piano of ‘On the Sea’ transported me to new horizons. The electric guitar erupted with the distorted notes echoing into every molecule of the atmosphere. Victoria’s words swim magnificently in the sea of otherworldly sounds: “Time will tell in spite of me”. For me, the very essence of Beach House is distilled in the final lyrics of ‘On The Sea’ where Victoria sings “The world becomes/And swallows me in.” Beach House’s music will forever captivate your heart. Some things last a long time.


‘Bloom’ is out now on Bella Union.

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October 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Step Right Up: Lower Dens

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Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

Lower Dens are at the heart of the current Baltimore scene. Together with the likes of Beach House and Wye Oak, they create shimmering, otherworldly indie music. Led by Jana Hunter, the band formed in 2009 and in a short space of time they have distilled their distinct eerie otherness of sound. ‘Nootropics’ is their latest album and similar to neighbour’s Beach House current album ‘Bloom’, is one of the milestones of 2012 and beyond. Lush future pop (current single ‘Propagation’), hypnotic krautrock infused rhythms (‘Brains’), swirling meditative hymns (‘Lamb’) are meticulously crafted.

Lyrically, the album deals with transhumanism and feelings about technology. ‘Nootropics’, the album’s title is defined as ‘a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning’. Jana Hunter says ‘The record as a whole begs for an assessment of all the flaws inherent in our existence, and to imagine a better, more suitable, logical way for humanity to live’. The opening track ‘Alphabet Song’ is a reference to a 1920 dadaist poem by Louis Aragon titled ‘Suicide’ that Hunter says ‘looks at our history as a species’. ‘Propogation’ explores the desire to procreate while ‘Brains’ studies our relationship to technology. Musically, ‘Nootropics’ delves into krautrock and electronic soundscapes together with their guitar based dream pop. The latter was very evident on the band’s debut album ‘Twin Hand Movement’ released in 2010.

The large sonic palette Lower Dens now draw from makes ‘Nootropics’ an utterly engaging landscape of sound full of hidden subtleties and meticulous beauty warped in mystery and intrigue. The brooding synths, lazer guided melodies creates a unique realm of both dark and light. The journey Lower Dens take you on is akin to a sci-fi exploration of one’s inner-self and in essence one’s very own existence. The Baltimore
collective have made an ambitious work which exceeds on every level.

‘Nootropics’ is available now on Ribbon Music.

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July 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Label Of Love: Bella Union

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Words: Mark Carry, illustration: Craig Carry

Why most of the music on your ipod consists mostly of Bella Union artists is a testament to the phenomenal output of awe-inspiring music that the label has  released since it was founded back in 1997.

2012 sees Bella Union celebrate its 15th anniversary; fittingly it’s the same year Dirty Three return with their rejuvenating work ‘Toward The Low Sun’. Many of the full-blown classic albums released over the years on the forever reliable independent label come from the legendary Australian trio. The elements of violin (Warren Ellis), guitar (Mick Turner) and drums (Jim White) combine to evoke an overwhelming spectrum of human emotions. On ‘Toward The Low Sun’, their eighth album, they remain peerless as improvisers of instrumental intensity and beauty. Spanning Bella Union’s lifespan, Dirty Three albums ‘Ocean Songs’ (1998),’Whatever You Love You Are’, ‘Cinder’ (2005) and the latest ‘Toward The Low Sun’ (2012) firmly grace the music world. As Ellis has said, ‘There is a dialogue within the group that we are still keen to explore’.

We, the music listeners, continue to ‘explore’ new bands and artists through the devoted output of the Bella Union label. The record label was founded by Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde of Scottish alternative rock band Cocteau Twins who created a heavenly, ethereal dream-pop collage of sound. Since 2002, the label has been run solely by Simon Raymonde. Unsurprisingly, it is this unique blend of dream pop that is apparent on the Bella Union roster of like-minded acts, who have the necessary freedom to create their art.

A seamless array of gems have been discovered and re-discovered over the past fifteen years. Fleet Foxes self titled debut (2009) and follow-up ‘Helplessness Blues’ (2011) epitomizes the magic realm of music discovery the label so clearly thrives on. Beach House’s utterly stellar dream pop creations: ‘Devotion’ (2008), ‘Teen Dream’ (2010) and ‘Bloom’ (2012) conveys the immense level of artistic depth within the Bella Union sphere. The enrapturing, elegant sound of The Czars ‘Goodbye’ (2006), the life-affirming concept record ‘Glory Hope Mountain’ from The Acorn (2007), irresistible French chanteuse Francoiz Breut ‘Vingt A Trente Mille Jours’ (2001) and Midlake’s transcendent ‘Trials of Van Occupanther’ (2006) are just some of the many glowing embers of artistic brilliance showcased by Bella Union.

I was first introduced to Bella Union in 2004 in the form of a free label sampler CD from my ever-dependable local recordstore Plugd in Cork. The title was ‘Beneath The Surface Vol. 1′ and upon first listening I knew I needed to explore deeper, beneath the surface. The hauntingly beautiful solo piano of Dustin O’ Halloran scattered among the astral indie pop of Trespassers William and the evocative ‘Through December’ by Laura Veirs opened up a heavenly wall of sound. My highlight was the fourth track, ‘Little Pink House’ by The Czars. I was (very) late in discovering this very special band, fronted by the great John Grant. The song encompasses free jazz, gospel and late night blues that hits you straight to the heart’s core. More recently, John Grant has embarked on a solo career; his debut album ‘Queen Of Denmark'(2010) was lavished upon with critical praise from all corners of the music world.

Later in 2004, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs released her second studio album ‘Carbon Glacier’on Bella Union.The album consists of immense simplicity and unerring beauty. The isolated songwriting style contained within the winter laments evoke the cold, harsh landscape of the Colorado Rockies that formed Veirs’ childhood. Layers of gorgeous instrumentation (banjo, piano, glockenspiel, vibraphone, trombone, guitars, percussion) creates moving folk music, the effect of which is transcendent. On the opening track ‘Ether Sings’, Veirs sings ‘All the time spent dreaming is never lost’ illustrating how the album, like so many Bella Union releases, is for the dream space.

An equally special album arrived four years later, from the multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick, whose ‘Home’ (2008) album was his Bella Union debut. Amazingly, Broderick was a mere 21 years of age when making this record. A wonderful fusion of field recordings, found sounds and folk/americana creates a breathtakingly beautiful ambient-folk soundscape. It’s an album I’ve returned to countless times, and each time something new can be discovered. ‘And It’s Alright’ builds into a blissful folk pop gem and ‘Not At Home’ is simply sublime. Live, Peter Broderick is a spectacle to behold. Alone on stage with his array of instruments close at hand, he loops violins,musical saw, piano, vocal harmonies, in turn creating music that transcends time.

The Bella Union album that I must pick as my all-time favourite must be ‘Teen Dream’ by Beach House, released in January 2010. The special chemistry that exists between Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally creates such powerful, compelling, unique dream pop of sheer beauty. Their live performance at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona is one of the best concerts I’ve ever witnessed. Furthermore, their latest album ‘Bloom’ looks to be one of the most important albums of 2012, and beyond.

Later this Summer, Bella Union acts galore grace the idyllic South England Dorset countryside, at the End Of The Road festival. Dirty Three, The Low Anthem, Midlake, Beach House, John Grant, Jonathan Wilson, I Break Horses, Lanterns On The Lake among many others will truly inspire audiences from August 31st to the 2nd of September 2012. Bella Union’s 15th anniversary is a real cause for celebration and ‘with the notes in my ears’ I look forward immensely to the next 15 years.

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July 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm