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.
Born in Flamez
Golden Diskó Ship
These Hidden Hands
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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.
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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?
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15 Aug 2014 — Johanne Swanson
My favorite hobby at seventeen was putting on my headphones and bombing stretches of Wisconsin county highway on my longboard. I remember relaying this to some scumbag I was dating and getting the reaction, “How are you the biggest stoner without any drugs?” I’ve since learned that it’s because, my friends, life is the craziest trip of them all.
Sit back and take a good hit of “In the Evergreens”, a music video we’re pleased to premiere off the debut Transient from Lake Daggers. It’s organic loopy psych drone and accompanying imagery is indicative of the Midwest, evident by labelmates, most notably longtime NFOP favorite Orchard Thief. Lake Daggers is Bloomington, Indiana, resident Wyatt Montgomery Worcel, and Transient, described by the label as “audio-snapshots”, is out now on Madison, Wisconsin’s Golden Cloud Tapes. It features subtle and lush textural layering, ideal for getting lost in the woods on a humid day. If you dare look up, here’s to hoping you don’t get lost in the maze that is the light shining through the leaves.
Transient is out now on Golden Cloud Tapes.
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13 Aug 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
Erik Moline aka Recycle Culture described his creation as "chilled balearic," which is indeed fitting phrasing for this movement. Still, it isn't simply balearic, beachy fun. It encompasses some kind of deep emotions which aren't worth fighting against. In the beginning, it reminds me of Ulrich Schnauss, and then slides into some sounds that remind me of Brian & Chris, a project I've long forgotten about. There's also a touch of Subradial present throughout the piece. The guitar lines shimmer and resonate similarly as they would through either oceanside caverns, or photographs like the one that serves as the album art. I listened to it for the first time the other day over morning coffee, and it still feels like the gem of recent musical discoveries. His early releases that we've liked, such as Puzzle Logic, sound a bit like KC Accidental, which, as I sit here in Toronto in the middle of W Bloor and Spadina, is a perfect connection to draw up.
You can stream Drown Me Up among other releases here.
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05 Aug 2014 — Henry Schiller
Since I can remember it’s been possible to buy the scores - not the soundtracks, but the scores - Hollywood films. And ever since seeing the original score of Dante’s Peak being sold on CD in the long-since-closed HMV by my parents' house, I have not understood why anyone would want to do this. The music you are buying was deliberately created to accompany things that are happening on film. It is music you are only supposed to be hearing while you look at these things. It was not meant to be listened to by itself.
Furthermore, consider the following: as long as you have been able to buy film scores on CD, you have also been able to buy the films themselves.
Conveyor's Prime is an album of the aforementioned type: it is a film score album. But it is not boring, or unnecessary, and it does not feel as though it has been deliberately removed from its correct context. Prime is excellent. Prime is better than the film it is ostensibly the score of. Prime is a renegotiation of the film score album into a high concept artistic forgery. The tracks on Prime were written and performed alongside two midnight screenings of George Lucas’ THX 1138 at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. THX 1138 is as bold and ridiculous a reinterpretation of 1984 as Nosferatu was of Dracula. Blatantly unauthorized and false to the point of becoming an aesthetic archetype on its own. Visually striking, bizarre, and preserved culturally for most, I think, by the image of white-clad bald men being prodded with electrified sticks (or else the in-theater sound system it inspired).
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05 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann
Beyond excited to finally be able to announce a very special occasion coming up here in Berlin, No Fear Of Pop hosting a night with DJ sets by some wonderful friends from the States, Chelsea Faith aka Cherushii, Avalon Emerson, and Experimental Housewife. Come to Friedrichshain's Antje Oeklesund next week Friday, August 15, for some dazzling hours of finest technoid beatworks!
Last December, Avalon enthused over Berlin's inspiring professionalism regarding the city's techno scene, which was reason enough to leave the Bay Area. Now calling our town home, she already DJed here a few times in the last weeks but for some reason we always were somewhere else when she did, so it truly was about time to invite her ourselves to get the opportunity to see her set at last – judging from what we've read and heard, there's gonna be some real transcending energy involved. The same goes for the music of San Francisco native Cherushii; as long-standing admirers of Manda Brown's 100% SILK imprint, Chelsea Faith's nostalgia-driven blend of classic 4/4 grooves in a contemporary guise, as showcased on her recent Queen Of Cups 12", is surely something that would get us through any Berlin night. And finally, topping off the event, Experimental Housewife aka our very own Evelyn Malinowski, always looking for ways to fuse the industrial underpinnings of her former adopted home Berlin with the overwhelming sounds of nature that surround her new city of Missoula, Montana; we're sure she'll find a way to unite both influences while spinning the decks next Friday.
Find out more details about the event over on Facebook.
Poster design by the amazing Faye Orlove.
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04 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann
Take a look at the cover art. Do it again. Close your eyes. Look again. That bed, a fantasy seaside escape, and a rainbow for added authenticity, and an album name to top it off – that's basically all you need to know to aptly file the music of Vancouver's Evelyn Mason and Olivia Meek aka Evy Jane and Regular Fantasy aka Bobo Eyes. Though we should probably mention the handclaps, too: Fifty seconds into signature track "Do You Miss Me (Rainstick Mix)", the lascivious sounds are gently thrown into the mix, and everything suddenly falls into place. This is post-vaporwave for the lovers, velvety vocals and offensively inoffensive synth swirls (look under 'presets > sex'). Appropriate drinks strongly recommended for full listening experience.
"Do You Miss Me (Rainstick Mix)" is part of Midnight Pearl, which is out tomorrow,
August 5 August 12 via 1080p. Get it now over here.
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