The song that burst Blondie out of the streets of the Bowery to #1 on the charts, "Heart of Glass" was the pivotal moment in punk's choreographed slamdance with the mainstream. Inspired by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, Blondie transformed their campy "Disco Song" into a Roland-driven juggernaut and never looked back. Explored and exploded via six distinct versions remastered from the original analog tapes, the history of "Heart of Glass" is documented here in a copious essay and it's art reimagined by noted American illustrator Shepard Fairey.
The elusive Crooked Man returns to DFA with Crooked House, a maximalist take on electronic and house music that picks up where 2016's self-titled LP left off. Teaming up again with Michael Somerset Ward (Clock DVA) and David Lewin (Bleep & Booster) in the studio, Richard Barratt crafts a comprehensive journey of hi-fi house belters with more sinister electro-pop mixed in for good measure. The LP is influenced by two historic epicenters of electronic music: Sheffield, UK, where Richard has had an illustrious career in a mix of legendary groups like Funky Worm, Sweet Exorcist, and The All Seeing I; and the NYC Loft-era disco sound, where extended grooves were layered with peak-time choruses.
Richard's diverse collaborations and intensely prolific discography have now led him to records as lush and sophisticated as Crooked House. Considering the rarity of a live Crooked Man performance or DJ set, it's a testament to his hyper-creativity that these tracks are able to reach new heights in a club setting. With support from disco historian Bill Brewster and NTS resident Ross Allen (not to mention "Echo Loves Narcissus" being named #1 single of the year by Piccadilly Records in 2017, before it was even properly released), it's clear that Crooked House brings a timeless vitality to the current landscape of dance music, and continues an exciting new chapter in Crooked Man's career.
It can take years to find your voice. In the case of the Winnipeg born, Brooklyn based musician Devon Church, it took the dissolution of a decade long marriage and creative collaboration ( Exitmusic, a nightmare pop project co founded by Church's ex wife) to send him down the road of discovering his own singular, rough hewn yet elegant style.Exitmusic is known for haunting soundscapes and hair raising emotional climaxes. With his remarkablyassured Felte debut, We Are Inextricable , Church applies his experience as a producer, multi instrumentalist and songwriter to an equally absorbing solo project - one that plunges his Cohenesque pop poetics into an ocean of drone, psychedelic minimalism, harmonic noise, and distortion tinged,angelic ambience. The result is a wellcrafted exploration of samsara and nirvana, heaven and earth, two states seemingly coexisting in the songs themselves. It's an entrancing listen.Sensuous, surrealist lyrics - touching on themes of romantic obsession, religious ambivalence, dysfunctional families, and the ineffable strangeness of human existence - are delivered in a ravaged, soulful baritone, approximating some chimeric offspring of two cigarettes at once Tom Waits, a tripped out David Bowie, and John Maus. Trance inducing, tape saturated echoes of minimalist and ambient composers like Terry Riley, Pauline Olivera, Steve Reich and Grouper fill the spaces left by post punkified chord structures, primitive drum machines, shakers, tambourines, and delirious, overdriven synthesizers.
For over 20 years, British sound artist, Janek Schaefer, has earned significant international acclaim & awards fortransforming the power of half-forgotten memories into otherworldly works, that are often as ambiguous as they areevocative. Previous collaborators include Charlemagne Palestine, Philip Jeck, Stephan Mathieu, and a work-inprogresswith William Basinski. Schaefer's compositions primarily occupy and inhabit the spaces between sadnessand joy, and relish in the unpredictability of emotional gravity. It is this transience that makes his new album, WhatLight There Is Tells Us Nothing, so resonant. In 2014, with Robert Wyatt's blessing, Schaefer was commissioned bythe Sounds New Festival in Canterbury, England to compose a new, original piece of music created entirely fromelements of Wyatt's Cuckooland album. The composition was crafted using Schaefer's custom two tone-arm 'Twin'turntable with effects pedals and digital collage. Originally presented at the festival as an immersive, multi-channelradio installation, his cloud of sound is a sublime meditation on the profundity of Wyatt’s work, and its transportingidiosyncrasies. Schaefer presents that piece as the title track of this new full-length opus, which is complimented withseven original compositions that not only exist in the same wondrous space, but echo its playfully poignantresonance, well after the album has ended...
Jessica Moss, the violinist, composer and singer best known for her fifteen-year tenure in political post-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion, is newly ascendant as a soloist, captivating audiences with gritty, warmly expressive electronic- and drone-inflected post-classical Minimalism (and sometimes Maximalism), accented by a distinctive melodic sensibility that channels Klezmer, Balkan and Middle Eastern tropes. On Entanglement, her new and second album, Moss channels quantum theory as a metaphor for creating energetic connections through esoteric processes. Using violin (and occasionally, voice) as sound source, her compositions are set in motion like entangled particles - spinning, ricocheting, warping and stretching in extra-dimensional space. Moss has played 80 shows in the past year and Entanglement is also profoundly informed by her experiences travelling alone, giving concerts in precarious spaces preserved by passionate subcultural communities, attempting fragile, intimate, abstract transmissions through sound and performance. This is long-attention-span music that wonderfully synthesizes form and substance, spit and polish, austerity and lushness, expansiveness and intimacy. Entanglement is a deeply felt and deeply rewarding work that testifies to the unique stylistic and textural space Moss is carving out in the contemporary/New Music continuum.
Swiss group Klaus Johann Grobe have been at it since 2012, and as they prepare to release their third album "Du Bist So Symmetrisch" (and third on Trouble In Mind), the group continues to defy description & blur thelines between electronic pop, dance music, synthesis & kosmische."Du Bist So Symmetrisch" follows the inevitable path laid out by their previous album (the Basel Prize-winning "Spagat der Liebe"), incorporating the slinky, jazz-fusion-laced grooves populating late night clubs and braiding them together with the band's own blend of mutant electro-funk. Driven by an organic, metronomic beat aligned with synth, chant-like vocals, and a monstrous funky bass, the music aims towards a certain kind of hypnosis, particularly as the sleeping pill echo-heavy vocals cycle over the locked grooves the pair throw down. "Du Bist..." begins with the cascading arpeggio of a synth, edging into view, before lurching into the placid dancefloor groove of the first single "Discogedanken". While the band invariably feels more at home in the club, Klaus Johann Grobe certainly aim towards the more dance-orientated arena of German music (see "Der König" or "Von Gestern"), aligning the metro pulse of Klaus Dinger and Kraftwerk's later techno work to more biological factors - like moss growing on the mainframe.
The debut EP from New York band Public Practice, Distance is a Mirror, is a confident, juried testimony of love steeped in dark optimism. Dry, deadpan vocals chant over skittish guitar and danceable 70s grooves - songs snapping like rubber bands - seesawing between post-punk and its insomniac twin sister disco. With contradicting references as overt as Talking Heads (without the shoulders), but as specific as Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra (with some polka dots), the band is carrying a funky torch that does not get lit too often.The four members of Public Practice - singer Sam York, guitarist Vince McClelland, synth/bassist and vocalist Drew Citron, and drummer/programmer and producer Scott Rosenthal - are no strangers to song writing. A Brooklyn DIY super group of sorts, Public Practice combines members of freshly-dead punk project WALL and local pop band Beverly. Public Practice backs their ambitious songwriting with serious chops, their live shows already pulling them into the sharp foreground of a scene growing all too warm-and-fuzzy.
This 4 song debut EP anchors Public Practice as a new band with wisdom like their influences, bringing songs distinctly fresh as they are familiar. Tired of the familiar? Seeing dots? Wake up!
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"John and I were both in-between projects and decided to get together in the studio to blow off some steam and have some fun playing music," van Leuven says of Sun Breaks' beginnings. On John Atkins and James van Leuven's debut full-length All on Camera, Sun Breaks fuse live instrumentation and electronic manipulations with dubby outboard treatments and pensive melodies of Northwest indie rock. The title track demonstrates this fusion, with Atkin's vocals and van Leuven's cyclical drum patterns, banks of synths, and psychotropic production techniques. Every song becomes a new template and new battle plan. The tactics might yield the string pad hooks and dreamy vocals of "A Common Wave" or the big drum sounds and psychedelic instrumentation of "Moments". Restless angst isn't entirely absent from Sun Breaks' vision, but has been replaced by the search for light in the dark. "One of the constraints I've tried to work within lyrically is to not be too negative," Atkins explains. "A lot of it is derived from the first vocal takes and deals with digital angst, psychedelic surveillance and childhood memories." The result is lysergic, with both positive and negative energy swirling in a cosmic tapestry of sound.
To celebrate the release of the 2018 Halloween film scored by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails) are releasing their version of Carpenter’s iconic Halloween theme as a limited edition 12", b/w Carpenter’s version. Reznor explains: “I clearly remember my friends and I at 13 years old conning our parents into letting us see Halloween when it came out in 1978. We left the theater forever changed. We were damaged and scarred, with the shit genuinely scared out of us and that theme stuck firmly in our heads. John Carpenter, it’s your fault that I turned out the way I did.”
Speaking about the new version, John Carpenter states, “Moody and dark, â€ªTrent Reznorâ€¬ and Atticus Ross’ version of Halloween does amazing justice to the original. I’m impressed."â€¬â€¬â€¬â€¬
The phantasmagorical debut album by Tropical Fuck Storm, A Laughing Death in Meatspace , delivers a fraughtvision of algorhythmic apocalypse.Featuring Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitchin from Australian heroes The Drones, Tropical Fuck Storm is an endofdays consciousnessstreamacross nine seething tracks. The debut divebombs into the realms of mortality and immortality, moralizing and amoralityÍ¾ the passing of time, and how little we have left. These are lurid songs, urgently told through Gareth Liddiard's barbed and byzantine lyricism, abrasive guitar slashes, drum adrenalin, raunchy bass and electronic undercurrents. They're raging, rapscallion, and funny, lyrically delving into everything from internet shaming to the kuru "laughing death" disease of the PNG highlands to Russian chess great GaryKasparov’s portentous loss to an IBM computer.Live, Tropical Fuck Storm are a force of nature, conjuring chaos at every blistering performance, with zero shits to give for corporate music hegemony. "Kneel down by the advertising, don't you make a single false move" calls out the female chorus of Fiona Kitschin and Erica Dunn echoing the dismay of our time as we bear witness to the sinister seductions which social media surveillance has entangled us. A Laughing Death in Meatspace doesn’t show us the way out of this situation, but it howls along with us as we peer into the maelstrom ahead.
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Big Black was started by Steve Albini in 1982 while he was attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Lungs, the first Big Black release was recorded by Steve on a borrowed 4-track. He played everything on the EP himself - except the sax bleating courtesy of pal John Bohnen and the drums courtesy of Roland. Soon after, Steve recruited Jeff Pezzati (Naked Raygun) on bass, and Santiago Durango (also Naked Raygun) joined them on guitar. In 1983, together with live drummer Pat Byrne, they recorded the Bulldozer EP. By 1984, the band had done some touring and recorded the Racer X EP and the start of the Il Duce 7". After that, Jeff returned to Naked Raygun and was replaced by Dave Riley. In 1985, Big Black recorded their first full-length, Atomizer, as well as finishing the Il Duce 7". Atomizer was released in 1986 along with the release of the Hammer Party compilation CD. In 1987, the Headache EP and Heartbeat 7" were released. That same year, the band recorded and released the 7" of The Model/He's A Whore as well as their second full-length album, Songs About Fucking. They toured extensively (for Big Black). And they broke up.
Pure-O, by Kari Jahnsen - aka Farao - is a prog-pop exposition on the curious dichotomy between beauty and destructiveness in sex and relationships. Farao creates the world of Pure-O with a neon pool of synthesizers, zither, drums, and soaring vocals, seamlessly referencing '90s R&B and the untapped goldmine of Soviet disco.
On Pure-O, we're hearing Jahnsen's early youth in Norway finding perfect equilibrium with her adulthood in Berlin. She says of the time she spent recording, "I was in the process of learning how to conduct myself while not getting sucked in to the whirlpool that is Berlin party culture," and of her childhood, "It wasn't a place I felt stimulated creatively, and felt quite lonely there growing up, which made me turn to music as a language for a set of emotions I didn't know how to release otherwise." It's precisely this relationship between quiet reflection and overstimulation that makes this album unlike anything of its genre. In an age when non-electronic pop seems like an outlier, Farao constructs a bridge of humanity from the organic to the inorganic, rounds out the hard edges and sharpens the soft ones, and altogether transplants a healthy, beating heart into modern synth-pop.
Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias, and you'll get a simple response: Baths is activelistening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct,reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator. Don't mistake passive listening for anything remotely resembling apathy.Over the course of nine self-released albums plus a handful of singles & EPs (all released on Bandcamp), Wiesenfeld has certainly proved thecontrary. With Abysma, his first release for Ghostly, Wiesenfeld solidified this notion as Geotic makes his label debut in tandem with the projectsfirst ever physical oering. In 2018, Wiesenfeld presents his second full-length for Ghostly: Traversa.Part of Wiesenfeld's inspiration comes from his own domestic situation. A native of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the classically trainedmusician has settled on the Westside, inhabiting an apartment a short ride from the ocean. "It's a relaxing and slightly displaced vibe thatinforms the project. It's full of art everywhere, all my comics, an amazing media set up," Wiesenfeld says. "It's all the stuff that I've saved for andwanted to have in my life but didn't feel comfortable [setting up] until I moved in here. We nested the shit out of this place.""So much of dance music is about partying and going out and having a really hardcore social experience," Wiesenfeld says. "Dance music has never been that for me. So much of my experience listening to music is being by myself - at home or in my car. Those feelings are especially apparent on the tracks that comprise Abysma: songs that feel lived-in and comfortable - imbued with feelings that cant be faked or compartmentalized.
"I'd like to be as un-mysterious as I possibly can," Graham Van Pelt says. He's about to release Time Travel, his first record in the four years since he moved from Montreal to Toronto, and he's no longer Miracle Fortress, or Inside Touch, or any of the aliases he's used to record over the years. He's just Graham Van Pelt.
With the perspective of leaving a longtime home, of watching old friends change and familiar places become unrecognizable, came a recommitment to an emotional honesty in Van Pelt's songwriting. Time Travel's eight songs are a tangle of friendships and feelings. Moving backwards and forwards in time, they occupy a space of elegant melancholy.
Immersing himself in the work of house music legends like Larry Heard, Vincent Floyd and Maurizio and the fragile disco of Arthur Russell, along with contemporaries like Jessy Lanza and Kelly Lee Owens, Van Pelt built the album from the bottom up, rooting every track in the crude sequencer of the Roland SH-101 synth, a decades-old dance music totem. The result are melodies that are simple but affecting, anchored to deep, wandering basslines.
Time Travel is a renewal of Van Pelt's vows with dance music, and with the genre's pulse of synthesized melancholy. It's a heartrending rush, as emotionally direct as a sweaty, jaw-clenching 3am hug.
The 2018 Halloween movie has the distinction of being the first film in the series with creator John Carpenter's direct involvement since 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Carpenter serves on the new David Gordon Green-directed installment as an executive producer, a creative consultant, and, thrillingly, as a soundtrack composer, alongside his collaborators from his three recent solo albums, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies.
The new soundtrack pays homage to the classic Halloween score that Carpenter composed and recorded in 1978, when he forever changed the course of horror cinema and synthesizer music with his low-budget masterpiece. Several new versions of the iconic main theme serve as the pulse of Green's film, its familiar 5/4 refrain stabbing through the soundtrack like the Shape's knife. The rest of the soundtrack is just as enthralling, incorporating everything from atmospheric synth whooshes to eerie piano-driven pieces to skittering electronic percussion. While the new score was made with a few more resources than Carpenter's famously shoestring original, its musical spirit was preserved.
Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos' sophomore effort Rockstone is more thanjust a love letter to the roots of Jamaican music. It's an actual loveletter. Tom McDowall aka Jr. Thomas explains, "I could write a musicallove letter to all things I loved: my wife, my family, my friends, my bandmates. I could write a song to tell me to Chin Up when times gottough. I could give gratitude to the Jamaican artists that paved theway for the beautiful music we now call reggae. I could write a songabout what it's like to lose someone important to you. Or write a songto invigorate me spiritually. Music is healing and that's the besttherapy there is for me."Rockstone isn’t just another throwback record to an era gone by. It's arecord that takes risks within the genre, but more importantly it's agenuinely honest record."I called the album Rockstone because true love cannot be defeated. Itlives forever. We write tributes on our tombstones because they live onbeyond our lives as a remembrance of something special andimportant to us."