Stream: Magic Fades + Soul Ipsum “Zirconia Reign” (exclusive)

08 Apr 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Writing about Karmelloz the other day, we suggested that the producer's work was so much rooted in the present that its overbearing nowness might in fact prevent it from being listened to next year, or perhaps even in a few months already. This certainly holds true for a lot of the electronic stuff that's dripping out of the late Tumblr-infected realms of the WWW, those shady regions that cannot help but self-identify as post-internet just to signify a self-aware shtick that's often a mere borderline pathologic cynicism. Vancouver label 1080p's approach to these scenes adds a welcome layer of subtle irony by putting those ephemeral sounds onto the nostalgic if conserving and thus ultimately timeless medium of magnetic tape, perpetuating the fleeting ideas of all those Adderall-induced scenesters.

The reason the whole seemingly illogical effort is worth it lies in label head Richard MacFarlane's astute curation, as exemplified by 1080p's latest and probably most outstanding release to date, a collaboration of the Portland-based producers Magic Fades and Soul Ipsum. Their 60-minute effort Zirconia Reign is truly superb: following the path of James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual and embracing all flavours of vaporwave that had started blooming in its wake, the full-length is much more varied, matured and considered than most of the ill-advised material pushed onto the surface these days. As a result, Zirconia Reign is a real pleasure to listen to, an album you want to come back to so you can discover more of its hidden details and surprising twists. Infused by New Age tropes, it makes a sincere attempt to reassess vaporwave's origins in hypnagogic pop, allowing itself to be more than simply a random accumulation of layers over layers of glacial sounds (though everything is very icy here). If there's only one album connected to the current wave of cyber chic that eventually derserves to stand the test of time, why not let it be this one.

Zirconia Reign is out today on 1080p. Get it over here and stream the whole piece exclusively below.

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Watch: Ketev “Uruk” (exclusive)

08 Apr 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Once again Opal Tapes delivers to us homemade electronica formerly from the outer reaches. As this music approaches some kind of center, perhaps a center of our contemplation (as some of this stuff tends to be very brooding), it furthermore beckons admiration in a double-take fashion, like passing a person or sight that is worth turning around for. Laslo Antal captured such an occurrence for Berlin-based Ketev's slurpping, accessible yet undoubtedly dark "Uruk" off of the self-titled release due April 20th. While the film quality, stride and speculation of the person on camera (presumably the artist Yair Elazar Glotman), as well as the mantric beat, all give the impression of a street scene of some kind, we double-take to resolve that this footage was taken indoors, and that there's something familiar about the stacks of specimen soaking in viles of formaldehyde. This work has done an interesting job masking the Berlin Naturkundemuseum, as I have walked these same corridors numerous times yet was only vaguely reminded of the place instead of quick to recognize it. Such an effect is fitting for Ketev's abstracting style, which in a way reminds me of the more experimental material by This Heat. Since Glotman phases "patterns from Reel-to-reel tape loops being manipulated by 4-Track cassette decks creating roaring textures above slow shifting rhythmic mantras," a comparison to This Heat is not so terribly far off as they are famous for tape manipulation and reel-to-reel looping (as well as being awesome).

Ketev is out April 20th on Opal Tapes, and you can pre-order the cassette here.

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Watch: The Body “At The Mercy Of It All”

07 Apr 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Learning that The Body's I Shall Die Here inspired Jason Evans' (Hey Convinct!/Purple Brain) short film "At The Mercy of It All," we understand how it is that the visual tension works so well with the audio, and how The Body's jarring, horrifying music could evoke a piece satiated with discomfort. But why specifically the scary bearded mountain man, the brokenhearted Thoreau? Living in Montana, this romanticized state of isolation, as well as its frightening aspects, is a common thing, and there are a lot of men around here who look like actor Todd Schrock. This archetype of ole' skinny obsessing over decontextualized newspaper clippings, scheming, struggling to uphold the difference between reality and dream - or nightmare - seems on the verge of kitsch, a stale story of a man unable to cope with loss or a blow to the ego, reminding us of Ted Kaczynski (who was, by the way, hidden in the Helena National Forest near Lincoln, Montana during the time of his assaults), and takes away from the authenticity of The Body's soundscape. Still, as voyeurs we long to know this lonely man's living situation: what happened between him and Laurie to make him flee into the woods? Did she drop him off and never come back? Constantly bewildered, and at one point trying to contact his inner child who knew how to play the piano, we watch him struggle to keep his mind engaged, the essential thing for surviving in the wilderness. He's clearly not on any mission - he is posing, ogling topographical maps, walking around like he's afraid of slipping on the ice and totally out of his element, acting as if he's worried he can't find something but doens't reveal what it is he needs. At the end of the video, we would believe that he was afraid that he'd lost the sunny picture of him and his girlfriend or sister who has a car. This image upsets him, for he is jealous of the warm scene and probably the car, so he drops it in the snow and walks away. Is this piece ironic, archetypal, or successfully representative of man's restrained hostility? In any case, I think someone ought to give him a ride out of there.

I Shall Die Here is out now on RVNG Intl.

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NFOP x CTM: Excepter & Black To Comm

07 Apr 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Proud to present the forthcoming Berlin appearance of NYC experimental legends Excepter together with our friends at CTM. The group, currently consisting of founder and No Neck Blues Band member John Fell Ryan together with Lala Ryan, Jon Nicholson, and Jon Williams, will conquer the stage of Kantine am Berghain on April 15 to showcase another set of the project's distinctive take on electronics-infused, transcendent rock. Self-described as "a synthetic protest band engineered to erase cultural distinctions through polarized confusion," 12 years after its foundation the veteran band still manages to push the boundaries of our common perception of latter day avant-garde. Excepter will be supported by another very noteworthy project, Black To Comm aka Dekorder mastermind Marc Richter, whose work we last covered two years ago when seminal imprint De Stijl released his immersive soundtrack for Ho Tzu Nyen silent movie EARTH.

Highly recommended. Check out the event details over on Facebook.

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Watch: Pieces of Juno “Saffron” (exclusive)

03 Apr 2014 — Tonje Thilesen

For the past three months, Norwegian producer Pieces of Juno has spent her time running between studio sessions in L.A, briefly working with people such as BC Kingdom and Axel Morgan; co-writer of Kendrick Lamar's M.A.A.D City. "Saffron", on the other hand, is a lush and honest approach from Kine Sandbæk Jensen, perhaps a little different than what she's been working on down in L.A. The track was originally released back in January alongside the B-side, "Heliophilia", and we're very happy to show you the first glimpse of the video for it below, directed by Kristine Meling Enoksen. Needless to say, keep your eyes open for this girl. 

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Watch: Karneef “Swimming” (exclusive)

02 Apr 2014 — Parker Bruce

The video for "Swimming" by Montreal's Karneef from his 2013 album Love Between Us is kind of like watching a documentary about a painter, but it's also the story of a man and his bass. Karneef has produced the new EP by fellow Montrealer Mathematique as well as been a bass player for Sean Nicholas Savage. "Swimming" was directed by fashion designer/artist Renata Morales who is known for works she has done for Yelle, Arcade Fire, and Phi Create. The song itself has hunky bass for miles and what sounds like someone giving a kiss into a megaphone. The video is tantalizing and even sexy, both filmically and in the stilted, lanky, and herky jerky movements of Karneef himself. It's a pretty great sight to see Karneef lick his bass and then smile. A bunch of "Swimming" remixes by NFOP faves ¡FLIST! and Rich Uncle-Skelleton (aka a member of Syngja) will be out soon but meanwhile, dive into the video below. 

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Penny “Pen#3 (Yola Fatoush Remix)” (exclusive)

02 Apr 2014 — Henning Lahmann

A little while back, we presented the stream of the convincing inaugural effort by Penny, the new project by Old Apparatus and Saa member Asher Levitas together with visual artist and writer Michael Crowe, describing the self-titled EP's sound as 'nocturnal' and 'gritty'. While this assessment most certainly holds true for the closing track "Pen#3", London duo Yola Fatoush nonetheless found some brighter elements buried deep within the track's opaque arrangement to play around with. The result comes in the form of their "Zero Discipline Refix", complete with absorbing vocal manipulations and an almost alienating grooviness. Were it not for a slightly unsettling thunderstorm halfway in, we'd find the remix even light-hearted. This way however, we suspect something sinister going on right under the surface.

The Penny EP is out on Overshare Records. Get it here.

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FAY “Can’t Fall” (exclusive)

31 Mar 2014 — Henning Lahmann

LA artist FAY's massive 2012 debut DIN caught us completely off guard with its bold blend of uncomfortable rhythms and forward-thinking arrangements. Now, Fay Davis-Jeffers returns with her sophomore LP Deathwatch, an effort that is both more adventurous and refined. Vastly expanding the variation of sounds, the new album still emphasises the artist's uncommon and challenging approach to rhythmic patterns, but the whole piece still manages to come across as an ultimately somewhat smoother and more coherent listen. "Can't Fall", premiered below, is a case in point. Integrating elements of drone and built around a few losely composed, reduced piano chords, the track would strike an almost comforting tone were it not for the seemingly randomised noise interruptions that perforate the otherwise peaceful setting, providing an uneasy structure that never allows for a convenient decrease of attention.

Deathwatch is out today on Time No Place. Highly recommended.

(Photo by Patrick Mapel)

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