At a time when positive energy is most needed, Mouse on Mars are generating it in the form of a new science-fiction album called AAI (Anarchic Artificial Intelligence). The upcoming album features writer and scholar Louis Chude-Sokei, percussionist Dodo NKishi, DJ/producer and programmer Yağmur Uçkunkaya and also saw the duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma collaborate with tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle to create bespoke software capable of modelling speech. Central to AAI is the argument that we must embrace AI and technology as Werner exlains:
“AI is capable of developing qualities that we attach to humans, like empathy, imperfection and distraction, which are a big part of creativity. We need to get past the old paranoia that fears machines as the other, as competitors who will do things faster or better, because that just keeps us stuck in our selfishness, fear and xenophobia. Machines can open up new concepts of life, and expand our definitions of being human.“
Ahead of AAI‘s release on February 26th through Thrill Jockey, Mouse on Mars have shared a second single from it, the bouncy and blissful ‘Artificial Authentic’, featuring Louis Chude-Sokei and Yağmur Uçkunkaya. Here it is.
Vertigo Days, The Notwist´s long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Close To The Glass, is nearing its release date. The iconic German indie trio of Markus and Micha Acher and Cico Beck invited an impressive list of artists to contribute to the album including American multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar, Saya of Japanese pop duo Tenniscoats, American jazz clarinettist and composer Angel Bat Dawid and Tokyo based brass band ZayaendoGay. Another phenomenal guest contributing to Vertigo Days is Argentinian electronica songwriter Juana Molina, who features on the latest single, ‘Al Sur’. Take a listen below.
Vertigo Days is out on January 29th through Morr Music.
With just over two weeks to go until Divide and Dissolve release their third album, Gas Lit, they have shared a new single from it called ‘Prove It’. The duo of Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill craft music committed “to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back”, and as with the album, ‘Prove It’ retains that intention as they explain:
“Prove It – calls into question the need to prove you experienced something. If someone wasn’t there to witness it, it still happened and may have caused harm. Colonial power structures, power dynamics, and societal expectations rely on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour being Gas Lit and denying our experiences, because the predominant white supremacist narrative demands us to. When a tree falls in the forest, it has fallen. Prove It is about the acceptance of experiences of pain without expectation.”
‘Prove It’ brings together beautiful, dark and fierce atmospheres all at once. The track is offered with a video accompaniment, shot and edited by James Robinson. Watch it below.
Belgian sextet Azmari are set to release their debut album, Samā’ī, later this month through Sdban Ultra. After releasing their first EP, Ekera, in 2019, the band performed a string of European shows followed by ten days of shows in Istanbul which “opened the band’s ears to the Turkish sounds and rhythms from the 1960s”, as the press release explains. Azmari went on to develop their sound studying Turkish and Ethiopian scales and learning new instruments like the berimbau, the ney and bağlama. Citing artists such as as Okay Temiz, Mulatu Astatke, Cymande, Fela Kuti and The Heliocentrics as musical influences, the band blends ethiogroove, dub, psychfunk and eastern sounds to a mesmerising effect.
Ahead of the album release, Azmari had already shared the single ‘Azalaï’’, which refers to the semi-annual salt caravan route travelled by Tuareg traders in the Sahara desert. Take a listen below.
Grandbrothers‘ upcoming album All The Unknown is getting close to its release day on January 15th through City Slang. Following the title track, the duo of German-Turkish pianist Erol Sarp and Swiss engineer/mechanic/sofware designer Lukas Vogel have shared a second single, ‘What We See’. Grandbrothers composed the track using artificial intelligence. They explain:
“The first part of this song is this sort of caucasian piano line. The interesting part about it is, that the origin of that was something completely different: we just played randomly on the piano and let it run through an algorithm on the computer, which made it the way it is now. From there on, we built things around this fragment that by time became this emotional rollercoaster with very vulnerable and intimate, but also very fierce and brute parts.
“What We See” implies that sometimes things aren’t what they seem to be and that you should take your time to take a second look and question them.”
2021 will kick off with a marvellous, serene and immersive new album from NYC-based musician and composer Elori Saxl. Entitled The Blue of Distance, rhe album borrows its title from Rebecca Solnit´s book A Field Guide to Getting Lost and saw Saxl explore the role technology plays in our relationships to geography and nature by blending processed recordings of wind and water with analog synthesizers and chamber orchestra. Half of the album was written in the Adirondack mountains of northern New York during the summer and the other half came to life on a frozen island in Lake Superior in the middle of winter.
Saxl shared some insight about the album:
“Being born in 1990, I was interested specifically in exploring what it means to have grown up contemporaneously with the proliferation of the internet and new technology such as Google Maps, Youtube, and smartphones filled with photos and videos that allow us to access distant people and places without being physically present. I was interested in understanding how the personal experience of memory formation may parallel humanity’s changing relationship with land through new technology that allows us access to a place or person without being physically present.
When I began working on the album, I was really focused on that abstract conceptual idea. I wrote the first half in the middle of summer in a beautiful verdant place, and it was one of the happiest times that I’ve experienced in my life. I returned to the album later that winter while living on an island in the middle of a very frozen Lake Superior. Emotionally, I was in a pretty low place, but I wanted the piece to feel cohesive, so I started looking back at photos and videos from my summer to try to remember what I’d felt like so that I could infuse the new music with that same emotion. Unsurprisingly, that process didn’t work, but what resulted was perhaps more interesting: a distorted version of the original experience and emotion. I’d begun the album using flowing water and wind as the sample source. For the 2nd half, I went to go collect more samples from my new surroundings, but the water was under a foot of ice. So the sound itself also became distorted through the ice, mimicking the process my memory was playing on the original experience. Through this process, what began as something conceptual became very personal.
Before starting the album, I’d been listening to a lot of electronic dance music and was struck by the use of modular synths to create pulsing beats. I’d been spending a lot of time sitting outside listening to the wind and water, which I noticed were also pulsing. It hit me that maybe there was a way to use those sounds as a sound source to create beats. So basically trying to figure out how to shape wind and water into a pulsing beat that emulated a modular synth (or rather, pull out the pulses inherent in those sounds) was what led to the musical foundation of The Blue of Distance. Then I just tried to think about what acoustic instruments the electronics sounded like and just write parts that mimicked the electronics so that there was a blurring and confusion of sounds. The water and wind samples’ pitch bends and sways, mimicking a synthesizer and confusing the distinction between natural and artificial (or digital) sounds.”
The Blue of Distance is set for release on January 22nd through Western Vinyl and ahead of it, Saxl has already enticed us with two cuts from the album, ‘Wave I’ and ‘Wave III’. Both come with a self-directed video accompaniment. Take a look.