Aphex Twin re-ignites

So, Syro, the next AT album, 13 years after the last one is here. Repeat HERE, and is the album of the year, without doubt. To begin, here is one of the tracks from the album, and the rare, but fascinating, Pitchfork interview with the great man. http://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/aphex-twin/

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GIG Review – MinMix, TBlock, Smithfield, 26 September 2014

It’s rare that an artistic event genuinely surpasses expectations.

We show up time after time at large concert venues, to hear beloved performers do stuff we’ve already know. We enjoy it, yes, but in the same way we enjoy a trusted recipe, the punch line of a familiar joke, the karaoke experience of a 70’s rock anthem.

But in our heart we know it’s a bit of a cod. It’s been fun but not great. It’s been enjoyable but not inspirational. “Yeh – it was good” – that killer compliment.

Well Nialler9’s minmax surprise party was one of those rare “more than” experiences. Three bands – Planet Parade, God Knows + My Name is John, and Le Galaxie, one by one, turned us upside-down, inside-out, and spinningtop-round before unceremoniously bulldozing right over the top of us.

And made up believe that Ireland’s music scene was once again one the verge of ground-breaking greatness.

Why? Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Perhaps the lyricism and song-writing abilities of Planet Parade, clearly having invested the last four years in creating some intricate and elevating new songs.

God Knows and My Name is John were simply a revelation. This was not a copy-cat DJ rap outfit, bursting with energy, power and message. They were unique, precise, even dangerous. We were bullied by musical greatness into participation and elevation. The grooves, licks and anthems were forced on us, unsettling and uplifting. By the end of sweaty, glorious 30 minute romp, we were left dazed and unsure. Did that really happen, in this modern cube of post-yuppy art-world?

And finally, Le Galaxie. Clearly on the verge of musical stardom. Their pace, exertion, dazzling show-style-performance and final thumping glory – weaving old and new into a dance unity between and audience, left us happy, unhappy, happy, unhappy.  You get the drift.

And when the lights came on, and the guards had left, we wished, really wished there was more.  Much more.

Did I really say to someone on the way out, the “new Dandelion market”…

U2 – it’s still about the music

Poor old U2. Look at from their perspective. On the back of their worst selling previous record, six years in the making, they come up with a clever contemporary solution, that seems to tick all the boxes. All except one: the music box.

One must assume, if everyone loved what they got for free, then everyone would be happy – wouldn’t you? The viral communication door swings both ways, it seems.

So what about the music – how good is “songs of innocence,” and do we want “songs of experience” or whatever else is coming down the tracks from U2?

The answer is it’s good, not very good. Sorry, I like many others would love to wax lyrical about this album, but there’s just not not enough in there, to do that. Songs like the opener,” Joey/the Miracle,” “Raised by Wolves” and “Volcano” have anthem qualities and occasional musical brilliance, while others, though personal and touching, fail to leave a permanent mark. Moreover, a week of listening later, I still can’t identify the song or songs fans will be singing five or ten years later.

Perhaps the next batch of songs will address that. Maybe the nugget of gold left in the bag will raise the boat of others. I hope so. I want U2 to be great and believe behind the fame and money, the torment and turmoil, the band want the same.

That’s the trouble with the muse: it’s unpredictable, it’s uncertain, you certainly can’t buy it, and now it seems, you can’t give it away fro free.

Where have all the U2 fans gone?

My 11 year-old daughter, who has recently acquired an iPod touch, said to me on Saturday morning, who is this U2 band and why are its songs on my iPod? In other words – has this anything to do with you, Dad?

When I realized it probably wasn’t my fault (it came through her iTunes account), I started to see how the whole free-album download deal, could suddenly, awlfully, become a problem (as noted by various online commentators).

Next thought – is this not a time for U2 fans to stand up and be counted? I am not a U2 devotee, but hey, I have free album composed by the world-famous U2 in my possession.

Am I right? What do you think?