Tag: Beacon Escapements

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

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I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.

Comprised of  Amber Lane-Mcivor, Jake Blythe and Oliver Lamb, the Manchester, UK-based electro pop trio Ambiere have received attention from the blogosphere and BBC Introducing over the past year for a sound that’s drawn comparisons to the likes of Portishead and The xx among others. Building upon a breakthrough year and a growing profile, the Manchester-based electro pop act’s latest single “I See Faces” finds the act pairing strummed, electric guitar and Lane-Mcivor’s gorgeous and soulful vocals with a lush and effortlessly slick production consisting of arpeggiated and shimmering synths, propulsive yet stuttering beats and a soaring hook. And while their latest single manages to simultaneously be both radio and club friendly, their sound — to my ears at least — reminds me of Ways We Separate and Escapements-era Beacon, as the British trio manages to evoke similar, lingering ghosts.

 

 

So if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its history, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring New York-based, JOVM mainstays and electronic music duo Beacon. Comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production), the duo have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that draws from R&B, house music and electro pop as Mullarney’s aching and yearning falsetto vocals are paired with generally spacious, minimalist productions consisting of chilly, arpeggio synths and wobbling low end.

Last year’s sophomore effort Escapements thematically was about time and the baggage it both creates and brings, and unsurprisingly, the album’s title was inspired by clock mechanics; in fact, escapements are timekeeping regulators specifically designed to transfer the kinetic energy of the clock’s parts at a constant and regular pace. As Mullarney explained in press notes at the time, “I was attracted to this concept because of the entropy it implies. Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean[s] every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay.”

Featuring drumming from Tycho‘s Rory O’Connor, the material on Escapements was written, revised, refined and recorded over the course of about nine months at Beacon’s Brooklyn-based home studio and Gary’s Electric and the album revealed that the duo restlessly experimented with their songwriting and production approaches, following wherever their muses and instincts took them, including trying out new studio techniques and recording techniques. And occasionally, they tried things on the fly, which meant that the recordings captured much more of the free-flowing feel and energy of the creative process — while at points being subtly cinematic.

On the heels of a Coachella appearance with Tycho, Mullarney and Gusset released their first single of 2017, “Marion.” At the core of the song is a hammered dulcimer, a percussive, stringed instrument in which the musician strikes the strings with small, hand-held hammers — coincidentally, the hammered dulcimer is an ancestor of the modern piano that sounds a bit like cross between a harp and a piano. The chiming, hammered dulcimer sample ebbs and flows, and occasionally recedes for Mullarney’s achingly tender falsetto vocals to float over the production, which also features stuttering boom-bap beats. And while being subtly warmer than some of their previously released material, their latest single will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting minimalist yet pulling material that possesses a wistful and yearning ache.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Futuristic Visuals and Genre Mashing Sounds of BASECAMP’s “The Hunter”

Now, if you had frequented this site back in 2015, you would have come across a handful of posts featuring the Nashville, TN-based electro pop trio BASECAMP. Comprised of producers and songwriters Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon and Jordan Reyes, the electro pop trio can trace their origins to when the trio started to collaborate together to write. Quickly realized that they had a strong creative chemistry, the trio founded BASECAMP and with the release of their 2013 debut EP, which featured standout tracks “Emmanuel” and “Smoke Filled Lungs,” the Nashville-based trio received attention both locally and nationally for a genre-mashing sound featuring R&B-like melodies, thumping bass lines, percussive beats, unpredictable tempo changes paired with glitchy electronics and organic instrumentation. And as a result of the attention they had begun to receive, the members of BASECAMP toured across the States with CHVRCHES and Phantogram before signing to Skrillex’s boutique label OWSLA, which released their impressive 2015 sophomore effort Greater Than EP, which featured one of my favorite singles of that year “Watch My Back.”

Since the release of Greater Than, the Nashville-based electro pop trio have been rather busy, working on and releasing two stand-alone collaborations “Comfort Zone’ with Jamie Lidell and “In My Veins” with Del The Funky Homosapien, and the In Stone EP, an effort which further cemented the trio’s reputation for a genre mashing sound and tempo changes; but arguably with a greater sense of sonic and thematic cohesion, while revealing much more introspective songwriting. After successful tours across Europe and North America — with shows at TEDx, Colors Berlin and Summit At Sea — the trio released “The Hunter” Remix package, which features remixes from the trio’s friends and frequent collaborators — Jamie Lidell, Yeo and Deebs.

In the meantime though, “The Hunter” is a refinement of their imitable sound and production as the song finds the trio pairing earnest and soulful vocals with stuttering and glitchy beats, swirling electronics — and in some way, the song reminds me of Timbaland’s revolutionary collaborations with Missy Elliot and Justin Timberlake in the 90s and 00s and of Beacon’s The Ways We Separate and Escapements, thanks in part to a swooning, uneasiness that the song’s narrator expresses in describing a relationship that seems to heighten his own self-doubts and has him wondering if he is hunter or prey — or perhaps both simultaneously. It also captures the odd sense in almost every romantic relationship in which neither party could tell what their relationship actually is or what their intentions are; but both are fearful of the perceived inevitable heartache they expect.

Directed, by BLAWKNO, from the GLO.Digital collective, the recently released video uses 3D scans of each member and fuses CG with live-action video as a play on the concept of perception vs. reality while giving the proceedings a hyper futuristic and alien sensibility.

Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of artists who have become mainstay artists on this site. And interestingly over the past week or two I’ve been primarily (and unwittingly) focusing on many of those mainstay artists, as some of them had been releasing videos or new material. Adding to that growing list is the New York-based electronic duo Beacon, who will be releasing their latest effort, Escapements through renowned indie electronica label, Ghostly International on February 5. Now if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past few years, you may be familiar with the New York-based duo comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production), but I know that there will hopefully be some new readers and listeners and there will be some folks whose memories will need to be refreshed so some backstory is a little necessary. With the release of their debut EP, For Now and its follow-up efforts, The Ways We Separate and L1, the duo have received attention across the blogosphere for a sparse R&B-leaning electro pop driven by big bass and big beats that frequently explores human relationships — perhaps more important, the dark and fucked up aspects of broken and failed relationships including the confusion between lust and love, obsession and longing and so on. And at its core a haunting sense of dread and regret as a reminder that ghosts linger — and linger in unsettling, uncomfortable ways. Although initially sparse and icily minimalist, the duo’s material has become increasingly warmer and dance-floor ready while remaining as subtle and nuanced as ever. In many ways, the material captures complex mental and emotional states that we all have known at some point.

Interestingly, the Beacon’s forthcoming effort Escapements is about time and the baggage it inevitably brings. And it’s title is reportedly taken from clock mechanics; escapements are timekeeping regulators designed to transfer energy at a constant and regular pace. As the duo’s Mullarney explains in press notes. “I was attracted to this concept because of the entropy it implies. Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean[s] every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay.”

Featuring drumming from Tycho‘s Rory O’Connor, the material on Escapements was written, revised, refined and recorded over the course of about nine months at Beacon’s Brooklyn-based home studio and Gary’s Electric and interestingly, their forthcoming effort reveals that the duo in a period of restless experimentation that includes changing their songwriting and production approach wherever their muses take them. And as the members of Beacon note, it meant trying out new studio tricks and recording techniques — sometimes on the fly, essentially capturing the free-flowing energy of the creative process.

Escapements‘ first single “Preserve” begins with woofer and tweeter rattling bass, layers of undulating and cascading synths and skittering and stuttering drum programming paired with Mullarney’s aching falsetto in what may arguably be the most dance-floor ready, classic house music-leaning song they’ve released to date while remaining incredibly nuanced both emotionally and sonically. But at it’s core the song glistens with an urgent, plaintive need.
The band will be on tour next February and March to support the new album and it’ll include a hometown show in February. Check out tour dates below.
Tour Dates
02/04 Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s Tavern*
02/05 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Cafe*
02/06 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel*
02/10 Boston, MA @ Great Scott*
02/11 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom*
02/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle*
02/13 Washington, DC @ Song Bird*
02/16 Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5*
02/17 New Orleans, LA @ Hi-Ho*
02/18 Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s*
02/19 Austin, TX @ The Parish*
02/20 Tlaltizapán, MX @ Bahidora*
02/22 El Paso, TX @ The Lowbrow Palace*
02/23 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar*
02/24 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar*
02/25 Los Angeles, CA @ Bottom of the Hill*
02/26 San Francisco, CA @ Noise Pop*
02/27 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios*
02/28 Seattle, WA @ Nectar Lounge*
03/01 Boise, ID @ Treefort*
03/02 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
03/03 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake*
03/04 Wichita, KS @ Barleycorns*
* w/ Natasha Kmeto