The second installment of the Moog Sound Lab’s second season has arrived: In October, five bands entered an Asheville, North Carolina studio to pay homage to electronic music pioneer Bob Moog, the man who invented the synthesizer that’s been used on an innumerable amount of your favorite albums. Last month, Twin Shadow performed a pair of songs on instruments and filters manufactured by Moog, and now SPIN presents Sweden’s Little Dragon, featuring Gorillaz and SBTRKT collaborator Yukimi Nagano.
Little Dragon were forced to cancel their set at the annual Moogfest because bassist Fredrick Kallgren got sick, but their soundman stepped up so the synth-pop group could still hit Moog’s studio for an intimate take on their Ritual Union cut “Little Man.” This was Little Dragon’s first time at the Moog Sound Lab, but it looks like keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand has already mastered that theremin. Nagano’s own unique voice was enhanced with a little help from the Analog Delay Moogerfooger.
There’s three more bands left on the docket for the second season of Moog Sound Lab: The Antlers, Ra Ra Riot, and Megafaun, and SPIN will premiere each of those sessions in the coming weeks. Until then, check out Little Dragon’s “Little Man” below and an additional performance of “Summertearz” at the Moog site. Source.
Why They Matter: After lending their talents to make other people’s music even better (two tracks on Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, a song with retro-soul crooner Raphael Saadiq, a recent, hot-shit collabo with upstart electronic act SBTRKT, to name a few), this alt-R&B quartet, inspired by great ’90s hip-hop and led by the silken voiced Yukimi Nagano, is finally poised for its own breakout, with the just-released Ritual Union **.
You Should Know: Little Dragon opened for Q-Tip in Central Park two summers ago, and Diddy popped onstage with the former Tribe Called Quest MC to rock “Vivrant Thing.” But later, the hip-hop mogul dropped in to say how much he loved Little Dragon, too. Still, they remain humble: “It’s amazing to know that a lot of creative people believe in what we do,” the modest Nagano told SPIN.
“Since this Swedish electro-soul quartet’s slinky 2009 album, Machine Dreams, singer Yukimi Nagano has emerged as a Nicki Minaj for pop’s smart set, stealing the scene with various guest spots (Gorillaz, Raphael Saadiq, Maximum Balloon). Little Dragon’s third full-length deepens the group’s down-tempo mix of icy techno and smoldering R&B. If Ritual Union does moody ambiguity better than meaningful hooks (“Wonderin’ of a white dress”? Me, too!), well, Nagano’s smoky, pillow-soft purr speaks volumes.” – SPIN
Ritual Union (Peacefrog/EMI) Release date: July 26
The Skinny: As a rule, it’s wise to pay attention to dragons of pretty much any size or nationality, but this Little Dragon from Sweden is especially significant. The group has made some noteworthy friends while bubbling up in the past few years, among them Damon Albarn from Gorillaz, Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio, and someone in the music department at Grey’s Anatomy, who liked Little Dragon enough to use their breakout song “Twice.” At the core of all that admiration is an alternately propulsive and delicate sound dictated by strains of electro and the striking vocal coo of Yukimi Nagano, none of which is likely to be dialed down on their third album Ritual Union.
Fast Fact: Frontwoman Nagano, born in Sweden to a Japanese father and an American mother, evidently has something of a temper despite her quietude otherwise — hence the nickname Little Dragon. – SPIN
Here’s an interesting article by SPIN.com related to the rise of popularity for Little Dragon. Some nifty photographs added, too. Not much in the way of new information, but the line “English label Peacefrog promptly inked Nagano and the guys to a three-album deal, of which Ritual Union, due in June, is the last and best effort” is undoubtedly the most exciting of the piece.
“If the band’s self-titled debut was a demure introduction to their after-hours charm and 2009’s Machine Dreams a sojourn into funkier forms, Union builds on the strengths of both — it’s equal parts chill-out-room dreamy and club-friendly fierce. The effect was intentional. “It’s an album for multitasking,” says Bodin, 31. “Our aim is to make music for people to escape into or dance to.” Thus, “Light” tiptoes on sleekly propulsive bass lines and airy, lovelorn melodies, while “Ritual Union” shifts between burbling, kinetic rhythm patterns and Nagano’s deeply affecting little-girl-lost vocals.”
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