UTO – When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire

UTO Reignites the Flame with “When All You Want to Do is Be the Fire Part of Fire”

UTO is back, and this Parisian duo isn’t playing with matches anymore – they’re setting the whole damn dance floor ablaze. Remember their 2022 debut, “Touch the Lock”? A masterclass in old-school grooves, sticky hooks, and Y2K-era synth bops. It solidified them as the coolest kids (adults?) in the room, a breath of fresh air compared to the, ahem, “cultural blight” of indie sleaze.

But nostalgia isn’t their only weapon. UTO, the combined forces of Neysa May Barnett and Emile Larroche, are time-traveling sonic sorcerers. Their latest album, “When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire,” is a love letter to the past three decades of music, a masterfully curated playlist of sounds you know and crave, yet twisted into something entirely new.

Take “Napkin,” for example. It’s a kaleidoscopic banger built on the foundation of Lyn Collins’ legendary “Think (About It).” Think Screamadelica-era Primal Scream on a sugar rush – full-throttle synths and bass that throbs like a heartbeat.

But here’s the thing: UTO transcend mere “sampling.” They weave sonic tapestries, where each element plays its part in a dynamic conversation. “2MOONS” exemplifies this perfectly. It starts as a shuffling trip-hop oddity, then blossoms into a lush orchestral soundscape, complete with jangling acoustic chords that shimmer in the ether.

Familiar yet fresh, surreal yet sharp, intricate yet effortless – that’s the UTO magic. If you dig the playful experimentation of Magdalena Bay, the genre-bending brilliance of KNOWER, or the infectious grooves of Hot Chip, then “When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire” is your next sonic obsession. Just crank it up and prepare to be consumed by the flames.

My one and only complaint with this entire album is the title, its completely destroyed my lovely tiled images but then UTO seem to specialise in destroying genres and just producing memorable tunes.

You can buy When All You Want To Do Is Be The Fire Part Of The Fire – UTO here

Diane Birch – Flying on Abraham

Diane Birch Soars on “Flying on Abraham”: A No-Mess Flight of Classic Soul with Modern Flair

Diane Birch takes the controls on “Flying on Abraham,” a Bandcamp-exclusive album that bypasses the streaming wars for a more direct connection with her audience. This isn’t just about bypassing middlemen though; it’s about a return to a purer sound.

Birch, a pianist and singer-songwriter with a decade under her hiatus, acts as our pilot, guiding us through a smooth soundscape inspired by 70s AM radio. Think smoky soul, breezy jazz, and the rich textures of R&B and soft rock – a sonic palette that feels comfortably familiar yet avoids becoming a mere retro retread.

The secret weapon here might be Birch’s co-pilot, Paul Stacey (of Oasis and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds). His production is clean and uncluttered, allowing Birch’s voice – as smooth as a perfectly-aged Cabernet – to take center stage. There’s a subtle swagger to her delivery, channeling the likes of Carly Simon without ever veering into full-blown impersonation.

Lyrically, Birch keeps things heartfelt and relatable. The opening track, “Wind Machine,” sets the tone with its melancholic charm: “November is comin’ on and the nights are getting longer/ Summer always deceives/ Little promises like the orange leaves.”

The journey continues with a pitstop at a virtual Hall & Oates concert on “Jukebox Johnny,” complete with a squelching guitar solo and an irresistibly catchy chorus. “Juno” takes a detour into dusky ballad territory, complete with a Pink Floyd-esque guitar solo, while “Boys on Canvas” throws a playful wink with its light funk groove.

The standout track, “Used to Lovin’ You,” shows Birch’s versatility. Think twilight hues and shimmering synth pads as she effortlessly shifts gears from morning oldies to the smooth jams of the 80s.

“Flying on Abraham” is a confident and graceful return for Diane Birch. It’s a welcome escape for those seeking a well-crafted dose of classic soul with a touch of modern flair, all delivered straight from the artist, with no messy distractions. This is a first-class listening experience, best enjoyed with good company and a glass of something smooth.

You can buy Flying on Abraham by Diane Birch here.

Fly Away (feat. Kimberly Brown & The Sultra Gospel Singers) – Michael Gray

A Familiar Soaring, But Does It Take Flight?

Michael Gray takes to the skies with “Fly Away,” featuring the powerhouse vocals of Kimberly Brown and the uplifting harmonies of The Sultra Gospel Singers. The track, a rework of Secret Life’s club classic “As Always” (itself rooted in Stevie Wonder’s soulful ballad “As”), aims for a similar euphoric dancefloor experience.

However, the formula raises a question: does “Fly Away” recapture the magic, or simply echo a well-worn path? The answer might depend on your nostalgia levels.

Gray’s production is undeniably slick. A bouncy bassline propels the track forward, disco-infused flourishes add sparkle, and the gospel singers deliver their signature uplifting energy. It’s a familiar recipe, expertly executed.

Yet, here’s the rub: compared to Secret Life’s “As Always,” “Fly Away” feels a touch derivative. The original’s raw energy and sense of discovery are somewhat muted in this polished reimagining. While undeniably danceable, “Fly Away” doesn’t quite ignite the same spark.

For those yearning for a fresh take on the gospel-house fusion, “Fly Away” might leave you wanting. But for fans of the genre’s established sounds, it’s a competent, radio-friendly offering. Ultimately, “Fly Away” soars competently, but perhaps lacks the same audacious originality that made the tracks it references such enduring classics.

You can buy Fly Away on Traxsource or wherever you buy your music.