I revived an old music blog at the end of 2021?

Maybe it’s been a foolish endeavor, and maybe I’m the only one who misses the blog ol’ days, but I’ve been giving it a shot. I’ve been working on restoring some of the old content, though much of it was lost. I’ve slowly been rebuilding the old remix sunday archives, and even posting the occasional new edition. And I’ve been writing again.

You can find all the label’s releases here, on bandcamp, or most anywhere you listen to music these days. I’ve still got copies of some of the old vinyl releases, and I recently released the first in a set of charitable cassette compilations to raise awareness about the continued [mis]use of broken windows policing methods.

Plus, I put together a playlists section with a handful of spotify lists that hopefully start to capture a [slightly] updated version of the moods we used to peddle. Give those a listen and a ❤ if you would be so kind. If you want to get in touch, just give me a holler.

– Haldan/Boody

  • Mailbox: Ainonow – Exile

    Ainonow – “Exile” ***Photosensitivity warning***

    Ainonow, real name Kyle Kroeck, is a Boston-based artist seeking to provide catharsis to his listeners. He aims to do this through razor-precise sound design at high tempos. He says he wants his music to allow listeners to embrace their dark sides–recognizing that darkness is part of being human–meanwhile providing a healthy and comforting space to channel those feelings. It’s not so often you hear this kind of emotional ambition from an artist working at the harder fringes of stateside Drum & Bass. And I’ll admit, I’m overall pretty cautious about dipping my toes into the vat of US bass music that includes Neuro, Mainline, and US-breaks. That stuff has just never been my bag. Above 160bpm, I’m just usually far more partial to the UK stuff: the grit and tangle of Jungle, the silkiness of old school Liquid.

    But credit where credit is due, Ainonow is using some of the conventions of those US sub-genres to make something truly refined. This is incredibly intricately programmed music, with an impressive amount of patience and a refreshing lack of reliance on the standard build up+drop+breakdown/repeat structure. This is without doubt music for the dancefloor, but for all that the basslines may growl, they never stay in one place for long or quite repeat themselves. And those drums sound less like the lonely loopy staccato of typical D&B drum programming, and more as if someone spiked a marching band’s gatorade with adderall and convinced them the floor was lava. It’s refreshing to hear this level of thoughtful experimentation in this kind of packaging, especially from a producer so clearly concerned about how his music affects people emotionally. Big pad breakdowns, 90s nostalgia, ePiC dRoPs, and massive over-compression aren’t the only ways for an American bass music producer to coax strong feelings from people, and Ainonow is evidence of that.

    Ainonow is current with two-tracker Exile. Grab it on bandcamp for free, or steam it on your outlet of choice.

    Ainonow – “Exile” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Amy Godsey – Ananta

    In pursuit of expressing and preserving nature

    Amy Godsey is a musician and apparel designer currently based in Los Angeles. Her latest album Ananta was written in the wake of loss: her best friend died, COVID exploded, and she left New York with just a suitcase and “no plans except to head west.” Despite the tumult of a time like that, Ananta isn’t sad or even what I’d call an exploration of grief exactly, but it does seem to reflect what Godsey was experiencing in its emotional ambivalence. It has an aimless quality about it, as if it was made as a cautious exercise in exploring newly available freedom. Songs and titles like “No Plans” address this notion most squarely, but a song like “Should I Meet You” expresses this peregrination best through a gently bubbling tomtom pattern that you can never quite catch hold of, sitting safely under a constantly undulating harp that keeps intersecting itself and occasionally collapses under the weight of its delay. Godsey is following her nose, letting the process dictate the result.

    Ananta has its more straightforward moments too, no doubt; songs like “Mental Vibrations” and “Heartless in the Sea” rest on grounded drum machine patterns and riffs that feel familiar. But Godsey seems most lucid when she lets down these guardrails and allows the mess to spill out more. The album is strongest at its most meandering.

    That’s not to say this is messy music; to the contrary, it’s meticulous music that–despite its reliance on electronic instruments–seems intended to address nature, both floral and faunal (and human). Nature is chaotic too, for all its perfection and beauty. This dichotomy is reflected on a song like “Windy”, which vacillates between breezy cascades of sine waves and the near-disconcerting babble of what sounds sort of like a digital didgeridoo. This subject matter is no coincidence. When Godsey left New York, she didn’t land in LA right away. The album was written while she was nomadic, living alone surrounded by wilderness. Ananta bottles some of the inspiration and serenity of that kind of setting, but also some of its danger. It’s freeing to breathe in cold forest air, but there are beasts out there too.

    Amy Godsey – “Windy” (bc)

    Amy Godsey – “Heartless in the Sea” (bc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Dawn Chorus – Parallel Realities

    You might be familiar with the concept of a dawn chorus — the euphony caused by birds’ morning mating and flock return calls. It’s also a term that refers to a naturally occurring electromagnetic phenomenon that occurs shortly after sunrise as a result of energized electrons entering into the inner magnetosphere, which–when converted into audio–sounds an awful lot like the avian dawn chorus.

    Perhaps the natural similarity of these homonymous concepts, and their shared pleasance, make the concept ripe for exploration by musicians. Indeed some fabulous ones have dedicated songs and albums to the idea (e.g., Jacques Greene, Boards of Canada, Thom Yorke, Jon Hopkins, Beth Orton, to name just a few). But Greg Jung, a producer based in Baltimore, has made the Dawn Chorus his name. According to Jung, the project is a celebration of a sense of newly opened doors following several years of self-doubt and writer’s block. It’s fitting, then, that the project is named after two of nature’s early morning rebirth cycles.

    The song that speaks most directly to this sense of a.m. optimism is fittingly titled “Sunbeams” — a skittering wake up call that rests on pillowy pads. That song, as well as the lead single “Changes,” and ultimately all of Jung’s new EP, Parallel Realities, definitely shares stylistic references with the other artists mentioned above who have also been fascinated by the concept of the dawn chorus. Particularly, you’ll hear the instant nostalgia of BoC-style tape warble throughout, and a reasonable dose of jagged Yorke-influenced drum programming. A respectable, if early, rebirth for an artist who claims to never have really let himself open up until now. We should all try to muster the courage to spread our wings and join the chorus.

    Parallel Realities is the new EP from Dawn Chorus. Purchase it on bandcamp. “Changes” is also available separately for download as a pay-what-you-wish.

    Dawn Chorus – “Sunbeams” (bc)

    Dawn Chorus – “Changes” (bc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: darkDARK – Ghost Complex

    darkDARK is Genevieve Vincent and Chris James, the former based in LA, the latter in Austin.

    Ghost Complex is their latest album, a sci-fi concept record about a pair of AI living in a post-human world, grappling with the choice between creation and replication, forced to confront the ambiguity of sentience. Humans left them a set of songs, designed as fables, so that the pair might recreate civilization in humanity’s image. The central question is whether will they accept their role as custodians of the past or choose to become architects of their own future?

    Societal AI OD aside, this is a resonant question for us humans too. Do we use our energy to focus on doing something truly original, or do we accept we are products of our influences and make the most of that? I live primarily in the second camp. I expect Vincent and James do too. The album is delicate and beautiful, but also doesn’t seem to shy away from honoring its stylistic inspiration. Getting too specific with genre or reference points–when we’re ultimately dealing with pop music–is maybe a touch superfluous, but for me, Ghost Complex sits somewhere between the gauzy UK and Scandinavian trip-pop of the late 90s and early aughts, and a minimalist strain of blade runner revivalism; plus probably also with a dose of the graceful quality of a record like Chairlift’s Moth.

    Notwithstanding the satisfying chunk of the bass on songs like “Cult” and “Petals”, darkDARK are best at their most gossamer. Album opener “Face With No Name” is the one that gets me the best. Vincent’s vocal delivery skips over the air, playing carefully with the bed of Rhodes beneath it. The shared fx on both elements automates exquisitely until you’re not quite sure what’s what. It’s all nicely suggestive of the album’s concept of a pair of machines wondering whether to emulate or separate from humans.

    This is high-concept stuff, sure, but far more importantly, the album is really easy on the ears. No bandcamp for this, unfortunately, so go find it on streaming services.

    darkDARK – “Face With No Name” (sc)

    darkDARK – “Cult” (sc)

    darkDARK – “We Had Everything” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – Paws on Ears

    Sometime about 20,000 years ago, a wiry-haired and very hungry pack of descendants of the Miacis decided collectively that they should brave a plea for help from those strange smooth creatures with the strong rumps and weak shoulders. They’d been following these hairless beasts for some time, subsisting on what was left behind in or near piles of burning embers. But with an unexpected glut of healthy members having arrived in the spring, the pack needed more. The alphas of this particular pack were unique in that they were somehow capable of more than brute force; they knew how to demonstrate leadership of a more nuanced sort, the kind that centers strength derived from affection and protection, not only violence.

    These canids were the first to tie themselves to the fate of humans. A few thousand years later, when men and women had stopped moving constantly, and built cities perfect for the proliferation of pest, small wildcats took the cue, and decided to set up shop too. Now we love these animals as family, and they love us.

    Necessity and opportunity can breed sincere connection. It’s not always so different when two people find each other.

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango is a project from dutch-born artist Stephen Meeker, pursuing a genre he calls Motion Vision — a collage of modern classical, ambient, and post-rock. The project was born of the love between Meeker and his partner while indulging in Mango sorbet together using a spoon fresh out of the dishwasher. Despite these intimate beginnings, his latest album, Paws on Ears is lofty and conceptual; what Meeker terms as “easy listening for weary space travelers”.

    The eighteen pieces on the record aren’t characterized by any single sound or effect. From the plasticine and putty-like woodwinds of “First Dance of Eight Paws”, to the amber-from-sap pianos of “Amongst the Roots of Trees”, to the fairy-buzz chimes of “Walk to Find Trees”. A disparate collection tied together by something ephemeral, but somehow also familiar.

    Meeker describes his inspiration as rooted in his sense of his own existence. He explains that his music is an expression of his “profound lack of understanding of the world that surrounds [him]” and his desire to decipher our collective experience into something narrative. Paws on Ears does indeed strike a narrative chord, albeit an abstract one — not one that’s easily categorized. Maybe it’s that willingness to accept what he doesn’t know that gives the music its nearly-naive-but-surprisingly-complex quality. In any case, the feeling that resonates with me after a handful of listens through is simple the unconditionality of love possible between friends who need each other deeply. Symbiosis as devotion. Take that for what you will; I suspect Meeker wants the meaning to lie with the listener. Paws on Ears is out now for streaming universe-wide.

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Beckoning Plea of a Call For Bears” (sc)

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Cow Stands Guard Protecting Their Llamas” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Graffiti Warfare – Revolving Shores

    As she stares into her laces, a bee buzzes and hums in her ear
    is that a tune she remembers? or is it one she should?
    Grampa used to ask her what she expected from music
    whether she thought it would fulfill her
    now as she waits for her ride, she wonders
    if the color is enough to keep her going
    whether things will change for the better or
    if the volume will continue to dim.

    Graffiti Warfare is the nom de guerre of Denver’s George Lattimore. Revolving Shores is his second album under that name. It’s an outright embrace of nostalgia, but broader in emotional scope than the work of some of his contemporaries. Nostalgia indeed, but not just for stoned teenage angst and romance, also for sharp-eyed grandparents, kite flying, and plastic cutlery.

    From the opening song, “To Be It,” which features spoken word recordings by mid-twentieth century perennialist, Alan Watts, the album feels like it must have been a really personal process for Lattimore. I was quick to want to characterize the record as intimate and wooly, and at many moments, it is that. It’s certainly interpretive; some of its references feel like they must be Lattimore’s alone, or akin to the kinds of inside jokes siblings keep–almost indecipherable, but nonetheless totally charming to outsiders. It’s a largely instrumental album, only making sparse use of vocals on most songs, with greater focus on synthesis, pillowy drums, and pedal work. But where some of Lattimore’s nostalgia-seeking colleagues may opt to dive headfirst into fuzz, tape warble, and binaural synth washes, most of Revolving Shores maintains a sense of earnest clearheadedness, at times even bordering on the piercing.

    What might seem at first like a weedy and cozy lay in grass (see early standouts like “Just Follow” or “DejaBlue“) pretty quickly turns into more of a healthy not-quite-micro-dose on a brisk autumn beach. There’s plenty of flirting with melancholia, but also an apparent attempt to tackle concrete family anxieties, grief, and insomnia. I’ll admit I’m usually more of a weedy lay in the grass type, but the album is probably strongest when it embraces the colder and more frenetic — the collage slap bass of “Volume” or the stop/start-synthesized-shrill meets soft underbelly of the album’s closers “Missing the War” and “Seashell.”

    Revolving Shores is Lattimore’s own personal moment on a cold bright day in wet sand, but most listeners will find themselves feeling welcome to join him.

    The album is out now for streaming on all major outlets.

    Graffiti Warfare – “Just Follow” (sc)

    Graffiti Warfare – “Volume” (sc)

    Graffiti Warfare – “Seashell” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Davis Galvin – Otsinni

    For months now, I’ve meant to post about Pittsburgh-based Davis Galvin. Their output over the past few years has been nearly faultless, and just as regular. They recently put out a new record, Meratana, a tight set of “(fun)ctional” tracks that are strange, but still well-woven for the floor. But while I really enjoyed that new one, I’m still playing catch up on Galvin’s bountiful discography. The release I’ve been stuck on lately is Otsinni, which came out in May ’21 (Galvin has no fewer than 8 releases since, if you’re in doubt about their prolificacy). It comprises a trio of skittering breakbeat moods that I can’t really choose between — they really work best in tandem. Galvin is an enormous talent, and with such a fast-growing collection, do yourself the favor and get started on absorbing their work.

    Galvin seems to avoid streaming services, so go support them on bandcamp instead.

    Davis Galvin – Otsinni (bc)

  • Mailbox: Macro/micro – Things Will Never Be The Same Again

    Sharp, clenched, grand electronica from LA-based Tommy Simpson, aka Macro/micro. Simpson recently stopped work as an engineer for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, where he assisted on the last two NIN albums and their recent film work, including that excellent score for Watchmen.

    Simpson’s own work as Macro/micro definitely exists in a similar space as does that of Reznor and Ross, particularly in his use of tightly controlled distortion (see e.g., “Awe” and “He’ll Be With You Shortly”). But there’s also an evident generational divide. Despite its general darkness, this is not dour music, there’s plenty of optimism to be found here too (see e.g., the closer, “Gratitude” which is probably my choice from the record). As a much younger artist, Simpson seems more willing to open the blinds more often and let in some light.

    Check out the whole album, released this past July. It’s out now on bandcamp, and streaming everywhere else.

    Macro/micro – Things Will Never Be The Same Again (bc)

  • Mailbox: Digital Artifact – A Quantum Entanglement of the Mind

    I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the divisions of the autonomic nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic and enteric, and the ways in which the branches of the trigeminal nerve may be affected by changes in the rate and consistency of peristalsis. Could it be that the chronic migraines I’ve experienced since I was a teenager might be affected by finding a way to change the pace of peristalsis and/or attaining better conscious control over general parasympathetic function? No easy answers to questions like these.

    Digital Artifact is an artist who clearly spends time trying to feel out the answers to difficult questions. Not only because he’s a computer engineering student, an experience which I can only imagine bears with it a fair share of challenges, but also through his music, which is distinctly explorative. Most of his music is iterative–as in, it’s made by applying the same set of rules a number of different times, and recording the outcome. That’s a heady endeavor, no doubt, but all of it manages to maintain touch with an emotional nerve. These are explorations worth following along with.

    I’ve selected a couple of songs for you here, but he’s got a wealth of material available to stream on his soundcloud and spotify profiles, so I really recommend going there, hitting shuffle, and letting the material take you where it may.

    Digital Artifact – “A Quantum Entanglement of the Mind” (Iteration One)

    Digital Artifact – “A Hollow Blue Cube In The Sand” (Iteration Two)

    Digital Artifact – “An Involuntary Hallucination” (Iteration One)

  • Thodén – This Codified Drift

    It was then, floating in the passivity of induced consumption, in which it became clear that this functional mechanism of time was but a codified drift. With our particular indifference to an imposed rationality, all semblance of alterity had been lost

    Music–especially electronic music–is usually a feeling exercise. It’s for dancing, for crying, for running.

    Most artists just want their art to make you feel something. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that the worst reaction art can evoke is indifference. As much as I hope my own music gives people good feelings, I’d ultimately much rather a song I write elicit a strong negative reaction like disgust rather than boredom or indifference. But some of my favorite music is also thinking music. Music can have tremendous activating effect on the occipital lobe and frontal cortex — it can conjure not just emotion, but also give us visions, trigger complex thought and academic inspiration.

    Thodén (real name Kris Rehfeld) is a Danish artist whose music has that desired substantial emotional effect, but is also full of visual stimulus. This may be by design– Rehfeld’s debut album, This Codified Drift was written during the first lockdown, at at time when we all had more time for thinking, and maybe a little less room or willingness to feel.

    The album doesn’t hit you over the head with meaning. It’s bursting with imagery, but it’s all cloaked — it’s left to the listener to decide what this music means. Listening to a song like “Hyperreal”, I find myself fantasizing about the patterns of wasps nests and the organization of anthills. “Gush” feels like the frustration of new lust; when you’re feeling intense magnetism, but trying to play it cool. “Signal on Baikal” is a swamp boat right after you turn off the airdrive fan and let it coast towards the mouth of a cave. All eight songs on the album are full of these kinds of feelings and imagery. But they all mean what you make of them, so go make them mean something.

    This Codified Drift is out now for streaming or on bandcamp, via French label Electroménager.

    Thodén – “Hyperreal” (bc)

    Thodén – “Gush” (bc)

    Thodén – “Signal On Baikal” (bc)

  • Mailbox: The Fear Ratio – Spinning Globe

    Unexpected submission from the legendary techno label Tresor. This is not what you’d expect from Tresor — it is not techno, it’s glitch hop. But in context, this makes a lot of sense. First of all, The Fear Ratio is composed of UK techno heavyweights Mark Broom and James Ruskin, so it’s not surprising they’d have the attention of Tresor (Ruskin released two seminal albums on the label). And second, Tresor is not just a label — it’s club in Berlin that has been open in various incarnations and at various locations around the city since 1991. Berlin is not a city unfamiliar to this glitchy branch of hip hop — after all, the godfathers of this sound, Modeselektor, came up in the city, and have undoubtedly played plenty at Tresor. I’m just glad to see Tresor championing stuff like this.

    Featuring fellow Brit King Kashmere, “Spinning Globe” sounds a bit like what I imagine we might be hearing if Company Flow had never broken up and had instead moved across the pond at the turn of the century (and maybe El-P’s EPS-16 had been lost on the way, forcing him to start using a cracked version of Acid Pro and whatever thrift shop drum machines he could get his hands on). It’s sci-fi hip-hop for a new decade; and the production is sharp as nails.

    The song is the first single from the upcoming album Slinky out on June 24th. Pre-order the album now on bandcamp and get the first two singles straight away.

    The Fear Ratio – “Spinning Globe” (ft. King Kashmere) (sc)

  • Jaxxtone – Ad Astra

    Venezuelan Jorge Antonio Alfonzo Arteaga, aka Jaxxtone, is another one of those names whose music you’ve probably heard without knowing it. Signed to Mad Decent publishing, Arteaga has worked as a songwriter and producer for the likes of Diplo, Steve Aoki, and Puerto Rican superstar Rauw Alejandro. These may not be the kinds of references you’re used to seeing on this site (or at least not anymore), but Arteaga’s work as Jaxxtone is as varied as it is strong.

    While maintaining the kind of sheen and round bottom end of his previous productions, his latest release, Ad Astra, is thoughtful and deliberate work. The first two songs I’ve shared below rely largely on the kinds of rimshot-driven shuffling 2-step I like so much, and–while minimalist–are full of emotive sweetness. I’ve also included a third song for good measure, and this one speaks much more than the other two to the kind of main room post-trap sound with which Arteaga has had so much success–put plainly in the language of yesteryear, it’s a fucking banger.

    Ad Astra is out now for streaming. No bandcamp on this one, but you can grab the mp3s for free on hypeddit.

    Jaxxtone – “Inicio” (sc)

    Jaxxtone – “Kūsō 空想” (sc)

    Jaxxtone – “What’s Da Drill” (sc)

  • Past Palms – Ambient Music for Watering Plants

    Past Palms is an artist from Richmond, VA. Each song from Ambient Music for Watering Plants focuses on one typical tropical houseplant, in hopes of capturing the simple serenity of watering that life “while living in a gray, nature-less city”, as the artist describes their project.

    An ode to Eno’s Music For Airports, the substitute subject matter here could perhaps not be more fitting for the typical modern millennial’s adjusted outlook. Where boomers had the optimism to look to the skies, and the naive privilege to imagine themselves as post-colonial explorers, we are a generation generally more resigned to preserving a sense of peace in our own spaces. Where boomers once imagined themselves as the realists, concerned by a belief their children lacked boundaries, it turned out we were the ones more aware of our own limits and willing to live without some of the global excess our parents took for granted.

    Of course there are countless exceptions to these rules, but I can’t help but think about the heaps of trending instagram images featuring cozy plant-filled and sun-drenched studio apartments–and the millions of millennials navelgazing into their phones instead of out the window of a plane. And while Eno was concerned that we should ensure airports were more pleasant places to be, we all accept most of modern life just isn’t, and instead hope for a little slice of that pleasance at home.

    The whole record is beautiful, and is available today–on Earth day–to stream, or on bandcamp. I’m probably partial to “Philodendron” — but then again, I love the sweetheart plant that hangs from my bathroom ceiling.

  • Nancy Mounir – Khalif Khalif

    Softly softly
    An arrogant man
    Has made my nights darker than carob

    Nancy Mounir is an Egyptian composer, part of Cairo’s new wave. This is from her debut album Nozhet El Nofous (translated to “Promenade of the Souls”), out June 3rd on Simsara Records. Using archival recordings of once-famed singers from Egypt at the turn of the 20th century, and seamlessly adding her own ambient arrangements, the album explores the tension between modernity and the warmth of familiarity. To hear a culturally sincere exploration of harmony against the backdrop of these traditionally monophonic styles is deeply refreshing, especially when it’s done without the slightest hint of novelty.

    This song uses as its foundation a lost recording of late singer and kanun player Saleh Abdel Hay, and I suggest you fall down the rabbit hole and listen to more of his recordings after you preorder Mounir’s album. As lovely as Hay’s old recordings are, on “Khalif Khalif”, Mounir really succeeds in bringing out a rich sense of the harmonic current within the innate nostalgia of this old recording — and without overdoing it, or caricature of any kind. Really captivating stuff, this.

    Nancy Mounir – “Khalif Khalif” (with Saleh Abdel Hay) (bc)

  • Catnapp – time on me

    Catnapp – “time on me”

    Three years after her debut LP, a new single from Berlin-based Argentinian artist Catnapp ahead of her Trust album release, out on Monkeytown on May 20. The press release for this seems to acknowledge that connections will inevitably be drawn to artists like 100gecs, etc., but attempts to cut through that noise a bit:

    Trust does border on overload, but again, that’s by design. The LP arrives at a time when attention spans are short, interruptions are constant, multi-tasking has become routine and practically the entire history of music is now accessible at the push of the button.[…] Call it hyperpop if you must, but pop concentrate might be a more accurate term.

    I agree with the sentiment; it’s hard to keep a listener’s attention these days, and especially hard to draw them in to a new full length for long enough to appreciate a narrative. But Trust makes a valiant attempt to achieve this kind of focus. Anchored by the pleasant contrasts inherent in Catnapp’s delicate voice and energetic delivery, the album strikes a balance between the sound of the new guard of hyphenate hyperpop-gabber-trance producers like Aamourocean and established progenitors of what might now fairly (though reductively) be called proto-hyperpop, Modeselektor (who feature on two songs on the album).

    In a vacuum, I’d call this album (and its lead single) a great addition to the never-named Berlin electro-hop genre for which Modeselektor have been such emphatic and sincere torchbearers. But outside that vacuum, it’s certainly also fair to say this will appeal to a new generation of listeners who, perhaps without knowing the context, would lump this in with hyperpop, a genre that itself lacks any truly defined borders (and really that’s not a bad thing). Ultimately, what counts is not how distorted the 909 is, whether there are enough supersaws, or if a head is adorned with blue dyes versus fitted caps–rather it’s whether the music gets its listeners to respond. I’d say this definitely ought to.

    Trust is available for preorder directly from Monkeytown. The lead single is streaming now, and is downloadable with preorders via bandcamp.

    Catnapp – “time on me” (bc)

  • Varnrable – On Fire

    Camilla Myhre, aka Varnrable, is an Ethiopian-Norweigan producer and vocalist about to release Air Born, her debut long player on the excellent Danish label Escho — home of Smerz, Iceage, and sometimes home of old Palms Out favorites When Saints Go Machine.

    “On Fire”, which also features Yangze–who co-wrote the lion’s share MØ’s latest album–is tense and patient. It’s an exercise in contrasts–easygoing and sweet vocal performances from both artists float atop a synth lead that is reminiscent of a chair screeching across a schoolhouse floor. Remarkably infectious stuff, notwithstanding its more anxious elements.

    I’ve also included a great song that Varnrable contributed to 2020’s Kulør 006 compilation on Courtesy’s homonymous label.

    Air Born is out on April 29th, is mastered by one of my all time favorites, DJ HVAD, and as if this wasn’t enough of a confluence of some of Denmark’s finest, also features another old favorite, Choir of Young Believers. You can preorder the album on bandcamp, or stream the two singles wherever you do that.

    Varnrable – “On Fire” (ft. Yangze) (sc)

    Varnrable – “Cold Bright Hard Light” (bc)

  • Physical Therapy – Teardrops On My Garage

    Did you know that the the American Chameleon is not, in fact, a chameleon? It’s actually an anole, in the same family as an iguana.

    Physical Therapy, aka Daniel Fisher, is a chameleon (or I suppose, given he’s from New Jersey, an anole). Countless aliases, constant genre shifting, loves oak branches and crickets. The past couple of years have seen Fisher relatively quiet since the definitive It Takes a Village compilation (which is all his work, under a number of different names); I say quiet reluctantly though, given the past two years have also seen a slew of releases under other aliases, remixes, and focus on his near-perfect label, Allergy Season.

    Now he’s back with Teardrops On My Garage, a record that sounds like Craig David spending a summer in Newark taking acid. It’s out now to stream and on bandcamp. I’ve included a couple of picks from the EP, plus two of my all-time favorite Physical Therapy songs (including “Male Tears”, one of the best and simplest uses of the funky drummer break–which is not something I say lightly).

    And keep in mind, if you find yourself allergic to color-changing lizards, you’re probably actually allergic to cricket poop, not the reptile itself.

    Physical Therapy – “Chain Reaction” (sc)

    Physical Therapy – “2 Tears” (Ladies Night Dub) (sc)

    Physical Therapy – “Male Tears” (2019) (sc)

    Physical Therapy – “More Sugar” (2017) (sc)

  • Piezo – The Mandrake

    Machiavelli’s La Mandragola is a play about shameless disregard for the means by which one achieves one’s desires. It demonstrates that the given or chosen title of a person should not be the measure of their character. But it’s also a warning to the virtuous, that the sinful may still be the victors; that immorality may never be punished — and a reminder that religion is mostly a system under which we collectively pretend good deeds are always rewarded, if not in this life, at least in the next. The legend of the Mandrake root itself is that when dug up, it will kill all who hear its screams.

    Piezo, like Machiavelli, is Italian, and this song is likely named for either the play or the root (or both). It will certainly not kill you to hear it, and thankfully so, but as you listen to it, be reminded that we can’t depend on the notion that the powerful men who cause chaos and suffering in this world will be punished cosmically, it’s up to the rest of us to stop them ourselves.

    The song came out in 2019 on the excellent German label, Version. Surprisingly, there are still vinyl copies available, so jump on those while they’re still around.

    Piezo – “The Mandrake” (bc)

  • Donna Missal – (to me) your face is love

    Donna Missal – “(to me) your face is love”

    Donna Missal, who recently put out the best work of her career – an excellent EP produced by Sega Bodega – was dropped by Harvest/UMG shortly after the EP’s release. Subsequently, she posted to twitter a good encapsulation of how preexisting economic privilege is often the most potent ingredient for music industry success:

    Nepotism and oligarchy are real, it’s mythological that there’s no barrier of entry anymore because of social media. Class has an unavoidable impact on your options.
    Donna Missal on twitter

    Those of us who have worked in this industry for any significant amount of time will easily be able to echo this sentiment. The sheer number of artists, producers, and indie label executives whose fathers or mothers are poisonously rich wall street financiers and pharma execs is staggering. Josh Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv recently tweeted something along these lines:

    You would be truly astonished to know how many “weirdo” artists – who are both our peers and many who are super famous – literally have dads that own gem mines in Indonesia
    Telefon Tel Aviv on twitter

    Does any of this mean rich kids shouldn’t get attention for their music? Of course it doesn’t. But we shouldn’t pretend that artists or labels make it purely on the merit of their talent or how much they “hustle”. This kind of thinking is just another version of the bootstraps fallacy. The system is rigged in favor of the rich, so if you find yourself wondering how that producer manages to pay for his million dollar studio in Williamsburg, despite only having been involved in a small handful of notable projects, remind yourself of the dark money that permeates the arts.

    Does this mean that an artist like Missal is without privilege? Of course it doesn’t, and I imagine she would readily admit that. But she’s right when she points out that it’s far more emotionally exhausting for some artists than others to continue to “posture like everything’s cool” in the midst of the “optics olympics” of an industry driven by never-ending social media frenzy and armies of oligarch-funded publicity teams.

    Donna Missal – “(to me) your face is love” (sc)

    Donna Missal – “sex is good (but have you tried)” (sc)

  • A.dixen – Death Tapes

    Anders Dixen is another dear friend from Copenhagen. Once upon a time, he put out an excellent (but criminally under-appreciated) record on Palms Out under the name Dix One, and then went on to make music for a number years as Unkwon, a name he was gifted by a close mutual friend of ours who was no longer using it. He subsequently had his greatest success as part of trio Av Av Av (with DJ Er Du Dum Eller Hvad and another Palms Out alumnus, Eloq) — releasing a couple of really solid albums, scoring the Netflix series The Rain, as well as the film Brakland. He’s also made music as part of duos Dokkedal/Dixen (with Simon Dokkedal of Den Sorte Skole), and Diamond Mouth (with Ane Trolle). This list is incomplete; Dix is as much a fixture of Danish electronic music as anyone could conceivably be.

    He’s always been a brilliant producer, but he’s truly found his voice with his newest sobriquet, A.dixen, under which he has released far more personal and nuanced work — and unsurprisingly so, since the handle is only a few letters removed from his government name. In 2019, he released two albums as A.dixen, both on Øen Records. Death Tapes Vol. 1 was without doubt my favorite record of that year, and Vol. 2 was among my favorites of 2020 (though it was released at the very tail end of the previous year); and not just because both make myriad and original use of breakbeats, though they do. At the beginning of this year, he also made available for free on his bandcamp two improvisational ambient records.

    Below is a brief selection of some of my favorites from the Death Tapes series. It was hard to choose, as both albums deserve to be listened to in full.

    A.dixen – The Birds the Birds (bc)

    A.dixen – “Slow Jamz 4 the End of the World” (bc)

    A.dixen – “A System to End All Systems” (bc)

    After the jump, find a recent remix Dix did for Rumpistol, which is inexplicably not on bandcamp.

    (Expand)

    Rumpistol – “Aurolac” (A.dixen Refix)
  • Bjørn Svin – Mer Strøm #0 (Reprise)

    bjorn svin mer strom

    When I moved to Denmark for the first time as an adult, I fell in with a bunch of sweet people all at least tangentially connected to one another through music. In this little micro-scene, there was one person who stood as a sort-of elder statesman, at least symbolically; and one song that served as a guidepost for what Danish electronic music could do. Bjørn Svin‘s 1997 song “Mer Strøm” was by no means a worldwide hit, maybe not even in 8-bit or IDM circles, nor was he a household name anywhere outside of Denmark (or even in Denmark outside of certain circles), but the song had made an impact in the country and abroad in a way that others of its kind hadn’t yet. I haven’t been back to Denmark for a number of years now, but I suspect the song still symbolizes something for Danish musicians, about Danish music. Something anti-jantelov, exuberant, and free.

    A couple of years after the original song was released, Bjørn released this reprise. The best known version of the song often bears a #2 following the title, but this reprise is tagged as #0, so maybe it existed first. I’m sharing it here as a way of kicking off a series of posts focusing on Danish music, music I’ve always championed in the course of doing Palms Out. I’ve done so partly because my Danish half demands it, but also because the country’s music is so perpetually ignored–maybe because its neighbors are such powerhouses of pop and electronic music, or maybe because of its ingrained societal modesty. In any case, my American half makes me partly immune to that hyper-modesty, so I insist on doing my small part to share the country’s music more widely.

    Bjørn Svin – “Mer Strøm #0” (Reprise) (1999) (bc)

    Bjørn Svin – “Mer Strøm #2” (1997) (bc)

  • Kahvi Collective – Tangents

    I remember in the Napster and Limewire days how often I’d find tracks that were mislabeled in order to mislead people into thinking they’d stumbled across the long lost Boards of Canada or Aphex Twin song, or whatever, and how hard my young ears would have to work to discern if these were in fact the real thing or a hoax. Those dummy songs would take on lives of their own, and without an app like Shazam, would establish their own value as they persevered in anonymity among those of us in blissful ignorance.

    It’s nice that some out there are willing to totally embrace the nostalgia of those times, heedless of all who might say art is only worth doing if it centers currentness completely. It’s also not surprising that some of them would be those same diehard Boards of Canada fans, still so eager to find that long lost BoC song that they simply decided to just write it themselves with no pretension or pretense about so-called originality. Kahvi Collective has, in spirit, collected 28 of those dummy BoC songs, all made purely in celebration of BoC’s innate nostalgia. I’ve selected a few for you here, and you can download the rest on their bandcamp for whatever you wish to pay. Actual nostalgia over “future” nostalgia.

    Ciaran Byrne – “Cluasa” (mp3)

    4T Thieves – “Green” (mp3)

    Cialyn – “When the Horizon Emphasizes Infinity” (mp3)

    Berestez – “Shoda Twist” (mp3)

Palms
Out
Sounds