Pharmakon's New Record Is A Panic Attack

Pharmakon's New Record Is A Panic Attack Illustration by Leesh Adamerovich

This article originally appeared in AdHoc Issue 19.

There are many kinds of fear, but few as fathomless as the one that can sneak up on you when you’re lying in bed at night, thinking about nothing in particular. Suddenly it dawns on you: you are just a collection of atoms, puttering around on a larger mass of atoms that people call Earth, floating around inside a dark expanse of atoms and dead air that just goes on and on forever. Hopefully—for the sake of a good night’s sleep—you’re able to blot out the terror that comes from the recognition of your own smallness, but it’ll probably completely overpower you the next time Pharmakon, aka Margaret Chardiet, walks up to you at a show and screams in your face.

You don’t really need to understand the lyrics to catch her drift, but in the below interview, our medium was words, and the Brooklyn-based power electronics artist had a lot of them when describing the theories of humanity and community underpinning her bracing new album, Contact. The one caveat being that, as Margaret reminded me repeatedly during our chat, an interview was unlikely to do her ideas justice: “I really want people to read the freaking lyrics for this record,” she said. “I laid them out like really blatantly in the liner notes, because they’re the most important thing about it.”

AdHoc: What was on your mind when you went in to record the new album?

Margaret Chardiet: I guess what was on my mind was the fact that the project was 10 years old—feeling like I needed to grow and move in a new direction, and thinking about what that was going to be. The last two records—[2013’s Abandon and 2014’s Bestial Burden]—were immediate, short-term responses to specific events [in my life], whereas with this one, I had a couple years to think about what I wanted to say and do.

What are some ways you’d say the project has changed over the years?

I think I’ve found myself focusing more on experimental thinking and philosophical ideas, as opposed to personal ones. I’m still exploring the concepts of duality and human nature, but I think I’ve allowed myself to get broader, which is a really scary thing to do. If something is very acute and small, it’s easier to explain and converse about with other people.

Read More

AdHoc Issue 19 is Here

AdHoc Issue 19 is Here Cover by Girlpool

AdHoc Issue 19 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. (Those of you outside New York City can order a copy as well.)

In this issue, we explore music as a social act. Speaking to Emilie Friedlander, Pharmakon’s Margaret Chardiet explains the importance of audience engagement in her live shows, and how that sensibility informed her new record, Contact. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad of Girlpool—who also have a new record, Powerplant, in the works—unpack the role of person-to-person connectivity in their music. In conversation with Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy, they discuss their closeness as an artistic and social unit, and how introducing new people into the Girlpool live band was almost as tricky as opening up a romantic relationship. Both Pharmakon and Girlpool articulate reasons for making art that move beyond personal expression or gratification, and into something more inclusive.

AdHoc Issue 19's contributors:

Girlpool is a Los Angeles-based band whose founding members, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, made the collage that appears on this issue’s cover.

Meg Duffy is a Los Angeles-based musician who performs under the name Hand Habits; her album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), is out now via Woodsist. Meg interviewed Cleo and Harmony for this issue.

Leesh Adamerovich is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who enjoys collaborating with musicians. Her work is influenced by ’70s music, animation, and quiet moments, and she made the illustrations for this issue.

Kane West Wants To Be The Best

Kane West Wants To Be The Best

To know Kane West is to dance to Kane West. The producer, one-third of ebulliant crossover pop act Kero Kero Bonito, peddles an ecstatic brand of four-on-the-floor techno laced with the squirming leftfield charm of his PC Music affiliates. Often employing basic music software setups and presets in lieu of the fetishized and highly-prized analog equipment, Kane West is devoted to the sole aim of making people dance. His lyrical content is typically no more than an assemblage of stock DJ tags and shoutouts—reminding us, in no uncertain terms, to "put [our] hands up in the air" and "dance." Faced with the cryptic Kane West and his irresistable output, there's really not much else to do. As the enigmatic figure makes clear in his interview with AdHoc—ahead of his April 13 show at Sunnyvale—Kane West is an effervescent entity who congeals, not in the press release or music journal writeup, but in the club. 
AdHoc: So, who is Kane West? Is it the real identity of Kero Kero Bonito member Gus Lobbon? An alter ego? A faceless, anonymous house DJ? A Kanye West tribute band?
Kane West: The best DJ.
How do you envision this figure behind the name Kane West?
The best DJ playing the best records.
What’s the joke behind the name? Do you have any special affinity for Kanye West?
No—it's a coincidence.
Not to belabor this line of inquiry, but what IS your favorite Kanye record?
The "Mr. Fingers" one.

Read More

Joey Pizza Slice Announces New Album, Shares First Single

Joey Pizza Slice Announces New Album, Shares First Single

Joey Agresta is a junk shop cashier in Burlington, Vermont who moonlights as a mad doctor style musician, crafting strangely layered, skewed pop songs on an eraser headless tape recorder under a mouthful of culinary themed names. His releases under monikers like Joey Pizza Slice, Son of Salami, Salami Junior, etc, have graced dedicated weirdo labels like Night PeopleFeeding Tube Records, Goaty Tapes, OSR Tapes and more. For his newest, upcoming release, Let’s Not Talk About Music, which he has announced today, Agresta has forgone the cured meat sobriquets for his own given name, signifying the more serious subject matter of the record. “I Feel Like Shit And I Want To Die,” the first single from the record, finds Agresta embracing a lo-fi jangle pop sound, with bright, chiming guitars and a casiotone organ evoking a shambolic hymn. The lyrics, like the title, are disarmingly straightforward, ruminating on the strain deep sadness can place on relationships, and the anxiety and insecurity that strain evokes. It’s one of the most accessible and relatable things Agresta has ever made; and one of the saddest too.

Listen to the song below. Let’s Not Talk About Music is due out May 12 via Wharf Cat Records.

Inga Copeland Shares New Track, Announces Tour

Inga Copeland Shares New Track, Announces Tour

From her time as a co-trickster with Dean Blunt in Hype Williams, to her cycling through various aliases for different releases, Inga Copeland has never made easy legibility an artistic priority. Her debut full length, 2014’s Because I’m Worth It, was released as copeland, while a subsequent EP, RELAXIN’ With Lolina saw her take on the name Lolina. Last year, she retained the name Lolina for an album called Live In Paris that was not, actually, recorded live in Paris, however insistent the sinister chant of the titular phrase three minutes in is. Today she has shared a cryptic video for a track called “Fake Bond,” with the video’s still image splitting the difference between her monikers by referring to her as “Inga ‘Lolina’ Copeland.” The track is built around a wobbly electric piano loop that switches between two, unbalanced feeling meters, anchored by a slick, mischievous bass line. Meanwhile, strange, waterlogged sounds interject here and there, as if performing a modernist ballet.

The video still also announces a 2017 tour, featuring a performance in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory this Thursday, April 6. She’ll be performing alongside SADAF and blursome.

Inga Copeland - Fake Bond from Lolina on Vimeo.

Get Stuck In Banny Grove’s Sunny, Surreal “Cheese Dream”

Get Stuck In Banny Grove’s Sunny, Surreal “Cheese Dream”

Banny Grove waltzed onto the scene last year with the debut Who Is She?, a pop album that blends moving balladry with positivity and well-placed schmaltz. She’s the glam, cartoonish alterego of Rabbit Rabbit’s Louise Chicoine, accompanied by Peter Nichols of Grape Room, and together they put on an act with big dramatic energy. For Banny Grove, no subject matter is too small for fascination, and even the cheese dream gets its deserved airtime. In the video for “Cheese Dream,” directed by Philip Steiger of Nancy Shirley, a petticoated Banny Grove engulfed in strings of cheese grapples with the “spongey mess” of a nightmare that’s left her tossing and turning. Over punchy entwined guitar and synth lines, her refrain of “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me everything will be OK!” is almost real and desperate enough to wake us. The dreamy visuals reel us back in, though—fields of trees and flowers and the spinning sight of the duo in a sunlit river. This is a good primer for their imaginative live set, and Banny Grove will be touring the US celebrating “Life’s Wonders” throughout April and May. See their dates below.

Read More

Alex G Is Now (Sandy) Alex G

Alex G Is Now (Sandy) Alex G Photography by Tonje Thilesen

Alex G is now (Sandy) Alex G—putting to rest long years of confusion between the Alex Giannascoli we know and love, and a very different, west coast singer-songwriter who also goes by Alex G, and, of course, restauranteur and my personal favorite Chopped judge, Alex Guanarschelli. The (Sandy) prefix isn’t too unusual anyway. It’s been part of the URL of Giannascoli's Bandcamp for a long while. The announcement is accompanied by a new single from his forthcoming record, Rocket. “Proud” continues the folksy, country-inflected sound explored on the previous single, “Bobby.” It’s a handsome song, with a lazy shuffle and a Floyd Cramer-style piano that dances around the mix. (Sandy) Alex G’s sweet vocal melody belies the complex, ambivalent relationship the song maps out—one that mixes admiration and resentment in equal measure. In the chorus, Giannascoli ruminates on the possible consequences of his own failings, a train of thought that proves too difficult to follow by the end, when he lets the last line, “if I fuck up,” trail off into the fade out.

Watch the lyric video below. Rocket is due out via Domino on May 19. AdHoc will host (Sandy) Alex G’s release show at The Park Church Co-Op in Brooklyn the day before. More tour dates below.

Read More

Only The Pure Can Hear Laser Background's New Single

Only The Pure Can Hear Laser Background's New Single Photography by Natalie Piserchio

Andy Molholt, member of bands like Speedy Ortiz and Very Fresh, pursues his own particular musical vision as Laser Background. Under this moniker, Molholt explores the affinities between psychedelia and childhood. “We Trust,” the opening track to Laser Background’s eponymous, debut EP, features a Spongebob Squarepants-style sea shanty chorus amid waves of flanged guitars and laser blast synth washes, while follow up record Super Future Montage’s “Fantasy Zone” sets Prince-like pitched up vocals against a Mega Man-core backing track. 

“Climb the Hill” is the second single from Dark Nuclear Bogs, Molholt’s forthcoming record. If you have an affinity for anagrams, you might’ve noticed that Dark Nuclear Bogs is an rearrangement of Laser Background—a play on mid-career self-titled records that refine or subvert a band’s vision. If “Climb the Hill” is any indicator, then this trope will bare fruit. Not only is it one of Molholt’s most fully realized pop songs, it simultaneously pushes his music and production towards more textured, out-there, and evocative territory. It’s centered around a sparkling, nursery-rhyme keyboard line that’s rhythmically a little unbalanced, dropping a couple of bars here and there as it loops. The effect is something like the musical interpretation of a psychedelic crib mobile. It’s a compelling backdrop for Molholt’s pretty, hazy vocal melody, which relates what he has described as a “bit of psychedelic fiction”— a story about “a bell that you can ring” but can’t hear unless “you are pure.”

Being a kid, when a good chunk of what you experience every day is new and weird, is probably pretty trippy. The wooziness of psychedelia in music has often been used to explore hazy ambiguity between pleasure and terror; presence and non-presence. By connecting this ambiguity with the susceptibility to experience that comes with childhood, Laser Backgrounds makes psych-pop that’s remarkably affecting.

Check out the track below. Dark Nuclear Bogs is out on April 28 via Mutual Crush/Endless Daze. Moholt and co. will be on tour throughout April and May, performing in Ridgewood, Queens at Trans Pecos on April 28.

Read More

Sit Down With Hand Habits' "Book On How To Change"

Sit Down With Hand Habits'

Miniature intimacies—from lingering family portraits shakily-camcorded pickup basketball games—constellate the sumptuous video accompanying Hand Habits' "Book on How to Change." The flickering graininess of the film casts a somber pallor over the gorgeous shots of snow-capped summits, RV lots, and domestic assemblages—conjuring the "world so grey" in which "the colors fade into another" that Meg Duffy's hushed lyrics envision. Capturing glimpses of the small-town "quotidian moments," as director Chantal Anderson describes in her artist's statement, the video documents a departure delicately unfolding into a gentle self-actualization. As the peripatetic protagonist arrives at a rocky outcropping just beyond city limits, she regally position herself atop a small summit and grasps the deep blue air around her, relishing a chance to start "messing" with her very own "dream." Like the song, a highlight from Hand Habits' recent Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), the heroine appears at ease upon her radiant perch. The rugged alpine landscape, ghost town urban decay, and spaghetti western closeups all attest to the sheer emotional intensity seething beneath the pattering drums and lilting vocals of Duffy's muted epic. 


Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is out now on Woodsist. Hand Habits is currently on tour with Mega Bog. See their dates below.

Read More

Locking into the Grid: An Interview with Forma About Composing for Synthesizers

Locking into the Grid: An Interview with Forma About Composing for Synthesizers Photography by Lena Shkoda

Brooklyn's Forma congealed into a three-piece outfit nearly a decade ago. Ever in flux, the synth collective has undergone lineup changes and stylistic renovations over the years, coalescing most recently into its current configuration of George Bennett, Mark Dwinell, and John Also Bennett. Forma’s 2016 Kranky debut, Physicalist, saw the band wading even deeper into the murk of psychedelic modular synthesis, while introducing flute, piano, and even traditional drum setups. AdHoc caught up with the band around their show supporting Cluster alumnus and kosmische heavyweight Roedelius this March. They disentangled the cosmic richness of Physicalist, outlined their compositional methods, and staked their claim as devotees of a krautrock genre tracing its roots back to archaic folk traditions.  
AdHoc: Reviewers tend to describe your work using lots of visual metaphors—I’ve definitely seen a lot of terms like “pointillism,” “spectral,” “rippling,” “bubbling,” “fluid,” and “rich.” Is your music this visual to you? Do you think in terms of sight and space while composing? 
Mark: Maybe people [gravitate] to visual metaphors [because] we don’t give people a lot to grab onto in terms of lyrical content. Using visual metaphors is just a short way of dealing with how to talk about the material without having any lyrics to go on to talk about what these guys [at Forma] are actually talking about. Personally, my experience of how we function at Forma—I would say it’s a lot more emotional than visual. The visual component really has nothing to do with it. To me, there is an ocean between the audial and the visual. 
John: I understand why reviewers use visual terms to describe Forma's music, but I don't think we're envisioning a particular place or space when we're composing music. For me, Forma has always been more about feeling out a process between the three of us. One of the major tenants of the so-called "minimalist" music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass was that it wasn't representative of a specific emotion, place, or thing. The music was representative of only itself. In Reich's case, it was a process playing itself out; with Glass, it was a series of intervals gradually changing. I'm not saying that Forma's music doesn't take on some emotional capacity or evoke something visual—I think it absolutely does, and we put a lot of thought into the visuals and titles surrounding the latest album, which certainly evoke a very particular sense of place. But it's kind of interesting that with Forma those things tend to emerge afterwards, after this process of group improvisation [and] composition under constraints has played itself out. 
George: You could imagine situations where improvisational musicians would use visual metaphors or visual devices to ground or guide their activity. We do not do that. There are visual constructs that I do use in my own playing, but they are things that are very practical, like a sixteen-step grid. We’re working with a lot of gear, and a lot of our premises are around gridded-out step sequences and really long, repetitive patterns, so I would say that such imagery has a functional role in Forma, but not necessarily a thematic input into how we compose. 
In the same way that we don’t have any visual imagery to guide our creative process, we don’t have any input saying, “Now we’re going to do this sad song, now we’re gonna do this happy song,” or whatever. It’s all sort of emergent. All forms of meaning are just emergent within our music; we don’t go in with a lot of pre-established parameters, especially thematic ones. 
Mark: It’s like the beauty of math, and how math turns into poetry and art. Music is sort of the most direct art of math, and relationships between numbers We’re not noise musicians, you know, and we’re not free jazz musicians; by using ARPs and sequencers, there’s a fairly balanced construct that we work inside of. Hence, this idea of a grid. And we’re always trying to figure out ways to fuck that up a little bit, but not enough to completely sidetrack us. Just trying to find some balance with it. 

Read More