Chrysalismusic’s Blog

We’ve had a lovely year by Will

‘Come on, chaps – let’s have a listen to that new joint from Chrysalis.  Thompson’s gone on a pimp juice reccy. Last one to get crunk is a wet blanket’

Indeed. Well, there’s nothing like gathering in Norwegian woollen jumpers, lighting pipes and giving the last 12 months in music a right going over. That’s exactly what we’ve spent the last month doing. We now have a massive pipe tobacco dependance, broad 1940s accents and a penchant for calling each other by surname only. More truthfully, 2009 has been a sensational year for Chrysalis artists. Much lauded albums released, big gigs played, festival crowds won over, new artists signed, ads synched, tv spots spotted, Mercury prize nominations nominated, picnics played, Letterman’s performed, end of year lists invited.. So with that in mind for your aural (and sexual?) pleasure (no, probably not) here compiled are our musical revelations of the year. The ones that will endure in our minds for the longest into the new decade and beyond. Of course the choosing was very difficult. But 2009 according to Gareth, Sophie, David and Will was all about this:

Gareth ‘I’m the boss so I’m not putting anything here’ Smith:

  1. YYY’s ‘Zero’ – Is the bit about a minute and a half in when the song is launched into orbit that makes me smile. On the tube. At randoms. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
  2. THE CRIBS ‘Cheat on Me’. Effortless, honest and unpretentious.
  3. EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS ‘Home’. A singalong stroke of brilliance by a band of 15 smiling people on stage – a cult you want to join.

Sophie ‘S’aink S’aink’ Urquhart:

  1. THE BIG PINK ‘Too young to love (Unkle Remix)’ – Ridiculously cool track in itself. The Unkle remix just gives it that special s’aink s’aink. Pure ear joy.
  2. THE LOW ANTHEM ‘Charlie Darwin’ – This song makes me want to smile and cry simultaneously.
  3. GOSSIP ‘Four Letter Word’ – I love the insanely catchy synth bassline in this track which makes me feel like I’m at an 80’s discotheque every time I listen to it, which is a lot.

David ‘Why use one word when fifty will do’ O’Bryan:

  1. BAT FOR LASHES ‘Daniel’ – Despite being drenched to the core at her Somerset House gig, seeing her perform a flawless rendition of this mystical pop song of Fleetwood Mac proportions is a definite gig highlight of ther year for me.
  2. NATHAN FAKE ‘The turtle’ – I love techno when it’s for the head, like Aphex Twin. I love techno when it’s for the dancefloor, like Dubfire. But when you have techno that’s for the head AND the dancefloor in one song, it’s perfection. This song is just that.
  3. PATRICK WOLF ‘Hard Times’ – His show at the Palladium is one of my favourite gigs of the year… seeing him sing this song in a giant glitter cape, whilst spinning like a pagan dandy, is one of my music highlights of the year.

Will ‘I grew attached to it’ Theakston:

  1. THE HORRORS ‘Mirrors Image’  I have listened to this song 7,863 times this year. I marked each play by dropping a small paper effigy of the band in my ‘I love the Horrors bassline’ hope chest. That’s not weird.
  2. METRIC ‘Satellite Mind’ The greatness of this song and Metric’s album should be screamed from the rooftops. We’re not allowed on our roof anymore, so I’ll scream it from a, er, blog.
  3. ANDREW BIRD ‘Fitz and Dizzyspells’  If you could open a can and summer came out this song would be the accompaniment. LOVE the bird.

 Oh, and without further ado..


David Does Dance (Remixes) by Will
July 30, 2009, 10:06 am
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james holden 2

– The mighty Nathan Fake in action. And what Mozart might have used if he were born today.

What makes a great remix? Since remixes first started appearing on the disco and early hip-hop scene 30 years ago they’ve morphed into a check-box for most music marketing and A&R people. The intervening years have generally seen the creative life sucked out of them. Where they were once used to add a new dimension to a track, or to create more life on the dancefloor, or to throw a new artistic slant on a piece of music, they now tend to be part of a marketing ‘tick box’ and not much beyond that – A way to make sure that as many different audiences hear a song, irrespective of the musical merits behind it. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and some good music does come out of this, but every now and again a remix will come along that is beyond a mere ticked box, but actually manages to flatten those boxes, or to create a whole new set of boxes. 

The remixes that actually change the landscape of remixing are few and far between. Of course what constitutes a defining remix can be debated all day, but there are some that unquestionably are. You can count the Coldcut remix of Erik B and Rakim as part of that group, the Boris Dluglosch remix of ‘Sing it Back’, the Armand Van Helden remix of ‘Professional Widow’, the Timo Maas remix of ‘Dooms Night’ and the Soulwax remix of ‘Standing in the Way of Control’, as a few examples. All of these remixes offered a new way of approaching the concept of the remix, and created a new remix landscape whilst doing so. They’ve not only brought the song to a new audience, but they’ve actually found something in the piece of music that didn’t exist before. They’ve heightened an intensity or a sound, or have thrown a musical curve-ball into the mix, and in doing so have pushed the song into a new dimension.

We’re lucky enough to publish a few of these classic remixes (including the previously mentioned Soulwax ‘Standing in the way of Control’ remix and Boris D’s ‘Sing it Back’ Remix), as well as what is possibly my favourite remix of the past few years. This is the James Holden remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky Was Pink’. For me, this is an example of a remix that came out of nowhere and changed the language of the remix. The original Nathan Fake version is an aching, darkly dramatic piece of music, which is glorious in its own right. The James Holden remix, however, not only takes it to the dancefloor, but manages to fill it with many opposing factors that really shouldn’t work, but somehow fit perfectly. It manages to have a steely techno icy-ness, brought by the glitchy bleeps and heavy synth sounds Holden adds to the mix, whilst still retaining a very human warmth and emotion. The rythyms Holden uses are often arhythmic, sounding as though they’re falling over themselves (and no doubt causing many people experiencing the track on the dancefloor to lose their balance too), and often making the track feel out of sync in some way. Yet everything feels in its right place and the track has caused many different types of dancefloors to unite in a single rhythm. The melodic lines swing in and out of the mix, often unpredictably,and despite managing to confuse the listener with its seeming randomness still somehow conveys Fake’s original melodic phrases to perfection. It is essentially a remix of stark contrasts, that not only ticks all the boxes, but forces new boxes out of nowhere. I could listen to it all day. And night. It’s clear that many people agree with me – since its release in 2006 its style has been imitated by many in dance music and beyond. As we’d say in the Valleys: it’s STUNNIN’!

Talking of current remixes that float my boat, here’s my top 3 current favourites on Chrysalis:

// WHITE LIES Death (Chase and Status Remix) // GOSSIP Heavy Cross (Fred Falke Remix) // HOWLING BELLS Cities Burning Down (Disco Bloodbath Remix) // and, of course… NATHAN FAKE The Sky Was Pink (James Holden Remix) // MOLOKO Sing it Back (Boris Dluglosch Remix) //

– David O

Sophie’s Latitude by Sophie
July 22, 2009, 9:24 am
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It’s not easy to do a review of Latitude festival without sounding like a snob down to its bad reputation as being the most middle class festival. This is perhaps because it integrates literature, poetry, theatre and music. However… 4 days and 20 000 people later it had 2 fights and 1 robbery, a constant supply of loo roll and sanitizer, a lot of security and bar staff and, for me, this is what I want from a festival. Dharling.

Highlight no.1: 12 noon Sunday 19th July my snooze is interrupted by the loudest cheer from the main stage mic ‘Shhhh people are sleeping’, it’s Thom Yorke (AKA best hangover cure in the world). His set is mesmerising, inspiring and genius (just like him). Luckily for me the big screens weren’t on so I could lie down in the sun, close my eyes, and take in the music without getting distracted by people watching or lazy eyes. Between debuting ‘The Present Tense’ (it’s a new song so you  know, go for a piss.’), playing some acoustic Radiohead and some tracks from The Eraser, Yorke bantered with the crowd and was (perhaps unusually) pretty damn hilarious.

I always find that the choice for the Uncut Arena (which is in a large tent) unusual. Last year Blondie, this year Bat For Lashes / Spiritualized / Gossip (purely coincidence as they are all Chrysalis artists ;)) I feel they could all take on a bigger crowd on the main stage. Also being a short-ass like myself and having no big screens in there I didn’t manage to actually ‘see’ any of these artists – only hear them. However, the sound is good, the arena has a fun atmosphere and, of course, it’s dry.

White Lies played to an enormous crowd which was a joy to see since I think I was the only one singing along last year. They played an epic set and looked like true professionals throwing in an effotless Portishead cover for good measure. Sadly Spiritualized and Grace Jones were on at the same time though both did bring in impressive sized crowds. I opted for two tracks of Jones (fabulous outfits as expected) and watched most of Pierce, whose live voice is sensational.

It was a great disappointment that I missed out on many bands that I would have loved to have seen – not due to being stuck behind a stag do in fancy dress at the bar or psyching myself up for the long drop.. but because the programmes were an incredible £8! To be fair it is a thick book with details about every performer but who wants to carry that round with them..?

Other highlights:

– The Irrepressibles (Lake Stage). Stunning strings accompanied by a Baroque styled Anthony Hegarty sound-a-like singer.

– !!!Chk Chk Chk (Sunrise Arena). One of the best festival bands because of their insane energy and likeability of front man Nic Offer.

– Cool (for) cats Squeeze

– Human Sheep

I could go on, but I won’t.

The linkup by Will
April 9, 2009, 1:35 pm
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‘When Thursday rolls around you know it’s time for the links’. As the old adage goes.. So, did anyone catch Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Later this week? That jacket makes me want to abandon morals for good…

..then there’s the news of the upcoming Gossip Album and a Podcast featuring Natasha ‘Bat For Lashes’ Khan (or Jemima Khan if you’re writing for the NME) and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Yeah.

This Week by Will
April 3, 2009, 10:25 am
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– Looks like this year at Latitude’s UNCUT stage will be an all Chrysalis affair (Gossip, Bat For Lashes and Spiritualized sharing headlining duties)

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Skeleton’ 8/10 review and some Q and A on DiS.

Bat For Lashes ‘Glass’ 8/10 review and a BFL podcast from the lovely left-wing lotharios at the Guardian. And a behind the scenes look at the makinbg of ‘Daniel’ below:

Brooklyn’s White Rabbits on the Fork Cast : music magic from our American Office. Soon to be on our shores.

and then there’s the bed wetting, edge of seat sitting, excitement of the forthcoming Danger mouse/Sparklehorse Live Album.

Today, brevity is the spice of life. Followed closely by nutmeg.

Why we love Beth Ditto by Will
February 20, 2009, 12:45 pm
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Beth Ditto. On the cover of Love’s ‘Icons of our Generation’.

No need for words. Simply look.