On New Path, their second album for DFA, Montreal electronic duo Essaie pas (Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau) take inspiration from Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, a dystopian science fiction classic. The album sounds like the book reads – a voyeuristic, druggy, and paranoid narrative of existence in the surveillance state.
“I read the book a long time ago, maybe 15 years ago, and it had a strong impression on me,” explains Pierre. “In our previous work we always looked to music as inspiration in our lives, but this time we felt the desire to try something different, that’s not based on ourselves but on someone else’s universe. It was going to be more conceptual, more political.”
New Path touches on addiction, loss, and the lingering strength of identity within late capitalism’s mass media paranoia. It pins down the central character’s destructive tendencies, using this as a metaphor to explore the dichotomous rupture between our inner lives and our social environment, one that is often fed and soothed by various kinds of dependences.
“I think it touches us on many levels,” Pierre continues. “We can talk about drug addiction issues, we can talk about the mass surveillance world we live in, but there’s also the experience of loss, of grief. I was surprised by how the book felt so modern and accurate to the time we live in right now. Dick’s visions of surveillance are the reality of social control today.”
Essaie pas possess a wiry, experimental take on the more leftfield end of techno music, in the way of pioneers Chris & Cosey and Cabaret Voltaire, as well as newer acts like Fever Ray, Factory Floor, and Helena Hauff. The album trades in hypnotic pads of strings, punctuated by dramatic stabs and sensual rhythmic patterns, with Marie’s tripped-out, pseudo-scientific verbiage further adding to the ambience. The world the duo have created here offers a tangled vision of tomorrow’s aesthetics, a soundtrack stacked with cold music for cold times.
With his Familiar Five EP, London-based producer Marcus Marr has taken his darkest and most thrillingly outré turn yet. Recorded through the long dark nights in the splendid isolation of his Brixton studio, lead single “Familiar Five” is a tale of bizarre transformation that points up the fragile boundaries between dreams and reality.
“Familiar Five” feels like an outsider anthem. “It’s about being a freak and accepting it – being happy to be a freak,” notes Marr. He narrates the song with his finest deadpan lip-curl, managing to make the lyrics sound suggestive, malevolent and wildly empowering all at once. “It was sounding quite sinister as I was making it, and I thought a voice would sound good on it,” recalls Marr. “I was reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Kafka’s Metamorphosis as well,” he remembers. Other diverse influences setting the track’s fabulously unnerving tone include Marr’s readings about “familiar spirits” – the occult animals believed to assist medieval witches in their nefarious deeds.
The other songs featured on the Familiar Five EP include “Love Release,” which taps into the energy and live power of his DJ sets; “High Times,” a track that’s influenced by his love of early 80’s dance music (“I was definitely thinking of Nile Rodgers in 1979, 1980, there… I have a bit of a thing for that period at the beginning of the ‘80s before drum machines took control of dance music.”); and previous single “Rocketship.”
Montreal-based electronic duo Essaie pas today release a new single, “Futur parlé,” via DFA Records.
“We’re excited to share our new single ‘Futur parlé’ with you,” say Essaie pas’ Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau. “We decided to conceptualize this one based on Philip K Dick’s work, by paying tribute to his classic novel ‘A Scanner Darkly.’ You will hear Marie’s tripped-out pseudo-scientific verbiage in the spirit of the book’s bleak but humorous dialogs, over hypnotic pads of strings, punctuated by dramatic stabs and sensual rhythmic patterns.”
Directed by Christopher Royal King, the video for ‘Futur parlé’ (premiering today on Clash Magazine) brings this modern interpretation of ‘A Scanner Darkly’ to life, merging rushes of surveillance and drone cameras, abstract digital landscapes, and facial recognition software.
“The realization of ‘post-truth’ in modern times has ultimately blurred the lines of reality and the perception of what is ‘real,'” says King. “The domino effect has created this frenetic, almost post-apocalyptic landscape and I wanted to attempt to create a narrative and world that attempts to capture the paranoia of trying to function and survive in such an environment.”
Dawn People’s The Star Is Your Future is a studio collaboration between New York musicians Nick Forte and Peter Negroponte. The pair’s mutual disregard for musical categorization results in a genre-bending ride on the nine-track LP, which portrays their diverse backgrounds while maintaining a sense of accessibility, continuity, and purpose.
Both veterans of the underground experimental scene, the duo entered into the project preparing to make a serious racket. In time, their mutual appreciation for breezy 70’s jazz fusion, kraut rock, and library funk became apparent, setting the course for the sessions. In the summer of 2016, they started tracking live jams with drums and electronics at the Outlier Inn studio in upstate New York with engineer Josh Druckman. As the tracks took shape, Forte and Druckman arranged the material and Negroponte overdubbed guitar, synthesizer, bass, and percussion. Finally, the tracks were handed to Abe Seiferth for mixing and post production.
Dawn People’s dense, funky, and psychedelic music is the result of the wide range of musical influences of the collaborators. Nick Forte’s resume spans influential hardcore punk band Rorschach, post-punk outfit Beautiful Skin, and recent underground sensation Raspberry Bulbs. With Dawn People, Forte digs deep into his own childhood nostalgia: making mixtapes from the early NYC hip hop show “Rap Attack”, watching Christian Marclay experiment with vinyl on the TV show “Night Flight”, and his first musical instrument, the Casio SK1 sampler keyboard.
Peter Negroponte is a virtuosic drummer and guitarist whose influences are rooted in rock & roll, jazz, funk, fusion, and free improvisation. In reaction to his brief stint at the New England Conservatory, Negroponte sought to transcend what he felt to be an esoteric approach to making “experimental” music by forming the psychedelic-art-rock-noise-funk band Guerilla Toss. He has worked with an array of contemporary DIY labels such as Feeding Tube, NNA Tapes, Digitalis, and John Zorn’s Tzadik.
The sound of this LP harkens back to a time not too long ago, in the early – mid 90’s, with groups like Air, Cornelius, Stereolab, Tortoise, and Cibo Matto. All these artists combined a love of Krautrock & David Axelrod records into a lushly produced jigsaw puzzle of live instrumentation, editing, sampling, and immaculate production. It is a genre that Pitchfork’s Eric Harvey recently described as “recombinant pop”, which is applied to “adventurous, sample-driven and style-copping music”.
The Star Is Your Future shifts aesthetically and dramatically between sections and phrases, woozy in the best way and never unfocused. Together, Forte and Negroponte have cobbled together a dazzling scope of sonic elements to create something cohesive and mesmerizing – put on the record and get lost in the haze.
01 Be Cool Tonight
02 Get Life
03 Inner Refuge
04 Never Be Afraid
06 Wishing Ring
07 Dawn People Rising
08 Chew On Air
09 The Star Is Your Future
“High Times” is the new single from London-based producer and DJ Marcus Marr, due for release October 27 via DFA Records.
A crowd favorite from Marr’s live set, “High Times” channels the electric guitar stylings of Nile Rodgers circa 1979, and makes good use of the producer’s trademark whizzing synths as well as additional vocals from Nandi Bhebhe. “Once I had come up with the guitar parts I then added all the other instruments one by one ‘til I had an arrangement I liked,” Marr says. “I’ve been playing it out for ages and it always works.”
Juan Maclean is a Brooklyn-based DJ and producer who has been a mainstay of the New York club scene, as well as maintaining a rigorous international touring schedule, since the release of his first records on DFA in 2002. After putting out an extensive catalogue of 12” singles and LPs for the label with vocalist Nancy Whang (most recently, 2014’s In A Dream LP, and this year’s 12” single ‘Can You Ever Really Know Somebody’), he returns to the label with ‘The Brighter The Light,’ a deep piano-based club track, augmented by three equally DJ-friendly remixes.
“The Brighter The Light” emerged while Juan waits (somewhat) patiently in Brooklyn for Nancy Whang to return from touring with her ‘side gig,’ LCD Soundsystem. Taking the tiniest splice of a demo vocal and sprinkling it throughout, Juan spun off the work being done for the next LP and created a new piece altogether, offering the smallest glimpse of what is to come, but ending up with something with a completely different purpose: his DJ set.
The remixes are a truly euphoric bunch of tracks, coming from Australia’s Len Liese (yes his remix is Balearic AF), DJ Tennis, (fresh from his fantastic DJ Kicks released in July) and Octo Octa, who contributes her second remix for The Juan Maclean (look up her remix of ‘Here I Am’ from 2014, it’s brilliant).
There are already two more singles being planned (with a similar club-driven purpose) to tide over fans and DJ sets while Juan and Nancy finish work on their fourth LP, to be released in 2018.
CCFX is a new supergroup resulting from a merger between two seminal Olympia, Washington pop outfits: CC Dust and Trans FX. On their debut self-titled EP, artists Chris McDonnell, Maryjane Dunphe and David Jaques join forces for a record that is at once a showcase and an aberration of what is currently coming out of the Pacific Northwest.
Recorded and mixed with local OG Captain Tripps, the EP’s sound partially recalls late 90’s/early 00’s indie pop as chiming, melodic guitar parts counter and complement Maryjane’s emotional vocals. In the same vein of the past few decades’ most beloved hitmakers (both in the clubs as well as on the radio), the music feeds on a sense of nostalgia not necessarily specific to any one time or place – sun-kissed riffs seem to go on forever, supported by a steady breakbeat.
The timbre of the music is warm and just slightly fuzzed out, and the expressive quality of Maryjane’s voice is pushed to the front. Without a clear indication as to how, CCFX have struck that rare balance between heartfelt sincerity and calculated disillusionment that many groups strive for, bearing the mark of a project which is as fearless as it is humble and out there living as big as it wants to be. These four tracks grant listeners access to suppressed and superseded feelings from youth, paired with a strange glint of whatever luxury this epoch’s future might still hold.
FFO Saint Etienne, Q Lazzarus, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, dancing, celebrations, success stories, etc.
Eric Copeland (Black Dice) returns to DFA with a brand-new set of hyper & hectic leftfield club music. Goofballs places its emphasis on playful melodies, ear worm hooks & vocals mixed with trademark machine funk rhythms that hit hard and land offbalance. Any other way would be too obvious for an artist like Eric. Perhaps he even invented a new dance genre: ‘Goofstep’. We’ll see if that one sticks…
Eric explained the creation of this new LP to us via email from his home on an island in lovely Balearic Palma Spain:
I made it here in Palma at my studio, this is the first full record I’ve made entirely here since moving. Some of this material was road tested September 2016 on tour supporting Animal Collective. This album was the result of real isolation here, countless hours, focused only on this.
The whole recording & writing was a fast process. I focused most on the bass groove. I had a very minimal gear setup: 90’s drum machine, cheap bass machine and a sampler. But most important was a homemade ‘drum brain’ that Barry’s London custom made for me. Barry was in the Van Pelt Soldiers of Fortune & Oneida. That piece of gear was a big part of this record and informed the direction it took the most.
Eric Copeland is a founding member of Black Dice as well as a prolific solo artist. Besides DFA, he has released albums on L.I.E.S., Post Present Medium & Paw Tracks.
Goofballs was mixed by Rusty Santos (who has mixed everyone from DJ Rashad to Panda Bear to Owen Pallett) and mastered by Joe Lambert. It is Eric’s third solo album for DFA Records.
Crooked Man comes back around with their second release of 2017. The Happiness EP contains three alternate versions of this epic album track closer. Extended dance floor edits & bleeped out glitchy funk. Three new takes on one instant-classic song.
Earlier this year Crooked Man released the Remix EP Volume 1, which contained reworks from Whatever / Whatever, Juan Maclean and Barker & Baumecker.
Coming soon is the Remixes Volume 2 featuring versions from Tee Mango, Luke Solomon & Lovefingers. There is also a four part 30-minute new track on the way, entitled “Echo Loves Narcissus.”
Barker & Baumecker (Ostgut Ton / Berlin) remix the title track off of Delia Gonzalez’s upcoming LP ‘Horse Follows Darkness’ out May 5, 2017 on DFA Records.
Horse Follows Darkness is the second record by Delia Gonzalez, her follow up to the album “In Remembrance”.
The title is taken from a werewolf genre film her 8 year old son Wolfgang had created. At this time, Wolfgang also turned Delia onto a genre of cinema she had always resisted – the American Western.
Delia explains that what she observed “was all relevant – the album is based on our personal experience of moving back to America (from Berlin) and the journey that followed. The record is a manifestation of that, and what one creates for themselves under the given circumstances. Coming back to America, I felt like a foreigner and NYC / America felt like the Wild West. Most Westerns from the 1960s to the present have revisionist themes. Many were made by emerging major filmmakers who saw the Western as an opportunity to expand their criticism of American society and values into
a new genre.”
The narrative of the record is one of re-encountering the frontier mentality that shaped the country but somehow never faded. This time as a foreigner. The genre of the Western remains pertinent, many of the same stories of that brutally deromanticised era are still relevant today. America hasn’t changed – the cast, times and settings have, but we still hold onto the same ideal.
Horse Follows Darkness is essentially a modern electronic soundtrack for the Revisionist Western. Even the idea for the record cover is inspired by one of the most well known modern Westerns, Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs Miller.
The album was recorded with Abe Seiferth at Transmitter Park studios, which Delia likens to “going to the finest tailor”. Abe became an integral part of the recording, playing guitar and helping to suggest experimenting with different synthesizers, something Delia was keen to do. Delia refers to Abe as a magical and incredibly intuitive collaborator” regarding the sound of the record.
The music that emerged from these recording sessions combines a range of influences – from the compositions of Erik Satie to ‘Salon De Musique’, the solo piano record by Su Tissue (of the L.A. punk band Suburban Lawns). The record also took on a much different shape and sound with the introduction of the Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, as well as a vintage Korg Poly synth and the Roland SH-101. The golden era Krautrock recordings of bands like Neu!, Cluster & Harmonia were touchstones as well, the repetition, swirling soundscapes and locked-in rhythm tracks.
Delia Gonzalez is a Cuban-American musician and artist, based in both New York City & Berlin. Her disciplines include everything from composer to filmmaker, dancer / choreographer, sculptor, painter & performance artist. Her musical career with DFA Records began in 2004 when the label released the 12” single “Relevee”, followed by the album of cosmic acid-house “The Days of Mars”, with Delia and then musical partner Gavin Russom.
In 2015, DFA released Delia’s first solo album entitled “In Remembrance”, which was a full piano score for a 30 minute filmed ballet, a perfect example of the type of work Delia creates as a multi-disciplinary artist.