I love Brazil. I love the music, the culture, the history, the sounds of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Marcos Valle and beyond. I recently bought a book from Soul Jazz Records compiling much of the artwork that graced record stores in 1960’s Brazil, and in the extensive notes detailing the history of the Bossa Nova scene, the magic and power of the carnival was integral to how Brazillian’s evolved their musical language. (Samba, the principal music of the carnival, had come from the countryside, and Bossa Nova was the urban distillation of the Samba sound).

So it’s pretty easy to marvel at the magic of this video. Combining the classic visual cues of tilt-shift and time-lapse, it paints a picture of a city, and country in thrall to it’s heritage, and a vibrant place to be. This is best watched on a rainy day, where you can lose yourself in the sunshine and culture of a city and country reborn. (And it’s probably worth sticking this song on while you watch it too…)

(Via Fubiz)

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A neat project from New York Based Graphic Designer Mike Joyce. Combining a love of Swiss Graphic Design and Punk, he’s created a poster series of famous concerts from the time period, remixed in the Swiss style. I love how incongruous some of the design is to the tone of the music. I’m sure many purists of the music would vent that the energy and fury of the original has been removed in an experiment like this. But in it’s place you can see how Modernist principles were twisted themselves with the evolution of design in the early eighties. (Examples of which are on display in the excellent Post Modernism exhibition at the V&A, more on that this month). But it got me thinking what other styles you could start mashing up. Blue Note meets Psychedelia? Or Factory Records meets Country? The genre splicing fun is endless (I might give one a go and see what the result is). A lovely simple idea, beautifully executed.

See the full collection here. 

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A prime slab of 1980’s nostalgia spliced and diced over the top of an excellent electro-house-disco style mix that The Magician does so well. (Or as the Vimeo blurb puts it: “Koyaanisqatsi for a generation raised on late night television and B-movie VHS tapes” Well worth a watch, and well worth a listen. Lots and lots of cool visuals here, they really bought the pain in the 1980’s…

(Via Coops)

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(Photo by Matrixsynth)
Just discovered this awesome and insightful post on the 40 noises (e.g instruments) that built modern day pop. As a collection, they make up a hugely varied and fun collection. Even better that some of these sounds, and therefore their assimilation into popular culture, were the products of accidents. Like most great innovations it seems.

This post seemed primed for a bit of a Spotify playlist action, and so, I’ve put it together. Enjoy!

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Creating new spins on retro styles is nothing new. So the question is how do you hold someone’s attention with something they are already familiar with?

Well, in the example of these two videos, the answer is simple. Craft. The first video is a music video for the concert season at Bellavista Social Pub (Jesus, what a name…). Ignoring the lameness of the name, the Jazz theme of the season has led the team to create a supreme re-interpretation of some of Blue Note records most beautiful record covers. The attention to detail is exquisite, and I mean exquisite. Even if you aren’t familiar with the content of the records themselves (although I would highly recommend you check some of these out). You cannot fail to be impressed with the level of homage, as well as the bravery of taking this design/moving image challenge on.

While the classic designs of Blue Note were getting a makeover, there appeared another video that took it’s cues from a lower form of entertainment, but nailed this homage just as brilliantly.

A speculative music video made for Buck 65 by Travis Hopkins, it reinterprets the lyrics of this rapidfire tune into a visual assault of the senses taking it’s cue from the 1960’s/70’s/80’s Exploitation scene. There’s so much pop cultural referencing going on here that really, you just have to watch it. But again, the craft, the dedication and the sheer nuttiness of it makes it really stand out.

Inspiring stuff.

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More great work combing music (from the band Mathon) and gesture technology to create a multi-touch sound visualisation. There are some nice touches here, and is a cool example of how technology and music are converging in more and more diverse ways. Would love to have a play of this, but for now, we’ll just have to work with the video above.

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A really interesting and innovative idea here for buying, distributing and involving fans of, surprisingly, The Kaiser Chiefs. The quick synopsis goes something like this: Choose your tracks (10 from 20). Select and create your own artwork, and distribute your version of the album, making money off the back of it (as does the band obviously). Fan wins (greater engagement and money off the back of it) artists wins (you actually listen to the songs, and the PR is invaluable) and without a shadow of a doubt the agency wins (this whole little number was dreamt up by Oli Beale, creative at W+K London, in collaboration with lead singer Ricky Wilson. The full explanation is over here at Welcome To Optimism).

So, what about the experience of ‘making’ this album? Well, the website is a lovely piece of interactive work (especially the way you plug the cables into each track – cute), and you have to respect and applaud the thinking and innovation behind the idea. It has you intrigued enough to be willing to take the time to indulge in the experiment and listen to the songs. It’s not as devastatingly simple as Radiohead’s pay what you want initiative for In Rainbows,  but then again, they a universally lauded band and probably could afford to take a greater financial and critical risk (not including the £40 deluxe packs and all that jazz that were released after). Alas for the The Kaiser Chiefs they are loooooooong way from critical darling level and frankly, have been on the wane for years, so it’s going to be tough road back. Hence why I respect the embracing of the unknown.

Will this musical experiment reverse that decline? Possibly, it certainly will gain them exposure, but you have to wonder how many people beyond a hardcore might participate in this. I would actually like to see this do well, beyond what I personally think of the music. (It’s a bit…. meh, with a few interesting highlights, that I naturally selected in my own album attempt), the really cool bit here is the disruptive model, and the collaboration. Letting your fans feel like they are participating in some of the most crucial elements of building a great album (songs and pictures) heralds another level of engagement. Let’s hope there’s enough fans, both old and new to make it a success.

Check out the whole experience here.

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