In 2009, David Daniell of San Agustin and Douglas McCombs of Tortoise disassembled and reassembled seven hours of in-studio improvisation into their collaborative LP, Sycamore. For their upcoming 2012 release, Versions, they've given the same seven hours of material and the same creative liberties to engineer and producer Ken Brown to offer up his assemblage of choice. The experimental approach has led to two vastly different records that still live in the same sonic universe. The surprisingly little amount of content overlap between the two releases sees to be, in and of itself, evidence of the importance of individual perspectives. Versions comes out May 15th on Thrill Jockey Records, and its initial introduction to the public comes in the form of a slow-motion video directed and conceptualized by filmmaker Timothy Leeds, with the help of David Merten. As the sounds of "30265" teeter gently upon small instrumental seesaws, shapes in Leeds' video pulse and throb in subtle response. In the Q&A below, Leeds describes the video creation process and some of the decisions behind it.

 

 

Drawing from the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and one of the area's most majestic creatures, Rafael Anton Irisarri of The Sight Below and Thomas Meluch of Benoît Pioulard have breathed life into a new project, Orcas. On their debut self-titled disc, the two have created nine tracks of ambiance-heavy songs featuring a number of opposing elements, including light and dark, acoustic and electronic, textured subtlety and straight-forward hook. In that spirit of balance, this bilateral feature places side-by-side interview responses and sample tracks from both artists, to dissect the strengths, weaknesses, and sonic tendencies both musicians contribute to making Orcas the rich collaboration that it is.

Benoît Pioulard

"Sault" from Lasted Where Irisarri's soundscapes lay a gentle foundation for the work of Orcas, Meluch's work as Benoît Pioulard provides more accessible and structural elements, complete with singer-songwriter pop melodies. "Sault," from Benoît Pioulard's album Lasted, has guitar and vocal tendencies that connect to the piano and guitar lines of "Arrow Drawn," which is streaming below.

Rafael Anton Irisarri

"A Great Northern Sigh" from The North Bend As The Sight Below, Rafael Anton Irisarri's compositions rebuild familiar emotions and spaces by way of minimal electronic soundscapes. According to Irisarri, "A Great Northern Sigh" has conceptual and thematic ties to the work of Orcas, as it also relates to the Pacific Northwest. "Almost like an audio postcard," he adds. "What can I say -- I'm deeply inspired by this region and wouldn't imagine composing our Orcas album anywhere else."

 

Montreal-based producer, DJ, and electronic musician Michael Silver, also known as CFCF, has recently taken time out from his electronic creations and remix projects to embark on a new creative detour. On his April 2012 mini-LP, Exercises, CFCF stresses the beauty of classical music. Each track on Exercises is titled simply with a number and a one-word description, leaving listeners with the sense that the collection is one of experiments. Visually-evocative and conceptually-rich, Exercises sees Silver connecting his electronic roots wiht a desire to pay homage to musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian. This interview explores Exercises track-by-track, with insight from CFCF and a complete album stream. Where it is applicable, we have paired the tracks from Exercises with a supplementary influence. We begin with "A Flower Is Not A Flower," from composer Ryuichi Sakamoto's Playing The Piano, the album CFCF credits for sparking his initial interest in this project.

Listening Station Exercises Full Album Stream

Track-By-Track Conceptual Analysis

Exercise #1 (Entry) This marks a beginning, an entrance of sorts to the Exercises album. What got you interested in doing this more structured and piano-driven piece considering so much of your music is electronic-based? It began because I became addicted to Ryuichi Sakamoto's Playing the Piano. It was the soundtrack to my fall and winter, in late 2010 I guess. And from there it went to Chopin's Nocturnes and Glenn Gould and Philip Glass and some of David Borden's piano counterpoint pieces. So I decided to make a version of a track from my EP The River, "It Was Never Meant To Be This Way", that was mainly piano with some kind of reverb-drenched, non-lyrical vocals over it -- moaning I guess. And I cut together some footage from David Cronenberg's Stereo over it, and then it kind of became clear that this was something I wanted to explore a bit further and build a world [out] of. The piano patterns and the harsh lines of the brutalist architecture, and with the songs, [they] kind of fill in some kind of drama. CFCF's "It Was Never Meant To Be This Way (Piano Version)"

 

Featuring two members of the indie psych pop band Nurses, HOOPDREAMS is the result of three multi-instrumentalists from the Pacific Northwest loosening their reins on traditional songwriting. Dub-influenced beats, layered vocals spanning multiple octaves of harmony, and mysterious electronic noises are explored to evoke vaguely familiar feelings of nostalgia that rest densely upon the human psyche. DARKSUMMER has recently been remastered for Baltimore record label Dymaxion Groove, which will release the album on a limited-edition, red, full moon picture disc (seen below), so that everyone on this great big floating ball of ours can get their hands on a copy, starting July 15th, 2012.

 

Pre-order Vinyl on dymaxion.fm Pre-order CD on dymaxion.fm
To introduce listeners to this release, we're featuring seven of the best videos for the short track "Spirit Momentum," which were created in conjunction with REDEFINE's interdisciplinary show MMMicrofestival. Hand-picked video artists were invited to give their interpretations for HOOPDREAMS' short track, and they are showcased in this unique abstract motion art gallery. See full artwork and stream the entirety of DARKSUMMER at the bottom of this post.


Arn Gyssels

Belgium digital and mixed media artist Arn Gyssels took the lo-fi route, creating a work of symmetrical beauty that morphs in and out of vaguely distinguishable human figures.

 

Daniel Cantrell

Illustrator and video editor Daniel Cantrell has quite the brilliantly deranged sense of humor, as you'll see from this mash-up video (complete with custom sounds, alien eyes, and social commentary)!  

In April 2012, La Dispute announced their latest charity benefit project, Conversations, a packet consisting of a hand-assembled and multi-dimensional collection of items courtesy of La Dispute themselves, writers involved with 826michigan, and the band's artist friends. All proceeds from Conversations benefit 826michigan, a branch of Dave Eggers' literacy organization, 826 National. In this feature, we speak with vocalist Jordan Dreyer about their work with 826michigan and highlight all of the organizations they have worked with in-depth. As La Dispute continue to use their youth and energy to benefit the less fortunate, this on-going article will be updated to reflect their continued humanitarianism.

 

"Everything goes a long way. Every little thing counts." -- Jordan Dreyer
See all articles related to Non-profit and Charity work

 

Like a whale call bubbling forth from oceanic depths, Sister Crayon's 2011 release on Manimal Vinyl, Bellow, is an album dense with emotional weight. "When I think of someone bellowing, I just see a sad, really powerful thing coming out of someone," explains vocalist Terra Lopez. "Years of an... exhausting type of feeling." Bellow is an aural manifestation of such exhaustion -- a collective "bellow" from a group of Nothern California musicians who do not shy away from the fascinations which arise from darkness. Filled with trip-hop beats, soaring operatic vocals, distorted guitars, and delicate synth lines, the sonic universe of Sister Crayon is a varied and complex one. What holds consistent, though, is the band's fortitude, as they explore parallel emotional states through individualized experiences.

London-based indie rockers Post War Years have teamed up with amazing Philly director Tobias Stretch to create this muppet-filled blue-tinged world of weirdness. Stretch, known for his stop-motion animations and work with puppet characters, took the time to answer a few questions, which you can read below the video.

 

 

How was the concept for this developed? You and the band jointly? Mostly you? Mostly the band? The band presented me with an idea of an image, a playground swing descends in slow motion towards the head of an alien creature. From this powerful image I was able to create a world around it that also reflected the meaning of the song which dealt with the trials and tribulations of a young person trying to find their way in the big bad world.

 

This video feels and reads like a nightmare which then comes to show itself as light-hearted. Is there any truth in that kind of reading? Yes, nightmares can be quite funny at times despite the fear they usually elicit. Nervous laughter is the surest sign that an object of fear has now passed. To me, the celebration of life is also about being free of fear, even if it is only for moments. People who have endured traumatic events tend to have a blacker sense of humor, so the lines between humor and fear are always blurry for me.

Part I: Now Age Manifesto And Q&A

TEXT BY THAD MCKRAKEN; Q&A BY VIVIAN HUA; MANIFESTO AND ANSWERS BY TARAKA LARSON The fundamental nature of time itself wasn't something I'd contemplated at great length until roughly a year ago. I think what turned it around for me was when I accidentally summoned what classic occultists would refer to as my Holy Guardian Angel. Out of nowhere in the summer of 2010, I started performing sigil projection exercises which seemed to be coming from somewhere else. I felt strangely and unconsciously compelled to envision myself in third person, as an external character wearing a sleek black suit. I was confronting my demonic persona -- the part of me that longed for frivolous shit like wealth and power -- or something to that effect. Who am I kidding, I had no fucking idea why I was doing this, but the further in I got, the more the scenarios played themselves out in my head; they had me shaking hands with the world's elite and proceeding to haunt their unconscious. To make a long story short, this version of myself that I'd been unwittingly focusing on actually showed up in my room one night. I will confess that I wasn't fully awake. I was in a hynagogic sleep state that a lot of mainstream psychologists would refer to as sleep paralysis. I taught myself how to do this by experimenting with astral projection years earlier; it fucked with my head forever. But it's what "I" told myself that's relevant here:
"We are the beings from the Sirius star system that were communicating with Robert Anton Wilson. We are the grey aliens. We are death. WE EXIST OUTSIDE OF TIME. That's why it's difficult for us to communicate with you."
They then projected a telepathic communiqué into the depths of my spirit. My reality became this video-like demonstration which oscillated between perspectives, drawing connections to something I'd also randomly started contemplating months prior – the Gnostic concept of the Holy Trinity:
  • The Father (or Holy Guardian Angel) – the me who is eternal and exists outside of time;
  • The Son – the me who exists inside what we refer to as human reality;
  • The Holy Spirit – the conjunctive tissue which binds us all into one coherent plotline; time itself, shown to me like a glowing orb which I existed inside of, though apart from my cosmic overmind persona (it/I watched from outside as if floating motionless in outer space).
Sounds completely nuts right? Well, it does until you realize you're one of about a billion people throughout history who have had this type of shit happen to them. Unfortunately, these topics are usually relegated to the easily disregarded world of "New Age" literature, ensuring that anyone who believes a half-man half-God walked the earth 2,000 years ago will laugh them off without a second thought. The term "New Age" has been so intentionally co-opted throughout the years by military and religious interests that even I hate it. Luckily, writer Daniel Pinchbeck has been trying to rebrand the neo-psychedelic evolution of these concepts as "Next Age." And here, we have the multi-talented Taraka Larson of Brooklyn's Prince Rama putting a much needed artier spin on ancient New Age ideas with The Now Age Manifesto. It's a work about the importance of intentionally transcending so called normal space-time perception and entering what Larson and English philosopher John G. Bennett refer to as Hyparxis, a hypertime dimension that has a timeless quality noticeable to human perception. In a way, these experiences and mind states kind of have to happen to you before you'll take any interest in them – but The Now Age Manifesto details concepts that will help you get there if you try. The entirety of Larson's manifesto can be viewed online at www.now-age.org.

The Now Age Manifesto: Introduction

The Now Age seeks to reconnect the current dislocation between time and space and resurrect the symbolic power of music by means of UTOPIA. NOW AGE = NO AGE Somewhere between Time and Eternity lies a dimension called Hyparxis**. Hyparxis is defined as an 'ableness-to-be'. It does not indicate a change in time, or a manifestation of eternity. Instead it refers to transformations in 'inner time'. Hyparxis combines what is actual with what is potential, thus creating a 'present moment' based on the internalized experience of external temporal events, past, present, or future. Thus, the Now Age refers to no age at all, but instead describes an elemental quality of being. UTOPIA = NO PLACE The word UTOPIA by definition signifies "NO PLACE". It is neither here nor there, of this world or transcendental to it. Its existence as a non-existence can be seen as a singularity, but within this "no place" exists an infinity of space. Thus an invisible "space between worlds" is created that acts as a medium between the real and the ideal environments. This aspiration for a space within a pre-existing place is vital for distinguishing the utopian impulse from the transcendental impulse; whereas transcendentalism seeks escape from the "real" world in exchange for an ideal one, utopia instead seeks a deeper connection with this world in the form of tapping into its inner potential, a REALIZATION of the REAL. It is here that the musical environment lives. Sound in and of itself is a tangible example of "no place". It is pure vibration, a shifting of air particles, and is thus (by sheer virtue of its nature) wholly meta-physical. **John G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe