Tag Archives: Experimental

Introducing…Nickopotamus

Nickopotamus is Nick Souder – a multi-instrumentalists who sings, plays the drums/aux percussion, upright/electric bass, acoustic/electric guitar, organ/keys, mandolin, pan flute and bari sax.

High Tailin’ It! is Nickopotamus’ debut album. High Tailin’ It! was engineered, recorded and performed by Nicholas (Nick) Souder from Albany NY. At Balls Deep studio (a recording studio Nick built in his basement with the help of some friends), he laid down his quick-paced 12 track debut album. Using his many influences and musical knowledge, Nick performed all the instruments, vocals and sounds on the album with the exception of a 12 second rant by his bud Jean-Claude called Sunny and Share.

The first single to be released from High Tailin’ It! is Nibbler. Nibbler is an upbeat, uplifting, experimental fusion track whose rhythm acoustic guitar won’t fail to get your feet moving. The vocals are obscured behind distortion but this doesn’t matter. It’s a fabulous, summer song that allows you to think of sunny fields, beaches and good times.

High Tailin’ It! was released 8 February 2014. You can listen to the album here.

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Marla Mase – Half Life EP Review

The eccentric and always surprising writer/performer/producer/singer/songwriter from New York City, Marla Mase, is about to release her new EP, Half Life. Just one year after her last full-length release Speak Deluxe, Marla has now signed with True Groove Records and, along with her label mates, signed a worldwide major distribution deal with The Orchard. Her new EP Half Life is due out February 25 2014. At once confrontational and completely vulnerable, the EP’s name is best explained in a quote by Junot Diaz, “The half-life of love is forever”.

Marla Mase said of the EP: “I wanted to go back to the personal. They say you can find the universal in the personal.” Half Life is streaming in full now on bandcamp ahead of its release later this month.

Marla is known for her provocative, raw performance style and intelligent lyrics. Her music ranges from rock n’ roll to experimental spoken word, funk and punk rock. She is backed by the Tomás Doncker Band. The Huffington Post featured her in 2013, saying “…her feisty message of peace and perhaps wake up the beast in all of us.”

Speak Deluxe was a 16 track CD containing human rights and feminist perspectives on tracks like Piece of Peace, Lioness, Scream and AnnaRexia, a reggae track featuring Garrison Hawk from Bill Laswell’s Method of Defiance. AnnaRexia is spearheading the StayImperfect Project or Love Your Butt Campaign, which Marla created to empower women to love themselves and their bodies. Proceeds from AnnaRexia go towards theprojectheal.org, a non-profit founded by two teenage eating disorder survivors, that raises funds for girls whose families cannot afford to send them to treatment.

Mase also developed The Speak Show, a multi-media concert/performance piece using music (from Speak Deluxe), spoken word, dance and visual imagery to explore the themes of confinement, sexuality, body image, trauma, oppression (internal/external) and freedom as a means of celebrating the raw reality of our human condition as expressed through the eyes, bodies, voices of women. It was booked twice for NYC Summerstage 2013 alongside major acts such as The Zombies, Dead Prez and Django Django.

Marla has her MA in writing and performance from NYU and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Most importantly Marla is the mother to two beautiful souls.

So with all this experience of life, it seems strange how she’s chosen to call her latest EP, Half Life. But this EP is more than half full.

Track one Drown In Blue from the first note sounds like a Patti Smith track. The guitar and drums accompanied by Mase’s vocals “I’m on the move” is automatically Smith-esque, especially in regards to the vocals. Mase uses her voice in this track very effectively. The lyrics “I’m on the move” are sung in such a way as to demonstrate the angst and uncertainty Mase is feeling. Something is gaining on her and her vocals reflect the emotions attached to being chased by something whether it’s regret, fear or thought. The lyrics continue, “Got to keep busy/Or I’ll lose my mind/Walk fast/Talk fast/Work fast/Think fast” demonstrating this need to be constantly moving, to create distance between that regret, fear or thought.

Title track Half Life steps away from the rock influences and introduces Mase’s soul and funk influences. It’s a gentle track which sees Mase’s vocals transform from angry to seductive, soft and sensual. Half Life features a saxophone solo half way through which helps to enhance the soul and funk feel of this song which in turn aids the sensual meaning behind the lyrics. The spoken word, “I’m a practical woman/And I get what I want/I’m a practical woman/Who believes in magic, who insists on it/Not just in the night time but all the time/And not just with you/In everything I do” captures the essence of this track – a song about intimacy and love. It’s surprisingly different from the rest of the songs on the EP showing a much more relaxed and gentle side to the otherwise known as crazy and, as she herself has said, schizophrenic Marla. It’s probably the most enjoyable track on Half Life.

The Heart Beats sees country and blues influences seep into the EP. The Heart Beats is pure poetry – Marla discusses the need for humans to feel connected to and loved by one another. The track sees her talk about the heart as a body organ pumping blood around the body as much as it sees her talking about the spiritual heart of opening up to one another, accepting and belonging: “There are six billion people in the world, two billion of them are children…Each beating a hundred thousand times a day/Electrical circuits/Coexisting/Cohabiting/Co-joining/And the beats/They merge/They mingle/They seek out other beats/Yes the beat is always looking for itself/To be in rhythm/To be in sync/To be one/It’s our global soul calling…It has been said that love always finds its object and never stops until it does so/It has also been said that love is an act of freedom/Emancipating not ourselves but the other/Yes the beat is always looking for itself.” Mase ends the track with this single line: “We’re all in this dance together” summing up the idea behind this beautiful piece of poetry. The Heart Beats gets you thinking about the wider world and how many people there are all with their hearts beating at the same time. All those people in the world all living and breathing together. It’s a track that shows how it’s our hearts that bond us together in relationships, passions and in everything we do.

Gaping Hole brings a  light-hearted blues feel to the EP. It has pleasant uplifting melodies after a heavily philosophical track like The Heart Beats. It’s a brilliant track with  70s influences being easily heard.

The Half Life EP sees a reprise of first track Drown In Blue. The reprise version of Drown In Blue sees Mase sing backed by some blues acoustic guitar. It’s calming and preferable to the original version.

Hold Fast Your Dreams ends the EP and is a gentle and inspiring song to end the EP on. Hold Fast Your Dreams is jazzy and almost like elevator music. Mase’s vocals are airy and refreshing as she sings, “Hold fast your dreams/Within your heart/And keep them safe/In your world apart/With wishes that/Have not come true/Let hope and magic work for you/Hold fast your dreams” before she goes into spoken word. Another piece of beautiful poetry, “You see with one eye/Life was exactly as it was explained to her/But with the other/She saw into, through, above their world…” Mase’s spoken word on Hold Fast Your Dreams is so similar to Patti Smith, it’s a real struggle to differentiate between the two.

Marla Mase has outdone herself with this EP release. Although Speak shone, the Half Life EP shines ten thousand times brighter. The Half Life EP will be released on February 25 2014.

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Introducing…Habits

Habits is the name for the synthesiser and sample based music composed, produced and sung by Los Angeles based artist, Dustin Krapes. Armed with a laptop and a busy right brain, Habits combines warped electronic sounds with live drums and bass to create infectious, Beck-meets-LCD Soundsystem madness that penetrates and absorbs your mind.

The first single Splendor Of The Panic is a stellar glimpse into Habits ethos where meticulous waves of electronic noise meets driving live instrumentation. Splendor Of The Panic is the first taste of Habits’ forthcoming debut album, Unselves In Arrival, due out February 25 on Fleeting Youth Records/How To Be A Microwave.

Habits

Krapes of Habits

You can watch the trippy video for Haacksaw here. Haacksaw has also been taken from the debut album, Unselves In Arrival.

Driving rhythms and a psychedelic collage of otherworldly synths provide the sonic backdrop to Dustin’s lofty metaphysical themed lyrics, typically delivered in a nonchalant speak-sing style of crooning. Habits’ revolving cast of collaborators currently includes professional wrestling hall of famer Dithy Ramb on drums and vegan taxidermy expert Gabriel Armenta on bass.

In a live setting, Krapes does more than merely play to the crowd, preferring to engage the audience while playing the role of a slacker shaman armed with a disintegrating laptop, effects pedals and a unique brand of cosmic indifference.


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Hauschka Releases Video For Single, Elizabeth Bay

The compositions on Hauschka’s forthcoming album Abandoned City awaken the loneliness and unattainable romance of timeless, unfamiliar places with cinematic melodies full of resonant overtones, bright cheerful keyboard patterns and dark percussive touches. The album is set for release on March 18 in North America on Temporary Residence Ltd and March 17 in the UK on City Slang.

The first single, Elizabeth Bay, has a new video which features a fascinating interplay between Volker Bertelmann and his prepared piano. It premiered via The Guardian’s Tumblr and can be seen on YouTube. Hauschka will also be bringing his new live show to North America in 2014 as well with an expanded list of April tour dates announced including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Montreal and others.

Abandoned City was recorded in Hauschka’s home studio in a burst of creative energy following the birth of his first son. Hauschka explained: “With the exception of Elizabeth Bay, which is based on a piece of music I wrote for a reinvention of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, the music was composed and recorded in ten days. After the baby, I had to concentrate to find time to work so the process was very intense.”

The songs were recorded using nine microphones. Six recorded the sounds coming from the piano strings through an analogue console feeding directly into a computer to preserve the instrument’s full, warm sound. Three others passed the tones through a mixer full of effects – delay, distortion, echo – that can be triggered separately or used simultaneously. Hauschka creates the music and the arrangements as he goes, trusting the music to take him in the proper direction. He explained: “Most of the songs were played on one piano; I was mixing as I played. If I needed more piano, I overdubbed with another twiddling of effects. All the sounds – harp, balafon, Melodica, drums – are produced by the keyboard.”

The tracks all bear the names of actual vacant cities. Elizabeth Bay evokes a deserted mining town in Namibia with sinister Bo Diddley-esque bass notes underscoring ghostly keyboard fills that float through the air on a cloud of distorted dub effects. The suggestion of a vaguely Latin melody moves brightly through the background, clashing with sharp techno percussion patterns. Hauschka said: “I hear the sound of the wind blowing through a piano playing in an empty room. Jamming wooden sticks between the strings of the piano creates the drum sounds by bending the notes and giving them a percussive resonance.”

Pripyat was a city near Chernobyl, abandoned after the meltdown of 1986. The song’s structure owes a debt to minimal free jazz and the pulsations of Terry Reily’s In C. A single repeated note anchors the composition, moving it from a droning, atmospheric pulse to a jittering collection of interlocking percussive elements. Hauschka creates the sound of a brittle industrial music box by blocking the strings with his fingernails.

Agdam is a deserted city in southwestern Azerbaijan desolated by the country’s civil war but the music owes a debt to Hauschka’s current hometown of Düsseldorf, birthplace of Kraftwerk and Neu! The piano plays simple, hooky, repeated Kraftwerkian note clusters, propulsive rhythms that swish like brushes on a snare drum and bright pizzicato accents that sound like a cross between koto and violin.

Hauschka’s new album Abandoned City will be released on March 17 (UK) and March 18 (North America).

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Vulkano – Live Wild Die Free Album Review

Swedish riot girl duo Vulkano have just self-released their debut album, Live Wild Die Free.

Vulkano are a post-punk duo who erupted onto the scene earlier last year with their debut single, Vision Tricks.  Made up from two of the former members of Those Dancing Days and hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, their music isn’t for the faint-hearted and is full of no-frills fun. Their beats are uncompromising and extrovert and their debut full length shows just that with hard riffs, chaotic drumbeats and Cissi’s wild vocals leading the way.

The album is unusual ranging from its monkey-like sounds in The Jungle to the more accessible electronic drones of Choir of Wolves. It’s a sparse record blending everything that makes this duo so captivating and entrancing.

Vulkano album

Album artwork for Vulkano’s album, Live Wild Die Free

Track one Trolls kick starts this album showcasing everything this riot girl duo are capable of. It’s an explosion of sound with wonderful, mystical lyrics, “We’re coming from the forest/We’re coming from the sea/We’re coming from the mountains/To spread our disease…You poisoned our water/You stole our…”. These lyrics alongside the spooky synth sounds and the dramatic rolling and building drum beat help to create a sense of another world – something we don’t understand and therefore fear.

Choir Of Wolves sees the duet howling like wolves at the beginning before the music settles into a rhythmic, almost tribal drum beat and dark, deep guitar riffs. The howling then returns half way through the track. This is a fast tempo punk rock song which again has the feeling that there’s something supernatural being sung about – something unusual, something that can’t be explained – perhaps something that doesn’t conform to society. After all, these girls are unusual in themselves; they’re artistic, quirky and not afraid to express how they feel. Cissi said about the track: “It’s about escapism and frustration. It brings up questions like what is instinct and what is learned? Who am I without my society? We want people to let the animal out a little more often”.

We Ride shows Vulkano’s chaotic side – the drum beat is sporadic, the vocals uncontrolled and the composition of the song is wild. This is truly an artistic expression in the form of punk rock. It’s not for everyone, some people won’t grasp the concept or see through the noise but it’s a brilliant track. Cissi’s vocals are spine tingling and beautiful – the raw quality works perfectly. This song is definitely for a niche audience, to say the least.

Too Young To Die is more of your average punk rock track with the chorus screaming, “Don’t kill me/Please don’t kill me/I’m too young to die”. The usual rebellious, teenage angst side to punk is exhibited in this song expressed through the chaotic guitar riffs and crashing drums.

They have unveiled a new track Vulkano from the LP. Speaking about the track, one half of Vulkano, Cissi stated: “It’s a very honest song, friendships can crush hearts and the song is about feeling betrayed and unfairly treated by people close to you. I gathered a lot of aggression until I couldn’t hold it inside anymore and it all exploded – like a volcano.” The lyrics, “Like a funny, stupid fool/You want me to amuse/In fact I never was your friend/How I waited for those days to end/I’m burning/Gotta get some air/With eruption any time now…I’m a volcano/Oh I’m a volcano oh/I speed and I bleed/I puke and I scream/A volcano” sum this song’s meaning up entirely. There’s angst in the lyrics and the vocals while the music during the verses seems reasonably uplifting. These things juxtapose each other creating a sense of realisation. It’s almost as if the song is about having a sense of freedom from people’s expectations. This realisation and freedom is expressed through anger leaving the body which leaves you with a sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Psycho Girl is a dark track which shows a soft, almost sexy side to Cissi’s vocals during the verses while the chorus introduces her sporadic, high pitched musical screams back in to the mix. Her voice is animal like – it’s uncontrollable, wild and energetic. She has such a unique voice which gives Vulkano’s songs a whole other layer and meaning. The voice is the true expression in these artistically crafted songs.

Live Wild Die Free is a fantastic debut album. It’s unique, sporadic, chaotic, intriguing, artistic – the list of compliments is endless. Vulkano’s debut album, Live Wild Die Free, was released on February 3 2014 through Vulkano Music and is available to buy now.

Vulkano have also announced a string of UK tour dates to take place at the start of December 2014

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Introducing…Hellenica

Describing himself as ambient, folk, avant-garde, experimental, post-rock, instrumental and spaghetti western, Hellenica is Jim Demos from Montreal, Canada. He makes mesmerising, relaxing and unique music that will not fail to whisk you away into a far away universe.

Hellenica has recently released their three track EP titled They Are Out For Blood. It can be downloaded for free from bandcamp here and comes accompanied with a digital album cover.

Hellenica

Jim Demos AKA Hellenica

They Are Out For Blood sees Demos produce unique blends of music. Night Creeper begins with a solo guitar riff which is a little bit Jeff Buckley inspired – it has that vacant emptiness, a riff that uses space as a tool rather than seeing it as an enemy. There are spaghetti western influences heard in the guitar riff while the rhythm guitar and synth sounds that are added later add depth to the track. The song is repetitive but it’s far from boring. The drums are eventually introduced towards the end of Night Creeper which builds tension and drama with the rolling drum beat giving it a distinctive marching effect. Night Creeper is very atmospheric and dark – it’s a song that tells a dramatic story even with the absence of words.

The Lost And Forgotten is another dark track which uses the guitar riff as the main focus. There is acoustic guitar this time which carries the rhythm while the guitar riff ascends and descends over the top of it. It’s a relaxing track although it carries that hint of darkness. Once again, Hellenica has produced a song that tells a story through music alone. The Lost And Forgotten seems to tell the story of someone who is sad, lonely and reminiscent – someone who feels lost or forgotten or someone who is thinking about those who may be lost or forgotten by others. The synth sounds in the background introduce a spooky sound, perhaps suggesting that the track should be seen as a eulogy to those loved ones that have passed away. Perhaps the spooky synth sounds indicate the haunting memories of regrets or bad times just as much as the idea of the ghosts of loved ones. The turn towards the end of the track to a more uplifting melody may suggest that these lost and forgotten people aren’t so forgotten after all. The change in tone suggests that those loved ones people have lost will always remain with them in spirit – there’s hope for the future.

Morning Of The War Horn is the last track on the EP and is again a solemn, lonely sounding number which introduces some string sounds alongside the main guitar riff. Hellenica is brilliant at producing atmospheric songs that ooze life and stories. Usually, it’s the lyrics that tell the tales but in Hellenica’s case the music does it all. Morning Of The War Horn has the perfect balance of ambiance, electric guitar, experimental synthesiser sounds and emptiness to allow the song to breath essence. The end of the track is quite experimental compared to the other tracks on They Are Out For Blood – the electric guitar riff shies away while the synthesisers take over introducing a sparse yet dramatic end to the song.

They Are Out For Blood is a marvelous instrumental EP that really highlights what Demos is capable of. There’s energy, drama and stories intertwined in to all three tracks on this EP. It’s full of life, its ups and downs, even with the absence of the one element most consider to be the most important part of a song – lyrics.

They Are Out For Blood is available to download for free from bandcamp now.

 

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