New York’s The New School continues to live up to its reputation as being founded on innovation by hosting Rhizome’s Seven on Seven Conference on Saturday, April 20. Recognising the intersection of art and science as the way forward, the event will be pairing seven significant contemporary artists, with seven equally compelling technologists and challenging them to create something new.
Featuring the likes of artists Fatima Al Qadiri, Jill Magid and Jeremy Bailey on one end, and developers Julie Urhmann, Tiger Tara Brown and Dennis Crowley on the other, there is no limit to what the artists are allowed to produce, across media and disciplines. With author of The Net Delusion, Evgeny Morozov, giving the keynote speech, anyone on the other side of the Atlantic can only hope there’ll be stream to follow. **
Sometimes it takes time for people to gain the widespread recognition they deserve. Gaining credit where credit’s due, Japansese video game composer Yasunori Mitsudais being honoured by electronic artists like Ryan Hemsworth, KeyboardKid206 and Friendzone in a compilation, aptly titled MITSUDA, coming out on Lefse RecordsTuesday, April 2.
Organised by composer and producer Julian Wass after using a sample of Xenogears game soundtrack for Main Attrakionz and Danny Brown track ‘Cloud Skatin‘, the album contains reinterpretations and re-imaginings of those soundscapes that shaped our virtual worlds.**
Visual artist, producer and programmer, Slava has a record, Raw Solutions,coming out on OPN’s Brooklyn-based label Software next month, Monday April 22, and has dropped a tech-conscious video to match his music and his lifestyle. Featuring the artist himself doing his drunken duty on a keyboard, interspersed with all other types of sporty actions in the hyperreality of his imaginings, ‘Werk’ follows last month’s ‘On It‘ with an equally unreal exploration into cyberspace and our physical role within it.
The Russian-born, New York-based DJ started in Chicago around footwork and now explores music across genres and within its rawest potential. Raw Solutions was largely recorded on hardware, while his fascination with Britney Spears and the perversions of popular culture come through in the reconfigured, repeated and manipulated sounds of some ever resilient human vocal folds. See the Software website for more information.**
Net nihilists Death Grips love to cause a commotion. If it isn’t splitting from their label in a most spectacular fashion by dropping an album before its official release date, then its providing raw aural assault with the message that ‘no, it’s not going to be alright’. Now their latest video drop for ‘Lock Your Doors (No Hands 6)’ from last year’s No Love Deep Web, is again based around their No Hands series, which is in turn based on hands-free devices, which in this particular case come in the shape of head-mounted cameras filming their recent performance at SXSW.
In an interview with aqnb, drummer and public mouthpiece, Zach Hill, said their last album “would be if someone came and ripped this [curtain] down and behind it there was this whole other dimension that went on infinitely. It’s definitely not an ending. It’s more like discovering a tunnel behind.” Perhaps, after five cryptic forerunners, ‘Lock Your Doors (No Hands 6)’ is that very (loud and painful) tunnel. You can watch the earlier videos on their YouTube account here.**
“It’s been so intense, so I thought you could kick back and not think too much.” An optimistic idea from the lofty mind of artist and writer Chris Kraus. It’s the second day of Aliens & Anorexia: A Chris Kraus Symposium at the Royal College of the Arts and, following a day of new interpretations of her work by other artists, this one is reserved for Kraus herself.
The author of I Love Dick, Torpor and Where Art Belongs, and founder of theNative Agents series of semiotext(e) –the iconic independent publisher credited with introducing French theorists like Jean Baudrillard and Felix Guattari to the US –the focus for the moment is on her 1996 film Gravity & Grace, a rarely screened feature-length fraught with difficulties during and after production. Struggling to get a release for the work, based across New Zealand and New York, Kraus eventually gave up on finding a distributor, instead penning Aliens & Anorexia, a non-linear narrative following its protagonist’s struggle to produce the film and named after self-abnegating philosopher Simone Weil’s book of the same title.
Gravity & Grace, then, offers fresh perspective for readers of Aliens & Anorexia, while highlighting the follies of those human interactions Kraus details in print; the clumsy mating ritual of a one-night-stand procured in a bar, the absurd curator, played by Kraus herself, brow-beating artist Gravity with feminist theory before ending, “frankly, your work just isn’t shitty enough.” As promised, the film is less concentrated than her writing, while still delivering elevated ideas with a warmth and wit, much like the artist herself. Hard of hearing, Kraus walks across the auditorium to her audience when answering questions, while explaining that Gravity & Grace exists in two parts (one with funding, the other without). Respectively, they’re based on flying saucer classic When Prophecy Fails by social psychologists Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter and a candid portrait of the artist as a young woman, following the “great disappointment” of a doomsday prediction unfulfilled.
Kraus’ strength lies in bringing together superficially disparate elements to her work; be it in I Love Dick’s bold self-revelation of an infatuated polyamorist alongside the gender politics of Downtown New York in the 70s or her credence of writing as performance. It’s in this way that Kraus reveals herself as prefiguring contemporary modes of interdisciplinarity in art, and its something that Gravity & Grace –a film made on a budget of $500,000, using film, at the threshold of the video revolution –represents. That’s not least for the fragmented visual aesthetic, utilising text, surreal imagery and privileging music in a way that resembles that of modern video art, spurred on by YouTube culture and home software. It’s here that Kraus’ role as artist, writer, critic, filmmaker and performer becomes indistinguishable and an emblem of what she calls the “expanding art world” pervading contemporary culture.**
Not content to quarry the eerie depths of rap and RnB, Drag producer oOoOO (aka Christopher Dexter Greenspan) is moving in on the mega machismo of reggae and dub. This characteristically slowed-down and distorted track, drolly titled ‘FoRLorN DuB’, recently dropped on the San Francisco producers’ YouTube account, not long after French associate, Butterclock released ‘Don’t‘, which he co-produced.
Having released hisEP Our Loving is Hurting Us on Tri Angle about this time last year, things have gone somewhat quiet on the oOoOO front but, with that, a crackling record and a faintly harrowing melody fades out to nothing. A bowel dropping bass rhythm heralding the return of this Drag artist’s own private dystopia.**
There’s no doubting US duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw‘s excellent musical breeding. Accordionist Jeremy Barnes is a past member of cult group Neutral Milk Hotel and both he and violinist Heather Trost worked on Balkan folk artist Zachary Condon (aka Beirut’s) 2006 album Gulag Orkestar. Like the aforementioned Santa Fe native, they too hail from New Mexico, while working with those Eastern influences centered around the Black Sea. So it’s not really any surprise that their sixth album, produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof, has the title You Have Already Gone To The Other World: Music Inspired By Paradjanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors coming out on their own L.M. Dupli-cation label on April 2.
As the name implies, this is music inspired by the Georgian-born Armenian film director, Sergei Paradjanov, and his film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. A director working in socialist realism across the USSR (namely, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia) he, like A Hawk and a Hacksaw was the product of a unifying world order. But where Paradjanov’s was Soviet Russia, there’s is a result of the wonders of globalisation in a Westernised Eastern folk sound that paddles through a Black Sea of accordion, fiddle and rousing staccato rhythm.**
While the promise of a new mix tape from New York performer Zebra Katz (aka Ojay Morgan) in February never eventuated there have come good tidings in this next track, ‘Y I Do’. Just premiered on V Magazine the fashion-oriented publication is a good home for the artist who blew up in the sartorial world when the vogueing and literacy-inspired ‘Ima Read’ featured as the soundtrack to Rick Owen’s Fall 2012 collection. The track was released as a 10-inch on Diplo’s Mad Decent label in January 2012, and features the menacing beats and black and whites of all excellent doom hop.
Thankfully, ‘Y I Do’ figures somewhere along similar lines as Morgan’s growl follows the same insistent meter of an angry bass line, as well as a popping synth sequence, some healthy word play and a consciousness of phonetic rhythm. Having heard last year’s Champagne mix tape and witnessed the brilliance that is Zebra Katz live, we hold high hopes for a rap star in the making. Listen and see the new track here. **
It would appear that NYC/LA artist James Ferraro is moving away from his reputation as musician-as-cultural-critic as fast as he got there in the first place. ‘Blood Flow’, the latest track to drop from his upcoming Cold mix tape, due March 25, picks up where last year’s Sushi left off. An extramusical conceptual bearing and not-so-easy-listening compositions give way to a more sensory experience of insistent break beats over a coarse modern RnB moan and synthesised ambience.
Since his noisy The Skaters days, Ferraro has become the symbol of an expanding culture of hyper-aware performers, exploring not only music but the mechanisms behind it, mainly centered around Capitalism. But since the acute underground success of 2011 release Far Side Virtual, Ferraro’s oeuvre can be seen shifting from its peak at masculist marketing, with his recent side-project, Bodyguard, to a more abstract form of sonic exploration. See the countdown to Cold here.**
As that elusive fourth album from the UK-born rabble-rouser lingers on in obscurity (the latest release date for Matangi is set for April 15) M.I.A., aka Mathangi Arulpragasam, has dropped a mix for fashion label KENZO‘s Paris Show. At eight minutes long, it features the controversial singer’s eclectic taste for South Asian sounds, as well as some original material and a production polish that was lacking in her Diplo days, evidently found post-Madonna.
M.I.A.’s is a welcome addition to the label’s run of interesting sounds from the underground, with equally globally-minded Nguzunguzu contributing a mix for their Fall/Winter show last year. Funnily enough, the LA electronic duo have also worked with Arulpragasam in the past, producing her 2011 Vicki Leekx mix tape, while female half Asma Maroof did a stint as the rising agit-pop stars touring DJ. See the dazzling artwork and hear the new mix here.**
Scout Niblett might not exactly fit the aqnb mission of progressive music but her commitment to her unique style, rooted in grunge and indie rock must be commended. Especially, when it’s as strange and as harrowing as anyone alone with an electric guitar, an abundance of eccentricities and consciously clumsy drumming skills, can be.
This next album, It’s Up To Emma, out May 20 on Drag City, will be her sixth since her early days as Emma Louise Niblett in Nottingham and promises to be another emotional journey through insecurity and self-evaluation. There’s no word on any preview sounds as yet but there is the promise of a few interesting collaborations and her brilliant TLC cover ‘No Scrubs‘ on the track listing. See below.**
When Cameron Stallones (aka Sun Araw) and M. Geddes Gengras set out to Jamaica to record with roots icons The Congos, they couldn’t have foreseen how far that relationship would take them. Now, following their 2012 release as RVNG Intl‘s FRKWYS VOL. 9: Icon Give Thank, they’ve carried on working together as production unit, Duppy Gun, along with the fishing village Forum. Featured below is farmer vocalist I Jahbar performing over their most recent instrumental 12″ release, ‘Spy’, available now through Stones Throw Records.
“In Jamaicathe whole spirit is different. Time behaves differently, it reacts differently; it expands and contracts in ways that give you space, that we don’t allow ourselves to have in the western world. Those guys are in touch.“
So when you consider just how much of a positive impact these experiences have had on Sun Araw’s world view, we can only hope releases such as this one will do that same for others.**
It’s been some time since New Jersey producer Physical Therapy (aka Daniel Fisher) released his deliciously elevated Safety Net EP on Hippos In Tanks in June last year. But that hasn’t stopped him from dropping an animated video for his track ‘Do It Alone’ to remind us.
Reflecting the synthetic-though-verdant feel of a track that mixes a penchant for mid-90s sounding breaks and towering vocal samples before being knotted and fed through a fluctuating audio channel, the slightly strange revisiting of early millennial graphics is the perfect accompaniment to a most eccentric oeuvre.**
The fact that Baltimore sample-based electronic project Co La (aka Matt Papich) sounds like it could be a soft drink isn’t far removed from its sound. With a second album, Moody Coup, due for release on Daniel Lopatin’s Brooklyn-based label, Software, May 6, the lead-single, ‘Melter’s Delight’ is an effervescent trip of asynchronous poly-rhythms and fractured dub vocal samples.
Where Papich’s 2011 album, Daydream Repeater (on NNA Tapes) was an exuberant frolic through the gilded dancehalls of reggae and 60s pop, ‘Melter’s Delight’ is an abstracted portrait of music at its most modern. See the album track listing below. **
1. Sukiyaki To Die For
2. Melter’s Delight
3. Remarkable Features
4. Deaf Christian
6. Suspicious (Sandman Fix)
7. Baby’s Breath
8. Head in Hole in Space
9. Sympathy Flinch
10. Make it Slay (Barbershop Solo)
CocoRosie are a live act to be reckoned with. Occupying that divine space between visual art and music (if there even is a distinction these days), they presented one of aqnb’s top performances for 2012 at last year’s Meltdown Festival. Luckily, they’re not too shabby on record either and it feels like the further they move along their line of creative evolution, their sound is becoming fuller and more complete by the day.
Announcing a new album and dropping the propulsive sway of lead single ‘Gravediggress’, it’s apparent that growing production values and those otherworldly ideas that made CocoRosie famous are more integrated and fully formed than ever. The follow-up to 2010’s Grey Oceans, Tales of a Grass Widow, is out May 27 on Berlin-based label City Slang .**
It’s hard to imagine just how much more ‘experimental’performer Balam Acab (aka Alec Koone) could get following the crawling bass lines and echoing pitch-playful melodies of his earlier releases -2010’s acclaimed See Birds EP and the Tri Angle released debut album WANDER / WONDER. Yet, he and the UK/US-based label seem to think he can, dropping the free CLUB WATER DISCUSEP via mediafire and sure enough, it’s quite a diversion from the brooding, self-indulgence of his signature pop-music mutilation.
Featuring a submerged ornamental soundscape of pretty girls vocals and twinkling interjections, the EP could as easily be a corporate video for the underwater hotel of a dystopian fantasy, as a natural progression from Koone’s more downbeat cultural autopsies. Download the EP here and see the tracklisting below.**
The chillwave flagbearer of South Carolina, Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick) has announced a one-week touring schedule in the UK, including Glasgow, Bristol and London’s KOKO, June 4. Having released his third album Anything in Return on Carpark Records January 16 this year, he’s dropped an extra taster with a Dam-Funk “re-freak” of his ‘Say That’ single.
The Los Angeles artist signed to Stones Throw Records lives up to his name by running the wistful tide of a typically Toro Y Moi flow through a jerking groove and the mood for some live tour action. Full dates below.
TORO Y MOI LIVE IN JUNE
4 June – London, KOKO
5 June – Brighton, Concorde 2
6 June – Bristol, Thekla
7 June – Birmingham, Academy 2
8 June – Glasgow, The Arches
Not to rub it in or anything but one of our favourite live acts, THEESatisfaction, are touring the US in April and May with Shabazz Palaces. For those of us on another continent there’s solace in the transcendent futurist grooves of their reworked and reinstated tracks in tribute to the ‘Queen of Neo-Soul’Erykah Badu.
As the next in line for the throne, Stasia Irons and Cat Harris-White have been producing a raft of modern beats, built on a long tradition of black empowerment and Afro-futurism in music, and last year released a brilliant, though comparatively underrated album debut awE naturalEon Seattle’s Sub Pop. Continuing on a series of ‘THEESatisfaction Loves…’ mixtapes the wonky psych-soul for Ms Badu follows on from last year’s October drop in praise of R&B singer Anita Baker. Listen and download here.**
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