New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Returns with a Symbolic Visual for Swooning “The Change”
Over the course of the past year, I’ve written a lot about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based singer/sgonwriter, electronic music producer, electronic music artist, indie rock musician and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin. And as you may recall, Aucoin spent time as a guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as a solo artist in his own right with the release of his debut EP, 2007’s Personal Publication, a concept effort written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Personal Publication EP was also the first of an ongoing series of collaborations with charitable foundations, as he supported the EP with a cross Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After completing his first solo tour, he went on to join his brother’s band while they were on tour; however, Aucoin suffered a debilitating iron deficiency that cut his time on the tour short. But once he recuperated, Aucoin went on the road again, running partial marathons between tour stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early tours, the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, electronic music artist, electronic music producer and indie rock musician spent time writing the material that would eventually comprise his full-length debut, 2011’s We’re All Dying to Live, an effort that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. Adding to a rapidly growing profile. the album was long-listed as a nominee for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013.
Building upon a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded sophomore effort, 2014’s Ephemeral. Several years passed before the release of last year’s Hold EP, and with singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle,” the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop “The Fear.” and the slow-burning and wistful “The Dream,” the EP further cemented Aucoin’s reputation for crafting slickly produced, infectious and thoughtful pop.
Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Haven Sounds, Aucoin’s third full-length album Release was co-produced by the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, electronic music artist and indie rock musician and drummer Joel Waddell. Inspired by the work of David Bowie, Holly Herndon, Fatboy Slim, Bjork, John Lennon, Future Islands, Caribou and Chic among others, the album finds the JOVM mainstay further cementing his growing reputation for his own unique blend of organic and electronic instrumentation — while thematically, the album finds Aucoin grappling with mortality, by using Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for life’s journey.
“The Mind,” Release’s first single is a pulsating instrumental track is centered around a slow build up of increasingly textured sounds including arpeggiated synths, chopped up and ethereal vocal samples and propulsive drumming that finds Aucoin drawing from drum ‘n’ bass and Kraftwerk-like minimalism before an explosive conclusion. “This track is about the mind and therefore has no lyrics,” Aucoin explains in press notes. “Musically, this song has two drum sets on it. The main kit is played by Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks) and the second is carried over from the Release session by Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff. Ben Talmi played the very rare Therevox slide theremin on the track down at his Virtue & Vice Studio in Brooklyn. While Jenn Grant was recorded by Daniel Ledwell at his Echo Lake Studio in Nova Scotia. The vocal melody seamlessly switches from male to female vocals with Jenn and my voices being the samples.”
Directed by Meghan Tansey Whitton, the recently released video follows a mysterious and otherworldly figure covered in a metallic blanket, striding on a beach at sunset and as the video progresses, the figure is subjected to the elements, facing them with a preternaturally zen-like calm.
With its inaugural run back in 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival has quickly become one of Iceland’s largest music festivals, featuring a diverse and eclectic array of established and internationally recognized artists, locally renowned acts and up-and-coming artists from all over the globe, performing in one of the most unique backdrops in the entire world – the roughly 72 hour period of near constant daylight Iceland experiences during the Summer Solstice, because of its proximity to the Arctic Circle. (After all, Reykjavik is the northernmost capital and administrative region of the northernmost country in the entire world.) Building upon its growing reputation as one of the world’s most unique music festivals, the fourth edition of the festival may arguably be one of the biggest and most diverse lineups to date as it includes Foo Fighters, Rick Ross, the UK electronic act The Prodigy, The Verve’s former frontman Richard Ashcroft, Pharoahe Monch, Chaka Khan, Foreign Beggars, Dubfire, Novelist, Rhye, Dusky and Chicago house music artist Kerri Chandler. Along with those artists, some of Iceland’s renowned acts, including Högni, Úlfur Úlfur, Amabadama, Emmsjé Gauti, GKR, Tiny, Aron Can, KSF, and Alvia Islandia will be performing. And adding to the 72 hour party vibe, the festival’s organizers have planned a series of electronic dance music takeovers and showcases featuring some of the world’s best party crews – including Ibiza’s Circoloco, Above & Beyond Records’ deep house imprint Ajunadeep Records’ dance floor collective Crew Love, ATG and Dubfire’s SCI+TEC among others.
Interestingly, for the second consecutive year, Secret Solstice is currently the only major music festival in the world to be certified CarbonNeutral®, as the festival sources almost all of their power needs from the use 100% renewable geothermal energy, hybrid vehicles provided by Toyota Iceland – and from offsetting any residual emissions through the purchase of high quality, verified carbon credits. Unlike any other festival I’ve attended or heard of, festivalgoers and artists alike can know that they’re being environmentally responsible while partying and catching some of the world’s most interesting artists. Of course, during a multi-day festival like Secret Solstice, it’s difficult and damn near impossible to catch everyone and everything, so consider me as a helpful guide – with some information on artists I’d love to catch while in Reykjavik.
Roisin Murphy’s latest single “Ten Miles High” pairs cascading layers of undulating synths, dramatic drumming in a song with an unusual structure — not only does it focus on a propulsive motorik groove, the song is much more concerned with establishing the sensation of anxious, anticipation, vulnerability and ache.
With the 2015 release of Hairless Toys, Irish electro pop singer/songwriter and producer Roisin Murphy quickly became a JOVM mainstay artist — and that shouldn’t be surprising as Murphy has a long-held reputation for being an inventive and genre defying artist, whose sound and aesthetic incorporates elements of jazz, pop, electronic dance music and found field recordings and samples. And although her 2005 full-length solo debut Ruby Blue was a critically applauded departure from her early work in pop act Moloko, the effort was a commercial failure; however, her 2007 release Overpowered was a critical and commercial success as the album was considered for nomination for that year’s MTV Europe Music Award for Best International Act.
Over the next few years, Murphy hadn’t released any album-length material but she did collaborate with an impressive array of internationally acclaimed artists including the likes of Fatboy Slim, David Byrne, Crookers and others. 2014 marked the release of the Mi Senti EP, a collaboration with her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens and her partner Sebastiano Propezi, which featured the Irish singer/songwriter singing covers in Italian. And according to Murphy, the album’s material was written to intentionally channel Edith Piaf and Studio 54 in a style that Murphy coined “very adult-orientated disco.”
The aforementioned Hairless Toys was Murphy’s first full-length release in over eight years and the material off the album reportedly drew from very similar influences to the Mi Senti EP — in this particular case, European house music, Casablanca Records, and the legendary Grace Jones. Simply put, the material is effortlessly elegant and shimmering electro pop that slowly reveals that its narrator is on the verge of mental breakdown — you can practically feel their psyche crumbling from the weight of her own failures and anxieties. And as a result, it gives the material an aching, desperate urgency. Interestingly, the forthcoming Take Her Up To Monto an album that takes its name from an Irish folk song popularized by The Dubliners, is comprised of material that was written and recorded during the intense writing and recording sessions that wound up resulting in Hairless Toys. And although drawing from disco, cabaret, pop torch songs some of the material was radically reimagined and reworked once the Take Her Up To Monto‘s tone and character revealed itself.
Monto’s latest single “Mastermind” is a slinky and tense song that sonically seems to draw from classic house music, freestyle and confessional singer/songwriter pop as Murphy and her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens pair layers of shimmering synths, propulsive beats and swirling electronics with Murphy’s plaintive and aching alto in an song with an expansive song structure that eschews easily discernible hooks and choruses for a driving motorik groove reminiscent of Kraftwerk as the song comes and goes about in strange and unfamiliar angles revealing an artist, who relentlessly pushes her sound and aesthetic forward and into new territories.
Roland Clark is a renowned Atlanta, GA-based house music producer, songwriter and vocalist who has recorded and released material under several different aliases including Houseboy, Keita, Jesus Jackson, People, Roland Clark Presents: Digital Pimps, Dark Clark and South Street Player, as well as releasing material under his own name. Clark has also been a member of Leviticus and Urban Soul — and has collaborated with Bob Sinclair, Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez and Fatboy Slim; in fact, “Song for Shelter,” borrows a sample from DJ Le Roi’s “I Get Deep” featuring Clark.
However, at their heyday Urban Soul was not just influential, they were commercially successful — the act had hit the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play Charts seven times during the 90s. And if you were in a club in the early 90s, you’d likely know of “Alright” one of Urban Soul’s biggest song. Skittering drum programming, thick, cascading synth chords and soulful yet ethereal vocals bubbling and floating over the mix. Although the song is now 25 years old, it manages to sound as though it could have been released within the few years — as though someone like 100% Silk Records.
Electronic music producer and artist Alexander Technique is best known for his time helping pioneer both the term and idea of the “mash up” with Princess Superstar when they launched DJs Are Not Superstars Records, where they both mixed rock, techno and 90s hip-hop, as well as releasing material under several genres and subgenres of electronic music including the work of Larry Tee, Harvard Bass, Etienne De Crecy, Zoo Brazil, Sia and others. Technique is also the co-founder of Drop Ready Records. The renowned producer, remixer, electronic music artist and label head recently remixed Urban Soul’s classic “Alright.” And as Technique explains in press notes “”The remix was originally about 7 minutes long but after playing it for Todd Terry and my label partner Pedro, they both suggested that I make it longer. Todd even got in and played some keys towards the end…”
Interestingly, the Alexander Technique remix pushes the song towards the 21st century as it pairs Clark’s soulful and sensual crooning with a dense and super slick production that sounds as though it channels both a John Carpenter soundtrack, if filtered through hyper modern European house music as layers of shimmering synth, layers of buzzing synth, are paired with explosive flashes of cymbal and skittering drum programming.
Lucio Morais is a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based DJ and producer, best known as one half of the renowned electronic music duo Database. And with Database, Morais has worked with Fatboy Slim, Dragonette, Mark Ronson, French […]
Although Irish electronic music singer/songwriter and producer Roisin Murphy first started her musical career as one-half of the duo Moloko with her then-boyfriend Mark Brydon, it was the 2005 release of her debut solo effort, […]