Tag: Kraftwerk The Man Machine

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Multimedia Artist Sook-Yin Lee Releases a Euphoric and Playful Banger

Sook-Yin Lee is a award-winning Canadian filmmaker, musician, actor, visual artist and broadcaster, who has immersed herself in myriad creative collaborations across a wide array of media. Many of those collaborations were made with her life partner and frequent co-creator Adam Litovitz, including their 2015 electroacoustic album jooj.

While financial difficulties and external pressures contributed to the end of their romantic relationship, Lee and Litovitz remained best friends and creative partners, eventually continuing to work on the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album together jooj two. As he was busy working on a soundtrack for Netflix, Litovitz gave Lee his blessing to continue working on their second album without him. Increasingly, Litovitz struggled with anxiety and depression, compounded by a prescription drug dependency that exacerbated insomnia and pain. Tragically, Litovitz committed suicide on July 16, 2019.

Litovtiz’s death’s a profound loss for Lee — and for those who loved him. As it turned out, Lee saw pieces of Litovitz’s irrepressible spirit — as well as the story of their relationship — contained within jooj two’s material, and was determined to share it with the world. With the assistance of Steve Chahley, Lee finished the album, which was released last month through Mint Records.

Despite the tragic circumstances that surround its completion, jooj two is a celebration of life — especially Litovtiz’s. Much like its predecessor, jooj two’s material its centered around the duo’s life-long love of pop music and playful experimentalism. Interestingly, the album features songs that tap into moments across pop’s vast history paired with a unique songwriting approach that initially came about when Lee responded to a musical phrase with vocal melodies and stream of consciousness lyrics. Litovitz transcribed and interpreted this experiments and retuned them to Lee, who would further refine them. The end result is an album that evokes the feeling of being thrown into the shorthand created between those who intimately know each other.

jooj two’s latest single “Ship It Out” is a euphoric and playful dance floor friendly banger featuring buzzing synth arpeggios, thumping beats, an insistent, motorik-like groove, bursts of cowbell and syrupy, stream-of-consciousness delivered lyrics. Sonically the track — to my ears, at least — manages to recall a slick, hook-driven synthesis of Lipps, Inc.’s 1979 smash-hit “Funky Town,” Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine” and Giorgio Moroder’s Munich Machine. Personally, if the song doesn’t make you get up and start dancing, there’s something wrong deep in your soul. “When Adam and I made ‘Ship It Out” it made us laugh hard and of course dance!” Sook-Yin Lee recalled in press notes. “I have no idea where the syrupy vocal chorus bubbled up from inside of me… but I’m glad it did!”

Directed by Lee and Dylan Gamble, the recently released video follows an Earthling protagonist — played by lee — as she stumbles upon a curious, interstellar traveler, who engages her sense of curiosity and wonder. Fittingly, the interstellar traveler and our Earthling protagonist initially communicate through dancing. Eventually. the traveller reveals the secrets of the Universe to her, and it includes an urgent warning about the fate of the world she inhabits. Maybe we all need to heed that warning, huh?

New Video: Crammed Discs to Re-issue Zazou Bikaye’s Forward-Thinking Electro Take on Afrobeat/Afrofunk Originally Released in the 80s

Tracing their origins back to an encounter between Congolese vocalist and composer Bony Bikaye, French musician and producer Hector Zazou and modular synth act CY1, Zazou Bikaye released a groundbreaking Afro pop/experimental electronic album with their 1983 full-length debut Noir et Blanc, an album that has since garnered cultish devotion by music cognoscenti, musicians and fans.

After the release of Noir et Blanc, Zazou Bikaye turned into a proper band that started to develop and hone their own special brand of digital Afrobeat/Afrofunk. Zazou took on writing and programming duties while Bikaye expanded on the extroverted side of his vocal stylings. They then set out to record a large batch of material with five tracks eventually being released in 1985 as the 32-minute mini album Mr. Manager, an effort released to acclaim through Crammed Discs in Europe and through Pow Wow in Japan and the States. The act toured Europe and played a couple of shows in New York — and two of the album’s tracks “Angel” and “Nostalgie” became underground club hits across the States and Europe.

With a backing band that featured Philipe “Pinpin” de la Croix Herpin (woodwinds), Tuxedomoon’s Luc van Lieshout (trumpet and harmonica), Vincent Kenis (guitar), Chris Jouris (percussion), Bigoune (percussion), Mwamba Kasuba (backing vocals), Nicole MT (backing vocals) M’Bombo K (backing vocals) and Marc Hollander (sax), the Hollander, Zazou Kenis produced sessions recorded between 1985 and 1986 were supposed to be appear on a full-length album. But as it turned out, the members of Zazou Bikaye moved on and recorded an entirely different album of material, 1988’s Guilty. Some of the tracks from those 1985-1986 sessions came out as remixes but most of the material was left aside, unfinished.

Slated for an October 16, 2020 release through Crammed Discs, the expanded and remastered reissue of Mr. Manager features the mini-album’s original five tracks plus nine rediscovered tracks recorded during those abandoned 1985-1986 sessions. And to celebrate the occasion, Zazou Bikaye and Crammed Disc re-released album single “Nostalgie. Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated blocks of synths, thumping polyrhythm, call-and-response vocals, an ebullient, Branford Marsalis-like sax solo and an enormous, crowd pleasing hook, “Nostalgie” may strike some listeners as a sleek and mischievous synthesis of 80s Peter Gabriel synth pop, Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and Fela Kuti. But interestingly enough, it actually presages the wildly experimental dance pop coming out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — i.e. Kokoko! and Tshegue among a growing list of others.

Mr. Manager also featured a colorful album cover art and the recently released video for “Nostalgie” features animation by Sylvia Baldan that draws from the album’s artwork, which she originally designed.

New Video: Meridian Brothers Release a Dystopian Yet Hopeful New Single

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about Bogota, Colombia-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, Eblis Alvarez, who’s perhaps better known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed, forward-thinking cumbia act Meridian Brothers. Now, as you may recall, Meridian Brothers newest album Cumbia Siglo XXI is salted for an August 21, 2020 release through Bongo Joe Records — and the album, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the act’s critically applauded (and largely acoustic) ¿Dónde estás María? continues the Colombian artist’s long-held reputation for restlessly pushing his sound and approach in new and radical directions whenever possible. 

Largely inspired by Cumbia Siglo XX’s experimentation with traditional cumbia in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which led to a completely new form of the genre, Cumbia Siglo XXI sees Alvarez using a multitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software, vintage drum machines and whatever tech that the acclaimed Colombian artist could get his hands on. The end result is material that seemingly draws from Kraftwerk, while blending EDM “sidechain” techniques and traditional cumbia.

I’ve written about two album singles so far: “Puya del Empressario,” an infectious yet let field take on cumbia that sounded a bit like like The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk meets JOVM mainstay El Dusty with a mischievous sense of adventurousness — and “Los Golpeadores de la cumbia,” a mischievous synthesis of chip tune, electro pop and cumbia that came from the Island of Misfit Toys. The album’s latest single  “Cumbia de la fuente,” is a yearning and plaintive track centered around strummed acoustic guitar, glitchy synths and glitchier drum machines and Alvarez’s aching vocal delivery.  And while sounding as though it came from some incredibly dystopian future — one just as hellish as our own — the song conveys a sense of hope for something beyond this. 

“‘Cumbia de la fuente’ is a stopping point of the whole theme of the record, both in lyrics and in sound concept,” Meridian Brothers’ Alvarez says in press notes. “rThe song is a prayer and an amulet, a search for something that modern human beings are not used to do, due to mechanisation and modern industrial societies. A scream to the nowhere, looking for some answer, which is not given by scientific fetichism nor the political argument, nor the philosophic reason.”

The recently released video for “Cumbia de la fuente” features some trippy and brightly colored drawings that seem inspired by an intense hallucinogenic trip. 

New Audio: Meridian Brothers’ Forward-Thinking and Adventurous Take on Cumbia

Eblis Alvarez is a Bogota, Colombia-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and forward-thinking solo project Meridian Brothers. The act’s forthcoming album Cumbia Siglo XXI is slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Bongo Joe Records — and the album, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the act’s critically applauded (largely  acoustic) ¿Dónde estás María? furthers the act’s long-held reputation for relentlessly pushing their sound and approach in new and radical directions.

Inspired by Cumbia Siglo XX’s experimentation with traditional cumbia in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which led to a completely new form of the genre, Cumbia Siglo XXI sees the act employing a use of amultitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software, vintage drum machines and other tech that Alvarez could get his hands on. Drawing a bit from Kraftwerk, the album reportedly is a sonic blend of EDM “sidechain” techniques and traditional cumbia.

“Puya del Empreasirio,” Cumbia Siglo XXI’s first single is centered around layers of fuzzy analog synths, off-kilter and propulsive rhythms, snatches of vocals is an hypnotic, infectious and completely left field take on cumbia that kind of sounds like The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk meets JOVM mainstay El Dusty — but with a mischievous sense of adventurousness. “Cumbia disintegrated into drum machines. AIs are fucking idiots, Puya rides the machine,” Alvarez says of the track. 

Throwback: RIP Florian Schneider/Kraftwerk Forever!

Co-founded by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf in 1970, Kraftwerk initially began as part of West Germany’s krautfock for a handful of years before fully embracing electronic instrumentation. With the release of their seminal and commercially successful albums 1974’s Autobahn, 1977’s Trans Europe Express and 1978’s The Man Machine, the act honed and developed a self-described “robot pop” sound centered around hypnotic rhythms and minimalist arrangements. Copious amounts of ink have been spilled about Hütter, Schneider and company and their massive influence, including how the act has managed to influence a number of genres and styles of contemporary music including hip-hop, synth pop, post-punk, ambient, techno and EDM.

The fact that Kraftwerk isn’t in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame while Hall & Oates is, is criminally stupid and shows how bankrupt the thing is in the first place. So fuck you, Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fane. 

Personally, Kraftwerk has been the soundtrack during my two trips to Europe. The first flight I ever took was a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt-am-Main — and on that long flight, I played their Minimum Maximum album on my iPod and while on commuter train rides between Frankfurt and my hotel in Bad Soden. Trans Europe Express was the soundtrack of my trip to The Netherlands. And oddly enough, over the past year I’ve been madly obsessed with the Tour De France album. 

Today has been a weird day emotionally. My mom had to have a hysterectomy as part of a course of treatment for uterine cancer. Because of COVID-19, I couldn’t stay at Mount Sinai with her, which had me feeling a deep and unrelenting sense of anguish.  I kept thinking of the fact that she was alone in that hospital. Thankfully, the procedure went well and she’s back home now. Before I picked her up, I learned that Kraftwerk’s co-founder Florian Schneider died after a brief battle with cancer. So I’m also a bit heartbroken. But i wanted to pay homage to Florian and his work; work that has meant quite a bit to me over the years. I stumbled across live footage of the band from the Minimum Maximum. Kraftwerk forever! Florian Schneider forever! 

New Video: Austin’s Memory Keepers Release a Lysergic Trance-Inducing Video

Late last year, I wrote about Memory Keepers, the Austin, TX-based electro-punk side project of The Sour Notes’ Jared Boulanger and Amarah Ulghani. And as you may recall, the duo released a propulsive synth and vocoder-based cover of Brian Eno’s “Uncle Third” that retained the original’s motorik groove while nodding at The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk. 

Building upon the attention they received from their Brian Eno cover, the duo released the “Faint Ink”/”Found Sound” 7 inch earlier this year. The 7 inch’s A-side single “Faint Ink” is centered around a trance-like motorik groove, layers of buzzing and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, vocoder-fed vocals and an enormous hook– and while further establishing the duo’s retro-futuristic sound, the expansive single manages to simultaneously be lysergic and rousingly anthemic. 

Further emphasizing the song’s trippy, trance-inducing vibes, the recently released video features an analog, mixed media visual by Austin-based mixed media visual artist Sydney Quezada, a.k.a. Astral Violet. “They’ve worked with artists like MBV, Roky Erickson, King Gizzard and more. Astral Violet’s stunning visual projections found them on some of the best bills in town as soon as they moved here, which is how we came to meet them,” the duo’s Jared Boulanger says in press notes. “After they projected their light show on us at a few Memory Keepers gigs, we thought their trippy, visual experience would be the perfect backdrop to our new lyric video ‘Faint Ink.’ It feels good to be completely absorbed in their light, while performing on stage…I could honestly watch their visuals for hours, sync’d to many types of music and be totally lost in space.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Release a Strutting and Shimmering Retro-Futuristic Boogie Blues

Over the course of 2017, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock septet and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums) released five albums — with each album consisting of material in a wildly different genre and style from the other, further cementing the band’s reputation for being restlessly prolific. Flying Microtonal Banana and The Murder of the Universe, two albums released within that incredibly prolific run found the acclaimed Australian act pushing their thematic concerns and sound in new, and darkly trippy directions. 

For a band that has been as productive as the Melbourne-based JOVM mainstays, not having much in the way of new music last year seems extremely odd but they were busy with several other things — including: a relentless tour schedule that featured a headlining set at Desert Daze and three sold out-dates at Brooklyn Steel, the largest venue they’ve played in the States to date. Additionally, the band re-issued their first five albums on vinyl for the first time ever, and it created such a frenzied demand that the Flightless Records website crashed from the traffic.

The band’s fourteenth album, Fishing for Fishies is slated for an April 26, 2019 release through their own Flightless Records, and the album reportedly finds the band creating a sonic world in which the organic meets the automated; where the rustic meets the robotic; where the past and future collide in the beautiful present, as the material is essentially boogie blues that struts, shimmies and stomps through several different moods and terrains. “We tried to make a blues record,” says frontman Stu Mackenzie. “A blues-boogie-shuffle-kinda-thing, but the songs kept fighting it – or maybe it was us fighting them. Ultimately though we let the songs guide us this time; we let them have their own personalities and forge their own path. Paths of light, paths of darkness. This is a collection of songs that went on wild journeys of transformation.”

“I didn’t really know who I was by the end of 2017,” Mackenzie continues in press notes, about the band’s incredibly prolific 2017. “It was a good kind of spent feeling though, as I like being busy. For most of the holiday period I was in the studio doing the last of the recording and mixing on Gumboot Soup. And as soon as it clicked over to 2018 I stopped worrying about recording for a while and started living instead.” 

Written primarily on piano, the material on Fishing for Fishies is reportedly centered around recurring musical motifs — piano, mellotron and synth flourishes, paired with vocals drenched in vocoder, and a plethora of creative U-turns. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single, “Cyboogie” found the band pushing their sound in a completely new direction, with five of its seven members playing synths in a funky and strutting disco boogie with heavily vocoder’ed vocals that brought From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and DEVO to mind while actually being about a dancing cyborg from the future.  Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Boogieman Sam” is a retro-futuristic take on boogie blues that’s one part Marc Bolan and T. Rex, one part John Lee Hooker, one part prog rock freakout that struts and shimmies. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Release a Wild Disco Synth Boogie Track

Over the course of an incredibly prolific 2017, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock septet and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums) released an incredibly prolific five albums — with each album consisting of material in a wildly different genre and style from the other, further cementing the band’s reputation for being restlessly experimental. In fact, some of their earliest output found the band blending elements of 60s surf rock, beach, rock, garage rock and psych rock with later albums being blends of film scores, prog rock, folk and soul — although two albums Flying Microtonal Banana and The Murder of the Universe found the acclaimed Australian act pushing their thematic concerns and sound in new, and darkly trippy directions.

Now, for a band that’s been as wildly prolific as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, not having much in the way of new music during 2018 is a bit strange; but the band was busy relentlessly touring, including a headlining set at Desert Daze and three sold out-dates at Brooklyn Steel, the largest venue they’ve played in the States to date. Additionally, the band re-issued their first five albums on vinyl for the first time ever, and it created such a frenzied demand that the Flightless Records website crashed from the traffic. 

The first bit of new material from the Aussie JOVM mainstays, “Cyboogie” finds the band stepping in a wild new direction with five of its seven members playing synths in a funky and strutting disco boogie woogie paired with heavily vocoder’ed vocals that brings From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and DEVO to mind, as the song is actually about a dancing cyborg from the future — viewed with a decidedly retro-futuristic and prog rock-leaning. ” 

“Cyboogie,” is accompanied by a visual from longtime collaborator Jason Galea shot in a grainy VHS that has the band’s Mackenzie as a half-man, half-synthesizer who essentially plays himself (no pun intended here), along with the bandmembers. The visuals seem to undulate and pulsate with the synths, which is a wildly hypnotic and hallucinogenic effect. By the way, “Cyboogie” will be released on a limited-edition 7″ inch along with another new track “Arcane.” 

Memory Keepers is the Austin, TX-based electro-punk side project of The Sour Notes‘ Jared Boulanger and Amarah Ulghani.  The duo’s latest single is a propulsive, synth and vocoder-led cover of Brian Eno‘s “Uncle Third” that retains the original’s motorik groove — and in many ways, the original feels like pre-Autobahn-era Kraftwerk while the Memory Keepers cover feels like The Man-Machine

 

 

New Video: Renowned French Electronic Act KCPK Releases a Cinematic and Surreal Video Focusing on the Tumult of Early Adulthood

KCPK is a French production and electronic music trio comprised of Alexandre Brovelli, Fabrice Brovelli and Christophe Caurret, best known as pioneers of the Rémoise electronic music scene with the likes of  Yuksek, Brodinski and The Shoes; for creating PANIK, a club night known for hosting Groove Armada, Laurent Garnier and Amon Tobin; for collaborating with Woodkid, The Chemical Brothers and Two Door Cinema Club; and lastly for their work in advertising as creative directors of renowned firm BETC. And if you were frequenting this site last year, you’d recall that “Who Wants It,” their collaboration with Philadelphia, PA-based emcee STS managed to bridge enormous, festival friendly, tweeter and woofer rocking house music with swaggering, braggadocio-fueled trap-like hip-hop in a way that felt mischievous and fresh. 
Along with that, the Nicolas Davenel-produced video was featured on The Creator’s Project, was nominated for Best International Urban Video at the UK Music Video Awards and was featured as the racing for Louis De Caunes’ video for Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium digital campaign. 

The French trio’s latest single “The End” is a propulsive and dare I say, arguably the most sensual and dance floor friendly songs they’ve released to date as it features razor sharp arpeggiated synths, a rousingly anthemic hook and breathily cooed vocals — and interestingly enough, the song and its production sounds as though it owes a debt to Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and Daft Punk but with a hyper modern touch. 

Directed by Luc Besson’s former Steadicam operator Andrieu and Director of Photography, Nicolas Loir, who has worked with Woodkid, Ghostpoet and Snoop Dogg, the recently released video for “The End” is a cinematically shot one, that focuses on the tumultuous psyche of a teenaged girl as she struggles with a dysfunctional relationship with her mother and an unreciprocated romantic obsession, capturing the uneasy yet profound transition towards adulthood. Interestingly, the  video pays homage to several 90s coming of age movies through its use of props, fashion design and art direction — with live action footage meshed with visual effects by David Danesi. As the video’s director explains in press notes. “It’s a coming of age snapshot. At this stage, the rules get rewritten. Your eyes open to what lies beyond family and school. It is the first time you’re seeing yourself in the world, but emotional reactions overwhelm your ability to understand and cope. This is the end of innocence.”