Tag: experimental pop

New Video: AURUS Returns with a Delicate Ode to Vulnerability

Bastien Picot is a French singer/songwriter, producer and creative mastermind behind AURUS, a rising electronic music project that specializes in an orchestral-leaning take on electro pop that has drawn comparisons to Nakhane, Woodkid, Peter Gabriel and others. 

which featured Sandra Nkaké thematically raised awareness of a system that exploited and took the living for granted. Picot followed “The Abettors” with a massive 2020 that included sets at that year’s MaMA Festival and Bars en Trans Festival, opening for Vendredi sur Mer at L’Olympia, and being named a “revelation” of Chantier des Francos.

n a rapidly growing profile across the Francophone world, Picot released his AURUS self-titled debut last June. Last month, I wrote about EP single “Momentum,” a brooding and cinematic track featuring skittering and percussive beats, atmospheric horns and synths and Picot’s plaintive vocals. The end result is a song that sonically meshes house music and contemporary electronic production with a bit of Security-era Peter Gabriel. 

Absent Without Leave.” The collaboration with Mathéo Técher continues a run of incredibly cinematic material. Centered around twinkling piano, buzzing bass synths, Picot’s achingly tender vocals, thumping beats and a rousingly anthemic hook “AWOL” — to my ears, at least — reminds me a bit of a mix of Amnesiac-era Radiohead and contemporary alt pop while expressing a deeply vulnerable yearning. Interestingly, as Picot explains he and his collaborator Técher use the expression in a metaphorical sense, to illustrate what they believe is the desertion of our being, as though being barricaded behind shells that we strive to build to camouflage our wounds, cracks and scars. “‘AWOL’ is an Ode to fragility, to the beauty of our imperfections, a fight against the military discipline that we inflict on ourselves to smooth the roughness of our contours but also a call to courage.”

The recently released video for “AWOL” continues a run of mesmerizing visuals: This time two masked dancers expressively dancing — eventually tearing off figurative armor off each other and themselves, exposing their delicate and glowing insides.

Live Footage: Orions Belte Performs “Lotus” at Mulakamben Norway

Norwegian-born musicians Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar) and Chris Holm (bass) have spent the bulk of their careers making a living a touring musicians, and as a result, they’ve frequently been on the road As the story goes, when Blømstrøm and Holm’s paths crossed for what seemed like the umpteenth time, they bonded over a desire to create instrumental music — and they decided to start a band together. They recruited Holm’s Bergen scene pal Kim Åge Furuhaug to join the band and to complete Orions Belte lineup. 

With the release of 2018’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established a reputation for crating a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula One traces at Monza and 1971’s “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. It’s follow-up, 2019’s Slim EPfeatured inventive reworkings of songs they love by artist’s they love — including Ghostface Killah‘s “Cherchez La Ghost,” Milton Nascimento‘s Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser” and an original cut that pays homage to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and the Mac Miller. 

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of last year, the acclaimed Norwegian trio managed to be productive: they released 600m, another EP of experimental instrumental music that derived its title from the name of an elevator in Tokyo that can transport 40 people at a time a maximum speed of 600 meters per minute, and found the trio continuing to push the boundaries of instrumental music as far as they could. 

Continuing upon that momentum, Orions Belte’s sophomore album Villa Amorini is slated for a Friday release through Jansen Records. The album derives its name from a popular Bergen nightclub, which was the place in town where everything happened — and where you needed to be a part of it. Originally opened in the ’80s as a fine dining spot, the business eventually evolved into an extravagant nightclub where you’d see artists and DJs in loud t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. Sonically, the album is reportedly a mix of the sounds the trio likes, including underground pop, psych and world music, while continuing their reputation for their unique ability to pull in listeners of diverse genres and styles in a fashion that’s simultaneously calm and chaotic. And with that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the album’s material manages to set up a particular scene: the energy of a busy downtown sidewalk with the instrumentation being intricately layered to draw you in and leave you wondering where it will lead. According to the trio, the album is a “homage to an era of loud music, club nights, ugly shirts and long afterparties.” 

Much like album single “Mouth,” ‘Lotus” is a laid-back, hotel lounge-like bop centered around a strutting groove, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line and hip-hop inspired drumming. Sonically “Lotus” is a slick synthesis of dusty J. Dilla-like samples, funk and neo soul in a way that feels familiar yet alien.

The band released live footage of themselves performing the song in the gorgeous environs of Mulakamben, Norway.

New Video: Late Aster Releases a Trippy and Feverish Visual for “A Minor Fantasy”

Split between Brooklyn and the Bay Area, the emerging experimental pop act Late Aster — Ami Hochhalter, Aaron Messing, Charles Mueller and Cameron LeCrone — can trace their origins back to when its members met while studying jazz and/or classical music performance at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California. The members of the band quickly bonded over a mutual love of experimentation: the band employs brass instrumentation with electronics and popular music forms and melodies to push and pull at the boundaries of classical, jazz, pop and rock. The quartet’s sound finds the band looking to draw out the intimacy and versatility of instruments commonly related to a much more secondary role in rock.

The quartet’s debut EP True and Toxic is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through Bright Shiny Things. The EP features a collection of musical sketches on the modern human condition — and thematically, the EP’s material focuses on relationships, politics, sciences and digital society to create a soundtrack for our incredibly polarizing society. Each song is paired with a visual accompaniment by Four/Ten Media, Deadeye Press, Harrison Atkins and Kelsey Boncato.

The EP’s latest single “A Minor Fantasy” is centered around skittering drum beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, regal sounding horns and ethereal vocals placed within an expansive and cinematic-leaning song structure. Sonically, the song reminds me — to my ears, at least — of Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS and People Museum but with a dreamy yet brooding quality. “This song is inspired by a Shostakovich piano prelude I listened to for years before attempting to learn. I thought the way the piece moves through the harmony would suit it well for an additional melody on top, which became the vocal melody,” the band’s Aaron Messing explains in press notes. “The prelude is in the key of A minor, which I eventually used as the name of the song, both because it describes the piece musically but also because read literally, it actually describes the meaning behind the words of the song: A dream-like state that is simultaneously exciting and ominous.”

The video created by Four/Ten Media is a surreal and psychedelic fever dream. “Working with Four/Ten Media was an obvious choice for this song because of their background as classically trained percussionists,” the band’s Anni Hochalter, says about the video treatment. “We wanted a team that was going to really understand how to feature the virtuosic beats written by our drummer Cameron LeCrone, as well as be experimental in visual aesthetic to capture the new sounds of electronics and brass. We combined two visual inspirations for the video – 1. Liquid lights created with layers of colored mineral oil and alcohol placed over a projector lens and which produce changing color patterns for a psychedelic effect. And 2. an early animated film that uses color and silhouette cut-outs, called The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926).”

New Audio: Orions Belte Releases a Slinky and Funky Bop

Norwegian-born musicians Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar) and Chris Holm (bass) have spent the bulk of their careers making a living a touring musicians, and as a result, they’ve frequently been on the road As the story goes, when Blømstrøm and Holm’s paths crossed for what seemed like the umpteenth time, they bonded over a desire to create instrumental music — and they decided to start a band together. They recruited Holm’s Bergen scene pal Kim Åge Furuhaug to join the band and to complete Orions Belte lineup.

With the release of 2018’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established a reputation for crating a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula One traces at Monza and 1971’s “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. It’s follow-up, 2019’s Slim EP featured inventive reworkings of songs they love by artist’s they love — including Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost,” Milton Nascimento’s Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser” and an original cut that pays homage to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and the Mac Miller. 

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of last year, the acclaimed Norwegian trio managed to be productive: they released 600m, another EP of experimental instrumental music that derived its title from the name of an elevator in Tokyo that can transport 40 people at a time a maximum speed of 600 meters per minute, and found the trio continuing to push the boundaries of instrumental music as far as they could.

Slated for an April 9, 2021 release through Jansen Records, Orions Belte’s sophomore album Villa Amorini derives its title from a popular Bergen nightclub, which was the place in town where everything happened — and where you needed to be to be a part of it. Originally opened in the 80s as a fine dining spot, the business evolved into an extravagant nightclub where you’d see artists and DJs in loud t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. Sonically, the album is reportedly still a mix of the sounds they like — including underground pop, psych and world music — and continues their reputation for their ability to pull in listeners of diverse genres and styles while being simultaneously calm and chaotic. It shouldn’t be surprising then that the album’s material sets up a particular scene: the energy of a busy downtown sidewalk with the instrumentation being intricately layered to draw you in and leave you wondering where it will lead. According to the trio, the album is a “homage to an era of loud music, club nights, ugly shirts and long afterparties.”

Villa Amorini’s latest single “Mouth” is a laid-back, hotel lounge-like bop, featuring a slinky and strutting groove, shimmering guitars, twinkling Rhodes and synths, sinuous bass lines and jazz like drumming that sonically finds the band drawing from and meshing elements of Return to Forever-like jazz fusion, dusty hip-hop samples, soul and neo-soul and funk in a way that feels familiar yet very different.

New Video: TRZTN Teams Up with Karen O on a Glitchy and Futuristic Single and Visual

Tristan Bechet is an acclaimed Portuguese-born, Paris-based (by way of Brazil and NYC), singer/songwriter, composer, producer, sound designerr and electronic music artist, who has developed and honed an idiosyncratic approach to music and sound design through stints fronting industrial no wave act Flux Information Sciences electronic rock duo SERVICES and Sauna Kings and with his solo recording project TRZTN.

Bechet has composed pieces for an impressive and eclectic array of internationally renowned brands including Nike, Karl Lagerfeld, Dior, Chanel, Givenchy and The Creator’s Project — with some of his work being featured by The New York Times, Nowness and many others. The Portuguese-born, Paris-based composer, producer, singer/songwriter and electronic music artist is currently composing the score fo a psychological horror drama film.

Bechet’s latest TRZTN album, the recently released Royal Dagger Ballet is an edgy yet lush and mesmerizing compilation of genre-defying, experimental industrial tracks featuring guest spots from Jonathan Bree, Surfbort’s Dani Miller, Ize Teixeira, Estrael Boiso, Interpol’s Paul Banks, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O and countless others. Each individual track manages to inhabit its own different world — and that shouldn’t be surprising as some of the album’s songs are cinematic and melodic and others are more cacophonous and industrial.

Royal Dagger Ballet’s latest single “Hieroglyphs” is a slow-burning track centered around an eerie track that sonically seems to continuously disintegrate and reintegrate, as its centered around industrial clang and clatter, glitchy and chopped up vocal samples, buzzing bass synths, atmospheric and melodic synths — and it’s all held together by Karen O’s imitable and expressive vocals. “‘Hieroglyphs’ resembles an odd Lynchian dreamstate; bizarre and beautiful. A sonic portrait that warbles away into space dust,” Bechet explains in press notes.

Bechet and Karen O have been frequent collaborators throughout the years, including work together on the music for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are and the Rise of The Tomb Raider video game.The writing process behind “Hieroglyphs began after Bechet sent Karen O an initial sonic sketch, to which she quickly recorded her cosmic lyrics. “Without holding back, I embarked on a phantasmagorical way of production – sculpting sound more than composing conventionally. I recorded clangs and digital white noise. I re-shaped her voice, deformed the structure, and resampled her own vocals creating the main staccato vocal theme. The track disintegrates and falls back together like the push and pull of a rubber band stretching.”

Directed by Barnaby Roper, the recently released video for “Hieroglyphs” is a glitchy fever dream in which Victoria Dauberville, appearing as though she just ended a shift at an office job and walking into an empty parking garage to expressively dance — until she’s taken into a wildly different dimension.

New Video: Venezuelan-French Artist La Chica Releases a Haunting and vivid Fever Dream

Emerging Venezuelan-French singer/songwriter and pianist La Chica has developed and honed a unique songwriting approach informed by classical music, her love of Debussy, analog synths — and a desire to reunite the spiritual with the material world, the New World with the Old World. The end result is a lush and feverish collage of sounds and textures informed by folk traditions and modern influences, paired with unvarnished and brutally honest lyrics that alternate between introspection and abstract poetry.

Interestingly, much like acclaimed Cuban-French sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi, Santeria — and more specifically the rhythms of the Orishas — play a major part in La Chica’s creative process: She regularly performs her own rituals informed by the indigenous cultures of Venezuela and elsewhere, often before practice and live shows as a way to get into a more enlightened consciousness.

The death of the Venezuelan-French artist’s brother earlier this year, sparked a desperate need to connect with the spiritual world — and her forthcoming album La Loba is reportedly an uplifting and powerful reaction to the profound and heartbreaking loss of her brother, and the increasingly polarized world around her. Additionally, the album is a boldly feminist statement from a woman, who feels liberated from restrictive social norms — while being in touch with her Venezuelan and French heritage.

La Loba’s first single, album title track “La Loba” manages to be simultaneously haunting, unsettling and forceful. Centered around an arpeggiated, four note piano sequence, flamingo-like stuttering handclaps, atmospheric electronics, Latin rhythm patterns and the Venezuelan-French artist’s incendiary delivery and feral howls, “La Loba” is an urgent song that sonically will draw comparisons to Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey, as it captures a woman that’s a force of nature, about to burn down everything that has held her back.

“La Loba” is a the story of a wolf woman brought back from the dead through ritual — and during the performance of the ritual, her skin grows back over her once lifeless bones, after hearing transcendental chanting and votes. Interestingly, the song is based upon a Mexican/Texan legend documentary by feminist author Clarissa Pinkola Estéss in Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.

Directed by Marion Castera, the recently released video for “La Loba” is a feverish and unsettlingly vivid fever dream in which we see the Venezuelan-French artist covered in blood and playing the piano, as a feral and undead force, as a literal, living wolf woman and just chilling with a wolf while smoking a cigar and watching TV. In some way, the visual captures a woman that’s in touch with and fully in control of her wild, animalistic nature, using that inner wolf when needed.

Elinor Sterner Bonander is a singer/songwriter, best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising experimental pop act Bonander. Along with a backing band that features Elias Ortiz (drums), Linnea Svedmyr (keys) and Olov Domeij (bass), Bonander crafts incredibly cinematic electronic pop, centered around jazz composition. Lyrically, her work thematically focuses on existential questions about the world, seen through a decidedly feminist lens.

“Backseat,” Bonander’s latest single is centered around shimmering analog synth arpeggios, soaring strings and Bonander’s ethereal and yearning vocals. Sonically BUT bringing Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Clearing-era SofSpot, the track sonically aims to evoke the daydreams and imagination of childhood –but while simultaneously evoking the somber gravity of adult life, as well as the uncertainty and fragility of our existence.

“This song is about growing up and the unwillingness to see the world as it is,” Bonander explains in press notes. “As a kid you would fall asleep in the backseat of your family’s car, with that comforting feeling. The night wasn’t scary, it was just…safe. Now, you have to walk home alone with the keys in your fist, looking over your shoulder.”

Bonander is currently working on her new album Things We Don’t Talk About, which tells the stories of women both from history and her personal life whose contributions have previously been overlooked.

New Audio: Ruido Selecto Remixes Tremor and Soema Montenegro’s “Cuando Oigo Sonar La Caja”

Soema Montenegro is a Buenos Aires-based experimental singer/songwriter. Arguably one of South America’s most unique artists, Montenegro’s work mixes the sounds and images of the jungle and mountains with her original poetry, which is primarily centered around a theatrical and emotional narrative — and transports listeners to her native Argentina.

Tremor — Leonardo Martinelli, Geraldo Farez and Camilo Carabajal — is an acclaimed South American trio that meshes electronic production and sound manipulation with traditional folkloric instrumentation and influences. Featuring rhythms and sounds known across the region, the trio’s sound fits component parts of varying traditions together in a way that crosses and defies genre-borders.

Medelin, Colombia-based experimental. electronic music artist, producer and guitarist Juan Esteban Herrera is the creative mastermind of Ruido Selecto, an electronic music project that’s largely influenced by Jamaican and tropical rhythms, and other black music.

Tremor and Soema Montenegro collaborated together on “Cuando Oigo Sonar la Caja,” which appeared on a tribute album to Argentine singer/songwriter Leda Valladares, El Caimon de Leda (Un Tributo a Leda Valladares). Centered around undulating and atmospheric synths, traditional indigenous percussion, twinkling guitar, and flute paired with thumping beats and Montenegro’s sing-song vocals, the track is a brooding synthesis of the ancient and the modern.

Ruido Selecto’s remix is a subtle, dubby remix, featuring finger-snapped percussion, wobbling low end while retaining most of the dreamy and brooding instrumentation and Montengro’s vocals. The end result is a remix that feels like a slow-burning psychedelic trip.

New Video: Catalan Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist Magalí Sare Releases a Gorgeous and Intimate Visual

Magalí Sare is a rising 23 year-old, Vallès, Spain-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Growing up in a family of musicians, Sare learned how to play piano, flute and percussion at an early age. Back in 2013, the Vallès-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, enrolled at the Superior Conservatory of the Liceu, where she studied jazz.

Since graduating, Sare quickly developed a unique sound and approach that features elements of jazz, classical music, pop, alt-pop and experimental music with lyrics written and sung in her native Catalan and English. She’s also been rather busy: Sare regularly performs with a quarter that features Marta Pons (cello), Vic Moliner (double bass) and Arnau Figueres (percussion) and with a duo featuring a dear friend, who has accompanied her since the beginning. Over the past year, she’s been further honing a genre-fluid sound:

She collaborated with Sebastiaà Gris on A Boy and a Girl, an album that found the duo reworking classical and folk tunes in a way that incorporated electronics. The album was nominated for Best World Music album on the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE).
Sare contributed her vocals to Clara Peya’s Estomac.
The Catalan-born artist was nominated for an Emerging Artist Award by the Catalan Music Academy and Best New Artist at the ARC Awards.
Magalí Sara was nominated for the first International Award of Suns Europe Festival, which she won.
She also toured with with Quartet Mèlt, an act that won TV3’s Oh happy day’s third season.

Sare’s latest single “Beber de ti” is a slow-burning track and atmospheric featuring twinkling piano, stuttering trap beats, the rising Catalan artist’s ethereal and plaintive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and an enormous hook. Sonically, the track will further establish her sound as it’s a slickly produced mesh of classical music, electro pop and trap, centered around earnest songwriting. “Stagnant water rots. To be clean and transparent it needs to flow. The same goes for feelings; Communicating fully is not easy at all,” Sare explains. “Sometimes opening up as people can be painful, but it is something that frees us. Showing fears, letting out crying, as well as empathizing and giving thanks when appropriate, are things that make human relationships flow.”

The recently released and intimately shot video follows a couple, who struggle to truly connect with each other — but when they follow the philosophy of the song, they find themselves much closer, and much more at peace with each other.