Tag: Amsterdam The Netherlands

Live Footage: Influential Post Punk Act Returns with a Reworked and Remixed Version of a Live Favorite

Minimal Compact, comprised of Berry Sakharof (guitar, keys, vocals), Malka Spiegel (bass, keys, vocals), Samy Birnbach, a.k.a. DJ Morpheus (vocals), Rami Fortis (guitar, vocals) and Max Franken (drums), initially formed in Amsterdam back in 1980. The band were part of the original post-punk explosion — and interestingly enough, they have long been considered one of the genre’s most unique. The members of Minimal Compact developed a sound centered around propulsive rhythms, spacious bass lines, lush keys, mesmerizing guitar lines and vocal melodies with a Middle Eastern inflection through the release of a couple of ground-breaking and influential albums, including 1984’s Deadly Weapons, which featured the club hit “Next One Is Real” and their most commercially successful album, 1985’s Raging Souls. 

In their short time together, the members of Minimal Compact toured around the world, from Poland to Japan, gaining a reputation for energetic, unpredictable and intense live shows. However, their studio recordings seldom captured their live sound and energy. The band broke up in 1988 with each of its individual members continuing onwards with a variety of creative projects including releasing solo efforts, hosting radio shows, having  art exhibitions, collaborating with a number of artists, DJ’ing, running record labels, hosting TV shows and the like. But during the next 20 years, their influence began to grow exponentially. In fact, by the time the band reunited for a handful of shows in 2004, they had begun to be recognized as influential originators. Since 2004, the members of the band have reunited for live shows just a handful of times — but each and every time, the individual members of the band recognize an undeniable magical quality between them. 

Recently, the members of Minimal Compact reconvened and went into the studio with their longtime producer and collaborator Colin Newman to finally capture their live sound with several of their signature songs being re-recorded using a mix of live recordings and studio-tooled performances — with the end result being the band’s forthcoming album Creation is Perfect. 

Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through the band’s own Minimal Compact label, the album will reportedly be a timely reminder of how essential and forward-thinking the band has been — and still is. Interestingly, Creation is Perfect’s first single is a reworked version of a live favorite, “Statik Dancin,” that captures the feel of their live set while retains the original’s spastic and fidgeting energy, angular hooks and dance floor friendly groove. But the new version also features a slick, studio polish reminiscent of Gang of Four’s Return the Gift. 

“We still play “Statik Dancin’” like we always did: driving, minimal, a bit moronic but still catchy,” the band’s Malka Spiegel says in press notes. “This version has a combination of the energy of the live version plus a fresh sounding production”.

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Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Alice Phoebe Lou Performs “Galaxies” at Berlin’s Zeiss Planetarium for Majestic Casual Sessions

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and JOVM mainstay  Alice Phoebe Lou. And as you may recall, Lou grew up in a very creative home — her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took a young Lou to piano lessons. As a teen, Lou taught herself guitar; but when she turned 16, she went on a life-altering trip to Paris to visit her aunt. While in Paris, armed with an acoustic guitar, the young artist met some of that cit’s buskers and street performers — eventually learning poi dancing from some of them.

After completing her studies, Lou returned to Europe, first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer. She then relocated to Berlin, where she quickly developed a reputation as a well-regarded busker and for a fierce, punk rock-like DIY approach to her musical career. With the release of 2014’s self-released debut EP, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began to receive national and international attention, which resulted in performances at a number of  TED events in London and Berlin during the following year.

Lou’s sophomore effort, 2016’s Orbit was nominated for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards. And building upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally, she played at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda and shared bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, and Allen Stone before ending the year with three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. (The Berlin Planetarium shows were so popular and in such high demand that she had to add two additional shows there to her tour schedule in 2017.)

Additionally, the live version of “She” amassed over 4 million views on YouTube and was featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Heady Lamar Story — all before the studio version of the single was even recorded or released. But for most of 2018, Lou worked on her Noah Georgeson-produced sophomore effort Paper Castles, which was released earlier this year. And as Lou explains, the album is “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”

“Something Holy,” the album’s first single was a slow-burning 70s AM rock meets 70s soul-like track centered around shimmering guitar line, hushed drumming, a sinuous hook, a psychedelic tinged bridge and Lou’s aching vocals with the song’s narrator taking a deeply introspective and unvarnished look into her complicated relationships with sex, love, men and ultimately, with herself. The song reflects, as Lou explained in press notes, “the moment that I managed to get over the main hurdle of my past traumas with sex, with men and with my own deeper understanding of intimacy and what it means to be intimate.” 

Paper Castles’ latest single is the gorgeous and expansive “Galaxies.” Beginning with a shimmering and spacey introduction and Lou’s plaintive wailing, before the song turns into a spacey 70s jazz funk number, centered by a sultry, reggae-like bass line and a mournful saxophone solo and then morphs back into a shimmering and spacey coda — and while the song seamlessly shifts back and forth in a fashion reminiscent of Heatwave’s “Boogie Nights,” the song is imbued with a cosmic sheen. 

Majestic Casual invited the JOVM mainstay for a live session of “Galaxies” that was fittingly shot at Berlin’s Zeiss Planetarium.  Game of Throes star Maisie Williams opens the live session with a spoken word piece musing on humanity’s place within the cosmos directly inspired by the song. 

New Video: Follow an Astronaut in Search of the Happiest Planet in the Galaxy in Adorable Animated Video for Mind of Max’s “Lost in My Love”

Max Weiner is an American-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist. His visual art is influenced by the folk and psychedelic movements of the 60s and 70s, as its centered by a bold and trippy vibrancy, while his music with his solo recording project Mind of Max has been comparably to the likes of Fleet Foxes, Paul Simon, and Bon Iver.

Following the release of his second EP, 2013’s Seasons, Weiner was invited to The Netherlands to open for Dutch folk rock act AlascA on a two-week tour of Germany and Holland. While driving to Amsterdam, AlascA’s Frank Bond played an album by the country folk act Plainsong. And as the story goes, Weiner was hooked by the melodic bend of the pedal steel, the delicate slide of the dobro and the close knit vocal harmonies of the band.

Returning home from the tour, Weiner began writing and recording demos influenced by the sounds he’d heard while on tour; in fact, he purchased a pedal steel guitar and taught himself how to play in a style that he felt would compliment his new sonic direction. Those demos would eventually inform the material on his full-length debut The Key.

Unable to secure a producer that felt right for the album, Weiner produced and performed the songs on the album by himself. Four years later, the album was finished. “Recording an album on your own can be a brutal process,” Weiner says in press notes. “At times, I felt like I was losing my mind and I wanted to call it quits. But I’m so proud of the work I’ve done on this record. I’ve grown in my ability to serve the song and not my ego. Above all else, I’ve learned to believe in and trust myself as a musician and producer. I’d like to feel that everyone can find something within these songs that identifies with their struggles as well as their triumphs. We’re all on a similar path in this world, and I hope you feel a bit of peace knowing you’re not alone on your journey.”

The Key’s latest single is the breezy, Crosby Stills and Nash-like “Lost in My Love.” Centered around twangy, country folk-like guitars paired with some gorgeous layered harmonies, the song is a tale of being so infatuated with the idea of having someone in your life that you miss the obvious red flags — and learning from it so that the next time you’re in that situation, you see it with clear eyes.

Featuring bold and colorful animation from Aishwara Sadasivan, who wrote the video’s story in partnership with the folks at The Wild Honey Pie, the recently released and adorably sweet video follows an astronaut in search of the galaxy’s happiest planet. “We pulled from design elements used on my album cover and Aish’s vibrant, colorful creatures and world building brought a real sense of whimsy and magic. Her unique narrative of an astronaut in search of the galaxy’s happiest player was a fresh approach and I’m thrilled to see it all come together so well.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Amsterdam, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist, Tessa Rose Jackson, who’s perhaps best known for her solo recording project Someone. Now, as you may recall, her debut EP Chain Reaction was an ambitious and creative undertaking that involved an accompanying short film. Unsurprisingly, the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist’s forthcoming sophomore EP, Orbit may arguably be her most ambitious undertaking yet:  the material finds Jackson exploring the intensity with which art and music can be fused and how they can fully enhanced.

Thematically, the material incisively comments on our overstimulated digital age, suggesting that we spend so much time on our phones and on social media being exposed to external distractions that we’re essentially orbiting  around each other and our passions, rarely touching, resting or even focusing long enough to truly connect to anything or anyone.  Jackson also created an interactive augmented reality exhibition that combines her music with cutting edge technology and hypnotic art, which employs elements reminiscent of space and planets, with the exhibition being presented in gallery spaces in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and Paris.

When viewed through a tablet or a smartphone, the artwork comes to life, and the song linked to that particular piece will be played through the viewer’s headphones. The artworks each react differently and react to the music, dynamically building as the songs progress. They will also react to touch from the viewer on their tablet screens, allowing full interaction and immersion. Trippy, huh?

Orbit‘s first single, the dreamy and ethereal “Get It Together” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, buzzing power chords and a soaring hook that in some way brought Tame Impala and Air to mind. Centered around an infectious groove, shimmering guitars, four-on-the-floor like beats, the EP’s latest single “I Can’t Remember How To Talk To You” will further Jackson’s growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant hooks.

Orbit EP will see a May 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings.

 

Lyric Video: Dutch-based Act Altin Gun Releases a Lysergic Visual for Shimmering Take on Turkish Psych Pop

Comprised of founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinc Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums), the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gun, which derive their name for the Turkish phrase “Golden Day” can trace their origins to Verhulst’s deep passion for 60s and 70s Turkish psych pop and folk — and when he toured Istanbul with a previous band. While in Istanbul, Verhulst discovered a lot music that wasn’t readily available back in Netherlands; but at the story goes, he wasn’t content to just listen as an ardent fan, he wound up having a vision of where he could potentially take the sound. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admits in press notes “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

Although the material they’re playing has been a familiar part of Turkish life for a few generations, the Dutch-based act actively interpret an re-imagine the beloved sound through a 21st century lens. “Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like ‘House of The Rising Sun’ is in America,'” Verhulst explains. Naturally, he’s continued to see new songs that grab his ear. “Most of these songs have had hundreds of different interpretations over the years. I’m listening for something we can change and make into our own.  We need something that will make people stop and listen, as if it’s the first time they’ve heard it.”

Slated for an April 26, 2019 release through ATO Records, the Dutch-based Turkish psych pop act’s sophomore album Gece is the highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s On — and the album reportedly finds the band further establishing themselves as masterful interpreters of a beloved Anatolian rock and folk history, and as a new voice in a growing global psych scene.  Gece also finds the band bringing together music and sounds from several different Anatolian sources — with only one original song, the improvised “Şoför Bey.”

Interestingly, Gece’s latest single is the Dutch-based act’s hypnotic take on Muzaffer Sarısözen’s “Süpürgesi Yoncadan.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated, Casio-like synths, complex polyrhythm, thumping beats and a propulsive, club-banging hook. Sonically, the Altin Gun rendition bears an uncanny resemblance to Syria’s great wedding singer Omar Souleyman but with a motorik groove and a swooning vibe. As the band explains, the song is about “falling for someone unexpectedly, crying and suffering over love.” 

Directed and produced by Sylvain Rusques and Simon Moreaux, the animated, lyric video further emphasizes the lysergic nature of the song, as it features a woman sensually gyrating to the song. 

Tessa Rose Jackson is an Amsterdam, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist, best known among indie circles as Someone. Her debut EP Chain Reaction was an ambitious creative undertaking that involved an accompanying short film. Jackson’s forthcoming EP Orbit finds Jackson exploring the intensity with which art and music can be fused, and how they can fully enhance themselves. And interestingly, the Amsterdam-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist crated an interactive augmented reality exhibition that combines her music with cutting edge technology and hypnotic art, which use elements reminiscent of space and planets. The exhibition will be presented in gallery spaces in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and Paris.

When viewed through a tablet or smartphone, the artwork comes to life and the song linked to that particular piece will be played through the viewer’s headphones. The artworks each react differently and react to the music, dynamically building as the songs progress. They will also react to touch from the viewer on their tablet screens, allowing full interaction and immersion. Trippy, huh?

The EP’s material thematically comments on our overstimulated, digital age, suggesting that we spend so much time on our phones and on social media being constantly exposed to external distractions that we’re essentially orbiting around each other and our passions, rarely touching, resting or even focusing long enough to truly connect to anything or anyone.

Orbit‘s first and latest single is the dreamy and ethereal “Get It Together,” a track that’s centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping hip hop-like drumming, buzzing power chords and a soaring hook. And while clearly being indebted to Tame Impala and Air, the track also nods at classic, bubblegum pop and 60s psych pop — but with a soaring and infectious hook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou Releases a Trippy 70s Inspired Single from Forthcoming Sophomore Album

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alice Phoebe Lou. And as you may recall, Lou grew up in a rather creative home — her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took the budding artist to piano lessons as a child. As a teenager, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist taught herself guitar. The summer she turned 16, Lou went to Paris to visit her aunt. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the young artist met a number of that city’s buskers and street performers — with some of them teaching her poi dancing. 

Upon completing her schooling, Lou returned to Europe, first landing in  Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer. She then relocated to Berlin, where she became a well-regarded busker and developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, punk rock-like DIY approach to her career. With the release of 2014’s self-released debut EP, Lou began receiving international attention, eventually spending the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin. Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Lou released her full-length debut Orbit in 2016. The album garnered a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards and a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. She ended the year, touring on bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters, as well as three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. Those Berlin Planetarium shows were so much in demand that she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 itinerary. 

Besides touring, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has had the live version of “She” amassed over 4 million views on YouTube and was featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Heady Lamar Story — all before the studio version of the single was even recorded or released. Additionally, Lou spent time working on her much-anticipated, Noah Georgeson-produced sophomore effort Paper Castles, which is slated for a March 8, 2019 release. And as Lou explains, the album is “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”

The album’s first single is a slow-burning, 70s AM rock and 70s soul-like “Something Holy.” Centered around a shimmering guitar line, hushed drumming, a sinuous hook, a psychedelic tinged bridge and Lou’s aching vocals, the song is a deeply introspective and unvarnished look into the narrator’s complicated relationships with sex, love, men and herself. As Lou says, the song reflects “the moment that I managed to get over the main hurdle of my past traumas with sex, with men and with my own deeper understanding of intimacy and what it means to be intimate.” Sonically speaking, the song reminds me quite a bit of Amber Arcades’ European Heartbreak. 

Made by Manners Studio is a heady mix of brightly colored, cinematically shot footage of young people brooding and looking bored in a stylish chamber room, animation and Lou earnestly performing the song. 

Daniel Isaiah is a Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based singer/songwriter and filmmaker, known for award-winning short films under his full-name Daniel Schachter. The Canadian multimedia artist’s forthcoming album Only One Left is slated for a November 28, 2018 release, and interestingly, the album was written, deeply influenced and book-ended by the saddest and happiest moments of the artist’s life — his mother’s death and his wedding.  Unsurprisingly, the album thematically is centered around the inevitable beginnings and endings of life. Additionally, during that period, Schachter spent nine months traveling across Turkey, Greece, Israel, Italy, the UK, France and The Netherlands with his Nord synthesizer in tow, writing throughout his travels. As Schachter says in press notes, “I recorded in a big house in Istanbul, a tiny hotel room in Amsterdam, and an even tinier bathroom in Tel Aviv (to mute the birds in the backyard).”  Schachter adds that Only One Left is “rooted in my native Montreal, but also in the countries where I went wandering — an outsider looking in. The music itself signals a new phase in my work — still committed to the old craft of songwriting but experimenting with synthesizers and computer to carve out a sound that is my own.”

Schachter returned to Montreal and recruited his friends Brad Barr, Joe Grass and Joshua Teal to play on the album as his backing band — and his friend and frequent collaborator Matthew Lederman to mix the recording sessions. The album’s first single, album opening track “Javelin Fade” is a moody and atmospheric track centered around a sparse arrangement of shimmering electronics, twinkling keys, gently padded drumming  and ethereal vocals — and sonically, to my ears, the song manages to recall Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Portishead; however, lyrically, as Schachter notes, the song at points references to the sirens of Greek mythology and to the bomb warning sirens, as the narrator floats over the Earth as the sole witness of nuclear armageddon. Indirectly, the song gently buzzes with the anxiety over the seemingly impending end of the world as we know it.