Posts By Greg Stone

LISTEN: Tangents – Stateless

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Improvisational outfit Tangents comprises a handful of talented musicians whose combined resumes include Triosk, Icarus, FourPlay String Quartet, Spartak and Pollen Trio, amongst others. Their new album, Stateless, was recently released by Temporary Residence, a perfect fit considering the US label’s eclectic and adventurous roster, and near flawless back catalogue.

Stateless effortlessly melds live instrumentation with electronic processing and programming, striking the perfect balance between the group’s improvisational roots and meticulous studio construction. The resulting music is simultaneously familiar and unique. In a broader musical sense there are nods to predecessors like The Necks, Supersilent and Tortoise; then there are more elemental references such as the processed cello at times recalling experimental duo The Books, or the deft scattershot drumming bringing to mind the skittering electronics of member Oliver Bown’s own Icarus project. But these are merely touch points as Tangents is certainly the sum of its parts, each member bringing their own individual influences, experiences, and style to the group’s sound.

A notable departure from their debut album I, released via hellosQuare in 2013, cellist Peter Hollo states that “the two albums are almost diametrically opposed in terms of our creative workflow. I is a document of the first performance by the five of us – before Tangents existed as a group at all. Fortunately we had the prescience to record the lot, and we spent a number of sessions editing those into the album itself. Stateless, by contrast, was not performed as a quintet at all. Ollie [Bown] took improvisations by group members in solo and duo configurations, and began sequencing tracks out of these.”

The music is created by the four performing members, but largely composed from this material by Bown. Initial foundations were created, Hollo said, then additional performances were recorded on top, bringing structural clarity and helping guide each piece to its finished form.

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There is a concerted focus on space in the music, a key factor to the album’s success. Individual members’ contributions are allowed to breathe, each finding its place within the mix and not vying for the spotlight. Glitchy electronics combine with the drums to create a rhythmic backbone, the cello alternating between plucked bass lines and freewheeling bowed parts, while the piano washes over with crystalline clarity. This is certainly not music to be pigeon-holed, taking cues from jazz, post-rock, early ‘00s folktronica, drum ‘n’ bass, and so on.

The group have been playing shows in support of the album – namely a monthly residency at the Glebe Justice Centre – but due to the nature of the writing and recording process on Stateless, they were faced with the difficult task when adapting the music for a live setting. Hollo admits “It’s always a conundrum for improvised groups. What to do when you’ve recorded and released albums of material that has been shaped into consumable and recognisable tracks? We made the decision after this album came together to try to learn at least a few of these pieces… we have adapted them into something partially composed, partially improvised, with a structure that is sometimes only loosely followed. If the audience knows the album, they will at least hear familiar material appearing at times”.

Receiving favourable reviews and backed by some high-profile remixes from Four Tet, Rabit, and Bundy K. Brown (Bastro, Tortoise), Stateless is an exceptional album from a world class outfit. Be sure to grab a copy, and keep an eye out for further launch shows around the country and abroad.

Stateless by Tangents

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Lucy Roleff

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

There is a timeless quality to the music of Lucy Roleff. Relishing the time-honoured tropes of contemporary folk music, Lucy’s music wouldn’t sound out of place if it had been released at any time over the past 60 years.

Her delicate melodies sit atop elegantly restrained accompaniment, allowing the songs to carve their own path, like water gradually eroding jagged rock into polished smooth surfaces.

Following her acclaimed 2013 EP, Longbows, Lucy’s debut full-length, This Paradise, is set for release on July 15th via Lost and Lonesome. Recorded with Tony Dupé at his home studio in South Gippsland, the album is a gorgeous, intimate affair, a record of understated beauty with universal appeal.

 

Considering the aforementioned timelessness of Lucy’s music it seems fitting that the theme for her Virtual Mixtape is ‘Five favourite female voices from the past five decades’, giving us some insight into the varied influences both past and present.

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Sally Oldfield – ‘Answering You’ (1979)

I’m a sucker for a 1970s folk compilation and so I had heard a couple of Sally Oldfield’s songs here and there but hadn’t thought to look further into her work. At work, my boss had one of her albums on a playlist and I was immediately drawn to her beautiful and interesting melodies. Sometimes I feel like her songs are about to topple into the terrain of Schlager music (which I have a wary relationship with from childhood) but for the most part, I think her song writing is brilliant and her singing so pure.

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Saâda Bonaire – ‘Invitation’ (1984)

Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld are the voices of Saâda Bonaire but the story behind the duo is kind of complicated as apparently the act was the brainchild of some German DJ guy, despite them being sold more as a duo. Anyway, I think this song is so sexy and icy cool. Kind of like Nico with a bit more pizzazz.

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Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) – ‘I Wear Your Ring’ (1990)

A few ladies have been compared to Elizabeth Fraser over the past few years (actually I think I even got the comparison for my stuff with Magic Hands) but I don’t think anyone can touch her. She manages to pull off unusual and striking melodies without sounding like she was trying to be clever. Effortless and elegant. When I first heard this song, I played it on repeat over and over and wanted to find a way to cover it but wasn’t sure how to best go about it – I think, with much of her work, the magic is in the interplay of the vocals.

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Oumou Sangare – ‘Wele Wele Wintou’ (2009)

I just love this music video. There’s so much going on. Oumou Sangare is a very inspiring Malian musician – An accomplished singer, she is also apparently something of an entrepreneur and advocate for women’s rights. The political issues in Mali have come to prominent attention in the west with documentaries such as “They Will Have to Kill Us First” which I highly recommend to everyone. The fighting power and spirit of these musicians who have been threatened and exiled from their homes is incredible to witness.

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Allysen Callery – ‘It’s Not the Ocean’ (2016)

I have followed Allysen’s career for some time now and was very excited to hear her new album “The Song the Songbird Sings.” It certainly did not disappoint. The first song on the album “It’s Not the Ocean” is probably my favourite of her songs. She has a great knack for describing small, domestic moments and I love the line in this song “we’re out of sugar, I’m not shopping anymore.” Beautiful music and to top it all off, she’s a lovely person!

This Paradise is due out on July 15th via Lost and Lonesome. Lucy launches the album on 28 July at the Gasometer in Melbourne.

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LABEL PROFILE: Spirit Level

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New Australian label Spirit Level is the brainchild of electronic producer/Double J radio presenter Tim Shiel, and Wally de Backer of Gotye fame. Originally formed to provide a local Australian release for U.S. outfit Zammuto, who had supported Gotye on some of their U.S. tour dates, the label was then shelved for a period whilst Tim and Wally were busy with other projects.

Fast forward to 2016 and the duo have resurrected the label to provide a platform for unique, compelling artists to be heard. When asked about the decision to revive the label Shiel states that “Part of the impetus for re-launching the label was having this realisation that I am surrounded in my day-to-day life by some pretty amazing creative people, and that we all have the will and the desire to collaborate and support each other – but sometimes you need someone to sort of plant a flag and say, ‘hey – this is a thing now. We’re a family now.'”

In addition to releasing music the label is committed to helping the development of their artists, assisting with any and all facets of the industry from song writing, mixing, artwork, promotion, contracts, booking shows etc. In Shiel’s words “I think we’ll just do whatever we need to do to help out…That’s the job of a label now I think, it goes way beyond just releasing music.” Throughout his own music career Shiel says he’s “really had to learn all of that stuff, piece it all together bit by bit on my own. Now hopefully I’m in a place where I can give some of that back, and through the label just do whatever is required to fill in the gaps. Even if it’s just being a bit of a cheerleader”.

The label’s first official signing is Melbourne artist Jordan White, aka Braille Face. Stumbling across his music on SoundCloud Shiel reached out to White and the two quickly became friends. This eventually led to the release of Braille Face’s debut single ‘Glow; an emotionally resonant slice of electronica not too dissimilar to fellow Melbournites I’lls. Simon Lam, the vocalist from I’lls, coincidentally mastered the follow-up single, ‘Backwards/Medicated’. Offering up a similar mood to ‘Glow’, this latest single builds from a wavering synth line atop a propulsive percussive loop, gradually unfolding and momentarily allowing White’s vocals to soar in beautifully restrained flashes, giving us a glimpse of what the Braille Face project still has up its sleeve.

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What’s next in store for Spirit Level? Firstly, the debut album from Braille Face, due for release later this year, then we can expect new music from the label’s latest signing, Melbourne duo Telling, one of Shiel’s own projects along with singer-songwriter Ben Abraham. And as for the future direction of the label, Shiel notes “We’ll go wherever feels right….I don’t particularly care what kind of music it is as long as I think it’s really great and creative, and that it moves me. And that I can imagine it moving other people.”

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: CORIN

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

CORIN is the solo project of electronic producer Corin Ileto. A classically-trained pianist, Ileto weaves complex keyboard melodies atop glistening, rhythmic soundscapes to create her own lush brand of electronica.

Ileto’s debut LP, Wave Systems, released via Danish label Speaker Footage late last year, explored aquatic themes with submerged motifs and cascading synth washes perfectly capturing the majesty of an underwater world.

Since the release of Wave Systems, Ileto has been busy on a number of projects including a collaborative album with Melbourne artist Ju Ca, remixing composer Christina Vantzou, scoring dance works by Chloe Chignell, and recently joining Rainbow Chan’s live band alongside Moon Holiday.

For the latest instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series, Corin has provided a selection of music from some of her favourite Japanese producers.

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RYUICHI SAKAMOTO – ‘Riot in Lagos’

I am a long-time fan of Ryuichi Sakamoto and his multitude of collaborations, including his work in pioneering synth trio Yellow Magic Orchestra and piano collaborations with glitch producer Alva Noto in more recent years. The track I have chosen, ‘Riot in Lagos’, is from his album B-2 Unit released in 1980. I like the math-rock vibe and the mix of industrial drums with bleepy arpeggiated synth lines on this track. This track in particular has been cited as a key influence behind the electro sound of early New York hip hop groups such as Afrika Bambaataa.

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DJ WWWW – ‘Network’

DJWWWW is a producer that I found whilst sifting through the depths of SoundCloud. He is one of those mysterious producers that changes his alias every few weeks – his usernames have included “Lil Sega”,  “☆. exileVEVO”  and “pure trance”. He is also known for a label he runs called Wasabi Tapes which released a nice compilation Utsukushii earlier this year that I took part in.

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LISTEN: 0point1 – micro-flora

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Mysterious Melbourne-based artist 0point1, aka Bob Streckfuss, returns with his latest collection, micro-flora. Following on from his beguiling 2014 debut, Clean Dirt, and the self-released follow-up EP, Embryo from a Collapsing Star, the music of 0point1 is startlingly original, melding digitally manipulated found sounds and instruments with intricate, skittering rhythms and ethereal vocals. The result is a unique marriage of the drama and cinematic grandeur of post rock with the erratic energy of IDM.

The cut-up field recordings and acoustic instruments which make up these rich sonic landscapes create an organic form of electronic music – a delicate tapestry that draws out similarities between the seemingly disparate complexity of animal architecture and computer software.

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LISTEN: Kane Ikin – Modern Pressure

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Kane Ikin

Melbourne-based producer Kane Ikin has been crafting his brand of brooding, slow burn electronica for a number of years. After a run of solid releases for the likes of 12K and This Thing, he finds a suitable home for his latest album on experimental UK label Type Recordings.

His new album, Modern Pressure, follows on from EPs Warehouses and Circular Tip, both of which saw Ikin’s sound emerge from the delightfully swampy murk of his earlier work, juxtaposing crisp sonic details with his hazy signature style.

As the title suggests, the album was created during a difficult period for Ikin. Pressures both financial and otherwise inspired a condensed period of creativity, with majority of the album written in quick succession. These struggles permeate the sound of the album, an unsettling twinge of anxiety underpinning each track.

Like Warehouses, Modern Pressure sounds like music for large concrete spaces, the cold sheen and ghostly echoes evoking stark industrial areas where programmed machinery replicates object after object with flawless precision. From the techno pulse of opener ‘Partial’ and ‘Tap Tap Collapse’ to the lumbering stumble of ‘Pulp’, the rhythmic elements play a more prominent role on the album, propelling the buried melodies along as if caught in their slipstream.

Modern Pressure is another impressive entry in Kane Ikin’s stellar catalogue, his sound growing and evolving in all the right ways.

Watch the stunning clip for ‘Tap Tap Collapse’ below and be sure to grab a copy of Modern Pressure pronto.

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Dro Carey

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Eugene Ward has been carving a path on the electronic music scene for a number of years now. Best known under his Dro Carey alias, Ward’s music has seen him explore grime, UK garage and other forms of bass music, clocking up releases on a slew of international labels including Trilogy Tapes, RAMP Recordings and Greco-Roman.

A restlessly prolific producer, Ward also releases music under a number of other guises: the rugged techno/house-leaning Tuff Sherm, the avant-club experiments of PMM and more recently, under his given name, the Paint En Pointe album, a selection of compositions written in collaboration with choreographer Patric Kuo for a series of performances in late 2014.

On his latest single, ‘Grow Lithe’, Ward melds bubbling acid-synth and rolling garage rhythms with his typically crisp production style. The single is taken from a forthcoming EP for Australian imprint Soothsayer, expected later this year.

 

For the sixth instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series, Eugene has chosen a selection of his favourite German experimental, Neue Deutsche Welle & synth-pop 7”s.

 

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Eugene Ward:

“For my virtual mixtape I knew that I wanted to delve into something forged in those dark and wide-reaching years of teenage taste. I got into dance music somewhat late in the scheme of things, probably only when I was 16. Before that, coming out of a jazz piano background I was generally drawn to improvised, avant-garde and heavy music. Really whatever could shock me – the kind of Internet-aided audio thrill-seeking that is endemic to reclusive or introverted teenagers. So there were a lot of options as far as the areas spanning ‘pre-Dro’ music taste. The reason I chose this somewhat loose category of Neue Deutsche Welle, synth-pop and German experimental seven inches is that it remains particularly relevant and inspiring to what I do now. Hopefully as we go through the tracks you will see that this was a legendary and fertile era for sound design and electronic music arrangement, one that goes far beyond the obvious linear relationship with European techno.”

Endphase – ‘Reise In Den Tod’ from 2 Hemden & 2 Hosen Vol. 1 (2003)

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The interesting thing about this loose classification of seven-inch ‘synth-pop’ music is that since its inception in the late 70s/early 80s it has never really gone away. As such this track is taken from an earnest, dedicated early 2000s pastiche of the form. 2 Hemden & 2 Hosen was a long-running series of compilation seven-inch releases put out by the Kernkrach label, including some tracks that are so stylistically on point that you wonder if they’re actually archival rather than contemporary takes. Not the case here, however, where ‘Reise In Den Tod’ features some decidedly modern and sophisticated oscillations and filters. Yet these synth lines are backed with a genuine motorik chug and ultimately it hits the mark as far as the emotional vibe of this music – part saccharine, part gothic.

Im Namen Des Volkes – ‘Reaktorkern’ from Weisses Rauschen EP (2006)

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Im Namen Des Volkes was an alias for Matthias Schuster, whose work typically resides at the more industrial end of this music. Veteran engineer Christa Brüggemann remastered this EP, drawing on unreleased material that was originally recorded 1979-1981. Brüggemann lends this archival release some amazing heft and crispness, which allows us to appreciate the arrangements and sound design. This release brings me to one of the core reasons for my love of this music: were these not the best snare sounds going in the 1980s?  Substitute them into Yeezus or a TM88 production today and I wouldn’t blink. Drums miles ahead of their time.

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