Little Dragon is a Swedish electronic outfit which has had several incarnations of their sound over the years, which has been on a steady upward climb featuring guest collaborations (such as several collaborations with the Gorillaz on their “Plastic Beach” album which was released in 2010. 2011 is a promising year for the Swedish band fronted by Yukimi Nagano, a sultry-whispery singer whose combined Swedish and Japanese ethnicity makes for a very interesting combination of culture which always piques people’s curiosity as a supplement to their talent and diverse styles of music as Little Dragon.
2011’s “Ritual Union” released on July 26, 2011 to the US and the rest of the world embraces the words “ritual” and “union” very well. The album itself is a bit more subdued than their previous dance oriented album “Machine Dreams” but more aggressive in its approach than their self-titled debut album. “Ritual Union” marks the third album from Little Dragon.
What is most appealing for a band like Little Dragon is their organic sound they have, which is becoming a rarity in electronic music with the use of Ableton Live and other similar music production software’s. You can everything is recorded in a studio environment, and isn’t boggled down with all the glossy production layers that tend to dominate many electronic music productions. Keyword being productions. Little Dragon is a BAND, not a group of DJ’s or laptop wizards. Not surprisingly, the band has ventured into synth-pop, but never straying away from their original jazzy-downtempo sound that spawned their hit “Twice.” Seeing Little Dragon last year shows their evolution in sound, their songs are often improvised into lengthy dance-party jams which never lose their artistic integrity and keep the audience engaged without being played off as “disposable.”
Some notable tracks on “Ritual Union” are “Ritual Union” (which sounds very similar to “Blinking Pigs” from Machine Dreams), “Brush The Heat” which sounds like an oriental flavored serving of Ramen Noodles but with much better nutritional value, even sounding like UK based band Hot Chip at times with their jittery blips and percussion notes. The icy disco, meets crooner soul music frenzy continues with singles “Please Turn” and “Nightlight” which are great dance floor tracks for the late night hours after the last call for alcohol, and all the glossy tracks are no longer needed to fill dance floors up. The album is great with pacing and track order, it never gets too crazy, but it always keeps your attention. The lush reverbs, delays and intricate percussion make the album a very relaxing listen and provide good dynamics compared to the dancier tracks “Ritual Union” offers. Yukimi Nagano’s sexy, almost motherly crooning is music to the ears in itself, and really helps bring the outfit together, especially with its lush blend of ambient undertones, and lush keyboard flourishes, Little Dragon is a gift that keeps on giving. If Ritual Union is their darkest sounding album yet, then I am excited to see where the group goes in the albums and guest collaborations to go. 4/5.
Little Dragon- “Ritual Union” (Live on Jimmy Fallon U.S. Television Debut)
Little Dragon- Nightlight