There’s a wonderfully deadpan, stylised quality to this new single from Oakland CA duo Abracadabra (duo Hannah Skelton and Chris Niles). It’s pure 80s synth pop – the good kind where robots and fashion were the future, Kraftwerk were kings and neon was a colour.
There’s also a playfulness to the music of ‘Dirty Pan’, a day-glo utopian sound built on lush washes of keyboards such as The Fairlight CMI and pulsing, robotic drums. It’s like Stereolab and Cabaret Voltaire jamming on the international space station.
“Many of the songs reflect upon our fragility as humans, our inability to predict or control the future, and the struggle to remain stable despite the chaos of urban life on a deteriorating planet.”
Abracadabra’s self-titled debut album will be out on July 24 via Anniversary.
Midnight Garden is Nick Donlin and Zach Vouga, an electronic duo based in San Diego, CA. who have an album called Blue Tomorrows due out on August 12th, 2020.
Sad synth music is the perfect combination to our ears – that mix of synthetic, digital sounds and melancholic human emotion. Midnight Garden mix those ingredients nicely on their single ‘For The Last Time’. It’s a song that rises and falls on heartfelt sighs, tumbling toms and retro 80s synth sounds that never overplay their role in the song.
They’ve also just released a brand new clip for the single ‘Hold Me After’, an emotionally lighter sound but still just as effective with its sonic streak of nostalgia.
Premiered on UK website Backseat Mafia, ‘The Dirty Game Of Art’, a dark dive into temptation and sin, is the first taste of a full-length album that Meares and Dymke are currently writing and recording.
“‘The Dirty Art of Game’ is epic, cinematic musical prose that has a satisfying air of a life steeped in indulgence, pain and joy. Utterly cathartic. An album is in the cards, which I, for one, cannot wait to hear.” – Backseat Mafia (Arun Kendall)
Meares’ evocative and poetic songwriting, combined with Dymke’s musicianship and production have resulted in an immersive sound that blends elements of post rock and psychedelia with a widescreen cinematic quality. One can hear the ghost of Leonard Cohen and the artistry of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in Meares and Dymke’s compositions.
“Anth Dymke is, to my mind, one of Australia’s greatest bass players,” says Meares. “He does not simply play the bass but create a whole mood and atmosphere with his playing. It was a great honour in 2019 when he put his hand up to play bass with my band. There was an immediately musical connection and the whole performance of the band was lifted by his playing and energy,” recalls Meares.
“What I did not realise is that Anth is also a brilliant producer. I started to send him files of songs I was working on and he would turn those fairly simple recordings into something quite brilliant, but always preserving and expanding the aesthetic I had presented to him,” Meares explains.
Likewise for Dymke, the process of applying his compositional abilities to Meares’ songs has been a particularly rewarding experience. “The first time I heard Joe’s music I immediately felt a cinematic presence in it. Joe tells stories in his music and I was keen to start shaping some ideas around those stories of love and loss. Joe had always used very talented players in his previous recordings, and I was keen to slightly move away from that to a more synthesised, bleak, but glorious terrain. Landscapes created by an array of different textures feels like a good palette in which to ground Joe’s evocative storytelling skills.”
The visual component of Meares’ music is always an important part of his artistic vision and he has paired the song with a video that was filmed between the Spanish cities of Bilbao and Gernika as he returned from a gig. The evocative cover art for the single is a photo of Meares’ face superimposed on a 3-D printed sculptural bust of himself, creating an otherworldly, Lynchian quality.
Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.
The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.
John Lebanon are a band based in Providence, RI who recently released this new single ‘I Fail They Die‘. Founded by Roy S, MD, the project originally began as a way for the songwriter to cope with the physically and mentally exhausting work of a medical resident at Brown University.
Sonically their sound takes in spoken work, sparkling, burbling retro synths and melancholic guitar lines that track and trail through the landscape with beguiling curiosity and resonance.
“I work as a physician and needed a way to cope with all the stress going on…hence the track : If I fail they die. The track is meant to help me get ready for work. Be mindful and diligent yet relaxed and steady. It is also a message to all how we are connected more than ever need a healthy planet. Individual actions do matter.” – Roy
Albin is the moniker of Albin Johansson, a musician, composer, and producer based in Malmö, Sweden. Primarily using analog synthesizers and drum machines, he’s released material on a number of labels over the last seven years and performed in cities such as Malmö, Berlin, Vienna, and New York.
‘Mellandagar’ comes from his new EP Passage, and it cuts a wonderfully minimalistic swathe through the history of electronic music, from Kraftwerk through to the early 80s experimentalists in the UK who were adding pop aesthetics to the synthetic framework of the music. Bleeps, pulses, weightless drum machines and a playful sense of melody are the key elements of Albin’s track.
Danny Barwick is a Perth-based producer and singer who wrote ‘Mine Too‘ and the other songs on his recently released EP Naddi on a two month backpacking trip around India. He began his career in 2012 as a drummer, recording and touring in several bands before taking up production.
Inspired by the likes of James Blake, Nick Cave, and Thom Yorke, Danny’s music merges acoustic instrumentation with experimental electronic production and that’s the most appealing thing about this track, the way he weaves together the organic and the synthetic elements, topping it off with a wonderfully smoky, late-night vocal that recalls King Krule.
New Zealand composer Rhian Sheehan has recently released a new album, Recollections, Vol.1, which features a number of new tracks, and a number of tracks performed as part of his 2018 A Quiet Divide Album Release Tour.
‘Still‘ is a beautifully percussive and textured track that peppers an undulating piano line with clickety-clack rhythms that conjures everything from a ticking clock to a typewriter, or even metronomic footsteps. There’s a gentle lulling quality to the track for the first few minutes before tension is added using the same shapes but with greater push and a deeper synthetic swell.
Elsewhere on the album there are deeper electronic synth excursions, ambient and drone compositions and grand post-rock soundscapes.