Archives for posts with tag: synth pop

Vive la VoidVive la Void is the solo electronic music meditation of Sanae Yamada, co-founder and keyboard player of Portland’s Moon Duo. Here’s five and a half minutes of pulsing motorik dream-pop called “Red Rider”.

Yamada’s vocals are a washed out hazy presence here. Together with the vocal melodies, it imbues the song with the spirit of ghostly incantation.

The repetitive synth and drums backing on “Red Rider” – and throughout the whole album – provides a steady propulsion to these songs which evokes the perpetual motion of Kraftwerk at their darkest best.

The albums was created during years of relentless touring in vans in the US and Europe, which may be why the album carries the rhythms, repetition, drifting thoughts and dislocation of travel in its songs.

Amaya Laucirica“Little Clouds” is the opening track from a new album called “Rituals” by Melbourne’s Amaya Laucirica.

Before pressing play on this opening track I read the information on the album Bandcamp page: “Amaya’s work blends the swirling contours of the Cocteau Twins with the wistful melodies of The Go-Betweens and the sonic depth of Yo La Tengo.”  Fair to say that raised an eyebrow and thought “yeah, right.”

Turns out that’s actually a fairly modest statement. Not only is that close to the mark, it’s only the half of it. OK the Cocteau’s reference relates only to the second half of their career when their starkly unique post-punk had mellowed out to lushly produced dream-pop. But there’s no denying that these songs have the kind of classic construction you would associate with The Go-Betweens circa “16 Lovers Lane”.

The widescreen cinema-scope surround-sound of those extravagant synth washes also evokes memories of another Australian classic – capturing the sense of space of The Triffids “Wide Open Road”. The songs, arrangement and production on the album also remind me a lot of the classic pop of 80s, particularly UK popsters The Lightning Seeds. Slickly produced, glistening pop, and such perfect songs washed in big lush reverb synth pads and with crystalline guitar parts and Amaya’s distinctive vocals providing a unique heart.

Thanks to When You Motor Away for the tip off on this future classic album.

 

 

 

Legendary House Cats“Untitled (For You)” comes from a digital “Maxi Single” from The Legendary House Cats, which is the project of composer, producer, John Girgus from the LA band called Aberdeen who were released on Sarah Records in the UK.

The ‘Maxi Single’ concept was a classic 80s synth pop 12″ single with the song, plus various re-mixes. So that’s what we get here – 4 permutations of “Untitled” – “Remix”, “Instrumental” and finally “Reprise” – naturally.

It works on the level of nostalgia for 80s synth pop of course, but the lead song/ single here taken as it’s own is also a nicely unconventional club-hit-that-never-was.

“Untitled (For You)” has a winning combination of familiar elements from the music of New Order, Frazier Chorus and even The Blue Nile, to which is added in a big dash of pulled-back ambient soundscapes before each new ‘drop’ (and there are a few of those here).  See what you think… oh, & it’s free to download if you want.

Carla Dal Forno Album coverFirst PopLib post for 2018 or last post for 2017 – depending on where in the world you are at this moment – is “We Shouldn’t Have to Wait”, the opening track from Carla Dal Forno‘s October 2017 EP “The Garden”.

Dal Forno’s 2016 debut album “You Know What It’s Like” was on many ‘best of 2016’ lists. But somehow it avoided the PopLib radar until late on 31 December 2017. It’s wonderful, but the subsequent EP this track is from is even better. The album was a grand exploration of psychedelic folk built around minimal lo-fi experimental electronic sounds, the EP is more focused and a kind of minimal electronic pop – slow, moody, damaged, melancholic.

What struck me on first listen to the EP was it was the first thing I’ve heard to remind me of local sonic explorers Death And The Maiden. The Dunedin trio also take an oblique approach to decelerated melancholic minimal post-punk slow-dance music, with lyrics that dwell on the dislocation of life and existence.

As with the EP, a refreshing feature here is how Dal Forno’s DIY approach to experimental electronic music creation is turned to approachable pop-craft ends. So weird industrial noises and distorted deconstructed wave-forms are incorporated into song arrangements in musical ways that they are in service to the melody and rhythm and the song itself.

Here’s the 2016 album to explore too.

CCFXLast post of 2017 and it’s a song from a band called CCFX from Olympia, WA in the US, sounding like some lost masterpiece from the UK New Wave from the 80s or early 90s fusion of post-punk and dance music, which caught the ear from a Paris music magazine playlist of 50 indispensable songs for 2017.  “The One to Wait” is glorious:

The song is from an EP released in October on the DFA label. CCFX is a fusion of synth-pop duo CC Dust and Trans FX.

The chorus bass (a crafty combination of Cocteau Twins atmosphere and New Order solidness) and crystalline delay guitar has the hallmarks of that post-punk 80s era while the drum-machine breakbeats takes it into 90s territory (Curve perhaps a reference point here).  The thing that sets the song apart though is Mary Jane Dunphe’s distinctive and glorious vocals – a deep resonant voice with the ability to shift tone and pitch.

Lttle PhnxDay 19 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from a 2013 release on the now-defunct Crystal Magic Records (CMR) from LTTLE PHNX called “Luvrs Disc Ours”

“Let’s not forget” is the closing refrain on this warm throbbing piece of melancholy synth-pop under music shareware operating system name LTTLE PHNX (“Little Phoenix” for those who need vowels to help their pronunciation). Sadly there will be no more LTTL PHNX upgrades as it this version is no longer being supported by its creator Lucy Beeler.

However, there is a new music creation entity recently emerged from the ashes of LTTLE PHNX, known now as Feng. Descibed as “lo-fi low-key pop; keyboard confessionals undulating waves of maudlin-soaked reverb” Feng promises a continuation of the synth-pop symphonies in miniature.

Last time I saw LTTLE PHNX play was at Taste Merchants in Dunedin in 2015. The light-show was a projection across the ceiling of a video  of the earth from the orbiting space station. The angle of the projection meant the video was stretched and distorted, warped around the ceiling architecture. In its own strange way, it was as disorienting and mesmerising as the sounds emanating from the PA system.

Here’s “Luvrs Disc Ours” performed in session too:

Glass VaultsDay 18 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon is a cheerful pop song to cheer everyone up on a miserable day (snow is apparently on the way here in the south!). Here’s Glass Vaults with “Mindreader”

The vibe here is a bit like something from “Around the World in a Day” by Prince – bright flouro funky psychedelic synth-pop with phat synth bass and some wobbly keyboard sounds. The whole album delivers a very clean and clear minimal style of infectious hook-laden synth-pop.

Glass Vaults – Richard Larsen, Rowan Pierce and Bevan Smith – are from Wellington, New Zealand and you can read much more about them and the tracks on this finely crafted album at The Wireless.

Bevan Smith may be familiar to some as the prolific musical mastermind behind multiple musical entities including Aspen, SkallanderSigner, and more recently Introverted Dancefloor, and also the mastering mind behind Death and the Maiden‘s lovely debut album too.

 

Peach Milk 2017Day 2 of the 31 Days of May for NZ Music Month 2017 and we head to Auckland and the studio of Peach Milk for “Super-Ambi”

Peach Milk’s “Finally” EP has been one of my most-played NZ releases for the past six months. It’s perfect for a variety of occasions. Late at night (mostly), early morning, sunshine, rain.

As noted back in October 2016 the music on the 5 track EP is superbly tasteful in the sounds and the moods created, the sheen and shimmer of the synth washes, the understated beats, and the icy ambient minimalism leaving space to set the mind free to wander and imagine.

“Super-Ambi” is the last track on the EP and the most recent recording of the set, indicating the future direction of Peach Milk. It’s a future we can’t wait to discover.

 

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.

allison-crutchfield“Dean’s Room” is the first single, 3 months ahead of the release of an album called “Tourist in this Town” by Allison Crutchfield. The more you hear it, the more you want to hear it again. Pop perfection.

A song from the excellent Allison Crutchfield mini album “Lean In To It” was featured here on PopLib two years ago. That was more sparse and mellow melodic fuzzy synth-pop by comparison to this first tune from the new album, due out 27 January 2017.

“Dean’s Room” is firing on all cylinders – pummeling drums, distorted bass, an epic cheesy synth melody, nagging guitar lines and a sublime vocal delivery. If this new tune is any indication of the album, the pace and intensity has been ratcheted up to New Wave levels and the pop-tastic melodic quotient rivals any classic Blondie tunes.