"It really comes down to sustaining a living as a creative entity, both for ourselves and our collaborators, through a holistic ecosystem of our own design. That, and feeling like we've contributed to the world with something good and inspired, rather than just more noise."...
Speculative visions and first forays in to the future have a way of quickly dating themselves before that future they portend has a chance to fully arrive. The result of this effect is the opposite of the one intended; they become mired in their present moment, ultimately signifying their own time much more than the one they were intended to herald.
But what happens when such things rise again? Think of virtual reality: after an immediate cultural peak in the early 1990s with that Aerosmith video and the awful Lawnmower Man (1992) film, popular interest in the technology rapidly dwindled.It never exactly went away, though, and has in recent years received renewed attention thanks to the gaming and film industries and products like the Oculus Rift. Having circled back around from Jetsons-like cartoon status to being something that people are excited about again, virtual reality, as a concept, now exists in a kind of duality, in the perception of it. Because that '90s legacy is still so burned into the public consciousness, virtual reality retains its retro-ness, but now it also gets to say "I told you so."
Heavily inspired by an extended trip to Berlin, Candide is the duo of Candice Strongwater and Adam Brodsky, who imported the city's European sounds to their home in Brooklyn, creating a brand of dark and sultry disco that is equally inspired by Rhythm & Sound as Donna Summers and Bee Gees. This could be the alternate soundtrack to the summer of 1977, if the disco clubs had acknowledged the paranoia and dread of the Son Of Sam running rampant, while still losing themselves in the sweltering heat of romantic dancefloor abandon.
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.
To pay proper homage to the musical grandness of 2013 and to usher in the new year 2014, we've once again decided to call upon our tastemaker friends to compile their favorite up-and-comers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Here, Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the innovative, multimedia-minded nightclub Holocene give us the scoop on Portland bands to watch (and see their 2012 list here. Those who are interested in the Seattle scene can view the picks of the stylish boutique shop and venue, Cairo, here.
I've believed wholeheartedly in the exceptional talent of Aan's Bud Wilson ever since I first heard his emotionally riveting avant-rock back in 2009. Fast-forward to the present, and Aan is experiencing a well-deserved breakout year. After extensive touring -- including a string of dates with the Smashing Pumpkins -- the band is in top form. Even in mid-size nightclubs, Aan puts on a show fit for an arena with their sheer dynamism and technical skill. Bud is a multi-faceted crooner, capable of delicate romance and ferocious vitriol alike, and he deftly charts a course across this wide emotional territory: a map of Amor Ad Nauseum (the title of Aan's excellent upcoming debut LP). With the recent addition of Brainstorm's Patrick Phillips -- ecstatic West African-influenced guitar shredder -- to the live band, I can only imagine 2014 will be even more exciting for this group. - GINA ALTAMURA(Editor's Note: Aan will be playing Holocene's next film score series, Fin De Cinema, on Purse Candy and Philip Grass; they will be scoring the Japanese animation, Night on the Galactic Railroad. See more details here. Their next record, Amor Ad Nauseum, drops February 1st, 2014.)
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An incarnation of Portland's favorite disco sons, Strength, Phone Call kicks it up a couple of decades with their hard-hitting hip-hop beats, and introduces more assertive synth lines in lieu of Strength’s guitar-heavy grind. It’s unabashedly -- if not absurdly -- sexy, with plenty of space for singer Bailey Winters’ charismatic swagger to shine through. There’s a little Prince, a little JT, and a gleeful dive into the deep reaches of boogie funk crate. Some wear your sunglasses at night/Miami Vice vibes or at least they’ll make you think that it’s getting a little hot in here... But there’s no mistaking: they’re here to make us dance, and maybe leave the place with somebody tonight. - VAN PHAM(Editor's Note: Phone Call play Holocene on New Year's Eve, with Le1f, Shy Girls, and PWRHAUS... along with DJ slots from Miracles Club and Radiation City. Details here.)
Natasha Kmeto is a total badass. Unpoetic I know, but nonetheless the most satisfying descriptor for this futuristic soul diva. She's an expert at working a crowd, and as a solo performer relying on electronics, this is especially impressive. As a producer, her adventurous bass music is powerful and entrancing, while her vocal delivery is more captivating still. Her unabashed reflections on the vicissitudes of love and the trials of artistic ambition are belted out with incredibly authentic emotion, lending her music an immortal quality of spiritual resonance. - GINA ALTAMURA++ SEE: ALL POSTS RELATED TO NATASHA KMETO + NATASHA KMETO INTERVIEW
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you funkeh.
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Empress Of - Systems EP (Terrible Records)
Random Access Memories
Columbia RecordsWant to know about the world's largest living organism? How about the man with the third highest Donkey Kong score? Need the formula for the area of a circle? All of these things and literally every other piece of knowledge can be had with the click of a button. It's now an age-old adage about the "information age," a time we seemingly take for granted. But what if you want to know more about Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk? In a time when privacy and anonymity are trivialized, Daft Punk continue to don their masks and create music devoid of desperately appearing as though it was culled from their personal influences.
On Random Access Memories, Daft Punk's fourth studio album, the Parisian duo turn that formula on its head, trading in their time-tested computer programs for the collected human experience. But it's still not about their experience; it's about our experience. When they talk of giving life back to music, it isn't just about reaching into the past to create the future; it's about the communal aspects of music: the experience and heartbreak associated with the sounds and its people. Random Access Memories isn't the album Daft Punk should be making in 2013, and that's exactly why Daft Punk created it, and why it took eight long years to master. If the series of Creator's Project videos focusing squarely on the album's collaborators taught us anything, it's that the history of music can teach us more about our presence than anything being produced today.
Maria MinervaBless EP
100% Silk (2013)
On her website, Maria Minerva (née Juur) tells us that once she left home, it was easy to do it again. Indeed, for her, home is wherever she lays her head and finds a wifi password. This impermanence and transience hovers above her music like a ghost, belied by the Euro disco and dance pop stylings that she deploys. It is this combination, of the fugitive and the substantial, of the common and the uncommon, that gives her music both its reach and dynamism.
When I caught up with Midnight Magic in Portland, Oregon, it was a week after the band's original show in the city. They had originally been booked on a Halloween bash that was foiled by Mother Nature, who decided that hurricanes and cyclones should devoid Portlanders of the band's disco-funk-soul stylings. The make-up show, an Ekstasy-sponsored night co-thrown by members of indie house outfit The Miracles Club, took place at a relatively new dance club called The Rose Room -- and somehow, despite all the chaos, Midnight Magic managed to fly in with seven of their nine members.
I had read a handful of pretty mundane interviews on the internet which were basically fixated on simple facts about the band and went no further. Those publications discovered that some members of Midnight Magic moved from Los Angeles to New York together and that others were session players for Hercules & Love Affair and LCD Soundsystem. All that is fine and dandy, but for a band as fiery as Midnight Magic, I felt it necessary to break the mold and get to the bottom of who they actually are as human beings. On the tip of that iceberg was a simple question about their lineup. How and why is that worth it to them to have nine members? Don't they want to make money or find traditional music-making success or whatever?
I felt that answering the aforementioned questions would by proxy answer a lot of other things about Midnight Magic's approach to music-making and life in general. And when all seven members of the band were on hand and pumped to do a group interview, the band's inclusive and playful sound was translated into tangible real life vibrance.
To set the scene: the club itself was too small to house all of us, so we flowed through the emergency exit to perch in the stairwell, nearly locking ourselves out along the way. Keyboardist Morgan Wiley, the longest-limbed of the group, knelt in the center as everyone stood and sat around him. As there was no flat surface present, Wiley became the eagerly self-nominated holder of the recording apparatus, occasionally striking Backstreet Boy-type poses to make sure the microphone was within earshot of whomever was speaking.
His actions were charming, to say the least -- as was the entire interview. So though I usually opt for expository feature articles on bands, this nine-way chat (with seven band members and two journalists) was too rich with laughter, teasing, tongue-in-cheek statements, and all the self-help philosophies one could possibly want (or not want) to pass up a direct transcription. Doing so would have been a disservice to both band and reader, so both of those follow in the full interview below, along with many a hippie star dust quote spoken with full authenticity.
Bleep is a column focusing on varying degrees of electronic music news, videos and MP3s. In this post, Kitsune shows off disco house singles from Gigamesh and Plastic Plates, and we quickly look at the John Talabot and Pional collaborations from earlier this year.
In "Don't Stop", featuring Jana Nyberg, American producer Gigamesh pairs lyrics about speediness and constantly being on the run with a retro-futuristic video featuring some truly explosive footage from Death Race 2000. Centered around sex, hip architecture, and race tracks, the video manages to montage a fully sexy portrait of forward-thinking disco music.
His latest EP release, All My Life, has just been released on Kitsune, and another track of the same title features collaged clips of Logan's Run. You can also hear the "Dream On" HERE.