SEE OUR REVIEW OF SUBSTRATA FESTIVAL 1.2
Anticipated Highlights from Substrata 1.2, 2012 Tim Hecker is about as acclaimed as they come in this musical realm. In 2011, he was named as one of NPR's Top 100 Composers Under 40. 2011's full-length release Ravedeath, 1972 was released to wide critical acclaim, including praises from this website, and was nominated for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize. Lawrence English is a prolific composer, multimedia artist and curator from Brisbane, Australia. He is one of the leaders in Australian sound art and experimental music and is about as intertwined as possible with the musical community there.
"Substrata is truly a community supported event... Interconnectivity... seems persistently ingrained in Substrata: everything flows and happens in a rather organic manner." -- Rafael Anton Irisarri

 

In just two years time, Seattle's tiny Substrata Festival has become one of the better curated festivals of the ambient and experimental electronic genres. Put on by Rafael Anton Irisarri, of The Sight Below and Orcas, Substrata seeks to entertain as much as it does to enlighten, as half of the experience is spent enjoying the music, while the other half is spent listening to the musicians describe how the music is created. Performances, lectures, discussions, and a field trip are all on the festival's itinerary, limited to a select and lucky few. Like last year's festival, Substrata Festival 1.2 is sold out (save for a remaining 20 tickets on Friday) -- and 1.3 will most likely be sold out as well. Held in The Chapel at Good Shepherd Center in Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood, showgoers will have the rare opportunity to bear witness to the beauty of the weird, bizarre, and challenging sounds of a global set of musicians and artists. In the Q&A below with Irisarri, he takes REDEFINE behind the scenes of the festival to offer insight into its goals and curatorial aspects, and what the grassroots efforts which set it apart from other festivals. This year's festival takes place from August 3rd through 5th, in Seattle.

Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud is a profilic British experimental artist. His first works involved found conversations on mobile phones and police scanners, creating heavily layered, yet incredibly twisted soundscapes that turned common communication on its head.

 

Hands In The Dark was born at the end of a boozy party in 2010! What could have ended up just a brilliant idea and a short-lived story became the start of a great musical adventure, bringing together two lovers of "unclassified" music. Hands In the Dark pulls together various sounds with the common feature of mixing pop and experimental music. Grouping them under the title 'Expop' music, HITD has quickly reached its 12th release comprising CD's, vinyl and even tapes. HITD also means ''DIY''. We build everything from top to bottom, from contact with the bands we love to sending out the parcels. We always preserve our freedom with no artistic pressure. Such is the great enterprise of HITD. In short, a French label with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi... Thanks to Amélie and Alice...

 

Curation & Translation by Morgan & Onito; Additional Translation by Jeff Diteman Hands In The Dark est né fin 2010 lors d'une soirée arrosée! Ce qui aurait pu s'apparenter à une fulgurance doublée d'une histoire sans lendemain n'était en fait que le début d'une belle aventure musicale réunissant deux amis passionnés de musiques inclassables. Hands In The Dark rassemble des sonorités diverses et ayant pour dénominateur commun un côté expérimental allié à un versant pop. Rassemblé sous l'étiquette d' «Expop music», le catalogue du label comptera bientôt 12 références... Cd's, vinyles mais aussi cassettes. HITD, c'est aussi l'importance du côté « DIY ». Tout est de A à Z géré par nos soins, de la prise de contact avec les groupes que l'on aime à l'envoi des disques. Aucune entrave à notre liberté, aucune contrainte artistique... Tel est le vaste chantier de HITD. Merci à Amélie et Alice.

 

CocoRosie's latest release, a 7" featuring "We Are On Fire" and "Tearz For Animals", is the duo's first release in two years, taking their hip-hop-influenced vibes into an epic realm of movement, smoke, and costume in this slow-motion music video for "We Are On Fire", directed by Emma Freeman. More cutesy is their collaboration with Antony Hegarty, of Antony And The Johnsons, with its lyrical hopefulness for humankind, its bizarre vocal melodies, and its drums like dove wings' flapping. Hear both tracks and read more details about the release below.

 

 

Two tracks of electronic music courtesy of Sweden's Bam Spacey and the mysteriously minimal XXYYXX, with visceral music videos featuring female leads going to excessive lengths to consume in the sexiest way possible.

 

Bam Spacey

Swedish electronic producer Bam Spacey's latest, Land EP, came out May 22nd on Ceremony Recordings. This video grows with the song; the sloppier the milk-drinking, the fuller the song. Expect another track from Bam Spacey in an upcoming REDEFINE mixtape, and you can stream the entire EP on Fader HERE. It's highly recommended.

 

Lyonnais' music video for "A Sign From On High / Modern Calvary" may be the most spectacular piece of promotional art I've seen so far this year. Filmed in multiple locations around the globe by Land & Sea, the scenery reaches as far as the Sahara, London, and Atlanta to recall fashionable regalia and exquisite travel without any of their economic and social implications. Complementary angles and forms intersect and juxtapose to create a world of simultaneous decay and majesty -- one which Lyonnais hope is just distant enough to evade recognition. The video for "A Sign From On High / Modern Calvary" is an expansive piece of work, embodying all of the sprawling and meandering of Lyonnais' sounds with wandering figures and some of nature's finest landscapes. The adventure into this music video begins with a small sampling of stills, as chosen by by the band, followed by the video and a smattering of Q&A selections.
Lyonnais - A Sign From On High / Modern Calvary 2:15 (The advent of humanity) Lyonnais - A Sign From On High / Modern Calvary 4:22 (The feminine) Lyonnais - A Sign From On High / Modern Calvary 6:03 (The desert dumping into an equally expansive and endless sea)
"To me, it was important to separate the visual to somewhere a little less familiar and more exotic in order to convey the right feeling. There is a certain overwhelming feeling that I get when I think of the Sahara or the Gobi, a place where nothing changes. It could be 2,000 years ago or 2,000 years from now and you wouldn't know the difference. It humbles you." - Lyonnais

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. Here, we start off a bit rowdy with Tassels and sink slowly into the enchanting mellow instrumental shores of Grapefruit and Lyonnais.

Tassels

Vancouver-based producer Sean Orr will soon be releasing a new LP, the brilliantly artworked Pressure Mounts, on Dallas' Pour Le Corps. This 2:13-long track is a whirlwind of experimentation and unconventional sound bites which curiously leave one hungering for more. Pressure Mounts drops May 29th, and the full tracklisting is available at the bottom of this post. Tassels - "Shake Them Shackles"

 

Grapefruit

Analog synths and Tangerine Dream vibes combine for Portland electronic artist Grapefruit's latest record, which you can buy HERE on Field Hymns. Choosing a track to highlight was certainly a difficult task, so I've decided to take the liberty of offering you three, because... why the hell not? For download and stream is the entrancing closing track "Aleatoric Tone Tunnels", along with "End Scene" and the music video for "Phase Accidents". Expect an interview with Grapefruit soon! Grapefruit - "Aleatoric Tone Tunnels" - DOWNLOAD MP3 [audio:/mp3/downloads/Grapefruit_Aleatoric-Tone-Tunnels.mp3] Grapefruit - "End Scene"

 

If you even remotely keep tabs on the news cycle these days, it's easy to get bogged down in horrifically menacing thoughts of the world falling apart at the seams. The American military industrial complex has nearly doubled in size over the last decade, and it was already a ridiculously bloated frivolity. We continue to rape the environment for our own selfish expansionary agenda of warped materialism, with little respite in sight. There are no spiritual leaders of any real consequence despite the obvious need. The stupidest people with the least resources continue to have the most children, and their billionaire overseers encourage them to take great pride in their own shameless ignorance. And each time I think I've seen the lamest lowest common denominator pop culture moment possible, all I have to do is wait five minutes and something else will creep up knocking my faith in humanity down a few more pegs. It can get worse than Jersey Shore, and does. What to do, then, with all this bleakness constantly lurking in the outskirts of our collective unconscious? A true mystic can take even the darkest of human plotlines and shine the impenetrable light of our higher spiritual destiny on them, illuminating the hidden beauty in the seemingly most hopeless of scenarios. Which is where an artist like Chelsea Wolfe excels. She manages to take the unrelenting horror of her apocalyptic dreams and effectively channels it towards transcendent catharsis. I caught up with the enchanting Miss Wolfe recently by e-mail to chat about how exactly she pulls this off so effectively as well as her admiration of Ayn Rand, amongst other things. Read on, true believers.

 

The dream-like figure paintings of Norwegian artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen have been so striking to me that the above image has been my Facebook profile picture for the past half year, at least. Uldalen's blue-tinged characters may be shaded like ghostly apparitions or bloodlet cadavers, but the weightlessness and lightness of spirit they possess seem to define serenity, even as they are being whisked off of buildings and freefalling in impossible positions. As Uldalen was born only in 1986, it seems fair to say that these oil paintings are only the beginnings of a whimsical artistic career.