Keith Rankin plays with sound, tickling it out until it spills. "Soft Channel 003," from Soft Channel, his latest effort as Giant Claw, fidgets with the ludic ecstasy—fizzing and sprawling across circuits and MIDI—by which Rankin has for years made his name. But just as the album cover for this newest offering depicts a misrecognition, a crisis in identification, "Soft Channel 003" gnaws at uncanny sonic territory. Over the course of the track, Rankin fiddles with familiarity and unfamiliarity, spontaneously splicing and unexpectedly dissasembling spurts and motifs. One standout interstice is the MIDI choir Rankin employs: unstable, it titillates, inhabiting a vocal register that always feels androgynous, located somewhere in between the head voice and the chest voice, the alto and the tenor. Despite its uncanniness, the voices frequently spasm into something quite delicate, quite precious: a fleeting melody that hints at something grander, something that would complete the punchline that all Rankin's sounds seem to riddle toward. Now effortlessly incorporated into his repertoire, code-switching across aesthetic sensibilities becomes a focal point as Rankin grates the sublime and the beautiful, cartoon slide whistles and shards of Satie's "Gymnopédie No. 1," together over his gurgling potpourri. A master impressionist, Rankin finds facsimile and structure too straightforward, too easy. Through this playful self-denial, the culinary asceticism, Rankin teases out something addictingly temporary, something effervescently evanescent, like the fizz before the swig.
Overcast and portentous, Brian Case's Spirit Design lurches. Rolling in like an oversaturated cloud formation swallowing anything from charred synths and shivering sub-bass into its its blackened atmospherics, Case's latest full-length for Hands in the Darkthreatens to collapse under its own yawning depth and smothering weight. In this totalizing sound environment, Case evacuates melody, structure, and legibility, leaving only the cold and brutal sparseness of his voice and devastating instrumentation to populate the noxious territory. But even Case's voice succumbs to this airless sound sludge: on "Shipbuilding," for example, Case's intelligible—if ominous—words bleed into incomprehensibility as the song's suffocating logics ooze out of control. On later tracks, like "Control" and "Say Your Name," his voice can only eke out the titles of the songs themselves in an arcane incantation that condenses speech and meaning into noise, into effacing squalor. On Spirit Design, Case unleashes a singularly enveloping haze of sound and mood so thick it's impossible to hear your own breath. Like other forms asphyxiation, it's orgastic.
Spirit Design is available August 25 on Hands in the Dark.
Lina Tullgren writes honest and emotional songs, songs that seek to let us in so that we might heal. Her debut EP Wishlist, re-released last year via Captured Tracks, brought us into her world with its atmosphere of equal parts melancholic nostalgia and bright eyed optimism. Tullgren does what many other artists only wish to do, and achieve with varying levels of success, she produces a space that requires us to be vulnerable. Experiencing the intimacy of her lyrics and the stripped-down songwriting of her first EP is like returning to a childhood home after having been gone for years, feeling the weight of its changes weigh on one's self while at the same time catching the glimpses of the happiness that the same space still holds.
While her newest LP, Won, sees Lina pushing forward towards a new and more confident voice as a songwriter, her ability to craft spaces for us to experience intimacy and vulnerability has not waned. Her video for "Red Dawn," which AdHoc is premiering today, makes this readily apparent, as it has Lina asking us what it means to "wear your heart on your sleeve." Like much of Won, the track has a larger sound than the songs on Wishlist due to the addition of Tullgren's new backing band, but the video's barn studio setting still reveals Lina's desire to remain intimate with her audience. In a series of questions, Lina told us about her interest in the space between hope and heartbreak, her belief in love, her love of joking around with "indie music kids," and her desire for us all to remain vulnerable.
AdHoc: A lot of your writing seems to focus on the intersections between heartbreak and solace, loss and hope, what is it about that space between those feelings that interests you, perhaps especially at this moment in our political climate?
The time in between, lost in the balance as we change and develop as people, has always interested me ever since I learned how to watch people. I was very shy as a kid so a lot of my time was spent not speaking and watching my parents and their friends and how they lived and talked. I was very fortunate to grow up with creative adult figures who would treat me as an equal and be honest with me. One of the reasons I focus so obsessively on that time in between is because change never fails to deeply affect me in visceral, profound ways, and I can see how others relate to that as well. A lot of art is made about love: the subject is typically focused on a relationship in its most positive form or about the ending of that relationship. Sure those things are charged and filled with beautiful raw emotions, but the focus becomes more about the other person and less about the self, which is simply not as interesting or real to me. If I'm going to write these songs and put my own life process out there in this format, I want it to be accessible to the humans I'm singing it to who are right there in front of me. A pure connection. I'd like to think we always learn from changes, from the “intersections” that exist. [And] sure, this can also connect to politics because there is an insane amount of upheaval that’s been in progress for some time now. I don’t claim to be a political writer in any way, but interpretation is everything and though the songs on this impending record are not necessarily written about the current scenarios playing out in the country, certain images and feelings can be applied and transferred all over. You can find it if you look for it.
What was the recording process for this video like? I notice that a fellow Tullgren, Max Tullgren did the video work and that your longtime friend and collaborator Ty Ueda did the audio (in addition to playing guitar alongside you here), could you talk about working with them both?
I was rehearsing with my band at Ty's barn studio in Barrington, NH when we decided to shoot this video. My 16-year-old brother, Max Tullgren, lives close by in South Berwick, Maine which is where I grew up. In addition to being “longtime friend and collaborator,” Ty actively shoots film and video and also did all the editing on this one. Obviously he could not shoot it due to the fact that he had to play guitar in it but luckily Max is great with a camera himself so he was able to swing by and help us. This is also the studio where we recorded and mixed all of Won.
One of the “Red Dawn”’s lyrics is “no time, got no time to waste with love” and in an interview with Impose last year you defined love as “DEAD,” how does not believing in love or in its importance to you change making music that is so recognizably vulnerable?
It should be known that I'm an incredibly sarcastic person and if I did say that love was “dead” in another interview it was likely done in jest with intentions to disarm all these serious snobby indie music kids. I'm not calling ALL of you snobs! But some of you just cannot take a joke. I do believe in love and its importance quite a lot, in fact, for I am simply a true jokester with a full heart. As said above, the music I create IS incredibly vulnerable and I amount that to the belief in love that I hold close. As I get a little older, losing and gaining new people in my life all the time, I feel less inclined to run from strong human emotion as I did in the past. does that make sense?
Totally. One final question: what does it mean to you to “wear your heart on your sleeve?” Since you put out the Wishlist EP your music has been described as vulnerable and intimate, is the new record a pushing away from that feeling in an effort to become more assertive or is the lyric meant to question what it is to be vulnerable at all in a world that seems to be an antithesis to that vulnerability?
That’s an incredibly thoughtful question and I appreciate that. I would give a “yes” to both parts of that question. I think there is an incredible amount of cynicism-sometimes unwarranted and sometimes not-and lack of communication in young people these days and I've been observing it progress over time in a way I find to be difficult to interact with. that’s not to say that I’m not cynical myself and I also don’t claim to be an expert in communication, but I will say that I do actively try to practice the wearing of the heart on one's sleeve in friendships, intimate relationships, fleeting interactions, [and] what have you because there is too much hurt and doom in this world for us to not be completely open about how we feel about one another. Call me a total loser corn-ball if you want. And please go and kiss or hug all of your friends and parents and cousins! right now!
Flesh World purvey a muscly sort of post-punk, spurred into gear by Scott Moor's high-octane, high-feedback guitar and Jess Scott's spat-out vocals. But the musculature that Flesh World flexes is not one of aggressive machismo, but rather one of corporeal connections fostered, a press release for the band has said, in the nurturting spaces of "the punk show, the gay world, and the rest of the environments Flesh World insulate themselves in for survival." They're a band threaded together by this bodily interaction—Flesh World's Jess Scott and Scott Moore met while "loitering around [San Francisco's] Panhandle district"—as well as a physical sound.
Flesh World's Jess gathered up some of their disparate influences into a playlist for AdHoc. Check out the lead single for their upcoming full-length Into the Shroud, out September 8 via Dark Entries, below, and catch Flesh World perform September 23 at Silent Barn with Home Blitz.
Jess Scott: The theme of this is strange girls from around the globe—artists active from 1956 to present, from Tokyo to Berlin to Australia to Montreal to Los Angeles, from women from prison camps to women in my living room. These are sounds from strange girls with strange histories, making everything from early French goth to italo to contemporary house to avant-garde compositions in strange places.
Sometimes, the ordinary can be infectious. On "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G," the sparkling bonus track off Moon King's latest tape for Arbutus, standard kicks, punchy bass, and a earworming piano melody play out along a familiar house thump. In the hands of a less capable producer, such an assemblage could run derivative or fall flat, but under Daniel Benjamin's delicate direction, each element whirs into place and delivers an intoxicatingly coordinated performance. Accompanying the addictive pulse of the track is a video that also succeeds in summoning a satisfying simplicity.
Much like the song itself, whose ordinary components come from a stock milieu but—when locked into the groove—enliven and thrum in ecstasy, the video for "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G" is situated in a blank, unremarkable room. But what sticks is what populates the room: bodies in motion, perfectly attuned yet letting loose to the banger that galvanizes their movement. Shots of sweat and silk, tattoos and tanktops twirl across the visual register under a layer of VHS fuzz. Far from muffling or obscuring the dynamic magnetism of the beat and the dancing, the coating of chintz captures the hazy trace, the blur of motion in itself. It's precisely this motility, this singular capacity to stimulate movement, that textures the corporeal sonics of "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G."
In a song ostensibly about the desire for an extraordinary lover, Benjamin and Natty G suffuse the track with a sensuous desire to move, to dance. In the very articulation of his desire, Benjamin has crafted a genuinely seductive song—and awakened the listener's desire, too. As the track plonks along, music becomes more than just an expression, a communicatory pathway: it becomes somatic. It becomes satisfaction. When Natty G sings that she's "tired of all the cream without the cherry," it's hard not to think of the track itself, a bonus track, after all, as a cherry on top, a visceral delight that gets stuck in your gums well after it putters out. What's the best way to work off a sundae, anyway? Dance it off.
Check out Benjamin's newest tape Hamtramck '16 out now, andmake sure to dance with Moon King when he performs September 8 at The Silent Barn with Dougie Poole.
In their new video for “Make A Promise,” the opening track on last year’s War & War cassette, Outside World take a voyeuristic, but totally legal, plunge into the strange world of luxury apartment rentals. Guided by an impersonal cursor, the video’s visuals swings around and through various static 360 degree renderings—so-called virtual tours—the video is a musing on abstract ideas of wealth, crystalized by New York high rises. “I felt literally nauseous after playing with them for a while,” the band's Ben Scott admits, alluding to feelings of disorientation while darting through digitized living spaces. Actually, on second thought, perhaps this sensation has as much to do with those “abstract ideas of wealth” as it does the visual accompaniment. Either way, vomit is vomit, I suppose.
"Wochikaeri to Uzume," the latest track from Sugai Ken's upcoming UkabazUmorezU full-length on RVNG, roughly translates to "welcome back and forth." And, from the welcoming and sonorous xylophonic percussion that introduces the clutter of sound to follow to the rich pauses that punctuate the tumbles of clocks, trickles, and feedback, the track roughly charts a series of sonic welcomes back and forth. At various instances boinging, hopping, and spilling, each moment of sound (and negative moment of silence that bookends each sonic puncture) feels like an ecstatic, sponatenous spillage, an unstable quark jolting out of position. If this review makes too liberal use of physical metaphor and anology, it's because Ken's music emphasizes the physicality of the art, the fact that each honk and slurp owes its existence to vibrations thrumming on the eardrum. Each tickling note upends the linear dimensionality of music; transposed into a physical interaction, a molecular concatenation, senses blur and striate. Music, on "Wochikaeri to Uzume," re-turns (in)to something atavistic. A clock ticks in the tense final seconds, ushering us into a time in which sound and feeling were one. Welcome back.
The human body is a theater of war, a site wracked with violence and desire. In the video for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the second track off of VIOLENCE's upcoming Human Dust to Fertilize the Impotent Garden, a certain body—that of VIOLENCE's Olin Caprison—situates the writhing interplay and intertwining of the two. Garbed in lacy lingerie and a disfigured ski mask, Caprison smears two pregnant signifiers together, grafting the criminality of headpiece and the sultry, oversexed salacity of the bra into symbolic prostheses that map violence and desire onto the smudged red lipstick on Caprison's face. But the visual poetics of the tracks video aren't the only indicators of this prurient conflation: Caprison's lyrics are positively filthy. Pleading, they detail fantasies of degradation and animalization, where the intimacy of "want[ing] for you to hold me close" gives way to "whip[ping]," "cover[ing] in spunk," verbal abuse, and even "giv[ing Caprison] a reason to die." And the semantic distinctions between violence and desire aren't the only things Caprison blurs: the song itself appropriates sounds from industrial, black metal, and drill to sculpt its asxphyxiatory and percussive filigrees. The glinting, limpid tones that buttress the basic but anxious melody wouldn't be out of place on Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Akira soundtrack. But unlike Akira, a science-fiction thriller that defers its anxieties into an animated future, Caprison confronts a brutal present. As they pound their flesh on the concrete floor of the shack in the video, naked and sexualized vulnerability putrefies—before our eyes—into pain, clot, bruise: Caprison historicizes the present in unflinchingly exposing the disintegration of desire into violence, touch into assault. The setting of this curdling is burnt-out, graffitied and decrepit, but it's present, it's really there. It isn't post-apocalyptic—isn't even doctored. It's real life, not a horrific possibility, but an always-already vitiated present. Despite the trap-conditions, Caprison leaves us with the potential for escape: in the final, fading shot, they turn and walk out of the frame, out of the immediate and battered present and into an unseen space beyond the limits of what appears possible.
Sometimes there's a light at the end of the banal. Sometimes, everyone feels lazy, angry, nervous, bored, empty—and, for Hypoluxo, on their latest extended play Taste Buds, "nothing's crazy" about feeling anything. Most of the tracks on the record occupy these commonplace spaces of stasis but channel the boredom typically found therein into a restelessness whose chiming indie guitar and gently driving bass and drum lines propel the Brooklyn fourpiece into a sonic territory just kinetic enough to be addictive—something so addictive that it feels edible if not appetizing. The charming baritone lyricism and driving indie guitar condense into something to be gnawed, something that can be enjoyed ambiently on repeat but whose audial nuances—from the twinkling horn on "Nevada" to the sputtering and dovetailing melodies on "Sometimes"—reward undivided attention to the artistry couched beneath common places and feelings that Hypoluxo indulge. Taste Buds makes for gourmet indie rock, and it's delicious.
AdHoc is seeking events and editorial interns to work in our Brooklyn office. All candidates must live in the New York area and be available 12-20 hours per week.
Tasks include assisting with copy-editing and fact-checking, research, ticket counts, social media management, handling music submissions, using Photoshop, zine distribution, and, after some training, writing contribution and show booking. You should have excellent research skills, a laptop, and familiarity with the local music scene. The ability to gain school credit for the internship is strongly preferred but not required.
Please submit a resume, cover letter, 2 writing samples, and a list of your top 5 albums and tracks of 2017 in an email to email@example.com with the subject line “FALL INTERNSHIP 2017″ by August 23rd.