Some questions for Ray Creature!

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Ray Creature is a band that I thoroughly admire since hearing their first release “Don’t Stop Talking EP” which was recently put out on NO! Record Label. Both of them are Americans and I first thought they were a band, but they’re actually a duo. This duo is compromised of Jon Erich Booth and Natascha Buehnerkemper, having been Jon’s solo-project at first it transformed into a duo. Which is both surprising, since most of their sound is so underrated and explicitly great that I actually wouldn’t have thought that it would’ve not been a band, but hey, here they are. Right after their first release they actually had another one which is getting put out by Sister Cylinder, a full-length S/T debut album. I wanted to clear out some things that I wanted to have answered, so I put out a series of questions which they answered. JEB stands for Jon Erich Booth and NB stands for Natascha Buehnerkemper. Enjoy it. You might also enjoy the freely downloadable track “White Suits” – taken from their S/T debut.

It’s interesting to note that you’re a duo. I would’ve expected it to be a whole band, considering the variety in your sound. Why are you a duo and not a whole band?

JEB: – That’s an effect of layering instrumentation. We take ideas from No Wave and other minimal aesthetics, but our music is in no way minimal. If a song calls for more instrumentation, we add it. Natascha and I have similar ideas about music, and we’ve found ways to reproduce the songs live, so adding more musicians seems unnecessary at this point. Anyway, it’s hard to find people who won’t dilute ideas with compromises or conflicting theories about how the music should work.

NB: – Ray Creature actually started out as Jon’s solo project, and I joined in August of last year. My addition brought along with it the possibility to add even more dimension, both live and recorded. When we play live, there’s so much going on in the backing tracks, having just two of us brings a minimal element to the live shows that is counter to the complexity of the music, which I think makes it more exciting. On another note, being a duo as opposed to a whole band gives us a lot more flexibility regarding touring and shows. Less scheduling bullshit to deal with.

You started out with three demo-tracks and later on you were picked up by NO! Record Label, or how did it go by? What went into recording “Don’t Stop Talking”?

JEB: – When we played a show with Dry Socket, Dylan Ettinger couldn’t make it so Joseph McGlone, the founder of NO!, filled in on synth. After the show he expressed interest in putting out a cassette tape. We had already been producing the self-titled LP with Scott Ferguson of Sister Cylinder Records, so we took an extended version of the opening track, “Don’t Stop Talking,” and three other tracks that didn’t make it on the record and packaged them together as the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP.

“Don’t Stop Talking” is our modest attempt at an austere funk track. Like most of our songs it started with drum machine and bass. The interplay of the guitar, my and Natascha’s vocals, and the lead synth followed from an attempt to keep an unvarying bass line interesting over the course of several minutes.

NB: – I view the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP as a companion release to our LP. It seems that it might be confusing to have two separate releases coming out at the same time on different formats, but in my mind the cassette release was perfectly timed. Even though some of the songs didn’t make it onto the LP, I think they’re really great, and they fit well with the LP aesthetically. It’s possible that we could end up going in a slightly different direction with our future releases, so it’s exciting that all the songs from this songwriting phase were able to make it onto some physical format at once.

Why did you decide to go with such a varied sound, was it the result of experimentation during a long period?

JEB: – I try not to over-determine the music with genre requirements or restrictions. Each song points in its own direction and writes itself to some degree. That’s to say, a set of elements in a song will suggest further styles of instrumentation, which lead to unexpected sounds and song structures. This can create weird stylistic juxtapositions, but it also sets up dramatic transitions within songs, which I think is one of our strengths. For better or worse, that’s the only way I’ve been successful at songwriting while keeping myself interested. There are enough people writing minimal, genre consistent electronic music —I don’t see myself contributing much of interest to that.

NB: – It actually opens us up to being flexible for different shows. Depending on the bands with which we’re playing, we might decide to play our more poppy, dancy tunes. Or we might decide that it’s more appropriate to go a more abrasive, dark route. Since our songs tend to go in a few different directions, it really opens us up to being able to play with lots of different types of bands.

You’re going to have a self-titled debut album out in June with another label called Sister Cylinder. I also noted that you’ve gotten mastering help from Mahern Audio. Have you been mastering your releases on your own before this, or what? How did it feel to have your debut mastered there?

JEB: – I recorded the self-titled LP and recorded and mastered the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP, but I’m an amateur engineer and a dilettante mastering engineer. Since I’m untrained I end up trying too hard in that area. I was exhausted with recording by the time we had the LP mastered by Mahern. I felt relieved to have songs taken out of my hands and began trying desperately and unsuccessfully to forget about them forever. I’m proud of them, but I’ve grown to hate them in some ways. They’re like time-sucking kids I was ready to kick out of the house. Any opinion I have about them is by now irrelevant.

Since you’re going to play a lot of shows in the near future, what are your experiences when playing live? In what way are you stoked for your future performances?

JEB: – We now know the songs well enough to occasionally forget we’re playing them, which is ideal. I like presenting the music at shows, but from the perspective of live performance, the idea is to let the songs go and be inside them rather than exert control over them. We’re touring with Bad Psychic, another electronic act from Bloomington, which is a pleasure because the music is great and the style works with ours. So I’ve been looking forward to every show.

NB: – We’re writing to you right now from Nashville, TN on our third day of a two-week tour. I think this is true of most bands, but people get the best idea of what we’re like from our live performances. We play pretty loudly with a lot of speakers and the live, often repetitive drum parts add an element of intensity that I think people find entertaining, even if they may not be digging what we’re actually playing. It’s always hugely rewarding to see people in the crowd looking pumped about what we’re doing, and it’s a huge payoff for all the hard work we put into this.

It’s nice to be having a freely downloadable track from you. Could you tell me something about it and also what’s in store for you in the coming months?

JEB: – “White Suits” is what passes for another Ray Creature dance track. There was some debate over whether or not to include it on the LP because of its length and atmosphere, but I think it ultimately worked. I tend to think of it as an alternate approach to ideas we were trying to get at with “Don’t Stop Talking.”

In the coming months we hope to start recording our second LP. The plan is to write more relentlessly aggressive songs and incorporate more of Natascha’s vocals alongside my own. Beyond that, we hope it will inspire some confused sexual feelings in people who thought they weren’t confused to begin with—the noblest ambition of rock music.

Down below you can find the track “White Suits” which is freely downloadable as a part of this questionnaire. Hope you enjoy it and do listen to their sound from their own Bandcamp, too, as a complement. If you want to buy it, you should check out Sister Cylinder.

Exclusive Premiere: WTCHS – Tiger

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Californian noise-rockers WTCHS have been molding their under-appreciated sound for two years by now. They are by no means underachievers, it’s just that a lot of people might not have heard about them – or their sound. Starting out in May 2012 with their single “Adult Crimes“, a rather low-keyed presence in sound with comparisons to; Danzig before he got bloated. Moving on from their rather stoner-rock themed first single to an EP titled “Wet Weapons EP“, which virtually holds the same sound true. Though it’s combined with slightly more indie-pop and math rock, the sound-scape itself stays true to a general atmosphere found in their earlier release. Move on to January of 2013 and their sound gets even more gritty, more noisy – when they begin to punch into noise rock for real. This release, “PIE-002“, featured not only their track “Future Fires” but also tracks by Bleet, Wild Domestic and I Smell Blood. In April, their sound got paved into a combination of their earlier noise-rock sound, but featuring an even more math-rock-inspired outfit, dealing with anguish and changes in the landscape of sound only appropriate for those wanting to deal with the harsher side of their sound. The release was a split together with Thoughts On Air called “WTCHS​/​Thoughts On Air“. In September, a few months later, they put out a split together with Das Rad – titled “WTCHS​/​Das Rad” – featuring a less rock’n’roll side of themselves, instilling hope of a noise-pop future. They’re been released by labels such as Buzz Records, Out of Sound, PERDU and Sonic Unyon.

Their latest release, which came out in half a year after their split with Das Rad, is their first full-length album ever. It could be said to be their debut-album. This album, being simultaneously released by different labels, have a well-rounded sound and it feels like they’ve hit their mark with it. Therefore, the logical conclusion is an album instead of a split, single or EP. It’s titled “It’s Not A Cross, It’s A Curse!” and touch different territories of sound, making it a nostalgic trip back into their lowly presence with indie-pop as a mere placeholder, to noise-rock, away into math rock – crossing genres as they pass into something they can call their home. I’ve been given the opportunity to exclusively premiere a track from this release which was put out on the 4th of April. The track “Tiger” from this album is featured exclusively for your listening pleasure. You can stream and listen to the track itself down below, and you can also buy their release from themselves, or their different labels. Check it out, because this is something you wouldn’t like to miss. They’ve got a lot to offer musically, a stringent response to an unhinged world.

Spotlight [SP. ED 2]: Light House / DUST!

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This Italian label named Mannequin Records have long been releasing newly re-issued stuff specifically from the 80’s. They’ve actually released new bands since the beginning, but I’ve always seen them as a “re-issue” label. Since I first and foremost saw them as a re-issue label, I needed to wash that stamp away with some highly intensive synth-pop, quirky minimal synth and charged industrialized cold wave. In this Special Edition of spotlight, we’re guided to the latest releases from this magnificent label. One is a debut-release and the other is a group that has been around since 2012. Newly formed, newly shaped and freshly squeezed. We present to you reviews of: Light House and DUST.

a2890133176_10Light House originates from Portland, where they’ve been around a couple of years. This group features the members Chris Relyea (ex- The Rapture), with Dawn Sharp and Brooks Blackhawk from Atriarch. Their debut-release “In Their Image“, is a four-tracked arachnoid, churning out poisonously addictive dark-wave and minimal synth. This EP of theirs is a somnambulist and ritualistic approach to these genres. Forged with utmost respectfulness to the ambiguous elements that rarely is concocted together with dark wave. Every hit of the longing synthesizer is a reminder that this world is much larger than we’d think it would be. As you slowly sink into the deep-end of the rosewater, when the darkened and spacious rhythms hit your ears like a concrete wall. Together with the pumping beat that continuously vibrates in conjunction with the rest of the beautifully laden sound-scape in front of you. Every mechanism is turning til’ the last component, as you slowly get indulged in the momentum that has been garnering since the start. Fleshy arpeggios, abstract motions and a charmingly sinister sound is what you’re trying to grasp. There’s nothing to hold on to, but there’s everything to hear. To the more classic dark wave experimental with darker intentions, that utilize more of the minimal synth phenomenon when it steps up to the plate. Sweeping synthesizers that forms the textures, with thin threads around the cocoon. When they play around a little bit more with the industrialized and constant rhythm of both their cold wave, the spacious sounds and the minimal synth – heads are turned on their tails. You’d feel obligated to vocalize it together with the vocalist, as she for the first time spread out more of her unorthodox arrhythmic wings. Here, the synthesizers become more grandiose, as every melody is being used to convince you that the layers upon layers of goodness is meant to be for you. It feels personal, with no strings attached, and no pretensions to be found. Deep, from within their hearts, this is for you. I can surely recommend this release, because it is some of the better dark wave mixed with other genres as a crossover, that I have heard for a long time. Especially the last song. Unfortunately the EP is already sold out, but you can listen to it down below.

a1178281350_10DUST, on the other hand, is something different. Even though the common denominator is electronic music. Featuring the collective of korean noise goddess Greem Jellyfish, psych musician/model Angela Chambers, tech audio engineer Michael Sherburn and DJ John Barclay. Originally an dark italo project, now a “combat” techno meets acid house phenomenon. Their intentions are great, as their machines continually pound out the analogue wondrous of acidic textures upon psychedelic longing, in the form of wailing. Consisting of rhythms that would easily punch you in the face and not apologize for it. You’ll have your feet stomping to this as you make your way through this four-tracked explosion of influences. Whilst it tries to re-direct your attention from the bombastic tones, it will suddenly begin to smack your face around with its virtually unchallenged beats that make every techno-maniac shy away in displeasure. Not because it’s bad, but because it is so heavy. This is both as crazy as it can get, with the overtly psychedelic screams and insane vocals. Brace yourself, as the reverberated madness strikes you with provocative lines of futuristic synthesizers, together with charred and spontaneous hits with the electronic hammer. Whatever you’d want to fit in here, is fitted. Whether it consists of quirky synthesizers that graciously show you how to move, or if it is aggressively stomping its way through your living room. Even though some of the italo makes itself noticeable within the rhythms and the melodies, they leave far more space for other influences to grow strong and every single member adds their expertise to fulfill their sacred challenge of introducing this irrational mixture to you as a listener. The more you try to understand it, the more mysterious it gets. Don’t turn your back, because this is freakishly potent stuff. So, whether you like acid house or prefer some stompy techno, or simply just want to “chill” out to some italo influences – everything is for you. But I should warn you, this is a deadly mix in between the borders of these three genres. You should enter at your own risk, because there’s a big risk involved with listening to this. Because you might get hooked directly. There are two copies left of this release, so I suggest you make a run for it, over here. You can also listen to it down below.

Premiär: Sisillisko är de nya herrarna på täppan!

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Eller så är de åtminstone ett helt nytt band, som är sprungna ur Stockholmsjorden. Sisilisko betyder indirekt “ödlornas natt“, vilket är taget från de finska orden “sisiliskojen yö“. Rent symboliskt så kommer denna yttring från natten till Söndag och Måndag, då vi aldrig fastnar i djupsömn utan landar mellan två sömnstadier. Där detta ger upphov till svettighet, märkliga drömmar och där man när ett gravt annorlunda tillstånd. Ni vet säkert vilket, men det kan yttra sig i olika former. Med andra ord så vill de pricka in det som sällan ställs i mittpunkten av tillvaron, eller ens det som där läggs någon uppmärksamhet vid. I karga vrår, i medvetandes ytterkanter, dit dagsljuset strålar inte når. Bandet består utav Albin Boman och Peter Engkvist, och deras debut-singel som de nyligen släppt, som går under namnet “To Die / Under Your Skin” – spelades in i en lokal i ett industriområde, i samkväm med teknikern och producenten Martin Nilsson. Den som spelar trummor är Jakob Enlund, och utöver det så har de haft medhjälparna Veronica Blom, som skötte det grafiska och Anni Alm som stod för fotograferandet.

Nåväl, ni har läst länge nog. Nu är det dags för er att kasta er in i en doominpyrd kaskad av otippad amerikansk folkmusik, i en mäktig treenighet med black metal. Lyssna här nedan.

Some questions for Tangerine!

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Tangerine is a band that formed in 2012. As a band, they play something in between new-wave and indie rock, with hints of pop here and there. They’re located in Seattle, Washington. Since they’re a relatively new band, it’s interesting that they’ve already released their debut-EP titled “Pale Summer” on Swoon Records. Which prompted me to ask them some questions about the band itself and their newly released album. Just so you can get to know them a little bit better, as these posts are a little bit formulaic. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it anyway, because I know that I do.

Could you tell me anything about the history of the band?

– We formed over the summer, but we’ve all been playing music and performing for years. Miro (drums), Toby (guitar), and Marika (vocals/guitar/keyboard) were all part of an earlier group called The Sutures during high school, and Ryan (bass) was a member of Goldfinch while still in high school as well. After taking a few years off for college and other interests, we recently re-formed the Sutures as Tangerine, and brought Ryan on as our bassist. We jammed in Marika and Miro’s basement for a while, and in January we played our first show and recorded our first EP with Jeff of Swoon Records

When it comes to your music, you’ve been featured on a compilation from The Station Record Club. Since then, you’ve also recently released your debut-EP, titled “Pale Summer”. Are you satisfied with everything so far?

– We’ve been really fortunate to get to work with Swoon and so many other great people in the Seattle area. “Satisfied” is an interesting concept, we’re really happy with where we are at right now, but as a musician it’s probably hard to ever feel fully satisfied; we’re always trying new things and trying to push our own personal creative limits.

As you’ve made a lot of progress since you’re a relatively new band, could you describe the making of the EP as a whole?

– We’re always writing new material, so it was hard to pick which songs to record, but we feel like the four songs on “Pale Summer” are a good introduction to our sound. We recorded the EP during a weekend at Jeff from Swoon’s house and the process was relatively straight-forward. I think we discovered that for us, the recording process is almost like a live performance; we don’t tweak too much or change too much. Although we did obsess over some of the edits afterwards.

Do you have any recorded material that will be featured on a future release or anywhere else?

– Being included on volume 5 of the Station Record Club was great, and we are definitely open to being featured on other compilations in the future. As of now, we have no specific plans.

Thanks! What are you going to do in the near future after this release?

– We have a string of shows coming up in the Seattle area, as well as a music festival at a university in British Columbia in early April. We’re constantly working on new material, so we just want to keep on performing, keep on recording, and eventually, we would love to do a mini west coast tour – especially California! Hopefully that isn’t too far off.

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Streaming: L’Obscurité – In Silence

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Detta var tänkt som något, men blev istället något annat. Hur som helst har bolaget Ljudkassett släppt kassetten “In Silence” som är signerat det svenska bandet L’Obscurité. Det som måste tilläggas är att det är deras debutsläpp, vilket kommer i form av de fyra låtarna “In Silence“, “Darkness“, “Get Away” och “Mirrors & Error“. Om man blandar ett stycke mörk pop med synth-punk, så blir det förmodligen i närheten utav vad de sysslar med. Atmosfären känns underproducerad men på ett bra sätt.

Vilket får en att ersätta ordet “lo-fi” på grund utav frånvaron av kassettknaster. Atmosfären är generellt sett rättfram men bjuder även på en karneval av olika smaksensationer rent musikaliskt. Så, vad väntar ni på? Ge er in i deras värld och se hur den ser ut. Om det ni hör låter bra, så går det även att köpa på samma sida för 40 kr. Men om ni vill ha ett exemplar får ni skynda på, eftersom att upplagan är begränsad till 100 ex.

Medgörlig heavy metal och tung rock!

Lifer – Ej att förväxlas med det andra bandet som förra året firade 20 års jubileum. Ett svenskt band som lirar southern rock blandat med heavy metal, á la Black Sabbath. Så till er som vill ha en bra start innan ni får se Sabbath i Juni, ni borde släpa er till Fryshuset i Stockholm den 25:e Februari. För då spelar Lifer där kl. 23:30, i en musiktävling vid namn: “Emergenza Festival 2012“.

Förutom detta är de snart även debutaktuella med en EP, som mastras, mixas och produceras av ingen mindre än Fred Estby (Dismember, Carnage). Så man kan påstå att grabbarna har en tung uppbackning. Tre av låtarna som kommer vara på deras EP kommer heta “Low“, “Dead” och “Downfall“.

Här får ni ett smakprov på Low:

Och Downfall:

Grabbarnas officiella youtubekanal: Liferofficial.

Facebook: Lifer.

Myspace: Lifer Band.