Tag: instrumentals

Best known for being the frontman of New York-based indie act Wild Pink, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Ross is also the creative mastermind behind the ambient and electronic solo recording project Eerie Gaits. Ross’ Eerie Gaits’ full-length debut, 2017’s critically applauded Bridge Music was inspired by driving over bridges. And under the Eerie Gaits moniker, Ross released a digital 45 with Dondadi in 2018 — and last year, as Eerie Gaits, Ross remixed Wild Pink’s “All Some Frenchman’s Joke” on the 5 Songs EP.

Slated for a Friday release through sound as language, Ross’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Holopaw derives its title from Holopaw, FL, the unincorporated community near where Ross grew up. Because Holopaw is technically not a town, village or even a hamlet, it’s administered under the jurisdiction of Osecola County, rather than its own municipality. And as a result, the 5,000 or so people who live in Holopaw don’t have a local government to call their own with its residents living in a liminal space between established community, odd backwater and remote hinterland.

Aesthetically, Holopaw‘s material bears an uncanny similarity to its namesake: untied to genre and unmoored from singular temperament. The album’s nine instrumental compositions undulate and ripple around arrangements that feature strummed guitar, contemplative and atmospheric synths and full-bodied yet placid indie rock, similar to what he has written with his primary gig.  Ross explains that Holopaw is “darker and more joyful at the same time.”

Interestingly, Holopaw‘s second and latest single is the incredibly cinematic and upbeat “The Rainbow Trout and the Wicker Creel.” Centered around shimmering and atmospheric  synth arpeggios, rolling drums, strummed guitars, “The Rainbow Trout and the Wicker Creel” is a contemplative track that evokes rippling and undulating water — and while intimate, possesses a widescreen and cinematic air.

 

Born to an English father and Italian mother, the emerging Paris-born and-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music artist, Frank Woodbridge grew up in a passionate, musical household: at an early age, the Woodbridge family spent their evening listening to their vinyl record collection in front of their huge stereo. “My father loved The Kinks, The Beatles, The Bee Gees and Al Jarreau. My mother introduced me to Stan Getz, Carole King and the romantic refrains of the crooners that reminded her of her childhood,” Woodbridge recalls fondly in press notes. “From the age of ten, I was already deep into The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2. My teenage neighbor had decided to perfect my musical education. And then, Bernard Lenoir on Inter, the many weekends in London . . . I was an indie kid, that was my life.”

After spending many years in rock and electro pop groups as a singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Woodbridge has spent the past few years focusing on composing and composition for films, the web, TV games, sound design for events and stage music for theater. Currently, the French composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer and electronic music producer works with Andre Manoukian on his daily chronicle for the Daphne Burki-hosted TV show,. Je T’aime, ETC — and he wrote a comic book Inversion, which follows its composer protagonist.

Centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, Woodbridge’s latest single, the cinematic “Lola dans le bus” recalls JOVM  mainstays Uppermost and M83— but with a dreamy yet melancholy air. Woodbridge explains that the track is an electronic track he composed to drive or daydream along with. He adds that the song is  about running into an ex-girlfriend he lost contact with: he saw her on a bus and waved at her but she didn’t see him. So as a result the song has the sensibility of a missed connection that you’ll never get back — and of unfinished business.

Growing up in a musical home, in which both of his parents were classical musicians, a young Will Lowery wound up learning to play piano as a young boy. As Lowery got older, he became named with jazz, soul and funk. Unsurprisingly, his musical project pantology that draws from his early love of jazz, soul, funk and hip hop.

Lowry’s debut single as pantology “Never Enough” revealed an emerging artist and producer, who’s sound and approach owed a debt to Flying Lotus, Bill Evans and J. Dilla with his own unique touch. In other words, we’re talking about instrumental beatmaking that’s centered around completely original compositions. His pantology debut EP 2Q19 is slated for release next month, and the effort reportedly showcases an artist further honing his sound while delving into darker conceptual territory.

The EP’s second and latest single, the atmospheric “Descent” is centered around gently twinkling keys, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling low end paired with Sergej Avanesov‘s expressive Kamasi Washington-like saxophone playing. And while being sleek and  decidedly modern, the track manages a soulfulness and self-assuredness that belies the project’s relative newness while nodding at a nubmer of different periods in jazz history — in particular, Miles Davis‘ electronic era, Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Icelandic Duo Hugar Releases a Brooding and Gorgeously Cinematic Single

Hugar is an up-and-coming indie duo, comprised of longtime Seltjarnarnes, Iceland-born friends  Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson. Meeting when they were children, who played in a number of local bands,  Þórisson and  Jónsson quickly became friends. Back in 2013, Þórisson had collaborated with internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds and was working in a local studio while Jónsson studied architecture. And as the story goes, when the owner of Þórisson’s studio went on tour, the duo started casually writing material together for fun. During these largely impromptu recordings sessions, the duo eventually wound up writing the material that would comprise their 2014 self-titled debut, which was independently released. 

Initially released as a free download on the duo’s website, their self-titled album quickly attained buzz across social media and the blogosphere:  The album quickly averaged over 430,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, as “Inngangur” amassed over 20 million Spotify streams globally and “Felt” amassed over 12 million Spotify streams. The album received praise from the likes of The Line of Best Fit and The Independent — and as a result of their growing national and international profile, the duo have made appearances at festivals including Iceland Airwaves. 

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Sony Masterworks Records, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album Varða translates to English as “cairn,” a tiny rock tower that heralded the way as the next cairn would always be visible from its predecessor. Historically, such markers wound up signaling process for Icelandic travelers heading towards the country’s National Parliament — known as one of the oldest existing legislatures in the world. In fact, as a result of the country’s geographic location, which often meant extended daylight during the solstice, travelers used varða to help them find their way rather than the stars. 

Interestingly, the duo began quietly working on the material that would eventually comprise Varða as early as 2014, which they created out of their own studio. “There was never a plan to make our first album; it just happened,” Þórisson says in press notes. “This time around, we set out to make a record that functioned as a whole piece where everything was related. It’s more polished from beginning to end.” Jónsson adds, “The studio enabled us to experiment and explore. We had the freedom to do everything we wanted without barriers. Under normal conditions, you have to rent a studio. We moved at our own pace and learned a lot about being patient and how to work together.”

Sonically, the duo began using an increasing amount of electronic flourishes, which wound up expanding their sonic palette. And with the majority of the recording sessions taking place at night, the material wound up being imbued with a nocturnal vibe. “We’re obviously very affected by our environment,” Þórisson admits in press notes. “Recording at night in the summertime when it’s bright is an energy that doesn’t make sense. As a human being, you’re supposed to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark. When the sun is out all day, you get this weird energy. You’re tired, but you want to keep going. Iceland is an anomaly in general. We have earthquakes, glaciers melting, and avalanches. It’s a ridiculous place to live for man. At the same time, it’s so beautiful that you can’t escape it.”

Varða’s later single is the slow-burning and brooding “Logn.” Centered around a composition featuring gently arpeggiated keys and a gorgeous string arrangement, the new single manages to be cinematic while hinting at acclaimed countrymen Sigur Ros, as it possesses a similar yearning quality. 

New Video: Introducing the Gorgeous and Brooding Sounds and Visuals of Quietwater

Comprised of  classically trained cello Michelle Elliot Rearick  who has collaborated with a diverse list of acclaimed artists including Adele, Nas, Erykah Badu, and H.E.R. and producer and drummer Colin Ingram, who has worked with Living Legends’ Luckyiam, Terra Lopez and Vast Air among others, the California-based duo Quietwater write moody and ethereal compositions featuring classical cello arrangements over hip-hop like breakbeats. The duo’s debut, self-titled EP is slated for a November 16, 2018, and the EP’s latest single “Overcast,” is a cinematic track that will further cement their reputation as its centered around a gorgeous and melancholy cello arrangement and boom bap-like breakbeats that brings the Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based beatmakers and Chilly Gonzales’ The Unspeakable to mind. 

As the duo’s Colin Ingram says of the song and its inspiration, “I was improvising with a couple friends. One friend on guitar, one friend on drums, I was playing a synth. We recorded it. My friend Cory who was playing drums always talked about how much he loved the song. Cory decided to end his life when he was faced with an overwhelming amount of life’s let downs and depression. When I met Michelle the first thing I wanted to do was remake this song we had recorded and honor Cory in a more complete and cinematic way. This song means so much to me and it gives Cory eternal life as far as I’m concerned.”

Interestingly, the recently released video features cinematically shot landscape footage superimposed with psychedelic imagery that manages to emphasize the song’s brooding nature. 

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Currently comprised of Gilbert Elorreaga, Mark Gonzales, Greg Gonzalez, Josh Levy, Sweet Lou, Beto Martinez, Adrian Quesada, John Speice and Alex Marrero, the Austin, TX-based act Brownout was formed ten years as a side project featuring members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma, but interestingly enough, the project has evolved into its own as a unique effort, separate from the members’ primary gigs. Over the past few years, the act has garnered critical praise — they won their third Austin Music Award last year, while composing and arranging work that’s unflinchingly progressive while evoking the influences of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic. Unsurprisingly, the members of Brownout have been a highly-sought after backing band,  who have collaborated with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell, and adding to a growing profile, they’ve made appearances across the major festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others.

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin-based act, and as you may know, the band has released five full-length albums: 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath and 2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II — with their last two albums Latin funk interpretations and re-imaginings of the legendary work of Black Sabbath. Of course, during their run together, Brownout has released a handful of EPs, including 2017’s critically applauded Over the Covers, their first batch of original material in some time.

As a child of the 80s, hip-hop was a nothing short of a revelation to me and countless others. Every day after school, I practically ran home to catch Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and BET’s Rap City and during the weekends I’d catch Yo! MTV Raps with the legendary Fab 5 Freddy  — all to catch Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie, Das EFX, A Tribe Called Quest, X Clan and Public Enemy among an incredibly lengthy list. (Admittedly, I didn’t watch Rap City as much. Even as a kid, I hated their host and I found their overall production values to be incredible cheap. Plus, I really loathed how they almost always managed to either cut to a commercial or the end credits during the middle of a fucking song — and it was always during your favorite jam. Always.) 28 years ago, Public Enemy released their seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, and unsurprisingly, the album wound up profoundly influencing the future founding members of Grupo Fantasma/Brownout. The band’s Greg Gonzalez (bass) remembers how a kid back in junior high school hipped him to the fact that Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was built on James Brown samples. As a teenager, Beto Martinez (guitar) speaks fondly of alternating between hip-hop and metal tapes on his walkman (much like me). And Adrian Quesada remembers falling in love with Public Enemy and their sound at an early age. “When I got into hip-hop, I was looking for this aggressive outlet . . .,” Quesada says in press notes, “and I didn’t even understand what they were pissed off about, because I was twelve and lived in Laredo . . . but I loved it, and I felt angry along with them.”

So as true children of the 80s and 90s, the members of Brownout, with the influence and encouragement of Fat Beats‘ Records Joseph Abajian have tackled Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet — with their own unique take on the legendary material and sound. And although they were eager to get back to work on new, original material, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to one of their favorite acts. As Abajian says in press notes “I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs.” He adds “it was good to know they were P.E. fans . .  We came up with a track listing and they went to work.”

Understandably, translating sample-based music to a live band turned out to be more challenging than everyone anticipated. Quesada tried to get into the heads of the legendary production team the Bomb Squad in order to reinterpret Public Enemy’s work. “Imagine the Bomb Squad going back in time and getting the J.B.’s in the studio and setting up a couple analog synths and then playing those songs.” And while some songs closely hew to the original, other songs use the breakbeats as a jumping-off point for Mark “Speedy” Gonzales’ horn arrangements, synth work by Peter Stopchinski and DJ Trackstar‘s turntablism. “Our approach is never in the tribute sense,” Adrian Quesada explains. “We’ve always taken it and made it our own, whether it’s the Brown Sabbath thing or this Public Enemy thing.”

Fear of a Brown Planet comes on the heels of several Brown Sabbath tours, and while being an incredibly tight and funky band, the members of the band are incredibly psyched to bring revolutionary music to the people, especially in light of both the current   social climate and that they’re not particularly known for having an overt political agenda. “If there’s any way that we can use the already political and protest nature [of P.E.’s music], we would like to try,” Beto says. “The album’s title, Fear of Brown Planet is definitely a relevant idea today and we’re not afraid to put it out there, because we want to speak out.”

Fear of a Brown Planet‘s first single is Brownout’s take on “Fight the Power,” and while retaining the breakbeats that you’ll remember fondly, their instrumental take is a funky JB’s meets Booker T-like jam, centered around an incredible horn line, bursts of analog synth and sinuous guitar line. As a result, Brownout’s take is warmly familiar but without being a carbon copy; in fact, they manage to breathe a much different life into the song without erasing its revolutionary sound or its righteous fury. Check out how it compares to the original below.

New Audio: Rafiq Bhatia’s Atmospheric and Soulful New Single

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?'”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English’s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.