Berlin

PREMIERE: Fir Cone Children - On My Plate (Feat. Krissy Vanderwoude)

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Will Shenton

Taken from Fir Cone Children's forthcoming LP, The Straight & The Curly, "On My Plate" is a dream-punk tune packed with the whimsy of the mundane. Alexander Donat and Krissy Vanderwoude's vocals weave a shimmering tapestry among the driving piano and soaring guitars as they sing about something almost universally familiar: a kid who doesn't want to eat his dinner.

There's something delightful about giving such dramatic treatment to such a banal scene. "I want to eat something else / I do not want what's on my plate," the duo sings in the buildup to the frantic chorus, in which they emphatically declare, "No fork / No knife / No food / No fruit / No vegetables." It almost reads as a parody of self-serious punk (or subgenres thereof), presenting a child's tantrum in a style usually reserved for grander rebellion.

Fir Cone Children do seem to be getting at a broader theme than the literal narrative suggests. Choice, at any age, can be paralyzing, and the birds in the bush are often more appealing than the one in the hand. Perhaps these are impulses we have to overcome to truly grow up, but it's hard not to relate to the kid—sometimes you just want to flip the dinner table and throw a fit.

Be sure to catch The Straight & The Curly July 13 on Blackjack Illuminist Records.

PREMIERE: John Moods - Leap Of Love

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Will Shenton

John Mood's "Leap Of Love" opens like the dawning of a dream. Replete with somnolent warmth, it wraps the listener in its melodies and falsetto vocals before whisking them off to a hazily affectionate realm. "A love song which remains a mystery even to its creator," it evokes the universality of romance while simultaneously acknowledging that, on some level, it will always be unknowable.

Like the rest of his forthcoming LP, The Essential John Moods, "Leap Of Love" was written by artist Jonathan Jarzyna (of Fenster) during a solo hike of the Iberian coast. Originally recorded on his cell phone with no instruments but a backpacking guitar, the lush texture of the track is all the more staggering.

The Essential John Moods will be out April 20 on Berlin label Mansions and Millions. In the meantime, let the balmy yearning of "Leap Of Love" wash over you.

PREMIERE: Fir Cone Children - We Will Never Die (feat. Krissy Vanderwoude)

Kelly Kirwan

Fir Cone Children knows how to lay down a groove. Berlin-based artist Alexander Donat opens his latest single with a simmering guitar line, one that wriggles it's way between your shoulder blades and alleviates any trace of tension. You're left loose-limbed and ready for a sultry sway, nearly expecting the thermostat to rise from the warmth of the melody. "We Will Never Die" rolls on for just over two minutes, it's funk-laden introduction gradually giving way to mild doses of distortion, a few fuzzy garnishes for added texture.

Krissy Wanderwoude acts as the vocal complement to Donat, their airy pitches intermingling across the sound waves with a dreamy effect. Together, they create a relaxed haze that you would link to the happy lethargy of summer nights. Which makes sense, considering the lyrics, “It’s summer / Isn’t it / I know / 'Cause it’s so warm.” On occasion, the song swerves into what feel like small whirlwinds, interludes filled with slow-moving echoes, as if we were listening to them under water.

Fir Cone Children has crafted a song that captures the fleeting feeling of infinity. It brushes off fears of mortality and instead raises its hands to a beat that repeats, “We will never die.” And it’ll leave you feeling the same way.

REVIEW: Carla dal Forno - You Know What It's Like

Kelly Kirwan

As far as titles go, You Know What It's Like hovers somewhere between flippant and lip-twitching amusement, the sort of phrase that either piques your interest or comes across as a dismissive shrug of the shoulders. Is it a slinky nod to a subject we both discreetly understand, or is it an answer to a question on artistry and life that’s too cumbersome to unpack? With Carla dal Forno, it’s likely a bit of both.

The Melbourne-born, Berlin-based musician boasts a vast range of influences in her sonic repertoire. There’s the foundation of post-punk, and its industrial, blasé landscape, and then the adornments of psych muddled with warped effects of dub (along with an affinity for drum machines to propel a chugging beat, almost as an homage to house music). According to her label, Blackest Ever Black, this is an album for “inbetween days, and occupies inbetween states,” and it’s a phrase that shows they know their artist. You Know What It’s Like is an array of songs that feel as if the ferocity and unpredictability of the wild were packed neatly into a glass case. It rumbles beneath the surface, with us well aware that the slightest crack can have the untamed seep into our sedated, sleepy surface.

"Italian Cinema" kicks off the LP, with the scattered notes of a slightly off-key piano dotting a landscape that feels imbued both by a hovering UFO and the hum of cicadas and crickets on a dewy evening. It’s the kind of ambient electronic sound that's prime for misty nights as we veer into late October, a haunted house soundtrack perfected for Halloween. "Dry in the Rain" has a moodier, pensive air about it. There’s hollow percussion and a floating, flute-like note revolving around a metallic twinkle. It’s a slow, relatively sparse track—dal Forno’s apathetic, airy trill carries a lyric-less note, that when paired with the woodwind’s fluttering pitch feels like a lulling call from the Pied Piper. And we follow.

Stream the entire album on Gorilla vs. Bear

The title track, "You Know What It’s Like," opens with a distorted, wind-chime sort of jingling before the drums kick in with a relentlessly steady beat. Carla dal Forno’s voice is far off on the apathetic end of the spectrum—a chant that could very well be conjuring the kind of revenge she references. It’s a ritual of a woman scorned, and you practically see the skies turn grey as the clouds billow in. Her words are an incantation. In interviews, dal Forno has noted that the kind of vengeful power the song suggests is not something she’d ever personally vie for. For her, it's simply a fun, artistic concept to explore beside a haunting melody.

Her album consistently demonstrates an otherworldly ambiance that seems to have one last root grounded on our earth. It’s as if she’s shining a light on the uncanny that surrounds us, the supernatural we’ve always suspected was hiding just out of sight. After a listen, you might just have an inkling of the message she’s sending out into the ether, and perhaps you'll give a knowing nod the next time she intones, You Know What It’s Like.

PREMIERE: Fir Cone Children - Turn Around

Kelly Kirwan

Known for heavy helpings of distortion on his tracks, Berlin-based artist Fir Cone Children (aka Alexander Leonard Donat) stays true to his signature style on the latest single, "Turn Around," which is nested under his fresh-minted album, Firconium. It’s a song that stays the course on the kind of dream-punk, shoegaze genre that Donat has become known for, and never has this branch of music been so optimistic. Lush with reverb and brimming with fuzz, "Turn Around" carries on for just two minutes—another trademark. It’s an interesting balance he strikes, pairing rich, grittier melodies with unfazed and minimalist lyrics. "Turn Around" pulsates between an unruly and easygoing nature, the frayed edges of the track threatening to spill over into a kind of laid-back chaos.

The chorus revolves around his relaxed croon, "Turn, turn, turn around / It makes me dizzy," the words a gentle stroke in the otherwise quick-footed, percussion-dense backdrop. Donat’s voice veers into lightweight, high-reaching octaves as the instruments swirl between moments of intensity and detached, deliberate points of punctuation. It’s sweaty rock 'n' roll paired with sunny vocals, and Donat’s breezy timbre rises and falls with each syllable in one of the closing lines, "I want to be close to you." It’s a head-banger that opts out of punk’s dips into agitation—a track that has a rough touch and, still, a summery disposition.