Stream: Katie Rush “Law of Attraction” EP (exclusive)

26 Nov 2014 — Johanne Swanson

I have an early memory of asking my seventh grade English teacher, my favorite teacher, if he listened to Madonna while he was growing up in the 80's. She was my hero and I spent most mornings getting ready for school pantomiming "The Immaculate Collection" in front of the mirror. Reluctantly he told me no, that everything about her seemed sort of-- I kid you not, he used the word-- icky back then. It crushed me and then fueled some fire because I knew in the most innocent part of my heart that Madonna was truly great; she was someone that I, a thirteen year-old Catholic school choir girl, still wanted to be. Yes, if Madonna expressing all of that feminine desire rolling around in a wedding dress at the MTV Video Music Awards was icky, then I wanted to be icky. Icky, or maybe just threatening to a grown man.

Enter Law of Attraction, the debut EP from Katie Rush aka Katie Wagner with production by Sam Mehran (Test Icicles, Outer Limitz) and Zak Mering (Raw Thrills, Greatest Hits). Wagner is our pop star, someone we want to be and are becoming, as she demands space (cosmic or otherwise) and in turn discovers self. This is the soundtrack to our coming-of-age drama. On the neon shining four tracks Wagner writes, “I hope that people feel what I feel when I hear and sing the songs, making them feel riveted and want to just groove hard to life's possibilities!” 

Law of Attraction is out now on GUNK TV. Stream the EP in full below. 

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Devotional Music For Invisible Cities

26 Nov 2014 — Richard Greenan

With their aphorism "music with stories to tell", Dramatic Records have presented music from a variety of oddballs over the years - coffee-addled, corporate nutjobs, duplicitous Czech entrepreneurs, misty-eyed anthropologists and unhinged swimming gurus (?!).

Their latest offering, then, seems conspicuously devoid of protagonist and accompanying backstory. Even the title of the album is hollow. Does Invisible Cities point to the Calvino book of the same name, itself an exercise in styles of the imaginable? The artwork, too, is laced with baffling cyphers, Escher-esque false turns and never-ending staircases...

Musically, "Love Of Pleasure Is All" is warming, unplaceable, devotional - the end credits of a civilisation-building dynasty, or murmurs from a nightclub in the middle of some Final Fantasy VII desert.

Invisible Cities is out soon on Dramatic Records.

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NFOP x Kometenmelodien: copeland, Jabu, and Lief Hall at Berghain Kantine

25 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Very honoured to have been given to curate the next edition of Kometenmelodien's precious concert series at Berghain Kantine, happening Wednesday next week, December 3rd. For the night, we've chosen some absolute NFOP darlings, familiar to anyone who has been following this website over the past years or who's even just periphally interested in cutting-edge pop music one and a half decades into the third millenium: Young Echo members Amos Childs and Alex Rendall aka Jabu are coming across the Channel for a rare live rendition of their sublime blend of Child's productions informed by Bristol's boundless heritage and Rendall's soft-spoken vocal intervention, before (Inga) copeland is blessing Berlin for the first time since releasing her superb debut full-length Because I'm Worth It earlier this year. The night will be opened by Berlin-based artist Lief Hall, who will present her new live set that she first performed live on our BCR show back in April – revisit the stream below.

We're giving away 1x2 guest list spots for next week's show. Just write an email with the subject "copeland" to submissions@nofearofpop.net before Friday, November 28th, at 12pm.

Find more details about the event over on Facebook.

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Design A Wave “International Journey of Synthetic Emotion”

24 Nov 2014 — Richard Greenan

For around three years Chloe Frieda has wooed electronic music aficionados with her weekly show on NTS Radio – a special blend of calming voice and downright odd sounds. She's now putting those excellent ears to further good use, as her Alien Jams project evolves label-wards, purveying the dark, weird underside of English music.

AJ01, oMMM's Parallel Lines Converge, resembled a mournful, hopelessly distorted SOS message from another dimension. Frieda now points the telescope earthwards – or, more specifically, towards the dancefloor – to reveal London producer Design A Wave's International Journey of Synthetic Emotion.

In this engrossing first cut, the Rush Hour and Alter veteran makes you wait – coaxing an array of serpentine, bubbling synths and softly padding chords before flinging us forward through a decidedly groovy wormhole. Quite hard to not press repeat on this one.

Design A Wave's International Journey of Synthetic Emotion is out on Dec 1st via Alien Jams.

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Review: Golden Diskó Ship “Invisible Bonfire”

20 Nov 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

The world of Golden Diskó Ship can be summed up by using the following two terms: krautrock mo-town. Berlin's Theresa Stroetges has busied herself as a "one-girl orchestra" for several years, which has landed her a spot on Berlin's CTM Current program, and earned her recognition from Joachim Irmler, keyboardist of Faust, who released Stroetges' last album on his label Klangbad. For her reveling new full-length, Invisible Bonfire, Stroetges has taken to Zürich's Spezialmaterial, and will release the work on LP and CD November 25th.

Invisible begins with the track "These Thoughts Will Never Take Shape," which is like an intro inside of an intro inside of an intro (if you listening to it enough - the track bears a lot of jammy meandering, so it's like it never fully arrives). The skipping-rocks old school beat commences a familiar and endearing style momentarily met by lovesick, clean lyrics: "you keep changing your mind, but I believe you every time," which kind of also sound like "you keep changing your mind and I will leave you every time." Then suddenly, the lyrics are crunched into ringing distortion, an effect that promises a journey through experimental design and cheerful exploration of pop archetypes. Interchangeability, no-rush-ethics, and fluttering emulations are widely available throughout the album. The title of the opening song alone grants some insight as to how GDS is all about enjoying a thought, love story, or mood that never takes finalized shape; instead, it's all about being present with the journey and watching evolution take place, so much so that, when you arrive at whatever destination, it feels off-putting. Stroetges prefers the company of motion rather than the harsh solidity of a Standort.

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"Fake Horse" isn't the only track to bear more eastern rhythmic work. Further into the album, "Little Stream" is a non-lyrical, ciruclar anthem, bolstered by interesting and accessible layers. "Movie Theatre" is a somewhat belligerent, boxy track, one that reminds me of early Désormais or aMute. It puts forth a more solemn mood with some super subtle ambience. As the determined, taking-control-back beat enters, so do the cartoony effects on top of Stroetges' mantra. The song fades out in a most exhausted, ready-to-sleep way, then "Snowflake Helicopter" begins, which is the most krautrockish song on the album. The guitar work is masterful and sweet. The swirling whistles and whimsical melody stimulate a childlike part of the imagination, and I can envision a little girl in the back of the car cheering this selection on and later having a memory of it being her favorite song that her parents played for her when she was young. I was sure that I'd heard this track before, but I can't place it: I feel like I might've heard it played by a DJ once upon a time at O'Tannenbaum on Sonnenallee, or maybe my friend Soren, who personally introduced me to Stroetges, played it for me, narrating, "this is Theresa's new music." No matter the factual truth, this song has that archetypal, cozy quality, that sweet familiarity. GDS is indeed very genial music, even if impressively experimental and at times deliberately twisted.

"New Year/Under The Wave" is a dualistic piece, one festooned with seaside greyness and damp winds. The unclassifiable bird-like sound makes me think of a cinematic scene where a tired and contemplative young adult saunters around an abandoned carousel. As the nude down beat takes prominence, so does another mantra, indiscernible, and what is actually being said doesn't matter. The atmosphere and frigidness of this song work to make it my personal favorite on the album; however, it still contains some kind of amount of sweetness. Perhaps that is the vital ingredient to what sets GDS' sound aside as unique: experimental, ruthless, overcast, sweet.

Stroetges applies sweet, comfortable electric guitar to all of her tracks; further, she harnesses a simple yet compelling lyrical style that is repetitive, alliterative, and musically refraining: every song is a grey summer sunset score. The guitar progressions serve as main chorus melodies in the flavor of driving-down-the-highway krautrock. The unadulterated ingredients are ring distortion, classic electric guitar, at least one non-musical sample, and mo-town mantras. The perfect example of this claim can be found among the final moments of the album, where, after guitar and vocals fade away, we hear spinning fuzz and an antique voice talking about lack of interest in dying, a certain disinclination rather than fear of arriving at the final destination. Therewith, the album terminates.

Keep your eyes out for GDS performances at CTM's Berlin Current, Ausland, and on Boiler Room. Invisible Bonfire is out November 25h on Spezialmaterial.

NFOP Presents: Polymorphism x PAN

19 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

When I asked PAN's Bill Kouligas about his label's relationship to its physical home Berlin for a piece I wrote for the magazine of the 2014 edition of CTM Festival back in January, his response sounded very familiar: Arriving in the city in 2009 after a few years in London (where PAN was founded), his main motivation had been the cheaper rents, which made sense for the development of the young label. And while Berlin has certainly had a significant impact on him, he considered PAN still somewhat detached from the city's electronic music scene, with its strong focus on the dancefloor and thus club-ready productions. To be sure: it seems save to say that Kouligas' imprint by now has become one of the most admired outlets for experimental electronic music on a global level, yet while most will be aware where it is based, there is no inherent necessity to actually call it a Berlin label. To the contrary, it is a prime example of one of those aesthetic missions that are so strongly connected to their initiators that their home will naturally be wherever they decide to settle; that may be London, Berlin, or Athens, Kouligas' hometown.

However, starting with the releases of Heatsick's resolutely non-Berlin house oddball transmissions and Rashad Becker's masterpiece Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. I last year, PAN has recently developed a more intimate relationship with its current home, more precisely with a very distinct part of it: Berlin's ever-growing – in number and significance – expat community. In 2014, Kouligas has continued to tap into this scene, putting out Scythians, an excellent EP by US native and Janus fellow M.E.S.H., followed by Objekt's long-anticipated debut full-length Flatland, surely one of PAN's most high-profile releases to date. Both artists are also part of the current roster of CTM's Berlin Current initiative, a picture-perfect alliance that will be celebrated in its appropriate setting at Berghain this Friday, November 21 as part of CTM's Polymorphism series. Accompanied by NFOP favourites Helena Hauff, Lee Gamble, and Visionist, as well as Beneath and JM Moser, the night promises to become one of this year's club highlights. As media partners of Berlin Current, we're presenting the event, and that's only one reason why we couldn't recommend it more emphatically.

Find more details over on Facebook.

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Stream: Matte Wood “s/t” EP (exclusive)

18 Nov 2014 — Parker Bruce

Cascine are wrapping up their strongest year as a label to date with Matte Wood's self-titled EP, out on the label's digital counterpart CSCN. Matte Wood or James Jano (from Detroit, now a Brooklynite) usually drums in well-known indie pop group Widowspeak. This EP here, though, is about as far as one can get from Widowspeak. First track "Olive Oil" buzzes, radiates, and glows, and the single "YKNO" glugs and clomps assuredly. The EP is wholly engulfing, pattering and pulsing hither and thither, never dashing too far off, always circling back around, calling to mind Coyote Clean Up's equally engrossing 2013 release 2 HOT 2 WAIT. Matte Wood has made a piece of total submersion, total immersion, and complete diversion. With a hint of quiet voraciousness. Just the way we like our music here at No Fear of Pop. It's out now. Take a listen below.

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Boeoes Kaelstigen feat. Vanbot “Our Story (Gabriel Gassi Remix)” (exclusive)

18 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Before you go ahead and take a listen, allow me to express a few thoughts on this track. One. Up until the remix we ran the other day, we had never heard of a Stockholm-based producer who's into Italo Disco and goes by the name of Gabriel Gassi. And in a way, we're not quite sure what to think about fake Italian names just to get your point across – which is, as mentioned, that you are really into Italo Disco. Because I mean, we get that; just listen. But hey!, no big deal. We like this guy. This is fun. Fun is good. Right? Two. I didn't know that remix packages are still a thing. Remixes, sure. But one song as a single accompanied by a bunch of reworks? That's almost like in the good old days, when we still had CDs. Remember CDs? Yeah, me neither. There was this time in the 90s when we seriously spent something like the equivalent of five Euros (that was before the Euro, duh) for a "maxi single", a mundane silver disc containing one song that we were really obsessed with plus a three or four "b-sides" or more or less crappy remixes by more or less well-known producers. Strange times, the 90s. But apparently these times aren't over yet up in Sweden, as Boeoes Kaelstigen's "Our Story" is already the second remix package to be released in quick succession. But (twist!): As this is Sweden, and not the 90s, the material here is not crappy at all but really rather interesting. Especially this Gabriel Gassi one, but we've said that already. Three. I still have no clue how to pronounce – or spell – Boeoes Kaelstigen. It's confusing.

The Our Story remix package is out tomorrow, November 19, via Adrian Recordings. There will be an album next spring. And more remixes, probably.

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