In case you didn’t know, Record Store Day is tomorrow. This is the one day of the year that you are pretty much required to get to your local record store and purchase some music, or to head over to a label’s site and grab some tunes. It’s a day that celebrates music, sure, but it’s also – to me at least – about supporting the independent stores and labels that are releasing music by artists that aren’t getting tons of exposure.
I’m going to help you to do your part tomorrow by presenting to you a few of the albums that Medical Records is going to be releasing tomorrow. The first one up is “Vintage Robotnick,” the early and mainly unreleased work of Maurizio Dami. Listen to the sample video below to hear cuts from each of the tracks. Sleazy synths, electro-beats and sometimes bouncy rhythms permeate. Most of the LP is comprised of tracks recorded from 1982-1984 which have only been released on CD in 2003 on the “Rare Robotnicks” compilation. Check out this celebration of early 1980’s disco synth pop from Italy.
Next up is a collection of ultra-rare 12″ singles – “Electroconvulsive Therapy vol. 2 – Fuzz Dance.” Made up of 12″ singles originally on the legendary Fuzz Dance label, super rare disco, synthwave, Italo crossover, released on striped italian flag vinyl. As you can hear from the sampler below the same krautrock-cum-disco sensibilities as the Robotnick above are present throughout this compilation. This one is packed with a lot more in the way of pop-hooks. They certainly aren’t formed from the same mold as American synth-disco of the same era. Despite any similarities, these Italian artists, to my ear at least, are maintaining a sense of authenticity in their sound. Sure, the studio production is a bit dry, but it still manages to come off as inviting rather than cold. Vintage synths abound. Check out the sampler below.
So there you have it. Keep an eye out for these gems when you are out and about on your record store day shopping spree. If you can’t find them, then of course you should head over to the Medical Records site to pick up some of their other great offerings. Might I suggest Roladex, perhaps?
It’s rough out there, trying to find an audience and undoubtedly getting lost in the shuffle with the approximately 10,000 other bands that release music at a steady pace every day. The internet is jammed full of mediocrity parading as proficiency via PR savvy, and giant bands that manage to focus all eyes on them whenever they so much as hint at the possibility that they are going to be doing something in the future (ie Arcade Fire’s incredibly redundant advertising campaign for their latest overhyped album).
So sometimes things that are really worthwhile are released quietly, buried under the aforementioned pile of mediocrity and lost. Thankfully some of those releases get an extra push after a while, allowing them a chance to resurface, gaining back some of the attention that they deserve.
FIM’s “Alien Beach Party” is one such release. The 12″ EP initially came out back in early June of 2013, but is available now for purchase on limited editioin vinyl (yes, it’s still available), or download (name your own price).
Even though everything that I’ve read about the band makes use of the “psychedelic” designation, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with such labeling. To me, as far as the lead track “Fast Cars” goes, there is definitely more of a pronounced new wave/dancey vibe to it. Dark synths that sound more like old Casios than analog synths, drum machine, and off-kilter vocals really make that track sound like something straight out of the early 80s.
When the bass picks up on “Shit God Dam,” throwing down some aggressive, minimalist proto-punk bass in combination with the drum machine now taking a turn toward Big Black territory we can hear the band moving away from that new wave sound a bit. Maybe it’s a little less catchy than “Fast Cars,” but it features a bit heavier on the harmonic and melodic dissonance, which is a good thing.
The remainder of the EP features similar branching out, from the bedroom production of “Believe,” that may be trippy, but “psychedelic” still does not come to mind. And closing the album, the “Flaming Lips” ala “Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon”-esque 6 minute synth jam just takes everything in a whole wonderful new , and somewhat unsuspected direction.
So, they have already proven themselves worthy by rising up through all the noise of the oversaturation running rampant in indie-music today. The good news is that you don’t have to wait, or pre-order the EP, it’s out now. Check it out in full above and then head to the bandcamp page.
FIM has a show coming up at the end of the month, if you are in or around their hometown area of L.A. then get down to The Satellite on February 24th to check them out. Many links below:
Exotic Club’s dark dance music is an intoxicating mix of seemingly mismatched elements. “Alienation,” clearly visible against a dark night-time sky as backdrop. The album art is a perfect description the music contained within.
Well, it’s dance music for sure, while at the same time the effect of disassociation can not be overlooked. Exotic club uses the clean drum machine sounds and buzzing synths of a dance club, adding dark sounding, low and cavernously echoing vocals. When combined with the dancier elements the vocals seem to eschew the very aesthetic against which they are placed. The poppy, upbeat dance beats are not just countered, but downright denied. This is, as the title of the album states, no dance album. It’s dance music that is brooding and dark rather than the light, vapid instrumentals of the music that typifies a dance club. It’s dance music that’s run through an Interpol “Turn on the Bright Lights” filter.
I know that as I started to dig into this tape I found myself overcome with a sense of, maybe not anxiety, but more of a cautious and contemplative paranoia. Exotic Club has really found a direct line to some strange emotive places seldom explored. The desperately pleading vocals that come out of this dark texture, with lyrics such as “it’s Friday night, it’s Friday night, on the dance floor,” on “Lost in Music” that seem on the surface, reading them right there, like they are inviting and celebratory, but the delivery thwarts that interpretation in its droned repetition. The surface of the music, the danceable beats, drum machine hand claps, and buzzing synths paint a picture of a carefree night, while the lyrics and their delivery seem to simultaneously mock it. Ok, mock is a strong word, but listening to the track I think that the lyrics would be better translated as “it’s Friday night and you are supposed to be having a good time on the dance floor, so go have a good time because that is what it is that you are supposed to be doing.” Obviously, their lyric is better.
The robotic exactitude of the arrangement aids in the disassociation, by stripping away any human element, giving a deeper meaning to the coerced good time that the song is suggesting. Taking it out of the club is the track “American Zombies.” It uses the mechanical instrumental arrangement and dark atmosphere to comment on American consumer culture. “Runnin’ around in circles at the Walgreens, toothless smiles…,” listing off the automaton gestures that dominate the vast majority of American’s lives, and repeating each of these things line by line in a trancelike mantra, urging against deviation. Must consume. Must obey. “Forever, forever….forever….” as it is heard echoing into infinity at the conclusion of the track.
Melodies swirl and beats pulse, but don’t for one second take the music on Exotic Club’s “No Dance” as a given.
The tape, featuring a B-side full of remixes, is out now on Crash Symbols. Head over to their bandcamp to pick up a copy (only 100 made), or to download it if you aren’t into the whole physical media thing.
Go ahead: admit the first thing that popped into your head when you read the title. Yeah, that’s what I thought, sicko. Well that’s not how this reviewer read it at all. I read it as “My blank is Pink” because I am classy and sophisticated and a terrific liar.
Perhaps the provocative title, or non-provocative title as the case may be, serves as the point of entry for the album. Upon reading the title the listener is probably lead to expect something confrontational, something that challenges and pushes the envelope a bit. This album certainly does all of those things to a certain degree. An apt comparison in sound and approach can be drawn from Sleigh Bells to Colourmusic, though stating it that simply is selling Colourmusic quite short.
Sleigh Bells stormed onto the scene with a recognizable “meters in the red” and completely overblown, overdriven sound that, to me, tries a little too hard to get noticed and can be filed away as “gimmicky”. Colourmusic tones it down a bit while still maintaining a powerful and edgy sound that is more organic, yet still charged up. It comes off sounding a lot more realistic and believable. The band doesn’t have an overbearing synthetic sound. Live drums pound behind shredding, layered buzzsaw guitars.
Those guitars are more likely to churn out riffs that sound like they were ripped straight out of the Black Sabbath playbook, while the vocals tend to sound a bit more ethereal and akin to Animal Collective. Take for example the vocals in the chorus of “We Shall Wish (Use Your Adult Voice)”. There are moments there that conjure the same sound-world from which Animal Collective operates with lush multi-layering and plenty of breathy reverb. Colourmusic’s songs go beyond exploring one particular sound. The songs have instrumental appeal in addition to those explorations, meaning that they sound like a band playing instruments, rather than creating music that relies heavily upon the manipulation of other sounds. Instead, Colourmusic seems to be interested in having the listener focus on the layers of sound that one instrument or even one note can produce.
The opening of “You For Leaving” states simply the staccato attack of one chord on a piano that is sustained, allowing the listener to hear all of the overtones intermingling and growing into a mass of sound right before the song opens up to a full chorus and pipe organ. It’s an approach that is akin to the work of spectral analysts that compose music where every idea for a composition is literally derived from information that is found in one small fragment of a sound. Colourmusic is adept at extrapolating ideas from sounds but their scientific attention to detail doesn’t diminish their ability to write a dancey, fun song like “Dolphins & Unicorns”.
That song, like “The Little Death (In Five Parts)”, moves between opposing textures starting with a danceable rhythm and moving to more ambient territory. The beginning of “The Little Death (In Five Parts)” though is more like a false start that anticipates a pummeling, raunchy guitar line that is thick and densely distorted, covering plenty of rhythmic ground before the vocals actually begin in a cloud of arrhythmic echoes. The track continues to spend 6 minutes tearing through material that moves from driving guitar work, into a slow dirge of fuzzed out metal before decaying into spacious minimalist territory.
Serving as a counter to all the abrasive guitars are the passionate vocals that appear on tracks like “Feels Good to Wear” and “We Shall Wish” where a sense of longing and pain can be gleaned. The usual ambient effects of the voice in the latter track are placed on the instruments temporarily which is a welcome flipping of the texture. The instrumental breaks cast that song into an arena rock light where the track just opens up , pushing and pulling against the wall of sound that is barely contained by the band.
The band is agile enough to handle jumping between styles and textures even within the same song. They can move from loud and powerful to quiet, spacious and delicate and make it make sense. The construction of their songs is tight enough and logicalto the point where these changes don’t seem jarring.
Rounding out the end of the album is the track “Whitby Harbour”, which is simply the sound of waves lapping up on the shore. Perhaps this serves as a point of respite from a fairly intense album, or perhaps this is moving more in the direction of finding the music within sounds. A bit of spectral analysis of nature.
This album, “My ____ is Pink”, is nearly unclassifiable. It sounds loud and psychedelic in spots, but direct and danceable in most others. Somewhere between electronic and rock with songs that have intricately crafted dynamic shapes and tight, well thought out structures.