Archives for posts with tag: electronica

Pōneke/ Wellington based electronic composer-producer Emma Bernard has been making music for 5 years under the name Ludus and has now quietly delivered one of the best electronic albums of recent times, full of lush, atmospheric music. Here’s the dreamy synth+guitar world of “Moving Places”

What’s immediately impressive from this Ludus album “Two of the Same” is the effortless and mostly low-key way it blends more familiar minimal techno and electronic music styles with its creator’s own exploration of sounds, field recordings, tones, moods and subtle rhythms. It may not be as idiosyncratic as the thrilling Vanessa Worm album “Vanessa 77” last year, but “Two of the Same” is just as individual and assured.

The notes mention the album having “a strong connection between composition and live performance” and that may explain the more spontaneous than programmed feel of human-operated-technology often evident in the compositions and performances captured on the album, particularly in the two gorgeous downbeat electric piano compositions Chord Work and Chord Work II.

“There’s no way out but fight” sings Ela Minus in “Megapunk”, a very cool electro-pop anthem with equal parts dark-wave and dance-floor appeal. This 2020 single seems as good a way as any to kick-start 2021:

“Megapunk” is a timeless electronic dance pop anthem. It’s a bit dark and walks the line between being sinister at the same time as being an uplifting call to arms, as much personal as political. The dark undertones here are reminiscent of the kind of shadow-dark regions of electro-pop inhabited by Dunedin darkwave trio Èlan Vital on their only album “Shadow Self”.

The music of Ela Minus (real name Gabriela Jimeno, and originally from Bogota, Colombia) first appeared on PopLib some 5 years ago and everything heard since has had a rare quality. Well-crafted melodic songs with pop hooks, yet without sounding formulaic. The songs were constructed within skeletons of electronic sounds, programmed beats and miniature sonic detailing. Voice and lyrics added a compelling human connection. Where it sounded different was the electronica was soft toned and playful, with plenty of adventure and action-packed spacey minimalism, full of tiny subtle details. It just sounded right and very good.

Fortunately Domino Recordings reached a similar conclusion and have now a released an album. “Megapunk” was released as a single ahead of the “acts of rebellion” album, which it is also included on.

The album is a varied collection of personal/ political dance-floor electro-pop interwoven with some more experimental soundscapes which work alongside the more structured tunes to set the album’s mood and darker non-conformist electronica textures.

Floating Island 2020

Here in NZ we’ve just completed Day 30 of a COVID19 elimination lockdown. In another few days – Tuesday 28 April 2020 – the extreme lockdown is eased just a tiny bit… but essentially ‘quarantine’ continues for at least another few weeks. On 4 May NZ will achieve the noteworthy milestone of the Middle Ages plague lockdown quaranta giorni (40 days!).

Here’s the first local quarantine lockdown isolation song I’ve discovered. I’m assuming the perfectly-titled “Discontinuation” from Floating Island is a reflection on current affairs… it works as that even if the lyrics are a more general reflection on changing times.

Floating Island is “an online music work book of demos and solo explorations by Lucinda King (Death and the Maiden, Bad Sav & Denudes).”

“Discontinuation” is a glorious and disorienting solo electronic extrapolation of King’s work in Death & The Maiden. The washes of sounds, layers of ambient textures, crisp minimal beats, and especially that distressed woozy slow vibrato not-sax melody behind the melancholic voice create a wholly a complete(d) work. There’s nothing “demo” about this.

There are more excellent solo explorations uploaded just last week. Always great to have new music to discover, even more essential during a period of quarantine home detention.

soccer practise_2017Here’s PopLib’s 5th send as a gift tip for the month, featuring “Cold Hard Surfaces”,  a track from the just-released and wonderfully adventurous debut album by Auckland experimental electronic-soul-pop 4 piece SoccerPractise.

You may be wondering what the hell the genre hybridisation of “experimental electronic soul-pop” means. Well, this song – and the whole album – is full of twitchy, glitchy rhythms, deep sub-bass and sampled sound layers.

So, it is ‘experimental’ in the sense that it’s taking risks, straying beyond what’s tried and true in electronic music, in soul and in pop, by creating unusual new beats and combining sounds in different, unexpected ways – particularly the fusion of twangy reverb guitars with danceable musique-concrete style sampled sound beats & electronica.

It’s definitely soulful with those fine vocals from Geneva Alexander-Marsters, and it’s very accessible and radio friendly (if not exactly mainstream commercial radio-friendly, but that’s another story in NZ).

SoccerPractise is recommended to send as a gift to the cool people in your life, for those who like pop but think it all sounds the same these days, and for lovers of Te Reo Maori too. Given the regular appearance of Te Reo Maori, one of NZ’s official languages, throughout the album it’s also a great gift for any bigots in your family.  They’ll be singing along to Haere Mai E Tama before they realise what’s happening.

Devine.jpgDay 28 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Dunedin electronic pop newcomer Devine with the epic Gold Class pop of “Novel” –

This single has been getting a bit of local press recently and you can hear why. It’s classy well-crafted pop channeling a bit of Bond movie-theme grandeur and the electronica coolness of Goldfrapp.

The music has the darkness and texture of a thriller movie soundtrack and that undercurrent works perfectly with the character of the vocals.

The song is written and sung by by Molly Devine, and the music produced by Maddy Parkins-Craig. Some have said it’s the lack of ambition that gives Dunedin music its unique sound and feel. There’s much to be said for having ambition though as this Devine single shows.

Thought CreatureDay 27 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon is a lost classic from 5 years ago by Wellington-via-Berlin band Thought Creature that not enough people have heard. Time to rectify that with a trip to their “Paradise” (play this L O U D)

“Paradise” is a guitar-heavy psychedelic dance groove celebration which would have sounded at home on a late 1980s Julian Cope album when the 1980s psychedelic pop revival was morphing into rave culture’s transcendental dance music.

Thought Creature’s Berlin sojourn in the early 2010s and their transformation into a noisy psychedelic electronica+guitar outfit led to the formation of two of Dunedin’s best genre melting electronica+ bands today – Death And The Maiden and Élan Vital. Both Dunedin bands trace their formation to Berlin around the time this song was released and the common denominator to all three bands is Danny Brady.

There’s another common denominator too: Erica Sklenars, who appears in this live video of “Paradise” from a Berlin house party and is a regular collaborator with Death And The Maiden and Élan Vital for music videos and live performance visuals.

purple-pilgrims-2016Day 17 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Coromandel dream-pop electronica cult Purple Pilgrims

“Come join my esoteric cult/ we don’t watch TV/ don’t eat meat/ but in our arms you’ll feel complete” entreat Purple Pilgrims with menacing hyper-perfect diction in this devotional recruitment song.

This is a new track, released earlier this year, following their glorious 2016 album “Eternal Delight”. It carries some familiar Purple Pilgrims hallmarks, from the minimal electronic music which builds to a siren-warning insistent synth melody towards the end, to the eery trance-like vocals with ethereal chorus harmonies.

The combination of the words and all these musical elements turn an invitation to reside with them into something quite terrifying.

<p><a href=”″>Purple Pilgrims – Drink The Juice</a> from <a href=””>Not Not Fun</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Elan Vital_2016Élan Vital are an intriguing dark and danceable trio from Dunedin. After an early song “Albtraum” surfaced on a compilation late last year they’ve just released their first single proper, called “Janina” which you can stream and download free/ pay what you like from their Bandcamp page.

“Janina” is one of the (many) highlights of their impressive live performances. Performances which often incorporate the visuals of Lady Lazer Light – visual and video artist Erica Sklenars. Lady Lazer Light’s video for the song combines fake palm trees, swirling foggy mist and black and white images to create a perfect visual setting for the song.

The music of Élan Vital is an unusual combination of darkly psychedelic garage organ sounds and a more European synth-pop stylishness. Having two keyboards working together and no guitars gives the music a dense swirl. Using analogue drum machines, vocoder and other effects gives their set a satisfying and diverse range of moods, from feedback-strafed soundtrack instrumentals to upliftingly gloomy melodic pop.

The band is comprised of Renee Barrance (keyboards, effects, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, electronics, live mixing) and Nikolai Sim (bass). Renee and Danny first jammed in Berlin, where they were both living a few years ago, before each finding their way to Dunedin years apart.  You can read more about the origins of the band and what “Janina” is about in a short interview with Renee on Noisey.

Danny’s other current band – Death And The Maiden – also originated in Berlin, so there’s a case for that European cultural capital being something of a musical and spiritual sister city to 21st century Dunedin.

Élan Vital are on tour in NZ this weekend and play at Borderline Festival at Aucklands’ Whammy Bar.

elan vital tour landscape

MilouxDay 17 of NZ Music Month is something not very underground but definitely a bit pop, in the form of “Pocket” by Miloux.

Miloux (or maybe MILOUX) is Auckland musician, composer, producer Rebecca Melrose. “Pocket” is from her first release – “EP 1” – which is 5 very polished darkly soulful downbeat electronica songs. There’s a hint of jazz and trip-hop and it’s all brought together in a restrained and tasteful contemporary production.

It is a track heard a lot on Dunedin’s student radio station Radio One in recent months, soon becoming a familiar (and welcome) ear-worm.

It rekindles memories of some of the early alternative pop (‘trip hop’) electronica music from the mid-90s like Morcheeba (“Trigger Hippie”) and Sneaker Pimps (“6 Underground”), although the influences cited by Miloux are understandably the more contemporary Purity Ring, Grimes and James Blake.


soccer practise1Day 5 of our 31 days of NZ Music Month is from Auckland electronic band SoccerPractise and their recent single “Haere Mai E Tama”, currently no.1 on Dunedin’s Radio One Top 11 this week.

Sung in Te Reo Maori by vocalist Geneva Alexander-Marsters, “Haere Mai E Tama” continues the promise of their first single “Windfall” . It’s effortlessly classy late-night, low-light minimal electronica punctuated once again with subtle, fidgety rhythm loops and beats.

The instrumentation and arrangements are sparse but reward repeated (heaphone) listens. As with the first single it’s that tasteful restraint and space creating the atmosphere and contemporary film-noir soundtrack tension here, helping us focus on the voice.

SoccerPractise are playing at ReFuel in Dunedin tonight opening for Youmi Zuma and Doprah if any local readers want to see them play live.