Brian Eno Announces New Ambient Album, 'Reflection'

Photo by Joe Lee/Flickr

Electronic music legend Brian Eno announced today a new ambient album, Reflection, to be released on Warp Records. It consists of just one track lasting 56 minutes that is composed in the generative stylealso used, for example, on the soundtrack for the video game No Man’s Skywhere a computer is programmed to compose music based on a set of predetermined rules.

Eno is one of the pioneers of the ambient genre, with famous contributions including the 1975 record Discreet Music and 1978’s Ambient 1 (Music For Airports). Reflection will follow 2016’s LP The Ship, also released on Warp, which combined ambient stylings with more traditional songwriting.

Reflection is so called because I find it makes me think back,” Eno said in a press release. “It makes me think things over. It seems to create a psychological space that encourages internal conversation. And external ones actuallypeople seem to enjoy it as the background to their conversations. When I make a piece like this most of my time is spent listening to it for long periodssometimes several whole daysobserving what it does to different situations, seeing how it makes me feel.”

Reflection will be out on January 1, 2017 on CD, 2LP, and digital formats.

Reflectionartwork courtesy of the label

Reflection tracklist:

1. Reflection

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How Did Deep House Become The Pulled Pork Of Dance Music?

This post ran originally on THUMP UK.

Culture, like a bowling ball chucked down Ben Nevis, or a pisshead let loose in the bowels of a Brewdog, marches forward relentlessly. Well, we’d like to think so anyway. That’s the attractive narrative we’re trying to will into being every time we read or write a breathless blog post about Balkan-juke or force our mates to listen to a mix of brand new jungle records made by a teddy bear from Scunthorpe or sit our mum down for some branded video content in which a DJ plays a set live from the bottom of the Marianas Trench. The reality is a little different.

Culture, really, and quite obviously, is, in the present day at least, a largely regressive and retroactive thing. We embrace the pastbe it the French nouvelle vague or South American magical realism or Japanese chiptunebecause a) the contemporary is abjectly fucking terrifying and b) creating anything truly, genuinely, radically new is nigh-on impossible. So we fool ourselves into buying into anything that purports to any kind of newness because doing so is a way of sustaining a myth of resistance, even if we know that that myth is no more true than the idea that buying a Diet Coke negates the effects of a Big Mac.

So, we burrow unthinkingly into the seductive safety of the near past, preferring to wrap ourselves in a cultural comfort blanket. Well, we reason as we slide over a twenty pound note in exchange for a ticket for the latest Star Wars film, anything for an easier life, eh? And that line of thinking is largely unavoidable, something each and every one of us is guilty of, because behind the laziness and the fatalism lies a fundamental truth: new things are difficult. And that’s why deep house slid into the mainstream. And it’s how deep house became the pulled pork of dance music, too.

Photo via Flickr

Now, just like pulled pork, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with deep house. I like pulled pork, and I like deep house too. But the kind of deep house I’m referring to here is akin to the kind of pulled pork you get served at a festival where some gormless deep house duo are plodding through an hour of shoulder-shrugs-in-the-air to a disinterested audience of punters more interested in pulled pork than deep house.

Larry Heard, Moodymann, Chez Damier, that’s the gourmet pulled pork that Adam Richman used to eat by the stone on Man Vs Food, the kind of pulled pork that’s stewed in its own juices for a week before bathing in sticky, sweet, dark, rich glazea glaze you or I would happily gulp pint after pint ofand sitting in a smoker for as long as it takes. Real, actual, authentic pulled pork. The pulled pork served up by Gorgon City or Disclosure or Robin Schulz is the kind of pulled pork that’s perpetually on offer in Iceland: stringy, grey, and served in a can.

Imitation, we’re told for reasons that are never, and will never be, fully explained, is the sincerest form of flattery. Except, to be blunt, it isn’t. While imitation might be one of life’s inevitabilities, life inevitabilitiescouncil tax bills, the common cold, feeling absurdly despondent on your own birthdayare usually deeply fucking irritating. In fact, the sheer inevitability of life itself is deeply fucking irritating, but that’s by the by. What we’re dealing here, in this realm in which deep house and pulled pork have become inextricably entwined, like tender young lovers during reading week, is imitation not as flattery, but as deception.

Photo via Flickr

People often like deep house and pulled pork for the same reasons. They’re easily consumable products that at their absolute best are served largely unadorned, both of which can, when done well, display an occasionally stunning level of complexity despite their relative simplicity. They’re comforting, unchallenging things we can reach for in times of need. Feeling down? Why not wallow in an Aaron-Carl record, or top a jacket potato with some marinated pig? In fact, why not do both at the same time!

The deep house that’s been floating around the UK charts and the Croatian festival scene over the last few yearsthe kind of deep house that sounds like it’s never been in the same food truck lined park on the outskirts of Leeds as Andres or Scott Grooveshas been erroneously named to the point of parody, having about as much to do with the soulful sadness of actual deep house as Jack Vettriano’s paintings do to Edward Hopper’s. Yes, there’s paint on canvas, or a kickdrum and a bassline, but something’s been lost in translation, and the result is nothing but a piss-poor imitation masquerading as the past reassessed by the present. It is a suffocatingly dull exercise in coattail riding, and its become the dominant mode of discourse for a certain kind of dance fan here in the UK. I can smell them, and you can too, for they are the revelers reeking of a nine quid pulled pork wrap.

What’s been lost is, well, pretty much everything that makes deep house, the actual deep house, the deep house you’d hear Rick Wilhite or Marcellus Pittman or Move D playing out, deep house. That’s not the deep house you’re hearing on The Sound of Deep House 2016 or I Love Deep House. The deep house you’re hearing there, or down the gym, or in a trainer shop in an out of town shopping mall, the pulled-pork-deep-house that dominates a certain kind of festival, attended by a certain kind of person, is a strangely airy, uncannily soulless construction, an assemblage of springy basslines and tropically-twisted pads, usually topped off with refrains that linger in the memory about as long as a piece of Wrigleys does on the tastebuds.

Photo via Flickr

The explosion in popularity of this faux-deep-housedescribed to me once by DJ Harvey as “shallow house”and pulled pork came at roughly the same time. Cast your mind back to 2013 or so, as distant as it seems now, as oddly antiquated and ahistorical as it is, for that was when a nation, if not a continent, went wild for both. Everywhere you went Duke Dumont’s “Need U (100%)” hung in the air, as heavily as the sweetly acrid stench of slow-cooked pig-product. This was what we wanted, what we needed, what we’d been quietly craving all these years: sugary pap to get fat to.

EDM had already started to eat itself in the US, and, unusually for a country that usually co-opts anything and everything American, we’d ignored it. We had, it must be said, ignored it for all the right reasons. With its pomp and circumstance, its brash flashiness and complete lack of substance, EDM was a perfect symbol of the worst of American excess. Which makes it slightly strange that while we were busy rejecting the advances of Skrillex, Porter Robinson, and Deadmau5, we were simultaneously deciding to gorge ourselves obese on the supersized slop that Guy Fieri shovelled down his engorged gullet on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

All of a sudden, all we could think about, all we could talk about, were buffalo wings and sloppy joes. We swapped bangers and mash for biscuits and gravy, dunking our ever-fattening faces into pails of ‘slaw. And as we stood there, in a field somewhere, crinkling under the midday sun, hot sauce seeping out of every orifice, quietly ignoring the overdraft-exceeded texts from Barclays, we let Route 94 and Jess Glynne soundtrack our rapid descent into absolute fucking mediocrity.

Photo via Flickr

Trends come and trends go, and now you’re far less likely to spend an evening in the company of a buttermilk chicken loving MK obsessive who wants to tell you all about how banging the food at Blue Marlin. The deep house thingone of the stranger moments in recent club culture historydrifted into a bleakly forgettable nothingness, and we all decidedseemingly collectivelythat we’d be better off living on kale and quark than sweet potato fries and sticky ribs.

The damage had been done: deep house, for a certain kind of person, was forever enshrined as the soundtrack for a thousand weak gags about shuffling and Huaraches. This was not how things were supposed to go, but culture, it seems, moves of it’s own violation. And now, a few years on, in a world that’s changed irrevocably and incredibly, we’re left to pick up the pieces.

Deep house will always make me think of pulled pork. Pulled pork will always make me think of deep house.

Josh is on Twitter

Leonard Cohen Has Died At The Age Of 82

Via Wikicommons.

Singer, musician and poet Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to an announcement made on the artist’s official Facebook page. The statement reads, “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”

Cohen, born in Quebec, Canada in 1934, produced work spanning five decades and is rightly considered one of the most influential singer-songwriters of his generation. While he will be best remembered as a folk artist, synonymous with growling vocals and acoustic guitar, he also enjoyed a hugely successful turn to synthesized, electronic production on 1988’s I’m Your Manan album many regard to among his best work. Tom Waits once said of the album: “Important songs, meditative, authoritative, and Leonard is a poet, an Extra Large one.”

He released his last album, You Want It Darker, last month (October, 2016). A New Yorker profile written in conjunction with the record’s release revealed the singer to be in ill healthduring the interview he even said, “I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”

A memorial for Cohen will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family have asked their privacy be respected.

News via Sony Music Canada.

Soothe Yourself With This Week's Seven Most Played

Right, it’s been a terrible fucking week and the last thing you need is for us to remind you of that. So we wont. Instead, why not try and seek some temporary solace in this batch of musical balm. Think of it as a kind of Radox muscle soak for the mind, if you will. We’ve got thumping greyscale techno from BNJMN and Or:la, Cremation Lily gets all kosmiche, there’s more deep goodness from Lobster Theremin, and Felix Dickinson and the rest of the Dedication dudes send us deep into disco. The whole thing’s bookended with a pair of incredible mixes: DFA-affiliated selector Christopher Orr takes us back in time to the hazy summer of 1997, and two of the biggest DJs on the scene, Jackmaster and Gerd Janson, go head to head in a thrilling two and a half hour tussle.

1. Christopher Orr – NASA Mix, Summer 97

2. BNJMN – Holocene

3. Or:la – Limbsoup

4. Cremation Lily – Washed Through Glass

5. Grant – The Limit

6. Dedication – Pito Deep

7. Jackmaster B2B Gerd Janson at ADE 2016

Why Are People Brushing Their Teeth At Noise Shows? An Investigation.

Photo by Toma tolfa/Flickr

Free Radicals is usually THUMP’s column dedicated to experimental electronic music. Each month, we take a look at the trends emerging from the frayed fringes of the dancefloor and why they’re meaningful. In these outer realms, sometimes things get a little strange. This is a special report.

One of the very first times I went to a noise show in St. Petersburg, Florida, a short drive away from my hometown, I saw a man unload a hardware store bucket full of change onto the audience. First slowly, then with maniacal rage, the performer known as Whitey Alabastard wildly flung pennies and screamed into the bucket, using a contact mic to collect all the sonic details the chaos was generating. A few years later, I’d see footage of Whitey using a submersible microphone to capture and mutate the sound of a plastic container full of water, nearly drowning himself over the course of his eight-minute set. That’s how it goes at these sorts of shows. Things get weird.

As far as laymen coaxing atonal bleats from busted electronics go, Whitey’s sets were actually relatively tame. The Japanese band Hanatarash, to borrow an example passed down only in whispered rumors, once used a machete to dismember a dead cat at a live show. At another venue, they drove a bulldozer through one of the walls. And later in their career, they required audience members to sign personal injury waivers before some of their sets.

The advent of YouTube provided a front row seat to the chaos. Footage of bleeding hardcore frontmen and sledgehammer-swinging experimentalists is so easily within reach these days that its hard to get shocked by much of anything. But I happened upon something especially eye-catching a few months ago, while digging through the VHS-quality dregs of the streaming service’s noisier corners. A friend had alerted me to the existence of a new Youtube channel that had a vast trove of archival experimental sets, so I dove in dutifully. At random, I picked out a clip of the now-defunct West Coast duo Yellow Swans performing at a benefit concert in a San Francisco park in 2004.

Everything starts as you’d expect: a few jokes about George W. Bush’s environmental policy, some distant electronic droning, a little piercing feedback for good measure. But things get surreal around the three-minute mark, when the video cuts to an audience member sitting on a curb intently bobbing his head to the music and aggressively brushing his teeth. Toothpaste foams at the edges of his mouth. As static swells, another audience member starts screaming: “You’re going to fuck up your gums…your gums are going to recede!”

I was a bit bewildered by the clip, but I didn’t think much of it until the middle of last month, when THUMP’s social media editor Danika Harrod sent me a message with a link to a GIF of a show by Japanese noise legend Merzbow. Discovered by the Twitter account @Immolations, the GIF cuts from the long-haired experimental great out to the audience, where a man is bobbing up and down, bug-eyed, and again, unexplainably, brushing his teeth maniacally.

One person practicing oral hygiene at a noise show is a coincidence; two felt like a conspiracy. My mind reeled: Why would kids be carrying a toothbrush along when they went to see experimental music? What motive could there be for using it out in the open? Was this anything like those people who clip their nails on the train? Or could it be something more sinister, like some new drug-fueled craze for the local news to report on in between inspirational stories about dogs in the military? There had to be answers to at least some of these questions, so I sent a few panicked emails to friends and acquaintances a little closer to the contemporary noise scene than I am.

Doug Kaplan, a member of the Chicago band Good Willsmith and pillar of the midwest experimental scene, kindly offered to help. But upon viewing the clips, he too was baffled. “The only time I’ve ever brushed my teeth at a noise show is when I’m on tour,” he said. “And that has only happened in the bathroom.” He advised me to reach out to MP Lockwood, the musician behind the freaked electronics project Radio Shock. But that was another dead end. Lockwood simply wrote back to me saying that he has “no more info than and there are definitely times when I miss the moronic chaos of those scrappy venues.”

It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but it helpedespecially because it was something I should have known all along. If Whitey could nearly drown himself in a garage in Florida in the name of noise, if a Japanese band could maim an animal’s corpse, or ruin the structural integrity of a venue with heavy machinery, was the idea of someone brushing their teeth at a noise show really all that weird? Is brushing one’s teeth not, after all, one of the most ordinary, mundane things humans do?

Ok, still pretty weird.

Martyn On The Realities Of Donald Trump's Unexpected Victory

How does the recent and unexpected election of Donald Trump affect those who love electronic music? Several artists expressed their outrage in 140 characters or less, which we outlined earlier. I wondered what it feels like to be a Dutch producer living in the United States at the moment, so I called up Martyn, the Eindhoven-born producer and DJ. Martyn lives near Washington D.C., studied political science, and recently released an amazing record with Steffi, Evidence From A Good Source. Here’s what he told me:

“Steffi called me at seven this morning to ask me the same thing. I had just arrived at my studio and thought ‘man, can I write a sad piano piece today.’? I hadn’t slept the previous night, for starters. We live in Virginia, just outside of D.C., one of the first states the results came in from. Straight away we noticed that things weren’t as smooth as we’d expected, but everyone still believed Hillary would win. When Trump took Florida and North Carolina, I turned off my TV. Too much of those statistics can make you nuts.

Around 1 AM I turned it back on, and by then it was clear that Hillary wouldn’t make it. That’s bad enough, but what made it worse was that the Republicans had the majority of Congress too. That’s a double punch in the face, giving the Republicans major powers.

The rest of the night I watched TV, listened to speeches, and sat in bed. I couldn’t sleep, my head was spinning. What would the next four years (or eight) look like? You feel the doubts and insecurities in articles and comments online. I looked at Twitter, which has become a support group for people who don’t get what happened.

We can find comfort in history: Obama preached a message of hope and change, and he changed a lot, but most things stayed the same. More often than not, campaign promises remain just that: promises. They don’t translate into policy. Let’s hope the same holds true for Trump’s. He said he will “clean up” Washington and get rid of corruption, well, good luck with that. But let’s hope his racist undercurrents don’t flow into his Presidency.

Of course there’s still the separation of powers. America may have elected a fool for President, but that doesn’t give him carte blanche to rule the federal government, foolishly. Congress has a firm grip on policy, and besides, many of the “ideas” put forward in Trump’s campaign are unconstitutional anyway. Perhaps he should read that first, the Constitution. At the same time: you don’t know what’s going to happen and how Trump will affect the world. The people whom Trump will select for Cabinet, they’re a question mark, too.

The results show a division between coastal areas and the heartland of the US. There’s a massive division, much larger than people thought. I live near the city, the economy is doing alright, we have a multi-ethnic community and many progressive ideas. But you can’t compare that to Alabama or Tennessee. The Democratic Party has been a little arrogant. They believed black Americans and minorities would vote for them no matter what, and that things would work out. But they forgot about the bulk of people living in the rural areas, who feel excluded and neglected. Trump spoke to those people, “the silent majority” as he calls them. It really meant something that he has aroused these angry citizens to vote.

There’re a lot of cool, progressive places in the US and in the world, but the majority of places aren’t like that. It’s good to acknowledge that. Globalization is cool if you can join and benefit from it, but if you don’t belong to that group it’s a scary thing. People feel less in control of their own lives than ever before. Take the classic example of a factory worker in Michigan losing his job because the factory is relocated to China. Such people see their lives literally floating away. You can tell this person things are going well in New York and on Wall Street, but it sure won’t feel like that.

Fear motivates these peoples to want things to go back to how they were, and Trump’s promise is exactly that: make America great again. But what exactly should we go back to? And how great was that? And when was it, in what year? Nobody knows. I understand people want their jobs back, but I don’t think you can rewind America and go back in time.

I haven’t yet thought about whether I want to stay in the US, it’s too early for that. You don’t decide something like that twelve hours after the results are in. And there are 318 million people here who can’t leave the country when things go bad. My wife said to me: let’s do what every American does, get up out of bed and go to work. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, life goes on.

Overall, seeing first the Brexit and now Trump’s election: it’s clear that these are not exceptions. This is where world politics is going, even if Europeans are laughing about “those dumb rednecks.” All citizens have a vote and are a part of the election process.

The Netherlands is no exception. People make fun of the so-called underclass, as if these people don’t understand what’s important in life. But don’t forget that these people can cast a vote, too, and that their vote is worth just much as yours.”

Harrison's "Checkpoint Titanium" Video Is A Gritty Tribute To Detroit's Fighting Spirit

After shooting music videos in the jungles of Jamaica and Ontario wilderness, Toronto producer Harrison has shared a new visual for the title track off his debut album Checkpoint Titanium, filmed in Detroit.

The intimate clip follows several boxers of varying ages, as they train and fight in the Motor City streets, gyms, and abandoned stadiums.

“At first listen the track was really interesting to me. It felt gritty and upbeat yet fun and airy,” director Justin Singer told Mass Appeal. “I wanted the narrative to share in this sentiment. A sort of juxtaposition between the intense landscape of Detroit and the good things people are doing for the youth there.”

Watch it above and listen to Harrison’s recent THUMP Mix here.

Max Mertens is on Twitter.

Giorgio Moroder Shares New Single, “Good For Me”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Age ain’t nothing but a number if you’re revered Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, who at a sprightly 76 is adding another victory lap to his comeback with a new single, “Good for Me.”

The track, which features English singer Karen Harding, has a shiny, modern veneer and is admittedly more pop-house than it is old-school disco from its progenitor, but as he told Entertainment Weekly upon its release: “My goal is to make music that will make people want to dance, nothing else.” Listen to it below.

Moroder is behind some of dance music’s biggest tracks, including Donna Summer classics “I Feel Love” and “Love to Love You Baby.” He’s also produced for high-profile artists such as David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Blondie, and Gloria Gaynor. In 2013, he appeared on Daft Punk’s comeback album Random Access Memories and performed his first ever DJ sets. Last year, he released a new album, Dj Vuhis first in 23 yearswhich featured Charli XCX, Britney Spears, Sia, and Kelis.

Enter An Alien Invasion In Ellen Allien’s Hypnotic New Track “Not Alone”

Photo courtesy of the artist.

As the popular and recently rebooted television sci-fi series X-Files tells us, “The truth is out there”we are not alone.

Today, German DJ, producer, and BPitch Control label-head Ellen Allien is releasing her latest EP, Landing XX, which sounds like it could be a code name for an extremely covert government operation regarding extraterrestrial life. One of the record’s tracks, “Not Alone,” sounds like the beginnings of an alien invasion, its adrenaline-filled beat surging through the first half of its eight-minute duration like a human on the run amid swelling sirens and a looming vocal repeating, “We are not alone.” A highlight of the techno track is its eerie breakdown, a calm in the storm before it gradually clangs its way back into the rush of chaos.

Speaking to THUMP over email, Allien says, “Before I started my festival season this year, I went to the studio in Berlin to record some special tracks for my sets. These two tracks are the ones I played the most, and so they became the soundtrack of my summer. They are as hypnotic and freaky as my DJ sets are. I used some of my favorite instruments, the 303, the 909 and the Minimoog to create two tracks full of murky, distorted vocals, strange breaks and pure drastic emotion in beat form. This record is my definition of the Allien sound.”

Listen to Ellen Allien’s “Not Alone” below. Landing XX is out now.

Justice Postpone Their Essential Mix Slot This Weekend

Photo courtesy of the artists

French duo Justice will not be returning to the hallowed decks of BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix this weekend as scheduled.

Their label, Ed Banger, posted the announcement on their Twitter page, citing their busy schedule as reason for the postponement but also said that the mix will drop later this year. “It will be worth waiting for!” they added. “Stay tuned.” Germany’s own tINI will make her series debut in their place.

Avalon Young’s New Video “Favorite” Feels Like Your First Date

22-year-old San Diego native Avalon Young has shared a charming new video for her single “Favorite” off her hit debut album Shift. With her effortless dulcet voice, Young crafts an enamoring picture of restored love. As she embarks on a long drive with her boo at dusk, you can’t help but feel like you’re reliving a first date.

“I think ‘Favorite’ is a song that portrays young love really well,” Young told THUMP via email. “It’s about infatuation and the way you prioritize your career and that person that you’re infatuated with. ‘Favorite’ was the easiest song to write from the album. Everything came to us so organically and we were automatically in love with the way the cadence of the lyrics flowed. I want to be that one song that makes you feel good every time you hear it because that’s definitely how we felt when we wrote and recorded it.”

We Made Sushi Burritos With Kero Kero Bonito And Discussed Their Jubilant Debut Album

Photo courtesy of Daily VICE. This post originally ran on THUMP Canada.

In October, London electro-pop trio Kero Kero Bonito released their debut album Bonito Generation, which consists of 12 high-fructose, J-pop-influenced dance tracks, with equally infectious lyrics half-rapped and half-sung in both English and Japanese.

While in Toronto for a recent show, Daily VICE invited the bandvocalist Sarah Midori Perry and producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulledto try their hand at making the city’s latest food craze, sushi burritos. After rolling some delicious concoctions at SU&BU, we sat down with the three-piece to discuss the making of their new full-length and why they think adulthood is overrated.

“We don’t ever sit down and we’re like, ‘Right we’re going to make a fun record today,'” said Lobban. “We make songs of what we see,” added Midori Perry. “This world is not just sad, and this world is not just happy, it’s a mixture of things. I think our songs are a reflection of that mixture of happy and sad all together.”

Watch it below and get Bonito Generation here.