Are you ready for some minimal-synth…from space? Because that’s the description that comes to mind for the coldwave project Ortrotasce. The Portland based band uses a mixture of analog and digital sounds to create a bloopy soundscape that has a slightly different atmosphere on every release, but keeps a constant lo-fi and classic minimal-synth feel. The entire Phase Four album reminds me of the soundtrack of a sparsely populated space station!
My favourite release by Ortrotasce so far has been their Forgotten EP. It is a higher paced release than Phase Four, and fans of Martial Canterel, Automelodi and the like will probably really dig this sound. Darkly reverberating vocals and soaring synth lines are plentiful here – this is my recent go-to album for having people over or (in a more boring situation) fun cleaning music. I listened to one release and it didn’t really stick with me; many thanks to my friend Louis for poking me and getting me to listen to more of this great band!
You can find a TON of songs from Ortrotasce at their bandcamp here. Though it seems Nic Hamersly (who is, from what I can tell, the sole artist behind this band) started this project only early last year, it’s been quite an active project.
Xeno & Oaklander’s live setup
It’s been a while! As I mentioned in my previous post, I had planned a trip to Portland last month which happened to coincide with Xeno & Oaklander playing a show there with Soft Metals. Soft Metals were super fun – just as bouncy and dancey as I was hoping for. It sounds like they’ve just relocated to Portland, so the west coast is in for a treat. As for X&O, they blew any expectations I had out of the water – their energy and live sound are unbelievable! They take their analog setup with them on the road, and it’s like being invited to a non-stop jam session. They definitely cast a spell, and watching Liz sing her heart out while dancing with the audience was a treat. Their show was so awesome that they’re the only band I can think of who I’d love to see a live album from – I hope I’ll be able to catch them again sometime on the west coast!
Thanks to my friend Brian over at http://brtrain.wordpress.com/ (check him out if you’re in to games!), I’m now listening to the excellent Des Jeunes Gens Mödernes compilation. Turns out that coldwave crowdfunding project I mentioned a few weeks back was actually a documentary set to be based on an exhibition that happened in Paris in 2008. The compilation is excellent – some old favourites like Elli & Jacno, Kas Product, and Martin Dupont are featured, along with a ton of artists I haven’t heard of before – very exciting! Do check out this compilation if you can – you can listen to samples here and learn more about the compilation and exhibition here. Thanks again for the info and music, Brian!
Xeno & Oaklander’s 4th full-length album Par Avion was released earlier this week, and it’s been getting heavy rotation in my house since then. The band members Sean McBride and Liz Wendelbo themselves describe the album as “Postcards of love for a cold age – shimmering moments from the present, romantic messages from the past, and love mementos for the future”. Truly with this album more than any of their other releases, I can hear strong nostalgia for times past and equally powerful yearning for what is to come.
The songs on Par Avion are both classic Xeno and a continuing evolution of their sound. ‘Interface’ was released as a single and gives a bouncy beginning to the album. I’ve listened to the album quite a few times now and still can’t sort out my favourites – the songs are arranged so well it seems to flow as many smaller stories merging to create a bigger tale, so it’s hard to pull out just one or two to single out. ‘Sheen’ has been getting stuck in my head more than some of the others – Liz’s voice and the gorgeous melody combined with a lively beat is a fantastic combo.
Check out Xeno & Oaklander’s official website for more information and how to purchase their new album. As a side note – Liz Wendelbo has created a Xeno & Oaklander themed perfume which you can find out more about here, and this fragrance will be used to scent the inserts of a limited edition pressing of Par Avion vinyls. As someone who finds scent, memory and music to be forever linked, I think this is an amazing idea and definitely have my eye on Eau de Xeno!
Some seriously interesting stuff on the new Electric Voice Records compilation – feel like some new Soft Metals? A new (rare instrumental) track from Vancouver’s own Cosmetics? If I were to neglect to mention that the compilation also contains a really fun new song from Automelodi, you would know this blog has been hijacked. But most interestingly of all, a track by Martial Canterel that features ONLY GUITARS. My mind is blown – true to form, it’s a great and atmospheric track. The whole release is fantastic mood music, listen to/buy it here.
Heard about this? Des Jeunes Gens Mödernes is a documentary that may be in the works about classic French Post Punk and Cold Wave bands like X RAY POP, Guerre Froide, Elli & Jacno, Ruth, End of Data, KaS Product, Martin Dupont, Mathématiques Modernes, Metal Boys, Charles De Goal and more! But it needs help – only 2 days left to crowdfund the documentary.
You can help by sending a Euro or more to them here.
New video (shot in Budapest, Winter 2013) was released today from Xeno & Oaklander, and it’s gorgeous from start to finish!
I found out about Nouvelle Phénomène from a friend on Last.fm, and now they’re one of my top Summer 2014 bands! The songs are new wave/minimal synth, and many of them have a brilliant dance vibe like the above track. This band gets the dark vocals and vintage synth sound of the 80s just right.
Their slower tracks are also super catchy and very worth listening to, but their faster-paced ones like ‘Cruel Game’ are some of my favourites. Regarding the band itself, I couldn’t dig up much information besides that the members of Nouvelle Phénomène hail from Budapest. I’m keeping my eye out for their future releases, because I’ve loved all I’ve heard so far!
As far as I can tell, the best way to keep tabs on Nouvelle Phénomène is to follow their Soundcloud and Facebook. I’ve been discovering other bands I enjoy through their Facebook as they tend to frequently post links to other music there.
I first heard this band when a friend in Montréal played their tape and was immediately charmed. I want to call this band adorable but I think that sounds a little too diminutive – however, I can’t help but think ‘sweet post-punk’ when I try to describe their sound. I have a big weakness for this awesome combo of drum machine, guitar, bass and lovely female vocals! ‘XXX Cachets’ is my favourite faster-paced tune off of their demo release, but it’s a hard choice – I’ve enjoyed listening to each song multiple times.
For a slower tempo, ‘Vaudou’ is a relaxing and beautiful listen – I find that the lo-fi quality of the demo recording really adds to the laid-back feeling in this song. I’d love to see this trio perform live songs from their demo and Sans Intérêts EP they had lined up to release, but alas it sounds as if they’ve already disbanded. You can enjoy the demo that they have up on Bandcamp here.
Recently arrived back from my journey to Montréal and experiencing some post trip depression as I had a really excellent time! It was fun to officially meet Sovannak of Productions Haineuses/Traumatismes, who brings a lot of coldwave (and dark underground bands of other genres) to the city. It was great to be able to trade some music recommendations with him – I came away with a list of about 150 projects to check out, a couple of which I’ll be covering in upcoming blog entries.
On my second night there I went to the show that caused me to book my flight in the first place. The venue was Deathouse, an intimate little cave that was perfect for a smaller show. The place was packed with a lively crowd though, so the energy was high. I unfortunately had to leave before the out of town headliners hit the stage, but was happy to see the first three bands, all hailing from Montréal.
The first band on stage was Essaie Pas, a minimal synth band who captivated with their sexy and sinuous live show. Reminiscent of Vancouver’s Cosmetics, the beats are often very simple with relaxed and breezy vocals. The combination of these elements make a really outstanding soundscape, and my concert buddy Louis mentioned that this music brought to mind some of David Lynch’s albums – so it’s a must hear if that sounds down your alley.
The next band on was Void Republic. I hadn’t made the time to check this band out before seeing him perform, but he was an amazing live show! Dark electro minimal beats that reverberated throughout my body and made dancing impossible to resist (but why would you want to?). This band has a surprisingly few amount of listens on Last.fm/likes on Facebook, so I hope he gains the recognition he deserves while I hold out for hope that I’ll catch him live again someday!
The last set I was around for was Automelodi. I’d been waiting a while to see this band, and it was better than I’d imagined! I was a little worried before the performance as there were some issues with the soundcheck, and they left the stage for at least half an hour with no explanation. A couple of friends started to scare me but saying that it’s happened before where Automelodi didn’t like the ambiance of a venue and left without playing (I really doubt the validity of this – there was a lot of teasing happening, i.e. “What if you paid $600 for a plane ticket and then didn’t get to see Automelodi after all?”). But soon the band came onstage with an apology for the wait, and the show began. Xavier Paradis was in good form, wearing his signature striped sailor shirt and throwing lots of spirit and intensity into his performance. His guitarist made the live show have some extra kick, and the band and crowd alike were having a fantastic time. When Digresse started to play, it was pretty obvious that it’s one of his personal favourites based on the amount of energetic bouncing and tambourine shaking/smashing that was happening 😀 Definitely envy the fact that the Montréal scene can see Automelodi’s show fairly often – it was an evening to remember.