“For those of u that have ever taken selfies, contorted ur body for selfies, pushed up ur breasts, hid ur breasts, hid ur ass, pushed up ur ass, exaggerated ur bulge, exaggerated ur collarbones, turned up the contrast, softened ur lines, been ghosted, ghosted, used tinder, failed at tinder, fallen down an instagram hole, deleted and downloaded it , deleted and downloaded it, deleted and downloaded it, wandered the drug store for clarity, thought hair dye could ease ur pain, at least for a couple days, and flipped the bird at 1 or all of these things – these songs are 4 u.
We hope you can sing with them, scream with them, dance with them, laugh with them and dream of how u want to feel and deserve to feel. Take a moment for urself.”
BRAIDS’ two new singles, “Collarbones” and “Burdock & Dandelion”, reflect their quintessential sound, yet also exhibit a new, bold and potent musical and lyrical maturity. Casting a critical eye on our fast-paced, smartphone, media-obsessed culture of consumption, these new songs vulnerably explore the perils of contemporary life and seek redemption from a world that is “moving faster / than we ever expected”.
In “Collarbones”, online dating, impulse-driven intimacy and digital desirability is poked fun at, while “Burdock & Dandelion” turns its critical gaze towards the toxicity of ‘ghosting’, the beauty standards women face that men don’t, and the capitalism of self-care. What emerges in these songs is sonic apothecary for digital malaise, reflecting a generation’s palpable longing for something more real, authentic, less filtered and, ultimately, more human.
We’re here to feel something more But we’re just hurtling towards Seeing and feeling nothing Nothing more than an impulse To move on to the next thing And forget the last
BRAIDS are a Montreal-based, three-piece band composed of Raphaelle Standell-Preston, Taylor Smith and Austin Tufts. BRAIDS have solidified a decade-long reputation for their musical ingenuity and established themselves as one of Canada’s most acclaimed art rock bands, releasing three albums: ‘Deep In The Iris’ (2015), ‘Flourish // Perish’ (2013), ‘Native Speaker’ (2011), and the EP ‘Companion’ (2016). BRAIDS’ most recent album ‘Deep In The Iris’ was a landmark record for the band, winning the 2016 Juno for Alternative Album of the Year. With Standell-Preston’s vocals as the pillar of their sound, BRAIDS weave organic and electronic elements together amidst a lyrical landscape that is intimate and emotionally-immersive.
“I want to get the fuck out of here NOW” – is the panic-stricken sentiment behind Gazelle Twin’s searing new single, ‘Hobby Horse’ – serving up the first lick of her latest album ‘PASTORAL’ to be released on 21 September 2018. The single compliments a hotly-tipped premiere and headlining performance at Supersonic Festival, in Birmingham, on 23 June.
HOBBY HORSE’s rousing and mantra-like spoken style – first heard in the body-dysmorphia inspired album UNFLESH (2014) and later in her touring A/V live show ‘KINGDOM COME’ – this time accompanies crazed galloping, incoherent, angry stadium chanting and eerie high-pitched howls.
The heavily cinematic B-side ‘DEEP ENGLAND’, spotlights and upturns a very English form of nostalgia as Bernholz croons “My silver cloud, My retail park, My cul de sac, My England”.
In-keeping with her ever-morphing performance persona Gazelle Twin is now clad in red and white, head to toe. The colours of a familiar flag. A nod to deep and recent history; A jester-come-morris dancer. A post-pagan hooligan, riding its Hobby Horse or conjuring terror with its pipe. Like a modern-day Commedia Dell’Arte characature, she reveals the madness and violence of “ye olde” traditions slammed within contemporary cliches.
“PASTORAL is an album about growing up in Britain, looking back at how it all ended up like this, and experiencing provincial life in a political and cultural climate where I would rather be anywhere else…”
HOBBY HORSE is released on 22 June, 2018, on the artist’s own label, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray.
Autechre take over NTS Radio for a month-long residency throughout April 2018, presenting four two-hour shows of new and original Autechre music.
NTS Sessions 1-4 compiles eight hours of music streamed during Autechre’s ongoing residency on London radio station NTS. Each of the four individual sessions will be available individually, either as a triple-vinyl record or a digital download. (It’ll also be sold as a single 12-vinyl boxset or eight-CD package.)
The duo’s first NTS session aired on April 5th. The remaining shows will broadcast on April 12th, 19th and 26th. Pre-orders will receive a digital download after the final show, while the physical formats will ship around three months later.
It’s Autechre’s most substantial piece of new music since elseq 1-5, a similarly sprawling package issued back in 2016.
As he gears up towards the release of his new album, Singularity out on 4th May, Jon Hopkins has today shared new track, ‘Everything Connected’. ‘Everything Connected’, an epic techno workout, marks one of the many energetic highs and the mid-way point on Singularity. Listen to the track and watch the psychedelic visualiser below.
In celebration of the release of Singularity, Hopkins will be debuting his new live show at a very special sold out performance at Village Underground on 10th May. Additionally, he will be DJing at Banquet, Kingston on 3rd May. Following these dates, Hopkins has a run of live dates and DJ appearances across the UK, Europe Japan & the US.
Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his expressive new album ‘Persona’, set for release on 13th April 2018 via Erased Tapes.
The title ‘Persona’ was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, specifically a shot in the opening credits of a child reaching out to touch a woman’s face on a screen, which is shifting between one face and another. This powerful image struck Ryan and it inspired the album’s main theme — an exploration of the persona, the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us, the spaces in between; between states, people, light and dark, the inner persona and the outer persona.
“My music is generally inward looking. I like finding something about the self within music, that doesn’t have to be specific but maybe asks something or reveals something. This record is a continuation on the self through electronic sounds. Like Legowelt once said ‘a synthesiser is like a translator for unknown emotions’, which I think sums up what I am trying to do. I think all these emotions we have make up our persona. So in a way by finding new ones you alter or expand your persona. And that is what I want my music to try to do. I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.”
Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’. The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”.
‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” Taking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed.
‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”.
The increasingly dynamic live audio-visual show, born from bespoke performances at the Tate and for Boiler Room at the V&A Museum featuring self-programmed visuals in Max/MSP, has propelled him to play around the world. Ryan launches ‘Persona’ at London’s XOYO on 12th April with further dates to be announced.
Taken from his forthcoming album Persona, released on April 13th, Untravel transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies. “This piece appears towards the end of the album and was a kind of meditation and therapy to create. It is neither happy nor sad, certain or lost; but between states. A sort of unknowable nostalgia.” says Ryan Lee West.
Inspired by the music, the video explores this feeling of being lost; “We were experimenting with various techniques of distorting the footage in order to intensify the experience of a disoriented feeling in a strange and unknown landscape, yet maintaining a constant forward motion while examining the desolate world,” adds director Misha Shyukin.
Ryan launches Persona at select venues across Europe including London’s XOYO on April 12, before touring North America in May.
Touchtheplants is an encouraging multidisciplinary creative environment founded by composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. The platform grows with and for diverse artists dedicated to the joy of storytelling and exploring the spirit through music and visual arts.
Sharing music, dance, film, poetry, photography, instruments, explorations, experiences, clothing, fortunes, symposiums and more, Touchtheplants is open to all ideas and formats rooted in the intent to encourage and edify infinite possibilities.
Touchtheplants Presents: Electronic Series
The Electronic Series is an annual offering consisting of a musical recording and a short comic about two friends – a plant and a human being – having an existential conversation. Each volume focuses on a different theme and context intended to nourish inquisitiveness.
Electronic Series Vol 1: “Abstractions” Inspired by a collection of works by experimental filmmaker Harry Everett Smith.
Available March 21st on Cassette and Digital.
Rob Moss Wilson
DECOMPOSITION THEORY: LIVE ALGORITHMIC A/V PERFORMANCE
Fresh from their critically acclaimed, infinitely-long and decidedly non-linear soundtrack to the universe-sized No Man’s Sky video game, and as active contributors to the burgeoning live-coding and ‘algorave’ scenes, with Decomposition Theory, 65daysofstatic are once again refusing to be easily categorised.
Inspired by the ‘show us your screens’ attitude of live coders, their Decomposition Theory A/V show uses generative visuals to reveal the inner workings of 65’s musical algorithms. The code flashes by, logging every musical event as the band curate and sculpt the generative output in realtime. The musical process, not the band, is placed front and centre.
Decomposition Theory is 65’s effort to imagine a space where music no longer has to take the shapes it is so often coerced into taking. In their own words:
‘Why are we doing this? No doubt, 65 are a long way from the frontline in any kind of struggle against capitalism and the abyss of a future it’s driving us toward. But perhaps there’s a minor supporting role in trying to imagine better futures. We are not railing against recorded music or albums or regular live shows, or what it can mean to be a band. However, these are all commodified forms. Almost all the ways anyone can relate to music these days are mediated through capital. Because we exist in relation to capital. We’re all drowning in it. It’s almost impossible to think outside of it. And so Decomposition Theory is some small effort to imagine a space where music is no longer shaped in commodity forms, and a live show doesn’t emphasise the ritual of performance. We are un-songing our songs and un-performing on stage.’
This is ambitious, utopian thinking from a band at the top of its game.
Domino is very proud to mark the return of Jon Hopkins and his new album, Singularity, his first since 2013’s breakthrough, Immunity. Singularity is due for release on 4th May 2018. Along with news of Singularity, Hopkins has shared ‘Emerald Rush’ the first track to be released from the album.
Listen to ‘Emerald Rush’ on streaming services HERE.
In addition to news of Singularity, Hopkins has announced a run of live dates across the UK & Europe with US dates to be announced shortly. He will also be making a number of festival appearances in 2018. A full list of dates can found below.
Singularity begins and ends on the same note: a universe beginning, expanding, and contracting towards the same infinitesimal point. Where Immunity – his hypnotic breakthrough LP – charted the dark alternative reality of an epic night out, Singularity explores the dissonance between dystopian urbanity and the green forest. It is a journey that returns to where it began – from the opening note of foreboding to the final sound of acceptance.
Shaped by his experiences with meditation and trance states, the album flows seamlessly from rugged techno to transcendent choral music, from solo acoustic piano to psychedelic ambient. Its epic musical palette is visceral and emotionally honest: with a destructive opener full of industrial electronics and sonic claustrophobia and a redemptive, pure end on solo piano.
Exploring the connectivity of the mind, sonics and the natural world, Singularity reflects the different psychological states Hopkins experienced while writing and recording. It is a transformative trip of defiance from his initial sense of frustration at the state of the contemporary world to the ultimate conclusion that a true sense of peace and belonging can only come from nature.
Singularity is intended to be listened to in one sitting, as a complete body of work.
Jon Hopkins dates for 2018
30/03 :: Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool, UK (DJ)
06/04 :: Ääniwalli, Helsinki, FI (DJ)
07/04 :: Sónar İstanbul, Istanbul, TR (DJ)
25/05 :: Villette Sonique, Paris, FR
26/05 :: Department, Stockholm, SE (DJ)
02/06 :: Primavera, Barcelona, ES
09/06 :: Park Life, Manchester, UK
15/06 :: Maifeld Derby, Mannheim, DE
23/06 :: Body & Soul, Co.Westmeath, IE
29/06 :: Down The Rabbit Hole, Ewijk, NL
30/06 :: ASTRO Festival, Milan, IT
11/07 :: DOUR Festival, Dour, BE
13/07 :: Melt! Festival, Ferropolis, DE
14/07 :: Lovebox Festival, London, UK (DJ)
15/07 :: Latitude Festival, Henham Park, UK
20/07 :: Colours Of Ostrava, Ostrava, CZ
26/07 :: WWW X, Tokyo, JP
26-27/07 :: Fuji Rock Festival, Niigata, JP
03/08 :: OFF Festival, Katowice, PL
04/08 :: Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, UK
31/08 :: Dimensions Festival, Pula, HR
10/10 :: Rockefeller, Oslo, NO
12/10 :: Den Grå Hal, Copenhagen, DK
18/10 :: Vicar Street, Dublin, IE
19/10 :: SWG3, Glasgow, UK
20/10 :: Paradiso for ADE, Amsterdam, NL
24/10 :: Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, BE
25/10 :: Astra , Berlin, DE
26/10 :: Le Trianon, Paris, FR
02/11 :: O2 Academy Brixton, London, UK
17/11 :: Newcastle, Boiler Shop, UK
22/11 :: Manchester, Albert Hall, UK
We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that Lisa Morgenstern, has joined the LB family.
The German / Bulgarian composer, pianist and singer will, later this year, release Chameleon; nine ambitious tracks showcasing her extraordinary, multi-octave-spanning voice, which soars with glacial elegance through poignantly atmospheric electronica and expressive piano instrumentals.
No collaboration is unlikely when the end goals are the same. A meeting of two artists who illustrate different corners of the musical landscape, come together to create a new statement that takes their collective strengths to higher elevations and encompasses new terrains.
So it is on the first collaborative journey of Canadian musicians Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois. What started as mutual respect for one another’s work, led to several years of a creative germination resulting in an eight-track full-length exploration released May 4th on Timesig/Planet Mu.
The path began in 2014, after Lanois reached out to Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) as a fan of his work. The project started to take root in Summer of 2016, after Funk hung around Toronto between shows. Taking his gear to Lanois’ studio, the two began to play for the first time together in what would prove to be a formative moment in their creative journey together.
“I love making music with Dan, he has a real understanding of how to create a world and build what may exist within that world. Bassdrums are trombones and they are a colossal whale which floats on clouds of leaves speaking to the blast furnace feeding the mammoth. A small painting of forest horses hangs in the cranium of the sea horse.” – Aaron Funk
Recorded live in a former Buddhist temple-turned-studio in Toronto, ‘Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois’ travels to new zones in what Lanois describes as “a body of work driven by exploration”. Like all the best collaborations, it’s brought something new out of both musicians. Equipped with their production acuity, they let their natural workflow guide them through uncharted waters. Funk laid the groundwork with drums while Lanois rode the pedal steel, weaving their sounds together in a new sonic tapestry. The two ultimately landed at their destination, their work ready to be shared with those willing to explore.
In Daniel Lanois ’own words:
“To come upon a new form reassures the head that frontier lives on The unlikely pairing of Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois may very well have provided us with a nice new pair of shoes to walk to new sonic frontier A melange of gospel and electronics As madness of the world trips over its heels these Canadian sonic innovators prepare for travel A body of work driven by exploration, brings to us in our modern times what we remember and admire from the Jazz explorations of the 50s A splintering An appetite for the unknown”
BEN FROST has announced details of All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated, a brand new EP featuring new tracks and previously unreleased remixes from Alva Noto and Steve Albini, out on 23 March 2018.
Described by The Quietus as “aural equivalent of a world turned to ash”, watch the video for the title track, a collaboration with conceptual documentary photographer Richard Mosse and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten.
Ben Frost will return to London for a special date with a unique audio-visual performance featuring Marcel Weber (MFO) at Heaven on 16 March, part of a series of dates that includes Elevate Festival in Graz, Sonar in Reykjavik, ISM Hexadome in Berlin, at Schauspielhaus in Zurich and Nuit Sonores in Lyon.
“An exercise in restraint, endurance and chromatic saturation” – MOJO
“…a molten core shines through providing just enough fire to keep the shadows from overwhelming the light” – CRACK MAGAZINE
“…filled with frustration and anger, yet not without a dark humour” – The Quietus
BEN FROST LIVE
2 March – AT, Graz, Elevate Festival
16 March – UK, Convergence at Heaven, London
17 March – IS, Sonar Festival, Reykjavik
18 April – DE, ISM Hexadome at Martin-Gropius- Bau, Berlin
21 April – CH, Norient & Rewire present Sonic Fiction at Schauspielhaus, Zürich
11 May – FR, Nuits Sonores, Lyon
Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy have composed the music for the upcoming horror thriller ‘The Cured’.
Six years after an aggressive virus has spread through Europe, transforming the infected into zombie-like monsters, the great hope of a cure is found. The cure, which has a 75% success rate, restores the infected to full physical health. Although the cured remember everything they did while infected.
Three years into this great hope, the third wave of cured are ready for reintegration in Ireland.
Once released they find the dream of reintegration has failed with a two-tier society emerging. Suicide and alcoholism are widespread amongst the cured. Many are shunned by their remaining families, while others hold a deep bitterness over the government restrictions placed on them.
Amongst the third wave is Senan Browne, a man haunted with the memory of killing his brother, Luke, while infected. Senan desperately wants to confess to Luke’s widow, Abbie, and son. Although when faced with them he can’t go through with it. Senan begins to get dragged into the growing social unrest but his only concern is keeping Luke’s family safe.
With society crumbling and the government debating humane elimination of the resistant 25%, Senan’s redemption brings him to the heart of the chaos erupting around him.
Nathan Fake will release a brand new 4-track 12”/Digital EP “Sunder” via Ninja Tune on 23rd February 2018. The title track is available to stream/download now. Methodologically and sonically very different to his 2016 album “Providence” which was characterised by crisp, widescreen sonics and meticulous arrangements, “Sunder” is rougher, more urgent and raw and definitively more beat-oriented, but retains the same warmth and emotive character.
“These four tracks are like snapshots captured in a single moment. They were all recorded on an old Marantz tape deck, Jupiter 6, broken Akai drum machine and a Yamaha Reface DX,” explains Nathan. “Basically just hitting record and seeing what happened, not worrying about making mistakes etc. There are no post-edits – they are left completely as they were recorded – so they’re quite messy but I love that energy.”
Nathan Fake Live:
20/01 Festival Electropolis 2018 at BPS22, Charleroi BE
09/02 Génériq Festival 2018 at La Vapeur, Dijon FR
15/02 Goa, Rome IT
22/02 Róisín Dubh, Galway IE
23/02 Cyprus Avenue, Cork IE
24/02 Button Factory, Dublin IE
23/03 Gretchen, Berlin DE
01/04 DGTL Festival 2018 at NDSM Docklands, Amsterdam NL
Out now on Warp Records, Clark’s new 12″, Honey Badger / Pig.
“The riff in this sounds bit a tropical to me. (you kidding m8?) From a rainy grey skyed uk perspective at least! Again it’s a simple hardware improv. I started messing with my friend Yamila’s vocals and crunching out these luscious Oberheim synth recordings I made. I wanted to write something that started out as a fluid, slightly muddy blur, muted euphoria, warm, then the landscape coarsens and distorts. I like that effect, from soft and sympathetic to quite brutal, angular patterns and more bling production. Just because I can produce now it doesn’t mean I don’t still love lo-fi grit 🙂 They mutually enhance each other. The synth at the end is a counterpoint to that. It’s something I made of my wife Melanie singing on a skype call captured with a laptop mic. I’m quite chuffed with it. No presets allowed! It’s got a glow to it that reminds me of her.” – Chris Clark
Countless bands will attest to And So I Watch You From Afar’s influence on their own music; in 2009, the predominantly instrumental Belfast-based outfit released a self-titled record that few heard but almost every single person who did immediately took it upon themselves to start a band. As a result, they have had a direct effect on making math rock and instrumental music blossom into the modest but fertile scenes that they are in the UK today. Thanks to a myriad of local DIY independent movements and festivals such as ArcTanGent and Strangeforms, a style of music that could easily have just been seen as a small blip in the annals of music history has bloomed into something that can be genuinely regarded as a world-wide recognised movement.
For many, the Irish quartet, alongside bands such as Adebisi Shank, You Slut! and Maybeshewill, made the prospect of music with no vocals (with the exception of the odd yelp dotted hither and thither) exciting, by injecting it with a frenzied frenetic frisson and refusing to ever give the listener time to get remotely bored. Whilst the music they make is almost certainly too esoteric for it to ever be considered ‘mainstream’ (whatever that word even means in a modern context), they are originators and innovators in a genre that is adored by a modest but loyal and dedicated following of music aficionados. Their fifth album The Endless Shimmering, is available on Friday 20th October via Sargent House but you can stream the album in full below 3 days before it’s official release, exclusively with The Independent.
The Endless Shimmering ushers in a new chapter in the life of And So I Watch You From Afar. Broadly speaking, it’s possible to group the band’s previous four full-length albums into two distinct groups; their 2009 self-titled debut and 2011’s Gangs serve as an introduction to the band infusing predominantly instrumental music with a ferocious, exuberant youthful energy that has more in common with punk rock than post rock. Similarly, the colourful, schizophrenic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sugar-rush of 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures and 2015’s Heirs are natural bedfellows. The 9 songs that make up The Endless Shimmering are cut from an altogether different cloth, which guitarist Rory Friers puts down to the way in which these new songs were constructed.
“Heirs and All Hail Bright Futures were both projects where the songs were predominantly written in the studio, so we used more recording techniques and took advantage of being able to add more layers and extra instrumentation. We went in to the studio with songs that weren’t fully finished and we allowed them to come to life in the studio. That whole world is a really exciting and fulfilling one but as with everything, it’s not an approach that we want to take every single time. So this record felt like a natural point for us to step away from that studio environment when writing the songs. Before we started writing The Endless Shimmering, we knew that we wanted to spend a long time writing and rehearsing, essentially getting these songs to sound as amazing as possible as a live band.”
This approach gives the songs on The Endless Shimmering more space and room to breathe; these 9 tracks are And So I Watch You From Afar’s most focused and taut songs to date and yet they still sound thrillingly vibrant and full of life. Both Heirs and All Hail Bright Futures took ‘weeks and weeks’ to record, whilst the band experimented with adding various bells, whistles, vocal lines and layers. Gangs was recorded in ’10-11 days’ but then took an additional 3-4 weeks to mix. In contrast, the band recorded andmixed The Endless Shimmering in just 9 days, making it the quickest And So I Watch You From Afar recording experience by a long shot.
“All the work was done before we came into the studio” says Rory, “there was never a moment where we’d sit around and ask ourselves ‘what should we be doing now?’ It was a very pre-meditated approach this time around and by the very nature of how we wrote this album, essentially the four of us playing live in a rehearsal room, the songs had to stand up on their own. They were generally recorded in one or two takes, in some cases maybe three and it felt as if we’d explored every possible avenue with each song before we entered the studio, so we knew as soon as we went in exactly how each song needed to be.”
Around 30 songs were written for the record before being whittled down to the 9 that appear on the album. It’s tantalising to think that there’s so much material leftover that could potentially be turned into something that might one day be heard outside of a rehearsal room, but Rory quashes that particular notion. “It’s like an artist who wants to make a really cool painting; you’ve got to make several paintings that aren’t quite right in order to get to the really good one. And that’s ok, those not so good paintings are all a part of the process and throwing those ideas around in a room together has got us thinking and set us on the right path to the nine songs that we think of as being the really good ones. When you’re working on an idea, you always tell yourself that it’ll see the light of day at some point. But then, for whatever reason, you move past them and focus your attentions on something else. We’re a band that has very little interest in looking backwards or taking ideas from the past or being nostalgic in any way. The exciting stuff is always in front of us and so those ideas tend to never get to see the light of day. There was an EP that almost got released last year but we just didn’t get round to it and now it feels like we’ve missed the boat, because those songs just aren’t exciting to us anymore. When you play a song in rehearsal a million times, it can lose its lustre.”
Knowing which ideas to throw out and which to keep hold of is a difficult dilemma for any band; when you’re so close to material that you’ve written, how on earth are you meant to sort the wheat from the chaff? It’s something that And So I Watch You From Afar are very aware of and as such, the impulse was to follow their gut as much as possible this time around. “It’s easy to get distracted now at a time when music is thrown in front of you and consumed so quickly and easily” says Rory. “I’m speaking here as a consumer of music as well as a musician; there’s so much at your disposal so instantly and so quickly that it becomes difficult for us to live with records and really let them sink in. It’s got to a point where option paralysis is a very real thing. So I think our instincts for this record were to dismiss anything that’s wasn’t speaking directly to us, to be drawn to the ideas that naturally lend themselves to the way we play and the four personalities that are in the room. Sometimes we might work on an idea where we’re trying something new but deep down we’ll know if it’s natural for the four of us to go down that route or not. We try not to be scared of going down those corridors and exploring them sometimes but I think at some point you have to start following your gut and not force anything, and that’s exactly the approach we tried to adopt with this album.”
The band flew out to Machines with Magnets recording studio in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, about 40 miles South-West of Boston. Just as they arrived, a major snowstorm brought the North-East coastline to a standstill, effectively isolating the band and focusing their attentions, a situation they welcomed with open arms, as guitarist Niall Kennedy explains. “I think it had a positive affect on the album; we’d talked about wanting to have this experience where we go into a studio and completely immerse ourselves in the process. When we’ve recorded in Belfast before, we’d spend all day in the studio, call it a day and then go home to our respective homes where normal stuff and social lives begin to creep in. So we were kind of hoping to create an environment where this album was our lives for the entire time that we were doing it. When we arrived and found out that there was going to be this snowstorm, it just added to the intensity of the experience and forced us into this little creative bubble. It heightened everything and made us feel even more immersed in putting together this record, the focus was on the album 100% of the time. We came away feeling like we’d accomplished everything that we had wanted to; it was a really positive experience.”
The Endless Shimmering is an album where everything is laid bare; one could see it as a ‘back to basics’ record, where the songs have been stripped of any unnecessary parts or vocal lines (of which, bar a tiny sample at the beginning of ‘Three Triangles’, none feature what-so-ever, a first for an ASIWYFA album). There’s been talk of The Endless Shimmering being the band’s most personal album to date and, whilst they’re reluctant to go into specifics, there’s a direct approach to the material here that suggests a desire to cut through the crap and get to the meat of the matter.
“We are fortunate enough to be able to make music that is very cathartic for us” says Rory, “something that is the product of four friends coming together and writing and rehearsing long into the night. Whenever I listen to this album, I can hear everything that went into it; it feels as if there’s a lot of emotion in there. I can associate each song with various different things that were going on in our lives and it makes me so much prouder that we managed to up cycle those events and turn them into something positive. It’s taken that negative energy and made it into 44 minutes of music that, regardless of what anyone else thinks of it, we view as our proudest achievement.”
The Endless Shimmering is released on Friday 20th October through Sargent House and is available to preorder on vinyl, CDand digitally now. The band begin a 40-date tour of the UK and Europe at Patronaat in Haarlem, The Netherlands on 18th October
Before a string of autumn tour dates, the Warp veteran goes full-throttle on his knotty new mix and tells us about his ninth album Death Peak
The title of Chris Clark’s ninth album accurately captures its atmosphere. Death Peakis club music as earth music, with basslines that shake like the shift of tectonic plates, knotty synthesiser textures that sound like they’ve been ravaged by the winds, and euphoric melodies that glow like the morning sun. “I’ve had the title Death Peak since August 2016,” Clark said prior to the album’s release. “It felt so right, I would repeat it to myself like a mantra. Death Peak Death Peak Death Peak. It starts gently, all meadows and butterflies, and ends with you on top of this gnarly, fearsome mountain peak, surveying a shattered landscape below.”
The album sees the electronic producer and Warp Records veteran equip himself with a new arsenal of weapons. While he’s used vocals in his work before (notably his exceptional collaborations with Martina Topley-Bird on 2012’s Iradelphic), Death Peak weaves vocal and choral elements into his work (a children’s choir in “Catastrophe Anthem”, the angelic coos of “Aftermath”). Much of this experience could have come from his recent soundtrack work, such as a production of Macbeth at the Young Vic in 2015, the cinematic score for Sky Atlantic’s The Last Panthers in 2016, and – most recently – BBC crime drama Rellik. This year he’ll bring that on tour combining contemporary dance choreography with Clark’s music, working with frequent collaborator and partner Melanie Lane.
Currently partway through a marathon international tour (some of which saw the producer combine the contemporary dance choreography of frequent collaborator Melanie Lane with his own rave belters), Clark contributed to our latest Dazed Mix and told us about the ideas behind Death Peak.
You’ve talked about the way that Death Peak introduced vocals in a way you’d never previously used them, but what sparked your interest in vocals in the first place?
Clark: I’ve often used vocals in the past but this record it all seemed to cohere as a constant element. I didn’t want any one track to be ‘the big vocal one’; rather it was more about it being a background thread, vital but not given immediate priority over other voices. It’s also just a thrill to record other people and allow that collaborative space to furnish you with new ideas.
I always think of your music as being quite earthy and ancient, despite it obviously being electronic and modern. Do you ever think about those sorts of ideas when you’re making tracks?
Clark: I like the idea of excavation, that you have to go on this massive quest to unearth something ancient and buried before you can really glean it’s relevance/worth. Music feels like that. Obviously the metal/music detector will throw up a lot of junk as well and you just have to feel 100% fine with deleting that music.
I enjoy it, I enjoy this thing of total non-self-censorship in the creation process followed by a very tough-minded, thick-skinned approach to the edit. I think that combo is a total winner, and it continues to work for me. As you get older you realise what your process is more – you realise what is obtuse and unhelpful, you realise what is lucid and strong, and what generates the results that satisfy you – and it’s these two things that really work me for me. Boundless range and expression in the act of creation and perfectionist tough minded approach in the edit. I enjoy the stage where you can laugh and say, ‘No, fuck that, not good enough, no way’ – it’s a sign you’re getting better and more brutal with your own standards. I think I’d be terribly unpopular if was to be in A&R.
Anyway, it’s usually the tracks I enjoyed making the most are the best ones. But the thing is, I enjoy making everything, so it’s quite annoying sometimes whittling an album down and getting it tight as fuck. No flab.
Death Peak has quite a gothic overtone as a title. What’s the imagery it makes you think of?
Clark: It’s me as T-800 being mashed in with the anvil at the end of T2. On acid.
Did working on things like The Last Panthers change your approach to production and writing?
Clark: It definitely did. It made me appreciate how much fun writing solo records is, and also gave me a chance to explore a totally different palette, using orchestral instruments and tweaking them out. I definitely want to do more of this. It made me enjoy space and texture more also. ‘How you can create intense music without using any metronomic cliches?’ But every record is a learning process, really.
Given we’re in a ‘post-Brexit age’, what does the Death Peak track title ‘Un U.K.’ mean to you?
Clark: I just discovered an old version of the vocal take of the kids choir singing ‘no going back in time will tell all of us.’ I think that probably says it all. I did a version with that lyric in, but it sounded a bit trite in a musical context – it sounded better without words. Music often does!
Some of your Death Peak live shows are going to feature an element of contemporary dance, choreographed by your wife. How does working with a partner on a creative project feel?
Clark: So much of the etiquette surrounding working with other people who you don’t know starts with a slightly frivolous courting ritual. It’s a bit of a tapdance. It’s the only way to get familiar really, but with Melanie we can just bypass all that and go straight to the substance of the work. It gives it a really thorough and obsessive energy; I suppose that comes out of our of kinship/shared tastes. I would love some of her old works to be shown again some day – they are still totally fresh/original compelling slabs of choreography, Tilted Fawn in particular. So many, she smashes them out
What’s going on in this mix?
Clark: It’s a load of my mates tracks that haven’t been released yet, and a few of mine as well. I enjoyed stitching it all together. It covers quite a few styles!
“Combining a few slower, more contemplative yet complex melodies alongside passages of pure, blistering riffs and thunderous percussion, it shows off the raw energy that they aimed to instil into the whole of The Endless Shimmering.”— DIY
Northern Ireland’s And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA) share a new track today from their forthcoming album The Endless Shimmering via PopMatters. This will be the eclectic quartet’s fifth full length album following on from their widely acclaimed album Heirs. The song “Terrors of Pleasure” is available to hear and share HERE. (Direct YouTube HERE.)
ASIWYFA previously launched a video for the first single, “A Slow Unfolding Of Wings” via DIYHERE. (DirectYouTube HERE.) Second album track “Dying Giants” is available via YouTube HERE.
In support of the album, ASIWYFA launch an extensive EU/UK tour next week. They will be joined by Gallops for all of their UK dates. Please see complete dates below.
ASIWYFA have a relentless thirst for touring and over the past 7-years they have tallied up almost 500 shows worldwide — including less common tour stops such as China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
The Endless Shimmering will be available everywhere October 20th, 2017 via Sargent House. Pre-orders are available at iTunes HERE and physical HERE.
Earlier this year, Actress aka Darren Daz Cunnigham – released AZD, the first new music from the reclusive producer in three years. The simplest you could say about AZD, is that its art the unique creation of a unique mind. There will be few more distinctive, brilliant or visionary suites of music released in 2017. Call him what you will, this is the year that Actress asserts more clearly than ever before his complete independence.
He recently played a string of US summer dates, which included a live performance at MoMa PS1’s WarmUp event. Now he is back for a extended fall tour of the US/North America and Europe with a brand new live/AV set that includes two AI performers on either side of the stage and a special appearance from Actress’ ‘Chrome Man’ figure on keyboard. A special preview of the set up can be viewed here.
This tour includes a handful of Texas dates alongside Telefon Tel Aviv and shows in Montreal, Brooklyn and Toronto with Nicolas Jaar as well as a performance at the 5th annual III Points Festival in Miami.
In a short film last year, Darren Cunningham, who’s better known as Actress, and Hugh Brunt, of the London Contemporary Orchestra, said they wanted to create and play music together that was a true hybrid. When they said this they probably had the same thing in mind: those electronic-meets-classical projects that simply recreate dance tracks with acoustic instruments. In truth, there was never a danger this collaboration would be conventional. Cunningham is one of electronic music’s most adventurous artists, a member of a small group of producers who have created a sound that’s entirely—and recognisably—their own. For their part, the LCO seems to value innovation and collaboration above all else. They’ve worked extensively with artists from different musical disciplines (Matmos, Arcade Fire, William Basinski, Biosphere, Mira Calix, Goldfrapp and many others) and have been involved in film scores such as the Jonny Greenwood-led soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. The collaboration between Actress and the LCO took shape last year, with performances at The Barbican in London and Moscow’s Strelka Institute, while the EP they released last month is the first taste of a forthcoming album for Ninja Tune. Together, they’ve created something that finds both acts in a new musical zone.
When you see the LCO perform in this RA Session you’ll understand why Cunningham liked the idea of working with them. Almost all of the instruments in this performance are played in unusual ways: the cello is banged, the piano is plucked, the marimba is draped with a blanket, a plastic bag is used as percussion. Blended with Cunningham’s ghostly electronics, we get a strange yet captivating 12-minute, four-part performance.
Synthesist and composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has released The Kid, a sprawling new LP that follow’s last year’s breakthrough album EARS. The album is a sonic representation of four distinct stages of the human lifespan, from birth to self-awareness to the forging of one’s individual identity to old age and death. Working with a wide array of synthesizers, Smith has made an album that is at once personal and universal, sonically engrossing and lush.
Smith has shared “An Intention,” taken from the album’s first act representing a wide-eyed, playful, and exploratory period of life.
“Smith focuses on a narrow band of feeling – wonder, curiosity, disorientation, bliss – and constructs a gleaming sonic world to house them, a place where the lines between thoughts and feelings and styles are porous.” – Pitchfork
“Like the work of Hayao Miyazaki, whom Smith admires, her music imagines something mythic or elemental colliding against modernity.” – The Village Voice
“A wholly immersive, mesmeric listen.” – Rolling Stone
“For an artist known for her analog synth wizardry, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith makes music that’s beguilingly organic.” – Nylon
“A novel, naturalistic, and, yes, pop-savvy voice wielding an instrument known for esoteric experimentalism.” – Resident Advisor
In 2017, the musical term “electronic” is nearly obsolete given the ubiquity of computerized processes in producing music. Even so, the prevailing assumption is that musicians working under this broad umbrella must be inspired by concepts equally as electrified as their equipment. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has demonstrated in her still-blooming discography that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth, and that more often than not, rich worlds of synthesized sound are born from deep reverence of the natural world. Smith (who by no coincidence, cites naturalist David Attenborough as a contemporary muse) has embodied such an appreciation on The Kid in as direct and sincere a way as possible by sonically charting the phases of life itself. The album, which punctually follows up her 2016 breakthrough EARS, chronicles four defining cognitive and emotional stages of the human lifespan across four sides of a double LP.
The first side takes us through the confused astonishment of a newborn, unaware of itself, existing in an unwitting nirvana. Smith’s music has always woven a youthful thread befitting of the aforementioned subject. Here she articulates it in signature fashion on the track “An Intention,” which serves not only as a soaring spire on The Kid, but on her entire output. There is playfulness here, but it’s elevated by an undertone of gravity into something compelling and majestic that is fast becoming Smith’s watermark. The emotional focus of side two is the vital but underreported moment in early youth when we cross the threshold into self awareness. The subject is profound enough to fill an entire album, but rarely makes its way into a single track, indicating Smith’s ambition to broach subtler and deeper subjects than the average composer. This side offers up another highlight in the form of “In The World But Not Of The World” which serves its subject well with epiphanic, climbing strings and decidedly noisy textures over a near-Bollywood low end pulse.
Side three emphasizes a feeling of being confirmed enough in one’s own identity to begin giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, which is arguably the duty that all great artists aim to fulfill. This side ends with the exploratory album cut “Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am” recorded in a single take without overdubs on the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. This humble piece of sound design serves as a contrast to side four’s verdant orchestral moments, all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet by Smith herself. This final side represents a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life. On “To Feel Your Best” this concept is voiced in the bittersweet refrain “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” which Smith intended to be a grateful acknowledgement of life rather than a melancholy resentment of loss. The song has both effects depending on the mood of the listener, and both interpretations are equally moving.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith belongs to an ilk of modern musicians who are defined by their commitment to creating experiential albums despite the singles-oriented habits of modern listeners, and here she represents her kind proudly. The subjects on The Kid are not simple to convey, and yet through both emotional tone and lyrical content, Smith does just that. There is a similar gravity to both birth and death, and rarely is that correlation as accurately and enthusiastically mapped as it is here.
Alan Watts, another logical inspiration of Smith’s, once expounded that people record themselves to confirm their own existence, and as such, echoes and resonance are reminders that we are alive. “You’re not there unless you’re recorded,” Watts muses, “if you shout, and it doesn’t come back and echo, it didn’t happen.” The Kid speaks to this idea directly. As Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith explores her existence through music, she guides us in gleefully contemplating our own.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid (Western Vinyl – October 6th, 2017)