Sunday, August 31, 2008

Evan Marc + Steve Hillage - Dreamtime Submersible (Somnia)

Mr. Evan Bartholomew... For connoisseurs of tech house, he is known as Evan Marc. For fiends of psybient and dubbed out downtempo, he is Bluetech - the West Coast producer of psychedelic influenced IDM sound (PsyDM) and an owner of a prolific record label, Native State Records. But a recent shift in economics of the music industry pushed Evan to create another independent label, Somnia, where along with a roster of modern classical musicians, he releases limited copies of minimal, electro-acoustic and ambient dreamscapes under his own name, Evan Bartholomew. In this fourth Somnia release, Dreamtime Submersible, Bartholomew compliments his ambient soundscapes with dub techno influences. This album is a continuous mix of evolving sweeps, that becomes a single unfolding composition within seven movements, each transforming and elaborating on the theme. And... ahem!... This time he is collaborating with a visionary extraordinaire, Steve Hillage, whose discography trails into the 70s - most notable for his ambient techno project with Miquette Giraudy, System 7. I can dedicate a whole exclusive article just to Hillage, and yes, you should feel ashamed if haven't heard the name. So all I can say is... wow... A continuous sweep of a story-telling emotion that is impossible to interrupt in mid-sentence. Not once a repeated pattern of signal processing attributes! Each note carrying an immeasurable delay that feeds into an eternal release of ADSR's tail. The duo paint volume envelopes with an artisan brush of an Irezumi master. There's another interesting phenomenon that I always experience when listening to Dreamtime Submersible which I must share. The album begins with a bass theme which evokes a 4/4 kick drum that my brain just can't place at the beginning of each measure. It comes in between the bars (as a hi-hat would). Try hard as I might, I can't get my brain to switch to the correct meter. I can only fix the perceived rhythm by pausing the track and restarting a few seconds later. Obviously, on different occasions that decision is made at various portions of the track. And then I'm all good. But because for the next ten minutes (at least during the first piece) there are no perceivable codas, or defining signs of a virtual bar, I end up listening to a unique melodic pattern every time. And approach on a different path towards the core of dreamtime. On each arrival, I am fully submerged in a warm trance of bliss and harmony. Enjoy...

For an indepth view on the inner workings of Somnia and Evan's musical inspiration, check out my friend's Bazooka Joe's (Solipsistic Nation Podcast) interview appearing on Igloo: Interview with Evan Marc | |

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Near The Parenthesis - L’Eixample (n5MD)

Tim Arndt is back with another release on n5MD! L'Eixample is immediately a more mature, focused, and detail-oriented design. The title (Catalan for "extension") refers to a Spanish district in Barcelona, and indeed draws on impressions and inspirations on Arndt's latest travels to Spain. The production employs a composition of subdued tones and light beats that moves even further into the realm of melodic, atmospheric, and ambient IDM. Arndt lays down the foundation of swirling, reversed and reverberated pads, adding micro programmed rhythms sprinkled with gentle, glitchy, and fuzzy digital errors, all wrapped with an emotional theme of warm melodies, and an occasional eavesdropped conversation in the background. L'Eixample is Arndt's third full length release under the solo project, Near The Parenthesis, following on the heels of the 2007 album, Of Soft Construction, on n5MD as well. Arndt's past experience includes playing guitar and piano for several bands, most notable among them is the Urban Needle project with Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu) and Mark Gamiere (The Wake). I would say that L'Eixample has more texture then Arndt's previous work, improving on creativity, atmospherics and the overall listening experience. L'Eixample is a further extension of Near The Parenthesis unique style and production techniques that have been perfected once again. Excellent music for those tranquil lazy mornings. Recommended if you follow n5MD's excellent roster, which includes Last Days, Bitcrush, SubtractiveLAD, and Another Electronic Musician. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Tim Arndt

In your words, what is the dominant mood or state of being that you're trying to convey with your music?
I think it's probably obvious that I typically compose in what would be described as a melancholic aesthetic. That's really not so much a function of mood or what I'm specifically striving for as it is my trying hold pieces somewhere between major and minor keys --- not wanting the music to be too happy or too dark. Maybe contentment is the mood I'm trying to convey. I'm usually trying to produce something more ambient and atmospheric than winds up in the final mix. I keep saying my next record will be beat-less...we'll see if it ever comes to fruition.

I love the subliminal background conversations in your tracks. Can you reveal the source of some of these recordings?
Most of the field recording material on my records has been from the audio tracks of video I've recorded, often when traveling. In early works, like on "Go Out and See", I just picked up old video tapes at random and sought out passages of audio that fit the music. Sometimes I know the people talking, but most often I don't. On "Of Soft Construction", and especially on "L'Eixample" the recordings were more purposeful and less random. In fact, the audio on L'Eixample was even more upfront in the composing process - specifically recording airport noise for 'departing gate' or church bells and crowds for 'santa maria del mar' (SMDM). I was composing this record in my head through that trip and knew which field pieces I wanted to pick up to make it complete.

What were some of the most memorable moments that you took away from travels to Barcelona?
While it's probably a little simple for me to say visiting "La Sagrada Familia", I have to highlight it because it's true. I've never seen anything so magnificent in my life, and it was during the morning I spent exploring it that I decided I wanted to make it and the whole city the focus of my next record. From there, little moments easily turned into inspiration for specific pieces; Parc Guell at sunset, walking in the Mediterranean after pitchers of sangria in the afternoon, or waiting in the airport to leave the city I so quickly fell in love with. |

Monday, August 25, 2008

Igorrr - Moisissure (self)

Slap! What an album... I'm really out of words. Let me attempt. Track one - Valse En Décomposition - baroque organ chords with a low-fi trip-hop beat followed by a bee buzzing turning into glitchy classical piece. Track two - Oesophage De Tourterelle - light piano arpeggios, tremolos and octave scaling progressions turning into insane breakcore. Track three - Putrefiunt - solo monk voice over a flamenco guitar exploding into hardcore death metal cookie-monster mayhem. Or how about 40's gramophone swing laced with gabber? And then there are eight more tracks! I haven't heard such a collection of molded styles before, and it's working... it's working really well! Gautier "Igorrr" Tighten, is a French (unsigned!) producer skillfully experimenting with samples, beats, breaks, and genres. Tighten is also the founder of a speedcore death electro metal/nica project WHOURKR with a single album Naät (self, 2007). Look, I absolutely love Venetian Snares and any crazy juxtaposition of hard styles, but when I happen to venture outside of the leading names, I encounter mostly noise and thoughtless production. Igorrr changes all that. He brings the fun back into breakcore and intelligence into design. Igorrr is a sonic painter who throws nails into aged strawberry jam, lets the slime dribble over your favorite toy, and serves it on a silver plated toilet seat. With a goat shake on the side. Eat it. Moisissure is so fun, you'll be back for more. Perhaps you're secure a copy of his 2006 release, Poisson Soluble. Recommended for the fans of V.Snares, Bong-Ra, Enduser, and Doormouse. Have fun chasing flies with your mouse on Igorrr's web site. |

Two and a Half Questions with Igorrr

What are you influences and how did you decide to mix classical with speedcore?
I'm used to listening to quite a lot of different styles but mainly metal, baroque and electronic music. A lot of extreme things anyway, but always artists that get as close possible to the limits of their ideas, to the point where they can't go any further. Then what I find so frustrating is to appreciate all those different styles knowing that they most of the time don't get along, even turning their back to the qualities of each other. You see, I like Chopin just as much as Meshuggah or Venetian Snares, so why not cross these styles?

I really love that you have real vocals on your track - how did you go about getting people to sing for you?
The guys that sang on Moisissure are good friends. Simon Fleury sings on "Putrefiunt", he's a fat beardy Irish guy whom I've worked with for a few years now and he's also the singer of a rock fusion band called City weezle. And Laurent Lunoir on "Phasme Obèse" and "Moelleux", who has more of a classical-meets-black-metal voice, he too is a good friend. He was the first singer in WHOURKR and currently has a doom project called Oxxo Xoox. Theses guys are 2 really good singers and I like working with both of them.

What instruments to you play?
On moisissure, "Putrefiunt" is the song with the most acoustic instruments on the album: guitar and piano mostly, but I also play some drums. On "Phasme Obèse" I also kinda did some screwin' around with the piano and the guitar afterwards, but these instruments were recorded acoustically.

How come you're not signed yet?
AAAaaahh I dunno why, I've refused a few because the offers just didn't seem good enough. I can't say why I haven't had any interesting offers yet. I keep my hair nice 'n' neat, and my armpits smell like sweet roses. Well... Maybe it's the thickness of my eyebrows that scares them off.

Tell us about your upcoming WHOURKR release.
We've been workin' on this baby for 2 years now with -i snor, It's really extreme and very intricate down to the milisecond... We are using the same mix of death metal and electronica/breakcore, but the vocals are particularly ignominous. There are also more tracks than we had on Naät on this one, with a featuring from Laurent Lunoir (WHOURKR's first vocalist) on one called "Santo". But on the overall perspective I think we have something really good going on with this album, the tracks are quite short and it is Very violent and very worked-upon music. My god! I sometimes even freak myself out listening to this album... |

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nineteen Ninety Five

1995... It was the year of Oklahoma City bombing, launch of Yahoo!, Windows 95 upgrade, Nasdaq climbing over 1000, and the acquittal of O. J. Simpson. It was the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, the announcement of DVD format, and the launch of eBay. But for me it was a year of newly reborn music. It was the commercial success of electronica, the acceptance of IDM as a genre, the underground warehouse parties, and the letters PLUR smudged on my sweaty wristband. In this article, I wish to commemorate the year of 1995, remembering the monumental albums and the artists that continued to buildup on the foundation of electronic music. My purpose is to honor the contributions that still retain their quality and the position on my playlists. Take a look and see how many of these albums are in your collection. Pay attention to the currently well known names that had their first debut back in 1995. And, if after reading this article you dust off a few CDs or even 12-inchers, then my task has been accomplished.

Read Full Article : Nineteen Ninety Five

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kamran Sadeghi - Through Thickness (Dragon’s Eye)

Exploring the rhythm beyond its regular structure is the main objective in this abstract and experimental album by Kamran Sadeghi, titled Through Thickness. Like little insects beating their wings against an aquarium where rabid fish circle the dying microphone, the sharp frequencies in the swirling noise of clicks is just one image floating to the surface in this harmonically deprived composition. Sadeghi "draws from [the sound's] potential palate of sonic mass, color, and points in space in order to create compositions of aural depth perception and sculptural form." Through Thickness is a first album in Sadeghi's Kha series. Sadeghi explains on his site: "'kha' is an ancient Hindu [Sanskrit] word meaning "emptiness" which was used in early numerical systems to imply space in tabular arrangements, 'zero'". In the digital twist and decomposition of rhythm, that emptiness breathes on its own. The electronic circuitry of sound pulses and twitches in a final dance of death. Sadeghi's curriculum vitae of audio and visual live performances and installations include OkOk Gallery, The Henry Art Gallery and the Decibel Festival. This is my first taste of material from Dragon's Eye Recordings, an independent label out of Seattle, focusing on experimental, textural, ambient, drone and minimalist recordings from an interesting roster of artists, releasing limited edition albums. In that sense, I place it somewhere around Touch, 12k, Sähkö and Raster-Noton. Definitely a label to keep your eye on. Through Thickness is very much in the spirit of Alva Noto, Pan Sonic, and the darker side of Autechre. For a more musical side of Sadeghi, check out his side project, Son of Rose, with multiple releases on Dragon's Eye.  |  |

Two and a Half Questions with Kamran Sadeghi

Can you possibly describe your composition process?
My compositional process begins with an acute act of listening, no matter what the desired result may be at the start of a project. I often spend hours listening to just one facet of a sound, building this intense dialogue and relationship with it. As the dialogue develops this snowball effect begins were I'm so buried in constructing, deconstructing, enhancing and reducing..... the next thing you know hours, sometimes days, have passed without me even knowing how one line became this landscape of sonic events.

Tell us more about the concept behind the Kha series.
The Kha series has two main facets at this stage of it's conception; rhythmic centric composition, and using sound as a source of pure data. Over the years I have abandoned the use of rhythm in my work for one reason or another, and it has been a refreshing and challenging addition/reunion to my process. I have also been using sound to determine the outcome of things such as text, color and dimension in my audio video installations and performances. Overall, I'm fascinated and engaged with the integrity of sound beyond a musical context.

I'm always fascinated when artists release material concurrently under different names. How do you decide which releases will go under the Son of Rose or your real name?
Yeah, I agree it is fascinating and for me it was a decision based on a few ideas; to have the creative liberty in doing very different projects, both musical and non-musical, without concern for how it may or may not fit into a certain identity framework, and also to add variation to my day. Son of Rose will remain the outlet for more electroacoustic based work for the time being.

At which point does "digital" become "organic"?
Well... when you can bite into it! |

Friday, August 22, 2008

Meat Beat Manifesto - Autoimmune (Planet Mu / Metropolis)

Jack Dangers is back! And on Planet Mu out of all the labels (for European distribution; Metropolis picked up the US release). What a perfect fit, seeming that Planet Mu is one of the established labels spearing the evolution of experimental and intelligent flavors of dubstep. Right off the bet, what's amazing is that unlike other classic electronic acts (ok, I'll say Orb and Orbital), Meat Beat Manifesto is _not_ locked into the past. Dangers is fresh with the times, embracing and re-inventing dubstep, as well as excelling in every aspect of the genre! He puts pretenders to shame! Dangers lays it on thick, heavy on the bass, exquisite on the intricate beats, bringing back familiar samples, with production skills of a seasoned master. Autoimmune is MBM's tenth studio album, whose discography spans over two decades of releases on a huge roster of labels, such as Wax Trax!, Elektra, Mute, Nothing, Run Recordings, and Play It Again Sam. For a full profile, history and discography you can reference the lengthy Wikipedia entry. The newcomers should be impressed by a true veteran of electronica. And the longtime fans will not be disappointed. For a great interview with Jack Dangers, flashback tracks, and some special treats, be sure to check out my good friend Bazooka Joe's show, Solipsistic Nation - Episode No. 88: Meat Beat Manifesto, Live. | |

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ólafur Arnalds - Variations of Static (Erased Tapes)

Pórhallur Gunnarsson hosts a popular Icelandic talk show, Kastljós. The show is broadcast six nights a week on a national television network. Almost a hundred thousand viewers tune in each night. That's about one-third of the population of Iceland, which is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle. The climate must be cold. My hands are cupped around a hot coffee mug; I'm halfway across the globe, sitting in my pajamas, waking up to the latest post on YouTube. In the clip that I'm watching, Gunnarsson opens up with an introduction in Icelandic, a language I don't understand. No matter. The music that follows requires no words. The show cuts to a boy sitting behind a grand piano. He is skinny and wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. Next to him is a string quartet. The camera zooms in on his hands. The boy plays a single melody composed of exactly six notes. In the background there is an echo of digital hiss. After an introduction of four repetitions, the quartet joins in. The accompanying harmony and chord progression is indisputably classical. But at about two minutes, the bass kicks in. The boy in a white T-shirt and jeans is a twenty-one year old Ólafur Arnalds. Born in a suburban Icelandic town, Mosfellsbær, he composes melancholic, emotionally fueled, and undeniably beautiful music. Ólafur studied piano when he was very young. After about a year of lessons, he decided to switch to drums instead. He kept his studies in drums up until two years ago, when he switched over again, this time adding classical theory and composition. Influenced by electronic, post-rock, and modern classical music alike, Arnalds incorporates various stylistic elements into his work. He seamlessly embraces contemporary symphonic composition and instruments but also makes use of electronic instrumentation. After I listened to Arnalds's 2007 debut, Eulogy for Evolution, I wanted to express my feelings and thoughts about it. Majestic, graceful, gorgeous and sublime are words that popped into my mind. But they are meager words when compared to the emotion in that music.

Read full Headphone Commute exclusive article:
ÓLAFUR ARNALDS : beautiful in the same way the arctic is… | |

Headphone Commute’s review featured on MOG

If you've been following my reviews, you should have already guessed that I try to steer clear of self promotion. I am not affiliated with any entity and only write about the music that I like. It is my way of sharing those special finds with you. Back in the days it was just a  matter of making a mix tape off some treasured records. Now it's all about the intarweb, blog-o-sphere, social networking, etc. It's hard to dig through the onslaught of information, most of which is only trying to hook you in, for another click, for another bump. That being said I want to extend my sincere thanks to all the readers and say that I appreciate your audience - I wouldn't want to talk into the void. In return I promise to deliver the same unbiased content. There's only one purpose and agenda behind these words - to spread the word about the music that I love. OK. Now time for self promotion. Hehe. I am proud to announce that MOG has featured a selected review by yours truly. MOG is an online community of music lovers and bloggers (aka moggers). It's a free social network which is centered around the music that you listen to, with recommendations, tracks, and most importantly, reviews like this one. My featured review is covering one of my favorite artists, Ólafur Arnalds and his latest EP, Variations of Static. I will syndicate the review in its entirety in the upcoming post. Meanwhlie, be sure to drop on over, say 'hello', and if you already hold an account, add me as your Trusted MOG.

Read: ÓLAFUR ARNALDS : beautiful in the same way the arctic is…

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Headphone Commute’s Best of 2008 on The Blend

So you've read my Best of 2008 [so far...] (you've read it, right?), and seen some familiar artists, while the rest seem unknown and mysterious. If only you could check out all of these recommendations... If only you had the time to plow through the samples and purchase the mentioned albums... Well, fear not. I've got a special treat for you. Bevin Campbell from the Australian radio show, The Blend (PBS 106.7FM) has contacted me to feature the Headphone Commute's Best of 2008 selections on his July 22nd episode. I was able to secure a copy of the broadcast with the permission to re-post on Headphone Commute! That's right, kiddies, over an hour of music, spanning the best of my selections across a variety of genres ranging from ambient, downtempo and IDM... to dubstep, experimental hip hop, minimal techno and even breakcore. There's only so much that Campbell is able to fit into his fine program, but after a nice opening with The Herbaliser, he squeezed in the following roster (in order of appearance) : Hecq, Emanuele Errante, Evan Bartholomew, Hol Baumann, Kangding Ray, Kettel, The Flashbulb, Barry Lynn, Meat Beat Manifesto, Benga, Ital Tek, and Venetian Snares... What a superb sweep of genres, that is starting on a minimal side of the spectrum and progressing towards the insanity of jungle infused drill'n'bass! But wait, there's more! The second part of the show opens up with my favorite Reader's selections for the first part of '08, which includes Quiet Village, Kelpe, Flying Lotus, Scuba, Ellen Allien, Black Dog, 2562 and Portishead in closing. And best of all, this is a free download with almost two hours of music! You can't afford to miss out on this one. Let's face it - I shouldn't even have to sell you on this one. A great preview of best of the crop! Huge thanks to Bevin for his hard work the and a fantastic show! This one goes down into the archives. Forever...

The Blend - Headphone Commute's Best of 2008 [so far...]
Download : [PART 1] [PART 2] [PLAYLIST] |

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cougar - Law (Layered)

On the first listen, Madison based (Wisconsin, US) instrumental five-piece band, Cougar, sounds peculiar - not fitting into any specific classification (and proud of it!), yet tending to be loosely associated with post-rock more than any other genre. But after returning to their debut album, Law, for the second time, I realize that it's exactly what I want to hear. Describing their music as "emergency rock" geared towards "rescue culture", Cougar experiments with beats, harmony, and structure. The production ranges from electronic to organic, reminding me of earlier tracks by Telefon Tel Aviv (minus the glitch) and perhaps even Four Tet. Some rhythms are influenced by electronica and I would go as far as say upbeat instrumental hip-hop beats. There's also a special treat in the "intermissions" between the main tracks. Throughout the album, Cougar sprinkles five consecutively named sketches. These are the experimental pieces that are extremely fun to listen to, reminiscent of pieces on Radiohead's Kid A - I only wish they were expanded into full tracks. The exploratory approach of Cougar's composition brings back the curiosity and excitement which I first encountered through Grails. There is no formula. There is no tiring structure. On Law, Cougar switches gears and takes you into a new direction at a whim. And the mastering is outstanding - I guess it has to be, when you find out that John McEntire (Tortoise and The Sea and Cake) is behind the production. I find myself returning to Cougar over and over. Recommended for the above mentioned names, plus if you like 65daysofstatic, Yndi Halda, Saxon Shore, and This Will Destroy You. |

Two and a Half Questions with David Skogen of Cougar

I love the experimental tracks. Who are your influences for those?
Hmm. Honestly, I try not to think about any sounds I've heard before, when listening to a new song, be it full-out or more interlude-ish. I just listen and wait for funny things to pop out, or into my head. Then I start trying them, banging around the studio, and attempt to be aware of when something interesting starts making noise. If I think about the interludes on 'Law' specifically, most of them came out of found sounds in the studio or with different percussion instruments that we thought were unique enough to warrant their own space, as opposed to being buried within a proper song. I'm a sucker for metal sounds. Cymbals are like the most strange, beautiful idea to me. Putting my ear to the edge of a cymbal and just listening to the overtone cycle, especially the really low information, is one of my secret pleasures. I like recording the actual shells of the drums, the large chunks of material that resonate on their own, whether wood or metal. But anyway, back to the question... I have no idea.

Ever think of making an electronic album?
Sure. Although MY electronic album would still be all organic sounds. That's kind of one of the things that gives Cougar its sound... almost all sounds on the record are actually REAL sounds, organic, acoustic sounds, that we apply with a kind of electronic mindset. I think it makes it a much more warm album, and it gives me a little happiness. Our laptop guy, Aaron Sleator, is probably the only one who could make an actual electronic album. One of our guitar players, Dan Venne, does extensive work with Ableton Live, but not so much in Cougar.

What are some of your side projects?
I tour a good chunk of the year with YoungBlood Brass Band, which is what we call riot jazz. It's basically a really aggressive hiphop brass band with 3 drummers and all horns. I've been doing that for almost 10 years now. Dan Venne (guitars) has an improv trio called Hans Blix, and he plays around New York quite a bit doing improv, experimental and compositional work. Todd Hill (basses) lives in Chicago and freelances all over down there. Aaron Sleator (guitar/electronics/keys) has his own solo acoustic stuff as well as solo electronic stuff. We all met in Madison, playing in Richard Davis' Black Music Ensemble at the University of Wisconsin, so we were all entrenched in the world of jazz/improv for a long time. Funny that we settled on a band that's almost entirely compositionally based, and not improvised.

Tell us about your upcoming new record.
From what my friends that have heard it are telling me, it's more aggressive, more electronic, and more concise. There's less overarching emotional moments, and more complex narratives. Things don't take as long, and more happens in less space. Man, talking about your own music sounds pretentious no matter what, huh. We're excited about it, it's a blast to play, and at the root of the band, we're all players, so hitting the stuff live is really what makes it worth it.Thanks for listening. We're looking at maybe a winter 08 or spring 09 release, depending on who's actually releasing. It's all up in the air right now. |

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Daturah - Reverie (Golden Antenna / Graveface)

I don't know why, but I simply love extended post-rock tracks that evolve over a course of ten to fifteen minutes. A track becomes a whole story, a movement, an extraordinary composition. And Daturah, the Frankfurt (Germany) based instrumental five piece band, accomplishes just that. The dynamics build up and drop, the rhythm breaks and picks up again, and the melodies draw me in, unfolding like a trip through a familiar mountain climb, only to reveal a new breathtaking view once you reach the top; and once I'm at the peak, I fall and soar with music towards the sea of sound. I also can relate to this description in the band's bio: "Sand disperses. Counterpoints are set discreet. Suddenly and abrupt you climb up. Newly awoken the listener gets pulled up in a mighty swirl. Resistance seems pointless, but maybe someone is rescuing the listener from an apocalyptical, stormy sea..." Reverie is Daturah's sophomore album. The five tracks seamlessly flow into one another, at times dropping into the ambiance of shoegaze, at times insisting on crashing down the post-metal barrier. Daturah formed back in 2003. After the self titled debut release in 2005, Daturah has toured the world, playing alongside The Thermals, Do Make Say Think, Gregor Samsa, and Mono. Reverie is released on Golden Antenna, a German label previously responsible for Maserati; and on Chicago based Graveface Records with a roster of artists such as Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dreamend and Monster Movie. I would love to see Daturah live. Perhaps Graveface will bring them in [wink]. Be sure to pickup the first self-titled album, Daturah. Recommended for the likes of Mogwai, GSY!BE, Caspian, Yndi Halda, This Will Destroy You, Red Sparowes, as well as Isis and Pelican. | | |

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blackfilm - Blackfilm (Spectraliquid)

Dark and brooding, Blackfilm envelopes you like a thick fog creeping off a cooling swampland. I recall a quote by Jim Morrison (which got embedded in my brain after Emmanuel Top's 1994 single Turkish Bazaar) - "The music was new, black, polished chrome and came over the summer like liquid night". Blackfilm is the anonymous Hungarian artist on Spectraliquid Records, a Greek independent label organized by Mobthrow, Subheim, Katja and Xsoz. The self-titled debut album from Blackfilm is the label's only second release (first being an obligatory compilation, titled Konkrete, with a taste of things to come). And I believe it's off to a nice start. Blackfilm's sound is a bricolage of downtempo, breaks, instrumental hip-hop, and an excellent selection of sampled modern classical strings. The Amon Tobin reference was not accidental - Blackfilm indeed reminds me a lot of his earlier works. I would even be bold enough to declare that my sensitive ear picked up a few familiar samples (Stalingrad is an excellent example). That can only serve as a compliment from every direction for Blackfilm. I'm a big Amon Tobin fan and have been craving and begging for someone to defibrillate his pioneered sound. Of course Blackfilm introduces his own cinematic and orchestral elements that "move from fearsome, lonely frames to chaotic feelings of urban self-destruction." Spectraliquid goes a step further and brings in Volker Kahl (Kattoo) to master the album. And once you cross that line, there is no going back. The production is crispy, tight and menacing. Excellent soundtrack to contemplate your existence on. Highly recommended! |

Two and a Half Questions with Blackfilm

How do you digest my comparison to Amon Tobin?
I don't mind that comparison at all in fact it is very flattering. I listened to Amon Tobin a lot. Especially his first two albums. I thought he had put himself above the crowd in his ability to implement samples into his music. The same of FSOL. These two I think outdid everyone in electronic music for a long time in their ability to truly be able to take samples, put them in a different context, and make the samples their own. They didn't just take a sample and put it over a beat. It was so skillfully edited together into their music that it sounded like that's where it belonged. It was hard to tell where one sample ended and another began.

What is your favorite sampling source?
I would have to say everything. A lot of the album contains samples from 20th century pieces as that's the road I wanted to go down. Having said that, I really don't have a favorite source or sources. Everything from Portishead, country music, tango, film soundtracks, free jazz to dub is on the album. It might just be a snare or a guitar chord, but these are some of the other sources on the album. Relates back to the first question I guess and trying to put together something out of a number of small pieces from completely different sources and make something new out of them.

Do you have a fascination with urban decay?
I don't think so. I might have had at one point but not anymore I don't think.This question made me think of LaHaine. The face of Baudelaire painted on the side of the building, looking down at the final scene taking place. Those are the only references to urban decay I would be familiar with, the writings of Baudelaire ,for example, but that's not an influence for any of the music on the album believe it or not!

Who and/or what inspires you?
Musically it would be an enormous list, as I'm sure it's the same for most producers. But the biggest inspiration is usually a more personal one, and it happens indirectly. Something you happen to be going through at the time I find becomes the biggest source of inspiration. People that are close to you in a weird way also become an inspiration. I've read this in several interviews before and its definitely true. Especially if someone produces music alone. You're stuck in a room for hours, usually dark, and there's noone else around, and for some reason thoughts of people that are close to you always enter your head. I would have to say this is a constant, this is always present no matter what piece of music I'm working on.

If you were to produce a soundtrack for a film, what would it be about?
In a way, a lot of the music on the album is a soundtrack. Every song on it has a meaning and is either based on a film or a scene from a film or a passage from some written work. So for me, it kind of is a soundtrack already. If I could choose though, I would love to do a completely ambient and dark soundtrack to a Tarkovsky film if he were alive, or for a film by Aleksander Sokurov.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lustmord - [ O T H E R ] (Hydra Head)

Lock all the doors and walk up the stairs. Turn down the lights and slightly raise the volume. Breathe slowly and try not to wet your pants. The boards creek somewhere in the attic. Lustmord enters the house. With deep moans, low drones, and bass rumbles, the walls begin to ooze evil, and if you stare long enough into the darkness, you'll start to see the path to hell. Like the unspoken dark power of a Ouija board, there is no telling what evil spirits will be called forth, when playing Lustmord's latest album, [ O T H E R ]. Brian Williams is a true pioneer of the dark ambient genre - as dark as they come. Usually referred to as the soundtrack to all your nightmares, Williams has worked on sound design for over 44 film scores, most notable of which include additional compositions for The Crow and Underworld. Lustmord's sound is not just digital effects of haunting echoes - he has actually made field recordings in slaughterhouses, caves and crypts. An interesting album to get your hands on would be a live performance at The Center for Inquiry, recorded on 6/6/6 for the Satanic High Mass celebration of 40th anniversary of The Church of Satan. That album is called Rising. On [ O T H E R ], Adam Jones (Tool) contributes slow solo guitars riffs, with additional appearances by King Buzzo (Melvins) and Aaron Turner (founder of Hydra Head Records and vocalist for the Isis). Speaking of Hydra Head... This is a great American label releasing everything from post-metal, like Pelican and Isis, to drone and doom metal, like Sunn O))) and other heavy metal styles from groups like Cave In, Boris and Jesu. And all joking aside - my dog ran out of the room and was afraid to get back into the studio, standing outside, looking in, until the [ O T H E R ] ended. If you've never heard Lustmord, this is a guaranteed unforgettable experience. For the same reasons that you watch horror films. This is music that truly makes you feel - never mind the fact that I can't wash off the goosebumps. Not recommended for sunny days and little girls. Impeccable production. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Lustmord

I believe you're an atheist... What was it like performing live for the first time in 25 years on 6/6/6?
More than anything it was fun - which has no bearing on my being an atheist, though you do have to have a sense of humor to be one.

You stick close fulfilling a very specific stylistic niche. What is the most difficult part about producing in this genre?
(I presume you're referring to my work as Lustmord in this question, though I've worked on plenty of things that have quite a different sound - see Puscifer for example). I don't find anything difficult about it at all and don't believe in such things as boundaries, especially those set by any "genre". Not that I feel part of any genre. I never try and please others with my work and as such I don't feel any pressure either internal or external to conform to expectations or rules implied by others.

Do you ever creep yourself out?
Of course not. I have been known to amuse myself though. |

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jasper TX - Black Sleep (Miasmah)

The fragmented world of random memories mixed by a disk jockey is one thing. An album is another. Listening to an album you always start at the beginning. You always start at track one. Dag Rosenqvist, under his moniker Jasper TX, opens up Black Sleep with a swell. It dynamically expands into a quiet drone, setting the tone for the things to come. Using layered pads, lo-fi treatment, and low rumbling tones, Rosenqvist builds a distant soundscape that drapes over my ears like a Valerian pillowcase. Black Sleep drifts me out of collective consciousness, through a tranquil voice of a Buddhist wordless sermon. The tracks on Black Sleep range from serene lullabies to haunting drones. Although the sleep is certainly black, it's not too dark to be enjoyed outdoors. Jasper TX is a perfect artist to end up on Miasmah, which recently stepped up from operating as a net label, the current album being its eighth official release. Miasmah's previous hailed albums include Rafael Anton Irisarri's Daydreaming, Elegi's Sistereis, and Jacaszek's Treny. Jasper TX is Rosenqvist's solo project, under which he has a couple of self released EPs, and a few albums, most notable of these are In A Cool Mansoon (Pumpkin Seeds In The Sand, 2007), and I'll Be Long Gone Before My Light Reaches You (Lampse, 2005). This past February, Jasper TX released yet another ambient album titled This Quiet Season (Slaapwel, 2008). I highly recommend you check it out as well. Besides releasing ambient bliss under Jasper TX, Sweden based Dag Rosenqvist is a member of a post-rock group, De La Mancha. For the likes of Deaf Center, Klimek, Marsen Jules, Fennesz, and Machinefabriek. |

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Modeselektor - Happy Birthday! (Bpitch Control)

Mixing up everything from IDM to dub, electro and hip-hop, Modeselektor puts out a truly fun album that keeps me bopping up and down. There is evident humor in some of the tracks and that's exactly that attitude that forces me to spin Happy Birthday! on for a fun ride. Not to mention an excellent array of featured artists. We've got French hip-hop from Paris, TTC; some Dominican style fun vocals from Paul St. Hilaire; throw-your-hands-up party rap from Puppetmastaz; and an absolutely excellent track featuring Thom Yorke, titled The White Flash. [Side note: the 2008 12" Happy Birthday! Remixed #1, features The White Flash remixed by Trentemøller - it's worth picking up just for the B side]. Modeselektor returned the favor and remixed Thom Yorke's Skip Divided from The Eraser (XL, 2008). Modeselektor is a Berlin based duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary. When Bronsert and Szary initially met in 1992, they were producing music under alias Fundamental Knowledge. In 1995 they renamed themselves to Modeselektor, after a function on Roland RE-201's effects module. Another interesting side project is called Moderat - a collaboration between Modeselektor and Apparat which only saw a single 12" on BPitch Control back in 2003 and now returned with a track on Happy Birthday! titled Let Your Love Grow. This is Modeselektor's sophomore release, named in anticipation of the unplanned accidentally synchronized births of the duo's children. Modeselektor is not afraid to whip any stylistic trend back into its cage. From four-to-the-floor acid infused electro beats, to heavy grime, this is already a favorite party album. In the middle of the album, after a heavy beat from The Black Block, my ear pricks up to a familiar melody. The track's name is The First Rebirth, and I immediately recognize the classic trance anthem from 1993 under the same name, written by Jones & Stephenson for Bonzai Records (and I still have my copy - actually just dug up Commander Tom's '94 Remix on Prolekult). The album finishes up with an excellent up-beat glitchy hard breaks featuring Maxïmo Park. Pick up this album and treat yourself to one of my 2007 favorites! Recommended if you enjoy Boxcutter, Pole, Plaid, Funkstörung and Mouse on Mars. Be sure to grab Modeselektor's 2005 debut, Hello Mom! p.s. Excellent popping music! | |