Category: instrumental

New Video: French 79’s Intimate and Contemplative Visual for “Code Zero”

Last month, I wrote about Simon Henner, a Marseille, France-based electro pop producer and artist, best known for his solo recording project French 79. And with the release of his first two releases — his debut EP Angel and his full-length debut Olympic — Henner quickly and boldly emerged into the French and international electro pop scenes. 

Henner’s latest French 79 album Joshua is slated for a Friday release through Alter K Records, and the album reportedly finds Henner drawing from his past — in particular, his love of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Soft Machine, the soundtracks of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner and Jacques Cousteau. Each of Joshua‘s songs are meant to evoke a lived-in moment, relationship or experience during Henner’s childhood.

Now, as you may recall, album single “By Your Side” was centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and Ocean Springs, MS-born, Paris-based vocalist Sarah Rebecca‘s plaintive vocals to create a nostalgia-inducing track that recalls — to my ears, at least — From Here To Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder, and the Stranger Things soundtrack. And while being remarkably dance floor friendly, the track is a sweet declaration of loyalty that feels delightfully old-school. 

“Code Zero,” Joshua’s latest single is lush, instrumental track featuring twinkling Wurlitzer, shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats and a motorik groove. And while subtly recalling Tour de France-era Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and the aforementioned Giorgio Moroder, “Code Zero” the track possesses an intimate quality, as it feels like a contented sigh in a rare moment of peace. In press notes, Henner explains that the track, which also references his passion for sailing is “about how I find a path, how I use my music compass to move forward.” 

Directed by Vincent Desrousseaux, the recently released video is an intimate look at Henner’s creative process, as he writes the song in a gorgeous, sun-dappled apartment with with vintage gear — and it includes a brief moment in which Henner pauses to watch the 1983 motion picture War Games on his laptop. 

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Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Will Lowery grew up in a deeply musical home, one in which both of his parents were classically trained musicians — and as a result, Lowery learned to play piano at a young age. As Lowery got a bit older, he became infatuated with jazz, soul and funk. Lowery’s love of jazz, soul and funk has deeply influenced his latest musical project pantology.

Lowery’s panotolgy debut, ““Never Enough” revealed an emerging artist and producer, whose sound and approach owed a debt to Flying Lotus, Bill Evans and J. Dilla: instrumental beatmaking, centered around completely original compositions. Now, as you may recall, the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer’s pantology debut EP 2Q19 is slated for release this month, and the effort reportedly showcases an artist, who’s further honing his sound while delving into darker conceptual territory.

Last month, I wrote about the atmospheric EP single “Descent,” a track that reminded me a bit of Miles Davis‘ electronic era, Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard and others but paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling low end and Sergej Avanesov‘s expressive Kamasi Washington-like saxophone playing. “False Step (AWOL),” 2Q19‘s latest single manages to clock in a relatively brief 2 minutes plus — but it manages to be an expansive track that begins with a fuzzy, lo-fi introduction complete with altered vocals before rapidly shifting to a shimmering and twinkling bit of neo-soul, centered by a sinuous bass line and head bopping groove and stuttering beats. The track evokes an escape into a shimmering and altered world — before a sudden crash into reality. Ultimately the track suggests that escapism is at best temporary and rarely sustainable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Magic Sword Releases an Epic Funky New Single off Their Soon-to-Be Released Sophomore EP

Magic Sword is a multimedia project heavily indebted to 70s and 80s fantasy and sci-fi: featuring three masked and cloaked members, only known as The Keeper, The Seer and The Weaver, who are also collectively known as The Three Immortals. Their ageless story of their role in the battle between good and evil is told through graphic novels and occasionally online by a character known as The Harbinger. Magic Sword’s musical output is the soundtrack to their graphic novel — and unsurprisingly, their debut EP Legend was the first chapter of The Three Immortals quest to find the chosen one. 

Slated for release this Friday through Joyful Noise Recordings, Awakening EP is the highly-awaited follow up to Legend. As the second chapter, the material continues the ongoing story of The Three Immortals’ quest to find the chosen one, the only one who has the ability to wield the power of the Magic Sword and defeat the Dark One. Now, earlier this year I wrote about the EP’s first single, the epic retro-futuristic John Carpenter-inspired soundtrack meets 1984-era Van Halen-like title track “Awakening.” The EP’s latest single “Lady of Light” may be the funkiest track on the EP, as it’s centered around a funky and strutting bass line, layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, reminiscent of Daft Punk — and much like its immediate predecessor, the track finds the act balancing slick production with a decidedly retro-futuristic soundtrack vibe. 

Formed back in 2014, the New York-based Anbessa Orchestra — Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Eyal Vilner (alto sax), Eden Bareket (baritone sax), Nadav Peled (guitar), Dor Heled (keys), Ran Livneh (bass) and Eran Fink (drums) — have received attention locally and elsewhere for a sound that’s heavily influenced by 60s and 70s Ethiopian funk, soul and jazz: their repertoire features interpretations and arrangements of classic material from the period that has largely influenced their sound, as well as original compositions heavily influenced by the same period.

Adding to a growing profile, the act has shared stages with Ethiopian music legends like Hailu Mergia and Hamelmal Abate — and they’ve contributed material to Beyond Addis, Vol. 2,  a compilation series dedicated to new. original music inspired by Ethiopia that also included contributions from The Daktaris and Manu Dibango. Along with that their latest album Negestat, which translates to Amharic Kings has received airplay from KCRW, WNYC and WFUV.

The New York-based septet’s latest single is the hypnotic “Tch’elema (Darkness).” Further establishing the act’s enormous and vibrant sound, the expansive composition is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, a propulsive, stomping rhythm and explosive blasts of horns and some expressive and dexterous soloing. Unsurprisingly,  “Tch’elema” is arguably the funkiest track I’ve heard in a few months — and while displaying some impressive musicianship, the composition manages to capture the energy and feel of their live sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up in a musical home, in which both of his parents were classical musicians, a young Will Lowery wound up learning to play piano as a young boy. As Lowery got older, he became named with jazz, soul and funk. Unsurprisingly, his musical project pantology that draws from his early love of jazz, soul, funk and hip hop.

Lowry’s debut single as pantology “Never Enough” revealed an emerging artist and producer, who’s sound and approach owed a debt to Flying Lotus, Bill Evans and J. Dilla with his own unique touch. In other words, we’re talking about instrumental beatmaking that’s centered around completely original compositions. His pantology debut EP 2Q19 is slated for release next month, and the effort reportedly showcases an artist further honing his sound while delving into darker conceptual territory.

The EP’s second and latest single, the atmospheric “Descent” is centered around gently twinkling keys, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling low end paired with Sergej Avanesov‘s expressive Kamasi Washington-like saxophone playing. And while being sleek and  decidedly modern, the track manages a soulfulness and self-assuredness that belies the project’s relative newness while nodding at a nubmer of different periods in jazz history — in particular, Miles Davis‘ electronic era, Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

New Audio: Magic Sword Releases an Expansive Retro-Futuristic Single

Centered around an ever-expanding graphic novel story and accompanying synth-led soundtrack albums, Magic Sword is a multimedia project heavily indebted to 70s and 80s fantasy and sci-fi: featuring three masked and cloaked members, only known as The Keeper, The Seer and The Weaver, also referred to as The Three Immortals, their ageless story of their role in the battle between good and evil is told through graphic novels and occasionally online by The Harbinger. 

Awakening, the follow up to the Legend EP is the second chapter in their tale of the search for the chosen one. In the story, the prophesied being is the only one who has the ability to wield the power of the Magic Sword and defeat the Dark One. Until The Chosen One reveals themself, The Three Immortals cannot rest. Naturally, the EP’s first single is  the appropriately epic and cinematic, EP title track “Awakening.” Centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, the song stars off as a sort retro-futuristic John Carpenter-inspired soundtrack meets 1984-era Van Halen intro — but closes with a funky, Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk-like coda. It’s decidedly slick while sounding as though it were part the soundtrack of that movie you thought you might have seen back in 1986. 

New Audio: Icelandic Duo Hugar Releases a Brooding and Gorgeously Cinematic Single

Hugar is an up-and-coming indie duo, comprised of longtime Seltjarnarnes, Iceland-born friends  Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson. Meeting when they were children, who played in a number of local bands,  Þórisson and  Jónsson quickly became friends. Back in 2013, Þórisson had collaborated with internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds and was working in a local studio while Jónsson studied architecture. And as the story goes, when the owner of Þórisson’s studio went on tour, the duo started casually writing material together for fun. During these largely impromptu recordings sessions, the duo eventually wound up writing the material that would comprise their 2014 self-titled debut, which was independently released. 

Initially released as a free download on the duo’s website, their self-titled album quickly attained buzz across social media and the blogosphere:  The album quickly averaged over 430,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, as “Inngangur” amassed over 20 million Spotify streams globally and “Felt” amassed over 12 million Spotify streams. The album received praise from the likes of The Line of Best Fit and The Independent — and as a result of their growing national and international profile, the duo have made appearances at festivals including Iceland Airwaves. 

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Sony Masterworks Records, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album Varða translates to English as “cairn,” a tiny rock tower that heralded the way as the next cairn would always be visible from its predecessor. Historically, such markers wound up signaling process for Icelandic travelers heading towards the country’s National Parliament — known as one of the oldest existing legislatures in the world. In fact, as a result of the country’s geographic location, which often meant extended daylight during the solstice, travelers used varða to help them find their way rather than the stars. 

Interestingly, the duo began quietly working on the material that would eventually comprise Varða as early as 2014, which they created out of their own studio. “There was never a plan to make our first album; it just happened,” Þórisson says in press notes. “This time around, we set out to make a record that functioned as a whole piece where everything was related. It’s more polished from beginning to end.” Jónsson adds, “The studio enabled us to experiment and explore. We had the freedom to do everything we wanted without barriers. Under normal conditions, you have to rent a studio. We moved at our own pace and learned a lot about being patient and how to work together.”

Sonically, the duo began using an increasing amount of electronic flourishes, which wound up expanding their sonic palette. And with the majority of the recording sessions taking place at night, the material wound up being imbued with a nocturnal vibe. “We’re obviously very affected by our environment,” Þórisson admits in press notes. “Recording at night in the summertime when it’s bright is an energy that doesn’t make sense. As a human being, you’re supposed to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. When the sun is out all day, you get this weird energy. You’re tired, but you want to keep going. Iceland is an anomaly in general. We have earthquakes, glaciers melting, and avalanches. It’s a ridiculous place to live for man. At the same time, it’s so beautiful that you can’t escape it.”

Varða’s later single is the slow-burning and brooding “Logn.” Centered around a composition featuring gently arpeggiated keys and a gorgeous string arrangement, the new single manages to be cinematic while hinting at acclaimed countrymen Sigur Ros, as it possesses a similar yearning quality. 

Norwegian-born musicians Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar) and Chris Holm (bass) have made a living touring with a number of bands and as a result, they’re frequently on the road. When Blømstrøm and Holm’s paths crossed for the umpteenth time in 2016, they began to realize their mutual dream of starting an instrumental-based band. Holm’s Bergen scene companion Kim Åge Furuhaug joined the band, completing the lineup of up-and-coming instrumental act Orions Belte.

With the release of their full-length, last year’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established themselves for having a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula one traces at Monza and the famous 1971 “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Building upon a growing international profile, the act’s soon-to-be released Slim EP features a couple of inventive reworkings of songs they love — including Ghostface Killah and Milton Nascimento and a Robert Maxwell original that pays tribute to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and to Mac Miller.

Slim‘s first single is a funky and shuffling take on Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost” centered around a shimmering 12 bar blues guitar line, thumping drumming and a sinuous bass line — and while the song recalls El Michels Affair’s critically applauded take on the Wu-Tang Clan, Orions Belte’s breezy arrangement hints at twangy, old-school honky tonk, 70s funk and soul while retaining the song’s melody and swagger.