Dan Deacon: “Guilford Avenue Bridge” (Video)


You don’t get … carsick … do you?

DAN DEACON – Tour Dates

02-08 Bristol, UK – The Fleece
02-09 Dublin, IE – Whelans
02-10 Belfast, IE – The Black Box
02-11 Glasgow, UK – Stereo
02-12 Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
02-13 London, UK – Village Underground
02-15 Paris, FR – La Maroquinerie
02-16 Nantes, FR – Stereolux
02-18 Metz, FR – Les Trinitaires
02-19 Rotterdam, Netherlands – Rotown
02-20 Kortrijk, Belgium – De Kreun
02-21 Utrecht, Netherlands – Ekko
02-22 Hamburg, Germany – Molotow
02-23 Malmo, Sweden – Debaser
02-24 Aarhus, Denmark – Voxhall Atlas
02-26 Oslo, Norway – Revolver
02-27 Stockholm, Sweden – Debaser Slussen
02-28 Cophenhagen, Denmark – Copenhagen Jazzhouse
03-07 Boston, MA – House of Blues*
03-08 Montreal, QC – Metropolis*
03-09 Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall*
03-11 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues*
03-12 Covington, KY – The Madison Theater*
03-13 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works*
03-15 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Hall*
03-16 Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre*
03-17 Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre*
03-18 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue*
03-20 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant*
03-21 Kansas City, MO – Midland Theater*
03-22 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre*
03-23 Salt Lake City, UT – Depot*
03-24 Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest
04-20 North Adams, MA – Mass MoCA
04-27 New York, NY – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

* = w/ Animal Collective

Simian Mobile Disco: A Form of Change (review)

Simian Mobile Disco

A Form of Change EP

Wichita Recordings

Four tracks recorded during sessions for Unpatterns their 2012 full length (also on Wichita) comprise Simian Mobile Disco’s A Form of Change EP. Like the LP, there is a sense of space and, in places, ambiance afoot that opens up the sound spectrum;  Form of Change rids itself of a bit of the busier passagework found in their early recordings. This may cause the pieces to be a bit less visceral in impact; but the economy of means allows for one to position these pieces somewhere between downtempo dancehall and ambient IDM, a fertile ground that, prior to this year, wasn’t really in SMD’s bailiwick. The change of musical approach works handily.

Björk: Biophilia Remixes by Current Value

Biophilia Remixes
Part I: “Crystalline” and “Solstice,” remixed by Current Value
One Little Indian

Björk’s 2011 recording, Biophilia, has, from its conception and release, been more than just another full length CD. The songwriter commissioned an app suite that allowed listeners to interact with the musical materials on the album and learn more about the scientific and ecological inspiration for much of the content of the lyrics. This has been followed by several educational initiatives in which Björk has been involved as a teacher and curator. Thus, the Biophilia project’s organic growth can be seen to extend alongside its creator’s omnivorous interests; and to reach far beyond the usual quarters of the record industry.

On the musical front, Björk has invited several prominent electronica artists to remix songs from Biophilia. The projected eight part series of remixes affords another layer of collaboration and interaction with this rich source material. The first part features Berlin-based artist Tim Eliot, who records under the moniker Current Value. He refashions two songs. The first, “Crystalline,” has one of the coolest and most readily apprehended apps in the series.

Crystalline App Tutorial on YouTube

Current Value has been a purveyor of techstep and the more dissonant wing of drum and bass for two decades. On “Crystalline,” his preferred techniques are deployed at full strength. After a delicate and ethereal beginning, he lays the hammer down, distressing the song’s textures and providing its center with a “voltage” and glitch tinged foreground and thrumming sepulchral bass tones. CV allows for this wall of song to prevail for much of the remix, making it eminently dance floor ready. We are allowed a brief respite again near the song’s conclusion; ambient synths blanket Björk’s voice before it is once again thrust into the propulsive maelstrom of the mix.

“Solstice” is a far more delicate source track. The Current Value remix processes the vocals, providing a sense of distance that accentuates the original’s delicacy. Beats skitter and, once again, “voltage” punctuation coruscates the proceedings until, at last, the boom is once again lowered: a mid tempo groove is established that is underpinned with multiple bass register lines in counterpoint. Perfect for a down tempo or lounge setting but still rife with syncopation, the “Solstice” rendition lives up to its remixer’s reputation for challenging dance hall aesthetics with dissonant and complex rhythms. Correspondingly, its adventurous spirit transforms the source material in fascinating ways.

Early Output


Early Output: 1996-1998

Temporary Residence CD TRR139

Kieran Hebdan, Adem Ilhan, and Sam Jeffers were just teenagers when they signed to Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings. But the sides they recorded for the imprint are anything but the sonic analog to gawky high school yearbook photos. Judging from the material collected on Early Output, while their technique was still rough around the edges, the trio’s creativity and musical chemistry proved abundant from the start.

Fridge’s first single, “Lojen,” is a marvelous diamond in the rough. Jeffers creates off-kilter, varied skittering patterns that seem quasi-improvised yet simultaneously organic; intrinsic to the arrangement. Meanwhile Adem lays down a robot-funk bass line. The bass-drums groove on “Anglepoised” is heady stuff too: a bedrock of post-rock over which Hebden layers swaths of playfully exploratory, ebbing and swelling synth chords.

“Swerve and Spin” is a “take no prisoners” space rock anthem, with propulsive rhythms and a juggernaut riff. “Astrozero” contains a wonderful counterpoint between ostinato guitar filigrees from Hebden and strummed bass chords from Adem while Jeffers sets up syncopated unequal threes in the background. “A Slow” creates a more relaxed, slowly evolving ambience; but it still presents some intriguing metric swerves and a multifaceted thematic scheme.

Lest one think that this release is a rehash of 1998′s Sevens and Twelves collection, the CD includes cuts from the early LPs as well as a previously unreleased song and several similarly unreleased fragments. True, one might feel a bit deprived that many of these ‘new’ tracks are snippets under a minute in length; but they actually prove to be fascinating bagatelles of sonic inquiry. The one full length cut, “Triumphant Homecoming,” more than compensates for the others’ brevity: it’s a richly varied arrangement, veering close to IDM in places only to confuse the rhythm with quick changes of pacing and overlaid synth polyphony.

Would that all trips down memory lane were so pleasant!


Wolfgang … Amadeus … Phoenix!?!


Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix





Phoenix has been creating music since the mid-nineties and made their debut recording in 2000; but Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, their fourth LP, displays them at their best to date. The release’s powerful, intricate modern pop may not resemble either of the classical composers it references – Mozart in its title and Liszt on the song “Lisztomania;” the video for the latter was even filmed at Bayreuth! But the audacity and exuberance of these gestures to such luminous predecessors, in their own way, ring true.



Certainly, synth pop signatures remain a fixture of Phoenix’s sound, as is abundantly evident on songs like the aforementioned “Lisztomania” and “1901;” “Rome” is even more New Wave-inflected than is their usual wont. But on “Love Like a Sunset, Pt. 1,” the group strays into solidly art rock territory, creating a memorable, occasionally prog-influenced, instrumental. The piece is a synthetic tone poem that is considerably attractive. When its short coda, “Love Like a Sunset, Pt. 2,” reintroduces Thomas Mars’ vocals, the effect is dislocating; the music seems to have traveled so far away from the single-ready fare one’s already heard him sing.



Range, subtlety, memorable tunes, and name-dropping Franz and Wolfie in Richard’s playground; what’s not to like?


Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Kid's latest Shout Out

Kid 606
Shout at the Dõner
Tiger Beat 6

Hard-edged yet multifaceted techno is the stock in trade of San Diego’s Kid 606 (AKA Miguel de Pedro). His latest CD recording for Tiger Beat 6, Shout at the Dõner, pushes his music even further into polystylistic terrain. Added to its previous amalgam of thrashtronica and metal are extra doses of glitch-techno elements. Cast in four large sections (titled movements) further subdivided into individual tracks, the album flows with the pacing of an alternative DJ’s set.

While much of the fare is suitable for raves, its big, pulsating beats don’t prevent it from retaining a sense of humor; nor a sense of complexity. The humor is abundant in whimsical track names – “Underwear Everywhere,” “Baltimorrow’s Parties,” “Be Monophobic with Me,” “Malcontinental,” “American’s Next Top Modwheel,” – and wryly witty spoken-word samples. The latter are best displayed and boisterously employed in a faux-revival on “The Church of 606 is Now Open for Business;” one imagines its congregants dancing in the aisles! A disturbing phone call from the police populates “Mr. Wobble’s Nightmare;” after a purely spoken intro, the music flirts with glitch and scratching before yielding to the thrumming call of a darkly appointed dance floor; loops and synths are interspersed with voice snippets.


The underlying pulse is frequently apparent in Kid 606′s material, but it’s also blurred with deft incorporation of overlaid syncopations and polyrhythms. This is particularly explicit in the Frankensteinian mixture of “Monsters” and the Reich-like phasing of “Getränke Nasty.” Even the album closer, “Good Times,” is wrapped in enigma; it supplies buoyant reggae rhythms but offsets them with a quirkily chromatic bass line and more complex, skittering background material.   Shout at the Dõner trusts the Kid’s devotees to follow him further out. One hopes they will, as the CD is an excellent addition to his catalogue.


St. Vincent makes all the Actors Cry

St. Vincent  

St. Vincent

Brooklynite Annie Clark, who now performs as St. Vincent, had a varied early musical career. It included a range of stints as a supporting musician, for Sufjan Stevens, Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra, and even the robe-clad indie collective Polyphonic Spree. In like fashion, her second LP as a solo artist, Actor, has classification-hunters stumped.

Musically sophisticated yet unabashed in its pop appeal, it showcases Clark considerable skills as an instrumentalist (guitarist/keyboardist, et cetera) and her beautiful, flexible yet gutsy singing voice. Her choice of bandmates is wide-ranging; it includes concert music performers – violinist Daniel Hart, flutist Alex Sopp French horn-player Michael Adkinson, and wind-player Hideaki Aomori – as well as drummer Matthias Bossi and bassist William Flyn, members the of indie rock band Midlake. Integrated in the mix are deftly incorporated elements of electronica; displayed to great advantage on the IDM-ready, eminently memorable “The Stranger.” Similarly, “Just the Same but Brand New” lives up to its title; pop styles past – from 50s to 90s vintage – waft through a postmodern kaleidoscope, setting the stage for Clark’s evocative, supple singing.

Despite her nuanced musical approach, St. Vincent has captured mainstream media and even pop culture attention. A recent article in the NY Times ran with the headline, “Friendly, and Just a bit Creepy.” The latter description is doubtless due in no small part to the video for Actor’s leadoff single “Actor out of Work” (watch here, courtesy of YouTube). Under St. Vincent’s enigmatic, piercing stare, a succession of auditioning actors is reduced to tears. While the visuals are arresting, the music, which combines a Sixties-era “Wall of Sound” pop chorus, including layers of Vandellas-esque vocals, with a postmodern electro-pop aesthetic, is most engaging.

The lyric content on Actor doesn’t eschew provocation either; once again, juxtapositions abound. This is front and center on “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood;” an overtly visceral image is belied by the loveliness of the song and its rendition. A fully fleshed-out synthetic arrangement is wonderfully juxtaposed with Clark’s acoustic guitar solo introduction and breaks.

The CD closes with a gently articulated ballad, “The Sequel,” that features Actor’s assembled chamber orchestra, highlighting a beautiful solo from Adkinson. Clark channels jazz singer stylings in her breezy, lilting delivery; the song clocks in at just under two minutes – an all too fleeting, but eminently lustrous, miniature. One hopes a sequel to Actor will be fast forthcoming.



Record Store Day in the Southwest

 Back Ted N-Ted

Sporting a severe-looking Mohawk, Ryan Breen’s pliant dance music with a twang belies its creator’s gruff exterior.

Billed as “new wave for the 21st Century,” his group Back Ted N-Ted has an EP for sale on ITunes;

an LP is slated to drop this summer.


In celebration of Record Store Day, Back Ted N-Ted will be appearing at 4:00 PM at Stink Weeds in Phoenix Arizona. Bring your dancing shoes.

Deacon: Bromst, Tour

Dan Deacon
Car Park

Dan Deacon is the latest in a series of recent indie artists whose music pits self-recorded laptop electronica against a panoply of live instruments, with stirring results. Unlike his previous work, which consists entirely of electronics, Bromst is a much more collaborative affair. In fact, Deacon is bringing fourteen musicians on tour with him to realize its material in live settings (concert information below).
One listen to Bromst, and it’s easy to see why Deacon’s bringing along reinforcements; the artist is willing to let things get busy – even occasionally to clutter the soundscape. Arcade-game whirrings and buzzes infiltrate “Red F” and “Get Older,” while the expansive indie rock “Of The Mountains” builds layer upon layer of synths, drums, and guitars into a flurry-filled, delightful aural feast. Meanwhile, “Wet Wings” employs a host of overdubs of Jean Ritchie singing rustic folksong “The Day is Past and Gone” in goose bump-raising canonic overlaps. The LP’s stylistic range is impressive: “Woof woof” plays with dance-electronica and varied vocal samples in energetically buoyant fashion, while “Surprise Stephani” displays its electronica opposite: lushly multi-textured, slowly evolving IDM. Deacon might consider a live recording of the Bromst tour: it’d be fascinating to hear how the songs evolve.

Tour announcement (Forcefield PR)
Dan Deacon launches his massive US Spring tour in support of his new album, Bromst.   This tour will feature a full 14 piece live ensemble similar to the one that performed with him at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple back in Dec. but will have different members.   Baltimore bands Future Islands and Teeth Mountain are set to open the entire tour.

Dan Deacon’s live ensemble for this tour:

Benny Boeldt: keyboard, sampler, synthesizer
Denny Bowen: drum kit
Andrew Burt: guitar, violin
Andrew Bernstein: saxophone, guitar
William Cashion: keyboard
Stephe Cooper: mallets, guitar
Dan Deacon: voice, electronics, keyboard, sampler
Gregg Fox: drum kit, mallets
Justine Frye: cello, mallets
Chester Gwazda: keyboard, sampler, synthesizer
Kate Levitt: percussion
Kevin O’Meara: percussion
Sam Sowyrda: mallets
Gerrit Welmers: keyboard, sampler, synthesizer

all shows with full live ensemble, and with Future Islands and Teeth Mountain opening:

04/03 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
04/04 Baltimore, MD Floristree
04/05 Williamsburg, VA The Little Theater
04/06 Asheville, NC Orange Peel
04/07 Knoxville, TN Catalyst
04/08 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
04/09 Athens, GA 88/cp
04/10 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
04/11 Tallahassee, FL FSU / Club Downunder
04/13 New Orleans, LA The Candle Factory / The Heavy
04/15 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
04/16 Houston, TX Orange Show
04/17 Austin, TX Emo’s
04/18 Ft. Worth, TX The Ft. Worth Modern Museum
04/20 Tempe, AZ The Clubhouse
04/21 San Diego, CA Che Cafe
04/22 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
04/23 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
04/24 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
04/25 Seattle, WA The Vera Project
04/26 Vancouver, BC Richards on Richards
04/29 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
04/30 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
05/01 Kansas City, MO Pistol S.C.
05/02 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock (2 shows, early and late – 5pm and 10pm)
05/04 Madison, WI Majestic Theatre
05/05 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
05/06 Urbana, IL Canopy Club / Club Void
05/07 Chicago, IL The Metro
05/08 Mt. Pleasant, MI CMU / The Wesley Foundation
05/09 Detroit, MI Contemporary Art Institute
05/10 Toronto, ONT The Deleon White Gallery
05/11 Montreal, QC La Sala Rossa
05/12 South Burlington, VT HG Showcase Lounge
05/13 Cambridge, MA Middle East Downstairs
05/15 Brooklyn, NY Danbro Studios at The Brewery
05/16 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
05/17 Washington, DC 9:30 Club