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electronic MUSICIAN

New Music Reviews

November 22, 2013

Anoushka Shankar
Traces of You

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar is a symbol of India’s past and future, her intensely beautiful music grounded in Indian classical but encompassing dance, electronic, and pop styles. Her seventh album, Traces of You, includes guest vocals from half-sister Norah Jones, and reveals Shankar’s increasingly mature composition and orchestration skills. If ever music reflected a nation’s moment in time, Traces of You’s soulful sitar, swelling orchestrations, and pulsing beats provide a contemporary soundtrack to a land and its people developing at breakneck speed.

Bad Religion
Christmas Songs

You’ll get that tree trimmed in record time with the help of Bad Religion’s new Christmas CD. It’s always good fun when chestnuts like “Come All Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” are pumped up with rock drums and buzz-saw guitars, and these punk tunes have some nice choral vocal arrangements, too, in their snarky punk way. Rejoice! Bad Religion’s Ramonesesque version of “White Christmas” will rock your holiday season.


An extension of Exai (Rob Brown and Sean Booth’s March full-length), this four-track EP mostly eschews the overt melodies and jeep beats that made for the duo’s more listener-friendly, retro-modern moments. These latest 26 minutes are for the technicians, focusing on updating the patches with digital-delay feedback pulled from Karplus-Strong string synthesis techniques. In contrast, warbling bass lines, sounding like Clavia Nord Modular G2 synthesizer derivations, evoke classic FM-style autechre sound design, but patterns grind hard more than groove.

The Melodic
Effra Parade

For a band in their early 20s, the Melodic’s debut, Effra Parade, sounds aged and knowing. Recorded in a bedroom-turned-studio, Effra Parade features 18 instruments, highlighting stringed ones such as the Latin American charango and the African kora. Unexpectedly, these international instruments are what give Effra Parade its very British folk-pop flavor. Huw Williams and Lydia Samuels harmonize beautifully, their voices like tide and sand. They softly come to shore on “On My Way” and lapse smoothly back on “Roots.”

Snow Globe

For nearly 30 years Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have bestowed the gift of starry-eyed, at times wistful synth-pop, including 2011’s kick-drum-reinforced/ sidechain-enriched Tomorrow’s World. Now the duo applies its more nocturnal, soulful tendencies to Christmas-inspired original compositions and seasonal classics, wrapping bubbling melodies around choirboy vocals. The results range from music-box sparse to cathedral sparkling, trimmed with pirouetting synths, bass, and harmonies aplenty. The only disappointment is the lack of an actual commemorative snow globe.

King Khan and the Shrines
Idle No More

This brilliantly orchestrated ’60s-style thrash pop injects psychedelia with the vintage sounds of early Stax, James Brown, and The Association. It’s at once a fusion and a send-up of all the most awesome sounds of ’60s radio: the cheerful harmonies, the proto-punk trash guitars, the Memphis Horns, the hip-shaking rhythms, the groovy feelings. But this is not a nostalgia trip. It’s something different—kind of punk, very cool, almost too hip for anyone old enough to remember King Khan’s influences.

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