Tape Recorder And Synthesizer Ensemble - T.R.A.S.E. Musician Interview
Manchester in 1981 was a grim place. Shuttered factories butted up against derelict lots, as dole queues wrapped around the block. A recession was rocking England; inter-class tension was running high, which would finally erupt into full-on riots in the summer of that year. Here, amidst the ruins of the Industrial Revolution, the future was being born. Factory Records was in full swing, defining what would become post-punk and new-wave. The synthpop of Duran Duran, New Order and the Human League was floating on the breeze, as The Fall were quoting sci-fi dystopians like William S. Burroughs. Being a kid at the time, Andy Popplewell was largely unaware of his bleak surroundings. He had his own struggles, like losing his father at the age of ten. An interest in music and electrical engineering helped him cope. Popplewell experienced the same media that much of '60s and '70s Britain did; he was reared with the music of Star Trek and Doctor Who, beginning his love of electronic music from an early age, and a rich, active imagination. Inspired by the synthetic sounds of the day and engineering magazines full of DIY projects, Andy Popplewell resolved to build a modest studio in his bedroom, with funds raised from odd jobs and a paper route, and the Tape Recorder And Synthesizer Ensemble (T.R.A.S.E.) was born.
Saâda Bonaire - Self-Titled Album Review (Captured Tracks)The information boom of the last 15 years has given people a thirst for crate digging. What started on illicit pirate blogs has blossomed into a healthy industry of re-issue labels, and still, the race is on, to find the dustiest, mustiest rarity that no one has ever heard. Captured Tracks are drawing ahead of the pack, with their Shoegaze Archive series and now the Fantasy Memory imprint, curated by the seasoned vinyl archaeologist Andy Grier, of Thieves Like Us. This binge of eclectic listening has opened our ears to totally unknown movements like European coldwave, minimal synthesis, mutant disco, funk, and every permutation of world music. In this rich and ripe polycultural climate, perhaps we are finally ready to receive the worldbeat exoticism of Saâda Bonaire. Even after 15 years of listening to absolutely everything, Saâda Bonaire are entirely eclectic. The project began at a club night in Bremen as a pop-art project between DJ Ralph"“von" Richtoven and two vocalists, Stephanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld. Inspired by the cross-cultural fusion of Afro-Caribbean music in America, and Rai and West African music in France, Saâda Bonaire sought to combine underground dance sounds of its day, 1982, with their own local flavor, Turkish and Kurdish folk music. They recorded the lead single, "You Can Be All That You Are", which combines brittle synthpop and slippery digital funk with Middle Eastern instruments and detached, incantatory vocals. It's a stone-eyed groove, perfect to transfix the intercontinental, and all was going well. Unfortunately, it was the only single the band would record. Their A&R man for EMI had a reputation for going over budget, had spent five times his allotment on Tina Turner's Private Dancer, and was already three times overspent with Saâda Bonaire. EMI put out "You Can Be As You Are" b/w "Invitation" and pulled the plug, and the rest is history.
As soon as something goes up for sale, it ceases to be solely about creativity and becomes a commodity. Nowhere is this more apparent than the much maligned new age genre, with its high ideals and pure intentions. It aims to relax the body, to clear the mind and elevate the spirit. It's somewhat ironic that it would become bland aural wallpaper for high-priced professionals. New age has become about the least cool genre imaginable, doomed to a half-life of Hallmark stores and mall listening kiosks. Now that vaporwave has taken over as the cynical soundtrack for the global marketplace, new age is due for a reassessment. On I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music in 1950 – 1990, the wonderful Light In The Attic reissue label turns back the clock to a time before new age was merely designed to shift units. To accomplish this, they turn to the world of private press LPs, self-published records by high-minded altruistic individuals, many tracks seeing official release here for the first time.
Francis Harris - You Can Always Leave EP Album ReviewFrancis Harris You Can Always Leave Scissor & Thread (2013) Listening to the two tracks on the A Side of Francis Harris' new EP had me Googling the difference between deep house and dub techno, as I was unsure where to place it. If you keep up with the various microtrends of electronic music, you will probably understand what a vast range that spans. If not, then think of dub techno as listening to a rave in the belly of a Soviet submarine at 5,000 leagues, as opposed to the mechanical soul of deep house, which might sound like a wind-up jazz band. Boomkat, the Rosetta Stone of electronic music, also referred to A1 "You Can Always Leave" as trip-hop, with its chill vocals and distant trumpets -- and I can go along with it, although Gry Bagøien's singing is more Bjork/Karin Andersson (The Knife/Fever Ray) than Beth Gibbons (Portishead), making the album opener an interesting new kind of electrojazz. You can still hear strains of the dub, deep in the mix, lapping like dark waves, and preventing this from being an ADD-addled, genre-hopping exercise. "You Can Always Leave" is destined to score some desolate dancefloor at 3:30, or perhaps the drive home after, as the sun comes up.
There has been much lamentation and gnashing of teeth about the decaying music industry, with many opinions and conversations about what to do about it. If you were to believe the soothsayers, we'll be reduced to a generation of SoundCloud demoes and buskers in 10 years' time. We may not know what will come, but it's not worth bemoaning the point. True musicians and record labels, the ones who are in it for the love and the art of the thing, are rolling up their shirtsleeves and getting down to work. Crossing Lines: An NX Records CompilationEnter NX Records, a collaboration between Goldsmith's, University of London's music department and Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records. Students and alumni are actively involved in the release of music, not just as musicians, but also in all aspects, including marketing, legal and administrative. Some recent graduates of the program include Mercury Prize winner James Blake, as well as members of Nigel Godrich's Ultraista, so this is no fly-by-night operation. Crossing Lines is the inaugural transmission. ranging from airy, experimental pop to widescreen anthemic rock, with all points in between, wrapped in a rather spiff map of the New Cross area that NX Records calls home. Crossing Lines manages to sound both classic and hypermodern; super-polished to raw, immediate and lo-fi.
This evening, the spirit of the '60s seems alive and thriving in the Crystal Ballroom. You can sense the remnants of bands like New Riders Of The Purple Sage or The Byrds, as you set foot upon the legendary bouncing dancefloor. It is a grand West Coast ballroom, in the tradition of the Fillmores; there's an epic chandelier, worthy of the Phantom Of The Opera, and Renaissance paintings al fresco on the walls. It's a classy place to see a real rock n' roll show. I don't know what it is about these ballrooms, but they always seem primed to go off. Maybe it's because they were designed for getting down, with wide open wooden dancefloors and killer sound systems. Imagine the surprise of the 1914 founders, if they could peer through time and hear the hardcore racket that would be pummeling out on a Wednesday night, nearly 100 years later. This was basically a double-headliner bill between two influential bands of different eras: Helmet, from the early '90s, and the most famous of the '70s school of artpunk, Wire. Wire, Helmet Live Show Review - Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Clara Moto - Blue DistanceClara Moto Blue Distance InFiné MusicClara Moto's Blue Distance is the Lost In Translation of bass music. It sounds like driving down an endless expanse of black glass highway with the radio on, shooting towards the horizon while memories retreat like tail lights in the rearview. This Austrian producer's second feature-length for InFiné Music revolves around the theme of remoteness, the feeling of endless travel and longing, and the inevitable distance between a performer and her audience. Blue Distance takes its name from a poem by Sylvia Plath, the patron saint of loneliness. This combination of classical poetry and 21st-century electronic music offers a good summary of what one can expect.
Biosexual The Window Wants The Bedroom Debacle Records (2013)
Biosexual - The Window Wants The Room Album Review
"Subculture as we know it is dead and it's all the internet's fault." Chicago producer Johnny Love, aka Deathface, in a recently popular Tumblr post
This is hardly a recent concern; the topic has probably been blogged and tweeted more often than Miley Cyrus. It can be traced back as far as The Microphones' recorded their own We Are The World with 2007 single "Get Off The Internet", and has probably been around since computer's started talking to one another. On The Window Wants The Bedroom, the debut full-length from Biosexual, the trio of prolific sound artist Zac Nelson, along with Michael RJ Saalman and Jocelyn Noir, it seems like Biosexual is more interested in reflecting the surreal state of modern living through information technology than in smashing the system. Biosexual are very much a product of the internet. They cobble together bizarre mutant vocals with surreal lyrics, rigid trap beats, and a chorus of synthesizers that reference at least 5 underground dance movements. Call it technological pop, or breakbeat bricolage, this is the sound of information overload, the result of 10 years of listening to everything under the sun. {{ FULL ALBUM STREAM AFTER THE JUMP }}
Diane Coffee - My Friend FishDiane Coffee My Friend Fish Western Vinyl (2013) Capitalists would have you believe that you need a million dollars and a luxurious studio to create a masterpiece. They would hate the fact that Diane Coffee, the solo project of former child voice actor and drummer for Foxygen, Shaun Fleming, was able to record this psych/soul/gospel-infused gem with pots and pans and detuned guitars in his New York apartment in two weeks, while recovering from the flu.
thisquietarmy Hex Mountains Denovali Records (2013)Hex Mountains is a black mass, that rends the veil of consensual reality, plunging the listener into a twilight afterlife of elder gods and ancient wisdom. It's good to have post-rock back. For years, it seemed that all the genre could produce was ham-fisted Mogwai knock-offs that lost the emotional subtlety and expansive listening habits of the original movement. Imitators with long names sucked the marrow right out of post-rock's bones until it was an embarrassment, a shell of its former self. People forgot how thrilling it could be to combine the crushing weight of metal with the sonic possibilities of electronic music, and the weird eeriness of drone. The Denovali Records release of two albums from Montreal drone alchemist Eric Quach, who has released over 50 albums under the name thisquietarmy, suggest that this is about to change, and that it is again okay to appreciate epic instrumental rock 'n roll; people are finding new and interesting things to do with the format. Hex Mountains suggests a new phase in Thisquietarmy's extensive catalog. After touring with heavyweights like Year Of No Light and Deafheaven, Eric Quach wanted to turn up the intensity. He shattered the traditional isolation of TQA's somnolent soundscapes, to enlist members of Alashan, Northumbria and Monarch. It's some of his most pummeling work to date.