Archives for posts with tag: electronic

ela-minusThere’s a brand new (out yesterday) digital EP by New York based electronic musician Ela Minus and it is wonderful intimate small-scale electronic pop excellence. Standing out in its own strange electro-psychedelic universe is “I Wish I Had a Hat”

I first discovered the music of Ela Minus (real name Gabriela Jimeno, and originally from Bogota, Colombia) last year and everything I’ve heard since has had a rare quality.

We’re talking well-crafted melodic songs which pack pop hooks, yet don’t sound formulaic. The songs are constructed within skeletons of electronic sounds, programmed beats and miniature sonic detailing. Voice and lyrics add a compelling human connection.

Where it sounds different to my ears is the electronica is soft toned and playful, there’s plenty of adventure and the spacey minimalism is action-packed: full of tiny subtle details. Not sure if that’s a good explanation. In short: it just sounds right and good!

Anyway, this track “I Wish I Had  A Hat” is perfect. One of the most psychedelic sounding electronica pop songs I’ve heard. Fifty years have passed since Syd Barrett’s songs were recorded for Pink Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and Ela Minus inhabits a different universe of sound altogether. Yet, for me, this song somehow captures the same playful psychedelic rapture as some of Syd’s “Piper…” songs. Love it.

Helena Celle.jpgBeaming in from outer space, like a time-delayed broadcast from The Clangers planet 50 years ago, comes the malfunctioning dance music of “VR Addiction” .

“VR Addiction” is from an intriguing new release from Glasgow, Scotland based computer programmer Kay Logan under her current alias Helena Celle. The album – “If I Can’t Handle Me At My Best, Then You Don’t Deserve You At Your Worst” – is released through Glasgow experimental/ underground electronic/ Alt-Normal label Night School Records.

If lo-fi electronica is your thing then this is a hissing, buzzing, fidgeting world of virtual unicorns and code dragons. “Recorded exclusively using a faltering MC303, live in a room straight to consumer dictaphones” gives you an idea of how this audio performance art was made. It’s great. There’s a real sense of life, adventure, happenstance, and wonder in the music on the album, attributes which can be absent from more structured, genre-conforming electronic music.

Don’t know if this music is “questioning the hegemony of neo-liberal ideas and their intersection with capital, culture and social practises” as claimed in the explanatory notes. Are these satirical? It’s hard to tell with commentaries on experimental or conceptual art sometimes. Can it not just be adventurous fun with sound which allows each listener to apply their own thin veneer of reasoning to it as they see fit?

fanfickk“SF Rose” is a new single from Auckland electronic musician Fanfickk.

The song – a tribute to a lost friend – starts out as fairly conventional (in an absorbingly good kind of way) electronic pop, built on a rich, pulsing sub-bass riff rumble.

After establishing itself with solid melodic hooks, genre convention is given the flick after two and a half minutes with an atmospheric instrumental  diversion  merging synthesized  dream-pop with crunchy percussive textures and computer game sounds.

The second song on this new release – “Lie Down” – is also just as odd and satisfyingly unconventional in the way it sets its own style and avoids genre formula. It has a dark kind of slow melancholy sadness, a short and muted vocal passage, and then a nicely coruscating guitar solo to end.

There’s a four song EP called “Stay Shy” released back in February of this year which is also worth a moment of your attention if you like what you hear above. It combines darker industrial and experimental elements with pop hooks, so if you are an enthusiast of the likes of HTRK or Carter Tutti you should explore further.

Illustration by Zach Webber

Illustration by Zach Webber

Day 28 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes from Wellington music-futurist Paperghost and the disturbing pop construction of “BADSPIRIT”

Paperghost – the world of Zach Webbers, with a few friends sampled – is another artist associated with ‘dream-folk’ label Sonorous Circle. “BADSPIRIT” is from a new album “Signal Fingers” released in April as a T-shirt-with-download.

However if Paperghost is dream-folk it is dream-folk from the future, in which the dreams are monitored, recorded, mixed and played back on some kind of glitchy telepathic bio-ether-net.

I’m assuming this is painstakingly crafted on a computer from a mix of live and sampled music, found sounds, treated vocals and goodness knows what else. The only apparent stylistic link to other Sonourous Circle artists is the vocals which, when discernible as human, are often eerily reminiscent of Seth Frightening at his most freakish.

Whatever and however it was made, “Signal Fingers” is a brilliant album. It presents a fractured yet cohesive futurist-pop alternate-reality with enough conventional melody and rhythm to hold it together as very listenable collection of extraordinary rich and detailed subversive pop music.

Though it doesn’t sound mch like anything else, I am reminded at times throughout the album of the complex post-rock of US ensemble Tortoise and also of NZ electronic/ industrial futurist art-rock pioneers Fetus Productions classic “Luminous Trails” album. If you like music to expand your mind take a trip into the future with Paperghost.


Day 22 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes from Dunedin’s experimental electronic underground and a track called “Altnow” from the brilliant Govermint album “Pipe DRM”

PopLib discovered the Pipe DRM album a few months ago and also managed to snare one of the 12 copies of the album cut direct to vinyl. It is an absolute treasure.

There may be no more vinyl version around, but it is still worth your time and dollars for a download. It is one of my favourite albums of 2015.

Strange Harvest - photo by Phoebe MacKenzie & Emily Berryman

Strange Harvest – photo by Phoebe MacKenzie & Emily Berryman

Day 10 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is a track from “Pattern Recognition” – the brand new third album from Dunedin duo Strange Harvest.

“Expression #14” is one of the more atmospheric songs on the album. Just synth, delay guitar and voice. And all the better to showcase the words.

Those words are one of the big standouts on “Pattern Recognition”. The lyrics (or sometimes spoken word pictures) are mysterious and evocative short stories about places and feelings that are from some parallel world. The lines “Come quickly/ you mustn’t miss the dawn/ it will never be quite like this again” have stuck in my mind ever since I first heard this song last year. They capture the fleeting impermanence of human experience perfectly.

Most other tracks are propelled along on beats programmed by keyboard player & vocalist Skye Strange. Some of them enter the territory of dance music. Death Disco dance music perhaps, but some of those slinky/ crunching beats are at BPMs that will get limbs twitching.

There’s a graininess about “Pattern Recognition” which gives it a sinister claustrophobic feeling at times. It’s not lo-fi but it’s less glossy than “Inside A Replica City” (2013). It does feel like it was recorded in an “Abandoned Airport” building.

In fact it was recorded in a decaying inner city Victorian era building in Dunedin. I’m sure in some of the quiet passages you can hear plaster from the ceiling falling into the inflatable paddling pool used to collect leaking rainwater in the recording room.

According to this Radio NZ interview “Pattern Recognition” was meant to be about some kind of dystopian future, but they say it turned out all that stuff happened last year anyway.

In case you haven’t noticed already Strange Harvest do the best band interviews ever.

Leon Jory

Finding new sounds on Bandcamp is addictive. It’s particularly good fun when they are local sounds. This one popped up today and excited my ears with its over-saturated too-much-of-everything blast of neuro-stimulant audio waves.

Leon Jory is a self-proclaimed ‘big haired, bad jerseys bedroom producer’ from Dunedin. I think he also now plays keyboards in Dunedin’s fruitiest psychedelic space-cadet ensemble Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union (a band well overdue to deliver some kind of audio artefact).

When I heard this the first thought that came into my head was: “Music by someone who has drunk too much, ingested too much, stared too much into a oil-lamp projector, played too many computer arcade style games without sleeping, breathed some vapours too deeply, hyperventilated, hung upside down until all the blood rushes to their head. Maybe all of these things at the same time.” Here’s ‘Myself’ – what do you think?

It’s more than likely Leon has done none of the things in my imagination above and the only thing he’s had too much of is time alone in his bedroom with a keyboard, a computer and every delay & reverb effect known to humankind.

A couple of things make this stand out for me from every other bedroom keyboard recording artist. Firstly is it starts out like a cartoon version of Snapper before spiralling madly out of control and transforming into some kind of baroque pop psychedelic madness. Secondly, the voice is not some whispering self-deprecating bedroom afterthought but a gleeful/ demented yelling-from-the-rooftops, with lines like “I learned not to trust anyone/ except for the ones who showed me love”.