2020 Playlist — tētēma, Oval, Flat Worms, Wreckmeister Harmonies, Ulver, Caleb Landry Jones, L.A. Takedown

Behind on the 2020 Playlist, but I hope that doesn't discourage anyone from checking out some newest inclusions.


tētēma: "Wait Till Mornin'"
(via Speakeasy PR / Ipecac Recordings / YouTube)

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It's rare that a Mike Patton project is going to evade my curiosity as I've been a fan of his myriad projects since Faith No More's Angel Dust and Mr. Bungle's s/t debut remade my impressionable teenage brain. That said, some projects have been better than others obviously and the couple of singles I've heard now from this tētēma (Patton/Anthony Pateras) project are angling toward some familiar ground, but I remain enthusiastic.

Necroscape is out April 4 via Ipecac Recordings.



Oval: "Improg"
(via Thrill Jockey / YouTube)

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Via Thrill Jockey Records:

Following the recent release of his hypermelodic new Oval album Scis, pioneering producer Markus Popp has shared the new video for single "Improg". Much like the track, Russian visual artist Sveta Rybkina's video for "Improg" takes the humble piano as its starting point, manipulating its form and sculpting it into a dizzying, ecstatic barrage of digital patterns.

The piano motif stemmed from Rybkina's early batch of sketches for the Scis album cover, resurfacing once again when the artist was working with Popp on the live visuals for the album premiere at Kantine am Berghain in Berlin last month. He elaborates: "Initially, there were many attempts at making live action footage of a piano work (famous piano scenes in movies, piano-themed documentaries, videos of music/art performances featuring pianos etc), but ultimately, a CAD-rendered piano was chosen as the way to go, as it offered the most creative control". Rybkina eschewed off-the-shelf animation tools and instead scripted the video manually, frame-by-frame, mirroring the meticulous level of detail Popp worked into the track's intricate instrument loops.

Oval began in the early 90’s and rapidly gained acclaim for its innovations in electronic music. Each new release saw Popp radically redefine his practice, introducing new elements and embracing new creative challenges, integrating cutting-edge technology and processes into his practice to ensure that each record sounded as contemporary and exhilarating as the last. Where early compositions saw Popp tinkering with software and systems to reduce his own visible hand in the music, Scis and its accompanying EP Eksploio instead foreground the human element in his creation, shifting focus from process to composition. Both records see Popp exploring and subverting elements of club music and experimenting with a new palette of sounds to create some of his most immediate and emotive work to date.


Flat Worms: "Market Forces"
(via mutante / Drag City / God? Records / YouTube)

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Via Drag City / God? Records:

Flat Worms, the Los Angeles-based trio of Will Ivy (guitar), Tim Hellman (bass) and Justin Sullivan (drums), announce their new album, Antarctica, out April 10th on Drag City imprint, God? Records, and share lead single, "Market Forces." Antarctica is for people invested in the future, despite a world in flames, deserts in permafrost, and everyone in their own corners, looking down into their hands. It considers the chaotic, dysfunctional contemporary landscape and reflects a situation that's dire, but not hopeless.

Since the release of their 2017 debut LP - even since last year's
Into the Iris mini-LP - Flat Worms' sound has hardened, with the polarities of psych and post-punk smelted into a brutal cobalt alloy. No doubt they're aided by the Steve Albini-engineered sound rendered at Electrical Audio, where the album was recorded and mixed (in collaboration with Albini and Ty Segall) in six days. The rest of the evolution is down to Flat Worms, whose world view and musical viewpoint pulse with a remorseless drive and a sense of collaborative unity. Ivy's cortex-scorching guitar leads are in united space with the full-body rhythm of Hellman's bass and Sullivan's drums.

Flat Worms' social comment, bleak, yet earnest, is leavened with bone dry humour (the title track's isolation conundrums:
"My dog is smiling as I drive her to the park / we sit together in the kitchen after dark / I ask her questions / She just barks") and caustic pronouncements. Lead single "Market Forces" kicks the modern malaise of alienation from our over-commodified social media mirror image. As market forces drives feels to capitalise on later, Flat Worms ask: Are you really helpless in this dynamic?

Commitment. Intention. Collaboration. And a sense that we're meant to enjoy what we're doing. Even in the desert of
Antarctica, Flat Worms are looking for the upside.


Wreckmeister Harmonies: "Midnight To Six"
(via Thrill Jockey / Bandcamp)

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Via Thrill Jockey Records:

Ahead of the release of new album We Love To Look at the Carnage, Wrekmeister Harmonies have released the single "Midnight To Six". The elegiac song acts as the album's thesis, charting a restless journey beginning in the middle of the night and ending in the small hours of the morning. Guitarist/vocalist JR Robinson’s brooding lyrics grapple with phantoms both real and imagined, apparitions amplified by the feverish anxiety of insomnia. Robinson's words are buoyed by multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw's ethereal melodies, Jamie Stewart's (Xiu Xiu) subtle electronic flourishes, and a steady churn of cymbal scrapes, thuds, and twinkling glockenspiel by Thor Harris (Swans).

While early Wrekmeister Harmonies albums were written for large ensembles and to be performed in grandiose public spaces, more recent recordings peeled back the layers of orchestral bombast to focus in on the raw emotion at their heart of their compositions.
We Love to Look at the Carnage, recorded by Martin Bisi at BC Studios, represents some of their most subtle and powerful work to date. The album traverses an emotional landscape, through a metaphorical night with moments of calm between the dark storms, each piece guiding us towards dawn and its promise. It is a celebration of the beauty of endurance, the hope in stoically moving against the dark forces that invade our thoughts and lives.


Ulver: "Russian Doll"
(via Rarely Unable / YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Friday 14th February, Valentines Day 2020, Ulver release the new single "Russian Doll" from a forthcoming album. The song follows in the footsteps of their previous album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, only this time the wolves draw the listener deeper into a black infinity mirror.

"Although this is pop music in our heads, the images and connotations in the lyrics are probably far away from what one usually associates with this genre. It actually began with some images and memories from the movie "Lilja 4ever" by Lukas Moodysson, which arrived in the early 2000s, and hit us like a brick. A dark and disillusioning film about human trafficking in the Baltic" explains Kristoffer Rygg. He continues, “Russian Doll” refers to the babushka, we began to think about this figure in the extension of "Lilja 4ever" and Eastern Europe. The doll became an object, an object of desire, which we mixed with mise-en-abyme – a composition technique that places pictures, or stories for that matter, inside each other. In this context we see it as a kind of vicious circle, unfolding inwards,"

Crystalline, punchy and intelligent, with an enticing hook. The song is again mixed by Michael Rendall and Martin "Youth" Glover, in London, who the band worked with on the aforementioned and previous album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

The video was filmed in Thamesmead, London, where
A Clockwork Orange and Aphex Twin’s "Come to Daddy" were filmed. It stars the young dancer Annija Raibekaze.

"A young filmmaker tipped me off about Thamesmead, where parts of A Clockwork Orange was shot," says Marek Steven, the director. He continues, "we did a couple of location scouts and realised that although the part Kubrick had filmed was currently rubble, nearby was still a huge estate with loads of similar and consistent concrete locations. We roughly planned a pseudo linear location routine with Annija, coming back a third time to shoot on one cold and short November Sunday. It was a small crew of four and two Sony A7’s. Annija is a young Latvian from the border of Russia. She recently moved to London to study dance and we felt she that fitted our idea perfectly, with her suitably aggressive urban dance style."


Caleb Landry Jones: "Flag Day / The Mother Stone"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Sacred Bones Records / YouTube)

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Via Stereo Sanctity:

Actor and musician Caleb Landry Jones announces his debut album,‘The Mother Stone’, out May 1st on Sacred Bones, and presents the lead single/video, “Flag Day / The Mother Stone.” 

The Mother Stone is brilliantly ostentatious and psychedelic, built from abrupt detours and schizoid shifts of voice. Shaped by the influence of Jones’ formative encounters with the BeatlesWhite Album and Syd Barrett’s solo work, The Mother Stone is a parade led by multiple unhinged narrators who rail against the universe, profess their love and vacate the stage before we can ask them a question.

Born in Garland, TX, Jones has been writing and recording music since age 16, around the same time he started acting professionally (
Get Out, Stonewall, X Men: First Class, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Twin Peaks, The Florida Project, Friday Night Lights, etc). He played in a band called Robert Jones briefly, but it was following a breakup that the songs really started coming hard and fast. In the ensuing years he’d spend a lot of time carrying unrecorded songs around in his head, waiting for a chance to record them in marathon sessions in his parents’ barn. “I started writing record after record after record after record, because I didn’t know what to do with myself,” says Jones. “It was a good way of healing. And it felt like as soon as I started doing it, it felt like it needed to happen all the time.” Sometimes the ideas fused together, one chapter to the next; this is how songs grew into seven-plus-minute epics like the ones on The Mother Stone. His back catalogue is around seven hundred songs deep— a whole discography of full albums, most of them unheard outside the barn, at least for now, thanks to a pivotal meeting with Jim Jarmusch.

“I was a big fan of his work,” Jones says, “Instead of wanting to talk, I thought I’d write him a piece that would somehow let him know who I was.” He spent a few nights composing a new instrumental work for solo piano and showed up ready to play it for the director at their meeting— which turned out to be at a diner where the amenities did not include a piano, so they had a conversation instead. Jones slipped Jarmusch two collections of songs from the barn, most of them up to eight years old at that point. Jarmusch liked what he heard, told Jones he should talk to Sacred Bones founder Caleb Braaten, and before long Jones was making The Mother Stone — whose brassy and theatrical “Flag Day/The Mother Stone” incorporates that piano piece Jones wrote to explain himself to Jarmusch.

"I had no idea what an astounding and unusual musician Caleb Landry Jones was until he gave me some of his music to listen to two years ago" says Jarmusch. " Oh man, I don’t even know how to describe it! But I asked Caleb if we could get it to Caleb Braaten at Sacred Bones! And now, thanks to these two Calebs it’s being delivered to the world – a strange and beautiful gift!"

Soon after coming together with Sacred Bones, Jones ventured to Valentine Recording Studios, where everyone from Bing Crosby to Frank Zappa once logged time, to record with producer Nic Jodoin. Jones brought his collection of battered Yamahas and Casios up from the barn and played them alongside vintage equipment from Jodoin’s collection. Working in a real studio for the first time gave Jones a chance to finally slow his creative process down. They built the songs up from acoustic guitar, let them sit a while, circled back.

So here Sacred Bones present the first glimpse into the barn; a collection of fifteen songs that shoot into outer space and back again, flitting from the grand to the obscure. Bringing together wholly contrasting worlds of sound and colour, Caleb Landry Jones journeys through a kaleidoscopic world of his own creation – full of imagination, inspiration, drama and emotion. It makes for a thrilling and exhilarating ride.


L.A. Takedown: "The Swimmer"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR / Castle Face RecordsEarmilk / YouTube)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:

L.A. Takedown has announced that they will release their upcoming LP, Our Feeling Of Natural High March 13th via Castle Face Records.

Last year, L.A. Takedown released "The Swimmer" off of their upcoming LP,
Our Feeling of Natural High. The video was premiered with EARMILK praising, "Playing like a short story, every stage of a hypothetical hero's plight is woven into the production. From the curious introduction heralded in by echoing chords to the renewed energy of the fuzzed synths, down to the very last disintegrating notes."

"When L.A. Takedown hovers over your ear hairs the first time, so much is communicated without a word - there are patient, capable hands at the wheel as we phantom through a neon Los Angeles of the mind, a Los Angeles that only three harmonized electric guitars can conjure, with a sunset so infinitely variegated in color that only synthetic washes of synth could serve as your fainting couch. Studio magic dust seems to drip off these android dreams projected against the wall - in person it defies logic that such a sound is coming from humans, but as you watch their hands it’s unmistakable - these are calm warriors sallying forth these sweeping, swooning epics, crowned with triumphant tripartite thunderbolts of wail. For a few fleeting moments, things seem right with the world; our hero has prevailed, the race was won by a hair, the unmanned drones levitate & strafe the coast, rending the coral sky with a psychic boom, shaking loose a few palm fronds and setting off some car alarms but otherwise leaving the sprawl unchanged and teeming. While produced and performed by Aaron M. Olson, Our Feeling of Natural High was engineered and mixed to glossy perfection by Jason Quever and (we hear) it benefits greatly from the seamless contributions of John Herndon, Jason Quever, Marcus Savino, Miles Wintner, Mose Wintner, Nicholas Krgovich and The Musical Tracing Ensemble. We’re even treated to a city-hum lullaby to humanity as a nightcap, with Nedelle Torrisi and Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Yukihiro Takahashi on vocals, truly a mint on the pillow of this fantastic soundscape. For fans of Michael Rother, Top Gun, later Tangerine Dream, convertibles and long walks on the beach." -John Dwyer
Letters From A Tapehead


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