Hauschka - Volker Bertelmann Composer Interview
Poor Pripyat never had a chance. A city along the northern edge of Ukraine thrust into existence in 1970, its fate was unfortunately tied to the neighboring Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, whose employees filled its houses. Pripyat barely saw sweet sixteen before its raison d'etre blew, leading to its full evacuation. Empty to this day and enveloped by nature's reclamation, the city has become, in recent years, a destination for the marginal but growing business of disaster tourism. Volker Bertelmann, who has been composing music under the name Hauschka since the mid-2000s, is a musician who would consider visiting Pripyat; his latest album, Abandoned City, takes its guiding inspiration from such spent locations. "Pripyat" is the second track on the record, and eight of Abandoned City's nine songs are named after different cities that have all been left behind at some point for one reason or another. "Agdam" references a war-ravaged city in Southwestern Azerbaijan, and "Elizabeth Bay" a deserted mining town in Namibia. An additional unreleased track is titled "Hashima Island", based off of an abandoned island in Japan "where they also shot a lot of apocalyptic Hollywood movies because it... still has a lot of skyscrapers that are totally empty."

Doomsquad - Kalaboogie Album Review
After the decline predicted and lamented by Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the 2000s, the Canadian band Doomsquad provide a ritualistic dance party for the new world. Doomsquad provide a new skin for the old ceremony in the form of technological shamanism, where shakers and bone rattles meet Moogs and psych-out guitars in a forest clearing. The main challenge confronting a band that combines multiple genres is that their music inherit the strengths and weaknesses of each, similar to crossbreeding in Nature. Doomsquad’s latest record, Kalaboogie, may be judged by the standards of modern day dance music as well psychedelic and epic indie rock, and they risk losing the listener at every turn. The good news is that, rather than succumbing to the weaknesses, like some poor, mangy rabid mutt, Doomsquad have contributed something to each genre they work in. Kalaboogie, may be made of pre-existing parts -- trance music, triumphant indie rock, industrialized dance music and doomy, decadent mid-tempo disco -- but it is its own beast, its own spirit, inhabiting its own world.

On their newest LP, Electric Balloon, New York's Ava Luna offer a solid rock and R&B framework infused with the pulse of experimental music. The result is something they call "nervous soul" -- experimental rock that is as texturally interesting as it is emotionally invigorating. As soon as Electric Balloon begins, its simple grouping of rock instruments offers a cool, open, and vintage-inspired sound. With heavy power chords, musical interlude-tracing guitar licks, funky bass lines that make you want to dance, and a percussion section featuring everything from cymbals and tambourines to maracas and woodblocks, Ava Luna tap into many of the classic and modern rock instrumental mainstays that would be right at home on a Black Keys album and which (at least for me) cannot fail to please. Add to this awesome, soulful, R&B-reminiscent vocals by Carlos Hernandez and light, edgy female vocals that dart in and out of the album's gritty backing instrumentation, and you've already got a soundscape that is engaging all on its own.

Linda Perhacs - The Soul of All Natural Things
I spent a long time thinking about how to write this album review of Linda Perhacs' new album, The Soul of All Natural Things, the follow-up to Perhacs' 1970 album Paralellograms and her first new record in 44 years. Paralellograms is a cult classic, and cult classics capture the imagination in part because they stand alone. After approaching the new album warily, I am relieved to say that my image of Perhacs is still intact. Perhacs has slowly reemerged in the music scene as of late, due in part to fans such as Devendra Banhart and Chris Price, and has been working with a number of contemporary collaborators, including Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel, and Fernando Perdomo. Ramona Gonzalez's voice sounds great next to Perhacs's and accounts for the hymnal quality of some of these songs, particularly on "River of God", and I suspect that Julia Holter brought the electronic noise into this album as well.

The recently launched Tumblr blog, Experimental Music on Children's TV, is the work of Mike Haley from the cassette podcast Tabs Out. Though the project features contemporary shows, the most fascinating entries are YouTube clips of earlier children's programming. We see Mister Rogers playing an ARP Soloist (the Pro version was used by Vangelis and Tangerine Dream); we hear a frenetic, minimalist Philip Glass mini-opera for geometric groupings of animated circles in a Sesame Street short. Advertising composer Suzanne Ciani, a protégé of synthesizer builder Don Buchla and computer-music innovator Max Mathews, appeared on 3-2-1 Contact in 1980, to demonstrate the use of an Oberheim OB-X and a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. REDEFINE chatted with Haley about the runaway success of EMoCTV and the inspiration behind it.
Experimental Music on Children's TV Blog (EMoCTV)

With a lead singer as versatile as Highasakite's Ingrid Helene Håvik, it's not difficult for the band to evoke landscapes as diverse as a country road, a spacey sky, or a western plain. On their debut full-length album, Silent Treatment, the Norwegian musicians pioneer the "adventurous brand of indie pop" they've introduced on earlier recordings, emphasizing unusual vocals effects and genre contrasts. Having unbelievable clarity and the ability to turn on a dime, Håvik's voice carries a lot of power on Highasakite's debut LP. The first lyrics of the album's opening track, "Lover, Where Do You Live?", emerge out of the emptiness suddenly and intensely, against a nearly a cappella backdrop. This pattern sets the tone for the rest of the album, with vocals so solid and controlled you feel as if you could graph their progression visually. Meanwhile, complex instrumentation evolves over the course of each track, varying in degrees of intensity with a wide range of effects. Hollow horns, finely tuned upper register guitar parts, shimmering synths, and big indie drumming create alternatingly dense and sparse instrumental sections through which Highasakite transitions seamlessly.

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your dancing, shaking toes.
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Phantogram - Voices

February 2014 brings Phantogram back into the indie dance spotlight with their latest record on Republic Records, Voices; here, we present the first three tracks of the record in succession, to show off its shiniest points. Phantogram - "Nothing But Trouble" The album's first song is well-chosen as a delicate intro. Voices will surely put Phantogram on the map officially, and “Nothing but Trouble” will appease the masses.