Category: Synth Pop

Currently comprised of frontman and primary songwriter TOBACCO (born Thomas Fec), keyboardist The Seven Fields of Aphelion (born Maureen “Maux” Boyle), guitarist Ryan Graveface and bassist Pony Driver, the Pittsburgh, PA-based experimental electronic act Black Moth Super Rainbow can trace their origins back to two previous projects that featured BMSR’s TOBACCO — Allegheny White Fish, which was active from 1996-2000 and satanstompingcaterpillars, which was active from 2000-2002 and released three albums, including their last album under that name, The Most Wonderfulest Thing before the addition of three new members Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion and Iffernaut. And with the addition of new members, the band renamed themselves Black Moth Super Rainbow in 2003.

 

Over the past decade both Black Moth Super Rainbow and TOBACCO have recorded material that explored the periphery of evil and extreme color, rapidly alternating between absurdly bright beauty and murderously sinister with the end result being a woozy, psychedelic uneasiness.  TOBACCO (a.k.a Thomas Fec) throughout his career has been a rather mysterious figure; in fact, if you Google images of him, most of them have his face obscured by a mask, a ball cap or a hood.  Interestingly though, he’s known for patient and thoughtful interviews where he breaks down his creative process and the ideas espoused throughout his work while never revealing much about his personal life or about him. And in that sense, he’s been periodically visible but opaque, emotional but unwilling to exploit self-mythology; however, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Panic Blooms, the first album from the band in six years, finds TOBACCO reportedly writing what may arguably be the most raw and direct lyrics of his entire career, inspired in some way by the current sociopolitical climate. As a result, the material is an account of depression and human frailty paired with their unique sound featuring gorgeous yet warped melodies. . .

The album’s first single “Mr. No One” features shimmering and twinkling synths, boom-bap drums and heavily vocodered vocals and while the song initially seems as though it has a dreamy and ethereal air, the song possesses an underlying murky and sinister vibe, which the band has long been known for, giving the song a desperate yet hopeful ache, a pleasant reverie within a feverish, waking nightmare.

Black Moth Super Rainbow will be on tour to support their new effort, and it’ll include a June 2, 2018 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

THU 5/31 WASHINGTON, DC Black Cat
FRI 6/1 PHILADELPHIA, PA Union Transfer
SAT 6/2 NEW YORK, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
SUN 6/3 BOSTON, MA Brighton Music Hall
THU 6/14 CINCINNATI, OH Urban Artifact
FRI 6/15 DETROIT, MI El Club
SAT 6/16 CHICAGO, IL Metro
SUN 6/17 COLUMBUS, OH Skully’s Music Diner
FRI 8/10 PITTSBURGH, PA Mr. Smalls
SAT 8/11 LOUISVILLE, KY Headliners
SUN 8/12 ASHEVILLE, NC Orange Peel
TUE 8/14 AUSTIN, TX Mohawk
WED 8/15 HOUSTON, TX White Oak Music Hall
FRI 8/17 ATLANTA, GA Masquerade (Hell)
SAT 8/18 NASHVILLE, TN Mercy Lounge

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Initially releasing singles like “Seeing Is Forgetting” and “Half-Empty Happiness” under a decidedly intentional cloak of mystery, the Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape quickly received attention across the blogosphere for crafting moody and atmospheric pop that’s deeply indebted to 80s synth pop — i.e., Depeche ModeThe Human League and others —  while evoking the sensation of a half-remembered dream.

Slated for an April 27, 2018 release through renowned indie label  Bella Union Records, the Canadian synth pop duo’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long finds The Beat Escape shedding much of the mystery that surrounded them during their previous releases; in fact, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays, comprised of Addy Weitzman and Patrick A Boivin can trace the origins of the act to a college short film they had worked on together. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Canadian pop duo explain in press note. And since that initial collaboration, the duo have collaborated on a series of projects — but interestingly, their full-length Beat Escape debut finds them thematically speaking coming full-circle while further developing the sound that grabbed the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere.

Life Is Short‘s minimalist first single “Sign of Age” featured propulsive and gently undulating Giorgio Moroder-like synths with a deliberate, textured and painterly quality that evoked gently drifting about in somnambulistic reverie. Continuing in a similar vibe, the album’s second and latest single “Moon in Aquarius” is a a decidedly motorik affair featuring a spectral melody — and while being clearly indebted to 80s synth pop, the song manages to evoke the mesmerizing sensation of a night time road unfurling before you, with white lines and dividers flashing by in a blur; but on another level, the song feels haunted by lingering and inescapable ghosts.

 

New Audio: No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz and Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom Team Up for an Atmospheric and Eerie Single off Collaborative EP

Over the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based shogeaze duo No Joy. Interestingly, the duo, which is comprised of primary songwriter Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd can trace their origins to when White-Gluz, who was then living in Los Angeles began collaborating with the Montreal-based Lloyd via email — and their collaboration eventually lead to White-Gluz returning to Montreal, so that they could play their first show, with Husker Du’s Grant Hart. As the story goes, after that show, White and Gluz continued collaborating, playing a number of shows locally, including with Best Coast, who’s frontwoman Bethany Cosentino became an early champion of the duo.
Building upon the growing buzz surround the Montreal-based duo, White-Gluz and Lloyd signed to renowned indie label Mexican Summer, who released their debut 7 inch single “No Summer”/”No Joy,” an effort that allowed them to book their own national headlining tour with Katy Goodman’s, La Sera. The 7 inch quickly sold out, and by November 2010, the duo released their full-length debut Ghost Blonde to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, The New York Times, Brooklyn Vegan, The Guardian and others. No Joy followed that with the British release of the “Hawaii” 7 in, a release that featured a remix of “Indigo Child,” by Stereolab‘s Tim Gane, which they supported with a UK tour with  Surfer Blood, an opening spot in London for Wire, and an appearance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
The  members of No Joy spent the better part of 2011 touring across North America — and it included a busy SXSW schedule, a tour with Vivian Girls, and a co-headling tour with Marnie Stern with whom they released a split single, which featured No Joy’s cover of the Shangri-La’s “He Cried.” Since then, the band has released 2012’s Negaverse EP and Wait to Pleasure, 2013’s Pastel and Pass Out EP, 2015’s More Faithful, 2016’s Drool Sucker, the first of a planned series of EPs and last year’s Creep, which was released through the band’s new label Grey Market Records.

Interestingly, this year finds No Joy’s White-Gluz collaborating with Spacemen 3’s and E.A.R.’s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Pete Kember), and although the collaborators can’t accurately remember how they met or when they met, but what they do clearly recall is that the idea of collaborating together was brought up in an email exchange back in 2015. At the time, No Joy had finishing touring to support their third album More Faithful, an album that the duo has considered one of their most difficult and demanding efforts they’ve worked on together, and White-Gluz was eager to try new ideas and do something different. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” White-Gluz explains in press notes. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

Initially, the collaboration began as a bit of exploration between two friends, who admired each other’s work with each one passing songs back and and forth with White-Gluz writing and producing songs in her hometown of Montreal and Kember writing, arranging and producing in Portugal. The end result was their collaborative EP together — four tracks that reportedly walk the tightrope between electronica, trip hop and experimental noise.  As White-Gluz says in press notes, “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.”

Now, as you may recall, the EP’s first single “Obsession” featured a Giorgio Moroder meets Evil Heat-era Primal Scream-like production featuring shimmering and undulating club friendly synths and a mesmerizing, trance-like groove. “Slorb,” the EP’s latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric track which features a minimalist production consisting of wobbling synths and electronics, brief bursts of guitar, and skittering beats within a highly unusual song structure — and interestingly enough, the song finds the collaborators nodding at experimental pop, ambient electronica and noise pop simultaneously. 

NightStop is the attention grabbing brainchild of its Jyväskylä, Finland-born and-based mastermind, the up-and-coming Finnish electronic music producer and artist Ere Ek, who started the 80s cyberpunk soundtrack-inspired project in 2012. And since then, Ek has seen a growing profile across Europe and Russia’s tight-knit DIY scene, steadily touring and releasing both cassette and vinyl releases. Interesting Chicago, IL-based label No Trend Records, the label home of Ganser, Absolutely Not and others, recently announced that they will be releasing a vinyl edition of NightStop’s most recent effort, Dancing Killer on March 30, 2018.

Although the album has already seen a digital release, Ek has included a pulsating John Carpenter meets Umberto-like single “Phantasmagoria,” as a bonus digital track for the album — and interestingly, while cementing his reputation for crafting brooding yet cinematic, retro-furturistic electro pop, the track may also be among the most decidedly dance floor ready track he’s released to date. (As a side note, the track derives its name from Roberta Williams’ 1995 horror adventure game Phantasmagoria.)

 

 

 

 

Victoria Hesketh is a Blackpool, Lancashire, UK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist, DJ and producer, best known by her critically and commercially successful solo recording project Little Boots, a project that actually derives its name from a nickname a girlfriend of hers gave to her, as a joking reference to Hesketh’s unusually small feet.

Hesketh’s forthcoming EP, Burn finds the renowned British-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and DJ collaborating with some of the finest (and most talented) female, electronic music producers, and interestingly, the EP finds Hesketh leaning towards what may arguably be the most straightforward, club friendly material she has released in some time — perhaps since her 2013, Tim Goldsworthy-produced Nocturnes. “Creating a project focused on female talent is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and the process was incredibly inspiring. The producers involved hail from more underground backgrounds sonically and have very different approaches, but what tied everything together was their open mindedness and embrace of pop hooks and melodies,” Hesketh says of the concept behind the EP.  Burn‘s first single “Shadows,” pairs Hesketh’s sultry and ethereal vocals with a thumping yet shimmering, classic house music-leaning production, featuring infectious pop hooks from renowned underground producer Joyce Muniz.

As Hesketh explains, “The song is about trying to get on with your life but sometimes the past can get the better of you or overshadow you, and that’s ok. Sometimes you would rather take the darkest traces of someone’s love than lose it altogether, but when you finally break free from that cycle you open yourself up to new opportunities, and that’s often when beautiful things start to happen. Ultimately, the single finds Hesketh and Muniz focusing on the confusion of love and lust that should be universal and so frustratingly familiar — and yet, it makes such profound music.

“I really wanted to channel that dark, pulsing dance floor feeling but combine it with emotive lyrics and an uplifting melody, to get a kind of ’tears on the dance floor’ tension. I collaborated with Joyce Muniz, who is an amazing Brazilian producer and DJ based in Berlin. I’ve been a fan and spinning her tracks out for a while, so I was super excited to work together on this.”

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about renowned Swedish singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist JOVM mainstay Sofia Härdig, who’s at the forefront of a blogosphere attention grabbing Swedish pop movement that includes several acts that I’ve written about at some or another; in fact, in her native Sweden, she’s considered the queen of electronic rock. Adding to a growing profile, the Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has collaborated with the likes of Grammy Award-winning acts The Hellacopters and Bob HundBoredoms and Free Kitten’s Yoshimi P-We — and she has shared stages with Lydia Lunch and Belle and Sebastian‘s Stevie Jackson.

Last month, I wrote about Härdig’s “Illuminate,” an atmospheric and introspective, 80s-inspired synth pop track featuring layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a subtle rhythm guitar, a sinuous guitar line and a sultry hook that managed to remind me of both  Stevie NicksStand Back” and The CarsDrive” but centered around a deeply personal and yet universal experience — the seemingly endless, frustrating search for love and connection with another. Interestingly, “Let Me Fall,” the latest single from her forthcoming full-length effort, Changing the Order is a thumping, club banging track that finds the renowned Swedish pop artist drawing from industrial electronica and 90s house music — to my ears, it’s a trippy yet forceful synthesis of Depeche Mode, Light Asylum and Snap!

Semiotics Department of Heteronyms (SDH) is the new recording project of two key figures in Barcelona‘s synth wave/industrial scene — Andrea P. Latorre and Sergi Algiz, who are co-founders of renowned Spanish label  C¯njunt¯ Vac̯, as well as members of post-punk act Wind Atlas; however, SDH finds Latorre and Algiz heading towards a decidedly pop-leaning direction sonically while thematically, the duo’s latest project is centered on fiction, make believe and feigned personalities — namely: how fiction is embodied, what fiction really is, and so on.

Interestingly, the Spanish duo’s latest single “Tell Them,” while superficially being synth pop finds the duo nodding at cold wave, post-punk, and early house and techno as they pair shimmering yet chilly arpeggiated synths, propulsive, industrial-like drum programming, razor sharp and rousing hooks with Latorre’s sultry and soulful vocals in what may arguably be the most sensual and dance floor friendly single they’ve released to date. Unsurprisingly, with the release of their two previously released singles, the members of SDH have built up quite a bit of buzz as they’ve already opened for artists like Marie Davidson and Merchandise and have played at the Swedish darkwave festival Kalabalik PÂ Tyrolen.

Building on their growing profile, Avant! Records will be releasing their three track, digital only EP Tell Them on March 2, 2018 with their full-length debut slated for a May 2018 release.

 

 

 

 

 

Behad Netjabakshe is a Paris, France-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist, best known as Uppermost, who has developed an internationally recognized profile through the release of material through renowned labels like  Sony BMGMinistry of SoundBugEyed RecordsStarlight Records and his own Uppwind Records; in fact,  singles like “Equivocal” landed at #3 back in 2009 and his Biscuit Factory EP landed at #1 on the JunoDownload electro-house charts. Additionally, Netjabakshe has received attention for his remixes of  Daft Punkdeadmau5BurialCrystal CastlesJonathan CoultonSyl JohnsonCongorock and others — and he’s had his work playlist by a number of superstar producers and artists including  TiestoArmin van Buren and Steve Angello.

The Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist released a comprehensive compilation, Origins 2011-2016, which featured some of Netjabakshe’s most popular tunes, including “Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” and “Mistakes,” as well as new, original material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling singles “Thousand Colors,” and “Emotion,” the Pink Floyd-channeling,  cinematic “Reminder,” the 45:33 and Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-leaning “Alive,” and a lush, cinematic rendition of “Constellation” performed with members of the Paris Symphonic Orchestra.

Netjabakshe’s latest effort Perseverance is slated for a March 23, 2018 release and the album, which reportedly features some of the most personal and impassioned material he has released to date, finds the Parisian producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist collaborating with vocalists with backgrounds in folk, hip-hop and pop — all while retaining the swooning and earnest emotionality that has won him international attention. Interestingly, Perseverance‘s latest single  “Atoms” is a hazy and anthemic track that features chilly and shimmering, arpeggiated analog synths, twinkling and a motorik-like groove; however, Birsen’s gossamer-like crooning that gives the song its nostalgic punch and its aching humanity, as the song’s lyrics point out our vulnerability and smallness in the face of an immense universe, but perhaps more important, our inherent connection to it.

 

 

Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”

Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs.  He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.

White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk  (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.