Minor Madonna drama: Producer William Orbit, who worked with everybody in the 80's (Cocteau Twins! Sting!) and co-created the Ray of Light album with Madge, posted an audio recording of his original, guitar-centric cut of that album's title track to YouTube last week. A discussion of Madonna broke out on Orbit's Facebook page, with one fan noting that the promotional strategy for Madonna's new record, MDNA, seemed strangely ... nonexistent.
Orbit then posted this long, illuminating, and rather sad statement:
I appreciate your analysis of the album release ‘strategy’ @Madonna Express Yourself. I wasn’t involved in its formulation in any way myself. All I will say is that certain thoughts about it that I see expressed online by committed fans such as yourself, were blindingly obvious to me from the very get go, well before the release. But I’m no Jimmy Iovine, with the ability to advocate my convictions forcefully, and as co-producer, co-writer etc am aware that it is not in my ‘job spec’.
But you won’t see me exactly jumping up and down with delight over the way that things have panned out. We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, ‘traditional’ method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas.
The recording sessions for the six songs I did were hugely enjoyable for all of us. M was on form and better than ever with her singing and writing and musicality, and was having a great time. We had songs lined up that were breathtaking. You’ll hear some of them on Chris Brown’s new album, and they are the best ones, Kreayshawn’s (INCREDIBLE) new album, my own recently completed ‘Strange Cargo’ album. And some other surprising places. SNAPPED up by the artists concerned. Most of them, I believe, destined to become classics (let me know in a couple months wether you concur with that)
The team I assembled in NY for MDNA were, and are as good as it gets now. Writers and musicians and performers I picked because they take my breath away with their talent. And are totally of-the-moment in everything good that is going on in contemporary music at the moment. And usually hard to book because they are so in demand. And all of us fully committed to putting ourselves through extraordinary efforts to make MDNA the greatest album of the year.
But alas, the time wasn’t there. Great swathes of it taken up by the engineer and his assistant bouncing reverb tracks for hour after hour, night after night. Not to real tape or anything, where you could posit that there would be an advantageous sonic dividend (real tape can be magic) but all in the digital domain. A purely procedural thing. Although not a procedure I or any of my own colleagues in this game would want to squander time with.
I was just describing to a friend of mine, and whom I frequently work with Serban Ghenea (just look him up if you want to be awed) how it was done, and he thought I was kidding him!
There. I’ve said it. I did try to say it earlier but I must have not made the point with enough push, my way being to always say it with the music itself.
Over the years it’s become obvious to me that along with Madonna being the greatest pop artist of ALL time, her fan base are also the most ardent, cohesive, discerning and loyal fan base of any artist. Not saying that to blow smoke, is quite obviously true. Big respect. And long life to us all. And as you look at things in a ‘long term’ way (my way also) you always call it like you see it. And I’m with you on that too. Be honest and true, speak your heart and mind, and let the dust fall where it will.
So basically, i’d lie down in the mud if she didn’t want to get her shoes messed up (well, figuratively speaking, neither of us does a lot of Glastonbury mud tramping) it’s hard to be an effective knight when your hands are bound. I will submit to wisdoms that are possibly beyond my comprehension and that will play out to glory in the fullness of time. And get back to my own fervent canvas, and speak no more of the matter.
Oh, and if some bright spark at marketing central suggested a Hilary Clinton approach, ie, press ‘restart’ and get back in the studio for a couple weeks and do what they nowadays call a ‘re-pack’, I’d certainly put my hand up for that, whatever else I had going on. But realistically, there is only one person that could make that happen. And with the best songs in the world, and the best mixing, best ProToolsing, best team, best lyrics, best bananas, after this little screed I don’t suppose I should while away my hours staring at the phone! But i feel better for saying all that. Debt free and not beholden. The thing about having little appetite for riches and fame, and no great tower of expectations, you haven’t got anything to be taken away. And having always been an outsider, outside in the cold, It’s always clear which way the wind is blowing. I was never inside any bubble long enough to forget how the wind blows, and changes, and ebbs and gusts, and dies away completely. As before a storm. And that a beautiful bubble might yield to even a the breeze from a humble fan.
Orbit later recanted, acknowledging:
The MDNA comments. I should not have said them publicly. I see that and I regret that I said online. Not fair to M.
The upside to it all is that Orbit posted that fantazamazz version of "Ray of Light," in which Orbit's lead guitar just scorches. Especially during the extended coda. Madonna doesn't sound like a solo pop singer on this record; she sounds like the lead singer of a brilliant pop-rock combo. Have a listen AFTER THE JUMP ...
Here's some news on the much-anticipated re-teaming of Madonna and her Ray of Light producer.
Madonnarama reports: "Guy Oseary recently confirmed the rumours about a ballad Madonna recorded for her own movie W.E. Now, we at Madonnarama can finally reveal the title; it’s called 'Masterpiece' and it has been produced by William Orbit. The song seems to be about what it feels to love and be loved like a piece of art and how fragile this love can be. From what we hear Madonna’s voice is absolutely stunning in it, and the track is very orchestral."
Bombay Bicycle ClubA Different Kind Of Fix (Universal)
After the release of 2009's I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, Bombay Bicycle Club were routinely dismissed for being a competent, if not somewhat gifted band in the London indie-punk canon — as part of a new wave that was already in its waning state and quite possibly years short of another revival. Their story should have ended in 2010, when the band beat out the XX, Mumford & Sons, and La Roux for NME's Best New Artist award, except that it didn't: Bombay Bicycle Club's surprise all-acoustic follow-up album, Flaws, forced a reevaluation of their music — and more specifically, of lead singer-songwriter Jack Steadman — that all but erased their scrappy debut from collective memory, and swapped accolades from the music weeklies with nominations for Ivor Novello Songwriting Awards. ForA Different Kind Of Fix, BBC return to the full-band format and bravely justify three disparate albums with a cohesive collection of songs that is at once endearingly innocent and patently mature. "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?" opens the album with the kind of dreamy, hypnotic rhythm generally reserved for electronic dance music — the emotion in its ebbs and flows — while lead single "Shuffle" transforms a neo-vaudevillian piano riff into a summery disco-not-disco track befitting the Speaking In Tongues–era Talking Heads. The album's ongoing dialectic between the ethereal and the rhythmic could be partially chalked up to the hand of Animal Collective producer Ben Allen, but the reality is potentially deeper: If Steadman is positioning BBC as a post-genre songwriting vehicle, it may be because he no longer cares to write music that relies on genre as a crutch — if he ever did.
Madonna's latest directorial attempt, the forthcoming W.E., had moviegoers at the Venice Film Festival "rolling in the aisles" — and it's not even a comedy! — but details of her twelfth album will provide a more sobering, if not celebratory effect: A lead single is due in February or March 2012, with a new full-length to follow next spring. Ray Of Light producer William Orbit is back in the studio captain's chair, as are Martin Solveig and relative newcomer Jean-Baptiste Kouame — who co-wrote much of Kelis' excellent Flesh Tone.
Fresh from his collaboration with Bon Iver, James Blake announces a new EP: The six-track Enough Thunder will be released on October 10, and will feature "Fall Creek Boys Choir" as well as his Internet-favorite cover of Joni Mitchell's "Case Of You."
Superstar producer Dr. Luke — of Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Britney Spears fame — has perfected his strategy against the cadre of litigious songwriters claiming he stole their work: Sue them for defamation until they submit.
Formed by ex-members of Hercules & Love Affair, the New York-based Midnight Music have essentially taken the "nu" out of nu-disco, faithfully adhering instead to the live disco blueprint of bands like the Salsoul Orchestra and Heatwave. Scion/AV recently released the band's debut digital EP, What The Eyes Can't See, which you can currently stream from Soundcloud or download for free. The band leaves on tour with Cut Copy and Washed Out this month.
Konkylie, the recent album by Copenhagen's When Saints Go Machine, has the kind of depth rarely seen from a debut — a feat largely accomplished by the band's versatile musicianship and singer Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild's delicate, yet deliberate falsetto. Third single "Kelly" is a testament to that balancing act — brooding, but not maudlin; dark, yet allowing light in through the cracks.
Matt Cardle — "Run For Your Life"
Last year's winner of the UK X Factor, Matt Cardle is the latest artist in Simon Cowell's world domination plan. But there's a hitch: Cardle's extreme likability — which endeared him, unsurprisingly, to many an English gay man — is rooted in his aw-shucks, unsuspecting, everyman tendencies. Unfortunately, the video for his debut album's lead single plays up some sort of bizarre Harlequin romance angle that feels contrived, and by the look on Cardle's face, uncomfortably forced. Not even Take That's Gary Barlow, who wrote the song, can save it.
The Saturdays — "All Fired Up"
With Girls Aloud on a vaguely indefinite hiatus and none of the original members of Sugababes actually in the group anymore, The Saturdays must see "All Fired Up" as an opportunity of sorts — and in the world of Euro dance-pop, you could do far worse than picking up one of the more memorable recent tracks from uber-reliable UK production/songwriting house Xenomania. The people seem to agree: This weekend, "All Fired Up" hit #1 on the UK iTunes chart as soon as it was released.
Tayisha Busay — "Focus"
Brooklyn-based queer electro trio Tayisha Busay are prepping the release of their debut album, Focus/Virus, and lead single "Focus" is already shaping up to be the band's most realized work so far — a grim, New York version of Kraftwerk's "The Robots" with a generous dose of pop sensibility and human intervention. The clip's a little edgy, but its meditation on the reversals of power is hardly esoteric.