jpg" class="alignright" />Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven Warp Records (2013) It's been said that our generation would never have its Sgt. Pepper's -- that everything is too fragmented, irrevocably lost to postmodern meltdown. Still, it seems that everybody is listening to, and talking about, Oneohtrix Point Never's debut for Warp Records, R Plus Seven. For the moment, it seems that Daniel Lopatin is speaking for all of us. You've got to wonder; what's he trying to say? OPN has risen from a sea of anonymous downloads and esoteric electronics albums on limited edition cassettes. Watching his artistic evolution has been like watching a microcosm of an entire world of psychedelic bedroom producers, jamming their machines, drunk on information overload. Along with former member of The Skaters, James Ferraro, he's like the patron saint of vaporwave, the Socrates of the uncanny Valley. He's been screwing around and developing his own musical language, but he's quite adept at waxing eloquent as he does so. He's giving voice to unconscious drives and desires.
China: a land of nearly 1.5 billion people, 56 recognized ethnic groups, and 292 living languages, spanning over 5,000 kilometers and 34 land divisions. Massive in size, notable in history, and influential in its economic and political maneuvers, China is simultaneously exciting and terrifying – something of a contradiction to the outside world, much loved and much feared.
中国:一个有着近15亿人口,56个民族,292种仍在使用的语言,跨越5000公里,由34块地域组成的国家。中国不仅地理广阔,也有着丰富璀璨的历史,影响世界的经济及政治力量。中国不仅令人震惊兴奋,也令人担心害怕 – 她似乎是个与外面世界不太相同的国家,令人热爱也令人畏惧。
Yet hidden beneath the gargantuan, State-driven China that is emphasized over-and-over again in news coverage lies an artistic day-to-day that few people see. As in any developing country, China has become a breeding ground for new and often innovative ideas – and included in that are an increasing number of musicians searching for their own identities. Many of them are following and documenting their own creative impulses, thereby bringing some musical change to a society otherwise dominated by mainstream Asian pop.
尽管中国一直以来都以庞然大国,国家统治形象示人,她所蕴含的日渐浓重的艺术氛围与文化发展却往往为人忽略。如许多发展中国家一样,中国正孕育着许多新颖,极具创造力的艺术思想 – 这些思想都来自于那些努力发声,力求为大众所见的艺术家、音乐家们。众多音乐家正跟随记录着他们自己的艺术脉搏,运用着他们的创造力,努力为日渐单一、主流化的亚洲流行音乐市场带来不一样的声音及改变。
English text by Vivian Hua; Chinese translation by Summer Fang
"The world's image of China is that of a faceless factory worker, the tasteless new rich Chinese buying property everywhere, the 1.5 billion black dots in the horizon sucking up resources. It doesn't realize that there are also 1.5 billion potential creative minds in this country as well. I think it will take time to make that true." – Helen Feng of Nova Heart "世界对中国的印象一直以来都是千篇一律,毫无特征的工厂工人,只有金钱却毫无品味的中国买家,以及用力耗尽资源的15亿人口。然而大多数人都没有意识到,这15亿人口也是15亿个潜在创造力。我想这需要时间去使其成真。" - Nova Heart (新星心) 的冯海宁
AURAL DEVASTATION is a regular column about heavy rock music. This month, Cloudkicker streams his ninth record, Subsume, Jesu returns with a new track, plus songs from Doomriders and the supergroups Mutoid Man (members of Cave In and Converge) and Black God (members of Coliseum and Young Widows).
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Cloudkicker - "Subsume"

Ben Sharp, who creates under the moniker Cloudkicker, has been blasting the instrumental music scene to pieces since he started releasing music back in 2007. Everything is written, recorded, mixed and mastered at his home in Columbus, Ohio, and like the true lover of music Sharp is, all of his releases are streamed for free online. Physical copies exist, and if you love Cloudkicker’s jams enough. you can always pay Sharp for his efforts as well -- and money should definitely be thrown his way for his prog-metal influenced take on instrumental music. His ninth (!!!) release since 2007, Subsume is streaming on his Bandcamp page, with a limited vinyl run scheduled for sometime in the early Fall. Do yourself a favor and hop on this wagon. It is well worth the ride.  

Jesu - "Homesick"

Jesu, the brainchild of metal God Justin Broadrick, is back out with a new album soon, and it seems like it has been quite some time since his last. Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came has the appropriate long-ass title befitting of any post-metal album, and as the first track "Homesick" shows, Broadrick has gone with a more guitar-oriented approach this time. Granted, is about as thrilling as watching paint drip off a wall and slowly dry into chips, but don’t let that deter you. Any Jesu release is well worth the effort to soak in, and as fall approaches, the soundtrack for the season has arrived with it.
Keep Shelly in Athens At Home Cascine (2013) There are no shortage of bands stitching gauzy female vocals to muscular machine drums and effects-laden guitars. Bands like Nite Jewel, Chvrches and Pure Bathing Culture have been dominating mixtapes and airwaves for several years. What separates Keep Shelly in Athens from the pack? Are they sincere, or merely bandwagon-hopping? On their inaugural flight, At Home, Keep Shelly in Athens rummage through three decades of electronic sounds – the '80s, 90s, and '00s. But what could have ended up as an awkward patchwork of unrelated genres is instead the refinement of the ore of inspiration, into a polished gem of pop perfection.
Kwes. ilp. Warp Records Kwes.' new album, ilp., is an immersive experience. It begins with "purplehands", a soundscape created out of found and captured sounds that have been processed and manipulated, and then added to with lingering musical notes. An aural walk in an urban park, complete with honking geese and hissing swans, this track morphs to become a song that is laced with memory and experiences. Something of a protégé, Kwes., or Kwesi Sey, has worked with such musical luminaries as Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn and Micachu. However, in a touch that signifies this artist's commitment to the personal and private, the biographical material accompanying this release informs us that his musical journey was kickstarted by a gift of a keyboard from his grandmother. A keyboard that he still uses. I find this emphasis entirely appropriate: ilp. is an album of personal ballads. Touching, intimate, engaging but always surprising and intuitively odd, each track is like a memento. Backwards echoes and unconventional multilayering effects offset charming and traditionally framed tunes that are sung, sometimes in a crooning, sometimes in a soulful voice. Behind classic phrasing and homespun lyrics, a palette of tampered, tempered and distorted sounds make up the musical accompaniment. Whether it is the childhood sweetheart recollections of "rollerblades"; the elegant and apparently analogous songwriting of "cablecar"; or the gospel clap and soulful elegy to an out of reach beauty that is "flower" -- this combination of both "pop and mad sounds" delivers an album that is both highly listenable and unexpectedly strange, without ever becoming overly obtuse.
In honour of the Year of the Water Snake and the festival's ninth year running, Symbiosis Gathering 2013 took us to the stunning isolation of Woodward Reservoir in Oakdale, CA to lose ourselves in an unbeatable line-up, and to then find ourselves in poetry, trees, healing domes, sacred fires and endless dives into the lake (for which we are all grateful). With an emphasis on the magic of transformation, Symbiosis provided an enchanted space of bio-psycho-spiritual healing, environmental and sociocultural conscious learning, and a unique source of musical inspiration. Among the many loved and soon-to-be loved artists was the powerful voice of Lynx, the free-flowing explorations of Mount Kimbie, and the ever-passionate words of The Coup.
Photography by Setareh Vatan

Lynx

Out of the untamed medley of transcendental ritual and primal movement that coloured the ether emerged, like a wild cat to the stage, Lynx: a woman whose roar resonated with deep earthy sounds that, like any shamanic heartbeat, carried the audience into a trance. Lynx's style marries folk, electronica, and traces of indie pop with her own beat-boxing, into a highly satisfying cross-genre hybrid, arousing overwhelming appreciation from a crowd immersed in continuous proclamations of love. With her first album, October 2010's On The Horizon, this Bay Area-brewed artist has been charming the world with her strong vocals for some time, and yet my first taste of her at Symbiosis was certainly a highlight of the festival for me, as it no doubt was for many others. Lynx creates a raw, sensual atmosphere throughout songs that swing from downtempo to upbeat rhythms. Her lyrics evoke archetypal imagery of a profound feminine power. On The Horizon presents a magical copulation of the inner unconscious in a poetic dance with a surreal surface world, as Lynx sings of existential ruminations amid romantic sentiments in a lyrical journey that hints at a negotiation of the self. At a festival focused on the partnership between two states of being, Lynx reaches symbiotic perfection through both technical eclectic success and a smooth voice that seduces the audience into watery world balanced between the emotive and the physical, leaving the crowd soaked in enjoyment and hungry for more. Luckily for all of Lynx's pre-existing fans and the new ones she created at Symbiosis (such as myself), her new album, Light Up Your Lantern, will be released on October 22nd.
V V Brown has released three albums since 2009 -- but it is only now that she is making a foray into the independent music world. Freshly divorced from her former major label home, Capitol Records, V V Brown has recently found renewed strength in herself as an artist with her latest record, Samson & Delilah. Themed around the Biblical tale, which mirrors the themes of vulnerability, slavery, and freedom that led to her massive career change, Samson & Delilah also presents a sonic change into moodier and darker territories, where hints of The Knife echo through, replacing previous tendencies towards mainstream pop appeal. A bold new audio-visual approach accompanies the record as well, in the form of a dramatic, carefully-plotted fifteen-minute short film directed by Jessica Hughes. Comprised into three separate music videos, the film bears similarity to mesmerizing black and white Japanese classics by Akira Kurosawa or Masaki Kobayashi, while catching a mood not unlike that of Ingmar Bergman films. They're transportive from part to part, leaving viewers wondering about the terrains to be crossed next. In this Q&A interview about the creative process of the short film, V V Brown speaks of being inspired by geishas and noir, Biblical stories and archetypal characters -- and the feeling of finding one's own artistic voice.
"Samson and Delilah is a story about strength and weakness. It's about the pendulum between the two. The story for me conjured up the idea of empowerment and fragility. When Samson was deceived by his love and was in the wilderness discovering and finding himself, waiting for his hair to grow back, this represents times in my life I have felt lost creatively. Hair clipped and [with] a sense of vulnerability. Delilah was the deceiver. Samson represents the artist and Delilah represents the cooperation. The Artist can often loose the strength of their messages in the corporate arena, and my own record label exercises my freedom and new strength." - V V Brown
CMJ Music Marathon 2013 is the time of year when one runs through the streets of the Lower East Side, hopeful that you will be able to get into a jam-packed venue to see your favorite band -- or maybe discover a band that you haven't heard of will become your favorite band. It's also the time of year for those of us who are not 25 or under try (in vain) to re-live our wild partying years, and for those of us that are 25 and under to stay up until 4 AM partying with the band that is sleeping on our couch. CMJ 2013 is one of the last of the big festivals of the season, so make the most of this indie music feast for the senses! Here are some of our picks for bands to put on your "must see" list:

Father John Misty

Saturday October 19, 2013 10:00pm - 11:00pm @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249) Having recently seen Father John Misty at Newport Folk Fest, I can guarantee this will be a good time. Otherwise known as J. Tillman, he released his debut album under the Father John Misty moniker in 2012. He plays a blend of indie folk and alt-country that is alluring to even the staunchest anti-country music fan, especially those that are into the recent trend of the classic rock throwback. - Judy Nelson

 

Shy Girls

Wednesday October 16, 2013 9:45pm - 10:15pm @ Tammany Hall (152 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002) Thursday October 17, 2013 8:45pm - 9:15pm @ The Delancey (168 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002) A unique indie take on soul and R&B mixed with electronica, Shy Girls were just covered in our Top Pops! section here. The Portland based project of Dan Vidmar has amassed a ton of media attention West Coast, and will attempt to do the same here in NY during CMJ. - Judy Nelson
Tezeo No One Self-Released (2013) red As soon as you hear the crisp, resonant guitar plucking that begins No One's opening track, "Charisma", you know you're in for an eclectic mix of influences and sounds. As Tezeo's self-titled LP continues, bass-heavy dance beats, excitable synths, and divergent electronic sounds join pure, hollow indie pop vocals and ambient psychedelic layers. The result is an intriguing voyage into an ethereally electronic landscape, and an impressive full-length debut – that only lacks some of the focus necessary to reach its full potential and establish its lasting musical significance.
The Pacific Northwest's premiere music festival, Decibel Festival 2013, has come and gone, with another half-week stint of dream electronic music lineups for all. The type of festival that non-Seattle music lovers drool over and Seattle music lovers take amazing late-night advantage of, Decibel has come a long way in the ten years since its inception... and with this review, we celebrate the best of year 10's acts, which include a party sounds by JETS, the collaboration between Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, Machinedrum's visually-entrancing new live show, neo-classical-meets-electronic composer Nils Frahm, and goofy electronic pioneers, The Orb.
Photography by Lizzy Eve

JETS = Machinedrum & Jimmy Edgar

It can be a bit surprising how successful after-parties at Decibel Festival are -- especially considering they always begin at 2:30am, and sometimes on weekday nights. Thursday evening (or Friday morning at 3:30am, if you wanted to get all technical about it) was JETS' headlining slot at the Leisure System Afterparty, and it was my most anticipated show of Decibel Festival 2013. Still, I didn't really know what to expect from the duo, comprised of Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar, since JETS is a relatively new project and the amount of material they have out in the world is quite tiny. I knew from their dearth of recordings that they know how to make bangin' party music and that they at least somewhat have metaphysical interests -- but it was only after seeing them perform at Neumo's that the tie between the two seemingly disparate elements actually began to make sense. JETS create a whipped-up blend of DJ sensibilities for the complex listener -- but their adept copiloting of an atmosphere filled with entrancing sonic trickeries also makes them appealing for the complex dancer. Upon first taking the stage, JETS reminded me of futuresonic explorers in electronic hyperspace, and I nearly expected the mixer that both Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar laid their hands upon to turn into a brightly-colored glowing orb. Well, it didn't, and the sci-fi sounds soon faded, but what they gave way to was a challenging set that remained in a constant state of transition. Beats shifted again and again at perfectly-timed yet completely unpredictable intervals, and even better were the moments where JETS dropped down low -- sometimes obviously and sometimes almost imperceptibly. While beats continued, repeating vocal samples would brew up from beneath, bubbling up through otherwise dense layers of sound, in the form of subtle mind suggestion cues telling you to "dance", or some variation of the same. Such is a subconscious trick that JETS have mastered, with effects that one might not even notice immediately. When I go to electronic shows, I sometimes get bored of my own dance moves because the music remains so static -- or conversely, because the music changes with such a jitter that it loses momentum or leads to abrupt transitions between dance styles. Not so with JETS... and this, coupled with the sly vocal mind-control mechanism previously described, may be the most successful aspects of their approach. They are seamlessly dynamic -- to a point where it almost hurts because it is so good, and you're so tired, but you just can't stop dancing. The way in which JETS can inspire a melting away of a crowd, leaving only the purity of sound -- made their set godamn transcendent -- and that is not an adjective I use lightly. - Vivian Hua