Now that they have produced a string of EPs and their first full-length, Compendium, it seems fitting to inquire a bit further into the arcane world of Old Apparatus. As a collective, they have worked hard to remove any traces of human presence, replacing it with striking imagery and rare media appearances constituting the stage for their manifesto. Their earlier images consisted of old Victorian portraits or mug-shots, the human heads removed and replaced by old and grotesque science equipment. It was during this time that OA released a self-titled 12” on the legendary dubstep producer Mala’s label, Deep Medi. It was a mesmeric debut, incorporating noise, industrial, and dubstep with a plethora of sounds and instruments. It created a big stir in the UK scene and was a perfect introduction to the limitless sounds of Old Apparatus.
After a second release on Deep Medi and a handful of remixes, including one for the Shangaan Electro album on Honest Jons, the group found a new home for their esoteric material in the formation of their own label, Sullen Tone. This move resulted in a highly fertile period for the group, with the release of a series of genre-hopping EPs in 2012-- each with its own, striking, occultish cover image. The first EP from the new label was attributed to the group, but the three that would follow were produced individually by the band members LTO, A Levitas, and Harem. It is the music from these four EPs that leads us to Compendium.
Formerly of the decades-spanning project Yura Yura Teikoku, Japan's Shintaro Sakamoto creates mood music, sonically light while skimming the surface of a deep, dark, heavy longing. "I wandered the wide avenue like a dead man," his new album, How To Live With A Phantom, begins. Released earlier this year on Other Music's new Fat Possum imprint, it offers a pleasant blend of laid-back funk, psych, soul, and folk. Sakamoto utilizes classic funk grooves, often danceable, and accents them with backup singing arrangements, saxophones, delay-heavy shimmering guitar, and crisp, smartly applied bass. In English translation, his songs read like love poems to dimming memories, and whether we fade them consciously or if they naturally fade on their own. His lyrics are rich and somewhat aloof, such as when he ponders the state of inertia within a city's confines, and the feeling of anonymity that can result: "Living in this town/Watching people come and go/And trying to keep your cool when you should be excited."
How does one live with a phantom? After discovering Sakamoto's record, it wasn't an easy question to shake. Are phantoms independently existing entities, or are they extensions of ourselves? "Be careful handling phantoms", he warns us towards the end of the record. "Prepare yourself when confronting dreams and phantoms/At times, phantoms will swallow you." Sakamoto's album swallows the listener whole, a well-crafted imaginary documentation of a heavy-lidded lounge singer encouraging us to dance with gusto as his gaze fixates sadly on some strange invisible distance outside the window.
Shintaro's influences, he claims, are rarely from after the 1970s or 1980s. During an email interview I conducted with him last month, an excerpt of which is reprinted below, he said that these days he's been listening to an American soul band from '70s called Love Apple. I compiled a mix of songs following this guideline-- residual "phantoms" that I was reminded of while listening to his record, several of which appear on albums that never quite broke into the mainstream, but continue to haunt contemporary musical practice.
The Norwegian space-electronic quartet 120 Days unexpectedly called it quits a few weeks ago, only a year after their second studio album and a rapidly growing career since their debut in 2006. In a musical landscape dominated by the likes of Todd Terje, Lindstrøm, and Diskjokke, Oslo might just have lost one of the more exciting electronic artists to emerge from the '00s. It is still interesting to see how Oslo's DIY scene has taken shape during the last couple of years, much of its success thanks to festivals such as Bylarm, annually introducing new, exciting sounds that seem to be springing up from the surface.
Having recently moved out of the safe surroundings of their hometown and into a small apartment of Prenzelauer Berg in Berlin, the techno duo Bloksberg have already established a certain hype around their surrounding Scandinavian inhabitants. The break-up of 120 Days had a big impact on the conversations between my Scandinavian friends, too, as I happen to catch a fragment of an interesting statement last weekend: "do you know who are the new 120 Days?", and knowing what was coming, I replied: "Bloksberg". Arguably, there's a big gap between them sound-wise, but a sparkle of truth may also be found in this remark: the space dipped, slow-building compositions, the energetic, dancey live shows, and of course (forgive me for sounding pompous), the fact that it feels oh-so-very 2012.
Bloksberg kindly provided us with this superb mix in true Berlin spirit below; featuring classics and newcomers side by side, as well as their own (but still unmastered) psych-jam "Goma".
Bjørn Torske: "Nedi myra"
Luke Abbott: "Brazil" (Slow version)
François De Roubaix: "La Frite Équatoriale"
Miles Davies: "One on one"
Model 500: "Night Drive"
Sven Nyhus: "Fanitullen"
Underground Resistance: "The lightning"
This morning, Peaking Lights offered up their third Lucifer mixtape leading up to their upcoming full-length on Mexican Summer and Weird World. Wedged between some smooth '70s exotica and african funk, you'll find album track "Beautiful Son" just past the 32-minute mark. (via Gorilla Vs Bear)
Super fav Peaking Lights made International Tapes a mixtape entitled “20mix 12mix ARIES” brimming with modern hip hop and R&B stylings, with a little Bach and light hypnosis to kick things offs. It has no tracklist, but we can assure you that it's ideal Friday listening. For that matter, it would make fine Saturday-Thursday listening as well. Instructions for use: press play and let it ride.
Ç86 is a brand spanking new compilation of bedroom-recorded music from across Japan. Chiba-based four-piece möscow çlub conceived the comp as a celebration spring's coming and the heterogenous universe of DIY production technique.
The sixteen artists and bands yield a diverse array of styles and sounds, encompassing various branches of post-punk, tasty bits of house, and a rainbow-flavored assortment of sample pop and include both familiar names and new discoveries. To save you some googling, here’s the list, complete with linkage: möscow çlub, SUPER VHS, Occult You, Lilacs, Elen Never Sleeps, It Happens, Slow-Marico, The Moments, figure, OMEGABOY, coffee_and_tv, Breezesquad, women in the dune, ILL DAZE, edel & weiss, and Exccow. In addition to the original tunes, the mix also includes 7 covers that we’re still wrapping our heads around. There’s plenty here to move your feet, warm your soul, and fill your playlists. We have our favorites, but the best advice we can give is that you explore this landscape for yourself. Prepare for a crash course in independent Japanese music!
Whether he's throwing shows in Oxford, MIssissippi or assembling sick mixtapes of soul, funk, and R&B, Dent May knows how to bring the partay. The Cats Purring kingpin is gonna get down all across the USA (in person, not as hologram) this May-July in support of his upcoming album, Do Things, coming June 12th on Paw Tracks. In the meantime, sink your teeth into his "Escape from Groove Mountain" mix and take a listen to "Best Friend", the first booty-shaking crooner to leak from the album. Tour dates after the jump.
We're kicking off Ad Hoc with a mix of songs that our contributing blogs have had in heavy rotation lately. Between the new age vibrations from Blues Control & Laraaji, the mathy metal of Dog Shredder, the new collab between Cali garage torchbearers Ty Segall and White Fence, and the interstellar sleaze of the 4AD-inducted SpaceGhostPurrp, there's something for everyone on here. Stream it below, or download the whole thing.