Alec Koone releases new Balam Acab EP, debuts new ON GOD downergaze project

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Balam Acab update: he moved to Atlanta and has released more music on his Bandcamp, the best of which is the All I Beg EP, a smoother, more beat-driven collection than the swampiness of his recent Watertree Edits.  

 

Elsewhere, Alec Koone has started the ON GOD side project, and released a series of “downergaze” mixtapes.  He’s promised Atlanta an “all-Drake Slopped & Wetted DJ set” at some point this summer.  Music websites have become a terrible source for Balam Acab info, so you best follow his Twitter to stay in the know.

Miwon discusses his impassioned new album, ‘Jigsawtooth’ [Interview]

Berlin’s Hendrik Kröz just released Jigsawtooth, his third album of ebullient, emotional IDM as Miwon.  His last LP, A to B, came out nine years ago, an eternity in the music world, and Jigsawtooth is both his best offering yet and a long-awaited return to the sound for which he’s known.  Marrying rich, slightly krautrock-ish melodies, occasional samples, and cinematic nostalgia, Kröz’s music is a perfect soundtrack to your next adventure.  Stream the album and read our quick Q&A with Miwon below.

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Hometown: Stuttgart, Germany

 

Current city of residence: Berlin, Germany

Can you tell us a little about the name, Jigsawtooth, and the ideas explored on the album?  How does it differ from Pale Glitter and A to B?

The name is a made-up word, it refers to my way of arranging tracks and a certain waveform, which I filter to create smoother sounds.  So many things have happened since my first two albums came out, so it’s difficult to compare them to my latest work…Ok, I’ll try.  Jigsawtooth sounds more contained than the other two, even though you’ll still find soaring melodies and rhapsodic moments.  I’ve reduced things a little more than I used to, but the goal is still the same I guess – making music that reaches listeners on an emotional level, despite being abstract and decidedly minimalist.

What hardware do you use to create your music?  Favorite piece of equipment?

Nord Modular G1, Virus TI and Moog Sub 37, all recorded in Ableton Live via RME Fireface.  I also get inspired by iOS apps and plug-ins, e.g. Microtonic by Sonic Charge (my preferred virtual drum machine), the classic synth sounds of Diva, and NI’s Reaktor, which I’ve used for many years.

Tell us about the two other projects you’re involved in, Feedbackorchester and Cushion Caroms.

Feedbackorchester consists of eight electric guitarists who are positioned in a circle and exclusively play feedbacks, which creates a slow, rolling stream of vibrations, frictions and walls of sound.  Listening to us definitely has a soothing effect, even though it can get loud and unsettling at times.  We like to lay at places that are fraught with meaning – war memorials, defunct churches, etc. – and we never rehearse.

Cushion Caroms is my joint venture with the Argentinian sound artist 1605munro, a delicate mix of stuff we like, from ambient pads to jazzy interventions, acoustic guitar loops, and cinematic samples.  Still, you’ll find Miwon sounds in there, so don’t hesitate to give our debut LP, Galaxy, a listen. 

What plans do you have for the rest of 2017?

 
I look forward to presenting my new tracks here and there, and as times permits I’ll start working on new tracks, so stay tuned.

Moogfest 2017: Photo Recap

Last weekend, we made the trek to Durham, North Carolina for Moogfest, the year’s biggest gathering of synth nerds, tech junkies, and music pioneers.  With a lineup that included names like Michael Stipe, Flying Lotus, Suzanne Ciani, and DJ Premier, not to mention surprise appearances from Hannibal Buress and Police Academy‘s sound-effect genius Michael Winslow, Moogfest is the antithesis of today’s typical festival formula.  With 2018 already confirmed, check out our photo recap of this year’s Moogfest below.  All photos by Clara Castle.

 

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ARTISTS

Elysia Crampton

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Hannibal Buress

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Talib Kweli

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808 State

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Laraaji

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Avalon Emerson

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Zola Jesus

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Jessy Lanza

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Animal Collective w/ Michael Winslow

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DJ Premier

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Flying Lotus

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Midwife’s ‘Like Author, Like Daughter’ balances hope and suffocation

Denver’s Madeline Johnston, who records as Sister Grotto, was a resident of Rhinoceropolis, a long-time fixture of the city’s arts scene that was recently shut down, a fate shared by many other D.I.Y. venues nationwide following Oakland’s horrible Ghost Ship fire.  Johnston’s latest album, this time under the name Midwife, is a perfect record for bleak times, depicting the singer with head held high as she stares straight into the void.  Like the abandoned mattress on the album cover, everything is in decay for Madeline Johnston, but the human spirit might just be the one exception.

With recording and production help by Tucker Theodore, Like Author, Like Daughter will drop June 16 through a new Cincinnati label, Whited Sepulchre records.  Listen to “Liar” below, and keep an eye out for the full LP, which will come with a companion split cassette with Planning for Burial.

Take a ride through the shadowy trip-hop noir of Sophie Lilliene’s ‘Apnoea’ EP

Italian producer VeZzO has been releasing music under the Sophie Lillienne moniker for over a decade, creating a fusion of classic trip-hop and other electronic styles with an ever-rotating list of collaborators.  With a long list of albums and EPs under the Sophie Lillienne name, as well as a slew of remixes (including a great reworking of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”), VeZzO’s latest offering is the four-track Apnoea EP.

Apnoea consists of two vocal tracks that recall trip-hop’s golden age, with frigid beats and rich string arrangements providing a fitting environment for VeZzO’s tragic lamentations.  The other half explores instrumental ideas, starting with the title track’s softly suspenseful creep, hovering like a flying saucer half-obscured by dark clouds.  “November 14” starts out like a track by The Range with its simple, dramatic piano loop, closing out the EP with a somber combination of acoustic guitar, piano, and electronics.

The Apnoea EP is out now through Irma Records.  Watch the video for the title track below.

Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway with Ester Ideskog on her latest album as Vanbot

Swedish pop singer Ester Ideskog’s latest album as Vanbot, Siberia, has a daring concept behind it: write and record a full length album during a seventeen-day train ride from Moscow to Beijing.  Rather than take on the task alone, Ester recruited Johannes Berglund, who has worked with artists like The Knife and Lykke Li, and Petter Winnberg of Amason, and the trio set off on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  With track titles like “Not That Kind (Moscow)” and “Hard to Get Used To (Baikal),” you could pull out a map and connect the dots of their journey across the tundra of Russia and Mongolia.

Sonically, there isn’t much that’s bleak or claustrophobic about Siberia, as one might expect given the desolate landscape and cramped living conditions.  Instead, the tracks are romantic, airy, and wistful, the way we all can get during long stretches of time crossing vast unknown spaces.  Check out two tracks here plus a teaser for an upcoming documentary about the trip.  The full album is available now through Ideskog’s own Lisch Recordings and Sony Music Sweden.

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-photo credit Sara Arnald

We talked to Macajey about his new ‘Water’ EP, life in Estonia, and learning the studio ropes from Ben Frost [Interview]

Jeremy Macachor grew up in California, but became an expat in his early twenties, pursuing a music career as he roamed Europe.  As Macajey, Macachor includes bits of downtempo, house, IDM, and future beat in his music, but he’s too versatile and full of curiosity to settle into any one style.  Macachor’s new Water EP is out today and  streaming in full below.  While you listen, read our chat with Jeremy as he explains his European travels, musical milestones, and future dreams.

From your home in San Francisco, you’ve travelled to England, Scotland, Iceland, and have now settled in Estonia for now.  Can you briefly explain the different steps of your journey?

Since I was about 20 I knew that I wanted to live in Europe for at least a while.  Around 22, I decided I wanted to focus on sound engineering as a career, so I applied to SAE London and got in.  About halfway through the diploma course I was thinking about what to do after.  Thinking it was an insane long shot that wouldn’t amount to anything, I emailed Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland, Valgeir Sigurðssons studio, and I guess the stars were aligned, because they took me in as part of their internship program.  After Iceland I went back to California but still had that itch to get back to Europe, so I found another internship, this time in Edinburgh, Scotland.  From there I went to Estonia to visit some friends I had met in Iceland and see what the country was like.  I ended up staying because rent was dirt cheap and I was in a nice cozy apartment with my own room after 2 months of couch surfing.  To cut a long story short, I ended up staying and marrying my roommate.  If you told the 20 year-old me that by 25 all that was going to happen, I would’ve said fuck off.

What is Estonia like?  What city do you live in there? What is the music scene like in your town and beyond?

Estonia is the northernmost Baltic country, has a population of about 1.3 million, and huge amounts of forest.  They gained their independence for the 2nd time from Russia in 1991, so anyone over 30 has memories of what they call “Soviet times,” which were not exactly the best times.  But now you can say the country is getting into its stride, and is known for startup companies.  Skype for example was started here.  The town I’m in is called Tartu.  It’s a university town so there are lots of young people and a good social scene.  I’m the sound man at the main venue here in town, so there’s always something happening from theater to comedy nights, to death metal to hip-hop, prog rock, post rock, folk, basically everything comes through.  On average I would say the quality of music is very good and creative.  Of course you have horrible, horrible music coming through.  If anyone wants to look up Marco Tasane, I had to be his DJ one night.  If you don’t take him seriously though it’s pretty funny, and it was a fun experience.  Local bands to look up if you want good music: Argo Vals, Mari Kalkun, The Werg, Eik, Pastacas, Estrada Orchestra, and Lexsoul Dancemachine, to name a few.

How did your sister, Ashley Macachor, contribute to the Water EP?  Have you collaborated in the past?

She did some backup vocals on “Love and War”.  We made an album together under the name Innocent Bandits about 8 years ago (http://innocentbandits.bandcamp.com/).  Now she’s making music with her husband under the name ‘Oddly Even’.

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all photos by Ruudu Rahumaru

Tell us a little more about your work at Greenhouse Studios in Iceland.  What was it like working with Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson?

I was an intern there for 3 months.  It was the most incredible experience of my life up to that point, and is only second to getting married.  The studio is family run and so chill.  Not some sterile studio environment.  It’s actually a converted home so it was always relaxed.  The first two weeks I was basically only painting and helping to remodel the B studio for about 10 hours a day, but after I proved myself a bit I got to go help Ben Frost record Wildbirds and Peacedrums, who at the time were one of my favorite bands so it was quite the surprise when after one long painting day the studio manager said, tomorrow you’ll be going to a church at 6am to start working on the Wildbirds and Peacedrums album.  Mostly I was there just as a helping hand to Ben, unloading gear, wrapping cables, and watching and learning.

Slowly they gave me more and more responsibility and I was setting up mics for classical sessions, doing a bit of editing and pre-mixing, making stems.  And of course in between all that stuff making a lot of coffee for everyone, cleaning, mailing merch, editing their website, everything an intern is suppose to do.

Where do you anticipate going next, geographically and musically?

Geographically we’ve set up camp here in Estonia.  Our dream, which might come true in a few years, is to move to the countryside, which is abundant and cheap in Estonia.  Get a small house with a lot of land and start living the DIY/self-sustainable life.  Get some chickens, maybe a goat, grow our own vegetables, build a small home studio where I can record other bands as well as do my own projects.  Musically, I want to get more out of the box, physically and mentally.  I had a thought a few months ago: “if there were no record labels, no music blogs, no need to self promote and get my music out there and not even any desire on my end to get on a record label, then what sort of music would I be making?”  It was a huge moment for me, because the truth is for all my twenties I dreamed of getting on a label and touring, but it never happened.  So I want to change my perspective on how and why I make music to begin with.  Hopefully some interesting music follows.

Premiere: Lost in Stars – Elephant & Castle (Philippe Laurent remix)

Dylan Willoughby recently released his debut album as Lost in Stars, combining the four excellent cuts from his Once You Were Fire EP with seven new tracks.  The extra space gives Willoughby room to expand his sound, adding electric guitar and euphoric hooks to his unique foundation of graceful synths and covert dubstep rhythms.

With the Lost in Stars album only a few days old at this point, we’re happy to premiere not one but two remixes of “Elephant & Castle” by French artist Philippe Laurent.  Both versions restructure the track significantly, chopping up Kid Moxie’s cooing vocals and scattering them over squelchy, psychedelic beats reminiscent of UK dub producer Ott.  Stream the remixes above, and check out the full album stream at Big Shot Magazine.

 

Watch the video for Forest Swords’ transcendent new single, “Arms Out”

Matthew Barnes just announced a new Forest Swords album called Compassion, a title that suggests the ominous shadows of his previous work might dissipate a bit this time around.  “Arms Out” proves that theory, a track that starts out normally enough before opening up into a gorgeous string section unlike anything we’ve heard from the Merseyside, Liverpool-based artist.  The core sound is the same – ancient, mysterious, ritualistic – but there’s much more sunlight peeking through the forest canopy here.  Watch the video for “Arms Out” below.  Compassion is out May 5, and is Barnes’ debut for Ninja Tune records.

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Compassion:
01 War It
02 The Highest Flood
03 Panic
04 Exalter
05 Border Margin Barrier
06 Arms Out
07 Vandalism
08 Sjurvival
09 Raw Language
10 Knife Edge

All Lost in Stars and Kid Moxie ever wanted was everything

Los Angeles-based artist and past Slow Breathing Circuit guest mixer Dylan Willoughby has released his self-titled debut LP as Lost in Stars.  Having built a reputation from his production work with Kid Moxie and his Once You Were Fire EP, it’s great to finally get a more extensive look at what Willoughby can do, and Lost in Stars doesn’t disappoint.

With his usual team of collaborators on board, Willoughby develops the cinematic synth brilliance he’s known for, with half of the songs sounding like the epic end credits music for some retro action-romance flick, while the other half explore other areas like pop and UK bass music.  Check out one of the four tracks with Kid Moxie, a cover of Bauhaus’s “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything” above, and stream the whole album over at Big Shot Magazine.

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Lost in Stars:
01 Secret Language
02 Elephant & Castle (For RLW) feat. Kid Moxie
03 Light (Triumph & Disaster) feat. Alysa Lobo
04 Sky feat. Darren Burgos
05 Disappear feat. Alysa Lobo
06 Flown feat. Alysa Lobo
07 There Were Stairs Here (for Dan Gerson)
08 Once You Were Fire (for The Spaceape) feat. Kid Moxie
09 All We Ever Wanted Was Everything feat. Kid Moxie
10 Take It All feat. Darren Burgos
11 Holiday feat. Kid Moxie