Stream: Temple Volant “Daydream Drawings” (exclusive)

26 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Working with an ElecTribe sampler and taking as source material various field recordings and collected drones, Montreal artist Sami Blanco aka Temple Volant evokes faint memories of The Skaters circa 2008, seemingly aimless noise interventions that have become so rare since Ferraro has gone all vapor on us. For all the excitement the radiant artificiality of the cyber underground's younger exegets sparked for a while, it is a sheer delight to revisit the muddy sonic waters of classic hypnagogia. This here is not a Qatari shopping mall, it's your subconscious transmitting. It's interesting to see 1080p mastermind Richard MacFarlane repping the style again, considering his history as one of hypnagogic pop's chief advocates in his Rose Quartz days. Is this some sort of inverse, second-level nostalgia I'm sensing here?

Daydream Drawings is out on 1080p. Get it on cassette or digitally over here and stream it in full below.

Read more →

Watch: Mirage “Do You Remember”

26 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

There are quite a few, actually a lot, things to say about Mirage – and avid followers of this publication should be able to recognise the musician from three other past projects that were all written about on No Fear Of Pop. For now however, suffice it to refer to this post about the artist, written by Olde English Spelling Bee's Todd Ledford, to provide you with some of the context that you might or might not find necessary. That aside, what we have here is without doubt one of the most talented pop musicians of the past years, even though despite what others are saying, of course this LA native is not 19 anymore – and his name is not Robin Nydal, either. But really, who cares about the detail if the melody is so compelling. Watch the brand new video for "Do You Remember", a song from Mirage's proper debut album Blood For The Return. Highly recommended stuff.

Blood For The Return is out digitally via Olde English Spelling Bee and Weird World, with a proper vinyl release following in October.

Read more →

Boeoes Kaelstigen feat. Name the Pet “Be the Lights (Gabriel Gassi Remix)” (exclusive)

26 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

When Swedish producers Tor Rauden Källstigen and Leo Nathorst-Böös aka Boeoes Kaelstigen dropped their single "Be the Lights" featuring vocals by Name the Pet back in April, Pitchfork expressed astonishment given the duo's evolvement from straight-up minimalist purism towards a more accessible, pop-friendly sound. And as per usual when dealing with pop music from Scandinavia, references were quickly at hand; in this particular case, Robyn and Röyksopp, which is of course as obvious as it is somewhat misguided. As if almost taken aback by the reaction, Boeoes Kaelstigen now follow up with a remix EP of "Be the Lights" that cautio recaptures the dancefloor. Or rather, at least Bjorn Akesson's two trance-infused reworks do, while CANVAS refits the tune for the sultry afterhour, and Stockholm-based producer Gabriel Gssi takes the middle ground with a very compelling Italo Disco version. Out of place neither on the floor nor on your headphones, the latter is the highlight of the bunch, and we're happy to premiere it below.

The "Be the Lights" remix pack will be released by Adrian Recordings on August 29.

Be sure to catch Boeoes Kaelstigen at Nordic By Nature's Our/Berlin Music Week showcase during First We Take Berlin next week on Friday, September 5. Check out our Berlin Music Week preview over here.

Read more →

James Vernon “The Actor (feat. Jasiel Berg)” (exclusive)

25 Aug 2014 — Sam Clark

James Vernon is no stranger to an eclectic musical taste. As a founding member of San Francisco’s Li Xi, Vernon has become well-versed in psychedelic explorations, and he’s taking it one step further with his new side project. Recording under his own name, Vernon is set to release Criminals digitally on September 9. The album is already supported by the lead single “Old Ghost”, and today No Fear of Pop premieres its second offering.

“The Actor” draws on Vernon’s psych-pop vernacular as much as his interest in more ambient, dance-based sounds, with gritty synths and processed guitars hitting in tandemed stutter, West Coast post-dub drum loop. Floating over the top is the hazy guest vocal spot from Jasiel Berg, whose delivery immediately transforms “The Actor” into an apt companion for waning summer nights, regardless of geographic location. Stream it below.

Read more →

Preview: Torstraßen Festival 2014

25 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Summer might be on its way out, but luckily that mostly means that the city's live music landscape is getting more interesting again. Last week, we told you what to do and see during the upcoming Berlin Music Week with its attached showcase festival First We Take Berlin, and we also told you that you might not want to spend your money on Berlin Festival (though we want to emphasise that if The Editors really happen to be your thing, you certainly have our blessing too, we're not judgmental – not all the time at least). If new and under-the-radar stuff is what you're looking for – and we assume it is, because why would you even read this website if it were not? – then FWTB will certainly offer plenty for you, but in that case we'd even more warmly recommend the fourth edition of the glorious Torstraßen Festival, happening this Saturday, August 30, in numerous bars and small clubs on and around Berlin Mitte's Torstraße. Especially if you're wondering what's hot among Berlin-based artists at the moment, there's probably no better occasion to find out, considering the organisers' well-informed and aware booking which focuses heavily on the home-grown crop.

Regarding specific recommendations, there are really too many artists to mention, as we think the line-up this year is seriously the best yet. However, let us mention that it would be a real shame if you missed NFOP favourites Alexander Winkelmann, Yohuna, Magic Island, and Fiordmoss. Also, we'd like to point out that our friends at Berlin Community Radio are hosting the stage at St. Oberholz, and the program there looks really compelling, so you might want to check that out, too.

While unlike last year, we won't have our own curated stage this time around, but No Fear Of Pop will be present at the festival in collaboration with our friends and partners of Cartouche magazine:

Happening at Kim Bar (Brunnenstraße 10) and starting at 2pm, we offer DJ sets by Montana-based musician Experimental Housewife and indie pop duo absurd&hanebüchen who will present outré pop tunes from both past and present, followed by a live performance by krautrock outfit Ej Bekot at 8pm. But there are even more reasons for you all to drop by: Cartouche magazin is going to celebrate the release of its fifth issue, which is set to feature pieces on some of the artists performing that day at Torstraßen Festival 2014. Stratosfear, the label curated by the people behind Berlin-based blog No Fear Of Pop, will display and sell its 7″ vinyl singles. And to top it all off, a cherished if forgotten popcultural ritual will be revived: autograph sessions with selected artists of the festival! Finally, your culinary desires will be taken care of by Neukölln café Two Planets, serving their celebrated authentic New York bagels and brownies all afternoon.

Update: Unfortunately, Experimental Housewife had to cancel. In her stead, Robin (aka rkss) and Cory (aka Kohwi), who aready rocked our four-year anniversary party back in February, will play unexpected and underappreciated electronic music for two hours. Should be just as much fun!

Find the details about our event here and about the festival in general over here. Get your ticket now online for the reduced price of 13 Euros. It will be 15 on the day of the festival. Check out the schedule plus an extensive Soundcloud playlist of all performing artists below.

Read more →

Introducing: CTM x NFOP – Berlin Current

22 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

As already mentioned in our Berlin Music Week preview on Tuesday, No Fear Of Pop is proud and happy to be the official media partner of the forthcoming second season of CTM Festival's groundbreaking Berlin Current project. In the coming weeks and months, we will provide interviews with and features on the participating Berlin artists, both here on the website and on our weekly show on Berlin Community Radio, especially in anticipation of specific Berlin Current events in Berlin. We hope to be able to provide you with more profound background on the project and its subject, our city's exciting and ever-changing underground music scene, contextualise the artists and labels that are featured and their impact on Berlin's current musical landscape, and the influence the city has on artists who live and work here, be they from Berlin, from somewhere else in Germany, or part of the continually expanding expat community. Of course, it's a big part of what No Fear Of Pop has been striving for since the start: while focusing on music from UK, the States, or challenging scenes in other countries, this website has been on the constant lookout for interesting things happening around the corner. Despite the mildly critical position we have decided to maintain, we do firmly believe that in all its incoherent weirdness and aimlessness, Berlin is one of the most exciting places to be in 2014, and we think that the city's diverse music scene appropriately reflects this unique and probably finite setting. In this state of illusive utopia that Berlin at times manages to unfold, music seems to play a role so crucial for the city's self-identification that for once it again is more than just another cultural commodity of late capitalism. As fittingly put by musician and NFOP staff writer Johanne Swanson in her piece for Portals this week: "This place knows that art is a social practice." Berlin Current sets out to unearth, advance, and catalyse those undercurrents in the city's contemporary musical landscape that embody this perception of pop as relevant for the progress of culture.

Below, you'll find the list of participating artists and events that are scheduled so far, followed by, in order to properly launch No Fear Of Pop's accompanying coverage of the project, excerpts from an essay I've written for this year's CTM Festival catalogue, which was published in January.

Participating Artists

Ame Zek
Amnesia Scanner
Born in Flamez
Dasha Rush
Golden Diskó Ship
Kathy Alberici
KABLAM
Ketev
Kobosil
Lief Hall
Lotic
Moon Wheel
M.E.S.H.
OAKE
Objekt
Opium Hum
Owen Roberts
Phoebe Kiddo
Reliq
rRoxymore
Sarah Farina
Shapednoise
TCF
These Hidden Hands

Read more →

Soft Vision “Feel It Coming On” (exclusive)

21 Aug 2014 — Parker Bruce

Soft Vision aka Kelly Winchester and Bradley Barr, an Austin pair, know how to make quietly stately music. Case in point, their song "Feel It Coming On", which can be found on a debut 7" of the same name that will be out on August 26. The reserved, almost dirge of the tune calls to mind the songs by Computer Magic (i.e. "Victory Gin," "Grand Junction," and "Everyone Feels That Way Sometimes") as it marches and trudges with droning organs yet also a miraculous sense of airiness, brevity, and lightness as if we all had our heads in the clouds.

Get the two songs through Lexington, KY label Acoustic Division's burgeoning subset, Hi-Definition, come next week. Drone on.

Read more →

Preview: Berlin Music Week 2014

19 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Brace yourself, Berlin Music Week 2014 is upon us! Still not SXSW, but certainly the closest thing Germany has to a relevant music-industry gathering that attempts to be both global in reach and musically all-encompassing in scope. Mind you: This is a Berlin-based website so we choose to ignore Reeperbahn Festival which otherwise probably would like to have a say in this as well. Apologies, Hamburg. If you manage to sift through all the presumtuously enthusiastic press blurbs you will come to realise that the event has once again gained focus and coherence in relation to both the 'music' and the 'talk' components, which should be acknowledged and lauded. The official press release, to be honest, still remains bulky and somewhat embarrassing in its overstated reliance on Berlin as the place to be, not least as after all is said and done, there's no denying that the German capital is still not the guiding light for contemporary pop music, and will most likely never surpass or even approximate London or New York in that sense. At the end of the day, and despite the standing of techno in general or instutions such as Berghain in particular, the city's attitude remains firmly parochial. Of course, the organisers are having none of it. Nor should they, we assume: "Creativity, innovation, originality and authenticity: This is Berlin. The city’s ubiquitous mix of music and technology, festivals and club events is a big part of the driving force behind it all. Berlin Music Week offers a world stage for all these areas with its two core parts: the WORD! conference for business and SOUND! for live events."

So there you go. And why not? As long as people from all across the world keep thinking that it is here and now where the real stuff is happening, maybe we can turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy and then enjoy it while it lasts. Don't get me wrong: There's still plenty to see and do during those forthcoming September days. The conference prgram looks mostly well-considered, and especially the music section "First We Take Berlin" (FWTB) with its concept of compartmentalized curation and despite its questionable name for sure has a promising future, and should be fun indeed. If we say music section, we shall however spare Berlin Music Week's purported capstone event Berlin Festival, an occurence which in the past years presented itself in such an uninspired manner that it made the impression of being no more than a vapid leftover meal for all those souls who couldn't make it to Melt Festival in July. The change of location from the scenic yet manifestly inept Tempelhof Airport (talking about the sound here, duh) to Arena on the opposite, more hipster-friendly end of Kreuzberg will probably help to reconnect Berlin Festival with the rest of the week's happenings, so we might even have reason to be optimistic about this part as well. For now however, we will not mention it any further, mostly because their promo videos still make us cringe (Sorry, Conny). Instead, below you'll find our selection of the most interesting nights of FWTB, plus some words on WORD! for added credibility.

Oh and if you are in town for BMW 2014, please say hello.

One more thing, is that David Guetta in the video? Seriously?

Read more →