synthwave . electro-pop . alt-R&B . minimal wave


Genre pick of the week Cover of Artificial Dance by Savant.
The story of electronic music pioneer Kerry Leimer continues with a focus on his auteurist studio project Savant.

Compiling the standalone album, 1983’s 'The Neo Realist (At Risk)', with Savant’s debut 12" and a grip of compilation and unreleased tracks, 'Artificial Dance' documents Leimer’s complete collaborative venture into the unpredictable realities of music, exploring the gulf between what is expected by its creators and what is eventually - and eternally - committed to tape.

Savant was designed by Leimer to tap into entropic truths, asserting an uncaged counterpart to the loop-based minimalism he produced in isolation (recently surveyed on RVNG Intl’s 'A Period of Review (1975-1983)'). Aligning himself with the Cage-ean principles of chance operations and musical contingency, Savant was a band sans jam. Allegorically, a blindfolded collaboration whose happenstance source music Leimer would sample, loop and sculpt at will.

Leimer was creatively autonomous to the point of being a persona absentia in Seattle’s 80s rock scene. Unconcerned by social status, Leimer enlisted musicians from experimental and post-punk groups in the area to come record as Savant at his home studio, Tactical. Among them were ambient composer Marc Barreca, John Foster (founder of Op Magazine – the experimental music publication), Jim and David Keller of the New Flamingos, and their bandmate Alex Petit. Others, like Roy Finch and Dennis Rea, came from a similar orbit.

Even with these musicians at his beck and call, Leimer implemented a disarming musical strategy. Savant would have no fixed line up and often musicians would be asked to play instruments far outside their forté. Leimer would however give loose rhythmic direction for the musicians to develop spontaneously against click-tracks. When the performance locked in with Leimer listening at the controls, he’d capture it to tape. These moments became the soul of Savant and the combustive elements that would variegate its timbres.

Savant tonally operates in a space between This Heat’s dark primitivism and the found sound collage of Brian Eno & David Byrne’s 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'. These analogies are simply stylistic, as the narrative behind 'The Neo-Realist’'s production makes clear Leimer was concocting via more alchemic means, avoiding genre aspirations by looking for accidental moments of musical intrigue and discovery. Leimer explains this process in the collection’s liner notes: “I was looking for flaws, for faults to act as the stand-out features of the music.”

Far from a provisional stab at avant-garde sensibilities, Savant represents Leimer’s repudiation of ambient music’s passive side. Artificial Dance embodies a perfectionist’s family portrait of outré musicians conforming to Leimer’s nonconformist musical ethos. Fitting for its name, Leimer created conditions for asocial brilliance with Savant, materializing an outward offering from an inward studio and a collaboration of audacious invention.

As one half of LA duo Cosmic Kids, Daniel T. has been making waves over the past few years with releases on labels including Throne Of Blood, Let's Play House and DFA. A record collector and selector at heart, 2015 has seen him flesh out his solo productions with world-leaning contributions to Chit Chat's Brazilian tinged 12 and American Standard's African summer stunner. Young Adults brings Daniel into the fold for his debut "Tetrachromat mini-LP" spanning a sprawling spectrum of sounds, but unified by a signature West-Coast sheen. Opener "Mission Hill Morning" stretches its arms in the early AM mist and is greeted by smooth synths and African vocals, before "Tetrachromat" jogs steadily toward the horizon to a synthetic highlife rhythm and uplifting keyboard lines. A-side closer "Planetesimal" accelerates down the Pacific Highway in the drop top, revving the Roland and Moogs under the bonnet. On the flip, "Laced" drinks in boogie and Italo house, then breathes it out as synthetic funk fire before "Akkoussah" sprinkles some sultry spice over Daniel's superb synth work. Last but not least, "The Sun & The Sky" sits back while the sea sips up the last remaining daylight.

Helena Hauff releases her debut solo album via Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune. Titled 'Discreet Desires', it’s the most in depth summation of the Golden Pudel resident DJ’s improvised one-take machine-funk to date.

Making her recording debut just two years ago in 2013, Helena’s first release was a 3-track EP - 'Actio Reactio' - on Actress’ Werkdiscs imprint. She has since partnered with PAN (as Black Sites alongside F#x), Lux Rec, Bunker sublabel Panzerkreuz and Texan cassette imprint Handmade Birds to share her overtly analogue excursions into techno’s shadowy fringes, improvised and recorded in her bedroom studio in Hamburg. Fully embracing her love of hardware, Helena joined James Dean Brown’s legendary electronic improv outfit Hypnobeat (founded back in 1983) in 2013, blazing a trail across Europe with their intense polyrhythmic jam sessions on the TB-303, TR-707 and TR-808.

Ten tracks deep, 'Discreet Desires' is the embodiment of Helena’s deep-seated beliefs about music as a radical force and unifying movement. Something that is evident from her growing stature as a selector and her enthusiasm for musical subcultures from punk to new wave, industrial, EBM, krautrock and avant garde electro - all of which were rooted in raw experimentation and existed in polar opposition to the perfect, polished mainstream.

Silicon is Kody Nielson, a songwriter, producer and visual artist from Auckland, New Zealand, formerly of cult Flying Nun band The Mint Chicks, a group he started with his brother Ruban - now of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

‘Personal Computer’ is a seductive electronic pop record that pits Nielson’s brilliant soul, funk and disco influenced songwriting against a backdrop of extra-terrestrial noir sonics, calling to mind the varied likes of Flying Lotus, Panda Bear and Portishead in the process.


Indies Exclusive LP Info: Exclusive deluxe LP edition features a bonus 28 page book of original art prints including material from a forthcoming international exhibition by Kody Nielson.

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