Light In The Attic-- the Americana-focused Seattle-based reissue label-- is reissuing two early solo albums by weirdo folk icon, Michael Hurley, via their Future Days Recordings imprint. The semi-reclusive Hurley is best known these days for high-profile reissues from Light In The Attic and Mississippi, as well as his association with Devendra Banhart and Vetiver. But he rose to a strange sort of fame in the '60s via his association with outsider folk acts, The Holy Modal Rounders and The Youngbloods. He then struck out on his own and released Armchair Boogie and Hi Fi Snock Uptown, masterpieces of left-field Americana characterized by Hurley's brilliant, offbeat guitar playing and creeping insanity. This is the first time either album has been reissued on CD, and in typical Light In The Attic fashion, they come remastered with thoughtful accoutrements. For example, a Hurley-helmed comic book accompanies Armchair Boogie. Hurley's drawings-- which also grace the album covers-- are good indicators of his music: nonsensical, non-linear, funny, warm, and somehow familiar.
Fade To Mind bro and Qween Beat label head, MikeQ could be called a revivalist. The tradition he champions-- Ballroom and Vogue music-- was most significant in the '80s, at the time the beat to drag parties all across Harlem. But just as with the rest of the Fade To Mind crew, the New Jersey-based producer takes halcyon strains of dance music and overclocks them with vibrant sawtooth waves and aggresively bright drums. Much like label comrades Fatima Al-Qadiri and Nguzunguzu, MikeQ manages transform typically marginal aesthetics into bangers that are welcome on seemingly any dancefloor. His remix of "Nite Birds" is filled with flutters of fashionable sub-vocal samples as well as some good old fashioned house organ stabs. Dance your way into the weekend, people.
Judging by Machinedrum’s recent work, 2011’s Room(s) and newly announced follow-up Vapor City, Travis Stewart seems to be exploring the concept of conglomeration and, more specifically, the harmony and relation of separate entities in a larger whole. Vapor City, out this coming fall, is a concept album and each track focuses on a district in Stewart’s imaginative city. Additionally, Machinedrum will release an EP, Fenris District, which by name sounds like an extension of Vapor City’s themes. Both albums will be released on Ninja Tune.
Check out one district’s song from Vapor City, “Eyesdontlie."
It looks like copyright troubles are once again rearing their ugly head over the most recognizable song in the world. Warner/Chappell Music of the Warner Music Group holds a vise grip on the song's rights, charging up to hundreds of dollars for usage rights. This inspired the Free Music Archive to hold a contest last year in search of a replacement for the over-one-hundred-year-old tune. Now filmmaker Jennifer Nelson is spearheading the cause. Nelson was producing a documentary when she learned that she would have to pay $1,500 to the license holders before she could use the song in the film. Now she and her colleagues are hoping to make the song more readily available. On June 13th, Nelson's company Good Morning to You Productions Corp. filed a class-action lawsuit against Warner/Chappell, The Guardian reports. The filmmakers are hoping to liberate the copyright that will otherwise remain intact until 2030. They are also trying to make Warner/Chappell return the millions of dollars of licensing fees it has accrued over the years. Hopefully "Happy Birthday" will finally be free and the world can celebrate in joyous, non-copyrighted song.
Keith Fullerton Whitman is one of those genius types with an overclocked mind who has no choice but to cram as many words as possible into a single breath. Luckily for both us and for you readers, he gave us about an hour's worth of interview material in only 27 minutes. Hence, we're publishing our conversation in three parts, with the first-- this one-- focusing directly on his forthcoming split with Floris Vanhoof on Shelter Press. Since last decade, Whitman has been exploring the potentials of the modular synthesizer. His process nowadays is one of exploring minute shifts with massive sonic implications, creating self-contained butterfly effects through electronic wittling.
Ad Hoc: We should start off by talking about this studio recording on the split you have coming out on Shelter Press. Is there a bifurcation between your live and your studio material? There seems to be this somewhat academic element to this work, academic in the GRM sense of the word. There's the this methodical progression from tone to rhythm to, for lack of a better term, song.
Keith Fullerton Whitman: That one track with the drums is a nine-minute, more linear kind of thing. I don’t see it as a division, no-- It’s all continuous. It’s funny, because that whole side is the exactly the same set up. It's all the same patch actually. Do I turn the clock station on or do I leave it turned off? The first three tracks, they’re more free-form, but it's literally the same patch, just recorded in four slightly different configurations, in four different ways. It’s funny to make stylistic distinctions because they’re all wrapped on to the music-- all kind of similar. It’s just what you hear that’s very different. It’s funny how the mechanism that makes the music is almost identical.
Creating a lo-fi bridge between two of the best cassette labels in the scene, Brattleboro’s OSR Tapes head Zach Phillips has released a new full-length, Recorded in Heaven, on Chicago’s Lillerne Tapes. Phillips writes charmingly uncertain almost-pop songs that have an off-kilter nervous energy similar to his work in groups like Better Psychics and Blanche Blanche Blanche. Here, however, the result is more hushed, with Phillips delivering his idiosyncratic lyrics in a warm, low near-monotone, punctuated by staccato pianos and decaying synths. The barely-shorter-than-average title track, clocking in at 48 seconds, exemplifies the delightfully odd sonic space he has carved out for himself: a pleasant melody and acoustic guitar progression hint at familiar tropes of folk and vintage psych, but it’s coated here in disorienting squelches and ends abruptly, unresolved. Phillips twists apart the conventions of pop narrative, working with a crude palette to create something that pulls the listener towards a colorful future.
Check out the track "Recorded in Heaven" below. Recorded in Heaven is available now on CS or as a digital download from Lillerne Tapes.
Mike Collins, under the guise of Salvia Plath, has just released the video for new song "Bardo States." A deep bass riff trots alongside stomping drums and tambourine until a slow drawl of strings flutter in anxiously. The violins enforce the melancholy and anxiety of Collin's lyrics as he sings, "When you're living, and not forgiven those, those things you do." Even in awareness of daily sins, he feels no reason to change his path and "retire to all that I do." The Bardo states, a Tibetan Buddhist state of consciousness between our lives on earth, mirror the tension and acceptance in both the song and the video. This extended purgatory, where men persistently wander, smoke cigarettes, and comb their hair, is an ode to the mundane. In order to reach the next world, man must embrace the world in which he currently resides.
Watch the video for "Bardo States" below. The Bardo Story is out on July 8 via Weird World.
Portland-based synthesists Soft Metals are prepping a new LP, Lenses, following the duo's self-titled record from 2011. New single "In The Air" wears their electro influences proudly on a minimal wave of brittle-but-invigorated drum programming. Winding patterns of synth lines slowly take to gliding, like wings catching the right aerial tide. The contrast between the hard-edged pulse of the rhythmic arrangements and vocalist Patricia Hall's ghostly lilt gives off an anxious sort of ecstasy that will probably get approving nods from both Xeno & Oaklander-inclined 'wavers and 100% Silk-inclined party people.
As their first collaboration since 1993, techno legends Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald have issued Borderland, a lush, vast territory of an album. Trademarks of both artists are clearly perceptible but devotees will still be surprised by the products of this reborn symbiosis. The tracks evoke entire environments in their calm sprawl and creeping movement, at once static and exploratory. References to vegetation abound in the song titles and an "Electric Garden" is explored across half of the album; these guys like plants. It becomes evident in the music. Borderland doesn't strive for motion like many of the artists' previous releases do; instead it sounds osmotic or photosynthetic, engaged with the surrounding world and its thriving richness.
Beat and soul-traveler Ohbliv has dropped another buttery joint, "Koolout Ish." Even though Ohbliv has been particularly consistentthisyear, this new beat shows he's still on his grind. The Richmond-based artist maintains his slick and groovy SP404 beats, getting his hands on a gurgling and warbled bass line. Between the tape-mangled drum kits lies a blissed-out synth line that shoots beams of kush-inspiration from the heavens. Ohbliv's coasting production loops these basic elements, perfect for any whip-ride into the infinite sunset.
Stream "Koolout Ish" below, and stream his recent Ritual Swing tape here.