sun 04/12/2016

New Music reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Microcosm

Kieron Tyler

Pictured above is Sweden’s Ralph Lundsten. He might look like a guru or mystic but is actually a multi-disciplinary artist most well-known on his home turf for his pioneering electronic music. His first album, 1966’s Elektronmusikstudion Dokumentation 1 (made with Leo Nilson), was issued by national Swedish radio’s own label and recorded at the station’s electronic music studio.

CD: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3

Thomas H Green

Jean-Michel Jarre sometimes doesn’t receive the credit due to him from electronic music buffs. Whereas Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis are held up as ground-breaking innovators of the 1970s, Jarre’s breakthrough 1976 hit "Oxygene IV" is not attributed the same kudos. Perhaps this is because it’s so ridiculously, almost irritatingly catchy. More likely it’s because it propelled its parent album, Oxygene, to multi-million-selling success, making an opulent global star of its creator.Those...

CD: Neil Young - Peace Trail

Liz Thomson

The 37th studio album from the man dubbed “the godfather of grunge” is raw, down and dirty-sounding – like many of the problems Neil Young grapples...

CD: Sex Swing - Sex Swing

Guy Oddy

Those with an ear open to loud experimental music of a certain stripe may already be aware of some of the members of Sex Swing. Despite being...

CD: The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome

Tim Cumming

It’s a been a good year for the Stones as they play into their sixth decade – a free festival audience in Havana in March, preceded by an adulatory...

CD: Hollie + Metropole Orkest - Poetry versus Orchestra

Matthew Wright

Subtle, imaginative collaboration underlines potent performance talent

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mose Allison, Georgie Fame

Kieron Tyler

Celebration of an influential blues-jazz innovator is complemented by a career-spanning box set dedicated to an acolyte

Autechre, Royal Festival Hall

Joe Muggs

How do the daddies of electronica deal with a concert hall?

The Damned, Brighton Dome, 2016

Thomas H Green

Forty years on from their arrival, can Brit punk's originators still cut it?

CD: Vile Electrodes - In the Shadows of Monuments

Thomas H Green

Second album from gifted south coast synth-pop duo is ravishingly produced but moody

CD: Robert Earl Keen - Live Dinner Reunion

Tim Cumming

Generous servings of Texan honky-tonk classics

CD: Xam Duo - Xam Duo

Barney Harsent

A wonderful, improvisational debut from the Hookworms and Deadwall alumni

Wayne Shorter Quartet, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

Saxophone legend mixes sweetness and atonality to climax the EFG London Jazz Festival

CD: Kuro - Kuro

Guy Oddy

Anglo-French duo’s debut is a cosmic trip

Reissue CDs Weekly: Super Furry Animals

Kieron Tyler

Spiffy sonic upgrade of the Welsh wonders' debut album 'Fuzzy Logic'

Mobydick: North Africa's outrageous rapper

Peter Culshaw

North Africa's dissenting rapper talks about opposing ISIS, women's rights and manga

Crystal Castles, Concorde 2, Brighton

Thomas H Green

Electronic malcontents bring their new singer and their wall of strobes to the seaside

Rava / Herbert / Guidi + Murgia, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Starry Italian improv gig fascinatingly inconsistent

Jim Rattigan's Pavillon, Seven Arts, Leeds

Graham Rickson

Peerless small-scale big band, led by a classically trained horn player

CD: Metallica - Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

Barney Harsent

Metal's masters return with a powerful, but patchy, double

Norma Winstone, Cadogan Hall

Peter Quinn

A double celebration for a world-class artist

CD: Rumer - This Girl's in Love

Liz Thomson

Revived 45s: Rumer revisits the Bacharach - David jukebox

CD: Solange - A Seat at the Table

Joe Muggs

The younger Knowles delivers the album she's always promised

Elza Soares, Barbican / Calypso Rose, Jazz Café

Peter Culshaw

Two of the coolest veteran female singers in the world on scorching form

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 22 - Queen, Gillan, The Pop Group, Joe Fox and more

Thomas H Green

The most wide-ranging record reviews out there

CD: Little Mix - Glory Days

Thomas H Green

Catchier and sassier than those who dislike them without hearing them might think

Lizz Wright, Cadogan Hall

Peter Quinn

A standing ovation concludes one of the most moving concerts of the year

CD: Rachael Yamagata - Tightrope Walker

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Husky-voiced songwriter embraces her experimental side

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Iceland Airwaves 2016

Kieron Tyler

PJ Harvey, John Lydon, Björk and Iceland’s next sure thing Mammút assemble at the festival that’s about more than music

Footnote: a brief history of new music in Britain

New music has swung fruitfully between US and UK influences for half a century. The British charts began in 1952, initially populated by crooners and light jazz. American rock'n'roll livened things up, followed by British imitators such as Lonnie Donegan and Cliff Richard. However, it wasn't until The Beatles combined rock'n'roll's energy with folk melodies and Motown sweetness that British pop found a modern identity outside light entertainment. The Rolling Stones, amping up US blues, weren't far behind, with The Who and The Kinks also adding a unique Englishness. In the mid-Sixties the drugs hit - LSD sent pop looking for meaning. Pastoral psychedelia bloomed. Such utopianism couldn't last and prog rock alongside Led Zeppelin's steroid riffing defined the early Seventies. Those who wanted it less blokey turned to glam, from T Rex to androgynous alien David Bowie.

sex_pistolsA sea change arrived with punk and its totemic band, The Sex Pistols, a reaction to pop's blandness and much else. Punk encouraged inventiveness and imagination on the cheap but, while reggae made inroads, the most notable beneficiary was synth pop, The Human League et al. This, when combined with glam styling, produced the New Romantic scene and bands such as Duran Duran sold multi-millions and conquered the US.

By the mid-Eighties, despite U2's rise, the British charts were sterile until acid house/ rave culture kicked the doors down for electronica, launching acts such as the Chemical Brothers. The media, however, latched onto indie bands with big tunes and bigger mouths, notably Oasis and Blur – Britpop was born.

By the millennium, both scenes had fizzled, replaced by level-headed pop-rockers who abhorred ostentation in favour of homogenous emotionality. Coldplay were the biggest. Big news, however, lurked in underground UK hip hop where artists adapted styles such as grime, dubstep and drum & bass into new pop forms, creating breakout stars Dizzee Rascal and, more recently, Tinie Tempah. The Arts Desk's wide-ranging new music critics bring you overnight reviews of every kind of music, from pop to unusual world sounds, daily reviews of new releases and downloads, and unique in-depth interviews with celebrated musicians and DJs, plus the quickest ticket booking links. Our writers include Peter Culshaw, Joe Muggs, Howard Male, Thomas H Green, Graeme Thomson, Kieron Tyler, Russ Coffey, Bruce Dessau, David Cheal & Peter Quinn

Close Footnote

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Sunday Book: Günter Grass - Of All That Ends

In this, his final book, the late German author and Nobel literature laureate tells us that he used to disgust his children with offal-heavy...

When Sam Shepard was a Londoner

Sam Shepard came to live in London in 1971, nursing ambitions to be a rock musician. When he went home three years later, he was soon to be found...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Microcosm

Pictured above is Sweden’s Ralph Lundsten. He might look like a guru or mystic but is actually a multi-disciplinary artist most well-known on his...

CD: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3

Jean-Michel Jarre sometimes doesn’t receive the credit due to him from electronic music buffs. Whereas Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis are...

Buried Child, Trafalgar Studios

What stroke of prescience brought two Sam Shepard plays to London in the very month America voted for Trump? The kind of people we’re learning to...

This House, Garrick Theatre

This House arrives in the West End with magic timing - a comedy about the farcical horrors of being a government with a wafer-thin...

CD: Neil Young - Peace Trail

The 37th studio album from the man dubbed “the godfather of grunge” is raw, down and dirty-sounding – like many of the problems Neil Young...

Peter Pan, National Theatre

The cry "Let's pretend" must have been heard often when J M Barrie played with the Llewelyn Davies boys in Kensington Gardens or at Black Lake...

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson

The pilot and the sniper have a lot in common for Clint Eastwood. In his previous US blockbuster, ...