Archive for Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap still one our most compelling artists

Posted in News with tags , on July 11, 2011 by softsynth

Imogen Heap has long been a Softsynth fave, dating back a number of years to when we accidentally stumbled on her performing “Goodnight and Go” on one of the late night talk shows, just her and a bank of synths. Her last album was a lovely, magnificent achievement and we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the follow-up.

Instead of doing what one might have expected – and we should know to never set expectations with this delightful oddball – her new project is a concept album built track by track, using “submitted sounds” from fans. Each song is constructed from the ground-up and released every three months (which should make for a long album-in-progress) including an original video. So far there have been two terrific tracks released as the results of this project, “Lifeline”, a slow burn contemplative song, and even better the new “Propeller Seeds” which defies easy description. She’s getting stranger and more esoteric with each new project, and that direction won’t be for everyone, but she’s producing some challenging, odd, but compelling music that only enhances her already impressive legacy. Worth checking out the track progressions at her web site as the weeks scroll on.

Watch: Propeller Seeds

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The Softsynth 2009 Playlist (songs of the year ’09)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by softsynth

So this will be the last in the long line of “lists” for the year. We had mused about doing up a “best singles of the year list”

and were both overwhelmed by the task at hand and felt persnickety about the notion of being limited to just singles.

The era of the single is definitely upon us what with the death of the CD as the last remaining form of “physical” music and the growth of iTunes culture, but damn it, Softsynth is a creature from the age of album appreciation and the best songs are so often not the tracks sent out to be appreciated by the masses, but those that remain buried in the outer confines of an album. (That said many of the best songs

released there were, indeed, singles, so we’re not limiting ourselves here). It’s what made for the great mixed tapes of yore. (And for those of a certain age, too young for the pure album era of the 70s, but older than those who know only the MP3 era, the mixed tape was a crucial part of our musical upbringing. we created our own playlists, as a kind of precursor to the era we increasingly find ourselves in today via one-off MP3 downloads, but with tracks culled from albums or singles as we saw fit, depending on our mood at a given time.)

This is literally the only time through the year that we open things up to acknowledge the best stuff from various genres, not just electronic music (and in our next post we will revisit the question of what exactly constitutes so-called “electronic music”).We will paint with a wider brush just to fully colour in the year. So away we go, the singles of the year, er, songs of the year, uh…no, the “2009 Softsynth playlist”…

Continue reading

Electronic music and the Grammys

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2009 by softsynth

Once again we raise a quizzical eyebrow at the Grammy awards, who announced their latest round of nominations and as always we turn our attention to the category, “Best Electronic/Dance album”. Now putting aside for now the notion that all electronic music is compatible with “Dance” (which would be a surprise for everyone from Cold Cave to Coil to M83) the Grammy committee continues to make odd choices when it comes to the category. The nominees:

  • Divided By Night
    The Crystal Method

  • One Love
    David Guetta

  • The Fame
    Lady Gaga

  • Party Rock
    LMFAO

  • Yes
    Pet Shop Boys Continue reading

Top 25 electronic albums: 2000-2009 – Part I

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by softsynth

As the decade draws to a close, blog after blog and magazine after magazine have been publishing their end-of-decade best-of-the-aughts music lists. Allow Softsynth to dive in to that crowded pool.

It’s been a busy and exciting decade for electronic music after the dry-ish decade of the 90s that saw a genre in transition, unsure of what was to come next as the golden era of the 80s passed by and the resurgence was yet to come. Since 2000 we have seen ups and downs among the subgenres with some of the most interesting music those subgenres have ever produced bubbling up this decade. In the coming weeks we will share our annual best of the year list – the only time we break from the declared mandate of this blog and we include what we thought were the best albums of 2009 regardless of genre – but for now, we share part of the best of the decade in electronic albums.

We have spent more time than usual preparing this list, one that is as subjective as any other (and we have seen some electronic best-0f-the-decade lists that have swung wildly across the spectrum – to the AV Club you would swear that “electronic music” consisted of little more than the DJ community, for example) based on our own tastes but we try to be as inclusive as possible, knowing that 50 fans of electronic music will come up with 50 different permutations. We started with nearly 100 of the most notable electronic albums of the decade with the various electronic subgenres and whittled it painstakingly down to 25. Some released this year may well stand the test of time but haven’t marinated long enough – including new work from Venus Hum, and Assemblage 23. Only two 2009 albums have made it to this list, and both were releases at the very top of the year. On further reflection we may wish to have added the 2009 offerings from the above two or others (and it would be a safe bet that each will be in our best of ’09 list so stay tuned). For better or worse, here’s the best of the rest: Continue reading

In defence of the lowly drum machine

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by softsynth

“This next band…doesn’t have a drummer!!” So intoned a breathless Dick Clark in 1984 during a broadcast of his American hot 100 countdown radio show. We were transfixed. What could that mean? To a 13 year old who was just discovering music and for whom pop or rock music meant a guitar, a bass, drums, a singer and maybe a keyboard. What was this non-drummer lunacy?? As it turned out he was talking about Depeche Mode who were enjoying their first North American mainstream success with “People are People”. Clark was positively verkempt at the notion. To young teen Softsynth’s ears it sure sounded like they had drums in there, perhaps Clark was simply insane. It seemed a reasonable conclusion. Continue reading

Review: Imogen Heap – Ellipse

Posted in Review with tags , on September 7, 2009 by softsynth

A recent review of this album saw a comparison with Sarah MacLaughlin. All due respect to Sarah but – ridiculous. Heap for better or for worse remains one of our most eccentric and wholly original artists we have. We’ve seen her compared to Tori Amos, Kate Bush, and any number of Lillith Fair-ian lady singers and all miss the mark badly. A breathy delivery and a distinctly feminine ethos does not lump her into a camp with any of the above (and that’s no slight to the above artists, Bush and Amos are among our favourite artists, but we love them differently than we do Heap who comes from an entirely different starting place). Softsynth first laid eyes on her when flipping the television channels and breezed by the Tonight Show (and in the dark Leno days that breezing was all one could reasonably be expected to do re. the Tonight Show), and we caught a glimpse of a unique looking woman all by her lonesome playing a bank of synths. That’s enough to get us to stop at the best of times, but she was performing a captivating version of “Goodnight and Go” and we were hooked. Not familiar with her first album I Megaphone or her work with Frou Frou her album, Speak for Yourself was something of a revelation, a glimpse of a top-notch songwriter with a compelling world view and a take on electronic music that was a joy. Continue reading

New Imogen Heap; Northern Kind on the way

Posted in News with tags , , , on April 28, 2009 by softsynth

Sometimes love the Twitters. News comes from Northern Kind’s tweets that their new album, Wired has dropped with an official launch due May 15 (in the UK at least). Really love this band and truly enjoyed their last effort, 53degreesnorth. A real throwback to Golden Era electropop and looking forward to the new goodies. 

Also hearing that the lovely and weird Imogen Heap’s new set is finally en route. Scheduled for an August release, Ellipse will follow up the innovative and exciting Speak for Yourself. She speaks about the new material at her vblog where she shares actual song snippets (which are sounding absolutely awesome). 

Always new stuff coming on the horizon. The genre is as healthy has its ever been (and reviews for both will be forthcoming…)