12 Mar 2015 — Henry Schiller
Danish-Canadian polymath Sally Dige makes dark, minimal synthpop that might draw comparison to the likes of Depeche Mode - Dige's vocal affect is remarkably similar to thant of Dave Gahan - if she didn't already seem to be ushering in an italo-disco revival. "Hard to Please", the title track from Dige's debut album, fuses the ghostly humanism of Dige's new wave forebears with the pointed, synthetic narrative of contemporary electronica.
Ditching the glam and gloss typically associated with synthpop, the choppy black & white video for "Hard to Please", which was directed by Laslo Antal, has the almost vandalized, hyper-candid feel of something that might appear in the corner of an art gallery. The video then cuts between shots of an outdoor birth and ambiguously gruesome scenes of Dige mauling (what looks like) hamburger meat with fork and spatula until it bleeds. The video bears some aesthetic semblance to Eraserhead (which also has bleeding food) but has the loose, zoom-crazed cinematography of later lo-fi masterpieces like Slacker.
The slightly NSFW video (mostly for blood) is worth repeated viewings (is Dige giving birth to prepackaged hamburger? is that a slice of watermelon?), which is just as well: the song will be more or less inextractable from your head once you hear it.
Hard To Please is out May 11 on Night School Records.
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02 Feb 2015 — Henry Schiller
Swahili are a Portland based five-piece whose debut LP was by and large a fusion of industrial drone and distorted, naturalistic beats. Inspired by the paranoid futurism of Philip K. Dick's Valis, Swahili are now shifting more towards the bright, synthetic pummeling associated with Vangelis and the silver age of science fiction soundtracks that he helped kick off. The results have been something akin to a nerve-damaged Tom Tom Club: exquisite, funk-inflicted pop music fused onto boundless, synthesized landscapes.
“Vestal” is a single from Swahili’s upcoming album Amovreux, and the track proves that the group has the energy to show off discotheque charisma over the course of an unflagging, six minute rhythmic loop. Frontwoman Van Pham's voice has the force to keep up with the throbbing rhythm behind it, while remaining maneuverable enough to evoke an almost elegiac sense of spirited wonder.
In her video for "Vestal", Portland-based artist Vivian Hua has mapped Swahili’s rhythmic psych-pop to a swirl of psychedelic imagery, comparable to early videos produced for the Pink Floyd, and mildly evocative of the drugged-out paranoia associated with Dick's novel.
Amovreux is out March 24 on Seattle label Translinguistic Other.
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27 Jan 2015 — Andrew Darley
Sandra Kolstad rides in on a great big horse for her new single "My Yellow Heart". It is her latest offering from her third album, Zero Gravity State Of Mind, which she is set to release on March 3rd. The song is a plea to not become “a hard-hearted woman” in the midst of struggle. The video locates the singer-songwriter in a barren landscape, as we witness her transform and mutate into a number of entities amongst the crumbling landscape. With an ardent focus to colour, the clothing, make-up and surrounding nature burst in vitality. The song contrasts the sweetness of previous single "Rooms", as she bounds in with a rickety piano line and soaring melody. "My Yellow Heart" encapsulates her talent in electronic pop and her theatricality to front it. She takes us into her stimulating world, as we witness her blossom into something ‘other’ in front of our eyes.
Zero Gravity State Of Mind will be released by Red Eye Transit.
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29 Dec 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
This Berlin pop duo have their archetypes down. As member Laslo Antal approached me with the observation that their aesthetic fits the NFOP one, he was absolutely right; however, theirs is an appreciation for the 80s not unfamiliar to NFOP, but still a somewhat aloof visitor, wholeheartedly welcomed. Singer Sally Jørgensen's vocal range rings perfectly true to that of Siouxsie Sioux, and Laslo Antal bestows a Duran Duran album cover sleekness. Well, they both do. "All The People" has a cool and calm fretless bass line, a David Sylvian-esque, dreamlike delectability and art pop collectedness. There is furthermore mastery over subtle accents and nostalgic melody of a superiorly agreeable sort. The video is simple and intellectually affordable, yet still something you may enjoy viewing several times. Antal's visual assemblage of the two members posing and playing with the stop motion process comes across a bit as a fashion show, yet demonstrates the artists' refined style applied to their music. Isn't that how pop works?
Cult Club will release their debut EP in the new year. Expect to see more words lauding this music in the coming months.
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17 Nov 2014 — Henning Lahmann
Winter is coming, they say, though we want to stress that we're not quoting some overhyped fantasy television drama here. Cause it really is – just step out into the crisp mid-November air today and you'll realise that once again, a year is coming to its end, leaving us with nothing but shattered hopes and unfulfilled dreams; which naturally draws us to music like that of Brooklyn duo Odd Rumblings, otherwise known as Audrea Lim and Gabriel Sedgwick, whose marvellous glacial synth pop sets the mood for the coming season. Take "Ice Floe", the opening track of the project's six-track debut EP Thieves. Rather literally, Lim is singing of dreams of ice and snow, natural conditions that weaken the human spirit and undermine confidence and trust. There is some warmth in the wobbling pads and enclosing progressions, but when the beat has faded away, we're alone again, awaiting the oncoming night.
Now, "Ice Floe" has received a pretty perfect visualisation by Chinese native Jun Cen, who's currently based in New York City. The animated short film, so much more than a mere accompaniment to the song but really a piece of art in its own right, uses stark, icy images for a captivating narration about a young child who is haunted by deep, subconscious troubles from the past. Watch the work's premiere below.
Thieves is out on Public Information. Get it digitally or on limited edition vinyl over here.
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08 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller
Half Waif's “Ceremonial” was one of my favorite tracks of the summer, so I’m very pleased to be able to share director Grace Gardner's rather autumnal video. Gardner brings Half Waif’s carefully crafted ode to the dark magic of monotony in a video that is perfectly evocative of the song’s themes and tone. It is filmed in a grimy, hand held-style-- almost Dogville-esque-- and degenerates into instagram filtered, slime-gulping voyeurism. The gonzo approach is offset by the synchronized movements of the dances behind Half Waif's Nandi Rose Plunkett, who sing-lurks at the bottom of the screen. The ceaseless repetitions of daily life are a choreography of sorts: one best captured on handheld devices and filtered into a demonic oblivion. The struggle between the humdrum of the everyday and the vile otherness of breaking even the most banal of habits is on full display in both Rose Plunkett's song and Gardner's exceptional accompanying video.
Give this a watch and check out Half Waif’s debut album KOTEKAN here.
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03 Oct 2014 — Johanne Swanson
I wanna know all about how your mind knows how to feel calm and easy. Did you try eating raw, maniacally pressing green juice, or doing a shit-ton of yoga? Maybe you surrounded yourself by beautiful things and popped some pills, but eventually found that the best plan of action was to get messy with a pile of Benjamins. These are at least our suggested strategies on the new video from Berlin's very own UMA, producer power couple Ella and Florian Zwietnig. Get a little blurry with their highly polished, perfect-pop-song sensibility and be sure to catch their dynamic live show on the remainder of their European dates. Here at NFOP, we're especially looking forward to tonight's performance at Kantine am Berghain with Florida's Hundred Waters.
"Calm/Easy" is off UMA's debut self-titled album out last May on Austria's Seayou Records. They are currently in the midst of a European tour with the following dates remaining:
10/3 Berlin, GER - Kantine am Berghain
10/4 Ausberg, GER Augsburg - Soho Stage
10/6 Winterthur, SUI - Portier
10/8 Graz, AUT - Steirischer Herbst
10/9 Munich, GER - Milla
10/10 Bern, SUI - Dampfzentrale
10/11 Nürnberg, GER - USG 6
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30 Sep 2014 — Henning Lahmann
Despite having been recently added to Berlin Current's illustrious roster, signifying the project as pushing the boundaries of the city's current musical landscape, not too much is known about the people behind Born In Flamez. Conceptualised as 'transhuman' and making arrangements for a post-gender future, Born In Flamez' utopian vision sits comfortably among projects like The Knife, Perera Elsewhere (who is featured on the EP), or, perhaps the most striking resemblance, Planningtorock. There's tangible evidence that there is a human ultimately responsible for the sounds we hear, but the point is, of course, that it shouldn't matter: all this could have come from someone, or indeed something, else instead. It just so happens that it didn't. The current physical embodiment of Born In Flamez, that particular person hiding behind a mask, is arbitrary, so to speak. Fittingly, "Polymorphous", the title track of BIF's debut EP, was allegedly conceived in the aftermath of a DJ gig at one of the highly notorious GEGEN events at Kit Kat Club, likely the closest thing to a post-human experience Berlin has to offer. Staying pointedly coherent, the visualisation of "Polymorphous" emphatically rejects notions of determinable human nature, resorting to abstract iterations of what could have once been evocative of objects found in a human world. Something strange to come.
The Polymorphous EP is due October 13 via UnReaL Audio. Pre-order the release's physical version – a limited edition etched glass pyramid, no less – now over here. Born In Flamez will be part of Berlin Current's delegation to MUTEK.MX in Mexico City from October 23 to 25.
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