follow us in feedly
‘Kill For Love’: Chromatics glacial take on synth disco (and Neil Young)


 
How far would you go for love? Would you give up all your possessions? Renounce this world and all its cruelty? Would you die for love? Would you kill for love?

Kill For Love is the new album by Chromatics, a band from Portland, Orgeon led by the producer Johnny Jewel of Italians Do It Better renown. I’ve written about the Italians Do It Better label before, drawing a comparison between the IDIB roster’s sound, and the lo-fi, tripped-out, “haunted retro” aesthetic of acts like Ariel Pink and John Maus.

The Italians Do It Better sound is rooted very firmly in late 70s and early 80s disco music, particularly the more soundtrack-oriented work of Giorgio Moroder, Claudio Simonetti and Patrick Cowley. As those names would also suggest, Johnny Jewel (who produces practically everything on the label) LOVES the sound of analog synthesizers. Jewel was the original choice to compose the soundtrack to last year’s 80s-noir sleeper hit Drive, and with his trademark throbbing, moody sound, it’s not hard to see why.

Chromatics are one of Italians Do It Better’s flagship acts, and one of its most popular, so expectations for this new album are high (particularly as it was originally due for release in 2010.) Thank god then that it doesn’t disappoint. It goes without saying that there’s nothing radically new here, no re-invention of the wheel, but when a form and function are just so perfect, why would you want to reinvent them?
 

 
Having said that, there is less of a reliance on arpeggiated synth lines on Kill For Love as there has been on past Chromatics releases. Of all the IDIB acts, Chromatics seem most like a “real” band, in that they aren’t afraid to adopt the “traditional” band roles of bassist, guitarist and drummer. In fact, the addition of live electric guitar on a lot of Kill For Love is perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the album.

Still, that chilly John Carpenter-vibe is present and correct, like a sliver of ice through a beating heart, as are the hauntingly distant female vocals of singer Ruth Radelet. The opening cover of Neil Young’s “Into The Black” is simply stunning, one of the musical highlights of the year so far for me, and as an opener it sets up the rest of the album perfectly. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Jewel explained the rationale behind that particular cover version:

It was very, very intentional in terms of rock mythology. You can’t underestimate the power of the guitar for an American audience. It’s a really strong symbol—just everything the guitar and Western culture represent—and Chromatics is part of that fantasy. The Neil Young song was recorded in 2009, and I knew I wanted to open the album with it, for multiple reasons. Part of it was a challenge to us as beatmakers or mood-makers, to see if we could actually write songs that could stand up in a pop sense. Because if you cover a song like that, you’re biting off a lot. You can’t touch Neil Young, but I wanted to challenge us to go beyond the loop and think about songs more. 

The rest of that interview is well worth a read.

You can hear (and download) the Chromatics cover of “Into The Black” right here:
 

 
 
Here’s another free download from the album, the single “Kill For Love”:
 


 
And here’s the “Kill For Love” album in full:
 

 


 
For LOTS more great music, visit Johnny Jewel’s Soundcloud page.

To order Kill For Love, and for more info on Italians Do It Better, visit Viva Italians

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Download Dam Funk’s new EP for free

 
Sweeeet - In preparation for his upcoming US tour, king of the boogie Dam Funk has made his forthcoming InnaFocusedDaze EP available as a free download. The 10” vinyl of InnaFocusedDaze will be released through Scion A/V in October, when Dam goes out on the road with his band Master Blazter - tour dates and more info on the EP can be found on the Stone’s Throw website. You can download the EP here, and just in case you need to be reminded of just how cool this cat is (he really IS king of the boogie) here’s a video for the EP’s lead track “Forever”:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
More pioneering synthpunk from Futurisk


 
More early 80s synthpunk madness, this time from South Florida’s Futurisk. These guys are pretty obscure and information on them is limited, but according to their website they formed in 1979 when teenager Jeremy Kolosine won some time in a recording studio, and their music was usually:

recorded by Richard Hess and the band in the rooms of Ron K’s house. The drum sound, gotten in a bathroom, rocks, even today. Reportedly, Futurisk may have been the 1st synth-punk band in the American South…or something, and 1981’s track ‘Push Me Pull You (pt. 2)’ was an early pre-‘Rockit’ excursion into electro-funk.

The revival of interest in the band was sparked when James Murphy included one of their tracks on a DFA mix for the French boutique Colette in 2003. Last year the Minimal Wave label released a retrospective of the band’s work called Player Piano, and earlier this year the band put out a remix 12” of the track “Lonely Streets”, one of whose remixes came from the mighty Chris Carter. Here’s a couple of videos of Futurisk in action:

Futurisk - “Meteoright”
 

 
After the jump the original video for the classic “Army Now”, and more Futurisk…
 
If you like what you hear, and you want to pick up Player Piano, you can get it here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Original synthpunk pioneers The Units present ‘Unit Training Films’


 
The Units were one of the first “rock” bands in America to ditch guitars completely and focus their set-up on drums, vocals and synthesisers. Leaders of San Francisco’s post-punk synth-led music scene (a lot of which is now resurfacing with the current interest in “Minimal Wave”) the comparisons with Devo are clear, but still don’t detract from The Units’ cracking tunes and tangible influence on the new wave generation. Tracks like “High Pressure Days” and “I-Night” are still sought after by record collectors and forward thinking DJs alike, mainly because they still rock.

During live shows, The Units would perform to a video accompaniment of re-edited instructional shorts and found footage called the “Units Training Films”. Some of these films have been recreated and uploaded to Vimeo by founder member Scott Ryser. While still being very much of their time, they are excellent and definitely rank alongside similar efforts by the likes of Church of The Subgenius. Ryser has this to say about them:

The “Unit Training Film #1”, produced by Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber in 1980, was compiled from films that the band projected during their live performances. The films were satirical, instructional films critical of conformity and consumerism, compiled from found footage, home movies, and obsolete instructional shorts. In 1979 and 1980, Rick Prelinger was a frequent contributor and occasional projectionist at the bands live performances in San Francisco. The film was also shown sans band in movie theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area including the Roxie Cinema, Cinematheque, Intersection Theater and the Mill Valley Film Festival .

There was never a set length or definitive “finished version” of the original Unit Training Film. Just the current version. The film varied in length from about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on how long the Units set was on any particular night. Clips were constantly being added and others were deleted and discarded once their condition became too poor to project any longer. The film was constantly breaking, and the projectionists always kept a roll of Scotch Tape nearby for timely repairs.

This 5 minute version, compiled by Scott Ryser, includes some clips of the band playing along with a brief interview by a very young Fred Willard during the period 1980 - 1982.

Who’d have thought Fred Willard was a fan?!

Here is “Unit Training Film 1: Warm Moving Bodies”
 

 
After the jump, “Units Training FIlm 2: Cannibals” plus some more classics by The Units…
 
For a crash course in the awesome synth-punk sound of The Units, check out History Of The Units: The Early Years 1977 - 1983.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Niallist meets Age Of Consent (Uptown 83 Style)


 
More synth-doom goodness. Age Of Consent are one half of the now defunct Glasgow-based dance-punk party starters Shitdisco. Ex-members Joe Reeves and Darren Cullen have thankfully put away the glowsticks have turned their hands to making electronic pop influenced by The Knife, Yeasayer, Japan and as the name would suggest, New Order.
 

 
“The Beach” is the band’s debut single, and is self-released on 7 inch on September 5th. You can pre-order the vinyl at their bandcamp site, or if you prefer you can buy the tracks digitally. And what would you know - on the digital release someone called The Niallist has turned in a remix that takes the English fops out on the dancefloor of an imaginary 1983 New York and spanks their asses ‘til the break of dawn:
 

  AGE OF CONSENT The Beach (Niallist BakerMixx) by theniallist 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
John Maus’ excellent new LP ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves’


 
Sometime Ariel Pink cohort, and an undoubted forefather of the chillwave phenomenon, John Maus has just released his new album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves on the evergreen independent label Upset The Rhythm.

Isn’t it great when someone you really want to like is actually someone you really do like? Because if John Maus wasn’t as good as he actually is, I would be seriously pissed off that someone else had nicked my idea of doing for synth-pop what Portishead have done for spy soundtracks and torch songs. Even moreso than Ariel Pink, Nite Jewel or anyone else on the haunted-call-it-what-you-like-scene John Maus seriously ticks my boxes. For the uninitiated, it’s pretty simple. Maus takes synth-pop and squeezes it through a lo-fi, shoegazey filter until it comes out the other side dripping in an unreal atmosphere. Imagine OMD on 33rpm, or the soundtrack to a long forgotten 80s art film you saw on cable one night, multiply it to the power of a bongs-and-mushrooms trip, and you’re nearly there. It’s so spectral it’s as if you have dreamt it before. In fact maybe I didn’t invent this idea and it’s all just aural deja-vu.

Fans of Maus’ previous work won’t be disappointed with We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. In it he retains all the core values of his last album, the officially awesome Love Is Real, but now the sound and the songs have had a wee tightening up. But don’t worry yourselves with thoughts of “sellout” - where before the lo-fi nature of the recordings created a dank haze the listener had to aurally peer through, this new, slightly more clean approach gives room for the individual parts to breath. Being able to distinguish them in the mix in no way detracts from their shimmering nature and actually adds to their power. There are less tracks than before, and the running time is just over half an hour. There is little over-indulgence here - and that is a very good thing. From the Upset The Rhythm website:

Pitiless Censors’ as an album displays a more delicate touch than its predecessors. “Hey Moon” is John’s first duet, performed with Molly Nilsson, who originally wrote the song. It’s a serene elegy that subtly weaves an impression of nocturnal loneliness and romantic dreams.

Closing track “Believer” is equally evocative with its bells, choral soaring and echoing sentiment. Of course, a John Maus album wouldn’t be a John Maus album without the same anthemic genius and dark humour that we’ve seen previously with songs like “Maniac” and “Rights For Gays” and this new album finds its succour in “Cop Killer”. The eerie waltz-time offspring of Body Count’s controversial 90s protest track, it is dystopian, bleak and ridiculous and, in short, classic Maus.

Unlike the last two albums, ‘Pitiless Censors’ looks towards the future in all its absurdity. It’s a record where promise takes the lead for the first time, providing a counterpoint to John’s default existential calling. The cover of “Pitiless Censors” depicts an airbrushed lighthouse, thrashed by wave after wave, bringing to mind Beckett’s quote “Unfathomable mind: now beacon, now sea.”

And one final thought -  the slightly grandiloquent title undoubtedly has a proper explanation (Maus is a philosophy professor) but maybe it’s also a subconscious pitch to have his music featured in the work of Adam Curtis? It’s definitely worth a shot, as the two would go beautifully together.

John Maus - “Believer” (available for free download here)
 

 
John Maus - “Cop Killer”
 

 
John Maus - “Matter Of Fact”
 

 
John Maus - “Keep Pushing On”
 

 
You can pre-order We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves on vinyl from Upset The Rhythm. For more info on John Maus,visit this page.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Haunted Retro gets funky: Dam Funk meets Ariel Pink and Nite Jewel


 
Here’s a couple of free downloads that see a near-perfect meeting of minds between “haunted retro” acts Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and Nite Jewel, and king of the retro-boogie himself, Dam Funk. All of these acts have an obsession with synthesizers that come from a particular era (the late 70s to early 80s) and produce music that sounds like the kind of thing you’d find in you hip uncle’s garage on a dusty mixtape labelled “Memories of 1982”.

First up, Dam Funk has done a remix of the Haunted Graffiti track “Fright Night”, one of the stand outs on last year’s excellent Before Today album on 4AD Records. He adds even more lush synths and drum machine action that fits like a velvet glove. You can download the track here, via Pitchfork.

Secondly, about 18 months ago Dam Funk was brought together with Nite Jewel to co-produce an exclusive track for XLR8R magazine’s “Tune in an Afternoon” feature, another meeting of soulful synth acts very much on the same page. I only discovered the track, called “Am I Gonna Make It?” about 6 months ago, but it has been on heavy rotation on my MP3 player ever since, it’s that good. You can download it here, via XLR8R.

I was surprised at the negative reaction to Nite Jewel when I posted about them on DM before. What gives guys? Are they getting excessively pushed by the American press? Because they’re profile is pretty small in the UK. Or are they too hipster-seeming? I was surprised at the reaction, which seemed to go beyond mere dislike and into something darker. Either way, I genuinely like Nite Jewel and their spooked-out, lo-fi take on MOR soul-pop. Here is the short film made by XLR8R for the “Tune in an Afternoon” feature, which gives an insight into both artists’ production styles, plus a look around Jack Waterson’s Future Music store in LA - haters should watch this as it might just change your mind:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Dam Funk: King Of The Boogie
06.04.2011
05:36 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
funk
synth
Soundcloud
mix
dj
Dam Funk
LA
boogie


 
It’s a Saturday night and I’m feelin’ alright… and this excellent dj mix is just too damn good not to share!

“Boogie” is an often overlooked subset of disco and funk. It peaked in the early 80s when many of the acts from the disco era looked for a new dancefloor style, swapped their guitars for synthesizers and modified their syncopation to suit the popular roller disco phenomenon. Though relatively short lived and with no major artists representing the style in the mainstream (outside of funk-pop acts like Cameo or the more P-Funk-y Zapp) it managed to be hugely influential. It reared its head again for a while in the 90s when many of the original records found themselves being sampled in hip-hop and in particular g-funk, courtesy of producers like Dr Dre. It’s a very West Coast sound, and when it comes down to it nobody knows boogie quite like Dam Funk.
 
Dam Funk - “Hood Pass Intact”
 

 
This native Los Angelino’s name should be familiar to music cognoscenti, as he has released a string of records to much critical acclaim on San Francisco’s Stones Throw label, including the mammoth 2009 5-LP set Toeachizown. A man with a strong fetish for original FM and analog synths, his sound is definitely heavily influenced by early 80s funk and disco and 90s hip-hop, while maintaining a singular sound and atmosphere.

But Dam Funk is not just a talented producer, he is also an excellent DJ, as this awesome set proves. Although he hosts a weekly funk shindig in Los Angeles called Funkmosphere, this recording is taken from the first birthday party of the London night Deviation, and uploaded to Soundcloud by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. Dam is what is known as a “personality DJ” who is not afraid to get on the mic, give shout outs to the audience, and tell us the names of the tunes he is playing. And damn are those tunes hot - I just keep playing this mix over and over, it’s that good.. You can find more info on Dam Funk (including tour dates, merch and downloads) on the Stones Throw website. But for now just hit play, blaze, boogie and have a great Saturday night: 
 

 
 
Thanks to Kelvin Brown for the link.
 
Bonus!

The original video for Dam Funk’s DJ staple “Dangerzone” by Midnight Express (whose dancing zombies theme possibly pre-dates “Thriller”):
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
New Zombi LP ‘Escape Velocity’ plus ‘Slow Oscillations’ remix competition


 
If you are STILL stuck for things to do before Rapturization, why not try your hand at remixing the band Zombi? It seems rather apt, doesn’t it? Remix Zombi now, and get to meet a real live zombie later on today. If you are one of those people unfortunate enough to get left behind that is. Unlike me - it may have passed the 6pm deadline over here but I am hedging my bets on an EST ascension now.

Ok, enough of the rapture jokes.

Zombi are a most excellent doomy synth act from Pennsylvania comprised of the members Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra. I posted on Steve Moore a few weeks ago, as one of his numerous spin off projects is the equally excellent synth-pop act Miracle. Zombi take things in a much more John Carpenter direction, with arpeggios full of authentic late 70s B-Movie atmosphere and a vibe that brings to mind the work of Fabio Frizzi for Lucio Fulci, and some of Mororder’s earliest scoring forays. This kind of retro-soundtrack/space-rock thing seems quite voguish now (not that I’m complaining) but Zombi are one of the pioneers having been on this tip for almost a decade now.
 
Zombi - “Shrunken Heads” (from Escape Velocity LP)
 

 
Zombi - “Slow Oscillations” (from Escape Velocity LP)
 

 
Zombi - “Spirit Warrior”  (from Spirit Warrior LP)
 

 
Zombi - “Sapphire” (from Digitalis EP)
 

 
The band have just released their new album Escape Velocity on the respected metal label Relapse, and in conjunction with Self-Titled magazine and Soundcloud are giving folks a chance to remix “Slow Oscillations”. The prize is a Soundcloud pro-account for a year, your very own Steve Moore remix (boom!!) and a whole heap of Zombi-related goodies. And at the very least it’s a chance to hear all those gorgeous classic synths separated. To download the song, and the individual tracks, go here. To buy Escape Velocity and other Zombi releases go here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Little seen OMD on early 80s Top Of The Pops
04.20.2011
07:14 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
pop
electronica
synth
Top Of The Pops
OMD

image
 
I just thought I’d put up a few under-viewed clips of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark performing on Top Of The Pops in the early 80s—why the hell not? I know we have a few fans lurking out there amongst the readers (and writers) and these could do with a few more views. I have a confession to make though—OMD pretty much passed me by until very recently. I dunno why that is to be honest. Maybe it’s the glut of other early synth bands from the same period whose back catalogs I was more urgent to check out. Maybe it’s my vague hazy childhood memories of the band being that they were not particularly cool. Maybe it’s the connections I can see now between OMD and the haunted Ariel Pink/John Maus sound casting the band in a new light. Whatever. I don’t wanna question it too much. I just wanna enjoy:
 
OMD - “Souvenir” (live on TOTP)
 

 
OMD - “Messages” (live on TOTP)
 

 
After the jump “Genetic Engineering”, “Joan Of Arc” and “Maid Of Orleans”

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Miracle ‘The Visitor’: most excellent modern synth-pop
04.18.2011
08:08 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
pop
electronica
synth
Zombi
Miracle
Steve Moore

image
 
Steve Moore is one half of the band Zombi, who create excellent synth-drenched soundscapes heavily influenced by prog rock and 70s/80s Italian horror movie soundtracks. But that’s not all he does—no, this incredibly prolific artist also records under a variety of names such as Lovelock, Titan and Gianni Rossi and has worked with a dizzying array of highly respected labels.  He now has another band to add to that list, Miracle, a more vocal-based, almost poppy project which sees Moore working with Daniel O’Sullivan of the band Guapo. Their latest release is the Fluid Window EP on the House Anxiety label (who have previously released music by The Big Pink). Miracle recently made a video for the EP’s lead track “The Visitor” (below) and have made another track, “Sunstar”, available as a free download via Pitchfork.

As synth-pop goes, this is good. I mean really, really good. In the age of lots of pretenders to the synth-pop throne (La Roux, Hurts, Mirrors, Villa Nah, etc) Miracle sound like the real deal. It’s not just because of the synth fetishism on display here (giving Miracle an instant edge over most modern producers’ software based production), but because their music is positively soaked in atmosphere. It’s very easy nowadays to download a free analog synth emulator, sing over an arpeggiator and pretend to be Depeche Mode. What’s much harder is to capture the melancholy longing in those seminal 80s records—the longing to escape gray modernity into a better future, but with a tinge of fear for the darkness that future might hold. Miracle obviously know what they are doing because “The Visitor” sounds like the best Depeche Mode single since around 1988.
 
Miracle - “The Visitor”
 

 
The Fluid Window EP is available to buy here. You can listen to the whole EP on Soundcloud.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
John Foxx & Gary Numan Remix Competition
03.04.2011
05:15 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
synth
remix
Gary Numan
John Foxx
competition

image
 
The London-based events company Back To The Phuture have a competition open until the end of the month to remix living synth legends Gary Numan and John Foxx. While the prizes for this competition are only really relevant to people living in the UK (free tickets to the Back To The Phuture concerts on April 1st and 2nd in Manchester and London, playback of the winning remixes at the concerts) I thought this would be worth sharing here for all the Foxx and Numan fans who might want to have a crack of the whip. From the press release:

This is the first time in their prolific careers that Gary Numan and John Foxx have decided to share the creative side of making music with fans. The competition involves entrants making the best remix of either ‘Scanner’ by Gary Numan or ‘Shatterproof’ by John Foxx & The Maths. The winner will get a pair of VIP passes to Back To The Phuture, plus signed copies of the latest Gary Numan album ‘Jagged Edge’ and John Foxx album ‘Interplay’. The winning remixes will be played at Back To The Phuture (at the massive Troxy in London and Manchester Academy). Entries will be judged personally by Gary Numan and John Foxx and an endorsement from each will be given – not a bad boost to any up-and-coming producer’s career!

Gay Numan “Scanner” plus stems:
 

 

John Foxx & The Maths “Shatterproof” plus stems:
 

Upload ‘Scanner’ remixes to this SoundCloud page: http://soundcloud.com/groups/bttp-gary-numan-remix-competition

Upload ‘Shatterproof’ remixes to this SoundCloud page: http://soundcloud.com/groups/bttp-john-foxx-remix-competition/tracks

More details on the Gary Numan Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GaryNumanOfficial?v=app_10442206389

If you are a UK resident, and want to know more about the Back To The Phuture gigs (featuring Numan and Foxx Live, support from Recoil, Motor and Mirrors, and DJ sets from Mute’s Daniel Miller and Wall Of Sound’s Mark Jones) then go here: www.crowdsurge.com/backtothephuture. More info on Back To The Phuture at: http://www.backtothephuture.net.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Gold Blood: New Wave Cold Wave
03.04.2011
05:09 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
music
synth
Gold Blood

image
 
Gold Blood are the electronic duo of Michael Wright and Emile Bojesen. No ordinary synth-punk act are they - by day Emile is a college lecturer and Michael makes gorgeous electronic disco as Brassica. When these two got together, it was murder. Sounding quite unlike anything else around at the moment (but with nods to pioneering acts like Liaisons Dangerous, early Human League and John Foxx) what sets them apart is their combination of lush, analogue synths and a kinetic, hyperactive vocal style derived from Bojesen’s other job fronting hardcore act Chariots.

Gold Blood released their debut 6-track Twilight Language EP last year on Manchester’s Human Shield records, to some very good reviews, and they have just followed this up with the “Gets You Laid”/“Say Something” 7” on Ex-Yat records. “Say Something” is available as a free download from rcrdlbl.com, as is the exclusive track “The Friction”. Yes, there are other bands doing similar things right now, but none of them sound as distinctive as this. In fact, I would say that you’ll either love or hate this straight away, but fans of cold/dark/minimal-wave should definitely check it out.
 
Gold Blood - Say Something
 


 
Gold Blood - The Intruder
 

 
The Twilight Language EP is available to buy from Boomkat.

More info, and more free MP3s, at goldblood.co.uk.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Emeralds: ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here?’
02.21.2011
06:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
electronica
synth
ambient
progressive
Emeralds

image
 
With the Daft Punk soundtrack for Tron Legacy giving off some serious Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre vibes, it seems like it is finally acceptable to be influenced by 80s-style electronic ambience. The album Does It Look Like I’m Here? by the band Emeralds (no “the” - that’s a Japanese surf-rock band) is one of the best examples of a modern take on this sound, and how to do it well.

Released on the Austrian label Editions Mego last year, it’s been a bit of a sleeper hit with the electronica and techno community, ending 2010 in many best-of lists. Full of washy synths, cliff-edge guitar dynamics, slowly building arpeggios and practically no drums, it brings to mind the aforementioned artists in their darkest and most introspective moments. It’s psychedelic, it’s moody, and for the want of a better term it’s progressive. I would imagine it’s a good soundtrack for certain kinds of herbal refreshment.
 

image

 
Emeralds - Genetic (part 1)
 

 
Emeralds - Double Helix
 

 
Emeralds - Does It Look Like I’m Here?
 


Emeralds have been gigging and recording for the last 4 or 5 years - Does It Look Like I’m Here? is their fourth album, and their most accessible so far. But they’re not from Greece, Scandinavia or Germany - the band actually hail from Ohio. Along with similar ballpark acts from the States like Zombi (from Pittsburgh), it makes me wonder if this kind of epic progressive-synth music doesn’t have the same negative cultural references there that it has in the UK? I know Tangerine Dream were pretty big in the US in their day. However, the cultural legacy of punk in Britain meant that they were seen as being super uncool. Thankfully the times have changed and we can now accept this as being simply great music. You can buy Does It Look Like I’m Here?, um, here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
New Scandinavian electro-funk: We Call It ‘Skweee’
02.12.2011
08:23 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
funk
synth
electro
Ben Butler
skweee
Scandinavia

image
 
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…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >