Dan Deacon Has a New Video… and It’s Awesome!

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Last month, electronic composer Dan Deacon released his new album, Gliss Riffer. If you’re not already listening to this guy, you should be. His genre-blending music is as eccentric as it is passionate. His sound is experimental, glitchy and totally unique.

Oh hey, Adult Swim has a show that fits that last description! Airing at the graveyard slot of 4am is Dave Hughes’ hidden gem, Off the Air. Each episode sees Hughes editing music videos, animations, stock footage and other internet oddities into and 11-minute something-or-other revolved around the episode’s theme. Think of it like Liquid Television, but with even less context.

My excuse for cramming these two disjointed paragraphs into a single article is the latest collaboration between the two artists: a music video for Deacon’s new single “When I Was Done Dying”. It’s a 5-minute spectacle featuring the work of 9 immensely talented animators (most of whom have been featured on past Off the Air episodes), pieced together by Hughes into a single, cohesive, symbolic journey molded to Deacon’s euphonious tones and metaphysical lyrics. From the trippy CGI of Taras Hrabowsky to the fluid motion of one of my personal favorites, Masanobu Hiraoka, this thing is absolutely packed with inspired visuals. Check it out if you’re a fan of abstract animations, or if you just want to see collaboration at it’s finest.

As a little something extra, I’ll let you know that this isn’t the first time Deacon and Hughes have teamed up. Back in 2013, coinciding with Deacon’s appearance on the Adult Swim Singles Program, a special episode of Off the Air was set to Deacon’s 20-minute (!) feature, “U.S.A.”. I’d definitely say to check it out, just be aware that there’s a little bit of simulated, NSFW nudity towards the middle.

If you enjoyed these videos and want to see more, Adult Swim has an ongoing online live-stream running all of the Off the Air episodes in a loop. You can also find the music of Dan Deacon on iTunes.

Something to Listen to: “Dynamo”

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One piece of the independent music landscape I haven’t gotten to talk about yet is Moodgadget Records. An affiliate of indie label Ghostly International, Moodgadget focuses on exploring the diversity of electronic music, showcasing established favorites as much as they do the up-and-comers.

They’ve also just reached their 10th anniversary.

In celebration of this milestone, Moodgadget has just launched their 100th release, Dynamo. A compilation album collecting a whopping 22 tracks from many of the fresh faces in Moodgadget’s stable, including some new exclusives. The best part? They’ve made it available to stream right now on SoundCloud!

So that’s cool and all, but what is you want to take this album on the go? Well, they’ve also made it available for purchase from iTunes for the low, low price of $6.99! Let me reiterate: $6.99 for 22 tracks! That’s a really good, really rare deal. I wouldn’t pass this up if I were you.

You can find more about Moodgadget Records by visiting their official site.

Something to Watch/Listen To: “Latin Boys”

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I, uh… I don’t know what to make of this.

This new music video comes straight out of Panda Bear’s upcoming album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. The video for “Boys Latin” is definitely an awesome one, combining CGI animation with a mild cel-shading technique and a watercolor-like color pallet. It’s also pretty weird, in a good way. Take a look!

Once I sit through the whole thing, it looks to me like a neat visual interpretation of finding a soul-mate and starting a family. I’ve also seen others interpret the infecting plant life as a traumatic event that one must emotionally deal with. Either way, making sense of this one requires a fair amount of interpretive thinking, and that’s pretty cool.

The music is also a joy to listen to. A hypnotic beat plays background to some wonderful synths and haunting vocals. I haven’t yet listened to much of Panda Bear or his group, Animal Collective, but this has definitely made me interested.

You can pre-order Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper on itunes here. 

Something to Listen To: “Ghostly Swim”

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Last week, Wired reported that indie record label Ghostly International and comedy network Adult Swim would once again team-up to release Ghostly Swim 2 on December 23rd. I figured this would be a great time to talk about the 2009 original, Ghostly Swim.

Ghostly Swim‘s lineup consists of some of the key artists from Ghostly’s catalog of artists. In the video above, you’ll hear Michna’s ambient yet bouncy beat, “Triple Chrome Dipped” followed by Mux Mool’s electric trip, “Night Court”. Through the rest of the album, you can hear label co-founder Matthew Dear perform a bone-chilling yet prideful tune in “R + S”, while School of Seven Bells provides a suitably melancholy song in “Chain”. The Chap is represented with their wonderfully quirky track “Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley”, while Deastro takes us on a simultaneously intense and cheerful ride in “Light Powered”.

But, if I have to pick a favorite out of the album, I’d go with Tycho’s “Cascade”. It’s a beautifully composed piece that brings to my mind a fallout from an emotionally traumatic event. It makes me think of watching the sunrise, but with a feeling in my heart that I’ve just said goodbye and have to figure out how to move on. Well… that’s my take, anyway.

This compilation album is what introduced me to Ghostly International and ultimately pushed me into exploring the world of underground music. Best of all, it’s free to download. So if you haven’t had the chance to listen to this one, I highly recommend that you do.

You can download Ghostly Swim for free at Adult Swim’s official site, here.

Something to Listen To: “You’re Dead!” by Flying Lotus

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One of the more prominent names in the indie music landscape at the moment is Steven Ellison, better known by his stage name: Flying Lotus. His experimental, genre-blending style has attracted a large number of fans since he first hit the scene back in 2006. So, of course, I had to check out his most recent studio album: You’re Dead!.

(Note: I’ve embedded the trailer below, but be aware that it contains some very violent, NSFW, imagery.)

As you can probably deduce from the title, You’re Dead! explores a number of dark ideas. Chief among them, the concept of death and the discovery of what comes next. These ideas are most apparent in songs such as “Decent Into Madness” or “The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep”. And while the album ventures into a broad range of emotions, feelings of confusion, uncertainty, or dread can be sensed throughout.

You’re Dead! collects and mixes together the sounds of electronic, industrial hip-hop and jazz, among others. But the focus shifts from track to track. One moment, you’re listening to a multi-layered rap, the next, an intricately executed jazz session. But the shift between styles is so seamless and subtle, you might not notice the change until after it happens.

In fact, one of the best things about this album is FlyLo’s sense of continuance. While each of the 19 tracks are distinctive and stand on their own quite nicely, they all flow in and out of each other in such a way that the album works as one engaging 40-mintue ride. This is one album you’ll want to listen to from begging to end in one go.

All in all, this is an incredible album. It’s the work of a master of his craft, at the top of his game. And by year’s end, it will probably remain my favorite album of 2014.

You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus is available at Bleep, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

 

You know, I thought about talking about talking about this as part of my “Spooky Things” series. But I think I’ve got planned for this Friday is a bit more appropriate for Halloween… Stay tuned!

Discovery: Ghostly International

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One of the things I set forward to do with this blog is to give newcomers an entry point into the world of independent art. Not necessarily the end-all-be-all guide (I’m certainly not enough of an expert to qualify for that), but simply a place where one can learn just enough to be sent on a trail that will show them more. The trick is knocking over that first domino, then watch the rest fall. And so, I write the first entry in what I call “Discovery”, a periodic spotlight on an artist or distributor.

Inaugurating this new category is an independent record label, a champion of the underground music culture: Ghostly International.

A Brief Introduction:

Founded in 1998 by Samuel Valenti IV and Matthew Dear, Ghostly International has become widely know for it’s unified aesthetic and it’s eccentric tastes. The company wears many hats, from clothing to decorative art, but is most prominent as a music publisher and record label. It designates it’s catalog of music into two different categories: avant-pop, experimental music with pop sensibilities, and SMM, an intentionally meaningless acronym signifying the calmer, more ambient instrumentals.

Some Key Artists:

Matthew DearCo-founder of the label, and the musician behind Ghostly’s first single: “Hands Up For Detroit”, Matthew Dear has had no shortage of fans over the years. This avant-pop producer is definitely one of the most distinctive artists on the label. When one of his songs come up, you’ll know it. Take a listen.

Tycho– No one describes Tycho’s work better than Ghostly themselves, quoting his profile on the label’s site: “As Tycho, Scott Hansen blends swirling melodies into vaguely triumphant arcs that crisscross between stuttering beats and vocal samples, creating rolling sonic landscapes that extend into the horizon.” His work is ambient, calm and melodic, painting idealistic images of tranquility with each track.

School of Seven Bells This one’s pretty hard for me to write about, for reasons that will soon become apparent. But this is one of my absolute favorites from the label, and there was no way I could do a post about Ghostly without mentioning this act. School of Seven Bells was a trio (later duo,) consisting of guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis and sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. Quoting the profile on the label’s site: “School of Seven Bells’ music is full of tensions—Curtis’ gentle guitars wrap around jagged beats; silky vocals hide behind grumpy, alien synthesizers—but the resulting songs are effortlessly cohesive, and insidiously catchy.” Claudia would later leave the band in 2010, making Seven Bells a duo act until, tragically, Benjamin Curtis lost his fight with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma at the end of 2013.

Still, the band doesn’t seem to be done quite yet, as plans have been announced to complete and release a new album already well in progress before Curtis’s untimely passing. In any case, this is strong, passionate stuff that I highly recommend you take a listen to.

Com Truise A persona of producer Seth Haley, Come Truise’s work is, for me, the very definition of neo-retro. 80’s nostalgia is an instant reaction to his heavy use of bass and synthesizers, but it’s all handled with a modern spin. The result is a style of music that’s unique and appealing. As a staple of Ghostly’s lineup, you’ll have no problem picking his work out of the catalog.

Where to Start:

Whenever I’m looking to discover new music, I find it best to look for compilation albums. These can act as great entry points, introducing you to a large number of artists, so you can decide if you want to listen to more of their work. One of the reasons I’m starting with Ghosly is because they provide plenty of these.

In 2009, Ghostly collaborated with long-time licencor, comedy network [adult swim], to release the album Ghostly Swim, which can be downloaded from the channel’s website for free! In fact, Ghostly has made a number of compilation albums free for download, including a “best of” album from 2012 and a couple of unreleased content collections. If you’re willing to pay a bit of money, you can try either of the Idol Tryouts albums. I’ve also found the 2010 primer, We’ll Never Stop Living This Way, to be good purchase. $10 for 30 tracks is a good deal in my book.

Once you find an artist you like, look into them a little more. Find out which other labels they’ve been signed to and what else that label offers. Find out which other acts they may have been associated with. Finally, just keep your ears open. Once you start following the trail, you may be amazed at what you’ll find.