Tag: electronica

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. 

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New Video: Holy Fuck Releases a Mind-Bending and Hallucinogenic Visual for Motorik-Groove Driven “Luxe”

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, frequently using miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on. And perhaps more important, the act has never been overly concerned about chasing the limelight or any genre-based trend.

“Luxe” is the first batch of new material from the acclaimed Canadian electronic act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP and interestingly, the single was born out of the quartet’s desire to revisit old and trusted methods of creating new material — primarily by experimenting live on the stage. Centered around a pulsating, minimal synth loop, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping kick drum, the expansive song, which clocks in at a little over six minutes and bears a bit of a resemblance to Tour de France-era Kraftwerk can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.

The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”

Interestingly, “Luxe” also is the first official single off the acclaimed Canadian electronica act’s forthcoming, fifth album Deleter. Slated for a January 17, 2020, the material reportedly finds the band pushing their signature sound in a new direction — with it being polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, as they seamlessly mesh krautrock, deep house and motorik percussion. Thematically (and spiritually), Deleter reportedly explores what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big, semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality.  As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”

Directed by Rapapawn, Óscar Raña and Cynthia Alfonso, the recently released video is a mind-bending and hallucinogenic visual featuring floating geometric shapes, and animated version of the band performing the song. 

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay El Dusty Teams Up with Tiano Bless on a Sultry Club Banger

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Corpus Christi, TX-based JOVM mainstay producer, DJ and electronic music artist, El Dusty. And as you amy recall, the Corpus Christi-born JOVM pioneer has received attention across the blogosphere as a pioneer of a sub-genre he’s dubbed “nu cumbia,” which features elements of hip-hop. drum ‘n’ bass, house music and samples of classic and beloved cumbia songs in a swaggering, genre-defying and club banging take on traditional border music. 

Not only has El Dusty received a a Latin Grammy nomination for his work, he was named on of Rolling Stone‘s 10 New Artists You Need to Know, Billboard‘s New Latin Act and to Watch and was placed on Pandora‘s Latin Artists to Watch. He’s also played at EDC Las Vegas, EDC Mexico, Ciudad Sonido Festival, Fiesta De La Flor, Universal Records‘ Latin Grammy Showcase, Brisk Bodega Tour, the Mad Decent Block Party, Austin City Limits, SXSW, and others.  And adding to a growing profile, the Corpus Christi-born and-based JOVM mainstay released his full-length debut, last year’s Cumbia City, an album that found him pushing his sound and approach in new directions, further revealing why he has quickly become a highly sought-after producer and collaborator. 

Since the release of Cumbia City, El Dusty has been busy producing original music and collaborating with a variety of artists on releases through his independent label Americano Label. His latest single “El Pescador” is a sultry, two-step inducing club banger, centered around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a classic cumbia sample that prominently features accordion and Latin percussion and an enormous hook paired with 2012 Rototom Latin contest winner, drummer and vocalist Tiano Bless contributing hip-hop inspired rhymes to the proceedings. 

IMUR is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based trio, comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (production, guitar, DJ) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass, production) — and with the release of their debut EP, 2015’s Slow Dive, the Canadian trio received attention across Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for an attention-grabbing sound that draws heavily from 90s R&B and soul, electro pop, electronica and experimental pop.

The members of IMUR released their full-length debut, 2017’s Little Death, an album that thematically explored and discussed drugs, heartache, strength, vulnerability and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. The album amassed millions of streams across the planet, eventually landing on the Spotify Global Viral Charts — perhaps as a result of the album’s material being featured in ad campaigns by Patagonia and Lululemon and on TV shows like Wynnona Earp and Workin’ Moms. Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the trio played Bumbershoot Festival‘s main stage, sharing with the likes of Jorja Smith, Solange and Lorde. And they closed out the year with a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Electronic/Dance Artist of the Year and Best Electronic Song Award in the Canadian Songwriting Competition.

Since then, the act has released Little Death‘s follow-up, last year’s Thirty33 EP and a single, “Fever,” which was released earlier this year. The trio’s latest single “Lips, Tongue and Teeth” is a sultry and unapologetically sexual club banger, centered around shimmering and wobbling synths, thumping beats and an infectious hook that seems to draw equally from R&B, contemporary electro pop and classic house music. Interestingly, the song is a defiantly feminist anthem that generally says women should proudly be sexual beings, getting the pleasure they desire and need.

As the trio explain in press notes, the song’s unapologetically sexual nature in some way represents Jenny Lea’s personal and artistic journey in which she went from conservative banker to confident, world-taking badass. The song was penned as the first of a series of songs focused on female empowerment and autonomy  — with this particular song having an audacious and brash message of defiant sexual expression.

 

 

 

 

London-based electronic music duo Siente, comprised of two lifelong musicians Nick Thompson and Steve Lamb, can trace their origins to a chance meeting the duo had over the DJ decks at a friend’s house party.  Bonding over a shared love of 80s soul and pop artists like Evelyn “Champagne” King and Luther Vandross, Thompson and Lamb recognized a deep connection and immediately jumped into the studio to collaborate on what would become their critically applauded, attention-grabbing debut single ‘Wonderful,” a track that drew comparisons to Todd Terje and Daft Punk.

Building upon a growing profile in their native UK and elsewhere, the up-and-coming British electronic duo’s latest single “Doubts” is a sultry summer bop that finds Thompson and Lamb effortlessly meshing yet dreamy pop with deep house. Centered around bubbling and arpeggiated synths, a deep and throbbing bass line and soulful vocals, the up-and-coming London act’s latest single manages to be a radio friendly club banger that will draw comparisons to a number of French artists like Alan Braxe, Phoenix, DJ Falcon, Uppermost and others.

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week, I wrote about Sammy Jay, who’s a Southern Wales-born Los Angeles-based, Mercury Prize-nominated electronic music producer, best known as SJae (pronounced Ess Jay). Now, as you may recall, the Welsh-born producer is a graduate of the BRIT School and upon graduation, Def Jam Records gave her first professional production gig on Terri Walker‘s Untitled album. Since then, the Welsh-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music producer has become of the first female music producers from the UK to have been hailed Stateside as one of the best in the best in the business by many of her peers, including some of the world’s superstar producers; in fact, during the course of her 20 year career, she has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, Ricki-Lee, Booty Luv, Terri Walker, Mis-teeq, Mark Morrison, The Pussycat Dolls, EXO, Rod Stewart and others.  She has composed music for a number of TV shows, including MTV’s Ridiculous, FOX’s Lethal Weapon and Netflix’s After Party starring KYLE and French Montana, and she has had had her own material appear on Fox’s Empire, CBS’ Flashpoint and others, as well in promos for FOX Sports, the NBA and Reelz TV. She is also currently the executive producer for Howling Music, Nashville working on music for the global ad campaigns for Hyundai and Ford. And before I forget, she also has produced logo music for a number of top radio stations including RTL, Bayern 3 and 94.7FMThe Wave.

Throughout her career, Sammy Jay has been an ardent proponent and prominent representative for women producers. Interestingly, her debut EP FIRST is slated for a March 22, 2019 release and the EP is intended as the beginning of a series of EPs that will feature collaborations with acclaimed songwriters, producers and EDM artists — with FIRST featuring guest spots from Raphael Saadiq, Sam Sparro and Dria Thornton. “The purpose of my project is to show woman can produce records, create more content and more visibility for us, so we can encourage other women to enter into the field,” Sammy Jay says of her EP series. “There are very few female record producers out there; in fact , I just gave an interview for a USC study funded by Spotify about why there are so few female producers in the industry. I believe we are haven’t been encouraged to be technical within the creative industry. The assumption is that women exist only as performers, singers and songwriters, the introduction of a women who produces music, ‘makes beats’ etc is met with surprise and a sometimes not so subtle air of disbelief, followed by much questioning on tech – ‘What software do you use?’ “Do you really know how to mix a really fat kick drum?’ etc.”

She continues, “I believe that if you don’t see yourself represented out there in the public media, you internalize the idea that you don’t belong there, or that there is no opportunity for you in that arena. I want to change that.”

The Avenue,” the EP’s first single was built around a soulful guest spot from Sam Sparro and a slick, 80s synth funk-inspired production centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synths, thumping beats and a razor sharp hook. And while sonically, indebted to “Ain’t Nobody” and I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan and Quiet Storm-era soul, the song manages to feel like a subtly contemporary and self-assured take on a familiar and beloved sound. “All I Think About” the EP’s second and latest single is a sensual, 90s house music-inspired track centered around a slick production featuring lush layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous hook and vocals by the imitable Raphael Saadiq. And while club friendly, SJae’s latest track reveals an incredibly dexterous producer, who can effortlessly bounce back and forth between several different genres with a self-assured touch.

 

Mike Simonetti is a New Jersey-born and-based electronic music artist, producer, DJ and record label head, who’s perhaps known for a seven year stint as the owner of renowned indie electronic label Italians Do It Better Records — and that period may arguably have been one of the most prolific periods of his creative life, as his music was featured in several films, TV commercials and fashion shows, along with the release of an album or two. Since leaving Italians Do It Better, Simonetti has started another cult-favorite label 2MR and a critically acclaimed synth pop duo Pale Blue; however, his forthcoming album Solipsism (Collected Works 2006 – 2013), which is slated for a September 18, 2018 release through his own 2MR Records, finds the New Jersey-born and-based electronic music artist, producer and label head looking band on his work, which at the time was influenced by AC/DC, Judas Priest, Rockets, Supermax and underground Italian producer Piero Umiliani among others — although the album’s first single “Illusions” sounds as though it were influenced by John Carpenter soundtracks and Giorgio Moroder, complete with arpeggiated analog synths and moodily cinematic vibes.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Elkka Releases Empowering and Boldly Feminist Visuals for Genre-Meshing New Single

Elkka is a London-based producer, DJ and founder of art collective and label femme culture, which she founded as a response to the lack of support for women and women-identifying DJs, producers and artists, later teaming up with fellow DJ Ludo, who now co-runs the label. And since then, the progressive-minded collective has been receiving attention and recognition for a boundary-free ethos that champions women, women-identifying artists and the LGBTQ+ community — all while promoting forward-thinking electronic music.

Unsurprisingly, as a DJ, producer and artist, Elkka has developed a reputation for a freewheeling sound that seamlessly meshes eras and styles, often floating somewhere between electronic dance music, left-field pop and spacious R&B. Interestingly, her latest single “Stay (Warm Edit) is a thorough rework of a previously released track, centered around Afro-Brazilian percussion, arpeggiated synths and a looped ethereal vocal sample that gives the song a wistful and aching sense of longing. Interestingly, over the past year, the up-and-coming British producer, DJ, artist and label head has become deeply influenced by Brazilian music and dance culture, and while that’s apparent by the song’s clear influence, the recently released video directed by Undine Markus and produced by Girls in Film features a diverse team of female samba dancers of all age groups and backgrounds from The London School of Samba. As Elkka says of the video and the women in it, “When dancing I found myself surrounded by these confident, bold and mesmeric women, all supporting and encouraging one another and I really wanted to try and capture this in the video whilst paying homage to the Brazilian music and dance that I have fallen in love with.” Whether unintentional or not, the video possesses an empowering, you-can-do-anything spirit that’s infectious — and pretty fucking righteous.