Category: electronica

New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave. 

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New Video: Holy Fuck Releases a Mind-Bending and Hallucinogenic Visual for Motorik-Groove Driven “Luxe”

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, frequently using miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on. And perhaps more important, the act has never been overly concerned about chasing the limelight or any genre-based trend.

“Luxe” is the first batch of new material from the acclaimed Canadian electronic act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP and interestingly, the single was born out of the quartet’s desire to revisit old and trusted methods of creating new material — primarily by experimenting live on the stage. Centered around a pulsating, minimal synth loop, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping kick drum, the expansive song, which clocks in at a little over six minutes and bears a bit of a resemblance to Tour de France-era Kraftwerk can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.

The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”

Interestingly, “Luxe” also is the first official single off the acclaimed Canadian electronica act’s forthcoming, fifth album Deleter. Slated for a January 17, 2020, the material reportedly finds the band pushing their signature sound in a new direction — with it being polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, as they seamlessly mesh krautrock, deep house and motorik percussion. Thematically (and spiritually), Deleter reportedly explores what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big, semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality.  As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”

Directed by Rapapawn, Óscar Raña and Cynthia Alfonso, the recently released video is a mind-bending and hallucinogenic visual featuring floating geometric shapes, and animated version of the band performing the song. 

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay El Dusty Teams Up with Tiano Bless on a Sultry Club Banger

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Corpus Christi, TX-based JOVM mainstay producer, DJ and electronic music artist, El Dusty. And as you amy recall, the Corpus Christi-born JOVM pioneer has received attention across the blogosphere as a pioneer of a sub-genre he’s dubbed “nu cumbia,” which features elements of hip-hop. drum ‘n’ bass, house music and samples of classic and beloved cumbia songs in a swaggering, genre-defying and club banging take on traditional border music. 

Not only has El Dusty received a a Latin Grammy nomination for his work, he was named on of Rolling Stone‘s 10 New Artists You Need to Know, Billboard‘s New Latin Act and to Watch and was placed on Pandora‘s Latin Artists to Watch. He’s also played at EDC Las Vegas, EDC Mexico, Ciudad Sonido Festival, Fiesta De La Flor, Universal Records‘ Latin Grammy Showcase, Brisk Bodega Tour, the Mad Decent Block Party, Austin City Limits, SXSW, and others.  And adding to a growing profile, the Corpus Christi-born and-based JOVM mainstay released his full-length debut, last year’s Cumbia City, an album that found him pushing his sound and approach in new directions, further revealing why he has quickly become a highly sought-after producer and collaborator. 

Since the release of Cumbia City, El Dusty has been busy producing original music and collaborating with a variety of artists on releases through his independent label Americano Label. His latest single “El Pescador” is a sultry, two-step inducing club banger, centered around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a classic cumbia sample that prominently features accordion and Latin percussion and an enormous hook paired with 2012 Rototom Latin contest winner, drummer and vocalist Tiano Bless contributing hip-hop inspired rhymes to the proceedings. 

Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about the Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay and electronic music producer and electronic music artist Robert Alfons, best known for his acclaimed recording project TR/ST. So far Alfons has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2012’s self-titled debut and 2014’s sophomore effort, Joyland. But interestingly his first two albums found Alfons taking risks and playing with his sound and approach: his self-titled TR/ST debut was largely considered dark, kinky and defiantly queer electronica while Joyland was bright and upbeat electronic dance music.

Five years have passed since the release of Joyland and during that period, Alfons wrote and recorded material in a secluded farmhouse in Southern Ontario and in Los Angeles, where he has since relocated. The recording sessions, which eventually became his two album effort Destroyer 1 and Destroyer 2 finds Alfons collaborating former bandmate, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Maya Postepski, who co-wrote and co-produced six of the entire project’s songs. Lars Stalfors and Damien Taylor were also enlisted to further refine the album’s overall sound — at parts industrial, at parts intimate and ambient.

Interestingly, one of the key ingredients behind the Destroyer‘s material was patience. “The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

And while both parts of the project sound different from one another, there’s a central theme throughout — the deconstruction of shame, expressed in raging industrial and machine-like clang and clatter, atmospheric and eerie quiet paired with introspective lyricism. “I think the biggest reason it took five years to write and rework so much material, is that I finally had to confront these feelings of shame that I had somehow been able to push aside for so many years, which explains why the album is so tumultuous” Alfons explains in press notes.

Slated for a November 1, 2019 release, Destroyer 2 as I mentioned earlier is a decided sonic departure from both its immediate predecessor and from his previously released work as the material consists of delicate, earnest and shimmering pop songs. “I think I took so many more risks sonically and emotionally on Part 2 of this record, for that reason this release has much more importance to me. I’ve spent much of the past five years writing and re-working these songs to get them to the state they are in” Alfons says in press notes.

Centered around twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and electronics, thumping drum programming and Alfons’ plaintive vocals, Destroyer 2‘s first single “Destroyer” is an achingly tender and intimate song that’s one part introspective and soulful confession and one part hook-driven, slickly produced pop.

Alfons will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the fall — and each of these tour stops will find him playing in much bigger venues than before. The tour includes a November 15, 2019 stop at The Knockdown Center. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

28 Sept Mexico City, MX – CMD_F

31 Oct San Diego, CA -The Observatory North Park

1 Nov Los Angeles, CA – The Novo

3 Nov Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall

4 Nov Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf

6 Nov San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger

8 Nov Houston,TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs

9 Nov Austin, TX – Levitation

11 Nov Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

12 Nov Durham, NC –  Motorco Music Hall

13 Nov Baltimore, MD – Ottobar

15 Nov Maspeth, NY – Knockdown Center

EUROPE

20 Nov London – Heaven

21 Nov Brussels – Botanique

23 Nov Bern – Saint Ghetto

24 Nov Paris – Le Trianon

26 Nov Amsterdam – Paradiso Noord

IMUR is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based trio, comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (production, guitar, DJ) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass, production) — and with the release of their debut EP, 2015’s Slow Dive, the Canadian trio received attention across Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for an attention-grabbing sound that draws heavily from 90s R&B and soul, electro pop, electronica and experimental pop.

The members of IMUR released their full-length debut, 2017’s Little Death, an album that thematically explored and discussed drugs, heartache, strength, vulnerability and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. The album amassed millions of streams across the planet, eventually landing on the Spotify Global Viral Charts — perhaps as a result of the album’s material being featured in ad campaigns by Patagonia and Lululemon and on TV shows like Wynnona Earp and Workin’ Moms. Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the trio played Bumbershoot Festival‘s main stage, sharing with the likes of Jorja Smith, Solange and Lorde. And they closed out the year with a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Electronic/Dance Artist of the Year and Best Electronic Song Award in the Canadian Songwriting Competition.

Since then, the act has released Little Death‘s follow-up, last year’s Thirty33 EP and a single, “Fever,” which was released earlier this year. The trio’s latest single “Lips, Tongue and Teeth” is a sultry and unapologetically sexual club banger, centered around shimmering and wobbling synths, thumping beats and an infectious hook that seems to draw equally from R&B, contemporary electro pop and classic house music. Interestingly, the song is a defiantly feminist anthem that generally says women should proudly be sexual beings, getting the pleasure they desire and need.

As the trio explain in press notes, the song’s unapologetically sexual nature in some way represents Jenny Lea’s personal and artistic journey in which she went from conservative banker to confident, world-taking badass. The song was penned as the first of a series of songs focused on female empowerment and autonomy  — with this particular song having an audacious and brash message of defiant sexual expression.

 

 

 

 

London-based electronic music duo Siente, comprised of two lifelong musicians Nick Thompson and Steve Lamb, can trace their origins to a chance meeting the duo had over the DJ decks at a friend’s house party.  Bonding over a shared love of 80s soul and pop artists like Evelyn “Champagne” King and Luther Vandross, Thompson and Lamb recognized a deep connection and immediately jumped into the studio to collaborate on what would become their critically applauded, attention-grabbing debut single ‘Wonderful,” a track that drew comparisons to Todd Terje and Daft Punk.

Building upon a growing profile in their native UK and elsewhere, the up-and-coming British electronic duo’s latest single “Doubts” is a sultry summer bop that finds Thompson and Lamb effortlessly meshing yet dreamy pop with deep house. Centered around bubbling and arpeggiated synths, a deep and throbbing bass line and soulful vocals, the up-and-coming London act’s latest single manages to be a radio friendly club banger that will draw comparisons to a number of French artists like Alan Braxe, Phoenix, DJ Falcon, Uppermost and others.

 

 

 

 

Leee Zimmer is an Essex, UK-born, French-based electronic music and sound designer, who has worked with brands like Vivo Barefoot, Clark’s, Soul Of Africa and others. He started his solo recording project iD3 and since then he’s released a handful of EPs and a full-length album. Zimmer’s latest effort, the independently released Simple Beats is inspired by his love of contemporary soundscape-based producers including Bonobo, Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Amon Tobin, and jazz.

Interestingly, Simple Beats‘ latest single, is the slow-burning and nocturnal “Joy of a Kind.” Centered around an atmospheric production featuring twinkling synths, boom bap-like beats and a mournful, reverb-drenched trumpet line, the noir-ish track is one part Toto-era Miles Davis, one part Portishead, on part The North Borders-era Bonobo.

New Video: Striking and Sensual Visuals for Eve Maret’s Ambient Composition “My Own Pace”

Eve Maret is a Nashville-based electronic music composer, producer, and multidisciplinary artist, whose work generally bridges pop and experimentalism, while exploring the possibilities of personal and communal healing through creative acts — and as a result, to Maret, the act of creating is a wholehearted, life-affirming “Yes!” 

Last year was a big year for the Nashville-based electronic music composer, producer and multidisciplinary artist: she co-founded Hyasynth House, an electronic music collective and education center for female, trans, and non-binary artists, founded to help support and empower marginalized groups through workshops, performances and community-wide conversations. Also last year, she released a limited run of her full-length debut, No More Running on cassette through Nashville-based label Banana Tapes. Maret has toured across the US alongside a diverse and wildly eclectic array of artists including Guerrilla Toss, JEFF the Brotherhood, Mary Ocher, Coupler and Precious Child among others. 

Building upon a growing profile, Maret will be releasing No More Running (Deluxe Edition), an expanded edition of last year’s debut album with three new tracks, new videos and alternate artwork that’s slated for an April 26, 2019 release. The deluxe edition’s latest single is the ambient composition “My Own Pace.”  Centered by layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and a subtle motorik-like groove, the track recalls Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk.

Directed by videographer Helen Gilley, the recently released video features Eve Maret dancing in front of an angelic halo of light to the propulsive composition. It’s an interesting mix of the sensual and spiritual, the organic and the robotic.