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.
This interview with Palisades' Leeor Waisbrod and Ariel Bitran appears in AdHoc Issue 16.
As anyone who has been hanging out on the Brooklyn underground scene for long enough will attest, New York is the kind of place where anything can happen, until it can’t. From April 2014 to June 2016, a one-time used furniture storefront and former beef smokehouse at the corner of Broadway and Stockton in Bushwick became home to one of our city’s most beloved DIY venues, known equally for its no-frills interior, welcoming atmosphere, and wholehearted embrace of the city as a melting pot of perspectives and sounds. Palisades was the kind of place where you show up at 8 to see Xiu Xiu, come back at midnight for RP Boo and Traxman, then return a month later to see Skepta, and probably see a lot of the same faces in the crowd. AdHoc booked a lot of shows there, and when the venue suddenly shuttered its doors earlier this summer, we felt like we’d lost a home away from home.
In the following oral history, founder Leeor Waisbrod and booker Ariel Bitran open up about how Palisades came to be, the creative community it nurtured, and the difficulty of staying afloat in a city where the odds are stacked against independent venue owners, financially and legally—even the ones who try to do everything by the book.
This was originally published in AdHoc Issue 9. Order a copy of the issue here.
It’s a little after noon on a Sunday in late September, and George Clarke is having a hard time finding a quiet place to chat. “If you hear screaming in the background, I apologize,” he says over the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of people in my living room playing Fantasy Football right now.” By his own admission, the Deafheaven frontman and Bay Area native doesn’t care much for the game; and he doesn’t care much for Southern California either, having relocated there with his bandmate, Kerry McCoy, and girlfriend in December of last year. The latter aversion, he explains, forms the subject of Deafheaven’s third studio album, New Bermuda, which finds the screaming frontman lost in a very different way than he was around the time Sunbather, the group’s 2013 shoegaze and black metal-melding breakout record, came out.
With its pummeling tremolos and furiously cantering percussion, Sunbather encapsulated in sound the last-ditch sense of urgency that he and McCoy—two formerly homeless Bay Area call center employees—were presumably feeling when they made it. As a slightly younger Clarke put it to The FADER, “If this band doesn’t work out, you might find me begging somewhere.” Fast forward a couple years, world tours, and rounds of backlash from purists in the metal community, and George would find himself in a better place than he’d ever been: frontman of a successful rock band, newly solvent, and in the sort of loving relationship that gives one thoughts of settling down.
“I think thematically, Sunbather dealt with a longing for a greater life, and a longing for materialism,” Clarke explains to me. “The new album deals with having those things and kind of being let down.” Growing up is never easy business, but it can be especially hard when you’re living in a city as dislocated and isolating as the city where he tried to do it. Here, Clarke explains how Los Angeles became his Bermuda Triangle—and inspired Deafheaven’s most punishing, viscerally impactful record to date.
AdHoc: What’s the story behind the title of the new record?
George Clarke: Basically, in the last year I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I had certain goals in mind, certain expectations that came from moving: greater opportunities, a whole new area, a broader friend group, the opportunity to live with my girlfriend for the first time. Just a new city that was more affordable. But I found the whole move to be a whole lot more difficult than that.
There were a lot of aspects to living on your own—real steps to moving into adulthood—that I found to be challenging. And because of that, I became really depressed over my entire situation. I felt very trapped, very alone and frustrated—and the record just deals with those feelings. So I called it New Bermuda. Los Angeles is my “new Bermuda”; it’s a place I’d considered to be a paradise to some extent, but everything was swallowed up by the waters of reality before I was able to reach that state of paradise.
Ad Hoc was founded on the ideal of building the world you want to see using the resources at your disposal, and beyond showcasing great music, we want to help musicians and music lovers figure out how to do things themselves. To kick off the first installment of our new "how to" column, "Figuring It Out," we asked NYC-based promoter and "music export" expert Charlotte Von Kotze to give us some advice for non-American bands looking to tour the States without burning through their savings. Charlotte came to New York from her native Paris to work as a project manager at the French Music Export Agency, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing French artists to the states, and currently works at the music marketing agency Giant Step while curating shows under the moniker Duchess of Broken English.
If you follow a particularly zeitgeisty, technology-obsessed sector of the Brooklyn music scene, you may have encountered artist Tabor Robak while watching the glistening digital animations he's done for Fatima Al Quadiri and Ford & Lopatin, or while reading about conceptual pop group #HDBOYZ, self-described as "the world's first boyband in high definition." The 26-year-old Portland native's website, which contains everything from visual renderings of imaginary geological specimens to a 90-minute video of continuous, summer blockbuster-ready explosions, reveals that the dude's imagination would seem to have no end-- especially where dreaming up Avatar-seductive, virtual environments is concerned. Most recently, Robak conceived the game component of Gatekeeper's equally digital-centric Exo LP, an extended, first-person journey through star-studded galaxies, labrynthine space stations, and imaginary ecosystems so vivid that you can almost feel the water perspiring from the trees. Ad Hoc spoke to Tabor about collaborating with Gatekeeper, the beauty of "fourth-wall breaking moments," and why he hesitates to call Exo a game.
This morning, Brooklyn electronic duo Gatekeeper unveiled the virtual gaming environment that 2011 Rhizome grant winner and new media artist Tabor Rybak dreamt up for Exo, their debut LP on Hippos in Tanks. The game visualizes a distinct, interactive environment for each of the album's 12 tracks, and can be experienced in all its dramatically contoured, high resolution glory by visiting the website they created specifically for the project.
Word on the Internet is that the French film maker Chris Marker has died, just one day after his 91st birthday. He wasn't the kind of cultural figure who made headlines on the regular, but he made the kind of movies that college professors show first-year film students in order to get them thinking differently about storytelling. (At least, that's how I found out about him).
From his 1968 cult classic La Jetée, which inspired Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys and was constructed almost entirely from still images, to 1983's Sans Soleil, a globe-trotting mediation on memory and geographical place, the notoriously reclusive philosopher/auteur seemed to point endlessly to the interrelation between photographic images and the human faculty of recollection-- the idea being that both attempt more or less successfully to preserve that which has already ceased to exist. To commemorate the life and work of one of film history's most tragically un-sung out-the-box thinkers, we thought we'd post all 30 minutes of La Jetée. (Though by all means, please check out the much higher quality Criterion Release).
Panda Bear, Deakin, Avey Tare, and Geologist premiered this stuttering first single from their much-anticipated Centipede Hz last night, on a weekly web radio show they have cooking with Domino and The Creators Project this month. The show, which runs every Sunday at 9pm ET, through August 19th, combines AnCo-curated mixes and guest DJ sets; on the website they created for the project, the band has even created a downloadable sample set of stems from Centipede Hz, inviting users to create and submit their own mixes.
To commemorate the life and work of kraut rock and electronic music pioneer Conrad Schnitzler, who passed away from stomach cancer last year, a collective of friends and collaborators led by Gen Ken Montomery has announced a multi-venue mini-fest in NYC this week.
Starting at 6pm on Friday, East Village gallery Audio Visual Arts will broadcast 60 continuous hours of the late composer and Tangerine Dream member's work into the immediate environs of its 1st street location as the entire program streams on the CON Mythology website. Just around the corner, on Saturday and Sunday, Anthology Film Archives will screen some of his films and animations.
Finally, Harvest Works will be home to an octophonic (read: eight-speaker) installation showcasing several of his multi-channel compositions throughout the weekend, beginning with a "live Cassette CONcert" by Gen Ken Montgomery on Friday. We're not sure exactly what that entails, but apparently Schnitzler recorded cassette box sets of his music designed to be played in a performance setting in lieu of Schnitzler himself.
Earlier this year, Moscow-based culture mag Look At Me received over 600 submissions for a contest promising ten young Russian artists a chance to get a track produced by one of ten North American indie musicians. The producers included Ad Hoc faves like Teengirl Fantasy, Maria Minerva, Nite Jewel, and Dent May, and even heavyweights like Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara. The collaborative mix-downs, which are streaming for free on SoundCloud, include Dent May's recording of a self-described "porngroove" band from Vladivostok (KrisMirror) and Maria Minerva's production of likeminded Muscovite synthesist Rosemary Loves A Blackberry. One of our faves is this sample-based, Teengirl-assisted cut from Творожное озер (pronounced "Curd Lake"), a Siberian "chillwave" project inspired by the "Soviet acoustic pop scene."