Archives for posts with tag: experimental

Our Day 16 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Call Centre” by Les Baxters

Les Baxters, described as a “tabletop electronica quartet” emerged 7 years ago from the post-earthquake Christchurch/ Ōtautahi experimental sound scene. The NZ ensemble is made up of long-time friends John Chrisstoffels (The Terminals, Dark Matter), Dave Imlay (Into the Void, No Exit), Paul Sutherland (Into the Void, Fence), and Erin Kimber (Sheet Sweater). They draw on a love of sci-fi movie soundtracks, Deutsche Elektronika, goth-doom, and ambient techno, using vintage synths, Theremin, Casio beats, and found recordings to create their music.

While the name references the master of kitsch exotica, US composer Les Baxter, who released dozens of albums of soundtrack music and exotica (including Yma Sumac albums) in the 1950s and 1960s, the NZ Les Baxters are (much) less about kitsch exotica, and heavily into experimental sound collage and old/odd instruments.

If there’s a style to describe such a varied collection of sound-making, it probably aligns closest to the UK “hauntology” scene, but with the retro-futurist aesthetic given a more international – and experimental – scope. Best example of where this sits in the landscape of sound would be the classic album Broadcast And The Focus Group ‎– Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age. In other words, adventurous, multi-layered musical sound-art that the listener can get lost in for a long time.

Les Baxters eponymous album is available on LP and digital from CocoMuse Releases.

Vanessa Worm

Vanessa Worm originated in the Dunedin underground electronic/ experimental scene that coagulated around the now defunct None Gallery performance space. A move to Melbourne and EP releases on Glasgow’s Optimo dance label followed and now there’s a first album just released, called “Vanessa 77”. Here’s “Satisfaction” from the album:

There is a highly individual non-conformist ‘punk’ element to the music and performance. “Satisfaction” is one of the more ‘regular’ tracks on the album, coming across like Kruder & Dorfmeister re-mixing mid 1970s Can fronted by a demonically-possessed Grace Jones.

To say the album is all over the place is an understatement. The opening tracks are formed on guitar before being dragged backwards towards the thump of electronic dance beats and an ominous tolling bell (send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee as John Donne wrote some 500 years ago).

The music has bucketloads of variety and character and Worm’s unconventional vocalising ranges from mouth-sound-effect oddness to a kind of electronic punk sneer.  I guess you could call the music “electronic” or “dance” or “industrial” or “experimental” but it’s not going to fit in any comfortable singular genre.

The music on “Vanessa 77” has more in common with boundary-pushing weirdos of the post-punk avant garde music art scene – a bit of dancefloor Throbbing Gristle malevolence here, some fried Fred Frith guitar deconstruction there. For all those reasons and more it’s gloriously, subversively great.

“Vanessa 77” is available on LP on Glasgow dance music label Optimo Music with mailorder via Boomkat.

Brigid DawsonFormer Oh Sees collaborator Brigid Dawson has just released her first solo album, “Ballet of Apes”, under the name of Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network. It’s work of transcendental psychedelic jazz & experimental pop oddness, as “The Fool” here demonstrates:

“The Fool” may be familiar to Thee Oh Sees completists as a song from the recent OCS album “Memory of a Cut Off Head”.  But here the song gains an unpredictable energy as it winds along on wonky keyboards, fluttering drums and popping bass runs until it all falls apart in a natural way at the end as the drums trip over themselves.

Musically “The Fool” here reminds me of a mellow stoned kind of take on the odd-pop jamming by 4 members of Faust playing on the first Slapp Happy album “Sort Of” while Dawson’s voice soars on melodic updrafts.

The album “Ballet of Apes” is an equally impressive and original mix of the under-explored confluence of jazz, folk, and psychedelic pop. It has a relaxed and darkly cinematic feel, with minimal arrangements in which often unlikely instruments carry the melodies. There’s nothing safe or mainstream about the album. Experimental, timeless and unconventional in places, yet it’s a very approachable and accessible collection that rewards repeated listens.

The album was recorded in front rooms and rehearsal spaces over three locations – in Rye, Victoria Australia with Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control), San Francisco, California with Mike Donovan (Sic Alps) and Eric Bauer, and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn New York with Jon Erickson and The Sunwatchers and draws upon that range of musical talents as well as Dawson’s own garage-psych rock history with Thee Oh Sees and its quieter psych-folk alter-ego OCS.

 

 

 

 

Motte 2017Here’s our 3rd tip for giving the gift of music this month – “Bathhouse” from the album “Strange Dreams” by experimental neo-classical violin+synth sound artist Motte.

As noted here on PopLib back in February: “There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of  Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.”

“Strange Dreams” is recommended to ‘send as a gift’ via Bandcamp to anyone with discerning taste, adventurous ears, and an interest in contemporary experimental classical and electronic music. Also a perfect gift to send to friends overseas to remind them that NZ is still a diverse and original music-making laboratory.

Motte’s “Strange Dreams” is also available on LP  from Christchurch label CocoMuse Releases.

TranscendentsDay 22 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon heads 10 miles West of Weirdsville to catch up with the latest installment in the experimental journey beyond the fringes of rock and roll being undertaken by The Transcendents, an album called “Dirt Songs”. Here’s “Experimental Theorem” from that album:

“Experimental Theorem” and it’s refrain of “can’t find the answer/ I ain’t got a clue” is a perfect disorienting entry point into the fractured cut-up-re-assembled music on this second album from Christchurch anti-pop art project The Transcendents.

It’s as if individual instrument tracks of music from several different songs have been woven together into a repetitive pattern to resemble a song by someone visiting Earth from another planet. And yet it makes a kind of perfect un-sense, particularly if you’ve experienced some of the deconstructed anti-pop of early Pere Ubu, or other post-punk avant-garde provocateurs and sonic explorers like The Residents.

Each one of the Transcendents releases has been unconventional yet also alluringly accessible in their own peculiar way. They are also usually produced in high quality low volume runs on vinyl so if this kind of experimental music appeals check out the catalogue.

Motte 2017Day 14 of our 31 days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Christchurch sonic adventurer Motte. Here’s the entrancing and hypnotic “Opal Eye”

Motte’s “Strange Dreams” album is a favourite release of the year so far. The modernist classical violin-based music hypnotises with repetition and unlikely combinations of instrument layers, voice and ambient synths and sounds. Here’s it’s the voice of and the background of street noises which slowly builds as the song progresses.

There’s a time to take a risk and push your music collection out in new directions. “Strange Dreams” is a highly recommended way to do that. Better still, track down the LP version from CocoMuse Releases.

motte_bandcampMotte (Christchurch violinist, composer and sound explorer A. Clark) has released a fine and other-wordly album of ambient experimental improvised violin, voice and synth called “Strange Dreams”. Here’s the opening track “Thin Air” which is as good a place as any to start your experience in this strange and beautiful soundscape.

It’s an album that defies conventions as much as classification. Depending where you venture you’ll find satisfyingly rich and layered ambient experimentation to rival the classics of Brian Eno and Laraaji – particularly where loops and reverb are used on the violin to create layers of subtle melodic and rhythmic textures.

There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of  Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.

There’s a kind of modernist experimental take on folk and pop music too in the songs with conventional vocals, like the sublime smokey mystery of the title track and “Give it to Me”.

It truly is an album of strange dreams and one that will reward repeated listening.

“Strange Dreams” is out on LP from new label CocoMuse and available here.

Birdation 2016.jpg

Taking a somewhat opposite but apposite direction to the futuristic re-mix by Horse Doctor of Death And The Maiden, here’s a brand new song called “Sprain” from Death And The Maiden and Bad Sav shredder Hope Robertson under the guise of her other alter-ego as “bird racer” at Birdation.

Birdation is Hope’s solo lof-fi experimental noise ensemble of one. I say ensemble even though it’s only one person because there’s usually a pile of equipment – ancient and modern – on stage with Hope when Birdation plays live. Not all of it is always under control which adds to the tension and uniqueness of each Birdation performance.

In place of the futuristic glitchy Acid Pro looped-up madness of Horse Doctor, Birdation uses a more old-fashioned recording tool to distort, muddy and saturate the sound into disorienting textures – a 4 track ‘Portastudio’ type cassette recorder.

Birdation songs always come with an adventurous sense of downbeat euphoria and agreeable melodicism.

Louder vocals would be great but the submerged nature the vocals – sounding like they’ve been phoned in from space and recorded in a galvanised metal bucket – is all part of the subterfuge. Deliberately or not, it has the effect of forcing you right IN to the song as you try to work it all out.

There’s some very nice post-rock delay guitar work buried within the tape-sludge and a magnificently apocalyptic ending rounds it all off perfectly too.

Tiny Vipers Ambience3
One of the first PopLib posts, over 2 years ago, was about Seattle musician Jesy Fortino, who releases music and performs under the name Tiny Vipers.

“Another Day’s Sun” is a one-off track from the Tiny Vipers Bandcamp, released December 2013, which I only discovered today. It’s a wonderful piece of near-ambient droning song-craft.

Now there’s a brand new Tiny Vipers release out called “Ambience3”. My copy arrived today in physical format from UK label Box Bedroom Rebel. I wanted to feature that but it doesn’t appear in Box Bedroom Rebels Bandcamp. So “Another Day’s Sun” is the Trojan Horse song to introduce this more recent release.

“Another Day’s Sun” above, with it’s minimal guitar, evocative voices and wash of electronic noises, hints at the direction to be taken two years later by Tiny Vipers on “Ambience3”.

“Ambience3” is, as the title might suggest, is ambient drone. There’s no vocals, other than the ghostly backwards smudge of voice on “TAPE III” on the 7″ (which plays at 33 rpm), but there’s a lot of wondrous ambient soundscape to get lost in on the 70-minute CD which comes with the 7″ single in a nicely packaged release from UK label Box Bedroom Rebels.

“Ambience3” ranges from beautiful echoey spaces, reminiscent of Eno’s ambient series of recordings, through to some more industrial sounds (in a very musical, extra-terrestrial industrial way). There’s also some remixes. The most intriguing of these is “Tape II remixed by Xela”, which takes a tape delay drone loop and works it up into 9 minutes of brilliant techno-trance industrial dance music.

The well-presented 7″ single and CD package is very affordable, so why not take a chance?

Tiny Vipers_Ambience3

Govrmint

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.