Kae Tempest collaborates with Kevin Abstract on more positive track “More Pressure”
Kae Tempest (formerly Kate Tempest) first came to our attention with ‘Icarus’, and since then she has mixed brilliant, savage lyrics commenting on injustice and alienation with one of a kind, rapid-fire spoken-word delivery, making her perhaps the political songwriter most in-tune with the harsh realities of the modern world – from the refugee crises to wage slavery and Europe’s failings, nothing escapes Tempest’s bite. Lately, Tempest has collaborated with UK drum&bass veteran High Contrast, created a modern adaptation of Philoctetes for the London National Theatre, and her latest release sees her going in a more restrained direction, summing up the positive things, the things which might help an individual grow, while also outlining the more damaging aspects of modern living (‘less instruction, more comprehension’). This collaboration with Kevin Abstract, a prolific figure of the alternative hip-hop scene, is a perfect match, both their flows uniquely interacting and forming a perfect union, in a track which is ultimately about flow in the larger sense of the word – unity, purpose. A much more uplifting vision that the one shown in ‘Book of Traps and Lessons’ (check out Holy Elixir as comparison), but Tempest is still the kind of artist that a teenager like Luna Wedler’s character in ‘Je Suis Karl’ would listen to religiously on a bus ride while pondering meaningful change and revolution.
Mr. Little Jeans makes a slick comeback with “Lazy Love”
Norwegian singer-songwriter Mr. Little Jeans made waves with her album, ‘Pocketknife’, and singles like ‘Good Mistake’ and ‘The Suburbs’ once dominated indie playlists all over the Internet. Every track from that album was featured in popular TV shows, which did a lot to boost her popularity. Her Youtube channel boasts just about 8K followers, but this is just a result of it seemingly being a new channel, and frequent label switches. She maintains a much stronger social media presence and benefits from a stable fanbase. Her newest video, wrongly labeled by a youtube user as the only one in more than seven years (she released the Stitches video in 2017), sees a woman taking a night run fraught with anxiety and comments on the limits of love (‘even seas go dry’), while adopting a style closer to the alternative R&B wave of recent years than her usual forays into indie electronica. It does begin to feel like more familiar territory around 2:10, with more pronounced, harmony-laden, layered vocals that defined ‘Good Mistake’. There is no reason why this shouldn’t make it in an upcoming episode of every ongoing CW show at least, but that’s not really saying anything on how underappreciated Monica Birkenes still is.
Tess Parks shares first single from new album “And Those Who Were Seen Dancing”, is seen dancing
A self-professed lover of Oasis and with a vocal range and delivery eerily similar to Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, Tess Parks creates, in her own words, songs which are “lo-fi alternative drones with a hypnotic vibe”. Closer to classic ’90s trip-hop (‘Bristol sound’) than the fuzzy guitar-heavy previous works, with an assured beat and a simple, effective piano chord progression, Parks’s iconic vocals will etch the song in memory. The video seemingly contains archival footage of a very young Tess dancing, and fans of Mazzy Star, The Chemical Brothers and probably every influential Britpop group known to man should feel a familiar tingle (here‘s a great story of how Parks was signed by none other than the legendary Creation Records founder Alan McGee which speaks volumes).
Ghostly Kisses shares brooding, club-friendly “Heartbeat”
Is it weird that the chameleonic Canadian performer Ghostly Kisses released a vocal house track in 2022? With a vocal style which at times reminds one of London Grammar’s frontwoman Hannah Reid, it’s an understatement to say that Margaux Sauvé’s body of work is multifaceted. Both Empty Note and the texture-rich, harp-fueled experimentations on Heloise (and if we favor an instrument at all, it has to be the harp!) had a great electronic foundation, mixing Sauve’s soaring vocals with honest lyrics. So it really is a surprise that “Heartbeat”, with its house beat and synth chord progressions which would please Tiesto diehards, is radio- (and club-) friendly, at least as proper chillout music if not a full-blown dance track? Sauvé’s introspective lyrics greatly complement the minimal production style, and if this is direction she’s committed to exploring (we can never be sure of anything), we’re more than ready for a full album.
Danz CM (formerly Computer Magic) remixes Ladytron’s “Tower of Glass”
As part of Ladytron’s ‘Remixed & Rare’ material coming out today, NYC-based Danielle Johnson, known by fans as Computer Magic, or -more recently – Danz CM, brings her own personal brand of electronica to one of Ladytron’s most recent hits, “Tower of Glass”. Lacking Johnson’s usual heavily-processed, but still raw vocal style, the Tower of Glass remix surprises with shimmering synths, calming pads and Helen Marnie’s voice, which by itself could just about elevate any instrumental to instant cult status – not that Johnson isn’t the perfect match for the song, though. And since here at An Empty Bliss we’re huge fans of Mira Aroyo as well as Marnie, here’s a remix of ‘Paper Highways’ from the same ‘Remixed & Rare’. (As an aside, this is not the first, and will probably not be the last time the band has released an EP with this title.)
“I started out with electronic music because that’s what I had. I didn’t even know I could make music before I downloaded Ableton one day and tried. Prior to that, I had been obsessed with listening to music. I had my own music blog when I was super young. I’d listen to music all day long, even throughout class. I could always hear music in my head even when I wasn’t listening to it – I’d fantasize about whole songs through – like a radio station in my brain. Eventually, I just decided to try, and found out the ability of hearing music in my head translated to making music by ear. I still have never memorized notes or chords – but I could transpose a song just by listening to it. If I had picked up a guitar first, maybe I’d have started with rock.” – Danz CM
Featured image: Rave by Rozsi Adean Moser.