Dream Pop: Holy Ship – Night Aquatic

Night Aquatic by Swedish Holy Ship has a dream pop feeling, but with an alternative rock feeling, a shoegaze spirit. It reminds me bands from the first decade of the century, like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club mixed with Crystal Castle and its electronic aspect. It has been released in early February as a single and it’s been recently as part of the Event Horizon EP, that contains a total of 5 tracks. The mix is gentle, allowing it to raise the loudness to a higher level and listen to the details more comfortably. Check our Spotify playlist Psychedelic Waves of Eden for more.

Lo-Fi Rock: Floral Couches & Party Jacket – I’m Losing You

The song is about letting go of an old relationship, inspired after having watched a friend go through a divorce the previous year, wasting a year of his life trying to rekindle it and failing.

I’m Losing You is a result from a collaboration between two artists and old band mates. Floral Couches and Joshua Grimes of Party Jacket. According to them, I’m Losing You, resulted in a dreamy synth pop, after about about 20 hours of work spread between 3 sessions over 2 months .

New Post-Punk: Japanese Television & Walking Bicycles

Today we’re going to talk about two post-punk tracks by two different bands, one has a fast drum pattern, from UK, Japanese Television with a single Bloodworm, and the other comes from Chicago, USA, Walking Bicycles, a more goth influenced band, that reminds Siouxsie and The Banshes.

ESP by Walking Bicycles, as a record, has a “live recording” feeling, as if the band actually recorded everything on the studio playing at the same time. It’s muffled, with a real ambience on it. I like the guitar’s overdrive. It feels real. The bass guitar has a big presence, marking its imposing and fast rhythm together with the drums. The electric guitar has remarking melodies that sound so natural, as if everything happened on an unforgettable jam. The band was formed in 2004. It has been released by Highwheel Records.

According to Japanese Television, their newest single, Bloodworm is “a fuzzed out trip across a sci-fi salt flat one part Barbarella two parts Krautrock”, I guess it’s an appropriate definition, if you consider the krautrock element of it. Another band that feels real and alive in the studio, well synchronized, something only a band can do. Which is well explained by their creative process. BLOODWORM, released by Tip Top Recordings in London, was recorded in an old isolated village hall onto an 8 track tape by Kristian Bell of The Wytches who had set up the makeshift studio from scratch to manifest the live sound they were after. The band said; ‘’The track only had a working title when we started recording it, we’d played it out live for the first time the night before. The name comes from a book we found in a collection of second-hand novels in the corner of the village hall. The cover of the book has a giant worm wrapped around a ruined Big Ben, which seemed to fit pretty nicely with the mood we were trying to capture! Another weird fact is that a character in the book shares the name of our guitarist, Tim Jones. He is in the book for a single page, at which point he gets eaten by a Bloodworm*.’’

Both tracks have been added to our Spotify playlist Psychedelic Waves of Eden:

IDM: H+ – Haunted

On 30th of March, Capiroto Records released Haunted, album by H+, project of Malcolm Swan, from Bermuda island.

The idea of H+ comes from reading a lot of science fiction. He got the impression that some of the writers of science fiction were creating technologies that they would like to see in the future. Looking at current technology he thinks that science fiction writers have had an impact on the present day, so their writing inevitably will influence the future. Could music have the same impact? The obvious solution would be expressing the ideas with the lyrics, and while H+ believes in using words to express ideas he wanted the music to be the thing that excites the imagination.

In Haunted we can find elements typical of IDM, British Dubstep and Drum & Bass, mixed with some jazz elements, a rich album, that contain tracks involving a more phantasmal and demoniac thematic, nothing more appropriate to a label called Capiroto Records. Malcolm shows himself to be an splendid bass player in the whole album, which highlights the jazz influence on it.

Before working with H+ , Malcolm had another project called 1undred, since 2012.

Lo-Fi House: Conrad Clifton – Neva Seen (A Broken Heart)

A few days ago I shared Nick AM from New York with his lo-fi house. This week I’ll share the genre once again, because there’s another artist also coming from New York that deserves our attention. Making music since 2013, Conrad Clifton has recently released with Infinity Pool Records (his own label) two singles, Neva Seen (A Broken Heart) and Silent City (Everything is Connected), two tracks that should be highlighted, specially for fans of this beautiful contemporary genre, that made something great out of house music.

Neva Seen (A Broken Heart) has been added to our Spotify playlist Synths of Eden, enjoy:

Lo-Fi House: Nick AM – USED 2 // Almond Eyes

“Love can hit you like a car crash. I made two songs to show you how that feels to me. USED 2 is about a breakup and the aftermath. Almond Eyes is about love at first sight; the potential. I hope they make you feel something”

Today we’re sharing a two tracks lo-fi house single by Nick AM from New York. USED 2 // Almond Eyes go way beyond lo-fi house as a genre, they are both full of feelings. I like the vocals of Deanna in USED 2. Overall, it’s a short single full of delightful energy, elegant in essence.

Music Video: Y.LOH – Trig

I love electronic music videos that show the metro, subway, underground, tube, whatever you might call it where you live. Y.LOH does it magnificently with Trig, the footages shift beautifully in connection with the sound. Y.LOH is a deep house composer and producer that lives in New York. Originally he is a classical pianist and former apprentice of Hans Zimmer. According to him, he “draws inspiration and identity from natural environments, specially from his home town in the edgy and beautiful Sonoran desert”. Trig has been added to our Spotify playlist Synths of Eden:

Soundcloud Upload: BadCameo – Colors and Shapes

BadCameo is a band that comes from North Carolina, in USA, their sound mixes lots of different influences, I could describe it as a jazzy, funk, pop and psychedelic rock band simultaneously. They offered Synths of Eden an mp3 from their last single Colors and Shapes. We have uploaded it in our Soundcloud profile with a free mp3 for download. They have been releasing their own music since 2017, Colors and Shapes is their fourth single, in 2018 they released their first album, called The Salem Sessions. They have been very active with live performances, counting more than 50 gigs in 2018.

We have also added Colors and Shapes to our playlist Psychedelic Waves of Eden:

Rewire 2019: Looking for live inspiration in a world over saturated with records. Part 1

From 29 to 31st of March happened in Hague, Netherlands, the 9th edition of the Rewire festival, which annually brings groundbreaking music performances and enriches the Dutch public debate about what they call adventurous music in a world each time more over saturated with what can be called “concrete music”, “carved in stone”. What has been typically known as the record, invented in the early 20th century. At first, massively reproduced in vinyl phonographs, it has been followed by cassettes tapes and CDs. Music has become digitized as everything else, stored on “clouds” and digitally distributed to consumers via streaming, free and paid downloads. Nowadays music is part of the famous big data. Some critical theory abstract institutions like mass media or industry of culture, are here represented by the music industry, which changed a lot in one century, as much as the whole music experience itself. Though music itself remains the same. Either it’s a church chorus, a group of drummers playing on a broad avenue’s corner or the 80s pop song playing inside your local grocery shop.

Nicolas Jaar and Group, performing on the 31st of March, Rewire Festival. Grote Kerk, Den Haag. Photo by Rewire.

This year, Rewire sought to answer questions such as what characterizes liveness when most of the music we listen to come through the means of communication. Where the music experience also aims to fit a capitalist demand to generate profit in large scales, selling records or attracting big crowds to live concerts in stadiums. Therefore, some of the questions are: What is the artist’s role in the contemporary music live performances? In contrast to the music composed, recorded and produced in a studio. How can artists face these rapid shifts of new music instruments, methods of creating and processing sounds into music? How can those new techniques impact our experience of watching live music?

Visual music by Cornelius Cardrew.

The whole pop music scene is marked by a concrete musicality that can only be performed in a few specific ways, such as dance or visual elements, such as pictures, videos, DJ sets and playback singing.

Those are some of the questions I also tried to answer myself when I first started to compose and produce my music back in 2015. For example, if I learned how to play a traditional instrument, such as acoustic or electric guitar, how could I ever perform electronic compositions made by MIDI technology on a laptop, through a DAW? Specially not having a band or group that could aid me in that process.

My attempt to answer those questions only brought me more questions about music-making and performance in the 21st century. It seemed to me that watching a live concert of electronic music where the so-called DJ/producers would merely stay in front of the crowd mixing their own tracks with other famous hits, while a massive public would appreciate their music exactly how it’s been produced in studio, without any type of flexibility, shown improvisation or music skills being deconstructed to the public. A scenario extremely opposed to that one of jazz.

Where would all the jams go? That would not be the kind of concert I wanted to make myself. Certainly, associating DJ sets with a poor live performance over simplifies everything, as also DJ sets can change and adapt songs to a crowd, which is something characteristic to pop and dance music. Some stunning performances can also result from DJ sets, just imagine all the underground techno and dance clubs out there that take this experience to its limitations every week all around the world. The whole pop music scene is marked by a concrete musicality that can only be performed in a few specific ways, such as dance (contemporary, ballet), visual elements, such as pictures, videos, DJ sets and playback singing.

The good thing about arts is that all the possibilities are open to experimentation. There are no limitations for artists’ creations and each individual is unique.

My 2016 me refused to accept what could be a live performance of concrete music, I would not just press play on my singles in a one hour long gig, so I started to learn Ableton Live and how to deconstruct my songs into small samples that could be applied to live improvisations. Realistically, all those singles played in a row would not last longer than 20 minutes. I incorporated to my live set some other pop-elements typical of DJ sets, such as Björk’s vocals and synthesizer saved with pre-sets that I could improvise with, while playing my drum loops. Ultimately, it was a live PA with DJ set influences.

After all, the gig was not successful, due to a lack of public and experience on my side, but it taught me how it is possible to overcome the limitations imposed by producing music on studios and how to perform them alive. A lot has happened since then, for instance, my latest album has just been released. Which has has been performed, broadcasted and recorded in less than one hour on 20th of March, which forced me to work fast, on a limited amount time, making use of a drum machine and an electric guitar containing three different pedals, not more than that. Two weeks after releasing “Nada Como Um Dia Após o Outro Dia” and attending Rewire, I could not be more certain about the existence of multiple possibilities for music performance in the 21st century, from a more concrete type of performance to a more flexible and improvised one. The good thing about arts is that all the possibilities are open to experimentation. There are no limitations for artists’ creations and each individual is unique.

Portrait of Walter Benjamin, 1928. Akademie der Künste, Berlin.

“One might subsume the eliminated element in the term “aura” and go on to say: that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements”. Walter Benjamin, The Work or Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1935. Pt. II

Moreover, music experience is something much broader than a single record or live performance. Liveness itself, as a concept, can be found everywhere and there are dozens of possibilities for liveness to occur. Which brings me to Adam Harper, author of Infinite Music, and some of his considerations presented at Rewire. Liveness consists of four different elements: 1. The Sound, 2. The Stage, 3. The Moment and 4. The Body. Music can happen in expositions, for example, marking the importance of the stage for liveness. For that, he presents cases such as the Philips Pavillion, happened in 1958. Or merely as graphic content, such as Cornelius Cardew‘s notations or the French medieval book Roman de Fauvel. These are cases where people interact with music without necessarily attending to performances, but merely as reading and interacting with visual information. Summing up, music experience is all about aura, as explained by Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, essay from 1935 (quotation above).

Many things can happen after the performer press play on his music, just like with pop music artists, nothing unusual…

Philips Pavilion, Brussels, 1958.

During his talk, Harper mentions the role of the body and how it is an essential part of liveness. Which I could verify watching John Bence’s (from Nicolas Jaar’s label Other People) performance that happened minutes after that debate. Bence makes concrete music by definition, his performance happened in Hague’s old catholic church and visitors arriving to watch him perform could immediately notice the lack of music instruments. In the churche’s altar we could identify a laptop, two concert sized loud speakers and nothing else. His performance started with him bowing down to the audience and pressing play on his laptop, which caused ambient music to start playing while he would warm up starring seriously at his laptop’s screen. He later stands up and reacts to the sounds of his own music, singing the vocals on a playback, moving his arms on the rhythm of sounds. It was a truly ritualistic performance of his music inside a church. Which was aided by other non-auditive elements, like the lighting effects behind the altar, causing the colours to change, illumining the usual catholic paintings in the background. Confirming what Adam Harper mentioned about the body’s role in music. Many things can happen after the performer press play on his music, just like pop music artists, nothing unusual…

(to be continued in the second part)