Watch: Petra Glynt “Sour Paradise”

15 Apr 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

What do you get when you combine environmental activism, post-hipster politics, and Canadian neo-pop archetypes? Petra Glynt.  

The Toronto artist otherwise known as Alexandra Mackenzie has branched off into her own universe after letting it brew while collaborating as a drummer in numerous bands, such as Pachamama and Dentata. In watching "Sour Paradise," we're teased with the same few images of people wildly celebrating the beat of the song, adorned with Value Village treasures which help create a tribal, art-explosion uniform. Mackenzie has been very outspoken against calling her music "tribal," and states that, in doing so, we are perpetuating eurocentric colonizer's jargon. While an interesting debate emerges in reasserting that Mackenzie does in fact partake in tribalism both aesthetically and culturally - urban hipsterism, rallying to protest tar sands export from Alberta, opting to have images of axes and masked men playing empty buckets in a ceremonial stance - it is opportune to explore other qualifying adjectives nonetheless. Internet psychedlia is the first alternative that comes to mind, and in spending a few minutes browsing Mackenzie's art, aforementioned universe begins to take shape.

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As for Mackenzie's alchemy with experimental music and politics about better treatment of the environment, let's look at what she told Noisey for the video's premiere:

The song is open but also militant at the same time, militant in its urgency to see change in the world. It tries to express the disconnect between our relationship to the land we live on and asks us to question the validity of the system our civilization has been built upon and where it's taking us. The song is meant to empower in circumstances that can be disempowering. We didn't want to come across as too preachy or confrontational while maintaining an artful/magical approach to video making. Amidst all the inequality in the world and damage that is being done to our planet, people need positivity. We need to celebrate our likeness and freedoms we all share, that no one can take away from us- that is the power of music, art, and dance. The video has something ominous, but it is intended to be a celebration of the power of community.

Somehow the aesthetic of trash-clothes suits contending the message that we are not being as good to the earth as we could be, and that we need to empower each other in order to change that. It's similar to the whole post-apocalptic, garbage windstorm style and reminds me of The Police's video for "Synchronicity II." Come to think of it, the message of "Synchronicity II" is also similar to Mackenzie's, as it aggressively takes us from descriptions of suburban routine and spins us back out into recalling mysticism, unknown things in nature, and, in a sense, the Other.

Yes, Mackenzie sort of looks like Grimes, and the end of "Sour Paradise" does have some residual Grimes-like fairy vocal loops; realistically, when you really look at or listen to her, she doesn't look nor sound like anyone else. Her almost too strong, alto/mezzo singing propels us into some place between several worlds she identifies with, a non-category nexus of reference and political awareness. Musically, "Sour Paradise" is fantastic – it's progressive, griddy, moderately melodic, completely danceable, and somewhat freaky. All in all, Mackenzie has a well-rehearsed and genuine style that is starting to receive attention, and by no surprise. Check out this 2012 footage of her jamming on the drums at Toronto's Southern Oracle event, and this video of her impressively performing her track "Out To Lunch" at the Wavelength Music Festival.

"Sour Paradise" is off of Petra Glynt's Of This Land EP, and you can get it here.

Watch: Girls In Uniform “Love › Everything Else” (exclusive)

14 Apr 2014 — Parker Bruce

Last fall, we premiered Girls in Uniform's (aka Nicole Brenny) first cassingle, The Fortune Tapes, and now we have a new video and song, "Love › Everything Else" – anticipating an EP named "." (Full Stop), which will be arriving April 22. The video for "Love › Everything Else" was directed by Brenny's frequent collaborator Danica Olders and is populated with birthday candles, animal masks, silly string, balloons, Laura Acosta's "knit head sculptures," and a "selfish bitch 1" and "selfish bitch 3." Just consider it a very imaginative trip to the zoo. The song itself sounds like it's on the fritz, futzing, putzing, and frayed, about to short circuit and blow a fuse. Then, the chorus comes in and nips everything in the bud. Starting in May, you'll also be able to get a VHS tape online that goes along with the EP featuring animations by Olders and Brenny that correspond with each song. And there will be two launch parties for the EP, one in Montreal on April 25 at Cabaret Playhouse and one in Brooklyn at Baby's All Right on May 12 alongside NFOP faves Prism House. You can get the VHS tapes at those launches as well.

Check out the tracklist and video below.  And grab a free download of "Love › Everything Else" while you're at it!

(1) Lodger
(2) Flowers of the City
(3) Fast Friends
(4) Under the Mountain
(5) Love > Everything Else
(6) Like a Star

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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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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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Watch: Fear of Men “Luna”

26 Mar 2014 — Parker Bruce

Brighton's Fear of Men are the coolest art history professors we've ever had in their new video "Luna". The FADER's Emilie Friedlander puts it best describing Fear of Men as having "an enigmatic habit of adorning their releases with photos that look straight out of the ancient art wing of a museum." She continues, "Their first two seven inch-singles, respectively, featured busts of Nefertiti and the Virgin Mary, and their inaugural EP, Early Fragments, starred a half-disintegrated sculpture of the Greco-Roman variety. The cover of their debut LP...continues in that neoclassical vein..."  This consistancy is a product of bandmates Jessica Weiss and Daniel Falvey who spearhead the Fear of Men asthetic (this 4eyes TV video for "Mosaic" helped out too.) Expanding on Friedlander, the signature of Falvey and Weiss' work is a piece of pottery or sculpture (though now, with "Luna/Outrun Me," they seem to be into archealogy and fossils) contrasting against a single-color backdrop, a look we've seen in artwork for Blouse as well with last year's Imperium. Now that we've travelled through art historical time, let's graduate and jump into the not-so-distant past. This is where Marina Abramovic comes in. She is perhaps best known as the woman who sat at a table at the MoMA staring at people for hours a day in 2010, but she has been making work for about forty years. Some of her imagary would work in a music video setting, like "The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk", where her and her partner in life and art staged the ultimate break up: they traveled the Great Wall of China from opposing sides and upon finally encountering one another, ended their relationship. Or the piece "Rhythm 0", where Abramovic put out items and tools for visitors to use on her naked body however they wanted. For Fear of Men's lesson on Abramovic, they give us "Dragonhead" and "Rest Energy." "Dragonhead" is at once Weiss doing Abramovic and Britney (there's a snake involved.) The color red is prominent throughout the video with Weiss wearing it, the screen turning the color at various points, and a vase filled with red paint shattering and reassembling. It all acts as a reference to the blood Abramovic has shed for her art. Here's hoping the next Fear of Men video is all about Carolee Schneemann! Your new favorite class is in session below. Fear of Men's first album, Loom, finally comes out on Brooklyn's Kanine Records on April 21st in the United Kingdom and April 22nd in the United States. And if you love zines like we do, be sure to get the "Luna/Outrun Me" zine/7" combo when it comes out on Exeter, UK-located Art is Hard Records on April 7th. Now start reviewing those flashcards!

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Watch: Napoleon “Moonlight”

25 Mar 2014 — Ashley Canino

A moving collage of images from Brooklyn to Nevada, Napoleon's new video for "Moonlight" is a delectably DIY homage to parties, relationships and bison ranches. Edited--and filmed in part--by lead singer Julian Anderson's girlfriend Thea Cabreros, the footage comes in at just under six minutes and I wish I could sink into the track and its visuals even longer than that. The fast-paced scenes are tied together with a roughly sketched, opaque heart and flashes of color--somehow it's enough to pull together the many slices of life the band shares with us, whether giddy and alcohol soaked or pensive and subdued. The song itself features standout vocals and synths that capture a throwback vibe without feeling disingenuous--and how could it above such an honest visual element.

Here are Thea's words on how the video came together, because she tells it so well:

"The concept was conceived of on one of many random conversations [Julian and I] had on Facebook chat. I jokingly asked to be in the music video after hearing the song, but [Julian] took it to heart.  The details were hashed out a few days later on a Skype 'date' (which was the first time we had seen each other in seven years). 'Send me what ur seeing and I'll send you what i'm seeing,' 'I only have my iPhone!,' 'Me too, the consistency will be great.'"

We decided that we would take footage for one week. I happened to be driving across the country at the time. I began shooting in Texas, and went on to shoot in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. One place it features that is of note is Zapata Bison Ranch in Mosca, Colorado where some friends of mine are ranchers.

[The video] was inspired by wanting to make sense of all the years, space, and disparate experiences [Julian and I] had since we last saw each other seven years ago. Despite the very different lives we had been living we had common a way of seeing the world and an inexplicable connection to one another."

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