Tag Archives: Electronic

Glasgow’s Poisonous Relationship is an Unlikely Dance Music Genius

Jamie Crewe

Photos by Matthew Arthur Williams

Redefining the perceptions of house music is just one of the many goals of the genre-bending new Poisonous Relationship record, A FAGGOT IN A TEMPEST. Poisonous Relationship is just one identity of Jamie Crewe, a Glasgow-based musician, artist and filmmaker who explores themes of gender, sexuality, mental health, and politics through surprisingly personal and poetic dance music. Tracks like the first single “Give Me My Heaven!” express the joyous nature of house music, with familiar piano stabs, hi-hats, and soulful, feminine vocals, while also giving way to something sparser and almost desolate in its minimalism. The album begs for multiple listens, each plaintive note bringing the songs just short of an emotional resolution that never fully arrives.

While deconstructing the essence of “dance,” track by track and sound by sound, Crewe seeks to build their own sanctuary, invite their friends, and create a space where the music they always wanted to hear plays forever, like the endless nights in the big cities they didn’t grow up in. When we spoke to Crewe, it was after a long year of unrest and turmoil for the queer community worldwide, and our conversation veered from the personal, to the political, and back again—much like the music of Poisonous Relationship itself.

Continue reading

On “Jardín,” Gabriel Garzón-Montano Puts Himself Front and Center

gabriel-garzan-montano-by-joe-hollier-600

Gabriel Garzón-Montano by Joe Hollier

It’s hard to tell where Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s studio ends and his bedroom begins. There’s a fully-assembled drum set nestled in the bottom of the singer/producer/instrumentalist’s closet. An array of synthesizers, keyboards, and speakers occupy most all of his desk space. And, behind the door, looming over the room, are a stack of black crates filled with exotic percussive instruments—from the tiny Brazilian tambourine that graced “Keep on Running” to the Tibetan bells that open “Fruitflies,” a track from his upcoming LP Jardín. In an age of sample-pack and VST-based musicians, the presence of so many tangible analog instruments is refreshing. Of course, there’s a laptop too; it sits atop a vintage Oberheim synth on his desk. But, it’s clear that when Garzón-Montano says he plays everything in most of his songs, he really plays everything.

The walls of Garzón-Montano’s bedroom studio are adorned with a similar blend of music and personal mementos. Most notably, amid the concert flyers, vinyl LPs, and pictures of his idols (including an ornately-framed pencil drawing of Lil Wayne), are portraits of his parents. His French mother’s knowledge of classical harmony and Colombian father’s love of cumbia rhythms pulse through his music. In the end, Jardín’s 10 tracks of genre-bending soul play much like his room looks—the work of a man with as many talents as sources of inspiration.

Ironically, working from home is difficult for Garzón-Montano. “It’s something I’ve resented.” he says as we discuss the years he’s spent writing Jardín in his room, “I’ve loved going to studios or leaving my place to work.” It’s hard to imagine he’ll be spending much time at home in the upcoming months. Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Gabriel’s first EP, sent him on a world tour opening for Lenny Kravitz, then to California to sign with Stones Throw Records. Jardín is set to propel him even further. The question is no longer how far, but how high?

In the days before his debut LP’s release, we talked with Garzon-Montano about how Jardín came together, and his efforts to grow as a performer.

Continue reading

Ray Volpe’s Emotional Dubstep

Ray Volpe

At a Guitar Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ray Volpe is scoping out equipment that he wants (a mini keyboard) and the items he’d rather skip (speakers with insufficient bass). Traditionally, Guitar Center is a prime location to witness wannabe guitar heroes flex their control over 16th notes. But the dubstep producer skips past the stringed instruments; he’s listening for the electronic crunches made by kids using the store’s equipment to stretch their production muscles. Volpe is only 19, but is already seven years deep as a producer—years beyond messing with a Guitar Center demo kiosk. Eventually, he makes his way over to a trio of younger teens he finds working on a demo, their beats far more rap-influenced than the emotional dubstep that is Volpe’s specialty. He plays them some of his own music and strikes up a conversation, trying to assess how serious these kids are about production. As it turns out, they’re serious enough to agree to exchange some beats with him.

Earlier in the day, Volpe explained what brought him to producing. “I used to edit Call of Duty montages,” he says. “Which is really lame, thinking back—but that was my shit.” It was through those YouTube gameplay compilations that Volpe discovered the music of dubstep producers like Big Chocolate, Dirtyphonics, and Skrillex. Eventually, the soundtracks began to speak to him more than the game.

Continue reading

Album of the Day: Gidge, “LNLNN”

Jonatan Nilsson and Ludvig Stolterman grew up together in the small city of Umeå in the northern part of Sweden, an area that endures lengthy, freezing winters. As Gidge, their field of expertise is electronica—specifically, the liminal space between ambient music and techno. Such music used to be umbilically linked to visions of futurism or modernity but, as with like-minded producers such as Christian Löffler or Ólafur Arnalds’ Kiasmos project, Gidge pursue something more in line with their immediate environment: a wintery, organic electronica that recalls the frosted forests they call home.

LNLNN collects seven tracks, all new—sort of. The starting point for the LP was Lulin, an album and film project made in conjunction with the production company Lamprey that explored the strange ambience of a cabin in which Stolterman was living, perched right on the edge of the wilderness. The result was desolate and atmospheric, but when they performed it live, Nilsson and Stolterman filled it out with new beats and textures, and soon it grew into a record in its own right.

The result captures the eeriness and desolation of Lulin, while adding a rhythmic quality that transforms and amplifies the material. “Eyes Open” and “White Curtains” wind mournful keys around beats sampled from struck wood and metal the pair scavenged from their wild surroundings. “Lit,” with its garage-y drums and haunted vocal, sounds like Burial transported to the edge of the Arctic Circle. But the album’s standout is “Midra,” where an unwavering, pulse-like rhythm winds through gusts of distortion and billowing, Enya-like vocals. It feels like a long walk through an icy wilderness, wrapped up warm in defiance of the elements.

Louis Pattison

Hprizm’s Introspective Funk “Projections”

Hprizm. Photo by Blacren.

Hprizm. Photo by Blacren.

The soft-spoken Hprizm, a.k.a. High Priest, has been making eclectic, forward-thinking hip-hop since the early ’90s. From the sprawling experimental tableau of his first trio, Anti-Pop Consortium, to the irradiated bleep-bloop squall of Anti-Pop’s offshoot duo Airborn Audio, to his irreverent solo album Born Identity, Hprizm’s music has always sought solutions for the supposed three-body problem at the intersection of hip-hop, pop and electronic music. How can you fit your ever-expanding influences into a living musical framework without sounding like you’re unfocused?

With his Projections series, Hprizm has found that techno-soul balance. Collections of short, seismic bursts of introspective funk that would make his forebears Sun Ra or The Electrifying Mojo proud, Projections Volumes 1 and 2 are both proudly cerebral and rapturously intimate. And although Projections eschews the bombastic rhymes of his previous projects for a more haunting, edgy approach rooted in Afrofuturism, the work manages to be thoroughly grounded. We talked with Hprizm about the dual nature of his current audio dreamscapes.  Continue reading