Watch: UMA “Calm/Easy”

03 Oct 2014 — Johanne Swanson

I wanna know all about how your mind knows how to feel calm and easy. Did you try eating raw, maniacally pressing green juice, or doing a shit-ton of yoga? Maybe you surrounded yourself by beautiful things and popped some pills, but eventually found that the best plan of action was to get messy with a pile of Benjamins. These are at least our suggested strategies on the new video from Berlin's very own UMA, producer power couple Ella and Florian Zwietnig. Get a little blurry with their highly polished, perfect-pop-song sensibility and be sure to catch their dynamic live show on the remainder of their European dates. Here at NFOP, we're especially looking forward to tonight's performance at Kantine am Berghain with Florida's Hundred Waters

"Calm/Easy" is off UMA's debut self-titled album out last May on Austria's Seayou Records. They are currently in the midst of a European tour with the following dates remaining:

10/3 Berlin, GER - Kantine am Berghain
10/4 Ausberg, GER Augsburg - Soho Stage
10/6 Winterthur, SUI - Portier
10/8 Graz, AUT - Steirischer Herbst
10/9 Munich, GER - Milla
10/10 Bern, SUI - Dampfzentrale
10/11 Nürnberg, GER - USG 6

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Review: Sea Oleena “Shallow”

01 Oct 2014 — Sam Clark

Charlotte Loseth’s debut album has been years in the making. During a period of time outlined by the decline of Myspace and the advent of Soundcloud, the Montreal-based artist released two abbreviated efforts as Sea Oleena: a self-titled project in 2010 and 2011’s Sleeplessness. Both mini-albums were incredibly poignant, creating desolate landscapes from a small reserve of instruments and effects processors that slowly enveloped anyone on the receiving end. But despite the rapid-fire succession of her first two releases, Loseth has remained relatively dormant over the past three years, diligently crafting her wondrous full-length, Shallow.

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Review: M. Sage “Data in the Details”

30 Sep 2014 — Dave Power

According to his Bandcamp page, Matthew Sage has only released music for the past three years and yet has amassed at least twenty releases. Most of his musical output has a similar ambient/experimental direction and it’s all breathtakingly gorgeous in different ways. Sage's music has a particularly introspective and personal feel to it, substantially consisting of found sounds, recorded violin/cello, and vocal recordings. These sounds are then heavily processed, effected and weaved in and out of each other. There are a lot of ambient and experimental noise musicians out there at the moment, and M. Sage is right there with all of them, pushing the boundaries and the buttons. He gathers the organic sounds of the world around him and molds them into something else altogether, intact, but beautifully alien in nature.

Many M. Sage releases consist of several tracks of three-to-five-minute songs, while others draw the listener further in with a couple of twenty minute tracks. The latest effort from M. Sage, Data in the Details, is the latter. The A side is the 15-minute “Heads Up Extended Edit”, while the B is his “Mover Isuzu Dub Edit”. At the opening of “Extended Edit” the static sound of something like a helicopter flown through water gives way to the sounds of drastically reverb-drenched bells, rapidly panning back and forth. The music whirs like an abandoned automobile factory with the forgotten machines left endlessly running. Underneath the heavily edited sounds, the listener can hear the clean field recordings of traffic, birds, and maybe the sound of keys jingling as a stranger walks across an empty parking garage. These sounds repeat, overlap and combine with each other until the listener can no longer remember each its origin. Data In the Details, indeed.

The B-side begins similarly to the A-side, but features a consistent rolling dub beat with the intensely warbled and processed found sounds and organic instruments echoing in the background. The same shuddering synth drones, sounds of faraway bells, birds, traffic noise and vocal samples careen back and forth into each other. The beat is interrupted a few times, allowing the background noises and wet bell tones to blend and crescendo back into the same groove throughout the track. The listener is transported to another world where the sun vibrates and the rivers rush and freeze in time all at once. Sage’s 21st release makes for quite another trip.

Data in the Details is out now on a limited run of 100 cassettes through Geographic North.

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Watch: Born In Flamez “Polymorphous” (exclusive)

30 Sep 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Despite having been recently added to Berlin Current's illustrious roster, signifying the project as pushing the boundaries of the city's current musical landscape, not too much is known about the people behind Born In Flamez. Conceptualised as 'transhuman' and making arrangements for a post-gender future, Born In Flamez' utopian vision sits comfortably among projects like The Knife, Perera Elsewhere (who is featured on the EP), or, perhaps the most striking resemblance, Planningtorock. There's tangible evidence that there is a human ultimately responsible for the sounds we hear, but the point is, of course, that it shouldn't matter: all this could have come from someone, or indeed something, else instead. It just so happens that it didn't. The current physical embodiment of Born In Flamez, that particular person hiding behind a mask, is arbitrary, so to speak. Fittingly, "Polymorphous", the title track of BIF's debut EP, was allegedly conceived in the aftermath of a DJ gig at one of the highly notorious GEGEN events at Kit Kat Club, likely the closest thing to a post-human experience Berlin has to offer. Staying pointedly coherent, the visualisation of "Polymorphous" emphatically rejects notions of determinable human nature, resorting to abstract iterations of what could have once been evocative of objects found in a human world. Something strange to come.

The Polymorphous EP is due October 13 via UnReaL Audio. Pre-order the release's physical version – a limited edition etched glass pyramid, no less – now over here. Born In Flamez will be part of Berlin Current's delegation to MUTEK.MX in Mexico City from October 23 to 25.

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FKA twigs: Against a Musical Vocabulary of Phallocentrism

29 Sep 2014 — Jennie Freeburg

As a girl, we sat along the wall under the barre and played a back scratching game in between ballet class: inscribing words, letter by letter, on a back while we simultaneously absorbed and read the letters being pressed into our own. My younger sister, grown now and still dancing, once conspiratorially confessed to me that the feeling of letters on her back and shoulders often created a line of sensation down there.

Dancers are acutely attuned to how down there is bound up with a host of sensations and processes— sinewy ligaments transmitting messages through body, mind and space. Moving is thinking is feeling is speaking.

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Review: Ellis Swan “I’ll Be Around”

24 Sep 2014 — Dalton Vogler

When it comes to learning more about the man behind the music, there’s not a whole lot we know regarding reclusive Chicago-based artist Ellis Swan. With the exception of a few Soundcloud plaudits and a brief feature from a local magazine, Swan has gotten pretty good at keeping his backstory from getting in the way of his music projects.

And to be fair, that’s where most of our attention should be focused. With his newest release, I’ll Be Around, Swan has constructed a beautiful, haunting album that borrows folk elements to create a uniquely “noir” sound. It’s a bedroom artist production, but only by name, as Swan’s mind-altering use of space transports you beyond an intimate setting.

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The Boy & Sister Alma “Lady Killer”

23 Sep 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

I introduced you guys to The Boy & Sister Alma last year. At the time, I found their EP to be hands down perfect for the atmosphere of the holiday season -- they even made a Christmas song. In hearing their new material, which bears some immaculate quality from pop heaven, I find once again that they've graciously generated sounds that speak to the season. Hailing from Helena, Montana, Lenny Eckhardt and Jennifer Murphy manage perfect pop structures and breathtaking melodies that are both cool and nostalgic, especially in the case of their new single, "Lady Killer," a part of Retro Promenade's Vox Populi 2 compilation. Adorned with lyrical cadence and some furtiveness concerning desire tucked safely away in melodic undercurrents, this track should be dealt with as if a message from the autumn that is about to hit, the falling forward, the pre-nostalgia that arrives before the actual autumn.


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Miracle Sweepstakes “Maker’s Script” (exclusive)

23 Sep 2014 — Henry Schiller

On “Maker’s Script”, NYC-based Miracle Sweepstakes straddle a fine line between the instrumental gobbledygook of Pere Ubu and the neurotic fortitude of a secret show in a Bushwick basement (with some of the bloodshot sci-fi of Piper at the Gates of Dawn thrown in for good measure). In spite of a heavy sonic presence, “Maker’s Script” is instrumentally austere. The weight of the track is borne mostly on one guitar part that refuses to reconcile itself to either assaultive rhythm or semi-prodigal spasms.

Around this wanders caustic drums, which reverse at one point, and bass as sharp and precise as anything on Remain in Light. There’s a palpable psych pop influence with the theremin, vibraphone, and vocals sounding like an incantation being recited in an ancient English field. A middle section of the song, where the drums go backwards, feels like a Beach Boys sample is subtly encroaching no-wave.

In the Alan Moore sense, “Maker’s Script” is a Swamp Thing of a track. Taken part by part it's easily identified by a range of psych-pop, post-punk and lo-fi influences, but taken as a whole the amalgamation is no longer recognizable as anything other than something before unheard of; so fine and delicate is this monster’s stitching. “Maker’s Script”, and it's Dr. Frankenstein, Miracle Sweepstakes, share superficial features with other well known acts (The Fall and Pere Ubu come to mind), but as a substance unto itself, it is something unique and fired with urgency.

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