News & Events
Sparkly disjointed pop by Finnish luminary Jonna Karanka!
As part of legendary groups such as Avarus, Hertta Lussu Ässä and Olimpia Splendid, Jonna Karanka has been a key player in the Finnish underground for most of this century. Through her Kuupuu alias, she dwells among an illustrious generation of Finn sound wizards which includes Tomuttontu/Jan Anderzen, Tsemba/Marja Ahti, Lau Nau, et al. Through the collaging of warbled acoustic instruments and looped-up electronics, Kuupuu has long been carving out her own lines into this post-free folk/neo-psychedelia lore.
Plz Tell Me, her first LP since 2013's Sisar, was originally a self-released cassette through which new forms emerged in the Kuupuu repertoire. Jungly orchestral arrangements meet slick dub-tinged productions in a series of pop tunes for disjointed times: whether you dance or swoon or stare confusedly into space is up to chance. The original nine tracks get the full LP treatment for this Belgo-Finn treaty renewal, with 12 songs that weave down endless summer full of disembodied voices that moan and quaver as they murmur lullabies to punctured beats. Plz Tell Me opens a dazzling zone for fantasies to inhabit and intertwine, where incongruent sounds and a noisy kit of dreamed storylines knit a full tapestry of whimsical bliss.
More information can be found here.
Canadian violinist Christopher Whitley presents his first release of this year, Landscape Shifts (Slight Return), a collage of material derived from a 40-minute single movement piece that originally premiered in Austin, Texas earlier this year, composed by Christopher Whitley for small ensemble, electronics and projections.
Having been composed and performed a month before the Covid-19 related US shutdown, the piece was originally conceived in response to the book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, yet took on a new meaning as the core theme proved to be uncannily prescient in the following months of enforced stasis and lockdown.
The work itself, split into two parts, evokes themes of solitary introversion and serene patience, embedded in an tranquil ambiance featuring light movements of cello, voice, violin, piano, percussion and electronics, yet the piece never comes to feel cluttered as the small ensemble unfolds in a flurry of harmony throughout its 23-minute duration, as even in its busiest moments Landscape Shifts (Slight Return) is as much about the music as it is about the silence in between the individual sounds, giving the work an acute sense of intimacy that offers listeners a moment of sincere respite in these turbulent times.
Under his moniker "Blessed are the Hearts that Bend," filmmaker and artist Luke Seomore channels his narrative abilities and experiences into musical output. Is My Destroyer, his latest album, is an ode to film, legacies and trauma.
On the album, Luke showcases meticulously sculpted compositions that range from solemn ambient soundscapes to orchestral symphonies, often featuring spoken word or field recordings, while being permeated by a rich sense of cinematic atmosphere. Is My Destroyer unfolds like a story arc, always filled with a sense of time and direction as ideas morph, grow, disperse and rekindle; with key pieces like "Palace" these ideas seem unbound, bursting out of their seams with emotional grandeur, elegance and passion, while other works such as "Orio" or "The Tower" offer sincere moments of reprieve.
In the end, Is My Destroyer feels like a film without pictures, enticing listeners to fill the void with their own imaginings as they experience this moving body of work, leaving one with both a shared sense of connectivity and a singular experience, which ties in to the core theme of the work, one where Luke questions how experiences, legends, ideas and trauma get passed on through generations.
Initially self-released digitally earlier this year, Ruben Kotkamp's debut album fall/winter 19ʼ20 showcased the Netherlands-based artist's prowess at crafting a musical world entirely his own, enveloped by a fabric of electronic blips, glitches and clamor. Yet under this soundscape of synthetic networks lies a poignant human component that underpins the inherent moving quality of the work, which when viewed in its entirety comes across as a meditation on the digital ages continually intersecting framework between man and machine, voice and sound, body and fabric.
For this expanded issue, Vaknar presents the original album in physical format for the first time, while including two new pieces that further expand upon themes found in the original work, such as a new composition by Ruben Kotkamp, which interlaces some of the albums components into a 12-minute barrage of static noise and modulated voice experiments.
Additionally the expanded album includes a rework by Belgian composer Mathieu Serruys, who likewise reworks various components from the album and molds them into a 9-minute long, heavily tape-processed soundscape of clattering hiss, droning horns and tempered voices, ending the album on a final swan song of deteriorating machinery and human impermanence.
More information on all three releases can be found here.
Spanning the last 38 years, The Bats have clocked nine incredible albums; each one seeing the band evolve with new material from the prolific songwriting hand of Robert Scott. Add to that tally the extra singles, b-sides, EPs, compilations and tribute songs they’ve recorded, creating a succinct setlist is a nearly impossible task.
Their 10th full-length, Foothills, was recorded in Spring 2018 at a country retreat pop-up studio. At that time, 15 songs were captured and immortalized in the Canterbury foothills of the Southern Alps, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Only too well, The Bats know the possibilities, potentialities and sonic vistas that arise when one takes the reins for the recording process in a beautiful place that's on home turf.
Robert Scott, on the making of Foothills has said "Time marches on... finally, we found a gap in our busy lives and chose a week to convene. We found a house that is usually inhabited by ski field workers — Kowai Bush, near Springfield about an hour west of Christchurch and of course nestled in the foothills of the mighty Southern Alps. The songs had been written, demo'd and arranged for some time, but still with a little room for trying things out in the studio. Many carloads arrived at the house, full of amps guitars and recording gear, we set up camp and soon made it feel like home; colored lights, a log fire, and home cooked meals in the kitchen. We worked fast, and within a few days had all the basic backing tracks done, live together in one room, the way we like to do it - it's all about 'the feel' for songs like ours."
The Bats must hold a record in New Zealand (perhaps the whole world, once The Rolling Stones throw in the towel) as a band that has survived with the same line-up for 38 years. No split-ups, no reforming for nostalgia's sake.
So far, half the band have spots in The New Zealand Music Hall Of Fame, vocalist/ guitarist Robert Scott (The Clean) and bassist/producer Paul Kean (Toy Love), and it's only a matter of time before lead guitarist Kaye Woodward and drummer Malcolm Grant find themselves in there too. The four-piece has created twisted wistful folk, psychedelic rock, bouncy twee pop, and everything in between, but whatever the genre, their sound is always distinctively, unmistakably The Bats.
More information can be found here.
The World that IS and IS NOT is the enigmatic title of My Cat Is An Alien's new "concept album."
The World that IS and IS NOT is the existential reflection of MCIAA on 2020: a pandemic scenario where everything seems to vanish into the Void.
Explicitly dedicating this new studio album to the dark ages we're all living through, more than ever MCIAA stand strong to claim that Music and Art are the primary and true "cure" for spiritual disquiet and moral despair.
Thus the music herein is highly spiritual, sensitive, soft and warm… surprisingly lyrical. Its celestial melodies cannot but induce to transcendental meditations. MCIAA offer a one-way ticket to still unexplored otherwordly territories and better realms of space-time consciousness.
An inborn wisdom that Roberto Opalio resumes in his poem handwritten on the album insert: "In the endless vortex of No-Thing / […] I still do believe / Art can save my Spiritual Noise soul."
Produced by MCIAA in multi-dimensional, fully dynamics-frequency spectrum "STEREOALIEN FIDELITY."
Released on the renewed Opax Private Press imprint in a first, ultra-limited and hand-numbered edition of 100 Silver Color Vinyl LPs, housed in full-color printed jacket with folded cover/insert on Italian fine art linen textured 250g cardboard. Includes a 70x50 cm Poster. Cover and poster painting by Roberto Opalio. Design by MCIAA.
More information can be found here.
Dan Barrett— the man behind Have A Nice Life, Giles Corey, and Enemies List Home Recordings— has unveiled details for his sophomore album as the electronic project Black Wing. Due out December 11th on The Flenser, No Moon is a gorgeous chillwave/post-punk record with nine bleak yet blissful songs and is a fitting close out to the year 2020.
Written over the course of the last few years, with about half of the songs penned over the last six months (mostly due to pandemic "free time"), No Moon is a heart-wrenchingly honest outpour of emotion. Throughout the writing process, Barrett was having recurring dreams and felt a strange sense of timelessness — that, combined with quarantine is what he simply describes as "a weird experience." Barrett explains, "Quarantine was profoundly isolating. With writing this record, more than anything I just wanted to prove to myself that I could make something out of it. That ended up being a lot of songs about feeling isolated, a lot of 'trapped in my own head' moments. I think that was a lot of people's experience as well."
Barrett formed Black Wing in the mid-2010's as an opposite to his project Giles Corey; where Giles started as 'only acoustic instruments allowed,' Black Wing started with only digital instruments. In 2015, Black Wing released its first proper full length, …Is Doomed, to great critical acclaim. Much like that album, No Moon bubbles with electronica and indie-pop with earworm melodies and affecting lyrics. But No Moon is a transitional change from Black Wing's debut; the songs here are a bit more experimental and there's a significantly wider emotional range to them.
The nine new tracks on No Moon are gloomy yet glorious, heavy while ambient, overwhelming yet alluring, and offer an earnest and honest look into one's self during such a troubling and confusing year — something we all can relate to.
More information can be found here.