The collaborative project of Tara King th. (FR) and Halasan Bazar (DK, mostly) has been one of nostalgic exploration and vintage aestheticism. This year’s broodingly hallucinogenic 8, an album filled to the brim with luscious farfisa and space-echoed 60s pop nostalgia, placed the project in line with continental European neo-psych aesthetes Jacco Gardner and Forever Pavot. “Dreaming On”, a lost track from 8, fathoms and romanticizes the vast mythos of the American expanse – a theme of endless inspiration for any psych junkie. Patient, cinematic and tied together with the strings of a zither, “Dreaming On” is a (re-)imagining of the American century from the distance of the 21st century old world – an ode to and lamenting of the spirit and legend of “American culture / sound / lives.” Give it a listen below, alongside four more tracks of previously unreleased material and remixes from the 8 recordings.
A Vimeo staff pick, Cherushii and Golden Donna's music video has turned Keith Apicary on his head. Outside of her more straight-faced and ambient 2015 LP Memory of Water, Chelsea Faith's tracks tend towards a quirky fun that never indulges itself. Her richly layered, persistent, and loopy grooves provoke smiles not laughter. "Indigo Wave"'s curve ball synth – a Golden Donna addition to the track – may be as close as her work gets to inducing one. The person who's definitely not laughing is the star of video, Anthony Abbadessa. Abbadessa paid director Ezra Ewen to make the video after becoming obsessed with the track. Dancing his way across hipster icons of New York, one imagines a world where the cool kids never toyed with irony. Perhaps it's not a matter of self-indulgence, but abandoning oneself to dance. Everyone is left better off for it.
"Indigo Wave" is taken from the Starlight Express EP, which is available via bandcamp.
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.
With their second release, 1800HaightStreet make it evident that they've dialed in signatures of their sound. Hi hats and noise cut across chthonic dub in both releases, but their first work felt paranoid and frenetic at times, propelled along by snare fusillades at 130. In their new work, the anxiety has been released. It's still night, but the visions have have slowed down and become warmer.
The three tracks take their direction not from the awkwardly titled B1 track "Heldled" but from its A-side, "Dreamer." Like the track name, the album does threaten heavy-handedness. Airy synths and soothing dub traverse well-tread space, but then acid, noise, and the surging sound of electricity provide the contrast that holds everything together. As the record's most remarkable track, "Heldled" touches on familiar sounds with a melancholic Burial-esque woodwind and a melody that's reminiscent of Four Tet's "She Moves She," it's the surging electricity that save it from sentimentality and marks out the Vancouver trio's aesthetic.
While the EP doesn't have anthemic stompers like predecessor The Pursuit, the sound is just as big. There's no getting lulled into complacency or to sleep. The visions aren't so straightforward after all.
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.