Stream: OxenFree “Fire If We’re Anything” EP (exclusive)

08 Jul 2014 — Ashley Canino

It is getting hot and humid and New York and I am getting careless. Strange how OxenFree was able to to capture that exact mood in their forthcoming EP Fire, If We're Anything despite recording in the New York wintertime. Maybe it is the brass on "Signal Fire," or the imagery of "Make Out," but this release says everything you need to think, feel and know about connection in this moment. Streaming this preview will pull you deeper into the present than you knew was possible, or your money back.

Fire, If We're Anything is just a taste of what OxenFree put together this past winter. They have seven more tracks in the bank. (Like, stop holding out, guys!) For sure, the coyness and vulnerability of these three tunes is mirrored in their release strategy. At least we will all get to see where this relationship is going before we demand any more of each other.

Fire, If We're Anything will be available on cassette and for digital download July 15.

 

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Preview: The DAT Music Conference

07 Jul 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

I wrote about Missoula once before in an essay about what it's like to see electornic music in a rock town that thinks it has it made. Relatively, Missoula does have it made, since it's the single best spot in the state for music and art. Now it's time to announce its techno side. Next month, Missoula will host a three day electronic music conference, which displays a brilliant line-up, including John Tejada, Natasha Kmeto, Lusine, and Nordic Soul. Yet, the DAT will do more than bring quality electronica out from different corners of the states, and join them in this particular corner few people have ever heard of: it is bringing to the fore why a place like Montana is a hitherto under-considered most excellent location for experiencing techno, as its geography has the potential to poetically complement aspects of electronic music culture.

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This year on August 1st to 3rd, the Digital and Analog Technologies Music Conference, or DAT, will launch in the small city of Missoula. While the acronym is colloquially catchy and urban, and the spelled out name seems rather relevant but not overtly laudable, the unique thing about this conference does not reside in the name. Or does it?

Like anything, we easily do but usually shouldn't judge a thing by its name. For example, what about the name “DAT” says Montana, rural electronica, and celebration of how both digital and analog technologies have shaped dance music? Does “DAT” by itself equal to what Wolfgang Voigt once called “adult techno”? Yes, this conference proudly calls itself a “conference” rather than “American rave” or “Burning Man” or “EDM Party of The Northern Rockies,” which is one way of clearly stating its mature and intellectual intentionality, even though, jokingly, "dat" is baby talk for "that." In what way does this event really display its polygonal complexity?

According to an outsider, Missoula, a town of about eighty thousand occupants, seems like an unlikely hub for electronic music, nor does it appear as a destination for discussing the integration of digital and analog technologies. At the same time, Missoula is a likely hub. It's the most city-like, artistic community in the state, although worldly and fascinating individuals pop up just about anywhere throughout this expanse of breathtaking land. Montana, if you aren't sure, can be found north of Wyoming, south of Alberta, northeast of California, and west of everywhere else. With its statewide population only recently reaching one million, Montana offers unexpected geographical, as well as cultural, diversity. Yes, some of the redneck stereotypes are true, but until you see what's going on here, you may not be able to conceive of the majesty, true-spiritedness, and capacity for the diversity this place possesses.

First of all, there's space. Montana gives you space, whether you need a cultural break, are seeking out a concentrated utopia somewhere off of the mainstream radar, or escaping into the mountainous wilderness (be careful because there are loads of bears, wolves, lions, and moose out there, so let's not over-idealize); or if you just need a long drive, bike ride, or horseback tour out on the plains that lead up to the Rocky Mountain Front; or if you need space for throwing expansive festivals, pow-wows, for building ranches, a new self, etc. Not sold yet? Unsure of how electronic music would fit into this equation, especially now that I've mentioned horses?

Seeing as how this is a space-giving destination, there is of course plenty of space for cultivation of not only of crops, but also dreams, imaginings, individual development and methods for diversification. Be that as it may, we do not take kindly to developers - especially if from out of state – conducting their business here and forcing property taxes to reach the sky; we see not only exploitation in this prospect, but also unsustainable triviality, and this observation is a symptom of the attitude here, part New Age, part cowboy: it is an attitude that accepts stoically the fact that, in the end, the mountain wins.

Montana has been diverse even before the white man made it this far northwest. This landscape has been the home for various Native American tribes for centuries upon centuries, reaching back to the mystical pre-time world, where they lived with, hunted, utilized, and celebrated the diversity of wildlife available at the time. Today, Montana is one of the states with the most federally recognized Indian Reservations, and one of few states to proudly enforce Indian Education for All curriculum within the public school system.

Among many noble perspectives of Native tradition is the one that calls on us to remember what the land means, and how the landscape can inspire stories, ancestry, and growth. With that in mind, and in recalling the idea of a space-giving, imagination-cultivating location, we begin to assemble thoughts on how Montana and music, especially instrumental, ceremonial music, can go hand-in-hand, as music with little to no lyrics certainly leaves plenty of space for imagination by minimizing verbal disruption in listening. One of the chief characteristics of quality techno, as we well know, is the extraneousness of lyrical verse. We need more beat and less conceit! What this amounts to is the possibility that Montana is actually an unbelievably ideal place for listening to and experiencing electronic music.

Tara Emery, co-creator and head curator of the DAT, met me for coffee recently at one of local bakeries, where one goes to acquire the best espresso in town. We laughed about how some of the artists booked for this first year might be expecting a truly rural setting, where there's a town that tourists pass through in the blink of an eye, and that the showcases will be out on leased acreage, Summer Of Love style. “Let them think that, so they can have that Montana surprise!”

Emery was born and raised here in a “hippie household,” she says. She graduated from Hellgate High School (Thurston Moore's favorite high school in the country purely due to its name (it refers to the canyon barricading the east side of the valley)), spent time in Pacific Northwestern cities, and is a mother, as well as a grandmother. I asked her when it was that she first realized that she was surrounding herself with everything electronica, despite the fact that she and her family are happily planted in rock-loving, small-scale Missoula. “I'd say late 90s. It was The Orb.”

For years, Emery was geared toward participating in festivals dedicated to tilling and expanding techno culture hubs. After several years of regular volunteering with family festivals like Communikey in Boulder, Colorado, and Decibel in Seattle, she realized what drove her to be so involved: it was about gaining inspiration, experience, and general know-how, for curation of her own festival. Thus, it's DAT time.

Apart from their love for the music, Emery and her partner in DAT curation, Logan Foret, share the dream of a mature techno culture in the States, as well as a more substantial one in Missoula. Deliberating on how to benefit that cause from Missoula, they are calling the DAT a “conference” rather than a “festival,” which reserves the more intellectual experience, somehow. By announcing Missoula to the techno scene, Emery and Foret wish to simultaneously awaken the reality that techno can be anywhere, even in Montana, and perhaps this can temper the overall American attitude toward techno.

Wait, we have to back up again: other than this being a special conference in a small city surrounded by bear-infested mountains, and besides it being Emery and Foret's maiden launch of their long-in-the-making brain child, this festival carries a feminist, egalitarian hue. From its purple and pink banner, to its greater mission to nurture the growth of this sub-culture, like a mother, the DAT is undeniably feminist, and proudly expects that, by its second flight, the artist line-up will be at a fifty-fifty gender ratio. If you have read any of our pieces on the topic of gender in electronica, you will already know that NFOP finds this commitment highly important and supportable, as does Natasha Kmeto, who is booked to blow the DAT away. More broadly, the geographical factor of the DAT persuades us to realize that, while we advocate gender equality in electronica, some of us may have biases when it comes to where to experience quality music, culture, and art. The DAT awakens city/rural prejudice and engenders some consideration for smaller communities that have hub potential.

Conclusively, what is remarkable about this conference, besides it being in Montana, an adult-techno party, gender-aware, and nationally recognizable, is that its name quite simply testifies against any conservative, black or white attitudes that may arise when considering any kind of duality, and in this case, the future of electronic music: will it be digital, or can it still have an analog turntable at the stand. Shit, why not both?

So throw out your stereotypes and put your leather boots or rubber sneakers on! The DAT is a premiering powerhouse fueled by passion for music, techno lifers, regional and international artists, and a whole bunch of what it takes to make you think differently. The premiere line-up includes the legenadry John Tejada (Kompakt), Lusine (Ghostly International), and a NFOP favorite, Natasha Kmeto (Dropping Gems). There will be live visuals from Albertan soundwave artist Clinker, and a spout of sets from Seattlites Cyanwave (Innerflight), J.Alvarez (Hypercolour), and Decibel Festival daddy Sean Horton aka Nordic Soul (Basic_Sounds). On the roster we also have Chicago's Sassmouth (God Particle), local techno pundits Kris Moon, Hendawg, and Mike Stolin, and other people, like yours truly.

If you happen to be passing through the area at the end of July or at the onset of August, or feel inspired to go out of your way, you can find more information and purchase tickets on the DAT's website.

Review: Tasty Morsels, vol. 2

07 Jul 2014 — Henry Schiller

Tasty Morsels, vol. 2 is a compilation album by a “group of best friends” who are also in some vague way all members of an avant-pop music collective called Tasty Morsels. The best compilations tend to revolve around a palpable theme, and though Tasty Morsels 2 is explicitly genre-agnostic there is a definite sense of cohesion in terms of the direction and purpose of what’s been included. Predominant, here, seems to be the idea that what by many might be regarded as musical kitsch is actually capable of being renegotiated into something novel, honest, or even stunningly pretty. Tasty Morsels 2 is a proverbial smorgasbord of novelty tools: faded synthesizers, blunt tearful vocals, over-sexualized disco riffs, and RPG adventure music (not to mention children’s poetry).

Tasty Morsels 2 starts with an experimental composition that sounds like the ‘myths of the ocean’ version of Sciene of the Sea (“Forevertime Journeys pt. 1” by Naran Ratan) and ends with a pun-reliant poem about a shoe whose companion has gone missing (“Lonely Shoe” by Daniel Scott, age 9); it’s a journey from one version of the avant-garde to another. And despite not being an album proper, it is hard to imagine Tasty Morsels 2 opening or closing in any other way. Indeed, Ratan’s whisper of a track sets a tough example to live up to; “Forevertime Journeys” is gorgeous and its atmosphere immense enough to rival the more emotionally exploitative works of people like Vangelis or Angelo Badalamenti. It’s the kind of piece that would make any scene in a film the best scene in that film by virtue of its inclusion.

 

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Other highlights are the Haunted Graffiti-esque funk/disco/Mario Party track “Don’t Be Scared” (Ceefax), the meticulously weird “Secondarny” (Bwengo), and the surprising pop-richness of Laurie Bird’s “Detail Wash”, which sounds like the Fiery Furnaces as fronted by Avey Tare. Truth be told though, this is a consistently awe-inspiring compilation. Songs waver between intellectual kitsch and ridiculous soul sendups, never once coming across as anything less than fun. When Sad Eyes sings “she only loves me for my personality” on the  sleek and mesmerising “The World’s Greatest”, you start to see how heady compositional pieces can be linked to a poem addressed to a shoe.

 

Stream: The NFOP Show #32 on BCR with Julia Holter & Jason Grier

06 Jul 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Listen to the latest episode of our show on Berlin Community Radio, this time around with dear friends and very special guests Julia Holter and Human Ear Music's Jason Grier, playing some rare tunes, a few even never to be heard anywhere before, and chatting with me about Berlin, LA, and other things that came to our minds spontaneously. Check the tracklist below and find the archive of NFOP radio shows right here.

Tracklist:

(1) Julia Holter "Don’t Make Me Over" (orig. Bacharach/David)
(2) Jason Grier "Karma (feat. Julia Holter)", from "Clouds", 2013, HEM
(3) Background Music: Selections from "Solitudes: Acoustical Environmental Sound Experiences" — Dan Gibson (Vinyl LP, 1984, Holborne Records)
(4) Jason Grier "Der Wind und das Meer (feat. Lucrecia Dalt)", from Unbekannte, 2013, HEM
(5) Lucrecia Dalt "Selections from Dizzygy"
(6) Background Music: Erik Satie "Mass for the Poor", from Esoteric Records, Vinyl LP, 1960s, organ by Marylin Mason
(7) Julia Holter "Ground Bass Aria #6", unreleased, HEM Archive, 2008
(8) Marc Sabat "Two Commas", from Les Duresses, 2014, Care Of Editions
(9) Julia Holter & Jason Grier "No GDM", live at CalArts, 2009, orig. Gina X Performance
(10) Ivan Gomez "Calling Human Ear Music" (Answering Machine Message, 2006)
(11) Weave "G is for Gangsta", Demo, "Weave EP", 2008, Pacific Reasons
(12) Shira Small "Eternal Life", from Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies of the Canyon, Compilation, 2006, Numero
(13) Jason Grier "J-J-Julia", unreleased, HEM Archive, 2009
(14) Julia Holter "Cookbook", John Cage’s Roratorio, Sleepy Mammal Sound

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Video Premiere: Vehicle Blues “Waving Steps”

05 Jul 2014 — Henry Schiller

“Waving Steps” is a mirage; the Vehicle Blues B-side (from his just-released 7”) has the focus-too-hard-and-it-disappears beauty of a waterfall a mile high that appears suddenly in the middle of the sahara. Recalling the first Real Estate LP as well as more foundational shoegaze influences, the reverb-drenched guitar and Gabe Holcombe’s effervescent vocals seem to wave goodbye at the same time as they welcome you in for a bear hug. The video for “Waving Steps” is composed of grainy, home video style footage that looks like it could be decades old. There are shots of several people walking around a park, leaning over a bridge, sitting, smoking, always mugging for the camera. These are intercut with shots of flowers, gently vibrating to the stiff hum of the ancient camera.

Watch the video for "Waving Steps" below, and check out our interview with Vehicle Blues’ Gabe Holcombe from earlier this week here.

 

 

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Watch: Allie “Speed Boat Ride”

03 Jul 2014 — Lukas Dubro

In most of his songs, the voice of Berlin-based folk musician Allie is hardly more than a whisper. Of course, folk musicians prefer quiet over loud. And yet, a singer who does the same with such persistency as Allie is hard to find. On all three albums that the singer has released via bandcamp over the past years, he constantly explored the different ways of whispering in your ear, always giving his music a special aura.

But what's that all about? The whisper could be understood as an invitation to come closer. Or maybe a response to modern media, where everyone and everything is shouting at you all the time. The true reason, however, seems to be a lot simpler then that: Allie just likes to sing quietly. This is what the musician used to say about himself on his Facebook page. Another proof for his love for pulled back sounds is given on his bandcamp account where he names Easter being one if his "greatest influences". The music of their last album The Softest Hard, one might say, is the musical synonyme for ultimate softness.

In the new video for his song "Speed Boat Ride", you'll find a Easter reference, too. The fur dog being the main character of the video is listening to their track "Pillo" in his car in the beginning of the clip. Even though the style of the video is fitting to the melancholy that is very present in Allie's work, the song "Speed Boat Ride" taken by itself is an unusual piece: You hear a loud rock guitar and drums. And more than that, a voice which is a little more then only a whisper.

Allie's latest album Uncanny Valley is available via bandcamp.

He's playing some festivals this summer:

07/11/14 Waldstock Festival, Pegnitz
07/19/14 Woody Bash @ Knust, Hamburg
08/01/14 Küchwaldrauschen Festival, Chemnitz
09/13/14 10 Jahre Quartett Booking Festival, Berlin
10/09/14 Aaltra, Chemnitz
10/18/14 King Georg, Cologne
11/22/14 Café NUN, Karlsruhe

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Watch: JJ “All White Everything”

01 Jul 2014 — Johanne Swanson

It seems the last couple years have been marked not only by awkward celebrity cultural appropriation and racist consequence, but also a public calling-out of their problematic nature. Thanks to Swedish dream pop duo JJ--no longer lower-cased jj--and the release of their newest single and music video “All White Everything”, we have apt demonstration of vexed racial implications outside of the mainstream sphere.

“All White Everything” takes place beyond reality in a sterile psych ward. Religious themes are heavy. “Let us pray,” singer Elin Kastlander opens, but what follows is nothing stale or ritual. The world is one of monochrome creep filled with white bodies who are even injected by needle with white goop that leaks out of their ears. The chorus, "All white everything, from my face to my wings…from my face to my sins," is epic and expelled like a warning. In structure and melody the song is compelling, perhaps JJ’s best work to date.

Still, the creepiest facet lies in their rendering of whiteness as pureness, a trope that perpetuates white supremacy. Placed in the context of JJ’s R&B influence and collaborators like Ne-Yo, whiteness from face to wings and the construct of a world without brown bodies is uncomfortable and misguided at best. Find the video for “All White Everything” and a horrific trailer for their new album V below. V is out August 19th on Secretly Canadian/Sincerely Yours.


 
 
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Suno Deko “Bluets”

01 Jul 2014 — Tonje Thilesen

We're excited to be releasing the debut EP of Atlanta based, solo pop project Suno Deko, aka one-man wonder David Courtright, over at our NFOP curated imprint Stratosfear. Thrown Color EP is out July 22, with "Bluets" and the title track, "Thrown Color" on 7" LTD colored vinyl. "Bluets" just premiered with our friends over at The Fader earlier today — a subtle, yet undeniably catchy pop song, spawned from Courtright's pellucid ability to make everyone around him feel loved and unique: or maybe that's just my own, slightly naïve image of his music, seen from the perspective as a friend. Either way, we're pretty sure you will enjoy this. 

David Courtright recently performed at Hundred Waters' mini festival and record release weekend in the desert community of Arcosanti, Arizona, alongside Majical Cloudz, How To Dress Well, Kodak To Graph and Julie Byrne, and is set to tour with Mutual Benefit in the fall, plus additional shows with Hundred Waters and How To Dress Well. Check out the tour dates below, and don't forget to pre-order the EP/vinyl over at our bandcamp page. No pressure, though we would very much appreciate it (cough). 

7/01/14- Atlanta – The Earl *
9/8/14 – Atlanta – Terminal West ^
10/18/14 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress %
10/19/14 – Albuquerque, NM – House show %
10/21/14 – Austin, TX – Red 7 %
10/22/14 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada %
10/23/14 – Norman, OK – Opolis %
10/24/14 – Fayetteville, AR – House show %
10/25/14 – Kansas City, MI – Czar %
10/26/14 – Columbia, MO – House show %
10/27 /14 – St. Louis, MO – Luminary Arts %
10/28/14 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
10/30/14 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe

* = w/ Hundred Waters, GEMS
^ = w/ How To Dress Well
% = w/ Mutual Benefit

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