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)

New Update – Synths of Techno

Today I curated three different techno tracks for you. First of them is Blank Follows Blank, by Oberst & Buchner, from Austria. The second and the third come from Italy, by Luca Minato and Niceteed, with Terminal M and Need of Nicety, respectively.

“Imagine one would know the idea and interpretation behind the cover artwork for Sfumato. That would kill all the magic, mystery and suspense in it. What we can say is that the music plays with moments of clarity and at the same time obscured views. With obviousness and mystery. And to be true if we would tell somebody some stories behind the songs no one would take this as a deep and serious concept for an album”

Blank Follows Blank is a remarkable track, part of recently released Sfumato album, contaning 7 tracks in total. It has a compelling chord progression, with a groovy bass line that makes any living person wants to dance, meanwhile it’s followed by atypical beats for a techno track, being a more old school dance, which means you’ll not listen to those clear four on the flour kicks so typical of techno. Which is also great.

Need of Nicety by Italian DJ and producer Niceteed has been released as a vinyl by Spanish label MyLitleDog. The EP contains two remixes by Nadja Lind and Dompe, plus another track called Anger. While Blank Follows Blank is a more bright and shining style of techno, Need of Nicety follows the more obscure and underground scene, so typical for the underground dance floor here and there. Need of Nicety also has stunning vocals and lyrics. That should be a great vinyl to have and DJ.

Thirdly we have Terminal M, by Luca Minato, producer and DJ from Sicily, it’s been released by Leisure Music. It’s a more minimal techno, mixed with progressive house. A good one for a more minimal DJ set. Terminal M uses several different FX that follow the beats.

For more techno, check our playlist Synths of Techno:

Playlist: Beats Only – Chill, Soulful, Jazzy, Boom Bap (Instrumental Hip Hop)

Since 1997, has been delivering hand picked hip-hop from artists & producers around the globe. Beats Only is a mix of Chill, Soulful, Jazzy, LoFi, Boom Bap Instrumental Hip-Hop tracks with Hip-Hop leaning EDM mixed in.

Synths of Eden has recently prepared an instrumental hip hop only playlist to share with you. But before that, we will share a playlist by the blog and radio Sphere of Hip Hop that has inspired us to curate a playlist full of different beats. In total there are 67 hand picked songs, with almost 3 hours of instrumental hip hop. I listened to it occasionally and I should confess the tracks are jazzy, easy listening like, but instigating at the same time, not only a bunch of beats that sound all the same. If you like the genre, this playlist is gold. They are very active on the Submithub community, which means that they are constantly accepting submissions.

If you want to have your playlist shared here in Synths of Eden, please fill our playlist form here:

New Techno, Dub, Leftfield from 2019

Today I chose three techno tracks that are worth mentioning here in the blog. The first one coming from Japan, SEMIOSIS with Amenouzume. The second 1998 and A001 coming from Phoenix, USA and the third from Germany, by Lewo [DE] and his Chamhoi, from Otto EP, released by Capiroto Records the 22nd of February.

Amenouzume is the god of dance’s name in the Japanese mythology.

SEMIOSIS produced this track to represent a scene typical of what is popularly known as the Gods’ festival in Japan. Therefore, they incorporated ancient Japanese tradition with techno. According to them, they not only used Japanese traditional music instruments, but also a traditional rhythm called Shin-Gaku in this track.
Amenouzume is part of their new album, not yet released, Mythological Parade, in which they aimed to represent an imaginary “Gods’ Rave”. There, they imagined that if each one of those gods enjoys dancing and singing, then they would also enjoy creating a melody and rhythm.

Next track is called A001, a robotic name, nothing more appropriate for a techno composer called 1988, artist from Phoenix, USA. A work that unfortunately hasn’t yet been released, but it’s available for streaming in Soundcloud in 1988’s page. A typical dub techno tradition, a pretty genre to listen, specially when you want to relax, it’s meditative, danceable and mixes the best of both worlds from techno and dub.

Next one has been released by our label Capiroto Records, featuring another techno composer from Berlin, Lewo [DE] that has three powerful tracks that are minimalistic just like A001, but with a more traditional techno mood, ideal for that dancefloor around 3 to 4am in your local underground club. In his latest EP, Otto, there are three tracks, which Chamhoi is a more IDM style of techno followed by Posville and Sumitomo, that come with the minimal, progressive side of it. It can be also a great one for fans of progressive house, though this work is for sure more influence by dark, minimal techno. Chamhoi has been curated to our playlist Synths of Techno.

For more techno, check our playlist Synths of Techno in Spotify:

Synthpop: monkeybars – Sock Options

Sock Options has a minimalistic and geometrical cover art, however the track itself is colourful, with a powerful bass line, that makes you want to dance, the vocals are a bit hidden underneath it, it makes me think about the shoegaze style of vocals by bands such as My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive. monkeybars is the alas for Eli Aleinikoff. After Sock Options, monkeybars also released two other singles in 2019: Tenderness II and Sheesh. Check our playlist Synths of Eden for more:

Starting the Week with Jazz

Today I want to share with you two jazz artists I have selected. One of them has been featured here earlier in July 2018, Àbáse from Hungary, with the single Skeme Goes All City. And the other comes from Los Angeles Joy Guerrilla, with Skyline a great album that was also released last year.

Skyline duo formed by Magdalena Daniec and Adam Grab mixes different styles of jazz, from a more cool and mild, to a more experimental and complex. Years, for example, makes me think about Brazilian cool jazz, that bring the influence of Bossa Nova into jazz, of artists like Arthur Verocai, Tropicália or Rogério Duprat. It’s a pretty and genuine album, with tracks having funny titles like “Franklin and his RV”, a track that brings the influence of beat making into jazz, a common mixture. Most of the tracks are short, with exception of World 7, that is 9 minutes long, a more avant-garde jazz with heavy glitchy bass in the synthesizers. The whole album can be marked by a stunning use of keys, with primal texture. If you like his music you might also want to check their 2016 album, E.N.O. Peregrine has been added to Chilling in Eden.

Keys – Magdalena Daniec
Bass, Percussion – Adam Grab
Drums, Percussion – Tim Aristil
Guitar – Elijah Zhang
Percussion – Ioan Chelu
Trumpet – Pete Olstad
Trumpet – Les Lovitt
Saxophone – Doug Webb
Trombone – John Grab

“The chord structure, melody and groove of Align was one of my earliest musical ideas. I brought some sketches and ideas to the table but really left as much as I could for the band, building on our chemistry and shaping the music together. The addition of Wayne Snow on vocals really crowned the composition. We recorded his vocals in less than an hour in my living room.” – Àbáse

“This song is about unity, togetherness. If you listen carefully you will feel it.” – Wayne Snow

Align is another single by Àbáse (Szabolcs Bognar), this time featuring Nigerian singer based in Berlin Wayne Snow. This one is as powerful as Skeme Goes All City, but with a more vibrant energy provided by Wayne’s vocal, representing very well what he mentioned in the quotation about the unity and togetherness behind the track. Luckily Align has been released with the announcement of an EP expected for release in 2019 by Berlin based label Cosmic Composition, which I’m very excited to listen.

Synthwave in Eden: Robert Random – Waiting for That Inevitable Bad Thing to Happen

Today we are updating our playlist Synthwave in Eden with a new addition, this time another one of those synthwave tracks that I admire, that sound like a progressive rock, or something done in the 70s, with synthesizers combined with studio innovation, different pattern of drums and a bassline full of groove. Everything in this track sound great, though the title inevitably has a negative connotation. Listening to Waiting for That Inevitable Bad Thing to Happen shows out to be something good to my ears, so it’s kind of ironic. Thanks Robert Random, composer/producer from Finland, for providing us with this great material. He’s going to release his full album on the 26th of March 2019. The other track in this single is Bad Thing Afterparty, it has a more techno influence, more underground, Streets of Rage soundtrack style, also with a great bassline.

Dubstep: The mng_0 EP

Released by Capiroto Records The mng_0 EP is for those who enjoy dubstep with a contemporary touch of genres such as Synthwave. Jeff, mng_0, mixed spoken word with heavy drum beats bass lines containing long attacks, resulting in those typical wobbling bass sounds. It’s also an EP full of sense of humour behind its creation, putting altogether post-apocalyptic squirrels, pizza and mango, which resulted in this crazy psychedelic cover art, designed by myself that was also in charge of the audio engineering, mastering all the tracks and making sure it’s sounding as best as possible. mng_0 is a producer and DJ from Baltimore, Maryland (USA) and its name is a reference for Mango Tango, that was his persona when DJing at Fraternity Parties in his college. When he cut his teeth DJing and learning music production. While The mng_0 EP was his debut work, he recently released a single called Bigshot.

You can purchase and stream The mgn_0 EP via this link.

New Psychedelic Rock (Music Videos)

Today we selected two music video by contemporary psychedelic rock bands. The first is San Pedro by Visual Eyes, according to them “a band of sonic messengers sent through the Universe with a message for humanity”. They released their first debut album Vibrations. It has that DIY appeal, but it served well to represent the feeling of San Pedro, the opening track of Vibrations. It’s possible to feel in San Pedro some influences from Animals of Pink Floyd, more specifically Dogs.

Besides the music video, Vibrations has a great cover art, that also portraits many cactus. San Pedro has been featured in our Spotify playlist Psychedelic Waves of Eden.

The next track is Mirage by Hola Chica, band from Barcelona. Also a simple video, that portraits an illustration for Mirage, a great work with photocollage by the way. They call themselves an indie-rock band that was founded in 2013. Most of their influences are Lolapalooza bands, Metronomy, Blur or some Australian psychedelic bands, such as Pond or Tame Impala. All of them which I had the pleasure to watch in a few festivals in São Paulo back in the days (with exception of Blur). Their debut album has been released in November 2016, called Magnetism. While for Mirage, it has been released as a single in 2018.

Mirage has also been added to our Spotify playlist Psychedelic Waves of Eden:

Playlist: Tech House 2019

Good house music in general, not mainstream just awesome music you can hear or dance to.

I’m not well versed in all the genres of electronic music, I even curate a feel dance playlists here and there. Sometimes I feel it’s very hard to make something danceable while escaping from the usual commercial edm stuff, the Spotify playlists like New Dance Revolution, New Hot Dance, New Dance, MINT, etc and keeping up with the good beats, it’s always a challenge. If there is a playlist curator I wish I had discovered before when I first started to curate dance playlists and write this blog is Island Beat Music. Today I bring to your attention their Tech House 2019, this one by Bernardo, it has a total of 86 tracks at this moment it has received some occasional additions, keeping the original date of curation for the older ones. They also receive submissions via Submithub.

If you want to have your playlist shared here in Synths of Eden, please fill our playlist form here: