Saturday, 23 February 2013

Foundcloud #5

Two more tracks for February! One of which is accompanied by a rather lengthy slab of text.
So something for everyone.

Elephant - 'Skyscraper'

I had a real soft spot for Elephant’s Assembly EP when it was released in 2011 (helping to soundtrack, as it did, lengthy stretches of time in a university library), and I’m glad to hear a new song from the London-based boy-girl duo – presumably a first taste of their upcoming debut album.

I’m even more glad, it should be said, that this is the most fleshed out realisation of their dreamy, almost David Lynch-esque, approach to a fifties-style pop sound – as the band crafts an elegantly melancholic wall of sound (consisting of organ washes, retro-cinematic vibraphones (always a personal favourite), string and choral samples, and passages of processed guitar, amongst others) around Amelia Rivas’ suitably dreamlike vocals; all of which combine to create a brilliant three-and-a-half minutes of dreamy pop that – like the work of Tennis, and like Beach House’s more recent releases – favours brightness and clarity over murkiness and ambiguity.

Download it from their Bandcamp page here, too.

Scarfolk Council - 'A Day at the Seaside'

There’s a different sort of nostalgia at work in this second selection.

I discovered the Scarfolk blog ( earlier today, and I think it’s fair to say that anyone who looks at it will have an idea of what that “different sort of nostalgia” I mentioned is.

The blog’s aesthetic – visibly influenced by public information films of the Cold War 1970s as well as, it should be noted, the visual style of Ghost Box Records, Broadcast, and the BBC comedy series Look Around You (which, of course, are themselves visibly influenced by public information films and posters of the 1970s) – can clearly be linked with ‘hauntology’: the aesthetic style / music genre that offers a skewed interpretation of the 1970s, often focusing on a somewhat childlike perspective on the anxieties of that time in which the eerie warnings of public information films mingle with the warped fantasies of 1970s horror films like The Wicker Man and of children’s television programmes like Children of the Stones.

This track – from the blog’s Soundcloud account – has its own mythology that ties in with that of the blog’s titular surreal perpetual-1970s town (the track description reads “Scarfolk Council is proud to announce its musical debut! Here's "A Day at the Seaside" from the "Scarfolk Music & Audio Library Vol. 1" released in 1973(v.2.0).”). Musically though, I didn’t feel it evokes the past in the same way as is generally associated with ‘hauntology’ artists like Belbury Poly and the Focus Group: despite the presence of hazy analog synth drones, the track doesn’t evoke the 1970s through a pastiche of library music or of cult science-fiction or horror films. Instead, the track evokes the implicit nostalgia of its own title (‘A Day at the Seaside’) through creating the sense of a distant memory through field recordings of seaside sounds melting and fading into the downtempo ambient drones in a way that presents us with a view of the past that’s more introspective and personal than hauntology’s post-modern warping of cultural artefacts. Highly recommended!

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