Sophioko [EP]

I love that Markus Popp, a.k.a. Oval, is making music again. After a lengthy hiatus, Popp returned a couple years ago and has already released well over a hundred songs, spread across two full-lengths (O, OvalDNA) and two EPs (Oh!, Oval/Liturgy split). His latest release is called Sophioko, a four-track EP that continues his meticulous, stuttering electronic explorations, made available for free this morning via SoundCloud. No embed, but you can stream the entire EP here.

• Thrill Jockey: http://www.thrilljockey.com
• Shitkatapult: http://www.shitkatapult.com


“She” / “Part of Solution”

The Beijing trio Snapline formed in 2005, when they were studying science and engineering at the city’s most elite universities. They initially grouped themselves with Carsick Cars, The Gar, and White into the “No Beijing” movement, cribbing the influential New York no-wave LP title for a 2CD compilation and short tour that year. While their peers went on to buff the most abrasive elements of their sound into more or less palatable forms of noise rock and post-punk, Snapline earned a reputation for uncompromising, often alienating live shows. Their 2007 debut, Party Is Over, Pornostar, showcases a brazen mix of minor-chord melodies, industrial fuzz waves, motorik drum machine propulsion and percussive guitar shreds, all backgrounded by vocalist Chen Xi’s surreal lyrics ontologically probing the bleak postmodern Beijing landscape.

Snapline recorded a follow-up LP with PiL drummer Martin Atkins, who became enamored with the band during a 2006 trip to Beijing. Dissatisfied with the result, the band re-recorded the songs from scratch with a much more minimal approach in mind. The finished effort, Phenomena, is a study in musical economy: a single synth provides bassline, beat, and stripped-down melody; a single guitar yields rhythm and lead. Chen Xi’s vocals straddle the sound like some kind of dystopic computer-brain commandant (in fact, he has a degree in Nuclear Energy and is a senior Microsoft engineer).

Two tracks from the yet-unreleased album have snaked their way online, accompanying “unofficial” video collages from Beijing-based videographer and frequent band collaborator S. Dummy. Dummy’s re-appropriation of retro-futuristic classics Metropolis and Solaris suits Snapline’s soundtrack perfectly. Check out “She” above and “Part of Solution” here:

Phenomena will be released on June 2 from Maybe Mars Records.

• Snapline: http://site.douban.com/snapline
• Maybe Mars: http://maybemars.org/?lang=en

Alexander Ross

“Grandfather Paradox Part II” [excerpt]

In 1989, Alexander Ross, a painter living in New York, released a cassette called Grandfather Paradox. No one I know has ever heard of it, and I’ve asked everyone I’ve been in contact with (including this Radio Shack clerk, who I fucking hate). Well, apparently Finnish experimental musician Jan Anderzén, a.k.a. Kemialliset Ystävät, has heard the release, because his label, Vauva, is set to reissue it in a couple weeks on vinyl. Check out an excerpt of the second song off the two-track album here:

• Kemialliset Ystävät: http://www.kemiallisetystavat.com
• Vauva: http://www.kemiallisetystavat.com/vauva

Cellular Chaos

Cellular Chaos [EP stream]

New-York no-wavers Cellular Chaos have made their latest, self-titled studio EP available for streaming! Featuring the wily, writhing instrumentation of multi-instrumentalist Weasel Walter, bassist Ceci Moss, and free-jazz drummer Marc Edwards, alongside the animated vocals of Admiral Grey, the EP is a loopy, livid production that draws from punk, jazz, and probably even theater classes (some of Grey’ intonations remind me of the expressive exercises I was subjected to at theater school). It also includes a blistering cover of Roxy Music’s “Re-Make/Re-Model,” the opening track of the group’s eponymous debut album. Most and best of all: it’s loud, and considering how the EP costs only $3, that’s a lot of boom for your buck.

• Cellular Chaos: http://weaselwalter.blogspot.com/

John Cale (remixed by Tim Hecker, Maria Minerva, and Actress)

Extra Playful: Transitions [remixes]

Nah, it’s not a dream team if you just remix tracks separate from collaborative works. But, yo, there’s potential here. I mean, what a grouping that would be: Cale, Minerva, Actress, and Hecker. Holy shit. (Saw Minerva live on Sunday and it was the bee’s knees. Here is another one of her efforts live as crooner-collaborator.) What do you think? Think they should all smash together they’s music styles? It might be hot. Maybe not video hot, but audio — I don’t mind ripping my ear buds to shreds. So, yeah. Hear are some remixes. Can’t believe I’m still posting remixes. But people keep making ‘em. #usingtheforce

By the way, these tracks are taken from the John Cale 12-inch that Double Six released on Record Store Day, which also featured remixes by Leyland Kirby and Alva Noto. Double Six will have a small batch of them for sale on its website starting next Tuesday, May 1.

• John Cale: http://john-cale.com
• Maria Minerva: http://www.myspace.com/mariaminervamusic
• Tim Hecker: http://www.sunblind.net
• Double Six: http://doublesixrecords.com

Young Smoke

Astronaut Status 1.0 [album preview]

Last year, Chicago footwork producer Young Smoke released three albums: Gutta House Muzik 1.0, The Flight Zone 1 & 2, and The Space Zone. I heard none of them (if you find a copy, get a hold of me!). But I’m happy to hear that Young Smoke has a shit-ton of releases due this year, including — bear with me — Disco Flight, Pluto Lounge, Smoketronix, Astronaut Status Planet Invader 2.0, Gutta House Muzik 2.0, Flight Society (with fellow Flight Muzik cohorts, DJ Diamond and DJ Metro), and, most excitingly, a Planet Mu full-length called The Space Cadet, due sometime in September. (You can hear three of his tracks off Planet Mu’s stellar Bangs & Works Vol. 2 comp.)

Whether the releases mentioned above are LPs, EPs, singles, or USB sticks shoved in gummy vaginas is not 100% clear, but we do know that, in addition to the Planet Mu release, Young Smoke is set to drop an album this summer called Astronaut Status 1.0. The preview below is presumably a mix of some of its tracks, much like the Space Zone and Gutta House previews from last year. It sounds like his planetary aesthetic hasn’t changed much — we still have airy synths, militaristic shuffles, stuttering snares, and spaced-out melodies — but that’s a good thing: no footwork sounds like this, and I love it.

• Young Smoke: http://soundcloud.com/flightmuzik-1
• Flight Muzik: http://flightmuzik.blogspot.com
• Planet Mu: http://www.planet.mu


CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.