The collaborative project of Tara King th. (FR) and Halasan Bazar (DK, mostly) has been one of nostalgic exploration and vintage aestheticism. This year’s broodingly hallucinogenic 8, an album filled to the brim with luscious farfisa and space-echoed 60s pop nostalgia, placed the project in line with continental European neo-psych aesthetes Jacco Gardner and Forever Pavot. “Dreaming On”, a lost track from 8, fathoms and romanticizes the vast mythos of the American expanse – a theme of endless inspiration for any psych junkie. Patient, cinematic and tied together with the strings of a zither, “Dreaming On” is a (re-)imagining of the American century from the distance of the 21st century old world – an ode to and lamenting of the spirit and legend of “American culture / sound / lives.” Give it a listen below, alongside four more tracks of previously unreleased material and remixes from the 8 recordings.
A Vimeo staff pick, Cherushii and Golden Donna's music video has turned Keith Apicary on his head. Outside of her more straight-faced and ambient 2015 LP Memory of Water, Chelsea Faith's tracks tend towards a quirky fun that never indulges itself. Her richly layered, persistent, and loopy grooves provoke smiles not laughter. "Indigo Wave"'s curve ball synth – a Golden Donna addition to the track – may be as close as her work gets to inducing one. The person who's definitely not laughing is the star of video, Anthony Abbadessa. Abbadessa paid director Ezra Ewen to make the video after becoming obsessed with the track. Dancing his way across hipster icons of New York, one imagines a world where the cool kids never toyed with irony. Perhaps it's not a matter of self-indulgence, but abandoning oneself to dance. Everyone is left better off for it.
"Indigo Wave" is taken from the Starlight Express EP, which is available via bandcamp.
Arca (aka Alejandro Ghersi) is someone we all can’t stop watching. An ever-evolving transformation since the &&&&& mixtape, several EPs, 2014’s release of debut album XEN, not to mention collaborating on production with FKA Twigs, then Björk’s ninth record Vulnicura; it’s difficult not to be addicted to the aura that is Arca. The Venezuela-born, now London-based producer has shared two new tracks from the forthcoming, sophomore studio album, Mutant.
“Soichiro” is extremely emotive and sensual while recently released video for “EN” only showcases the abnormalcy that Ghersi strives for. In white thigh-platforms, it shows Arca, dancing in slow-mo to match the track’s dark, experimentally-pioneering manner. Both tracks are freeing and continue the project’s radical spirit. Nothing seems too ambiguous for Ghersi at this moment. In regards to the release, they reveal “softness as a weapon when the mind attacks itself”.
Mutant is out November 20 via Mute digitally, on CD, and 2xLP. Also peep the artwork from long-time collaborator Jesse Kanda.
Not least channelled through acclaimed Montreal-based imprint Arbutus and Berlin club/concert mainstay Shameless/Limitless, the two cities have had a fruitful creative connection for quite a while now, a fact that local label Mansions and Millions only began to seriously tap into not even a year ago. Adding some flavours of the equally buzzing (if almost unnoticed) Warsaw scene, label head Anton Teichmann's knack for highly enjoyable outré pop – invariably slightly off-kilter, mildly dazed, lo-fi, you know the deal – is starting to pay off, as neatly summarised by the appropriately christened Mixtape Vol. 1, a compilation put together on the occasion of last weekend's Cassette Store Day Germany. Pretty much all the artists that come to our minds when someone uses the words "Berlin" and "Montreal" in one sentence are gathered here, the wonderful Magic Island, veteran Sean Nicholas Savage, Antoine93, NFOP darling Pascale Project, or Bataille Solaire, sitting next to a couple of promising wild cards such as Karolini, Helen Fry, or Jason Harvey. Well curated and meticulously assembled,Mixtape Vol. 1might not push any musical boundaries, but it may serve as a fitting introductions to the trans-Atlantic state of outsider pop, further corroborating the involved cities' prominent status as some of the last true refuges for free-thinking musicians.
Check out the whole tape below and get it via Mansions and Millions' bandcamp.
About a year ago, we introduced the Berlin-based artist Born In Flamez, a deliberately amorphous, intangible entity signifying a musical project that emphatically rejects any notions of both genre or gender. Born In Flamez' debut EP Polymorphous was, accordingly, hard to grasp and impossible to define. Floating freely between hints of grime, a very local flavour of stone-cold techno, and some of the more gloomy corners of otherwise surprisingly accessible pop, Polymorphous spelled out the conditions of possibility of a future that, if slightly dystopian, may help overcome the reality of the patriarchy that defines our present. With such a concept, the EP almost naturally functions as the blueprint for the imaginations and projections of other, like-minded artists, which makes the release of the forthcoming remix EP seem almost inevitable.
CYPHR, Paula Temple, She's Drunk, and Anika all re-interpret BIF's tracks, thereby creating their very own version of a trans- or even post-human tomorrow. Of all the tunes on the EP, however, it is Aïsha Devi's riveting, haunting remix of the rather quiet and pensive Polymorphous closing track "Easier Like That", which captivated us the most. Fresh off her own, excellent debut LP Of Matter and Spirit, the Swiss-Nepalese producer thoroughly deconstructs the original, turning it into a disruptive intervention that offers an almost epiphanic dramaturgy. Take a listen below.
There is, of course, something about German artists and gloomy, at times stodgy works that seems almost all too intimately connected. Think lonesome wanderers standing on rocks staring into the clouds below, or something along those lines. Even translation will fail you: 'Schwermut', the most Teutonic of all sentiments, finds only an approximate equivalent in 'wistfulness', and is miles away from 'melancholia', more dismal, more inescapable, yet more hopeful at the same time. Thomas Bücker's Bersarin Quartett embodies such Schwermut. Slow and pondering, Bücker's compositions create gently unfurling sculptures that may stare into the clouds without getting lost in dull sadness. Instead of relying on cheap effects, the cinematic arrangements on the artist's third LP III remain suitably complex and subtle. Take album standout "Jeder Gedanke umsonst gedacht" [Every thought a thought in vain] with its sprawling yet reluctant strings, hinting at life's hardships without ever willing to give in.
With their second release, 1800HaightStreet make it evident that they've dialed in signatures of their sound. Hi hats and noise cut across chthonic dub in both releases, but their first work felt paranoid and frenetic at times, propelled along by snare fusillades at 130. In their new work, the anxiety has been released. It's still night, but the visions have have slowed down and become warmer.
The three tracks take their direction not from the awkwardly titled B1 track "Heldled" but from its A-side, "Dreamer." Like the track name, the album does threaten heavy-handedness. Airy synths and soothing dub traverse well-tread space, but then acid, noise, and the surging sound of electricity provide the contrast that holds everything together. As the record's most remarkable track, "Heldled" touches on familiar sounds with a melancholic Burial-esque woodwind and a melody that's reminiscent of Four Tet's "She Moves She," it's the surging electricity that save it from sentimentality and marks out the Vancouver trio's aesthetic.
While the EP doesn't have anthemic stompers like predecessor The Pursuit, the sound is just as big. There's no getting lulled into complacency or to sleep. The visions aren't so straightforward after all.
I'm sure plenty of us agree that Hungarian producer S Olbricht exudes plenty of novelty as well as mystery. To try and understand this better, I contacted Martin Mikolai, the man behind the make-believe legendary name, and asked him some questions.
S Olbricht's latest 12" Trancess is out via Bratislava-based imprint Proto Sites. Stream it in full right here.
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Can you start by talking about your history of producing music? How long has it been since you started pursuing your attraction to synths?
My first experience with electronic music was in 1999, when my father came home with a software called Music: Music Creation for the Playstation. It was quite fun, I learned how to create basic sequencies and stuff like that, but it was just a game for me back then. I started to make music properly around 2003. I changed from the Playstation to a PC and began to compose pretty lame drum and bass tracks. But as I remember it was a good term for learning a few more things about electronic instruments and effects, besides I really loved to learn things independently.
A few years later Gábor Lázár joined me in this revelation what was quite obvius then, since we were neighbours and spent a lot of time together. We bought a pair of turntables and played music all day. And obviusly we produced a lot of ridiculous tracks and a few ones what were not that bad, but the point is that we motivated each other for doing things better and I think that fact determined our whole career in several ways. Around 2008 things got more serious. I released my first breakcore tracks under the name 'Poor Jiffy' and released a few post-avantgarde shit as M. Mikolai. We made two fanzines with Gábor Lázár and Gergő Szinyova called Odd Rain and Odd Train (Roger Semsroth aka Sleeparchive joined us for the secod one).
Then in 2010 I went to University of Pécs, Faculty of Music and Visual Arts. I took Electronic Music and Media Art which seemed pretty useful after many years of self-education. By the way I wrote The Last Act of Dorothy Stratten in Pécs during the second semester, and yeah, in 2012 we established our wonderful label, Farbwechsel, with Daniel Jani, Bálint Zalkai, Erik Bánhalmi and Balázs Semsei. That was the year when SILF was born. And it was also the year when I released my first tape under the name S Olbricht.
What are a few synthesizers that you'd like to make sweet love to?
Hmm... Sh-101... She's a classy one. A monophonic bass synth with a hand grip... sounds perfect for me. I love the acidic sound with a little portamento. It reminds me of the early IDM tracks I've been in love with. And my other fav is Sequential Cirquits Six-Track which is a polyphonic/multi-timbral synth. It's quite difficult to program it and to change the parameters but we use it with a UC-33 midi controller which sends CC for filter, lfo, etc. I'm in love with many other synths too like JX-3P, Jupiter-4, SH-1, etc (yeah I prefer stuff manufactured by Roland) but it would take too long to describe all these machines properly.
The careful maturation of Farbwechsel's roster is persistently impressive. Are we to expect more groovy 909 work like that of Christian Kroupa or is it back to the slasher soundtrack sound like that by Eril Fjord? What about any upcoming releases from SILF?
In the next few months we'll focus on groovy things. You can reckon on releases by G.W., James Booth, Norwell.. and a SILF EP is also coming soon. We'll release some debut vinyls also by Mike Nylons and FOR. And we also decided to repress a few things... so the next one and a half years seem quite busy for us.
Your otherworldly song titles are striking in their own way. They are half semantical, half not, harkening to science fiction's visions of the future of linguistics, or perhaps just hysterical or cryptic communication. Where do they come from, and how do they feed into your conceptual work around fictitious Stephan Olbricht and his love for Dorothy Stratten?
With these combinations of letters I try to reach impression of barely visible memos on a rubbed paper.. notes of a person who passed away a long time ago. The meaning of these titles based on my personal emotions and memories and somehow I think it's much easier to treat my past like a dead person... Like someone who doesn't exist anymore (I know, it sounds disappointingly dumb and boring).
I read in your interview with Electronic Beats that SILF came from Zalkai's term of endearment for his vintage synths. Meanwhile, S Olbricht is a character you created who actually got to be close to Stratten during her life in the1970s, as early synths were becoming popular. Is Olbricht at all your fantasy self, and is there a connection between 70s/80s aesthetic and music for you?
We were born in the mid 80s so we missed the synth-revolution and that's the reason why that part of history is quite myterious for us. Back in those days when the Dorothy album was born we were totally into the late 70s and 80s culture so it was quite obvious to find a connection between the story and the synths and the past. By the way, the particular story of Stratten and Olbricht was created by Bálint too, but he was absolutely counscious of my inspirations and intentions, what led me to make those tracks and that's why he formed a tale of a romantic-tragedy.
Does your interest in the murder of Stratten speak to your own interest in Playboy/vintage porn culture, or more so in murder stories and gore? Perhaps merely just the Unexplained?
Much more in murder stories and gore (vintage porn culture is not my biz). Mainly murders or suicides actuated by jealousy and loneliness. I consider myself an undercover emo, haha.
The Last Act of Dorothy Stratten is an eclectic, mostly melodic album, and furthermore a strong start to S Olbricht's discography; however, subsequent releases dwell more on the dissonant side. Your latest, Trancess, lends itself to the light from time to time, but mostly sits happily on the borderlands between uplifting techno and upsetting ambience. Farbwechsel overall conveys the same gamut. Does this back-and-forth say anything about an existing duality which you experience? Where does the inclination toward the sinister come from, although there is also plenty of moments of harmlessness and beauty in your music?
Hmm... honestly I cant answer that question. I mean these things are too close to me to see these differencies what others do.
Proto Sites is an exciting, pristine imprint that has already reinforced its competent style through its four releases. We're big fans. Can you say anything about your creation of your release for them? Did you approach anything differently?
Trancess was finished before Juraj asked me to give some tracks for Proto Sites so...no, I did not approach anything differently. Honestly I really like to collaborate with different people from different countries, especially in our region. I want people to see that we know each other, we respect each other's work because that's the only thing what boosts our scene.
How has the wave of Budapest and Bratislava-based techno artists who've gained international laud changed the local scene? Is there any type of techno tourism coming in? Do you plan on continuing to call it base?
The international interest sensibly motivates our whole scene in Budapest. I mean not just the artists but also the club owners and promoters have started think differently. As I see it, they're much more open-minded, they are full of ambitions and cooperate much more easily. I'm really happy to see that because one of our main purposes at Farbwechsel was to show people in the Hungarian music scene that they should stick together instead of pushing themselves towards some kind of egoistic street cred competition.