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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Derek Piotr: AGORA Regathered


An agora, in ancient Greece, was a place of open assembly where people would congregate for various reasons. It's also an apt title for Derek Piotr's remixed album: AGORA Regathered, released earlier this month on Bitsquare records. Remixes are the way that modern electronic musicians talk to one another, and make sense of our musically cluttered world. In an age where technology makes anyone a producer, but sometimes isolates us, the internet and sites like Soundcloud are kind of the modern Agora for musicians, a place to connect and share ideas.

Projects like AGORA Regathered are effective in the way they create such a sense of musical community. The album is a collection of remixed tracks from Piotr's first full length solo album, AGORA, a darkish electroacoustic soundscape full of jagged digital artifacts and vocal manipulations, partly produced by Finland-based artist AGF. The contributors include an eclectic array of electronic/experimental musicians, some known, some obscure, but all worth checking out: Ralph Steinbrüchel, HeeG, Twenty Knives, Zach Thorpe, Carlos Lemosh, Blevin Blectum, Chaircrusher, Salakapakka Sound System, Thone Halo, just to name a lot. It's an impressive gathering of experimental people and shows some ambition on the part of the young New York musician. “I carefully chose mixers from widely different demographics, both notable and obscure, but all of whom are dear to my heart. this echoes the concept of the ancient agora, by uniting people from various backgrounds into a single moment,” says Piotr.

The remixes, according to Piotr, are "essential extensions of the original ideas." “AGORA Regathered was a chance for me to expand on the initial concept of the AGORA record by gathering together diverse re-presentations of my work.” Many of the tracks indeed feel like they've retained some of Piotr's ethos, however re-arranged, re-interpreted, “re-gathered.” Blectum's version of “From Whiteness,” for instance, maintains it's cold feel (minus the apocalyptic lyrics) with it's percussive, industrial reverberations. In yet another version, Protofuse was able to sample and manipulate it into what sounds like locusts buzzing incessantly, yet rhythmically in the background. Perhaps the most distinctly different (and enjoyable) remix is “Winter Consummation.” The original feels like a romantic encounter on a lazy, snowy day while Thorpe's version is a little more frenetic and weird, with a kind of happy, pulsing rhythm.



You can compare both albums for yourself via Piotr's bandcamp. Be sure to support the experimental community by downloading AGORA Regathered. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

EP Review: Robert Allaire – Sacrament


We recently wrote about Evan Dice, a musician who wrote for theater and dance ensembles throughout college and has since begun producing his own atmospheric, electric violin-driven sounds. Artist Robert Allaire is another music composition pro who just came across our radar, but unlike Evan, Robert continues to primarily hone his craft through pieces specifically designed for visual interpretation – on stage or on screen.

The L.A. resident (and CalArts MFA graduate), who has collaborated with multiple choreographers and experimental filmmakers, recently released the digital version of Sacrament. The five-track post-noise EP originally accompanied the dark, modern dance piece of the same name. You can check out a 90-second trailer of the stage version here, but it isn’t necessary to watch a second of it to notice the violent, futuristic themes in the music itself.

For example, “She Rises Without” offers a post-apocalyptic vibe that straddles drone and industrial, and brings to mind Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ forthcoming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack. Throughout Sacrament, Robert utilizes hardware and acoustic feedback loops filtered through sounds of his own heart beats and breaths. It effectively conjures up the age-old struggle between spirit and science – a struggle most pronounced in the closing track, “Deicide/A Thing Not Quite Remembered.”

Aside from composing, Robert also keeps himself busy as a keytarist in the chip music dance band, Beta to the Max. This group project, with its new-wave synth influences, could draw comparisons to a chiller Dan Deacon, and provides a cool contrast to Sacrament’s darker tones.

Sacrament as a choreographed performance will be returning to L.A.’s Highways Performance Space next March, but in the meantime, pick up or stream the album in its entirety via bandcamp:



--Elaine Ordiz

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Weird Australia 'Unpopular Music' Compilation


From New Weird Australia: The annual Unpopular Music event returns to Sydney this Saturday, December 17th, raising cash for FBi Radio (home to the NWA radio show) and featuring eight bands over two venues.

As a preview to the show, you can download a free compilation featuring all the artists playing at Unpopular Music 2011, including Brisbane psych-rock ex-pats Strange Forces (back on Aussie soil after tearing up a storm in Berlin over the last two years), Sydney drone-grunge four piece Zeahorse, former Brisbane residents Secret Birds (one of the last artists, and few Australians, to feature on Pitchfork’s now defunct Altered Zones blog), Scattered Order, Thomas William and Scissor Lock (launching their debut collaborative album ‘Jewelz‘), Melbourne’s Monolith, Und and Anna Chase.

Download for free on Bandcamp.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One to Watch: Response (Evan Dice)


Properly “trained” musicians are generally welcome additions to the music scene – they tend to provide clear visions of where they come from and where their sounds fit in the grand scheme of things. Evan Dice, a.k.a. Response, is a new experimental artist who has been immersed in music since childhood. You can check out more than a dozen tracks via Soundcloud (including an ethereal remix of Zomby’s “Digital Rain”) and also download his new Desert Songs EP for free.

A classically trained violinist since age 5, Evan dabbled with music (electronic and otherwise) throughout his youth and spent college (he recently graduated with a music composition degree) writing for theater, dance and instrumental ensembles. He’s most inspired by experimental hip-hop, bop/jazz, 20th century classical composers, and world music (he grew up primarily in Zambia), which make for a wide range of touch points.

Despite those eclectic influences, what Evan has recorded under the new Response moniker never feels scattered or like simplistic explorations of beats upon pointless beats. The Desert Songs EP successfully layers live loops and electronic violin with other desert-inspired sounds (shakers, glass bottles, sand, etc.). His music is somewhat reminiscent of Laura Escudé (who is known for impressive performances that blend violin with Ableton-driven IDM), or even Deru. The tracks are “sectional in nature” and “closer related to classical and pop,” as he himself notes.

Evan’s only been recording and performing as Response since May, but is aiming to make bigger waves in Washington, D.C. (which he now calls home). In the meantime, check out one of our favorite tracks, “Dust Cloud Shuffle.”

Dust cloud shuffle by Response (Evan Dice)

--Elaine Ordiz

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Corpse Lights (Three Track Single)


There is a Welsh folk lore about lights that signal an impending death. The “corpse candles,” or “corpse lights” were said to hover over homes where death was near and predicted an upcoming funeral. About as obscure as that reference, are the sounds of the two piece UK band Corpse Lights.

Formed in the fallout of their old band, Woe, Corpse Lights is distinguishable by strange, robotic, pitch shifted vocals over dreamy, effected synth sounds. They effectively create their own unique, ethereal environment with this combination, which is no surprise considering the pair's work in sound design for film and theatre. The tracks on their latest three track single however, also have sort of an indie dance feel (you'll recognize that popular retro clap sound), and there is a certain pop sensibility present, albeit heavily altered after the fact. Their work, according to their bio, is a product of “the environment in which they have immersed themselves; taking visions from Dungeons and Dragons, Varèse, early computer games, and modern Outsider culture” (now the name starts to make sense, given their D&D roots). The paintings and album art that decorate their website offer more evidence of their plentiful artistic surroundings...

Their three track release, which has gotten some attention in the blogosphere it seems, is available for download from their website or bandcamp. Check out Youplayaarp off that release:



Matt Ackerman