Rose Elinor Dougall-‘Without Why’ Album Review

Rose Elinor Dougall-‘Without Why’ Review.

Rose Elinor Dougall

“Carry On” By Rose Elinor Dougall.

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Rose Elinor Dougall’s debut album finally lays to rest the ghost of her former musical incarnation ‘Rosay’ from uber pop girl group The Pipettes. ‘Without Why’ demonstrates that Dougall has far more weighty deliberations to cogitate on than simply practising dance moves or ‘Pulling Shapes’.  It’s a thoughtful, reflective and musically mature album suffused with a miasma of yearning melancholy, of things ending, which at times makes Morrissey look like quite the optimist. It’s also an album that displays an introspective yet sophisticated style of song writing that requires some attention from the listener. Indeed bodies of work that often necessitate a degree of engagement are often the most rewarding and invariably ones that achieve greater longevity; this is definitely the point in case with regard to ‘Without Why.

R.E.D.’s melodies and song arrangements are not always the most straightforward and often only reveal themselves after a number of plays enabling the listener to experience that ‘eureka’ moment as things elegantly fall into place. Her great strength has always been her rich euphonic voice which has a cool glacial quality and on occasion conjures up the ghost of Harriet Wheeler, indeed songs such as ‘Carry On’ and ‘ To The Sea’ could fit quite snugly onto The Sundays ‘Reading Writing And Arithmetic,’ which is high praise indeed.

All in all it’s a lovely collection of songs full of depth and beauty centred on themes of love, regret, longing and new beginnings, it’s also an album that will ultimately reward the listener if they are prepared to put the effort in.

8.5/10

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Fire And Ice-The Good Natured Interview

The Good Natured- Von Pip Interview 2010

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’  By The Good Natured (remix free to download.)

A number of years ago my dear eccentric grandmother was having one of her infamous ‘spring cleans’. During her previous indiscriminate ‘purges on clutter’ she’d not only managed to throw out a perfectly acceptable, fully functional keyboard but also my uncle’s electric guitar and amp. He still cannot bring himself to talk about his loss to this day. And so when I overheard that she was about to embark on yet another of her notorious ‘clear outs’, I dashed around to her house with indecent haste, ostensibly to ‘help’, but in reality furtively hoping I might unearth all manner of discarded riches (or my Uncle’s bass guitar at the very least!). ‘Help yourself lad, take what you like’ she said, pointing at two swollen bin bags, all neatly packed in readiness for their voyage to the local Charity Shop. Alas, these bin bags, whom minutes earlier had positively groaned with the possibility of imagined treasures, yielded nothing more interesting than  a leopard print pashmina stole, a rather ostentatious faux fur coat, a rather disturbing peroxide wig, sunglasses and three pairs of vintage high heels. A tidy haul no doubt for a budding drag artist, or Lady Ga-Ga impressionist, but of little or no use to me.

Berkshire electronic artist Sarah Mc Intosh, fared slightly better than I at her grandmothers house  and having managed to salvage a 1980’s Yamaha keyboard  was soon producing brilliant, brooding electro pop under the name ‘The Good Natured’.  McIntosh’s fabulous self produced début  the ‘Warriors EP’ led to The Guardian newspaper singling her out as one to watch, but no sooner had they done so Sarah promptly disappeared to concentrate on  her A-Levels. Now with her qualifications safely in the bag she’s back with a wondrous re-recording and video of   ‘Your Body Is A Machine’. It’s a brilliant slice of electronica, commercial, yet dark- catchy yet complex, with a brooding, intense introspective lyrical style reminiscent of Depeche Mode- We are influenced by our self love and benevolence/ Narcissism’s overwhelming/vanity is quite exhausting/self indulgent hedonistic/blame it all on your upbringing”. Picture a less imperious Ladytron or maybe Dubstar with empathy or even La Roux devoid of reedy voice and bad manners. With silver in her lungs and gold in her heart The Good Natured could well prove to be the most interesting act to emerge from the current crop of female electronic pop pioneers. It’s a darkly celebratory sound, full of contradictions, euphoric yet  melancholic, phlegmatic yet expressive, and it really should establish Sarah as one of our brightest talents  . . .  And so off we skipped, utilising the very same quicksilver speed employed when attending a clear out at granny’s house  to have a quick word with the lady known as The Good Natured…

VP:  Hello Sarah, how did you decide on The Good Natured as the name to release your music under? Would you say it describes your own disposition? Or your music ?

SARAH: I wouldn’t say it describes my music per se, however  I am quite a nice person so I consider it most appropriate!

VP:  Your new single, “Your Body Is A Machine” is quite a dark sounding number, what’s it all about ?

SARAH: The song itself is all about self indulgence, destroying your body with drugs and alcohol and hurting someone else in the process.

VP:  Any imminent plans for an album release?

SARAH: Not just yet……watch this space…;)

VP:  How did you first become involved in making music yourself?

SARAH: I played the violin when I was little, then I progressed  onto learning to play the drums. This was the stage when  when I really got into music. After that I  taught myself how to play the  keyboard and that’s when things really took off and  I started writing songs, probably when I was  about 15 or 16.

VP:  What sort of music would you say has influenced your own output?

SARAH: All sorts! My parents record collection, so old stuff from the 80’s like the Human League, Sparks, Japan, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Some folk music too like Nick Drake. I also like pop  music such as  Timbaland. I suppose it’s quite a broad and eclectic range really.

VP:  There has certainly been an explosion in female led electronic music of late any new artists from this genre you admire?

SARAH:  I love  Fever Ray, and I think Marina is great.

VP:  I believe you’ve started to take singing lessons, is this so you breathe properly and don’t asphyxiate on stage?

SARAH: Well, to be honest I have only had one, but yes  I do hope that it will  really help  improve my  all round technique and my breathing.

VP:  What do you make of social networking, I imagine it’s almost a full time job these days for artists, but it is a great way to connect with fans and get instant feedback.

SARAH: I think it’s great to engage with people who like what you do, and it’s amazing how  you can talk to fans so easily! I must admit I do get a bit fed up of twitter sometimes; I think it takes away that certain  air of mystery if you tell people what you are doing all the time. For example  I don’t really want people to know what I had for breakfast!

VP:  Finally, you’ve already covered  The Cure’s ‘Love Song’, any other song’s would you love to cover and why?

SARAH: Hmm, maybe Mad World by Tears for Fears purely  because I love that song!


VP:  Oh dear…I forgot to ask my traditional, describe your music in five words question and so before sacking myself. . .  I’ll do it. . .

Electronic pop with a heart”

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’ is released July 5th 2010, get it here : The Good Natured - Your Body Is a Machine - EP

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’ By The Good Natured

“Warriors” By The Good Natured

 

 

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Two’s Company-Victoria And Jacob

Victoria & Jacob -"With No Certainty"

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“With No Certainty” By Victoria & Jacob

If you have a penchant for pretentious, mystical sounding band names then it’s entirely possible that ‘Victoria and Jacob’ may not be the sort of collective appellation that would immediately grab your attention or appeal to your “inner snob”. However your initial opinion would surely change once you’re ears had been introduced to this wonderful duo’s beautiful, evocative, heartfelt music. The message they appear to be giving  in choosing to use their own names is that of an approachable down to earth couple who aren’t too concerned with pretension or cultivating a faux-cool  image- it’s the music that matters and thankfully it’s the sort of music that will melt your heart. Victoria’s poetic musings and languid vocals,( which at times bring to mind a rather less phlegmatic version of  Dubstar’s Sarah Blackwood) float around a dreamy, ethereal, multi-layered electronic soundscape that radiates beauty and warmth and taps another nail into the coffin of the school of thought that subscribes to the belief that  electronic music by definition, is cold and impersonal.  Maybe in this case the warmth and emotion stems from the fact that many of the synthetic sounds on their début are actually Victoria’s voice, looped, stretched and distorted out of recognition, then again, maybe it’s simply due to the fact that the  duo write songs of  rare,  fragile beauty.

Their songs may be suffused with a sense of melancholy  but they don’t come across as angsty, self obsessed little twerps who subscribe to the “woe is me, whinge-a-long” school of song writing,  for what is on offer on this début EP  is much more subtle, nuanced, reflective and mature and as such is actually strangely consoling.  V&J’s first EP, ‘Super Computer’, was self-released in August 2008 and soon gained praise and support from Tom Robinson ( note to the Independent- that’s TOM Robinson not Baldrick) via his BBC 6Music show.  This was followed up  by the ‘In The Rough’ EP  which was again, self released in October 2009, and now their début single/EP ‘With No Certainty’ is set for release on 5th April 2010 on Voga Parochia Records. We were more than impressed and demanded (in the nicest possible way)  to know more …. we  discussed their influences, their name and their decision to ditch acoustic instruments and embrace the electronic vibe on for enchanting debut single.

VP:  As a collective name you must admit Victoria and Jacob  isn’t terribly rock n roll is it? Did you consider any other names, I dunno,  like The Electric Adverbs, or  Soundgasam 911  or some other such nonsense. Any really bad discarded names you’d like to share?

VICTORIA & JACOB: We didn’t consider any names before because we didn’t really care at the time and now we just like the way the initials spell VAJ. It means people know our names at gigs and it feels more personal. Although if someone had suggest Soundgasam 911 we would have probably gone with it.

VP: You’re new EP ‘With No Certainty” sees a slight departure from your earlier work, more electronic than acoustic. Any particular reason for this or was it just the way your music was going?

VAJ: Whilst we were studying electronic music at University making compositions based on stockhausen scores and creating multimedia installations, we were writing folk music, which was probably a response to the experimental music we were making. The folk sound then evolved into folktronica, which is when we released our first two EP’s. But we then realised that we wanted to define our sound and make it more comprehendible, which is why we ditched the acoustic instruments. We felt the computer allowed for a much wider scope of textual possibilities.

VP:The songs on the EP are all beautiful, but do seem to be drenched in a sense of melancholy and infused with regret …would you agree?  And what sort of themes inspire your music ?

VICTORIA: I wouldn’t say regret, but melancholy certainly. I find a beauty and kind of sympathy in that sort of music. Like a lullaby to small child, it’s very comforting.

VP:Who’ve you been listening to in the past twelve months?

VICTORIA: My favourite artist of last year was Burial, I can’t get enough of his music.  I would love him to do a remix for us.  It’s the vocal samples he uses that make it so unique, quite obvious lyrics but really repetitive and hypnotic. The beats have an urban feel, and all the crackly sounds have an almost otherworldly quality to them.

JACOB: I been getting into the work of Takagi Masakatsu, he’s a multimedia audio/visual artist from Japan who writes electronic music built from acoustic instruments and environmental sounds. It’s not dissimilar to early Four Tet. I’ve also been listening to a lot of The Magnetic Fields, I regrettably only discovered their 3 disc album 69 Love Songs last year, but its quickly becoming one of my favourite albums ever.

VP: What does 2010 hold for you? Anything exciting lined up?

VAJ: Our debut single is released on the 5th of April on Voga Parochia, that’s exciting and what may come as a result of it, it’s our first release on a label and we are looking forward to playing gigs where people know our music. Right now we’re currently working on our debut album in between playing gigs and promoting the single.

VP: Which side of music do you enjoy best, the writing, the recording or playing live …?

VICTORIA: All of it, but I do really enjoy playing live as it allows us to test out new ideas, and it’s always a challenge because it makes us think about different ways of performing the music live.

JACOB: Definitely the writing, gigs can be too much hassle, and recording can be monotonous and time consuming! I write at home, so I just make a pot of coffee and sit at my laptop, occasionally looking outside to check on the weather. I love the spontaneity and chance involved with writing, especially when the ideas start flowing out uncontrollably. When recording and playing live doubts start to creep in, and it’s then that I think an idea is shit, probably because it’s so final and there’s no going back.

VP: If we came back and interviewed you in say, 3 years time, what would you like to have achieved?

VAJ: We would have loved to do some shows around Europe, and toured a bit more, and just still be doing what we are doing now.

VP: There are so many ways to access music these days, streaming music with services such as  Last FM, Spotify, etc,  downloading such as I-Tunes and of course good old fashioned record shops. What’s your own preference in terms of how you consume music?

JACOB: I prefer to listen on iTunes and go to record stores in London and buy some vinyl on a whim, it encourages me to take a risk with something. I’m really trying to get out of the habit of downloading ten albums in a day and never listening to them, although downloading can be positive because it allows our music to be heard all around the world, and means one day we could go and do a show in Japan and people could know our music.

VP: Some kindly soul reading this interview falls in love with your sound and decides to give you a few  grand, on condition it’s spent on enhancing your ability to make music. How would you spend it?

VAJ: On equipment we can’t possibly afford, although two grand wouldn’t go particularly far.

VP: Everybody has a record or two in their collection that makes them say “What was I thinking”…now is your chance to confess to a past musical faux pas! You’ll feel better for sharing 😉

VICTORIA: I was listening to Heads High by Mr.Vegas on Spotify, and of course I wouldn’t buy it, and a friend told me to give 1995 back their tune.

JACOB: I still haven’t got over my teenage obsession with Pearl Jam, me and our producer spent a whole session once comparing the original of Ten to the remastered version.

VP: Five adjectives to sum up your sound would be…..

VAJ:

Ethereal

Playful

Textured

Endearing

Woven

“Clash” By Victoria And Jacob -Free Download*

*courtesy of Bloody Awful Poetry PR

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“There’s A War” -Live – Victoria & Jacob

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