Tag: experimental pop

New Video: Acclaimed Antillean-French Singer-Songwriter Gerald Toto Releases a Sensual Video for “You Got Me”

Born in France, the Antillean-French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gerald Toto’s parents were tax officials; however, they were ardent and obsessive music lovers and their vinyl collection, which featured American soul, Afro-Caribbean dance music, Congolese soukous and Cameroonian makossa was essential listening to a young Toto. By the time Toto was ten, he picked up guitar and bass. And by the time, he was in college, he used a student loan to finance the building of a home studio, with which he quickly became an intrinsic part of the French underground music scene, as a pioneering wold music artist and producer. 

Toto has collaborated with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Algerian rai singer Faudel, Parisian act Nouvelle Vague and Middle Eastern electro futurists Smadi; but it was his breakthrough collaboration with French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona Toto Bona Lokua that led to two internationally applauded albums — 2005’s commercially successful, self-titled debut and 2017’s well-received Bondeko — all while each individual member was busy with their own diverse series of projects both solo and with other artists. 

Last year was a very busy year for the Antillean-French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist: Toto Bona Lokua released their third full-length album and he released a solo album, Sway — both which were released through Nø Førmat. Now, as you may recall, album single “Away” was centered around a languid and tropical groove, gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically speaking, the song further cemented the acclaimed Antillean-French’s reputation for crafting breezy and mischievously difficult to categorize pop that draws from Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk, while encouraging the listener to slow down a bit to pay attention to the gentle sway of life’s natural rhythms.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “You Got Me” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor —  breezy and infectious pop; but at its core, the song is thematically centered around desire, longing and profound loneliness. 

Created by Cannes-nominated French agency Temple Caché, the recently released video features sensual and humorous depictions of mundane daily gestures — cooking, sunbathing, a cat grooming itself, a young couple in a stolen moment in their car. But within these small moments, each character within the video is actually longing for something that they may not be able to receive. As Toto says in press notes about the video, “The sensualist acidulated video for ‘You Got Me’, through the depiction of seemingly anodyne daily gestures like cooking, sunbathing, a cat grooming himself; reveals the life of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood soaked with desire, pleasure & stolen moments, often in connection with nature. But under the luscious joy of the colours, humour & earthiness, surfaces a sense of longing and loneliness. As in cooking, love and the romantic relationship require generosity, presence and time. We must make ourselves consciously available, consent to the vulnerability of laying bare and let go.”

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Featuring core duo Ida Maidstone (vocals, Yamaha synths, Casio synths, Beat Finder) and Fizzy (bass, EFX, Beat Finder II) with contributions from Torrie Seager (guitar), the Canadian act Hush Pup, which splits their time between Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is an experimental pop act that describes their music as sounding “a lot like driving at night through the board game Candyland — soft cotton candy trees brush up against the windows of your glass car as you ride towards a friend’s cabin nearby the molasses swamp.”

The band will be releasing the Flower Power EP and Panacea, a romantic film-inspired album on a double cassette through Lone Hand Records in March — and the band’s latest single from that effort is the shimmering and atmospheric “The Hours.” Centered around a shimmering and looping guitar line, propulsive beats, Maidstone’s ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and equally ethereal synths, the track to my ears reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Beach House and Anemone, as well as the sound of much of the roster of 4AD Records heyday. But as the band explained to me in email “‘The Hours’ is a song about kindness. It’s about being sweet and slow as a practice. It’s inspired by a scene from an Allen Ginsberg documentary, where he conducts a workshop that integrates spirituality into artistic practice.

“Watching this, I felt as if he had created a kindness crew. ‘The Hours’ is written from the perspective of this crew. They’re taking time to gentle and they’re high on that concept.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Scott Gilmore Returns with Wistful Visuals for “All Our Stuff”

Late last year, I wrote about Northridge, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist Scott Gilmore, and as you may recall, Gilmore has recorded a handful of critically applauded releases through SFC REC and International Feel Records.  His forthcoming album Two Roomed Motel is slated for a March 1, 2019 release through Crammed Discs, the label home of Juana Molina. 

Interestingly, album single “Two Roomed Motel” was a funky, retro-futuristic synth pop track that to my ears brought Herbie Hancock‘s “Rockit,” Holy Ghost!‘s Crime Cutz, Return to Forever and the Los Angeles-based, post J Dilla beatmakers to mind; however, Gilmore meshes lo-fi bedroom recording with slick, highly contemporary production that feels and sounds mischievously anachronistic.  The album’s latest single “All Our Stuff” continues the retro-futuristic vibe of its predecessor as it features Gilmore’s heavily vocoder’ed vocals ethereally floating over shimmering and arpeggiated synths — and while sounding as though it could have been released between 1977-1983 or so, the song and the Gilmore-directed video “are both loosely based on the idea of attempting to inhabit a place that perpetually remains distant.” As a result, the song and the video posses a wistful and bittersweet air, full of the recognition that things are just out of reach. 

New Video: The Abstract and Psychedelic Sounds of Bill Baird’s “Mosquito”

Bill Baird is a Texas-born, Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, whose lengthy and diverse back catalog touches on folk, ambient music and garage thrash among others. Along with that, he has also been involved in creating immersive audio/visual installations which have appeared in museums, cultural centers and festivals around the world. 

Baird’s latest effort Owl is heavily inspired by Conny Plank and his work with Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster  — and while the material finds the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist fusing different musical and conceptual elements together to take the listener on a journey, the album’s title and overall aesthetic is inspired by Baird’s son’s fascination with owls.  

“Mosquito,” Owl‘s latest single is centered around wobbling, ambient synths, a jangling guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, a strutting bass line and laconically delivered vocals to create a song that’s woozily hypnotic — and manages to evoke a mosquito lazily buzzing and drifting about in the breeze.  The recently released video for the song consists of surreal, psychedelic patterns and scenes that further emphasizes the abstractness of the sounds it accompanies. A

 

Crywolf is the solo recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetnalist and producer Justin Phillips. When he started releasing music, he was practically homeless, living in a room the size of a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, Phillips has come a long way — he has amassed millions of streams, headlined the second largest stage at Electric Forest and has received praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Alternative PressBillboardNylon, Complex

Deriving its name from the Latin name of a small, carnivorous plant, Phillips’ latest Crywolf single “CEPHALØTUS” will further his growing reputation for sensual, enveloping and cinematic pop centered around a gorgeous and atmospheric production featuring shimmering guitar chords, Phillips’ reverb-drenched ethereal falsetto which expresses vulnerability and plaintive need paired with  dramatic bursts of industrial clang and clatter. The song possesses a surrealistic and painterly quality — while delving deep into the depths of its creator’s psyche. 

 

 

Neta Tia Ellis is a Tel Aviv, Israel-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, producer, visual artist and experimental pop artist, who has received attention for crafting eerily minimalist electro pop with her solo recording project Tesha. Ellis’ soon-to-be released debut EP Growing Pains II is slated for release later this week, and the EP’s latest single, opening track “Funeral” is an eerily haunted track centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, dirge-like drumming and Ellis’ ethereal crooning.    While possessing a cinematic air, the song is intimate and deeply personal in a way that brings Us-era Peter Gabriel to mind — but with a decidedly positive undertone to it.

Ellis admits in press notes that “This song is about my mom’s funeral. It was very sunny outside, and I knew she wanted me to laugh about this. She definitely didn’t want me to get stuck on the loss, but it hurt and it was also funny at the same time because I was comforting all of her devastated patients (which is why all the contrast in the lyrics exist).”  She goes deeper into the outcome of the song by stating “You might be down, deep in a shitpit, so deep that you can’t see anything positive. But these heartbreaks make us stronger and they will unveil their purpose with time.”

 

Live Session: Bells Atlas on Audiotree Live

Now, over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Oakland, CA-based futuristic soul act Bells Atlas. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys) of Derek Barber (guitar) Geneva Harrison (drums, percussion, keys) Sandra Lawson-Ndu (vocals, percussion, keys) and Doug Stuart (bass, vocals, keys)  have received attention for a forward-thinking, kaleidoscopic and lush sound that draws from indie rock, 90s R&B, Afro pop, Afro-futurism, jazz, electro pop and experimental pop. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Oakland-based act has opened for the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angelique Kidjo and others, as well as Bermuda Triangle, the side project of Alabama Shakes‘ Brittany Howard. Along with that, they spent 2016 as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgement.

Released earlier this year, the acclaimed futuristic soul act’s latest EP SALT AND SOAP is inspired by cleansing rituals and preservation methods, with the understanding that when you’re not accustomed to releasing your most personal stories, the idea is then to take a moment to prepare for a shift — for a new way of being open. Interestingly, during the creative process for their latest EP, the band stumbled upon a new songwriting process that incorporated the use of sampling grainy phone memo recordings of Geneva Harrison drumming as the bedrock of each song of the EP — and in turn, their full-length album The Mystic, which is slated for a March 2019 release. Focusing on spontaneity and sometimes even humor, the aim developed into writing music that was cinematic yet personal while highlighting each member’s individual skills and talent within the larger whole.

A few weeks ago the members of Bells Atlas were invited to Audiotree Live to do a live session centered around the material of the SALT AND SOAP EP including “Downpour,” a paradoxically slick yet lo-fi, lush and lysergic groove-driven track that recalled Drakkar Nowhere, Pavo Pavo and Erykah Badu; “Be Brave,” a sinuous and fluidic track centered around an incredibly dexterous and percolating bass line, driving percussion and rapidly morphing tone and time changes; the incredibly sultry “NCAT,” centered around shimmering and bubbling arpeggiated synths, stuttering drumming and a rolling bass, as well as two other tracks I haven’t written about — “Overshare” and “Find Where You Rise.” Throughout the live session, the material proves to be a perfect foil for Lawson-Ndu’s vocals, which manage to express a visceral vulnerability and human need, awe, strength and resiliency within a turn of a phrase.

Interestingly, during the session the band’s Lawson-Ndu speaks about her own deep, personal experience and love of sci-fi and fantasy and how they’ve influenced her to consider those genres through the experiences of being a woman of color.

New Video: Balthazar Returns with a Breezy and Anthemic New Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. Warhaus was a bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as the project’s sound was atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock the brought to mind The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. However, Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material thematically moving away from sin, lust and decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album were also a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in  Kyrgyzstan, his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses in different directions — while receiving boy commercial and critical success to be liberating. But it also created an undeniable urge between the two to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for real other’s work. 

When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to better their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, the duo of Devoldere and Deprez agreed that the material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining the hook driven quality that they’ve long been known for. And the end result is the band’s forthcoming full-length Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single, album title track “Fever” was a slinky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. Interestingly, the single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty. 

Fever’s second and latest single “Entertainment” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its remarkably upbeat and downright playful but centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook — and while sonically the song at points nods at The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” as the Jinte Deprez-led song features Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion, a buoyant bass line and a strutting guitar line while Devoldere contributes equally playful harmonies. As the band explains “‘Entertainment’ was written at the end of the album recordings as one of the last songs, functioning as the loose, uplifting tune, celebrating a carefree take in the entertainment business. We wrote an ambitious album but tried not to take ourselves too seriously, sure it’s an outspoken singalong chorus, but there’s a rambling playfulness to it which we love.” And much like its predecessor, the new single is a razor sharp take on how much the entertainment business manages to influence every aspect of our lives — and how so many people get into the entertainment business to get laid. And much like its predecessor, the song reveals an incredibly smart band crafting a truly unique sound and aesthetic. 

Directed by Wouter Bouvijn, the recently released video captures the band jamming in their performance — and having a helluva time doing so further emphasizing the song’s breezy and playful nature. Interestingly, the video features the band’s newest member Tijs Delbeke, who joins as a replacement for Patricia Vanneste, who left the band. 

New Video: Acclaimed Belgian Act Balthazar Releases Cinematic Visuals for Their Breeziest and Most Accessible Single to Date

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. And as you may recall, Warhaus isa bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as it was atmospheric jazz-leaning art rock that managed to recall  The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material moving away from sin, lust an decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms. 

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a retreat in  Kyrgyzstan his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During their primary project’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses while receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating; but it also led to the urge for the duo to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work.

Interestingly, when the members of the band reconvened, they had no particular plans, just a desire to better their previously released material and further the band’s story. As the band’s primary songwriters Both Devoldere and Deprez agreed on an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining their ability to sharp hook. The end result is Balthazar’s forthcoming album Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records.  Album title track “Fever” is a slinky and sultry sunset jam, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a bridge featuring twinkling keys and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. The new single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty while being smart and unlike anything else written or recorded by a contemporary artist. 

Directed by Athos Burez, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video stars the songwriting duo of Devoldere and Deprez driving around and goofing off in a decidedly foreign and mountainous land. Shot between declining sunset and nighttime, the video is a woozy and feverish dream — the sort that as a photographer, makes me feel envy — centered around two old pals, and their easygoing chemistry.