Tag: House of Blondes

New Video: A.M. Boys Share a Trippy Visual for Hypnotic “Traveler”

New York-based electronic duo A.M. Boys features two accomplished and grizzled scene vets:

  • John Blonde (synths, vocals), is an electronic musician and singer/songwriter, who was a principle member of JOVM mainstay act House of Blondes. As a solo artist, he releases material as Muscle Club.
  • Chris Moore, a producer, engineer, mixer, multi-instrumentalist, and electronic musician. As a producer and engineer, Moore has worked with David Bowie, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scarlett Johansson, Foals, and OSEES. As an electronic musician, Moore has released solo work as Light Vortex and through a variety of other aliases through the years.

Blonde and Moore can trace their collaboration together back to meeting at an Aphex Twin listening party they attended back in 2014. The duo struck up an instant chemistry that resulted in a batch of original songs in 2018 using analog synths, drum machines, space echo and voice that paired clean, post-punk minimalism with a contemporary approach to rhythm and arrangement.

They sent Suicide’s Martin Rev one of their earliest tracks “Distance Decay,” and by the next day, they were offered an opening slot with the post-punk legend. The duo have shared a stage with Deerhunter side project Moon Diagrams, and they’ve played one of the most memorable sets at local, experimental venue Spectrum. As DJs, they’ve spun sets at Jupiter Disco, Troost, Sundown Bar, Wythe Hotel and several other spots across town.

The New York-based duo’s full-length debut Distance Decay is slated for a June 3, 2022 release. Written and recorded by the duo, at their Brooklyn-based studio Glowmatic Sound with additional vocal recording by Jeff Berner at Studio G, the album’s title is derived from a term that describes the pattern of criminals committing fewer crimes, the further they travel from their homes. Sonically, the ten-song album sees the members of A.M. Boys focusing on an intimate and minimalist approach to instrumentation and composition through the juxtaposition of rippling rhythms with melodic synth lines and ethereal vocals.

The album’s material as written during darkly lit, late night jam sessions influenced by post-punk and coldwave, along with their revered trinity of Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and Prince — with one song being directly influenced by Throbbing Gristle. The recording sessions were deliberately pared down to allow the pair to recreate the songs live. For the duo, the minimal approach helped to yield material that develops a deeper emotional resonance with repeated listens. “We knew we didn’t want to layer too much, we felt that the songs sounded stronger with less. A lot of modern music can be fussy and cluttered, we wanted to present the music simply, gaining a transparent power,” Blonde explains.

During the height of the pandemic, Blonde and Moore holed up at their studio and recored an entire second album — and are currently working to incorporate some of that new material in their live sets. But in the meantime, Distance Decay‘s second single, “Traveler” is a mesmerizing and hypnotic track featuring skittering beats, glistening and oscillating synths paired with Blonde’s ethereal vocals and spacey feedback. While nodding at John Blonde’s previous work with House of Blondes and Kraftwerk, “Traveler” fittingly possesses a trippy cosmic air, the end result is a song that seems to be a perfect for late night space travel.

Directed and filmed by New York-based motion designer David-Lee Fiddler, the accompanying visual for “Traveler” was a deeply collaborative effort between Fiddler and the duo that incorporates live, in-studio footage shot by Doug Young, animated still photos taken by A.M. Boys’ John Blonde, which were used for the album’s cover art. The end result is a trippy and mesmerizing video that seems perfect for those with ASMR. The duo credit Fiddler with being an energetic director that “seemed capable of translating any idea we had into reality.” Blonde adds “The ‘Traveler’ video is what we think the electricity looks like inside our synthesizers.”

Comprised of John Blonde, Chris Pace, and Brian McNamara, the Brooklyn-based electronic music trio House of Blondes can trace their origins to 2008 when founding members Blonde and Pace met at Smoke and Mirrors Studio. Along with local musicians Mike Ignethron and Paul Reyes, the then-constitued quartet had intended to work on an indie rock-based project; however, as Blonde’s interest in synthesizers and electronic music grew, the project gradually changed into a minimalist electronic project in which Pace and Blonde began working with each other exclusively. The end result was that the duo wound up co-writing and recording the material, which became House of Blondes’ critically applauded debut effort, Clean Cuts along with contributions from producer/engineer George Vitray and instrumentalist Brian McNamara, who would eventually become a full-time member.

While playing an increasing number of shows locally and elsewhere over the last couple of years, including two shows with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Psychic TV at the now-defunct Brooklyn Night Bazaar, the members of House of Blondes also spent an intense period of time writing and recording the material that would comprise their recently released sophomore effort, Stranger Still, which was released this past summer. Stranger Still’s 9 tracks are from a combination of live in-studio performances, improvisational jam sessions and much more formally structured songs and as a result the material feels and sounds looser, and intimate as it draws from dub, trance, cosmic house and Kraftwerk‘s motorik grooves. But perhaps more important, to my ears, the material while retaining the space age feel that first captured my attention is warmer, more human. It somehow evokes the sensation of floating through the cosmos and observing the rippling and undulating of the fabric of spacetime as much as it evokes more earthly phenomenon such as pushing and shoving your way through a New York rush hour commute and stopping to stare at clouds parting overhead, without bothering to care if you got in someone’s way.

Album single “Are You Boys Alright?” is an icy and starkly minimalist and atmospheric song consisting of a sparse, gently echoing beat, hazy, droning synths and chanted lyrics. Much like Brian Eno’s ambient sound recordings, the song requires a bit of attention and patience, as it slowly reveals subtle layers of nuance in repeated plays — all while evoking the undulating ripples in a pond and of smoke dissipating into the ether.

Now, Chris Moore is a New York-based producer and mixer who’s been making electronic music since he was a teenager. As Moore told me by email he “quit for a while to focus on production and mixing work.” Last fall, Moore began writing and recording tracks under the moniker Cloud Leopard, initially as a way to get back into the swing of writing and recording.

Moore met House of Blondes’ frontman John Blonde at a bi-monthly electronic music night, hosted and booked by a mutual friend. Moore had been DJ’ing some of his own tracks and eventually Blonde and Moore began chatting about Moore’s production work. Eventually Blonde asked Moore if he’d be interested in doing a remix of some material off the band’s recent album.

As Moore told me by email, his remix of album single “Are You Boys Alright?” is his first remix under the Cloud Leopard moniker. “For the remix, I wanted to combine the cosmic vibe of the original with a dancier energy,” he explained. “So it’s sort of a combination of 70s German kosmische-like Cluster or Manuel Gottsching’s more electronic stuff with a 80s chicago/detroit house / early-90s uk ambient techno vibe.” Certainly, as a result the remix is more propulsive as it shimmers and glistens with a dance floor-ready sheen.

(Album Art Credit: Kurt Sawilla)

New Audio: House of Blondes’ Space-Agey “I Always Wanted to Live Like That”

If you’ve been following JOVM over the past couple of years, you’d be pretty familiar with the New York-based electronic music/electro pop act, House of Blondes’ whose fantastic Clean Cuts landed at number 5 on this site’s Best of 2012 List that […]