Tag Archive: “Thrill Jockey”

Man Forever’s epic “Twin Torches” featuring vocals by and lyrics written with Laurie Anderson made into a short film by director Joshua Ford. Just ahead of their release show for new album Play What They Want at Brooklyn Music School Theater on Wednesday, June 14th, Man Forever (the project of drummer John Colpitts aka Kid Millions) has released the mesmerizing video for “Twin Torches (feat. Laurie Anderson).” The video is a short film directed by Joshua Ford, featuring dancers Jill Schwartz and Marie Buser’s elegant interpretation of Colpitts’ hypnotic arrangements and Anderson’s reverent voice.

 

The music of drummer John Colpitts as Man Forever is explorative, innovative and fearless; he’s a musician and composer equally versed in the disparate musical languages of DIY rock, improvisation, and contemporary classical. His most recent effort for Thrill Jockey is an album that defies genre classification. Propulsive, elaborate drum arrangements (created with TIGUE Percussion) remain essential to Man Forever – on the songs of Play What They Want, they are augmented by voice and melody with contributions from Laurie Anderson, Yo La Tengo, and Mary Lattimore to name a few. Play What They Want represents the culmination of 25 years of musical engagement by one of New York’s most acclaimed percussionists.

While Colpitts’ previous albums have expanded on the possibilities and limitations of drums and percussion, this new album redefines the project in myriad ways. Building on a complex rhythmic foundation, Man Forever created an album that is innovative, imaginative and joyous.  Play What They Want is a rare record of untamed ambition that hits all its marks.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Colpitts to discuss the endeavor, the amazing collaborations that made Play What They Want what it is, and lessons he’s learned over 25 years of making music.

What is it about the Man Forever project that makes it such a rewarding endeavor for you?

I think it’s just a place where I have total control of the compositions. There’s still a ton of collaboration that goes into Man Forever. The percussion group Tigue worked on the percussion element of the album with me very closely – they get writing credit on the tunes they worked on. They brought ideas to the table – but at the end of the day I had the final say. It’s just a place for me to have a deeper kind of control with the material. I was the one who decided it was finished.

You have been performing for 25 years. What are the predominant lessons you’ve learned along that journey?

I think the main thing is that no one is going to care as much about your work as yourself. I think this is actually difficult to grasp for people. I realize I say that within an interview context so I’m grateful about that – but in the grand sense – no one cares. No one was like, “Hey dude – how’s the next Man Forever album coming?” It’s all on you. You really have to embrace this indifference and use it as an element to free your creativity.

When did you begin conceptualizing and composing Play What They Want?

Probably about three years ago. I started working on a project that I thought would be influenced by Moondog and in a way it was – but I thought it would be more direct. But then as I started to get deeper into the material I couldn’t follow that path and had to go elsewhere with it.

Were there any particular goals or benchmarks you were trying to reach with the album?

I think I just wanted to compose without limits – if I thought about it or conceptualized it I went for it. On other projects I was executing an idea or a concept but with this album I just followed the muse – I kind of let go as I listened to the material. What does the music want me to do? I just approached the music like that. It was really difficult and took a lot of work – but I’m happy with the result.

Some have called this your most accessible work to date. Was that on purpose?

I don’t think I shied away from hooks. I just indulged myself when I heard certain things. Nothing was off limits. I think though it’s pretty relative though! This is not *that* accessible. I knew I couldn’t make the same record again. I knew that it would feel different to me but I wanted to explode the expectations of this project. I didn’t want it be dismissed offhand with something like, “Oh yeah, this is Kid Millions messing around with drums.” I really wanted it to be surprising.

You had a lot of guests that played on this record too. I’m assuming they brought performances that surprised, impressed or enchanted you. Can you describe a couple of your favorites?

Such a nice question! Well – they were all pretty magical I have to say. I love when I get an idea in my head, and I seek someone out and then the performance just blows my mind. Like for instance, on “You Were Never Here” – I was hearing a stand up bass. I had a line in mind, but didn’t know who to hire. I asked around and my friend Andrew Barker recommended Brandon Lopez who I realized I had met at a gig a few months before. Brandon is incredible. His bass line just gelled the entire percussion ensemble. Sometimes I would experiment with taking it out and I couldn’t live without it! So that bass line set up the piece for what it became. It was magical.

Then of course I don’t think I can forget the experience we all had listening to Sam Yulsman perform piano on that track. He did three takes and it was the engineer Colin Marston, myself and my friend John Rosenthal who just happened to be visiting the session. I gave Sam a few notes and he just created an environment of profound depth with his performance. All of us in the control room looked at each other and felt like we were privileged to experience his performance. It was remarkable stuff. I must have listened to the piano, bass and percussion tracks for that piece 100 times on their own. Of course once I was adding other things, I needed to edit his performance – maybe I can released a stripped down version at some point.

Yo La Tengo came in and completely brought that tune into the place it needed to be. I had sung a guide track but Georgia Hubley was like, “Umm you should just let me sing this how I feel it, then we can see where we’re at.” Once she interpreted things I realized she was right. You have to let go sometimes…most times!

It would be nuts not to single out Tigue in this case – it’s hard to think about them separately because they are basically essential to this record in a way that a lot of the guests aren’t. Maybe you couldn’t call them guests. But, they are an incredible bunch of musicians and people. I’m so glad they believe in my music. Insanity!

I’d love to tell the story of working with Laurie Anderson on this. I’ve been lucky enough to play with her a number of times over the last couple of years and I kept hearing her voice on what became Twin Torches. There’s an entire version of the tune with me singing that didn’t really work. I had this idea about using the 20 oldest words in English that are still in continuous usage to write the lyrics. I don’t know how I stumbled across that idea – but I pitched it to her and she was interested. We actually recorded her performance at her studio. I had sent her my version of the lyrics and I hadn’t used those 20 words exclusively. I just tried to use them all once. She completely scrapped my lyrics except for one line! And it was the right move!

I just sat with her as she built the lyrics up from scratch, going back and forth with the list of 20 words. Seeing what combinations worked and didn’t work. Her first take is the one we used. I was also not expecting her to play violin! That was a great surprise because she just killed it! When I took the tracks home I knew I’d really taken the piece into another realm. I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

I’d be remiss not to mention some of the other people who were involved because really – there’d be nothing without them. Nick Hallett’s singing performances were so incredible and his presence helped me stay positive with the project. Phil Manley added so many amazing performances to the record. He lives in Oakland so I would be opening up these MP3s and seeing if he’d rescue a track I wasn’t sure about from the dust heap. He always blew my mind. Harpists Brandee Younger and Mary Lattimore were both incredibly inspiring musicians to work with. They really elevated the tracks. Ben Lanz added a horn chart to “Debt & Greed” at a point when I was lost with the song. It was just what it needed. Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble recorded their parts in Chicago and once I heard what they did I felt a bit of awe, like, “Wow this record might be something pretty special.” I mean that’s maybe not for me to decide anymore – but whatever.

I’m feeling bad because I think I’ll forget people – everyone added something crucial.

Were there some collaborations that you were hoping to do for the album that didn’t end up happening?

I don’t think so. I kept asked Shahin from Oneida to come in and play. I asked him like three different times and it didn’t end up working out. Next time!

What are your proudest moments on the record?

Pride is a tough one but I know what you mean. Basically I’m just happy and thankful for everyone who pitched in and gave of themselves to make this project happen. I’m just so glad that I saw it through to the end – that’s what I’m proud of. Actually finishing the thing!

(Visit Man Forever here: https://www.facebook.com/manforeverUSA/.)

 

To truly push boundaries and broaden horizons, reevaluation, growth, new approaches and innovation is necessary. It’s not surprise then that New York’s White Hills, a band known for their ambitious psychedelic music have reinvented themselves with a brazenly-produced, industrially-charged record that captures their most ferocious, gritty and intellectually engaging work to date.

For Stop Mute Defeat, White Hills again drafted Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Brian Eno, Afrika Bambaataa) to mix. A native New Yorker who made his name in the city’s early hip-hop and no-wave scenes, Bisi was attracted to White Hills’ new material for its distinct early-‘80s Mudd Club feel. A dance hall, drug den, and bar, the Mudd Club was one of New York’s legendary haunts in the late 1970’s. As a center of a distinct art scene the club served as a major influence for White Hills and Stop Mute Defeat’s sound. 

Stop Mute Defeat sees White Hills break free from the guitar-driven structure of their earlier releases, reassigning William Burroughs’ word “cut-up” technique to music, Dave W. and Ego Sensation deconstruct sound clips to create minimalist, but rhythmically complex compositions. The effort also drags Western vulgarity in bright light. Providing a fearless and necessary denunciation of the political and economic powers that be. 

Ghettoblaster caught up with Dave W to discuss taking control, creating positive change, and the new LP, which sees release via Thrill Jockey on May 19.

I imagine the record is a response to much of what we are seeing in the way the western world is operating these days?

Some people write about love, sorrow or murder for example. We just happen to write about systems of control and human nature. The record is more about empowerment and how anyone can take control of their life to create a positive change. MUTE DEFEAT is a reference to indifference, fatalism and blind acceptance. If you feel trapped by such things, you ultimately have the power to STOP MUTE DEFEAT. It’s within us all.

What were you wanting to accomplish with Stop Mute Defeat?

Going into the writing process our main goal was to look at how we compose and to push ourselves into new and uncomfortable situations within that process to create something different from what our norm has been. Some bands choose to basically write the same song over and over again. That’s fine for them, but we didn’t want to fall into that trap. So we analyzed our process, deconstructed it and built it back up again from scratch.

I recently saw Dan Rather speak and he said living in a “post-truth” nation/world will be the new normal because there is a precedent for that now. Is this maddening to you?

No, to spend time on the thought is a waste in my opinion. “Post-truth” is one of today’s political catch phrases. If a different person was elected we’d have a different ideology and catch phrase.  In the end it’s all about money. If you don’t want to live in a “post-truth” world, turn off your fucking television and computer. Don’t buy into what the cooperate world and the financial powers that be are pushing. They are drug dealers of the worst kind, selling fear, self-hatred and division. The moment these assholes start loosing money is the moment they’ll stop pushing whatever it is they are pushing because their bottom line is to make money and lots of it.  Therefore I choose to live in a truthful world and refuse to buy into their bullshit.

Is your music better for dancing or destruction? Are those two things mutually exclusive?

It’s best for making love and I don’t mean fucking. I’m talking about the beautiful consensual union between two people that deeply care about each other. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.

This is one of several records you’ve done with Martin Bisi. What is it about him that keeps you returning?

What can I say…Martin’s a beast!

Martin said he was attracted to the material because of the Mudd club feel. Did you ever have a chance to check out that scene?

That was a bit before our time.

Did you work with a drummer on this album at all?

No, Ego and I play all of the instruments on this album. It’s been the easiest album we’ve made to date. We were able to get the tracks sounding the way we wanted them to because we didn’t have to filter what we wanted through someone else who brings their ego into play when trying to translate what we wanted.

The video for “Attack Mode” was directed by Ego Sensation right? What was that undertaking like?

Yes, Ego does all of our videos. Usually she gets an image and/or story line in her head that she runs with. This video was no different in that respect. The big difference was all of the footage of us was shot against a green screen. There was more work done in post-production than in the actual filming process.

You guys will tour overseas in support of this album first, right? Will you be in an Impala like you were on The Cult tour? Do they rent Impalas in Europe/UK?

Yes, we’ll be in Europe from the middle of May through the first week of July. No, there are no Impala’s in the EU.

(Pre-order Stop Mute Defeat: thrilljockey.com/products/stop-mute-defeat

Catch White Hills live:

May 11 – New York City, NY – Union Pool (Album release show)

May 19 – Stuttgart, DE – Club Goldmark’s

May 20 – Paris, FR – Glazart

May 22 – Brighton, UK – The Hope and Ruin

May 23 – Manchester, UK – Soup Kitchen

May 24 – Newcastle, UK – The Cluny

May 28 – London, UK – Raw Power Festival

Jun. 5 – Berlin, DE – Lido

Jun. 7 – Munich, DE – Feierwerk

Jun. 16 – Roma, IT –  Traffic – Heavy Psych Nights

Jun. 24 – Isla Cristina, ES – AnfiRock Festival)

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

Outkast – “Humble Mumble” (Stankonia, Arista Records) 2000


“Humble as a mumble in the jungle of shouts and screams” serves as both the hook for Humble Mumble and a good descriptor of the songs place in Outkast’s output. Stankonia is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and contains “B.O.B,” “Ms. Jackson,” and “So Fresh, So Clean” so it’s easy to overlook “Humble Mumble” in relation to the album as a whole, even though it deserves to be in the same conversation as those seminal hits. The song has so many quotable lines it seems unfair, from the introduction of “The funky engine that could” and asking “what’s your locomotive” to Andre 3000 saying “don’t discrimihate til you done read a book or two” to a critic who “thinks hip hop is only about guns and alcohol.” Lyrically it’s just a really fun song and it follows suit musically as well. It’s a song done in three movements, which are distinctive but still very cohesive as they all eventually blend together. It’s absolutely a song only Outkast could’ve made and I haven’t even mentioned that it features Erykah Badu yet, which is a treat all in itself.


 

Fleetwood Mac – “Storms” (Tusk, Warner Brothers) 1979


Tucked into Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s most experimental album, “Storms” is a song that is easy to overlook. It’s a serene and heartbreaking song of lost love over a simple folky guitar sung wonderfully by Stevie Knicks. Yet, as is the case with Fleetwood Mac’s best songs, nothing is as simple as it seems. The chorus of “Storms” features some of their best harmonies, which is really saying a lot for this band. Slowly over time percussion and organ build ever so subtlety, resulting in an absolutely beautiful song. On the surface the lyrics seem to be your standard lost love song fare but Knicks’ emotive delivery packs more and more of a punch as the song goes on. Everything culminates together as Knicks sings: “But never ever been a blue calm sea / I have always been a storm” repeating “always been a storm” several times with each time more powerful than the last. Listening to this song is like sitting on a deck watching a slow storm roll in over an otherwise peaceful lake.


 

Matmos – “Tunnel” (The Marriage of True Minds, Thrill Jockey Records) 2013


Matmos has made a career out of gimmicks. This isn’t a negative thing by any means as their gimmicks have mostly paid off. They make experimental electronic music and normally operate within some put-upon-themselves framework for each album. They have an album built around sounds from surgical procedures, another inspired by old instruments and sounds that wouldn’t sound too out of place at a Renaissance festival and most recently an album made almost entirely out of sounds from a washing machine. The Marriage of True Minds, quite possibly their strongest album, took on a strong framework, yet is by far the most abstract they have worked within. They had people go into a sensory deprivation chamber while they transmitted the theme of the album to the subjects telepathically. They would then interview the subjects asking them what they heard or saw. Some would hum melodies, some would describe images and they took these recordings and based an album off of them. It’s a fascinating listen with some absolutely stunning songs. “Tunnel” is an obvious standout track even without the backstory of how it was conceived. Didgeridoo is set atop pulsating rhythms, bombastic funky guitar sounds and screeching synths in a truly fantastic way. Towards the middle of the song a male voice recording taken from the interview after one of the sensory deprivation sessions whispers “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel … But it isn’t daylight”, giving the song an absolutely chilling vibe as it continues.


 

Tyvek – “Wayne County Roads” (On Triple Beams, In the Red Records) 2012


People who have never had the pleasure of continuously having to drive in Wayne County Michigan really have no idea how cathartic it is to listen to a song that yells “Wayne County Roads” over and over as the chorus. They are quite terribly painful to deal with. Tyvek is a great five piece band who makes straight up rock music, which is refreshing in a time with so many genres and subgenres. The song is built around a couple of Television-esque catchy guitar riffs. Again, this is just great solid rock music from a totally Midwest band who has been making under known music for years. On the surface this is a pretty simple song about the roads that take you home but nothing in Wayne County is quite that easy.

 

Wrekmeister Harmonies return with their most sonically varied album to date, Light Falls, due out on September 16, 2016 from Thrill Jockey. On Light Falls, the core of Wrekmeister, JR Robinson (vocals, guitar) and Esther Shaw (keyboards, piano, violin, vocals), are joined by Godspeed You! Black Emperor musicians Thierry Amar on bass and contrabass; Sophie Trudeau on piano, violin and vocals; and Timothy Herzog on drums. Chicago musicians Ryley Walker and Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas) make guest appearances on the album as well.

The title of the album originates from the text of If This Is A Man, Primo Levi’s meditation on the year the author spent as an inmate at Auschwitz. The Italian Jewish chemist and anti-fascist resistance fighter suggested in this seminal work that inhumanity comes about when things change slowly and people begin accepting things that they would normally find reprehensible. Robinson adds:

“I wanted to sonically convey the idea of slow, creeping change. When I came up with the title I was thinking of how when daylight turns to night time it’s a very gradual process. You are lulled into watching this slow, peaceful sunset but then all of a sudden you look up and it’s dark.”

Following the release of their album Night of Your Ascension last November, Wrekmeister Harmonies have toured relentlessly with the likes of Bell Witch, and members of Dead to a Dying World throughout North America and Europe. Wrekmeister will be touring North America and Europe in the new 5-piece format this fall/winter.

Wrekmeister Harmonies are on tour in North America this summer with Marissa Nadler, performing as a duo.  Tour dates and Light Falls track listing can be found below; look for more information on Wrekmeister Harmonies to be announced soon.

Wrekmeister Harmonies Duo Tour Dates*

Jul 5 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge

Jul 6 – Boise, ID – Neurolux

Jul 8 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court

Jul 9 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge

Jul 10 – Omaha, NE – Reverb Lounge

Jul 11 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry

Jul 12 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

Jul 13 – Detroit, MI – El Club

Jul 14 – Toronto, ON – The Drake Hotel

Jul 15 – Montreal, QC – La Sala Rossa

Jul 16 – Hudson, NY – Half Moon

Jul 19 – Boston, MA – Great Scott

Jul 20 – Providence, RI – Aurora

Jul 21 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom

Jul 22 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s

Jul 24 – Washington, D.C. – DC9

Jul 25 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle Backstage

Jul 26 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl

Jul 27 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa

Jul 29 – Austin, TX – Sidewinder

Jul 30 – Dallas, TX – Dada

Aug 1 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar

Aug 2 – San Diego, CA – Casbah

Aug 3 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo

Aug 4 – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel

Aug 5 – Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library

Aug 7 – Vancouver, CA – Cobalt

Aug 8 – Seattle, WA – Barboza

* w/ Marissa Nadler, Muscle & Marrow

SUMAC first came to fruition when Aaron Turner, also of Isis, Old Man Gloom and Mamiffer, had the urge to once again create colossal-sounding music. A goal for the band to strive for was to write some of the heaviest music Turner had ever written, and he found an ideal partner with Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn. The duo added Brian Cook, of Russian Circles, Botch and These Arms Are Snakes, and released their debut, The Deal, via Profound Lore Records on February 17, 2015.

The band’s sophomore LP, which has already been generating excitement from music media taste makers and fans alike, was announced via the band’s Facebook page, and What One Becomes will see the light of day via Thrill Jockey on June 10. What One Becomes was tracked at The Unknown in Anacortes, Washington, and mixed at GodCity Studios in Salem, Massachusetts with Kurt Ballou. The resulting five-song, hour-long LP is a dense aggregate of rhythm, force, and vigor. 

Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Turner about the band, the new LP, self-exploration, facing challenges head on and creating honest and adventurous music.

How did Sumac become an endeavor that you all decided to pursue? 

The idea for the kind of music SUMAC is now making has existed for some years now, and it wasn’t until 2013 that it actually started to take shape. I’d had the desire to start a new band for a while, though I wasn’t actively pursuing it as I had no idea who else would be in it. I knew the music was going to be demanding on a number of levels, and finding a great drummer was the first piece of the puzzle.

While attending local shows I was casually looking around for someone local who might be a good fit, and there wasn’t anyone whose playing I really connected with. At some point in mid-2103 I saw Nick performing with Baptists and was immediately drawn to his playing and intensity. It took a while for us to connect as at first I didn’t consider it a great prospect practically speaking – he lives in Vancouver which was far enough away to present a problem.

Eventually though our mutual friend (and eventual engineer), Kurt Ballou put us in touch. That was in early 2014 at which point I was more heavily invested in writing what would become the first album. After Nick and I played together for the first time it seemed pretty clear that it was a combo worth pursuing. Brian was an obvious choice – we’ve been friends for a long time, I love his playing and we’d discussed doing something together over the years. The initial work was truly a shot in the dark which was part of the fun of doing it, and it came together with surprising fluidity, and fortunately, deeply satisfying results. It was exactly what I’d hoped for, and it seemed Nick and Brian were just as enthusiastic and surprised by it as I was.

What was it about the other two musicians’ technical skills and the chemistry that you have with them that continues to make the band a fulfilling pursuit?

As alluded to earlier, Nick’s intensity was the main factor in wanting to play with him – there is wild forcefulness and conviction in his playing that is incredibly powerful. Beyond that, he’s a very inventive player, his choices are far from obvious, yet never take away from the music – it’s the perfect combo of providing strong support and creative embellishment. It’s a good counter-balance to the role that guitar plays in SUMAC – the drumming is very musical and the guitar is often more rhythmic and textural than overtly melodic.

Nick and I didn’t know each other at all, and as it turns out we get along very well on a personal level which is another crucial factor. As for Brian, he’s been on many of the Mamiffer records I’m also on, so we’d already worked together in that context. I’ve been a longtime admirer of his playing, starting in Botch and on into These Arms are Snakes, and now Russian Circles. His playing is also perfect for SUMAC as there’s a sense of gravity and determination in the way he plays, and the sound he’s developed over the years is appropriately immense. He’s restrained and solid in the best sense possible, has a great deal of soul in his playing, and great harmonic/melodic sensibilities.

The three of us are a very compatible unit in how we get along, and I can’t emphasize enough how important that is and how much more enjoyable it makes the experience of doing this band together.

Also, is there a nicer dude than Brian Cook?

Get in a car with him in heavy traffic and you’ll see his dark side. Otherwise no, I know few people who are as kind and gentle as Brian Cook. Nick is alright too.

What were you hoping to accomplish artistically with What One Becomes? There are some pretty deep questions about self and self-discovery you were wrestling with here, correct?

Making music is a constant process of self-exploration, and by extension a point of connection to others and to collective life force. Seeking understanding, striving towards acceptance of life and self, and working towards ecstatic states of joyfulness through playing music are the goal – not only in SUMAC, in just about everything I’ve been lucky enough to participate in.

In the context of What One Becomes part of the process involves confronting things in myself that I’ve had difficulty with and have caused me suffering, and also those reflective facets that come through interaction with others. I’ve found part of my experience as a constantly evolving/transforming human has been about who I wish myself to be vs who I really am, and about the latent aspects of self that are revealed in times of emotional distress or circumstances of extreme pressure. The desire to hide those parts of myself is strong, as has been the desire to hide from or run away from difficulty when it arises. I’ve found that the process of hiding and escaping often causes more suffering than the things themselves that I’m striving to avoid. Fear is the motivating impulse behind these behaviors, and in that sense the album is ultimately and expression of, and potential exorcism of fear, beyond which lies a widened experience of total life and expansive love.

When did you begin writing the record?  

Very shortly after the release of The Deal in 2015, in fact some of it may have even been parts I discovered during the writing of that album and wasn’t ready to integrate into it. So far the inspiration for writing in this band has been strong and consistent. It’s tempting to just keep writing new material in lieu of rehearsing/performing what we’ve already made, so I’m trying to find a balance between touring behind the albums we’ve made and beginning work on whatever will come next.

I’m really enjoying playing this material live and it is meant to be experienced primarily in that context. It’s just a matter of finding the time to pursue playing live, and also following the path of creating new music that we’ve set out on.

Were there things that you discovered about your intent here or the compositions of the songs that you realized in the studio?

Yeah – this material is even more challenging than I initially realized. It’s one thing to play the parts alone for hours on end. It’s quite another to get a group together on what are some fairly rigorous pieces, which alternate between that which is carefully composed and that which is almost entirely free form. Trying to verbally convey what the intent is with a song, both the emotion behind it as well as what the structural devices are is difficult. Fortunately we’re operating on an advanced level of intuitive communication and mutual understanding that helps push the music in the right direction without having to scrutinize and negotiate every move we’re making.

What are you hoping your audience takes away from the experience of listening to it?

An increased awareness of their own consciousness, a desire to live life with passion and determination, to confront and grow with/through difficult passages in life, a deepened sense of connection to self and others, and a sense of primal urgency in relation to the gift of life we’ve all been fortunate enough to receive. I believe music is truly transformative and it’s not too much to ask of it, of its creators and it’s listeners that it improve, expand and ultimately benefit both individuals and collective humanity.

Discovering adventurous music offered me a doorway to a whole new set of perspectives on what it means to be alive, and I hope through our music and all the activities related to it we can help do that for others as well as ourselves.

What have you learned about yourself and your craft by pursuing SUMAC?

It’s helped confirm and in some ways renew the beliefs I’ve outlined above. It’s shown me over and over again just how important connection with others though music is, how my own happiness depends on sincere and focused creative action, and that the willingness to risk failure is still one of the best assets anyone can have – in order to navigate not only creative endeavors, but life itself. It has also helped reveal how my own insecurities and small mindedness can hamper me and constrict my world view and enjoyment of life. It’s been a fascinating portal through which I can examine both the healthy and destructive aspects of ego. I want and need for my work to be loved and enjoyed, I also don’t want that need to manifest in neurotic behaviors that define who I allow myself to be or rob me of the volition to make honest music.

SUMAC begins a tour in support of the record in just a few days.  Will there be other tours in support of this album cycle?

Yep – we’re touring Europe with Mamiffer for a short run later in June/July, and moving on to an east coast tour in August. Very much looking forward to playing this music for more people in as many places as it can take us.

(Pre-order What One Becomes on Thrill Jockey:www.thrilljockey.com/products/what-one-becomes.)

Throws, a new pop duo, has crafted an incredibly catchy, brilliantly varied debut album. Throws is Mike Lindsay and Sam Genders, whose previous band Tunng was beloved in Britain. While Throws hints at the pair’s affection for the British ’60s folk and experimental explosion, the playful attitude here is entirely their own.

The album’s rendering in Reykjavik, where Lindsay lived for four years, was done with instruments and techniques more commonly associated with contemporary electronic music. Icelandic musicians, including múm’s Sigurlaug Gísladóttir, the country’s beautiful landscape, and perhaps even a few of its folk tales all played a part in the recording. Those influences, combined with the powerful vocal harmonies and melodic sense of Genders and Lindsay, resulted in a debut that is wildly playful and beautifully executed. It is a musical adventure that continues to reveal itself with each listen, and contains more than a few catchy songs you simply can’t get out of your head.

The album was recorded in Reykjavik in Lindsay’s studio, a room full of synths and guitars, with big windows that overlooked the sea. Iceland was an escape for the band, and its influence is everywhere: From the energy of Reykjavik that is found in “Knife” to “The Harbour,” a song inspired by the town’s old industrial fishing area. “Bask” opens with some rumbling bass tones, while Sam and Mike’s voices bob among beats as if tossed by the waves. Then, like the sunlight on the shore, the guitar breaks through and the track is lifted by Gísladóttir to its giddy end.   Genders’ soulful falsetto and Lindsay’s vocals play off one another beautifully amid glitchy electronics, piano and strings provided by Amiina (frequent collaborators with Sigur Rós).

Throws is the sound of old friends and collaborators, and there is an undeniable ease that can only come having played together for a substantial amount of time. This renewed partnership has all the energy of friends catching up and all the excitement of getting to know each other again.

To celebrate the June release via Thrill Jockey, the band have shared “Punch Drunk Sober,” which you can enjoy below:

With Aaron Turner on guitar and vocals, Nick Yacyshyn on drums, and Brian Cook on bass, SUMAC invests in the recursive exercises of chaos and control, and the results are a testament to the tour-honed collective intuition and technical skills of the powerhouse trio. What One Becomes is SUMAC’s Thrill Jockey debut, and you can hear “Rigid Man” from the album now! “Rigid Man” highlights the band’s finely-tuned intensity as they rhythmically build towards a crushing wall of feedback.

LISTEN: Sumac, “Rigid Man”

Dave Heumann has an unmistakable voice. Its full and smooth baritone feels somehow lost in time – like it came from a thrift store bin, off of a LP without a sleeve. For the last thirteen years, that voice has been most directly tied to the band he leads, Arbouretum. But 2014 saw that band taking a year-long hiatus and nearly a year after, Heumann has released his first solo album, Here in the Deep.

While Heumann’s singing remains recognizable for the new album, the songs reach out from Arbouretum’s framework. Folk, country, a few of the psychedelic reelings of shoegaze, all enter into the songwriting for an exploratory but well-tailored collection.

Dave recently answered a few of our questions about the future of his solo music and Arbouretum.

Ghettoblaster: Why did Arbouretum go on hiatus? 

Dave Heumann: It was mainly to focus on personal projects and endeavors that everyone wanted to spend more time with. We were feeling a little burned out at the end of 2013 and needed some time to refocus. I think that’s worked out well.

GB: When the hiatus was decided on, did you immediately think of doing a solo album or was it more a result of growing restless? 

DH: It was not long after the hiatus was decided. I’d had the thought of doing a solo album for a while because I’d at times have song ideas that didn’t seem too Arbouretum-y. With us taking a break for a while, it created an opportunity for me to really pursue the idea.

GB: Was most of Here in the Deep written recently or are these songs that you’ve had for awhile?

DH: There are a couple songs that went back a few years, which I hadn’t finished until the motivation happened to do the record. Others were written not long before the sessions themselves, and with some of them, I wrote the lyrics only after the instrumental tracks were recorded.

GB: Here in the Deep works so well as an album, are there songs you wrote that you didn’t feel fit the sound of what you wanted in a solo album?

DH: Thanks. There were definitely some ideas I’d had that didn’t make the cut, mainly because I felt the direction they were going in wasn’t necessarily what I wanted the record to be. I believe I kept more than I threw out, though.

GB: Would a second solo album be a continuation of Here in the Deep or do you see these projects as ways to explore all of the ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have homes in your body of work?

DH: I’m not certain what it would be if I did another. At one point before I started this, I’d thought of doing a record entirely of folk songs. I still might do that, but I’m not planning on having it be the very next thing.

GB: You worked with a lot of people for this record, Lower Dens’ Walker Teret, Mike Kuhl, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, Hans Chew, John Parish handling production – could you see any of these collaborations going further out than just this album?

DH: Sure. Walker and I have played together on and off for years. Mike and I play pretty regularly, and it was definitely great working with the others you’ve listed. 

GB: The musical difference is definitely apparent, but when it came to the lyrics did you approach these songs any differently then you would have with the band?

DH: A little, yeah. Rob Wilson helped with a couple of them as he has with Arboureum songs in the past, though this time it was in more of an advisory role. I find myself with Arbouretum songs taking on something of a transpersonal perspective, while these songs feel slightly more down-to-earth, while still not being entirely personal. The exception to this would be “Holly King on a Hill”, which is sort of a rumination on the solstices and Druidic myth surrounding them.

GB: Have Corey, Brian or Matthew talked to you at all about the record? Not to ask you to speak directly for them, but I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve had any conversations about the album.

DH: Yes. We talked about it when I was putting it together, and in fact they all play on the song “Ends of the Earth”, which has been a frequent staple of our live sets since 2013 when it was written. I just presented it as something I felt I needed to work on during our downtime, and everyone has been pretty supportive of it. Matthew is actually part of this European tour that I’m on right now, which is great.

GB: Is there anything you think that you’ll take from working on this album into the next Arbouretum?

DH: Yes. It doesn’t mean I’ll even go for trying to write similar songs with the band or anything, but I’ve felt that bringing these songs to life was a prerequisite for getting my head around writing songs with Arbouretum again, imagining the kinds of spaces that they can occupy.

GB: Do you think Arbouretum will play these songs live or are they very separate projects in your mind?

DH: I think we’ll do some of them, but maybe not all of them. I think about how Jerry Garcia went on to play several songs from his first solo record with the Dead. It could perhaps make sense for me in a similar way.

GB: What’s 2016 look like for you and the band? 

DH: Hopefully recording early in the year, and touring extensively to support it later in the year. I hope it’s a big year for us!

(Visit Dave Heumann here: www.facebook.com/daveheumannmusic?_rdr=p)

EYE from Boredoms has teamed up with Japanese noise rock duo Gagakirise for Gagakiriseye, a limited 7-inch release out August 21.

Gagakiriseye combines EYE’s distinctive percussive, maniacal presence with the noise duo’s frenzied, colorful sounds. This is the first new material to feature EYE in over five years.

Pre-order Gagakiriseye on 7-inch: http://thrilljockey.com/thrill/Gagakirise-and-EYE/Gagakiriseye