Review: We Love Lobster Theremin and Here Are Three More Reasons Why

27 Feb 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

We have covered several of Lobster Theremin's limited edition releases since their genesis, ranging from Imre Kiss to Route 8 to Ozel AB. While there are several more excellent EPs coming your way from new LT artists, here are three that we would like to highlight.

Pairing with sister label Mörk, Raw M.T.'s La Duna is a calm cab ride along a coastal region. Seeing as how the "M.T." stands for music theory, this Italian producer surely has more goods to offer than what is briefly seen in this enjoyable EP. The title track starts us off in the usual LT aesthetic of lo-fi quality, and the beat is experienced with a type of jovial skipping stone counterrhythm. Midway through the track, a friendly, curious melody hits all the while the shimmering pad persists in the background. "Untitled" is an entrancing, beachy song, nearly balaeric. It bears a steady and simple hum next to an indecipherable, perhaps Arabic, vocal sample. "Strike" is slightly darker. An applicable analogy for the listening experience of this EP is an afternoon in a beachy destination: it starts slow and sunny, perhaps accented by consumption of local food and material goods. The taxi ride to the social event of the day is like "Untitled," private, transitional, and meditative. Then, "Strike" is the dirty transition from participation in one's own beachy day to an acidic situation in either a bar or an underground party. Take what you will from this alternative construction, but take lots from this gorgeous piece of music.

La Duna is out March 6th.

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High Heels “Pendulum Swing”

23 Feb 2015 — Lukas Dubro

Austin Brown is one artist in Berlin that I admire a lot. He is someone who knows entirely what he is doing. Not just by the action, but by the intellectualization of it as well. When it comes to music, Austin can tell you everything from the difference between sine and square waves to the forces behind his favourite records. On the last EP of my band 케이프 you can hear Austin's self-built amplifiers coming to work.

This experience doesn't come from anywhere specific. At the age of five, Austin began playing violin and has been playing music ever since. The US-native used to play in more than 50 bands, most notably Why?, the Anticon hip hop rock outfit. In 1991, he began studying audio engineering and experimented with recording techniques for a long time. In the 2000s, he worked as a professional sound engineer in the states before moving to Berlin in 2008. Here, he made several records for local bands and worked in different venues; "My education was just trying out a bunch of bad ideas to see what might work."

The two new songs "Pendulum Swing" and "Collide" from his moniker High Heels are a demonstration of Austin's skills. We hear perfectly arranged dense rock music with a warm organic sound. Distorted lead vocals catch up with clouds of noise produced by guitar and powerful drums. The music has a great dry '90s vibe, reminding me a lot of Sonic Youth records from that time along with newer reverb drunken noise music like No Joy. With the two songs, Austin perfects the style of his older records out under the same name.

An important part of Austin's working process is to collaborate with other people. In the course of the last years, he has recorded with over 20 other musicians. These are people he worked with in studios or wanted to work with, but didn't have the chance to. For each musician Austin carefully picked the material knowing pretty well their individual playing styles. This way, he could compile the best parts together and add them to the songs the way he wanted without making compromises. "The results are fantastic. People do their best work, when they are doing whatever they want," he says.

Especially nowadays where everything primarily seems to be about style you don't come across many people who are real maîtres of their metier. Hanging with a perfectionist like Austin is always quite refreshing. It reminds you that dilettantism and irony, as interesting as they are, are not the only things that are cool.

Photo: Elisa Longhi

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Stream: 5 Years of NFOP Anniversary Edition on BCR

23 Feb 2015 — Henning Lahmann

This little website is turning five today, and there will be a proper party sometime this spring – or so we hope. We'll keep you posted. For the time being however, without further ado, here's our Special Anniversary Editon of the NFOP Show on Berlin Community Radio, which aired last Friday. We only played songs from 2010, the first year of the blog, when it was tiny and even more irrelevant. It was the age of blogging however, even though decline yould already be felt. In June of that year, Altered Zones entered the playing field, which first seemed to make everything even more exciting but ultimately engulfed everything into the abyss along with itself (*full disclosure: this author used to contribute to AZ). The rest is history. In any case, we're still here. Thanks for bearing with us.

That being said, another announcement: The NFOP Show on BCR will from now on be biweekly, two hours long, and air from 7 to 9pm CET. The next edition will be on March 6. Tune in.

Stream both parts of our anniversary show below.

Part 1:

(1) Games ”Shadows In Bloom“
(2) Autre Ne Veut ”Drama Cum Drama“
(3) Hype Williams ”The Throning“
(4) Girls ”Broken Dreams Club“
(5) LA Vampires & Matrix Metals ”Berlin Baby“
(6) Twin Sister ”All Around and Away We Go“
(7) The Sweethearts ”Burnin' Thru the Night“
(8) Herbcraft “Road to Agartha”
(9) Velvet Davenport “Warmy Personal Routine”
(10) Holy Strays “Faint Beams Ceremony”
(11) Big Troubles “Bite Yr Tongue”
(12) D’eon “Keep The Faith (Airbird Remix)
(13) Philip Seymour Hoffman “requiem for the ghostbuster”
(14) Perfume Genius “Look Out, Look Out”

Part 2:

(15) Rangers “Deerfield Village”
(16) Tamaryn “Love Fade”
(17) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Bright Lit Blue Skies”
(18) Pigeons “Fade Away”
(19) Julian Lynch “Mare”
(20) Demdike Stare “Caged in Stammheim”
(21) Ensemble Economique “Forever Eyes”
(22) LA Vampires & Zola Jesus “Bone Is Bloodstone”
(23) Sun Araw “Deep Cover”
(24) Woods “Blood Dries Darker”
(25) Herzog “Cautiously Optimistic”
(26) Coma Cinema “Only”
(27) How to Dress Well “You Hold The Water”
(28) Jeans Wilder “Blanket Mountain”

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Review: Björk “Vulnicura”

23 Feb 2015 — Andrew Darley

Every Björk album release feels like a standstill moment in music history. Her records are made with emotional brevity and shaped by restless exploration. Electronic producer, Arca, mentioned in an interview in 2014 that Björk had completed a new body of work which he helped co-produce. The trickle of information came as a surprise, yet the bigger jolt was that no one expected it to be released as early as January – not even the artist herself. Quickly after the official announcement of Vulnicura’s release in March, it was leaked online in grainy quality. Taking the issue into her own hands, Björk put the album in its entireity on iTunes to be heard as she had intended.

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The Spacesuits: Finding Paradise with Karneef

20 Feb 2015 — Anaïs Duplan

Sun Ra and his Arkestra were known, amongst other things, for their elaborate space garb – the sequins, the ancient Egyptian symbolism, the face-paint, the full-length capes. These were spacesuits the band wore to accompany them on their mission to ‘travel the spaceways.’ So when I first began the project I called The Spacesuits, the plan was to construct a series of costumes, modeled after the garments of the Saturnalian people from which Mr. Blount claimed to have descended. I drew inspiration from the early ILC Dover spacesuit prototypes, crafted in the mid-sixties. I also drew inspiration from artist and Afrofuturist Nick Cave, known for his Soundsuits, large wearable sculptures whose bedazzling feathers and contours are meant to obscure the race, class, and gender of its inhabitants.

The Spacesuits, however, quickly became more about the music than about the costumery. The Arkestra’s outfits, after all, were only subsidiary elements of a larger mission; namely, that to restore race relations by re-imagining a future for blacks that quite literally transcended space and time. Sun Ra’s music was, above all, paradise music. It was music, which by the process of “telemolecularization” (a word coined and used often by Sun Ra), would transport its listeners to another dimension.

Thus began my own search for Sonny Blount’s contemporary musical descendants. The Spacesuits became a collective of musicians in whose work I heard elements of new utopias. I studied their bodies of work and searched for themes like apocalypse, reincarnation, the afterlife, etc. To each musician, I provided five ‘calls to action.’ I gave them prompts like, “Create a short book on how to communicate with stars. Do not use words,” (a prompt given to Stasia Irons of THEESatisfaction) and “Imagine the instant the world began. Create the corresponding soundscape,” (a prompt for Bryce Hample of REIGHNBEAU). The responses produced by the musicians in The Spacesuits collective will form the basis of a series of 8+ multimedia installations over the course of The Spacesuits summer tour, which begins on April 24th at Mengi in Reykjavík, Iceland and then travels across North America. (See the full schedule here.)

When Portals did a micro-feature of Montreal-based musician Karneef in April 2014, I knew I’d want him in The Spacesuits crew. The feature was succinct, if humorous. It read:

Montreal’s Karneef is a man that really, really loves his bass. The video for his new single “Swimming” finds him in some weird situations, most of which involve him in his underwear. Karneef keeps it cool with a lot of smooth strumming and awkward dance moves; occasionally hiding behind paintings so he can scope out a cute girl in the studio. She seems to be in her own world for most of the video, walking around aimlessly and dancing while Karneef serenades her in different parts of the studio.

It is true that Philip Antoine Karneef does indeed love his bass. But he’s also up to much more. Karneef’s 2013 album Love Between Us is, for me, an exercise in paradise music. It is, of course, tongue-in-cheek, but its sincerity is just as unmistakeable. In fact, over time, it has become clear to me that paradise music always plays on that tension between irony and sincerity. One of my favorite moments in A Joyful Noise, Robert Mugge’s 1980 documentary, is when that very subtle smile appears on Sun Ra’s visage as he advocates for governments to give constitutional rights to angels. The smile isn’t signaling that Sun Ra is, in fact, joking around. Instead, the smile says, “There’s a lot more going on here than you think.”

Read Anaïs Duplan's interview with Philip Karneef after the break. 

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Sea Change “Squares”

20 Feb 2015 — Andrew Darley

Sea Change is Ellen A.W. Sundes’s musical project whose debut album, Breakage, is due out February 23rd. Based in Oslo, the musician recognizes her own shyness as an impetus for this project: “I've spent so much time being too shy to show people my music or even actually write finished songs because of my own self-censorship. This project is about letting go and just being comfortable in this space”. The record’s title, Breakage, refers to her own desire to break away from old to create a new environment for herself. "Squares" reflects the heart and sound of the debut record. Entering with breathy vocals and a stuttering beat, she sings of escaping the trappings which hold her back. It broods in its sparseness, as she vows that her “feet will run all they can”. "Squares", much like the album, drifts between a melancholic and a rising spirit. Sea Changes’ Breakage is the sound of an artist transcending the anxieties which restrain her creativity and discovering her own voice.

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Swim Platførm “HVAL FALL 2”

20 Feb 2015 — Richard Greenan

After a chance meeting in Oslo, French composer Romeo Poirier and Norwegian writer Lars Haga Raavand agreed to collaborate. The result - which chronicles the death of a whale and its ghostly descent to the Atlantic seabed - is intoxicating. Poirier's palette is vast: a swell of strings and electronics plunging fathoms deep amongst the clicks and whirrs of creatures unknown. Discordant, Copland-esque brass emerges, like some menacing flotsam. A mesmerising tow of piano chords recalls the disjointed harmonies of Jonny Greenwood or Murcof. Then, to cement the trance, Raavand lilts and enounces delicately, before he too is swallowed up. The sense of bereavement and grief is palpable. I find myself hanging on every word, despite not knowing what they mean. You can read more and purchase Raavand's book, Hvalfall, here. Also be sure to explore more of Poirier's music, which is produced under the nom de plume Swim Platførm.

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NFOP Recommends: Farfara Live in Berlin

16 Feb 2015 — Johanne Swanson

I first met Etkin Cekin at his place of work, Acud in Mitte. Our editor Henning Lahmann and I were DJing at a show for the Dublin outfit Girl Band and, as such, played a loud scuzzy set of pop songs by actual bands with girls in them. It wasn’t once but three times that the bartender lit up and gave an enthusiastic nod of approval at the beginning of a track. This was Etkin Cekin.

It should then be no surprise that Cekin’s three-piece Farfara bring a similar eager pop sensibility that is all too lacking to Berlin. The fervor in their sludgy hooks is like being fifteen all over again, the adventure of fleeting innocence. It may be that Farfara have been able to hold on to this teenage feeling because Cekin first started playing music with Tolga Böyük between kicking around their skateboards in a suburb outside of Istanbul. Three years later, in 2004, the two met Eralp Güven while studying and first realized their potential as a trio. None of this is to say that Farfara is uncomplicated; their beachy guitars falter into mature realms of spontaneous psych drone.

Tonight, supporting Deerhoof, Farfara kicks off three live dates in Berlin before breaking in anticipation of a full-length release. We are featuring all three shows, as each set is sure to be different in the nature of their propensity towards experimentation and improvisation. 

16.2: Lido Berlin with Deerhoof
19.2: Urban Spree
27.2: Acud with Derdiyoklar

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