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.

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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Watch: Odd Rumblings “Ice Floe” (exclusive)

17 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Winter is coming, they say, though we want to stress that we're not quoting some overhyped fantasy television drama here. Cause it really is – just step out into the crisp mid-November air today and you'll realise that once again, a year is coming to its end, leaving us with nothing but shattered hopes and unfulfilled dreams; which naturally draws us to music like that of Brooklyn duo Odd Rumblings, otherwise known as Audrea Lim and Gabriel Sedgwick, whose marvellous glacial synth pop sets the mood for the coming season. Take "Ice Floe", the opening track of the project's six-track debut EP Thieves. Rather literally, Lim is singing of dreams of ice and snow, natural conditions that weaken the human spirit and undermine confidence and trust. There is some warmth in the wobbling pads and enclosing progressions, but when the beat has faded away, we're alone again, awaiting the oncoming night.

Now, "Ice Floe" has received a pretty perfect visualisation by Chinese native Jun Cen, who's currently based in New York City. The animated short film, so much more than a mere accompaniment to the song but really a piece of art in its own right, uses stark, icy images for a captivating narration about a young child who is haunted by deep, subconscious troubles from the past. Watch the work's premiere below.

Thieves is out on Public Information. Get it digitally or on limited edition vinyl over here.

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Review: Loscil “Sea Island”

17 Nov 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

It's safe to say that early Loscil is more on the innocent and curious side, however still plenty dour and shy. Triple Point and First Narrows are beautiful, patient works where optimisim, too far too reach but perfectly audible, lingers in uplifting melodies. Twinkling, splattering sounds, droplets of pad synth and glossy breezes contribute to Scott Morgan's compositional aesthetic and form a Loscil leitmotif profile. As a collector, completist of sorts, any artist who has such subtle evolution alongside stylistic constancy is a quality not only appealing to me, but also very admirable, as it reveals a certain amount of focus and aesthetic on the artist's end. It also feeds my appetite for assimilating catalogued containment, a serial package.

Sea Island, of course, is no exception to Morgan's profile. Though still administered with the usual dotty pads and slow, sighing waves of realization, the new material is rich, brooding, and daringly sad. Starting off with "Ahull," our ears immediately laze into a seaside domain that has perhaps recently experienced some ecological devastation.  Aforementioned optimism starts the album off but quickly floats away to another locale. "In Threes" is shiny yet gawking, then, with "Bleeding Ink," we're in full reception of a lamenting, uncomfortable place, and it is there that we stay until the final track. After an IDM-like commencing melody, one that strikes the chords of uncertainty, vocalist Ashley Pitre's crooning palpitates between the tremendous and sparse downbeat. The emotional transformation of this track registers it as one of the more powerful songs on the album, as it communicates the steady arrival of to-be-avoided feelings such as naiveté turned paranoia, second-guessing and foreboding, in a most attractive way.

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"Iona" displays of a slow ringing of bells and gently corresponding melodic progression. If ever there was a song or story about what it must be like to sit through watchful, alienated nights on a hillside in Iona, this is it. Perfectly in the middle of the track, Morgan drops the ambient bass and thus Loscil-esque cadence and clicking that is coded in heavy filter and effect lifts us back up into implied, perhaps aerial movement. "Holding Pattern" sits with itself well, talking to itself while gracefully moving around octaves for a more dynamic anthemic experience. As we dive deep into the album, we reach more consistent darkness. "Catalina 1943" (which perhaps reflects on the sinking of US PBY Catalina boats implemented during World War II) and "En Masse" embody the attitude of unwillingness to compromise or forgive; "Sturgeon Bank" somehow metes out memories of betrayal with quicker and more clever rhythmic work. The angel songs, "Angel of Loll" and "Angel of List," are flecked dub tracks sans dance beat. 

That said, it is perhaps agreeable to observe that any Loscil album compliments the mood of any November upsettingly well; Sea Island, however, belongs to this particular November, and is a precedent of the start of this particular winter which is predicted to be brutal. With all the North American uproar in dub techno lately, Sea Island surely stands a chance for becoming a favorite of the current mood in electronic music. Implied appreciation for nautical geography, for where land meets water, this album is a highly recommended sad and slow dub techno selection, dub of the rainy north. Dub, after all, tends to associate itself with water and the coast, doesn't it? 

Sea Island is out today on the one and only Kranky.

AyGeeTee “Imminent Orphan”

13 Nov 2014 — Richard Greenan

Words change music. On the surface, Shostakovich's fifth symphony is a heroic piece of socialist realism, Stakhanovite victory trapped in golden oilpaint. Read around and the same tones appear fragile, sarcastic, frightened. This was a composer writing for his life, smile forcibly held in place, frozen by perpetual ovation.

Here we have the latest offering from producer AyGeeTee, Imminent Orphan. Initially this sounds like a crisp, almost jaunty beat tape. "Brothers of Knowledge and his Brothers", and "Closed Door End Call" unroll with a chiselled energy, while the expansive chords and handclaps of "Leaving No Insides Out" hint at a nicely frazzled Balearicism.

But Imminent Orphan is a thing of tragedy, written in the short six weeks between AyGeeTee's father's terminal cancer diagnosis and eventual death. Suddenly the drums loom overhead, crackling electromagnets propelling urgently forward and skyward. But the meanings are yours to construct.

AyGeeTee writes, "if anyone wants to dance, jump up and down or whatever positive reaction you just might feel, please go ahead because I certainly don't want anyone to have a bad time listening to this tape."

Imminent Orphan is out now on limited cassette via Reckno.

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Tommy Toussaint “Over and Over” (exclusive)

12 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Been a while since our paths last crossed with fairly recent Los Angeles transplant Tommy Toussaint, one of the artists who used to be associated with Oxford, Mississippi's rad Cats Purring collective. The former Dent May collaborator must have spent quite some time in the last year to master his knack for willfully notalgic yet ultimately timeless, wistful synth ballads, as proven with "Over and Over", the first single off his forthcoming full-length A Cool Kind Of Love: it's lush, a little brittle, and very cool indeed. If someone smuggled this into an 80s night at your local bar (I'm sure you'd never go there, but bear with me for a second), no one would ever notice. Which is a good thing. In this case at least.

A Cool Kind Of Love is about to drop on tape via Chill Mega Chill Records.

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