Tag: experimental rock

New Video: Hifiklub Teams Up with Roddy Bottum on a Hypnotic and propulsive take on an 80s Smash Hit

Since their formation back in 2006, the Toulon, France-based experimental trio Hifiklub have developed and honed a creative approach centered around collaboration with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, The Legendary Tigerman, Half-Japanese’s Jad Fair. Jean-Marc Montera, R. Stevie Moore, André Jaume, Mike Watt, Fatso Jetson, Jérôme Casalonga, Lula Pena, Scanner, Jean-Michel Bossini, Mike Cooper, Duke Garwood, Alain Johannes and FaIth No More’s and Imperial Teen’s Roddy Bottum and a growing list of others. And through these collaborations, the French act have explores the possibilities and boundaries of expressions, frequently combining sound, image and text in new ways.

The members of Hifiklub and Roddy Bottum have collaborated together on a new album Things That We Lost in the Fire. Slated for an October 16, 2020 release on cassette and CD in the United States on Dreamy Life Records and on vinyl and CD through the rest of the world through Toolong Records/Differ-Ant, Things That We Lost in the Fire is reportedly a trance-like, spoken word-driven album. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is a cover of Survivor’s smash-hit “Eye of the Tiger.” Centered around a sinuous and propulsive groove, glistening keys and blasts of reverb-drenched guitar and spoken word delivered lyrics, the Hifiklub and Roddy Bottom rendition turn the classic anthem into an atmospheric and brooding, disco-tinged art rock jam, reminiscent of Black Strobe’s “Boogie in Zero Gravity.”

Directed by Léna Durr., the recently released video for the Hifiklub and Roddy Bottum cover follows bodybuilder Benjamin Rostaert as he lifts weights and prepares himself for a major bodybuilding competition. Fittingly, much like Rocky III, we see the dedication and lonely routines and preparation lead to Rostaert’s success.

New Video: Bristol’s My Octopus Mind Releases a Feverish and Surreal Visual for “The Greatest Escape”

Formed in 2017, the rising Bristol, UK-based trio My Octopus Mind — Liam O’Connell (guitar, vocals, piano), Isaac Ellis (double bass, rawrs) and Oliver Cocup (drums, raws) — have developed a unique take on experimental rock that features elements of psychedelic post punk, wonky riffs, gorgeous melodies and Balkan rhythms centered around a subversive songwriting approach.

Last year was a momentous year for the British experimental trio: they released their full-length debut Maladyne Cave, which they supported with two subsequent DIY European tours. While Maladyne Cave was an internal and probing analysis, the act’s sophomore album Faulty at Source, which was recorded with Jake Bright at Bristol’s Christchurch Studios finds the act writing their most collaborative material to date — with the album thematically focusing outward, expressing disillusionment and frustration with capitalism, climate denial and the UK’s inability to take responsibility for its colonial past. Additionally, the album touches upon polyamory and the burden of toxic masculinity.

“The Greatest Escape” Faulty at Source’s second and latest single finds the act deftly balancing minimalist textures with a cinematic and euphoric bombast — and in a way that manages to recall OK Computer and Amnesiac-era Radiohead and A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay, thanks to an expansive and hypnotic song structure. But at its core is an achingly plaintive yearning.

“We found ourselves playing with minimalist textures in what feels like a new musical direction for us,” the band’s Liam O’Connell explains in press notes. “Lyricly [sic] it takes a look at the patriarchy, where ‘strong men don’t cry,’ instead we suppress emotions and vulnerability. I find myself yearning to step out of this paradigm, to become free to express the softness and vulnerabilities, that could be ‘the greatest escape on Earth.'”

Co-directed by by Liam O’Connell and Harrison James, the recently released video for “The Greatest Escape” is an anxious and uneasy fever dream that features the trio in hazmat suits superimposed and edited into a variety of urban settings. It’s trippy and nightmarish in a way that evokes our current Kafka-esque hell.

Aztek a rising Aalborg, Denmark-based prog rock act can trace their origins back to 2015. when the members of the band Benjamin Vestergaard (vocals), Michael Buchardt (drums), Rasmus Lykke (bass), Minik Lundblad (guitar) and Jeppe Søndergaard (guitar) —met and bonded over their shared interest and love of experimental rock and prog rock. And since their formation, the Aalborg-based has developed and honed an adventurous yet accessible sound, centered around traditional rock instrumentation, atmospheric synths and Vestergaard’s plaintive vocals, which helps to imbue their material with an achingly melancholy air.

The Danish quintet’s experimental and ambitious, full-length debut, 2016’s Dream Dealer, led to the band playing region’s biggest venues and festivals, including Way Up NorthNibe Festival and SPOT Festival. Building upon the momentum, the act released their sophomore album Perfect Imbalance in 2018. Over the past year, the members of Aztek have released a handful of attention-grabbing singles that included The Bends-era Radiohead-like  Darkest Hour and the Violent Light-era Milagres-like “I’ll Be Waiting,” which reportedly will appear on the act’s forthcoming EP This Is Not Who I Wanted To Be.

Aztek’s latest single, the Anders Søndergaard-produced, “I Am Not Who I Wanted To Be (I.A.M.N.W.I.W.T.B.)” is a slow-burning and shimmering track, centered around a gorgeous melody and a soaring hook. While the track sonically reminds me of the brooding, pop atmospherics of JOVM mainstays Palace Winter. the track as the band explains is about losing yourself in a relationship.

“I have walked around in a dream I did not dare walk sup from again. A doze where it felt as if I was constantly one step behind myself, until I finally had to ask: Where did I get off?’ the band’s Benjamin Vestergaard says of the feelings that inspired the new single. Like its immediate predecessor, “I Am Not Who I Wanted To Be” was recorded remotely, as a result of pandemic-related restrictions.

Live Footage: Juana Molina Performs “Eras” at NRML Festival

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Molina, who is the daughter of acclaimed of tango vocalist Horacio Molina and beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, has led a rather interesting couple of lives. Much of her music career can be traced back to growing up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection.

After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years. During her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. Her family returned to Argentina, when she was in her early 20s. Much like countless young women across the globe, Molina was determined to be financially independent. Her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day,. while allowing her enough time to write songs, record them and even play live shows.

Molina had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. She impressed the casting director with her talent, and she got hired on the spot. The Buenos Aires-born and-based JOVM mainstay quickly became one of Argentina’s most popular comedic actors. Within a few years of that early addiction, Molina starred in her own smash-hit show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. (The show was so successful that it was syndicated across the region.) When Molina was pregnant, her show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time on her hands, she found herself reflecting on her life and her rapid rise to stardom. Despite the success she attained, Molina had the nagging thought that she really wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So she quit acting and started to focus on music.

Her decision to quit her successful and wildly popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against her for a number of years. True story here: her full-length debut 1996’s Rara was critically panned by a number of journalists, who openly resented her career change. Initially fans of Juana y sus hermanas would show up to her gigs, expecting her to pay homage to the show but they couldn’t quite understand her new “folk singer character” that sung very strange songs without obvious jokes. Feeling dejected and misunderstood by the criticism and demands on her, but still wanting to continue with music, Molina relocated to Los Angeles. Not only was her work much better received, while in L.A., she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics and electronic sounds. 2002’s Tres Cosas was the Argentine artist’s international breakthrough: the album was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.

2017’s Halo continued Molina’s long-held reputation for restless experimentation — and for being one of South America’s most innovative and uncompromising artists. But interestingly enough, last year’s Forfun EP was an exuberant and decided sonic change in direction, inspired by desperate necessity: the JOVM mainstay and her backing band were forced to play a set at a major festival without most of their electronic gear — because their airline lost their luggage. The EP’s material is centered around a wild, punk rock-like ethos and spirit.

Much like countless artists around the world, Molina was actually in the middle of a tour, playing festival dates when the pandemic stopped everything in its tracks. Interestingly enough, one of Molina’s last tour dates was festival set at Mexico’s NRML Festival. That set, which featured rearranged and re-imagined renditions of material off Halo, Wed 21, Un día and Forfun EP was recorded — and will be released as a live album ANRML, which Crammed Discs will put out on October 23, 2020.

Obviously, the live album will serve as a powerful reminder of what life was before the pandemic — but there’s also the hope of what will come out on the other side. We must continue to have hope that we’ll be able to enjoy each other like we once were; that we’ll be able to go to concerts to sing, dance, sweat and escape our worlds for a little bit; that we’ll have the bliss and freedom of strobe light and dance floors; of welcoming smiles from locals when you’re a stranger in a strange land; of new love and of so much more. We must continue to have hope that on the other side of this, we’ll make a better world for all of us.

The live album’s first single is a kicking and stomping version of one of my favorite Juana Molina songs “Eras.” And from the live recording, you can envision yourself dancing and howling with joy with a bunch of newfound friends. There are few things in our morally bankrupt world as transcendent as seeing someone’s face light up when their favorite artist in the entire universe plays their favorite song. I miss that in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. One day, I hope. One day.

New Video: JeGong Releases a Slow-Burning and Meditative Visual for Atmospheric “Sowing dragons Teeth”

JeGong is a new krautrock-inspired, experimental act featuring MONO (Japan)’s and Watter’s Dahm Majuri Cipolla (drums) and Sum of R.’s Reto Mäder (synths). Slated for an October 16, 2020 release through Pelagic Records, the duo’s 14 song full-length album I reportedly finds the band using krautrock to push themselves, and their songwriting approach into new territories — with the album’s material featuring elements of ambient, experimental rock, krautrock, post rock and electronica. The end result is an album centered around ambient soundscapes and repetition that sounds like the soundtracks to Blade Runner and Metropolis.

The album was written and recorded remotely with Mäder recording instrumental parts at Hinterzimmer in Bern, Switzerland and Cipolla recording drums at BC Studio with Martin Bisi, where it was partially mixed. Additional mixing took place in Finland with Jaakko Vitalähde.

“Sowing Dragons Teeth,” I’s latest single is a minimalist, slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around repeating shimmering synth lines, taut yet propulsive drumming, gurgling and hissing feedback and subtle blasts of guitar. The track sounds as though it should be part of John Carpenter-like movie soundtrack — but while featuring subtly morphing throughout the entire song, “We wanted to have a song that is constantly changing in form and density. A song structure like a maelstrom or a growing plant focusing on our two main instruments, analog synthesizers and drums, the members of JeGong explain in press notes. “The theme of the song goes well with the film scene in Blade Runner 2049, in which a meager little flower in a field of ashes becomes a sign of hope.”

The recently released video for “Sowing Dragons Teeth” is the second part of a trilogy focused don a dystopian world that collapses and is eventually recreated by another species with a monolith as a memorial for the previous world.

Aztek · I’ll Be Waiting

 

Rising Aalborg, Denmark-based prog rock act Aztek — Benjamin Vestergaard (vocals), Michael Buchardt (drums), Rasmus Lykke (bass), Minik Lundblad (guitar) and Jeppe Søndergaard (guitar) — was formed back in 2015 as a result of its members bonding over their shared interest and love of experimental rock and prog rock. Since their formation, the Danish indie rock act have developed and honed an adventurous and accessible sound, centered around traditional rock instrumentation, atmospheric synths and Vestergaard’s plaintive vocals, which help imbue their material with a melancholy air.

The Aalborg-based indie quintet’s full-length debut, 2016’s Dream Dealer was an experimental and ambitious effort that led to the band playing some of the region’s biggest venues and festivals, including Way Up North, Nibe Festival and SPOT Festival. Building upon a growing national and regional profile, the act released their sophomore album, 2018’s Perfect Imbalance.

Last year, the members of Aztek released a couple of attention-grabbing singles that included “Darkest Hour,” an ambitious yet earnest song with rousingly anthemic hooks that recalled Pablo Honey and The Bends-era Radiohead with a bit of space rock while focusing on playing live shows and touring. Of course, much like the countless bands I’ve covered over the past decade of this site’s history, the Aalborg-based act had started writing new material for an EP as COVID-19 struck. So they were forced to record their forthcoming EP This Is Not Who I Wanted To Be virtually in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“I’ll Be Waiting,” This Is Not Who I Wanted To Be‘s first single is a slow-burning and cinematic track centered around shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line, a soaring hook and Vestergaard’s plaintive falsetto within an expansive song structure. And while the song possesses an aching, Quiet Storm R&B air that recalls Violent Light-era Milagres. “‘I’ll Be Waiting’ is a single about dealing with isolation and insecurity following a break-up during the quarantine and about hoping for reconciliation,” the band explains. “This duality between hope and insecurity is depicted through gloomy textures contrasted with uplifting electronic elements and inticing [sic] grooves. Better times are slowly arriving.”

Look for the new EP later this summer.

 

 

Tracing their origins to a chance meeting at DIY show in 2015, the Brooklyn-based post rock electronic band and experimental performance art Reliant Tom is centered around its core creative duo, Western Massachusetts-born, Brooklyn-based composer Monte Weber and Dallas, TX-born, Brooklyn-based choreographer and vocalist Claire Cuny. The duo’s collaboration is a seamless synthesis of their individual talents and interests – sound design, wearable technology, modern dance and hook-driven, yet genre-defying songwriting.

“Reliant Tom gives me the outlet to explore both pulse driven works while maintaining the other musical elements which I find fascinating — timbre, aleatoric processes, and interactive technologies,” Weber explains. Adds Cuny, “Our ultimate goal with Reliant Tom is to be a multi-media performance experience that straddles the line between pop and experimental music — and philosophizing about what that even means, and is that even possible as ‘experimental pop’?”

Thematically, the duo’s two previous releases, 2016’s self-released, self-titled EP and 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut effort Bad Orange, touch upon the pitfalls of digital communication and the generally blasé nature of modern social interaction – through the guise of avant-pop and avant-punk influenced musical devices and arrangements featuring electric guitar, vocals, a hybrid electro-acoustic drum kit, synthesizers and Weber’s Kontrol Instrument, which he developed while studying at the Paris-based Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music as a way to make electronic music more tactile and immersive in its performance.

Slated for a Spring 2020 release through Chicago-based Diversion Records, Reliant Tom’s sophomore effort Rewind & Play is a decidedly bold and self-assured step forward: Cuny’s sultry and expressive vocals while being prominently placed front and center, effortlessly glide over lush yet spacious arrangements of shimmering acoustic guitars, atmospheric electronics and twinkling keys with the material possessing a cinematic air that recalls Dummy-era Portishead, Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp, Radiohead circa OK Computer and others. And while continuing to be tech heavy in their means of sonic production, their thematic exploration of communication and interaction in the digital age takes a back seat. This time taking a more human approach, the material may arguably be the most mature yet accessible, most emotionally honest and vulnerable of their growing catalog, as the album’s central theme is a documentation of Cuny’s descent into grief and depression after her father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in front of her — on the release of day of Reliant Tom’s debut album.

“Nevermind the Garbage,” Rewind & Play‘s aching and brooding first single is centered around a cyclical arrangement of shimmering and wobbly guitars, twinkling piano and atmospheric synths that makes the song swoon from the dark and overwhelming weight  of loss and grief — and the knowledge that while you will find some way to push forward, that deep down you’ll recognize that your life will never quite be the same. “The song is about trying to return to a semi-normal routine by learning to manage the grief and anxiety that overcame me after the sudden loss of my father,” the band’s Claire Cuny explains. “My state was complex and somewhat guilt ridden because all I could feel was sadness. Even though I was at a good point in my life, with a loving partner, and reminded daily how fortunate I was when seeing the more severe hardships of other people such as chronic health issues and homelessness… all I could feel was despair, not the love or gratitude – but when you’re in the depth of your darkness it’s hard to feel much else.”

As a recently published Harvard Business Review article has suggested, we’re collectively experiencing a universal sense of overwhelming grief and uncertainty. Let’s be honest here, things are pretty bleak: on a daily basis, we’re hearing about hundreds upon hundreds of people dying from a communicable disease that any one of us could catch — and could possibly be carrying unknowingly. In New York, my home borough of Queens has been hit the hardest with the most cases and most deaths. Most of those poor souls have been heading to Elmhurst Hospital, and it means that the victims of COVID-19 live and/or work in (all or parts of) the neighborhoods of Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Woodhaven, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Corona, Rego Park and Forest Hills. We’re talking about neighbors, coworkers, associates, the grocer, your bodega guy, your FedEx guy and so on. And there’s this sense among us that things will never quite be the same once this is over. How will we move forward? I don’t know. But what I can say is that the song’s creators never would have thought that such an achingly personal song would have such a deeper, universal meaning.