PREMIERE: Fielder - At Intermission


Laura Kerry

An intermission is a pause or an interlude outside of the regular flow of time. For the members of Fielder—formerly known as Dawkins—creating music is a kind of intermission from the normal fabric of life. The band started playing together in high school in Bethesda, Maryland, and since scattering to various schools across the country, they have continued to collaborate through the internet and over breaks, writing and sharing at intervals. Their first release from this long-distance effort is an EP simply titled Ep1.

“At Intermission,” a track off the debut, serves both as a welcoming introduction to the band and as the interlude that its title promises. Sparkling and ambient, the song radiates with warmth from its ethereal balance of electronic and acoustic voices. With keys and strings that cascade like water, percussive blips that chirp like birds or insects, and hymn-like vocals that ooze and echo across the audioscape, “At Intermission” feels like a lush and temperate organic space far removed from the winter we’re now inhabiting. Take a break from the regular flow of your day to take a listen.

REVIEW: Art Feynman - Near Negative


Laura Kerry

Luke Temple has a knack for reinvention. As the founder of Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic, he forged a path through five albums varying from intricate folk ditties to a dense fog of hazy pop and psychedelic synths with an increasing dose of krautrock. Temple picks up that last thread in his latest reinvention as Art Feynman, the name under which he released the full-length Blast Off Through The Wicker last July. Now, only half a year later, Temple has returned with a new EP, Near Negative, that both cements and expands the Art Feynman sound.

The process of reinvention hasn’t stopped with Temple’s new project, though. Throughout Near Negative, the artist continues to explore new sonic territory, shifting tones and sonic palettes while managing to achieve cohesion. In the opener, “Shelter,” which showcases the krautrock influence most prominently of any song on the EP, he sings an ominous melody over a tightly wound motorik beat, accenting the rigid repetition with a light touch of drone and the punctuated rise of “shelter” at the end of the chorus. By the second song, “I’ll Get Your Money,” Temple eases up a little, this time counterbalancing the low, driving forces of percussion and bass with a warm guitar line pulled from West African music. In the middle of the album, “My Tuke” offers a reflective, languid interlude without vocals, before “Love You Even More” picks up a bouncing bass line and tender, catchy melody that highlights Temple’s nimble voice and romantic side. In “Monday Give Me Monday,” Art Feynman returns to the vibrant guitar swirls of West African rock, before ending on the quiet but psychedelic “Asia’s Way.”

While most of the songs on Near Negative sound precise, propelled by the relentless rhythms of drums and bass, much of the joy in listening to the EP comes from Temple’s willingness—and ability—to subtly break the mold (a product, at least in part, of the fact that the artist constructs his songs on a four-track tape recorder, and not programmatically). Some of that mold-breaking emerges in the tonal variations between tracks; some of it manifests in more self-contained moments. It’s in the weird, scat-like vocals in the final stretch of “Shelter,” or the last ecstatic cry of the refrain that ends in a voice crack in the same song; the exuberant guitar solo at the end of “Monday Give Me Monday,” which whirls, surges, descends, buzzes, and pops for the better part of the track’s latter half; and the nervous density at the center of “I’ll Get Your Money.”

With his new EP, Temple has provided a satisfying amount of material to chew on—or, as is more appropriate for his wide-ranging breed of psychedelia, carry you into a daze as your head gently nods to the beat. It's possible you'll still be in that state by the time Art Feynman's next invention rolls around.

REVIEW: KOKOKO! - Tokoliana / L.O.V.E. // Tongos'a / Likolo


Phillipe Roberts

Go ahead and drop those thoughts of trying to tie KOKOKO! down by boxing them into any lineage of influences. These Congolese DIY revolutionaries are their own heroes, positioning themselves at the forefront of a groundswell of artistic radicalism currently seizing their native Kinshasa. A loosely organized collective of musicians, their relentless grooves are quite literally designed from the ground up; without a speaker in sight, the crew assembled a small hoard of junk instruments using readily available metal and plastic scraps. KOKOKO! are purpose-built, recycling and refining yesterday’s rubbish into “the sound of Kinshasa’s tomorrow.” For now, that sound is distilled into a scant four tracks that manage to cover a tremendous amount of emotional and musical territory without skipping a beat.

On the two EPs that make up their current discography, the band is produced by French artist Débruit, an enthusiastic musical excavator whose last album, Débruit & Istanbul, fused his modern electronic and hip-hop sensibilities to collaborations with local musicians. Débruit took an even more active role here, playing in live incarnations of the band at clubs and street parties until those freeform jams crystallized into discrete songs. On the recordings, however, his influence is felt to varying degrees, and comes through more clearly on the earlier Tokoliana EP, where his thick slabs of synth lend some familiar tone and take a more commanding role in dictating chordal structure.

But even on his most pronounced turn, the title track, Débruit is keen to highlight the harsh textures and mangled beauty of KOKOKO!’s organic instrumentation. The track has a post-punk strut to it, courtesy of an scratchy one-stringed bass line that croaks with just the right amount of distortion, light reverb on the drums, and dark, insistent vocals from singer Makara Bianco that deliver a hypnotic warning in Lingala: “We are devouring each other.” A sharp staccato rhythm from an impossible “guitar” (made of what I imagine to be steel pipe) blasts along, adding a funky edge that makes “Tokoliana” their strongest candidate for neon-lit success. The B-side, “L.O.V.E.,” winds down the pace for a smoother vibe without sacrificing any grit. Live or sampled, the brittle bent notes and unpredictable harmonics played on the wire harp are unnerving but mesmerizing, snapping you to attention if you get lost in the whirl of R&B vocals panning from right to left.

Tongos’a, arriving two months after Tokoliana, throws a similar one-two punch, but the closer, “Likolo,” may be the most intriguing track of the handful. Showing off the band’s frightening versatility, “Likolo” rounds off those edges for a slow-burn, bass-heavy disco track that piles on the anthemic chanting to elevate existential lyrics to a collective battle cry. “We are all naked bodies under the sky,” Bianco cries, heart tearing at the seams, “We all know how it’s going to end.” Given how thrillingly unpredictable KOKOKO!’s journey has been so far, here’s hoping they keep that particular spoiler to themselves. Four tracks in, they already sound limitless.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Chris Thompson - Lot Hero「wasuremono mix」

Will Shenton

Though it takes place in a surreal, oceanic world, video artist Jonathan William Turner's accompaniment to Chris Thompson's "Lot Hero" creates a sense of emergent narrative that makes it hard to tear yourself away. As the opening percussion and giggling voices are transfigured into the skeleton of the song, the camera jumps around an abstract pattern of waves and ripples. It begins to slowly pull back, revealing that this dynamic texture has manifested in the shape of a cat.

This is the first of many similar scenes, which, when accompanied by Thompson's hypnotic, otherworldly electronics, seem to show us not a series of mundane objects, but perhaps their platonic ideals. A stuffed rabbit, a chair, a boot, a mannequin, and a dozen other shapes are rendered alien by watery distortion. The animations are beautiful, and as each movement of the seven-minute track pulls us deeper into the music—sometimes driving electronic percussion, sometimes orchestral synths, sometimes restrained piano interludes—the visuals compel us to invent a story.

These scattered, submerged objects eventually agglomerate into a sort of ball as if magnetized, and are sucked (or make their way voluntarily?) into a massive, surprisingly placid whirlpool, at which point they once again go their separate ways. According to the artists, this represents something universal: memories rising to the surface and merging, dreamlike, into our sense of self. It's a poetic notion, and one that lends itself to endless additional interpretations. Fortunately, this is such a beautiful video that it's no chore to study it over and over again.

Chris Thompson's new EP, Lot Hero, was released earlier this month.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Spodee Boy - Electro Spodee

Will Shenton

The charm of Spodee Boy's latest music video, "Electro Spodee," is its simplicity. Deviating a bit from his usual DIY, basement-rock sound, Nashville's Connor Cummins employs a drum machine (hence the name of the song, presumably) to craft a charmingly weird tune that almost wouldn't make sense delivered by anyone other than the puppet featured in the video.

Fresh from a split EP with Datenight on Drop Medium, the video, created by Santiago Cárdenas, is a trip. The vocals are high-pitched and cartoonish, the instrumentals propulsive and hypnotic, as the aforementioned puppet sings against a psychedelic backdrop. Apparent non-sequiturs float by in the background—a shoe, a juice box, various other sock puppets—and we periodically see Spodee Boy himself in profile, eating a floating guitar or staring coolly into the distance.

True to form, "Electro Spodee" is bizarre, catchy, and bit-sized at just over two minutes. In short, a track that's guaranteed to make you hit the replay button.