Video Premiere: Sculpture – “Hackle Scam Populator”

Following from Monday’s top drawer mix from Thug Entrancer, we’re staying on a Software tip—and why not, Oneohtrix Point Never‘s label is on fire right now. This hypnotic video premiere comes from the alliance between Brit musician Dan Hayhurst and New Zealand animator Reuben Sutherland, better known as Sculpture. “Hackle Scam Populator” is a piece of digital psychedelia which comes from their forthcoming album Membrane Pop, their first recording for Software. The video is a mesmerising affair, as you might expect from a self-identifying ‘opto-musical agglomerate’ but we’re digging the way the kaleidoscopic visuals reflect the shifting planes of sound. We’re definitely down with Sculpture’s handiwork.

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Videodrome 132 – This week’s best videos

Each week, Moritz Gayard rounds up the best music videos so you don’t have to. 

 

Still hailing from super-nice Rio de Janaiero, here comes a warm breeze full of audio visual joy. This week I lost my heart to Pricess Nokia and (again) to Lopatin‘s Software Rec., who dropped an amazing computer generated journey for Thug Entrancer’s “Death After Life I”. Also inspiring: new videos from the likes of Show Me The Body, Actress, Jonas Reinhardt and Moderat. Have fun.

 

#1 Princess Nokia – “Dragons”

Some chilled jungle here from up-and-coming Princess Nokia (formerly known as Wavy Spice) or better described as some sort of Aaliyah reincarnate. A video to let you know how to treat your partner.

 

#2 Thug Entrancer – “Death After Life I”, directed by Milton Melvin Croissant III

When it comes to music videos these days, Lopatin’s Software imprint is taking the genre into some sort of next level shit. This time it’s a computer-generated psychedelia for Ryan McRyhew’s Thug Entrancer moniker. Get ready for the journey, press play and get lost in faked worlds.

 

#3 Actress – “Street Corp”, directed by Riyo Nemeth

Here’s the abstract clip for Actress’ “Street Corp”, which Ruth Saxelby called, “one of the most satisfying moments on Ghettoville.”

 

#4 Isaiah Rashad – “Soliloquy”, directed by Christopher Parsons

No gimmicks here. TDE’s rookie Isaiah Rashad unveiled this new visual for “Soliloquy”, off his now available Cilvia project.

 

#5 Show Me The Body – “GROSS LOANS”, directed by Aaron Naves

Great lo-fi video for Brooklyn trio SMTB—if you run a label go get them signed. According to sickchirpse they label their sound as: “Sludge Punk, Folk Metal, Americore.” Don’t miss it.

 

#6 A.R.C. Soundtracks – “The Road To The Camp”

Not really a sucker for videos with that over-used mirror effect. But here, it’s different. Diving in to the droney “The Road To The Camp” video is full fun. Track is taken from the debut album., Archive: Volume One—out via Little Crackd Rabbit.

 

#7 Jonas Reinhardt – “Ganymede”, directed by Lily Jue Sheng

Brooklyn synth architect Jonas Reinhardt is just about to drop his LP+DVD release Ganymede. Again, this is amazing and according to interweb rumors, there’ll be a video for each track of the whole album (Goldfrapp/Beyonce anyone?).

 

#8 Adam Black – “TND Glass”, directed by Adam Black

French singer Adam Black just released the video for “TND Glass”, off of his EP debut, Untld, out February 10th. Check the self-directed video above.

 

#9 Presk – “Saluki”

This week Amsterdam-based Presk released his four track EP Saluki via Doc Daneeka’s Ten Thousand Yen imprint. Above it’s the colorful dance video for the title track.

 

#10 Moderat “Last Time“, directed by Pfadfinderei

Der Fluch der Provinz. New Moderat video made by long time collaborator Pfadfinderei, gives us an impression of living outside Berlin. Wanna see them live? Then try to get tickets for our EB Festival in Prague. Last tickets available from Friday morning.

 

For more editions of Videodrome, click here.

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Videodrome 128 – This year’s best videos

Each week, Moritz Gayard rounds up the best new music videos so you don’t have to.

 

2013 has been a banner year for music videos. The genre seems to be unstoppable, as we proved it every single week with this Videodrome column. This year I got told to drop some sort of a best videos list—not an easy task. Anyway, let’s get to it and salute my Ten Best Music Videos of 2013On a side note: what has happened to Patrick Daughters?

 

#1 Placebo – “Too Many Friends”, directed by Saman Kesh

Saman Kesh is the best director working. Placebo is not the best band working. But this is definitely one of the most interesting and unique videos I’ve seen this year. Speaking to Videostatic, Saman Kesh explains: “It was designed as a puzzle. I actually got the idea when somebody told me ‘Hey man, I love your work… I’m always not sure If my interpretation is right though, but awesome!!!’ I was kind of sad by this as I took it as ‘your shit isn’t clear motherfucker!’—haha. So, it weaseled its way into the writing as a “what do YOU think happened, viewer?” We originally had four answers, but we found it to be a bit too confusing, so we decided to compartmentalize them into A) Guys fault, B) Girl’s fault, C) We are wrong, you tell us”.

 

#2 Mazes – “Bodies”, directed by Austin of Vision Fortune

Simplicity is king. Directed by Austin of Vision Fortune, this video explores the connection between moving and still imagery as several couples pose for photographs. Of the video Austin says, “The idea of the video came from the idea that we as humans are inevitably attracted to both moving image and still imagery such as photography and painting. The video explores and raises questions about the parallels between these two mediums: we see the subjects sitting as still as possible for these ‘video’ portraits, subtle nuances appear on closer inspection as we the audience see eyes blinking and twitching”.

 

#3 Co La – “Make It Slay”, directed by Andrew Strasser

Dem thirsty. Baltimore musician and producer Co La, signed to OPN’s infamous Software imprint, has released a hell of a CGI HD video centered solely around a champagne flute. Director Andrew Strasser on the clip: “‘Make It Slay’ is the kind of jam that inspires angles. When Matt approached me about making a video based around a champagne glass, the choice to animate freed any limits. This was also another opportunity to mix the message of carbonated ‘cola’. This video is full of references to 3D animation tutorial culture, but does not glamorize cyber culture. Instead it pits feat in idyllic artificial environments—beauty is your biggest enemy.”

 

#4 Death Grips – “You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it’s your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat”, self-directed

Fucking with all the boundaries left, Death Grips are showing a.g.a.i.n. the path to free your mind.

 

#5 Beach House – “Wishes”, directed by Eric Wareheim

It’s happening again: Laura Palmer’s dad lip-syncs to this dreamy Beach House track while riding a horse, surrounded by cheerleaders wearing horse masks in a soccer stadium?

 

#6 The Civil Wars – “The One That Got Away”, directed by Tom Haines

“The One That Got Away” was the first single from Grammy nominated goth folk duo The Civil Wars—unfortunately they split up before their new album was released. Longtime directing champion Tom Haines on the video: “I wanted to create the idea of a character who was living on the edge of society, but that gave her strength,” Haines says. “She is vulnerable but adaptable, and sadly, seismic natural disasters seem to be increasingly something we may have to live with, so adaptability is crucial to survival. It somehow reflected the ideas of loss, regret and transience which echo in the song.”

 

#7 Scratch Massive feat. Koudlam – “Waiting for a Sign”, directed by Edouard Salier

The video is set in some post-apocalyptic Thailand with boys lost in a Lord of the Flies daze. I love it. And Koudlam is the best thing that happened in 2013.

 

#8 Oneohtrix Point Never – “Still Life” (Betamale), directed by Jon Rafman

Extremely disturbing and extremely NSFW.

 

#9 Dean Blunt – “Felony / Stalker 7”, self-directed

искусство, обращенное спиной к зрителю, но силящееся объяснить ему выражение своего лица (за счет в основном обнажения боли, которое в то же время не считывается как жалоба).

 

#10 Pharrell Williams – “Happy”, directed by We Are From LA

You cannot watch this video and NOT want to dance by the end of it. Promise. Cameos include Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Jasper, Jimmy Kimmel, Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Osboune. Pharrell Williams: “The best work comes from people who are motivated by crisis—when something stops the original idea, they respond by coming up with something even better. Existence is all mathematics, he says. There’s an equation for success in every obstacle.”

 

For more editions of Videodrome, click here.

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Pattern Recognition Vol. 6: The Vanishing Frame of Blondes and Huerco S.

In this edition of his monthly column, Adam Harper—the premier writer on new, emergent, underground music—picks up where his last essay on the framing of music left off, zooming in on new albums by Blondes and Huerco S. Illustration by Inka Gerbert.

 

Sometimes the frame is part of the picture. Sometimes the gallery, too, and the city it’s in, and the eyes that look at the picture. So why draw lines around where the art is? Sometimes a picture seems to know all this. Two recent albums have reframed house-and/or-techno like this: BlondesSwisher and Huerco S.‘s Colonial Patterns. Though they sound pretty different on the surface, they’re complementary—both are working through the same process with different outcomes. This process involves expanding out from older conceptions of where the ‘music itself’ is located and incorporating the sonic and formal consequences of its context into the wider musical appeal.

Swisher, for example, is presented to you as you might hear it in a club: less individual cuts than house beats and hooks blending seamlessly into one another as if mixed by an astral DJ, tracks passing from theme to theme over their several-minute lives and not necessarily turning back. This is all the more satisfying because it’s not quite something you really would hear if you did wander into a standard house set on a standard night (look at the cover—what sort of night would have a flyer like that?). It’s bathed in low-Celsius streams of improvisational electronic minimalism, the kosmische microwave background. It’s like stepping into the clubs of that world you always wanted to visit, the one lit by a giant blue star, the one where the humanoid creatures step along with a sad dignity and no-one quite notices or cares that you’re there. There’s an almost melancholy voyeurism when you visit this imaginary club, where heads are down and backs are turned.

And since it’s on a recording, it’s a live set that you can relive, like a memory of an evening untainted by the facts. Two and a half minutes into “Andrew”, for example, when the vocal hook first came in, and the feathery organs slowly began to protrude from the backs of the clubbers’ necks, and you realized you really were a sojourner. But then your upper vertebrae began to tingle.

Like a lot of the electronic music around that relates obliquely to dance, Swisher operates on several temporal levels at once, leaving you suspended between all of them, a modern consciousness that apprehends the cells in the soil and the galactic clusters riding the aeons. At the bottom of the spectrum are the sixteenth-notes, the eighth notes, then the kick drum, the dark center of gravity, and panning up through the fractal structures we get to the four-beat bar, the four-bar phrase, the eight-bar phrase, and on and on until there are drones and loops that last for several minutes (the distinction between a drone and a loop is only one of degree—speed anything up and it becomes a drone, slow anything down and it’s made up of loops). To perceive time in its relativistic and grand gamut like this is breathtaking, and it’s not an experience that can be easily attained on a single 12-inch. Again, this is a truth experienced over the course of several hours in the club, where the 12-inches link together to form an apparently seamless drone, a great chain of socio-musical being. Somehow, Blondes have managed to infuse Swisher with this feeling of an epic stretch of time in only just over an hour. The best albums are the ones you could spend the rest of your life living inside—stalling the heat death of the universe in the intensive, imaginary time of a virtual realm.

The stroke of brilliance is in leaving the best track—the most coagulated, alert, and urgent—until the very end. “Elise” is the moment it all makes even more sense than it did before; clarity suddenly descends. It could not have had half its effect without what had gone before. It would just have seemed like another weird house track with an attractive if mawkish refrain and, y’know, lasers and that. But after everything that you’ve been through, Blondes have made you worship its gawky, sloppy, plucked-string hook. It’s not that they’ve pulled some trick that disguises an ‘OK’ track as a ‘good’ one—it’s more radical than that. They slowly and carefully show you that in the right context and in the right frame of mind, there is a white hot attraction waiting for you in anything.

While Swisher zooms out to show you the club, the frame in Colonial Patterns is a zooming in, showing you the grainy physical life of the sounds themselves leaking through boxes and wires, so close up that you no longer see the wood for the trees. The forces connecting the sounds begin to weaken and they float freely as autonomous objects, and aren’t trees lovely up close when we can feel the rough bark under our fingers and smell the sap? Where are we again?

With its small-scale, up-close, lo-fi techno diatoms, it’s hard to imagine Colonial Patterns without the rise of Actress a few years ago, of course. But before we use this observation to dismiss Huerco S., first imagine a culture in which there are dozens of Actresses and dozens of Splazshes, each with only relatively slight differences between them. With all Actress has taught us about the endless indescribable wonder of microscopic subtlety, doesn’t this sound like an attractive proposition? It’s certainly a world that deserves, and probably requires, a team of explorers working together. And though it’s not a competition, Colonial Patterns stands tall next to Actress’ recent work.

It’s the distances in Colonial Patterns that I like the most. No matter how intimate and physical the acoustic space might feel, there’s always the sense of some objects in the foreground and some in the background—bizarre voices and faces peering out like some child or animal tucked into an already claustrophobic Beckmann painting. Then there are the sounds, like in the eventually more expansive “Towards the Sun”, that are more than the sum of their parts, that aren’t just bits of synth with hiss on them but some amazing chameleonic blend of hiss and tone sounding with a single voice. This isn’t a black and white world of noise and signal, it’s a smooth one gently oozing with beings that have yet to be understood.

The text of the Colonial Patterns press kit bears an uncanny resemblance to the way people used to write about early indie-rock band Pavement twenty years ago—deconstructing pre-established pop styles and flushing them with lo-fi as an anti-slick maneuver. It’s as if it doesn’t constitute a style itself but merely acts upon previously anointed styles (remember people, pop music stopped producing new and genuine styles sometime around 2003—any talk of a meaningfully new style must necessarily be somehow false). Does the music offer more than this? I do think there’s potential. If something really is deconstructed, it’s not simply parading the same old aesthetic oppositions, such as slick vs rough, picture vs frame, in an ironic manner: “Look, this might have been slick, but it’s rough! It deconstructs categories!” That’s not a deconstruction, it just re-emphasizes the old categories, like ‘ironic sexism’ does. A true deconstruction creates a world where the constructions ‘rough’ and ‘slick’ and the separation between them are entirely unlearned, were never there to begin with and are now difficult to imagine as valid—rough and slick, picture and frame have simply melted into the earth and not even their ghostly outlines remain. I can sense this process beginning to tug on my lizard brain in Colonial Patterns, caressing that place where the words, frames, and other constructions that would marshal my perception don’t exist yet.

Yeah, contemporary ears are too often stuck in what you might call The Greater Hauntological Paradigm, where they hear music not as something new and open, but simply as a scrunched-up or otherwise modulated (that is, framed) version of something that we knew came before it in the Glorious History of Pop Music. The problem is, the larger and more powerful your record collection and the lazier your ear, the easier it is to hear things framed that way and the more tempting it is to make music like that. It leads to the retromania optic (literally ‘retro man ear’—LMAO). So I don’t know whether it’s my ear or Blondes and Huerco’s synths and drum machines, but, no, it doesn’t seem like they’re rocketing away from older styles like some other producers are. If it were a century ago, I might want to call it the ‘decadent’ phase of a culture, a signal that the house-and/or-techno era is declining, simply falling back in on itself, and putting its past achievements in a frame, as rock before it has long been doing.

But it’s not a century ago and goddamn it, we’ve been coasting on post-modernism for at least thirty years now—and the idea of it spreading into house and techno only seems fresh and interesting for about 0.2 seconds. Blondes and Huerco S. don’t need to be casualties to the assumption that their music is simply a reaction, because every time I listen the music seems to get more abstract, not less. Clearly, they’re different from the retro house of Octo Octa, Pharaohs, Miracles Club, or Scuba—they don’t have that palpable sense of quotation marks around the music—and it is in that difference that the openness remains. It’s a place to start. Though the frame might be part of the picture, Blondes and Huerco S. make it less and less easy to see where the one ends and the other begins. ~

 

Blondes’ Swisher and Huerco S.’ Colonial Patterns are out now on RVNG and Software, respectively. Adam Harper is the Rouge’s Foam blogger and author of Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making. You can read previous editions of Pattern Recognition here.

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Videodrome 118 – This week’s best videos

Each week, Moritz Gayard rounds up the week’s best music videos so you don’t have to.

 

This week marks a turn in the always uninspiring YouTube vs GEMA story (sorry, your video is blocked) here in Germany. Per today, VEVO is now airing the latest music videos online, and the most important thing is that they’ve got a contract signed by no other than all the three major labels which are left. Though not all videos below are VEVO videos, which are watchable in Germany without restrictions, I am pretty sure that the VEVO deal will change the game for better music video enjoyment. Let’s start.

 

#1 Toro Y Moi – “Rose Quartz”, directed and painted by Lauren Gregory

An amazing stop motion oil painting is what you can see in the video for Toro Y Moi’s “Rose Quartz”, the new single from his third LP Anything In Return, out via Carpark Records.

 

#2 Keep Shelly in Athens – “Recollection”, directed by Lamar & Nik

The new video for Keep Shelly In Athens‘ track “Recollection” has it all: a woman, an old high school, some bubbles, and a mystery. Check it out above.

 

#3 Jon Hopkins  feat. Purity Ring – “Breathe This Air” directed by Anthony Dickenson

Last month Jon Hopkins added Purity Ring’s Megan James’ vocals over his track “Breathe This Air”, taken from his latest 2013 release Immunity. The video is sort of NSFW: you’ll see gun violence and a naked girl…

 

#4 Autre Ne Veut – “Ego Free Sex Free”, directed by Allie Avital Tsypin

Watch the minimal new visuals for Autre Ne Veut’s “Ego Free Sex Free”, one of the standouts from the brilliant Anxiety LP, released through Software.

 

#5 Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – “Gold Teeth”

Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip are back. “Gold Teeth” is the first single from their forthcoming new album, Repent, Replenish, Repeat. As the boys say, “This is what the classic ‘rapper in a strip club’ video would look like if half the industry didn’t lie about how rich they were.”

 

#6 A$AP Rocky – “Fashion Killa”, directed by Virgil Abloh

Anyone up for shopping with Rihanna?

 

#7 Brodinski feat. Theophilus London – “Gimme Back the Night”, directed by HELMI

While out in Los Angeles, Brodinski and Theophilus London filmed the visual for their collaborative track, “Gimme Back the Night”. The DJ/producer filmed the entire thing with a tiny camera that he kept inside of his mouth for twenty-four hours.

 

#8 RJD2 – “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request”

Philly-based beatsmith RJD2 has a new album to release soon. Above is the first teaser which takes you on a New York City tour.

 

#9 Tim Hecker – “Black Refraction”, video by Sabrina Ratté

Up for some beautiful melancholia? Then head in to Tim Hecker‘s “Black Refractions”, taken from his new album Virgins.

 

#10 Forest Swords – “Thor’s Stone”, directed by David Ma

“There was a moment around 3am when I felt a pure sense of all the elements coming together perfectly,” recalls David Ma of shooting the video to Forest Swords’ atmospheric track “Thor’s Stone”. Filmed overnight in the industrial outskirts of downtown Los Angeles.~

 

For previous editions of Videodrome, click here.
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