Arca (aka Alejandro Ghersi) is someone we all can’t stop watching. An ever-evolving transformation since the &&&&& mixtape, several EPs, 2014’s release of debut album XEN, not to mention collaborating on production with FKA Twigs, then Björk’s ninth record Vulnicura; it’s difficult not to be addicted to the aura that is Arca. The Venezuela-born, now London-based producer has shared two new tracks from the forthcoming, sophomore studio album, Mutant.
“Soichiro” is extremely emotive and sensual while recently released video for “EN” only showcases the abnormalcy that Ghersi strives for. In white thigh-platforms, it shows Arca, dancing in slow-mo to match the track’s dark, experimentally-pioneering manner. Both tracks are freeing and continue the project’s radical spirit. Nothing seems too ambiguous for Ghersi at this moment. In regards to the release, they reveal “softness as a weapon when the mind attacks itself”.
Mutant is out November 20 via Mute digitally, on CD, and 2xLP. Also peep the artwork from long-time collaborator Jesse Kanda.
Not least channelled through acclaimed Montreal-based imprint Arbutus and Berlin club/concert mainstay Shameless/Limitless, the two cities have had a fruitful creative connection for quite a while now, a fact that local label Mansions and Millions only began to seriously tap into not even a year ago. Adding some flavours of the equally buzzing (if almost unnoticed) Warsaw scene, label head Anton Teichmann's knack for highly enjoyable outré pop – invariably slightly off-kilter, mildly dazed, lo-fi, you know the deal – is starting to pay off, as neatly summarised by the appropriately christened Mixtape Vol. 1, a compilation put together on the occasion of last weekend's Cassette Store Day Germany. Pretty much all the artists that come to our minds when someone uses the words "Berlin" and "Montreal" in one sentence are gathered here, the wonderful Magic Island, veteran Sean Nicholas Savage, Antoine93, NFOP darling Pascale Project, or Bataille Solaire, sitting next to a couple of promising wild cards such as Karolini, Helen Fry, or Jason Harvey. Well curated and meticulously assembled,Mixtape Vol. 1might not push any musical boundaries, but it may serve as a fitting introductions to the trans-Atlantic state of outsider pop, further corroborating the involved cities' prominent status as some of the last true refuges for free-thinking musicians.
Check out the whole tape below and get it via Mansions and Millions' bandcamp.
About a year ago, we introduced the Berlin-based artist Born In Flamez, a deliberately amorphous, intangible entity signifying a musical project that emphatically rejects any notions of both genre or gender. Born In Flamez' debut EP Polymorphous was, accordingly, hard to grasp and impossible to define. Floating freely between hints of grime, a very local flavour of stone-cold techno, and some of the more gloomy corners of otherwise surprisingly accessible pop, Polymorphous spelled out the conditions of possibility of a future that, if slightly dystopian, may help overcome the reality of the patriarchy that defines our present. With such a concept, the EP almost naturally functions as the blueprint for the imaginations and projections of other, like-minded artists, which makes the release of the forthcoming remix EP seem almost inevitable.
CYPHR, Paula Temple, She's Drunk, and Anika all re-interpret BIF's tracks, thereby creating their very own version of a trans- or even post-human tomorrow. Of all the tunes on the EP, however, it is Aïsha Devi's riveting, haunting remix of the rather quiet and pensive Polymorphous closing track "Easier Like That", which captivated us the most. Fresh off her own, excellent debut LP Of Matter and Spirit, the Swiss-Nepalese producer thoroughly deconstructs the original, turning it into a disruptive intervention that offers an almost epiphanic dramaturgy. Take a listen below.
There is, of course, something about German artists and gloomy, at times stodgy works that seems almost all too intimately connected. Think lonesome wanderers standing on rocks staring into the clouds below, or something along those lines. Even translation will fail you: 'Schwermut', the most Teutonic of all sentiments, finds only an approximate equivalent in 'wistfulness', and is miles away from 'melancholia', more dismal, more inescapable, yet more hopeful at the same time. Thomas Bücker's Bersarin Quartett embodies such Schwermut. Slow and pondering, Bücker's compositions create gently unfurling sculptures that may stare into the clouds without getting lost in dull sadness. Instead of relying on cheap effects, the cinematic arrangements on the artist's third LP III remain suitably complex and subtle. Take album standout "Jeder Gedanke umsonst gedacht" [Every thought a thought in vain] with its sprawling yet reluctant strings, hinting at life's hardships without ever willing to give in.
I'm sure plenty of us agree that Hungarian producer S Olbricht exudes plenty of novelty as well as mystery. To try and understand this better, I contacted Martin Mikolai, the man behind the make-believe legendary name, and asked him some questions.
S Olbricht's latest 12" Trancess is out via Bratislava-based imprint Proto Sites. Stream it in full right here.
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.
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.
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.