Our editorial office has spent the last few days freaking out over Sacred Bones’ forthcoming re-release of Funeral Parade’s anarcho-punk EP of the same name, which means that two of our current obsessions come from the Sacred Bones camp; the other is Moon Duo, one of the label’s psych-rock outfits. Last month they released Shadow of the Sun, their third full-length album for Sacred Bones. Guitarist Ripley Johnson and keyboard player Sanae Yamada composed the LP in a Portland basement during a period of unease, and the circumstances yielded a new suite of hypnotic, fuzzed-out psychedelia. The trio’s tour of Europe and the UK begins tonight, and they’ve unveiled the video for album cut “Slow Down Low” to kick it off.
Shot in low-contrast black and white with digital cameras and then filtered through an analog VHS system, “Slow Down Low” was directed by (and features) Sacred Bones labelmate Domingo Garcia Huidobro of Chilean band Föllakzoid. His combination of up-close intimacy with psychotropic patterns of dark and light is a perfect accompaniment to Moon Duo’s droning, cyclical guitar riffs. The video can be streamed via the player above, and a complete listing of the group’s upcoming tour dates is on view below.
Apr 15th – Barcelona @ Bikini
Apr 16th – Lyon @ Le Marché Gare
Apr 17th – Torino @ Spazio 211
Apr 18th – Zurich @ Bogen
Apr 20th – Munich @ Kranhalle
Apr 21st – Berlin @ SO36
Apr 22nd – Copenhagen @ Stengade
Apr 23rd – Hamburg @ Molotow
Apr 24th – Amsterdam @ Paradiso
Apr 25th – Brussels @ Botanique
Apr 27th – Birmingham – The Hare & Hound
Apr 28th – Bristol @ The Exchange
Apr 29th – Leeds @ Left Bank
Apr 30th – London @ Village Underground
May 1st – Dublin @ Workmans Club
May 2nd – Letterkenny @ Distorted Perspective Festival
May 3rd – Glasgow @ Live at Glasgow
May 4th – Liverpool @ The Kazimer
May 27th – Metz, FR @ Trinitaire
May 28th – Rouen, FR @ Le 106
May 29th – Nantes, FR @ Stereolux
May 30th – Limonges, FR @ CCM
May 31st – Toulouse, FR @ Les Abattoirs Museum
June 1st – Marseilles, FR @ B-Sides
June 2nd – Milan, IT @ Magnolia
June 3rd – Ravenna, IT @ Beaches Brew
June 4th – Geneva, CH @ La Graviere
June 5th – Eindhoven, NL @ Eindhoven Psych Fest
July 15th – Athens, GR @ Eject Festival
July 17th – Budapest, HR @ A38
July 18th – Dour, BE @ Dour Festival
July 25th – Helsinki, FIN @ Hori Smoku
Best known for his splicing of austere techno and severe post punk, erstwhile Sandwell District member Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant has blindsided us with this heat-hazy remix for Lust For Youth. The Copenhagen-based project—led by Hannes Norrvide but now extended into a trio—have so far been associated with the city’s thriving punk scene. Their forthcoming album International suggests a more fleshed out sound than the primitive synth-driven punk of old, however, with Vår‘s Loke Rahbek joining the line-up along with Malthe Fischer. Here, Mendez redirects the title track’s electro-pop energy into a slowburning body high. Be the first to check out the exclusive EB premiere of the track, from the International Remixes EP, which comes with the LP version of International. The digital remix EP will also be available with deluxe digital version of the album. LFY tour dates below.
May 28, 2014: Berlin, DE, Urban Spree
May 30, 2014: Paris, FR, Espace B (w/ Croatian Amor)
Jun 7, 2014: Copenhagen, DK, Distortion Final Party
Jul 1, 2014: London, UK, Rough Trade
Jul 2, 2014: London, UK, Shacklewell Arms
Aug 9, 2014: Copenhagen, DK, Pumpehuset
International Remixes EP is out 10th June, 2014 on Sacred Bones. Cassette version only available with purchase of limited edition LP directly from Sacred Bones Records webstore. Mp3s available with digital deluxe version of International.
On her sixth album, Nadler polishes an aural mirror of goth-tinged, gauzy folk ballads that reflect a world tarnished by loss, failed romance and the acidic hopefulness that often accompanies it, says Daniel Jones.
“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me…no more….” – recently heard over grocery store speakers while shopping
Love is one of the oldest lyrical themes in music, and has been explored in essentially every form; from lust-ridden odes and apathetically anonymous “baby baby’s”, down into heartbreak and melancholic despair. Yet it’s one of the most primal emotions, able to entirely change the way we perceive the world with its presence… or absence.
Love permeates every aspect of July, Marissa Nadler’s sixth album and her first on Sacred Bones, but it’s of the bittersweet variety—a tone that works well with her goth-tinged folk ballads, gauzy yet each with a powerful weight to them (no surprise, considering the album’s production duties were handled by Randall Dunn, whose studio work also includes essential names such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Sunn O))) and Earth). Over the course of the record, Nadler polishes an aural mirror that reflects a world tarnished by loss, failed romance and the acidic hopefulness that often accompanies it. As she examines each of these elements, she unravels them in her mind and knits them into new shapes that show the truth about loss: we place a heavy amount of nostalgia and overestimation on the things we lose, especially when the reality isn’t nearly as rose-tinted.
July isn’t merely catharsis; Nadler isn’t describing how she managed to work her way past a shattered relationship. Instead, she details how it came about, the grief that followed, and how it became an integral part of her as a whole (though she would wish it otherwise). The distant memory of a drive with a lover, the songs from the radio spiraling around and infecting the atmosphere… stories within stories, adding their own elements to the mental tale. “Firecracker”, the story of the fourth of July confrontation with this lover that culminated in the loss of the relationship, is where the album really begins, as the question that it seems to be asking is, “When life as it is isn’t life the way you think it should be, how do you handle it?” When something that defines a large part of our world is taken away, our mental time frame becomes narrowed and disoriented—a form of rapid mental fatigue that causes us to make impulsive decisions. For Nadler, the answer is temporary escape, a return to something comforting—in this case, a childhood home, the walls and rooms imprinted with hopes and dreams from a time of innocence, when the worst hurts that the world could give hadn’t yet revealed themselves. In a moment when that world shows its dark face, the only things left for her are yet more memories.
While it can sometimes be preferable to wallow in the black bile of our misery, allowing these same memories to bubble back to the surface time and time again, this mental flagellation eventually scours your youness away, replacing it with regret and false recollection repeated ad nauseum. In “Anyone Else”, she laments the fact that both of them could have been someone else’s better half, but still accepts that this person will never really disappear in her life: “Sometimes the night brings me back to you… and I look at the time spent wasted on you.” It might not be the healthiest approach to take, but it’s certainly a stronger one. Here, Nadler’s voice refracts and surrounds her, a choir of one; yet as beautiful as it sounds, there’s also insubstantiality to these ghost voices. “I have only myself,” she seems to say, but at that moment that’s all that matters—the knowledge that she has retained who she is, despite everything. That she persevered.
The album’s delicately simple closer “Nothing In My Heart” at first seems to negate this—in a moment of weakness, is she asking her former lover to return, fill her life once more with what she thinks she remembers? By now we’re aware that she knows better: “It’s true that I lost a year—stumbling from room to room, hoping I’d wake up, somehow, next to you.” But knowing something to be true doesn’t always sync with what we desire. It’s this acceptance that makes July so honest. Rather then the standard attitude that so many albums about lost love portray—generally either, “Fuck you forever,” or, “I’m lost without you,”—Nadler acknowledges the truest nature of these situations. We don’t always want what’s best for us. Sometimes, we simply want. ~
July is out on February 4th via Sacred Bones. Stream it in full here.
Gone are the grating and out-of-focus textures of Nika Danilova’s earlier work, to be replaced by clarity, purity and—unfortunately—safety in these reinterpretations assisted by J.G. Thirlwell, says Daniel Jones.
Ask a goth what goth actually is and, almost invariably, you’ll never get the same answer twice. As an accepted and rather arthritic genre, the multi-faceted ideas behind the name have never quite gelled together, spawning long, pointless message board posts, ever-(d)evolving sub-groups and occasionally fits of incredulous laughter. Mention Zola Jesus, however, and most goths will answer in the affirmative: the music of Nika Danilova is goth as fuck.
Emerging in 2009 with her debut LP The Spoils, Danilova’s sound was everything that, over the course of a decade, had more or less been purged from goth music. The rawness of it all, the dirt and gut wrenching wails and dangerous, crazy sexiness translated through the medium of high-intensity low fidelity. It was a redefining of old tropes, as though you were hearing a Siouxsie album for the first time—drowning underwater (down the #seagoths) with a heart full of sewage. For those craving a new dark age after years of boredom, it felt like something wonderful being born. The rough medium of the message spoke to music writers of the time, each eager to present a new face to the buzz of Lo-Fi (itself already fading amidst an oversaturation of static in place of talent) and many entranced by the power of Danilova’s voice, apparent even through a thick filter of audio sludge.
Smash-cut to four years later, and Danilova has more or less wiped the mud from her countenance. Versions, her latest release, doesn’t just redefine the sounds and ideas that came before, it rips the whole idea of Zola J. up and starts again. Gone are the grating and out-of-focus textures. Instead we are delivered clarity, purity and—an increasingly important phrase in today’s world—high definition. The emotion is still there, however; it’s just coming from a different place, a new perspective. Led by the holy hand of industrial legend J.G. Thirwell (aka Foetus), the Mivos string quartet that forms the backbone of these re-compositions glides down amongst Danilova’s regal presence like flashes of razorlight, clean slices of sound that embed themselves into the skin from the opening notes of “Avalanche (Slow)”. That cleanliness is both the strength and weakness of Versions. Aside from new track “Fall Back”, most of what you’ll hear has come before, so whatever surprises await arise more from the differences in structure than the excitement of hearing something fresh. It’s rather like seeing a live performance, in fact, which is what the LP feels most like—though it lacks the immediacy of her presence. Stripped of their pummeling, barely-restrained aggression, songs like “Sea Talk” are given space to breathe for themselves, but none to suffocate the listener. Even as surface beauty is added, the beauty of poison is drawn out and, thoroughly spit-shined, the tracks become beautiful reconceptualizations that seem to say, “We belong here in this museum, to stand bright beneath antiseptic lighting. Ticket, please.”
As a reinvention/extension of her persona, Versions feels like a natural growth of an artist who never really wanted a genre tag in the first place, much less ones as restrictive and outdated as ‘goth’, ‘industrial’ or anything else of the sort. It’s certainly a curious and wonderful listen for anyone who’s ever been entranced by the majestic beauty buried in Danilova’s vocal cords. That said, I can’t say I’ve ever imagined seeing Zola Jesus in a massive concert hall. More to the point, I’m not sure I’d want to. It’s all a bit too high-def, too glossy… too safe. Though the journey is lovely and the work behind it impressive, it feels rather like Danilova is circling. I’m not sure if she’s eating her own tail, stripping away a former self or simply flexing the ghosts of old ideas as she compiles new ones, but these Versions look like another step in taking the Zola Jesus out of Zola Jesus, to be replaced by a palatably icy pop goddess with the power to entrance but little to intimidate. If the circling leads back down the sewer drain, however, I’d be more than happy to follow.~
Versions is out now on Sacred Bones. Stream two exclusive EB videos from Zola Jesus below.
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)
The Heatwave – Jamaica Settings, The Heatwave Show 3
The Heatwave crew are one of the best at bringing Carnival vibes year round to London, and this recent radio show is built around their latest trip to Jamaica with some of the newest, hottest sounds rocking that island (including new tracks from Vybz Kartel, presumably voiced from behind bars).
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Yung Lean – “Hurt”
Sad music for sad times from the Sad Boys Crew. Look, I don’t even know anymore, alright.
Bloom – Fact Mix 391
Forgive me for not delving too deep into my Feedly (other aggregators are available) in order to spotlight this from Bloom, a promising young upstart from grime’s new wave. It’s one of the best mixes I’ve heard all year: sub-zero temperatures with enough neck-snapping halt and swing that it had me exiting the office like this. We live in exciting musical times, don’t let the old fogeys fool you.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Ellie Herring – “Always Just OK”
I’d never heard of Ellie Herring before, but after listening to this tune above, I’m pretty sure that this is just the beginning. The Track’s pulled from Herring’s forthcoming Kite Day EP, out later this month via Racecar.
Young Male – Live at Bossa Nova Civic Club
Beloved Sex Magazine just dropped this stand-out mix from Young Male, if you are into deep techno and fundamental bass, you should hit play.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Cassie – “Me & U” (Killing Sound Remix)
I wasn’t to big on this kid when I first discovered him, but he’s really stepped up his game this year—especially with his remixes. This rework of the Cassie classic is just as heavy and exquisitely fucked as, say, his Hyetal remix while still holding on to the sweetness of the original.
Case Studies – “Villain” (feat. Marissa Nadler)
Love Sacred Bones, love the ‘nad. Just an overall lovely track for summer.
Michael Lutz (Magazine Duty Editor)
Matmos – “I Want Snowden” (Strangeloves / Bow Wow Wow cover / redux)
A song about summer fun turned into a homage to Edward Snowden: “He’s got the meta-data they desire / Sets the NSA on fire.” This had to be said!