M-Band “Haust” (exclusive)

12 Nov 2014 — Andi Wilson

Icelandic artist M-Band, moniker of Hörður Már Bjarnason, sheds a new light on how compassionate electronic compositions can be. Throughout his new single "Haust" you're surrounded by surging beats and claps. The beginning quickly unravels as Bjarnason's vocals (somewhat of a mix between Jens Lekman and Dan Bodan) carry endearing lyrics into a vast sea of synths. In its entirety, the track glows with sincere illustrations of wistful desire. Without any doubt, what's so special about M-Band is it's intense, conscious, and full of nurture. Willing to take a listener in with open arms and float to a warm haven.

Expect Bjarnason's debut LP Haust to be released in the UK & Germany November 17. Guided by Projekta in collaboration with Nordic By Nature.

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sonofdistantearth “Parachute EP”

10 Nov 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

The much beloved Lobster Theremin continues to impress my eyes, ears, and techno encyclopedia brain. sonofdistantearth's Parachute EP demonstrates upsurging bass and the right amount of chaotic saturation. The artist title itself suggests some appreciation for noise and/or metal band names, methinks, so this observation is not too far off. While noisy and progressive, the EP is plenty repetitious and minimally melodic. "GAZA2" starts off great, wavers into a slightly silly melodic phase before collapsing into itself to come back with a more refined, beautiful melody. "Koan" is tribal, corrugated, and spacious. Occasionally, a paddy synth sneaks up into the prominent percussion work and tinkles into our ears, readying us for the next thing – whether in life or the stream of music – in a most gentle way. It rocks.

Download and order sonofdistantearth's Parachute EP from Lobster Theremin here.

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Populous “Fall (Feat. Cuushe) [Blue Hawaii Remix]”

06 Nov 2014 — Andi Wilson

Populous means to draw people together, sometimes creating an overcrowded effect in a particular space. Territories of so-named Italian producer and moniker of Andrea Mangia borders on creating an opposite result. The imagined essence of such aura described parallels running through a tangled jungle and once reaching the end of breath, meets an open plain field hovered by starry skies. "Fall" initiates by highlighting breathy vocals of Kyoto native, Cuushe which amplify the track into a masterpiece comparable to a flower blooming in forward-motion. Blue Hawaii's addition to this dream-cast is like an edgy cherry on top with immediate recognizition of haunting glitches and roomy abstract beats, conveying grimy tension to a sentimental pop statement.

Populous' latest full-length, Night Safari, is available now via Berlin-based label Bad Panda Records. Furthermore, don't miss Blue Hawaii's recent one-off single "Get Happy" along with an edit of the song, "Get Happier"

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Empty Taxi “IRIZAJN EP”

06 Nov 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Get ready for combative, moody electronic pop, likely influenced much by The Knife, My Brightest Diamond, and, yes, perhaps a little by the Lords of Acid. Brussels-based artist Zoë Mc Pherson, aka Empty Taxi, has recently released the IRIZAJN EP, which is delicious, driven, and emotionally wholesome. It has an eye on the bigger picture of the planet, and this comes across through both the lyrics and diverse musicality.

From the opening of the EP, we're confronted with exciteable, seductive percussion along with robotic R'n'B frequencies. These come together to meet world music motifs, like the flute solo towards the conclusion of "Eskimo." Contextually, the lyrics of said song bolster the observation that world music tropes are present, as it is explained how Inuit peoples make sounds to defy language in order to have their spirits better understood. "Éfe Forest" displays a sample that seems like an indigenous song, accompanied by quick and encouraging, ceremonial beats.

Mc Pherson's voice is deep and captivatingly wrapped around her song structures, bearing political and world-aware messages, especially in "Brainsculpt." Meanwhile, "Bending" is a nasty, more Knife-like, techno piece. The EP's closing track is a beautiful, expansive vibe, hosted by a poetic title and zero lyrics: "Bars in Ljubljana Castle."

Stream Empty Taxi's IRIZAJN EP below, or purchase the cassette here.

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Rollercoasterwater “Bog” (exclusive)

05 Nov 2014 — Henry Schiller

Rollercoasterwater’s “Bog” is hides avant-garde music, just barely, behind the driven rhythm of ready-to-dance electropop. The Los Angeles duo (Chuckie Behring and Robin Levy) claim Donkey King and salvia as influences, but instead of a Saturday afternoon in a freshmen dorm, the end result of this combo is a beautiful swirl of digitalized ambient and rhythm-smart pop. “Bog” is a delightfully prickly mess of grinding guitar and electronics; vocals that – like distant smoke signals – act as obscure hints towards language  as opposed to actual speech. This molten experimental structure is garnished with a quick-tempo handclapping rhythm – a noticeable departure from the unspoken rule that tone and melody rest on top of the beat, not the other way around.

Divorced from its athletic beat, “Bog” might be a somber piece of contemporary ambient music in the vein of work like Grouper or Julianna Barwick. But the cheerleader style rhythm work gives the track a more extroverted feel, almost to the point of "Bog" sounding like it could be a remix of itself. The track’s tonal and melodic structures are like a dense bog (I mean fog) that its beat must navigate, all while being clawed at and clasped after by wispy tentacles of vocals and grinding electronics. The influence of Gameboy music is palpable: the beat on "Bog" is sharp enough to be heard clearly over small speakers, and it is prickly enough for tiny ears to grab ahold of and stick to like it's warm, chewed up gum.

Listen to more from Rollercoasterwater here, and check out the exclusive premiere of “Bog” below:


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Gabriel Garzón-Montano “Naeja (Gut Nose Remix)” (exclusive)

04 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann

On "Naeja", Brooklyn's Gabriel Garzón-Montano presented himself at his most soulful and jazzy. Taken from his debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Huila, released in February via Styles Upon Styles, the standout track's smooth and rolling grooves showcase the songwriter's knack for meticulous arrangements. Operating under his Gut Nose moniker, fellow New Yorker Andrew Vagabundo has no intention to change the original's romantic outline – he just happens to embody a way more pragmatic approach to his hometown's realities. Thoroughly roughing up "Naeja", complete with his signatures of distorted 4/4 kicks and vinyl crackle, everything sounds way more New York: there might be love somewhere around, but it takes a certain kind of apathetic cool to actually find it. Whatever you do, just don't show that you actually care.

The Gut Nose remix of "Naeja" is taken from the CD edition of Bishouné: Alma del Huila, out soon on Styles Upon Styles. Gut Nose's own, highly recommended Filthy City is out on the same label and may be streamed in full over here.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano is performing in Berlin tomorrow, November 5, supporting Lenny Kravitz at O2 World.

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The Grip “Saladin (Hello Skinny Remix)”

04 Nov 2014 — Richard Greenan

The Grip are are a London jazz group featuring progressive flautist Finn Peters, Oren Marshall on tuba and Tom Skinner on drums. Peters made a name for himself composing music using mind reading technology, while Marshall has been doing ungodly things to brass for years. Here the group cannibalises itself, as Skinner, under his solo guise Hello Skinny, transforms the meandering, eastern-tinged 'Saladin' into the shimmering mirage of a house track. This is a remix in the purest sense, as raw loops are fed into an MPC and caustically spat out, expertly pitch-shifted and chopped into something barely recognisable.

The Grip's new album Celebrate is out now on Slowfoot Records. You can listen back to Tom and Finn discussing the record and playing some inspirational tracks on NTS Radio.

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FIJI “Fave Hours (Ft. Hood Joplin)” + Manicure Records Feature (exclusive)

31 Oct 2014 — Andi Wilson

Today we speak to label boss Tom Mike (aka Ghibli) regarding the background, aesthetics, and future on one of the most forward-thinking & online-based pop labels we know, Manicure Records. Along with the interview, NFOP exclusively premieres a mega-catchy single by their newest signee FIJI, titled “Fave Hours (Ft. Hood Joplin)”.

Take us back to when Ghibli started (which was a pretty house-y project at that time). Did you ever expect it to somewhat grow into running your own label?

I started Ghibli around 2010 and was just figuring out how to use samples and trying to combine my love of beat music and choral compositions. I rediscovered my love of disco along the way and spent the next few years trying to figure out how to blend these disparate pools of influence into one big ocean. After eventually getting tired of sending out submissions to people and not getting any traction with other labels, I started my own little corner of the internet for me and my friends. I absolutely did not expect the amount of support and recognition that we’ve received in the past ten months.

The sounds of Manicure vary from electronic hyper-pop, trance, club, to most recently twisting heavily-commercial pop hits. For example reworking Ariana Grande's "One Last Time" and tagging tracks as '#manicured'. Not to mention creating your own blends of singles by producers that I only assume heavily influence Manicure, like Sophie's "Bipp". Now we're seeing very young, emerging producers come into the fold such as Guy Akimoto, lilangelboi, and ponibbi. Did most of the relationships that consist of Manicure's roster evolve from the web or is everyone from the same (somewhat underground) community in Edmonton, Canada? Who is currently involved?

Below is who’s currently involved based on chronologically going through the Manicure Souncloud:

Jasmine, who’s based in the UK, was someone that I had been emailing back and forth for a few years before Manicure became a vehicle for us/her. We bonded over Jam City mixes and she’s been really important in expanding the aesthetic of the label.

My good friend Kara sent over some lilangelboi tracks last summer and I became obsessed with nightcore. After starting Manicure we got him up to do shows in Edmonton (he was originally based in Calgary). Eventually he moved here where he’s been thriving since.

DJ Cashinout (formerly DJ Debussey Turnpike) is from the states and we linked up through submissions that he sent to me after I started the label. He is really young and has a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what he has in store.

ponibbi came up to me at a party last winter and stole a joint out of my hand while I was talking to someone else and walked away with it. We’ve been close friends ever since and he’s become an indispensable part and a rising star of the label.

I heard of KLSLWSK through Tielsie’s Soundcloud likes and became obsessed with his production style. We signed him just before the JACK댄스 world tour and he played his first live show at the Vancouver stop with us.

I met Guy Akimoto when Simon Whybray (founder of JACK) brought him on the Canadian edition of the JACK tour. He was both incredibly kind and talented, a really rare combination. We all became super down after seeing him live and we signed him a short while afterwards.

As for FIJI, Beaux Maris is the single strongest/smartest/nicest woman I know in the world, and Hood Joplin is the turn up queen and adds a lot of depth and character to the crew.
I’m incredibly lucky to know both of them.

Beaux/ponibbi/HJ are all from Edmonton. Every other relationship has been built online.

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Have these projects been producing under the same techniques for a while or did they start based on the label and what you want to provide for your listeners?

I think everyone was just doing a more general or broader approach in terms of their content creation and personal aesthetic before they joined us. Since signing, I’ve been trying to refine or double down on certain elements in order for the songs to be the very best that they can be. I don’t think we care about other listeners outside of our group at all. We make music for ourselves first, for our friends second, and for everyone else last.

You also previously mentioned to me how some of the releases and even artists are built completely around aesthetic, such as the project FIJI. Are these new releases technically side projects of everyone running Manicure to keep releases as cohesive as possible? Or is it more of an idea to challenge the typical structure of how most labels release music?

FIJI is like Halley’s Comet. Something that happens at a certain time and place and fades away afterwards, hopefully making an impact. A lot of producers from the label teaming up and providing an aesthetic that doesn’t have a lot of coverage right now. It will mark the debut of two new stars on the label, Beaux and HJ and would be unfair to call a side project. It’s more of a one-off intense focus thing than anything else. Single-collab tracks are just made for fun. Usually because one producer has something the other one could use, or one person hears something more and wants to capitalize on it.

When you first announced Manicure with a somewhat interactive site, it was the first time I had seen any of my internet peers break out and really start their own brand. What influenced your design and philosophies behind the label? Even down to the 'Turn up!' tags. Everything is so on point.

It would be a lie to say that PC Music wasn’t hugely influential on Manicure. After following A. G. Cook and the other releases from last summer onwards, I knew I wanted to do something similar. Where the majority of things on PC Music stem very much from pure original content from Cook or his collaborators, I’ve always found inspiration from outside sources and trying to mimic them in my own way (poorly). This results in bizarro versions of the original and I feel like we’ve been assembling a team of people who do very similar things with the culture surrounding them. Everyone on the label has very strongly established aesthetics already. Thankfully they all mesh pretty well with one another.

As for the vernacular, Beaux and I for a literal decade, now joined by our other friends, have always had our own specific euphemisms. We tend to go through phases of abusing one word in lots of different, usually unconventional situations (e.g. ‘sus’). I have problems dividing the line between URL and IRL anyway, so eventually these mannerisms begin to leak out and affect the label. People seem to be down however, so thats a plus.

Soundcloud & Twitter seem to be the main domains for Manicure at the moment, pushing your artists to reach new audiences with not only growing fan-bases but also collaborations between the producers themselves. As the internet changes and becomes more saturated every day, how does the label plan to adapt to new online platforms & experiences?

Things are under wraps right now but we're expanding on the universe with additional interactive visual platforms. These things are tricky and they have to be perfect for launch so that’s why I’m being extremely vague about it.

We also just started an Instagram where we can post pictures of our painted nails so that’s tite.

Some of your artists (including yourself) are beginning to surface from the PC-realm to IRL performances. I saw you recently collaborated with the JACK댄스 party for their worldwide tour and you are beginning to plan events of your own. How do these collaborations happen? It reads and seems to be working as a beautiful way to bring cyberspace to reality.

With JACK it was very much a situation where I kept thinking and talking about it and eventually against the odds the collaboration happened. People who are leaving the internet to come to the parties seem to be having a good time. The trouble is convincing people who are out already and aren’t aware of the aesthetic or trends on Soundcloud. The internet can easily trick us into thinking things have way more weight in the real world than they do online. It’s important to balance out these extreme online aesthetics with real world tangibility and cohesion.

What does Manicure Records 2015 have in store for us?

More songs / more performances / more artists / more turn ups!

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the FIJI mixtape in early December. Check out some other highlight tracks from Manicure Records below.