communions

photo courtesy of lasse dearman

danish four-piece communions have been gradually shedding their frosty outer shell for the better part of two years, with each subsequent release feeling less indebted to post-punk forebears and more informed by sharp, memorable hooks.  this progression seemed to culminate in the quartet’s excellent eponymous ep last summer, but then “don’t hold anything back” dropped.

wrapped in martin rehof’s buoyant lead vocal and powered by an especially fat snare drum, “don’t hold anything back” feels like communions’ first true foray into the realm of pop, a clear, glorious pivot from the more austere timbres that adorned their earliest work.  guitar arpeggios still appear at the forefront throughout the verses, but their fluid transition to simple, chiming chords just in time to bolster the hook is perhaps the key ingredient in this effortless composition; “don’t hold anything back” is an attractive mid-season contender for song of the summer.

communions recently signed to fat possum records and will release “don’t hold anything back” as the a-side of a 7″ due out september 16th.  check out the single below.

seeyouathomeblue

photo courtesy of the artist

the prescient arrival of the future’s here & it’s terrible was hard to ignore.  2016 had already registered as an extraordinarily bleak year, but the ep – the second from dream-pop duo see you at home – came on the cusp of a defeating and volatile summer, one that’s still in full-swing.  see you at home confronts that bleakness head-on titularly and attempts to reconcile with it sonically, crafting intimate sketches that pulse slowly, allowing for ample introspection amidst sparse guitar soundscapes.  we recently caught up with the duo to talk about their nascent project and longstanding friendship.  check out the transcript below.

see you at home is a relatively new project, at least from a consumer’s perspective.  could you detail a bit of history behind the band?  how long have you two been making music together?

we’ve been playing music for quite a long while now; both of us have known each other since we were four years old, and we’ve been making music together since we were fourteen.  we had another band before this, but eventually that broke apart when some of us went to uni and got jobs.  see you at home kind of spawned when my (josh’s) uni timetable gave me a day off in the week and i decided to try and make some lo fi songs in a bathroom.  it was literally just a guitar and an 808 drum for the beat, and we liked the sound of it so we decided to expand on the idea.

your songs are incredibly intimate and feel effortless in their execution, the byproduct of what must be a very fruitful collaboration.  can you speak a bit on your songwriting process, and if you notice any clear benefits to working as a duo?

thank you so much!  the effortlessness is a product of layers and layers of obsessive production on my (josh’s) end, haha, and then the cool, calm-headed musical ear of arthur.  i would spend hours trying to get certain sounds to come through in the mix properly (to the point of insanity) and then arthur comes in to fix any doubts.  that’s definitely the main benefit for me for working in a duo; it’s hard to tell if a song is good or terrible having worked on it for so long, like when you hear a word too much and it doesn’t sound like a real word anymore. 

a lot of the collaboration and musicality comes from us knowing each other for basically our whole lives, i think.  when we jam out our songs we can usually get into a pretty cool flow quite easily because we share a similar mindset musically.  in terms of our songwriting process, i think it’s quite muddled.  we’ll usually stitch together thoughts and lyrics we’ve had at various points in our life that have a similar theme to try and create coherent songs from honest, sometimes scattered emotions.

titularly, the tone of your two eps couldn’t be more different.  was your collective headspace noticeably different while writing the material for the future’s here & it’s terrible than it was for everything is okay?

definitely.  there was a big shift in our collective emotions going through both eps.  i guess for the first ep we had just left uni and the world felt free and open and we were, to an extent, positive.  the second ep, a few months later, was a shift in tone when we realized the stark reality of real life, haha.  that said, a lot of the underlying themes in everything is okay were still quite sorrowful, but i feel like the way we handled those feelings was with a more optimistic outlook than the second ep.

what five songs would constitute the perfect see you at home mixtape?

ooh, that is a tough question.  there are so many songs that we’d love to put on the mixtape, haha.  i’d say that we’d go for the following eclectic mix, some of which we’ve drawn on for inspiration, and others which have resonated with us at various times in the last couple of years.

deptford goth – “feel real”
la dispute – “nine”
bon iver – “holocene”
brand new – “jesus christ”
julien baker – “sprained ankle”

at the rate you’ve been releasing music, a new ep could potentially surface before the year’s end, but that expectation is admittedly presumptuous.  are there any concrete plans for more see you at home material at this time?

at the moment we’re trying to sort out our live set, as we’d love to do some gigs, but we absolutely want to put out as much music as possible.  while there’s no definitive timeline, we are busy trying to make some skeleton tracks and demos.

both everything is okay and the future’s here & it’s terrible are available to stream and purchase from see you at home’s bandcamp page.  both actions are highly recommended; the duo’s compact catalogue serves as a much-needed refuge from life’s unsavory portions.  indulge.

wealthy relative justin sengly

photo courtesy of justin sengly

it’s been about six months since dan forke released post-clarity, his latest ep as wealthy relative.  in the interim, forke has been accruing a series of brief instrumentals, submitting them one at a time to his soundcloud page at a steady clip for the public to digest, his angular flow and internal rhyme swapped for deft beats that faithfully emulate his lyrical aesthetic.

today, forke picks the microphone back up for “sage bundle,” the lead single off of a forthcoming wealthy relative ep and the first in a series of songs scheduled for release every wednesday over the next four weeks.  handling production this time around is the elusive relative newcomer goth fieri, who has likewise spent most of 2016 posting beats to soundcloud when he’s not busy collaborating with other underground electronic artists.

“sage bundle” is predicated on a woozy, cyclical sample – a gravitron coming to a halt on an endless feedback loop, its patrons forever trying to steady themselves.  forke is trying to steady himself, too; a pair of wandering verses seek solace in the cascading arpeggios that eventually saturate the foreground, priming isolated moments of clarity as forke delivers the song’s quixotic, mantra-esque hook.  “sage bundle” premieres on the dimestore, below.  try to find some nicer magic.

HarleyPromo

photo courtesy of the artist

harley alexander’s retreat from halifax to a remote cabin in quebec has yielded harland, an eight-song collection of woozy, wandering bedroom pop that’s due out next friday via sports day records.  framing the album’s aesthetic is “staring at photographs,” its breezy, clave-like chord progression bolstered by saturday-afternoon guitar noodling and alexander’s surprisingly commanding voice, flipping between his natural register and a reedy falsetto with incredible ease and immediacy.

“staring at photographs,” like much of harland, recalls a home recording taped off of a transistor radio: warm and unassuming, its edges carefully smoothed and rounded.  alexander’s awareness of such a nostalgic manipulation extends into his lyrics, as he comes to grips with the fact that an idyllic snapshot from the past often belies the true nature of a present-day relationship.  it’s an uncomfortable reality housed in a comforting vessel, a gentle hand that guides towards realization.  take a listen to “staring at photographs” below.

kedr livanskiy january sun cover

2mr

staying on top of every new release is hard.  staying on top of every new release is even harder when your blog uses language that suggests multiple people are cogs in the machine, but really you’re just flailing helplessly by yourself, trying not to drown in a heavily-saturated inbox.  “fashionably late” is a remedy, an intermittent feature designed to showcase particularly special albums or eps that evaded us (there i go again) during their structured press cycle.  first up is the intimate, surprisingly cozy effort from russian producer kedr livanskiy.  have at it.

press play on kedr livanskiy’s debut ep, january sun, and a rich bass synthesizer immediately filters through both stereo channels before gradually becoming muffled, as if someone placed a thick pillow over its output source.  perhaps it’s due to the title or perhaps it’s livanskiy’s backstory, with its harsh, desolate imagery of russian winter threaded through the narrative, but the opening seconds of “razrushitelniy krug (destruction cycle)” initially registered as austere and unforgiving, foreshadowing a hypothetical soundscape that would reflect the environment it was sculpted in.  the rest of the song – and january sun, for that matter – couldn’t be more contrary to that notion.

using a relatively simple palette of muted drum programming, mournful synth pads, throbbing bass lines, and reverb-soaked, obscured vocals, livanskiy creates a six-song cycle of underground dance music that thoroughly explores facets of every 1990’s act she admits being indebted to: the haze of mazzy star; the introspection of boards of canada; the volatility of aphex twin.  the end result certainly isn’t bright, but it does feel familiar, a surefire source of comfort for when temperatures inevitably plunge once again.

january sun is probably best-enjoyed in one sitting;  although the ep isn’t through-composed, the jarring chord changes on its title track don’t feel nearly as ominous when they’re not immediately followed by the unchecked kinetic energy that comes tumbling out of “otvechai za slova (keep your word),” while “winds of may” and “sgoraet (burning down)” work in tandem to precipitate the latter’s explosive coda.

the phrase “kedr livanskiy” translates from the russian to lebanese cedar, a type of tree repeatedly referenced in the bible that can also be traced back even further in written history to ancient sumerian culture and religion.  while it’s completely possible that the moniker is at least somewhat informed by livanskiy’s given name, yana kedrina, it’s much more fanciful to imagine her work as analogous to this storied, revered artifact.  and maybe it is; january sun is largely predicated on music influential at the beginning of livanskiy’s life, and there are noticeable elements with origins that predate her birth.  these staying forces have endured an admittedly brief but sensory-overloaded lifetime to inform a nostalgic collection of woozy house music that at times feels more like an intimate retrospective than the ambitious, transformative debut that it truly is.

maybe it’s overly ambitious to stack the historical significance of livanskiy’s moniker against the significance of the timbres that molded her core ideology.  maybe it’s paradoxical to consume an ep so indebted to desolate frozen tundras in the dead heat of summer.  it is clear, however, that there’s no single correct lens through which to view a body of work that emits this type of immediacy.  january sun feels like music rewardingly scribbled down as therapy, an explanation of self.  the catharsis yana kedrina undoubtedly felt while crafting these songs resonates deeply in their final form; its strength and pertinence will only grow as leaves become crisp and the winds begin to bite yet again.

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