Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often only viewed on tiny screens...

An imposing wall of rotary dials, turreted by oscilloscopes, draped in spaghettied cables, emitting a series of creaks, groans, and unearthly bubbles, is one of the most iconic images of electronic music. These monolithic machines -- known as modular synthesizers -- have had an enormous impact on how we visualize...

Circuit des Yeux's performances are like a guided tour through several decades of psychedelia; cherry-picked moments of visionary art rock, viewed through a classy romantic noir cabaret lens. The band is in full tilt as my girlfriend and I enter the Doug Fir's rough hewn wooden basement venue, which is...

Jan St. Werner - Miscontinuum Album Review
Miscontinuum is a surreal, subjective sound opera; an abstract tone poem; a stream-of-consciousness dream monologue on the nature of time and memory.
"Every memory is just a loop. Returning again to places I once was, before, things are never as I remember them. Every home is also a burning house. Loop... and if one could draw this loop differently, then what? Different lengths? Four different lengths? Changes history's courses - places, people, and events; all of them never were. Could they be made anew with this loop? I doubt it. Is this really happening?" - Intro to Miscontinuum
Miscontinuum, from Mouse On Mars member Jan St. Werner, is the third installment in his Fiepblatter Catalogue series, was originally conceived as an operatic performance and radio play, with a very surreal, stream-of-consciousness libretti written by Oval's Marcus Popp, and recited, wonderfully, by Earth's Dylan Carlson, in his reedy voice. The text revolves around the misconceptions of time and memory, inspired by unique acoustic phenomena derived through digital phasing and musical time-stretching techniques, which is punctuated with St. Werner's tapestry of hypnotic electrical pulsing. Imagine, if you will, if Philip Glass had written an opera based on a text by Haruki Murakami, rather than illustrating Einstein standing on a beach; with Terry Riley on the keys, if it had been recorded thirty years later, and you're getting close to imagining Miscontinuum's minimalist electronics.

 

Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.
Dustin Wong Takako Minekawa - She He See Feel Music Video
Building on his tendency of taking music video creation into his own hands, Dustin Wong has, quite appropriately, collaborated with musical co-conspirator Takako Minekawa on making the "She He See Feel" music video. The track is taken from the duo's latest record on Thrill Jockey, entitled Savage Imagination, and the imagination here is savage, indeed. Chroma-keyed imagery is overlaid upon warped, pulsing backgrounds, heightening the manic video game-inspired nature of the music -- and beneath the bedazzling and head-scratching effects of the videos lies pun-filled lyrical content about "flying over a desert via feeling, consciousness, and physics." No shit. In the Q&A interview below, both musicians speak to collaborating together, the relationship between gender roles and cutesiness in Japanese society, and concepts way more profound than one might expect from the music video.__ JAPANESE TRANSLATION BY MORGAN HARKNESS
Dustin Wong Takako Minekawa - She He See Feel Music Video
"... When we express our feelings with visual things (using emoticons and text to dissect them) instead of spoken words and letters, everything and lots of things become heavier coming out. It's all the same water. Discrimination, wars, gender issues... girlfriends, boyfriends, looking, feeling. A prism collects light, and then diffuses light. We are the same light, and we all shine in different ways." - Takako Minekawa
The harp, as an instrument, seems to inherently conjure medieval, Celtic, or angelic imagery. When it is joined by swirling synthesizers and bilious clouds of delayed guitars, the brain is left with all manner of interesting juxtapositions, like a tea room melting into sea foam, or some fictitious movie with moonbeams, meteor showers, and unicorns. Mary Lattimore Jeff Zeigler - Slant of Light Album ReviewSlant of Light is the first recorded collaboration between Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, who first began collaborating in 2013, with a live score for Philippe Garrel's 1968 film, La Revelateur. And while some performers spend decades honing their musical bond, Lattimore and Ziegler seem to immediately comprehend one another, like a pair of musical Gemini twins. Both Lattimore and Ziegler are in-demand session musicians, with the former lending harp plucks to Kurt Vile, Jarvis Cocker, and going on tour with Thurston Moore for years, while Zeigler has slung axe for Chris Forsyth, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, and The War On Drugs. What is first, and most immediately striking about Slant of Light, is how this indie rock lineage has given way to this celestial head trip of a record. It is like a microcosm of the descent into obscure, mind-altering music from the mainstream -- in which every music lover whose parents don't have a hip record collection, has partaken.
Seer could be seen as a New World Symphony of a vast, prehistoric continent that exists only in your mind. Or in a galaxy far, far away. Music has been attempting to describe nature for as long as there's been music -- attempting to evoke a babbling brook or the spring rain, through a keyboard or the beating of stones. The story of music could be seen as man's attempt to get closer to nature, to describe what it is to be human and what it will be, in ever-increasing detail and complexity. It could be because of this drive that many would-be world-builders took to the emerging field of electronic music, where it became possible to work with the building blocks of sound and with recordings of the natural world, to construct abstract movies of the is as well as the never-was. This was the dream and the vision of the tape-manipulators and the inventors of singing electric machines -- to create a new musical language, unfettered from musical prisons; the imagination set free. The lovers and writers of science fiction recognized this pioneering, visionary quality of early electronic music, and, very soon, the sound of old synths quickly became synonymous with classic sci-fi cinema. And because of this, it becomes almost impossible to listen to a record like Seer and not hear it as a film score. The question is: What kind of movie is it?