Watch: Route 8 “I Can’t”

21 Mar 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Lobster Theremin is an endearing start-up label based in the UK whose brief discography will likely demand more than a small amount of your time. With work like Steve Murphy's Relax EP and Route 8's particularly well-researched and grooved-out Dry Thoughts EP, you may end up either keeping their Bandcamp among your tabs for several March and April days to come, or spending a few pounds, converted respectively. With Route 8's first track "Pacific Paradise," we enter a consoling melodic zone with a rather catchy rhythm which may or may not match what we think of when we imagine Pacific coastal beaches. For me, it seems to compliment the distant memory of long, bright, warm days still so unreachable here in the biting, agitated mountain weather.

"I Can't" starts with whistling confusion before another ensaring beat provides the track's drive. Again, it's like the song of the season lamenting exhaustedly that it can't start up. Something about the airyness between the beat and the melodic workings reminds me of Swayzak's "Speedboat," some kind of nice feeling of calm realization that there's room to grow, and that things aren't always so chaotic; life can feel chill even during a long period of uncertainty. Route 8's video reflects both this interpretation as well as some visual representation of the funny whisp sounds that persist throughout the track. It's nice to see animation paired with good deep house like this, since the genre always seemed so cartoonish in the way that it's both dark and humorous.

Order the Dry Thoughts EP over here.

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Watch: Gold Zebra “Apart Again” (exclusive)

17 Mar 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Montréal noirish synth pop duo Gold Zebra have taken some more time than expected to finish their debut album, but now word is out that the anticipated full-length is finally scheduled to be released on April 22. Listening to "Apart Again", the first sign of life after last year's teaser single "Invisible Disorder", it becomes obvious why the LP took so long to get done. The song sounds very mature and elaborate, embracing just the right amount of Chromatics-esque retroism while convincingly focusing not on style and era but on those things that matter for a good pop song: arrangement and melody.

Aside from the tune itself, the accompanying video, directed by La Barbe Rousse and premiered below, is further proof for Gold Zebra's compelling professionalism that does not content itself with less than a truly strong result.

The self-titled LP will be out on Visage Musique. Pre-order now over here.

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Watch: Magic Island “Baby Blu”

06 Mar 2014 — Henning Lahmann

As we've told you before, we here at NFOP love everything local wonder woman Emma Czerny aka Magic Island does, and the brand new video for her signature single "Baby Blu" only reinforces our adoration, like a surprise vacation in Portofino after 43 years of being married. Or something. Anyway, go watch below:

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Watch: Under Tears “Indian Moon Ballad” (exclusive)

05 Mar 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Under Tears is the new solo project of Dublin native Julie Fogarty aka Julie Chance of Berlin duo Kool Thing. Currently residing down under, her first single "Indian Moon Ballad" is a departure from her former work in that the song is an even darker affair than Kool Thing's already not quite sun-kissed art. The accompanying video, directed by Robin Plessy, emphasises the track's encompassing hopelessness, and this, we shall not leave you without warning, in a rather macabre and slightly disturbing way. Appropiately set on a bleak Berlin winter day, it tells the story of a love affair terribly gone wrong, with all sorts repercussions imaginable. 

Get the single digitally for free over here and watch the video exclusively below.

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Watch: Dean Blunt “Mersh”

02 Mar 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Do you miss Hype Williams already? Could this have been a Hype Williams track? Would you miss Dean Blunt as much as you miss Hype Williams or do you not care as you don't see any difference anyway? Do you think Dean Blunt felt "pressured" to drop a new track now that Inga Copeland has finally announced her proper debut album? Do you think Hype Williams came out of the shadows to direct Yeezus: The Movie because "Hype Williams" is finally not a thing anymore? Do you think Dean Blunt's next album Black Metal will contain black metal samples instead of Julee Cruise or K-Ci & JoJo? Would we need to invent a new genre name for that? Why would anyone leave Hippos In Tanks in order to release new material on Rough Trade, isn't that very 90s? Is that the point maybe, that it "feels" very 90s, so ironically? How did they make Blunt suddenly disappear in the video? Is the protagonists' choice of clothing a comment on or maybe even an endorsement of #normcore? What does it say about us that we didn't know what "Mersh" is? What does it tell us about Dean Blunt?

We have no idea. While you're trying to find out, here's a song to sing along to:

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Watch: Iberia “Glide”

18 Feb 2014 — Lukas Dubro

"Everyday" by Swedish pop duo Iberia was one of my favourite music videos of last year, with its used footage-driven rave atmosphere. We see some skinhead hardcore fans hanging out at a rave event, taking group pictures, smoking, talking, walking or putting lipstick on. People who know hardcore will be missing one thing: the dance moves. As a concession, we get a lesson in hardcore fashion style, since the camera is paying a lot of attention to their outfits: You get close ups from their futurstically coloured Nike Airmax sneakers, their camouflage pants, the tags on their jackets and sweaters and other small accesoires. So at the end, everyone will be abled to recognize a hardcore kid in a club.

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The clip is one further example of the appropriation of the sound and style of the 90s rave culture in contemproray music. The music of Canadian counter culture icon Grimes is only the most well-known instance. Even magazine Electronic Beats – famous for its conversations with grandfathers of pop and rock – put German mainstream rave legend H.P. Baxxter on the cover. And even the Berlin underground has started to adapt, re-discovering the sweat pants and bomber jackets so signifying for early Dutch hardcore. Just go to any Janus or Creamcake party at expat stronghold Chesters and you'll understand. In a recent interview with Berlin's "The One-Hit Parade", Chesters regular M.E.S.H. bluntly admitted that he's not only listening to and DJing 90s Dutch dance underground tracks, but that the music's samples also serve as his own work's basis. His reappropriation goes as far as using similar software synthesizers for his productions.

It's still not very clear where and when this whole rave revival started. But it certainly grew over the past two years. One of the first artists referencing 90s rave was of course UK producer Zomby with his 2008 EP Where Were You in 92?. Zooming out to get a bigger picture, one cannot deny that the 90s are back on a grand scale. Further examples include vaporwave, the revival of R'n'B (and even Usher!), or the latest album by sound visionist Oneohtrix Point Never. So maybe the hardcore's resurrection is just one further aspect within a larger development.

Even though the latest video for Iberia's new song "Glide" doesn't picture skinheads, we still get to see sweatpants and some branded gloves. We're also confronted with an inverted colour effect, a visual technique that was as well popular some 20 years ago and that's furthermore quite reminiscent of the ghostly 3D animations that Oneohtrix Point Never employed on his tour last fall. The typo used for the Gothenburg/Berlin duo's name tag, blinking up several times in the video, may be viewed as a reference to the vaporwave movement. Once again unearthing that certain decade by means of their visuals, Iberia re-emphasise how serious they are – and we all should be? – when it comes to bringing back the ghosts of our childhood and youth. Watch the video for "Glide" below.

Iberia's self-titled debut full-length is out on Hybris in March.

Video: Scammers “A Song That Can Exist”

14 Feb 2014 — Henry Schiller

Channeling Scott Walker through Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack, Missouri’s Phil Diamond – who records music as Scammers – is the pop martyr we didn’t know we desperately needed until his hands were nailed to a keyboard in the shape of god's mightiest, most succulent minor chords. “A Song that Can Exist” is the tautest seven-and-a-half minutes of iterative dream pop that anyone has probably ever thought to record; a sensual elegy of molting synths, chest-cracking bass, and a snappy jazz beat that swings carefully from resuscitative sharpness into melancholy ambience.

Diamond’s voice invokes the comfortable surprise of getting to the center of a Creamsicle in a dark movie theater. Each new eruption of lyrics is a cool swoop of doom, a frosty glisten to burst through the already icy darkness. This is the sound of the lights coming on so slowly that you’ve convinced yourself you’re only seeing things, all the while Diamond wraps you tighter into the cosmic joke of his existential pain. His confrontational softness and lyrical self-possession put Diamond in league with out-of-step new wave groups like Tears for Fears or Talk Talk. A charming, subversive elegance that pop music has ignored for far too long.

“A Song That Can Exist” is accompanied by experimentally cut home footage of snowy mountains, ski-lifts, and desolate beaches. The track almost seems to fill the video’s bleakness, coloring every frame of black and white footage with the warm tones of baked earth.

Sad people who are not Phil Diamond, please take note: apparently you have been feeling things wrong.

Scammers’ album, A Song That Can Exist, is out February 17 on Jehu & Chinaman.

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The Body “Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain”

11 Feb 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

I am so relieved to come across this type of music, this death metal electronica. A local figure in the music scene, his speciality being electronica, was lecturing me the other day about how dubstep has changed the standard design of electronic music forever, and that from now on sustained bass is a must, causing a rather gritty, black metal attitude to join the ranks. While I didn't agree with him at all, especially because he was narrow-mindedly looking over house archetypes and other factors that haven't participated in the dubstep movement, I feel somewhat satisfied in finding his examples almost spot-on available in The Body's "Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain." With their cut-and-pasted compositions, lain over with proper guttural metal screaming and sometimes perforated guitar, I'd say it's laughable how convincingly this work qualifies as an actual metal release.

The Body's full-length I Shall Die Here is out via RVNG Intl. on April 1. 

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