Category: Introducing (Page 1 of 24)

Introducing JOON

It is time soon for more ‘Good Times’ and JOON, the electronic solo project from Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis does her best to remember them.

Written and produced by Kuymizakis with the ubiquitous Italians Do It Better head honcho Johnny Jewel, ‘Good Times’ captures a charming innocence in a dreamy Mediterranean take on Japanese city pop about more carefree pre-pandemic times with fewer responsibilities.

The song comes from the upcoming debut album by JOON which comprises of both fun upbeat tracks and more personal songs composed over the past 10 years.

In a similar epiphany that Brian Eno had with ambient music, Kuymizakis was involved in a car accident and while recuperating, she appreciated how precious life was. So she taught herself how to use audio software and synths as her form of self-expression. Her experiences led her to co-found the Malta Sound Women Network to bring like-minded women together on the island.

In a self-directed and edited video filmed by Neo Borg Bonaci, a floodlit tennis court acts as the setting for JOON to consider the love of her life as she reflects on “The way you sing your songs and make me dance, the way you take a chance on a little romance” before affirming “You remind me of the good times”.

Previous singles from JOON have included the quirky lo-fi hypnotism of ‘ET’ which was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, a NEW ORDER meets MARSHEAUX styled cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Watch The Sky’, an electro-funky nod to Róisín Murphy. Meanwhile, there have been regular collaborations with her compatriot BARK BARK DISCO on tracks such as ‘Til The End’ and ‘Another Play’.

Coming soon from JOON is ‘Orqod’, her first composition in Maltese. Having gained some forward momentum in the past year or so, the future looks bright for the artist formally known as YEWS as she settles into the Italians Do It Better family.


‘Good Times’ is released by Italians Do It Better via the usual digital platforms

JOON perfroms live at Spazju Kreattiv Theatre in Malta on 26th June 2021, the event will be streamed live, more information at https://www.kreattivita.org/en/event/joon-live/2021-06-25/

https://www.templeofjoon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/templeofjoon

https://twitter.com/templeofjoon

https://www.instagram.com/templeofjoon/

https://italiansdoitbetter.com/joon/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th June 2021

Introducing R. MISSING

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music.

Shy has been quoted as saying “While most people seem to bond over things they both like, I think it was a very long shared list of dislikes that kept our initial conversations going”.

Previously going under the moniker of THE ROPES with gloomy indie fare such as ‘Love Is A Chain Store’, R. MISSING are much more electronic if no less enigmatic, exploring more shadowy forms akin to other North American acts such as CHROMATICS, TR/ST and NATION OF LANGUAGE.

Their debut six track mini-album ‘Unsummering’ came out in 2017 on the French label Talitres with the doom disco of ‘Kelly Was a Philistine’ being particularly intriguing, although the pair’s post-punk tendencies were still very much looming the brooding title track. The 2020 singles ‘Suzywhereabout’ and ‘Placeholder For The Night’ signalled airier developments in their increasingly synthier sound.

But on signing to Sugarcane Recordings who have been a North American home to artists such as SIN COS TAN, GUSGUS, PROCESSORY, GAZELLE TWIN, FRAGILE SELF and The KVB, the wonderful new single ‘Crimeless’ is R. MISSING’s most electronic pop noir statement yet, like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Accompanied by a video made by Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib, it is a variation on their 2019 installation ‘Vanitas MMXVlll’. Using still life like half-eaten fruit, broken glass, snapped candles, wilting flowers and skulls falling upwards in slo-mo, its original concept was “to reflect our current cultural moment, where formerly stable institutions that once embodied shared values are undermined while pride and avarice have been elevated to virtues”.

As if to reinforce R. MISSING’s fully focussed electronic direction, Icelandic label mates GUSGUS provide two tight dance remixes for ‘Crimeless’ although THE KVB contribute something with more of a psychedelic shoegaze demeanour that also acts a reflection of Shy and Frost’s roots. It could all get very interesting…


‘Crimeless’ is released by Sugarcane Recordings as a single bundle with remixes by GUGGUS and THE KVB, it is available now as a download direct from https://sugars.bandcamp.com/album/crimeless

https://rmissing.com/

https://www.facebook.com/rmissingmusic

https://twitter.com/rmissingmusic

https://www.instagram.com/r.missing/

https://www.hironakasuib.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2021

Introducing CATHERINE MOAN

CATHERINE MOAN is the electronic pop vehicle of Philadelphian songstress Angel Jefferson and her most recent offering is a rework of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Fools’ which was originally the B-side to ‘Love In Itself’.

That old chestnut of covering DEPECHE MODE songs is a polarising affair, especially as the hapless trio of Gahan, Gore and Fletcher, assisted by The D(r)umhead and The Noodler have been pretty lame at interpreting their own back catalogue on their last three world tours!

Add to that the number tribute bands and male fronted acts who regularly give their take on DM, the question often asked can often be “what is the point?”

But as has been proven by the likes of Susanne Sundfør, Ane Brun and Laura Dre in their respective interpretations of ‘Ice Machine’, ‘Fly On The Windscreen’ and ‘Strangelove’ over the last ten years, the female voice adds a totally new dimension and perspective.

Like most electronic pop enthusiasts, Angel Jefferson is a fan of DEPECHE MODE’s earlier music and her choice of ‘Fools’, one of only nine DM tracks released that featured Alan Wilder as a solo or joint composer, is an interesting one.

Reflecting on being blanked or “ghosted” as Generation Zoomers today like to call it, ‘Fools’ is given a hypnotically stark treatment with detached but alluring vocals. Although Jefferson does away with the Middle Eastern warble that was part of the original, she inserts her own ad-libs both vocally and instrumentally, with the unexpected augmentation of digital slapped bass.

Previous CATHERINE MOAN works have included ‘Body Work’ which recalls the airy moods of CHROMATICS. Meanwhile ‘The Ordinary’, ‘New Velvet’ and ‘Habitual Conceding’ explore more typically North American synthwave territory.

Interestingly, despite needing more work in the production department, ‘Cut It’ from the self-titled EP displays potential as an engaging slice of European flavoured industrial disco rooted in Basildon and Berlin.

It will be interesting to see where Angel Jefferson takes her sound on her debut album as CATHERINE MOAN due out later in 2021.


‘Fools’ is available via the usual digital platforms

https://www.facebook.com/Catherine-Moan-105421111625150

https://twitter.com/catherinexmoan

https://www.instagram.com/itsangel_cm/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1j3eSDACLPhrEDYDkHYF9I


Text by Chi Ming Lai
7th April 2021

Introducing NATION OF LANGUAGE

Brooklyn-based duo NATION OF LANGUAGE are singer / songwriter Ian Devaney and his wife Aidan Noell on keyboards.

Gifted with a voice of anguish, Devaney had fronted New Jersey alternative rock band THE STATIC JACKS who released their only album ‘In Blue’ in 2013.

Legend has it that NATION OF LANGUAGE came into being when Devaney heard OMD’s ‘Electricity’ in his father’s car for the first time in years, having grown up with it as part of his domestic soundtrack. This led to Devaney adopting what he termed the “beginner’s mind” of those pioneering synth acts.

So he began writing songs with monophonic synths like the Behringer MS-1, Korg MS20 and Moog Sub37 while like OMD, also using bass guitar. Issuing a series of singles since 2016 including an electronic cover of PIXIES’ ‘Gouge Away’, NATION OF LANGUAGE finally released their debut album ‘Introduction, Presence’ in Spring 2020.

Now if Rodney Cromwell had joined MIRRORS or if MIRRORS had more of a Factory Records fixation as opposed to looking up to OMD, then that would be the sound of NATION OF LANGUAGE. So despite having dense production aesthetics in common, the more inherent gloominess means that NATION OF LANGUAGE are perhaps less obviously immediate than MIRRORS. NATION OF LANGUAGE have also made more use of NEW ORDER style melodic lead bass provided by Michael Sui-Poi from THE STATIC JACKS, while Fabrizio Moretti from THE STROKES occasionally guested on drums.

‘On Division St’ is a close relative to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with its sharp synth lines and programmed bass triplets, while ‘Rush & Fever’ plays with sequencers and electronic effects to reinforce the NEW ORDER influence but perhaps more unexpectedly, Devaney starts to sound like Morten Harket of A-HA.

The spectre of the Norwegian pop trio looms on the superb synth driven album highlight ‘Friend Machine’ which examines society’s addiction to technology and the standalone synthpop flavoured single ‘A Different Kind Of Life’. However, the shadier tones of  CHVRCHES collaborator Matt Berninger of THE NATIONAL is who Devaney mostly emulates vocally.

Album opener ‘Tournament’ imagines an artistic union of A-HA and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM while ‘Automobile’ adds full chords via some Roland Strings; continuing the driving theme, there’s the partly spoken robopop of ‘The Motorist’.

While the album closer ‘The Wall & I’ exhibits more of a post-punk feel like FM ATTACK meets SECTION 25, the glorious brand new single ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ uses a more blippy construction and takes a leaf out of the more experimental phase of early OMD while eschewing bass guitar following the departure of Michael Sui-Poi.

‘A Different Kind Of Life’ and ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ both signal the next phase of NATION OF LANGUAGE and unlike MIRRORS who many are comparing them to, a second long player is a likely realisation.

It will be very interesting to see where the duo head next and whether the machines become not just friends but family…


‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is available as a digital single, along with their back catalogue to date from https://nationoflanguage.bandcamp.com/

‘Introduction, Presence’ can be purchased as a vinyl LP from https://www.nationoflanguage.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nationoflanguage

https://twitter.com/notionofanguish

https://www.instagram.com/nationoflanguage/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5JWBow4ywgKNQ5HBxY8hcz


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd March 2021

Introducing VIOLET CHOIR

Phoenix-based VIOLET CHOIR comprise of Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn who met at college while studying jazz.

Previously indie rock combo THE PROWLING KIND and dream popsters MRCH, the output from their previous guises appeared in the soundtracks of ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘Search Party’, ‘13 Reasons Why’, ‘Shameless’ and’ The Vampire Diaries’.

On ‘Reactions’, their 2017 debut album as MRCH, the duo fully embraced a more electronic sound to the point that it was more or less fully sequenced.

Inspired by the likes of independent artists like COMPUTER MAGIC aka DANZ CM and the synthwave breakthrough, there came a change of style with a change of name. So VIOLET CHOIR was born. Their self-titled EP makes use of a Prophet 08, some Moog via the Matriarch and Minitaur, plus Ableton soft synths simulating DX7 bell sounds. Meanwhile a live kit and drum machines sit in tandem alongside occasional electric guitar and bass.

Moody and percussive without resorting to synthwave clichés, ‘Don’t Come Around’ recalls the feel of KLEERUP’s ‘Nothing Left To Die For’ with Jenny Wilson. Nurtured on jazz and rock, Mickey Louise’s voice comes over rich and airy over an appealing electronic pop song that doesn’t sound as long as its five and a half minutes length might suggest.

Although adopting more of a post-punk template with live bass and guitar, ‘Tonight’ still has plenty of synths to add texture including a surprising jazzier twirl and a particularly piercing but melodic sound reminiscent of the sparkly feminine new wave vibe of PARALLELS or CHROMATICS.

Meanwhile, the chunky fuzz and deeper treated vocal counterpoints on ‘Dream About It’ offer a slightly gothic dimension to a slice of precision disco lento, with its dynamic highs and lows projecting in the manner of THE GOLDEN FILTER.

Maintaining that “life is strange”, the sombre root note bass and strident keyboard arpeggio patterns make ‘Friend Song’ the most archetypical synthwave styled offering on the EP, with the breezily wispy vocals contributing to an enjoyable chorus uplift.

The electroclash-derived ‘Kids On Sunset’ adopts a dominant bass triplet for a galloping rhythmic sway that becomes more addictive as it approaches the dancefloor. The presence of the coy feline allure of COMPUTER MAGIC with her track ‘Fuzz’ in particular and the much missed Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN are strong.

This debut EP is not your run-of-the-mill synthwave-by-numbers and by bringing their experience from other genres, VIOLET CHOIR have largely avoided the usual musical catchphrases that can haunt modern electronic pop. What stands out are the songs and the musicality. Time will see Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn fully realise the promise on show here.


‘Violet Choir’ EP released on 19th February 2021 by Fervor Records

http://www.violetchoir.com/

https://www.facebook.com/violetchoir/

https://twitter.com/violetchoir

https://www.instagram.com/violetchoir/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3l62JBwb5peXmTGwKh4DM3


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th February 2021

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