Review: Privacy “Human Resource Exploitation Manual”

17 Sep 2015 — Max B.K.

It was said that Objekt 'achieves a quintessentially techno aim: embodying the future.' The statement could be made truer. It's not techno that most reflects our anxieties about our future world back to us, but electro. The 4/4 that exemplified the unimpeded production of industrial modernity is torn apart by a future that's unpredictably complex, frenetic, and not easily understood – a future of break beats. Dieselboy released The Human Resource in 2006. And now, on September 11, 2015, Privacy has put out The Human Resource Exploitation Manual on Lobster Theremin. The future has grown dimmer, but have the sounds become more future? No new heights in sound production and composition are attained here. Nevertheless, Privacy has produced a consistently good piece of work in these three tracks.

The best parts of the EP are when the sounds of percussive machinery, tones, and noise roam – intersecting and diverging into an edifyingly complex, mutating, and dystopian world; the worst when the A-side tracks make use of the melodies and chords of black and white scary movies to signify the eerie. For electro to continue to break boundaries (and to be taken seriously), it has to cut itself free from such cliches and embrace the dazzling and frightening future. "Apex Predator", the standout track of the EP on the  B-side, makes sparing use of melody, and does just that. Vaulting itself forward at 133 BPM into driving dance music, it leaves sentimental impulses behind. As the record comes to end, we're left in the place we want to be.

The Human Resource Exploitation Manual is out now. Get it here.

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Interview: Sean Nicholas Savage

16 Sep 2015 — Zachary Taube

So you’re coming down from a night of uppers, walking home from that party that surprisingly didn’t trigger your social anxiety, feeling a bit bummed because the person you had your eye on went home with someone else but, hey, they’re their own self, and jealousy is a useless emotion anyway (most times, at least). You look at your reflection in the window of the Chinese takeout and realize that you’re wearing lipstick, which you definitely weren’t wearing when you arrived at said party, that it actually looks pretty slick, and that it even matches the red of the neon dragon. You need more red in your life. It’s raining. All is well in the world because time is happening and even though it’s kind of an accident that you’re here, you’re still here and you’re gonna have a great time and drench yourself in red.

A bit poetic, I admit, but it’s hard not to be when talking about Montreal-bred balladeer Sean Nicholas Savage and his newest album Other Death. I had the pleasure to sit down with Sean a few days before he departed from his latest stint in Berlin. We talked about LA, spirituality, death, jazz and being a freak. Check it out on the link.

Other Death is out via Arbutus on September 18.

(Photo by Molly Nilsson)

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Stream: Feather Beds “Ah Stop” EP

11 Sep 2015 — Andrew Darley

Originally from Dublin, Michael Orange relocated to Quebec for two years. At the beginning of 2015, Orange released his debut record The Skeletal System under his artist name Feather Beds. Only a few short months after its release he is now releasing a new EP, Ah Stop. Written in the depths of a sub-zero Canadian winter, the EP has a contrasting glowing feel. Opening with the sleepy “El Manx”, the EP’s four songs comprise looped instrumentation, treated vocals and muffled textures, which reverberate like old memories. There’s a warmth in the swell and restraint of “Manx”, while the closing song “Drat” echoes the soft keyboard melody of its opener alongside audio clips of old-school television. With only a few months since his debut record, Ah Stop shows a more concentrated electronic sound set to feature on his second album scheduled for 2016.

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Night Trap: “Someone Like You”

10 Sep 2015 — Andrew Darley

Night Trap are an electronic duo based in Dublin made of Jill Daly and Ciarán Smith. They formed their band over a mutual love of synth music of the ‘80s such as Kraftwerk, Oppenhemier Analysis and the music of Vince Clark. Their approach does not attempt to replicate what was great about that period in electronic music; instead, the pair emulates the wistful vitality of the era’s music. Over a stuttering beat and sharing vocals, their new single “Someone Like You” yearns for a new love: “Is there someone else around that’s just like you?” It’s sweeping dose of electronic pop about a desire to find new love without having moved on from a former relationship.

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Interview: Sun Araw

10 Sep 2015 — Lukas Dubro

Long Beach, California is where Cameron Stallones has chosen to live and to work. The musician is one of the most celebrated experimental artists of our days. The music of his alias Sun Araw is a synthesis of various styles of krautrock, electronic, dub, funk and afrobeat. With his recent project Duppy Gun he collects and puts out dub music from Jamaica together with M. Geddes Gengras, a modular synth wizar he met in the L.A. experimental music scene. Although Stallones is featured on the soundtrack of our fav video game Hotline Miami, he isn’t a big gamer. What he does like is playing pool, eating noodles and petting animals. We asked him a few questions about zoos, pets, his artwork, veggie food and dinosaurs.
 Read after the break.

Stallones and his band are presenting their latest record Gazebo Effect and are spinning records as Duppy Gun Soundsystem at ACUD on Sunday, September 13. No Fear Of Pop is media partner of the event. RSVP here.

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Review: Savant “Artificial Dance”

08 Sep 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

What makes abstract music beautiful? Take Savant's "Using Words," opening track from the Artificial Dance LP, out September 4th on RVNG Intl. The bright keys and guitar feedback strown throughout the song give the seven minute sonic wallpaper a sense of pleasant curiosity. If they were taken away, we'd be left with the darkly comical, Morricone-esque pieces of some kind melody. The pieces would equate to ongoing, gentle inquisition, but with a harder, more gutter punk exterior.

This likening may seem laughable when learning about the leader behind the work. Seattleite Kerry Leimer, long-time avantgardist and label runner, is hardly gutter punk. Highly intelligent, auteurist, rhythmic enthusiast is more like it, although Seattle always has but grunchy edge to it. In any case, Leimer's imprint, Palace of Lights, offers at least 168 full hours of soundtrack to your life. It could be private, ambient and abstract listening while at work in your cubicle, feeding a guilty pleasure for insane music in a world made of pretend sensibility. It is on POL's homepage that we learn that Artificial Dance is a re-edition from Savant's original, self-titled POL release, one briefer, shyer, less heady. A Period of Review is where RVNG first got involved with Leimer, and it differs from Artificial Dance in several ways, one being that there's a lot more tracks on the former release. Secondly, A Period of Review is a lot more muzak-y, melody-centric, and, well 1970s-feeling, whether it in its entirety is a product from that era or not. In the RVNG shop you can order a POL CD bundle which features three K.Leimer ambient releases and Marc Barreca's Tremble, an album which Textura says "takes mere seconds for it to swell into the robust form it will assume for its duration.... a word like organic is less applicable than geologic, given the immense tectonic force with which its material convulses."

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Interview: Hauschka

08 Sep 2015 — Andrew Darley

Volker Bertelmann’s Abandoned City, released in 2014, has grown into a family of records. The artist known as Haushka has just released a live performance of the album in a museum in Yufiuin, a small picturesque town on the Japanese Island Kyushu, and called it 2.11.14. The record is made of 20-minute sections loosely derived from the original record. He has also released an album of additional songs that did not fit the main record and related remixes called A NDO C Y, a wordplay on Abandoned City. Together the three records sit side-by-side to complete a picture of Hauschka’s creative period that spans two years. His career to date is marked by his experiment in the prepared piano in which he used everyday materials to transform and challenge the sounds of the traditional piano into electronic soundscapes. We chatted with Volker about his approach and the many phases an artist can achieve in their career through reinvention. Read the interview after the break.

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Review: Helen “The Original Faces”

24 Aug 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

One must rifle through something in order to reach Helen's The Original Faces full-in beauty, and it isn't distortion. The barricade between the album's heavenliness and our ears may or may not result from being over-familiar with Liz Harris' modus operandi; experiencing her vocal-puddling grandeur under a different guise partially informs this suspected barrier. The structural rock and friendly shoegaze, not to mention the application of a tambourine, distances us from longing, pleading, predictable, addictive Grouper. The Original Faces lacks any type of lull or shrugging shoulders. Executed in twelve short tracks, the band knows exactly what they want to accomplish and does it most succinctly. Be that as it may, I had a strange memory lapse in learning about the release. I thought to myself, "Oh, of course this is coming out, and that's great, and it feels deja-vu-y, and of course it's shoegazy, and there's a song called 'Allison,' which is probably a Slowdive cover." 

It's not; it's an original "Allison," and it's absolutely lovely. Throughout the album, lyrical layers accumulate and chantey with Jed Bindeman's hi-hat-heavy drums and Scott Simmon's slowly progressive electric guitar. "Dying All The Time" is a tight-knit snare, floor tom, and ride tapestry, one that digs and digs and digs through seemingly impassable surfaces. The tension and focus lifts every time Harris reenters, no matter the track. Finished in only thirty-three minutes, one might feel as if something has quickly washed over them, like an unnoticed storm that alters the temperature. Hit play again, and focus more. Find something to grab on to, such as the lingering vocals at the end of "Violet." 

Harris' indecipherable lyrics leave us fulfilled. The project is unique, and some Grouper fans likely rejoice in her appearance in a shoegaze band. The sound of Helen, on the other hand, is heavily habitual. If such is the case, how does the project still feel anomalous, a forces which satiates and calms someone who has been suffering from musical frustration? Gorgeous though it is, something about the album is fleeting, unavailable for grasping fully. Some people certainly love and prefer music like that.

Helen's freshman full-length will be out on September 4 on Kranky. You can check out their 7" from 2013, whose tracks will likewise appear on The Original Faces.

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