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Deconstructing Interference #14

illustration by Emily McCafferty
illustration by Emily McCafferty

This is Deconstructing Interference, the roundup dealing with all the non-metal and experimental stuff that I find interesting. If you want to be considered for this column or have anything else to recommend, drop me an e-mail at deconstructinginterference@gmail.com.

Gang Gang Dance – Kazuashita

Seven years is a long time to wait, especially when Gang Gang Dance had just released their most complete work in Eye Contact. The stunning part about this return is that Gang Gang Dance do not perform a rehash of their successful material, but instead push in a new direction. The band produced its own brew of brainy, experimental pop music, with complex structures, catchy tones, and an uplifting energy about them. Kazuashita shows a different but equally daring version of Gang Gang Dance. While their previous work featured an extroverted characteristic — a feeling of bursting energy — this album takes an introspective turn. The psychedelic touches, verging on shoegaze territory, create an acidic realm, with big, impressive soundscapes filling the space. The band’s arsenal has not changed, they still make excellent use of audio effects and include fantastic worldbeat motifs to give a tribal feeling to the music, but the end goal is somewhat more esoteric. This new stage of Gang Gang Dance was worth the wait.

Lotic – Power

Lotic is one in a series of producers who pushed the boundaries of electronic music in the current decade, alongside the likes of Rabit and Gaika. While Lotic’s foundation stands on top of the techno and dance scene, the abstracted visions that producer J’Kerian Morgan projects are an amalgamation of grime and bass music on steroids. Off-kilter practices include erratic polyrhythmic patterns, injections of noise and post-industrial atmospheres. This terrifying mould of sounds has granted Lotic an extreme representation. But, with Power, Morgan takes a step forward and comes into the light. While retaining the uncompromising characteristics that made Lotic’s music so enticing, this work is defined by a sense of melody. Morgan explores ritualistic progressions, performs vocals, experiments with soothing synths, sorrowful melodies and more defined ambiance. Without giving too much of Lotic’s core away, Morgan expands into new territories and documents perfectly the investigations in this new wondrous plane.

Eartheater – IRISIRI

Alexandra Drewchin came into prominence with the psychedelic act Guardian Alien, which features members of extraordinary acts like Liturgy and Zs. But where her talent truly shines is with her own project Eartheater. Having already released two albums in RIP Chrysallis and Metalipsis, she has displayed a firm grasp on the experimental side of electronics. Her compositions tend towards the abstract realm, where the tempo and the structures are less solid, making these works appear as free falls through an otherworldly rabbit hole. However, with her new release IRISIRI she propels the notion of form and structure back to the front. The compositions in this album are more defined, and there is a more distinct sense of melody. “Inclined” for instance takes a neoclassical influence and runs with it, turning the part into an addictive hook while the electronic background provides a solid ground for the unconventional vocal delivery. While the experimental edge is still strong, this appears as a record of maturity for Eartheater.

Michael Beharie & Teddy Rankin-Parker – A Heart from Your Shadow

Michael Beharie and Teddy Rankin-Parker are two extremely talented musicians of the experimental scene, who just happened to meet in college. They went their separate ways with Beharie becoming a member of experimental, free-jazz, electronic masters Zs, while Rankin-Parker has provided cellos for a plethora of acts, including Iron & Wine, and Primus. In their debut collaboration, the two dive into an electronic realm filled with notions of noise and neo-classical leanings. The electronic presence of the band forms the basis of its sound, taking on elements from fellow contemporaries like Tim Hecker and Ben Frost, with the duo exploring the synthetic ambiance through a minimalistic lens. There is a feral intensity that arrives with these explorations, as is the case with “Roses” or the chaotic “Icon.” Coupled with a great grasp on percussion and progression, A Heart from Your Shadow, travels through tribalistic rituals to mechanical, post-industrial motifs, which constantly morph its energy.

The End – Svarmod och Vemod Ar Vardesinnen

The first record by The End has been promoted solely as the collaboration of two great saxophone players, Kejtil Moster and the legendary Mats Gustafsson. However, The End follows a band aesthetic, and the inclusion of three more excellent musicians in Anders Hana, Greg Saunier (of Deerhoof, who has since been replaced by Borge Fjordheim) and Sofia Jernberg, has resulted in a furious offering of free-rock and free-jazz fusion. There is a surreal energy that arrives in the long form tracks of this record, be it through the rocky hooks coming from Hana’s guitars or the extreme mutations of Moster’s and Gustafsson’s saxophones. Despite their overwhelming presence, I found that singer Sofia Jernberg was the highlight of this release, displaying an unbelievable range both regarding the timbre of her voice, but also her delivery which spanned from spoken words to full on screaming. Through a furious progression and an impressive exploration of dynamics, the energy that The End is able to transmit is what makes their debut record so enticing. Instead of a dialogue between musicians, this appears to be a full band that is tuned perfectly to its individual members.

Byla & Jarboe – Viscera

This might be a blast from the past, but I always felt like Viscera passed a bit unnoticed at the time of its original release. This meeting of minds sees Byla, the ambient/noise project of Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel, join forces with one of the legendary voices of Swans, Jarboe. The result is an overwhelming experience, with Marston and Hufnagel forging an impressive wall of sound through their guitars, while Jarboe’s voice gives an outlet to the asphyxiating atmospherics. The sheer intensity of the record, the creativity of Marston and Hufnagel when it comes to arranging the guitars, and Jarboe’s towering performance create a very dark trip through noise soundscapes and ambient realms. Short breaks of folky tonality offer the only respite from this otherwise unyielding assault.

Bellini – Before The Day Has Gone

Bellini was formed by Damon Che when his previous band, the mighty Don Caballero, went on hiatus in 2002. Che at that time enlisted Italian couple, guitarist Agostino Tilotta and vocalist Giovanna Cacciola, to join the band with Matthew Taylor joining in on bass. However, Che soon departed the band, while the remaining members chose to continue this fantastical experiment, and recruited Soulside drummer Alexis Fleisig. Due to the fact that the band members are split between two countries, Bellini was never the most active of bands, and it has been almost a decade since their previous full-length, The Precious Prize of Gravity was released. Now, they return with Before The Day Has Gone and not only do they not appear tired, but rather reinvigorated. The technical aptitude of the individual members has unsurprisingly remained at a high level with Fleisig and Taylor providing a recital on the rhythm section, while Tilotta merges melody and dissonance towards an impressive result. It is all bound together by Cacciola’s vocal delivery, which arrives with a volatile quality but without losing its emotional edge. It is a record that binds nicely the math rock complexity with the indie rock and post-punk scene, and Bellini is able to make this connection work seamlessly.

serpentwithfeet – soil

Josiah Wise arrived on the scene under the moniker serpentwithfeet in 2016, releasing the excellent EP blisters. In the twenty minutes of his first release, Wise displayed an excellent combination of his musical heritage and a forward-thinking approach when it comes to their representation. Raised in a religious family, he was introduced to gospel music early on, and that has remained a focal point of his sound as serpentwithfeet. This element might have been integral to his work in blisters, but it is now expanded with his debut album, soil. The record offers a breathtaking ride through the territories of gospel, classical and operatic music, old-school R&B and soul, but providing a different interpretation with Wise’s chameleonic voice and smooth delivery. Two of the album’s highlights in “Cherubim” and “Invoice”, display this musical lineage that starts from gospel music and moves into the soul and R&B sound, only to be then further configured through electronic movements, in the mechanical percussion, and experimental tendencies, in the jazzy themes appearing in the background. It all makes soil a record that propels contemporary music as a whole into a new trajectory, one that shows immense promise.

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[Correction: The article originally stated that Rankin-Parker collaborated with Laurel Halo. This is not the case.]

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