Album Review: Nicolas Jaar – Pomegranates (2015)

For those who follow this blog since the beginning, I have mentioned Nicolas Jaar and his works quite a few times, but never writing any specific review about them. Yesterday, after posting Get Horizontal by Radikal Rat I found myself listening to Pomegranates by Nicolas Jaar once again, so I guess it’s time to make a dedicated post about this album, 3 years after released in 2015 by Jaar’s label Other People. Nothing more appropriate to be featured here than an album that starts with a track called Garden of Eden.

Pomegranates is nothing usual, very far from what has been Space Is Only Noise release from 2011. From a more minimal-techno or house influenced producer, Nicolas Jaar grew to a very sensitive and deep music composer before Sirens and Nymphs, blending delicate sound design, marked by remarkable chromatic pianos, with field recording (especially voices), together with experimental and lovely melodies. In total, Pomegrantes has 20 tracks that serve as an alternate soundtrack to The Color of Pomegranates, an Armenian-Soviet film by Sergei Parajanov, from 1969. A highly avant-garde film that resembles classics such as The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky (1973) or Arabian Nights from Pier Paolo Pasolini, but softer.

The film re-counts the story of an 18th century Armenian singer Sayat-Nova, and as much as Pomegranates from Nicolas Jaar, is something distant from the easily digestible entertainment cinema and music. Tracks like Beasts of This Earth and Screams at the Edge of Dawn are as fragments of abstract sounds, that illustrate imaginary cinematographic scenes of beasts screaming to be later on followed by mellow piano compositions, such as in Divorce, a delicate piece.

This album is special for it’s singularity. Which is a mixture of very personal tracks produced by Nicolas Jaar, that touch multiple artistic expressions, such as poetry, cinema and music. The originality of music production is taken as a priority over commercial interests. Remaining still, as one of the most interesting and complex works ever produced by him. Hardly fit into any specific genre of music, which is ideally what we aim to share in this blog. If split in two parts, the first half shows itself to be more complex, a more abstract part, that is followed by delicate tracks after Divorce, such as Three Windows, Tourists, Shame and ending up gracefully with Muse. All tracks range in length from around 2 to 5 minutes, so all of them are quite short for what is usually ambient influenced music. Though only a feel, we can still listen to Nicolas Jaar’s skills with rhythm in tracks such as Club Kapital.

Pomegrantes is a highly authorial work from Nicolas Jaar, that opened op the doors to what came after as Nymphs and Sirens in 2016 and 2017. We definitely need more musicians and releases like this in this ever-changing music industry, filled with more of the same fads and a big lack of originality, when artists and composers alike put number of plays as priority number one before feelings and providing highly artistic materials.

 

Krautrock: Dadanaut – Panoptikum

Inside the panopticon. Just a hotchpotch of curious minds?

When I read the word “Panoptikum” I immediately recall Michel Foucault and all his theories about power, discipline, surveillance society and prison system. Taking into consideration what I have written in this blog before about my views on social media, such as last March editorial I should say that we live in a world where surveillance is the rule, and everybody is watching each other through the windows of social media, a behaviour that is both imposed by the establishment as much as done irrationally on purpose, exactly like a panopticon. People fed themselves with mind control information, are instigated to act in certain behaviour of likes and share actively. What one day was a monopoly of radios, newspapers, magazines and television, now we have the web as a hub of companies/individuals who are shaping people’s behaviours and taste. Again, partially imposed and partially a rational decision, that in the end is more irrational than ever.

Dadanaut (maybe the cosmonaut of Dadaism) a German composer from Lauffen Am Neckar has released this 14th April his album Kabale, with 9 ambient/drone/experimental tracks, some of them shorter and other ones longer, such as Panoptikum itself. Well, considering everything written above, a track that uses this word in a track is nothing more than appropriate for our contemporary world.

Though the subject explored by Foucault and all the surveillance theories about individuals and communities in the digital age are quite complex and mindblowing, Panoptikum is in fact mostly a calming track, that provides chill ambient feelings for 12 minutes, but providing that big tension of being spied by someone far above you, that is controlling everything you do 24/7, with no space for private or to breath in peace.

You can check more releases from Dadanaut in their Bandcamp page, with track that go back to 2012.

 

Psychedelic-Rock: BIKE – Their Shamanic Majesties’ Third Request

Rompe-ferro, Rompe-nuvem, Beira-Mar
Rompe-aço, Rompe-fogo, Beija o Ar
Serra Azul, Mata Virgem, Encruzilhada
7 ondas, 7 caminhos, 7 matas

(Cavalo)

I have been listening Bike since 2015, the year they released their first album, indeed a very lysergic year for myself back in São Paulo, apparently also for many people in Brazil, doce was everywhere. Their first album 1943 changed my view on contemporary Brazilian psychedelic rock, that followed bands I have been watching for a long time, such as Boogarins. Bike, from São Paulo, always brings the true psychedelic influences to their music, with clear references to LSD and psilocybin, to start by their name itself. A band I still didn’t have the opportunity to watch alive (though they are certainly coming back to Europe). They are celebrating three years on the read, including an European tour. Bike is active not only alive but specially in the studio.

Last year, their second album Em Busca da Viagem Eterna (Searching for the endless trip) came to me as a surprise, following their 1943 in style, I made sure to add one of its tracks to Synths of Eden playlist Brasil Progressivo (below). Now, Bike is featured with their newest work Their Shamanic Majesties’ Third Request and their track Ingá. First place of our playlist. The typical sound marked by reverberated vocals and guitars full of effects. Followed by trippy lyrics, this time brings back Brazilian rural tradition, including organic instruments and other types of teas and plants. Two other important features in the album, Bonifrate in Ingá, plus Tagore in Cavalo.

In total 8 tracks. The album’s title is a clear reference to The Rolling Stones, with Their Satanic Majesties Request and Brian Jonestown Massacre ,”Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request” (1996).

You can order the vinyl copy in their official website, as much as check the dates to watch them alive in Brazil and later on in Europe. The album was recorded and mixed in Estúdio Wasabi by Diego Xavier. Mastered by Rob Grant in Poons Head Studio – Perth, Austrália. Art by Juli Ribeiro.

Bike is:

Julito – vocals, electric and acoustic guitar.
Diego Xavier – vocals, electric guitar and viola.
João Gouvea – vocals, bass and viola.
Daniel Fumega – Drums and percurssion
Brenno Balbino – Synthesizers
Pedro Bonifrate – vocal in Ingá
Tagore Suassuna – vocal in Cavalo

Divagation & Lo-Fi/IDM: Vacilant – Só me faça esquecer das coisas (2018)

Há, desde a origem do que chamamos de mundo, a tentativa do homem de não se fazer esquecer, o medo inerente do desaparecimento. A memória como refúgio, o desejo de fazer de perpetuar as sensações, o sentido, a procura do que escapa. “Só me faça esquecer das coisas” se encontra no entre a tentativa de permanência através da memória e da pulsação do desejo de esquecer.

There is, since the origin of what we call world, the attempt of men and women not to be forgotten, the inherent fear of disappearing. The memory as a shelter, the desire to perpetuate the feelings, the senses, the search for escapism. ‘Só me faça esquecer das coisas’ (only make me forget the things), is found in between the attempt to be present through memory and the pulsation of a desire to forget.

Vacilant – Só me faça esquecer das coisas

Today Synths of Eden has the pleasure to feature Vacilant, artist from Forteleza, Ceará.

His album Só me faça esquecer das coisas, with the link in Bandcamp embedded, has been released by Mercúrio Música, label also based in Fortaleza. The whole album itself is great, with 11 tracks in total, mixing audio samples in English and Portuguese with organic and synthesized sounds and instruments. The whole album has been composed by Yuri Costa, mixed and mastered. Though it had the participation of Felipe Couto in the guitars, Clau Anis in the clarinets, plus Junior Quintela in the percussion. Tracks are kind of short, with an average of 3 minutes each. It is Yuri’s second album, after Dissonia, released in 2014.

The 11 tracks are a big voyage through electronic music, mixed with rock influences and lo-fi beat-making. My favourite one is Tecnologias não me ajudam.

It is also possible to stream the album in Spotify. For sure it will be featured in our playlist Synths of Eden this week.

Divagation – Sharing Independent Brazilian Music

As a Brazilian I know pretty well how my country can sometimes be a big enclosed island and it is not itself the most open to the international world, with several great exceptions of course. What is not necessarily wrong, as I strongly disagree with the idea that everybody should know English to have an “international” insertion. I believe in a multi-cultural world and multi-lingualism. So this blog will not be focused on the English speaking world, we want to share artists from whatever country it may be.

What I learned is that Brazil can be a big hub for creative artists that can stay away and unknown for the international English speaking world. They keep hidden in that local Portuguese speaking environment, that revolves around the use of Facebook, regional concerts and parties.Naturally in a country that lacks democracy of means of communication and people have to struggle every day for the most basic rights, making local artists known across the borders is not easy at all.

So when I created this blog I also thought it would be a nice space to share independent Brazilian music to those who read and write in English. I have been living in the Netherlands, I have a master in global communication in this language, so why not? Let’s unite my best knowledge in the Brazilian world and apply it to my knowledge in international communication with this blog.

You can check my playlist Brasil Progressivo here, for the best Brazilian progressive rock and some influences here.

Disco/Chill-Out: KLANGPLANET – Eternity

After being featured here with his track Hypnotized, KLANGPLANET comes back again with a new single and full-album, this time Eternity. The last single release from his homonymous album. His newest work has been officialy released this 4th April and it’s already entirely in Soundcloud and Spotify.

Eternity follows the same personal style of Munich citizen producer Frieder Mollat. A blend of chill out and nu-disco grooves, a highly danceable track with that special sound design very particular of German producers, carefully selected synthesizer compositions.  Also a track with interesting vocals in different layers, filled with funky rhythms apart from the harmonic sound design mentioned above.

Don’t forget to check our previous article about KLANGPLANET, with a short bio:

New Single: KRANGPLANET – Hypnotized

KLANGPLANET has been featured in our Spotify playlist Synths of Eden with Hypnotized, you can also check his whole Eternity album in Spotify.

 

New Electronic: Krakowitz – Little Sisters

Deep inside our souls we are still youngsters playing with sticks. Actually, we’ve changed the sticks to the synths. As enthusiastic as when we used to build sandcastles, we meet at the studio and try to bring back at least some of those memories. Lets run together across the meadow, picking dandelions and throwing paper planes. Travel with us to those nostalgic times of pleasantly yellow sun and scary monster under the bed.

When poetry itself is blended with music by synthesizers. Great production by krakowitz, Piotr Figiel and Dominik Gawroński. Interesting work with audio, synthesizers and rhythm. Not a very particular style of electronic music, but I’d say it’s a downtempo track. 3:20 of music that brings back nostalgia and childhood, the combination of audio elements, such as a voice of a child is mixed with the colourful synthesizer experience. The main thing I can write about them is that their music is broadly original, the whole homonymous album is highly recommended.

They recently released an album in 24th January, it can be purchased by Bandcamp. Also available for streaming in Spotify.

 

New Chill: Bassline Drift – Mni Wiconi (2018)

Bassline Drift is an electronic music duo blending chill vocals with heavy bass, as the name suggests. The duo is formed by Rachel ‘Sink’ Lindsay and Keli Marks, both of them live apart in USA and started to make music together after they met in Soundcloud. Mni Wiconi is a track from their second album released by Gravitas Recoringss, called Give +Take (9 tracks, available in Spotify and Bandcamp). The track has also been featured in our newest Spotify Playlist Chilling in Eden.

Album: Jacques – A Lot of Jacques (2017)

This week, 31th January, the English electronic-music and technology Fact Magazine featured the French music producer Jacques in their Against the Clock series. According to them, one of the weirdest episodes of the series, for Synths of Eden, this was one of the best and most intriguing episodes . Against the Clock gives music producers 10 minutes to produce a track, in this case, Jacques appeared there with lots of objects that could be improvised as music instruments, when recorded via microphones attached to guitar pedals, such as an elastic rubber band that could be used to make a bassline and a drill that could be used to perform a lead synth. The reason why Jacques started to use instruments like this was the fact that he couldn’t afford real instruments when he started out to make music.

Quoting FACT: “Now he tours the world with his homemade orchestra of scrapers, cups, wooden spoons and other ephemera, recording them and putting them through an array of pedals, loopers and samplers.”

Apart from being an outstanding live performer with awkward improvised instruments attached to guitar pedals, he also does a great work in studio, as shown by his 2017 releases, such as “A Lot of Jacques”, embedded below. Released by French label, Pain Surprises.

Moreover, Jacques also recorded a multi-lingual album, in which he released his single “Dans la Radio” in 7 different languages, including Esperanto, French, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.

His 2017 album, A Lot of Jacques, features 6 different short tracks with around 6 minutes, all of them a more “house-like” electronic music to more experimental downtempo styles of electronic music. Plus 3 tracks that are longer, with more than 9 minutes, such as Limbo in Limbo, Bushwack on the Dancefloor and Escape from Boredom. All the tracks have singular music instrumentation, as evidenced by his Agains the Clock performance, Jacques is not any regular music producer. It is also possible to buy his merch, such as music in vinyl on the following link: https://bigwax.fr/fr/pain-surprises

Crooks & Lovers – Mount Kimbie (2010)

In 2017 Mount Kimbie released the album Love What Survives, with many features, such as James Blake. They claimed to have used mainly two synthesizers on the album, both vintage korgs: the MS-20 and Korg Delta. However, what will always be marked as Mount Kimbie’s signature sound is their debut album Crooks & Lovers, from 2010. By that time called post-dubstep. The album has notorious tracks such as Carbonated.

Mount Kimbie is an English electric duo consisted by Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, formed in 2008.  Starting out in the dubstep scene with early EPs such as Maybes and Sketch on Glass.  Having critical acclaim, the duo released, later on, in 2010 their debut Crooks & Lovers. The duo used field recordings, samples and live instrumentation to create the album.  Released by Hotflush Recordings. Produced by both artists.  Tracks such as Would Know and Mayor are dancing, yet experimental. Others, such as Ode to a Bear touch a more drone style, with long lines of synths and drums out of synchrony. Beats that recall trip-hop, such as Portishead, with a more experimental touch.

 

Long Live Death! Down with the Intelligence! – The Suicide of Western Culture (2015)

Today it was shared on Soundcloud the album from a band from Barcelona, The Suicide of Western Culture, album entitled Long Live Death! Down with the Intelligence, released 2015.

This is post-rock with heavy electronic influences, such as drone-music, marked by amazing synthesizers that are combined with cinematographic samples. Using great thematics in the tracks, with songs that posses appealing titles. The sound reminds a lot bands such as Mogwai. However, not limiting to the post-rock field and far crossing the genre borders to a more electronic style of music.

It is also possible to check their discography in Bandcamp for more info.