Montreal's Drug Train first came across our radar with the release of a (sadly now unavailable) Electric Voice split album. It has been quite some time since we heard anything from them, but clearly they were biding the time to release their excellent debut album. Now, after being picked up by esteemed French netlabel Beko (home of faves Chevalier Avant Garde), Drug Train have astounded us with a brand of lo-fi, drone infused electro-pop. Each song on the self-titled album has a unique and distinct character; the Suicide thrash of opener ''Bipolar'', or the subtly danceable breeze of ''No One Cares.'' The one through-line is the saxophone, and the way Drug Train showcases that wonderful instrument places it squarely with such luminaries as Colin Stetson or Bowie's Berlin Era with its beautiful bleat. This will turn any nonbeliever into a devout follower, absolutely.
I think the resurgence of the cassette tape has blurred the lines of the 'album'. To say that the new Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk record, Think Tone, is the band’s third full-length album, is to underrate the band’s stack of limited edition tapes from small cassette labels which has piled up over the past five or six years. Each of those releases between the full-length releases has played an integral part in the band’s wall of noise metamorphosis.
What began as subtle ringing and distant acoustic strums on the band’s first album, Eek Shriek Beak, moved through layers of effect experimentation, to the towering noise of Skeletor & Me. If you are lucky enough to have picked up any of those limited edition tapes between these major releases, you can hear the progression for yourself. If not, the band’s newest full-length, Think Tone, is already sounding like it may provide the perfect middle ground between the differing sounds of the band’s two previous albums.
The new album's first single "Saturday" is a drifting, calm progression of the same soft acoustics that defined Eek Shriek Beak, while still climbing to the towering, distorted heights of Skeletor & Me. It’s the kind of single a band can only come to through years of figuring out how to transfer recorded material to a live set. Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk have put in the time, and they have the immense catalog of releases to prove it. With "Saturday", the new album is shaping up to be another big step for a band that has already made so many.
Think Tone is out on Brooklyn's Fire Talk on July 9, although they've already begun taking preorders and only 200 of the vinyl is being pressed, so you may want to get on top of ordering it.
This one has been around for a bit and had almost managed to escape my curious ears' attention, but Natasha Kmeto's forthcoming sophomore full-length Crisis is definitely one to check out. In my opinion, first single "Take Out" is not the album's strongest track, putting a bit too much emphasis on a slightly trite mélange of stereotyped R&B tropes and ruptured rhythm patterns. The track's final part though sets a different tone, hinting at the album's much more compellng aspect, an audacious turn towards techno-induced electronic territory. Here, enticing allusions to mid-noughties minimal nicely encapsulate Kmeto's skilful vocal deliveries, all in all resulting in something more original and off the beaten track, as most convincingly shown on tracks like "Deeply" or "Morning Sex". For the time being however, get a first idea of the producer's work with "Take Out" below.
As part of the celebrations of the ten-year anniversary of both the Datashock collective and its associated Meudiademorte label, the Saarlouis-based group is releasing a wooden box containing 10 one-sided 7" singles by members of the artistic family, including Datashock themselves, NFOP alumni Pretty Lightning, and others – go here to check out the whole list. On top of that, all ten songs will be accompanied by a series of videos directed by Datashock and Meudiademorte mastermind Pascal Hector, unveiled one after the other over the course of the next few months, eventually adding up to a movie named "Mirage" and thus ultimately meant to be watched as a single piece of audiovisual exaltation. Today, we're proud to premiere the first part, the video for "Mantra De Morte", the contribution of heavy psych duo Pretty Lightning aka Christian Berghoff and Sebastian Haas. Check it out below, and watch out for the rest of "Mirage" to follow.
When it comes to deep, dark and spheric soundscapes, of course Bristol's Seb Gainsborough aka Vessel is still the chap to turn to. His 2012 debut Order of Noise on zeitgeist-y underground institution Tri Angle Records was a dense and atmospheric trip, combining ambient, dub, disco and house in a very smart way. And it's exactly this breathtaking shadowy aesthetic that Vessel applies on Hyetal's "Northwest Passage", a track off the fellow Bristolian producer's forthcoming full-length Modern Worship. For his reinterpretation, Vessel pitched down beat and vocals and added layers of noise, a driving synth bass line and a scatty breakbeat. By doing so, he's giving the track both a tremendous epicness and a nerve-racking tension which continues to rise towards the end. Close the eyes and let yourself be carried away by this terrific work from one of the most exciting sound explorers of our days.
Vessel's remix is part of the Northwest Passage 12" alongside the original and another rework by Factory Floor's Gabe Gurnsey, out now on True Panther.
The new track by Jonathan Coward aka SHAMS, suggestively titled "She Wanted to Watch", is part of his Piano Cloud EP which gets to you all May 21 on crazy, sexy, cool 100% Silk. There are wisely chosen moments of piano chords that act as a classy lady supervising and cultivating the producer as he lets the track reverberate with puffing, clasping cymbals and flitty blinging. It’s all in the nudge, SHAMS’ nudge. Check out the super cool trip-up-the-spiral-staircase EP preview video below. Also, make sure to check out his Vine profile. Consider this your new brunch soundtrack, since apparently that's what SHAMS regards his music, '...a flow that fits somewhere between 3 AM and brunch'. Well then.
San Francisco-based duo Tone of Arc aka multi-instrumentalist and producer Derrick Boyd and Zoe Presnick are conquering Boiler Room London tonight in anticipation of their debut full-length The Time Was Right, and we're happy to premiere album track "Chalk Hill" today, in anticipation of the anticipation if you will. The tune is maddeningly funky, showing off more than a few knowing nods to classic, golden-age disco, complete with motorik, irresistible rhythms and a hilariously infectious bassline. A throwback like those are supposed to be.
The Time Was Right is out Monday, May 13 via Toronto-based No.19 Music.
Below, also check out the video for another track from the album, "Goodbye Horses", which sets an entirely different tone while still remaining subtly funky:
Whoever had seen Christelle Gualdi aka Stellar OM Source perform live in recent months will have been aware that the producer's days of splendid psych ambience in the vein of Dolphins Into the Future et al., as exemplified on her 2010 OESB-released masterpiece Trilogy Select, are long gone. Gualdi's highly anticipated new LP, titled Joy One Mile, is due next month via NYC powerhouse RVNG Intl., a very fitting publishing choice indeed, considering a rster that includes more contemporary dance luminaries such as Maxmillion Dunbar or Blondes. As on last year's outstanding 12" Image Over Image, Joy One Mile is distinctly one for the 'floors, with heavily acidified bass lines, extolling synth phrases and convouted rhythms arranged and mixed by broken house hero Kassem Mosse, an artistic combination so reasonable and meaningful it made us clap our hands in excitement. Listen to first single "Elite Excel" below.
Joy One Mile is out June 10.
"Elite Excile" will be released as a 12" on Monday, May 13, with a Kassem Mosse remix on the flip. Check out a 70-second snippet below (the second of the two samples):