Sacramento-based drummer Zac Nelson is one of those musicians who managed to craft a truly idiosyncratic and personal vision of hyper-psychedelia that escapes pretty much any attempt at RIYL-ing with mindboggling works such as Charbroile, Towards Your Own Worlds or Sound a Sleep Sound. Compared to those works, his new single, "Weak Robe", which promotes his upcoming LP New Once, is almost like straight-up pop with its catchy hooks and mellowed out hippetronics. The video directed by Adam Murphy comes with a somewhat freaky, folky vibe, combining various great outdoors activities with strange ritualism and some cool slo-mo branch smashing action to boot. Get prepared for some drum-heavy avant-pop to hit you this summer.
Mishka Records is a label operating within the universe of МИШКА NYC-- a streetwear company and blog dedicated to promoting underground hip-hop. Last May, Mishka kicked off the WindChill series, which documents the Chicago instrumental beat scene. After the first two volumes released last summer, Mishka is now back with the third and final edition of the series. W3NDCH3LL comes in three separate parts of 13 tracks each, featuring 39 unique Chicago producers in total. The first portion, "Soul," dropped yesterday and the other two parts will come sometime this week. The project was mixed and engineered by Kawaakari.
Stream W3NDCH3LL below. Stay tuned for W3NDCH3LL parts 2 and 3.
“Use toms. Don’t say it art. Say it gorge.” Thus reads the text on the cover of Gorge compilation, Gorge Out Tokyo 2012. The enigmatic genre is intensely insular and self-referential, and, as a non-Japanese speaker, it’s difficult to tell what’s tongue-in-cheek and what’s just Google translate. For the uninitiated, Tokyo-based artist and Gorge figurehead Hanali’s recent End Gorge EP provides a good introduction to the genre’s athletic take on power electronics and industrial music. On EP highlight “Static Method,” dissonant beeps and blasts of metallic noise accentuate a typically Gorge-ian flow of frantic, pounding toms. The vibrant kineticism at the heart of “Static Method” gets at what makes the Gorge scene such a fascinating facet of the Tokyo underground, and the genre’s deadpan fixation with rock climbing is just icing on the cake.
Circuit des Yeux, the project of Chicago-based singer-songwriter Haley Fohr, just released the stunning In Plain Speech, her first record for eminent Chicago label, Thrill Jockey. She made us a mix featuring music by people who play on her record and in her city. Read what she has to say about the mix below, and see the tracklist after the jump.
"The following are tracks by bandmates, collaborators & current or past roommates (of the compound). Most of these bands frequently play gigs around Chicago. Please check them out. All are fantastic, and all have helped create a Chicago collective that remains unparalleled."
Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji is best known as a solo artist, one that spills out feverish improvisations that invoke the spirits of Derek Bailey and John Fahey at their most exploratory and fractured. For his latest project MANAS, he plays off of drummer Thom Nguyen. The songs are still freeform and delightfully shiftless, but the collaboration forces Dorji to restrict himself a bit to better fit the splashy fills and rattle of the percussion instrument. But as you’ll hear on "No Oracles," from the duo’s upcoming self-titled album, the guitarist taps into a more hypnotizing vibe, repeating a simple pinging phrase over and over that Nguyen has to reckon with. As the drummer, he could have just hit on a rhythm and driven it into the ground, but here he dances around the guitar line with jazzy curlicues.
Technology is often intangible, yet its effects on the physical world are undeniable. It’s this contradiction-- and the horror that comes with not knowing how it will untangle-- that lies at the heart of “False Positive,” a track from Montreal-based electronic musician Nick Maturo’s forthcoming debut LP as Event Cloak, Life Strategies. The song plays lightness off terror, setting waves of disembodied human voices against the razor-sharp suspense of a John Carpenter score. In visual artist Rob Feulner’s music video, a Lifetime original movie undergoes a transfiguration through VHS interference. Neon blots seep into the images. Bars of static cut across the screen. People double. The medium haunts the message. The video and song form an abstract horror film. A ghost is, in a sense, a “false positive.” The term “event cloak,” though, is both more accurate and horrific: presence hidden in the appearance of absence.
Ken Camden is a Chicago-based musician who has collaborated with Mike Tamburo and Alex Barnett of Oakeater and also plays in Implodes. For his latest solo outing, he has recruited Emily Elhaj and Angel Olsen to provide vocals, which are sampled to create the sonic base coat upon which Camden layers distinctive guitar and synthesizer. The result is a refined statement of sublimity.
Arriving just as spring surrenders, Dream Memory is the comedown album of the summer. In the video for opening track “Adenosine”, Camden himself has constructed a montage of apparitional landscapes colored by sun-flare kaleidoscopes, the perfect complement to a supranormal aural landscape. Dream Memory is released June 15 on Kranky.
My first introduction to Chuck Johnson was just before his sophomore album Crows in the Basilica was released on Three Lobed in 2013. I was immediately struck by Johnson’s direct, clean and through-composed style: he cut an impressive figure in an increasingly crowded field of solo guitar players. In the intervening two years that field has exploded and Johnson has remained quiet, until now.
In Oakland, California, far from the dense culture capitals of the Northeast or the nominal birthplace of this type of music in the Midwest and South, Johnson plies his trade. A lynchpin of the modest but devoted Bay Area underground scene, Johnson organizes a monthly series - Little Nicky’s - at which he plays a set and then invites a hand-picked guest artist to headline. These residency shows have allowed Johnson to perfect his art, and the results are apparent on Blood Moon Boulder, his third and strongest LP. "The Deer and The Snake" struck me immediately with its bent, menacing tone unwinding against the expert violin of guest Marielle Jakobsons (of Date Palms).
Alabama's abstract and adventurous cassette imprint Noumenal Loom is enterning the world of vinyl with Days, the debut from Carrboro, North Carolina freeform electronic duo Earthly. Days fits perfectly in their catalog of bizarre electronic music, considering that Noumenal Loom has released albums by artists such as Giant Claw, PHORK, and Foodman. The duo consisting of Edaan Brook and Brint Hansen, create lush flowing textural soundscapes that meld together within warped rhythms. The first single "Glaze" feels like being submerged underwater with its choppy floating percussions. A wash of fluorescent residue gleams over the syncopated voices that coalesce into a radiant chemistry of skewered synthesizer ambiance. "Glaze" is in a state of constant flux, shifting slowly as if it were its own breathing entity, alien to this world.
As TALsounds, Natalie Chami (one third of Good Willsmith, one half of l’éternèbre) makes gentle, meditative music, often improvised and recorded live with no overdubs. Her process feeds into the tone of the music; pieces unfold with deliberation, patience, and a casual sense of chaos. “Talk Alone,” the first single from her upcoming full-length on Hausu Mountain, divines these qualities in a more pop-oriented structure. A circular piano phrase is overcome with cascades of flickering noise. Chami’s reverb-heavy vocals layer and loop to almost nauseating effect. Still, it’s the song’s final moment-- in which the song suddenly bulges then turns inside out-- that is most strange and breathtaking.