wears the trousers magazine

voice on the verge #44: douce angoisse
January 23, 2010, 12:36 pm
Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: , , ,

voice on the verge #44: douce angoisse

visit Douce Angoisse on Myspace

Mentalists don’t come much more French, petite, or armed with razor sharp, tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-erotically charged bilingual electro than East London-based artist Adeline Battistutta, otherwise known as Douce Angoisse (that’s “soft anguish” to non-Francophones).

Over the last two years, Douce Angoisse has carved something of a fierce reputation for herself around the London live circuit, and beyond, for her unpredictable and highly charged shows. As a taster of her antics, she can frequently be found distributing leaves of individually autographed toilet paper from a handy dispenser around her neck to her audience, or pelting them with cotton wool buds. As you do. Following a support slot with Finnish electro-pop minx HK119 early last year, Douce Angoisse has gone on to join the ranks of new electronic netlabel Bit-Phalanx, and can currently be found duetting and remixing HK119 on the label’s latest project, as well as working on her own forthcoming releases.

Wears The Trousers managed to pin down the excitable Adeline for ten rare minutes of quiet to get her to answer our trusty questionnaire. Little did we expect…

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kría brekkan: uterus water (2010)
January 11, 2010, 8:59 am
Filed under: EP, review | Tags: , ,

Kría Brekkan
Uterus Water •••
Paw Tracks

As she told Wears The Trousers in an interview last year, Kría Brekkan’s only goals as far as her ‘solo’ career is concerned are simple: “Just to practise more things and educate myself.” Three releases in, totalling just fifteen tracks and barely an hour of music, her self-education is certainly proving to be an intriguing one. Her latest 7″, limited to only 100 copies in Europe, finds the Icelander as wildly experimental, clashing and sometimes frustrating as ever. Standing outside of Brekkan’s own little bubble, it can be difficult to appreciate her work given its extreme insularity. But mere self-indulgence can be transcended into art if it can be mastered, and Uterus Water proves, as the hairs prickle up on the back of your neck, that Brekkan is approaching a kind of auteurship.

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skunk anansie: smashes & trashes (2009)
November 5, 2009, 10:45 am
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Skunk Anansie
Smashes & Trashes ••••
One Little Indian

Best-of collections are tricky things to get right. These days they all too often appear barely three albums into an act’s career as a painfully transparent excuse for a Christmas cash-in. Skunk Anansie may be guilty of releasing Smashes & Trashes in the run up to the festive season, and of only having three albums to draw from, but circumstance dictates that this collection is in a very different category to most of its competitors. Nearly a decade has elapsed since the politically motivated skank-rock four-piece were last on our radar, a silence punctuated only by a pair of decent but safe solo albums from their once-iconic frontwoman Skin, so this collection carries more weight, aiming to remind us quite how large their presence once was.

Having sold over five million albums worldwide, notched up over 10 hit singles and headlined several major festivals, the band’s disappearance from the spotlight following the release of their third album, 1999’s Post Orgasmic Chill, went surprisingly unheralded. While no one expected The Samaritans to set up a hotline especially to cope with the mass hysteria sweeping the nation at such a disaster, the lack of any sense of mourning for such unlikely superstars seemed undeserved. Being the black sheep of the UK music scene’s then-obsession with all things Britpop certainly helped put the band on the map in the mid ’90s, but later perhaps made them come across as cocky, a band that was easier to admire than to love. And if they were happy to leave their career in the last decade, then apparently so were the public and industry.

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introducing evy for the kill
October 8, 2009, 12:55 pm
Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: , , , ,


voice on the verge #40: evy for the kill

visit Evy For The Kill on Myspace

It’s always a relief to go to a gig where the support act shines through and grabs some of the limelight for themselves, not just persevering through a 30 minute set for people probably not there specifically to see them but really using the opportunity to woo over an unsuspecting crowd. Some time ago, Wears The Trousers caught Dutch singer-songwriter Gitta doing exactly that at an intimate London show supporting Kelli Ali. Even with a few feedback problems on the night, her earthy, gripping vocals and intimate guitar ballads offered insight into her sweet yet shadowy world and a welcome detour from our own. Last year’s self-released debut EP Confusement Park [hear select tracks here] proved that Gitta’s talents translate just as well in the studio as they do on stage.

Adding another string to her bow, as of this past April Gitta has reinvented herself by revisiting her old-school goth/punk roots and evolving her sound into the full blooded, slightly grittier outfit Evy For The Kill. What we’ve heard of this fledgling project to date indicates that Gitta has successfully managed to keep hold of the wonderfully poetic and intimate feel of her solo work while powering through like all great bands should. Though she’s currently ensconced back in Holland for the time being, we’ve been assured that Gitta/Evy will be back on these shores soon enough. And regardless of which personality she visits us with, we think the best is yet to come from this spirited lady. Get to know her, courtesy of our trusty questionnaire…

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emilíana torrini: live at royal festival hall 13/09/09
September 20, 2009, 4:45 pm
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Emilíana Torrini
Royal Festival Hall, London ••••½
September 13, 2009

“This is a gig that has been making me shit my pants these last few months,” chirps Emilíana during one of her many adorable rambles between songs as her band of dapper musicians retune. She might not have been joking either. For an artist whose last gigs in London were at ULU (800 capacity) and the Union Chapel (500 capacity), the near 3000-seater Royal Festival Hall is a dramatic upscale. Despite it being one of the Italo–Icelandic folk-pop singer’s most important, and no doubt intimidating, gigs of her career to date, she really needn’t have worried. While there were still a fair few empty seats, the audience were incredibly receptive and well behaved.

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leila arab: better living through living
September 10, 2009, 1:49 pm
Filed under: feature, words in edgeways | Tags: , , , , , ,

Leila Arab has been announced as the support act for Aphex Twin’s upcoming show at London superclub Matter on September 26th as part of Warp Records’ 20th anniversary celebrations – this gives us an excellent excuse to post this extended version of our interview with the lady herself, with some fascinating insight into her relationship with the legendary label.

If you’d like a print copy of the Leila interview, issue #7 is available here.

* * *


words in edgeways with leila arab

“Did you turn right instead of left out of the station?” says an anxious voice on the phone. It belongs to Leila Arab, Iranian-born cult electronica artist, and she’s right to be concerned. Betrayed by Google Street View, I am utterly lost. Under her guidance I retrace my steps until finally I reach our rendezvous point. Leila stands across the street with one hand in the pocket of a large woolly coat and the other guiding a cigarette quickly back and forth from her mouth, her pale skin and thick curly mane of jet-black hair standing out from the familiar grey of the city. I wave at her, relieved, and cross through the traffic.

As we settle down at a table outside of a nearby café, we both order a non-dairy smoothie and settle down to some questioning. Leila is in a very laidback, chatty and pleasant mood, and her razor sharp answers quickly establish her as an intelligent, articulate and down to earth woman with an all-consuming passion for her work and absolutely no time for, or interest in, anything smelling remotely like bullshit. “The thing is with me,” she begins, “is that I’ve never approached anyone about my music, they’ve always approached me. I think because of my character, people must assume I must think I’m like, amazing or something. But I’m just quite shy and I don’t think art should be ingratiated like that. But then, that’s why people get managers. But I don’t fucking want a manager, so it’s a complex one.”

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kría brekkan: “I don’t think I’m a very easily definable person!”

A slightly abridged version of this article appeared in Wears The Trousers issue seven. Order a print copy here.


words in edgeways with kría brekkan

According to one episode of ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, the concepts of time and space can be folded with the aid of the right technology, theoretically allowing us to travel vast distances and cover huge periods of time in the blink of the eye. I doubt that Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir has managed to invent or discover this kind of technology just yet, but she does seem to have a knack for travelling far and letting time fly right past her.

It’s taken the best part of two months and two international time zones to finally track her down for an interview. Firstly she was in New York – her current base – where for a month either I was late calling her or she was impossible to contact. Then she was in Iceland where either I was too early to catch her or she simply wasn’t around. When I finally get hold of her at her mother’s place, her apology is huge but is swiftly followed by yet another blow: “I’m actually at a dinner right now and we are about to eat. Can we rearrange to talk again for Friday perhaps?” 

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björk: voltaïc (2009)
June 21, 2009, 11:32 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Voltaïc ••••
One Little Indian

Has it really been two years since Björk’s last album, Volta, landed on our planet? How time flies. As every Björk album has proved, however, whatever instant appeal they may or may not have had for some peoples’ tastes, they tend to need time to ferment and are usually best judged on reflection. This is normally aided by the arrival of another new album, but after two years’ solid touring for Volta and her recent campaigning for economic and ecological stability in her home country, the world’s most famous Icelander is taking some well deserved time off before putting together her next release. This does leave Volta hanging in the balance slightly, and if ever there was a Björk album that perhaps needed a little more explanation, reflection or analysis, it’s this one.

Originally hyped to be something of a commercial return to pop (thanks to the cautiously anticipated collaborations with Timbaland), Volta was indeed the most consistently melodic and vibrant Björk has sounded on record for some time, but by no means was it any less angular, experimental or exotic than its immediate predecessors. Not only this, but Volta was to become a very conscious experiment on her behalf to redress the balance between her studio time and her stage time. Having not toured since 2003 was clearly something that was going to be remedied with the release of Volta. The album was a blueprint; almost a preamble for the epic live circus that was to follow. Its production was kept surprisingly basic, despite the usual amount of stellar collaborators, and the instantly catchy singles and chillingly haunting moments aside, it did feel a little unfinished in places. Then again, what’s the point in reading the book if the plot is revealed in the introduction?

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tori amos: live at the savoy theatre 11/05/09
May 15, 2009, 10:23 am
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Tori Amos
Savoy Theatre, London ••••
May 11, 2009

“How crap was that?” purred Tori Amos conversationally, addressing her expectant audience for the first time. Four songs into her one-off solo show at London’s elegant Savoy Theatre to promote her new album Abnormally Attracted To Sin (out on Monday [review]), she wasn’t talking about the flawless version of ‘Crucify’ she’d just hammered out of her trusty Bösendorfer grand. She was referring to the food poisoning that had her doubled over in pain a fortnight ago, forcing an exceedingly rare cancellation that saw many fans who had travelled from as far as the US turned away from the venue at the eleventh hour. One fan shouted something back, perhaps a little sore that Tori won’t be covering her travel expenses, while another asked her if she was feeling better. She was, she replied, before expertly seizing the opportunity to launch into one of her famed piano improvs, enhancing an off-the-cuff story about her new security guard Sade with a brilliantly cheeky riff on her namesake’s ‘Smooth Operator’.

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skunk anansie: live at water rats 03/04/09
April 6, 2009, 6:44 am
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Skunk Anansie
Water Rats, London •••••
April 3rd, 2009

Despite their huge success, Skunk Anansie were a strange band who never seemed to be taken all that seriously by many music critics. Perhaps a skank-rock band fronted by a bald, black, righteously feminist lesbian was too much of a novelty, or maybe their penchant for churning out as many power ballads as they did face-melting rock pelters softened their cause. To their fans though, this genuine mix of stadium anthems and tender but teeth-baring love songs made an indelible impact.

Rumours of a ten-year reunion had been circulating for months before tickets finally went on sale for tonight’s ultra low-key comeback in the venue that first launched the band in the early ‘90s, and two things were made instantly apparent as Skin, Cass, Ace and Mark bounded onto the stage 40 minutes late: firstly, that this writer is now far too old for a full-on mosh pit, especially in a venue the size of his bedroom; and secondly, Skunk Anansie have been greatly missed.

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