John Lemke - People Do Album ReviewJohn Lemke People Do Denovali Records, 2013The world of Germany-born, Glasgow-based composer and sound designer John Lemke is a rich and varied one. Working in a variety of media, so as to enable him explore his fascination with music and "all things sonic", he has dipped his fingers into a variety of collaborative pies, ranging from live performance and film sound design, to work as a documentary composer for British television broadcasters such as the BBC. An accomplished manipulator of the recorded aural environment, Lemke seeks, in People Do, his debut solo album, to fuse the emotive elements from his film work with a sense of rhythm and space. With a stated aim of marshaling his abstract sonic palette to create a "danceable, electro-acoustic whole", the effect achieved is one of a highly visual journey that inhabits the realm of memory channelled and interpreted through objects and their collected histories. Lemke explains that his first inspiration was found in the "idiosyncratic sound world of his grandmother's piano. With a shimmering past in the silent film era of 1920's Berlin, its very fabric was full of anecdotes."
 
High Wolf Kairos: Chronos Not Not Fun Records, 2013High Wolf is obviously no stranger to complicated instrumental composition. On his most recent release, Kairos: Chronos, he creates a work that is at times elusive, consistently impressive, and stimulating enough to provide ample room for contemplation amidst its contoured layers, contrasting soundscapes, and subtle chord progressions.
The immediate density of Kairos: Chronos is striking. Whereas instrumental music normally relies on forward motion and significant musical transitions -- layering different parts as the song goes on, altering their course, and then perhaps disassembling them -- High Wolf's compositions are much more dimensional. He does not just layer one part; he layers many parts: everything from the bottom register's bass-y synth, to the percussive section's plethora of ever-changing electronic and real beats, to the upper register's ethereal and stringy synths and distorted electric guitar parts. In doing so, he creates a lush wall of sound that beeps, shimmers, and grooves, moving inward and outward, as well as back and forth.
 
As "Toothwheels" begins with a (relatively) hard dance beat and the video flickers with ghostly, strobing visuals, one instantly begins to think, "What the hell happened to the adorable múm that loved to frolick in nature and sing childish songs for adults?" It seems that they have shed a bit of their sunshine since their 2009 days of Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, and their newest record, Smilewound, seems to be a darker and sparser record -- though certainly not lacking in the band's signature use of bizarre percussive sounds, bells, or string arrangements.

 

Broken Deer Polaraura Self-Released Releasing an album means recording, mixing, mastering, and sharing a piece of yourself through music -- and the way all that happens can be unbelievably revealing. In Broken Deer's experimental, ghostly, and cassette-recorded fifth release, Polaraura, we get a unique window into Lindsay Dobbin's musical temperament as well as her natural and spiritual concerns. At the same time breathlessly intimate and palpably alienating, Dobbin's music invites external forces in while still keeping itself closed off, lending an interesting dichotomy to Polaraura's collection of fluctuating sounds and melodies.

 

SALTLAND I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us Constellation Records (2013) On her debut album, cellist, vocalist, and composer Rebecca Foon -- otherwise known as SALTLAND -- creates a cosmic wasteland of sound and feeling. Through freeform string parts, spiritually reminiscent vocals, raw, distorted backdrops, and tribal percussion, the desolate and beautiful world of I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us emerges, entrances, and encourages contemplation.

 

CASCINE: The Sound of Escape Now

This mixtape is an ode to the tender elegance and unbridled wanderlust of every springtime renewal. It's our way of saying: goodbye endless winter, hello brand new sunshine. Music for floating overseas through seasons of change, following the cyan expanses, or just heading out to the open sky. This is the sound of innocence won back. Take a deep breath, and jump right in. Curation and descriptions by Sandra Croft, Cascine's publicist.

www.cascine.us

 

Blue Hawaii Untogether Arbutus Records (2013) Voice and space function as the two most important instruments on Untogether, a side project of Braids' Raphaelle Standell-Preston and collaborator Alexander Cowan, their debut album as Blue Hawaii. That's not to say that traditional composition -- at least in terms of electronic music -- doesn't conquer all on Untogether, but it does put the focus squarely on what is left out versus what is included. But does it accomplish enough with so little? Not exactly. Standell-Preston is obviously the star of Untogether, as her unrelenting, bellowing vocals are not only lethal in a very fundamental way, but the tricks and twists which Cowan adds to her voice make the record come alive in a powerful way. "Try To Be," one of the album's standouts, is built upon this very principle. Not only is the acoustic guitar constructed as a round; the vocals, down to specific breathes, are sampled and repeated in a beautiful array of instrumentation, destruction, and ultimately resurrection. But one gorgeous song does not an album make, and for as many beautiful moments as Blue Hawaii are able to create, there are equally disappointing ones as well.

 

September 30th, 2012 @ Roseland Theatre, Portland, OR +++ SEE ALSO: FULL SHOW REVIEW + DUSTIN WONG + THRILL JOCKEY RECORDS On recording, I absolutely adore Beach House, but every time I see them in a live setting, I find myself disappointed by the lack of emotional output and dynamism from husky-voiced lead singer Victoria Legrand. Her performances always feel disingenuous to me, and seem to perpetuate a vapid and shallow sense of drama that may look beautiful -- in fact, an intense light display setup heightened that sense this evening at Roseland Theatre -- but holds no lasting value beneath its surface. So though I had initially been more excited to give Beach House a chance to redeem themselves, it was show opener and Ponytail member Dustin Wong who actually delivered. He was eye-catching the old-fashioned way: by sheer feat of artistry alone.

 

In the latest dubstep-inspired track by Brooklyn's The Mast, vocalist Haale Gafori took full directorial duties and turned scenes from her mind into a stark music video for public consumption. Covered with powder for a heightened ethereal effect, Los Angeles-based dancer Pandora Marie pop and locks her way in and out of Gafori's vocals, as monochrome simplicity eventually projects into full-color silhouettes that pulse in time with glitchy beats. In the brief Q&A below, Gafori describes the creative process for "UpUpUp" from start to finish, and you can expect to see this video in our upcoming Motion & Movement In Music Video panels for Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW.

 

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body.

Nguzunguzu

On July 3rd, Los Angeles electronic duo Nguzunguzu released their debut record on Hippos In Tanks Records, their Warm Pulse EP. Below, you can choose to stream the first track "Smoke Alarm", or you can do yourself a bigger favor and listen to it in its tiny 5-track entirety via Red Bull Music Academy! No regrets and no waste of your time here. I might note that lovers of sci-fi might find small homages; "Drop Cage" is quite reminiscent of the X-Files theme song. NGUZUNGUZU - WARM PULSE EP TRACKLISTING 1. Warm Pulse 2. Delirium 3. Smoke Alarm 4. Drop Cage 5. No Longer NGUZUNGUZU SHOW DATES July 14th @ The Complex in Glendale, CA w/ oOoOO, ∆Aimon

 

Stream NGUZUNGUZU - Warm Pulse EP via Red Bull Music Academy

 

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.