Categories
electronic film pop

Hunter Complex – Dead Calm and Zero Degrees

Yesterday evening Hunter Complex streamed a live show from his studio to promote his new album Dead Calm and Zero Degrees. The performance showed the difference between this fourth one and the others: Hunter Complex is in control.

That sounds cryptic, doesn’t it?

Let me explain.

Lars Meijer started out as an ambient electronic music producer. He co-founded the influential Narrominded record label in Haarlem and debuted in 2009 as Hunter Complex with the 80s oriented electropop mini-album ‘Here is the Night’. References were Gary Numan, Depeche Mode and Japan. Since then, Hunter Complex evolved in a much more sophisticated blend of different 70s and 80s styles of synthesizer-driven music, ranging from bubblegum pop to yacht rock, electro-pop to film soundtracks. Along the way, Meyer stopped using vocals.

Last years Open Sea was a blend of sultry, intelligent and bittersweet pop music. It was, as Simon Reynolds would call it, music that misremembers the 80s. A, no the best soundtrack for a rerun of Miami Vice in 2019. The album is a monument of desire for a decade in which everybody believed in a better future.

His new album Dead Calm and Zero Degrees sounds different: the longing for a past that never existed is gone. Instead, the album is a soundtrack for an alternative reality that isn’t so much rooted in the 70s, 80s or 90s. One aspect is the way Meijer uses analogue and digital synthesizers from all those decades interchangeably. But that isn’t the essence. His music could still sound aesthetically like the 80s, right?

Well, it doesn’t.

His performance last night showed a remarkable difference with previous shows. Instead of playing with classic movies from the 70s and 80s on the background, Lars played the movies on the foreground, him infiltrating in the images themselves as a spectre haunting them. Maybe you’ll think it is far fetched, but for me, that is a huge turning point in Hunter Complex’s aesthetics: instead of being haunted by the spectres of the past, Hunter Complex now haunts the spectres. That’s the control part I mentioned earlier.

Hence, there is no nostalgia anymore in this new work. Meyer has found a way to use all kinds of sounds and tropes from the past to come up with something that is 2020 at its core: a post-nostalgic ambient synthpop masterpiece.

Dead Calm and Zero Degrees by Hunter Complex is released by Burning Witches Records.

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Categories
electronic pop rock

Deutsche Ashram – Whisper Om

In the early 1970s, kosmische rock acts like Ash Ra Temple and Amon Duül organized their own ashrams, modelled after Indian examples, in the rural areas of West Germany. The ashrams were ascetic and spiritual places that offer room for meditation, yoga, experimentations with music and drugs. By creating an open space, they offered a way out of western society,

Are Merinde Verbeek and Ajay Saggar referring to these havens of consciousness with the name of their Deutsche Ashram project? Fact is that the music on their two albums sounds like a soundtrack of a world that is embracing the blend of the individual and the cosmic body. The basis is the shoegaze like indie pop that Verbeek already experimented with in her former band Mineral Beings. Sagger, of King Champion Sounds, adds deeper layers of psychedelic and cosmic instrumentation, without drifting too far from the shoegaze sound.

The combination of Verbeek’s airy vocals and Sagger’s walls of sounds works well. On second album Whisper Om the duo is drifting from Cocteau Twins like shoegaze over Ummagumma Pink Floyd to early 1990s Madchester meets My Bloody Valentine in the excellent ‘Slackjaw’.

Oh, and don’t forget to admire the beautiful artwork. An extra reason to buy the vinyl (the other being able to use your pitch and play the songs on all kinds of different speeds).

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Whisper Om by Deutsche Ashram is out now on Wormer Bos Records.

Categories
electronic pop

Fluqx – Monolith

At the end of last year, the duo Fluqx released a couple of independent songs. Next month there will be a debut album: Monolith.

Fluqx is Joel Krozer & Brian Della Valle. Both met in a studio where they recorded independently. Krozer is a known Danish producer, mostly working for film and commercials. Della Valle’s Of The Valley is a moody and intimate singer-songwriter project.

The combination works well. Della Valle’s fragile voice intensifies Krozer’s cranky and glitchy electronics. It’s like Weval and Boards of Canada meet.

Latest released song ‘Vanishing Point’ is the best so far: slow, glitchy, moody driven by a deep bassline and eighties synths. The song, beginning and ending with a dark piano line, could break down any time, but you know it won’t: the instability of all the different elements is also its stability.

‘Vanishing Point’ has a melancholic quality that isn’t purely nostalgic. The German word ‘Fernweh’ suits better: the song makes you long for a place and time that never existed. The accompanying video animated by Alex Dubrocard and shot by Joel Kroz captures that feeling in a beautiful way.

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Monolith by Fluqx will be released by hfn.

Categories
pop rock

We Are The City – RIP

One of the most intense pop albums of the last decade was Violent by We Are The City. The music of the Canadian trio sounded like a blend of Coldplay, Mogwai and MGMT. Sounds like nothing else, right? Make sure to check the accompanying Norwegian-language feature film.

Their fifth album, just released on the Vienna based label Sinnbus (for Europe), is a bit more introvert and poppy, but as intense. The trio went back to Kelowna – where Cayne McKenzie, Andrew Huculiak and David Menzel spent their youth and started the band – and recorded the album.

RIP is probably style-wise their broadest album. ‘You’re so Clean’ sounds like a blend between a power-pop song and, melody-wise, a seventies Thin Lizzy song. First single ‘Killer B-Side Music’ starts out like an Elton John ballad but explodes in the middle. Make sure to check the beautiful video that accompanies the song.

In February and March, We Are The City is touring through Europe. Dates are over here.

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RIP by We Are The City is released by Sinnbus.

Categories
pop

Ella van der Woude – Sol Mineur

In two weeks the album Sol Piano by Ella van der Woude will be released by Snowstar Records. We know Ella for her more poppy electronics. She released an album as part of the band Houses in 2011 and made a cool triphop EP as ELLA in 2016.

Sol Piano is different: Ella recorded the album in her apartment in Amsterdam mainly using her piano. The result is abstract yet close, intimate yet distant.

The first teaser singles are beautiful. The video for the latest, ‘Sol Mineur’, is shot in Switzerland, her second home, and matches well with the serenity of the song. Looking very much forward to the whole album.

Sol Piano by Ella van der Woude will be released in a couple of weeks by Snowstar Records.