Retro Promenade has really carved out a special name for itself. As a compilation label fixated on late 80s pop archetypes and the synthiest of synths, it does indeed seem promenade and parade around unabashedly, trumpeting this love.
We've covered them here before because of their affiliation with The Boy & Sister Alma; this series, however, is very special for probably all of us. Introducing the Next Peak series, a multivolume compilation of retro pop bands both covering and reinventing Badalamenti's original and captivating score for Twin Peaks – and it's just in time for the 25th anniversary! I remember several years ago when I listened to the soundtrack over and over: I was in love or something spooky like that, where it felt really good to soak in a foggy bath of evocative tunes like that. Take a listen to volume three below, and be sure to especially enjoy The Boy & Sister Alma's slightly comical "One Eye, One Arm, One Man." Also check out the totally awesome posters and t-shirts for purchase.
Our favourite alt-pop lady returns, with the first glimpse of her very exciting new record. Ela Orleans doesn't seem to be constrained by the same ideas of pop music or what's 'cool' that most of us labour under. Her vision is widescreen, and style elastic, encapsulating noirish piano solos, lo-fi keyboard malfunctions and opera. But "The Sky and the Ghost" is perhaps her best produced, most positive music so far. Like all her output, there is a bewitching torsion here: a ghostly choir pepped up by rambunctious breaks, maudlin lyrics skewered by spritely synths. All underpinned by deceptively expert songwriting and that captivating, unplaceable voice, of course. It is, in her own words, a movie for the ears.
Ela's Upper Hell LP is out soon on Howie B Recordings.
Split between Seattle and Los Angeles, Nuearth Kitchen appeals to a special type of joviality. Jeremy Grant and Cody Morrison combine their acutely complementary tastes to inform a discography that inspires harmless wildness, urban flare, and a well-rounded thirst for rhythm. As their seedling label Nuearth Conservatory prepares for blossoming, NEK is likewise gearing up for further ripening with the third solo release from Jon McMillion, polished off with remixes from Orson Wells and Fred P.
Submitting to the housey yet devoutly underground charms of NEK, I got in touch with Cody and Jeremy to try and understand where they are coming from a little better. Here's how it went.
It may seem somewhat bizarre that the academic International Conference on Cartography and GIS Mapping resulted in the formation of musical act. Luca Lorenzi and Massimiano Santoni met at the academic conference in Italy and found themselves bonding over their love of electronic music. Under the name To You Mom, the pair create a brand of pop built on digital productions, propulsive percussion and Lorenzi’s gentle vocals. We Are Lions, as the title suggests, is a proud declaration of their arrival and sound. To accompany their new single, "Charming Karma", the duo have made a visual focusing on a couple’s communication through sign language, as they try to solve their differences. The dramatic chorus of the song and the monochrome palette are absorbing and draws the viewer into its interpretation.
Writing a song is making a pattern and fitting it together in a greater pattern. Making an album is piecing those songs together, pattern by pattern, until circular consonance. The releases that resonate with us the greatest are those that skillfully echo this human experience of pattern-making: revisiting trauma and creating symbols that return to reveal some sort of hope or despair. The Offer by Yowler, the solo project of All Dogs frontwoman and Saintseneca member Maryn Jones, is one of these records. It is dizzying misery with ‘water’, a motif echoed in each track, overflowing. How is it still that we aim for linear growth when it’s so obviously circular? Put this on repeat.
The Offer by Yowler is out now. Order it here from Double Double Whammy.
NFOP is happy to present a new music event series at Kreuzberg's Monarch, YOU DONT REALLY KNOW ME, which will kick off on Wednesday with a DJ set by our favourite Phoebe Kiddo. Read more about the night's concept below:
Berlin is rich with local electronic music producers and DJs. Privately though not all of them are exclusively listening to electronic music or the kind of music they make themselves. So what else is inspiring them?
Once a month Monarch Berlin invites a producer, artist or DJ to play music he/she would usually not play in a club: music that informs the roots of their styles, obscure songs they love, guilty pleasures, analogue or digital, danceable or not.
Phoebe Kiddo, RBMA alumn and sound art graduate with a penchant for odd rhythmic intentions, will inaugurate YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW ME this week. Positioned somewhere between her rave and club heritage, eerie atmospherics and rhythmic anomalies, Kiddo's MBF project maintains a uniquely delicate perspective on modern club music.
Things start at 9pm. Get more infos on the event's Facebook page.
Dark Energy is not for the faint of heart. While it would be possible to place the album in the context of legendary footwork producers such as RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad, it would be more accurate to say that Jlin, an up-and-coming producer from Gary, Indiana, has blown apart the foundations of footwork in order to make space for her own uniquely relentless sound. Each of the eleven tracks on Dark Energy subverts expectation at every turn, toggling back and forth between percussion-heavy urgency and equally urgent periods of spacious subtlety. Jlin’s quick transitions are both inescapable and unpredictable, making Dark Energy exemplary of the most controlled and skillful form of pure pandemonium.
Jlin’s debut album will be released on 23 March by Planet Mu. In the meantime, I sat down with the producer and together, we delved into Dark Energy.
Danish-Canadian polymath Sally Dige makes dark, minimal synthpop that might draw comparison to the likes of Depeche Mode - Dige's vocal affect is remarkably similar to thant of Dave Gahan - if she didn't already seem to be ushering in an italo-disco revival. "Hard to Please", the title track from Dige's debut album, fuses the ghostly humanism of Dige's new wave forebears with the pointed, synthetic narrative of contemporary electronica.
Ditching the glam and gloss typically associated with synthpop, the choppy black & white video for "Hard to Please", which was directed by Laslo Antal, has the almost vandalized, hyper-candid feel of something that might appear in the corner of an art gallery. The video then cuts between shots of an outdoor birth and ambiguously gruesome scenes of Dige mauling (what looks like) hamburger meat with fork and spatula until it bleeds. The video bears some aesthetic semblance to Eraserhead (which also has bleeding food) but has the loose, zoom-crazed cinematography of later lo-fi masterpieces like Slacker.
The slightly NSFW video (mostly for blood) is worth repeated viewings (is Dige giving birth to prepackaged hamburger? is that a slice of watermelon?), which is just as well: the song will be more or less inextractable from your head once you hear it.