Playlist: The world’s most discerning bloggers keep us informed about the most exciting things happening in their local music scenes. This week: electro-noise bands and a dancehall king
Cairo-based avant-garde keyboard virtuoso Islam Chipsy. Photograph: /YouTube
EGYPT: Islam Chipsy – Live at the Cairo High Cinema Institute
Mada Masr: Islam Chipsy is a 28-year-old avant-garde keyboard virtuoso from Imbaba, Cairo. He has just released his first international vinyl, Islam Chipsy: Live at the Cairo High Cinema Institute, with the Egyptian record label Nashazphone. Watching Chipsy in action, it’s not hard to understand what all the hype is about. Although his keyboard is preset to familiar oriental scales, timbres and notes, he entirely deconstructs the typical shaabi sonic sphere, morphing it into something that is both familiar and outer worldly. His music is heavily percussive and rhythm-based, yet he has redefined the possibilities of the holy trinity of dance music: synthesizer, drums and bass.
Throughout his live sets melodies weave in and out — just as one finishes, he breaks into another then another in a cyclical fashion, and all the time his bending pitches have you feeling as though you’re stuck in a Super Mario level you can’t get beyond. Polyrhythmic drums kick forward, speeding up and slowing down as the set glides across BPMs ranging from 110 to 150. Maha ElNabawi
CANADA: Catherine Leduc – Les vieux hiboux
Originally the female half of Canadian folk-pop duo Tricot Machine, Catherine Leduc has released Rookie, her debut solo album. Despite the fact that Matthieu Beaumont – long-time partner and the other half of the Tricot Machine – helped produce, mix and play on the album, the sound is far removed from the frothy, bouncy, piano-based pop the duo were renowned for. In its place is an incredibly dreamy, melancholic, atmospheric and more mature sound.
Rookie may seem a strange title for an album from an artist who has been performing and recording for over a decade, but as Leduc has revealed in interviews in the French-Canadian press, this album is about starting afresh and redefining herself. The haunting introduction to Les vieu hiboux features polysynth owls and the fragility of Leduc's vocals run through all ten tracks. Vendredi Saint is an absolutely beautiful song, as powerful as it is simply executed.
Pee-Wee BB sees Catherine explore themes of inferiority and overcoming adversity – themes which again are woven through the album; while Polatouche combines glockenspiel with an angelic chorus. Outstanding. Steve Jillings
SLOVENIA: It’s Everyone Else – Grinder's Lament
Hrup: The story of electro-industrial-noise band It’s Everyone Else goes back to 2009, when a series of coincidences led to Lucijan Prelog and Pika Golob finding common ground in intense electronic music and old-school video games. What followed was a multitude of concerts, the acclaimed debut album Is It Me?, tours at home and abroad, and, after being noticed at the Waves Vienna showcase festival last year, a proper label – Austrian Noise Appeal Records.
It is there that Prelog and Golob's excellent follow-up found a home, and though the album showcases glossier production compared to its rawer predecessor, the two still remain committed to their DIY ethos, born out of equal parts necessity and principle. The songs were recorded in their apartment, with the bedroom closet serving as a vocal booth.
You can order the vinyl version of New Religion, which comes with a manifesto establishing the guidelines of said new religion, from Noise Appeal's website. Grinder’s Lament, one of the heavier, more traditionally brutal tracks on the record serves as contrast to the more emotional, calmer side of It’s Everyone Else. The ferocious intensity of the vocals and the marching drum beat are characteristic of the frenzy the two bring to their live shows, which usually see them setting up below the stage, in direct contact with the crowd, encouraging hardcore mosh pits not ordinarily expected of a diminutive synth duo. The pair are currently touring around Europe – make sure to check them out. Daniel Sheppard
DENMARK: Lowly – Daydreamers
The Line of Best Fit: Sweeping harmonies, trickling synth sounds, expansive layered vocals: nordic pop does not get bigger than Lowly’s debut effort, Daydreamers.
The fact that this is the Danish group’s first official track together as a quintet shouldn’t really affect how great we think it is, but somehow it just does. Perhaps because it is so perfectly formed. Tinkering electronics introduce the unassuming dream-pop number before an incredibly anthemic straight-for-the-chorus hook kicks in and you’re immediately transported to this idyllic, height of summer sonic landscape. It is total bliss, condensed and bottled into under four minutes for your convenience. Lauren Down
NIGERIA: Shatta Wale + Davido – Wine Ya Waist
We Plug Good Music: This collaboration came out of nowhere. No announcements; no pre-release hype; no press release or even an official artwork. Instead, two days ago this massive collaborative effort between one of Ghana’s fastest-rising artists Shatta Wale and Nigerian pop star Davido just appeared – and it turns out it is one of the best new "afrobeats" songs of 2014.
I write “afrobeats” in inverted commas because although Wine Ya Waist is more a dancehall record than anything else – and while the Shatta Wale sell is that he is a Ghanaian dancehall artist – any music coming out of West Africa onto the world stage will be referred to as “afrobeats”, unfortunately.
I must admit, I’ve tried to not pay attention to Shatta Wale but his name and his music have been virtually inescapable around afrobeats circles for the past six months. The video for his breakthrough hit Dancehall King has nearly one million hits on YouTube, and his latest hit Everybody Likes My Tin is one of the biggest afrobeats songs in the UK right now.
And what can we say about Davido that hasn’t already been said? Ever since he burst onto the Nigerian music scene with the Naet C assisted Back When in 2011, he has remained one of the biggest stars in the country. On the verge of releasing his highly anticipated sophomore album, everything the Lagos native has put out has been pure gold from last year’s Gobe and Skelewu to his latest monster track Aye.
Individually, Shatta Wale and Davido are hit-making superstars, but together they have taken things to another level. I don’t know how this collaboration came about, but I’m guessing this was a one-take session (the two were photographed in a studio just over two weeks before this song found its way online). We all accept that Shatta Wale is the “African Dancehall King” but Davido matches his Ghanaian counterpart bar for bar, lyric for lyric and flow for flow – on his own turf. The outcome is overwhelmingly one of the best new afrobeats record of 2014. Ayo Adepoju