PHORK has been deconstructing dance music for quite some time, with an extensive catalog of enigmatic releases on labels such as NNA Tapes, Opal Tapes, Noumenal Loom, and Orange Milk Records. PHORK's latest release Disappear in Raveland, out on Time No Place is a brilliantly conceived world, cultivating an atmosphere of floating dissections that mutate beyond pre-established understandings of music. "We All Make Out (A Living)" is a perpetually shifting physical training session. Shedding layers like exoskeletons, everything tapers in and out of focus like a distant memory, slowly inching its way back into your consciousness. Oscillations dart in all directions, colliding into harmoniously skewed rhythms. PHORK builds a disorienting wall of absurdity that feels strangely familiar.
All Odds End, the newest album by Bay Area group The Mantles, rocks full-force from start to finish. Since 2013’s Long Enough To Leave, the band has grown into a quintet, and their sound has only grown in richness and personality. “Can you police my love?” lead singer Michael Olivares moans characteristically into the mic on third track "Police My Love." (The answer, of course, is no.) The guitar parts on All Odds End are so warm, and coupled with Carly Putnam’s driving keyboards and Virginia Weatherby’s drums (so filled with conviction), the release of good feelings from track to track is unstoppable. From 2009's self-titled debut onwards, The Mantles have proven themselves latter-day masters of the ramshackle pop song—the best this side of New Zealand. Talking on the phone with Olivares and Weatherby was simultaneously spirited and laidback, just like the keyboard and guitar runs on “Lay it Down” and “Stay.”
Virginia Weatherby: Hey! We just walked the dog... Jumbo. We have a pretty average life. [laughs]
AH: I wanted to ask about the new album and about what initially motivated this set of songs.
MO: More than half the album is composed of songs we’d had kicking around that we were sitting on for a while and that we were playing out live. Usually when we record an album we like to overshoot it and then pick like the best ten. In this case, I think we only had like eleven songs, and then we ended up coming with like two or three out of thin air: “Lately,” “Time to Come Away,” and “Hate To See You Go.”
VW: In the last year or so, we’ve had a new lineup. We have a new bassist and a keyboardist. That’s changed the sound a little bit. We definitely have a more keyboard heavy and a little bit more rhythmic sound. The new members kind of kicked us in the butt and made us to make an another album quicker than we usually do.
Running's contorted, dope-sick grooves are forever, unlike the disappearing grins that line concert-going faces as the band plugs in. This is damaged music for damaged people: prophetic, dystopian noise rock as sinister as the screaming nuclear whistle precipitating apocalyptic. “Jason Polak,” a long time staple from Running sets, showcases more of the band’s penchant for heavily affected instrumentals, mean rhythms, and maniacal, unintelligible vocals. Running is the conductor on the bad times express, and it’s pulling away from the station whether you’re on board or not.
Shokuhin Maturi, a.k.a. FOODMAN's latest release, Hot Rice on Patient Sounds, is an explosively complex collection of densely populated rhythms. The Japanese footwork producer builds fragmentary layers that merge together, hovering as particles in the atmosphere. The pieces bounce against you, ricocheting toward different directions. "Ikidomari" has an ever evolving structure that explores gradual shifts in the spatial listening. Percussive timbres are projected in a billowing diffusion, moving as quickly as light, casting shadows that obscure any perception of cohesion. A tangible flow weaves its own trajectory, carving new grooves by breaking down and re-arranging its own construction.
This was originally published in AdHoc Issue 9. Order a copy of the issue here. Rachel Giannascoli painted the cover (pictured above).
Rachel Giannascoli’s paintings have graced the cover of Alex G’s various Bandcamp releases for a few years now. A photograph of her painting of a nude, winged figure accompanies an early record, entitled Paint. The photo, Alex admits, was taken furtively. It was only after he had posted the record online that Rachel, his sister, discovered it. Her artwork, like his music, is macabre and little obscure, all while remaining accessible and resonant. In anticipation of Alex G’s upcoming record, Beach Music, due out in October via Domino, we interviewed Alex and Rachel over the phone. The two talked at length about the creative process, Vincent Van Gogh, and the validation that comes from having someone respond to your work the same way you do.
AdHoc: Rachel, how long have you been doing artwork for Alex?
Rachel: Well, as long as he’s been putting it out there, he’s been kind of just using what is around and things that I’ll send him.
Alex: I would take pictures of stuff before I would ask Rachel’s permission—I would take a picture of her painting or something.
Rachel: I think I would see them on the Bandcamp, and I was happy to see it. I wouldn’t be aware of it.
I think it’s safe to say that as a newcomer, the outsider music scene that we now call home once seemed pretty intimidating. But if you’re reading this, you also know that you get a buzz from being puzzled and downright disoriented. As soon as you get a handle on things and your brain-dust settles, you’re back where you started, diving deeper and deeper, trying your damnedest to rattle up those ol’ dust bunnies. Well here’s your latest thrill, bucko – Psychic Mold’s Carrion Crawler is a full-frontal shape-shifting trash compactor in the best sense of the term. Much like the killer everything-at-once cover art, nothing about this tape is simple or subtle. Both sides hinge on lots of sound and mega-bold shifts, varying only from the direction that you’re being pummeled, announced with much fanfare by a cartoonish SPLAT so forceful that you’ll be wiping goo out of your earholes until at least Christmas. It’s a thrill for sure, but you better enjoy it while it lasts, because you’re gonna be gettin’ off on some bizarre shit once Carrion Crawler becomes your lazy Sunday soundtrack.
Philadelphia native Emily Yacina has been quietly self-releasing resplendent bedroom-pop since 2010. While relocating to Brooklyn earlier this year, the Alex G collaborator dazzled with Pull Through, a heartwarming 4-track EP that showcased her knack for uncomplicated, honest tunes.
Now, Emily Yacina promptly returns with “Loser”, the first leak from her upcoming EP, Soft Stuff. The track shimmers with vintage synths and distant guitar tones. Emily Yacina entrancingly chants the familiar narrative of post-break up stasis over a structure of plucked rhythms and rich, cool harmonies.
Soft Stuff is out December 11th, available via Emily Yacina’s Bandcamp.
Dean Blunt has shared a half-hour long mixtape featuring producer and Björk and FKA twigs collaborator Arca. The Hype Williams beatsmith and Arca have previously collaborated on a track from Blunt’s 2013 LP The Redeemer.
Rene Nuñez, the striking voice behind the Horoscope moniker, is open to interpretation – in fact, he demands it. Horoscope sets are brutally intimate, defined as much by their violent outbursts of transgressive self-harm as their moments of ritual pensiveness. But where a lesser artist would reveal his or her tricks, Nuñez prefers to let his linger mysteriously. On El Espejo y El Mar, his debut 12” record, Nuñez retreats into fully meditative synthscapes. Where earlier cassettes on Ascetic House saw the artist using analog synthesizers and tape loops, on El Espejo y El Mar he forgoes the latter, concentrating entirely on pulsating instrumental mantras.
“Juanita pt. 2” showcases Rene at his most meditative – a repeating treble clef phrase foregrounds a warping low-end synth growl. It evokes the album's title, which in English means “The Mirror and The Sea”, mimicking both the overbearing sedative power of an undulating tide and quiet morning moments of self-inspection.
The London-based electronic music producer, DJ, and Hyperdub label owner Steve Goodman, a.k.a. Kode9, has built a career on encountering music as though it were a physical force—an object infused with amassed data and the contingencies of its entering into various sonic and intellectual situations. His label, which fills out and defines his musical and tangential theoretical interests, is now ten years in age, surrounding Goodman with a revolving cadre of musicians and thinkers from disparate genres and geographical locations. Spreading out more and more beyond his initial focus on dubstep, Goodman's label as well as his own output has an ever-changing, sharpening view of today's musical and technological landscapes. From Senegal-born, New York-based Fatima Al Qadiri's excursions into appropriation and doomed civilizations; to Michigan-born, Berlin-based Laurel Halo's manipulation of techno's mechanistic take on temporal form; to various Chicago- and elsewhere-based Teklife affiliates bringing their own brand of street-style dance music, Goodman has built a label that reflects his own interests in music’s ability to give life to one's experience, be it through the banal rituals of daily life or grand philosophical gestures.
On Nothing, Goodman's fourth release as a producer, we see him using cold synth work, circular juke percussion, and dry, reverb-free production to explore voids, zeroes, and the capacity to be productive while at rest. In the following discussion, Goodman meanders through subjects related to and beyond Nothing—a multiplicitous concept that houses both philosophical and religious meaning. He also explains how he used production as way to cope and recover from the loss of his dear friends DJ Rashad and the Spaceape, both of whom passed away in 2014 and the latter of whom has a co-credit on each of Kode9’s previous albums. We discuss music—its labor and inspiration—as a means of extending the material idea of one's emotional state and artistic intentions. For Goodman, "Nothing" and its integer of zero are not empty, but a point of beginnings.
AdHoc: I suppose we should start with the idea of nothing.
Goodman: I started the record on the 31st of December, New Year's Eve last year, and I had a bunch of music that I had scrapped. There’s so many reasons why it’s called Nothing. The first one is… last year was very intense for me. I was very angry and pissed off last year, and I was asking myself, “What is the album even about?” And the way I was at the end of last year, it wasn’t easy to put anything into words, so it’s called “Nothing.” Nothing was this key that enabled me to hang on. I can make tracks, but I can’t bring it together into an album unless there’s a concept. It doesn’t matter what the concept is—sometimes it’s just a word, a phrase, an idea, an image. The way I was at the end of last year, it was enough to have a concept that was completely empty as a starting point. It produced a sort of umbrella that contained all the different song ideas. And it worked because I was jamming super fast in a way that I had never made music before. Emptiness as a concept really made this normal baggage into the music. I also knew that this album would be empty to me, because there would be no Spaceape.
I finished the record in January, but I spent the next few months tweaking and refining, and during that process I started reading about nothing, voids, vacuums, emptiness… I read this book called Zero Living, which is about the history of zero and mathematics. There wasn’t the number zero. It didn’t exist in Western science or mathematics until the Renaissance. It came from Babylonia, it came from Indian mathematics; different aspects of it came from different places. The West always saw it as demonic. It’s like an agent of secularization. The reason zero was such a threat is because it is at the limits of knowledge. There are all of these tendencies towards zero: science has the degree zero, the freezing point of matter… Obviously all science was doing in the last few hundred years was undermining God—chipping out, keeping away the foundations that hold up monotheism. And I was like, “Oh, shit! Nothing is something.” Nothing is much more complicated than I was thinking.
In Quantum theory, vacuums are not empty. You have invisible photonic energy, and energy that’s hard to identify but is still very active, kind of like dark matter, black holes. Energy can pull something into a wormhole and destroy it. And I’ve always been interested in zero as being full. Nothing is something.