With their debut full-length Cut Up, Besançon, France-based Mayerling have produced a dark and eerie debut album with minimalistic vocals and shadowy instrumentals that make for a soothing and mellowed listening experience.
Softly uttered French words surface from the intro to "Pure as Gold," a dark and atmospheric lo-fi track imbued with interspersed lighter tones. These contrasts in the band's music encapsulates the different genres that influence their album, the instrumental leading up to the climactic finish being reminiscent of dream-pop giants, The XX. "Pure as Gold" seems befitting for an indie movie score, with its beautiful crescendos and delicately layered vocals; the tones of the track iridescent and acoustically buoyant.
"La Mort N’en Saura Rien" ('Death will not Know') also delves into the deep and far reaches of the subconscious, using submerged organ sounds, promising to take us on some mysterious journey. Vocalist Sylvain Bombled’s reverb punctuates the solid synths, while the varying instruments permeate the lyrics. What Mayerling have proven to do so well with Cut Up is to produce music that is gradual and unrushed, yet always sustaining intrigue.
The music from these two singles generates a cinematic grandeur, nuanced effortlessly by the subterranean sounds through the fusion of patiently prolonged uses of synths, violoncello, guitars and keyboard. The band have made an album that goes beyond words and seeps through the darkest parts of the mind. Progressive and rhythmically immersive, this makes for a thought-provoking soundscape, where one can drift off into the unknown.
After our recent, jointly presented night with Sun Araw and Deep Magic at West Germany, the folks of CTM Festival are back at Berghain to continue with their much acclaimed Polymorphism concert series, having not one but two nights at our favourite location scheduled for this week. On Wednesday, we'll witness the live performance of one of this year's most staggering and convincing albums, Excavation by British sound wizard Bobby Krlic aka The Haxan Cloak, who'll be accompanied by a true legend, NYC artist William Basinski. The following night is dedicated to two acid house pioneers, Indian native Charanjit Singh and none other than A Guy Called Gerald. As usual bold, adventurous and truly open-minded, with such lineups the CTM people seem once again eager to re-define the boundaries of contemporary Berlin electronic music events, a mission we cannot be grateful enough for. Surely another two nights not to be missed.
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.