Image by Frank Casillo
From abstract hyperpop sound collages to an unexpected dance pop take from one of techno’s icons, these are the releases that caught our attention this week. In no particular order:
Glass- Spot Explorer
Little may be known about French experimental duo Glass, but there is no denying that the Caen artists are incredibly skilled contemporary sound designers. Their obscure compositions somehow key into the mood of the zeitgeist, pulling references from all the right places to synthesise maniacal sonic collages. Last year’s crY EP birthed the excellent Appointment Scheduling System, a syncopated sound artwork that twisted garage into sounding like the intersection between SOPHIE and 16bit. As an exploration into the violence and fragmentation of contemporary socio-political identity, Anxiety Prime looks to execute its lofty theorisations by way of ultra processed and manipulated sonic fragments, inspired by the sounds of underground club music. The first track released from the album is a menacing slice of ultra-futurism which finds itself drawing from hyperpop and rave motifs to create a soundtrack engineered for an extraterrestrial dominatrix. Built around a simple chord progression, multi-layered and monstrous alien synths slither beneath the pads before a clanging industrial beat arrives. Snarling, distorted effects round off the carnivorous energy of Spot Explorer, making for an ominous and strangely lascivious experience. Anxiety Prime is released via Comic Sans. Pre-order it here.
Tim Hecker – Lead Sister (Tim Hecker Remix)
Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu have been consistently and brilliantly breathing new life into their lauded collaborative album Renegade Breakdown with an extensive series of remixes which has the seen likes of Jessy Lanza and Young Marco take on tracks from the album. The latest in this series is from renowned Canadian ambient electronic musician, Tim Hecker. Lead Sister is arguably a safe choice given that this is the most Hecker-esque offering on Renegade Breakdown. Truthfully, this doesn’t really leave Hecker anywhere new to go musically, so he chooses to shape his reworking around Davidson’s vocals. He processes and manipulates her lilting French lullaby into an eerie robotic aria, adding a sharp futurist touch to Lead Sister’s atmosphere. Hecker also does away with the original’s synth laser show final act, instead allowing a computerised Davidson to slowly dissipate into washes of ambient drone sounds accented by the occasional twang of a plucked synthetic guitar string. Where other remixes in the ongoing series gave room for the remixers to de and reconstruct the pieces of Renegade Breakdown, Hecker does his best with what Lead Sister gives him without betraying his creative integrity. While the original seethed with a sort of mechanical tension, Hecker releases the pressure to give Lead Sister a more disparate, barren energy that feels poignantly dystopian. The remix is released via Ninja Tune and is available here.
Nina Kraviz- Skyscrapers
Skyscrapers, the new single from Russian techno superstar Nina Kraviz, is a total departure from her usual style. This should be the first clue towards the weight that the track carries for Kraviz. According to her, the song was written while travelling and thinking about “…missing someone very much even if you don’t always get along and agree on things.” Standing in sharp contrast to the rest of her discography, Skyscrapers is a full on pop track which sees Kraviz flexing her vocal prowess as she sings about how she “can’t stand the pressure” against a softly thudding house beat. Scattering synths and claps add twinkling highlights, but really it’s Kraviz’s alarmingly sharp pop writing that holds up what she is building. Kraviz lands on one of those so-simple-it’s-brilliant hooks, recalling the best of Robyn’s cry on the dance floor catalogue. Kraviz has been reaching towards something more melodic for a while, with her stranno stranno. Neobjatno EP incorporating more progressive and fluid flourishes to her usually staccato and austere techno, yet Skyscrapers feels like an alarmingly unexpected leap. On its ground floor, Skyscrapers risks feeling somewhat trite, but it’s the earnest emotion with which Kraviz shares her words with us that keeps the track shooting upwards towards dance pop heaven. Download it here.
Debt Stalker – Endurance Test
Endurance Test, the debut EP from North Carolina’s Debt Stalker is being described by the artist as “a queer industrial exorcism.” Breaking this down, and given North Carolina’s turbulent history with queer politics, we can understand Endurance Test as an EP informed by the experience of growing up different and othered, and finding power in that otherness. What follows is indeed an exorcism of sorts, at least sonically. The music here is fierce and loud, unabashed noise art designed to disrupt and disturb. Obnoxious latin rhythms are embellished with cyber-rave synths and chopped, glitching vocal samples to score Debt Stalker’s mission for gay vengeance. Doldrums features interesting Bollywood flavoured touches which continue with the addition of a shehnai phrase on closing track Prance, easily the collection’s standout with its rapid fire glitches and hulking, crunched out beat. Endurance Test is a pressurised and brash debut that sets the stage for what we hope will be a continuation of this sort of audacious queer melodrama from Debt Stalker. The EP is released via Hiedrah, and is available here.