Swedish electropop five-piece Little Dragon visited the Guardian’s studios to perform Shuffle a Dream, taken from their critically acclaimed album Ritual Union. Rather than explain how they wrote it, lead singer Yukimi Nagano instructs us to listen to the lyrics to understand the song. Source. (Click the image to be taken to the video.)
From the back of a busy Ruby Lounge, you can just about see the iconic sight of a tambourine being held aloft on stage. Only when the songs subside, and it’s possible to peer through gaps in the crowd, is there much sight of elfin vocalist Yukimi Nagano. This Swedish band have not called themselves Little Dragon for no reason.
And yet, they emit the noise of a much larger, fire-breathing electronic beast; a collision between nervy electro-pop and walloping dance grooves, topped off with clattering percussion. When lasers fire over the crowd, the visual limitations are forgotten in favour of an invitation to lose yourself in music. It’s part-gig, part-club experience. Although Nagano has collaborated with DJ Shadow and Gorillaz, the 80-minute set primarily airs this year’s acclaimed third album, Ritual Union. The title track is the closest they come to pure pop, Swedish-Japanese-American Nagano’s nimble vocals dancing Björk-like around a minimal but memorable melody. The dreamy Brush the Heat (“I’m giving in to the rhythm of my feet”) is given an eerier, stark electronic treatment reminiscent of Daniel Miller’s synth pioneers the Normal. Elsewhere, songs are extended into percussive, cowbell-beating jams, given expectant pauses and then restarted, and sped up into such dizzying climaxes you fear they will spin out from the building. However, on recordings there is a sense that they haven’t decided whether to aim primarily for the dancefloor or the singles charts, and they seem to pull back from the precipice on stage, too. When Nagano says, “We’re going to take it down”, she ushers in a lull, where even the sub-bass competes with chatter. Thankfully, it doesn’t last; the spare, sensual pop groove of Precious restores the excitement, and up goes the tambourine again. Source.
“Swedish quartet Little Dragon spent 10 years playing together before they got around to releasing even a single. They’re now on their third album, but that history of self-containment still seems to colour their music. They can sound aloof, as on the title track, with its keyboards that sound like glittering icicles. Or they can sound combative: the bass melody running through Please Turn buzzes oppressively, while top of the mix in Brush the Heat is a high-pitched whine that bores into your ears. Mitigating this coolness, however, is singer Yukimi Nagano, whose impassioned vocals suffuse each song with emotion. The catch in her voice as she sings of how “love is nothing like they say” in Ritual Union is intoxicating; so are her choruses to Shuffle a Dream and Little Man. And as the album withdraws from the dancefloor to the lonelier darkness of Summertearz and Seconds, Nagano lures you to follow.” – The Guardian