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?
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.
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.
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 "email@example.com" 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.
Chief Strategist of the Trump administration Stephen Bannon recently urged the New York Times to quote his declaration that the "media" is an "opposition party." Both he and President Trump have repeatedly characterized non-Breitbart or Trump-sanctioned outlets as sources of deceit and "fake news," and Bannon has even gone so far as to instruct the media to "keep its mouth shut" and listen to Donald Trump's "big voice." We at AdHoc recognize these announcements as grotesque attempts to erode the free press, a stronghold of American democracy.
Naturally, we decided to make a hat. We've reclaimed and stylishly embroidered "Opposition Party" on a small run of black strapbacks, which we're making available via preorder until February 20th. Stand in solidarity with the free press—or, if it tickles your fancy, with the idea of partying as a form of opposition in itself— by sporting a kickass cap. For every order, we'll go ahead and donate $5 to the ACLU. In the spirit of unity, "Opposition Party" hats come in one size only.
"Endless Night," the newest single from Philadelphia-based psych outfit Shadow Band's upcoming record, Wilderness of Love, seems to blossom out of the fertile annals of a folk era long since buried. Almost immediately, moist harmonies, laced by tambourine and guitar jangles, emanate from the song's verdant core. But Shadow Band doesn't sound like staid or stodgy 60's formalists: "Endless Night" feels mossily organic, finally finished germanating. The fuzzily chromatic video testifies to a certain newness that the band maintains despite its revivalism, as vivid flowers inject, like the band themselves, a floral vigor into an old sound. On "Endless Night," Shadow band brush off the cobwebs of an antiquated style but retain, elegantly, their gossamer shimmer.
Dominic Angelella has worn many costumes: co-songwriter in Philadelphia rock outfit Lithuania, session musician for rap juggernaut Kendrick Lamar, and even producer for iconoclast Lil B. On Goodnight, Doggies., his debut album under his own name, Dominic looks to have finally settled down in plain clothes. From the lilting bass and drum pulses of "Basilisk" to the classically charming balladry of "Birthday Song," Dominic effortlessly situates himself in a singer-songwriter tradition of spare instrumentation, pop sensibility, and smiling earnestness. That isn't to say that Goodnight, Doggies. rings insubstantial or flits by forgettably—Dominic wrestles with loneliness on closer "Anxiety Coma" and goads "venture capitalists in a safety net" on fuzzy highlight "Emotional Business" ("do you despise yourself? he taunts). But he always spit-shines the record's underlying turbulences and traumas with a defiant smile. Despite the brevity of Goodbye, Doggies., Dominic sounds unhurried, at ease. He appears to fit comfortably in this newest, most genuine outift. And it looks great on him, too.