Category: experimental pop

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lake Jons Release a Feverish Yet Gorgeous and Aching Visual for “Simone”

Formed back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen, have developed a reputation for walking a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-tinged dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was primarily written and recorded in an isolated cabin deep in the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture and represent whatever tenuous connection still exists between the natural world and the human world. The album won attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere — including this site — with JaJaJa showcasing the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg. 

The rising Finnish duo’s sophomore album The Coast finds the duo further reconnecting with their roots and delving even deeper into the Towars Forest. Thematically, The Coast is the duo’s endeavor to dismantle life, space and time. And sonically, the album finds the JOVM mainstays radically re-inventing their sound — the songs are centered around rough instrumental parts, layered with harmony-driven toplines with the material seemingly assembling again in a seamless fashion. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about “It’s Too Bright.” Built around a sparse production featuring twinkling keys, hi-hat led boom-bap-like percussion, a driving bass line and an ethereal and plaintive falsetto floating over the mix, the song sonically displayed elements of R&B, electro pop, jazz, folk and experimental pop — and while being forward thinking, the material retained the hook-driven nature that won them attention across the blogosphere. 

The Coast’s latest single “Simone” will further cement the Finnish duo’s unusual and forward-thinking approach to pop music: the track is centered around a hazy and dusty production featuring strummed guitar, fluttering and arpeggiated synths, wobbling low end and stuttering beats with Jons’ plaintive vocals ethereally floating over the mix. And much like their previously released work, thee song is imbued with a sense of loss and longing simultaneously. In press notes, the band’s Jooel Jons explains that the central concept of the song is how connections can sometimes transcend physical loss. “You know the feeling someone close to you has moved on to another time and space? You’re still feeling these sensations of their presence and wonder if all is not lost after all,” Jons says in press notes. “Maybe you’re in denial. But you’ll only know if you stop and try reaching out to something that only you sense. From feelings arise experience; that is vital to our feeling of existence.”

Directed by Petra Lumioksa, the recently released video for “Simone” and stars Minna Karttunen and Maria Autio expressively dancing in a sun-dappled and extremely suburban apartment. Through most of the video, the dancers rarely see one or connect with one another — just barely out of sight, just barely out of touch and yet feeling each other’s presence. And as a result, the visual further emphasizes the song’s palpable sense of longing. 

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Oslo, Norway-based singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist Arthur Kay has been a prominent member of his hometown’s music scene for the better part of a decade, as the frontman of the galactic jazz act Dr. Kay and His Interstellar Tone Scientists and collaborating and touring with Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave.

Kay’s self-titled, solo debut is slated for an October 11, 2019 and the EP’s material, which draws from several disparate influences and channels Thundercat, James Blake, and Sun Ra Arkestra also reportedly finds the Norwegian singer/songwriter, composer and keyboardist stepping further into the spotlight as a solo artist. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about “Holiday Pay,” a workers anthem and decidedly house music influenced track with glistening and twinkling synths, cowbell-led percussion and an infectious hook that manages to celebrate the fact that Norwegian employers are required by law to pay employees a certain percentage of the previous year’s wages to be used for the employee’s summer vacation time.

Interestingly, the EP’s latest single “Higher Ground” is a slow-burning track that’s one part dream pop, one part hallucinogenic dirge and one part shoegaze centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, Kay’s dreamy crooning and narcoleptic drumming — and while arguably the most peaceful song off the EP that’s been released so far, the song   possesses an underlying sweaty desperation. “Lyrically, it is about the silence and calmness that comes after a big emotional and chaotic event,” Arthur Kay says in press notes. “Those days or weeks where you feel that if you just put everything in your life on hold, to make it through the next hour without remembering or engaging in those memories, you’ll just barely make it through.”

“‘Higher Ground’ was sort of a tribute to Balearic House,” Kay adds. “It was one of the first times musically that I had something that was just for me. A lot of the work you do as a professional musician is taking small pieces of yourself and giving them away to other people’s dreams and visions.” 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Bree Releases a Striking Visual for “Waiting On The Moment”

Jonathan Bree is a New Zealand-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and producer, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child: he began writing his own songs when he was nine and performed as a drummer in his cousin’s band until he was 13. This was interrupted for some time, as he was sent to Australia to live with his father, who was an aspiring cult leader. Bree subsequently left home and navigated his teenage years independently. 

When Bree returned to New Zealand, he formed The Brunettes, an indie rock act that released material through Sub Pop Records and his own label, Lil’ Chief Records. The band managed to tour across the world to support their material — but the frustrations of taking the traditional route to success found Bree taking a long hiatus from releasing his own music. During that hiatus though, Bree produced Princess Chelsea’s “The Cigarette Duet” and directed its accompanying music video, which has amassed over 47 million views. 

Bree’s solo debut, 2013’s The Primrose Path was initially released to little fanfare and an unusual bit of promotion — an accompanying album-length video of himself watching TV on his laptop in bed with his girlfriend and cat. His sophomore album, 2015’s A Little Night Music saw the New Zealand-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer embrace a cinematic and classically influenced sound, centered around strong melodies, tight hooks and his brooding baritone crooning lyrics focusing on modern life and love. During the campaign for A Little Night Music, Bree introduced his period piece masked band with the video or “Weird Hardcore” featuring his backing band appearing as though they were in a skewed timeline that some have described as Amadeus meets classic BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Since then, Bree has amassed a cult following around the world for his unique live show which features masked band members in pioneering clothing, set against a backdrop of cinematic projections specifically created for each song. Two dancers also perform other-worldly choreographed routines along with the music.

Bree’s third album, 2018’s Sleepwalking continued a run of material drawing from orchestral pop with the material centered around string and horn arrangements, celeste (a smaller, keyboard operated instrument that kind of sounds like a glockenspiel) and soprano vocals — and while sounding as though it came from a bygone era, the material touches upon avant-garde in a way that’s very modern. Album single “You’re So Cool” and its accompanying video went viral, amassing over 12 million YouTube views, while further cementing his reputation for crafting gorgeous yet brooding pop. 

Centered around a soaring and swooning string arrangement, a sinuous bass line, propulsive drumming, chiming celeste, arpeggiated synths, a remarkably tight hook and Bree’s brooding baritone, “Waiting On The Moment,” his latest single manages to be both carefully crafted and danceable pop that manages to be an uncannily anachronistic synthesis of 60s and 80s pop — with a subtly modern filter. At its core, the song is a breakup song about the lingering ghosts of a past relationship — primarily, the places that you and your former lover once went that had significance between you. Apparently in the song’s case, it’s a karaoke bar that its narrator once went. 

Rather than being a tearjerker ballad full of bitterness, heartache and recrimination, the song revisits the past relationship at its center with a sense of a joy that it all happened and a sense of optimism. As a songwriter once wisely wrong “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” And they’ll be new loves, new places to hold significance and new heartache — but all of it is worth it. 

Directed by Jonathan Bree, the recently released video for “Waiting On The Moment” features Bree, his backing band and dancers performing the song in a sparse studio appearing in the wardrobe they do on stage — with each member covered head-to-toe in white zentai suits, wigs and monochromatic clothing.

Formed back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland-based JOVM mainstays Lake Jons, comprised of Jooel Jons and Mikko Pennanen, have developed a reputation for walking a fine line between production tandem and full-fledged band, while crafting delicate, electro folk-tinged dream pop. Last year’s self-titled debut, which was primarily written and recorded in an isolated cabin deep in the Finnish forest thematically and sonically aimed to examine, capture and represent whatever tenuous connection still exists between the natural world and the human world. The album won attention across across Scandinavia and elsewhere with JaJaJa showcasing the band in London, Berlin and Hamburg. 

Slated for a September 29, 2019 release, the rising Finnish duo’s forthcoming, sophomore album The Coast finds them further reconnecting with their roots and delving deeper into their band name’s moniker, the Towars forest. Thematically, the album is their endeavor to dismantle life, space and time. Sonically, the album finds the duo re-inventing their sound — songs are centered around rough instrumental parts, layered with harmony-driven toplines, and yet the material seems to seamlessly assemble again. Interestingly, The Coast‘s latest single “It’s Too Bright” is built around a sparse production featuring twinkling keys, hi-hat led boom-bap-like percussion, a driving bass line, and an ethereal and plaintive falsetto floating over the mix. Sonically the song displays elements of R&B, electro pop, jazz, folk and experimental pop in a forward-thinking yet subtle fashion while retaining the hook-driven nature that won them attention here and elsewhere.

“There are all kinds of emotional releases when roaming in the nature far from civilisation,” the band’s Jooel Jons says in a short essay on their new album. “In a way The Coast is an emotional perspective. There are times when you are simply stuck in that gateway. Looking forward to the oceans or backward to the mountains, you choose. Time is irrelevant as long as you’re moving and evolving. I believe that’s the essence.” He goes on to talk about the album’s latest single, saying “It’s a nice thing when you realise life moves on and you move with it. The bassline here is my idea of how time and life move. It jumps here and there but holds no regard to whether one cares or not. I believe we can smoothly move with it only if we are true to ourselves no matter our faults. So as time moves, we can just try doing our best and evolve with it. “

“It’s pretty simple instrumentation but almost everything is pretty spontaneously played and recorded. Like the piano “fill” track: I asked Mikko to play around something nice, maybe the first time he really heard this song but somehow his fingers moved perfectly with the song and no other take was needed.”

 

 

 

 

Featuring members of Oslo, Norway‘s jazz, indie, art rock and folk scenes, the Norwegian Grammy-winning septet The Switch formed back in 2010. They started out playing fairly straightforward pop rock with the thought that Norway — and Scandinavia in general — produced an over-abundance of eclectic, heavily hyphenated music. Eventually, their material became more forward-thinking and ambitious.

Their debut album, 2014’s Big If was a meditation on psych pop. Their sophomore album, 2015’s B for the Beast was an atmospheric, prog rock-inspired homage to their hometown. We’re Fooling No One, also released in 2015 found the band making forays into more painterly and improvised pop. Their next effort, The Switch Album found the Norwegian septet crafting a classic pop-rock-like sound — and it was their most successful album to date: it was listed on the Best Albums List of several Norwegian newspapers, before eventually winning a Norwegian Grammy (a Spelleman) in the Indie Music category.

Slated for a September 27, 2019 release, the acclaimed Norwegian act’s fifth album Birds of Paradise as the band’s Thomas Sagbråten says in press notes finds the band trying to “make a musical universe with slightly different laws of nature than real life. A bit less gravitation. The air is thicker. It’s hyper realistic but also unreal.” Interestingly, the album’s latest — and last official — single “Spring in the Forest of Time” is one Hiatus Kaiyote and Bells Atlas-like off kilter neo-soul, one part jazz fusion, one part Steely Dan-like AM radio rock: you’ll hear heavily arpeggiated synths, slashing guitars, twinkling keys, a bluesy guitar solo reminiscent of “Reelin’ in the Years,” and off-kilter syncopation held together by ethereal lead vocals and harmonizing. Centered around an adventurous and mischievous arrangement, the new single will further cement their reputation for crafting songs that are genre-defying yet hook driven, loose and jam-like yet incredibly tight.

 

New Audio: Sylvia Black’s Swinging and Noir-ish Take on Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather”

Born Sylvia Gordon, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer Sylvia Black may be best known for her work as the frontwoman of the internationally acclaimed electro pop act K.U.D.U, as well as collaborations with the likes of The Black-Eyed Peas, Moby, William Orbit, Kelis, Spank Rock, The Knocks, and Telepopmusik.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Gordon’s solo side project Betty Black, a project that received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew from an eclectic array of genres and sources including garage rock, Southern gothic blues, Ennio Morricone soundtracks and ambient electronica while thematically exploring love, lust, longing and obsession.

The restlessly creative Gordon has also released material as Sylvia Black and her forthcoming Sylvia Black album Twilight Animals (Originals and Covers for Tortured Lovers), which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release finds Gordon effortlessly hopping  back and forth between electro pop, noir-ish jazz, Texan blues and twangy country and the sounds of Morocco and India. The album reportedly is a mix of unique unique covers and interpretations of some of the JOVM mainstay’s favorite artists including Fat White Family, JOVM mainstays The Horrors, Psychedelic Furs, Van Halen and Huey Lewis and the News among others. Of course, the album features some originals — with some of the album’s tracks being collaborations with legendary No Wave Lydia Lunch. (In fact, the duo’s collaboration was so fruitful that they’ve also worked together on a full-length album.)

Earlier this month, I wrote about Twilight Animals’ firsts ingle, the slow-burning and sultry David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino-like”Walking With Fire,” a collaboration with Lydia Lunch. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single is a swinging, noir-ish jazz take on Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather” that features an arrangement of strutting horns, plinking xylophone, shuffling drums and Black’s imitable and sultry vocals. 

New Video: Sylvia Black and Lydia Lunch Team Up for a Sultry and Noir-ish Visual for “Walking With Fire”

Born Sylvia Gordon, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer Sylvia Black may be best known for her work as the frontwoman of the internationally acclaimed electro pop act K.U.D.U, as well as collaborations with the likes of The Black-Eyed Peas, Moby, William Orbit, Kelis, Spank Rock, The Knocks, and Telepopmusik.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Gordon’s solo side project Betty Black, a project that received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew from an eclectic array of genres and sources including garage rock, Southern gothic blues, Ennio Morricone soundtracks and ambient electronica while thematically exploring love, lust, longing and obsession. 

The restlessly creative Gordon has also released material as Sylvia Black and her forthcoming Sylvia Black album Twilight Animals (Originals and Covers for Tortured Lovers), which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release find Gordon effortlessly hopping from electro pop, noir-ish jazz, Texan blues and twangy country and the sounds of Morocco and India. The first half of the album reportedly evokes a mysterious scene from a David Lynch film full of hazy and hallucinatory paranoia and unease while the album’s later half evokes the campiness and weirdness of a John Waters film. Overall the album is a mix of unique covers and interpretations of songs from the JOVM mainstay’s favorite artists including Fat White Family, JOVM mainstays The Horrors, Psychedelic Furs, Van Halen and Huey Lewis and the News among others. Of course, there are a bunch of originals — and some of the album’s original tracks finds the New York-based JOVM mainstay collaborating with the legendary No Wave artist Lydia Lunch. (In fact, the duo’s collaboration was so fruitful that they’ve also worked together on a full-length album.) 

Twilight Animals (Originals and Covers for Tortured Lovers)’ latest single is the slow-burning and noir-ish “Walking Through Fire,” a collaboration with the aforementioned Lydia Lunch that manages to evoke the work of David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino — or in other words, it’s all doomed detectives,  hazy cigarette smoke, femme fatales, double-crosses and triple-crosses and sultry, late night saxophone solos. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video, which was directed and shot by Sylvia Black is an equally sultry and apt take on the song; in fact, it looks like the opening credits for a classic film noir. 

New Video: Crywolf’s Gorgeous and Unsettling Visual for “CEPHALØTUS”

Crywolf is the solo recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetnalist and producer Justin Phillips. When he started releasing music, he was practically homeless, living in a room the size of a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, Phillips has come a long way — he has amassed millions of streams, headlined the second largest stage at Electric Forest and has received praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Alternative Press, Billboard, Nylon, Complex. 

Deriving its name from the Latin name of a small, carnivorous plant, Phillips’ latest Crywolf single “CEPHALØTUS” will further his growing reputation for sensual, enveloping and cinematic pop centered around a gorgeous and atmospheric production featuring shimmering guitar chords, Phillips’ reverb-drenched ethereal falsetto which expresses vulnerability and plaintive need paired with  dramatic bursts of industrial clang and clatter. The song possesses a surrealistic and painterly quality — while delving deep into the depths of its creator’s psyche. 

Phillips latest Crywolf album, widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. II] was released earlier this year, and he further cements his reputation or boundary pushing in all aspects of his art with the release of the “WIDOW” series, a short film that will be released in three parts — and unsurprisingly, the short film series is designed to compliment the music perfectly.  “Mabul [CEPHALOTUS Official Video), is technically the second part of the series and begins in media res, as we follow the video’s protagonist (Phillips), dressed like a priest and underwater, seemingly stuck in a purgatorial state, unable to move and unable to die. Much like the song, the visual is at simultaneously dream-like, haunting and unsettling. 

New Video: Introducing the Forward-Thinking Electro Pop of Sweden’s they owe us

Comprised of Rane and Kris, they owe us are a rather mysterious Swedish duo of outsiders, who found refuge in music. After a fortuitous meeting, the duo spent a year playing house parties, establishing a reputation for crafting music with disregards to rules and precedents.

Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish duo’s full-length debut, Broken English & Sad Serenades is slated for a June 7, 2019 release and the album, which reportedly finds the duo reveling in unique arrangements such as homemade drums and old, analog synthesizers and draws from a wide and eclectic array of influences including The Beach Boys, Kraftwerk and others. The album’s latest single “Harvest Time” is centered around glitchy drum programming, blasts of scorching guitar, wobbling bass synth and plaintive vocals, and while adding their names to a growing list of Scandinavian acts, who specialize in left of center, forward-thinking pop including Lake Jons and others, the track is ultimately about tight hearts and high hopes about a new and better tomorrow.

Co-directed by the up-and-coming Swedish duo and Annie Hyrefeldt, the recently released video for “Harvest Time” is a gorgeously shot fever dream featuring two masked children chasing each other through the woods. When they come across an upright piano in the clearing, the kids play with it and menacingly pose around it before setting it on fire. Much like, the artists themselves, these two children show regard for rules or structure.

New Video: Lisel’s Gorgeous Visuals for Ethereal Debut Single “Ciphers”

Perhaps best known as one-half of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and experimental artist Eliza Bagg has spent the last few years developing a prolific career in her own rite, collaborating with Helado Negro, Julianna Barwick, John Zorn, and Caroline Shaw and performing in avant-garde operas by Meredith Monk with the L.A. Philharmonic.

Bagg has stepped out further as a solo artist with her latest recording project Lisel, which grew from Bagg’s desire to turn inwards as a way to get in touch with her own sense of authenticity. “I had found space in the classical world that made sense for me,” says Bagg, “but I realized I needed to make something that was truly mine, that sprung from my own voice.” Naturally, that realization led to a year-long writing and recording process with Bagg waking up every morning to spend time alone with just a microphone and her computer.

“My main instrument is my voice, not a keyboard or a guitar, so I wanted it to be the genesis of every song,” Bagg explains. “I was trying to use the resources I had within me, within my body, to make something that feels true about the way we live our lives now, in 2019. That’s why I wanted to focus on my voice-I wanted each song to be literally made out of me.”

Bagg’s debut Lisel single “Ciphers” is an ethereal song built around a spectral arrangement of shimmering synths, flute, glitchy beats and Bagg’s vocals, which manage to be intimate, crystalline and achingly tender — with a plaintive yearning. Directed by Jing Niu, the accompanying video is a hazy and feverish dream that emphasizes the song’s plaintive and yearning quality.

“The word cipher has two meanings — it can be a coded message, but it can also be an empty hole, a zero,” Bagg says of her latest single. “The song is about the haunting uncertainty in the pathways that have been set out before you, and realizing these courses have become more ambiguous and disorienting than you thought – at best entangled, at worst empty. There’s also, however, the glimmer of trying to find authenticity within that reality – the background choir serving as the basis for the song is simultaneously pure and glitchy, faulty but still true.” Adds Bagg, “The video is set in three surreal, manufactured landscapes: a celestial beach next to a reflection pool, a dark space where a shadow figure mimics and supports my movement, and a river of red silk. My identity is echoed in the pool and splintered in the shadow figure.”