Massive Attack plays at Malkin Bowl

For Exclaim! Magazine

Despite the fine mist that pervaded the air at this Vancouver outdoor venue, the kids and the weirdos danced in bass-heavy reverie at the show. Pounded by low-end frequencies, dazzled by bizarre show outfits and the smell of summer rain mingled with the aroma of thick mud, Massive Attack delivered a stunning performance that was both blisteringly loud and dark as hell.

Hailing from the UK, the sonic collective merges the boundaries of dance, trance and ethereality, and couples this with some serious vocal talents. Not to mention, founding member Robert Del Naja’s (a.k.a. 3D)  is chock-full of boyish Bristol charm that is often juxtaposed by his unsettling, yet seductive whispers. The band’s history may be riddled by tantrums, personal clashes and artistic differences from days of Mezzanine, but at the show, the stage seemed pretty relaxed and focused.

Singer Martina Topley-Bird came out initially wearing a white wool poncho and a bright pink chiffon skirt, bringing the image of a bizarrely-decorated Bjork, but with more vocal resonance. Other core band member Daddy G looked pretty comatose on stage, but from what’s been written about him, his behavior just typified his brooding style. The group baited the crowd with some classics, from the dark ambience of “Intertia Creeps” to the now-appropriated House theme song, “Teardrop.”

Topley-Bird came back on stage later in the show, morphed into a sex goddess wearing something of a Catwoman suit, complete with skin-tight leather pants. A couple of memorable points in the show was when the band launched into an hypnotic performance of “Psyche” from their latest offering, Heligoland, followed closely by a powerful, ear-drum piercing delivery of “Girl I Love You,” one of the most aggressive tunes on the album. But the best part was when roots-reggae legend Horace Andy killed it with “Angel,” a trip-hop classic with Andy’s trademark vibrato. From this position it’s very safe to say that Massive Attack’s groove-heavy neo-psychedelia is only getting better with age.

Trentemoller Releases Video for “Sycamore Feeling”

He’s #1 on my playlists these days.

Listen to the music of Anders Trentemoller, a Danish electronic musician who blurs the lines between chillout trip hop and dark, throbbing industrial production.

This is “Sycamore Feeling,” the single from his forthcoming third full-length, Into the Great Wide Yonder, which is set to be released in June by Audiomatique Records.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvDMDMxDAlc]

Zero 7

Zero 7’s leading female vocalist Sophie Barker has a robust, yet dreamy quality to her singing style that would have made the opera heroine Maria Callas nervous. Coupled with her antique, hand-pumped organ at her hip, Barker filled the Commodore with sweeping soundscapes that lulled the audience into a soulful trip-hop experience.

Opening up with a pseudo-Pink Floydian instrumental montage, the UK-based duo Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker delivered a surprisingly relaxing and inspiring show on one of the coldest Vancouver nights to date. Chill and contemplative, the audience opened up to the calmness within the chaos, offering an occasional cloud of marijuana over to the stage.

Acclaimed for their ambience and introspective lyrical elements, the set sounded much like an acid jazz cover of their own music; playing softer, more slowly, more thoughtfully and avoiding the electronic glitches and loops from their albums. The band played a few crowd favourites like “Home” and “Speed Dial No.2” from When It Falls, not to mention a gorgeous jazz-infused version of “Destiny” from their debut, Simple Things.

Overall, the show felt much like the effects of Ambien; soothing,phantasmagorical and almost surreal. Baiting with the crowd with warm sound bytes and the irresistible crooning of a woman “watching porn in my hotel dressing gown,” Zero 7 did not disappoint.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT6uEHvCVSo&feature=related]