Harvesting #10: We’re hungering for Branes! [Part II]

Everything can be said, but not everything should be said. In Harvesting, we say it all. There’s much more coming your way and you’ll like it very much. As we continue to venture in the deep minds of others, in search for music that can be fine-tuned to your liking. Or, yeah, there’s no modification to this kind of thing, but I’m trying to expand it genre-wise. It should be for everyone and it would be great to attract more readers that like different underground genres. There have been a lot of focus on minimal wave, synth, industrial, power electronics and cold wave so far. I have also been eager to display some of the finest post-punk bands out there and just started to venture into the morbid hands of the goth and death rockers. Therefore, in this part of the tenth edition, you’ll see this: The Humanoids, Automatic Writing and Wazu. You’ll also get some more of BRANES and Bruzinski, which I have asked some questions to this part of the “anniversary” of Harvesting. Hopefully you’ll like this one too, because it will expand your mastermind even further. Soon we’ll take over, it’s just a matter of time. But, yeah, I have no plans for that more than musically. Check this one out and spread the word!

The Humanoids – The Humanoids

It’s a catchy ride from rockabilly to the intriguing sibling which name would be psychobilly. Starting with the first track on their first release “Reptile Man“, is a melodic and very rhythmic piece that instills every part of your body in such a mood that you just want to swing along. The tempo is great and it’s actually an instrumental song, a short one at that too. I sense some punk in this song too and it delivers with every means it’s got. There’s also a sense of the wild west within the song with sets the premise for the whole sound-scape, as if you’d be in a bumpy ride somewhere in those times. Maybe robbing a train or something and then riding away on a horses back.

Second songNeon Death” is more in the way of a punk-oriented song, which concentrates on the vocalists efforts to indulge in the crazy ride that is The Humanoids. She really times everything right and it goes in the tempo she wants it to go, like a borderline psychobilly, yet concentrated rockabilly punk song. The best song on the album would be their cover of the famous song “House of the Rising Sun“, which they pull off with an instantaneous creativity and interesting approach. The only thing I would like them to refine would be the sound-scape as a whole, but I guess that’s what keeps the punk going in it. It’s almost as if some instruments are higher than the others and that the drums don’t really get any love in some songs. But otherwise I think it’s a nice approach and it’s a great introductory for me, since I’m a novice within that genre too. Remember, a challenge is always fun.

I’d suggest that you’d buy their album from their bandcamp. Currently, it can be downloaded for free but you should tip them some cash. Recorded on the 20th of September, with 10 tracks, ranging from one minute to two minutes in the time-span that they’ve offered themselves.

Automatic Writing – Falling/Continuous

Forget about everything I’ve said, at least when it comes to the word “bombastic“. This piece of utterly eclectic and interesting electronica deserves that word more than anything else. With the first track “Falling“, I delve into a microscopic landscape of dreamy synths that push the barriers of sound rather than embrace the tiny space they’re within. It sounds like the rhythms want to push out of the box they’re trapped within, a sense of belonging that is beyond the world they’re compromised to live within. I love the analogue feeling to it and the absolutely outrageously loud synths both heard in the back and front of the sound-scape. One of the more interesting songs released this year, and also one of the more experimental when it comes to the sound-scape itself.

Not in the sense that they could be put off as “experimental”, but I think they’re a bit daring on that part of it. There’s no control of the boundaries for this electronica and that’s what make it beautiful. As if this wasn’t enough, the second track “Continuous” push the boundaries once again. A kind of dark mixed electronica with a more rough texture to it, laden perfectly in harmony with the more melodic parts of the darker textures. Almost as if they’re part of a symphony, playing every tune to get in control of the darkly and majestical sound from multiple sources. I am finding myself liking the chorus of the song and the vocalist is absolutely marvelous, his voice goes after the melody and fit the premise, on the spot. Touching, reverberating and multifaceted electronica – both right in your face and at the same time shy.

Buy this piece of art from their bandcamp and you’ll also have the remix of the second track. Three songs and a wonderful cover to put your eyes on, with aesthetics that hit my spot where it should. You’ll get a physical edition of the release for 5 pounds, limited to 200 copies. Get your own quickly, get it now!

Wazu – Robobo

I haven’t really had borderline electro on this blog for ages, if any at all. So I decided that Wazu would fill that place perfectly. A very talented duo from New York. Their latest release only has one available song and I’ll try my best to review it in the way I see fit. Their only song available, “Councillor“, is a landmark example of how electro and darkwave can be combined to create a great end-result. With almost no-wave tendencies at times for the vocals, that both of them operate with their wonderfully fit melodies, that interact with the harsh drums and fluorescent synths in the foreground, make for an excellent combination. At times, the repetitiveness gets to me and flings me into their sound-scape. I try to find anything wrong with it, but I simply cannot. Even though the song isn’t that long, it feels like it’s on for an eternity. There’s no boring passage in this song, with the exception of some seconds by the outro, but I can live with that.

There’s almost an aristocratic feeling to this, as if they’re battling the “emperor” with his own means. It reminds me of some of the old future-pop and borderline electroclash (yes, a misused term, I know) mixed up with the likes of Soho Girls (to some degree) and Ladytron. But Wazu manages to pull of their own thing, with both modesty and aggressiveness when it comes to the harder electronic beats. I know that it’s a paradox, but they’re a great paradox for all I care. Too bad that there are no more songs available for my listening pleasure, because I’d love to listen even more to it. This opening song, however, is a good indication for what I’m going to hear on the rest of the album. Hopefully they’ll surprise me even more with their excellence, and I hope that it will be sooner than later.

Buy their digital-only release of this record for 7 dollars from their bandcamp. Which I reckon they deserve for putting on such a show with the first and only song you get to pre-listen to. I’d say it’s worth a buy even though you only know it by the song “Councillor” which I reviewed above, but it’s worth it, because that song is effin’ great.

I asked some questions for the interesting band with the unusual name of BRANES.

What did you do before BRANES and how did you go from performance art to musicians?  

– We are still performance artists. A large part of BRANES is the live aspect of the show. We like to have themes for our shows and dress accordingly. We make all of our own set designs and like to use props. It’s harder to do all of these things when we’re touring on the road, but when we play local shows this is definitely an important aspect of our art. Before BRANES became a focus, we were involved in other music projects and costume design. We’ve always been creative people needing an outlet and this currently happens to be that outlet for us.

How would you define what you do?

– We are doing what we want. You know that Devo song “What I Must Do”? We’re doing that. No, we’re not.

So, you’ve got some pretty fascinating aesthetics when it comes to different outfits – but where does one find your influences when it comes to aesthetics?

– We find that our personal aesthetic is applied to all of our artistic endeavors, be it costumes or visual art or lyrics. It seems to be more of a philosophy that influences us. We are most influenced by that fringe reality of “nothing next”. This is a broad reflection of the whole picture, and so we find inspiration in many different places. The absurdity of it all is a major part of our sense of humor, which majorly influences us. When we get ideas for costumes or themes we jot them down. We have a lot of lists of notes and ideas. Lots and lots of lists. So many lists. We love lists.

Could you tell me about the making of your latest album “Perfection Condition”?

– The songs for Perfection Condition were written in 6 different cities over the course of a year and a half. We toured around the US a few times before sitting down to produce the album in Los Angeles. The record was produced in 3 months and picked up by Burger Records in July. We had the fortunate experience of working with Vahe Manoukian of Nu-tra who shared the same vision as us for the album. There were a lot of late nights in the studio crammed into our already busy schedules. It was a lot of hard work but we feel that the end product is something that is a genuine reflection of ourselves.

I asked some questions for the wonderfully talented artist Burzinski, whose real name is Laurent.

Who are you and what makes Burzinski an excellent choice if you want to listen to music nowadays?

– I’m a french guy, living in Paris, inspired by indie, cold wave, post-rock music. Well, generally speaking; melancholic music. I’m dealing with guitars, vocals, basses, synths and pianos, drum programming inspired by hip hop sampled beats (even if it doesn’t sound hip hop at all). And black and white photography for artworks. My musical project really started in 2010 with the release of my first album, Untimely Tales.

I started photography at the same time and it’s now a strong part of what I’m doing, photos inspired by music, music sometimes inspired by photos. I’ve also been lucky to meet online talented people who made videos for some of my songs, relying on the same black and white, melancholic spirit. So I guess if you’re into melancholic, dreamy music, with a hint of darkness, listening to it might be a option.

I saw that you haven’t released anything for quite some time – but how did you go by when creating your albums?

– Well, I’ve been quite busy with other stuff the past months, so I didn’t find enough time to be totally involved in what is going to come after the Ghostly Female Faces EP. A shame. I actually recorded a Cure cover and a Lamb remix this year, but it’s not new material. Been also involved into playing live a little bit. The creative process might sometimes sound like a bunch of trials and errors, but it always starts with writing the songs. I mean simple songwriting, with an acoustic guitar and vocals.

When I feel comfortable enough with the structure of the song, I can go and work on the next steps. For recording and arrangements, I’ve always been focused on the idea to define an overall sound, so I don’t work on one song after another. I really need to find a mood, by choosing types of sounds and instruments I’m going to use on all the songs. Then I focus on drums first, then basses, then the other parts.

How have the trip been so far with Burzinski – what sort of things have you encountered since you started out?

– First of all I’ve had the opportunity to meet nice people thanks to it all, something which would have never happened otherwise. The mastering engineer I work with lives in Los Angeles, italian friends shot wonderful videos, I played an in-house acoustic gig in Sweden this year, met a fellow musician friend whereas we started to talk on a music forum seven years ago, had dinner here in Paris with a portuguese blog owner… and so on… Quite amazing… The other surprising fact which comes to mind is how the music world changed.

The DIY way is something fascinating and the way to go for me. No need to spend months anymore in trying to find a label in order to release something. Music comes first whatever happens. Of course nice opportunities come along sometimes (the Ghostly EP released on Moon Palace records for example), but it’s not an issue anymore. I actually got lost a little bit with this old process, but it’s no longer so. Of course some might complain it’s harder and harder to be heard, that music incomes are stalling. But I guess the good point is more and more people can write and record music, and distribute it. I’m sure nice niche music will appear thanks to it, with one and only thing in mind: how can a song be written and recorded the best it can at a given moment. Nothing else matters, imho.

Are you releasing anything new before the year comes to a halt or do we have to wait until next year?

– Afraid I won’t be releasing anything this year, even if I’m working on the next album at the moment. It always takes more time than expected to record. It takes on average a month to finish a song, considering music is not my main job. Hopefully I’ll be quicker this time, so it won’t last too long. But I’m quite confident because the songwriting is done (it’s been done for a year or so, actually), the drum beats are set and I started to record some bass lines and a couple of arrangement ideas.

Thank you for wanting to be featured in Harvesting! What have you harvested musically in the last couple of months?

– You’re welcome, glad you found me out somehow somewhere.

The more I’m into music the less I listen to other stuff, so I didn’t harvest much. I bought the last Sigur Ros and Soap & Skin albums, just took my tickets to see The Soft Moon live in November, I’ll also probably see Beak> playing, and I can’t wait to hear the next Crime & The City Solution album to come. They just started a new tour after 20 years, too bad they don’t come and play here in Paris, hopefully they’ll find a way later.

Harvesting #10: We’ve come so far with New Ideals! [Part I]

I started up Harvesting as a source of renewal. What inspired me to start Harvesting was the fact that I’ve tried everything else and I wanted to break free. So I started it up and reckoned I needed a name first, so I came up with the name “Harvest” as it symbolizes what I do when I search for music. I look for it online and Harvest what I think is worthy of a place in it. But then I decided to change the name to “Harvesting“, because that’s something you actively do, as opposed to harvest (which you’ve already done). My original thought was to only let the “best of the best” have some space in the edition to begin with, even though I after the first three decided to let loose on the genres and be a little bit more inclusive. Thanks to everyone that read it and appreciated it, I must say that it became a huge success. Which means that I will be keeping Harvesting running on an (almost) day-to-day basis. The second most important thing about it is that great people, be it bands, artists of any kind, clubs or record-labels – everyone has a place, if you’re insignificant enough. That, in turn, doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything great. It just means that you’re unpopular in today’s mainstream society and it means that I have to shed a light on you. If you’re interested in being featured here yourself, don’t hesitate to contact me.

In this edition of Harvesting you’ll get to meet the following: BRANES, Moral Hex, Rule Of Thirds, New Ideals and Momentform. In other words, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. Since this is free and all. Hope you enjoy it even more this time around. You’ll also get a closer relationship with New Ideals and Momentform, since I’ve asked them a few questions.

Branes – Perfection Condition

An interesting duo which seem to lay more emphasis on their aesthetics than anything else. But I’m interested in the music at hand, and it sounds pretty funny. I don’t know if that was their intention, but their music sounds like a mix of sarcasm, death rock and synth-pop. The first song “Veronica Box Lunch” is a great insight into the most underrated death-rock, with a slice of intriguing and dark synth-pop. Since they hop in between a lot of genres, one of the more appreciative things they’ve done is the vocals. It’s got the theatrical and enthralling sound of the old-school, but at the same time a little bit of dark cabaret sliding in between. Rhythmically, it’s a monster, that just plows through you with the force of ingeniousness. Even though some of the songs can be a bit boring at times, the up-tempo pop-song “Abracadaver” bring a smile to my face each time.

It feels as if I’m being shown a hysterical show that tries to employ everything they’ve ever learned, at the same time. I believe that there’s a more humorist touch to their album more than anything else, because everything seems a tad too dis-organized. But I think they’ve got something going for themselves that could develop into something even better. The last song on this album, titled “Ramsey in the Dark” is one of the better songs on the album. A genuine slab of dark-wave angst, accompanied by quirky rhythms and weird melodies. Sounding like a robot in between and developing into a hysterical piece of art.

Buy their album over at their bandcamp and finance their continual absurdity. Oh, yeah, the digital-only version costs about 8 dollars. I believe it’s only released as a digitally-only download thing, since they ain’t got it in their shop. But you could snoop around, because there’s t-shirts and their first album also. There’s also a possibility to download the songs individually, for free.

Moral Hex – S/T 12¨

Apparently, there’s so much great goth rock and death-rock out there, it’s a shame that I didn’t find it earlier. This piece of interesting anarcho-punk mixed with goth rock, is what I’m going to listen my ears off to. First song “Corporate” is a battle between the drums, galloping away, along with a nice goth-sounding baseline. Accompanied by sincere guitar-riffs in the background and an obligatory vocalist that sounds like any older goth rock band. Even though they have a lot of influences on the side of goth rock, it’s obvious that punk is getting the firmer handshake this time around. I like the speedy, yet static tempo that fuels the sound-scape. The lyrics are also a stark reminder of what kind of world we live in and how it’s operated. Second song “Constant Regret” is a more vaudevillian kind of song, with high ambitions of being the melodic wonder you’d invite to your back alley for a live session. With nice drumming and a tempo that’s a little bit more compromised, just to suit the general mood of the sound-scape.

A kind of scaled-down version of the first song, but with its own touch and reigns to hold by. It seems like it slows down even more, the further in you get on the album itself. The third song “Behind the Mask“, is a masterpiece in itself. Employing some of the almost pop-oriented vocals, surfacing amongst a sound-scape that utilizes the best of the different instrumentation. A baseline to die for and drumming that is sufficient enough to bear the sound-scape up on its bare shoulders. A great experience of both worlds, whether it’s the punk-oriented side of it or if it’s the goth-oriented side. Both hold a great influence on this band and all their songs. It also feels great to find out that both are as exquisitely expressed as possible. Good riddance.

Buy the album over at their bandcamp for 4.99 dollars as a digital download-only album, or you could venture over to their label Mass Media Records, to look for it. I didn’t find it over there though, so the best would be to get the digital version of it first and then see if they’ve got a physical version available anytime soon.

Rule Of Thirds – DEMO

Tis’ a new addition on the scarce death-rock sky. I chose a lot of death-rock/goth-oriented releases because I wanted to show it to the world. Actually didn’t know they existed, but found out about it some days ago. Been listening to this record since then. The first song “No More Moon” has several strengths that reveal themselves the longer you get into the album, with a relatively repetetive and lo-fi sound-scape they manage to scrape on your inside and figure out which emoticons that need to come out. I felt pretty bedazzled when I listened to this for the first time, I think its ingeniousness in a bottle. Feels like I’m in an abandoned church and hearing the nonliving orchestra playing this tune for me. In the next song on the album, namely “Total Disappointment“, the singer sounds a little bit lite Anja Huwe from X Mal Deutschland. It’s also a little bit more down-tempo than the first song and sounds enthralling to say the least, there’s a pinch of nocturnal-feeling in it too.

As the melody on the guitar sounds completely in touch with the rest of it. One of the later songs on the album, “Northanger Abbey“, gets me everytime. I don’t know if it’s the sincerity in the screechy voice or if it is the stand-by drumming. But everything sounds so bombastic, yet it has that punk-feeling to it, like it’s been done wholly by D.I.Y.-measures and standards. It’s like a chaotic landscape of different instrumentation, that just fights to survive and be included in the wonderful landscape. There’s something dreamy about it, but it’s quite noise-filled. I don’t really know how that combination can be pulled off, but apparently Rule Of Thirds succeeded in doing that, especially with this song. This will be a band that I’ll keep an eye on in the future, because their demo, quite frankly, rocks the socks off me and it’s got that certain feeling that I get when I listen to old goth rock. Surely a keeper and it will probably be with me until they release something new. Hopefully they will, because I would like to see which label that would squander this kind of talent.

So if you want to buy it, you can venture over to their bandcamp as usual. You’ll get a digital-only download for 2.50 AUD, which isn’t that much to be honest. Packed with five songs and the first release this band has given away to the public. But I’m guessing that they only have a digital release because it’s quite a small label to begin with. Major Crimes Records released this pearl on the 22nd of June 2012.

There’s a new label on the rise and it’s name is New Ideals. It’s run by a music-enthusiast by the name of Joe and the label currently resides in London, UK.

Did you have any experience of labels before you started New Ideals, and what’s the main idea behind it?

– New Ideals is the culmination of much daydreaming, which consequently, is also why it has taken me so long to start it. My own views on music are terribly uncompromising so it seemed a natural step to set up a label where I could control every concern. However, it was only when I moved to London a year ago that the idea developed a clear narrative that extended beyond simple musical considerations. Certainly true for our first releases, there exists a critique on ones discordant relationship with the city.

I first approached Ianis from Momentform as their previous releases appeared to portray a similar message, which he confirmed. As we spoke more it became clear that we shared many of the same influences, and happily he agreed that Momentform would provide the debut release from New Ideals. My only useful label experience comes from a thirst to consume as much as I possibly can relating to Factory Records, an undeniable influence.

What kind of music are you specializing in when releasing?

– The label and its collaborators share a belief that music should provoke austere feelings of love and discomfort, a statement we shall be looking to uphold with each and every releases. There is little concern for adhering to a particular genre, however with much of my own musical taste rooted in post-punk, unwittingly, I am sure this will be reflected in many of our releases.

Since you’re from London, could you tell me anything about the climate there? What’s hardest about having a label over there and what challenges do you have in front of you?

– London is an all consuming city, impossible to escape, often exhausting, but ultimately enthralling. As I touched upon earlier, it was only when I moved here that the idea for the label developed a clear focus. At the moment there is a certain sense of dystopia to London, that like much of the world, is currently feeling the full force of austerity. With Momentform and blablarism both based in their respective capital cities, and myself in London, the city is a shared is a shared reference point for us all.

The greatest challenge for the label is ensuring every release gets the exposure its creators so richly deserve. If this happens then everything else will follow.

Are there coming any other releases planned before the end of 2012, and if so, could you tell me anything about them?

– IDEAL 002 will be the debut release from Ukrainian solo artist blablarism, due for release in late November. I can’t reveal too many details at the moment, but the release is similarly informed by living in the city, with Kiev the source of both inspiration and desperation

Thank you for letting me interview you about your label! Say what you want here in the end!

– It has been a pleasure, thank you. Be sure to follow New Ideals as there are some great releases planned in 2013 that we are beyond excited for, including a band who have already appeared on my favorite record label.

Before we get started on the questions I sent to Momentform, I need to emphazise that it’s Ianis Lallemand from the band, answering the questions asked.

Could you tell me anything about the history of the band and when it first started out?

– Momentform started out of discussions with my friend Pierre Suarez in the south of France, in the summer of 2010. I had been playing bass and releasing electronic music for some time; Pierre writes a lot, mostly short and very intense pieces. I was quite tired at this time with the process of producing complex electronic pieces, stuff that usually took me days to complete. I wanted to delve into something much more visceral, something I could write and produce more instinctively – music which could function as snapshots of certain states of mind. It seems to me Pierre’s lyrics respond to the same urge of instantaneous, cathartic expression. Hence it seemed natural to mix my music and his texts.

Although the tracks born from this collaboration where amongst the first to be finished, Pierre vocals only appeared in the second release, Four Days (released in June 2012 by Modern Tapes, Chicago). I see Momentform as an open project – which means that it might also take instrumental forms. However I’m very proud to have Pierre doing its great spoken word vocals once again on Yearn.

You’ve released your first 12¨ on American label WT but now you’ve released on New Ideals – what was the reason for this?

– This wasn’t planed, it just happened out of opportunities. I’m very happy to work with New Ideals. Joe (the label’s owner) is a really nice person and I wish him and his label all the best for the future.

What does the minimal synth genre mean to you?

– Apart from the quality of 80s pastiche that is undeniably has in some extent, I think the sound quality of the genre is particularly relevant to electronic music now as a path out of overly-polished productions, and out of the abstraction of club-oriented music.

Do you have anything else planned for the near future? Anything you could reveal?

– I’m working on a live set that I want to play at very special and intimate occasions. I have a few tracks ready, which are quite different than what I’ve done in the past releases. There are also a few other projects that I cannot reveal yet.

Good thing that you chose Invisible Guy! Or yeah, I chose you. But, what do you have to say here in the end?

– Thanks for the great work you’ve been doing with the blog and the Harvesting series. Thanks to Joe from New Ideals, Patrick from Modern Tapes and William of WT Records for their support!

This is the end of Part I.

Expect Part II to be released on Monday!