Words: Nicola Guerra

The Monolith Cocktail has been exchanging posts with our pen pal partners at the leading Italian music publication Kalporz for the last two years or more now; an exchange that continues unabated in 2021. This month Nicola Guerra introduces us to the Italian band A MINOR PLACE; a group who it seems leave smiles on the face with some well-chosen eclectic covers.

A MINOR PLACE  ‘It’ll End In Smile’
(Self-Released) 29th January 2021

Sad songs to be happy, happy songs to sink into a miraculous nostalgia. It sounds simple in words, but who can really do it with notes? I have a short list, but it would be misleading in approaching It’ll End in Smile, the new double self-produced effort by the Teramo band A MINOR PLACE.

Let’s start from the end; in this double disc there are covers of Vic Chesnutt, Tom Waits and the Marine Girls songs (and two others that I won’t reveal): that’s ‘Splendid’ by Chesnutt, ‘In the Neighbourhood’ by Waits, and ‘Second Sight’ by the Marine Girls. How much happiness can you store in just three songs? I still cry with Chesnutt, but the tears have happiness written all over them between water and salt.

What about nostalgia? You may say, we have more right to be nostalgic now, thinking back to our disfigured normality. But here nostalgia is overloaded with love; the songs do not live in the present but neither do they regret the past. They are simply suspended, they are a snapshot immortalized in a precise historical moment, which each of us has been lucky enough to experience at least once in our lives.

Here comes ‘Love’ and we are reminded why we always need POP; why we need the soundtrack that will make us nostalgic for having been happy tomorrow. And that’s the secret; listening to songs that give you the feeling of being stuck in a timeless bubble, capable of bringing a smile to your face even when the situation doesn’t call for it. This is A Minor Place’s skill: distilling pure joy in three minutes, cutting out the essence and sticking it on posters that remind you that your happiness may not last long, but if you carry it with you it can replace any medicine.

Songs flow like credits and when you listen to them again you are almost moved, as if you were really the protagonist told in sunny songs like ‘Sunglasses’, romantic ‘Christmas in Summer (Greetings from Aldo and Derna)’ (one of my favourites, with doo-wop-like choruses and electric guitar to unhinge certainties at the end); or just perfect because they are tinged with strings and colours, as if it were the simplest thing in the world ‘Total Football’. But what is simple is only the ability to be a band that really believes in it. These days, believing in something is fantasy. To believe that a smile can change the world is something magical.

Ah, I’ll tell you; the other two covers are ‘For a Spanish Guitar’ by Gene Clark and ‘Capricci’ by Ban-Off (a garage-punk band from Teramo). You already have a smile on your face, don’t you?

The Monolith Cocktail has been exchanging posts with our pen pal partners at the leading Italian music publication Kalporz for the last two years or more now; an exchange that now continues into 2021. The Kalporz editorial team share with us their top twenty album choices of last year.

2020, the year that is not here. But the music has been there, also to keep us company in the more or less lockdowns, quarantines and various misfortunes. As has been the case for many years now, reading the charts that have already been published there are many directions – and this confirms the huge production of music in which it is difficult to find one’s bearings – but a few albums have been conveyed rather crosswise.

Spin, Pitchfork (with a surprising Waxahatchee in second place), Volture, and AlbumOfTheYear all focused on Fiona Apple (and it’s the album that appears the most in their charts), NME (who didn’t really stick to Brit-pop…) and Riff Magazinechose RTJ4 by Run The Jewels, while Popmatters and Esquire liked Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers (Apple in second place) the most. The New York Times went against the grain with The Ascension by Sufjan Stevens (again, Fiona second), Rolling Stone, Insider, Time and the Los Angeles Times opted for Taylor Swift‘s Folklore (making it the most “national-popular” album in the States), The Vinyl Factory put together two releases by Sault (Black is / Rise), while The Quietus stood out with Hey ColossusDances/Curses.

And Kalporz? Well, our chart is always beautiful. Jokes aside, when we finish it, do the maths and discover it, we always comment that it represents us very well. It is us.

Happy reading then, and let’s look ahead now, as we need to.

20. Nazar – “Guerrilla”

Had it been released in any other year, Guerrilla would simply have been an excellent record of ‘deconstructed-club music’, but the extraordinary conditions of this year give it an extra layer, leaving the listener lost in the reverberations and samples of a world that was and is now, literally, deconstructed.

19. Metz – “Atlas Vending”

“This one is one of the records of the year. Something keeps moving year after year at Sub Pop Records and it happens in a discontinuous way, as it should in a context that doesn’t want to be reassuring but a real call to arms to which you always want to answer: “present””.

18. Jeff Parker – “Suite For Max Brown”

International Anthem is the most important record company in contemporary jazz. So it is no coincidence that Suite for Max Brown was published by the Chicago label in collaboration with Nonesuch Records. Jeff Parker‘s work, like few others, knows how to look to the future: starting from an analogue past, he elaborates a digital and futuristic present. In the making.

17. Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”

“If anyone could complain of a lack of adrenaline throughout the track list, it’s because Parker wanted to steer her peculiar vision of music onto a more relaxed and, if possible, even more dreamlike side than in the past. And he does so by hitting the mark once again and confirming himself more and more as the authority he has become on the international music scene.”

16. Kelly Lee Owens – “Inner Song”

Kelly Lee Owens has the ability to know how to remain in that limbo that should exist, but that we didn’t know before her, between new age and Berlin techno, and it is a very pleasant feeling of enjoyment and fun. With Inner Song she consolidates the ideas of her amazing (and maybe not surpassed by this test) first self-titled album, but reaching more people.

15. Bob Dylan – “Rough and Rowdy Ways”

“On Rough and Rowdy Ways Dylan takes multiple journeys, both physical and mental. (…) Everything seems so fragile, as the album tries to fix this fragility in vitro. While speaking in code, Dylan tells his story with a rare sincerity, as he has done few times in his life. When in ‘Mother of Muses’ he whispers, “Forge my identity from the inside out”, it is the moment of agnation, the moment in which Dylan recognises his own greatness and we recognise him. And in the meantime he paints landscapes, paints nudes, contains multitudes”.

14. Lorenzo Senni – “Scacco Matto”

“Another electronic world is possible, to paraphrase the subtitle of the historic Italian sitcom Boris. And we should be proud that today it is led by an atypical Italian boy, who manages to combine love for research and experimentation with real music, the kind that strikes the heart and shakes the senses of the people who listen to it. Lorenzo Senni is all fire and no smoke, and with humility and intelligence he has managed to arrive in the pantheon of the current scene without distorting or commercialising his message”.

13. Mac Miller – “Circles”

Mac Miller remains poised between depression and liberation, between damnation and salvation. “Everybody’s gotta live / And everybody’s gonna die / Everybody just wanna have a good, good time / I think you know the reason why”, he sings on ‘Everybody’ and brings us back to the simple truths of life: everybody wants to have fun because they know, sooner or later, they’re gonna die. It’s not a Troisi-like question of whether or not we should write it down, the fact is that Mac tells us so lightly that we believe him.”

12. Empress Of – “I’m Your Empress Of”

“Nothing is sacred, everything is profane, or maybe even prosaic. And Empress Of is among the most profound of today’s singer-songwriters in this materiality”.

11. Sevdaliza – “Shabrang”

Shabrang is the strength to overcome shame, pain and fear to proudly show one’s humanity and wounds; but there are many more keys to be discovered, listen after listen, in an album that will perhaps make this September less bitter”.

10. Nicolas Jaar – “Cenizas”

Jaar‘s baritone seems to come straight from the depths of who-knows-what cliff, struggling to climb a wall of noise and glitch. The summit never seems to arrive, just as there is basically never a trace of a real drop, which eases the restlessness that accumulates in almost an hour of music (…). Maybe rising from the ashes is not possible, but at the end of a ghostly record, in the middle of a gloomy period, you can go back to dancing”.

9. Perfume Genius – “Set My Heart On Fire Immediately”

“Look at him now, Mike Andreas, on the album cover, bare-chested and stained with motor oil, with that fierce, belligerent look. Look at him as he rolls around on the dirt floor or as he stages a choreography that resembles a duel to the death. Look at him, while for the first time he faces openly those masculine and macho imaginaries that he has always felt repulsive and threatening: now he even challenges them, embodies them, and radically changes their symbolic connotations. His is a conquest. A liberation. It is yet another metamorphosis. Perfume Genius is another person again.”

8. Caribou – “Suddenly”

“I have the feeling that the exit from the spotlight together with the diversification of the proposals (Caribou on one side and, precisely, Daphni on the other) is not hurting the guy, who at 42 seems the same old as when he was young: so OK. And this is what happens to his music: Caribou had the ability to recreate the bittersweet taste of nostalgia even when expressing a more “contemporary” sound. Imagine how well it works for him now that his compositions have a natural patina that makes them sound beautifully out of focus.”

7. Moses Sumney – “græ”

“Throughout this album the tension exists between opposites and between the like, in a tireless dialectic between the different parts that make up the artist’s self and its relationship to those of the self of those around it: on græ Moses Sumney breaks down himself, others, the world, to then recompose everything in the finale of a new language that promises a way of making music that is far from grey.”

6. Run The Jewels – “RTJ4”

“To call them prophets is reductive”.

5. Fiona Apple – “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”

“It is beautifully crafted pop, albeit built on a framework of dissonance and rough sounds. It is risky to speak of minimalism, given the quantity of elements, but it is equally impossible to speak of pomposity. Perhaps the right adjective is measured.”

4. Sault – “Untitled (Black Is)”

Apparently there are four of them, their identities are cleverly concealed, but we’re pretty sure this isn’t a new Damon Albarn side project. In one of the hardest and most significant years for the international anti-racist movement born on the web, they come from a country shaken by changes that are dramatic to say the least, but able as in few other eras of the past to offer so many musical excellences rich in contaminations and cultural crossovers where it is black music and its African roots that shine, from grime to Afrobeat. Sault‘s Untitled (Black Is) is a record that speaks of the present, released on the 19th June, when the so-called Juneteenth is celebrated, the date chosen in America to commemorate the abolition of slavery. R&B psychedelia, soul and UK funky echoes, the same ones that have given an incurably black imprint to contemporary British electronics. Without too much proclamation in Sault’s fourth record (their second of the same year, following their two 2019 works, 5 and 7) they wrote the British equivalent of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. But in the twenty tracks of Untitled (Black Is) there are no heroes or messiahs; there are everyday stories that we’d all like to leave behind sooner or later.

3. Fontaines D.C. – “A Hero’s Death”

The raw material is the rock we know, but the progression is inevitably current: by a strange temporal crossroads, Fontaines D.C. manage to improve on their first album, making A Hero’s Death less thunderous than its predecessor but more focused, between nocturnal ballads and a daring attitude that goes beyond post-punk.

2. Arca – “KiCk i”

Alejandra Ghersi is an artist who gives the impression of having very clear ideas about her role as an author of artistic products. It is no mere chance or coincidence that the most accessible episode in her discography to date, this KiCk i, begins with the words: “I do what I wanna do when I wanna do it”. Arca’s album released this year in fact marks the achievement of a perfect balance, coherent and narratively dense, between the instances that the Venezuelan artist has shown, at varying intensities, up to now. There is experimentation, there is pop, there is traditional Latin music, and above all there are ideas: a record that has to do with identity pride, the importance of art as a communicative tool within society, the redemption of the non-aligned.

1. Yves Tumor – “Heaven to a Tortured Mind”

Heaven to a Tortured Mind is the result of Sean Bowie‘s latest transfiguration, which more firmly embraces those murky, corrupt and perverse glam-rock scenarios he brought to the stage in the months he was completing the recording of the album. And much more. Degenerate, lascivious, deliberately over the top, at times in a way that can seem contrived and constructed, Yves Tumor‘s character building is matched by ideas and songs that definitely leave their mark. Yves Tumor has once again led everyone astray. And while people are trying to find a key to interpreting this turn of events, rest assured, he will have already found another one.”

Album Review/Nicola Guerra

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 Nicola Guerra goes deep in analysing trip-hop luminary Tricky’s Fall To Pieces album.

TRICKY ‘Fall to Pieces’
(False Idols, 2020)

I spent the whole summer thinking about Tricky. Not specifically about him and not even about the huge tragedy that afflicted the former couple Adrian Thaws (aka Tricky) and Martina Topley Bird (the suicide of their daughter Mazy Mina on 29 May). No, I thought about how crucial to Tricky’s career was a gloomy record like Pre-Millenium Tension. An album that was sacked after the great success of Maxinquaye, a milestone in trip-hop, and which, incredibly, he pulled out of it in an oblique and really personal way. So, I thought, from the pedestal of the world to the suburb of the soul the step was short. But how can you face the opposite? How do you react when the darkness is greater than you can imagine? Look for the light or sink without going back up?

Fall to Pieces does not give answers. The fourteenth (!) work of the Bristol artist is deliberately unfinished, almost as if to re-emphasize the inability to concentrate on details but leave the instinct to communicate something free. But what? What do you try to say when the world collapses under your feet? What do you say when really “Hell is round the corner”? The song that most explains this non-form of self-analysis is ‘Running Off’, a metropolitan tarantella that contrasts the melody of slow and powerful basses that could sink to infinity. Instead, one minute forty-four and you change register. Why not go deeper? Because it hurts too much to investigate. It hurts too much to try to understand.

It is better to hover in search of beauty. In search of Pop, as good Tricky says (“Fall Please”, splendid piece that hides love). Then comes, in the middle, “Hate This Pain”. “What a fucking game What a fucking game I hate this fucking pain I hate this fucking pain Was crying, endless coast Baby girl, she knew me most I hate this fucking pain I hate this fucking pain At ten, I’ll take a flight Try to be there, I guess I might I miss my baby while I fly In my head, I want to die…” I want to die, the former Tricky Kid whispers angrily (one of the few songs sung by him, the rest is entrusted to the female voices of Oh Land and Marta Ziakowska).

Instead, music wins. Once again.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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

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