FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Trans AM

Mixtape: I Think I Knew [A Fractured Air Mix]

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I Think I Knew [A Fractured Air Mix]

A selection of some of our favourite music released in the first six months of 2014.

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/i-think-i-knew-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. William Tyler ‘Whole New Dude’ (Excerpt) [Merge]
02. John Murry ‘Glass Slipper’ [Ruby Works]
03. The War On Drugs ‘In Reverse’ [Secretly Canadian]
04. Marissa Nadler ‘Firecrackers’ [Bella Union / Sacred Bones]
05. The Delines ‘The Oil Rigs At Night’ [El Decor / Cortez]
06. Cate Le Bon feat. Perfume Genius ‘I Think I Knew’ [Wichita / Turnstile]
07. The Moles ‘This Is A Happy Garden’ [Fire]
08. Greg Gives Peter Space ‘Electric Eel River’ [Erased Tapes]
09. Hauschka ‘Thames Town’ [City Slang / Temporary Residence]
10. Roll The Dice ‘In Deference’ [Leaf]
11. Trans Am ‘I’ll Never’ [Thrill Jockey]
12. Jamie xx ‘Girl’ [Young Turks]
13. Caribou ‘Can’t Do Without You’ [City Slang / Merge]
14. Hydras Dream ‘The End’ [Denovali]
15. Yann Tiersen ‘Meteorites’ [Mute]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Soundcloud

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Chosen One: Trans Am

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Interview with Trans Am.

“Mixing can be very tedious and labor intensive with Trans Am because we are basically still writing the songs as we mix. We are very demanding of the engineer. There’s lots of editing.”

—Phil Manley

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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‘Volume X’ represents the latest chapter in Trans Am’s rich musical legacy that has consistently pushed the sonic envelope and moved steadily forward with each sonic shift and glorious genre-defying canvas of sound. The band’s tenth studio album (released as ever on the independent label, Thrill Jockey) heralds yet another pinnacle in the trio’s storied career, beginning back in ‘96 with the release of their self-titled debut album (which included a two-day session at Idful Studios with John McEntire). In the years and decades that followed, a string of monumental and shape-shifting records would be forged by the innovative minds of Nathan Means (bass, keyboards, vocals), Phil Manley (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals), and Sebastian Thompson (drums, vocals, bass, guitar, programming), including 1999’s colossal double-album ‘Red Line’, the brooding opus, ‘Liberation’ (2003) and collaborations with The Fucking Champs (The Fucking AM’s ‘Gold’ was their first offering). 2014’s ‘Volume X’ feels a culmination where the eclectic and wonderful sounds (rock, krautrock, prog, ambient, electronic) of Trans Am continue to surprise and enthrall audiences, new and old alike.

‘Volume X’ was recorded sporadically over the course of three years, mostly in San Francisco’s LCR Studios where Manley has recorded many other bands as a professional engineer. Album opener ‘Anthropocene’ begins with ambient flourishes before erupting into a frenzy of killer riffs and an infectious groove to burn the darkest depths of despair with each swirling psychedelic note. ‘Reevaluations’ is a pristine electronic pop cut that recalls Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’ fused with a seamless array of 70’s krautrock and sublime funk slices. Part A continues with the pulsating neon-lit odyssey ‘Night Shift’ that unfolds into an ethereal, interstellar voyage. ‘Backlash’ erupts into a guitar-frenzied wall of noise and metal excursion.

Some of the album’s towering achievements arrive on part B, particularly the dense sound collage of ‘Ice Fortress’ which masterfully delves into electronic, prog and ambient territory. The plethora of textures and nuances derived from the sonic palette of synths, drums and keys is nothing short of staggering as the rhythmic pulse and ambient touchstones conjures up the timeless sound of Can, Neu! and Tangerine Dream for the 21st Century. The drums become more prominent towards the close, forming a free-jazz undercurrent. The closing hypnotic string notes share the singular rhythmic pulses of composer Steve Reich. Sublime.

The torch-lit ballad ‘I’ll Never’ is ‘Volume X’s achingly beautiful lament, reminiscent of the near-mythical ‘Light 3000’ by Schneider TM. The vocodered Nathan Means sings “I’ll never get over to you” on the gorgeous chorus refrain as layers of neon golden synthesizer lines form technicolour patterns across the neon-lit skies overhead. “Come a little bit closer / Where you can brighten the sky” is a lyric from the verse contains an immediacy and intimacy as a painful hurt radiates from that of a broken heart. The album closer ‘Insufficiently Breathless’ is built on a gentle acoustic guitar strum as a cosmic folk infused ambient pop tour-de-force lays before your eyes. The synthesizers and electronic glitches form a gradual crescendo throughout that brings ‘Volume X’ to a stunning climax. The minor-key bridge that arrives half-way through is another defining moment, where Michael Chapman’s acid folk is interwoven with the laptop wizardry of Kraftwerk.

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‘Volume X’ is available now in North America/Japan/Australia, and on 11 August in Europe.

https://www.facebook.com/transamband
http://www.thrilljockey.com

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Interview with Phil Manley, Trans Am.

Congratulations on the stunning new album, ‘Volume X’. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about your utterly transcendent music. Firstly, can you discuss how the sporadic recording process influenced the album’s resulting sound and mood? Also, I imagine having other off-shoot projects and being in separate bands (away from Trans Am) must have been a considerable source of inspiration when it came to working on ‘Volume X’?

Phil Manley: The album was recorded over 3 years in 4 or 5 intensive sessions. The sporadic process allowed us to record a batch of songs and then take a step back. Between sessions we could sit with the rough mixes. Once we reconvened we would edit arrangements, change parts, re-record from zero, or scrap things all together. The editorial process has more breathing room this way.

Seb has been playing drums with Baroness and I could hear that his drumming chops were pretty well honed when he came into the studio for the last recording session. Lately I’ve been playing with a group called Once and Future Band. The arrangements are very dense and baroque. I’m not sure how this may have influenced the Trans Am record.

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My favourite song at the moment is the divine electronic ballad, ‘I’ll Never’. The use of vocoder is such a beautiful addition to the record’s sonic terrain. Can you talk me through this song please? The immediacy and delicate beauty of the song forms a vital pulse to the album’s illuminating voyage.

PM: That song was composed by Nathan. The demo is actually totally insane and rocking. We recorded that songs about 4 different times with very different “rocked-out” arrangements, but they didn’t sound right. We finally settled on the down tempo, ballad style version that appears on the album.

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Previous Trans AM records have been mixed by fellow-luminaries such as John McEntire, James Murphy, and others. The latest album (although not for the first time) is self-produced. Can you discuss the mixing stage of the process? I feel this point in time, after the music is written and recorded, is quite a tedious and labour-intensive process? (Particularly when you consider the wide range of sounds and dynamic range, the album masterfully manifests).

PM: This record was mixed with our old friend, Nikhil Ranade. We’ve been working with Nikhil for almost 15 years now. We met in Washington, DC where he helped us build our old recording studio, National Recording Studio. He has also toured with us for many years as our live sound engineer. He is in the inner circle.

Mixing can be very tedious and labor intensive with Trans Am because we are basically still writing the songs as we mix. We are very demanding of the engineer. There’s lots of editing. With that said, we actually finished the album before we expected we would. We went into the last session thinking we had so much to do and we could never finish it in that amount of time. Somehow, we finished it.

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You recorded the majority of the album in San Francisco’s LCR Studios. How does this space differ to the likes of Idful Studios or National Recording Studio where previous records have been recorded? I would love to gain an insight into the recording equipment and instruments (analogue equipment, pedals, and acoustic instrumentation) you must have collected over the years and utilized on ‘Volume X’?

PM: LCR is in San Francisco and where I’ve been working for the past 8 years. It’s a great studio with great gear and a great room. It’s also right next to the train tracks/I-280/rapid development. I’ve recently signed a lease on a new studio. I’m afraid LCR will soon lose it’s lease to the rapid condo-ification of SF. Here’s a link to the LCR website where you’ll find an exhaustive equipment list: www.luckycatrecording.com

Idful in Chicago was in an old strip mall. John McEntire was the engineer. We recorded about 1/2 of the first record there and a couple tracks off of ‘Surrender to the Night’. It’s now a Gap.

NRS was Trans Am’s studio in Washington, DC. We built it ourselves and we recorded most of our own material there. Nikhil Ranade and Jonathan Kreinik also worked there. It was a magical spot in a really sketchy neighborhood. I think it’s a Whole Foods now.

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I would love for you to discuss how the trio of Trans AM first crossed paths? I was interested to read you began as a blues outfit (as many do!) that led to the formation of DC hardcore band, Fly. It’s inspiring to look back over your incredible discography and see how the band are constantly pushing the sonic envelope. How do you see Trans Am evolving in the next ten years? What have been your most cherished memories so far?

PM: Nathan and I met in the parking lot of Goshen Boy Scout Camps. This was between 7th and 8th grades. Nathan played with Seb in the Pyle Jr. High Orchestra. Nathan played cello and Seb played the violin. I played the alto sax in the school band, which was different from the orchestra. The first time we ever played together was for a holiday concert at Montgomery Mall where both the band and the orchestra played together. I didn’t meet Seb until a little while later when we went to see ‘Labyrynth’ in the movie theater also at Montgomery Mall.

Seb went to high school in Argentina. After graduating from high school, Seb returned to the states which is when Nate and I actually met him in earnest. He was wearing a jean jacket with the Bauhaus album artwork drawn on the back in permanent marker.

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Are there certain defining records for the band that all members have a shared love and fascination for?

PM: Kraftwerk ‘Computer World’, Manowar ‘Triumph of Steel’, Foreigner ‘4’.

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‘Insufficiently Breathless’ is a gorgeous closing cut that is reminiscent of a slowed down version of ‘4,738 Regrets’ on ‘Sex Change’. I love how an organic feel permeates the final section of ‘Volume X’. The acoustic guitar combined with the swirling synths conjures up the sound of a gradual sunset. Was this song pieced together over a long time period? How much of the album was put to tape as a result of a jam session in the studio, as opposed to a more gradual process of adding layers of tracks from each member of the band?

PM: This was definitely composed in the studio. We tracked it in an afternoon. It wasn’t really a “jam” session. Actually, most of this record was composed by any one of us outside of the studio. We’d bring demos in and we’d all work on them together. Very little of the album was wholly composed in the studio.

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You must be looking forward to playing shows together again, especially considering that each member lives in different continents. How has this new change been for you all and do you feel it has seeped into the music of Trans Am?

PM: Trans Am actually started in a similar situation. We all went to college in different places, but we carried on playing together when we could. Taking breaks just helps build the enthusiasm. It’s really fun when we all get to hang out and make music together.

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‘Volume X’ is available now in North America/Japan/Australia, and on 11 August in Europe.

https://www.facebook.com/transamband
http://www.thrilljockey.com

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Written by admin

May 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

Ten Mile Stereo

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Inventions ‘Inventions’ (Temporary Residence Ltd)
Inventions is the inspired collaboration between Portland, Oregon-based Matthew Cooper of Eluvium and Mark T. Smith of Explosions In The Sky. Interestingly, Cooper hasn’t been a member of any “band” since he was a teenager; while no member of legendary Texan post-rock outfit Explosions In The Sky has ever released material outside of EITS. The inception for Inventions began when Cooper invited Smith (already longtime friends and labelmates) to collaborate on a song for Eluvium’s double album ‘Nightmare Ending’, released last May via Temporary Residence. Through Inventions, Cooper and Smith’s intriguing eponymous debut album reveals eight majestic tracks imbued with otherworldly sonic terrains steeped in beauty, pain and hope.

‘Inventions’ is available now on Temporary Residence.

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Yann Tiersen ‘∞ (Infinity)’ (Mute)
‘Infinity’ is french composer Yann Tiersen’s latest album and follow-up to 2011’s ‘Skyline’, which set for release this May via Mute Records. Last year Tiersen curated — and participated in — a special centenary celebration of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas series at the Théâtre de Châtelet, Paris (Tiersen was joined on the lineup by Tim Hecker, James Blackshaw, Loney Dear, Amiina).

‘Infinity’ is released by Mute on May 19th in the UK (May 16th Germany/Australia, May 20th USA/Canada).

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Ryley Walker ‘All Kinds Of You’ (Tompkins Square)
‘All Kinds Of You’ is the hugely anticipated debut album by Chicago’s Ryley Walker, available now via Tompkins Square (William Tyler, Daniel Bachman, Mark Fosson). At only 24 years of age, Walker has already established himself as one of the most exciting prospects as both an accomplished singer/songwriter and guitarist. Recorded in Chicago by Cooper Crain (guitarist/keyboardist in Cave), ‘All Kinds Of You’ features the gorgeous ‘The West Wind’ (previously released as a 3-song 12″ EP last November), while Walker cites the influences of Tim Buckley, Bert Jansch and Tim Hardin.

‘All Kinds Of You’ is available now on Tompkins Square.

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Brigid Power-Ryce ‘I Told You The Truth’ (Bandcamp)
Recorded in St. Nicholas’ Church in County Galway, Brigid Power-Ryce’s ‘I Told You The Truth’ is a gorgeous new set of songs confirming Ryce as one of the most special musical talents on Irish shores. The church-setting and early morning recordings add a warm intimacy to proceedings, while Ryce’s immense talents as both vocalist and musician takes center stage. Across seven heavenly tracks — from the dreamy folk offering ‘Where Are You Tonight?’ to the sublime ukulele-led title-track, the spirits of both Sibylle Baier and Vashti Bunyan are brought to mind.

‘I Told You The Truth’ is available to buy HERE, and listen HERE.

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Teebs ‘E S T A R A’ (Brainfeeder)
The New York-born twenty-six year-old producer and painter Mtendere Mandowa AKA Teebs releases the glorious ‘E S T A R A’ this year, and follow-up to the dreamlike ‘Ardour’ from 2010. In the meantime, Teebs also put out ‘Collections 01’, a compilation comprising a collection of material, often ideas or vignettes, composed by Teebs for the Brainfeeder label (described as “neither EPs or full albums. Just mini collections of ideas..”). ‘E S T A R A’ is fluid, magical, blissful and always wholly engaging and utterly enriching.

‘E S T A R A’ is available now on Brainfeeder.

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Greg Gives Peter Space (Erased Tapes)
Greg Gives Peter Space is the debut collaboration between longtime friends, American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick and UK composer Greg Haines, whose mutual passion for dub music channeled the spark for their debut mini album, to be released by Erased Tapes this June.
As Broderick has stated: “Greg and I became good friends while both living in Berlin, around 2009 to 2013. We spent countless late nights playing records for each other, dreaming the dream of good music. We talked a lot about collaborating and even put in quite a few hours at each other’s studios . . . but for some strange reason we never seemed to finish anything. Maybe we were just busy enough with our other projects and didn’t feel in any rush. But we certainly had it in mind that we’d like to finish something one day. And we are very proud to say that day is finally here!”

Greg Gives Peter Space will be released on Vinyl and Download via Erased Tapes on June 16, 2014.

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WIFE ‘What’s Between’ (Tri Angle)
‘What’s Between’ is the long-awaited debut LP by James Kelly’s WIFE — best known as the sole permanent member and writer behind black metal outfit Altar Of Plagues — is due out this June on Tri Angle Records (Balam Acab, Forest Swords, Vessel, The Haxan Cloak). Previously, Tri Angle have released WIFE’s debut EP ‘Stoic’, heralding Kelly as a huge new talent and creative force in the electronic music scene. ‘What’s Between’ is produced by WIFE alongside The Haxan Cloak, lie & Roly Porter.

‘What’s Between’ will be released on June 10th via Tri Angle Records.

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Alice Coltrane ‘A Monastic Trio’ (Superior Viaduct)
Originally released in 1968, Alice Coltrane’s ‘A Monastic Trio’ will be reissued via Superior Viaduct this May. ‘A Monastic Trio’ is a milestone record for many reasons: it was written in the year following John Coltrane (Alice’s husband)’s passing; it is also the first recording by Alice Coltrane as a band leader, it’s six original recordings echoing the spirit of her husband. As the late Amiri Baraka writes, “‘I Want to See You’ is a monastic piano concerto. With echoes of Europe…It has a solemnity and majesty to it… Yes, monastic is the word. The piano broods in its earth imagination.”

‘A Monastic Trio’ will be re-issued on 13th May 2014 via Superior Viaduct.

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Rodion G.A. ‘Misiunea Spatiala Delta’ (Strut)
Fresh from the spectacular ‘The Lost Tapes’ set, issued by Strut last year to wide critical acclaim, comes ‘Misiunea Spatiala Delta’, an obscure hidden treasure in Rodion Rosça’s considerable songbook. Available for this month’s Record Store Day as a special limited edition vinyl release, ‘Misiunea Spatiala Delta’ is a long-lost film soundtrack originally written in the early eighties, only to be shelved at the last-minute. As Strut write: “Inspired by early ’80s Star Wars mania‚ Victor Antonescu had first created Misuinea Spatiala Delta (Delta Space Mission) as a domestic animated TV series in 1983. Despite recording a 15-minute prototype score, Rodion’s music was tragically shelved at a late stage, remaining an unreleased oddity in his archive until now.”

‘Misiunea Spatiala Delta’ is available on limited release now on Strut Records.

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Trans AM ‘Volume X’ (Thrill Jockey)
Independent music’s beloved Trans AM release their magnificent tenth studio album this August via Chicago-based label Thrill Jockey. The trio have yet again effortlessly re-defined themselves to wonderful effect. ‘Volume X’ was recorded in spurts over three years, mostly at LCR Studios in San Francisco, and demonstrate the full scope of the immense talents of the legendary trio of Phil Manley, Nathan Means, and Sebastian Thomson.

‘Volume X’ is out 11th August via Thrill Jockey.

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