FIFI RONG Violently Silently

FIFI RONG brings her own brand of lush tunes care of new release Violently Silently

One of the more surprising music acts to emerge in recent years comes in the form of FIFI RONG, whose sultry vocals have invited listeners into her unique world of ethereal soundscapes and dark dreams.

Originally hailing from Bejing, Fifi has crafted her own unique style as part of the London music scene. Encompassing a broad range of influences, including electronica, dub and hip hop, the singer, songwriter and producer has already chalked up an impressive series of releases, including the 2014 EP Next Pursuit. She also contributed to Tricky’s 2013 False Idols album.

Her latest release comes in the form of a crowdfunded EP titled Violently Silently which was funded by PledgeMusic. A relatively new crowdfunding resource, PledgeMusic specialises in focusing on music (previous notable artists include OMD, Echo & The Bunnymen and IAMX). Fifi drummed up a surge of support for her initiative with some enticing rewards and goodies for early pledgers and easily smashed her crowdfunding goal.



The result of this effort is another fine collection of hypnotic tunes that showcase Fifi’s soulful vocals and offers reflective moods as well as brighter pop moments.

Opening track ‘Intro’ weaves in elements of the other tracks on the release, offering up a captivating overture for the EP as a whole. ‘Once’ adds brighter, poppier colours to Fifi’s musical palette with its insistent rhythms and subtle synths.

There’s a tighter feel to the stylish percussive trills of ‘Slow Poison’ with its marimba touches and playful piano. Meanwhile, the languid strings of ‘Since When’ opens up an immersive world of lush soundscapes – offering up the perfect foundations for Fifi’s mesmerising vocals.

The suitably named ‘Outro’ closes proceedings, an electronic dub collage of mood with sparse percussive effects.

The whole affair has a warm and smooth production care of Fifi herself along with mixing by Lee Slater (who has previously worked with artists as diverse as MIA, Tynchy Strider, Pixie Lott and Lana Del Rey).

Fifi also has a Violently Silently launch gig planned for next week offering the perfect opportunity to catch her in live performance.

Violently Silently is released on 4th December.

Fifi Rong’s Violently Silently official EP launch performance is on Tuesday 24th November 2015 (7:00pm – 11:00pm) with special guests Geeta + Aria.

Upstairs at The Garage
20-22 Highbury Crescent
N5 1RD



LOLA DUTRONIC Lost In Translation

Electronic duo LOLA DUTRONIC return with a collection of tunes that exude style and charm…

Lola Dutronic was a project originally conceived by Richard Citroen to combine his love of 60s French pop with modern electronic music. The result has been a steady catalogue of inspired pop tunes which combine elements of wit and charm. If you’re a fan of outfits like Denim, this is the sort of thing that will strike a particular chord.

The particular approach of Lola Dutronic to music is best typified by 2012’s ‘Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead’ – a melodic slice of pop sensibility that explores the art of post-mortem fame (and which also features backing vocals by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth).

Now teamed with Germany-based singer Stephanie B, the Canada-based composer has served up perhaps Lola Dutronic’s finest moment to date in the shape of Lost In Translation.

The album (dedicated to the memory of New York Dolls manager Marty Thau) features as fine a collection of tunes as you can expect from a contemporary electronic outfit. Along the way, you also get some pithy commentary on the absurdities of modern living, such as the percussive pop of ‘Modern Suicide’ which dourly declares: “If a tree falls and you’re not on Twitter, would anybody see it, would anybody care?”

This theme is continued on the throbbing beats of ‘Reality TV’, exploring the obsession with fame and celebrity in the modern age. It’s this ability to combine simple, yet catchy electronic melodies with quirky lyrical narratives that have crafted Lola Dutronic’s own unique sound (and certainly sets them apart from the landfill electro that’s everywhere these days).

Meanwhile, ‘I Believe’ offers a straightforward love song with a yearning vocal from Stephanie B. “I believe that we could last forever/if we could only get together” could be viewed as an adolescent lyric on paper, but it’s given a particular charm and a particular power on this serving of wistful pop.

One of the album’s finest moments, however, has to be the acid-toned ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ with its pointed lyrical content about the breakup of a relationship. The melodic delivery of the song adds a delightful skewed element to the composition, complete with a jaunty organ solo at the halfway point. But it’s the straight delivery of the closing lines, including “And take your Kenny G records with you – and don’t forget Billy Joel” which offers the icing on the cake.





Keeping Lola Dutronic’s traditional Gallic torch song aesthetic alight, ‘Trying Not To Think About You’ delivers a travelogue paean to lost love and memory. Meanwhile, the stately pace of ‘The End Of The World’ continues tales of heartbreak and doomed romance with a definite French twist.

Citreon also spares time for a direct reference to his first musical love with a unique version of ‘Harley Davidson’ – a tune that Serge Gainsbourg originally penned for Brigitte Bardot.

‘Keep On Dancing’ employs judicious use of electronically treated vocal effects for an infectious slice of synthpop as Stephanie unveils a tale of growing old disgracefully. Meanwhile, the naïve charm of ‘The Christmas Disco’ offers up its stories of office Xmas Party dramas. The burbling synth rhythms chug along for a foot-tapping portion of seasonal pop.

‘Happy Endings’ furthers this peculiar combination of perky pop tunes and emotional turmoil. The breathy, sensual vocals of Stephanie B are given an electronic tweak on this very effective electropop delight.

The album closes with a ‘Modern Suicide’ reprise in which Lola Dutronic state their disdain for social networking: “Thank you for your interest, but don’t look us up on Pinterest”. Stick that in your Twitter.

It’s difficult to find a duff track on Lost In Translation, suggesting that Lola Dutronic have managed to raise the bar on what’s essentially the pinnacle of their work to date. The album will certainly appeal to those with a penchant for both good tunes and wry, social commentary – with a sprinkling of doomed love affairs.

Lost In Translation is out now.

This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.

GRIMES Art Angels

GRIMES returns with the follow-up to her 2012 album Visions and provides challenges and rewards for the keen listener…

The success of her previous album Visions clearly caused something of a dilemma for Claire Boucher (aka Grimes). The album had, in many ways, been a gear change from her earlier work in opening up the often cryptic soundscapes that had been the trademark sound of Grimes previous.

In 2014 a new Grimes song was premiered in the form of ‘Go’ (a collaborative effort with Blood Diamonds) whose clubby beats divided opinion amongst fans. To confuse matters, an entire album’s worth of material that Boucher had recorded was deemed “too depressing” and was summarily shelved.

Prior to this, Boucher had issued a statement in 2013 expressing frustration at the casual sexism that her higher profile had suddenly attracted. This wasn’t simply reserved to online commentary, but extended to her experiences within the professional music industry. “I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ … as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology”.

It’s clear that these issues have had a bearing on the direction of her music, something which is evident by the lyrical content of the new album.

As with previous releases, Boucher wrote and produced the entirety of Art Angels. The task wasn’t without its challenges as Boucher had decided to introduce live instrumentation – along with learning whole new production techniques. Apparently being a fan of Taylor Swift, Boucher also used the very same tube condenser mic that Taylor Swift utilised when the pop icon recorded Red.

As with ‘Go’, the new album has divided fans and critics alike. Certainly there’s a move to embrace a much more conventional approach than on previous Grimes releases, although Visions appeared to hit that sweet spot between pop and mystery that served it so well.

The album kicks off with an overture of sorts in the form of ‘laughing and not being normal’, a concise mostly instrumental track whose strings and piano flourishes bring a touch of the classical to the album.

‘California’, with its ukulele rhythms and vocal melodies certainly shows a more direct approach than on earlier releases. It’s an indication of the approach that Boucher has taken with the adoption of more traditional instrumentation and arrangements. ‘SCREAM’ (featuring a star turn by Tawainese rapper Aristophanes) offers up an unsettling soundscape of, unsurprisingly, screams and the rapid-fire delivery of Aristophanes against a regimented percussive beat. It also marks the first track that Boucher has produced where she’s not lead vocalist.

Meanwhile, ‘Flesh without Blood’ offers up bassy rhythms and rolling percussion – a perfect foundation for Boucher’s strong yet airy vocals. Out of all the tracks on the album it perhaps straddles that middle ground between the pop sensibility of Visions and touches of a more conventional, club vibe that are dotted throughout Art Angels.

There’s a more stripped down aesthetic for ‘Belly of the Beat’ with its acoustic guitar melody and scratchy vinyl effects, but there’s an insistent melodic touch to the composition that keeps things interesting. Grimes goes electropop for ‘Kill V. Maim’ with its harsh percussion and insistent bass beat, sounding as if Hooky had dropped by the studio for a session. Again, it’s a fine example of the natural evolution of the Grimes sound. “I’m only a man/do what I can” intones Boucher on one of the more memorable tracks on the album.

It’s also probably worth pointing out at this juncture that Boucher has introduced a whole cast of alter egos for the new album, including Roccoco Basilisk, Kill V. Maim and Skreechy Bat (“who’s the metal one”). Some of these characters can be viewed in the video for ‘Flesh without Blood’ / ‘Life in the Vivid Dream’.

‘Artangels’ switches back to an electropop approach with warm synth rhythms while ‘Easily’ is another minimalist composition with its piano melody intro and pleasant vocals. ‘Pin’, meanwhile, delivers a multipurpose composition which sounds at home as a classic Grimes number as much as it would easily slide into a setlist of your club of choice.





Previously released as a demo version in the earlier part of the year as a standalone track, after some mulling over its inclusion ‘Realiti’ also appears on Art Angels, albeit under a freshly recorded version (Boucher claims the original music files were lost). This version is, not surprisingly, more polished and smoother than in its original incarnation. It’s a warm, immersive track picked out by its insistent synth clarion call.

‘World Princess part II’ would, it appear, be a nod to ‘World ♡ Princess’, which appeared on the 2011 album Halfaxa. Sonically, it’s worlds away from its predecessor’s hypnotic vocal trills and instead offers up more of a harder electronic edge with pointed lyrics about “the things you try to take”.

There’s other occasional nods to the Grimes of old, such as the incoherent vocal embellishments and esoteric electronic effects evident on ‘Life in the Vivid Dream’. ‘Venus Fly’, meanwhile, is one of the gems on Art Angels, a collaboration with US artist Janelle Monáe, the track is a tight slice of percussive pop and clipped vocals that bring to mind elements of K-Pop.

As an album, Art Angels has certainly invited debate amongst her fans, some of whom feel that Grimes has wandered too far from the quirk and charm of the soundscapes that inhabited the likes of Halfaxa – not to mention the dark pop of Visions. These arguments are not without merit, although Art Angels offers up rewards for the music enthusiast willing to mine for them.

Art Angels is released on 4AD and is available from Amazon

This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.