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FACT's Alternative Eurovision: profiling an under-the-radar artist from each of the countries involved, part 2

Following on from Part 1, here’s the second and final instalment of FACT’s alternative Eurovision Song Contest. 

As you’ll have seen yesterday, the premise is simple: our team of writers select an underground artist from each of the 39 countries participating in Saturday’s contest, and present a key track from each for your consideration and delectation. Part 2 contains a similar abundance of off-piste treats: Montenegrin beat music, Italian dream-pop, Belgian tape manipulation and, waving the flag for the UK, 8-bit grime from the Big Smoke.

Now that all the contestants are accounted for, we’re also giving you the opportunity to vote for your favourites – and, as we said before, political voting will be frowned upon. On Monday, we’ll reveal the full results: who soared, who flunked, who got nul points and who’s going to be hosting next year’s bash.

Click here to vote.

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CROATIA
Artist: Robert Pain
Entry: ‘Chapter II’

Pain’s built up a sizeable canon of promising 4×4 releases, from the hammering Inquisition EP through to the comparatively breezy Escape Attempts. His recent output is strong – see ‘Republikanci Pt. II’, which has a lovely Apollo Records feel to it – but the best measure of the man is 2011’s Black Queen LP, a noirish collection of late-night techno with Stroboscopic Artefacts stamped all over it. ‘Chapter II’ is absolutely undeniable – marvel at the way it spectacularly collapses in on itself around the 5 minute mark.

Click here to vote.

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FRANCE
Artist: Chicaloyoh
Entry: ‘Ghost Runs’

Over a string of self-released and fringe albums since 2010, Folle Eglise member Alice Dourlen has explored all sorts of shady nooks and crannies: see the solo drone of In My Garden Shed, expiremental guitar disc Evaporation Of Windows, or the wounded pop she’s been touting on her Soundcloud. ‘Ghost Runs’, plucked from 2011 7″ Les Fantômes Sortet Des Racines, recalls Motion Sickness Of Time Travel and  Julia Holter’s more elliptical moments, scuffed up with some Dopesmoker scuzz.

Click here to vote.

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SPAIN
Artist: Astroboyz
Entry: ‘Pianobatacazoo’

After half a decade of releases, Barcelona producer Astroboyz is scrabbling his way out of the underground: he’s been repped by Mary Anne Hobbes and MUTEK, remixed by Jimmy Edgar, and is, as we speak, swotting up at RBMA New York. From comparatively humble tech house beginnings, he seems to have found his voice making elegant breakbeat and electro; last year’s mutant ‘Pianobatacazoo’ is self-evidently his finest hour.

Click here to vote.

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GEORGIA 
Artist: shakarashvili
Entry: ‘Beautiful’

Sad boy electronica from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi – Max Richter or Sigur Ros shouldn’t be watching their backs just yet, especially when Shakarashvili’s still in the phase of thinking it’s cool to tag your tracks with instagram-filtered pics of indie girls (we guess Eton Messy is as annoyingly ubiqitous in Eastern Europe as it is in the UK), but there’s definitely potential in his weepy-eyed end of the night laments.

Click here to vote.

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ALBANIA
Artist: Enoprod
Entry: ‘Cool Places’

Albania – home of progressive house, some truly awful spandex pop and, er, this video. Tirana’s Enoprod mostly falls into the former category, but ‘Cool Places’ – straight out the same school of track titles as Russia’s PIFE in Part 1 – matches Lawrence-esque pad fetish house with some neat sampling; if Terry Wogan ever has a dance music revelation, it’ll probably be this that prompts it.

Click here to vote.

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ITALY
Artist: Holidays
Entry: ‘Lazy Diamonds’

We were debating how under-the-radar Rome’s Holidays actually are – they’ve got 3,000 likes on Facebook, though precisely bugger all on Twitter and Soundcloud, and have been featured in Dazed‘s Satellite Dreams in the past – but their accomplished take on the sun-kissed dream-pop formula proved impossible to resist, and makes for a honey-sweet antidote to those sad-sacks from the Eastern Bloc dominating this competition’s previous pages. Dive deep into ‘Lazy Diamonds’ and you’ll see what we mean.

Click here to vote.

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BELGIUM
Artist: violetcurrents
Entry: ‘Inland Sea’

If only the real Eurovision Song Contest would accept submissions from artists who use only tape loops and a bit of reverb, the whole thing would get a lot more interesting very quickly. Thomas De Bauw does exactly that, and ‘Inland Sea’ revels in its own doomy, spacious degradation. The lo-fidelity quality of the loops adds a shimmering layer of overdrive, and De Bauw manages to straddle the usually at-odds noise and ambient zones with a refreshing ease. One to pop on while you’re watching John Carpenter’s The Fog, maybe.

Click here to vote.

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UNITED KINGDOM
Artist: Dan Blizz
Entry: ‘Points’

The UK’s hardly short of grime producers turning to the Dirty South for inspiration at the moment, but although former beatboxer Dan Blizz’s tracks ride hard 808 kicks, they keep things weird enough to not fall into the trap of, well, trap. There’s some real gems on his Soundcloud, but our pick is the laser-edged ‘Points’.

Click here to vote.

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ESTONIA
Artist: Ratkiller
Entry: ‘Untitled02′

Everyone loves a weirdo at Eurovision, and few get weirder than Estonia’s Ratkiller. There’s not much information to be gleaned about the identity of the artist(s?), but whoever it is has released an engaging string of limited cassettes over the last couple of years and ‘Untitled02’ is a shining example of their core sound. With a collision of defiantly cheap synthesizer sounds, tape-recorded beat boxes and whatever other sound-making devices were around at the time, Ratkiller basically comes across like an uninhibited Oneohtrix Point Never jamming with Ariel Pink, and take it from us that’s high praise indeed. It’s not right in the head, but isn’t living life dangerously just what Eurovision’s all about?

Click here to vote.

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MONTENEGRO
Artist: Iodek
Entry: ‘‘Til The City Sleeps’

Searching for new music from Montenegro wasn’t the easiest task, in fact it’s probably easier to find someone on the internet without an opinion on Daft Punk, but then we came across Iodek. Iodek’s tunes are a sort of glitchy, Brainfeeder-influenced take on yacht rock and smooth 80s soul, and he chops through an expertly sourced catalogue of samples with a decisive ease. ‘Til The City Sleeps’ is based around the same Mtume sample that characterized The Notorious BIG’s smash ‘Juicy’, but Iodek makes it his own with a selection of smart edits, vocal cuts and an unmistakably eccentric charm.

Click here to vote.

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HUNGARY
Artist: Berriloom
Entry: ‘Cup of Snow (One Sentence)’

No doubt influenced by the mournful lo-fidelity bedroom pop of Khonnor and Boy in Static, Hungarian duo Berriloom aren’t exactly bringing anything new to the table, but they don’t really have to. ‘Cup of Snow (One Sentence)’ is as weepy and emotional as any good Eurovision entry should be, and more importantly it’s got bags of charm. With a cheap microphone, a computer and a guitar these two musicians have put together a track that’s as comforting as a hug and a cup of hot cocoa at the end of a crappy day, and we’d be monsters not to appreciate that now wouldn’t we?

Click here to vote.

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UKRAINE
Artist: Nonsun
Entry: ‘Jesus’ Age’

Unsurprisingly, crafting long-form doomy metal is a popular pastime over in the Ukraine, and noisy two-piece Nonsun are up there with the best of them. ‘Jesus’ Age’ is an eighteen-minute molasses slow chunk of Sabbath worship, albeit thrown through a few extra production processes to remove any trace of the gloss of false metal. Nonsun, you see ,are ‘post metal’, which no doubt allows them to strip back their sound to a minimalism even Sunn O))) rarely tangle with and descend into a crumbling heap of overdrive and feedback without a second thought. Noise, sorrow, doom and major riffage? If only Eurovision proper was this intense, we might care a bit more.

Click here to vote.

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BULGARIA
Artist: SKILL
Entry: ‘Izreki’

One of a number of Bulgarian acts (Bradata and Mista 93 among them) clustering around funk/boom-bap/acid jazz imprint Dusted Wax Kingdom. Plovdiv resident SKILL’s self-styled “experi-instru-mental” music fuses DJ Shadow, Avalanches and Odd Nosdam’s Dadaist impulses into a bewildering Eastern European alloy. 13-minute cut-and-paste job ‘Izreki’ is a lurching collection of dusty funk and hip-hop, tacked together with fragments of football commentary and olde-tyme Bulgarian warbling – not one for the lovers, then.

Click here to vote.

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ICELAND
Artist: Trouble
Track: ‘Light bearer – morning star=evening star’

Classically trained sound artist Þóranna Dögg Björnsdóttir is, at first glance, a world away from the pomp-rock of countrymen Sigur Ros, but her collage works – little acoustic symphonies that artfully swell and recede – are similarly targeted towards the gut. Björnsdóttir has worked on film and visual art projects, and ‘Light bearer – morning star=evening star’ has a particularly cinematic tilt, finding space for drone, doom, and the relentless ticking of a broken clock over its 10 minutes.

Click here to vote.

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SWEDEN
Artist: Marcus Price
Entry: ‘Continental Skank’

Marcus Price spent the 2000s as a part of award-winning Swedish rap crew Fattaru, a group he co-founded while still in his teens. With that in mind, his second career, as a DJ and producer, is even more impressive: by embracing ghetto bass sounds from around the world, along with home-brewed skweee stylings, Price has helped revitalize Swedish club music. Apart from his party-friendly work with Carli, his remixes (of Richelle, Brenmar, LOL Boys, and more) and originals have the type of anything-goes club futurism of his contemporaries in NYC, LA, and London.

Click here to vote.

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NORWAY
Artist: Snasen
Entry: ‘Failing Upwards’

Like a growing number of his contemporaries, Robin Snasen Rengård began his musical career in the world of punk (as a member of Amulet) before turning his fascination with noise towards electronic music. His recent EP for Sellout! Music, Failing Upwards, features glitchy, romantic beatmaking that evokes the Nordic climate – as in glass-sharp icicles, not pillowy tufts of snow. And if the EP’s title isn’t a nod to his change of careers, I’m not sure what it is.

Click here to vote.

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DENMARK
Artist: ELOQ
Entry: ‘Klonux’

August ‘ELOQ’ Fenger has been making waves in his native Denmark for a few years now, but is just finding notoriety elsewhere thanks to a jubilant take on maximalist rap beats that coincides nicely with the rise of trap. But unlike a raft of TNGHT copycat acts, Fenger doesn’t take the scene too seriously (judging by the video for recent cut ‘C’Mon’), instead supercharging the intergalactic beats of someone like Rustie into expressions of pure joy.

Click here to vote.

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NETHERLANDS
Artist: Saux
Entry: ‘ITAY’

Saux is 19-year old wunderkind Jurian van deer Hoeven, and his early work could be easily grouped in the amorphous and ubiquitous “beat scene.” While that influence is still apparent on this year’s Bring Me Home EP, the jazz, funk, and soul antecedents are even brighter. From mellow, 80s-facing electrofunk to more contemporary, R&B-influenced dance music, Saux finds great success in working with vocalists rather than samples (and his remixes of Jessie Ware, Sam Smith, and others aren’t too shabby, either).

Click here to vote.

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CYPRUS
Artist: SXtheMadArtist
Entry: ‘Feels Like …’

The Mediterranean country may have an Ibiza-like reputation when it comes to electronic music, but it’s not all trance and prog-house in Cyprus. Stalo ‘SXtheMadArtist’ Xinari is a polymath artist who works in painting, digital design, photography, video, DJing, and (last but not least) music production. Her tracks run the gamut of experimental electronics from chilly downtempo to ambient pseudo-industrial, and all points in between.

Click here to vote.

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