Fina Fisken “Save The Day (Cherushii Remix)”

15 Jul 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

San Francisco-based DJ and producer Cherushii, whose Queen Of Cups EP is out now on 100% Silk, has masterfully remixed Fina Fisken's epic "Save The Day."

Cherushii has that instant icon vibe about her. She's like Clio but for electronica – Electroclio. Her longterm and out loud devotion to techno aesthetic as well as politic traverses all of her channels, whether it be during her live sets, her engaging weekly radio shows on Berkeley's KALX, or on her recordings. Applying such authoritative craft to a track that trills and demands praise for macrocosmic things forgotten, is, in essence, an exciting transaction. Cherushii's full and distinguishable sound, one that covers all the bases and testifies for the timelessness of trance/progressive house/Detroit, complements the poignant bigness of Fina's original. XLR8R said it perfectly: Cherushii carves the track in such a way that the "glacial textures" become more prominent, yet are still heard through the jagged, urban architecture of the beat. The ancient ice of Fina's original catches a beam of sun in the remix, and the light glares in the corner of your eye before receiving all of your full-faced attention for the duration of the track. It's music from the ether, both remix and original.

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Stream: The NFOP #33 on BCR: Best of Halftime 2014

11 Jul 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Another Friday, another show on Berlin Community Radio, and because it's sort of still the middle of the year, I thought I'd do a little retrospect with select tunes from some of my favourite records of 2014 so far. It's a good year for music I'd say, even if some overarching theme or even merely minor hype seems to be missing. No new Grimes, no Purity Ring, nothing of that sort. Let's see what the following six months will bring. And of course, please bear in mind that this is only a very small, and indeed somewhat arbitrary, section of the vast amount of quality music fed to our blessed ears.

Access the archive of NFOP shows over here.

Tracklist

(1) Alex G "Boy" (from "DSU", Orchid Tapes)
(2) Woods "Moving to the Left" (from "With Light and With Love", Woodsist)
(3) Perfect Pussy "Interference Fits" (from "Say Yes to Love", Captured Tracks)
(4) Lust For Youth "International" (from "International", Sacred Bones)
(5) El Mahdy Jr. "Zarga" (from "Gasba Grime", Danse Noire)
(6) copeland "Inga" (from "Because I'm Worth It", self-released)
(7) Flowdan "No Gyal Tune" (from "Serious Business", Hyperdub)
(8) Traxman "Time Slip" (from "Tha Mind of Traxman Vol. 2", Planet Mu)
(9) The Range "Two" (from "Panasonic", Donky Pitch)
(10) M.E.S.H. "Captivated" (from "Scythians", PAN)
(11) Visionist "First Love" (from "I'm Fine (Part II)", Lit City Trax)
(12) Kassem Mosse "Untitled" (from "Workshop 19", Workshop)
(13) Kyoka "Lined Up" (from "Is (Is Superpowered)", Raster-Noton)
(14) Thug Entrancer "Death After Life I" (from "Death After Life", Software)
(15) Ricky Eat Acid "It Will Draw Me Over to It Like It Always Does" (from "Three Love Songs", Orchid Tapes)
(16) Rainer Veil "UK Will Not Survive" (from "New Brutalism", Modern Love)

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Review: Half Waif “KOTEKAN”

11 Jul 2014 — Henry Schiller

Operating in the startlingly coherent common ground between AlunaGeorge and Enya is Half Waif. Her album KOTEKAN seamlessly blends the soothing, pre-Raphaelite aesthetic of early-90s new age music with the slick, condensed sensibilities of contemporary ‘LDN’ electronica. KOTEKAN sounds like a collection of Celtic lullabies for millennials suckled on the output of labels like Warp and FatCat; 'contemporary classical' for those who are allergic to the term. An album that paints tarot cards on the backs of BOSS samplers and molds birthstones out of crushed subway tokens.

Half Waif is Nandi Rose Plunkett, a Brooklyn-based synthpop artist with a keen ear for the kind of contemporary classical music that a lot of her musical peers think they don’t have time for. Plunkett's vocals are the driving force behind KOTEKAN's disarming beauty, and they are simply awe-inspiring. On "Octave" Plunkett’s voice ululates around synthesizer swells that would make Toto weep before diving headlong into a wellspring of percussive lashes. Her voice soars to heights an albatross might envy on the arpeggio-gold rush of “Normandy”, a track that might successfully be described as 'Enya sings “The Colors of the Wind”'.

 

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But my amazement with (and love of) KOTEKAN as a musical artifact stems from something that may be an illegitimate basis for praise: I am just amazed that no one thought of this before.

With the sheer volume of 90s revivalism that has pummeled us by way of artists paying explicit homage to Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, Pavement, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (forever). I’m surprised that as far as I know no one is really all that interested in adapting-for-hipster-consumption the friendly blends of contemporary classical and Celtic folk songs that seemed to be ubiquitous on pop radio in the years leading up to the release of Santana’s “Smooth”. Maybe it takes a special tool to dig through certain long-lost caves: in this case Plunkett’s substantial voice and ear for intriguing melodies make the likes of Enya, Annie Lennox, and later-day John Cale the perfect artists to have in her back pocket.

Or maybe we should ask ourselves: is there actually a single Nirvana song that’s as good as “Orinoco Flow?

Half Waif is performing tonight, July 11, at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery.

Stream: Imre Kiss “Raw Energy” (exclusive)

10 Jul 2014 — Henning Lahmann

It is mainly thanks to the still criminally overlooked yet consistently excellent and reliable Eastern Daze that we're aware of the exciting things happening east of Berlin, as we all too often almost ritualistically turn our gaze towards London and New York and whatever else we may find in the west. Of course, there was S Olbricht's compelling contribution to Opal Tape's catalogue, but that Budapest's electronic music deserves our close attention first became obvious when Farbwechsel emerged from the shadows, a label that by now has almost become a synonym for the Hungarian capital's ascending scene. Not only putting out S Olbricht's superb The Last Act of Dorothy Stratten, it is also the home of the first cassette by Budapest producer Imre Kiss.

With the tape’s strong blend of zeitgeist-informed, muffled textures evoking cinematic impressions and impulsive beat patterns reminiscent of Legowelt and other luminaries of the Clone/L.I.E.S. school of gritty dance music, it was only a matter of time until someone from more exposed shores would take notice. Prolific and rising fresh London imprint Lobster Theremin came first to pick up Imre Kiss and release his Raw Energy EP, a 12” that’s every bit as compelling as the producer’s debut effort. The five tracks cover a wide sonic range from more introspective, calm soundscapes to straight-up 4/4 ‘floor bangers, all knit together with a satisfying degree of coherence.

Raw Energy is out on July 14. Stream it in full exclusively below and pre-order a copy over here.

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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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