Boycrush feat. Madeira “Flirt”

21 May 2015 — Parker Bruce

I have a new musical crush and rather conveniently his name is Boycrush (well Alistair Deverick actually, from New Zealand). And he's gone and done a song with a former member of Yumi Zouma, Kim Pflaum, whose new project is called Madeira. The song in question is "Flirt" and as you would expect, it's riveting. Full of a bounding bounce as well as ballooning, volumnious squats of brass, and Pflaum's now instantly recognizable singing style, "Flirt" is a hop, skip, and a jump into the summer of our discontent. I can't help but agree with Pflaum when she sings "Just a fleeting touch/That's all I want." Truly a bittersweet symphony here.

"Flirt" will be on Boycrush's EP Girls On Top, which comes out May 27. Check out the whole EP when it arrives. It will bowl you over with just how stunning and charming it is.

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The Sandwitches “Wickerman Mambo” (exclusive)

19 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

There's this one thing GvB's Chris Cantalini and I could always agree on: San Francisco outfit The Sandwitches are criminally overlooked, and for inexplicable reasons. Joke's on you though, as the band's forthcoming third-full-length Our Toast will be their final offering. While The Sandwitches' distinctive melancholy permeates the LP, however, it's not all sadness and gloom. Take second single "Wickerman Mambo", premiered below: The jangly guitar chords may not be steeped in happiness either, but there's a certain, almost defiant (or sarcastic) optimism coming through, a joyful carelessness that can only be expressed by someone who's experienced pain and sorrow but still refuses to give in. It's a last flicker though, in a way, as the album's penultimate track before "Nothing But Love" shifts the tone again, slowly and sadly waving goodbye in style. I have no clue what's next for the band's members – one may hope that at least Grace Cooper will release more gorgeously haunting material as Grace Sings Sludge – but The Sandwitches and their damaged yet beautiful and always sincere take on classic garage and americana will truly be missed.

Our Toast is out June 9 on Empty Cellar Records.

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S Olbricht “Trancess” (exclusive)

14 May 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

There is something unsettling about the work of Budapest-based producer S Olbricht. In his musical world, whether it be for Lobster Theremin or Opal Tapes, he seems to always have the option of going toward the light, but, for whatever reason, he stays put, basking in just enough darkness, able to still see the brighter and lighter side which he is resisting. His brand new release for Bratislava-based Proto Sites, an imprint that has thus far done nothing but allow space for blissful augmentation of ambient abilities from acts like Casi Cada Minuto and Imre Kiss, interestingly has a moment of uplifting relief. "Onhom" is a trance-infested, emotive and sloping track, one that speaks to elation over and submission to change and redux. This is the one track on the EP that fills the shoes of what a "trancess" may be, either a trance princess or some kind of ticket for gaining access to trance. As usual for S Olbricht, most of the songs, their titles, and anti-directional soundscapes are otherworldly, sprinkled with a little spookiness; however, when "Onhom" hits, we gain some fresh perspective about not only the artist's faculties, but perhaps also about our own.

Trancess is out soon on Proto Sites. You can hear more of said "blissful augmentation" here, and pre-order the vinyl here.

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Watch: Asa 808 “Ignorance” (exclusive)

07 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

As is often the case with words derived from Latin and employed in different European languages, the connotations of ‘ignorance’ in modern English and ‘Ignoranz’ in German are not exactly congruent. The difference is subtle: While ‘ignorance’ denotes the lack of knowledge in a principally neutral manner, ‘Ignoranz’ is decidedly derogatory, a reprehensible quality most commonly understood primarily as a lack of the will to know. When thinking about the accustomed perception of post-reunification Germany especially among my non-German peers, my native tongue’s meaning seems  more appropriate.

In recent years, marked by important publications such as Denk and von Thülen’s brilliant “The Sound of Family – Berlin, Techno and the Reunification”, it has become habitual to take Berlin, that “big playground filled with infinite possibilities”, as the focal point for narratives about the country prior to and following the fall of the wall in 1989. In the deserted wastelands of Mitte, techno culture was able to bloom mainly due to a historically unique lack of authoritative structures, leaving big parts of the city unregulated and free to be occupied by counter-cultural currents. For contemporary witnesses, the anarchic conditions promised an underground paradise, and the appeal of that time still resonates not least as a cliché reference point for every club night in town. It still is one of the main reason why so many young people want to move to Berlin today.

“Ignorance”, the lead track on local producer ASA 808’s new 12” on London/Berlin imprint ManMakeMusic, in a way echoes this legendary era of classic Berlin techno. It is raw, straightforward, and dark, evoking images of unrestrained nights in abandoned warehouses. It’s not a joyful track but one made for ecstatic oblivion, to relive the feeling of freedom the city once embodied some 25 years ago.

The thing is, if you let Germans play anarchy, the most likely outcome is not techno but a pogrom.

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Just in time for the 70th anniversary of Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8th, 1945, the video for “Ignorance”, premiered above, is a necessary reminder of this. Depicting the events in Rostock Lichtenhagen in the summer of 1992, it shows the other side of the breakdown of public structures. Over the course of three days, a vitriolic mob was able to express the people’s hate and frustration by attacking the shelter of the most vulnerable members of society, refugees and so-called ‘guest workers’ (it would take Germans another 15 years to slowly become comfortable using the word ‘immigrant’). The reaction of the authorities was reluctant and insufficient at first, and catastrophic in the aftermath. The incidents in Rostock represent the shameful counter-narrative of the reunification years. As it happens, it’s also the one that we forget to tell often enough.

When people want to show how admirable the New Germany really is, they like to point out that as opposed to so many other European countries, right-wing populist parties like those haunting France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, and others usually don’t stand a chance in federal elections. Sure enough. The reason for that, however, is not so much that we’re all such reasonable people. There’s simply no real need to vote for upstart populists if their positions are already comfortably covered by the main parties in the parliament, usually by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. But make no mistake, the Social Democrats won’t hesitate a second if morally outrageous standpoints benefit their electoral campaigns, in particular if the victims of ensuing parliamentary decisions are not considered part of the body politic. What happened in 1992 is a case in point: the political reaction to the Rostock pogroms (and other violent xenophobic incidents in the early 90s) was not to strengthen the protection of refugees but to effectively abolish the constitutional right to asylum, all in order to appease the incensed electorate. The two-thirds majority necessary for the change of the constitution was eagerly provided by the oppositional Social Democrats under Oskar Lafontaine (who of course remains highly esteemed among the pseudo-communists at Jacobin), a decision he should be reminded of every morning at breakfast until the end of his days.

30 years ago on May 8th, 1985, the late former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker managed to reinterpret history by postulating that just like Auschwitz or Buchenwald, just like Denmark or Poland, the Germans were ‘liberated’ by the Allied Forces in 1945, as if the Nazis had been something alien, an irresistible force that had somehow overpowered the poor, ignorant German populace in 1933. Similar words will be spoken tomorrow, generic drivel about the hardships of war, and about how we have ‘learned’ our lesson so that we’re now entitled to tell other nations in Europe and beyond when and where they err, and how they should behave in order to become as wise and dignified as we ourselves are today, all because of what ‘happened to us’ during National Socialist rule. Dialectic can be so ironic.

It’s lovely, this benign new Germany, isn’t it. Most of my expat friends in our Kreuzberg/Neukölln bubble sure think so. Why should we, they ask, not have the ‘right’ to mourn those civilians who died in Dresden and all the other bombed-out cities, why shouldn’t we have the ‘right’ to point out the ‘injustices’ of the post-war expulsions of Germans from Eastern and Central Europe?

Yes, why shouldn’t we. Perhaps because it was us who started it. Or perhaps because there is an uninterrupted, coherent narrative line running from November 9th, 1938, to the events in Rostock in the summer of 1992 and all the way to Tröglitz in April of 2015. That’s why. For those who don’t want to see, ignorance becomes an excuse.

After all, 70 years is a fucking short amount of time.

Those who agree that Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8th, 1945, is an unconditional reason to be cheerful should celebrate at SchwuZ tomorrow night together with our friends at Jungle World. More info on the event over here.

The Ignorance 12" is out on ManMakeMusic.

Watch: Sayth “Rare Candy”

07 May 2015 — Johanne Swanson

Full disclosure, Eric Wells is my friend. Better known as Sayth, Eric is the only queer rapper in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Things you should know about him: He is, more or less, a living beam of light. Passing through town, chances are you’ll run into him hanging up flyers for a house show or helping a local band screenprint t-shirts. His mom is his biggest fan.

Sayth released a video for “Rare Candy” this week. To date, the track is his magnum opus, a call to action for community and statement of rejecting the commodification of art, “Raised in a culture that values art as an audience/A corpse and a bunch of vultures seeking dominance.” The video is all things summertime in Eau Claire, a sleepy place with a constantly rotating group of kids reappropriating space and making cool shit. The current cast of young local movers in those quiet Midwestern places is shown-- hang down by the river with the boys of Glassworks improv or girl-gang around the mall with Hemma and Adelyn Rose. Watch “Rare Candy” below.

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Stellar OM Source “Nite-Glo”

06 May 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

I'm uncertain as to whether I possess the language for describing what it is about Christelle Gualdi's music that induces so much nostalgia. Some tiny, indiscernible aspect of it hits a neuropath in my head, which sends me back to an acute memory from my childhood, sans direct and obvious associations. It's a memory of an atmosphere - something about thunderstorms - not an event, and I've said it before and see the need to continue to explore this evocation. Since Gualdi integrated 303 beats, announced in a most celebratory fashion with 2013's Joy One Mile, those burnished sensations and otherwordly keys have been thoughtfully restrained out of will to renovate and, paradoxically, truly set the sounds free. Stellar OM Source, like always, offers an ethereally well-dressed package that holds within itself mathematically palpable infinity. Her discography is likewise a narrative, one that imparts the trials and tribulations of laboring in the lab of life.

Forthcoming Nite-Glo is a spot-on perpetuation of structuring her wild, melted-metal synthscape. This already soldered sound beams out through the creases of a geometic puzzle, one that rotates stoically and meditatively through space. Starting off with a demanding tone, "Sudden" communicates the onerousness of finding a solution to a gaping question: how does one house infinity? Unsure where to begin addressing the issue, we begin the task anyway. "Never" likewise commences with its nose turned down in concentration; yet, halfway through the track, more colorful keys join in attempt to ease the severe attitude of the song. A modular language of effervescence persuades the track's direction, leaving us in a mood for dancing. "Live" is where Gualdi achieves some lightheartedness through a somewhat comical rhythm operating from a lower octave, serving as the spinal column of the track. "Sure" delivers us to a warm spot on a hill, where we reflect that the EP has so. much. acid, apprehensive about so much hard work being demanded of us again in the future.

Nite-Glo is out on RVNG Intl. June 9th. Enjoy the video for "Sudden" in the meantime, and don't work too hard.

 

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Nancy Leticia “Le Big Mac” (exclusive)

05 May 2015 — Noah Klein

Reclamation.

In 2k15 there are no mainstream female producers. If a world-renowned music festival dedicates a mere tenth of its programming to female artists it’s celebrated as progress. A worrisome amount of sound technicians do not take female musicians seriously and anyone from the unknown performer at a d.i.y. space to an international champion such as Grimes will have their instruments readjusted without permission. This is obviously unacceptable, and to be quite honest herstorically naïve. From Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire to Wendy Carlos, Clara Rockmore, and Laurie Spiegel female-bodied musicians have developed the tools, articulated the language, and laid the groundwork for what we broadly refer to as electronic music. There could arguably be no Kraftwerk, no Burial, no OK Computer without these pioneers. I would be thrilled to turn this into an exposition on the correlation between the outsider studies of sound synthesis and the marginalization of the female musician during an era that glorified the white male guitarist drunk on the appropriation of black music, but before I open that thinkpiece let’s take a mome to appreciate a powerful artist at our fingertips: Nancy Leticia.

Today we celebrate the release of Nancy Leticia’s Love Dream, a debut EP composed of seven movements that turn the outside world in. As the anticipated first release on Hot Sugar’s Noise Collector label Nancy’s collection of wondrous compositions is a voice within a larger discussion, and to only internalize the sonic surface of this EP would be a disservice to its process. For anyone who digs into the origins of this collection, or who possibly discovered Love Dream through an enthusiasm for the work of Hot Sugar, the world of associative music is a touchstone. Borrowing from the intersections of musique concrete and hip hop production, associative music is a meditation on our role as aural inhabitants within a world that is constantly sounding off at once. Car horns provoke anxiety and waves crashing on the sand induce relaxation while an empty plastic bag blowing down the sidewalk on a chilly afternoon might only amplify the most passive of existences. What Noise Collector, what Hot Sugar, and what Nancy Leticia encourage is a practice which collaborates with controllable and uncontrollable occurrences in an effort to develop a sound which is reflective of a perspective upon our modern condition. The practice of incorporating and processing these organic sounds into intentional compositions can subliminally invoke a tertiary relationship between the composer, the piece, and the listener. What was traditionally a piece of recorded music becomes a multi-dimensional space that incorporates a geography of feeling and place to become a sound, and a welcomed new field of experimentation in the reclamation of electronic music. Cover your ears with a warm pair of headphones and turn up "Le Big Mac", attempt to define the territories that are introduced, and then welcome Nancy Leticia… we’ve been waiting for you.

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Interview/Premiere: Pascale Project

05 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

As Mathematique, Montréal artist Pascale Mercier gave us positively manic synth pop, some kind of 80s-informed proto-charts pop seen through the lens of an extraterrestrial sociologist or, in the words of my esteemed colleague Parker Bruce, music that "sounds like it was recorded underwater in Atlantis". Whatever the association, however, Mercier's work under that moniker was, while usually featuring vocals, heavily focused on the instrumental aspect. Indeed, her voice mostly served rhythmic functions almost more than being included for the purpose of delivering a specific message, as most distinctly shown by Mathematique's stellar singnature tune, "Summer, But I Don't Know". On her forthcoming LP Just Feel Good for a Moment, this has changed. The record is further exploring tropes of classic popular music, which entails a more prominent emphasis on singing along to Mercier's lush synth melodies. Marking the shift with a new name – Pascale Project – the artist's compositions benefit greatly from her newly (re)discovered alto.

Just Feel Good for a Moment will be out this summer. Listen to the premiere of the first single "Super Natural" below and read a brief interview with the artist after the break.

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What has happened in your life since your tour and the release of Feel?

After the tour I did last summer I played a lot of shows in Montréal, then I decided to take a brake in the fall cause I needed to concentrate on finishing the new album.

Why the name change? Did you just want a new name that you're more comfortable with or is it also a change in your approach to making music?

I had been thinking about changing the name for quite a long time...  But I didn't do it earlier cause I thought it would be confusing for the people and too complicated. But at some point when I was composing the new album, I was having trouble finishing songs and I wasn't sure of what direction I was taking...  It just felt like I didn't have any attachment to 'Mathematique' anymore, I associate this name to the early stuff I used to do, which was instrumental. I just felt like I needed to change my name to be able to finish the album and move forward in my project, it's like a new start, it feels really good and it's inspiring.

Would you agree that while Just Feel Good for a Moment is certainly not a 'sad' album, there are more pensive, maybe melancholic undertones?

I agree this is not a 'sad' album, I would just say that all the songs are about normal feelings, good or bad, and they're just really sincere. I'm just writing about what I feel, I sing mostly about love and life and not thinking too much, I guess the song "Just Feel Good for a Moment" is all about those themes. 

The album feels even more inspired by the glory days of 80s pop than its predecessor. Did you use mainly analogue hardware to record it or was it made on the computer?

I only use digital stuff to make my music, it's all composed with Ableton Live and I also use some external digital synths. I used to make music with analog stuff before but now I'm really not into that kind of sound...  I never wanted to make music that sounds like something in particular, everything I listen to inspires me.

Is Montréal still a good place to be a musician, or is the city changing a lot?

I really enjoy being here, it's crazy how everyone is making music...  I'd say it's not so easy to get your music known because of that, everyone works really hard and it's sad to think that a lot of very talented people will never get the exposure they deserve, because there is just too many bands here. It's mostly a question of luck I guess.

Do you feel like you're part of a healthy creative community there?

Yes, totally, all my friends make very good music and they inspire me a lot, everyone helps each other here. It's nice that all the scenes are kind of blending together and that there's no restrictions, like you can go to a show where the lineup is very diversified but at the same time it all makes sense.

Who is gonna put out the album?

I am working on starting a label called Géocités, with my friend Philip Karneef, who also mixed and recorded my new album as well as the EP I released last year. I also might release it with an other label in Europe but it's not decided yet. 

Are you planning on touring with the album? Is it gonna be solo performances?

Yes, I am coming to Europe again this summer from May 21st to June 24th, touring with Bataille Solaire, another solo project from Montréal. Still performing solo, I enjoy it so much and it's very easy when you travel, hehe.

Will you come to Berlin again?

I will be playing the Torstraßen Festival on June 13th and also at Loophole on June 18th!  Here's the FB event of the tour if you wanna know when and where we're playing.