Archives for posts with tag: experimental pop

Islet is a Welsh experimental psychedelic-electronic trio from Powys and their most recent album “Eyelet” is an intriguing journey through their hyper-active imaginations. Here’s the opening track “Caterpillar”:

“Caterpillar” starts with a woozy slow vibrato strummed guitar chord like an LP pressed off-center, before bass, percussion and other noises layers up and Emma Daman Thomas weaves a dreamy caterpillar-paced reflection on the larval pre-metamorphic state of being. Or something like that. “Caterpillar” is fitting entry point for an album where songs often change shape from familiar terrestrial beginnings to become the most extraordinary patterned creatures which then fly into the sun.

The opening song, and then the whole album, creates its own weirdly unusual-yet-familiar world-within-a-world while sounding like nothing much else. Yet Islet’s “Eyelet” (everyone loves a good homophone word-play) is likely to hold instinctive appeal to anyone who loves the music of the likes of Goldfrapp, Jane Weaver, Broadcast, Boards of Canada, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Vanishing Twin, Molly Nilsson, and even Primal Scream circa “Screamadelica”.

The trio of Emma and Mark Daman Thomas, and Alex Williams combine analogue and electronic instruments, voices, sampled sounds and reality-warping effects to create a hyper-saturated and exhilarating psychedelic pop fantasia.

Islet offer an intriguing back-catalogue as well, with two albums (Illuminated People, 2012 and Released By The Movement, 2013) and several EPs on their own label, Shape Records prior to this Fire Records release. Islet’s most recent release prior to the album was the 2016 EP “Liquid Half Moon”.

There’s a lot to love about this album, but right now the unpredictability of the songs and sounds is something special – and (serious) fun. Nothing runs a predictable course. A song that starts out like a fairly conventional kind of lo-fi synth pop or electronic dance tune will eventually change shape and spin out into a crushing-live-drums-with-samples sonic mélange that spirals off in unexpected directions.

Sui Zhen Mirror.jpg“Perfect Place” is a track from a new album from Melbourne electronic pop artist Sui Zhen. It’s futuristic arpeggiated electronic conceptual art-pop; part anthromorphic AI robot, part human, and, on “Perfect Place” at least, part Tom Tom Club too.

Sui Zhen (pronounced Sue-ee Chen) is an experimental pop and performance artist exploring the intersections between human life and technology – how to exist in the digital age, as well as the ways in which we risk losing true sight of ourselves in the process. The album “Losing, Linda” is due out in September.

“It’s an album about missing people after they are gone and trying to pre-empt loss – not only loss of life, but memory and information,” Sui Zhen explains. “I see it mirrored in our increasing need for data storage. Why are we collecting and documenting so much, anyway?” “It’s also a simple ghost story about being haunted by our other versions and our past selves,” she continues. “Our mothers, fathers, ancestors – that possibility that another may exist, intangible in the physical realm, but ever present in memory, so long as memory functions.”

The album-release promises to be more than just music though. The album will also be accompanied by what is described intriguingly as “a digital ecosystem.” There’s a disorienting preview of what that may be like in this Sui Zhen audio-visual web installation here and a perfectly disturbing video for the song too:

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete are a duo from Guadalajara, Mexico and “Líneas En Hojas” is a track from their recently released (third?) album “De Facto”:

The track combines melodic dream-pop with tense experimental post-punk tinged psychedelia. That minimal drum, bass, voice, guitar, synth repetition, building up into layered constructions and the contrast between light and dark/ dream and nightmare/ soft and harsh is a feature of many of the songs on this intriguing album.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete are Lorena Quintanilla (Lorelle) and Alberto González (The Obsolete) with “De Facto” featuring a handful of additional musicians.

Flo and Spicey

Please sit back, ensure your seat belt is securely fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray table is stowed away, as we prepare for take-off… it’s time to travel through space and time between Glasgow and Stockholm with Flo & Spicey on an “Adult Single”:

Flo & Spicey (real names Diana Jonsson & Colin Stewart) describe themselves as “a long distance studio collaboration between Glasgow and Stockholm. They make their music using old & discarded tech with a love for all things Joe Meek & Delia Derbyshire.”

It’s a kind of lo-fi retro-collage kind of magpie indie-pop where whistling kettles and stirring tea-spoons, railway station announcements, old TV soundbites and all kinds of noisy flotsam and jetsam are woven into bass and keyboard pop. It’s fun, it’s weird in a kind of Residents-meets-Stereoloab kind of way at times, and it’s all got a heart of pop as well.

Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set is highly recommended for fans of Broadcast and also contemporary exponents of this kind of dark, grainy experimental pop, like Exploded View.

Exploded View 2018Exploded View – a collaborative project involving UK-born, Berlin-based musician Anika Henderson with Mexico City based musicians Martin Thulin and Hugo Quezada – have a new album – “Obey” – coming out in September and are sharing “Raven Raven” (well) ahead of the release.

Exploded View’s peculiar take on experimental art-pop has an unpolished and non-conformist roughness that sets the band apart from the free-spirited damaged art-pop of Broadcast or the more mannered retro-futuristic synth nostalgia of Death And Vanilla.

As with the earlier releases (highly recommended) “Raven Raven” demonstrates the new album should continue to incorporate some essence of the raw thrill of The Velvet Underground, and even early Can into its intriguing sonic mix.

“Obey” is out on Sacred Bones Records on 28 September.

Exploded View“Summer Came Early” is the title track from an EP released November last year by Exploded View from Mexico City.

Exploded View is a collaborative project involving UK-born, Berlin-based musician Anika Henderson with Mexico City based musicians Martin Thulin, Hugo Quezada and Amon Melgarejo.

While some broad stylistic comparisons for reference purposes can be made to the kind of free-spirited damaged art-pop of Broadcast or the more mannered retro-futuristic synth nostalgia of Death And Vanilla, or even Stereolab, there’s an unpolished rough darkness to Exploded View’s peculiar take on experimental art-pop.

For every one of the potential sonic reference points mentioned above you can also triangulate the kind of sonic mischief you’d more usually associate with the play-book of The Velvet Underground, Can, Sonic Youth or Thee Oh Sees in the songs of Exploded View.

The notes on Bandcamp for the album state: “Improvisation was the guiding principle and the source of the band’s inspiration. The studio itself was outfitted so that every sound produced in the room would be recorded. A Tascam 388 8-track captured everything – fully live, fully improvised, first-takes only.” This not only helps explain the otherness of their songs and sound, but also means EP and their brilliant 2016 self-titled album, with its its noisy analogue-instrument mutant dance music, are essential acquisitions.

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.

Garbage and the flowers 1992

Garbage and the Flowers, 1992 (photo: David Welch)

Day 22 of NZ Music Month is from obscure-only-in-NZ early 90’s group The Garbage and The Flowers and their “St Michael of the Angels”

“St Michael of the Angels” is from an album “The Deep Niche”, an upcoming Grapefruit Record Club (re)release.

The Garbage And The Flowers were a band which formed in Wellington in the early 1990s. It has that familiar flutter of (cassette?) tape recording and the kind of wilful DIY oddness that clearly turned heads overseas, if not in NZ.

I had never heard of The Garbage and The Flowers or heard their music until I was at a friend’s place in Glasgow last year and he played me a cassette by them. He looked to me for signs of recognition and probably some revelation I’d seen them play live or knew them and could fill in the missing knowledge about them he was seeking. I said “I’ve never heard of them”.

I’ll post the label’s release notes below. I was clearly not “a certain type of music fan”…

“If you were a certain type of music fan in the mid-nineties, you may have heard tell of this incredible, incredibly hard to find, double album by The Garbage & The Flowers. Each jacket was hand-painted, and all 300 copies sold out in a flash. Thankfully, the great Bo’Weavil label reissued Eyes Rind As If Beggars in 2013. If you haven’t heard it, please do listen…ok, you heard it now? You’re welcome!

It turns out the group was Helen Johnstone, Yuri Frusin, and Paul Yates, an inspired trio who emphasized lyrical collaboration and sound manipulation as part and parcel to their melodies.  They didn’t last long as a group, but luckily, they got a lot of their songs recorded.

The Deep Niche is music they made before Eyes Rind and it is every bit as revelatory.  Johnstone sings over raucous and raw instrumentation. It’s real rock, the real real thing.

Torben Tilly joined just in time to contribute some keyboard to the track ’29 Years,’ although he mostly was their guitarist. Just in time, too, because The DeepNiche presents a band fresh to playing with some massive tools, them being, natch, The Tools Of Rock. These songs are every bit as powerful as what you hear on Eyes Rind As If Beggars. Believe it.”

Here’s a video of them playing live in Wellington in 1992:

A_Bats_UF_DTW

Day 13 of NZ Music Month is a blast from the (recent) past in the form of an all-time favourite from the now-retired entity Dear Time’s Waste called “Clandestine”

“Clandestine” is the opening track on the debut release by Dear Time’s Waste – the “Room For Rent” EP, released in March 2009.

It’s a song that transfixed then, and – as some music is inclined to do – transfixes still, seven years later, from the moment those two drum beats herald its start.

In the 7 years since then Claire Duncan, as Dear Time’s Waste – sometimes with a band, sometimes without – released two ambitious, excellent, essential albums; SPELLS (2010) and Some Kind Of Eden (2012).

Afterwards came the intriguing slow development of a new and darker NZ Gothic enterprise, called i.e. crazy.

“Emerging from a mist of shoegaze in my early twenties, I yearned to discover a stronger mode of communication” explained Claire in this tribute to 5 of her favourite NZ songs published on The Wireless earlier this week.

Everything essential from Dear Time’s Waste is still here, just rubbed raw by experience, personal turmoil and the stubborn refusal to conform anymore. The words continue the writer’s examination of the human condition with novelist’s eye for detail and a poet’s ear for phrasing. The music, while more dissonant and damaged at times, is still compelling.

Claire, as i.e crazy, performs at The Crown Hotel in Dunedin tonight in a 91 Club presents show along with Seth Frightening and Terrified… the perfect combination of names (and music) for a Friday 13th event.

 

Lets Eat Grandma_Video still1Let’s Eat Grandma is two Norwich teenagers, Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton. Their first album is out in June, called “I, Gemini”.  Here’s a preview track from it, called “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”.

There’s a lengthy glockenspiel and wheezy organ intro before it crackles into thudding dance-floor life at the 1 minute 30 second mark. The vocals kick in halfway through the song’s 6 minute length, so stick with it because it’s a delightful and enigmatic trip beginning to end.

On the strength of this song, and a 7” single – “Deep Six Textbook/ “Sink” – released last month on London indpendent label Transgressive Records , the album promises to be a freakishly wonderful offering of their genre-warping craft.

While their music sometimes shows whimsical playfulness it also seems to carry a darker undercurrent of existentialist unease. That’s particularly true of single “Deep Six Textbook”, a kind of ultra slow-motion darkly Gothic meditation on the frustrations of free-spirited individuals coping with a structured, standardised (textbook) education.  That song was such a striking soundworld I ordered a copy immediately.

“Eat Shiitake Mushrooms” is completely different. It seems to be three songs in one, together creating something simultaneously absurd, playful, unsettling and exotic.

It’s psychedelic pop in the way The Raincoats’ “Only Loved At Night” was psychedelic pop, subversive pop in the way that The Sugarcubes “Birthday” was subversive pop, and absurdist art-pop in the way The Frank Chickens “We Are Ninja” was absurdist art-pop.

What each of the three songs released so far demonstrate is a sense of DIY musical and lyrical adventuring throughout popular music culture, unburdened by conforming with rules of any particular music genre.

Their command of multiple styles demonstrates skilful borrowing, filtering and re-constructing in unorthodox ways of a wide range of music influences from rap, to chart pop, electronica, folk, and more experimental forms. In interviews they seem motivated purely by the healthy enjoyment of creating music, crafting multi-layered lyrics, singing, rapping, having fun, being daft, being deadly serious, leaping from one idea to another, playing with their audience, challenging and dismantling preconceptions.

Let’s Eat Grandma are a reminder of a whole history of music out on the distant margins of the manicured music industry, the subversive music-makers and pop stars.  Misfits, oddities, risk-takers, boundary-pushing experimentalists.  The results will sometimes get written off as novelty music, because music is expected to take itself seriously, be authentic, whatever that is.

The strength of Let’s Eat Grandma is that they are being themselves. And much as we may want to imagine where their potential may take them in future, let’s enjoy their music now for what it is.

Here’s the dream-like video for “Deep Six Textbook” –