Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, five years on – a future-disco car crash which never stopped flaming

This week Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories turns an incredible five years old. I grappled awkwardly with the record at the time – penning the below review for Time Out – and was both on and off the money. Yes, … Continue reading Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, five years on – a future-disco car crash which never stopped flaming

How Jan Garbarek, Anouar Brahem and a Moroccan (mis-)adventure kick started my lifelong love affair with ECM records

I can distinctly remember the first time I heard the playing of Anouar Brahem, because the circumstances were so cinematically odd. As a wanderlust-struck student, sitting outside a cheap café in Tangier, Morocco – a day after completing a three-week … Continue reading How Jan Garbarek, Anouar Brahem and a Moroccan (mis-)adventure kick started my lifelong love affair with ECM records

Why writing about jazz is maybe just a little bit like ‘dancing about architecture’ – @robgarratt on jazz

The oft-quoted dictum that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” – credited variously to sources from Laurie Anderson to Frank Zappa, but attributed by scholars to comedian Martin Mull – is, of course, clap-trap. Words carry meaning more … Continue reading Why writing about jazz is maybe just a little bit like ‘dancing about architecture’ – @robgarratt on jazz

How the Middle East’s underground went overground: Selected writings on alternative Arabic music 2014-18

The past few months have seen alternative Arabic music enjoy an unprecedented mainstream embrace – nowhere more so than in the UAE, with the first third of 2018 welcoming second editions of scene-stealing indie festivals Wasla and Step Music, and … Continue reading How the Middle East’s underground went overground: Selected writings on alternative Arabic music 2014-18

The Dictator’s Cut: How Stalin blocked a happy end for Romeo and Juliet in Prokofiev’s classic ballet

We probably don’t need to print a spoiler alert here warning you about the tragic turns taken in the tale Romeo and Juliet. The Shakespeare classic is, after all, the best-known love story ever written, moving millions of readers, viewers and listeners afresh every year – and inspiring countless of artists of the stage, and beyond. Away from the theatre, The Bard’s play has stimulated creatives across the arts for more than 400 years – from Romantic poetry to pop songs, opera to Bollywood and Pre-Raphaelite painting to Japanese anime. Many of these spin-off works have become household fables in … Continue reading The Dictator’s Cut: How Stalin blocked a happy end for Romeo and Juliet in Prokofiev’s classic ballet

In loving praise of Björk: Popular music’s most peerless polymath

No mainstream musician has embraced the boundless, barrier-busting 21st century with anything approaching the fever or flair of Björk, a singular sort of talent who makes the divisions between disciplines seem the most flagrant shade of passé. The Icelandic popstar-turned-multidisciplinary auteur is expected to release a new album, Utopia, next month [November], and if previous outings are anything to go by, it will be far more than a mere set of songs. Preparing her ninth studio work, the ethereal polymath has moved squarely beyond the realm of simply recording albums and performing their songs live – her previous two releases … Continue reading In loving praise of Björk: Popular music’s most peerless polymath

Joni Mitchell: A celebration

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s debut album, Song to a Seagull – a modest, then-overlooked release which subtly sounded the arrival of one of the most singular, influential voices in the history of popular music. A voice we’ve sadly, but almost certainly, heard the last word from. The 74-year-old has released just one LP of new material in the past two decades, and the likelihood of suspending retirement slimmed further after suffering a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2015. Indeed, Mitchell appeared to voluntarily bring the career curtain down at the close of last year, with the … Continue reading Joni Mitchell: A celebration