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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Single: "Everybody On Drugs (Once More With Feeling)" by MARIE DIOR + Remixes




Marie Dior's new one via Aural Sect is a glowing slab of dark-wave with remixes by anothercountyheard favorites AyGeeTee and Shisa. Click HERE for the free download.




Monday, December 23, 2013

Track: F ∆ U X E Remix of Amateur Takes Control "4207"


I missed this killer remix by  Singapore artist F ∆ U X E of the Singapore post-rock band Amateur Takes Control, which came out in September, but it's never too late. Excellent sound quality.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Track: "Huff" by PHYSICAL THERAPY



"Huff" is the dynamite new track from the amazing producer/remixer known only as Physical Therapy. It's from the new  EP Non-Drowsy, via his new label Allergy Season.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Track: HOWLINGS Remix of Crystal Castle "Transgender"

 

HOWLINGS turns the dreamy  "Transgender" by Crystal Castles into a glowing dubstep track, best heard on a real sound-system. This is a track that needs to be felt, as in 'feel-the-bass', to be fully appreciated. The San Francisco-based producer has many interesting, downloadable tracks on his Soundcloud, and two excellent EPs free on Bandcamp.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Track: Fortune Howl "Pressure" NO EYES REMIX


This totally speaks for itself, so I will just say this is what I live for---the definition of what this blog is about. The nine minute epic is the perfect blending of (post-) witch-house and chillwave. NO EYES is ATL-based artist Seanny Georgie. Check out his Soundcloud for more of this madness.

Download: SPACE JAM II by COP FONT



Who is Cop Font? What is it that Cop Font does? Why does it sound like that? What the fuck is going on here? In a word: PSYCHEDELIC. Cop Font is Chicago-based audio-artist Heiko Julian, and his music is every bit as trippy as the name might suggest. Space Jam II is just three tracks, but the non-conformist, impossible to classify beats will delight lovers of psychedelic music through many repeated listens.

Friday, December 13, 2013

TRACK PREMIERE: "GENETIC DRIFT" by KARMELLOZ


Karmelloz released one of our favorite albums this year;  BUD AIR, reviewed here, and we  are delighted  by the opportunity to debut his new track  "Genetic Drift".

An organ sampled from the Sid & Nancy soundtrack  is worked into a catchy riff and washed with side-chained pulsations over a future-house drum track with some pretty sick edits; a certified banger. Listen and grab the MP3 below. 

Check out his Soundcloud for more gems, and in case you missed it the remixes from BUD AIR are dope too,  available here.

Artwork courtesy Mitch Posada.  http://mposada.tumblr.com/

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Track: Memoryy "Someone Not You" BOX OF WOLVES Remix

 

Memoryy is a Brooklyn 'synthpop band' and Box of Wolves is of course the canadian chillwave artist Gabriel Akinrinmade who has consistently impressed me with his productions and especially, his remixes, his take on MNDR's "Feed Me Diamonds: was THE version of that memorable song. The original is available to download, you'll have to get the remix by the usual method.



 

Two New Tracks: JENSEN SPORTAG Remixed by FENNESZ and OBEY CITY




Jensen Sportag has a new album out on Cascine and while I am sure it's great and essential, this blog is of necessity focused on free music, and two outstanding remixes of tracks from the album are free downloads. The reclusive Christian Fennesz emerges from hiding with his noisy take on "Rain Code" and Astro Nautico's Obey City follows the natural tendencies of Jensen Sportag toward yacht-rock.






Track: D/P/I - ENDORSEMENT (IMAGEREVISION)



L.A. producer D/P/I was unknown to me until Soundcloud followed an AyGeeTee track I was listening to with this amazingly dope number.

EP: Starlit Everglades TWILIGHT





Starlit Everglades is a 'beatmaker from an island' (Japan?) and LUMENOUS alumnus. He (or she?) makes delicious ambient flavored glowing electronic soundscapes, which  post regularly to  their soundcloud.
Twilight is available as a name-your-price download from City By Night Records.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

JFK: WHO HAD THE CAPABILITY TO FAKE THE AUTOPSY PHOTOS???

The facts about the JFK assassination will blow you away. If you want to sleep well, don't look at it. This photo shows medical personnel who actually saw the president's head-wound up close at the Dallas hospital, indicating where it was.



This is an official autopsy photo, showing an intact back-of-the-head, obviously incompatible with the eyewitness testimony.


They had to fake the photos to make it fit this trajectory:


So my question is: WHO HAD THE CAPABILITY TO FAKE THE AUTOPSY PHOTOS???

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Track: Pagan (New Edit) by JOVH



Download: Clubs by Ghibli


Edmonton based producer Thomas Michael is Ghibli. This is the third in a series of albums sampled entirely from youtube videos. The other two, Pythia and Rare Pleasures are excellent and free for downloading at Ghibli's Bandcamp.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Album Review: OneWorld 開発 by Teams


    TEAMS aka Sean Bowie is an artist's artist. While many of his class-of-2010 contemporaries have graduated to mainstream mediocrity [when's the last time you listened to Star Slinger? haha], Teams has remained firmly ensconced in the avant-garde underground, ever evolving, and making music that has anticipated major new developments like seapunk and vaporwave. The chameleon-like Bowie hasn't been content to repeat a formula, and by the time the audience catches up, he's off new and different things. 

OneWorld 開発,  released on vinyl last month, is his strongest release to date, a set of ultra-modern electronic dance music that would be equally at home on the dance-floors of Moscow or Tel Aviv, Hong Kong or Dubai. OneWorld 開発  is a carefully structured, lovingly crafted album, with a unity of both theme and production approach that bespeaks artistic maturity, rare in this genre.

"Intro (Afterburner)" opens the album and establishes the rhythmic attack; pounding layers of percussion, noise and vocals wash over shifting futuristic breakbeats. The title track is the set's strongest,  a thoroughly chilled ambient house joint, salted with a touch of breakbeat.   Each of these tracks feature forms of broken beat, a welcome respite from too-damn-much 4-to-the-bar EDM.  Bowie's absorbed Detroit techno, which is an audible influence, and draws on that brief period in the early 90's before breakbeat, aka jungle techno, morphed into drum & bass and ossified. He's also been absorbing the deeper, darker stream of  80's underground music culture - far-out stuff like T.G. On OneWorld 開発, noise is incorporated sparingly but effectively, giving the music an undertone of menace, reinforced by the use of found speeches, prayers and chants as vocals.

"Make You Forget", featuring the soulful vocals of Bobby Dahl,  manages to evoke both Chicago house and Detroit techno, deep and moody. "The Repeatedly Forgiving", with its' litany of names read in Arabic, is a reminder that even as we are one world, we are not united, and there is an ongoing cultural conflict underway, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. In "Club Burj", Miami bass meets Juan Atkins at Mecca, as a Middle Eastern dirge is sung amidst sirens, shouts of "ecstasy", and  percolating, acidic synths. 

The first three quarters of "Alchemy" serves as a build-up to a drum & bass explosion, leading into "Cotard Delusion", the unmistakable climax, a jungle-techno/ breakbeat banger of truly epic proportions. This track demonstrates what breakbeat can do, dynamically. "Outro (Predestined)", ends the album with an appropriate bang.  An African chant is mixed with an African-American woman's first-person account of spiritual initiation and predestination, building to another inventive tribal breakbeat workout.

Teams'  OneWorld 開発 is not the One World of  mindless utopian dreamers, but the real one, the one that we have for better or worse, with all of its' spectrum of light and dark. It's the one world of The Great Work, the one foretold by the missing capstone, with the one all-seeing-eye. The one world where we're all waiting for the predestined crowning of Al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl

 Listen  to OneWorld 開発 below, and don't miss the title track and "Cotard Delusion". The album is available as a digital download and on 12" white vinyl from Team's Bandcamp.






Thursday, August 1, 2013

Remix: The Visitors "Lightspeed" MAGIC FADES REMIX


Magic Fades takes on Portland homies The Visitors new single "Lightspeed", honing their remixing skills to remarkable effect. They abandon the original's retro-eighties hi-NRG track entirely, but keep the strong vocals intact, transforming the song into a neo-R&B-flavored elevator.
And just in case you missed their excellent December 2012 album release Obsession on Мишка, it's still a free download, and there are lots of goodies on their Soundcloud too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Premiere: NEED A NAME Ambient Mixtape



Need A Name's Dario Lupo is not only one of the most prolific and consistently excellent purveyors of spaced-out ambient electronic shoegaze, he is also an enthusiastic and knowledgeable fan of the genre, who promotes other artist's music as much as his own. He's been quietly growing the Need A Name brand since 2011, with last years' album release What You Were, What I've Become being named as one of our favorites of 2012, and gaining an impressive 10,000 Soundcloud followers and 13, 000+ likes on Facebook!

When Dario broached the idea of doing an all ambient mixtape, I was like, "Yeah c'mon! You're perfect for this gig!" The set is true ambient, that is, it's entirely without beat or rhythm. The 'ambient' tag is much-abused of late, and this mixtape presents true ambient music in all its' droning, shining glory; the perfect cure for dance music overdose.

I was going to say "For true ambient fans only", but are some of you beat-freaks may not be fully acquainted with the genre, and this is a great place to start.  True ambient music is capable of sustaining different levels of attention. One might fully attend to listening, or just as easily study, while enjoying the music. The absence of beats does something to alter the sense of time in the music. The right mind-set is essential to the full ambient experience. I urge you to listen to it for the first time as I did; I downloaded, and listened as I was making an hour-long commute, without skimming or skipping.  The set accumulates weight as it builds toward a stunning climax. So don't be in a hurry, and open yourself to beauty without the beat.

Tracklist:
 
    1.    Blackout - Late Returns Incur Fees
    2.    Danny Clay - From the book of old eden (I)
    3.    Good Weather For An Airstrike - Two Hours Of Uncertaintyhis website
    4.    Luke Cowan - Untitled 3 (from Ambient 2)
    5.    Rooms Delayed - Above the Trees
    6.    Ruhe - A Beautiful Weakness
    7.    Eluder - Iris
    8.    Strom Noir - Levitation
    9.    Asfandyar Khan - A Nightly Medium
    10.  Caught In The Wake Forever - We Deal With This In Different Ways
    11.  Carinthia - The Village Eaves
    12.  Michiru Aoyama - フィルタースカイ - Filter Sky
    13.  When Tides Collide - If This Is, In Fact, Real…
    14.  Moshimoss - Travis
    15.  Lowercase Noises - Stars


Need A Name Ambient Mixtape by anothercountyheard

Dario Lupo is a native of Salerno, Italy, now residing at Berlin. He uploads new tracks and remixes to his Soundcloud regularly, and does professional audio mastering. Visit his website for a full list of his products and services.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The 'Broporwave' Tract: A Vaporwave Polemic


     I had noticed a certain grumbling among some established music producers, on Facebook, friends of mine; a general deprecation of vaporwave. Ranging from 'It's nothing new, been around for years', to 'those vaporwave meme kids', to 'utter crap'.  I wasn't surprised to see this latent resentment manifested as this 'Broporwave' tract;  a text-image that originated on /mu/ , the 4Chan music forum. When the tract appeared on Facebook,  the comments positively blew-up; almost 200 within a couple of hours. Clearly it had struck a nerve. The  lamentations about 'drama' aside - 'why-can't-we-all-just-get-along-and-enjoy-the-music'  - this controversy furnishes some interesting material for the writer. Besides, how interesting would 'getting along' be?

Firstly, this thing is funny as hell, and putting aside momentarily the probably-hurt feelings of the human beings attacked here, the thing is well written and pretty fucking clever. Forgive me if I take a devilish delight in this beef. But the artists mockingly called broporwave - who are also friends - should be secretly smiling at this. The old cliches about "you know you're hitting the target when you're catching the flak", and "there's no such thing as bad publicity" come to mind. People are talking about these artists --- and that's always a good thing.

                                                               
If I didn't know better, the cynic in me might imagine that this whole thing was actually a very clever publicity stunt, designed to capitalize on controversy, and arouse sympathy and interest.
But now that I've had my jollies laughing at "shits out generic trash albums like a welfare crack mother", and "eye vomit", is the thing fair? Does it ring true? Or is it simply the production of some  butt-hurt troublemaker?

The first section: Brostep? Is this a thing? Sounds like it's horrible. Anyway, the criticism about reducing the music to "a repeatable formula" seems off-base. Whatever coherence vaporwave has as a microgenre is due to this structural unity or formula. As for "chillwave part 2", what's wrong with that? Vaporwave is definitely chillwave 2.0,  breathing new life into the beast. That's a good thing. But it's also a refinement of chillwave, bringing it back to an underground level, purging some of the creeping, diluting influence of  EDM and 'serious' electronic music.

The second section talks about copycatting and
lazy chillwave imitation. Again with the chillwave -
wtf? The author considers this a derogatory term? There is a fine line between 'influenced by' and 'derived from', between imitation and homage. And the difference between "lazily chopping one or two parts and calling it a day", and deft, understated editing and sparingly deployed effects may be a matter of taste. As for "moderately obscure", I have personally been astonished at how effectively Saint Pepsi mines the past for songs and samples that are absolutely fresh, and I lived through the 80s!

The underlying, faulty assumption of this charge of  'laziness',  is that more production would be better. Screw music is inherently lazy, in both its' tempo, and in the amount of effort it takes to 'create' it.  The amount of work that went into a remix has little if any correlation to its' quality. The primary factor is the source material, and choosing beats  that will work at a reduced tempo. When it works, screw music can completely transform the most mundane rhythm and songs into magic. But it's less  post-production, than it is the choice of the right song to screw.

Check out Lustt's "Pillow Talk", below. This rather ordinary hi-energy take on  Sylvia's song is the source of  "Private Caller", which I can unhesitatingly call my favorite track of the year so far, and then listen to Saint Pepsi's version, and decide if it's 'lazy', or disco magic.


Some of this criticism sounds a little that made by 'real' musicians who play 'real instruments', putting down electronic music in general, and sampling in particular. As if it's cheating of some kind; these electronic musicians haven't 'paid their dues'. I'll never forget a Brian Eno quote from the early 80s; "I don't think you have to be a musician to make valid music." I would add that I don't believe you have to be a 'producer' to make valid tracks. I am now, and have always been, a champion of making new music out of pre-existing music. Remixing. Dub, hip-hop, house, chillwave. If it sounds good, IDGAF how much or how little work went into it.

About the 'ironic eye vomit': The sincere praise  heaped upon Pepsi in this article can afford me a little room to be critical. When I read 'ironic eye vomit', this, the cover to the Empire Building /Studio 54 cassette, came to mind. It does have a certain punky, idgaf charm tho. The graphics of vaporwave are one of the innovative aspects of the genre/meme, the detourned advertisements and re-purposed corporate emblems redefine what can be thought of as attractive. Fortune 500 has done a great job with their art, which is very representative of the style. You can view thumbnails of all the Fortune 500 album covers here. I wouldn't call them 'eye vomit'!

Part 3:  The next part gets down and dirty, calling by name the artists the author is attacking: "Saint Pepsi...shits out generic trash albums like a welfare crack mother..." The language is colorful and funny, but is it fair? He has released 7 or 8 albums in 2013, but they are far from generic trash. Each of these LPs is interesting and entertaining, and features tracks that make them indispensable. If the best tracks of these albums were put together, that set might just be album of the year. Fortune 500 has released 28 albums this year. With such a prodigious volume of music, there are certain to be ups and downs, but on the whole, it's very worthwhile.

The records released by Fortune 500 conform very closely to the vaporwave formula, with outstanding releases from 日本人 (Japanese), Luxury EliteESPRIT 空想, etc. This conformity, which the author of the tract reduces to 'copycatting', is actually stylistic purity. Fortune 500 is not the only label putting out pure vaporwave, but they may be the only label that puts out only vaporwave, as most other labels offer variation, and release some records that are outside the parameters of the style. As vaporwave is diffused and assimilated, the purity of the true vaporwave style will be diluted and, eventually lost, as the meme merges into the larger, all-consuming EDM blender, so check it out, while the style still exists in an uncorrupted state.

Then he names "artists who perform on or support SPF420", which isn't really fair because some of the artists featured have little or no connection to vaporwave, such as DJ Paypal, Blackedout and Spazzkid. The 'live' or 'URL' events SPF420 have sponsored and promoted have attracted as many as 320 participants  - apparently no mean achievement for a web-based event in this genre of music. The first of these events that I attended, the one in March, was the biggest so far. It certainly made an impression on me.

The first thing I saw was an obviously teenaged kid with a microphone, who was straight gettin' off!  It was the single most electrifying piece of video I've seen this year. Sugar C, aka Metallic Ghosts was delivering a rap in an inimitable style, that instantly established him in as a star, in my view. Over the next two hours, I witnessed a  most amazing thing, a one-of-a-kind, transformational event. A new mode of artist/audience interaction, a new medium of social exchange developing, in a non-commercial context. The chaotic, anarchic vibe of that event, with spam attacks and  periodic interruptions by a half naked fool dancing in a Guy Fawkes mask, and a lively and funny chat-board moving at lightning speed, will be hard to replicate, but it was formative.  The thing was working; this was entertaining.

SPF420 are not the first to do these type events. The group grew out of an ongoing group discussion and sharing on Turntable FM, which is a similar to Tinychat.  The Dior Nights crew had a series events called HD Ghettos, on Tinychat, which are a clear precursor to  SPF420. The lineup of the last of these HD Ghettos events was to die for; CCU, Daytime TV, Shisa, Moon Mirror, Textbeak, Ormus and Magic Fades! When I realized what I missed it was like 'damn!'  But therein lies the problem. The event was hosted and promoted by a private group. It was exclusive. An inquiry about the number of  attendees went unanswered, but judging by the reactions, it's a safe assumption it was somewhat less than the number attending the SPF420 events. 

SPF420  hasn't a trace the elitism that has infected some compartments of the DIY music scene.
Whatever happened to "Do it together"? I hasten to add that no one from Dior has ever been the least bit snobby or anything but cool to me, but it's easy to see how these young memekids might be intimidated, if not actually eaten alive, in such an environment. Dior is a deep underground hive of some of the internet's weirdest artists, a true avant-garde; not exactly entry level. I hope they will do another event, and include the wider audience.

So it's natural that this success would arouse some resentment on the part of established elites, who may be feeling the sting of displacement. It might be butt-hurt people who are having a hard time selling their album, while all this 'broporwave' stuff is free, or almost free. A certain amount of the 'hate' may also be generational,  envy of  the New Generation. This prolific group - the SPF420/Fortune 500 nexus of young vaporwave artists, has dominated the new music scene in 2013 in a way in a way no one could have predicted, releasing dozens of albums and generally hovering over the internet DIY music scene like a huge vapor-cloud. It's no surprise that it has attracted haters.

Saint Pepsi effectively countered the attack by tagging his most recent Soundcloud uploads with 'broporwave'. And the grumbling might not matter much anyway: they have XXYYXX for the next event, Monday, July 8 at 10pm EDT, along with Bo en, Saint Pepsi and Avec Avec. It promises to be the biggest one yet. And Saint Pepsi is getting play on BBC Radio One. This looks pretty much like WINNING.

And you know, after reconsideration, maybe they are clever enough to have created and published this thing. Just maybe. 

Get Saint Pepsi
Get Fortune 500 releases (see 'mirror' for downloads)
Follow SPF420

POSTscript:   Artists attacking other art is an important thread in the history of 20th century avant-garde. Dada, that hive of anarchic and revolutionary artistic activity emanating from the post-WW1 chaos of Western Europe, the influence of which is still relevant to every stream of art current today, was conceived almost entirely as an attack on the established modes of art and creation. When Marcel Duchamp painted a moustache on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, he was announcing a battle cry, a call to subversion of the existing order and everything that great masterpiece of painting represents.



The KLF  in 1994  began a series of situationist inspired publicity stunts, which were attacks on the art establishment,  the best of which was the 'K-Foundation art award'.  Full page ads were placed in major major media outlets like The Guardian, naming Sean Scully, Hannah Collins, Vong Phaophanit, and Rachel Whiteread, asking "Who is  the worst of them all?" A prize of £40,000 was announced for the winner. The nominees for the K Foundation award were the very same artists nominated that year for the prestigious Turner Prize,  named after painter J. M. W. Turner,  supposed to recognize the best in British fine visual art. Rachel Whiteread won the £20,000 Turner prize, and at the same time, it was announced that she had also won the K Foundation award.  K Foundation announced that if Whiteread failed to accept the money, the notes would be burned. She condescended to accept the £40,000, saying she would give it charity.


The most relevant example though may come from France, which was the unquestioned center of the fine art world in the late-19th century. The Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and its' Salon, an annual exhibition of the 'best' in fine art, constituted a sort of monopoly of taste, and held public firmly within its' sway. The works of artists like Picasso and Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne were denied a place of exhibition at the shows because they did not conform to the "academic" style. Van Gogh died in poverty, unable to sell his paintings, while the Salon artists work sold well to contemporary buyers. Ingres, the painter who headed The Académie, very vocally and publicly attacked the artists he excluded, calling the work of Van Gogh "moronic", etc. Yet today, almost no one remembers Ingres, or the dozens of undistinguished Salon painters who dominated the late 19th century art market, while everyone knows of Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet.

anothercountyheard is a Youtube Channel, and this blog.
Scott Baldwin rakes muck in northeast Georgia.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Golden Age of Synthpop




I was moved to compile this set by my love for this music. For me, synthpop isn't just a thing - it's the thing. I was in high school in 1981 when this stuff hit, and was one of 3 or 4 out of 1200 at a suburban Atlanta high school that was into it. The intervening years have approved my choices, as synthpop continues to be a strong influence on chillwave and vaporwave, and even mainstream radio pop.

My selections have been guided by a desire to collect examples of the undiluted pure synthpop style, as it emerged in England from the post-punk new wave. Accordingly, 16 of 17 songs here are English, the sole exception being Book of Love, of NYC, who were following the style of the English artists. OMD may be over-represented a little, with three tracks, but they may be the artist most emblematic the style. Their first 4 albums are indispensable. Ultravox had been produced by Brian Eno, but the group represented here was a different one entirely, singer John Foxx having departed and been replaced by Midge Ure, who had been in the seminal synthpop group Visage. The writer of "Reap the Wild Wind" led the band through a series of substantial if imperfect albums.

Altered Images' incredible "See Those Eyes", produced and mixed by Martin Rushent leads of the set, sounding undiminished after 23 years. Engineer Rushent, who had started as the producer of the Manchester punk band The Buzzcocks,  was a key figure in the development of synthpop, and of remixing as a form-in-itself. He also produced groundbreaking Dare album by the Sheffield band The Human League.  The Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto and Pete Shelly both became important purveyors of synthpop after the breakup of that seminal band. Shelly's 1981  Rushent-produced  album Homosapien was another important guide-post of the style. After the Buzzcocks, Devoto formed Magazine, which produced at least one classic album, 1980's The Correct Use of Soap, produced by Martin Hannett. The producer of Joy Division had taught them how to use the studio, and although New Order's Power Corruption and Lies would be self-produced, the new sound of the record found the ever-evolving band squarely in the center of the emerging  style, represented here by the majestic "Your Silent Face". Members of Magazine combined with former members of Ultravox to create the super-influential group Visage, whose 1980 hit "Fade To Grey" first brought the emerging style into sharp focus. Interesting to note that Manchester and Sheffield were both declining centers of industry, analogous to Detroit in the U.S.

ABC was initially part of producer-engineer and former Yes member Trevor Horn's stable of talent, and his house band plays the track to "Tears Are Not Enough". This then-unnamed group of crack studio session musicians later became The Art of Noise. The classic "Moments in Love" is here as one of its' multitude of remixes, entitled "Moments in Bed". Sheffield group Heaven 17 was a split-off of the original line-up of The Human League, and "Penthouse and Pavement" makes a nice contrast to "Love Action", which came out around the same time. The singer for Spandau Ballet had one hell-of-a voice, as heard on "Gold", from their one masterpiece, the 1983 album True. Tears for Fears got better later on,  but "Pale Shelter", their first hit, fits pretty well here. 


Soft Cell is another major major act of the genre. Each of their three albums is a classic, and no one matches their song writing. And what a singer Marc Almond is! The other half of Soft Cell was Dave Ball, who, after the dissolution of Soft Cell became a member of Psychic TV during their early acid-house period, and contributed to the two most substantial PTV acid albums [Jack the Tab and Techno Acid Beat - both fake compilations]. The The was essentially a solo act - Matt Johnson being the sole writer-musician. The 1983 Soul Mining album is yet another must-have classic, here represented by the epic and energetic "Giant". The The worked with everyone from Marc Almond to J. G. Thirwell, as well as Lewis and Gilbert of the band Wire. The The and Soft Cell were label-mates on Some Bizarre, which promoted the outer-edge of underground new wave culture, and a licensing deal with Warner gave acts like Cabaret Voltaire, The The, Psychic TV and Coil their first taste of major-label distribution.

Daniel Miller and his Mute Records would turn out to be another important connection in this stream. He had produced for Soft Cell, and he discovered and signed Depeche Mode,and produced their debut album Speak and Spell, scoring commercially. Vince Clarke, who had written most of the songs, departed after the release of the album and formed Yazoo, leaving  Martin Gore to discover his own substantial songwriting abilities. Yazoo's debut album Upstairs At Erics is another of the few truly great albums to emerge from the genre, represented here by the sublime "Too Pieces". Clark stuck with synthpop, going on to form Erasure. The label was productive, releasing records by Adrian Sherwood, Boyd Rice, Cabaret Voltaire. Flood, who went on to fame as producer of Depeche Mode's mega-hit Violator, and Pretty Hate Machine, the debut by NIN,  started as Mute's in-house producer. The music the label released strengthened the connection between electronic dance music and industrial music.


The term 'New Wave' came to encompass the whole of the post-punk scene, but it's  rather vague.     It fails to delineate much beyond the post-punk context. The rock influence was still strong; punk rock was, after all, another type of rock, and connected to the stream of musical development that begins with American blues music. The distance between The Beatles and The Sex Pistols is not that great; largely one of attitude and style rather than structure. Soon after the liberating punk explosion, some began to imagine a truly new kind of music - one not rooted in the agricultural past, as was blues and rhythm and blues and even punk, one that would look to the future. The new wave music that matters most, is that which has the greatest distance from rock, ie synthpop. Synthpop was the progressive side of new wave. Bands like The Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, both of whom I love, and were among the real new wave groups, were actually making music that was, structurally, old-time-rock-and-roll.

The new stream would have its' roots in Germany. Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder both combined the new technology with existing forms - Kraftwerk with rock, and Moroder with disco - to create a prototype of all the succeeding synthpop. The true computer music would have to wait, but the revisions would at least update from the days of slavery into the mechanical age of the industrial revolution. Psychedelic rock reached Germany in the late '60s and that country's lack of a shared heritage with American popular music forms caused German rock to mutate into something far more progressive and detached from blues, and rhythm and blues, than anything produced in the English speaking world.  These German artists Moroder and Kraftwerk, as well as Can, Amon Düül II, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Neu!, Klaus Schulze, etc., liberated rock from its' past, and envisioning new type of music rooted in technology. All electronic music ultimately derives from this source.
 
Englishmen like Brian Eno and Chris Carter absorbed and assimilated these new European impulses, and incorporated them into their work. It began to be dispersed across the broader culture outside of Germany - this vision of a technologically rooted, mechanical music. American artists like Devo (produced by Eno) and Suicide demonstrated assimilation of these new ideas. Carter was telling anyone who would listen that he wanted to make music like ABBA, and some took it as deliberate irony, but it was'nt. Throbbing Gristle was a prime progenitor of synthpop, among many other things, and "United", their very first release, is the very first English synthpop record. Artists like Phil Oakley of The Human League and Matt Johnson of The The have publicly acknowledged the influence of this record, with its' grimey synth and mechanical, repetitive rhythm that sounds like a factory assembly line. Tracks like "AB7A", "Walkabout" and "Distant Dreams Part 2" demonstrate that T.G. is far more than a footnote in the history of synthpop.  Post-T.G., Carter and his partner and fellow T.G. member Cosey Fanni Tutti went on to make a series of albums, such as Heartbeat (1981), Trance (1982), Love and Lust (1983) and Techno Primitive (1985) that deserve a central place in the history of the genre. Brian Eno, of course, is  the Johnny Appleseed of electronic music, and like T.G. his influence exceeds the narrow limits of synthpop, but his work with Devo and Ultravox alone make him noteworthy here.


May of the artists associated with synthpop - Visage, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, ABC - were initially grouped into the so-called New Romantic movement (today it would be called a subgenre). New Romantic was essentially a reaction to punk and its' anti-fashion stance. The hyper-trendy U.K. music press touted it as 'the next big thing' in 1980. The music relied heavily on the use of synthesizers, but the defining characteristic of New Romantic was a preoccupation with style and fashion - the most superficial aspects of the 'new wave', and some of the groups like Adam and the Ants shared little or nothing with the synthpop style. From today's vantage point, the haircuts, lipstick and elaborate Elizabethan costumes seem ridiculous. Synthpop survives, and New Romantic barely merits a mention. The importance of synthpop was the music, not the fashions.


Stripped of all the fashion, ideology, and transitional forms, the essence of new wave was synthpop. All forms outlive their vital, developmental phase, and synthpop was no different. The mid-'80s saw its' decay. The last significant artist to emerge from the scene was Pet Shop Boys, in 1985. Perpetrators and fakes began to proliferate. The genre reached its' absolute nadir in 1988 with American imitators Information Society haveing club and radio hits, but the likes of Howard Jones, A Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo had already polluted the waters. But for a brief moment in time, 1980-1985,  the movement shot up a flower, a pure and new musical style that would become absorbed and assimilated into the larger body of popular music.

Download the Golden Age of Synthpop

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The Golden Age of Synthpop




This was a work-in-progress; the finished article is HERE

I was moved to compile this set by my love for this music. For me, synthpop isn't just a thing - it's the thing. I was in high school in 1981 when this stuff hit, and was one of 3 or 4 out of 1200 at a suburban Atlanta high school that was into it. The intervening years have approved my choices, as synthpop continues to be a strong influence on chillwave and vaporwave, and even mainstream radio pop.

My selections have been guided by a desire to collect examples of the undiluted pure synthpop style, as it emerged in England in the post-punk new wave. Accordingly, 16 of 17 songs here are English, the sole exception being Book of Love, of NYC, who were following the style of the English artists. OMD may be over-represented a little, with three tracks, but they may be the artist most emblematic  the style. Their first 4 or 5 albums are indispensable. Ultravox had been produced by Brian Eno, but the group represented here was a different one entirely, singer John Foxx having departed and been replaced by Midge Ure, who had been in the seminal synthpop group Visage. The writer of "Reap the Wild Wind" led the band through a series of substantial if imperfect albums.

Altered Images' incredible "See Those Eyes" dance mix, produced and mixed by Martin Rushent leads of the set, sounding undiminished after 23 years. Engineer Rushent, who had started as the producer of the Manchester punk band The Buzzcocks,  was a key figure in the development of synthpop, and of remixing as a form-in-itself. He also produced groundbreaking Dare album by the Sheffield band The Human League.  The Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto and Pete Shelly both became important proponents of synthpop after the breakup of that band. Devoto's 1981  Rushent-produced  album Homosapien was another important signpost of the style. After the Buzzcocks, Devoto formed Magazine, which produced at least one classic album, 1980's The Correct Use of Soap, produced by Martin Hannett.  "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a piece perfect synthpop. The producer of Joy Division had taught them how to use the studio, and the sound although Power Corruption and Lies would be self-produced, the new sound of the record found the ever-evolving band squarely in the center of the emerging  style, represented here by "Your Silent Face". Members of Magazine combined with former members of Ultravox to create Visage, which first formed the sound and style that would become synthpop into a recognizable form in 1980.

ABC was initially part of producer-engineer and former Yes member Trevor Horn's stable of talent, and his house band plays the track to "Tears Are Not Enough". This then-unnamed group of crack studio session musicians later became The Art of Noise. The classic "Moments in Love" is here as one of its' multitude of remixes, entitled "Moments in Bed". Sheffield group Heaven 17 was a split-off of the original line-up of The Human League, and "Penthouse and Pavement" makes a nice contrast to "Love Action", which came out around the same time. The singer for Spandau Ballet had one hell-of-a voice, as heard on "Gold", from their one masterpiece, the 1983 album True. Tears for Fears got better later,  but "Pale Shelter", their first hit, fits pretty well here. 


Soft Cell is another major major act of the genre. Each of their three albums is a classic, and no one matches their song writing, and damn! - what a singer Marc Almond is. The other half of Soft Cell was David Ball, who, after the dissolution of Soft Cell became a member of Psychic TV during their early acid-house period, and contributed to the two most substantial PTV acid albums [Jack the Tab and Techno Acid Beat - both fake compilations]. The The was essentially a solo act - Matt Johnson being the sole writer-musician. The 1983 Soul Mining album is yet another must-have classic, here represented by the epic and energetic "Giant". The The worked with everyone from Marc Almond to J. G. Thirwell, as well as Lewis and Gilbert of the band Wire. The The and Soft Cell were label-mates on Some Bizarre, which promoted the outer-edge of underground new wave culture, and a licensing deal with Warner gave acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV and Coil their first taste of major-label distribution.

The term 'New Wave' came to encompass the whole of the post-punk scene, but it's  rather vague  and fails to delineate much beyond the post-punk context. The rock influence was still strong; punk rock was, after all, another type of rock, and connected to the stream of musical development beginning in American blues music. The distance between The Beatles and The Sex Pistols is not that great; largely one of attitude and style rather than structure. Soon after the liberating punk explosion, some began to imagine a truly new kind of music - one not rooted in the agricultural past, as was blues and rhythm and blues - the source of the rock stream.

The new stream would have its' roots in Germany. Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder combined new emerging technology with existing forms - Kraftwerk with rock, and Moroder with disco - to create a prototype of all the succeeding synthpop. The true computer music would have to wait until 1998, but the revisions would at least update music from the days of slavery into the mechanical age of the industrial revolution. Psychedelic rock reached Germany in the late '60s and that country's lack of a shared heritage with American popular music forms caused German rock to mutate into something far more progressive and detached from blues, and rhythm and blues, than anything produced in the English speaking world.  These German artists Moroder and Kraftwerk, as well as Can, Amon Düül II, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Neu!, Klaus Schulze, etc., liberated rock from its' past, and envisioned a new type of music rooted in new technology. All electronic music ultimately derives from this source.

Englishmen like Brian Eno and Chris Carter absorbed and assimilated these new European impulses, and incorporated them into their work. It began to be dispersed across the broader culture outside of Germany - this vision of a technologically rooted, mechanical music. American artists like Devo (produced by Eno) and Suicide demonstrated assimilation of these new ideas. Carter was telling anyone who would listen that he wanted to make music like ABBA, and some took it as deliberate irony, but it was'nt. Throbbing Gristle was a prime progenitor of synthpop, among many other things, and "United", their very first release, is the very first English synthpop record. Artists like Phil Oakley of The Human League and Matt Johnson of The The have publicly acknowledged the influence of this record, with its' grimey synth and mechanical, repetitive rhythm that sounds like a factory assembly line. Tracks like "AB7A", "Walkabout" and "Distant Dreams Part 2" demonstrate that T.G. and Carter are far more than a footnote in the history of synthpop.  Brian Eno, of course, is  the Johnny Appleseed of electronic music, and like T.G. his influence exceeds the narrow limits of synthpop, but is work with Devo and Ultravox alone make him noteworthy here.




New Romanticism
Yellow Magic Orchestra Japan the band

still editing and writing...

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Track Premiere: Spazzkid "Candy Flavored Lips" featuring Skymarines (bo en パネマREMIX)


Great remixes begin with great songs, and Spazzkid's collaboration with Philippine singer-songwriter Skymarines-"Candy Flavored Lips"-is most certainly one of the best songs to emerge from the DIY-internet underground so far this year. Anothercountyheard is proud to be able to debut this outstanding remix, from Spazzkid's Desire Remixes album, heavy with first-class contributions from the likes of  Saint Pepsi, Tours, Alec Ness, Justin De Guzman, KEVBOT, Tyord, mus.hiba, Meishi Smile, Hotwax, James Deen, Wasted Nights, Dinosaurus Rex, bo en, SVNDAZE, Thompost, Diego Mapa, Similar Objects, EXMN, Parkgolf, Hot Wax and Telephobia.

Brighton-based producer bo en transforms the track into a perfectly appropriate glowing  bossa nova,  dripping with tropical sunshine, without sacrificing any of the charm of the original song. Just in time for the high-summer heat, Desire Remixes drops Monday, June 24 on Spazzkid's Bandcamp.

And be sure to check bo en's Soundcloud for more of his outside-the-box summer-y sweets.

Spazzkid "Candy Flavored Lips" featuring Skymarines (bo en パネマREMIX)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Download: Finer Red by Shisa





"The whole album is spectacular, he essentially combines juke, which is fast paced, footworky old school dance music, with lush, ambient, psychedelic synths. Perfect for a dance party where everyone is too cool to grind to Katy Perry or Rick Ross." -- David Goldfarb of Drowning the Colossus. Shisa can be liked here and followed here.

Download: Verbatim by DataLife


DataLife's Verbatim is combines vaporwave chill-vibes with a penchant for upfront house slam, which is pretty unique. By turns noisy, ambient and bangin', Verbatim is an enticing debut album from an artist I am sure we are going to be hearing more from. There are other nuggets on his Soundcloud so check there too if you dig this.

Download: Really Really Real by Horse head


Experimental healing indie instrumental hi-hop from Santa Ana. Glows very nicely; I call it chillwave. Check out Horse head's  Soundcloud and Bandcamp too for other fine free shit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Download: BUD AIR by KarmellOz


This new set by KarmellOz is state-of-the-art post-trap/post-everything psychedelic chill-pop. From the swelling funky pulsations of "Put Your Love Next To Me", to the Blade Runner-evoking saxophone ambience of "Fuji Xerox Australia", Bud Air is consistently interesting and unpredictable; trippy non-conformist freshness. "I was definitely going for quirky and trippy, a little sad and intellectual too," KarmellOz told me, and I'd say he hit the bullseye. He breaks out the jungle drums on "Popular Art", and the repeating vocal sample gives a clue to the music's possible inspiration. We had the pleasure of premiering an edit of "B.M.W." on Lumenous2, btw. "Wire Spine" thunders with bottomless dub-bass, "Bitches Like" raises the bar on vocal sample chopping, and "Ménage à Trois Bootleg", with it's "I keep shooters up top in the F-1" is just straight noise-trap of the most fucked-up kind. Fucking brilliant, really. And it's a free download. This shit is essential. From the always interesting Interscape Records Ltd 

The above was the original cover art, which was changed, possibly cos of an unlicensed photo. Dunno, but I love it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Album Review: Coalesce Colors by Edamame


Edamame has delivered one hell-of-an album of intense music that sits comfortably in a folder with other substantial recent works like AygeeTee's FOOLS and RxGibbs' Contact. The term 'electronic music' is so vague and non-specific as to be almost useless, as is 'ambient'. 'Future bass' sounds like yesterday's papers, and I don't want to diminish it by calling it 'chillwave'. Maybe 'tribal electronic future dub', or something like that. Enough to say this is serious music crafted by an  artist working outside the narrow confines of any of the current musical memes. And he has his machines just precisely tuned.

Edamame is the recording project of Chicago resident Ed Harris, who says he draws inspiration from the 'great outdoors'. This is immediately apparent in the music. I  imagine Coalesce Colors as a virtual travelogue - a tour of diverse exotic landscapes; a journey through tropical paradises populated with aboriginal tribsmen, solitary cloud-swept mountain tops, ancient cities covered in jungle, but with undertones of menace lurking underneath, like crocodiles and great white sharks...

"Drunk Conversation" may be the album's weirdest cut, but it sets the stage for what's to come. We are definitely not in Kansas anymore (or Chicago, as it might be). When "Talking Through Tin Cans" drops, you'll know why I'm raving about this album. "Arnhem Land" is named after an area on the northern tip of Australia. "Bayaka" opens with the British actor John Hurt's voice; "Whether using a river as a drum-kit, or  incorporating animal calls into their work-songs, the Bayaka consider music to be their greatest gift from their forest..." These three songs form an intense set within the album, and the 1-2-3 punch has real impact; sortofa 'future-sound of Arnhem/last train to the outback' trip.

"Trees" lightens up a little, giving a needed break before the locale shifts again with the glimmering title track and it's clanging metallic bells. Then  fasten your seat-belt cos next the next two tracks are killer and addictive; "Nicotine",  with it's blown-out bass and beautiful piano and guitar arrangement [in fact a lot of the tracks benefit from tasteful guitar and piano additions to the electronics], followed by "Taste Of My" - possibly the best song on the set. "Wolf Talk" (featuring Nonagon) brings us back to earth after these celestial flights, landing in distinctly Asian turf.  How I will ever get back home from there, I don't know, but it's a damn good trip. The set ends with an alternate mix on a majestic track we had the privilege of premiering on Lumenous2, btw, here titled "Coalesce Colors Flamingosis Remix". This is the most inventive set of beats and rhythms I've heard lately, and is a no-brainer at 2$. And be sure to check out his Bandcamp for more like this.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Download: 日本人 by 日本人 (Japanese)


The torrent of high-quality, real vaporwave emanating from FORTUNE 500 has far exceeded my ability to digest it, but this release stands out; a month after downloading it, I am still listening to it.  I guess it's called "Japanese by Japanese". At any rate it's an album full of interesting rhythms and textures, tending toward the ambient/shoegaze-end of the spectrum, with a greater than average noise component. There's one track that really caught me, lodging in my head while I struggled for days to identify it. "Ramune", which contains another song embedded in it. It's circular, shuffling chant is utterly addictive and trippy.   Check out the ironically named "Dubstep" too. The album is absolutely free and you should absolutely get it.
日本人 Japanese

Download: Happy Endings by Public Wash


The outer limits; the laundry. Messed-up psychedelic noise music. Essential. It's tagged California. There's a Soundcloud, but no other information. 



Download: "νιτρον" by nancyleticia


  This shimmers and slow-burns with ... the right vibes. Nancy Leticia is a Vancouver-based artist. Check out her Soundcloud for lots more like this.


νιτρον by nancyleticia