Tag: Kraftwerk

Lyric Video: Stockholm’s I Break Horses Releases a Shimmering and Cinematic New Single

Led by frontwoman Maria Linden and featuring Fredrik Balak, the Stockholm-based indie act I Break Horses have released two critically applauded albums: 2011’s full-length debut Hearts received praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for material that possessed luxurious grandeur and 2014’s Chiaroscuro, which found Linden crafting ambitious material with a cool, self-assuredness. Building upon a growing profile, Linden wound up touring with M83 and Sigur Ros– and U2 played “Winter Beats” before their stage entrance during 2018’s Experience + Innocence tour. 

Slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Bella Union, I Break Horses’ long-awaited third album Warnings is reportedly centered around Linden’s desire to take the time to make something different — by crafting material with an emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music. As she watched a collection of her favorite films on her computer with the sound mute, she began to make her own soundtrack sketches, with those sketches gradually evolving into songs. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” says Lindén, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.”

Sonically, the album’s material is centered around lush and sumptuous soundscapes — dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analog synths and layered lyrics paired together to create an immersive, dramatic tension on multiple levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.”  Interestingly, the album’s creative process involved several different dramas on its own right: “It has been some time in the making. About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…” Linden says in press notes.

Warnings also finds Linden collaborating with producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who has worked with the likes of Beach House and TV on the Radio. But his experience and expertise with dense and cinematic sound wasn’t the only reason Linden recruited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

Adds Linden, “Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén says. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient’. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!”

“Neon Lights,” Warnings’  third and latest single is a lush and cinematic track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove, thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic hook and Linden’s plaintive and expressive vocals. And while recalling Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk and the Stranger Things soundtrack, the song has a much-needed we’re-in-this-together air. The track as Linden explains is “anthem for all of us who have ever felt like we didn’t fit in. It is trying to give a glimpse of hope to all outsiders who feel like they can’t find their way and to show the world that being a ‘misfit’ is a beautiful thing, not something to be pushed aside.”

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Over the past handful of months, I’ve written a bit about the emerging and mysterious French electronic music artist and producer LutchamaK. The French artist and producer grew up as an voracious music fan and listener, who listened to — and loved — an eclectic array of music, including hip-hop, dub, classical, rock, techno and others. LutchmaK’s work is deeply influenced by techno but with a devotion to lifelong eclecticism: his first two EPs, which he managed to create during lunch breaks at his job, featured material that seamlessly synthesized techno, house and EDM among others.

LutchamaK is gearing up to release his full-length debut Invisible Realm and the album’s first single “Tribute 2 Mad Mike” continues in a similar retro-futuristic vein as “Later On.” Centered around a minimalist-leaning production, the track features shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, vocodered vocals and an enormous hook, “Tribute 2 Mad Mike” brings Computer World and Tour de France-era Kraftwerk, JOVM mainstay Boys Noize, ’90s house music and techno to mind. Simply put, it’s a thumping club banger.

“I wanted to make it as danceable as possible,” LutchamaK wrote to me in an email. “It’s a salute to Mad Mike, one of the founders of Detroit’s Underground Resistance. I tried to get a ’90s techno vibe, hoping the result won’t be seen as plagiarism.”

 

 

New Video: Lower Dens Releases a Psychedelic Visual for “Hand of God”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed the tour to support Twin Hand Movement, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot, Nootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork. Rolling Stone and Spin. 

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. The following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. 

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Released last September through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, the album is a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Last year, the members of Lower Dens opened for hit-making act Of Monsters And Men, and they’ll begin this year with a headlining tour to support the album that starts on February 13, 2020 and includes a March 19, 2020 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (You can check out the rest of the tour dates below.) In the meantime, the album’s latest single, the glistening and propulsive “Hand of God” is centered around Hunter’s achingly expressive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Sonically, the song bears a subtle resemblance to Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” and Songs from the Big Chair-era Tears for Fears — but centered around feelings of arrogance, humility and shame. 

“It’s like Cowboy Krautrock,” Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter says about the song in press notes.  “Imagine a wild west adventure, like City Slickers with the star, a wealthy white man. He’s devised a way to conquer God. He has some kind of vaguely dangerous journey, then comes upon God and declares victory. In his hubris, he goes to shake God’s hand, at which time he is psychedelically humbled, his little brain imploding.”

Directed by Aaron Brown and Robby Piantanida, the recently released video, manages to employ a decidedly DIY approach with a bright psychedelic colors — with Hunter seeing the hands of God. 

 

Late last year, I wrote about the somewhat mysterious yet emerging French electronic music artist and producer LutchamaK. Like countless others, the emerging French artist grew up as an avid and passionate music fan, who listened to — and loved — an eclectic array of music, including hip-hop, dub, classical, rock, techno and others. Interestingly enough, the mysterious French artist’s work is deeply influenced by techno — but while nodding at other styles and genres: his first two EPs featured, which he managed to create during such breaks at his day job, featured material that effortlessly meshed techno, house and EDM.

9th Forest” off the Goth in the Shell EP was a slickly produced, propulsive house-leaning techno track centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats and arpeggiated synths that recalled JOVM mainstay Boys Noize and Octo Octa, but with a self-assured swagger. LutchamaK begins 2020 continuing a run of slickly produced, swaggering, club friendly house music with his latest single “Later On.” Much like its predecessor, the track is centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and a sample of a seductive female vocal — but “Later On” features a decidedly minimalist production reminiscent of Kraftwerk‘s Tour de France.

“I guess the purpose for me is always the same, to make the best song I can,” the emerging French producer and electronic music artist wrote to me in an email. “It  has to move me somehow, to please me so much that I want to share with everybody else. [I’m] hoping this track would get big smiles and make heads and feet move. :)”

New Video: French 79’s Intimate and Contemplative Visual for “Code Zero”

Last month, I wrote about Simon Henner, a Marseille, France-based electro pop producer and artist, best known for his solo recording project French 79. And with the release of his first two releases — his debut EP Angel and his full-length debut Olympic — Henner quickly and boldly emerged into the French and international electro pop scenes. 

Henner’s latest French 79 album Joshua is slated for a Friday release through Alter K Records, and the album reportedly finds Henner drawing from his past — in particular, his love of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Soft Machine, the soundtracks of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner and Jacques Cousteau. Each of Joshua‘s songs are meant to evoke a lived-in moment, relationship or experience during Henner’s childhood.

Now, as you may recall, album single “By Your Side” was centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and Ocean Springs, MS-born, Paris-based vocalist Sarah Rebecca‘s plaintive vocals to create a nostalgia-inducing track that recalls — to my ears, at least — From Here To Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder, and the Stranger Things soundtrack. And while being remarkably dance floor friendly, the track is a sweet declaration of loyalty that feels delightfully old-school. 

“Code Zero,” Joshua’s latest single is lush, instrumental track featuring twinkling Wurlitzer, shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats and a motorik groove. And while subtly recalling Tour de France-era Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and the aforementioned Giorgio Moroder, “Code Zero” the track possesses an intimate quality, as it feels like a contented sigh in a rare moment of peace. In press notes, Henner explains that the track, which also references his passion for sailing is “about how I find a path, how I use my music compass to move forward.” 

Directed by Vincent Desrousseaux, the recently released video is an intimate look at Henner’s creative process, as he writes the song in a gorgeous, sun-dappled apartment with with vintage gear — and it includes a brief moment in which Henner pauses to watch the 1983 motion picture War Games on his laptop. 

New Video: French 79’s 80s Nostalgia-Tinged Visual for Shimmering Synth-Driven “By Your Side”

Simon Henner is a Marseille, France-based electro pop producer and artist, best known for his solo recording project French 79. With the release of his debut EP Angel and his full-length debut Olympic, Henner quickly and boldly emerged into the French and international electro pop scenes. 

Building upon a rapidly rising profile, Henner’s soon-to-be released album Joshua, which is slated for a November 8, 2019 release through Alter K Records, reportedly finds the French electro pop producer and artist drawing from his past — in particular Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Soft Machine, the soundtracks of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner and Jacques Cousteau. Each of Joshua’s songs are meant to evoke a lived-in moment, relationship or experience during Henner’s childhood.

Interestingly, the album’s latest single, “By Your Side,” is centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and Ocean Springs, MS-born, Paris-based vocalist Sarah Rebecca’s plaintive vocals to create a nostalgia-inducing track that sounds indebted to From Here To Eternity . . . and Back-era Giorgio Moroder, and the Stranger Things soundtrack. And while being remarkably dance floor friendly, the track is a sweet declaration of loyalty that feels delightfully old-school. 

Directed by Le Couple, the recently released video for “By Your Side” follows the previous video for “Hold On,” as it nods to Simon Henner’s childhood love of skateboarding, while being imbued with the nostalgia of places you once knew with someone else. “The video sticks to the story of the album, the notion of a trajectory in a life: where we c one from and where we go despite hardships,” Henner explains in press notes

New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave. 

New Video: Molina Releases a Feverish and Surreal Visual for Atmsopheric and Synth Driven “Parásito”

Rebecca Maria Molina, is an emerging Chilean-Danish singer/songwriter, electronic music artist and producer, who can trace the origins of her career to when she was eight. As the story goes, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based Molina began writing her own music, inspired by the music her mother frequently played for her, including Bjork, Kate Bush and Royksopp. “I remember wanting the Basement Jaxx’ Rooty album for my birthday at the same age as I was dancing to children’s music.” Molina recalls.

When Molina was in her teens, she furthered her musical education by searching the corners of the Internet and following a trail of like-minded bands and artists, eventually becoming obsessed with the work of Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, 70s-80s new wave and punk , shoegaze and the work of Miharu Koshi and Mariah among others. Unsurprisingly, all of those disparate sounds and styles have influenced the Chilean-Danish artist’s work. 

With the release of her debut EP Corpus, Molina received attention internationally from BBC Radio 6, Beats 1 Radio, The 405, The Line of Best Fit and countless others for a songwriting approached that openly embraces experimentalism — but while sonically drawing from late 70s and early 80s synth pop. Building upon a growing profile across Scandinavia and elsewhere, Molina has released three singles “Mike” “Venus and “Hey Kids” off her highly-awaited, forthcoming sophomore EP Vanilla Shell that have not only established her as a unique voice in the alternative pop scene, but have also received attention from a number of media outlets across the globe, including Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, who highlighted “Venus” among the best tracks of this year. 
Slated for a January 24, 2020 release, Vanilla Shell finds Molina weaving layered vocals, string and flute arrangements and fretless bass into a synthetic universe, frequently characterized by inventive and challenging song structures, catchy melodies and brooding production. “Parásito,” Vanilla Shell’s latest single is centered around layers of ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals, a chilly, motorik-like groove with warm bursts of organic instrumentation — primarily strummed, acoustic guitar, fluttering flute and wobbling fretless bass lines. Sonically, the song is an exploration of the contrasts between hard and soft and the organic and the synthetic that will draw comparisons to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. But thematically, the song focuses on two familiar emotions — that mix of longing and absorption for another that makes it feel impossible to get as close to that person as you’d want and the desperate, intense urge for that person that makes you feel as though you were a parasite, as though you couldn’t survive without them. In other words, it suggests that love can be kind of parasitical and confusing. 

“Parásito,” is the first song of Molina’s career written and sung in Spanish and interestingly when she wrote the song, she felt a deeply inherent power and energy than in either Danish and English. “I feel Spanish amplifies my message,” Molina explains in press notes. “The drama in the language makes it easier and more natural for me to be an extrovert and emotional.” 

While being a decidedly 80s-era MTV inspired visual, the recently released video possesses a surreal and feverish air that emphasizes the song’s longing at the song’s core.