Tag Archives: Electronic

Album of the Day: Curved Light, “Channelview”

Much like the early work of Oneohtrix Point Never, Peter Tran’s Curved Light productions slide from peaceful passages to lawless synth lines without warning. The songs are able to lull the listener into a light sleep cycle one second and jostle them awake with jagged noise the next. In the case of Channelview—Curved Light’s first effort for the rising Austin label Holodeck Records—not much time passes between the soothing melodies of “Resincast” and the nightmarish, glassy notes of “Immutable.” The latter could easily score the downward spiral of the lead character in a Dario Argento film; quite fitting, considering the prominent role visuals play in Tran’s shows alongside partner Deirdre Smith.

Left to his own (analog) devices here, Tran treats Channelview as a blank canvas for psychedelic sound art paintings and manic New Age music. Over the course of eight fluid compositions and a little more than 30 lucid minutes, it seems to imagine what might have happened if Jon Hassell and Brian Eno had been tasked with scoring Videodrome, the 1983 David Cronenberg sci-fi film. As the album’s final track (“Super Rare”) ventures into the red side of the spectrum, the song suddenly stops, creating a mood that’s equal parts anxiety and relief. Fitting, since both exist side-by-side throughout Channelview. 

—Andrew Parks

Coldcut’s Matt Black Talks Ninja Tune History & Collaborating with Adrian Sherwood

Coldcut

Photo by Hayley Louisa Brown.

Because both Coldcut and Adrian Sherwood are native Londoners with a cosmopolitan taste for dance beats and crazy sonics, it’s surprising that they haven’t collaborated until now. Sherwood’s plethora of credits, in particular the reggae/dub-rooted but gleefully far-afield music of his label On-U Sound was always a perfect match for Coldcut, the duo of Matt Black and Jonathan More. Those two got their start as renegade samplers, inspired by hip-hop cut-and-pasters like Double Dee and Steinski; they then began to curb their illegalities while still pursuing the most audacious sonic gimcrackery possible.

Far from habitual pirates, Coldcut instead became shrewd bankrollers of other artists’ far-flung sonic fantasias. In 1990, they formed Ninja Tune, the label that has seen every kind of hip-hop variation under the sun, and then some. It’s spun off sub-imprints like Ntone, Big Dada—and now, Ahead of Our Time, which is actually a revival of the duo’s pre-Ninja Tune imprint. Ahead of Our Time is the imprint for Coldcut x On-U Sound’s Outside the Echo Chamber, the flavorful fruit of the Sherwood collaborations.

We spoke with Coldcut’s Matt Black about his history in music.

[For more with Matt Black, tune into the December 6 edition of the Bandcamp Weekly]

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ÌFÉ’s Otura Mun Explores His Divine Destiny

Ife

Photo by Mariangel Gonzales.

DJ, producer, percussionist and composer Otura Mun was born Mark Underwood in Goshen, Indiana. A drummer fluent in R&B and jazz (and the youngest member of the renowned University of North Texas drumline in his freshman year), Otura Mun took his first life-changing trip to Puerto Rico almost 20 years ago. He now calls the island home, and it’s where he and his ensemble ÌFÉ create electronic music that channels the musical and spiritual worlds of the African diaspora throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

The ensemble and the music they make are also connected to Mun’s desire to study the Cuban rumba—which led to his initiation as a babalawo, or Yoruban high priest. The perspective now orients both his musical and his personal life.

As Otura Mun explains it, he chose the title IIII+IIII for ÌFÉ’s debut because it marks “the beginning of a new era, a change in the guard, a spiritual awakening,” a path an individual can take on their divine destiny.

To talk with Otura Mun is to become caught up in a heady whirlwind of ideas about music that’s constructed with layers upon layers of aligned signs and evoked meanings. We caught up with the San Juan-based Otura Mun via Skype to get a glimpse of the wondrous, spirit-filled world that informs his music.

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Seven Artists Shaping the Pittsburgh Electronic Scene

Slowdanger

Slowdanger by Alison Sacriponte.

Genre boundaries mean nothing to the members of the Pittsburgh electronic scene. On a Sunday night in the city, you can find a funk/house producer giving advice on mastering techniques to a live-coder, or a dark ambient artist showing up to support a dance duo’s show. This kind of mutual respect and encouragement is essential in a scene where it can be hard to find an audience. Most of the time, promoters, DJs, and musicians have to secure their own venues, build their own support systems, and create their own safe spaces in order to find the creative freedom they need. As head of Pittsburgh record label La Squadra, Dario Miceli says, “They do it because they love it. You don’t get all the hype you get in a bigger city. I think that’s why the quality [in Pittsburgh] is so high.”

Despite the logistical difficulties and relatively small size, Pittsburgh’s electronic scene has a bright future. VIA, a Pittsburgh art, music, and technology festival, and famed house-and-techno club Hot Mass have attracted attention outside of the city, and have both played important roles in transforming the scene. As VIA co-founder, Lauren Goshinski explains, “The electronic music scene here is still white-male dominated, but that is shifting, too. There are women, LGBTQIA, and people of color continually hustling to grow both old and new scenes, and keep them healthy. Pittsburgh artists have a heart to express and connect.”

Part of the reason Pittsburgh’s underground scene is growing has to do with the city’s makeup. Local universities attract young creatives who fall in love with the city and stay after graduation, while the unique Pittsburgh punk scene has laid a foundation for underground culture in the flourishing city. The proximity of dance-friendly cities like Detroit and Baltimore have helped bring noteworthy acts through the area, while also providing a relatively nearby place for Pittsburgh artists to perform.

While it’s close to impossible to capture the variety and creative wealth of the scene in a single list, consider this a starting-point in discovering the artists newly building their own creative universes in Pittsburgh, and contributing to the city’s vibrant, multi-dimensional, quickly-growing scene.

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The Experimental Electronic Netherworld of Basic House

Basic House

Whether making music as Basic House or running his label Opal Tapes, maverick producer Stephen Bishop has consistently charted his own path. A self-proclaimed fan of both dance music and pop, as well as the fringe stylings his own output favors, the U.K.-based Bishop has varied his approach over Basic House’s releases while retaining a semblance of techno and house music’s core foundation in traditional beats. Not so his latest full-length, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me, on which Bishop abandons rhythm almost entirely, in favor of creepy ambient spaces.

Fittingly enough, the album derives its title from artist Trevor Paglen’s 2007 book of the same name, a photo collection of patches from top-secret military “black ops.” But as bone-chilling as the new material gets, Bishop also sees the album as a commentary on underground music scenes and their codes. In the early days of Opal Tapes, for example, Bishop initially balked at selling digital versions of the label’s catalog, preferring instead to dub every single cassette by hand. These days, of course, he subscribes to a more pragmatic approach that offers the best of both worlds.

Case in point: The second Basic House album on Luke Younger (aka Helm)’s A L T E R imprint, I Could Tell You, is also available via Opal Tapes in an expanded NOYFB! box-set edition that features a bonus album, Puke Your Horizon, assembled from a blend of live performances and field recordings.

Bishop spoke with us about the new album and its intersection of themes.

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