Pure X: Crawling Up The Stairs
Crawling Up The Stairs is the second LP from Austin, Texas' Pure X. Made up of principal members Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood, they stay true to the dense sound they explored on their last album, Pleasure, but add twinkling atmospherics and a new clarity to their carefully cultivated, emotionally heavy songs.
Where Pleasure was built on syrup-slow hooks and a weighty, sexy haze, Crawling Up The Stairs is the sound of Pure X emerging from that humid cocoon to stare all the screwed up parts of life directly in the face and embrace them. When Grace's voice, cracked and worn, breaks through a fog of downtempo drums and misty guitar on "Someone Else," the pain that used to be visible in his face when he was on stage is pushed to the forefront of their sound, his voice growling and moaning with barely contained anger and apocalyptic worry in anguished falsetto. Crawling isn't a record about escape, it's about what you do after you've realized that escaping isn't an option and you just have to face the world you live in head on.
How To Dress Well: Total Loss
How To Dress Well is the stage name of songwriter and producer Tom Krell. Combining a gorgeous falsetto with fractured R&B-influenced beats, an instinctive ear for subtly devastating melody and elements of noise, sound collage and avant-garde composition, Krell's debut album Love Remains offered a beautiful window into a startlingly realized artistic imagination.
Praised for both its conceptual strength and immediate emotional resonance, Love Remains duly garnered vast critical acclaim and saw Krell accredited with having given birth to a new, narcotized strain of R&B. This fall will see him share this new body of work with the release of Total Loss, his new album.
Whereas his previous work was a study of love in its darkest hour, Total Loss is an attempt to find one's way out of darkness, even when there seems to be no light ahead. Co-produced by Rodaidh McDonald (the XX), the album retains many of the elements of Love Remains; noisiness, moodiness, and layers of swarming voices. Now these stand alongside other complex elements: the elegant weeping arcos and pizzicatos of neo-classical music, the rude drums of trap-rap, and the sweet, special and sentimental moments of Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope are all swept up and embraced in the deep beauty of Total Loss.
Estasy: Wild Songs
Estasy is the musical alias of Rome, Italy-based installation and performance artist Emiliano Maggi. After a few cassettes and CD-Rs, Estasy is releasing its full-length debut, Wild Songs, on Acéphale (SALEM, Elite Gymnastics, How To Dress Well).
Wild Songs doesn’t sound like anything else, but it contains echoes from disparate sources. The first thing you’ll notice is Maggi’s voice, which has the range and timbre of an Italian Coloratura singer. Unlike many of today’s high-octave singers, this is not a falsetto; it’s a soprano. Sometimes it appears stark and alone, sometimes buried underneath ghostly vocal overdubs.
Wild Songs has a haunting quality that derives spiritually from Maggi’s recording process. All but three tracks on the album were recorded en plein air: amongst nature in fields and woods. The sounds of wind and nature, and Maggi’s tape recorder, blend into his spectral soprano to create a mythological world that modern civilization can no longer see, but which through acts of the imagination we might be able to hear.
The result is something like Alan Lomax’s field recordings trapped in Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Reference points include the Nordic folk music traditions currently being kept alive by acts such as Dvergmål, the sublime other-worlds given birth to by Sigur Rós’s made up language, and most notably the proto-gothic funereal dirge of Nico’s post-Chelsea Girls trilogy.
Elite Gymnastics: RUIN
Elite Gymnastics is the project of Minneapolis-based James Brooks and Josh Clancy. Rooted in a diverse set of influences, the duo makes music that is informed by Korean pop, heavy noise, and the world of media that surrounds them. Rather than sound scattered, it's filtered through a sense of resigned melancholy, paired with lyrics that grapple with what it means to stumble through life wondering what you're supposed to do with yourself. They are brutally honest, but never really cynical.
After building a series of online only releases, Brooks and Clancy completed the gorgeous Ruin 1 and 2, a pair of distinct EPs combined as RUIN on this release. On Ruin 1, the duo jumps genres effortlessly: the slow throb of "Omamori" gives way to the jungle-influenced "Here, in Heaven" before switching gears entirely for the driving shoegaze of "Little Things." Ruin 2 is a blurred version of Ruin 1's clarity, flipping the songs into contemplative mirrors of the originals. Clancy and Brooks are effortless synthesists, informed as much by their impeccable taste as they are by their ability to suck in the world of music and the internet and spit it back as open-hearted beauty.
Korallreven: An Album By Korallreven
After their introduction to the world through the singles The Truest Faith and Honey Mine the partnership of Marcus Joons and Daniel Tjäder (also of The Radio Dept) presents its debut album, An Album By Korallreven. The project was conceived after Joons returned from an extended trip to Samoa where he found inspiration in the local choirs. Mesmerized by the South Pacific and the exhilaration of travel, he shared his newfound passion with Tjäder and a partnership was born.
The result is a journey through influences as far flung as Southern Rap, Dreampop, Reggae, and Minimal Techno, among many others. The glittering production focuses on melodic evolution rather than structure; lush, dubbed-out instrumentals (Loved-Up) perfectly complement trance-pop vocal cuts (Keep Your Eyes Shut & Comin’ Closer).
Joining the duo are a host of collaborators including Victoria Bergsman and Julianna Barwick. Bergsman, who contributed her dulcet vocals to Honey Mine, returns with the swirling meditation of Pago Pago and the anthemic As Young As Yesterday. With Samoan choirs being a major influence on the record, who would be better to enlist than Julianna Barwick? Here, her loop-based vocal soundscape on Sa Sa Samoa builds from a choir of one to an ecstatic eruption.
Korallreven: As Young As Yesterday
After their introduction to the world through The Truest Faith and Honey Mine Marcus Joons and Daniel Tjäder (also of The Radio Dept) return with their third single, As Young As Yesterday.
Returning for her second collaboration with the duo is Victoria Bergsman who previously contributed her dulcet tones to Honey Mine. As Young triumphs with glittering bombast - a true Balearic anthem. Cascading 808 fills mingle with steely acoustic guitar and chipmunked vocals while deep kettledrums and pulsing strings balance things out. It’s a glorious celebration of Summer’s fade, a song that looks forward by glancing back.
Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, fresh off the tremendous success of Person Pitch, delivers a reinterpretation that is at times frenetic and jarring, and at others meditative and soothing. London’s Girl Unit revisits the pitched vocals and builds a sprawling epic that erupts into a throbbing payoff before subsiding to begin anew. Finally, the Korallreven boys wrap things up with a massive expansion of their original ? an evolving, layered rhythm section lays the foundation for ecstatic builds of shimmering, hazy synths.
As Young is the latest single off of Korallreven’s debut album, An Album By Korallreven, out this November on Acéphale.
Pure X: Pleasure
Pure X is the latest incarnation of a long-standing collaboration between Austin, Texas musicians and friends Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood. Acéphale is proud to present their debut album, Pleasure, released July 5th in the US and worldwide August 22nd.
Looseness is a key concept for the band, and all songs were recorded live without overdubbing. The aspiration was to capture songs in their purest form, mistakes and all, as they were being written. This process allowed the songs to form themselves; structure and formula lost their rigidity as songwriting became more about evolution than intent.
Patient, sparse and never any less than heartbreaking, the clutch of songs making up Pleasure has a sonic originality that many artists spend entire careers trying to cultivate. There are clear influences here: the nonchalant bombast of the Jesus and Mary Chain, the wistful croon of Hank Williams and the lovesick melodies of 1960s soul music can all be easily perceived within the group's work to date. Crucially, however, Pure X do not let their reverence for such precedents overwhelm them. So where other lo-fi fetishists currently garnering attention tend to produce a facsimile of their inspirations, Grace, Jenkins and Youngblood dissect, invert and damage them.
Porcelain Raft: Gone Blind
Porcelain Raft is the nom de plume of one Mauro Remiddi, Rome native, music/video mastermind and purveyor of some of the most exquisite, haunting and heartbreaking love songs you’re likely to hear in a good long while. Unsurprisingly, for someone who started off in music scoring short films, the world of Porcelain Raft traverses deeply evocative and emotive terrain, gorgeously redolent of moments lingering just on the fraying edges of time and memory.
Together, these tracks serve to announce Porcelain Raft as an important new name to watch, and, as anybody who has caught him live recently (supporting the likes of Blonde Redhead on their recent European tour or at several showcase at CMJ 2010) will attest, a beautifully compelling live act as well.
Pure X: You're In It Now
Pure X is the latest incarnation of a long-standing collaboration between Austin, Texas musicians and long-term friends Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood. Acephale and Light Lodge are proud to present their latest EP, You’re In It Now, with a special first pressing on black and white blended vinyl.
Bound to its influences only by its golden melody and bruised sentiment, the music of Pure X is a genuine, unafraid and honest foray into the emotive and redemptive potential of pop music; an endeavor that captures perfectly its indefinable ability to captivate and devastate in equal measure..