At the forefront of a relatively underground movement for over two decades, Mike Simonetti’s history in the world of dance music runs deep. Getting his start flyering outside club Mars (1998), his 20-year backstory reveals a steady succession from club promoter, to DJ, to founder of multiple labels, positioning him as one of the genre’s most integral mainstays in recent past.
Simonetti’s first label, Troubleman Unlimited was launched in 1993, around the time that he was gaining acclaim as a DJ in New York’s lawless club scene. By the end of it’s ten-year run the label would yield seminal releases by The Walkmen, Zola Jesus, Titus Andronicus, Prurient, Unwound, Glass Candy, Chromatics and many more.
With the doors closing on Troubleman, Simonetti partnered up with Johnny Jewel to launch Italians Do It Better, whose first release, a synth pop compilation called After Dark, cemented the label (and Simonetti) as one to watch.
After a slew of re-edits and remixes, Mike eventually released his first EP of original material, Capricorn Rising. Yielding a range of influences from techno, krautrock and ambient music to soundtracks, this EP laid the groundwork for what was to come.
Most recently, Simonetti decided to split from Italians Do It Better to focus on his new project, Pale Blue, as well as his new venture: the freshly minted label 2MR (Two Mikes Records). A collaboration between Simonetti and Captured Tracks founder Mike Sniper (whose own band Blank Dogs was released on Troubleman in 2008), 2MR is an opportunity for Simonetti to start from a blank slate and release music he believes in. The first release on 2MR will be The Past We Leave Behind, the debut album from Pale Blue.
During the writing process of Capricorn Rising, Simonetti was asked to remix tracks from the West Coast twosome Silver Hands. Immediately taken by the incredible range of lead-vocalist Elizabeth Wight, he reached out to collaborate. The result of the bi-coastal email exchange would eventually become Pale Blue.
Pale Blue, referencing the term “Pale Blue Dot,” coined by Carl Sagan to refer to a photograph of planet Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990, was originally conceived around the time that Hurricane Sandy hit New York and came to completion with Simonetti’s severance from Italians. Thus, many of the tracks that make up The Past… grapple with themes of loss and new beginnings.
The Past… encompasses a myriad of sonic elements, ranging from rhythmic, melodic techno to atmospheric ambient productions, while also incorporating Simonetti’s varied background in noise, drone, and even experimental dream pop. Above it all though, Wight’s vocals remain the focal point, saturating the record with a lush melodic warmth that’s so often missing in the electronic world.
Musically, Pale Blue is a response to modern dance music and its constant fluctuations. It intentionally bears no obvious singles, nor club hits. While Simonetti, Wight and Jana Hunter (vocals on “Dusk in Parts”) remain at its core, Pale Blue’s philosophy is to keep everything open to collaboration. It does not aim to pigeonhole itself into a genre or any new vistas in music, but instead to a unifying sound produced collectively and harmoniously.
The Past We Leave Behind is out now on 2MR/Captured Tracks. Stream Dusk In Parts feat. Jana Hunter below. In case you missed it, check out The Past We Leave Behind single here.
At the end of last year Luis Vasquez, aka The Soft Moon announced his return. On March 31st 2015 he will release his new album ‘Deeper’ via Captured Tracks, his most personally reflective album to date, one where he finally “felt the urge to express [himself]“.
To coincide with this, The Soft Moon has shared a new Trentmøller remix of lead track ‘Black’ & announced a full European tour including a London show at The Garage on May 27th 2015.
The first taste of the album came with ‘Black’, a merciless track of heaving bass and industrial notes, whose “innovation, mantra, and darkness” says Vasquez, gives him “a sense of confidence to move forward in my everyday life.”
Speaking about the remix, Trentmøller commented: ‘I really dig The Soft Moon, always an inspiration! From the original, I only used the vocal bit and the a bit of the noisey synth and around that I built a new soundscape with bass, guitars, a drum machine and my brand new purchase, a really old vintage monophonic synth from ’74!’