Watch: Lake Daggers “In the Evergreens” (exclusive)

15 Aug 2014 — Johanne Swanson

My favorite hobby at seventeen was putting on my headphones and bombing stretches of Wisconsin county highway on my longboard. I remember relaying this to some scumbag I was dating and getting the reaction, “How are you the biggest stoner without any drugs?” I’ve since learned that it’s because, my friends, life is the craziest trip of them all.

Sit back and take a good hit of “In the Evergreens”, a music video we’re pleased to premiere off the debut Transient from Lake Daggers. It’s organic loopy psych drone and accompanying imagery is indicative of the Midwest, evident by labelmates, most notably longtime NFOP favorite Orchard Thief. Lake Daggers is Bloomington, Indiana, resident Wyatt Montgomery Worcel, and Transient, described by the label as “audio-snapshots”, is out now on Madison, Wisconsin’s Golden Cloud Tapes. It features subtle and lush textural layering, ideal for getting lost in the woods on a humid day. If you dare look up, here’s to hoping you don’t get lost in the maze that is the light shining through the leaves.

Transient is out now on Golden Cloud Tapes.

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Recycle Culture “Drown Me Up”

13 Aug 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Erik Moline aka Recycle Culture described his creation as "chilled balearic," which is indeed fitting phrasing for this movement. Still, it isn't simply balearic, beachy fun. It encompasses some kind of deep emotions which aren't worth fighting against. In the beginning, it reminds me of Ulrich Schnauss, and then slides into some sounds that remind me of Brian & Chris, a project I've long forgotten about. There's also a touch of Subradial present throughout the piece. The guitar lines shimmer and resonate similarly as they would through either oceanside caverns, or photographs like the one that serves as the album art. I listened to it for the first time the other day over morning coffee, and it still feels like the gem of recent musical discoveries. His early releases that we've liked, such as Puzzle Logic, sound a bit like KC Accidental, which, as I sit here in Toronto in the middle of W Bloor and Spadina, is a perfect connection to draw up.

You can stream Drown Me Up among other releases here.

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Review: Conveyor “Prime” LP

05 Aug 2014 — Henry Schiller

Since I can remember it’s been possible to buy the scores - not the soundtracks, but the scores - Hollywood films. And ever since seeing the original score of Dante’s Peak being sold on CD in the long-since-closed HMV by my parents' house, I have not understood why anyone would want to do this. The music you are buying was deliberately created to accompany things that are happening on film. It is music you are only supposed to be hearing while you look at these things. It was not meant to be listened to by itself.

Furthermore, consider the following: as long as you have been able to buy film scores on CD, you have also been able to buy the films themselves.

Conveyor's Prime is an album of the aforementioned type: it is a film score album. But it is not boring, or unnecessary, and it does not feel as though it has been deliberately removed from its correct context. Prime is excellent. Prime is better than the film it is ostensibly the score of. Prime is a renegotiation of the film score album into a high concept artistic forgery. The tracks on Prime were written and performed alongside two midnight screenings of George Lucas’ THX 1138 at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. THX 1138 is as bold and ridiculous a reinterpretation of 1984 as Nosferatu was of Dracula. Blatantly unauthorized and false to the point of becoming an aesthetic archetype on its own. Visually striking, bizarre, and preserved culturally for most, I think, by the image of white-clad bald men being prodded with electrified sticks (or else the in-theater sound system it inspired).



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Prime is organized numerically, from “Theme I” to “Theme XIII”, with a melancholy cover of “Words of Love” as something of a coda (probably made for a great end credit sequence). But by the time you get to “Theme VII’, which includes part of a door-closing announcement from the R train, it becomes obvious that you are not just listening to a film score. You are listening to film criticism. Does the R train control the emotions and destiny of its travelers in the same way that the fascist machine of Lucas’ (appropriated) hypothetical future does its citizens? The warbled pounding of “Theme VII” suggests: yes, yes, YES.

“Theme IX” is the closest Prime comes to psychological respite. The track seems to follow the working of gears, the planning of plans – the fall of an empire as seen from the point of view of the bottom-most stone in the imperial palace. Its pebbles happily loosing themselves from the concrete, crumbling to dust. Meanwhile, the subsequent “Theme X” bears a passing resemblance to the backing vocals of a Beach Boys song. But Prime is more of like the devestating crash of ocean on crippled city than it is a righteous Californian wave. Even the most austere tracks on Prime have an implacable sense of tension and urgency. “Theme XI” builds from a series of twitches and jitters into a strike, methodical and precise, but no less fueled by bloodthirst; no less an act of passion. It’s almost off-putting how earthy Prime sounds, how much of the grinding krautrock of Neu! Conveyor seem to inflict their distant futurescape with.

Prime is a reinterpretation; not of THX 1138's original score, but of the film itself. Conveyor seek to evoke the blank-faced, horn-rimmed futurism of Lucas’ dystopian classic; monotony explodes into vengeful angst, which feels itself out as inappropriate, as characters created on swoops of guitar return to their helpless lives.

Prime is out now on Gold Robot Records.

NFOP Presents: An Evening with Avalon Emerson, Cherushii & Experimental Housewife

05 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Beyond excited to finally be able to announce a very special occasion coming up here in Berlin, No Fear Of Pop hosting a night with DJ sets by some wonderful friends from the States, Chelsea Faith aka CherushiiAvalon Emerson, and Experimental Housewife. Come to Friedrichshain's Antje Oeklesund next week Friday, August 15, for some dazzling hours of finest technoid beatworks!

Last December, Avalon enthused over Berlin's inspiring professionalism regarding the city's techno scene, which was reason enough to leave the Bay Area. Now calling our town home, she already DJed here a few times in the last weeks but for some reason we always were somewhere else when she did, so it truly was about time to invite her ourselves to get the opportunity to see her set at last – judging from what we've read and heard, there's gonna be some real transcending energy involved. The same goes for the music of San Francisco native Cherushii; as long-standing admirers of Manda Brown's 100% SILK imprint, Chelsea Faith's nostalgia-driven blend of classic 4/4 grooves in a contemporary guise, as showcased on her recent Queen Of Cups 12", is surely something that would get us through any Berlin night. And finally, topping off the event, Experimental Housewife aka our very own Evelyn Malinowski, always looking for ways to fuse the industrial underpinnings of her former adopted home Berlin with the overwhelming sounds of nature that surround her new city of Missoula, Montana; we're sure she'll find a way to unite both influences while spinning the decks next Friday.

Find out more details about the event over on Facebook.

Poster design by the amazing Faye Orlove.

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Bobo Eyes “Do U Miss Me (Rainstick Mix)” (exclusive)

04 Aug 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Take a look at the cover art. Do it again. Close your eyes. Look again. That bed, a fantasy seaside escape, and a rainbow for added authenticity, and an album name to top it off – that's basically all you need to know to aptly file the music of Vancouver's Evelyn Mason and Olivia Meek aka Evy Jane and Regular Fantasy aka Bobo Eyes. Though we should probably mention the handclaps, too: Fifty seconds into signature track "Do You Miss Me (Rainstick Mix)", the lascivious sounds are gently thrown into the mix, and everything suddenly falls into place. This is post-vaporwave for the lovers, velvety vocals and offensively inoffensive synth swirls (look under 'presets > sex'). Appropriate drinks strongly recommended for full listening experience.

"Do You Miss Me (Rainstick Mix)" is part of Midnight Pearl, which is out tomorrow, August 5 August 12 via 1080p. Get it now over here.

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Slow Magic “Hold Still” + “Girls”

31 Jul 2014 — Sam Clark

Slow Magic is an enigmatic producer who further contributes to his anonymity by performing in an over-sized, neon-striped animal mask. The ambiguity of just what animal the mask is supposed to embody is key, as it reflects how hard it has been to pinpoint Slow Magic to a sole trajectory of aesthetic. His 2012 debut album Triangle embodied the Bandcamp tag “glo-fi” perfectly, its reverb-swathed chillwave origins packing a bigger punch with more agitated drums and angular synths. Slow Magic spent the next two years relatively quiet, remixing the occasional Bon Iver and Gold Panda song while prepping his sophomore effort.

In late June, Slow Magic resurfaced in earnest with “Girls”. The song was touted as being the lead-off single from his as-yet-unnamed album with Downtown Records, and it hit hard. It hit hard not because it was a towering anthem but because it was somewhere on the opposite end of the spectrum; “Girls” relies on a murky vocal sample that fades in from the distance, is placed on a rotary speaker, and permeates the texture as synths and guitar lines weave their way in and out of the mix. While the track is still consistent with many of the tropes common in summertime electronic music, its decidedly minimalist nature stood out and pushed Slow Magic to new heights.

Slow Magic followed up “Girls” with a second single, “Hold Still”, towards the end of July. “Hold Still” is comparatively eerie, relying on a swelling, synth-driven chord progression that crescendos to a false apex, giving way to delicate pianos and a soft vocal melody. Misdirection is the name of the game, and Slow Magic follows through with a stuttering, bass-dropping coda that tantalizes listeners with its abrupt ending.

Both “Hold Still” and “Girls” are taken from Slow Magic’s upcoming album How To Run Away, out September 9 via Downtown Records. The album also features re-workings of one-off singles “Youth Group” and “On Yr Side,” and can be pre-ordered here.

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Watch: TWINS “Creepsick (Believe the Floor)” (exclusive)

29 Jul 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Here's a thing I did not know: TWINS apparently stands for "That Which Is Not Said", for all of you with a special affinity witty acronyms. What is being said though, and what I did know already, is that TWINS is the most recent guise of Atlanta cultural mainstay Matt Weiner, probably known to most of our readers as the genius behind Featureless Ghost. Yet like to many other artists across the Atlantic, Weiner has started gravitating towards the 'floor, and thankfully none of EDM-related provenance. Instead, TWINS delivers strictly the most classic acidic grooves – House with a capital 'H' indeed. His upcoming Cold Gemini 12" contains four tracks of freakishly assertive bangers, with opener "Creepsick (Believe the Floor)" providing a standout moment with its motorik sample and heavily filtered lead. The accompanying video is aptly analogue and psychedelic; as if you had needed further incentive to drop a pill. Watch it exclusively below.

The Cold Gemini EP is out in mid-August via Clan Destine's beat friendly subdivision Traxx. Pre-order now over here.

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Interview: Kristine Lirio (Nima)

28 Jul 2014 — Johanne Swanson

I met Kristine Lirio a few summers ago in Los Angeles. If it was at a renegade show in a parking structure or a pool party she was playing in Eagle Rock, I can't say. What I do remember, first: the quiet strength of command and intention over her insturment; second: the supportive group, friends and collaborators, surrounding her. Last week Lirio, who records as Nima, released the devastating See Feel Real. She was gracious enough to speak with me about the aural metaphor behind the record and the nurtured ethic of freely sharing her craft. Read the interview after the break.

See Feel Real is avaliable now on a limited run of 50 cassettes through Harsh Riddims

(Photos by Nalini Sairsingh)

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Hey Kristine! Thanks for making the time to chat.

Thank you for having me!

Last time I saw you was at the beginning of the year when we were sharing a bill at the short-lived Church on York with the rest of the Smells Like Queen Spirit crew. I feel like gear is always breaking playing electronic music, synths dying right before you're about to go on and whatnot, but you had lost your voice that night! So frustrating to have your most intimate and manipulative instrument fail. Still, your performance was entirely absorbing. What was your setup like?

Everyone was amazing that night! Despite losing my voice, it was interesting to  solely showcase the instrumentals to see if their strength carried without my voice. I used a Kawai K4, a Casiotone MT-68, a few delay pedals, and a sampler to trigger some audio clips - among those clips were some extracts from my favorite Parajanov films.

Are you playing similarly out live now?

With that gear, yes. Sometimes it's overwhelming having so much in front of me visually. I think it's my classical training as a piano player-- there's the idea of engaging with one instrument crafted to produce certain tones versus engaging with several instruments that can incorporate digital possibility. I love both ideas and get to exercise them -- it feels like a balancing act, especially when the majority of my live renditions rely on layered loops. It's all about purging and being able to access the drive within you that no one else can see and engage with it through your craft, which also makes it audibly and visibly accessible.

nima gear

Seems like everyone has funny stories about how gear finds them. Got any?

When I started playing shows I used to lug around my sister's 88-key Yamaha Motif that we kept in a large canvas case with wheels. It must've looked comical and impractical, but there was comfort in being able to access those octaves. Then she gave me a Kawai K4 in 2011 and it's been with me since. As for my Casiotone MT-68, I found it under a bench in Tustin.

When did you move to Oakland?

I relocated from Irvine about six months ago. The Bay Area in general has always resurfaced in my life between family and friends. It's a nourishing region and my creative support system is here. I also love the fog and being near the ocean.

You just self-released bay connected not but a week after See Feel Reel came out on Atlanta's Harsh Riddims. It feels like your older material, more drone and minimal. What were the timeline and process like?

I recorded bay connected in two nights, once in June and once in July. I was trying to shake off the feeling of longing so I shut myself in my room, drank a six pack, and just recorded freely, looping parts on the Casiotone while manipulating and looping samples I accumulated on the SP-555. The intention came from the desire to reconnect with sources that were no longer accessible as how I first encountered them (people, places, or objects specific to circumstance). It's a personal archive of these sources that inspired me.

See Feel Reel is a definite turn for you as an artist. It's pretty aggressive and a bit more challenging of a listen. What were the catalysts for this?

I wanted to combat the expectations of softness and atmosphere to showcase a hardier side with literal tension in the actual sound and feeling. There's also a theme devoted to the power of cinema, in its viewing and production, containing representation and recording the fidelity of a moment. The song "No Speech Sensuality" is the gut of it all-- I was tired of hearing how synths were immediately associated with space, and I think we get that as an audience because of the more conventional identifications taken from soundtracks in cinema and TV shows utilizing those sounds. I'm not opposed to it, but it made me question whether or not we are actively creating our own metaphors when describing or painting music we hear. It's definitely good to relate and recognize the impact of those identifiers, but how often are we able to branch out of the descriptions we haven't created on our own? "No Speech Sensuality" consists of two takes layered on top of one another, and I played the Kawai through the DD-20 hoping to give my take on what kind of atmosphere or visual those tones meant to me.

One of my favorite tracks is "How Does It Go (ft. hellacamus)". It starts with this great melodic tension and intimate lyrical narrative and sort of explodes in this grinding beat while you sing over and over, demanding and sort of teasing, "Don't fucking humor me."

That song was very fun to produce, and is actually hellacamus singing the lead. The way it was constructed began with her a cappella first, which she presented to me one day, and I really wanted to include it in the album. I incorporated manipulated samples of recorded jam sessions that consisted of .L.W.H. on drums, clownshoes on guitar, and me on keyboard. The only recorded instrument in that track is hellacamus' voice and my backing vocals - everything else is a collage of samples.

It's a theme I kept arriving at while thinking about your work-- meditation on tension. Would you agree?

Yes, I'm glad it resonates that way with you because I feel like I can better handle those tensions making or performing music, and not in a way to suspend them or to feel indulgent in my own little world, but to allow those tensions to take a different form than how they appear internally, to make them more relatable audibly despite the fact they are not ultimately defined. That's what the whole project is about, even if it may seem personal, I wanted to create these intentional metaphors and see the sincere connection I can share with individuals outside of myself.

Yeah, I feel like we sort of belong to a generation of cultural anxiety in love with the digital age. We were taught that these consuming tensions, anxieties, are internal forces, but the information age has sort of radicalized or even politicized the vocal expression of anxiety.

I think our generation is definitely speaking out, but there's something lost in the articulation-- we want it to communicate on a wide scale while keeping in mind the individual's context-- and I don't think this kind of voice reaches a general audience because there’s an array of contexts that we want to be inclusive about when it comes to any type of suffering. Vocal expressions, when conscious, meditative, and intentional, will speak to its immediate environment. Anomalies will of course exist, but it seems like the generations that grew up with technology and accessibility will need more narrative or context from older generations when it comes to expressing anxiety in a way that reaches out to other anxious individuals. It seems like we're stuck in this spot where we all know we're anxious, but what can we do about it? I feel like voice has become a thing of shouting versus a call to action. But that's the great thing about our power as individuals when we have the time and capabilities to think about these things and create from our thoughts-- do we take on that responsibility?

There's a lot of collaboration on See Feel Reel that I haven't noticed in previous Nima releases. Can you talk a bit about that choice and your experience working with other artists? 

Megan (clownshoes) and hellacamus are both my good friends. Megan wanted to work on music together after hearing the Demon/Wet Dream tape that Kevin of Bridgetown Records released in 2011. We started playing together and recorded. Clownshoes, hellacamus, and I met in high school in Irvine, and I think we share a lot of the growing pains of that region. When I moved here, L.W.H. reached out and we got to jam and talk about film and music. His album CIA TV has been a big influence. In fact, all three who were featured and myself watched four Godard shorts at PFA one night in February. After the films we got drinks, and Logan and Megan recorded vocals over what ended up being "Come Around". I'm glad I got the chance to create endearing moments with them.

Any other artists you'd like to collaborate with?

It's hard to think of because I feel hesitant to reach out to those who aren’t close by. I like intuitively engaging with someone when creating, and that makes it hard when the individual isn’t present.  A series of video chatting and determined emails definitely make it possible, but by preference I would love to be in a physical space with someone. I did have the opportunity to collaborate on a track with SELA. from Vallejo, which will be on his next release Inevitable.

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by people who are in love with their craft and love to share it. It's something my mother always told me that her grandmother told her, that when you share or give, it's without expectation, it's because you want to-- and that's all there is to it. It's the closest thing to purity I can think of besides your first love, and the fact that she actively does that is mind-blowing to me. I try to live by that, especially in a world where there's so much output to discern that you're just looking for that one sincere moment you can share with other individuals. Giving, in my mother's eyes, doesn't create cycles nor does it seek gain or reciprocation.