Thursday, 8 November 2018

🐣 SOFT POWDER — I WONDER IF YOU DREAM

⌾ LISTEN TO I WONDER IF YOU DREAM BY SOFT POWER ⌾

A stumbling drum machine drops you gently onto the foggy boardwalk between waking and dreaming that Soft Powder aka Andy Szetho creates in the meditative 'I Wonder If You Dream'. More than just an exercise in lo-fi, this is a fantasia of to-and-fro guitar melodies that fracture your heart with pinpricks of recollection and late-night diary entry vocals, all wrapped up in a blanket of comforting synth.

But as much as the thick layers of sound offer comfort, it's a soft entrapment, the warm glow of your bedroom lamp as time seems to lose meaning. Sharper sounds cut through the two-chord march, brightness lancing faintly through bleakness, a detached sadness looking inwards.

Counselled by the sincere refrain of "I wonder if you dream" other lines appear ghostly and welcoming: "sometimes it's just nice to pretend" and "start to feel so distant" summon a passive, modest, but searching melancholy. There's no turmoil here, no great tragedy in the deep pastel crush of Soft Powder's nocturne: but there is personal despair, which is the grandest and most soultrapping of all.


  • πŸ”” Incredibly 'I Wonder If You Dream' is Soft Powder's first ever release. It's taken from his debut Shangri-La EP and you can listen to the whole thing over here on his SoundCloud. The nostalgic, lonely cassette cover art, complete with perfect brooding palette, was created by designer John Szetho.


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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

🐣 THE ENTREPRENEURS — JOAQUIN

⌾ LISTEN TO JOAQUIN BY THE ENTREPRENEURS ⌾

The open road tumbling ahead, the scenery struggling to appear correctly because of just how quickly you're moving along it. This is the sense of wild freedom that explodes out of 'Joaquin' by Danish band The Entrepreneurs; thick bass and guitars with frazzled distortion play rumbling and loose with drums thumping out a frolicking heartbeat. It's a galloping horse, a rushing train, a dog with its head out the window as a car speeds on an open highway.

But you soon realise the song isn't a pure celebration of freedom—it's a yearning for it, tearing a space for yourself in the fabric of the world. The vocals suddenly yell out:

"Feels like / We should / Take a trip outside / See what’s all around / In this part of town / Where the lights are out / And the doors are unlocked at night / And time flies right on by..."

From that moment, 'Joaquin' is more than just a powering engine: it's a heartfelt casting off of a hometown, like shedding skin. It's painful, though it's something that feels necessary. It explodes poetically with the desire for moving onwards, with almost childlike imagery that evokes absurd visions: "Get away / I might just get away / This place is way too small / Standing 8 feet tall in an 18th century hall."

That childlike nature continues into the instrumental itself: the guitar and bass guitar turn playful, pedalling over each other in twists and turns of math rock style arpeggios as the song becomes quiet and introspective as singer Mathias Bertelsen asks, "What comes to the one who stays around?"

And as much as the dreary feeling of trapped in a small town courses through your veins, there's an unending nostalgia attached to it that chills your heart to think you ever wanted to leave in the first place. And this is the romantic soundscape The Entrepreneurs have created: the crushing joy of running free from the only thing you've ever known.


  • πŸ”” You can stream and/or purchase the lovely 'Joaquin' by new indie rock trio The Entrepreneurs over on their their Bandcamp. It's taken from their upcoming album Noise & Romance scheduled for release on 1st February 2019. Pre-order also on Bandcamp if you like what you hear.


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Sunday, 4 November 2018

🐣 RALLY CLUB — TWELVE TATTOOS

⊚ LISTEN TO RALLY CLUB, TWELVE TATTOOS ⊚

Conversational lyricism weaves through the sunny strumming jangle of Rally Club's 'Twelve Tattoos', the effect basically feels like climbing inside the head of its female protagonist. Her observations and thoughts sprinkle the lyrics, whilst she's also described her in third person from the point of view of the singer.

The chorus, with its hook-laden far-off broken radio vocals, mentions this explicitly: "I gotta feeling that I’m seeing what she’s looking through / cause she talks in her sleep, she talks about being with you."

The sparkle of its chords feel like starfish washed up on the beach, the breeze shunting clouds across a cool blue sky, the tinny bump of the drums skittering in coastal somersaults. There's this surf feel, with these effortless vocal harmonies that feel Beach Boys crossed with beat poet – or West Coast Weapon-era Brand New – as you can see from Rally Club's opening gambit:

"She looked pretty even keeled if you looked from afar. Her makeup barely covered up her blatant reactions to songs as she mumbled the words if she knew them at all.

She looked pretty damn full from all the meals in her car; the times she spent driving chasing constant attractions added up and the math in her head was getting harder to solve."

There is this delicious wordy detail in the strings of words that whirl around, rhythmically solid and pulsing with the bounce easy scansion. Even the ABCABC (bones, palate, remind her / known, mallet, behind her) rhyme scheme feels poetically sound.

Next to the detail, the words remain methodically cryptic; lines like "Twelve tattoos in the entire home, the perfect situation to display on the surface" and "A polished reputation, could it really be worthless? she thought as she filled in all the cracks in the living room wall" – as well as the sad "nobody found the letters she was leaving behind her" – mix everyday minutiae with mystery.

And then besides the airy detached jangle, there's this angular guitar riff that jumps in loaded with chorus; the sort of glitzy, towering thing you'd expect from some early metal band, but with a lovely lack of distortion. Besides the superficial everyday of the protagonist, the light strumming, there's the inner turmoil of what she's actually going through, displayed in the mild aggression of the thumping riff sections: clutching at reality and trying to make sense of it.


  • πŸ”” Feel free to stream or purchase this Rally Club track on their Bandcamp or the single release it appears on, Space / Twelve Tattoos'.
  • πŸ”” The fun hand-drawn video is by Nathan Henning.


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Saturday, 3 November 2018

🐣 RUBY FRANCIS — RUSH (INITIAL TALK REMIX)

⊚ LISTEN TO RUBY FRANCIS, RUSH (INITIAL TALK REMIX) ⊚

This remix- with the soft bounce of its toy sized plasma chords, the virtuoso bass groove, the instant glitter of its glassy synths - oozes the blocky pastels of its late 20th century inspiration; it's a buffet of 1990s flavours served up by the Japan-based caretaker of nostalgia Initial Talk (whose credits also include a Dua Lipa 'New Rules' remix).

The original 'Rush' is minimal: all space and angular, squelchy synth. It feels contemporary for its sparseness and sub-bass, but equally retro-futuristic (sounding a little like Prince's 'Kiss' actually). So it makes sense that Initial Talk has transplanted the voice of Ruby Francis into decidedly retro surroundings. In fact, it feels as though this is the way it should have always been.

Like a safari through the aural landscape of twenty-something years ago, this remix of 'Rush' chimes, bounces and glistens with its purposefully timeworn elements. Ruby Francis' voice lilts soulfully in the verse, its echo weaving through the skipping rhythm—elsewhere it provides a sprinkle of jangling '90s ad-libs: "baby, why the rush?"

But the chorus is the centrepoint for this track's magic. The two distinct parts to the addictive vocal (the simple clarity of the first 4 bars and its playful vocal melody, and the rich, winding harmonies of the second 4), the step-up into it, the faroff sparkle of it, the warm, vibrant bass, the swaying beat. It's a cocktail of everything it should be: delicious escapism.


  • πŸ”” Stream and/or download Initial Talk's remix of 'Rush' by Ruby Francis via your fav service


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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

🐣 LEON LOUDER — INKJETS

⌾ LISTEN TO LEON LOUDER, INKJETS ⌾

The interior AI spirit of a vast nowhere machine ascending into the vaulted sky, an imperfect aurora twisting and writhing, flashing and fitting with error messages as circuitboards frazzle and crack back on the ground, 'Inkjets' is a masterpiece of malfunctions created by Canadian producer leon louder.

With modulated synth chords rising up and the gentle pulse of soft synth pingpong boops this dimension of glitch and detached sombre sadness spreads out like a blood stain, sounding very like the soundtrack Twilight Realm from Zelda: Twilight Princess in the process. Muffled crashes and electrical crackling, the far off explosions of processes and the evaporation of data: it is the death of a computer.

Despite the metallic tinkering and clicking, as if this machine is attempting to fix itself, the garbled synth doesn't form words; there's no reassurance. Instead the vox is virtuoso in rivers of hummingbird babbling. At 1:40 there's what sounds like the genuine voice of this digital organism itself, a plaintive imploring purr, before finally the chords thin out into nothingness.


  • πŸ”” The fittingly glitch laden video for leon louder's 'Inkjets' was created by artist Chris Dorland ("who makes paintings with malfunctioning printers," explained Leon).


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