Posts Tagged ‘Review’

BAMMsterdam Review: Yoshiba 87 – ‘Beaming Flowers From India’

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Pascal Terstappen must be a happy man. Despite still being a student, his productions under the Applescal moniker have been widely acclaimed throughout the global techno community, gaining Applescal attention from influential blogs such as XLR8R and Pitchfork (not to mention his tracks being played by dance music icons such as Sasha, Hernan Cattanaeo and Laurent Garnier). In between playing live sets at the 5 Days Off festival among others – and readying his third Applescal LP – he’s also found the time to deliver a nine track album under his new Yoshiba 87 alias: Beaming Flowers From India, a loose collection of tunes that wouldn’t fit the mould he created for Applescal in recent years.

Despite the many styles collected on this album, two principle qualities attributed to Terstappen’s work remain: texture and melody. The album’s cohesion comes from using a pallette of warm synthpads and ringing leads that flow freely throughout this album no matter what rhythmic patterns drive the tracks. Meanwhile Terstappen tries his hand at inert trip-hop beats , glitches, chiming ambient house … all while mixing programmed and live drums with ease. There’s no four-to-the-floor kicks to be found anywhere on the album, a clear indication that this is not Applescal territory. Yoshiba 87  is the perfect moniker for Terstappen to really show the full scale of his production skills.

Perhaps the most notable track here is his collaboration with singer Pien Feith, an artist widely known for her enthusiasm when it comes to collaborations. You’re The Best Thing Ever largely revolves around her cut-up and processed vocals, built upon a looming trip-hop groove that could be mistaken for a Floating Points production. A Message From Tuvalu is a foray into glitch-hop, while Nineteen 8 + 7 is a lighthearted UK bass production. Both are well executed and fun to listen, but somehow lack context here. Terstappen is keeping so close to respective stylistic boundaries that they become a little anonymous in the process. Meanwhile, the uptempo electronica of Earthly Vibes and the ambient We Are Still Alive hug a little closer to Applescal territory, but fit much better with the ambient intermezzo’s on the album. Gravity Hackers takes a few cues from M83’s Midnight City and Walls’ Heat Haze but turns out much less overstated and baroque than its progenitor. It’s the perfect blend between ambient and indiepop aesthetics.

In the end, Beaming Flowers From India does much more than simply kill the time in between Applescal albums. Rather, one could call it Pascal Terstappen’s coming out as a full-fledged, boundlessly unlimited producer. It opens up a whole new field of possibilities, ranging from Damon Albarn-esque (or Pien Feith-like) artistic promiscuity to the kind of pop-electronic crossovers we’ve seen from the likes of Apparat, Air and M83. These are big big names in the field of electronic music, but based on his recent output, Terstappen isn’t far behind. With this album and the new Yoshiba 87 moniker Terstappen takes another big leap towards the zenith of electronic music making. Hopefully the positive reception of Beaming Flowers From India will prompt him to flex his muscles even more.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my pompons and start cheering under Terstappen’s bedroom window. (Editor’s note: BAMM.TV takes no responsibility for any nightmares incurred by the thought of Jasper dressed as a cheerleader).

BAMMsterdam Review: Capeman – Stand Out Cause Trouble

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Capeman are the kind of rock outfit who really wear their cocky, boyish charm well. It’s a trait often associated with Amsterdam natives. Britpop enthusiasts might remember it from their 90’s icons, or perhaps modern-day acolytes Kasabian. Whatever you might call it, singer-guitarist Darko Tadic and his motley crue have plenty of it.

It’s what makes them a particularly exciting live act, even though they’ve definitely dialed things down from their earlier exploits as The Darko. Their previous entity was all energy; Capeman employ a different, more dynamic approach to songwriting and also boast the added bonus of a fourth member, guitarist/soundscapist Ymer Marinus. With plenty of stage time under their belts and harboring a new musical direction, they’re as confident as ever, a fact bolstered by the aptly titled debut album Stand Out Cause Trouble.

Of course, the first question is: how does all this on-stage energy translate to their studio efforts? Well, the pumping rhythm section of Martin Von Lier and Sin Banovic definitely holds it own on record, driving the band’s staccato grooves home to great effect. Oddly enough, it’s not the muscular cuts that hit home the hardest. Aggressive riffs like those in Mass Destructo or Shed Some Light feel transitional, as if there’s a residue of The Darko they can’t seem to shake off. A shame, as such pumped up rock songs can’t help but feel … well … dated.   We Got Glue is a notable exception, thanks to it’s Bloc Party-esque guitars shreds and it’s haunting synthpads.

Thankfully, the majority of the album leaves the band with more room to breath. As it turns out, Capeman have found their comfort zone in spacious mid-tempo songs with plenty of influences, ranging from new wave to electro. Here the slick production works to their advantage, pushing tracks Mongolian Oil and single Science to above average performances. But the absolute standout here must be Televisions. It’s by far the best composition, beautifully arranged and produced, with plenty of room for Tadic’s vocals to take the limelight. Combine that with the excellent hook in the chorus, and you could be mistaken for thinking it’s the next big single from Foster The People.

Overall, Stand Out Cause Trouble is much friendlier than the title might suggest. It’s rock tendencies feel more like leftovers from a bygone age, while their more indie/electro inspired tunes have all the potential to take alternative radio stations by storm. If they exercise a little more restraint, and keep playing to their strengths (as well as awesome live shows), Capeman could well become a strong contender for festival slots and greater exposure in the Benelux and beyond. A promising debut, all in all.

Look out for Capeman’s session on in the next few weeks, as we’ll be releasing the sessions recorded by at Desmet Studio’s in Amsterdam last January.

BAMMsterdam Review: dEUS – Keep You Close

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label: PIAS (Play It Again Sam)

listen: Spotify

dEUS are a rare breed of legend in their native Belgium. They’ve been the authorative style icons in the Belgian rockscene for nearly two decades, creating an impressive slipstream of artists indebted to their alternative rock idiom. Meanwhile, the Antwerp-based outfit’s path has been riddled with stylistic turns, clashing ego’s, political engagement and artistic soulsearching, spread across five studio albums. While some argue that dEUS have reached their artistic peak at their jazzy/experimental 2nd album In A Bar, Under The Sea (1996), this third line-up is perchance the most solid and surely the longest running incarnation of the band. Having arrived in their late thirties, leading man Tom Barman and his compadres have lost little -if any- of their restless artistic vigour.

live performance (Pukkelpop Fesival 2008) of Instant Street (from The Ideal Crash (1999))

The coming about of dEUS’ sixth studio effort Keep You Close is a peculiar one. Their previous studio effort Vantage Point (2008) was criticised for containing too much abrasive, one-dimensional machismo and too little stunning songwriting. Despite such anthemic staples as The Architect and Slow, it was dense, industrial and distant. Simply put: it was cooler than it was honest. The band declared they recognised it should be the other way around. As such, Keep You Close is an attempt at rekindling the intimacy and immediacy they used to emanate. Moreover, it’s also the first album that was written entirely by dEUS as a group, abandoning Barman’s songwriter-pieces in favour of collaborative works.

live performance (Lowlands Festival 2011) of The  Architect (from Vantage Point (2008))

These changes are felt throughout the album. The organic key-driven productions are a breath of fresh air, with a more laidback and loose atmosphere than any other dEUS album. Barman’s voice is calm and supple here, quite a relief from the aggreviated groans and shouting heard on Vantage Point. Of course there are plenty of raging outbursts left, but these seem to be less about ego-play and more like Barman actually has something to get off his chest. Dark Sets In and Twice (We Survive) have a particularly heartfelt delivery. This is enforced in a great way by the appearance of none other than Greg Dulli (ex-Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers) as guest-vocalist on these pieces, his bone chilling outcries a perfect match for Barman’s gravely baritone.

official videoclip for Constant Now

But in the end the group efforts pay off most on Keep You Close. Leadsingle Constant Now encourages you to shout along to the standout vocal of bassist Alan Gevaert in the chorus, while the marimba-infected Ghosts sees the entire gang singing as one. Whereas many past dEUS staples revolve around dialogue and contrast between the vocalists, this time around they achieve a solid uniformity-in-variety. dEUS still contains very different characters with their own unique traits (insert culthero/leadguitarist Mauro Pawlowski), but they’re all thoroughly focused on their collective output. There are hardly any standout bits here that can be attributed to any one member of the group.

a live performance (Berlin Festival 2011) of Ghosts

Keep You Close is a clear statement about dEUS in 2011 BC. It’s one of their most cohesive efforts, with very clear artistic outlining from start to finish. The intimacy they were shooting for is very well represented here. Don’t mistake dEUS for a borderline popact, though. They’ve maintained a proper balance between the catchy sing-alongs and the chorus-free spoken-word bits (End Of Romance) or the long-spanning epic stuff (Easy). Will it please their old school fans? Probably not, but then again most of them made their minds up long ago. The music lovers whom have no problem giving a new dEUS record a spin can feast their ears on an inviting, nine song collection with an appeal that stretches well beyond the first dozen listens.

Interested in the recording process of Keep You Close ? Check out this short documentary below!