Posts Tagged ‘Electronic’

Dylan Sizemore on Bruce Haack – The Electric Lucifer

I’ve had the new Frankie and the Witch Fingers on the deck for a while now and it only gets better and deeper with each spin. The record is an interconnected odyssey of psychedelic excess that lifts the listener from this temporal plane and into a parallel dimension of glowing psychosis and psilocybin-induced evolution. The colors in the mind match the visual barrage of Will Sweeney’s saturated cover art and the band has never sounded hungry to cross the time-space rift than now. I snagged Witch Fingers’ driving force Dylan Sizemore to dig deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and he obliged with a psychedelic odyssey of his own. Check out Dylan’s take on Bruce Haack’s electronic epic The Electric Lucifer below.

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Lorena Quintanilla on Música Nueva Latinoamericana 2

I’ve been a longtime fan of Mexican shoegaze duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolte, and when I’d heard that the band’s Lorena Quintanilla had a solo album forthcoming (her second, sadly I’d slept on the first) I was incredibly intrigued what would arise. J. Zunz sophomore LP is a haunted, complex record that pulls as much from industrial spaces as it does experimental and concrete nodes. The LP focuses keenly on Quintanilla’s voice — echoing through spaces that seem cavernous and dangerous in the same light. I asked Lorena to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series, quite anxious to hear what treasure she might unearth and I’m not in the least disappointed. She’s given light to a series of Latin American electronic music that’s been sorely lost from the cultural conversation. Her pick centers on the inclusion of Jacqueline Nova, with whom I was unfamiliar, but quickly became quite intrigued by. Read on to see how the record has come into Lorena’s life and the impact it’s had on her songwriting.

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Traffik Island

Even when the first couple of tracks from Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam came filtering out, it seemed like a fever dream timeshift, not to mention a headscratcher for fans of the band’s past output. Zak Olsen’s (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) solo psych dugout always took a different tack than his collaborative endeavors, which ranged from Sabbath fuzz to post-punk. Under the Traffik Island signature he’d largely stuck to the psych-pop formula – laconic strums, wisps of folk, and tape-hiss veneers gave most of his works the feeling of a lost private press reel stuffed in storage and found by rabid collectors on a lucky afternoon. From his split with Sleepyhead through last year’s Flightless debut proper, Nature Strip, the formula seemed set… or at least locked within the same cloud of strange smoke. So, when the follow-up arrived and shucked the whole framework, I was intrigued to say the least.

Zak keeps the psych, and maybe a bit of the pop, but puts the folk away for the moment. At least in any conventional sense he has. The record adopts an electronic haze and a crate digger’s ear for dusty grooves, propulsive beats, and lush atmospheres. Much in the mode of something out of the Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Shadow, or Egon bag, the record repurposes the ideals of Library recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s and knocks funk, Krautrock, and lounge into a candy-colored vision that swirls with light and sound. While the format might feel like a throwback in more than one way – to both the ‘70s inspirations and the late ‘90s methods of hot-gluing them together – the record is a complete journey that works so well that it, again seems like a private press found in a dorm room dig, just update the time frame about 30 years or so. The best part is that the record works together like a soundtrack to an unseen film – I’d imagine somewhere there’s an animator that needs to get on this. Bright colors only need apply.



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Traffik Island – “Ulla Dulla”

The new Traffik Island LP is rolling out shortly and this time around Zak Olsen (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) has moved away from the private press folk that caressed his Flightless debut and into an arena of beat-laden psych-pop. Under the title Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam, it seems almost a given that the album would process Library, folk, and psych nibblets into plastic pop for beat collectors and oddball hoarders alike. The first offerings from the record have a feeling of being children of the big beat era, but without as much bombast – a quieter cool looking towards Shadow and Peanut Butter Wolf doing their crate digging darndest. Despite Flightless’ partnerships in the US (with ATO), this one, much like that indispensable Grace Cummings LP, doesn’t seem to be making its way Stateside. So, for the understandably fraught, you’ll have to head over to the Aussie store and pony up some cash for an import.



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Alien Nosejob – Buffet of Love 12″

Following up on his LP from last year, Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, School Damage) serves four tracks of minimalist dance delirium. Shifted away from the squirm pop of his previous LP, Robertson keeps the emphasis on endless pining and extraterrestrial love but sets the scene amid a backdrop of stripped-down beats and cold-call synths. While he claims a bedridden bout with Italo-disco deep dives on YouTube is at work here, there’s also more than a few shades of German beat mongers in the bones of this EP as well. Echoing the insistent pop predicaments of Monopol and Rheingold, the EP’s four tracks are shorn of the goofy warmth that pervaded his album and zipped up in the icy folds of Nosejob’s new phase.

Whether this is a permanent shift or Alien Nosejob remains a pop chameleon destined to forever shed its skin remains to be seen. The four tracks here serve a potent dose of no-frills dance, but perhaps there are already new shores to be littered with tales of love lost and missed abductions. For now, this acts as a nice document of dance built for isolation – bedroom pop gems that don’t need a room full of gyrating sympathizers to make their Teutonic twists last.

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Warm Drag

In The Red trades in half a ton of garage that’s streaked by exhaust and choking on fuzz, but with Warm Drag they’re adding some dirt caked dance to the stable. Paul Quattrone and Vashti Windish roll the vamped and Cramped sleaze of garage’s past into a writhing record of mud-splattered garage-electronic. Samplers in tow, Quattrone is backing Windish’s snaking vocals with a hypnotic approach that coaxes some evil desert psych out of the wires. He’s talking up the Bomb Squad as a touchstone, and while there’s some of that unit’s high-octane collage work in the DNA, this is something grittier. Windish makes the most of the spaces between Quattrone’s apocalyptic-Western drags. She peeks from behind crumbling corridors of echo n’ hiss to coax the listener toward each song’s punji pit of ill will.

When the formula works, it’s a potent pill to swallow – dark and dirgey, the kind of tracks music supervisors looking to add a bit of edge drool over. The highs here hit the solar plexus with a delightful ‘thump,’ and the slinking sensuality of the record is hard to deny. Though, sometimes the sauntered pacing can weigh the record down. Its great to saunter, but when they do it too often the dust they’ve been kicking starts to stick. While the record could use a few more of those high huffers to balance out the creeping dread, it’s a nice shift from the guitar grind of ITR and a good mood setter for the dark corners of Autumn ahead.

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Warm Drag – “Cave Crawl”

Warm Drag’s first single slinks out of the gate, coating everything in its path with an ooze of psychedelic excess and basement lounge sex appeal. The band is comprised of Paul Quattrone, who’s done time in Oh Sees and !!!, and singer Vashti Windish. Blending the aesthetics of his respective resume entries, Quattrone is building guitar psychedelics on samplers, dropping fuzz-choked guitars and synths echoplexed beyond their breaking points on top of pounding beats that have him referencing The Bomb Squad’s production. The whole thing is tied together with a low-slung twang that gives things a touch of Western futurism – soundtracking the watering holes of lone gunmen preening through dystopian housing blocks.

Windish, for her part, bursts onto the track with a confidence and cool that is palpable. She’s wrapped Quattrone’s beats and dusted twang around her arm like a mic cable and her vocals seem to twirl the whole track in a practiced precision that’s almost bored with its own show of skill. How this all fits into their upcoming album for In The Red remains to be seen, but it’s a good first look for sure. Paired with remote control happy barrage of images, the video and track are a damn fine freakout that’s built for clubs that skew less bottle service and bros and more leather and blacklight.



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Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante – Tenebrae Soundtrack

Waxwork has undertaken the task of bringing the definitive version of the soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Tenebrae. The film marked a return to Giallo horror following his two classic supernatural thrillers Susperia and Inferno. Notably the soundtrack too takes a shift from his previous films. Whereas Susperia (as well as ‘75’s Deep Red) was set against the frantic prog backdrop of Goblin, and Inferno utilized Keth Emerson’s over the top organ/opera insanity, Tenebrae drew on an amended form of Goblin, who began to update their ‘70s sound. The Italian auteurs made a name associated with Argento’s films but they’d disbanded in 1980. At Argento’s request he employed a three-piece version of the band, who, given the film’s “not too distant future” setting, embraced elements of disco and early electronic pop, then set them into their driving prog impulses. The soundtrack is credited to Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante, owing to their drummer owning the Goblin name, but its pure Goblin in its construction, leaning on synths in brilliant ways and opening itself up as a slinking and slick addition to the film’s suspense.

The band’s earlier soundtracks often get the glory, and in Susperia’s case its well-deserved, but to discount Tenebrae’s score is to do the band a disservice. Critically it has been noted that the score ties so well into the movie it almost becomes another character rather than a passive bedrock. The soundtrack’s embrace of dance elements lead to tracks popping up in clubs and enjoying remixes. Waxwork has gone all out to embrace this, giving it lush packaging designed by Nikita Kaun that features a die cut sleeve. While the composers felt it was overshadowed by the success of their earlier works, this most recent reissue proves that it had as lasting an impact as Argento’s own innovations with film.



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Chaines

Blending orchestral scrapes with back alley ambience and an alternate dimension lounge approach that slaloms through dirge infested seascapes, The King is, needless to say, a singular record. The work of Cee Haines alongside regular contributors Oliver Coates and Mary Stark, the record also makes use of the London Contemporary Orchestra to flesh out Haines’ stark vision to new heights. The record jellyfishes its way through genres, floating in an incandescent hue with menace and creeping calm. Haines pins anxious strings to the quiet creep of jazz winds then litters the path with scraps of noise that blow with ominous portent. The record is haunted and cinematic, though the kind of film that could accompany Haines’ vision feels like it might occupy the chasm between David Lynch and Jodorowsky – a rotting corpse rendered beautiful in shades of cyan slow motion.

As The King rolls on the elements of electronic influence become more pronounced, not merely content to play a background part in the proceedings. The beats creak out of the shadows and thump like frightened hearts underneath the mechanical clank and scrape of Chaines’ strange heat. Then out of the humid wreckage of the first six tracks a human shape rears its head – bound by static at first (“Mary”) and then soaring in embryonic ebullience, ambiguous and pained as the album comes to a close (“Eraserhead”). The evolution towards this torch song ending feels organic but jumping from the first to last track seems like a world has been traversed and a world that you’re quite sure you might not be able to find your way home from.



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Rabit

If Communion was producer Eric C. Burton’s real introduction to the world (despite several notable EPs preceding it) then Les Fleurs Du Mal is his grand gesture – an album that cements his stature among those who’d look to move the needle forward to the point of stress. The album embraces much more than Communion‘s stark atmospheres and crumbling visions of an organism eating itself from the inside out. Here, he’s let in air and light and allows them to dance around in the carcass of the beast he’s made his home, then steadily closes out through a process of aural disintegration.

The album is on a larger scale, with sonic debris littering the gritty world he’s built. It’s an album that’s frightening at moments, with heft that can be felt ricocheting through the marrow of the listener if administered through headphones. He’s an adept builder of tone, so when he turns from the airy, sunlit alleys of his opening tracks to the bombstruck nights of “Ontological Graffiti” and “Dogsblood Redemption,” the panic that sets in is real and visceral. He continues through the album like a refugee of sound in a world devoid of hope, picking at the scattered static images of our self-crowned utopia for sustenance. The record feels like a judgement, a montage of hate and hope beamed through to an alien race that speaks only in terms of atmospheric pressure on the skull.

It’s easy to see how Burton’s star has risen (he did just get off a turn working with Björk) as he’s a master of environments and doesn’t feel tethered to the notions of an album’s flow as dictated by beats, pop aesthetics, or accessibility. He’s a producer who’s working art into electronics and vice vesa. What he’s wrought here is probably one of the best futurist visions of the last few years. It’s an album that would work as orchestral doctrine in a world that’s given up on organic instruments. It is a record built for the the scavengers of the scrap heap of our modern times. When we all reach that bleak ecological break that’s been promised, this is the soundtrack that’s going to be in the headphones of the next generation.




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