Covering Tracks is a regular series in which we ask our favorite producers and DJs to recommend ten new (and not so new) releases. This week’s selections were curated by a New York native who calls himself Lord RAJA. His debut album drops December 2 on Ghostly International.
Ramona Lisa – “Hissing Pipes at Dawn” [Terrible Records]
Maddening. Modern standalone, realized composition—observed terrestrially as a whisper from an origin that exists outside of linguistic and temporal contexts. I had the honor of seeing her perform this with original choreography. Hieroglyphic enchantment.
Tallesen – “Strike Silver, Love Green” [Software]
When Tallesen and I met at a really boring school, we immediately assumed a role as siblings, as we shared a mutual appetite for universal investigations through tangled mediums. I was making music on a custom made PC tower, and Cayman (Tallesen) expressed to me that he was interested in messing with sound. I already knew how gifted he was as a visual artist, so I figured his approach to sound would be just as natural and intuitive. I gave him my PC, and he took the sound libraries and programs to a whole new level. He is an all-around other worldly, inspiring artist. His upcoming LP on Software is great.
Kindness – “This Is Not About Us” [Female Energy]
This guy is just incredible. I discovered his music sophomore year of university, and now I’m looking forward to this LP. He inspires me, big time. Very kind and funky in person as well.
Heathered Pearls – “Raising Our Ashes” [Ghostly]
This track is too sick. It’s always a treat to see Heathered Pearls, whether he is performing or walking his dog. It’s an honor to work for him. Sometimes he yells at me on the phone.
Hailu Mergia – “Ambasel (El Guincho Club Alizé Edit)” [Awesome Tapes from Africa]
I guess I was catching some z’s. Quality as always.
Connan Mockasin – “I’m the Man, That Will Find You” [Phantasy Sound]
Ariel Pink – “Put Your Number In My Phone” [4AD]
I love Ariel Pink. You really have to be a crazy genius to make some of the tracks he makes. I hope by the time I’m like, 30-something, I’m making shit like him. Whenever I’m real bored at a party, I hijack the system and put on “Round & Round” and I either dance or walk out.
Actress – “Gaze” [Werk Discs/Ninja Tune]
But of course.
Helado Negro – “Ojos Que No Ven” [Asthmatic Kitty]
This guy has had an exceptional output since the beginning—”Playas” is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard. His new record is just as phenomenal. When I finally met him, I was nerding out big time, and he gave me a bunch of cassettes.
Jeremiah Jae – “The Heat” [Warp]
Jeremiah Jae is in such a unique position as an artist. I enjoy his perspective, and I feel really connected to him. One day, we’re gonna unleash the tracks we’ve done together. It’s been a while since we’ve met up. I’m happy to say this his vocals will be featured on my debut LP.
Every month Moritz Gayard sorts through the deluge of new music videos so you don’t have to.
After an epic silence of six weeks, your beloved music video update aka Videodrome is back with a fresh dose of audiovisual joy. I’ve carefully selected videos from emerging artists such as Mumdance, Emily Reo and Timg Green plus the usual fun by Mykki Blanco, Roll The Dice and Disclosure. Have fun below, Videodrome will be back in July. Ah, and there’s no Pitbull inside.
#1 Emily Reo – “Rainbow Road”, directed by Dustin Muenchow
Addicted. This is Los Angeles-based producer, singer-songwriter Emily Reo’s first ever music video, presenting champagne bubbles and much more. But what makes this special is most definitely her voice. Also, Emily’s Olive Juice LP is available now from Elestial Sound.
#2 Roll The Dice – “Assembly”, directed by Frode & Marcus
#3 Mumdance – “Take Time” feat. Novelist
This gets me hyped. Mumdance is about to release a new EP for Rinse FM, which is led by the single above featuring Novelist. So good.
#4 Kevin Verwijmeren – “Abstract Point Forgotten In The Rush”, directed by Julien Lambrechts
Cool video for the opening track of Kevin Verwijmeren’s debut album It’s the Colour of a Cloud Covered Sky—out soon via Soft Corridor Records.
#5 Mykki Blanco – “She Gutta”
Following his marvelous Betty Rubble: The Initiation EP from 2013, here’s “She Gutta”, one of Mykki Blanco’s first singles of 2014 taken from his upcoming Spring/Summer EP.
#6 Natasha Khan for YMC – “Under The Indigo Moon”
Wow, Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes has created a short film for YMC, showcasing the SS14 collection which she’s designed for the label. B is for beautiful.
#7 Tim Green – “Helpless Sun”
FACT has just premiered the video for the title track of the UK producer’s new EP. Released on My Favorite Robot, it’s a tune.
#8 Disclosure x Friend Within – “The Mechanism”
Grammy Award-winning electronic outfit Disclosure have just dropped their nicely animated video for “The Mechanism,” a collaborative number with Friend Within.
#9 DAMH – “Hansi”
#10 Nils Frahm – “Re”
Hyperactive Nils Frahm just unveiled this nice little animated video inspired by his Screws album, alongside further worldwide tour dates. Interview needed? Click here.~
On their third album (and their first as a duo), Australia’s HTRK have emerged from the darkness that shrouded their previous work into a land of hope—albeit tinged with the groups trademarked sinister sleaze, says Daniel Jones.
Back in 2011, it was impossible to listen to HTRK’s second LP Work (work, work) without getting a sense of just how hard a time the beginning of this decade was for the band. In the mid-2000s, the Australian trio had been picking up steam following the release of their debut album Marry Me Tonight. After so many years of suffering boring post-punk Joy Division variations, I felt like I’d finally found something fresh, a good balance of dubby aloofness and art-pop sensibility. It was even produced by The Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, for that extra touch of street cred. But after HTRK bassist Sean Stewart took his own life in 2010, there was a palpable sense of entropy hanging over the band—a feeling of loss that draped the subsequent Work (work, work) like a shroud. Its sluggishness and icy beats and synths struggled to exist beneath suffocating bass and Jonnine Standish’s plaintive vocals, aurally akin to Sade having an orgasm while drowning. In the right mood, the album was narcotic, the stuff of equally beautiful and disquieting dreams. Pitchfork hated it.
Psychic 9-5 Club is the first album Standish and Nigel Yang have recorded entirely as a duo, and while the atmosphere is just as glacial, the feeling of pain is lightened, less raw. Gone also is that feeling of decayed substance, a sheen of emotional armor growing over it that speaks of healing, of learning to love the world around you once more. Love has been the lyrical theme that has remained the most constant throughout HTRK’s eleven years of existence. In the past it was expressed through coerced and soured fucks, late-night phone sleaze and junkie arm-poetry. Psychic 9-5 Club on the other hand knocks back the nihilism somewhat and stitches up some of the blown-out holes, making room for hope in the once lost souls of HTRK’s sonic worlds. The eight tracks here are filled with fresh air that provide each element with more room to breathe and the music to spread out across the mind leisurely, rather than in a long smear of psychological decompression. The framework behind the productions of Psychic 9-5 Club is still fairly skeletal, but there are so many layers of gauzy synths that the tracks always manage to feel vast, which fits the openness to new genres. Psychedelic organs chime between ethereal oscillations and dreamlike tropicalia makes me nostalgic for chillwaves gone by. The mostly instrumental “Feels Like Love” is downright playful at moments, even featuring honest-to-god laughter—not the malicious scorn of a dominatrix, but more the exhalation you might give upon waking in bed with a new lover, slowly awakening in a tangle of blankets.
Indeed, Standish’s vocals are one of the highlights of the album. Where Work (work, work) had them barely peaking above the rest of the instrumentation, here they’re allowed to shine. Standish has, paradoxically, one of the most expressive monotones I’ve ever heard, and is able to wring two vastly different emotions out of the slightest change in inflection. The whole time I was listening to the album the edges of my mind were flicking at my barely-used Pop Recognition switch, especially during “Blue Sunshine” and “Wet Dream”. The latter’s choir-of-one vocal refrain “I’m in love with myself” pretty much makes it the perfect modern goth song. There’s also a whole lot of Sade up in there, as well as Dido, Nico, and Chris Isaak—all masters of the slow-burning torch song. While HTRK are quick to get the “industrial” tag, to my ears they’ve always been far closer to Marc Almond than Marc Heal.
Some of the descriptors I used for Work (work, work) sound like criticism, but it’s the complete opposite. I love music that makes me feel as though I’ve been dropped into an abyssal k-hole, and that focuses heavily on intense moments of despair (if not outright celebrating it). But I’ve also learned that extended wallowing leaves me feeling extremely empty. Standish and Yang have managed to find a balance between the two that still evokes the bittersweet pleasure of exploring emotional wreckage, while strengthening the healing that comes after. The scars may still show, but the wounds always close eventually—provided one keeps from picking at them. ~
Psychic 9-5 Club is out today via Ghostly International.
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source.
We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editors’ Choice.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
Kanye East for Pussy Riot – “I Know That Pussy Riot Ain’t Free”
A surprisingly bangin’ track using the vocals of Kanye to highlight the fact that two members of Pussy Riot are still behind bars. Part of a larger effort by Female Pressure for the Pussy Riot Support Fund.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Todd Terje – “Spiral”
And the prize for the most seasonably inappropriate record goes to… No really, it appears our man Todd Terje never really left the Strandbar last summer. Despite the unchecked nostalgia that this is aiming for, there’s something slightly knowing about the Roland synths and the gated drum fills (about seven minutes in). Still, what did you expect from the ‘tached Norwegian? That debut can’t come soon enough.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Egyptrixx – Music To… DRONE Out To
Yesterday was a pretty foggy day here in Berlin and walking to the office while listening to these drone-y sounds gave me sort of an extraordinary experience. Try it.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
OVRJYD – “Love Me”
Justin hasn’t sounded this good since NIKE7UP got his hands on yung Bieb’s pre-pomp puss. These sorts of total-reformat edits are the only way this kind of music is bearable to me, but sometimes I wonder about the people who are so in love with the originals and I imagine what it would be like if NIKE7UP started making remixes again. Maybe he would become famous, and all the original versions of these songs would fall out of favor and fade, and Bieber would only be heard pitched way, way up or way, way down. Possibly refracted into a multitude of audible ranges. NIKE7UP should start making remixes again.
BlackBlackGold – Getting Colder (Mix for FRAGILE)
Just in case you need another reason to celebrate the season!
A.J. Samuels (Senior Print Editor)
Planningtorock – “Human Drama” (Paula Temple “Gender’s Just a Lie” remix)
After a long hiatus, Paula Temple returned to form this year with her excellent Colonized EP. She’s now brought her hardness to Planningtorock’s “Human Drama” off the forthcoming album All Love’s Legal.
Havoc – 13
Prodigy – Albert Einstein
You don’t have to find Jesus, Prodigy will still leave you holy (his own words). This year saw both Mobb Deep members release solo albums which, while not perfect, certainly had their moments. Havoc mostly did his own production while Prodigy once again went to the Alchemist. Cool. But enough with the solo records, please give me what I need.
HTRK – “Give It Up”
Really looking forward to this whole album.
Jannik Schäfer (Social Media Editor)
Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – The Abstract & The Dragon Mixtape
The highly anticipated collaborative mixtape from two of hip-hop’s greatest dropped yesterday and it’s kind of what you would expect. A couple of unreleased tracks, a lot of classics and a lovely underlying vibe. There’s a skit that sounds as though Q-Tip is still down about what happened with ATCQ but trying to look ahead. Sadly, there are also a couple of YMCMB-infested tracks with awful DJ-shouting that remind me of the side of Busta Rhymes that I never liked. You know, the one that made tracks with the likes of Linkin Park, T-Pain or J-Biebs. On the other hand, it’s that same Busta that brings out the good in Lil’ Wayne or Nikki Minaj.
Madlib – “Hold the Organ” (from Rock Konducta Vol. 1)
Madlib is gradually releasing tracks off his latest Beat Konducta instrumental series release titled Rock Konducta Vol. 1. The final product consisting of Volumes 1 and 2 is set to be released in spring and draws from various underground rock scenes from the sixties through the eighties like krautrock, Spanish prog and so on. The first preview, “Black Widow“, was not so far up my alley but this one got me all excited!
Read previous editions of Editors’ Choice here.