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Get Ssion’s new album ‘Bent’ free for a month


 
Meet Ssion, the gender bending electro-punk dance band from Kansas City, led by front person Cody Critcheloe. Is Cody a man or a woman? I’m not completely sure, but it’s not important - s/he can be whatever you want hir to be. And as with other current queer artists like JD Samson, Cody likes to play with people’s traditional perceptions of style and beauty - witness the trademark combo monobrow and mustache, a pretty risqué fashion move in these anti-hair-biased times

Ssion (pronounced “shun”) are a full on audio/visual/performance-troupe well known for their live shows and support slots for the likes of Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Critcheloe has been making a respectable career as a video director on the side, working with Peaches, Liars and Scream Club. Ssion formed in Kansas in 1996 and released their first material in 2003. The band released their last album Fools Gold in 2007 and with it the full length feature film Boy which compiled all their music videos and has been described as a “gay, punk rock equivalent of Forest Gump.” Ssion have taken the step of releasing their new album Bent as a free download for a limited time, and it’s definitely worth downloading. As with Tyler the Creator’s first album Bastard, it’s surprising to hear music released for free that is of this high quality.

Make no mistake though - Bent is pop music. It’s party music, it’s designed for dancing - for those moments at a friend’s house when the sun is coming up, you’ve had a ball, but you’ve got that melancholic feeling that to quit now as it’s can’t get any better. There are shades of very early Madonna here, coupled with the classic mid-80s synth driven sound of the Pet Shop Boys and Eurodisco, all refracted through early 90s NY dance pop like Deee-Lite. Bent is basically the album the Scissor Sisters should have made by now, classy dance music stripped of the chintz (and Elton bloody John references) and honed to a sharp electro-pop point. It’s pretty damn good. So my advice to you dear readers is to let a little bit of Ssion into your life - get Bent.

Ssion - “Clown”
 

 
Ssion - “Psy-Chic”
 

 
Ssion - “Luvvbazaar”
 

 
Ssion - “Credit In The Straight World” Excellent cover of

Hole

Young Marble Giants.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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07.19.2011
10:49 am
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Metal violinist plays Depeche Mode
06.13.2011
09:09 pm
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I would definitely give this guy a dollar:
 

 
Thanks to Chistopher McEwan!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.13.2011
09:09 pm
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New Scandinavian electro-funk: We Call It ‘Skweee’
02.12.2011
11:23 am
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So what is “skweee”? Skweee is a musical genre that originated in Scandinavia based around the production styles of producers like Randy Barracuda, Daniel Savio and Eero Johannes. It’s purely electronic, synth based, with its roots in modern hip-hop and the 80’s electro-funk likes of Rick James and Cybotron.

The easiest to describe this music would be to start by asking you to imagine a current hip-hop or crunk beat. Now, instead of the sparse synth flourishes favored by a producer like Timbaland, imagine instead that every small space of sound around those beats is filled with jabs, pops, blips, blops, chords and squelches. According to the Wikipedia page (which is accurate for once!):

The name Skweee was coined by Daniel Savio, one of the originators of the emerging sound. The name refers to the use of vintage synthesizers in the production process, where the aim is to “squeeze out” the most interesting sounds possible.

The main labels releasing skweee (mostly on the 7 or 12 inch vinyl format) are Norway’s dodpop, Sweden’s Flogsta Danshall, and Finland’s Harmonia.  Ben Butler, the subject of yesterday’s post, has put together a mix of vinyl-only skweee releases which features music by Eero Johannes, Mesak, Limonious, Beem & Joxaren and more. The full tracklisting is here.

 

For more info, the website Skweeelicious is a good place to start, as is the International Skweee Volume Two compilation on Harmonia. There is also a documentary about the genre titled We Call It Skweee (“A film about music, people and Scandinavia” by Iacopo Patierno and David Giese) which features interviews with all the main players on the scene. For more info, or to buy a copy, visit the film’s website. Here’s the trailer:
 

 
After the jump, videos from Daniel Savio, Randy Barracuda, Mesak and Eero Johannes…

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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02.12.2011
11:23 am
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Supermotion! The sound of Ben Butler & Mouse Pad
02.11.2011
09:08 am
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Imagine Bernie Worrell jammin’ on a Gameboy, and you’re kind of close to the unique sound of Ben Butler & Mouse Pad. Taking cues from chip-tune, jazz-funk, video games, electro (old and new), 80’s soundtracks, progressive rock and years of formal piano lessons, it references lots of music from the past but sounds like it only could have come from the present.

Ben Butler & Mouse Pad is essentially the work of one man, Joe Howe. Having previously produced an album for the Scottish indie guru Momus (Joemus) and been a part of the Glasgow-based art-spazz electro/trash duo Gay Against You, BB&MP sees Joe focusing on the music he loves the most. Heavily influenced by the Scandinavian Skwee scene, and filtered through his uber lo-fi set up of two tiny keyboards and a laptop, it’s synthy, it’s dirty and it’s ridiculously funky to boot. This guy is like a Herbie Hancock for the Scott Pilgrim generation.
 

 
So I should get the nepotism aspect out of the way - I sang the vocal on Ben Butler & Mouse Pad’s debut single “Infinite Capacity (For Love)”, which was released on LOAF in the UK and online in November of last year. But I really don’t care - I would write about Ben Butler even if he hated my guts, as he and his music are the absolute shit. Other vocalists on the upcoming debut album include the main man again, Momus and San Fransiscan rapper Hawnay Troof. You can listen to “Infinite Capacity (For Love)”, with remixes form Dam Mantle, Fulgeance and Dolby Anol, over on Niallism. In the meantime, here’s a video for ‘Supermotion’ made by Charlotte Carden and Gavin Laing:
 

 
Ben Butler & Mouse Pad are currently touring the States as support act for the equally awesome Deerhoof. If you get a chance to check out one of these shows, then do. A full list of tour dates are here.

Infinite Capacity (For Love) EP is available now to download via Amazon.co.uk.

There are more releases for sale or just listening on the BB&MP Bandcamp, including the recently released Worm EP, recorded at Worm/CEM Studios, Rotterdam, June 2010 on all analog gear. 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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02.11.2011
09:08 am
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