Bewilderbeast - Unreal Estate

image

Back in the thick fog of 2012 (that was, like, so long ago), when I wrote about fresh label Airlines Tapes I called Running, the tape by London producer Bewilderbeast “a strong debut, for sure”. Now he’s back with a full vinyl LP entitled Unreal Estate and, judging from the opening killer “Severed”, he aims really high. Though in the beginning it’s suspiciously similar to Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Sleep Dealer”, it quickly grows a strong backbone and jumps onto the dancefloor with some ultra-catchy vocal harmonies to boot. The whole album sounds like Four Tet in his There Is Love In You era having a bromance with the whole chillwave genre and adding some ecstatic lyrics (and vocals) in the process, thus giving birth to the grainy dance catharsis that is Unreal Estate. One of the sleeper albums of 2013. This might get huge. Highly recommended!

Oh and by the way, how the hell did they manage to get “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” Bob Ross to review this album? This is fantastic. Me Me, I’m a Bewilderbeast man!

Comanche - Silicon Basilica

It’s kinda funny and sad at the same time (more sad than funny, actually) that people keep masturbating to “Random Access Memories”, while albums like “Silicon Basilica” by Minneapolis, Minnesota duo Comanche exist. Tracks like “Everyman’s Balance” could be easily placed on “RAM” and people would have their heads cut off to believe it’s Daft Punk. Except Comanche’s album sounds way fresher and ripe with more ideas, borrowing from many more genres, while skillfully escaping their limitations and trappings.

Sometimes it’s smooth, easy-going sample-filled hip-hop, then it can suddenly become soothing nu-disco tune or a sunkissed house tune. It’s kaleidoscopic and catchy as hell, and it will probably go under the radar of most music portals constantly on the lookout of the Best New Hype. Well, their loss. “Silcon Basilica” flies effortlessly with a killer funky vibe to it, escaping narrow categorizations and pigeonholing, while still retaining the summer party vibe with its colorful collage trippertronics. Highly recommended.

Goat Lightning - Sister’s Crystals

image

"Sister’s Crystals" by the Boston beatific trippertronic unit Goat Lightning is a carefree glide through blissfully looped New Age zones, like a delicate, shimmering sequence happening over and over in a locked, eternalized state that you sometimes (in the right state of mind) wish they could repeat forever. Aquarian lo-fi workouts meet lazy, stoned beats and a hazy, woozy atmosphere somewhere between the early version of Dolphins Into the Future and the laziest chillwave. Good stuff for chilling in the early spring garden.

Midnight Television - Midnight Television

image

Totally rad proto-vaporwave release in the more relaxed, chillwave-y way straight from the trailblazing US label Beer on the Rug. The album artwork is truly spartan, and so is the music: 70’s/80’s late night TV lounge music meets looped’n’screwed mood-setting synth pop pieces that symbolize the Brave New World. And once again, as with all those albums, one asks the perennial question: is this real?

Review: Discoverer - Tunnels

(LP, Digitalis Recordings, 2012)

When released at the end of 2010 on cassette by a small Kansas label Overland Shark, Discoverer’s “Build a Base” didn’t make a lot of fuss. In fact, it passed on barely noticed by anyone (sadly). However, to those who have heard the album, it was apparent that Brandon Knocke (the brain behind Discoverer) was occupying a very special area within the analog revival craze – while he was operating with the same musical language and a set of tools as everyone else in the “scene”, he did not settle for cheap relaxation of New Age, did not go into a parody of supermarket/corporate music that would later get to be called “vaporwave” and was not interested in epic Berlin school suites. His vision of music was a dynamic re-envisioning of synth pop, viewed through the prism of lush, vintage ambient into a futuristic, melodic soundtrack that lacks both the nostalgia and a sense of parody.

Now Knocke gets a better, bigger chance with a better, bigger album. “Tunnels”, coming on vinyl in October from the psychedelic Tulsa label Digitalis Recordings, sees Knocke refining his sound and developing into even more mature regions – a new idiosyncratic style blending computer terms with sexy beats, which can be described as “scientific slow jams” .Thick, bassy leads provide a background for glossy, high-pitched synth noodling and the canopy of spacious drones provide a dreamy, relaxedfeeling, while the slowly rolling drum machine provides a rhythmic backbone with a sci-fi edge. The overall sound is sterile, yet poppy- like hosting a nighttime pool party right next to a laboratory, where the faint glimmer of computer monitors reflects in water, through which a bikini-clad hardbody will occasionally swim and the industrial lasers beam into the starry LA sky.

If there is something that really sets Knocke apart from many of his contemporaries, it’s his competence in writing actual songs. Not just looped scraps of plunderphonic parody, not a few random notes treated with reverb and delay – but actual, full-blooded and perfectly executed SONGS. Every song on “Tunnels” is a potential hit and has a clear, memorable melody which can be actually hummed after a few listens. The only thing that prevents it from becoming an instant oldschool R&B throwback hit album is the lack of sensual vocals. But maybe that’s a good thing being purely instrumental - Knocke is first and foremost an ambientalist, who wants to set the mood and give a good background. And he doesn’t need any words for that.

Loathes - Loathes

 

Just like the cover depicts a foggy sea shore with a steely, cloudy sky above, the sounds on the debut EP by the Cleveland’s duo of Colin Fien and Stephen Mlinarcik sound like the sounds of chillwave once the summer is over and the holiday resorts get empty again. Few remaining guests take strolls along the beach, washed with waves now too cold to swim in and most shops, restaurants and other summer atractions are now closed down. Sweeping ambient textures mix perfectly with distant, cut-up smokey jazz samples still containing the warm glow of the summer bygone, yet with a cold breath of the incoming winter. Recommended.

Review: Gem Jones - Symphony in P (CGIFriday, 2012)

GFIFriday’s Gem Jones project drowns the listener in the sea of pure, tongue-in-cheek warped 80’s beach party anthems much in the vein of pre-“Far Side Virtual” era James Ferraro, although here much of the lo-fi murk is dropped and the whole monstrous (and hilarious at the same time) visage of crazy chillwave/hypnagogia and their most unhinged and energetic, is unveiled. There are so many references to weed and hedonism in this little cassette it’s scary (even for a blog named Weed Temple, dammit!).

But what is the strongest part of “Symphony in P” is how incredibly catchy it is, despite all the attempts to make it sound as “mutant” as possible - out-of-place distorted guitar solos crashing into pop melodies, harsh drones appearing out of nowhere in the middle of a song, delayed and reverbed vocals with changed pitch. What stands out here is the guitar work: the licks are truly funky and perfectly complement the vintage synthesizer background which provides head-bobbing, fresh beats. “Symphony in P” is a competent and fully aware hyper-parody of the teen lifestyles of not only the 80’s and 90’s, but the modern “teen life”, too. Because let’s face it: pizza, weed and skateboards won’t disappear anytime soon.

Buy the tape from CGIFRiday! 

Imperial Topaz - Imperial

Brooklyn duo of Caroline Teagle (the half-mastermind and the visual talent behind the wonderful tape label Tranquility Tapes) and guitarist Jake Pepper (supported by Jef Brown on saxophone on the opening track “In the Waves) craft lazy, chillwave sounds on their debut “proper” album (originally released on Tranquility Tapes itself in cassette form), occupying the summery haze somewhere between lush pop of Toro Y Moi and the astral dub of Edibles. Teagle’s silky voices blends perfectly with Pepper’s delayed and reverbed guitar. A good, quick fix of summery chill sounds in four songs. 

New labels: Airlines Tapes

With the idea of “branching out” Weed Temple to step beyond only featuring downloads and writing reviews, there came an idea to introduce the to the fresh, new labels that just begin their adventure with the psychedelic underground, yet surely deserve to be noticed.

While we’re at the topic of the newcomers to the scene (label-wise), we present you the Melbourne based label Airlines Tapes. The label itself follows the great chillwave/hypnagogic pop surge of the late 00’s and offers their own take on the hyper-glossy, somewhat self-parodic micro-scene of young people fascinated with analog sounds and hyper-real music of the bygone era. The colorful mess on the label page may be compared to the consciously kitschy and tacky designs of such labels as Holy Page or Crash Worship. There’s also the same affinity for sultry pop structures with a psychedelic context added for the intensification of the listnening experince. As the founders of the label state, they have only two releases so far, both on high-quality cassettes with a beautiful, neat and minimalist passages.

The first release is Deep Fantasy, the debut release by Surfing, the Melbourne unit consisting of three retrofuturistic champs, creating the looped virtual reality of synth tones and catchy melodies hidden within a slight murk of hypnagogia. Heartfelt slow jams mix with cheesy, garden documentary-type sound backgrounds, with bucolic piano lines and lush synth lines. Great, shoegazey vocals and somewhat kitschy, yet uplifting guitar solos - Deep Fantasy has it all.

 

The second installment in the series is Running, the tape by Bewilderbeast adorned by eye-melting psychedelic collage by Ant Pomponio. To spice things up even further, the packages are equipped with 3D poster and 3D glasses! The sounds on the tape are made to replicate the colorful, disorienting artwork and to provide a bit of that dancey, club vibe. While Surfing made lush, dusted hypnagogic travels, the music of Bewilderbeast is much cleaner and much more club-friendly: ambient-infused, almost minimal techno beats with rolling, slowly developing melodies bring to mind the efforts of Swedish techno producer The Field, revolving around sunkissed, motorik sequences and thumping, economical beats. A strong debut, for sure.

For the nearest future, the label plans the release of 10-track cassette Glows Then Melts by the Philadelphia unit Skeleton Lipstick. The tape will be released on the most important date (for Americans) ever, the 4th of July. Get ready and listen to some teaser tracks here: 

Review: Phylum Child - In the Sawdust Lobby (Koppklys, 2012)

The laid-back and disarmingly simple sounds of the East Coast rock unit Phylum Child appear to echo the prose of late Jack Kerouac, when he was already getting tired of all the Beatnik-star-in-the-center-of-attention lifestyle with all the wild parties and bullshit chit-chats with worshipping Beatniks and other artsy types. The music of Phylum Child is seemingly the rebellion against all the “experimental”, “challenging” horseshit surrounding them and the retreat into the basic, sun-drenched shelter of pop chanelling the times, when the electric guitar was the symbol of popular music.

Following the blurb on the Koppklys website, Phylum Child lies somewhere between 90’s sunny indie pop and delicate shoegaze (not the “drowning in distortion” kind, maybe with the exception of wonderfully smeared “Telewisher”, which sounds like an outtake from Belong’s Common Era). The carefree atmosphere might call for chillwave comparisons, albeit the six string honesty and simplicity brings closer the modern “chill indie” units like Real Estate to mind rather than the likes of Toro y Moi. The jangling guitars are occasionally adorned with oldschool, somewhat kitschy beats. The band’s style is purposefully, as one of the song names suggest, “Out of Style”.

It’s a nice, refreshing little tape in the scene, where the format is dominated by lengthy drones, screeching electronics and wild psychedelic jams. It’s a little island of simplicity on the sea of neo-psych madness.

Only 3 copies left from Koppklys!

Sacred Flower Union / Leafy Suburbs - Split

A split cassette between two local acts from Perth, Australia(the most isolated city in Australia, according to Dan from the Perthian microlabel Future Past Records). Two takes on shimmering, summery ambient with a little touch of chillwavey pop in some parts. Take a dive into the Australian haze and get with the groove.

Boneglow / Delusions - Split

The split between Boneglow and Delusions explores two sides of sungazing, blissful pop music. Boneglow’s side offers three bouncing, dancey, ocean spray-soaked chillwave anthems while Delusions go into a slightly more folky, psychedelic pop area. Delightful little split for the upcoming summer. Recommended!

Boneglow / Delusions - Split

Rhubra - Slow Noise

Stretched out nostalgic moan-pop from New Orleans chillwave producer Fabian Luttenberger. Droney and summertastic. Because I feel like inviting some lighter, poppier tunes to the blog. Because it’s spring, because everything is coming back to life again. This is the music to celebrate rebirth to.

Rhubra - Slow Noise

Review: Mother Ganga - Pineal Soup (Instructional Media, 2012)

Glasgow’s Lewis Cook might be more known as a part of a heavy stoner/psych rock ensemble The Cosmic Dead, where he plays noodling, labirynthine synthesizer passages. Under his Mother Ganga moniker he reveals a much softer, pop-oriented side of electronic psychedelia, offering a twisted, chillwavey take on 80’s synth pop music, complete with deformed vocals and infectious hooks.Pineal Soup is a strong, compelling debut tape released from Cook’s own label Instructional Media.

The opening “Do I?” (well, not really opening, but I’m not counting the short, noisy intro) is a head-first dive into the world of fun and fresh retrodelica in the vein of Ford & Lopatin, except less heavy on MIDI sound effects. What might appear to be a prime-time radio-friendly hit song is suddenly cut short by a few seconds of silence; a deed that might mean suicide for all aspiring radio songs, but we’re not aiming for the mainstream popularity here - the song comes back after that short break, sprinkled by delicious glitches and distortions, intentionaly hitting the wrong notes at times while retaining the easy-going mood, like a parody of “perfect life” songs, showing small cracks under the polished surface.

Pineal Soup keeps the balance between the more abstract, vocal-less moments (like the beatific, beat-laden crystal New Age-isms of “Ganges Riverboat Disco”) or the deformed, mutant pop of “Patterns of Subsistence”, which feels like an analog version of The Knife or the guitar driven lo-fi summer anthem of “Trip to Samye Ling”, which might as well be an outtake from Rangers’ Suburban Tours. As Mother Ganga, Lewis Cook manages to show the wide spectrum of his abilities as a composer - he is an example that no matter how wild or psychedelic one can goes with synthesizer, there is always that more peaceful, pop-oriented side. Because there is a bit of pop in all of us.

Buy Pineal Soup from Instructional Media website!

Review: Pressed And - Imbue Up (Crash Symbols, 2011)

This is definitely one of the most sigularly different albums I’ve come across lately. Operating on peripherals of electronic music, released on Crash Symbols, one of the freshest new cassette labels in the underground US scene (closely affiliated with Holy Page, I suppose), Imbue Up by the mysterious duo Pressed And (Andrew Hamlet & Mat Jones), breaks the borders of electronics psychedelia as most of us heads are used to (usually by the usual, worn out “new psychedelic electronic music = drone” association) by the adventurous, spacious and incredibly engaging combination of chillwave atmospheric and broken dubstep/UK garage beats - something I at this point like to call “chillstep”.

The unassuming and modest album artwork does not reflect the myriad of sounds this cassette offers. It took me a few repeated listens for this tape to click, but finally, upon some fifth or sixth listening, it clicked - and I was absolutely hooked. The opening track, “Fire Shelf”, sounds like something straight outta deep London undergound with a bit more gangsta, laid-back atmosphere added. Echoed and bouncing vocal snippets relieve the tension and the ambient interlude in the beginning sets the relaxing, yet explorative mood to the entire experience. But the high point of Imbue Up is “Etching”, a 7-minute sound journey which begins like your usual Kosmische Musik suspect finally breaking past the trappings of prog electronics and discovering many more genres, adding nearly danceable, stoned beats and beatific washes of heavenly moans into the eclectic mix. Total bliss. Other tracks on the album follow the similar, multi-layered path - bass-driven, melodic, vocal sample filled synthesized zones occupying the space between the beach and the club - sometimes more danceable, sometimes less - like the shortie, but goodie “Soul Muffin”, which just asks for a series of dancey remixes.

I have a feeling (among many others, as quoted on this album’s Bandcamp page), that this duo is destined for greatness. Imbue Up is a cassette that goes far beyond the trappings of both -step and -wave based genres, to create something richer, more spacious, infused with an undeniable ambient legacy. Watch these guys. They are bound to make quite a stir in the electronic scene.

Stream the album on Bandcamp