All sorts of words collide to describe this exploration into sound which sits so comfortably upon the Loot imprint. Amistad itself dives headlong into the sort of smouldering melancholy that befits these times as charged, throbbing beats and bass are tastefully complimented by gorgeously rich piano. Its simplicity is its sheer strength, no real words required – in this case. Followed by an uplift care of Ambar which again programmes engaging drums and keys to tell the story, contrasted by a tougher more vigorous Viktop remix. Next, Azahar fizzes with expectation as crunchy percussion excites the nervous system with probing notes sparking a further sense of beauty. Lucefora’s Into The Wild Remix then elevates the originals essence into something even more heavenly, via a breathless intensity.
Sitting on the right side of Bliss this undeniably hot production from Braxton plays with the sort of emotions which are only truly defined by the heat of summer rays. Chiaroscuro is timeless, almost flawless as it exudes sweet, funky rhythms amid soaring melodies, added too by the tempting intensity of soulfully charged vocals. Complimented by the unfolding combinations of keys alongside open-ended bass, pulsating stabs and percussion of Torn then proves to be another first-rate piece of music highlighting a life of its own as the strings hit, then voices breathe.
The first word that came to mind when listening to the opening number, Broom was coincidently, swoon. Funny as I’m not always a fan of falsetto but in this case, aided by the sumptuous instrumentation, it’s all too tempting not to love wholeheartedly. The album continues apace with more of that easy-swing informing the music as carefree melodies and atmospheres drift across the horizon of genuinely, soulfully rich songs. A blessing in days when such things don’t always ring true. However, there’s just something about this album. You can hear the echoes of their influences traversing throughout and yet there is also a compelling sense of hearts on sleeves amid the very personal nature of the music which cuts through time, as all worthwhile things should do. Try, Oh I Miss Her So below plus the aforementioned class of Broom to soak up exactly what I mean…
This is the second important album I’ve had the opportunity to encounter this week. Consequential because it is music such as this which delves deep into your psyche scanning memory, thoughts and experience. Flip Fantazia is a new joint venture between Douglas Horner & Tim Belcher and it feels like all the care and attention of detail has been fed into the making of this album. At this point I’m loathed to describe too much about The Trip, though the title may do that for me, apart from hinting at the worldly-wise array of styles competing for your attention from jazz to funk to more ambient flavours, plus an abundance of very fine drumming. I guess there are plenty of reminisces generated when listening to this as it very much feels live, while an ever expanding array of ideas informs an almost cinematic expanse. Try the gorgeous Protect & Serve with Ursula Rucker on vocal for a blast of sumptuous delight. Or the haunting beauty of the drum fuelled Hombre which opens the album. You may already recognise the voice.
When records are this hot… SHADED – Mad Stacks: all the clues you need are defined by those words. The music revolves around the twisted temptation of devilishly effected vocals, which really only serve one purpose. While the drums pulse with an electronic intensity (seldom seen) as the bass pumps and grinds in dangerous ways. Apart from that it’s all rather beautifully sleazy and sizzling Acid intention is never far from the surface either. Demuir’s Playboy Remix then sequences the sort of Disco you would definitely like to be at – no soft harmony, just slung low and heavy duty – with biting bass, banging beats and handclaps all getting wildly frisky.
We all love the swirl of elegance ingrained within deep-pads don’t we. The probing Mountains & Rivers which opens out this release via vibrant refrains poses questions while offering possibilities, unassuming yet powerfully poignant and emotionally rich, delivers an abundance of them. That plus a fiery array of drums and throbbing low-end bass. The title track follows suit with further exploration of matters deep as punchy drums accompany warm keys, next the stripped down Body Meridian compliments with strange out-there notation. Finally the self-explanatory Edge Of The Horizon seeks new visions with suggestive, fluttering melodies flying free to complete.
I’m sure by now you have fully tuned into the FUSE sound. If not then this latest from the label sees Enzo Siragusa & Michael James do weird things in exciting ways that never fall below par excellence. Three equally demanding pieces of music pick apart the seams with fiery drums, probing basslines and the occasional questioning of reality. Beginning with Abduction and its succession of brisk snares plus chiming, synthesized intensity striking at the heart of originality. Next, Fizical feels even more urgent, like it needs to be somewhere in a rush. Leaving the suggestive warmth of Harmonize to contrast with atmospheric keys amid the twisted auto-play of rhythms which FUSE do so, so well.
Rob Savage & Tim Walker form the nucleus of Slick Brutus and its obvious they’ve got lost somewhere in the heat of summertime. Monteray Slipstream captures perfectly formed funky flavour as the twang of Allan Penford’s slap-bass and the breezy shuffle of drums gather pace amid the instrumental melody of chiming refrains, plus a hot sting of delayed echoes. The sheer punch and cool reference points are hard to escape while igniting moments in time…
Welcome to Magazine Sixty. Let’s begin with that black and white image of you sat alone at your keyboards on a rooftop, which feels strangely poignant given today’s unnatural climate. Can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding the photograph?
Why thank you! So that is my loft building in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where I record most of my music. Its a really unique space where artists can bang on drum kits or build art installations or whatever they fancy. I moved all the gear up onto the roof for some album artwork to go with an upcoming release.
Are you experiencing lockdown in your part of the world? Does the current situation offer you space in terms of creative possibilities? And how do you think life will change at the other end of this crisis?
Living in NYC, we have felt this thing both early and heavily. At the start, some friends and I fortunately got up to the Catskills to record for about ten days, but for all of April I’ve been shacked up at my girlfriend’s apartment, mini studio and all. On one hand, it can get a little maddening sitting down and hammering away at music every day, but on the other, it’s definitely a unique privilege and opportunity to have zero interruption like this. I’ve even finished a new EP since the lockdown started. I think when this is over, hopefully, everyone will know themselves a little better. I know I’ve spent lots of time asking myself what I really want to do with my life, and I’m excited to get out there and do it once this crisis passes.
Tell us something about how you create music – does it start with a single sound, or melody, or being inspired by something you have read or seen?
I try to switch up my approach to stay invigorated and excited. Sometimes a song can start with a drum recording I have, and other times it can be a weird sound that accidentally happens while toying with a certain guitar pedal. I think the approach heavily influences the end result however, so as I have progressed, I have started to learn how to go in with a certain “goal” in mind, and start a song that way. For example, recently a lot of my music has felt very slow. So recorded a super fast drum beat at 165BPM, and wrote around that. Now at least I have one fast song!
Where did you learn to play guitar and piano? Who taught you?
Piano was my first instrument. I had this amazing teacher when I was like 6 years old who recognized that while I was a little too young and immature to learn sheet music, I had a knack for memorizing pitches and whatnot. So she would teach me songs by memory kind of like Simon Says, and while it was a little less traditional, she understood that keeping me engaged and excited was the most important thing. Once she moved away, my new teacher was so mean and I couldn’t do it. So my parents suggested that I took my dad’s old guitar and started taking lessons on that instead.
The proceeds from your excellent single for Repopulate Mars: Brace Yourself is going to Earth Justice and Rainforest Alliance. Can you tell about what those particular charities mean to you?
Honestly, our planet is in really rough shape. I could go into so many issues like coral bleaching or ocean acidification or melting permafrost or clearcutting forests for mono-cropping and factory farming; the list of pressing crises can really be devastating to think about. A few years ago I realized that instead of getting crushed by the weight of our situation, I should do what I know how to do (make music), in hopes of one day gaining a platform to do something about it. Specifically, I hope to one day help re-work how the music industry affects the environment, both with touring and sustainability in general. Having the opportunity to contribute to both Earth Justice and Rainforest Alliance represents a small first step in this direction. Both groups do such outstanding work and have been for decades, so naturally it made sense to give all proceeds to these great foundations.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
This is a TOUGH one. My favorite instrument is probably a Wurlitzer electromechanical piano. I was lucky enough to finally get one off of craigslist this past September. What makes this instrument so special is that there are physical wooden hammers that strike metal bars to create a warm, electronic pitch. So it’s the perfect marriage of a real piano feel with a gooey buzzing sound. This is the sound of many Ray Charles classics, as well as the iconic intro to “You’re my Best Friend” by Queen.
(randon question) California Dreamin’ or America’s Ventura Highway? Which and why do you prefer?
Love this question. I would have to say that California Dreamin’ was a more directly influential song to me as a producer because of what I learned while recording the cover of it. Specifically, I was studying the interplay of a male and female vocalist trading lines like that. But that said, the very Buffalo Springfield-esque vocal harmonies on Ventura Highway are one of my all time favorite flavors of classic rock music. Keep an ear out for lots of vocal stacks on my forthcoming music 🙂
Tell us about the other musician’s you perform with? And the experience of playing live to an audience?
I have been on the road with several “live” electronic acts such as Elderbrook, Big Wild, and STS9. These people are all heroes to me, because I was able to see how each act applied their own method to bringing their productions to an audience in the most captivating, good-sounding way possible. For example, STS9’s live rig is honestly so mind-bending complicated, and the band was kind enough to explain how it has evolved over the years. Big Wild and Elderbrook both showed me the importance of a setup that sounds juicy and amazing, but also involves taking risks and doing things without too much computer assistance to give the audience a real, vulnerable experience. My newest tour setup involves just a MIDI keyboard and a guitar with everything else (keyboard patch changes, timed effects etc) being controlled by Ableton, allowing me to put on the most direct and interactive live performance yet. In the past there was too much button pushing and now I feel like I can just play.
And finally. What are forthcoming plans for producing music?
I’m currently sitting on a backlog of about 12 songs, spread out across a double single and two EPs. As soon as everything is done and set for release, I plan on spending the summer working on a full length LP for White Cliffs, as well as starting to produce music for a more dance music oriented side project.
Welcome to Sixty Magazine, Ae: ther. Where in the world are you right now and can you tell us what is happening in that part of the world regarding Covid-19?
Thanks for having me here. At the moment I am in Berlin and the situation after a bit of initial panic I must say that it is under control and I feel very lucky to be here at, unfortunately not all countries have the same strength as Germany.
Does the situation lend itself to being creative / productive, or not? Are you night-time or daytime person when it comes to making music?
Yes, I think so, it all started obviously when I was very young, my family has always been very rigid in the arts and especially in encouraging children to do something constructive. Fortunately, the music came by itself and the productive and creative moment today is something that comes naturally after years spent in the studio looking for something fresh to create. The inspiration varies, it is not always there but when it comes, it has to be grasped. When the songs arrive it must be written immediately or “hindsight they fade and never return” …a lyric part of Vasco Rossi’s old song.
Your excellent new single (lifted from last year’s album: Me) for Crosstown Rebels is called We’ll Be Together. What does the title signify for you in 2020?
It is certainly very important for people especially in these days to convey in something positive that gives hope for a good omen and a return to hug each other soon. The title was given for another personal reason that I was living a year ago but now, that has taken a key meaning, alone we are worth nothing, alone it is also difficult to work or anything, and therefore the hope is to return soon all together.
Can you talk us through how you produced the title track? Are there any favorite pieces of software / hardware you always like to use?
So all my colleagues and friends laughed at least once reading the absolutely crazy titles that I give to my projects even if I have to say that I have improved now. One day a label manager of a very large label wrote me saying “We really like this piece and we would like to release it. It’s called” Fresh6stes1.2ripresaaudio2.3.4 can you send it etc etc? “ Often the titles are just notes, to write something fast because many times the right title doesn’t come out instantly. For some songs, however, the title comes out on its own because it is as if I already feel that the song is speaking to me and suggesting the title. I don’t have any favorite hardware or software, I always like to experiment. Mostly I have hardware like the Elektron or the sh 101 or the Eurorack that I use often but it depends on the song and on the moment.
What type of speakers do you use to listen to music on?
I am using the Adam 4×4 which is the type of small cone listening, while the 20/20 events which are a more bigger I use for the mix part or to listen records… ..
You have lived in Rome, Berlin and London. I was wondering how you compare those cities as places to call home and to work in (before the virus)?
Each city is different, in each of those I have reached a different workflow with different people and different experiences, even the periods are to be considered because there has been an evolution on myself. at the moment I can consider Berlin home, because it was what I needed, tranquility, relaxation but with the right dose of art and inspiration that is felt in the air and that helps me a lot in the musical and non-musical work flow. In the other cities where I have been I have found very interersting moments and places but mostly more stress and loss of time than anything else, so for now I feel good, I am happy.
How do you think life, culture and the electronic music scene will alter? Will making a living as an artist change in any way?
Unfortunately yes, something is already changing, and things that seemed normal to us like a hug or a handshake are prohibited, we are in a state of emergency that I think is going too far and the gov is forcing people to stay at home against their will by controlling it, we could consider it a little dictatorial … In music or art in general we would see many more conversations, DJ sets or anything else recurring in streaming and many more videos of amateur DJs sets, maybe even radio shows that you can why not buy online and have your personal party at home and dance alone or with family. It will afflict many artists and musicians and all those who work in the background and in my account till the frontieres will be close. I have already started doing external works and collaborations to be able to earn something more outside of the partyies, probably one day we will get out of this horrible lockdown, and I really don’t like to be negative and i’ve must to be objective and so there will be worst things that await us, the earth is becoming very fragile and will turn against us… ..
Outside of your usual set of influences have you discovered any new artists, writers, musicians etc which have recently caught your attention? Has not being in nightclubs or at festivals resulted in looking for different things to explore?
Yes of course the search is greater because time increases in the studio, I try to listen to vintage stuff, or something completely different that is difficult to find, but I discovered a new artist in particular, it is called ADWER purely this piece “OVERTURE”, let’s see what will happen next….
And finally. Can you tell us about your forthcoming plans for moving forward?
I am working for several ep and some few collaboration, but nothing I can say atm, just stay tuned!