Spotlight [Compilation Special]: White Circles and Not So Cold! [Part I]

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In this Spotlight we give heed to newly arisen compilations. Out from the dusk and dawn comes the White Circles Compilation – a celebratory gesture by aufnahme + wiedergabe – for the first anniversary of White Circles, a club in Leipzig with resident-DJ’s Kevin Bigo, Ralph and aehm. So it was really written in stone that the residents were those who should compile the music. With their club they specialize in the colder and more melodic sub-genres of electronica, but they’re not limited to a certain kind of genre. Conceptually they feature live gigs by local and international acts, continual rotation of guest DJ’s, and co-operation with the different themed club-nights and labels – including special events. Their first event was held on the 8th of November, it featured Automelodi as the evening’s live-act, in-house DJ’s Ralph and Kevin Bigo, together with their first guest DJane Coco Darlin (DisTanz). A year later a compilation was formed in advance for the first anniversary of White Circles. The release was held yesterday on the 15th of November, featuring live-acts such as the legendary Clock DVA alongside the fresh blood that is Phase Fatale. Their guest-DJ was :dark sounds:.

Roughly at the same time, but maybe a little bit earlier, the Not So Cold-compilation was showcased for digital streaming on the Tacuara Records bandcamp-page. They call it “A Warm Wave Compilation” – maybe to consolidate support from our frozen friends in the North – or simply a referencing the supposed warm climate of Argentina and Perú. It’s a joint release signed Tacuara Records and Cintas Triangulares. One of the creators is César Canali who also runs the aforementioned label where the compilation is currently hosted, whilst Cesar Aguirre runs the Peruvian-based label Cintas Triangulares. The wonderfully slick cover have been photographed Rui Luz, Photo Digital Art, worked into artwork by Rafael Esteche, and the mastering have been done by Pablo Zumarraga.

a2222851647_10When it comes down to business, the aufnahme + wiedergabe and White Circles curated compilation “White Circles Compilation“, starts off with Azar Swan – whose music I am most unfamiliar to – having listened only to individual songs before. But the bombastic drums together with her assuring voice make for a line between popular music and the darker movements of dark-wave that is an underlying theme. I’m not particularly fond of the style of singing which she applies to this song, which is called “Foreign“, but when the chorus hits off it’s impossible not to dig the complexity of the moving patterns of music – where you’re saved by the gong-gong (in this case, the bridge; that fires off the chorus).

After that, Cocktail Twins deliver hard-as-nails but emotional post-punk with cold-wave overtones, with their song “Rooms Made of Dust“. I really enjoy the sound of a hammer onto a bolt, together with the apathy of the singer. It creates such a distance between the warmth of sincere and calm emotions, with the scraping of nails on the chalkboard – if you get what I mean. The paradoxical sameness that harsher and more straight-forward emotions contribute with, in comparison with the soft-spokenness of true emotions that border on love. There’s a hate-and-love relationship in the deliverance of the lyrics but also when it comes to the music. I believe this synergy creates such a complex atmosphere – as well as the percussion drums up a sea of emotion.

Then comes one of my favorite names from the aufnahme + wiedergabe, but not as I remember them. Velvet Condom used to be more electronic and less minimalistic, but I like their sincere vocals which are shrouded beneath a layer of something sweet. There’s a certain kind of innocence they deliver with such a name as “Self Injury” – which in itself is a hardship and not a joking matter. But I think there’s a paradox between the sweet sound and the topic which they’re ventilating through harsh post-punk rhythms and a steady melody conjured with a synthesizer. There’s a certain indifference to the tone of the singer which is enhanced when paired to the instruments. They’ve given up and they’re just stating a fact. It might seem brutal at the first glance – but what I’m seeing is a form of acceptance. It’s just how it is, I’ll live with it. The more I think about it the more I stray away from the lyrical content – in turn I am drifting away into total gloominess.

a3555187109_10For a change, I decide to turn on the Not So Cold “A Warm Wave Compilation”. Where I’m immidietly hooked into everything by Hante – the solo-project of Minuit Machine’s own Hélène De Thoury. The project doesn’t differ that much from the duo, but there’s a certain fluidness of the sound-scape which flows more into ambient territory. There’s not a strictness that can be felt with the main project which she has with Amandine Stioui – who’s also the singer when it comes to Minuit Machine. It’s also great to hear a different voice and a more playful tone when everything comes around, even though most of it is deadpan. Hear as it slowly transgresses from a full-on assault of synthesizers until it tones down and dies out in the abyss. Most of the track feels existential even though “Falling from grace” suggests otherwise. Sure, there’s a certain existentialism embedded into the bits and pieces of the track and the title alone, but it feels like a settlement between an imagined ego and reality knocking on heaven’s door. But I don’t really want to find it out – I’d rather speculate.

Since I had to skip YusYus because of an error probably created by Bandcamp itself, making the track entirely silent and only playable for four seconds – I move into Jenny Eve & Dan Söderquist (Twice A Man). Their track “Immersion” (taken from “The Monastery“) seems francophilic at a first glance, but then an ethnic vibe is leading you through the monastery. There’s much more to a title than what anyone could suggest. An invitation, an extended hand which guides you through and lets you follow them into a certain mood – fulfilment seems to be their goal. The good thing about all this is how it’s obvious what the meaning of everything is, but it is open for interpretation. Because when you get so certain of something, you generally refuse to see anything else then what is told. Who knows, maybe it’s not an invitation at all but rather a poisonous substance for your mind – delivered with sincere and beautiful music, whispered into your ear just so you believe it to be the other way around. I don’t know, but their sound is magnificent and intriguing to say the least – relaxing, a relaxation from the electronica that have flowed through already.

Now we’re up for something really exciting. I’ve just heard their name and listened to some of their songs, but now it’s allvar (severity) for Alvar. This Swedish duo touch upon the same bizarre no-go zone that Celldöd enters when he blends the most primitive, with the most complex music. I don’t know if this is industrial and electronic body music interpreted in a practical way, or if it’s simply theoretical and primitive at the same time with the track “The very witching time of night“. We’re however taken into the industries directly, wheezing pipes and knocking on tin – sampling morbid historical content, by reciting older criminal cases from Swedish criminal history. But the thing is that I don’t even know if it’s for real or not. It all seems like a dream to me and when the chaos erupts its difficult to wake up from this nightmare. They’ve really outdone themselves with the percussion and the wrecked noises that form an almost undanceable body-beat. This is how it was supposed to be done, so it’s a good thing that someone is finally taking it seriously. This is Alvar – uncompromising and stripped from every form of conscience, strictly based on factual happenings. Cold and harsh, fair and just – or is it an illusion?

Here ends Part I. There will be a follow-up for the rest of the songs. Wait until Part II.

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Interview with Jen Ellerson of Modern Movement!

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Modern Movement is a project that was jumpstarted by Jen Ellerson, back in 2010. She wanted to capture a movement that she’d seen rising in Berlin, which was limited to eclectic and nocturnal sub-cultures within this specific region of Germany. Mainly ranging from cold wave to other obscure sounds. Those that are involved with the project, describe themselves as “a collective of ambitious, international misfits with irreproachable taste“. So, when this concept first set out to do something, it was by putting up club-nights that would fuse together the potential she saw in Berlin. Garnering a lot of momentum from her previous (and still current) project Brave Exhibitions, which is about the same thing, but not really. It’s based out of London, but it’s focused within a similar scene. She’s been running it together with James Lowry for some time now. Anyway, since club-nights only and installations at that, didn’t really pinpoint what was happening around her, she sketched out an idea for a book in 2011. This later on formed into a bigger project, which would come out in 2013 and also include a compilation of tracks to accompany the book itself. Like a soundtrack for everything that’s been gathered around. There’s a lot to say about Jen Ellerson, and she’s got a lot of experience within multimedia as such, but hopefully this interview will clear up a lot of question-marks. I asked her about the book, the idea behind it, Brave Exhibitions, Modern Movement, what it was like coming to Berlin, how Berlin differs from London and much more. I’m hoping that you’ll find this informative and enjoyable, and I hope that some of you actually recognize yourselves as part of this story.

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Premiere: Modern Movement w/ exclusive picture and a free download!

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Outtake in the making of the Modern Movement book. Artist: Noisy Pig.

Modern Movement was founded in Berlin year 2010, as a platform for different concepts. Their main focus have mainly been limited to eclectic, nocturnal sub-genres. Brought up by people with, as they call them; “ambitious, international misfits with irreproachable taste“. Developing the often applauded creativity of Berlin. Involving filmmakers, photographers, DJ’s, artists, musicians and performers. Arranging events, parties and the likes of it. One of the main persons behind this rather newly emerged “movement”, if you want to call it that, is Jen Ellerson. A tireless promoter from Berlin, who decided to make something of the different bands, artists and groups that have slowly emerged from the center of it all. This, in turn, led to the advancement of the compilation that celebrates it all – namely the forthcoming release “V/A – Modern Movement – The Compilation“, getting put out by the German label aufnahme + wiedergabe. Featuring the artists, groups and bands: Gertrud Stein, Jemek Jemowit, Mary Orcher + Your Government, Germinal, Noisy Pig, Privacy, Nao Katafuchi, Velvet Condom, Petra Flurr + Modernista, Aniaetleprogrammeur, Nuclear Family, Mueran Humanos, Sixth June, Oberst Panizza, Bloodygrave & Die Lust!, Reckless Redemption, Team PI​$​$ and reliq.

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Best tracks of 2012 according to Invisible Guy!

10. Seacrypt – Other Worlds

Taken from their debut album A Momentary Rift which I found randomly while browsing bandcamp. Certainly also one of the greater albums this year, with a roster of eight powerful and mind-numbingly great tracks. An ode to the greatness of darkwave, synth-pop and ambient – all in one.

9. Curxes – Spectre

One of the better bands this year and definitely one of the greatest songs I’ve heard this year. The noir pop-esque feeling that never seems to let go, wherever you lay your eyes, they’re there observing you. An emotional wonder that will hopefully stand the toll of time, and that also have lived the post-destruction era that is and was 2012.

8. Inkvisitionen – Dö som lejon

Knuckleduster hardcore from the city of Gothenburg, representing their city with a monstrous track, demanding complete annihilation of everything. One of the fiercest hardcore tracks I’ve heard this year, fortunately released before next year so it could be included in this list. Like it was meant to be.

7. INDΣΔ†HI†ΣNDϟ – The Banishing

A softie from this phenomenal constellation. Featuring my favorite genres, done completely right, with absolutely no regard whatsoever for labels to be smacked upon them. Which is an attitude I mostly support, so you should support them by tuning in and buying their stuff. With that said, this track (and the other one) are totally different from their earlier material, featuring a highly ambiguous (and) ambitious effort from their side.

6. Velvet Condom – Kalter Lippenstift (INDΣΔ†HI†ΣNDϟ Remix)

I must say that I enjoy the regular version as much, but I had to choose, so I chose the remix by INDΣΔ†HI†ΣNDϟ. Why? Because there’s so much energy in this remix, which overshadows the original song. I’d like to say that they’re good in different ways, but this one is (by far), superior.

5. Black Table – Heist

One of the more surprising tracks in this list. I must say that I have a feeling when I’m about to hear something extraordinary. So, I will have to say that this progressive metal/black metal/post-metal act deserve all credit where credit is due. This is their best track on the EP they released recently. I don’t know why, but the lyrical content and the musical ambitions are outstanding. With a pretty unique vocalist, whom I thought was a man at first. Sorry, Mers, I should’ve known that you’re a she and not a he.

4.TSTI – Love & Truth

Straight from a bedroom somewhere in New York. A man with a quest to enhance his own sound, release his creativity on analogue machinery and be a part of something organic. This track have all the little details, every influence and a feeling that shouldn’t be underestimated. Synth-pop from the glory days, but with a new twist and certainly not a copy of a copy. Deserving everything and definitely fitted for this list.

3. Niels Nielsen – Shadow Twin

I’m going back to the drawing board, I’m hoping that Zeigeist will re-establish themselves, but until then; Niels Nielsen is adequate with this wonderful track. Even though it contain some lethal doses of mainstream, I have endured and must say that this is one of the best tracks this year. Nostalgia may have gripped me by the balls, but I don’t really care. This track will be played on New Year’s eve.

2. Henric de la Cour – Grenade

Calm yet bombastic. One of the tracks I’ve wanted to get a hold of physically, but failed due to my own incompetence. Along with everything else he’s done, I would say that this is probably the epitome. This track is the best that I’ve heard from him yet, so let’s hope that he continues in this fashion.

1. the Hex Dispensers – Parallel

What can I say? I’ve been playing this track non-stop since it was released. The record has been reviewed thoroughly and there’s probably nothing that can match this. Also, it feels good that someone decided to accompany Gérard Depardieu with this track, it enriches it even more.

The runner-ups are the following tracks:

10. Alina Devecerski – Jag Svär

9. Damage – Keeping It Wild

8. The Foreign Resort – Buried

7. Agent Side Grinder – Wolf Hour

6. Övervarning – Det heliga korset

5. Monozid – rita, you know we are doomed

4. Bombangrepp – Skuggan Av Dödens Sändebud

3. Beyond Pink – Statements on statement

2. Xiu – Life Is A Lie

1. Linea Aspera – Malarone

Harvesting #1: Upcoming coldwave-gems that you must check out!

Harvesting is much like MNF (My New Fascination), but more of several recommendations rather than one. This one is also much more genre-based than the aforementioned. I’m hoping to keep up the pace that I’ve had for the last week or so, meaning that I’m trying to develop different forms of categories that don’t fit into your traditional reviewing, recommendation or otherwise sufficient form of doing things. As I’m more of a crazy-minded person, I prefer to break some barriers now and then. Not saying that this is revolutionary or anything, it’s just one thing packaged differently.

Since I’ve been indulging more and more with the cold wave folks, I’d like this first Harvest to focus more on this phenomenon in the first edition of it.

Xiu – Xiu (2012)

A long awaited release by the weirdly fashionable artist Xiu from Italy, and her real name is Oksana Rodionova. She describes her music with a few sentences on her Facebook: “Lonely Synth Wave“. I would agree on that, but I also sense that there’s something else within her music. There’s a rough but dreamy edge to it, almost analog, at least when listening to the few tracks available for this cassette. From the two songs available, the best song so far have been “Why Were We Gone“, if I have to choose between that song and the song “Someday“. Her music both instills the musical elitist within me and at the same time manages to hit a spot within me that’s hard to explain. I guess the point of it is to convey that sense of loneliness, the sense that you may not belong. She does it with such delicacy, as if she’s a surgeon laying the first cut in you. Instead of ravishing your whole body, the surgeon takes out your heart and pumps it full with a syringe of hopeless hopefulness. In essence, the ability to convey both the “negative” feeling itself and being able to also cover the counterpart, is what I believe Xiu does best. At least when I’ve listened through these two songs.

The almost droopy dreaminess of the angelic, but not too overtly sacrilegious approach makes her unique in each and every way. I believe that the cold-wave is ever present. But it’s entrenched within both the minimalism and the outer spheres of the sound-scape. I would say that it’s most noticeable because she never transgresses the line of “too catchy” and never peddles within the huge box that many artists manage to fall into. Neither is it your average reverb-drenched madness, it’s a fine-tuned wave of intrigue, ready to sweep over your body without you noticing its adjacent touch. As if it just changes your mood and push the different buttons, without you noticing it, but your subliminal conscience carries it on and it affects your whole body in one way and another.

Since it’s being released on the all too fabulous label aufnahme + wiedergabe, I suggest you buy it. You can pre-order it over at their bandcamp, which I’ll link to here. It’s being released on the 12th of October and you should get it. Be it for the great tracks, which is rarely ever executed properly by artists and bands alike, or be it the wonderful aesthetics that are combined in this release.

Velvet Condom – VC (2012)

I must’ve kept my eyes closed, because I could’ve swore that I’ve heard and seen these guys before. Maybe they performed in my earlier life, when I was a fast-moving feline. I don’t really know, but their sound is nevertheless some great stuff you should pay attention to. I’ll tell you why; the sincerity in the singer’s voice, the moving up-tempo beats and almost gothic environment in the sound-scape. Oh, I should add the wonderfully dark baseline that pesters the first song “Poison & Maquillage“. But there’s not just the non-electronic dimension to this, quickly it changes for a more minimal wave-oriented track. The second track that you get to hear on bandcamp is the track “Dirty Me (Incorporated Whore)“, which also both has an electronic baseline that wobbles its way right into the center of my heart, and a slick non-electronic baseline that strengthens the overall sound-scape and gives it a whole other flavor. I think the addition of it heightens the song and makes the emotional value of it rise to the skies.

However, the song that I was most impressed by, was a genial third song that you get to listen to which is titled “Kalter Lippenstift (In Death It Ends Remix)“. It’s about as bombastic as it gets, the overtly catchy melodies in the song hooks me by the arm and lets me dance along with it, and round and round I go. Actually a great remix, since I don’t really fancy remixes that much, but I’ll be wanting to hear the original too someday. It’s a really fascinating way to end the pleasurable listening so far, at least from the songs that are available. I must say that it seems to hold a huge chunk of great quality all-in-all. I’ve really got nothing to complain about, it’s like getting everything in one single mix. It seems like its their strength to combine these more obscure genres, at least if I’m going to judge them by analyzing this release.

Since it’s another aufnahme + wiedergabe release, I must ask them this: how come you got so many great artists and bands on your label? It’s totally wicked and insane. Almost as if I’ve gotten the ultimate gift for this wonderfully cozy autumn that is upon us. So you can go over to their bandcamp and pre-order this wonderful cassette there, just follow the marked line which is pointed out over here. They’re releasing this album on the 12th of October, which means that they’re competing with Xiu on the release date. Hopefully both of them will get the same attention, since they seem to be as awesome.