[My Gang] Stateless – Ariel : Reco of the Week 08 Mar 11


Mar 8 2011, 17h23

Track: Ariel [ Soundcloud ]
Artist: Stateless [ Spotify ]
Album: Matilda (Ninja Tune, 21 Feb 2011)
Tags: , , , ,
Video: Click the pic...

YouTube, official video

My new obsession. A band that brings together hard rock, trip hop, jazz, dance and soul to name just a few. This week's recommendation is the lead single, released last November.

Ariel opens with sampled gypsy guitars and heavy beats, morphs into hip-hop trip-hop decorated with glitchy squelches and squeaks from sampled synths and electronica, then moves on to a sparse piano and echoes before returning to the main, thuddingly heavy beat.

The vocals are soulful and downbeat, allowing the glitchy samples to flash and sparkle. The treatment is complex; even after repeat plays, there's still new detail to notice.

Ariel is the goddess of healing and the song is about her conflict with the devil, the battle between good and evil.

The video illustrates themes from both the lyrics and the music with an improvised dance interpretation using motion capture technology and digital animation by FIELD. See the making of here: watch.

The tiny points of light are like the glitch sounds that flash yet form a sort of aural soup surrounding the main track. Again, dark contrasts against light with black and bright neon colours. The combination and shades chosen are clever and not expected, bright flame orange given shape with flat matt purple and highlighted with pinks. The devil appears in shiny, silvery black. Their battle takes place in another world which, in the end, shatters.

It's a strong track, with Chris James's vocals somewhat reminiscent of James Blake and Scott Matthews. Elsewhere, he sounds like Chris Martin (Coldplay), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Jeff Buckley, and occasionally Matthew Bellamy (Muse). I've only named a few.

The album comes in at about 50 minutes but feels longer because you're paying such close attention. In amongst the spacey ambience and hard rock trip-hop is sensual soul, seductive and moreish. Where James Blake is clinical and cold, here, they're feeling it. Massive Attack style trip-hop sits side by side with Radiohead and Muse type heavy rock and electronica with an occasional flourish of funk and dark disco thrown in for good measure. The contrasts continue with loud versus quiet, familar versus experimental, and abstract lyrics versus catchy choruses.

Curtain Call begins the show, teasing with a barely audible opening so you wonder if it's started yet, slowly moving into a haunting ambient beginning and a beautiful piano piece that reminds you of Portishead's The Rip - "Won't you come sit here by the fire with me / Tell me the stories of the places you've been." - before kicking off into pure noise.

The next showpiece after Ariel is the new single, Assassinations, released 14 February. [ Soundcloud ]. It doesn't end where it begins. Tribal drums and ethereal sounds open with the beat slowly introduced with the chorus "You can't stop whatever is round the corner". Glitch is introduced and the track builds to a leap into loud, grungy stadium rock. No, you can't stop whatever is round the corner. "We will knock it dead".

Stateless are from Leeds, Yorkshire and formed in 2002. 'Stateless' because their music aims to defy placement. Matilda is their second album, produced by Damian Taylor (Björk, The Prodigy) with guests Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), DJ Shadow, and the Balanescu Quartet.

No one track is like another and none set the tone, the album is as disparate as its samples and influences, yet underpinning everything is this soup of glitch and World sounds, thanks to the eastern European violins of the Balanescu Quartet, sitars and the gypsy guitar. It's big yet small with attention to fine detail. Cinematic and theatrical yet intimate. Heard on good headphones, the sound swirls around you, so you literally turn around to see if it isn't anything else. Glitch comes at you from all angles and you're totally immersed. Yeah, soup.

I have linked to everything by Stateless in Spotify (above). Be warned, Art of No State (2003) is another artist by the same name (and awful).

Further reading:

Wikipedia - Stateless (band)
Official site
indieLondon review
Musos Guide review


- My Gang

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Admin: Stats as of today:

Last.fm listeners of this track - 4,239
No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 20,787
Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 821
Position in Last 6 Months: 3 / 2,824

Date Added: Nov 3, 2010
Views: 209,118, Comments: 131, Likes: 1,274, Dislikes: 7

Stats after 7 days:

Unique Visitors
Page Views

Envios aceitos
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  • rwitte

    Well, that was certainly a cracking read. Your enthusiasm for your subject matter certainly helps, but the article is also well researched, well paced and informative. I have to agree with you that the video graphics are stunning. I don't think I liked the track as much as you do, but it is certainly well worth a listen (not to mention a watch) Many Thanks Roger

    Mar 10 2011, 20h14
  • Babs_05

    Oh wow, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, rwitte, I've just been beating myself up for not doing them justice. There's so much more I could have said. But then, yeah, they are my new obsession. :) If you have time to listen to the album, do, and let me know what you think.

    Mar 10 2011, 20h19
  • Maddieman

    Well, I have time to kill and nothing to listen to - giving it go. :)

    Mar 13 2011, 13h31
  • Babs_05

    Excellent! Let me know what you think. :)

    Mar 13 2011, 13h36
  • Babs_05

    Bug: can't edit and repost. Last.fm listeners of this track - 4,492 No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 22,007 Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 727 Position in Last 6 Months: 3 / 2,824 Video Views: 218,312, Comments: 136, Likes: 1,320, Dislikes: 7

    Mar 15 2011, 23h45
  • freebird-

    yeahhh these guys are definitely ones to watch :) love ariel

    Mar 19 2011, 2h22
  • Babs_05

    Thanks, freebird :)

    Mar 19 2011, 12h15
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