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!
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.
Xeno & Oaklander sit down with Martin Rev from Suicide to talk about ‘Frankie Teardrop’. Near the end of the video you can hear snippets of what the cover version will sound like – I can’t wait!
“The vinyl is sealed with medical gauze and includes two small inserts. Recorded and mixed by Paradis in 1998 and 1999 at Linus Van Pelt Hospital somewhere under the snow in Canada.”
Arnaud Lazlaud’s Le Malade Roi/Elan vinyl release – sounds perfect.
“They had two synths, a drum machine and a 4-track tape recorder, and plenty of ideas, phantasms and weird convictions. Most of their friends were convinced that this “beep –boomboom-blip-bloup-boing” music would not interest anyone (which was true in 1983, by the way).” – Veronica Vasicka, on Guyer’s Connection.
That description of beep boop music is pretty amazing. Read Veronica Vasicka’s list of the top 20 best minimal wave records ever made by clicking on the photo.