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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Guest Post: Efterklang’s Rasmus Stolberg Recommends By the Lake Festival 2015

16 Aug 2015 — Editor

Rasmus Stolberg, member of Copenhagen veteran experimental luminaries Efterklang and Liima, is not only in charge of acclaimed radio station The Lake Radio but is also hosting and curating Berlin's By the Lake Festival, which is set to happen at the Freilichtbühne Weißensee on August 29. In anticipation of the event, Rasmus is introducing each of the performing artists. Watch videos by all of them and read his thoughts after the break. (ed.)

Find more details about the festival over here, and buy tickets here.


2:30pm Liima
4:00pm Lonnie Holley
5:30pm Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit
6:50pm Omar Souleyman
8:40pm Wildbirds & Peacedrums

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Auscultation “L’étreinte Imaginaire”

13 Aug 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

Auscultation, in case you didn't know, is the name of technology used for listening to internal organs. The stethoscope is the best known and most timeless form of such technology. Not to comically liken recent Portland transplant Joel Shanahan's more cuddly project to stethscopic techno, "Promise You'll Haunt Me" is indeed a gentle harkening to what is up with the heart, whether it is that of the artist's or our own. The coating of analog film on the top layer of the album only briefly feels like the cold shock of the metal ring around the horn of a doctor's stethoscope. If you're accustomed to analog fuzz with house beats, this tape is your home. By the time lonesome-sounding "Drop Off" plays, the listening experience has evolved into a source of comfortable reflection via aurality. Each track is a soothing, melodic jam representative of Shanahan's particular craft, attention to detail, and willingness to do inner-work, which tends to be vaguely muzak-y, yet persistently enjoyable. Such qualities are found in the sounds of both Auscultation and his other moniker, Golden Donna.   

The latest Auscultation is out Friday, August 14, on 100% Silk.

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Watch: Kepla “Ordinant 6”

12 Aug 2015 — Henning Lahmann

What has made London blog/label No Pain In Pop so important in the past years is not so much the fact that mastermind Tom King has impeccable taste and the right ear to predict what the world the Internet wants to listen to tomorrow; others surely have that ability, too. No, it's rather that King somehow knows how to look at places no one else seems to even have access to. In this sense, the title of NPIP's ongoing series of compilations – The Bedroom Club – is anything but arbitrary. The new talent showcased here is almost exclusively composed of artists who indeed seem most comfortable in the reclusive semi-anonymity of their bedrooms; the music produced is not exactly depressed, but there's a certain noirish feel to almost all of it. A sentiment that of course has quite a tradition at NPIP, with a past roster including A Grave With No Name, Echo Lake, and of course Forest Swords. The compilation series' third edition is by no means an exception to this rule. The six tracks are slow, careful and intimate, exuding a gloomy atmosphere. This is music that not only seems to be made in isolation, but just as much made for it. For rainy Sundays after long club nights perhaps, when there's really nowhere else to go. The press release tells us accordingly:

Liverpool producer Jon Davies aka Kepla is one of those highly talented bedroom producers that I would likely never have got to know were it not for NPIP; and his track "Ordinant 6" is the prototypical Bedroom Club contribution. Informed by both noise and fading rave memories, the track only reluctantly unfolds over the course of five minutes. Largely rejecting discernible structure, it implies distant troubles, an effect that is beautifully augmented by the accompanying video with its abstract frames and occasional, disconcerting interruptions hinting at other things that might be going on here. We're premiering the video below.

The Bedroom Club III is out August 21. Pre-order the compilation on vinyl now over here.

Kepla will support William Basinski on his UK tour in September:

Tues 15 Sept - Cafe Oto, London
Weds 16 Sept - Islington Mill, Salford
Thurs 17 Sept - The Kazimier, Liverpool

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Visionist “Victim”

11 Aug 2015 — Henning Lahmann

After a string of 12" releases over the course of a few years on labels like Lit City Trax, Ramp Recordings, and Berlin's Leisure System, London's new grime pioneer Visionist has finally readied his debut full-length proper. Safe will be released by PAN on October 9, a new home for the artist which, of course, makes a whole lot of sense. Not only did PAN's Bill Kouligas and Visionist recently announce the merging of minds with new label Codes, which has had a terrific start with inaugural release by Acre & Filter Dread.

Even more significant seems to be the fact that by way of its still growing expat community, the reconfigeration of grime that has reinvigorated the UK scene in the past two or three years has slowly but steadily started to infiltrate the more challenging and captivating undercurrents of contemporary Berlin music, be it DJ sets or the local artists' own productions – think Janus, of course, but also a large part of CTM's focus as of late, and most recently the output of Joe Shakespeare and Kuedo's Knives imprint. In that sense, 'new' grime may be, alongside variations of Chicago footwork, one of the few actually forward-looking styles that have managed to break into and undermine the city's puristic techno/house prevalence. With Kouligas' open-minded and farsighted approach to signing, PAN has played an important role to pave the way for this welcome shift – last demonstrated with Janus affiliate M.E.S.H.'s excellent LP Piteous Gate. 

Visionist's Safe is music that, for the time being, could only really come out of London. But having found PAN as its creative home, the album will enable further change in Berlin, too. And that's something we should be grateful for.

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