reviews for ‘making spaces’
From (sic) magazine
d_r is for death row. Not Doctor Radio, not Democratic Republic of Radio but death row radio. Great station this, a notch above Chris Evans. This time the d_rradio boys are joined by the sassy, Brighton based folk singer, Lianne Hall. Personally I thought it was a great idea of the IDM duo to augment their sound with vocals. Not only vocals but a singer of great repute. Hall is something of a festival legend and her voice is pretty special. I’d pitch her somewhere between Hope Sandoval’s siren drawl and Anna-Lynne Williams etherworldly
embrace. I feel clumsy doing so because Lianne Hall really is exceptional. “One of the great English voices” according to Peel and the man had it spot on again. Such a wonderful way with vowel sounds, Hall deserves special mention in her own right.
So to the album and before we discuss how the marriage of vocals and music might go it’s first worth noting that the whole matter depends on which d_rradio shows up. I called them IDM but the last album Leaves was such a serene exercise in ambience it makes John Cage seem noisy by comparison. Before that, they’d been beat-crazed remix kings. The contrast could not be more striking. Making Spaces instead is a kind of jazz-infused trip hop. Trip Jazz then. Whatever. It’s also very good.
Baring in mind d_rradio’s previous release was a two-hour, two disc marathon, Making Spaces is refreshingly punctual at 30 minutes with plenty of variety on display. ‘Full On’ is an acoustic busk, ‘Under Water’ is a jaunty stylistic hybrid, while the likes of ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘Berlin Winter’ accentuate the jazz aspect. Special mention has to go to the impishly delicious ‘Up’. ‘Up’ has Peggy Lee guesting on a Boards Of Canada track, remixed by Lemon Jelly. …or something. I need more coffee. Scratch that, I just need to play ‘Up’ again.
From Norman Records:
Newcastle IDM/post rockers D_rradio team up with folkster Lianne Hall for a collaboration album which had me concerned that it was going to be more skittery electronica meets folk a la Tunng which on the evidence of the first track thankfully it isn’t. The band create circular melodies with loops, strings and what appears to be backwards clarinets while Hall wraps her strong voice around it all creating a lovely aural stew. The second track is more straight. Simple acoustic guitars and jumpy rhythms form the basic track but Hall’s voice is a little composed for this type of material. Better is ‘Stormy Weather’ which almost comes across as folktronica’s answer to Donna Summers’ ‘Love to Love you Baby’. Thankfully Hall doesn’t over folk the melodies and acts more of a soul diva than anything which works brilliantly on this track as the rhythms build up over the keening vocals. The album has moments of downbeat introspection but overall the album works better when both band and singer take chances with the material and move outside their chosen oeuvre. A success I reckon! Clinton.
Helpfully, this album’s press release begins with a guide to pronouncing d_rradio’s name – a topic i’ve often ruminated upon over the years (no, really). Apparently it’s “D.R. Radio” which itself opens up a whole new avenue of confusion. I for one lose count of how many times I’ve read “D. R. Congo” as Doctor Congo, failing to identify the Democratic Republic part. Incidentally, if there isn’t already a band out there called Doctor Congo, I urge you all to go out and put that right. I digress. Making Spaces is a collaborative outing between Newcastle’-based electronica stars d_rradio (famed for their output on Static Caravan) and Brighton singer-songwriter Lianne Hall, a veteran of several Peel Sessions and a guest star/co-writer on Paul ‘Orbital’ Hartnoll’s Ideal Condition album. One of the first things to strike you about this new project is the ease with which the two separate parties come together for a general cause. It would be all too easy for Doctor Radio (oh whatever) to immerse Hall’s songs in a bath of electronics, programming and effects, and yet this is a beautiful balanced production, offering a very full and effective backdrop to Hall’s folkish, string-adorned musings. Shuffling, trip-hop style beats and glistening post-rock elements float elegantly across ‘Under Water’, while the jazzy 4/4 of ‘Stormy Weather’ has a Matthew Herbert-like quality to it. There’s much to enjoy and admire here, and the tone of Making Spaces is very much that of a unified whole. This album is a first outing for d_rradio’s new Sentence Records, and a very fine debut it is too.
Had one only been exposed to Leaves, the double-CD set d_rradio (pronounced ‘D. R. Radio’ and short for ‘deathrowradio’) released on Symbolic Interaction last year, one reasonably might have expected the Newcastle trio’s follow-up, Making Spaces, to be somewhat similar—that is, an immersive plunge into long-form, instrumental soundscaping of ambient design. Well, said expectations are dashed by the new release because the material is worlds removed on many counts from that earlier opus. First of all, Making Spaces is the first release on d_rradio’s own newly established Sentence Records imprint; secondly, it’s an EP-long half-hour in length; thirdly, it’s a collaboration with Brighton singer-songwriter and vocalist Lianne Hall; and finally there’s precious little in the way of soundscaping but a whole lot of song-oriented material of wide-ranging stylistic character, and there’s even beats. The project came into serendipitous being when the group —Michael Todd, Chris Tate, and Paul Patterson—and Hall met by chance at Amsterdam’s Paradiso club and the idea of working together took hold.
Her vocals account for a major part of the recording’s appeal. Pitched somewhere between Susanna Wallumrød and Edie Brickell, Hall’s voice is a remarkably expressive and emotive instrument, whether it’s waxing rapturously in “The Moral at the End” and “Up” or fragile and delicate when floating o’ertop a stuttering hip-hop base during “Under Water.” d_rradio is no slouch in the arrangement category either, with the songs boldly sewn together from a richly atmospheric blend of guitars, strings, piano, bass, and drums. Driven by a funky acoustic bass figure and swinging 4/4 pulse, “Stormy Weather” pushes the collaborators into trip-hop territory, while “Full On” strips things down to acoustic folk song form. In fact, virtually every song finds them tackling a different style—compare the dramatic torch song “Dressing Up,” with Hall’s velvety voice accompanied by an orchestral backing, to the wistful, REM-like folk song “Spring” as an example of the kind of contrast that extends throughout the set. If I’m still a tad confused about exactly who and what d_rradio is after hearing its two most recent releases, I’m nevertheless enjoying both, despite their diametric differences.
From Buzzin Music:
The latest d_rradio (pronounced ‘d r radio’ & short for death row radio!) album sees Newcastle’s finest collaborate with Brighton’s singer/songwriter Lianne Hall. The result is a beautiful, wonderfully charming album full of electronic acoustic soundscapes perfectly accompanied by Lianne Hall’s beautifully soothing, velvet voice.
I hear whispers of Portishead (most clearly in the title track, Making Spaces), and echoes of The Cranberries & a hint of The Sundays (in Lianne Hall’s voice) along the way. Her innocent and naked voice is a perfect accompaniment to d_rradio’s drifting calm.
Making Spaces errs towards double-bass jazz funk with tracks like Stormy Weather; and a vocal that had me humming Donna Summer’s I Feel Love (never a bad thing!)
This collaboration is the first release following a chance meeting at Amsterdam’s famous Paradisco Club, and hopefully is the first of many.
Over 30 minutes and across the nine tracks there is experimental pop sensibilities, fused with ambience, electronica, stripped down folk and shuffling jazz funk rhythms; all brought together under one astonishing album full of evocative strings and uplifting choruses.
As well as tracks offering more jazz and folk paths Making Spaces also includes d_rradio’s now trademark ambient electronica freshness with its relaxing orchestral waves and calming drones. The addition of Lianne Hall brings a human touch and focal point to the otherwise perfect experimental electronic music of d_rradio.
John Peel once described Lianne Hall as “one of the great English voices.” How right he was.
Making spaces is the first release on d_rradio’s own Sentence Records label. It is a beautiful album and will undoubtedly be in every “Best Albums of the Year 2010” list, come December.
From The Crack:
The always inventive Newcastle outfit d_rradio hit with another fabulous album and this time they’ve added vocals to the mix by roping in Brighton singer/songwriter Lianne Hall who lends an unflashy but supremely bewitching air to proceedings. d_rradio have previously dipped their toes into everything from flinty pop to monumental drones, but this shuffling, occasionally jazz flecked suite of songs is their take on modern folk. A resounding success. DP.
RELEASED? Out now.
SOUNDS LIKE? Fractured melodies, dusty jazz, evocative strings, chiming guitars and folk sensibilities combined to create an otherworldly landscape that gives Lianne Halls fragile voice plenty of room to breathe and explore.
IS IT ANY GOOD? D_Rradio have been creating their own brand of electro/acoustic soundscapes since their debut in 2003, infusing many different influences to create a unique sound that pulls you down to a world hiding familiarity in a labyrinth that is very much their own design. Add “one of the great English voices”(John Peel) in the shape of Lianne Hall to populate this ethereal world and you have one of the most captivating and individual releases your likely to hear this year.
WHERE IS IT? http://sentencerecords.bigcartel.com/
From Bearded magazine:
On this debut release for their own Sentence Records label, d_rradio return with a brand new album which broadens the band’s sonic horizons. Making Spaces is a marked departure from their terrific u_nderscore full-length – issued on the excellent Static Caravan label – and finds them recruiting singer-songwriter Lianne Hall for an arresting collaboration.
These two combined forces result in a series of compositions which flirt with the fringes of pop, and are wildly distinctive compared with the minimal chamber electronica that characterises their early output. Some of those ingredients still remain, but this time around they’ve been shaped into a very different end product.
The airy title track is a good example of this, where chiming guitar spars with orchestral tones, noise and dizzying beats. Similarly, the Tortoise-like precision and polyrhythms of ‘Stormy Weather’ form a definite highlight, pulsing with a crackling energy, crashing piano chords and rattling percussion, culminating in a jazz-fuelled riot of sound.
In contrast, ‘Full On’ essays traditional English folk, being reminiscent of Tunng at their most pastoral and despite lasting barely over two minutes it manages to create a fleshed-out atmosphere inside a stark, acoustic guitar-led vignette.
It’s this track, along with the spectral ‘Dressing Up’ which prove to be the best showcases for Hall’s sumptuous vocal, bruised and world-weary and seemingly embodying the deeply evocative textures concocted by d_rradio, so as to feel like a perfect fit. The latter especially reflects the beguiling dynamic they forge, fusing mournful strings with spare guitar and ambient drone.
But while the shuffling, trip hop-referencing ‘Up’ floats by with a summery spring in its step, and is easily the most instantly accessible song this pairing has produced together, it nevertheless somehow lacks the kind of haunting spark which makes much of this record a joy, though it’s not entirely without charm.
There’s an unearthly quality to many of the tracks here, and while not everything lands quite so close to the target, Making Spaces is well worth your time, and at little over 30 minutes there isn’t really any excuse not to reach for the play button again as soon as glides to a serene halt.