New Music Tip
Words: Monica Mazzoli





Continuing with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz a short summer break, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month Monica Mazzoli scouts out the Melbourne indie-funk-soul oddities Karate Boogaloo.



It’s “retromania” times: we know that. There are those who, however, in referring back to the past manage not to expire in the most pedantic revival. This is the case of the Melbourne funk-soul scene, which revolves around bands like Surprise Chef, Karate Boogaloo, Pro-Teens and a small totally DIY record label – the College Of Knowledge Records – founded by Lachlan Stuckey and Jethro Curtin (guitarist and keyboardist of Surprise Chef respectively).

The sound is obviously analogue, of course, of tape recordings, but the approach to making music is out of the box: the already mentioned Surprise Chef and Karate Boogaloo – the two bands that are the soul of the label – collaborate, exchange musicians, record tracks in the home studio (even the artwork of the records), do everything by themselves. They have a mentality open to any sound contamination and unconventional writing. In other words, Carn The Boogers – the first Karate Boogaloo album released in May 2020 – comes after two mixtapes (KB’S Mixtape No.1 and KB’S Mixtape No.2) in which the band had fun reinterpreting songs that have been sampled in classic hip hop and pop (to be listened to absolutely “Tour de France”).

On the new album the songs are all autographed, but the wanderer spirit of the groove continues: in the new tracks – all instrumental (as usual) – the band dances like a juggler on rhythm, without ever falling, always on the piece. The five minutes of ‘Space Language’ are perhaps the apotheosis of this musical trip. A funk-soul with surfing in the heart.


News/Review/Paolo Bardelli




Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month Paolo Bardelli brings news of Zoe Polanski’s upcoming LP, and previews her brand new single, ‘Pharaoh’s Island’.



The new album by Israeli singer Zoe Polanski, who we already know as a performer for the Spark O project, will be titled Violent Flowers and will be released on July 17 on the New York label Youngbloods. The Israeli singer, currently based in Haifa, spent last summer in New York recording with the band Ketamine and completing a film course at the School of Visual Arts, where she also found her label.

Zoe Polanski’s charm is not limited to her evocative voice, but to the same post-new age settings as on the new single ‘Pharaoh’s Island’. The song is inspired by the island located in the Gulf of Aqaba, and Polanski said: “What enchanted me about the place was the fact that under this militarized land there is a parallel universe that exists underwater, namely a colony exceptionally rich in corals and marine life.”

An anticipation that makes us anxiously await the full length, and that makes us be sure that this girl has so many ideas in her head and so much musically to express.




Album Review/Enrico Stradi





Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month an in-depth, beautifully written purview by Enrico Stradi of the new Perfume Genius album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately.


Perfume Genius   ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately’
(Matador, 2020)


“My mission is always to get out of myself”: the story of Perfume Genius‘ fifth and last album can start from here, from these words spoken in a recent interview, and from the feeling of inconsolable awareness they emanate. In fact, it may sound like an excessive generalization, but despite this it has something true, to write that the entire production of the talented Seattle producer refers to the body, to his body as a man and artist. A theme that in the course of the songs and records has been explored in its multiple meanings: the body as the place where the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, from which Mike Hadreas suffers from birth, are manifested; the body as an emotional dimension, where the effects of unsolved relational and affective difficulties collide; the body as a territory of identity and aesthetic claim, as painful as it is proud, as fragile as it is spontaneous, of its belonging to the queer community. In short, Perfume Genius’ relationship with his own physicality is a relationship that has been – despite the most painful implications, or perhaps in nature of them – a vital lymph, the burning substance, alive and propulsive of art. And this continues to be so, even in his latest work, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, in which Hadreas continues his very personal exploration of himself.

On the fifth album just released for Matador comes to life the new transformation of the author, who ten years after his debut album has been able to tell his twisted and suffered universe in the form of lo fi piano ballads (Learning, 2010), dramatic sentimental heartaches (Put Your Back N 2 It, 2012), enlightening and powerful claims, not only sexual, in pop sauce (Too Bright, 2014) and ethereal and sparkling baroque (No Shape, 2017). Set Your Heart On Fire Immediately represents the most recent evolution in this exploratory path, and marks a moment full of meanings for the author – not by chance, the opening of the album is entrusted to two verses that only a few seconds later we can fully understand: “Half of my whole life is gone / Let it drift and wash away”. Thus begins the first track, ‘Whole Life’, an orchestral construction of violins that seems almost to be placed there to try to reconnect to the last album No Shape, almost to resume an interrupted speech. But those verses are in that precise position because they have the task of telling something else from what we already know, namely the precise will to move away from everything Perfume Genius has embodied so far. And in fact, a few seconds later, here is ‘Describe’ with its dirty, distorted, rough and dusty riff, so unexpected that it almost hurts in its expressive power. It is the sound of an explosion, of a burning fire, of a heart on fire. What we are witnessing is not only a crucial moment of the album, but an effect of sudden expansion that Hadreas has carefully studied, codified and repeated other times during the fifty minutes of the album, without ever losing the effect of expressive unpredictability. A moment that is, in a few words, one of the keys to reading this, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately: a work that feeds on the same varied and heterogeneous musical material of which it is composed.




Throughout its duration the album gives in fact sudden shifts of atmosphere and sound, warmth and intensity. The lyrics give the music a meaning similar to oxymoron: in the writing of the emotional torments, physical and mental disorders or in the story of emotional suffering we pass from the extended sounds of ‘Without You’ to the falsetto accompanied harpsichord of ‘Jason’; from the funky ‘On The Floor’ to the wandering and dreamlike ramblings of ‘Leave’, from the hypnotic dramas of ‘Just A Touch’ to the warm and dark synth of ‘Your Body Changes Everything’ or the rough guitars of ‘Some Dream’ (here another of those memorable explosions mentioned above). In interpreting each of these passages Hadreas shows a masterful familiarity, almost comparable to that of a contemporary dancer who during his performance transforms his body taking various forms and positions. The comparison with dance is not here by chance: in 2019 Perfume Genius took part in a choreographic performance co-directed by Kate Wallich and titled The Sun Still Burns Here, and he himself admits the decisive impact on his latest album.

The muscular strength that emanates from this record comes from afar, is the result of a fervent and insatiable experimental curiosity, and represents a new and unpublished chapter in the story of the relationship with one’s own body. Rather than trying to escape from its physicality, as it happened in previous albums and in the quote we reported at the beginning, in Set My Heart On Fire Immediately Hadreas puts it to the test, with all the effort that this effort requires, trying from time to time in different or unexplored territories. And not only musical, but also visual, equally important for what he intends to communicate: do you remember the way feelings like anger and pain, love and suffering were expressed before this album? Those intimate contortions of ‘Learning’, the vibrant heart inside ‘Too Bright’? Do you remember the lipstick from ‘Hood’? The skates from ‘Fool’? The sequins from ‘Queen’? The bucolic, Shakespearean races from ‘Slip Away’? Look at him now, Mike Hadreas, on the cover of the record, shirtless and stained with motor oil, with that fierce, battling look. Look at him rolling around on the ground soiled with dirt or performing a choreography that resembles a duel to the death. Look at him, while for the first time he faces openly those masculine and masochistic imaginations he has always felt repulsive and threatening: now he even challenges them, embodies them, and radically changes their symbolic connotations. It is an achievement of his. A liberation. It is yet another metamorphosis. Perfume Genius is another person again.





Exchange Article/Gianluigi Marsibilio





Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month, Gianluigi Marsibilio looks into the phenomenon of “Spotification” as he explores the evolution of music’s fruition through streaming with Prof. Rasmus Fleischer.

 

Spotify is a giant metaphor for the entire cultural sector. From music to podcasts, which have changed the way of radio and storytelling, Swedish society since 2008 has fostered a new way of interacting with users and people, and with the whole cultural production, not just music.

“Spotifisation” then is a fundamental theme and we talked about it with the theme expert Rasmus Fleischer, who wrote an interesting publication on the theme of cultural “universal spotification” (“Universal Spotification? The shifting meanings of “Spotify” as a model for the media industries”). Fleischer is a researcher in economic history at the University of Stockholm: his academic work has mainly focused on media history and political economy, with a particular focus on music. He was also co-author of the book Spotify Teardown (MIT Press, 2019).

The Spotify model, although not unique, hides many criteria that have been taken up by various startups to promote a similar model, applying it to news, books, magazines and every aspect of the cultural sector.

At the heart of this business model is certainly the concept of hype, i.e. the establishment of a flow of news, rumors and anticipations that shift attention and expectation to a particular element. An interesting definition comes directly from Professor Fleischer’s paper, in which this process is identified as a mechanism for “shaping the future from the present”.

However, in order to understand this circularity Spotify has shaped one has to remember how it all came about: “At least in Sweden, the process has been closely linked to social and political conflicts over file sharing and copyright enforcement, including the legal case against The Pirate Bay (a popular file sharing site in Sweden and active in 2003). The music industry,” Fleischer explained, “would probably not have agreed to license the tracks if it hadn’t been so desperate.

With the passing of the years and the development of the model everything has become much more complex, until what we can define in 2010 as “Spotify’s curatorial turning point”, in fact Fleischer insists on this point: “Before then, Spotify was basically conceived as a big archive”.





The breakthrough that came in the early 2010’s was important and defined streaming as we use it and know it today: “Starting in 2013, the service has been rethought in order to give more importance to the recommendations. This no longer assumes that the listener knows what to look for, in fact an endless stream of music is presented”.

A change, a revolution of this kind, offers important insights and perhaps brings back to the question that Kalporz’s very own Paolo Bardelli asked himself in the site’s My2Cents column: “Isn’t it time for Spotify, Deezer and the other platforms to become record labels? The change of direction has in fact given another kind of influence to Spotify on the way people listen to music and it would be interesting to see how this kind of reasoning has led to the development and growth of some genres over others. Fleischer pointed out for example that: “Music described as “chill” is particularly well suited to the new paradigm”.

There is no single model to describe and encompass the infinite facets of the cultural and music industry: “At first it was thought that the “Spotify model” was linked to free access, leaving everything to be financed only by advertising”. Over the years, however, everything has been designed and structured in the form of monthly subscriptions and today, thanks to the care and management of Big Data, we are able to have reliable predictions about the music industry. The change of strategy has also been reported in an article published in Wired that indicates how: “Consumers have become more and more accustomed to the idea of paying for access to digital media that they once received for free” and in fact, data from 2018 shows how now only 10% of Spotify’s revenue comes from advertising.

To get into a purely musical discourse, you can see that Spotify and co. have contributed to “destroy the album, now count the singles made to enter the playlist”. Over the years, however, “it’s also conceivable that Spotify will try to integrate the playlists by directly releasing music. In any case – recalled Fleischer – we must not forget that there are important movements developing outside Spotify and even in opposition to it. An example could be the rise of the so-called Soundcloud Rap”.

The phenomenon of Spotify and streaming platforms in music can then be linked to the deeper analysis of a media landscape moving towards an algorithmic culture. From this point of view among the various services, Fleischer explained: “Netflix dealt with algorithmic recommendations long before Spotify”. The music streaming service, on the other hand, has started to take care of this, particularly expected by its “curatorial” turning point. This phenomenon of playlist care, through algorithms, comes out of a whole series of choices made by services such as Songza, which used music experts to target listeners already in the early 2000s, or Pandora, which first introduced a system of keywords to categorize music.

The theme of a culture of the algorithm then surely will be a fundamental step to be taken, maybe in one of the next “investigations”, to understand how music is changing, because it is out of the question that the way to enjoy music changes and directly influences its sound and cultural connotation.

In this moment of lockdown culture, in particular music and cinema, have migrated to digital platforms and at the time it seemed right to reflect on “Spotification” and offer a cue for future insights into the process of digitization and its mechanisms in the music industry.




Related posts from the Archives:

[Scoutcloud]: Brianstory

Photo Roll: Gig: Yussef Dayes

Listen To The Enemy: The Sound Of Covid-19

 

EXCHANGE
Words: Matteo Mannocci





Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month Matteo Mannocci on the ‘Shardcore’ collective’s Eric Drass’ Covid-19 inspired genetic coded electronic suite.

 

 

If you think you have nothing to do and a lot of free time to spend, know that you are not alone. The appearance of Covid-19 was definitely a big hit for the whole world, especially for its (semi-)unknown virus nature that hasn’t taken long to get to know us all.

There are many ways to get to know your enemy, and one of these is to find out what it sounds like: that’s when several artists scattered around the world, once the DNA sequence of this new virus was released, immediately decided to ‘arrange’ the MIDI score derived from its genetic code.

This track, produced by Eric Drass of the ‘shardcore’ collective, is a long electronic sequence, a couple of hours long, that reflects its genetic code in musical notes. Can that complete listening experience work as a vaccine?



Related posts from the Archives:

 

Photo Roll: Yussef Dayes Live

 

Scoutcloud: Brainstory

 

Interview: Orville Peck

 

Review: Girl Band ‘The Talkies’

PHOTOS/GIG
Giorgio Lamonica




Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

This month we feature Giorgio Lamonica‘s recent photos of the virtuoso jazz drummer Yussef Dayes at the Locomotiv in Bologna.

Yussef Dayes Live At Locomotiv, Bologna, Italy


For the only Italian date for the British drummer (accompanied on bass by Rocco Palladino, the son of the much better known maestro Pino) the Locomotiv was completely full. The surprising thing was the very young average age of the audience, a sign that the idea of jazz being mainly the object of passion for those beyond a certain age is perhaps an outdated concept given the evolution that the genre is having; increasingly contaminated, as it is, by other sounds and other cultures.

Yussef Dayes is very good. He seems to have a brain for every limb and can create a deep empathy with the audience. Fantastic a long moment of improvisation during which a dialogue was established between the drummer and the audience: Yussef proposed a rhythm and the audience responded with vocals. This went on until the quatrains proposed by the drummer became so complex to sing that the whole Locomotiv broke out in a thunderous laugh. A very pleasant evening, we can only thank the venue once again for the always interesting choices in their programming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW MUSIC DISCOVERY
Words: Monica Mazzoli





Continuing in 2020 with our collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

The first Kalporz post of the year is taken from the site’s [Scoutcloud] column; searching out and discovering new bands.

Here’s a little reminder of the Kalporz background:

Kalporz writes about music, with his own musical vision, since 2000.

Kalporz is a careful observer of news, trends, emerging scenes, but without chasing the dominant taste: he is in search of “beautiful things”. He hopes to publish articles well written and carefully, in an original way, without filters and, of course, independently.

The editorial project is under the Creative Commons regime (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IT) and in 2018 it was voted as the best Italian music site by the Meeting of Independent Labels (MEI) and Musicletter (https://www.musicletter.it/index.php/2018/08/27/kalporz-e-reverendo-lys-vincono-la-targa-mei-musicletter-2018-premio-speciale-a-umbria-jazz-come-miglior-festival-musicale-italiano/).

The Kalporz family is composed of the founder Luca Vecchi, the editors Paolo Bardelli,Monica MazzoliPiero MerolaEnrico StradiMatteo MannocciGianluigi Marsibilio, and about twenty other collaborators, as well as three photographers.

The collaborators are from all parts of Italy, even if the main base of Kalporz is between Reggio Emilia, a town near the “famous” Canossa, the Adriatic Sea and Florence.





Brainstory music has rhythm and heart. In a word: a groove.

Kevin Martin, Tony Martin and Eric Hagstrom – the three souls of the band – form a trio all soul, jazz and psychedelic. After two mini albums – Brainstory Presents: A Natural Phantasm (2015) and Brainstory (2017) – comes the band from Rialto’s (California) longplayer debut. Buck (2019), the band’s first release by Big Crown Records, the Californian line-up lays bare as never before, putting down its musical spirituality, naked and pure. “Buck naked”, on the other hand, means “naked as a worm” in English. The songs of Buck are all stripped of artificial frills; they are “pop”, directed to the point, to the soul of the melody and rhythm: Soul in spirit.


Monica Mazzoli

Interview
Words: Matteo Bordone





Continuing our content swap with the leading Italian culture/music site Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail is excited to be hosting Matteo Bordone‘s recent interview with the Canadian mask wearing alternative country artist Orville Peck.



Matteo Bordone: Tell me about the writing of Pony: in previous interviews you stated that the texts are self-referential. When and how did you decide to write these songs?

Orville Peck: They are songs about my life experiences. People I’ve met, places I’ve been. I wanted to make a classic country album, which is exactly that – a collection of stories.

 

MB: The sounds of your record range from shoegaze to the most classic country: if you had to explain your music through fundamental artists/groups, what would they be and why?

OP: I am of course influenced by the outlaw country musicians like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard. I combine that classic sound with a few more contemporary sounds or production feelings but to me that is just the natural evolution for country. Country has always evolved and changed and incorporated different sounds and instruments as it grew.

 

MB: The night is a recurring temporal element in your songs. What role did the night play in the writing of Pony?

OP: I guess a lot of what I do is in the night. It’s definitely easier to be yourself in the night.

 

MB: The masks you wear helped to create the aura of mystery that characterizes your character. What is your relationship with these?

(no answer/silence – ed)

 

MB: In a short time your project has seen its fanbase grow, to the point that some of your fans have tattooed lyrics from your songs. How do you manage your relationship with your fans and this sudden wave of popularity?

OP: I think it’s really special. My fans include everything from alternative culture, LGBTQ, older country fans. It’s a really broad spectrum. I think they all connect with it for the same reasons that I do – because everything I sing about is universal. These are struggles and instances that everybody has gone through.





Review
Nicola Guerra



GIRL BAND  ‘The Talkies’
(Rough Trade)  LP/ 2019


I often travel to Ireland for work and the thing that most intrigues me is to observe the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Italian working class. We are both in the shit, it is clear, but the approach to the exteriorization of feelings is quite different. You can perceive it in any daily gesture, in the common life but above all in art. Music, as such, is a litmus test of general dissatisfaction; while in Italy the baggage of “committed singer-songwriters” has been gradually replaced by a frivolous and unconscious approach, in Ireland noise (not necessarily made with traditional instruments) seems an excellent alternative to all this crap. In short, all angry and frustrated, but here in Italy, we rebel shaking with the summer hits of Giusy Ferreri while in the UK the Idles with foaming anger sing, “My blood brother is an immigrant, a beautiful immigrant, my blood brother’s Freddie Mercury, a Nigerian mother of three, he’s made of bones, he’s made of blood, he’s made of flesh, he’s made of love, he’s made of you, he’s made of me, Unity”, and the Irish Girl Band respond with a second album more claustrophobic than their debut four years ago, Holding Hands With Jamie.

The Talkies, published again by Rough Trade, is more than a record; it’s state of mind, a delirious but lucid attempt to escape from the fears, which often inhabit our psyche. Surely Dara Kiely, voice of the Dublin quartet, is mainly responsible for the suffocating climax that you breathe in this record; he screams, spasms, anxious breaths and the same fear that the animal has when it is cornered. The music that accompanies the deliriums of the frontman oscillates between industrial, noise and dance from the bowels of the earth, indulging anger, frustration, the few oases of peace “ambient” (the lullaby that queries the post-punk assault of ‘Laggard’) are just a physiological breath, the breath of air that serves not to suffocate, the attempt to look away towards the imminent end of the world.

Incredibly cohesive, sharp, direct, difficult to digest and yet as fascinating as all things that speak of real life, the second album from Girl Band is a manifesto of the intolerance of a generation that wants to escape and at the same time react, without having any idea of how to do.

We are really in a tight spot and the four sound killers slam it in our faces, not playing to show us something but giving us directions on how we should behave.

Nicola Guerra








You can find all the previous Kalporz posts here….



 


Kalporz interviews Wilson Hernandez of Tennis Club
Words: Monica Mazzoli




Continuing our content swap with the leading Italian culture/music site Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail is excited to be hosting Monica Mazzoli‘s recent interview with Wilson Hernandez of the burgeoning Missouri, USA band Tennis Club.





Elefant Records, an independent record label based in Spain, has given a most extensively considered production to guitar and electro pop music over the years.

In 2019 Elefant has already released the second – wonderful – album by the French band Le SuperHomard (entitled Meadow Lane Park) and the Attic Lights comeback album (Love in the Time of Shark Attacks).

Pink, the new mini-LP by Tennis Club was released on May 31th and will probably be on the same wavelength as the two great records I just mentioned. The band, which hails from Missouri (USA), features Wilson Hernandez (vocals, guitar), Tehya Deardorff (instead of Justin Akin – bass) and Sean O’Dell (drums). They have already released an essential nine-track cassette of great surf garage pop songs.

For the occasion of the recent album launch we had a chat with the Club’s guitarist/vocalist Hernandez – the interview was actually conducted just before the official release of Pink.



Q: In 2017 you released your first Cassette, a record that sounds like The Beach Boys, if they’d made a lo-fi album: surf-garage pop songs (and killer chorus) with a noisy, shoegazy attitude. Now your new mini Album, Pink, is going to be released soon on 31st May. The two tracks that are already available – ‘Pink Sweater! Pink Shoes!’ and ‘Mexico City (Rich Girls)’ – show a new approach: I mean, it seems to me that you’re going in new directions, the first single is the “old” Tennis Club sound; the second single is more jangle pop with the singing in Spanish.

A: Yes, we were going for a more pop sound on this album; our first album was very distorted and noisy and this record focused on a softer sound, sweeter lyrics and more focus on vocal harmonies like on the early Beatles albums.

Elefant Records, a Spanish record label, decided to release your new mini LP. How did it happen? From Missouri to Spain…

I started listening to a lot of Spanish music, my mother is from El Salvador so I speak it decently and I started looking into Spanish labels when I found Elefant and saw that they had such a great appreciation for indie pop that I thought we would fit in well. So I sent an early version of Pink to Luis at Elefant and thankfully he liked it!

We usually say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. But the cover, the packaging of Pink is so amazing, in a “twee pop way”, it reminded me of Jamboree by Beat Happening.

Yes, I agree! The album art is very twee and I think it fits the aesthetic of the album very well. It was made by friend Ela Hosp who has this very simple but one of a kind unique style: you can check out more of her art on Instagram @elahosp.




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