Electro . Synthwave . Electro-pop


Genre pick of the week Cover of Hyperdub 10.3 by Various Artists.
‘Hyperdub 10.3’, the third episode of Hyperdub's 10th anniversary celebrations, transects and extrapolates forward the label's catalogue from yet another angle, this time following the melancholy vapour trail drafted by Burial's numerous atmospheric beatless moments. The compilation fleshes out this downcast ambience with a clutch of new material from Kode9, The Bug, Dean Blunt, Inga Copeland, Lee Gamble, Cooly G, Fatima Al Qadiri. Ikonika, DJ Earl (Teklife), and Jeremy Greenspan, alongside archive works from Burial, Laurel Halo, Fhloston Paradigm, Darkstar, Kode9 & The Spaceape, Dean & Inga, and dread heavy offerings from King Midas Sound and Walton.

As with ‘Hyperdub 10.2’s collection of songs, these 23 mini-soundtracks for films-to-come emerged almost accidentally in the shadow of Hyperdub's main agenda of basstrax for the floor. Each piece reinterprets the idea of dubtraction: instead of merely reducing a vocal melody to echoed or reverbed vestiges, ‘10.3’ bottles trace-music reduced to gaseous residuum, free of drums and often basslines, leaving only synthesised, sampled or looped textures that might hang fume-like, or rotate frictionless as mini cyclones. Travelling from warped, hi-def interludes to citric synth jams, from hazy devil mixes to fleeting, blue sax solos, the compilation concludes with an eight minute modular flatline. No pulse, No heartbeat.

In 2014, nearly three years after her acclaimed debut The Entire City (July 2011, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray), Gazelle Twin re-emerged in full force to stage and screen, gnashing her teeth and armed with pickings from her sophomore full length - UNFLESH - set for worldwide release on 22 September 2014, followed by the artist's first ever Tour in October.

In UNFLESH the British artist/composer/producer - known on her ID cards as 'Elizabeth Bernholz' - explores a newfound, adrenalised-Pop style in greater depth - from the bone-chilling, Iggy Pop-inspired 'I Feel Blood', the stark choral lullaby of 'Premonition', to the Prince-meets-Sonic Youth influenced 'GUTS' and 'Still Life'. Far removed from the artist's former dreamscapes, UNFLESH presents a stripped down hyper-colour, hyperreality. Conceived in part, as a means of acting out vengeance on her antagonists (the list of which includes teenhood, recurring dreams, and her own body), Gazelle Twin's startling, electric-blue guise at once embodies the strife of her blighted younger self, and a kind of post-Pagan manifestation with superhuman potential - a concept that bears all the markings of an unwritten, cult Graphic Novel.

But UNFLESH is not just an auto-biographical purging. Songs delve as candidly into themes as diverse as the history of European colonisation (I Feel Blood), Euthanasia (Good Death), children raised by animals (Human Touch), to gentle musings on miscarriage (Premonition). Despite this odd crop of topics, a 2 year exploration into science and medicine - the mutations, mysteries and liberations of the human mind and body - forms the spine of a courageous concept LP. A solo artist through and through, Bernholz rarely works out of her cloistered, digital home studio, but with the additional production and mixing artistry of Benge (one third of Wrangler, one half of John Foxx and The Maths, and internationally renowned analogue synthesiser hero), her new sound - crafted consciously from the analogue sounds of John Carpenter and Prince - is notably strengthened by the addition of museum-piece synthesisers such as the Moog Modular, the Linn-1, Formant Synth and the legendary CS80 - used by Vangelis' to create the soundtrack for Blade Runner.

The LP's artwork (by the artist herself) features a Francis Bacon-inspired digital collage of the grimacing girl in blue, highlighting a clear obsession with the surreal and the visceral and confirming that Bernholz's all-encompassing creative output is every bit as startling as her recent critical acclaim suggests.

Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz are daughters of the late Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz. Naomi plays percussive instruments, the Cajon and the Batas, while Lisa plays piano. Together the twins have learned the songs of their father’s culture, Yoruba.

Yoruba travelled from West Africa to Cuba with slavery in the 1700s. The Yoruba people have the highest twinning rate in the World and twins occupy an important position within Yoruba culture. Ibeyi is pronounced “ee-bey-ee” and translates as ‘Twins’ in Yoruba.

Ibeyi sing in English and Yoruba and they have created a minimalist sound that merges elements of their heritage with their natural love of modern music as teenagers brought up in Paris, citing artists such as James Blake and King Krule amongst their wide range of influences. I'm hearing touches of Bjork and FKA Twigs in there as well. The EP includes two mixes each of 'Oya' and 'River'.

Istanbul, Turkey; Year 2006: Ekin Sanaç and Berna Göl form Kim Ki O. Sanaç plays synth while Göl hits the bass. They both come up with beats and sing. Their music is lo-fi minimal synth with a postpunk / cold wave feel. The cool / warm dual female vocals are eerie and dreamy, referencing classic post-punk as well as traditional Turkish melodies but remaining understated.

Over the next couple years, the pair releases two very limited CDRs and tours Scandinavia. In 2009 they appear on Radio Resistencia, released by the great Dutch synth label Enfant Terrible. One year later, Enfant Terrible releases their first album Dans. KFJC writes “The name of the band means ‘Who is that anyway’ in Turkish, and it reflects the ethereal nature of the sounds … a lovely early ’80s slow and somber electronic vibe (think Joy Division) combined with floaty, minimal lady vocals (sort of 4AD-ish like Cocteau Twins and Lush) … sweet, but not saccharine.” The vinyl issue of Dans quickly sells out.

Over the next couple of years, Kim Ki O appears on various compilations and tours Turkey and Europe several times. They collaborate with Turkish filmmakers Merve Kayan and Zeynep Dadak on the short film Elope and write music for the Turkish performance group biriken for their play Re: Fwd: die in good company. In 2013, Lentonia Records out of France releases Grounds. It inspires a followup album of remixes called Grounds Album Remixes, also on Lentonia. In 2014, S-S Records dips into the Kim Ki O vaults and finds songs from their early CDRs. While the originals were muddy sounding, the tracks used for Bir, İki... (Turkish for “One, Two...”) are crystal clear. The vinyl—mastered by John Golden—gives Kim Ki O’s sound new warmth. These ten early tracks are a great addition to their catalog. Not content with music, film and drama, Sanaç and Göl are also involved in Turkey’s pro-democracy and women’s / gay rights movement. They strongly identify with other women in rock ’n’ roll and underground culture.

Music Go Music


    The Los Angeles trio Music Go Music began humbly, recording songs in their spare time and playing them for friends. A few songs posted online caught the ears of a surprising number of strangers, who implored the band to make a go of it. They eventually, and reluctantly, agreed to this, and before long the show had been officially taken on the road; MGM was being "buzzed" about, flying back and forth across the the Atlantic, touring around with Glasgow rockers Franz Ferdinand, and performing for the most discerning of music lovers in Moscow, London, LA, and points in between.

    Their debut album "Expressions" was a warmly received dance-pop-prog excursion that drew apt comparisons to Abba, Kate Bush, Bonnie Tyler, and Giorgio Moroder. After things settled down and they got back to their workaday lives, they began chipping away at a new record. In the course of several years, one or two songs at a time, 'Impressions' took shape. By now, the world has swayed in ways that seemed unlikely back at the band's dawning. When their first EPs began coming out in 2007, MGM was an anomaly; a real band capable of crafting a steady stream of hook-dense A-sides, who played honest-to-goodness live dance music.

    This time around, of course, they're sending a record out into a world that has turned just enough to embrace the kind of analog disco that MGM has been making for years. While remaining unambiguously pop, "Impressions" sees the group's aural sheen and careworn elegance joined to deeper grooves and oblique sonic turns. Never before, though, has an unhinged recounting of love won and lost been so blatantly entertaining. It's an assured, kinetic journey through light and dark, calm and chaos, with nothing less than pop transcendence waiting on the other side.

    Piccadilly Records

    Mono Colour Print - Black Tote Bag

      One colour 'mono' print (white) of the Piccadilly Records logo on a black tote bag.

      We love a good musical maverick here at Piccadilly and Sebastian Thomson fits the bill perfectly. Although a founding member of post rock pioneers Trans Am, heavy metal drummer in Baroness, Sebastian Thomson has been producing off the wall electronic discoid wonkbombs for years now, first coming to my attention via his cracking split EP with Tussle in 2011. His tracks approach the dancefloor from a darker angle, adding processed vocals and noise to a raw foundation that takes cues from New Beat, acid house, and Detroit techno. When performing live Publicist sequences the synths and not the drums, preferring to play an electronically treated drum kit in the middle of the dance floor. This adds an element of sweat, excitement and virtuosity not found in most electronic producers' live performances. This two tracker on Torn Hawk's Valcrond Video imprint shows a definite house leaning, with Publicist layering some classic M1 vamps over a couple of skipping a clattering drum programs. A-side cut "Slave" hypnotises you with an incessant groove before freaking you out with atonal synths and murky noise. On the flip, "Outside" opts for a classic house arrangement but with a completely unhinged sonic palette. Synths zap and whir away in the background as all the colour drains away from the world and leaves you dancing in a very dark place indeed.

      Secret Circuit

      Dublab Proton Drive Theme - Inc. Nite Jewel Remix

      Stones Throw bring us this collaborative release with non-profit Internet Radio station Dublab to raise money for their Proton Drive fundraiser.

      For the second installment of the fundraising series we get Secret Circuit’s “Theme” on 45, backed with a remix by Nite Jewel. Secret Circuit's original combines a jaunty shuffling rhythm that creates an instant hipsway. This is sandwiched between a bubbling synth bassline and chiming highlife guitar licks, with ambient washes and droning synth tones acting as a creamy filling. One for the Balearic heads who like a touch of indie in the mix. the jauntiness makes way for a click-track chug on Nite Jewel's rework, upping the synth quota, filtering in some ethereal vocals and dispensing with the African influences.

      From Dublab’s Frosty: “Secret Circuit reached into his bag of cosmic love tones to craft a floatation device for your ears. His breezy theme song is a luminous call to action. Nite Jewel’s remix is a steady groover that will sway you into a state of generous bliss. Spin these songs on repeat in order to keep your philanthropic spirit glowing.”

      'Remembrance' is the Software Recording Co. debut from Baton Rouge's Suicideyear (born James Prudhomme). Written and produced between Florida and Louisiana during the summer and fall of 2013, 'Remembrance' recalls those southern US landscapes and Prudhomme’s experiences across eight songs equally intimate, intoxicating and mercurial.

      We first fell in love with Suicideyear by way of his Japan mixtape, a remarkable convergence of ATL trap beats and mid-late century American minimalism that turned and twisted more than a few heads. Software's own label head Daniel Lopatin was privy to an eerily similar convergence at an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival one year earlier in which two performers, Big Boi and Terry Riley, converged at a nearby Burger King. When James revealed his childhood adoration for Speakerboxxx, we knew it was on.

      Prudhomme wrote 'Remembrance' while reflecting on themes of love and loss against the backdrop of the deep American south he calls home.

      James’ experiences of reflection and resolution led to the vivid, emotionally charged production that makes up 'Remembrance'. Alive with an idiosyncratic sense of melodic space, his repertoire eschews a topical palette for a personal aesthetic that offers a visceral love letter to abstraction. Prudhomme references both forms we know to exist and speculates on how they can be newly realised.

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