Seven years ago, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds — who was just starting to receive widespread acclaim at the time for his solo work – released a collection of tracks titled Found Songs, which consisted of seven compositions that were recorded daily for seven days and immediately released online.
Shifting her work, which was previously rather pastoral and orchestral, to pop-inspired electronic music, Anohni focuses on politics this time in an attempt to make a protest album.
Shara Nova (formerly Shara Worden), the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist known for her versatile musical repertoire and artistic moniker My Brightest Diamond, visited Boston on March 17 as part of Stave Sessions, a set of chamber music concerts organized by The Celebrity Series of Boston and featuring innovative and eclectic musicians and performers. The Tech took the opportunity to talk to Nova about her latest album, inspirations, and live performances before attending her intimate, two-hour concert at Berklee College of Music.
After the captivating live rendition of “Goddess Eyes I,” Julia Holter smiled to the audience and remarked that the only thing she could see that night in the background of Allston’s dimly-lit Great Scott was the live stream of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential debate on TV. The audience immediately burst into laughter.
David Bowie, a legendary music and fashion icon, passed away on Jan. 10 after an 18-month battle with liver cancer. Following his death, numerous artists and public figures paid their respects to the singer via social media by thanking him for being a source of inspiration throughout their lives. Last week, the entrance to the Infinite Corridor was embellished with a banner that paid homage to Bowie through his verse from “Space Oddity,” while Lobby 7 greeted the MIT community with imagery of his eccentric outfits. Surely, every Bowie fan can cite a multitude of reasons why this icon should be remembered and appreciated, but I can understand why someone who did not follow his career might ask a simple question — why should we care about David Bowie?
When her longtime romantic relationship and music collaboration with Mark Brydon — the other half of the now-defunct electronic music duo Moloko — ended, Róisín Murphy swiftly launched her solo career with the 2005 album Ruby Blue. A peculiar and refreshing record, filled with unusual combinations of brass instruments, dance rhythms, and sounds taken from everyday life, Ruby Blue garnered very positive reviews from the critics and showed that the Irish singer and producer was not going to be overshadowed by her history with Moloko.
Elena Ruehr, who has been a lecturer at MIT in the Department of Music and Theater Arts since 1992, is premiering three new works this fall. Two of those, “Eve” and “It’s About Time,” had their openings in Boston and San Francisco this month, while the third one, an opera titled “Cassandra in the Temples,” will have its opening night in Kresge Auditorium at MIT this Friday.
On November 14 and 15, MIT will host Infinite Record: Archive, Memory, Performance, an international artistic research project led by Østfold University College/Norwegian Theatre Academy. The project is done in collaboration with York St. John University in U.K, Muthesius Kunsthochschule in Germany, and MIT, which was chosen to host the final installment of the series. This will be one of the most significant events for MIT’s arts community, as it will bring some of the most prominent international artists on campus and expose research in performance arts to the student population.
Even though only in its fourth installment, the three-day Boston Calling Music Festival is already becoming a landmark of Boston’s entertainment scene. The lineup for this week’s shows includes The War on Drugs, Lorde, The National, Nas with The Roots, and Future Islands. The Tech recently interviewed Brian Appel, co-founder of Boston Calling, to find out how the festival was conceived and what happens behind the scenes during the show.
Can art and architecture help heal cultural conflicts? Azra Akšamija PhD ’11 explores the power of art and architecture in resolving conflicts and identifying contexts in which these conflicts can be analyzed and explored. Akšamija is an Assistant Professor at the Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) program and MIT’s Department of Architecture, where she works as an artist and architectural historian in addition to teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes. She recently talked to The Tech about her origins, the ideas behind her projects, and her artistic vision of helping resolve the lingering conflicts in her native country, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How would you feel if you went to a concert where a performer dressed as an aerobics instructor with tights, a wig, and glittery shorts asked you to repeat, “I am not a woman, I am not a man, I am both, I am neither, if you don’t like it, take a breather?”
Joan Jonas, a professor emeritus at MIT and a prominent contemporary artist, has been chosen to represent the United States at the 2015 Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions. Venice Biennale (Biennale di Venezia in Italian) takes place in Venice every two years and brings new exciting art to hundreds of thousands visitors. The 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (May 9 — November 22, 2015) will be directed by Okwui Enwezor, writer, art critic, curator, and the Director of the Haus der Kunst, Munich.
Tomorrow Rockwell Cage will shine with crystal-studded costumes, sleek hairdos, and elegant tail suits as dancers from different areas gather for MIT Open, the annual ballroom dance competition organized by MIT Ballroom Dance Team. The Tech took this opportunity to visit the team members during their weekend practice and talk about preparations, the team’s progress, and dancing in general.
When was the last time you saw a live performing circus? Chances are you’ve simply forgotten about circus as a type of performing arts. Indeed, with so many blockbuster movies filled with otherworldly acrobatics, there seems to be a loss of interest in seeing an actual human being putting their life at risk for your entertainment. Nevertheless, the entertaining teams of performers — from Cirque du Soleil to The Big Apple Circus — still deliver some of the most gut-wrenching and captivating shows to people across the world. Last week, Boston hosted the world’s renowned Australian ensemble of acrobats, musicians, and dancers known as Circus Oz.
It’s been almost a year since the Canadian-Danish duo Rhye released their critically acclaimed debut album Woman. Despite the lack of any new official material, lead singer Milosh paid a visit to Boston with his touring band last week and performed most of the album’s songs.
For some artists, moving to another location can be an insignificant part of their life, but for the English-born musician Jam Rostron, this decision was more than just switching her address. Rostron, more commonly known by her stage name PLANNINGTOROCK, is a Germany-based musician and producer who moved from UK’s Bolton to Berlin at a young age and rediscovered herself. As an established persona in the alternative and underground scene, Rostron has been delivering some of the most unique and unusual music for the past few years. Last month, we took the opportunity to chat with her about her upcoming album All Love’s Legal, her musical roots and the direction of her career.
With the grand production of Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker embracing the winter season in Boston, many ballet goers might be unaware of another production that happened in the secluded Sanctuary Theatre, located at Harvard Square. While the José Mateo Ballet may be somewhat less familiar than the Boston Ballet Company, this ballet company has been putting out shows for decades. This winter, they returned with their 26th annual production of The Nutcracker — a small-scale and intimate show that delivers the best of the Christmas magic.
Karen Marie Ørsted, also known simply as Mø, might not be the most familiar name in the music industry yet, but the 25-year old Dane is far from operating in the corners of obscure and alternative scenes. Just within one year, she has released several singles, contributed her vocals to Avicii’s song “Dear Boy” and delivered her debut EP Bikini Daze. Like many of her contemporary Scandinavian singer-songwriters, she seems to be faithfully following their long-lasting tradition by doing what Scandinavia is famous for — making fantastic pop music.
An ordinary anchorman leads a relatively ordinary life until one day when his father suddenly dies. Instead of closing one of his broadcast reports by traditionally thanking the audience for watching the news, he decides to break the norms and pray. The erratic decision receives glowing praise from the local community, and the story gets a special twist when the anchorman’s subsequent broadcast prayers come to life. With these new acquired powers, he decides that it is his duty to pray for other people’s sufferings and save the world.
Upon entering Boston’s House of Blues on October 16th, the attendees were given a short pamphlet entitled “The Ten Droid Commandments”. Besides instructing the audience on how to get the most out of Janelle Monáe’s conceptual concert, the pamphlet also contained Monáe’s special request for the audience — to never reveal the show’s secrets to their friends. Before the Electric Lady appeared on the stage to actually share the mysterious secrets, Roman GianArthur (one of the key figures in the production and arrangement of Monáe’s albums) opened the show with a stellar musical and vocal performance. In addition to performing some of his own songs, he also delivered several fantastic covers, including MGMT’s “Electric Feel” and Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady”. Similarly to Monáe, his continuous communication with the audience and the ability to instill the “jam” factor into each of his songs made his appearance nothing less than mesmerizing.
Lauren Mayberry, Ian Cook and Martin Doherty, otherwise known as the Glasgow-based synth-pop band CHVRCHES, have entered the music scene with quite a fanfare. After the relatively unrecognized premiere release of their singles “Lies” and “The Mother We Share” in 2012, the band suddenly took over headlines in early 2013. BBC ranked them fifth in their poll “Sound of 2013,” after which the band released their EP Recover to positive critic reviews, and within a few months CHVRCHES were already touring around the world.
For the Los Angeles-based experimental musician Julia Holter, having creative blocks and receiving only sporadic artistic epiphanies does not seem to be an option. Her debut album Tragedy was released in 2011, immediately accompanied by the sophomore follow-up Ekstasis in 2012 and the third full-length album Loud City Song released this year. Keeping in mind that many critically acclaimed contemporary musicians take more than a few years between releasing their albums, it might be tempting to assume that Holter prefers quantity over quality. Yet, at only twenty-eight years of age, Holter — a musically-trained CalArts alumna — delivers stronger and richer material with each subsequent album.
“Also, I wanna say The Droid Control can kiss the rust of the left and the right cheek of my black metal ass,” says the voice of a female caller during a radio call in Monáe’s interlude “Good Morning Midnight.” The radio station WDRD, led by DJ Crash Crash, receives comments and thoughts from various callers, who discuss their opinions on Monáe’s heroine alter-ego, android Cindi Mayweather.
Despite their strong penchant for science and engineering, many students come to MIT with extensive previous experience in theater and film. And, while it seems that a school like MIT might be the last place on Earth to find interesting theater classes, the Institute offers various and eclectic courses for students who want to continue exploring their interests in this field, and for students who had no prior exposure to theater and film.
Born and raised in Ghana, Kae Sun moved to Canada when he was just a teen. Entering the music scene as a student in Hamilton was never an intentional decision for him, but that initial spontaneity has evolved into a promising music career, with two full-length albums released and an ongoing tour.
Making sentient albums and coloring them with distinct personalities that incite a vast range of emotions upon every listen is, if done successfully, a tricky, but rewarding artistic attempt. Some of these albums, like Planningtorock’s overlooked debut album Have It All, are extroverts — they reach out to you with their lovable eccentricities embodied in their lyrics and music, while giving their essence to you. Other ones, like Björk’s album Vespertine, are introverts — these absorb and isolate you with their slowly-unraveling and unreachable sounds, while luring your essence and then trapping it within their realm. And then there are those free-roaming spirits, like Anna Von Hausswolff’s newest album Ceremony, that simply take you on an unpredictable journey, enriched with both mysterious and tangible emotions, while offering you a taste of vicarious memories.
An old haunted house in a semi-deserted suburban area, squeaky noises in the night, clocks stopping always at the same hour, a naïve and helpless family deciphering tortuous supernatural clues, possessions and exorcisms — you’ve seen it all before. Even if your knowledge of horror movies is limited to the few ones that turned your childhood nights into never-ending states of sleeplessness and convinced you to stick with comedies, you will be able to foresee the outcome of every scene in The Conjuring. Don’t be fooled though, because this movie will have you screaming in your seat, or at least jolting out of the unrelenting anticipation in case you grew inured to the images of unsightly demonic figures.
I never understood the Kanye West mania — not because I’m some music snob who does not appreciate rap and hip hop, but because I have enough guts to follow my instincts and speak up when over-hyped contemporary music is worthless. I am not a connoisseur of rap music, and I may not be able to recognize all the nuances of hip hop, but when I do listen to these genres, I am certain that I listen to praiseworthy artists. For example, I love OutKast and I think that every bit of their acclaimed success was well deserved. During the summer before my senior year of high school, I spent most of my afternoons listening to The Roots’ How I Got Over on repeat. If you play Missy Elliott’s “Work It,” I will (mostly unsuccessfully) rap along. And, while I am not their greatest fan, I love listening to Q-Tip, Nas, Mos Def and Talib Kweli when I get a craving for some good beats.
The Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches (usually stylized as CHVRCHES) released their first EP Recover this March to very positive reviews, and just recently embarked on their first U.S. tour. Taking the London-based musical project Still Corners along with them, the band paid Boston a visit last month to play some of their acclaimed songs and present forthcoming album material.
One afternoon during last fall, I came back from class exhausted and frustrated by the never-ending amount of studying and homework waiting for me. I decided to relax and watch a movie that would require minimum mental attachment, which for some reason always helps to clear my mind. I remembered my friend telling me to watch some romantic movie from the 90s called Before Sunrise. I wasn’t very picky at that moment, so I found the movie, made some mood-elevating dinner and sat down for a session of good old leisure.
This year ought to be a milestone for Robin Hannibal. Just earlier this year, he and Mike Milosh released a spectacularly sensual album Woman under the artistic moniker Rhye, which swept the critics and the fans off of their feet. Now, only a few months later, he reunites with Coco O, the second half of his well-established musical project Quadron, to release their sophomore album Avalanche and set the ground for this summer’s music scene.
In the last ten years, the UK music scene has been producing new female singer-songwriters like an exponential growth function let loose. After the great success of Ireland-native Róisín Murphy’s trip hop and dance-pop solo career in the UK, followed by Amy Winehouse’s planetary breakout and her revival of contemporary soul and jazz music, there have been few major waves of incoming sound — and look-alike female musicians. Adele and Duffy were the first ones to take and pass on Winehouse’s torch, by writing and producing similarly soulful and bluesy songs. By the end of the 2000s, a new wave of more-pop-oriented female artists brought VV Brown, Jessie J, Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine), and Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds). In the meantime, Róisín Murphy-inspired artists, such as Elly Jackson (of La Roux) and Ellie Goulding, diversified the music scene by popularizing electro-pop music.
Growing up as a child in a very musical and theatrical family, I developed a keen sense of distinguishing high quality shows from mediocre ones, in both visual and acoustic performing arts. Even the most nuanced distasteful details in a show can make me frown, which is why I always found it difficult to like live musicals. Whereas regular plays and musical concerts require a certain subset of performance skills, musicals require the full package: good production, acting, dancing, singing and very often a well-coordinated orchestra. With that said, I am so happy to wholeheartedly admit that I was astonished by Berklee College’s adaptation of Hair, which premiered last week at the Berklee Performance Center.
It might be due to my biased pop-oriented ear, but it seems that it’s hard to find a rock band nowadays that maintains the essence of rock music while being original and progressive at the same time. Put some repetitive guitar and percussion sounds together with unrefined lyrics and forced hoarse voices and you’ve got yourself a group of fully-operating contemporary rock band copycats. Nevertheless, there are still a few of them that manage to captivate my attention with their rock-based roots and striking, ever-growing uniqueness. Yeah Yeah Yeahs is one of them.
If this is the first time you hear the oddly concatenated name iamamiwhoami, then you have missed the fascinating beginnings of an enigmatic viral internet sensation that took over Youtube in 2009. Founded by the Swedish folk singer-songwriter Jonna Lee, her producer Claes Björklund and the film director Robin Kempe-Bergman, iamamiwhoami is an audiovisual musical project with many charming peculiarities that your regular wannabe-weirdo artists never manage to deliver.
Judging by the album cover, you might be thinking that another Britney Spears-inspired diva has emerged to conquer the world’s pop scene, but if you are a fan of the Swedish brother-sister duo The Knife, you know that this is far from the truth. The mellow-looking cover art is just a deceiving layer of their new album, Shaking the Habitual, which is everything but mellow.
Expectations and comebacks are inseparable companions. When a star as famous as Justin Timberlake takes a temporary break from making music, coming back to the scene is never a piece of cake — the media wants to know the reason behind the hiatus and the fans expect fresh and promising music.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of “Julius Caesar” premiered last Friday, with over twenty-five MIT students contributing to the show as either cast or crew. The story is about the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, and his assassination in 44 BC. Although it is a historical play, “Julius Caesar” does not focus significantly on the facts and logistics of the conspiracy, but instead illuminates the psychological basis and internal struggles of the characters in the play.
We might not want to admit it, but there is certainly a gender bias when it comes to music tastes. It is quite rare to hear someone label music as “too manly”, but it is not so uncommon to hear it called “too girly” in one way or another. For example, the singer might be too showy, the video’s choreography might be too bombastic, the song might be too cheesy, or it might just have “too much pop” to handle.