Swedish Music Artists

Little Dragon Live Amongst The Lightsabers In Melbourne

Less than a week out from tonights Grammy Awards where they’re nominated for ‘best dance/electronic album’, Sweden’s electro-soul-synthpop group Little Dragon were playing the last of a string of sold-out shows on the other side of the world in Australia.

There I caught them live on stage at 170 Russell St, Melbourne: Fredrik Wallin on bass and synth; Håkan Wirenstrand on keys and synth; Erik Bodin on drums and Yukimi Nagano on vocals – all of them surrounded by a lot of intensely-bright lights akin to Star Wars Lightsabers.

Little Dragon live in Melbourne, Australia 2015

Little Dragon live at 170 Russell St, Melbourne – February 2015

For me the lightsabers were somewhat distracting. But when I managed to refocus my attention on what I was there for: to hear Little Dragon music being played and sung live by each of those four talented artists on their respective instruments, I was happy again.

Little Dragon live in Melbourne, Australia 2015

The happiest of those Little Dragon stage moments were hearing the sounds of Fredrik Wallin playing the strings of his bass guitar rather than the synth, and the times when the musicians jammed-out on tracks.

Little Dragon live in Melbourne, Australia 2015

Many more special moments came throughout the show when I focused my visual attention on Yukimi Nagano and her beautifully-theatrical stage presence.

Little Dragon live in Melbourne, Australia 2015

Throughout all of the songs performed from each of Little Dragon’s four albums, I was reminded again of the great, great goodness of hearing the chops of those musicians in a live environment – and appreciative to get the experience again.

Little Dragon live in Melbourne, Australia 2015

Check out this footage from Little Dragon’s Melbourne show plus a sample track from their most recent and Grammy-nominated album Nabuma Rubberband.

x

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

‘Killing Me’ – Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

x

You can also watch videos from Little Dragon’s 2014 Sydney show and hear more Little Dragon sample tracks here.

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

E is for Electronic Music Infiltration

‘E’ in Beaver’s A to Z of Fusion goes to the sounds of electronic music for their like-it-or-not, rapid infiltration of almost every type of music in just about every part of the world since their beginnings at the end of the 19th century.

electronic music

A Shallow History of Infiltration

The history of electronic music is long and involved.  It’s not a story I’m qualified to properly tell, nor do I want to try. The over-simplified, short, sketchy version is this…

The Beatles - Moog SynthesizerFirst came the creation of electronic musical instruments like synthesizers. The Beatles weaved them into their music in the late 1960’s, as did artists before them. Pink Floyd did too, even Herbie Hancock, and countless artists since them.

The development of electronic music technologies continued, including digital audio to rapidly thereafter replace analog.

The creation of music using only electronic means became increasingly common.

Computer software advanced. Access to computers and other technologies became easier for most of the world.

electronic music

Certainly electronic music got its grips on ‘less-developed’ (ie. poorer) parts of the world sooner than the richer ones, but it eventually infiltrated just about everywhere. Seven years ago in Havana you can imagine my dismay when a young man in the technologically un-advanced, insulated Cuban bubble, proudly played me the reggaeton (an electronic-music-Evil) track he’d just finished making on his archaic equipment.

Some consequences of the world’s electronic music infiltration I’m into, some I am most definitely not.

Post-Infiltration

Nowadays it’s rare to find music made in the warm, living analog world. That’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Thankfully some artists still deliver it – most recently D’Angelo with Black Messiah, and regularly by Will Holland (aka Quantic).

Digital music consumption now dominates – another tragedy of epic proportions.

Nowadays and for a long time it’s been open to any man, woman or their dog with a computer to make music on it. It’s great that so much creativity is flowing from people around the world, but the truth is that I have little tolerance for listening to music produced wholly and solely in the electronic domain.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – the infiltration of electronic music has had its benefits too. Today some of my favorite music from around the world is by artists/groups who innovatively utilise and blend the sounds of electronic instruments into their musical mix whilst valuing and maintaining the living, human, conventional sounds.

It is the sounds of those instruments, and the people playing them, that is the living chi of music. They make the music sound and feel alive to me. They physically and emotionally connect me to the music. Without that living element, with purely electronic sounds, the music is a lost cause for my ears.

Infiltration Samples

Check out these sample tracks by a handful of contemporary artists from different countries who mix up the sounds of electronica and the living to produce killer musical results. Remember these are just super-compressed mp3 versions of the songs. Buy the music on vinyl where you can, or at least cd, to hear it in its full, living sound glory.

1. NGAIIRE (Papua New Guinea/Australia)

Lamentations (2013) - Ngaiire

NGAIIRE – Lamentations (2013)

‘Fireflies’ – NGAIIRE – Lamentations

x

Check out more NGAIIRE music + footage from live shows here.

2. Flying Lotus (USA)

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

‘Never Catch Me’ – Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar – You’re Dead! 

x

Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes (2012)

‘See Thru To U’ – Flying Lotus  feat. Erykah Badu – Until The Quiet Comes

x

Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma (2010)

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (2010)

‘German Haircut’ – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

x

Check out more Flying Lotus music here and stay tuned for a rundown of his upcoming live performances in Australia.

3. Will Holland – aka Quantic (UK)

Tropidelico - The Quantic Soul Orchestra - Tropidelico

The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico (2007)

‘I Just Fell In Love Again’ – The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidélico

x

Check out more Quantic tracks + footage of his DJ set at WOMADelaide 2014  here.

4. Myele Manzana (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Myele Manzanza - One (2012)

Myele Manzanza – One (2013)

‘Elvin’s Brew’ – Myele Manzanza  – One

x

5. Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia)

Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk

Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk (2013)

‘Sphinx Gate’ – Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

x

Hear more Hiatus Kaiyote tracks + videos of live shows here.

6. Sidestepper (UK + Colombia)

(pioneers in live/electro Colombian fusion)

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper live at WOMADelaide 2011

Sidestepper - 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust (2003)

‘In The Beats We Trust’ – Sidestepper – 3AM: In Beats We Trust

x

7. Bajofondo (Argentina + Uruguay) 

(pioneers in Latin American live/electro fusion)

Bajofondo - Mar Dulce (2007)

Bajofondo – Mar Dulce (2007)

‘Pa’ Bailar’ – Bajofondo Tango Club – Mar Dulce

x

Hear more Bajofondo tracks + videos from a live show in Bogota here.

8. Roberto Fonseca (Cuba)

Roberto Fonseca - Yo (2012)

Roberto Fonseca – Yo (2013)

‘Rachel’ – Roberto Fonseca – Yo

x

Hear more Roberta Fonseca tracks + videos from his live performance at WOMADelaide 2014 here.

9. Electric Wire Hustle (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

Electric Wire Hustle (2010)

‘Burn’ – Electric Wire Hustle

x

10. Little Dragon (Sweden)

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Little Dragon – Ritual Union (2012)

‘Please Turn’ – Little Dragon – Ritual Union 

 

Hear more Little Dragon songs + videos from live shows here.

Little Dragon live at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

x

So musical people, what say you about the infilitration of electronic music…like it, or not?

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Fatima, Her Band & Alexander Nut

2014 was a momentous year for Swedish-born, London-based soul singer Fatima.

After some time lending her vocal talents to the music releases of other artists, Fatima got together with some Eglo Records producers and then some more (Floating Points – Theo ParrishComputer JayKnxwledge –  Scoop DeVilleOh NoFlako) to record and release her own debut album Yellow Memories. By the end of the year Fatima’s solo album had the support of the very discerning and great-tasted Gilles Peterson, and was number 10 of Rolling Stone’s 20 Best R&B Albums of 2014.

Fatima - Yellow Memories (2014)

Yellow Memories (2014)

If her success in 2014 is any indication and if all is well with the world, 2015 should be even more momentous yet for Fatima.

Fatima started this year on Australian shores showcasing her musical blend of soul/jazz/r&b/funk/electro at Melbourne’s Let Them Eat Cake festival alongside producer, DJ and Eglo Records head Alexander Nut. Next up came their own gig at Brisbane’s Woolly Mammoth where they were supported by MKO, Vulture St Tape Gang and DJ Gavin Boyd.

Fatima & Alexander Nut live at Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane 2015

Fatima at the Woolly Mammoth

Alexander Nut + Fatima live at Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane 2015

Alexander Nut at the Woolly Mammoth

There I was at the Brisbane show, and there Fatima’s sassy and powerful performance got me on the dance floor and kept me there. I dug Alexander Nut’s chops on the decks during Fatima’s and his own set, for sure. But the talented Ms Fatima, well, she breathed life into every single beat with her gorgeous vocals and diva-like command of the stage.  With a full live band with her, the Fatima experience would be a super-special one.

Fatima and Alexander Nut live Brisbane 2015

Check out these videos of the tracks ‘Biggest Joke of All’ from Yellow Memories (2014) + ‘Family’ from 2013.

You can buy Yellow Memories (on vinyl too) through Eglo Records or at your good, local, struggling 🙁  independent record store.

May 2015 be a momentous one for Fatima, her band, Alexander Nut and Eglo Records.

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Little Dragon Live & Sublime in Sydney

On their 3rd visit to Australia, I was blessed this week to finally get the live Little Dragon experience I’d been waiting so long for.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory

Only Sydney and Melbourne got shows on this tour.  Consistent with the band’s other sold-out shows this year on their seemingly-non-stop tour schedule in the U.K, U.S.A, Japan and Europe since releasing Nabuma Rubberband, both their Sydney and Melbourne gigs sold out too. For very good reason…the live Little Dragon show is one that’s sublime, and not to be missed.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The fact that the members of this 4-piece Swedish group have been playing and performing together since 1996 is plain to hear live. The cohesiveness of the combined sound contributions of Little Dragon’s four members is water-tight, and no 1 member’s sound drew my focus away from the others.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Visually on the other hand, vocalist Yukimi Nagano makes it hard to keep your eyes off of her with her mesmerising movements across the stage with a tambourine – those movements and sounds themselves being an integral part of the whole that is the sublime live Little Dragon experience.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

And Yukimi Nagano’s voice, with it’s live humanly “imperfections”, for those live “imperfections”, sounded simply perfect.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The other 3 parts of Little Dragon are Fredrik Wallin (bass), Håkan Wirenstrand (keys) and Erik Bodin (drums).  Their musicianship was a dream to hear, see and appreciate in a live environment, especially the extended versions and jams during some of the songs.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Fredrik Wallin

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Håkan Wirenstrand

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Håkan Wirenstrand (left); Erik Bodin (right)

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Erik Bodin

Little Dragon whole – the parts of the four artists combined  – was a better experience for me live than on cd…and isn’t that exactly what we want from all of our live music experiences?

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Sydney’s set list was made up of these 16 songs from Little Dragon’s 4 albums – including one of their 1st songs ‘Test’ (on video below)

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Killing Me + Underbart + Pretty Girls + Paris + Klapp Klapp + Only One + Nabuma Rubberband

Little Dragon - Ritual Union (2011) - album cover

Ritual Union + Please Turn + Crystal Film + Summer Tears + Shuffle a Dream

x

Machine Drums - Little Dragon (2009)

My Step + Runabout

Little Dragon. Self titled album cover. 2007.

Twice + Test

x

Given the many years Little Dragon have been around for, it was interesting to see that a lot of their Sydney crowd seemed younger than I would’ve guessed they’d be; and to hold the newer songs played from Nabuma Rubberband dearer to them than older Little Dragon tracks. I guess that’s a testament to the group’s success in constantly making relevant new music that appeals to both old and new fan bases.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The only other thing I can tell you about the gig is the unexpected feel-good moment that came near the end of Little Dragon’s show when one of those young women in the crowd joined the band on stage and proposed to her girlfriend.  A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer I don’t know, but they looked happy.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

x

The only consolation I can offer to peeps who missed out on tickets to Little Dragon’s Melbourne and Sydney shows this time around, is these videos from Tuesday night at Oxford Art Factory


 

Elsewhere in Beaver Land you can check out sample tracks from Little Dragon’s Ritual Union and Nabuma Rubberband albums.

Right here is one more sample from Nabuma Rubberband. The usual ‘mp3 only warning applies – hard copies of Little Dragon’s music is easy to find and buy on-line or on foot in your local, independent record store…

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

‘Underbart’ – Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

x

Lots of people missed out on tickets to Little Dragon’s Sydney and Melbourne shows. These artists could easily have filled bigger venues than Oxford Art Factory and the Corner Hotel. Fans in other Australian cities wanted a Little Dragon show too.  The band’s tour schedule in the U.K, U.S.A and Europe for the rest of 2014 means Australia’s unlikely to get shows again this year. But I’m sure we’ll see Little Dragon over this side of the world again soonish rather than later.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband

Little Dragon has just released another one of their synth-pop gems. The group’s highly anticipated 4th album Nabuma Rubberband is finally here to buy and have in your music collection forever after.

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband’s first track ‘Mirror’ sets the album’s dark tones with it’s slow, ominous beat and these opening lyrics sung by Yukimi Nagano:

“You know you’re making me mad. The way you look at me so. Kind of making me scared”.

Listen to the song ‘Mirror’ below.

Little Dragon’s last album Ritual Union was quirkier sounding, lighter, happier and busier than this one. Nakuma Rubberband has a pretty consistent eery mood with more spacious and (mostly) slower tracks. It’s sounds are inspired in part by the music of Prince and Janet Jackson, with a desire to make you feel like you’re floating.

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Little Dragon

Listen to sample tracks from Ritual Union here.

Then check out these 2 tracks from Nabuma Rubberband to see if they make you feel like you’re floating.

The usual mp3 warning applies. I wonder why anyone would buy this album in compressed mp3 format when you can get the complete sounds on CD from your local independent record store for about $18 only?

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

‘Mirror’ – Nabuma Rubberband (2014) – Little Dragon

‘Pretty Girls’  – Nabuma Rubberband (2014) – Little Dragon

Every other track on Nakuma Rubberband has different subtle flavours in its mix – jazz or pop or techno or r&b or the 80’s. Some songs are super slow and spacey, and others have the sounds of urgency. The slow, deep, pounding bass is nearly always there to grab you.

Little Dragon have announced a stream of 2014 tour dates through the U.K, USA and Europe so catch them live where you can. I think the live Little Dragon experience would be better and at least equally as great as the studio-recorded Little Dragon experience.

Anyone seen a live Little Dragon gig to tell us?  

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Little Dragon To Strike Again

After Roxette, Little Dragon are only the second Swedish band I’ve heard in my life.

Oblivious

Up until yesterday I didn’t even know Little Dragon were from Sweden. Some friends recommended their quirky electro-soul-synth-pop music to me a few years back. I’ve been loving it since, oblivious to the group’s origin and anything else about them except for the sound of their innovative music.

Little Dragon

My ears only just pricked up and payed another sort of attention to Little Dragon, at hearing they’d announced a release date for their 4th studio album Nabuma Rubberband.

Not only do I now know the group’s origins, I also know the names of the artists whose musicianship and musicality I already appreciate and admire: Yukimi Nagano (vocals & percussion); Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass); Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards); and Erik Bodin (drums).

Little Dragon’s Past

In between Little Dragon’s 1996 beginnings and Nabuma Rubberband, the group has released 3 studio albums and some singles.

Little Dragon has also played a huge number of live shows around the world.

Little Dragon

Both live and on record, their music is internationally recognised and acclaimed as being special.  Justifiably so.

Glimpses of the Dragon

To tantalize us so far, Little Dragon have given us an image of the Nabuma Rubberband album cover plus a film clip of the first single ‘Klapp Klapp’ to watch on the band’s website.

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Until then anyone oblivious to Little Dragon’s music can check out an mp3 only glimpse of their past here with 2 sample tracks from their last album Ritual Union. Don’t be scared. They sound nothing at all like Roxette, and everything like the innovative, original sounding group they are.

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Ritual Union – Ritual Union (2011) 

Crystalfilm – Ritual Union (2011)

Little Dragon bring us Nabuma Rubberband on May 13th. For this new release and others coming from beloved artists in the collection, the next few months in the musical world are looking pretty damn fine.

Share this...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter