Phantogram is a duo formed in 2007 at Saratoga Springs, NY, by Joshua Carter (vocals, guitars) and Sarah Barthel (vocals, keyboards). They refer to their music as a kind of “street beat, psych pop”, based on psychedelic melodies but combined iwht technology and organic textures. The band practices and writes music in an out-of-town farm called Harmony Lodge, where they write and record songs using various samplers, synths, drums, and both percussive and stringed instruments.
Originally named Charlie Everywhere the band changed name to Phantogram towards the beginning of 2009. In March of the same year, they self-released the five-song Phantogram EP and sparked widespread interest with two songs in particular, “Mouthful of Diamonds” and “When I’m Small”.
Phantogram - Mouthful Of Diamonds
Phantogram - When I'm Small
Phantogram subsequently released the Running from the Cops EP in May 2009 on the international label BBE Records (also home to 4Hero, Julien Dyne, Ladi6 and Dimitri From Paris). The band’s debut album Eyelid Movies was finally released in September 2009, on BBE records in Europe, in February 2010, on Barsuk Records in the US and on vinyl by Ghostly International. It received overwhelmingly favorable reviews and was named one of the best albums of 2010 by practically every music publication.
Show Phantogram some love on MySpace and buy their music on
In the world on downtempo electronica, Bonobo has long been a benchmark for quality after party chilled grooves.
Simon Green, the British musician / producer / DJ who hides behind this simian stage name, released his first official track on the Tru Thoughts compilation When Shapes Join Together in 1999 when he was barely 18. The song was followed by The Scuba EP and Animal Magic, Bonobo’s debut album, released in 2000. This album was completely self-produced and mainly self-instrumented and its chilled, beat-driven music captivated the press and aroused the interest of many major labels (Mute, XL Recordings).
After signing to Ninja Tune in 2001, Bonobo released Dial ‘M’ For Monkey in 2003 and Days to Come in 2006. Following the success of Days to Come, his tracks have appeared in a number of media-related items. Days To Come was voted Best Album of 2006 by Gilles Peterson’s listeners.
Bonobo - If You Stayed Over (Feat Fink)
In September 2009, Bonobo released the song “The Keeper”, with guest vocals courtesy of Andreya Triana, ahead of his fourth LP, Black Sands. The album hit the stores in March 2010 and was widely praised by critics for its use for its perfectly mastered use of orchestral strings, programed beats and often complex basslines. This sophisticated piece of work is one that will captivate the listener and reveal new layers with every listen.
British vocalist Martina Topley Bird, best for her work with trip-hop legend Tricky, recently released her third solo effort, Some Place Simple, on Damian Alban’s label Honest Jon.
On this album, the artist actually revisits songs from her previous two albums, Quixotic and The Blue God (which was produced by Danger Mouse). The idea to record new versions of some of her songs actually came about after Damon Albarn (Gorillaz frontman) encouraged her to strip the songs naked and get back to the simplicity of vocal melody and drums.
Martina Topley Bird - Poison
“Poison” is a good example of this less-is-more approach: Topley Bird’s gospel-inspired vocals, African drums and tambourine, full stop. The result is a song that is simple and straightforward but also warm and disarmingly honest. As with many other tracks on the album, the subtle arrangements and soulful vocals work like a charm, turning this album into the artist’s most distinctive and imaginative record so far. Not content with this wholly stunning reinvention of her previous tracks, Martina Topley Bird also recorded four new songs for the album: “Orchids”, “All Day”, “Kiss kiss kiss” and “Harpsichord Kiss”.
As a bonus, here’s a disco-friendly remix of “Poison”. Produced by Australian hip electro outfit Van She, it’s synth-laden, heavy bass ode to the dancefloor…
Martina Topley Bird - Poison (Van She Tech Remix)
Drop by Martina Topley Bird’s MySpace for more info and music. Buy the new album on
Nantes-based trio Smooth is a jazz-funk / electronica project active since 2005. After releasing two successful albums, the band is now back with a new record, The Parade, which hit the stores in February 2010. Their music is a mix of influences from different times and places and it could very well have been created in a 1960s undergound artist workshop in London or in a Berlin café in the 70s.
Smooth - Another Life
The trio borrows and mixes sounds and rhythms from pop, soul, funk and electronica, all taken apart and put back together with inventiveness and jubilation. Self-confessed genre breakers, the three young men, David Darricarrère (vocals, guitar, piano), Nicolas Berrivin ( bass guitar , piano ) and Christophe Declercq ( drums ), cement their work through hours of experimentation both in the studio and on stage.
Smooth - She's Coming Back
If you like what you hear, you can get more info on their official site and find all their tour dates on MySpace. You can buy their music on
Not much is known about Glass Animals, except for the fact that they are based in London, they are still unsigned and their page on MySpace (where you can listen to two songs) was created only recently…
What I do know is that they were kind enough to drop one of their tracks in umstrum’s inbox yesterday and the song has been on repeat ever since…
“Golden Antlers” is one of those dark electronic tracks that stick in your mind and leave you with a feeling half way between pleasure and pain.. Much like early Telefon Tel Aviv, Son Lux or L’altra, Glass Animals build their track around the dramatic tension between the minimalistic arrangements and the frail vocals. The atmosphere is highly claustrophobic throughout the track but, for some reason, you get trapped in this structure and you end wanted to listen to “Golden Antlers” again and again…