au revoir simone

EP Review: Heartbeat - Night Plane

Heartbeat - Night Plane

This release from Night Plane represents a an interesting first, coming out as it does on a brand new label within the Wolf + Lamb stable. Heartbeat represents the debut release from one Soul Clap Records.

Night Plane is Brooklynite William Rauscher and this EP shows off his broad range of abilities, from crunchy grunge guitars and indie-cool through to deep electronic house.

The title track, 'Heartbeat', has a surpringly loose, live feel to it. Looping drums and a scratchy, bluesy guitar line open the door on a song that aims straight for the midpoint between rock and dance. Long-time, friend of Rauscher, Casey Gibbs provides the slightly yobish vocals and a fair amount of attitude.

Next up, 'Foreign Affairs' is a much slower, gentler ride. Vocals fade in and out of the mix whilst a series of warm melodies are built from layers of guitars. It's a stark contrast to that opening track but it captures a sense of useless yearning that stems from love divided by distance and sets the tone and pace for what follows across this EP.

Perhaps most intriguing on this EP is the cover of 90s slacker-indie legends Pavement's 'Gold Soundz'. Pavement aren't the sort of band that frequently get referenced by DJs and electronic producers so it's unusual to hear their music re-imagined in this way... In fact covers of Pavement seem to be fairly rare full-stop. At this point I have to confess a little worry as to how this version would turn out, but the fact that the vocals are provided by Heather D'Angelo of Au Revoir Simone suggests a fair amount of indie sophistication. The result is thick, warm, starry-eyed and full of teenaged wonder and it feels destined to soundtrack the sunrise after a long evening of excitement. Malkmus would almost certainly hate it, but leave the baggage of the source material behind and it's a pretty track.

D'Angelo remains on vocal duties for 'Gates Of Dawn', a slightly deeper warm house track. The title suggests it is aimed at those moments of darkness just before the sun breaks and the beautiful swirling sound is a perfect fit. Shimmering guitar licks, D'Angelo's trademark deadpan vocals and occasional warm keys create an emotive soundscape. It's the electronics and deep drum kick that gives the track its feel though, the sense of surviving a long night. 

Remixes of 'Gates Of Dawn' come from Wolf + Lamb and Burning Man. Wolf + Lamb stay faithful and just give things a bit more treble, more melodic bass and a snare. The Burning Man mix is also fairly straight with the original, with a dark acid bass that contrasts to a vocal placed higher in the mix and greater prominence for the keys.

Heartbeat is a promising EP, not just for Night Plane but for the entire Soul Clap Records proposition. Intelligent, soulful dance music with indie references? I'll gladly take it if it stays this cool.

Heartbeat is out now on Soul Clap Records, available from on MP3 [affiliate link]. Listen via Spotify below:

Video: Shadows - Au Revoir Simone

Back when we reviewed Au Revoir Simone's last album we likened it to the soundtrack to Sofia Copolla's movieVirgin Suicides.  In retrospect it is perhaps clear that whilst the set-square-math, wide-eyed walks home from high-school of the band's second album The Bird of Music was Copolla all over, their last album Still Night, Still Light was pure David Lynch: a spooky mix of dream-like sounds and cold fear.

It is pleasing then if not surprising to learn that the two first collaborated back in January 2007 in an interview setting at Barnes & Noble Union Square, with David Lynch reading from his book Catching the Big Fish... with Au Revoir Simone playing background music and songs from their second album.

It's a partnership that lead to a mutual appreciation and meant that when Au Revoir Simone were premiering the video for 'Shadows' David Lynch's website was chosen for the exclusive screening. You can check out the video above - directed by Brendan Colthurst and Vikram Gandhi it is a slow-boiled, minimal yet beautiful insight into what makes the band so different.

You may also want to head over to to check out the interview they have with the band.


Album Review: Still Night, Still Light - Au Revoir Simone

BlackPlastic has a whopping crush on the delicate harmonies and wandering Casio keyboards of Au Revoir Simone. They manage to capture the feeling of waking up alone from a dream spent with a loved one whilst sounding like the soundtrack to an un-made Sofia Copolla film (more Virgin Suicides, less Marie Antoinette).

Fundamentally Still Night, Still Light is more of the same but we will let that slide when the same sounds so beautiful. The sound is actually somewhere between the ice-cold tunes of mini-album début Verses of Comfort Assurance and Salvation and the girl geek pop of second album The Bird of Music and it's a haunting position they occupy, whether on the jangly 'All Or Nothing' or the lonely, scared yet brave 'The Last One'.

Still Night, Still Light looms out of the dark like a betrayed friend and steals your heart and favourite t-shirt before running off, only ever to be seen again in the faces of strangers. It's a peculiarly familiar album and the hooks often sound like you have already heard them yet you can't help but still feel touched by the vulnerability - everything feels like it has been made of crate paper an sticky tape, the equivalent of a hand-made Valentine's card: all the more powerful for the fact.

Au Revoir Simone may not be able to get away with sounding so familiar forever. Maybe they will have to change in order to stay fresh. All BlackPlastic can say is grab this and hold it close because if the world damages Au Revoir Simone it is because the world is too rough, not them too soft.

BP x

Still Night, Still Light is out now.  Order it on CD or MP3 from [affiliate links].

Single Review: Paris - Friendly Fires (again)

Let's keep this brief as we have all but bestowed single of the year status on this track already anyway but it is worth noting the re-release, which comes packed in with a couples of remixes.

The Aeroplane Remix lifts the foot of the gas slightly to create a more electronic but slower paced track. Befittingly it sounds French (Aeroplane are actually from the home of Soulwax and the Glimmers, Ghent in Belgium) but importantly it gives those lovely Au Revoir Simone vocals a bit more space. The result is a bit melancholic and beautiful, a soundtrack for the journey home from Paris rather than the trip out.

The Justus Köhncke Remix is similar in many ways but twists things in a slightly different direction. It still feels retrospective but has a touch more positivity. It lacks those Au Revoir vox though but what it does have my friends, is space. Bags of it. Over it's ten minutes it is one of those pieces of music that is more about the parts that aren't played than those that aren't. The drum kick is nice and fresh and it combines well with some warm melodic instrumentation to make a sophisticated big room sound that is much more understated than you would expect from a remix of a track as exciting as Paris.

Both are awesome and compliment each other well. Grab on iTunes, eMusic, Boomkat or in Woolworths (joke, they've probably closed down since I wrote this).

BP x