Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low. Illustration: SHALTMIRA
It feels weird to think about music when there’s so many utterly fucked things happening in the US right now. I debated writing about them instead for this week’s Audioccult, but I decided that others are doing a much better job at it, and they probably don’t have the urge to interject with some humorous music babbling. This holiday season, I suggest that you interrupt all family gatherings by loudly placing your laptop on the dining room table and opening it slowly to this article.
Anyway…Because EB isn’t doing a Best Of 2014 list, and because this column rarely focuses primarily on music these days, I feel compelled to mention my aural loves from the past year on a smaller scale by compiling my 20 favorite tracks in no particular order. Each of these songs move me in different ways at different times, and so I’m not interested in ranking them—they’re all great. Next week, I’ll cover 20 more, and the week after this column will just feature pictures of dogs I like.
Ballet School – “YAOI (LP Version )” [Bella Union]
The penultimate cut from debut album The Dew Lasts An Hour by Berlin-via-Scotland shoegazers Ballet School ramps up the original version with powerful vocals and perfect pop hooks that are pinned down by glistening, driving guitars reminiscent of the sort of 4AD-style post-punk I worshipped as a kid.
3TEETH – “Dust” [Artoffact Records]
I could go on about these guys for ages, so suffice to say that if you love industrial music, this song (and LP, and the remix LP) need to be in your collection. Grinding riffs, obliterating beats, and pure vocal carnage make this one a dance floor destroyer.
Croatian Amor – “Tonic Water Bridge” [Sleeperhold Publications]
While Caviar Glowing flows like a single track, it’s the first movement—all pulsating, twinkling ambiance sliding slowly into a quicksand of techno rhythms—that grabbed me the most from this beautiful little EP.
Rind – “Understudy” [Rotted Tooth Recordings]
The sound of Lee Relvas rests comfortably between early No Wave experimentalism and the mutant, electronic punk that gave us angelic weirdos like Lauren Bousfield. Foreboding piano plays tag with bursts of static noise, jagged guitar, and Relvas’ commanding voice. The entire thing is available to download for free on her website, too!
The Soft Pink Truth – “Satanic Black Devotion” [Thrill Jockey]
Why Do The Heathen Rage? is possibly one of the best records, ever. Queer, shattered electronic interpretations of black metal classics like this Sargeist cover are equally terrifying and orgiastically delightful. If your face doesn’t light up in a smile when that Snap! sample hits, you’re 2 Brvtal 4 Lyfe.
Azar Swan – “And Blow Us A Kiss” [Zoo Music]
This fantastic track, a beautiful mixture of tribal drums, industrial-grade synthpop, and Zohra Atash’s confident vocal coos, prefaces Azar Swan’s sophomore LP of the same name. It’s a stirring opener which made me smile so hard that a nearby cat became angry and attacked me. Zohra also recently penned a great essay on influence, which you should check out here.
The Devil ft. Johnny Cash, Pesci, Converge, Alley Boy, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Cocaine & The Grim Reaper – “KILL RADIO KILL / THE RIDE” (Self-Released)
Of all the “dark” hip-hop mixtapes I’ve heard this year, Violence is undoubtedly the most raw, nihilistic, and straight-up weird of them all. Packed with bleak samples and multi-genre bursts of other musicians (like the insane selection above), it’s an essential listen for anyone who loves noise and rap in equal measure—or as the perfect WTF closer to a DJ set. Grab it for free at livemixtapes.
Vashti Bunyan – “Holy Smoke” [Fat Cat Records]
Somewhere between regal maturity and ageless innocence, Bunyan’s final album Heartleap is a stunningly lovely Autumn portrait of one of folk music’s greatest hearts.
Mondkopf – “Hadés III” [In Paradisum]
When trying to engage people who enjoy industrial music but aren’t really into techno (of which I am one, sort of) there’s a few albums I have found that can change their minds. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve added the monolithic Hadés to that list. The majestic closer, “Hadés III,” with its rising ambient synths and harsh, trumpeting denouement, is a case in point.
M.E.S.H. – “Captivated” [PAN]
Despite the fact that Jamie Whipple is one of my favorite Berlin DJs, his musical output doesn’t always translate to the dance floor. That’s fine with me, as the excellent Scythians EP operates on the dance floor of the brain. Let his beats do the talking while your lobes do the walkin’.
Trust – “Capitol” [Arts & Crafts]
I’ll admit that, at first, I wasn’t convinced by this sophomore album. I’m still more into the first Trust album, because I’m a dour fuck. However, after repeated listens, it has grown a lot on me, and this particular slice of joyful synthpop deliciousness more than the rest. This is perfect headphones music for knocking your goth ass up a few notches towards positivity.
The Bug – “Fat Mac” [Ninja Tune]
The Bug’s massive performance at Unsound Festival remains one of my favorite live shows ever, thanks in part due to how much I played his new LP Angels & Devils during the month leading up to his appearance. The lurching, lurking viciousness embedded above is a highlight in an album full of highlights, with Flowdan’s growling verses sounding meaner than ever.
Gazelle Twin – “Human Touch” [Last Gang/Anti-Ghost Moon Ray]
Gazelle Twin’s meaty new LP, Unflesh, feels almost like the poppier offspring of the classic Matmos surgical-sample album A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure (though the word “pop” is used very loosely here). “Human Touch” pulses with a stuttering, after-dark synth and slightly dehumanized vocals, which makes for a delightfully weird and woozy experience.
Ariel Pink – “Not Enough Violence” [4AD]
Whatever you think about his public persona, there’s no denying that Pom Pom is Pink’s best work in years. Shedding many of the dull trappings of AM radio-rock, he’s returned triumphantly to the stranger, cartoonish aspects of his work. “Not Enough Violence” is an infinitely catchy, washed-out, mock-goth sleaze anthem that makes me want to buy a black Ferrari and crash it into a wall, for sex reasons. “I recommend it.” – Daniel Jones.
Jabu – “Empty Days” [Ramp]
The Bristol-based crew Young Echo has some insanely talented members, and you’ll see more of them in the next edition. The duo known as Jabu is probably the most unexpectedly delicate act in the pack: soft-spoken word poetry with sparse, melancholic instrumentals. The pairing of guest vocalist M.S Harris with Alex Rendall’s stark flow makes this a perfect tune for heartbreak, introspection, or just vibing out.
Crow and seagull attack the Pope’s peace dove [Life]
Even though the current Pope is actually pretty chill (you know, for a Pope) this still counts as a major musical moment in my life. When those two flying fucklords dropped down on the symbolic emissary of peace, I heard a choir of angels scream. Currently working on the remix.
The Body – “Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain” [RVNG Intl.]
The Body’s Haxan Cloak-produced I Shall Die Here is an exquisitely-crafted slab of hate. I don’t think a week has gone by without me playing at least one track, and the above more than them all. It’s pure, howling evil with low-end that makes you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole.
Marissa Nadler – “We Are Coming Back” [Sacred Bones]
Rather than showcasing the standard attitude that so many albums about lost love portray (which oscillates between “Fuck you forever,” or, “I’m lost without you,”) Nadler’s July acknowledges the truest nature of these situations. We don’t always want what’s best for us. Sometimes, we simply want.
Sewn Leather – “Unclear War” [Hundebiss]
Sewn Leather (now Skull Katalog) doesn’t just make some of the scuzziest synthpunk in the game; he also puts on an insane live show. I chipped my tooth slamdancing to this one, which isn’t a big deal, really. The first time I saw this dude play, he broke his nose in the first minute of the show. 45 minutes later, he was still going strong. Hardcore.
Fugazi – “Merchandise (Version)” [Dischord]
Speaking of, when I heard these demos were coming out, I did a high five with my friend and our feet lifted off the ground. Ascent into heaven? This is the music of skate angels.
Scott O))) – “Brando” (4AD)
The only bad thing I can say about Soused is: now that they’ve made the Perfect Album, where the hell can either of these bands go from here?
Stay tuned for Part II of our Top Tracks of 2014 — coming next Thursday!
Each week, Moritz Gayard rounds up the best new music videos, so you don’t have to.
This is quite a week for Videodrome, which now has published 124 editions. This week, it all started with the very beautiful ´drome-darling Selena Gomez’s epic music video for “Searching” and the first video in decades from über-mother Lilly Allen. Then there was some very good filming involved in the new clip directed by Sofia Coppola—unfortunately it was made for Phoenix. And you will never find a Phoenix video in a Videodrome. But there’s also a cool, new Drake video to explore. Lovers of animated video art will definitely love the Mrzyk & Moriceau-directed clip for Jackson & His Computer Band. Also Dev Heynes has a new video out, These New Puritans, Wooden Shjips… Your bumper week of video fun starts below.
#0 Selena Gomez – “Searching”, directed by Amanda de Cadenet & Victoria Mahoney
Shot and directed by Victoria Mahoney at the iconic Rosslyn Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles for Flaunt Magazine, the clip shows a pensive and subtly sexy Selena wearing only lacey lingerie and other color-neutral outfits.
#1 Torn Hawk – “Born to Win (Life After Ghostbusters)” , directed by Luke Wyatt
NYC-based beatmaker Luke Wyatt has deployed a fifteen-minute electronic session for his “Born To Win (Life After Ghostbusters)” track which will be out via L.I.E.S. soon.
#2 Drake – “Worst Behavior”, directed by Director X & Drake
Director X said: “Drake writes his own treatments. He came up with the whole concept, and we started in early October. He already had the idea together, and took it to Memphis to see his father’s side of the family. Dennis is the man in Memphis, and Willie Mitchell is his family.”
#3 Wooden Shjips – “Back To Land”, directed by Benjael Halfmaderholz
Psychedelic freaks Wooden Shjips have a mind-melting new album out called Return to Land on Thrill Jockey records, above a delicious appetizer.
#4 Jackson & His Computer Band – “G.I Jane”, directed by Mrzyk & Moriceau
“G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)” is the title track of the upcoming remix EP from Jackson and His Computer Band, the French IDM band signed to Warp. The video above is a pretty funny NSFW animation. Be prepared.
#5 These New Puritans – “V (Island Song)”, directed by PICNIC
These New Puritans have premiered a impressively animated music video for their new single “V (Island Song)”. Taken from their album Field of Reeds, which just came out this week.
#6 Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell”, directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz
SOoOO dope. Blood Orange (a.k.a. Dev Hynes) released his second album Cupid Deluxe yesterday. Following the video for “You’re Not Good Enough,” now you can check out the new video for “Time Will Tell” above.
#7 Lily Allen – “Hard Out Here”, directed by Christopher Sweeney
“I don’t need to shake my ass for you because I’ve got a brain.” Really, Lily?
#8 Lil B – “Get Em”, self-directed
I can’t count the videos Lil B is floating on the interweb with, but it just felt right to bring him back to the ‘drome.
#9 Teengirl Fantasy – “Nun”, Directed by: Hans Lo
Teengirl Fantasy’s Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss have a new data interface design wonder video ready for your eyes, directed by the talented Hans Lo.
#10 Keep Shelly in Athens – “Oostende“, dir Feel Good Lost
Directed, shot, and edited by Brendan Canty & Conal Thomson of Feel Good Lost this is the new video for KSUA, for which was already one of the best songs of the year
#11 SOUR “Life is Music”
Holy heck <3 ~
For more editions of Videodrome, click here.
Grumbling Fur are the duo of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan, both of whom have already had productive careers in underground music in their native Britain. Tucker is an acclaimed solo artist mining an unusual, doom-laden folk; O’Sullivan is probably best known as a member of Guapo, whose instrumental proficiency was key for their metal-informed prog experimentalism. Both have been involved in (different) collaborations with the likes of Stephen O’Malley. While you might expect that their work together as Grumbling Fur has a hint of doom menace, the electronic palette and almost pop structures in new album Glynnaestra are a surprise. Perfect material, then, for a rework by electronic experimentalists Sculpture, best known for their awesomely disorienting releases for the likes of Dekorder and Kaleidoscope. You can hear the original version of “Protogenesis” here, and listen to the Sculpture remix exclusively below:
Catch Grumbling Fur at one of the following dates this fall:
Fri Sep 20th Tilburg, The Netherlands – Incubate Festival
Sat Oct 5th Glasgow, UK – Eastern Promise Festival
Thu Oct 17th London, UK – Corsica Studios w/ Wrekmeister Harmonies
Mon Oct 21st Bristol, UK – Exchange
Sat Nov 23rd Oxford, UK – Audioscope Festival
Grumbling Fur’s Glynnaestra is out now via Thrill Jockey.
For years we’ve known Jan St. Werner not only as one half of the always inspiring Mouse On Mars duo, but also through releases as Microstoria, Lithops, and Von Südenfed, just to name a few. This week, Jan releases his full-length Blaze Colour Burn, which kicks off Fiepblatter,Thrill Jockey‘s series of genre-bursting releases which promise to “encompass electro-acoustic experimentation, algorithmic elements, scored music, digital signal processing, field recordings, improvisation, public performance and graphic works,” according to the label. Anyway, this release brings us some very smart field recordings and some absurd experimental compositions. Get an idea and watch the video below.
Jan St. Werner’s Blaze Colour Burn album will be released through Thrill Jockey June 10th. Pre-order here.
The legendary mind behind Lightning Bolt, Black Pus, and some of Rhode Island’s most artistic endeavors speaks about his new album, his comic Puke Force, and his belief that “Musicians don’t need to concern themselves with genres 95% of the time”.
For over a decade now, Brian Chippendale has been one of noise music’s most prolific names. His dual role as vocalist/percussionist in Rhode Island duo Lightning Bolt has made their ear-shattering shows things of legend. The last time I saw them play in 2007 was in the middle of a skateboard pit with the sadly-departed Silver Daggers, and the memory of that sweaty, violent moshpit still gives me ecstatic convulsions. Along with his work in the equally abrasive Mindflayer and his solo project Black Pus, Chippendale was one of the co-founders of the RI art and music collective space Fort Thunder, and continues to work as both a comic book and album artist. In a city with such a massive and passionate DIY zine, art, and comics scene, experimental graphic works like If ‘n’Oof and current project Puke Force are as equally strange as his music—and just as engaging for mutant eyes.
With Black Pus’ recently released album All My Relations, Chippendale shows us a cleaner, poppier and better produced side to his chaotic sonics than ever before, yet none of the magic is lost here. This isn’t an attempt at a mainstream move (whatever that word means in 2013); this is Chippendale now, with new perspectives on his work and new ways to present them. I got in touch with him right before he left for the United Arab Emirates for the Sharjah Biennial art festival.
In terms of recording quality, All My Relations feels more polished and poppy than some of your other work, especially in your use of vocals. What was the thought process that went into the record?
It was a conscious effort to step up the production value. I think much of my output has been offputting to people because of its low fidelity, so I decided to try something different. It seemed like fun to try out Machines with Magnets, a studio here in town, especially because it’s run by really friendly and talented people. Once I was in there, pathways opened up to me, like re-doing the vocals or just separating out the various speakers to protect from bleed through. It allowed me to make everything hit a little harder, sit in its own space. I’m into it.
Historically, I have prioritized the performance over the capture. Playing at home can often produce a better performance because of comfort in terms of understanding how sound works in your own room and having lots of time to work on it, but now I’m focusing in on capture—because it’s a recording, and recordings exist separately from a performance. They are their own thing. I’m still very focused on a making music routed in quality performances, but I’m not obsessed with it. Right now I want sonic control in the mixing.
Is this setting something you’d like to experiment with as Lighting Bolt as well?
Lightning Bolt went into the same studio this past fall to work on some recordings. One reason I went in there with Black Pus was to try out the room, see how it sounded and how I felt in there. It worked well so Lightning Bolt has begun working with them, we will go back in after my Black Pus tour to do some more work. I’m at a point where I think my catalogue, or LB’s catalogue, needs a sonic change. Again, people are disregarding some of the work because of fidelity issues, so we’ll change things up and see if it can reach out to more people.
It’s interesting that you say that. In a recent interview, Pete Swanson said something along the lines of, “noise is dead.” What’s your take on this?
My take on any sort of vague announcement about a certain state of music is that it’s a bit of a waste of breath. “Noise” as a music is so ill-defined that some may claim it never existed. Categories of music are games that writers play. As I might perceive noise I don’t think it is dead at all—it’s all around us. Noise will outlive everything and everyone. Anyone announcing that something is dead is probably feeling very self-important at the time of the announcement, and I guess it’s worthwhile to feel self-important on occasion. Either that or they’re making a joke. Jokes are great,”Why did the chicken cross the road? Because they were having a sale on limited edition noise CD-R’s across the street.” “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because some musician, one of a million, was making an announcement next to the chicken about something and it was giving the chicken a headache so he left.”
How do you feel about musical genres in general?
Genres are for marketing. Musicians don’t need to concern themselves with genres 95% of the time. Only when an album comes out and someone needs to qualify it or place it in the context of other things does a musician need to think about it. In fact, when music is being created, it’s the last thing a musician should be thinking about. If you focus in on a genre while you create you are closing way too many doors way too fast. Dead on arrival.
Tell me a bit about your current comic Puke Force.
Puke Force is about a team of heroes that live in a city called Grave. Well, not really. It’s about the relationships between the citizens of this town, from the heroes who can’t even seem to leave their headquarters to just gangs of folk on the street or people hanging at the cafe. There’s a bar fight. It’s sci-fi. Mutants. There is racism, classism, gun violence. Lots of jokes and some art conversation. Sounds horribly boring. It’s a slice of life pitted against a background of a complicated and dense city, pitted against a background of the struggle between technology and humanity. It’s lots of black lines and small square frames. Finishing that and a new Lightning Bolt record are my goals this summer. It’s about goals.