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ITALIANS DO IT BETTER

Pink Gloves

Los Angeles

    “…In The City Of Lights Where Nothing Is Grey…”

    In the City Of Angels by way of Prague, Pink Gloves channels classic Italo Disco on their Italians Do It Better debut. Petr Pliska weaves a tale of introspection on the neon soaked streets of Los Angeles.

    Act 1 – Downtown. The title track is a hypnotic journey to the city center over a symphony of synthesis. He laments that he “Never Wanted To Come…Never Wanted To Stay…In The City Of Lights Where Nothing Is Grey”. It’s a place where nothing ever changes & fantasy greets us in every direction. Beneath the sedated vocals, the synthesizers strike deep & dissolve quickly into a haze blanketing the strut of the heavy backbeat. The stage is set.

    Act 2 – The Dancefloor. “Dancing on My Own” infuses Robyn’s four on the floor classic with it’s own cocktail of ethereal melodies & a rhythm section ala Ultravox. In the face of the Narrator’s lament, a mirror ball shimmers reflections of resilience.

    Act 3 – The Highway. The downtempo “Wilderness” haunts us, bursting with silken synthesizers & spectral electronics reverberating like the ghosts of last night’s party. The tempered cinematic landscape blends with a mesmerizing sorcery as we drive into the unknown.

    Act 4 – End Credits. Suddenly, the film is over. We hear the sunrise straight out of an ‘80s John Hughes film & the beautiful grit of Power, Corruption & Lies.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Pink champagne coloured vinyl.

    From Bryan Ferry’s side on stage for the past decade to lighting up your night sky with a neon symphony, Jorja Chalmers’ debut album "Human Again"

    In 2004 Jorja Chalmers moved to London from Sydney, Australia with zero cash, her saxophone & a massive crush on an English boy she met while he was visiting Australia. Fast forward 3 years later and Bryan Ferry’s assistant caught Jorja performing at a nightclub in London. The next day she received a message inviting her to audition for his band. She met Ferry at his studio, played some Roxy Music tunes & as anyone who has caught one of Ferry’s live shows of the past 10+ years knows, has been a salient addition to his band ever since.

    "Human Again" was written & recorded by Jorja in hotel rooms after performing Roxy Music & Bryan Ferry songs drenched in sweat each night. Finishing touches were added & distilled inside Ferry’s London studio & then brushed by Johnny Jewel’s glittering hands with Dean Hurley at the legendary Asymmetrical Studio in the Hollywood Hills. The combination is intoxicating. "Human Again" bottles that stark loneliness the artist faces night after night on the road. Sonically, the album explores the spaciousness alive inside the minimalism of Bowie & Eno’s "Low", her vocal reflects early Laurie Anderson alongside the troubled smoke of Badalamenti’s score for "Lost Highway", & the impeding doom of Goblin. Chalmers embraces the claustrophobia of a John Carpenter film cut with the patience & precision of Amon Duul. The quest to be "Human Again" is to be a stranger in a strange land.

    In "Red Light" metal machine magic grinds as a wish is granted. The saxophone wails, humming a new strain of serpentine song. The triggered, vast descent of "Suburban Pastel" unfurls as the landscape expands the mystery. This is visual music that slowly coils its wings around the listener.

    Jorja’s pale blue eyes glance across the vivid landscape. Suspended in reverie, bathed in sound, adrift until the tidal brass of "This Is Where The Night Sky Begins" calls the dreamer back down to earth. As the needle drops again, the petal soft synthesizers sprawl toward the event horizon, hypnotized by the distant call of the Siren. Visions of intimacy & sentient contact triggered by endless weeks on tour. The human heart of a Saturday night still beating on Tuesday morning. The album’s closing track "Ship In The Sky" is the heroine’s journey into the unknown, without a compass.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: 180g Pink flamingo coloured vinyl.

    Portland's masters of cinematic synth, the inimitable Chromatics are back with their fifth studio LP, "Closer To Grey". The band's first album since 2012, "Closer To Grey" continues the outfit's exploration of neon lit diners, freezing city streets and 80s noir, kicking off with a stripped back and atmospheric interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence". The tempo rises for "You're No Good", "Closer To Grey" and twist the knife, which alternate between vintage Italians Do It Better disco and propulsive new wave, before "Light As A Feather" pairs Chromatics' trademark sound with the fresh addition of a breakbeat. The first disc ends on a note of romance with the prom-friendly "Move A Mountain", a reminder that vocalist Ruth Radelet can kill with a whisper. As we head to the C-side "Touch Red" leads us through a little lounge-styled melancholy while "Whispers In The Hall" finds the middle ground between trap-bass tones and Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack. A synth and scuzz cover of Jesus And Mary Chain's "On The Wall" reminds us of the group's DIY origins, a wonderful contrast to the luxurious textures of "Love Theme..." and dreamy closer "Wishing Well". 

    And just like that, Chromatics pull off that most difficult of tasks, creating something which is the same, but different. All the emotion, feeling and mood remain, but bolstered with a few new musical flavours which compliment rather than detract. 

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: 180g blood red vinyl.

    The music of Johnny Jewel, Glass Candy, Chromatics, Mirage, & Symmetry all articulate different visions for different moments — the pure ecstasy of a Saturday night out; unrestrained romantic devotion between vulnerable people; walks on wet streets on foggy nights; isolated twilight meditations. They make music for all moments, all feelings, all stories — in films & in life. Theirs is natural soundtrack music. Bruce Thierry Cheung brings their cinematic music to celluloid to tell the story of a family’s struggles in Don’t Come Back from the Moon, starring James Franco, Rashida Jones, & Jeffrey Wahlberg.

    The soundtrack mixes new & beloved work from the Italians family. Classic cuts such as Chromatics’ revered “Cherry” & “The River” (alongside the newer “Magazine”) & the disco-bliss of Mirage’s “Lady Operator” are alongside cues from Johnny’s instrumental solo album Digital Rain, all remastered to articulate the resonance of the visuals. Joining them is new music from Johnny & Symmetry. “Bicycle” finds Symmetry taking their Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter vibes into a haunting modern R&B space. Cues like “Street Lights” & “Dusk” use twinkling piano keys & glassy, minimal synthesizers to craft ambient electronic bliss. “Death Valley” is a foreboding & atmosphere track, laced with spectres of fading memories. Once you go to the moon with these songs, you’ll never want to come back.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: LP pressed on Ivory Coloured Vinyl.

    “…Voices Heard From The Year Of Thirteen Moons…”

    Beyond the decay of ruins hums the subtle sound of Vapor, a suite of dystopian instrumentals by Italians Do It Better visionary Johnny Jewel. His trademark analog synthesizers have never sounded more crystalline, their landscape never more evocatively barren. Chiming bells slowly twirl like the rusted music box of a child’s nightmare, a pitch-black bleak that is utterly frightful — Jewel channels the beauty & horror of a world that long ago abandoned its own destiny. This is a fever dream flashback. The kind that strikes you in the blur of night & refuses to weaken its grip until the sheets are drenched in sweat. This soundtrack is as elegant as it is violent, conjured in the deepest blacks & most vivid reds. These 21 celestial tracks clock in at just over an hour. Warping wind from a spiraling pinwheel…The sound of dust in the Garden of Hera, walking the tightrope between Life & Hades. The thin line that divides the Heavens from the Earth. Breathe Deep.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Ivory coloured vinyl.

    French duo Double Mixte bring their digital thunderstorm of neon lit noire to the Italians Do It Better family on their debut LP. Mixed & produced by label head Johnny Jewel, Romance Noire opens the door to a new wave of Italians Do It Better artists coming in 2019. Fresh Blood. New Tears. The title track arpeggiates & boils as waves of bass flow beneath. Rhythms are carried to the ceiling by a searing cascade of disintegrating color. A heavy backbeat anchors Clara Apolit’s poetry, ready to wear for a night in the face of oblivion. The cinematic “Arlette” is a call for discovery through a darkness lit only by the glare of headlights in digital rain. Through all of this, Thomas Maan’s incantations search for the lonely, lost in the void of electronic fog. “November” finds in Clara an Anglophonic chanteuse, meditating on the cycles of time. A blend of suspended sound & an uncertain melody contracts & expands before dissolving. Romance Noire is art that both contemplates & transcends time’s firm grip. It’s a filmic journey inducing a vague sense of future nostalgia. Happy Valentine’s Day.

    Double Mixte is Clara Apolit & Thomas Maan. The duo met in Paris & there was an immediate pull to create music together. They pooled their combined interest in powerful narrative & dark 70’s French film music to write lyrically vivid songs. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Italians may well do it better, but don't forget the French know their onions (stringed I presume) about synthwave. And so Parisian duo Double Mixte arrive on the legendary IDIB with a six tracker of moody but melodic neon noir for late night diners and B-movie obsessives.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Ivory coloured vinyl.

    With a West Coast tour looming and problems with the recording (burnt singers, overheated tape reels, the final mix getting lost in the post etc), Chromatics' Johnny Jewel decided to run off a few demo CDs of "Night Drive" to sell at the band's shows anyway. However, as soon as the press and bloggers got hold of copies, the album became in overnight sensation. In need of money to get Italians Do It Better going (this was 2007 remember), and with big demand for copies, Jewel decided to release this demo version as a full album... Which is how it remained - until now! When that lost final mix finally turned up 18 months later (!), it was decided to remaster the whole production, add the tracks missed off the original demo CD copies and press up some vinyl too.

    The record opens at the end of a long night with our heroine making a phone call to her lover. In the background through the muffled walls of a sweaty nightclub you can hear music playing. She drives to the coast to clear her head, with "Night Drive" on the car stereo. As the hi-hat attacks your speakers, her hair blows in the breeze. This is the opening of the record that continues to define Chromatics' unique sound. The music is drenched in reverb echoeing the death of hope and the price of nostalgia. The most powerful example of this is Chromatics daring take on the Kate Bush classic, "Running Up That Hill," a favorite amongst fans and critics alike. With ethereal songs like "Tomorrow Is So Far Away", "Tick Of The Clock", & "Let's Make This A Moment To Remember", they give the listener the space to breathe. We get a glimpse of their chequered past with the post punk sheen of Joy Division on "Healer".

    The lost side of the album is dark and abstract. Opening with the almost funerial "Shining Violence". Where detuned analog synths collide and struggle to hang onto a fading melody. Followed by the sleeper hit, "Circled Sun", and the Vangelis-inspired reflection of life's duality in "The Gemini". "Night Drive" closes with an arpeggiated musical refrain from the beginning of side one. "Acelerator" reinterprates elements of the chord progression from "Night Drive" while leaning heavily on the gear shift. As painted lines in the road begin to strobe, Chromatics propels full speed ahead into an uncertain future.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP 2 Info: Ivory coloured vinyl repress.

    This was the follow up to the "Healer/Witness" white label 12 inch & the last recordings Chromatics made before Ruth Radelet joined the band. Archival reissue originally recorded 2004-2005 in Portland. Out of print for over a decade, this new LP version includes unreleased outtakes & alternate mixes from the original tapes. Recorded during the first experimental studio period for Chromatics that would eventually become the sound of the "Night Drive" album.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Gatefold LP pressed on 180-gram ivory vinyl.

    Escape from Berlin is the last surviving nitrate print of a film thought lost to time - a bleak noir fantasy on the outer limits of sound. Its after-hours tenor has the beautiful blur of a night spent in the gutter, a confrontation with despair long past last call. Defiance in the face of suffering. Curtains of texture and electronic noise drape the walls.

    Recorded in deep isolation on location at Nite Prison in Vancouver, the album plays as a dizzying singular collage. Acutely focused on texture & the negative space between moments, composer & poet Jesse Taylor is the anchor in a revolving cast of cameos. For this album, his partners in crime are Suzanne, Hiromi Inada, & Andrew Grosvenor on clarinet. As enigmatic & fleeting as reflections in a hall of mirrors, these themes are fractured & textural. Taylor ambitiously asks us to look beyond the mirror…through to the other side. We imagine Phillip Glass playing chess with William Burroughs while Klaus Schulze slaves over a droning synthesizer in the corner. We hear vapor trails from Coltrane, Carpenter, & Amon Duul. This debut is a glance at one of the most varied artists on Italians Do It Better’s roster. Johnny & Jesse have been collaborating behind the scenes since 2003. Distilled in a process strengthened by time from Portland to Montreal…Los Angeles to B.C. In Mirrors blurs the imaginary lines between genres. Opening with a sultry Stevie Nicks cover & closing with 14 minutes of expansive aural fusion. Perhaps Taylor’s good friend, Joey Casio said it best…”Change the channel, this one is the mirror.”


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: 180-gram grey marble vinyl.

    Persian-American cryptic electronic ingenue Farah can’t be solved or explained. She makes dreamy, archly somber disco tunes that somehow sound both spontaneous & immaculate, painstaking & off-the-cuff. Crooning laconically — sometimes in English, sometimes in Farsi, but always with the taste of a woman too cool to betray anything as vulgar as emotion. “Come, come, come, come, come, come, come” she commands on “The Only Ones”, the chant a wanton incantation. It’s difficult to tell if the majestic synths that swirl around her are in harmony with the spirit or its counterpoint.

    B-Side “Baby Girl” delves into a chorus of Persian idiom: “Dooset daram,” she sings, or “I love you” in the Iranian expression. The song has the air of enigma — another of Farah’s dance floor mysteries. The instrumental tracks that bookend the record are its atmospheric framing device. Enter the maze.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    12" Info: 180-gram pink champagne vinyl.

    Tess Roby

    Beacon

      The Beacon crowns Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire, looming over the verdant English countryside nearly six hundred feet above sea level. This spartan brick monolith was erected in 1798 as a watch tower to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic War — and there it silently remains, keeping infinite vigil. It stands in Tess Roby’s mind. The Beacon calls to her. “Throughout my life I have felt the pull to return to it,” she says. “I’m beckoned by father’s roots and by the sullen landscape of fields leading to the coast.”

      Tess Roby is an artist with a vision. The Montreal-based photographer and musician, an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, seems utterly original, moving with a restless energy toward the sublime. Her sound betrays an intrepid longing to discover and explore, to reject convention and transcend cliché: Roby is a born traveller, absorbing everything she hears and making it new. Ethereal and crystalline, bathed sumptuously in synths, her music is heady, dreamy, singular — a transmission from parts unknown. The classical training and aesthetic omnivorousness combine like worlds colliding.

      Roby’s debut album Beacon was written in 2015, following the death of her father. She collaborated with her brother Eliot to create what they describe as a kind of spiritual homage — both to her father and to the Beacon, where the family travelled often. Roby recorded these songs with the drum machines and synthesizers she found in her father’s recording studio, and galvanized by his spirit she imbued the music with love, movement, whispers, memories, and pain. “All the while the Beacon remained effervescent in my mind,” Roby remembers. “Visions of it ablaze on the hilltop, standing motionless while I searched for understanding.”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Tender, Balearic chimes and languid strummed guitar meet with Roby's enchanting voice and tentative arpeggiated synths, Beacon is a brilliantly written and perfectly measured triumph.

      Glass Candy

      B/E/A/T/B/O/X - Clear Vinyl Pressing

      It's hard to think of any other record that so perfectly encapsulates that favourite part of the day for all nighthawks, revellers and DJs. The hour before dawn, when the streets of the city are empty, lights change for traffic that isn't there and a lone fox is you're only companion on your walk home. Taking their inspiration from the synth-heavy soundtracks of John Carpenter (especially "Assault On Precinct 13"), Kraftwerk, Madonna and Timbaland their sound is unique because of the absence of sequencers and computers. There's something undeniably refreshing about dance music that goes out of time occasionally. Highlights include "Rolling Down The Hills" and "Beatific" but it's their cover of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" that's the record's masterpiece. It's hard to believe that a song written nearly thirty years ago could soundtrack, so perfectly, the alienation of city living in the twenty first century. Thank you Italians Do It Better for "B/E/A/T/B/O/X".


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