Let’s be frank: thus far we’ve only gotten what’s pretty much amounted to bits and scraps from the Brooklynite synth pop up-and-comer Empress Of, but oh, what sweet and delicious bits and scraps she’s been feeding us so far. From her upcoming EP, “Hat Trick” is only the third song released by Empress Of’s Lorely Rodriguez, and it’s definitely a continuation from “Champagne,” especially in the way it departs from the slow-burn, melancholic synths of her first single, “Don’t Tell Me,” and those cryptic, color-coded snippets of songs that were uploaded on YouTube a few months back. Rodriguez seems to be moving towards a more up-tempo pop sound, confidently employing a retro aesthetic where needed, and it seems we’re all the better for it.
Empress Of’s debut EP, Systems, will be out April 2nd on Terrible Records.
Guest Mix: Jar Moff
When Jar Moff dropped Commercial Mouth back in December, a short album preview soundtracked the release trailer. The video shot four minutes of audio across an assortment of subtitled TV drama, Rambo fight scenes, arm wrestles, and 80s hair loops. There’s an old chap talking on different color telephones; I think he’s gambling — he has a deck of cards and a small girl with him. The footage represented a lack of concentration, an affirmation of channel hopping or broadcast epilepsy, of having something to gawp at no matter what, a 2D technistatic plaything. The music not so much as accompanied this jamboree of daytime lowlights, but was embedded deep within it, picking up on the abstract scramble of content assorted in a standardized frequency pole vault.
Jar Moff is an artist from Athens, where he grew up, went to college, and befriended Bill Kouligas. Since then, he has deposited a compact batch of online mixes, released an EP on Mathewdavid’s Leaving Records, and hammered out a Grosskopf reworking for the RVNG Re-Synthesist project. Kouligas studied in London before moving on to Berlin where he established his PAN label and subsequently distributed Commercial Mouth. It’s a striking debut that flaunts the curiosity of an artist willing to crosshatch hip-hop, jazz, and noise with a bungled library of sounds and stylistic reference points.
patisiwn moutra is a sample-based mix that follows in the footsteps of Moff’s tried and tested sound collage formula. Whereas the 2012 Vimeo piece played into whatever role digital channel hopping might encompass in the home, this jam sounds a lot more personal, as though it has been carefully assembled for private playback. However, the disjointed edge it shares with the video encompasses a gaping insight into methods of consumption; it’s a musing on the average SoundCloud forage, ad hoc YouTube binge, and half-digested snippet fidget — it’s like a terabyte iPod shuffle compressed into 17 minutes of mashup that’s guided by an invisible human hand. Colin Stetson is sensually massaged into a cesspool of trigger clicks, ruffled beards, and heavy riffage, but the mix is so attentively executed that no gain could come from wryly name dropping the panoply of styles and effects that are tackled here. My suggestion is that you check this out for yourself; embrace the surge, open another dozen tabs on your browser, click every hyperlink in sight, and seep into Jar Moff’s manic caress.
The New Life
Belfast’s Girls Names put out a solid debut of shoegaze guitar-fueled jangle pop back in 2011, which also hinted at an appreciation of the darker side of post-punk, as was especially evident on the video for their song “Bury Me.” Two years later, on their sophomore return effort titled The New Life, the band can be heard having made a somewhat unexpected departure from past material towards a minimally-inspired dream pop and early goth rock sound; rest assured, though, as judging by the album stream made available by Slumberland, it could turn out to be more than a welcome departure. Their new sound exhibits a more disciplined confidence and maturity, even as they stake out and explore new musical territories.
Much in the way debut Dead To Me demonstrated a thorough grasp of the indie pop and shoegaze genres, The New Life effectively elicits the darker sounds of the early to mid-80s coming out of the UK. The opening pedal echoes of album highlight “Hypnotic Regression” themselves echo those which characterized the proto-shoegaze duo of Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding of The Chameleons, before morphing into the driving post-post punk of The Comsat Angels or The Mission. Elsewhere, “Pitura Infamante” mines the more dance-pop stylings commonly found in the mid-80s, when even bands like The Lords of the New Church and March Violets displayed a potent New Wave influence, and the title track recalls the minimalist restraint, yet evocative power of Adrian Borland’s The Sound.
Listen to the entire album over at Slumberland’s SoundCloud.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel
Rachel Evans, who records her solo work as Motion Sickness of Time Travel (often shortened to MSOTT), is so totally on fire right now. She has already released five separate albums in 2013. When I started writing this blurb, Penchant Mode was the freshest MSOTT out there. But nooow, it’s sold out and there are two forthcoming releases that would be even more hip to talk about. Oh well. February really wasn’t that long ago and Penchant Mode is still ripe a hell, and you can listen to it below.
Supposedly recorded on Halloween of last year, Penchant Mode features the uncharacteristically groovy piece “Initiation,” which retains a dark and slightly disco arpeggio throughout, while haunting vocals and piercing tones slide along the driving rhythm. Side B holds “Growing Things,” which grows indeed, as it paints an image of a kid in a robot costume, as opposed to the more funky Frankenstein on side A.
Ryan Garbes might just be the longest running member of the Night People roster. On top of that, the guy has been making noise with the Night People label’s owner, Shawn Reed, in Wet Hair for years. With every release exploring new realms of sonic noise, the only thing I’ve come to expect from Garbes is quality. “Easiness,” from his newest Night People tape Young Mona Lisa, dives right into that early-90s wall of distortion stuff while maintaining a certain footing in some of the earlier, more drone-based Wet Hair material. And his typically more prominent vocals melt away on this track into waves of pulsing, sonic amplification.
Chalk up another one for Mr. Garbes.
• Night People: http://raccoo-oo-oon.org/np