It is incredible to see how far the steam train that is Alt-J has travelled since we interviewed them almost a year ago. When they find time between picking up awards and performing gigs across the world, they can reflect back at some fantastic remixes taking advantage of the beautiful subtleties that may not have got their deserved attention underneath all the albums layers, but are accentuated into the principle scaffolding of the remix and hold strong throughout.
They are composing music for films, fulfilling a previous ambition of the band and drummer Thom has also produced an elevating remix of Sivu’s “Better Man Than He” complete with graceful nods towards Alt-J-esque piano flurries and characteristic shuffly electronic beats.
Not wanting to miss out on the next step of the journey, Cougar Microbes will be seeing Alt-J soon on their tour for what promises to be an encapsulating set.
I had the wondrous opportunity to see echo-synth-noise-darkwave duo Tearist (pronounced tear like rip apart) perform at Los Angeles‘s Lyric Theater a few nights ago. As a total Tearist virgin, I was only marginally prepared for what would ultimately become an invitedly deep aural penetration. The magnetically charged female vocalist, Yasmine Kittles, took the stage with a confidence that screamed ‘please buckle up‘. However, my mind still abuzz from the incredible energy brought into the room by previous band Coming, I failed to strap in and ended up being ejected through the front windshield as we slammed into a wall of sound.
The duo channeled music & arts deepest cuts as Kittles‘ vocals fully opened up. With her diaphragm in full effect she belted a knockout blend of reverberant aural pleasure that perfectly expanded into every dark centimeter of the room. Kittles‘ counterpart, William Menchaca, stretching a flawless synth-beat canvas for her to paint the vocals across. If I was a synesthete I’m pretty sure the complete sound would’ve looked like an artistic collaboration between Dali, Pollock, and Van Gogh. Incredibly thick paint smeared, melted, and splattered, yet somehow perfectly composed.
Kittles‘ also featured a signature brand of DIY percussion that took the show to a uniquely connected level. Simply a pipe and steel cylinder that she commands, yet seems to play itself as she whacks it, drops it, and throws it. A few drops down into the audience with her found object contraption and I felt like I was a part of the operation. I hit instant recall of the toddler joy the first time I hit a cookpot with a spoon on the kitchen floor.
Bonus points for the on-stage floor fan, sending Kittles‘ hair and red dress into a rippling wave that only further complimented the audio-visual music-art experience. I look forward to the next time I get to see this duo perform. I’ll know I’m not going to a concert, but to a full scale performance art piece. It would’ve been just as well suited for a gallery exhibition at the MOMA, as the dark cold Lyric Theater. I’ll choose to remain unbuckled in the future as well, slamming into the wall of sound at full speed was perfectly fulfilling.
For a band based in Birmingham, an hour and a half away from the nearest beach, there is an uncanny undercurrent of connotations relating Swim Deep to water, as their recently released video shows.
The flickering of the bands logo ‘≈’ (yet another mathematical symbol embraced by a band for its aesthetic appeal) appears before establishing shots of the two characters, in a restful, safe state on a tube home where the boy seems to be reflecting on the mesmerizing contortions in the allure of the water, where anything was possible, yet also there seems to be an trace of melancholia as if what has happened, won’t happen again due to a breakup. For a few brief moments, the band appear as delicate forms in the pool, neither sinking nor floating, simply existing in the empyrean water, before the ‘≈’ once again appears to signify yet another switch into the unknown.
The video has been released at an important time in Swim Deep’s career, just weeks after good friends Peace released “In Love” to massive critical success, showing what is possible for the new age of bands from Birmingham, or B-town as they call it. The video also comes just weeks before Swim Deep set sail on their trans-European headline tour which will quickly be followed by a flotilla of festival appearances during which their debut album ”Where The Heaven Are We” will be released in late July.
As the sign gradually fades, an epic instrumental intro builds anticipation whilst cinematic shots depict a life of discontent and restlessness in a world full of industrial estates and grey and brown bleak backdrops. A deep longing for the soothing blue water is characterised by savouring the times spent making ripples in puddles and long wistful stares out to the river. When the boy makes his way to the pool the girl is already in it, and when the boy jumps in there is a brief sense of serene happiness, yet the girl then looks away simultaneously crushing the boy’s spirit and suggesting that maybe the water is not the idyllic heaven the boy had been expecting. Such subtle moments with big implications reflect the nature of teenage relationships and the angst of categorising life into boxes, a sentiment that has been portrayed well by Georgia Hudson, the video’s director.
The ending shots comprise mainly of the girls figure being blurred by swells in the pool, drawing neat parallels with the idea that the boy was unable to clearly see what was going on in the relationship, the camera then cuts to a shot of the devastated boy lying down as an image of the blue pool fades over the top of him, representing how enticing the sea can be, even if one of the fish were not right for you.
The final image of the video is of the ‘≈’ symbol reaffirming the connection to the water and the waves but also ensuring the image has been burned to the back of your retina so many times that you won’t forget Swim Deep, as if that was at risk.
As the release date for the new Daft Punk record approaches, preceded by the horrible excellent “Get Lucky” single, ‘ I feel the need to celebrate and promote my compatriot French artists.
Here are two remixes of SOHN‘s “The Wheel” and Wild Belle‘s “It’s Too Late” by parisian duo Employee Of The Year. Edouard and Romain have been making music together for a year and describe their sound as ‘slow French‘. That description works for their sound as their slowed down beat, groovy bass-lines and melodic voices are effective and highly enjoyable.
Last week we featured Lucille and their single ‘Deep In Da Mudd‘ on these pages. It’s worth mentioning I caught the 9-piece live a few weeks back and it was excellent and almost spiritual; as the above video shows.
While the collective may call Tel Aviv their home there is a sense that they could easily be transplanted anywhere in the world and still be killing it live.
Check out these other tracks from their previous EP as we await the results of the album they are currently in the process of recording.
Back in January Tycho played a pair of back-to-back shows at The Troubadour in WestHollywood.
And just so you don’t make the same mistake I did, let me clarify — though both are from San Francisco and both start with “Ty“, Tycho and Ty Segall put on two very different shows.
Yes, admittedly, I thought I was going to see a garage punk band, but ended up with possibly the furthest thing from that: Tycho‘s subdued mix of ambient tunes.
What can I say? There’s a lot of music out there that I’m ever-exploring and my wires got crossed.
No harm, no foul though.
While it was far less aggressive than the punk rock attitude I was expecting, Tycho made up for it in their extremely polished performance and chilled out vibes.
Scott Hansen, a.k.a. Tycho, is also well-known for his graphic design work. His blog, ISO50, was featured on Paste‘s Best Design Blogs of the 2012 list. For Tycho that means developing dreamy visuals of rolling surf and sand dunes, and projecting them on stage. A perfect pairing with the spacious, instrumental music: the two become natural companions, so that one informs the other.
The unexpected star of the night was Rory O’Connor, the drummer, who’s super dynamic and tight rhythms elevated the entire outfit. And it turns out Tycho isn’t the only group benefiting from his mad skills either – he also plays drums in Com Truise.