Sunday, February 15, 2009

Method of Modern Love

Six weeks in and 2009 in music is getting into its stride. It is sounding good and certain trends are clear:
Firstly, that festivals are not necessarily going to suffer as a result of the recession. Glastonbury sold out over a week ago and the only tickets that will be available in early April will be returns. After last year's wobble, that this happened before any acts have been officially confirmed surprised me at first. On reflection I have decided that perhaps this result is in part because of the recession. Perhaps folks who enjoy music and can tolerate camping have, while making cut backs to expensive holiday plans, realised just what good value in terms of both time and money a long weekend at a festival can be.

The second thing, and it will doubtless be apparent at this summer's festivals, is the subtle shift towards more music that is pop and fantasy-inspired and often electronically based. This is no sudden change, and it certainly won't stop the likes of White Lies conquering all the territory they lay claim to, but it should make 2009 very interesting indeed. It took a while but electro-pop finally returned to the mainstream in 2008 and I wouldn't be surprised if its disco-cousins don't do the same in 2009 and that is where some of these new electronic toys will see use live.
They've been a source of much controversy and creativity since the analogue Moog synthesizer appeared in the late 1950s, with the more compact, robust and practical transistorized version following in 1961. They are still used and have many devotees, not least for the warm sound they produce. The Dubrecq stylophone followed in 1967, a hand-held keyboard played with a stylus, and it was really mainly intended as a 'toy instrument' for children. It too gained a large following and was therefore successfully relaunched in 2007.

This is an example of the 21st century stylophone.

You will almost certainly see one being played sometime this year - it is well suited to the style of music favoured by Little Boots and others. Another much more recent and complex electronic instrument also used by Victoria Hesketh first appeared in 2007.

Yamaha Tenori on.

It is not obvious exactly what it does or how you play it but, put very simply, it is a computer specifically designed to be used to play music. As you probably know I'm a big fan of acoustic music and traditional instruments but I can't wait to see someone in the flesh actually playing one of these.

On that general subject one of the giants of 1990s electro/dance pop is back. The single below is a new one released to promote the forthcoming 2-CD compilation - London Conversations - The Best Of Saint Etienne - but I wonder if there is actually rather more to it than that particularly given the success of Sarah Cracknell's collaboration with Mark Brown in 2008 - The Journey Continues.

This is the first Saint Etienne single in many years: 'Method Of Modern Love', was released on 9 February 2009. It is available to download but why would I want to? This is the real vinyl deal. This is 0116 of 1500, some of which were also signed.

Across the Atlantic they are at it too and they have also developed a liking for vinyl! More soon...

Chrome's On It - Telepathe (12" vinyl single)

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