As Egyptrixx, Toronto producer David Psutka trawls the depths of sonic possibility. His latest album, Pure, Beyond Reproach, is a stark work contrasting serene, natural cinematics with a mangled, post-industrial grit. It clanks and sputters, but is firmly grounded in a world that humans and machines have saturated with waste. A longtime affiliate of the pioneering post-club label Night Slugs, Egyptrixx has evolved his sound far past the dancefloor, onto another planet entirely. In 2015, he founded his own label, Halocline Trance, as an outlet for mostly beatless productions that didn’t quite fit in with the woozy, DJ-ready template of Night Slugs. Just last year, Psutka unveiled a new project as Ceramic TL, where he painted paranoid and scathing noise-scapes that pointed to his fascination with ecological destruction. One of his tracks “Life on Earth,” is a scathing assault of noise which doesn’t allow room for any life whatsoever. We caught up with Egyptrixx to get a break down of his influences, and what to look forward to in his show in New York.
The warm sensations of Wanderings, Alix Hyde's debut album from Elestial Sound seem to crawl to the far reaches of the mind, creating a diverse dialog between sound, and silence. The artist crafts a particularly heart-churning composition on “Myriad Tears"—enveloping your soul, pulling you into a soothing realm. Hyde's sparse, sparkling piano melody drifts as though it were floating through space, colliding within the rhythms of a meteor shower. The video for “Myriad Tears”, made in collaboration with Tristan Whitehill of Euglossine, accentuates a mirroring of inner and outer space in the body, and mind. The phenomena of mental and physical dualities become a counterpart to the vast complexities of the human brain, and the universe. Bubbling pulsations are carried in a cosmic echo, visual, and sound begin to intertwine. The calming spaciousness of Hyde's music melds together the vividly palpable sensation surrounding the human form, and its relation to the atoms that are shifting around it weaving throughout space and time. Finding its home in a space where the difference between the two is uncertain.
All That is Solid, Lea Bertucci’s new album for NNA Tapes, begins with a breath and a whine, a slow distant emergency smothered in smoke and hiss. Throughout the course of this first side—entitled “The Cepheid Variations”—a troika of live tape collage, viola, and cello unearth a massive sound. From the churning tape reels to the Pendereckian wails of the strings, this 28-minute opener is only outdone by the immensity of Side B, a 33-and-a-half-minute closer called “Double Bass Crossfade.” Two double bassists weave dolorous tones through a fabric of feedback recorded in a 50,000-square-foot former glass factory—their sound can be as deep as whalesong in the abyss, others times treading vibrations imperceptible as infrared.
Bertucci’s compositions are stark, resonant, and certainly something to behold in person. I was able to catch the original performance of “The Cepheid Variations” at Brooklyn's ISSUE Project Room in 2015, where her live tape collage was accompanied by Leila Bordreuil on cello and Jeanann Dara on viola. Hearing the music again immediately thrust me back into the old ISSUE Project Room theater at 22 Boerum Place, where the cream moulding was moldy and peeling and a good part of the vaulted ceiling was ripped apart, the HVAC guts spilling out like cables. It was an incredible show, so I was excited to speak to Bertucci about it’s "second life" on the new album. Of course, she’s been busy since 2015 with a variety of projects—including a collection of experimental graphic scores as well as a composition involving a 20-child children's choir—so I had to ask her about those as well.
All That is Solid is out March 24 via NNA Tapes. Catch Bertucci at Pioneer Works with GRID, Greg Fox, and Multa Nux on March 28.
AdHoc: Can you talk a bit about "The Cepheid Variations"? It is a few years old now—how does this piece fit within your larger sound and your practice? Is this a track you find yourself coming back to often?
Lea Bertucci: I wrote this piece in 2014 as a way to approach my interest in harmonics and resonances. At the time I had just been selected as an ISSUE Project Room artist-in-residence and had free access to their space, which is an amazingly resonant McKim, Mead & White building in downtown Brooklyn. The resonant nature of the room was the perfect excuse to write a piece of music specifically for that space. Because my background as a musician is as a woodwind player, string instruments have always held a particularly exotic appeal to me. I was also interested in writing a piece that combined live acoustic instruments with pre-recorded collage material in a seamless way, where the two elements obscure each other. I am constantly questioning the boundaries of what I do as an artist, and am always looking ahead to challenge myself, whether it's doing sound design projects, composing for large ensembles or working with unfamiliar instruments.
Dead Horses, a three-piece experimental cowpunk band from the Ferrara province in Italy, have nailed deconstructed blues. Their new track “No Wahala” from Ballad For Loser is like Keiji Haino’s Black Blues gone country. The group's three players—Agnese, Zufux, and Mauro—employ a minimal drum kit, an acoustic guitar, and an electric guitar—that’s it—but simple instrumentation in no way indicates simple composition. In the song, a plodding rhythm propels spindly, precise guitar work as incanted vocals float atop the track’s aggressive swagger. Dead Horses have been called the Italian Butthole Surfers more than a few times, though it's less about their exact sound than, as they say, their "mix of influences and live show." Which is to say, if you like the Butthole Surfers, you will probably like this. (As for "influences," no, I would not rule out the influence of drugs.)
Swet Shop Boys is the duo of former Das Racist member Heems and actor/rapper Riz Ahmed or Riz MC. Last October they released their first full-length album, Cashmere, made in collaboration with British producer Redinho. The album drew influence from the Sufi devotional music Qawwali, a genre which is popular across India and Pakistan, and often uses hedonistic themes as a metaphor for spiritual longing. The spirit of Qawwali, which bridges the gap between politically divided communities, serves as an inspiration for the the album highlight “Aaja,” which features Pakistani singer Ali Sethi, as well as the track’s new video. Directed by Sofian Kahn, the video is at once playful and sweet, showing a teen cycling between Flushing and Coney Island (home to large Indian and Pakistani populations respectively) to flyer for an upcoming Swet Shop Boys show, all while nursing a crush. The video concludes with a sample from Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani internet celebrity and activist who was the victim of an “honor killing,” to whom the video is dedicated.
About two years ago I was eating a meal inside a festival’s hospitality tent somewhere in the Netherlands. I remember being very psychedelically tired from a drive with the Kevin Morby crew—it was around two weeks deep into a tour. I have no recollection of playing a set that day.
While eating bread soaked in some sort of chicken juice and noticing the conversations around me, I spied a tall redhead bopping around the cutlery zone with a blue-haired accomplice. I admired their fashion. I recognized them both but couldn't remember from where.
To my surprise, the two sat down at my table! Soon I learned that they were Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, aka Girlpool. We had many mutual friends back on the East Coast. I didn't catch their set at the festival, but during our time there, our crews merged. We climbed a jungle gym, ate delicious Belgian waffles and ice cream, and talked about jet lag and how strange it was to be at a festival very far from home with so many friends of friends.
Since that day, Cleo and Harm moved back to Los Angeles (where I also live), made a new record called Power Plant (that I love), and expanded their live band to include two new collaborators. They also each have one new pair of pants, which I know, because recently we all went shopping together. This winter—while I was in a van on tour with my band Hand Habits, and while Cleo and Harm were in their respective homes in LA—we spoke on the phone about friends, feedback, and collaboration. —Meg Duffy
Meg Duffy: So you guys live in Los Angeles now. What are you doing out there?
Cleo Tucker: We’ve been rehearsing with the new band; we’re gonna go to SxSW and then hopefully have some time to record a ton of music. And then we’re gonna hit the road at the end of May for like a month, and then we’re gonna go to Europe.
Who is in the new band?
Cleo Tucker: It’s Miles Wintner from Traps PS on drums, and Stephen Steinbrink on synth and guitar. And then… us.
There’s a venerable tradition of documenting a day in song—but what if this process could be automated? How can you document a moment or day in a way that is smoothed out of the messiness of personal experience? DC punks and Priests affiliates Flasher offer such an attempt on “Winnie,” the A-side to their upcoming 7”. “Winnie” recalls a motel breakfast in Winnie, Texas last May, intercutting verbatim quotations from news coverage of the Egypt Air Flight 804 with pharmaceutical advertisements heard on the TV that day. It’s a song that luxuriates in the weird, improbable sentiments created by juxtaposing the two source texts, and their uncanny effectiveness as pop lyrics—“these feet want to keep the beat moving,” taken from a diabetes medication commercial, is just one of many ear wormy hooks the track features. The track itself is riff-fueled post-punk joyride, sounding like something off an early Mission of Burma single; off-kilter but enthused with a deft pop sensibility. Flasher describe the track as a “bricolage tribute to the paranoia-fueled auto erotic American psyche,” but the song works just as well as a catchy-as-hell rave up.
Mouth Mouth, the latest full-length transmission from New Zealand's Yeongrak, is infernal to the teeth. Swathed in contorted melodies, skeletal percussion, and incinerating distortion, the cryptic producer's latest interrogates the limits of what is sonically tolerable, shunting effect upon effects to create its hellish soundscape. Throughout much of the record, from the dully thumping opener, "ape rottin'" to the punishingly impenetrable closer, "shouldnt have a light fixture there anywy," Yeongrak shrouds the growls, burbles, and the palpitating beats in a thick saliva of filtration and mutilation. And like saliva, this distortion corrodes the structures, instruments, and voices trapped within its inexorable viscosity. Occasionally, Yeongrak swallows this strangulating spit, allowing the distortion to dissipate. At its most lucid, on cuts like "firstname.lastname@example.org" and "bandagey eggroll," a fractal, gurgling landscape irrupted by shards of shrieks, squelches, and synth stabs comes into focus. As infuriating as it is irresistable, Mouth Mouth has gnawed its way into becoming one of the most bizarre and rewarding releases of 2017.
The Funs are loud. The Funs write heavy music soaked in distortion, punctuated by thrashing drum palipitations, and laced with incantatory vocals. The Funs are finally bringing their uncompromisingly chaotic live show to Brooklyn’s Alphaville on March 10. Before this rare chance to catch the elusive group outside of their Midwestern hideaway in rural Illinois, AdHoc chatted with The Funs' Jessee Rose Crane and Philip Lesicko about their isolated headquarters, their upcoming endeavors, and their prognosis of today's uncertain DIY landscape.
The first line off of your upcoming EP, Is A Cult, is a directive to “go save yourself.” Is this addressed to anyone particular?
Jessee Rose Crane: It is and it isn’t. It means you can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself first. It’s about getting out of your own head and seeking what you need.
AdHoc: You have described your current living situation as an “artist’s sanctuary” in rural Illinois. How does the setting affect how you make music, especially having been in an urban setting like Chicago before? Is this a place where you can go save yourself?
J: Rose Raft is what we call our home in New Douglas, IL. We’ve spent years rehabbing this big orange brick house built in 1872. It’s beautiful. It’s in a little village four hours south of Chicago. You get off the highway and drive into the corn and turn right and then you find this place that shouldn’t be there. We’re surrounded by farmers. It’s funny but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. This feels right. We dug this place out and I mean we dug it out. It was abandoned and hoarded and we saved it with a manic determination. Bands and artists come here off tour or to record and it gives them a break.
It sounds good in this house. To be able to walk downstairs and play music and record still feels surreal. It’s a big change from living in Chicago for sure. I don’t miss practice spaces at all. There’s a sensitivity in making that comes from your environment. When I make something, I want to be wholly present. Eat, sleep and breathe the work. That is what I can do in this old farm house. This is what I can share with others.
On their art-damaged cassette War & War, Outside World mix a love of the deep groove with an experimental outlook. While there are certainly moments of classic pop songwriting (i.e., a penchant for summoning the catchy), a lot of War & War’s power comes from riding the tight line between atmosphere and tight, hypnotic cacophony. It would be a far cry to call Outside World noise, but there is certainly an influence from that realm, as well as jazz. On “Nothing Is Selected,” something close to a scarred pop banger, the group utilizes recurring motifs and sounds to establish a whirlwind effect, an effect made all the more apparent in their video, in which the commonplace and the repetitive metamorphosize into something uncanny and disorienting.
War & War is out now via Outside World's Bandcamp.