Tag: Amsterdam The Netherlands

With the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, the Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s radio-like soulful sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. The Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to  being accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. er/“We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, the Ghanian singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a backing band and started record her original songs (which resulted in Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2).

Several months have passed since I’ve last written about Adjoa — and as it turns out, she’s been busy working on new material that is slated for a release some time over the course of 2020. But in the meantime, Adjoa’s latest single finds her tackling the legendary Ghanian-born and-based singer/songwriter, composer, bandleader, arranger and guitarist Ebo Taylor’s “Love and Death.”

Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” retains the original’s melody while being centered around an atmospheric and shimmering production and arrangement featuring a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, twinkling keys, African polyrhythms, shimmering, angular burst of guitar — and most important, Adjoa’s easy-going yet expressive vocals.  Subtly recalling, Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” is imbued with the ache of inconsolable loss, while revealing an artist, who is adventurously pushing her sound in new directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Audio: Two New Shimmering Psych Pop Freakouts from Amsterdam’s Acclaimed Altin Gun

Deriving their name from the Turkish phase “Golden Day,” the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gun, 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), can trace their origins to Verhulst’s deep and abiding passion for Turkish psych pop and folk of the 60s and 70s — and to frequent touring in Istanbul with a previous band. During his stops in Istanbul, Verhulst discovered a lot of music that just wasn’t readily available in his homeland. But as 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 he loved.

“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 and beloved part of Turkish life for a few generations, the Dutch-based act actively interpret and reimagine it through a contemporary, 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.

Altin Gun’s sophomore album Gece, the highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s breakthrough On was released earlier this year through ATO Records. Interestingly, the album finds the Altin Gun further establishing themselves as masterful interpreters of a beloved Anatolian rock and folk history with the band bringing together music and sounds from several different sources. Additionally, the band further establishes themselves as a new voice from a rapidly growing, global psych scene. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year I wrote about the rising Amsterdam-based band’s hypnotic and swooning take on Muzaffer Sarısözen’s “Süpürgesi Yoncadan,” which was centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Casio-like synths, complex polyrhythm, thumping beats and a propulsive, club-banging hook.

Since, the release of Gece earlier this year, the members of Altin Gun have been rather busy: the band went on a critically applauded Stateside tour that included a July stop at Rough Trade. The band will be returning back to the States for their second ever Stateside tour with a handful of Midwest dates opening for Tame Impala, an appearance at this year’s Desert Daze Festival and a handful of headlining dates that includes an October 19, 2019 stop at Elsewhere. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates and specifics below.)

To build up buzz for their upcoming Stateside tour dates, the Dutch band have released two new singles off Gece — “Gelin Halayi” and “Div Div.” “Gelin Halayi” is a mischievously anachronistic, and slinky  take on psych pop centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, dexterous lute playing, a sinuous bass line, propulsive percussion and a sultry yet ethereal vocal that’s a feverishly hallucinogenic club banger. “Div Div” is any incredibly uptempo and percussive gallop centered around a plaintive vocals, a chugging motorik-like groove, dexterous lute and guitar that’s one part stomp and one part psych rock freak out. Both songs continue to reveal a band that’s introducing an amazing and unfamiliar sound to new audiences.

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”.

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.