FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Mexican Summer

Step Right Up: Huerco S.

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Huerco S. (aka Brian Leeds) has recently released ‘Colonial Patterns’, the debut album by the hugely talented Kansas City producer, available now on the Software label.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Huerco S. is the pseudonym for Kansas City producer Brian Leeds. The debut record, entitled ‘Colonial Patterns’ has been very recently released into the world by the ever impressive Software imprint. The Brooklyn-based label is run by Dan Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Joel Ford (who alongside Lopatin comprises of the synth-pop duo Ford & Lopatin), who specialize in electronic music. Established in 2011, the label have been responsible for a plethora of compelling explorations in the electronic realm – acclaimed artists such as Megafortress, Carlos Giffoni, Slava, Blanck Mass, Pete Swanson, Autre Ne Veut, Ford & Lopatin amongst others – where the newest electronic master-class of ‘Colonial Patterns’ reflects the pedigree and calibre of artists home to the prestigious label.

An entire new world of enchanting techno music is meticulously crafted by Leeds, where the tape hiss and vinyl crackle of ‘Colonial Patterns’ transports you to a new realm, as the subconscious enters a sense of oblivion. What is most striking about Huerco S. is the emotive feel that radiates from the software and synths utilized by Leeds. Upon repeated listening, ‘Colonial Patterns’ reveals the intricate patterns inherent in the supreme musical structures dotted across the self-contained sonic world unleashed by the young producer (a mere twenty two years of age). The pieces are dynamic – forever evolving into new entities – that creates a deep space within the sonic framework. Recent releases consisted of a handful of 12″s and cassette, including a twenty-minute synth exploration (‘Untitled’), which Leeds cut in collaboration with Exael for Opal Tapes.

Interestingly, Leeds works cheaply, employing low-end software, synths and cassettes, the effect of which is the creation of something utterly timeless. Non-musical influences consisted of architect Paolo Soleri, known for the concept of “Arcology” (a fusion of architecture and technology) as well as the ancient Native American mound city of Cahokia. The site of Cahokia in Illinois marks prior Native American societies whose existence was derailed by the colonialist revelation of the so-called New World.

The Software imprint has explained that “Leeds makes techno folk music that carries remnants of the past into the future.” These words epitomise the humaneness of the electronic suites that breathes feeling and where a sense of space and time is all but lost. ‘Colonial Patterns’ is a deeply immersive experience.A parallel can be made with Darren Cunningham’s Actress project, whose blend of hazy electronic soundscapes (particularly, 2013’s ‘R.I.P) shares Leeds’ intuitive feel for beats, textures and rhythms. Side A’s longest cut, ‘Plucked From The Ground, Towards The Sun’ is a sublime slow-burning house odyssey, as dazzling house rhythms gradually coalesce onto the foreground of the mix. A term already used to define the sound of Huerco S. of “midwestern techno and house” is somewhat accurate. Towards the final movement, the synths arrive to a gorgeous crescendo. Again, it is the emotive feel that exudes from the blend of synthetic elements that is simply staggering. The elements of Leeds’ chosen sounds are more direct and hard-hitting on the immaculate tour de force of ‘Quivira’. An infectious groove is created here, as hypnotic beats and looped cassettes – inaudible voices and beautiful noise – sway into your consciousness. The output of London-producer, Burial can be a reference point.

A repetition of vocals on ‘Anagramme Of My Love’ conjures up the sound of ecstatic bliss. The seamless textures of the shape-shifting piece brings to mind Theo Parrish. An irresistible deep house groove permeates the killer track that is ‘Ragtime U.S.A (Warning)’. The piece contains limitless nuances and damn-fine tone-structures: a deep voice is looped throughout pulsating beats and shape-shifting rhythms. My personal favourite moment of ‘Colonial Patterns’ arrives four-and-a-half minutes in: dazzling boogie rhythms stop you in your tracks, as the bass is pumped up and new-found sounds effortlessly unfurl into the mix. The rhythms and pulses are beautifully blurred. A stunning ambient gem ascends into the atmosphere in the form of ‘Monks Mound (Arcology)’ that effortlessly drifts into another dimension. The vast expanses of ambient music is wonderfully ventured down by Leeds. A contrastingly brooding feel takes over ‘Prinzif’ as the vinyl crackle interwoven with a cascading flurry of synths casts a vitality to proceedings. Album closer ‘Angel (Phase)’ is irresistible and the ideal way to end such a unique voyage that recalls the likes of Four Tet and the melancholia of William Basinski. To begin to deconstruct the seamless layers of enveloping sound would be a distinct impossibility. A meditative quality exudes from the gorgeous waves of vocals and dreamtime rhythms. Joe Meek’s ‘I Hear A New World’ slowly begins calling as the digital beauty of ‘Colonial Patterns’ fades into the embers of tomorrow.

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‘Colonial Patterns’ is out now on Software.

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http://ssshuercosss.tumblr.com
https://soundcloud.com/huerco_s

http://softwarelabel.net

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Written by admin

September 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

Step Right Up: Gauntlet Hair

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The new sophomore full-length player from Chicago-based duo, Gauntlet Hair heralds the latest release from the U.S independent label du jour, Dead Oceans. The label has been responsible for several stunning records so far this year – the soon-to-be-released ‘Nepenthe’ album by Julianna Barwick, indie-giants Califone and Akron/Family, and not least, Matthew Houck’s Phosphorescent. Gauntlet Hair fuse exhilarating worlds of brooding synth-based pop and multi-layered indie opuses that provide a sonic haven for any lover of indie music, in the truest sense.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Gauntlet Hair is the collaboration between drummer Craig Nice and singer/guitarist Andy R. The duo released their debut self-titled album in 2011, having released singles on prestigious labels such as Mexican Summer and Forest Family. ‘Stills’ is the title of their new record that encompasses a world of post-apocalyptic, where dark tones penetrate the headspace. The result is an immaculately produced and intricately layered sonic exploration into the heart of darkness. At the heart of ‘Stills’ is vintage rock ‘n’ roll; alive with pulsating beats and infectious melodies that makes for a formidable journey. ‘Stills’ was recorded in Portland, Oregon, during the cold of winter in “The Cave”, which is the name of the recording studio utilized by producer Jacob Portrait.

Album opener ‘Human Nature’ begins with pulses of bass and the meditative harmonies of Andy R. The opening notes are reminiscent of Royal Trux, where a cosmic spirit of deeply affecting rock ‘n’ roll breathes deeply into your bloodstream. Later, the drone of bass evolves into blissed-out guitar noise and anthemic beats. An anthem is born. The opening refrain is glorious, as it circulates along a whirlwind of nuanced guitar soundscapes: “When it comes out / It’s all I see / That’s when they tell me / It’s just your human nature.” A sense of euphoria escalates as a crescendo of dazzling beats and haze of guitar and synths conjures up the timeless sound of The Jesus And Mary Chain, as the lyrics reflect the epitome of cool: “They tell me that I make you smile one time a week.”

‘Spew’ contains a sublime slowed-down groove that magnificently fades into the mix. The opening bassline funk recalls another indie-classic from 2013, namely ‘II’ by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Interestingly, Jacob Portrait – who produced the Unknown Mortal Orchestra – is also on production duties here. Many beautiful parallels can be made between ‘II’ and ‘Stills’. Endless possibilities are attained in both records, where a musical vision brings forth illumination to the compelling sonic terrain. Much like ‘II’, a plethora of genres are seamlessly combined – psychedelia, funk, indie-pop, soul – that endlessly pushes the envelope. The vocals on ‘Spew’ reign supreme, and particularly on the opening verses, Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized can be an obvious reference point. The song builds into a divine funk-infused rock treasured creation.

The soulful strut of ‘Simple’ is a pristine funk cut that shares the sonic explorations of Ruban Nielson’s latest venture, ‘II’ and particularly, ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’. 60’s pop harmonies are interwoven between the Funkadelic-esque guitars and frenzied drums. The crystallization of psychedelic pop is formed here, as Andy R. sings “I am alive but I shouldn’t feel it.” ‘Bad Apple’ for me, is ‘Stills”s towering achievement. The vocals are whisper-like, that melt into the odyssey of clean guitar tones and irresistible pop hooks. A record that immediately comes to mind is ‘Veckatimest’ by Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn band are responsible for some of the most compelling indie songs of a generation, and ‘Bad Apple’ has the hallmarks of Droste and co.’s wall of sound. The atmospheric soundscapes of synths, keys and guitar creates a dreamy pop canvas of technicolor sound.

‘New To It’ begins with drum machines and post-punk flavours of bass and beats. The song is slow and entrancing that seeps slowly into your brain. Yet again, more sounds are ventured down, from dub textures to psychedelic flourishes. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti comes to mind. ‘Obey Me’ begins part B of ‘Stills’ that tweaks with 80’s pop of Depeche Mode. The sequencing is wonderful, as the song fades perfectly into the fury of ‘Heave’. The duo’s teenage selves comes to the fore here, as they wear their influences on their sleeve. Says Nice, “I started listening again to the stuff I would have in my discman in the back of mom’s car. White Zombie, Marilyn Manson — the production on those records is so amazing. Nothing sounds like that anymore.”

‘GID’ is another highlight. Similar to Nice’s feelings of the production of Manson’s records, a pristine production of 80’s pop ascends before you, in their scintillating waves. INXS and New Order are etched on the canvas. A swirling sound of synthesizer – conjuring up the sound of heart-drenched strings – forms a gorgeous break in the song – before tear-stained harmonies mounts to the foreground. ‘Falling Out’ contains washed out guitars and a funk-driven beat, before hysteria of ‘Waste Your Art’ brings ‘Stills’ to a momentous close.

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“Stills” is out now on Dead Oceans.

http://gauntlethair.net
http://www.deadoceans.com

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Written by admin

July 29, 2013 at 11:01 am