An image of a stunning girl with Cleopatra eye makeup, defined cheekbones, pale skin, and black crimped-and-teased hair shows up on your Tumblr feed. You can guess that it’s an image from the past, as the colors are faded and there is a bend in the corner, which leads you to conclude that the original is a physical picture scanned and uploaded to the Internet. It has over 500 likes and reposts with no information of its origins—no year, no names given as credit or to the model. Discovering even who posted the picture on Tumblr is difficult to find after a certain number of reposts; the image becomes further removed from its source. The image itself decays, too, each successive copy becoming a more distorted version of the original photograph. Soon its lines are blurred and faded, merely a ghost imprint of the original. This is the way I think of the 1980s goth subculture. The 1980s goths, even though they molded and set the foundation for subsequent goths, have unwittingly become fodder for the Tumblr generation.
Joel Shanahan’s Golden Donna project seems to be that of a visionary artist committed to the transcendent power of dance music. His music aims for that sweet spot where sense of time is lost through subtly changing hypnotic repetition. It creates a vocabulary of grooves that slowly ensconces the listener. As Golden Donna, Shanahan has been relentless with a steady stream of output since 2012. Seedy Approach is the second EP Golden Donna has released in 2015. The 4-track 12-inch opens with “Smirk” where Shanahan explores darker terrain than previous ventures. The industrial track hearkens to techno brethren from noisier camps. The growls, pressure spouted steam, and subtly creeping synth chords make for a more focused and restrained Golden Donna that seems to suggest a path pushing farther out stylistically.
Florist is the songwriting project of Brooklyn’s Emily Sprague alongside Felix Walworth of Told Slant, Rick Spataro and Jonnie Baker. Sprague’s music, like that of other members of The Epoch, focuses on highly personal songwriting. Lyrically, with “Vacation”, we’re given recollections of scenes from a childhood vacation punctuated by musings on the passing of time. Sprague delivers the lyrics in a simple, plainspoken manner, accompanied by a delicate instrumental arrangement supplied by the band.
“Vacation” is the first cut from Holdly, Florist’s first official release for Double Double Whammy, who have released works from like minds Free Cake for Every Creature and fellow Epoch member Eskimeaux. Florist's debut LP, The Birds Sang Outside, is slated for release in early 2016.
Holdly is out October 30th via Double Double Whammy.
On the opening of their new track “Running Waters,” B-side to their debut 7” single “Heavenly Creatures,” Tallinn, Estonia three-piece Holy Motors acquaints the listener with a somnambulant snaking guitar line before Lauri Raus’s sirenic vocals dare and ensnare, alluring in their delivery, entrapping in their substance. The song is drenched in reverb, a nod to the cinematic expansiveness of a Morricone Spaghetti Western score and the cosmic evocation of the archetypal desert. Between the two verses and choruses of the song and the final instrumental break, the introductory guitar line comes and goes, peeking in at times to check on the listener’s progress and mood. The song hits like the final push for a summit, begging spiritual or psychic transcendence—the voice saying “go on” when you can’t go on, but must.
Nashville-bred duo Lionlimb have just released a beautifully shot video for the song “Bored Today” from their Turnstile 7”, out now via Bayonet Records. The same off-the-cuff melancholy that gives the song its charm finds its way into the video. We’re given a collage of slowed down shots of drinking out of brown paper bags, cigarette smoking cats and musicians playing a mellow house show, all shot in nostalgic sepia.
Primary songwriter Stewart Bronaugh put Lionlimb on hiatus in 2014 to play as part of Angel Olsen’s backing band both on tour and on Burn Your Fire For No Witness. Now, Lionlimb are touring the west coast with her. Dates below.
Many underground music fans already know the epoch-defining comps. 1978 saw the release of No New York, the unbeatable document of New York City’s burgeoning no wave scene, curated by Brian Eno and spotlighting D.N.A., Mars, James Chance’s Contortions, and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. NME famously collected the shambling jangle pop and post-punk of mid-’80s Britain on its C86 compilation, a 22-track set featuring Primal Scream, The Pastels, Shop Assistants, and more. In January 1982, Dischord released its Flex Your Head compilation, showcasing eleven punk bands from the local DC scene, including Minor Threat, the Teen Idles, and Void. Each of these aforementioned compilations—just three of countless important scene reports—recognized their subjects in a succinct but complete way, providing insiders and outsiders alike an enduring portrait of a concentrated burst of creative energy.
In 2004 the spotlight was beginning to move toward what would become the 21st-century epicenter of underground music: Brooklyn. At the time, the borough’s experimental bands were experiencing a sudden but warranted increase in attention. In May of that year, Animal Collective issued Sung Tongs, their first in a series of watershed albums that, though still experimental, reigned in the improvisatory and lo-fi nature of their early recordings for more welcoming and relatable sounds and gained the still fledgling band more and more fans. The very next month, Black Dice released Creature Comforts—likewise a shift for a band that had previously excelled in the noise scene when they’d “graduated” to the more “ambitious,” droning landscapes of Beaches & Canyons. Creature Comforts would mark the beginning of Black Dice’s direction at more dance-oriented music, albeit dance music without any polish or rigidity whatsoever.
But digging a little deeper reveals that these two poster children were just the tip of the iceberg. These deep reaches would be fully explored July 14, 2004, with UUAR’s release of They Keep Me Smiling, a 16-song CD packaged with a sturdy, no-expenses-spared hardcover book outlining the prime movers of the ever-growing scene.
Adding on to their already-busy fall release schedule, the folks at RVNG Intl. have announced The Enlightening Beam of Bobby Brown. A one-man new age orchestra (and not an R&B singer...), Bobby Brown self-released the storied The Enlightening Beam of Axonda in 1972, briefly flirted with greater success, put out some more music, fell into obscurity, and—as the story goes these days—was rediscovered by skilled crate diggers. Not long ago, RVNG's Matt Werth met with Brown at the Berkeley Art Museum, which coincided with Bay Area producers Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Austin Cesear crafting sonic interpretations of Brown's deceptively complex work. Smith's contribution starts droning and chiming, sifting through its own sonic surroundings, making subtle use of numerous textures as Brown often does. Halfway through she introduces brisk, gurgling arpeggios, like Riley underwater, that suggest she'd make a good double bill with Bitchin Bajas.
The Enlightening Beam of Bobby Brown is out now on RVNG Intl. as a cassette-and-zine collection.
Back in September, word broke of the debut release of Chambers, a truly experimental techno duo helmed by Gabriel Mindel Saloman (Yellow Swans, Mudsuckers, et al.) and Michael Red. Sigma Flare 1, to be followed some time next year by Sigma Flare 2, highlights the duo’s abstract, atmospheric take on dub-influenced sonics and massive, rhythmic gestures, heavily but tastefully indebted to Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus’ Rhythm & Sound excursions. Following Sigma Flare 1’s release via Debacle Records, we caught up with the duo to share a stream of the EP and trace the roots and future plans for the collaboration.
AdHoc: Gabriel, you used to be based in Portland, Oregon with Yellow Swans. When did you relocate to Vancouver?
Gabriel Mindel Saloman: I began travelling to Vancouver in 2007/2008 to visit my partner [musician/artist Aja Rose Bond] and eventually immigrated here in 2010. I’ve been based in Vancouver ever since, but I still migrate around Cascadia, visiting between the Bay Area and here, and recently spent the summer in Berlin, which may likely happen again next year.
AdHoc: When did you first become aware of each other's work?
GMS: When I first started visiting Vancouver it was at a creative and energetic peak. The noisy underground was really active and there were a lot of underground venues that felt charged with artistic and political urgency (The Secret Location, the Emergency Room, the Red Gate, etc). Vancouver had a late blossoming but really vibrant dubstep/bass music culture (which was written about in the WIRE’s Global Ear column) and some of the most exciting nights I had around that time was spent headbanging giant bass cans in deathtrap basements. I knew of Michael’s music because of his role as a producer and an organizer in that scene. We both kept rehearsal/storage space in a collectively run radical studio/event space and had a lot of friends in common. I had an intuitive hit that I wanted to (and eventually would) collaborate with Michael long before we actually opened up a conversation about it.
Michael Red: I knew of Gabriel through our mutual friend Jamie Abugov [DJ Tusk] and also did some improv/ambient collaborating years back with Gabriel's later-to-be partner Aja and a project she had with others called Underbelly. I heard of a project that Jamie, Aja, and Gabriel were trying out that was using Rhythm & Sound as an inspiration and I was like "no way! I want to be part of that." That project ended up dissolving (more of a flash-in-the-pan experiment amongst friends anyway), but it planted a seed that didn't go away for me. I’m not even sure how, probably over coffee with friends in Strathcona, but I think it came up in convo with Gabriel and we made plans to get together and jam and explore the idea. I work a lot with intuition and being guided by feelings. My memory of how Gabriel and I came to working together is actually pretty dreamy and blurry. I think we just both knew. I also work a bit outside of linear time and actually first listened to Yellow Swans long after we started Chambers. When I finally did—it made total sense, and it felt like I already was familiar and knew the music well.
I tend to view Andrew Bernstein as a sort of Albert Hoffman-type in the field of experimental music, serious enough to use his recordings to document theoretical musical forms, but not without a sensualist interest in the ensuing altered states of doing so. Bernstein, half of the rhythm section and saxophonist for notable drone-rockers, Horse Lords, recently released a collection on Hausu Mountain, Cult Appeal, that divides evenly into two sections. The first part adds a cassette-side tome to the kinds of sounds that have historically been created with a saxophone; the second forms something akin to a synth-based exercise in psychophysics, the relationship of musical stimuli and the perceptions they affect. Following the tape's release is this textural video accompaniment for an excerpt from the Cult Appeal's latter half created by video artist Patrick Cain. Strobing, grey-scale digital signal flashes speed across the screen right at the cusp of being too fast for the brain to process, while Bernstein's synth arrangements ricochet across the stereo field.
The subtle beginning of "Wetware," the new track from Alexandra Drewchin's Eartheater project, creeps along like unfurling vines. Thoughtfully arpeggiated guitar chords sit over subtle beats while Drewchin's versatile voice twists overhead. It is reminiscent of Kria Brekken's work post-Múm but, rather than Brekken's precious iciness, Drewchin breathes a dark lysurgic creepiness. All of her work holds this theme of patient anticipation, a certain centered calmness that is infectious and welcoming. The song is an echo reflection of previous full length Metalepsis, from earlier this year. But where that record felt like a jungle of glazed white plastic trees, this feels like swimming in a creek beneath digitized moonlight.
"Wetware" comes in advance of RIP Chrysalis, out October 20 on Hausu Mountain.