Category: Electro Pop

Initially comprised of founding member Al Jourgensen (vocals and guitar), Stephen George (drums), Robert Roberts (keys) and John Davis (keys), the renowned and influential Chicago, IL-based industrial metal/industrial electronic act Ministry began as a New Wave synth pop act that released several 12 inch singles through Wax Trax! Records between 1981-1984. And after a series of lineup changes that included a deeper focus on the band’s founding duo of Jourgensen and George, and a radical change in sonic direction that lead to the aggressive and abrasive sound that later inspired the likes of Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails ,KMFDM and others.

This Friday will mark the limited release of the long-awaited Trax! Rarities double album featuring rare, early tracks and versions of songs from Wax Trax! Records-era Ministry and unreleased material from Al Jourgensen’s related side projects including Revolting Cocks, PTP, Pailhead and 1000 Homo DJs through Cleopatra Records. And we’ve got three tracks from the Trax! Rarities collection — the A Flock of Seagulls meets Roxy Music-like demo version of “The Game Is Over,” which reveals that even with a completely different sound that Jourgensen, his late bandmate George and company had an uncanny ability to write an incredibly anthemic hook paired with shimmering guitars and a propulsive groove;  the mid 80s New Order and Depeche Mode-nodding “I See Red,” which is not only a dance-floor friendly song but manages to be a more conscious move towards something resembling industrial electronic music; and lastly, “Same Old Madness,” which strangely enough, bears an uncanny resemblance to Freedom of Choice-era DEVO. Of course, while the compilation will be a must have for die-hard fans and completetists, it’s a revealing look into how a band’s sound and aesthetic can morph from making them a mere footnote of a particular time into one of the more influential bands of their generation.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Hallucinatory Visuals for Beat Escape’s “Seeing Is Forgetting”

Although they’ve cloaked themselves in varying degrees of mystery, the Montreal-based DJ and production duo Beat Escape have received attention across the blogosphere for a moodily atmospheric sound consisting of cascading layers of shimmering synths, swirling electronics, shimmering guitar chords and ethereal vocals paired with a propulsive, motorik-like groove as you’ll hear on “Seeing Is Forgetting.” And while evoking waking from a particularly vivid dream, in which reality and your dreams are hopelessly blurred, the song also manages to draw from 80s synth pop and contemporary dream pop simultaneously.

Created and directed by Sabrina Ratte, a video artist, who creates virtual environments using analog technologies, the video possesses a hallucinatory feel that’s punctuated by bursts of static. As Ratte explains in press notes “. . . the video was created using analog video tools and techniques, mixed with digital textures and 3D architectures. While depicting hallucinated landscapes, illuminated by electrical discharges, the timeless abstract environments undergo a metamorphosis, evolving in sync with the song’s hypnotic energy.”

Ravi Vithal is an up-and-coming Melbourne, Australia-based bedroom producer, best known as North Elements, who has began to develop a reputation across Australia for a creative approach that draws from his homeland’s vast beauty — and for a sound that aims to create a perfect aural compliment for those embracing their own awe of the elements that surround them. Already, some of his work has received more than 1.5 million streams. And although very little known about him, Wayfarer // is a Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has developed a reputation for meshing dusty, old school soul samples with live instrumentation and synths, and for a sound that draws from J. Dilla and dubstep among others. The Australian producer’s debut single together “Break” can trace their origins to a more casual collaboration between producers, who mutually dug each other’s work and with a contribution from denitia and sene‘s Denitia Odigie. Sonically, the song pairs a production featuring chunky and blocky yet shimmering cascades of synths, finger snaps, stuttering drum programming, swirling electronics and an infectious hook with Odigie’s breathily sultry and coquettish vocals — and in some way, the song sounds as though it channels denitia and sene’s critically applauded work but with the sort of urgency that can come about when the world feels as though it’s about to end.

As Odigie explains in press notes “I’ve been feeling extra intense lately, and these days, the world feels like it’s constantly caving in… when I find something I really want, it feels fragile and urgent. The pressure and the need to live truly in the moment when nothing else is ever promised.. it’s beautiful and scary all at once.. To find someone to fall apart with, it’s good company.”

New Audio: The Soulful Radio Friendly Pop Sound of Gibbz

Mike Gibney is a New York-born and-based singer/songwriter and producer , who spent the earliest part of his musical career as a sound engineer and tour manager for a number of internationally touring acts before decided that he wanted to get out from behind the scenes and start a solo career under the moniker of Gibbz back in 2014. And with the release of his debut EP Chardonnay, Gibney quickly expanded his profile through extensive touring throughout the US and Europe with a number of acclaimed artists including Gramatik, Cherub, Exmag, Ghost Beach and The Floozies before releasing his full-length effort Above Water earlier this year.

Gibney closes out a big 2016 with the release of his Oh My God EP and the EP’s latest single EP title track “Oh My God” pairs Gibney’s effortlessly soulful crooning with a minimalist and equally soulful production featuring thumping, boom-bap drums, twinkling keys, warm blasts of horns and an infectious hook, in carefully crafted yet swaggering song that nods at 90s hip-hop soul and contemporary radio friendly pop — while being incredibly seductive.

With the release of “Ain’t No Use,” the first single and title track off the Cornwall, UK-born, London-UK-based singer/songwriter Matt Woods‘ recently released Ain’t No Use, Woods has received both national and international acclaim with major blogs such as Pigeons and Planes describing his sound as “dramatic,” and Blah Blah Science praising his songwriting as “top class hook writing.” And adding to a growing international profile, “Ain’t No Use” topped both Spotify’s Global Viral Chart with the EP’s second song “Nothing Less” topping Hype Machine‘s chart.

Ain’t No Use‘s third and latest single “Styrofoam” will further cement the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter’s burgeoning reputation for crafting sultry, Quiet Storm-inspired R&B-leaning pop in which his soulful falsetto crooning is paired with a sparse, contemporary production featuring shuffling drum programming, swirling and subtly droning electronics and a soaring hook in a song that clearly sounds indebted to late 70s and early 80s R&B — in particular bearing a resemblance to Midnight Love-era Marvin Gaye.

 

Starting her career as a member of Laveer, an act that split up in 2013,  the Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter and electro pop artist Aimee Herbert-Smith spent the past couple of years focusing on her personal life — getting married, having children and dealing with tragic loss. Naturally, those experiences inspired her to reconsider her entire creative process. “I felt the need to start writing and recording in a different way to how I had done before. Somehow, going solo at this point seemed fitting with the content of the songs – more vulnerable and anxiety driven,” Herbert-Smith explains in press notes about her new songwriting and creative approach.

Herbert-Smith’s debut single under the Mere Child moniker, “Not Good Enough” was released earlier this year and received praise from the likes of blogs such as Gigslutz, I Heart Moosiq and Bitter Sweet Symphonies and was included in Spotify Australia’s “This Week Sounds Like . . .” playlist, thanks in part to a sound that nods to Cocteau TwinsMirage-era Fleetwood Mac, early 80s Stevie Nicks and others. Her second and latest single “Jot of Joy” will further cement her burgeoning reputation for writing anthemic pop that manages to possess a visceral earnestness with slick, radio and club-friendly, cinematic production — in this case, Herbert-Smith’s yearning vocals are paired with enormous, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, strummed guitar, layers of cascading synths and swirling electronics, and anthemic, larger-than-life hook — all while possessing a swooning Romanticism at its core.

 

Elijah Hook is a Berlin-based soul/pop artist, whose sound meshes elements of old-school soul, contemporary electronic production and R&B as you’ll hear on his latest Sugaboy-produced single “Lights 47” which pairs Hook’s ethereal crooning and Drake-like flow with hyper modern and atmospheric production featuring stuttering drum programming and malevolently swirling electronics in a song that reminds me quite a bit of Steven A. Clark‘s Fornication Under Consent of the King complete with a self-assured swagger.

 

New Video: The Politically Charged Visuals for Soto Voce’s “Better”

The duo’s debut single “Better” was quietly released and within a few weeks of its release, the track grabbed the attention of the blogosphere for a brooding, cinematic difficult to pigeonhole track that many of my colleagues have described with Sade-fronting Radiohead comparisons. And while being a bit reductionist, I think that what a lot of my colleagues have missed is that the song possesses a deeply personal and aching plea for acceptance, both within and without, in which De Vivo’s vocals manage to be sensual and aggressive within a turn of a phrase are paired with a production that alternate between moody atmospherics and club-banging, propulsive cascades of shimmering synths.

Although the video was specifically made as a comment on the deeply troubling and unsettling times we live in, complete around tensions around Black Lives Matter, Transgender and LGBTQ rights and fears of greater global unrest have reached boiling points, the video manages to not just be timely but serves as a fitting description of how uncertain things seem for minority groups around the world and how close to our destruction we actually are. As the duo’s Kenny Soto explains of the video ” In the video, I’m visualizing [sic] some really dark images, or maybe they’re being broadcasted to me. It depends on your perception. I’m watching people being desecrated and killed, crosses being burned. There comes a point when the car stops and Miguel steps out to open the door. I’m handcuffed, and he pushes me into a grave, and I come out on the other side another version of myself. For us the Black Lives Matter stuff, of course that’s something that becomes relevant [now], and it wasn’t necessarily we made it for that in any way. But it obviously is relevant to the current , and culture in general. Then the gender stuff as well, and both of those things kind of tie in and maybe being seen as worthless.”

Brighton and London-based indie label Catskills Records celebrates their 20 anniversary and just like Fluff and Gravy Records, the label which can trace their origins to its first release by Sonorous Star, featuring label founders Khalid and Amr Mallassi just released a compilation of music from some of their wildly genre-spanning artists, artists who have specialized in electro pop, hip-hop, punk, country, prog rock and others titled Catskills Records: 20 Years of Victory. And along with the retrospective look of where the label has been and their overall aesthetic, the compilation includes two new tracks from label mainstays Pepe Deluxe and Husky Rescue

Finish electronic music act Husky Rescue have developed a reputation across both their native Finland and Scandinavia for a songwriting approach that focuses on restless experimentation — and for material that sonically and aesthetically walks a very careful tightrope between anxious tenseness and childlike innocence.  Now if you had been frequenting this site last year, you may recall that I wrote about two singles off the expanded Long Lost Friend album, “Deep Forest Green,” a track that sonically seemed to draw from Bjork, and Talking Heads while the album’s second single “Far From The Storm” seemed to draw from  Moonbabies fantastic Wizards on the Beach and Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” — or in other words, cinematic dream pop with an even breezier nature and catchy hooks.

The Finnish act’s contribution to the Catskill Records compilation is the slow-burning and tense “My Shelter,” a single that pairs Ringa Manner’s aching yet powerhouse vocals with gently undulating and twinkling synths, swirling electronics and a cinematic sweep to create a sound that’s reminiscent of Kate Bush and Bjork while being a swooning, romantic ode. As the members of the electronic act explained to the folks at Clash Magazine “‘My Shelter’ is a previously unreleased track we wrote in the midst of a long hiatus. We had recently gotten to know singer Ringa Manner and felt she might have just the right voice for the song. And so she most certainly did: forceful and fragile all at once. Which is pretty much what the song is all about.”