Leee Zimmer is an Essex, UK-born, French-based electronic music and sound designer, who has worked with brands like Vivo Barefoot, Clark’s, Soul Of Africa and others. He started his solo recording project iD3 and since then he’s released a handful of EPs and a full-length album. Zimmer’s latest effort, the independently released Simple Beats is inspired by his love of contemporary soundscape-based producers including Bonobo, Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Amon Tobin, and jazz.
Interestingly, Simple Beats‘ latest single, is the slow-burning and nocturnal “Joy of a Kind.” Centered around an atmospheric production featuring twinkling synths, boom bap-like beats and a mournful, reverb-drenched trumpet line, the noir-ish track is one part Toto-era Miles Davis, one part Portishead, on part The North Borders-era Bonobo.
Comprised of Ed McFarlane, Jack Savidge and Edd Gibson, the St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK-based electronic music act Friendly Fires can trace their origins back to when they met while attending St. Albans School. When they were all 13, the trio formed their first band, a post-hardcore act First Day Back, which covered Green Day and other rock acts. First Day Back lasted until the trio attended university — and during that time Ed Macfarlane released music under his own name through Skam and Precinct Recordings.
Upon graduation Macfarlane, Savidge and Gibson formed Friendly Fires, their critically applauded electronic music act which derives its name from the opening track of Section 25’s Always Now. Sonically, the trio has cited the German techno label Kompakt, Carl Craig and Prince as major influences on a sound that draws from dance music, lush, shoegaze melodies and classic pop songwriting.
2007 was their breakthrough year, as “Paris” was named Single of the Week in The Guardian, received praise from NME and airplay on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show — and they were the first unsigned act to appear on Channel 4’s Transmission. Building upon a growing profile in their native England, the trio released their full-length, self-titled debut in 2008, an effort which featured album singles “On Board,” Jump in the Pool,” “Skeleton Boy,” and the aforementioned “Paris.” Their debut was a critical and commercial success. The album was certified double gold in the UK — and the trio was nominated for a Best Breakthrough Award at The South Bank Show Awards and for Best Dancefloor Filler at the NME Awards.
Early 2009 saw the band touring on the Shockwaves NME Awards Tour with Glasvegas, White Lies, and Florence and the Machine. March of that year, Friendly Fires co-headlined with White Lies on the Stateside equivalent of the Shockwaves NME Awards tour, called NME Presents with The Soft Pack opening. Since then, the act has been nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, and two Brit Awards — one for Best British Group and British Breakthrough Act.
In 2010, the duo released a split 12 inch single with Holy Ghost! in which they covered a single by the other, and included instrumental versions of both songs. They also contributed a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove” to the Frank Miller-directed commercial for Gucci’s Guilty. They ended the year with a compilation with London-based club promoters Bugged Out! called Bugged Out Presents Suck My Deck, which featured remixes of songs by The Phenomenal Handclap Band and Lindstrom and Christabelle handpicked by the trio and “Stay Here,” a collaboration between the members of Friendly Fires and Azari & III.
2011 saw the release of their sophomore album Pala, which featured album singles “Live Those Days Tonight” and “Hawaiian Air.” It was arguably, their most pop-leaning effort; however, by the following year, the members of Friendly Fire had been working with producer Andrew Weatherall on some forward-thinking and psychedelic-leaning material. However, since then the trio have been on a lengthy hiatus that has found McFarlane and Gibson collaborating with The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks in a project called The Pattern Forms, which released their debut effort, 2016’s Peel Away the Ivy.
Earlier this year, the trio released “Love Like Waves,” their first bit of new material since 2012. “Heaven Let Me In,” the acclaimed trio’s second single of this year, is a club-banger centered around a euphoric and chopped vocal loop and arpeggiated synths — and while nodding a bit at Daft Punk and Stardust’s classic “Music Feels Better With You,” the song which was co-produced with Disclosure evokes the ecstasy of dancing under strobe-lights and thunderous bass until the next morning.
Directed by Bison, who has directed videos by Bonobo, London Grammar and Jon Hopkins, the video stars renowned British actor Jeremy Irvine, known for his roles in War Horse and Mama Mia dancing through the streets and landmarks of London’s Docklands, looking as though he just came out from the club — and wants the party to continue.
Xavier Bacash is a Copenhagen, Denmark-based producer and electronic music artist, who writes and records with the moniker Sonny — and with “Some Velvet Morning,” the latest single off his recently released C.E. EP, Bacash’s sound features elements of retro-futuristic jazz fusion and slick electronica in a way that will likely remind some listeners of Floating Points, Bonobo and others, as the composition is a cinematic and elegantly lush soundscape featuring live, drumming from frequent collaborator Jim Rindfleish, a soaring string sample and subtly arpeggiated synths.
Unsurprisingly, the song is reportedly inspired by and evokes a breathtaking sunrise, just before a long trip out of the city and into the country.
With the release of his 2015 full-length debut Elaenia, London-based composer, producer and keyboardist Sam Shepherd and his solo recording project Floating Points quickly rose to international acclaim for a sound that effortlessly meshed 70s jazz fusion, free jazz and glitchy electronica in a way that simultaneously nodded at Return to Forever‘s Romantic Warrior and Bonobo’s The North Borders. Shepherd followed that with the expansive, mind-altering yet accessible Kupier, featuring singles “Argente” and “Kupier,” which he performed live at KEXP last year.
Continuing a rather prolific period, Shepherd followed the release of Kupier with Reflections — Mojave Desert, a short film and soundtrack featuring a series of tracks recorded in (and inspired by) the Mojave Desert. His latest single is the sprawling, “Ratio,” a track that he’s developed and refined as part of his solo, live electronic set at festivals he’s played around the world — and the end result is a slow-burning house music-inspired track that clocks in at a little under 19 minutes and features a production centered around glitchy and stuttering beats, pulsating synths and ethereal synths. And while arguably being one of his most patient compositions/productions, Shepherd’s latest effort reveals a patient, almost painterly quality as sounds are thoughtfully and gently layered upon one another.
The full track was officially released on all digital platforms and is also available on vinyl as a deconstructed mix with the A side featuring the track in two parts — the first nine minutes being identical to the digital version, followed solely by the organ section of the second half. The B side in contract will feature the beats, drum and baseline of the second half of the track in isolation. Releasing the track in such a fashion was deliberately done so that DJs could create their own mixes by bringing the song’s different elements together in whatever way fit their own style.
Slum Sociable is an up-and-coming Melbourne, Australia-based electronic duo, who will be releasing their full-length debut on October 13, and as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Castle,” the duo specializes in a sound that draws from and possesses elements of jazz, electronica, contemporary electro pop, hip-hop and electro soul paired with earnest and soulful vocals. And while some have compared the Aussie electronic duo’s sound to Animal Collective and Bonobo, there’s a subtle hint at J. Dilla, Portishead and Gnarls Barkley.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you have most likely come across a handful of posts on Simon Green, a Brighton, UK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based DJ, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and electronic music artist, who has written, recorded and performed under the moniker of Bonobo. Interestingly, Green had long been considered part of a movement of producers, multi-instrumentalists and electronic music artists, who specialized in a sleek, hyper-modern and downtempo-leaning electronic music that included Four Tet, Jon Hopkins, Caribou and others; however, with the release of his critically applauded 2013 release The North Borders Green revealed a decided change in his compositional approach in which he frequently paired electronic production with lush and stunning arrangements featuring organic instrumentation — wth the end result being a sound that possessed a cinematic quality.
The North Borders was also part of a larger, growing trend among many electronic music artists and producers to not only create a much more evocative and nuanced sound but an attempt to remind listeners, fans and critics that there was actual musicality within their productions besides a person haphazardly tapping away at a laptop or turning buttons and dials on a sampler or a processor.
Since the release of The North Borders, Green has been both extremely busy and rather prolific — he released the Flashlight EP at the end of 2014 while during what would turn out to be a two year period of intense touring across the globe. Green somehow managed to find the time to write and recored the material off his sixth full-length album Migration, which was released earlier this year. Naturally, with an album titled Migration, the material thematically focused on migration. As Green remarked in press notes “It’s interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of places evolve.” And as a result, the material seemed to possesses a transitory nature — some of the material, including album single “Kerala,” was initially composed while on the road and then was road-tested and revised during Stateside DJ sets. Adding to the album’s transitory nature, it featured guest spots from a number of artists, who have emigrated at some point themselves, including Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based vocalist Michael Milosh of Los Angeles-based indie pop act Rhye, who recorded his vocal tracks while in Berlin, Germany; Australian-born, Brooklyn-based global, indie pop sensation Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker, who bonded with the British producer over a shared love of disco; Florida-born, Los Angeles-based Nicole Miglis of Los Angeles-based act Hundred Waters; and the New York-based Moroccan collective Innov Gnawa among others. Adding to the album’s transitory nature, Green also employs the use of found sounds that include a Hong Kong elevator, rainfall in Seattle, an Atlanta-based tumble dryer and a New Orleans fan boat engine.
After completing successful tours across both the European Union and North America to support Migration, Green announced the release of a 3 song EP/single package that features album single “Bambro Koyo Ganda,” an analog version of “Bambro Koyo Ganda” that finds Green stripping the song’s production and sound to the bone — retaining a propulsive, undulating pulse and Moroccan-born, New York-based band Innov Gnawa’s vocals and handclap-led percussion, highlighting the hypnotic groove and vocals. EP closing track “Samurai” was written and recorded during the Migration sessions, and consists of a stuttering vocal sample floating over a sinuous production featuring shuffling drum programming and shimmering, subtly arpeggio synth and wobbling low end. And much like the material from the recording sessions it came from, the song should remind listeners of how much Green’s work draws from classic house and soul, while being paradoxically sensual, intimate and yet cinematic.