Oakland's Lumerians are releasing The High Frontier this month, and its first single is the surprisingly female-narrated "Life Without Skin". The track shows Lumerians at their finest, full of subdued control; they roll through different sonic moves and structural movements with ease, without leaving behind the swirling qualities they are so well-known for. Visuals have always been important for Lumerians -- who have a projector setup in tow at most of their shows -- and this music video, directed by long-time band friend and filmmaking collaborator Waylon Bacon, follows "Life Without Skin" as it moves with quickening pace. Quivering and shuddering, th videoe explores Los Angeles' Skid Row late at night, as buildings mutate and mysterious ghouls roam the dingy streets.

 

"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 toes. This month, Gauntlet Hair pay homage to noise pop vibes and Pure Bathing Culture get adorable, while Grumbling Fur and Dubais present a psyched-out jam and lo-fi offering, respectively.
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Pure Bathing Culture - "Pendulum"

Portland favorites Pure Bathing Culture, comprised of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille, have done the boy-girl music partnership thing to great success. After blowing up the local scene with humble fanfare, they've taken the same type of reverb and cutesiness that has become grotesquely overdone in the indie pop genre and gone on to offer something just a bit more. It's hard to detail just what that something is in words -- but it's a feeling evoked, of genuine pleasantries and not of fads, of beauty in wispy, fleeting moments, to be celebrated. A reminder of the passing of time in this way, "Pendulum" is the opening track of their upcoming full-length, Moon Tides, which will be released on August 20th via Partisan Records.

 

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.
 
Date Palms The Dusted Sessions Thrill Jockey Records On The Dusted Sessions, Date Palms trace a fertile crescent from Nile Delta to Mojave Desert; soaring you though the stratosphere, then plummeting for a McCarthy slow crawl through the dust. Thrill Jockey have been killing it lately with their evocations of '70s kosmic soul jazz. Date Palms, however, have not created a love song to a record collection; rather, they employ the traditional associations of eclectic visionary instruments to take you on a journey through interesting interior landscapes.

 

Watching a singular man or woman perform behind a stack of electronic equipment can sometimes really fail to really pull the heartstrings; it's easy for a showgoer to disconnect when there's a lack of connection between musical output and the actions a performer is making onstage. To combat this, electronic musicians have, in recent times, turned to innovation in the multimedia sphere to add an extra bit of oomph to their live sets. On Flying Lotus' latest tour for Until The Quiet Comes, he worked with long-time friends and animators to create Layer 3, a one-of-a-kind audio-visual experience that takes showgoers through three-dimensional worlds of tunnels, silly cartoons, metaphysical imagery, and biological forms. But more on that later, for his set with Thundercat had much more to offer than just a visual experience; it possessed a massive amount of novelty all-around.
May 24th, 2013 @ Roseland Theatre - Portland, Oregon
"I think as we get older, that idea of magic is just taken from us. There's just less of it and less of it... I really try to just kind of dabble in things that feel magical." -- Steve Ellison of Flying Lotus

 

Black Moth Super Rainbow make music for maniacs; misfits that don't fit in anywhere but a Black Moth Super Rainbow show. The combination of lo-fi, surreal visuals with muscular funk rhythms and a battery of cosmic sci-fi synths transport listeners to a grainy interzone of abandoned playgrounds, rolling cemeteries, and haunted shopping malls. The music of Tobacco (vocals/vocoder), Seven Fields of Aphelion (synth), Iffernaut (drums), Ryan Graveface (guitar), and Pony Diver (bass) is both nostalgic, romantic & playful, while maintaining an air of menace and danger.
In an insert that came with the album Dandelion Gum, there was talk of "vocoders humming amongst the flowers and synths bubbling under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain". This sure sounds like technopagan nature worship, but then you have track names like "I Think I'm Evil" and "Psychic Love Damage", and you're just not sure what to think anymore. In a recent interview with Paste Magazine, Tobacco (real name: Tom Fec) spoke of the apparent contradiction:
"This is not a hippie band. It was never meant to be. I've always felt like, whether you can hear it in my music or not — and I'm sure you couldn't — almost like a punk asshole. People thought I was this gentle weed-smoking kid tripping out in a field somewhere. I think I'm more of like a dickhead prankster."
He then went on to describe backlash he received for the Sun Lips video from irate fans because the video "wasn't psychedelic".
"[All those expectations on what I'm supposed to like] are part of what I call the Black Moth box. You create this thing that's outside of the box, right? And the second you do that, people build a box for it. And it becomes an even smaller box than any box you were trying to not be in. And I feel like that happened to Black Moth."

 

In Hinduism, there is a term called Shaktipat, in which a guru transmits enlightenment by their very presence. Considering the places that some of us here at REDEFINE Magazine have voyaged to while listening to the music of Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti, solo musicians who are also collectively known as Barn Owl, we decided to harangue the duo with a bunch of questions about meditation, to see how much they had seen in such altered spaces. Barn Owl's music seems custom-made for the sweat lodge or meditation hall. As you listen to an amalgam of tribal percussion, temple bells, cosmic synths, and rustic American transcendentalism, you can practically smell the sweet sage burning. Their music knows no bounds, and as such, is a ritual that everybody can take part in. As increasing amounts of people and culture make demands on our time and attention, the ability to find a quiet, sacred space becomes essential. Barn Owl's portable ashram is a precious resource -- you can strap on a pair of headphones and find some space on a crowded train or a busy street to reflect. They encourage us to slow down, and find a little peace. Barn Owl's latest full-length album, V, is out now on Thrill Jockey Records. PURCHASE BARN OWL's V ON AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY MASTERS; ABOVE ARTWORK BY EMILY FRASER

Jon Porras

"Into Midnight" from Black Mesa

Evan Caminiti

"Fading Dawn" from Dreamless Sleep

Barn Owl

"Void Redux" from V Barn Owl’s music has a way of slowing down attention, slowing down one's perception of time. Meditation produces a similar result. What are your intentions with putting music out into the world? Are they aligned with such qualities?
Jon Porras: Especially in the Bay Area, I feel myself trying to slow down in the wake of a fast paced, technology-based culture. Maybe this desire to slow down comes out subconsciously in our work. We’ve always gravitated toward music that builds slowly and thoughtfully, and I believe it can be powerful to feel big impact from subtle shifts in tone, volume and texture.   
Evan Caminiti: I approach music less conceptually than I once did and rely more on intuition and daily practice, embracing the strong moments of improvisation rather than trying over and over again to execute an idea based on concepts that don't resonate viscerally. Having a specific vision and knowing what we want to hear is crucial; I would say we always make the kind of music we would to listen to. I think slow music, deep music that taps into something beyond just entertainment, music that engages your body and mind in an all encompassing way -- that is really valuable and crucial. Personally, it is a major part of my well-being, and I hope through releasing music that it does the same for others. I find it to have a grounding effect, both energizing and calming.