El Ten Eleven (feat Emile Mosseri)
w/ Pete International Airport
Rough Trade NYC
Tuesday 15 August 2017
Pete International Airport
El Ten Eleven (feat Emile Mosseri)
All photos by Joseph James
All photos by Joseph James
Are you the type of person who believes in the album as a whole? Do you listen to music on shuffle and make playlists from the singles, or listen to entire albums as the artists intended it?
The reason I ask is because for the past few weeks I’ve been listening to Nihiling’s new album Batteri out of sequence. When I downloaded the album the tracks arranged in alphabetical order, and not according to designated track listing, and I feel that somehow I’ve ruined the listening experience.
Not that the experience is bad by any means. But I’ve had to reflect on whether listening to the correct track ordering enhances the album listening experience, or if the tracks need be good enough to stand on their own.
I was taken by “Cellardoor”, the first track I listened to. For first impressions, it certainly had me intrigued. It begins with clicking noises (someone playing the spoons?), and drawn out cello notes. As this progresses the music grows more complex, with multiple poly rhythms that don’t fit work in well together. Despite this, it works. I found myself thinking back to Biffy Clyro’s “Living Is A Problem…”. seeing as both tracks are odd, but undeniably technically proficient.
The real first track of the album, “Ottersong” commences with a minimalist beat and singing that reminds me of Bedouin Soundclash’s Jay Malinowski. Slowly other elements come into the foray – toms and tambourines, more singers, weird glitches. Everyone has their chance to shine, with no shortage of talent fond.The guitars are especially great later in the piece , transitioning from effect laden underwater sounds to searing solos.
But like I said, there is no shortage of talent here. As biased as I am, I find the drums outstanding throughout the album – Rhythmically hypnotizing and dynamically diverse. Not to mention the singing. I’m a sucker for good vocal harmonies and Batteri offers this in spades.
But if you want my recommendation for the first track to start on, try “Power Rangers”. THIS. TRACK. RULES. Honestly, even if my review isn’t going to sell you on the album, at least take the time to listen to this one song. I’ve embedded it in the review here for convenience. The song has two sublime elements: groove and harmonies. Just give it a listen. Please.
That’s another thing that threw me – the singing is incredible. .Not only was I listening to this album with the songs in the wrong order, but I went in with incorrect assumptions. The press release called it post-rock, but the best songs don’t fit within this description.
I’d class Batteri as eclectic math-rock. As a general rule, the post-rock genre lacks singing. Whereas Nihiling give us layered vocal harmonies to die for. Odd indie Glitches and effects. You can call it post-rock if you must, because I can’t think of any accurate genre classification.
Upon listening to the band’s earlier releases I can understand the post-rock label better. But the band have evolved and embarked into new territory with Batteri. The first half of the album offers experimental prog-rock, and the latter half gives us the post-rock that was advertised.
“Rope” lurks into trip-hop territory. I’ll give the band kudos for atmospherics. Despite the simplicity of it, there is an off-vibe permeating the track, slowly becoming more unhinged as it progresses. The messiness worsens when a chaotic programmed synth à la The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” comes into play towards the end of the song.
“Idiot” goes heavier, with doomy sludge metal that loses intensity half way through, only to be replaced by a snare drum tattoo and less saturated guitar tones.
I highly recommend that you give Batteri a listen. If you do, you’ll hear brilliant musicianship, interesting experimental sounds, great groove, mathy dynamics and vocal harmonies to die for. The first half of the album stands stronger than the reserved post-rock of the second half, but don’t let that stop you checking out this stunning release.
Nihiling’s fourth album Batteri came out on Kapitän Platte on May 5, 2017.
Jan Platek is a German musician best known for his solo post-rock project We Deserve This. He is widely known within the international post-rock scene due to his prolific output, strong social media presence and of course, great musical talent. As an independent artist and strong supporter of the global music scene, Platek is exactly the type of musician we want to support here at Will Not Fade.
Following my review of Platek’s recent We Deserve This album Smile, I decided that I wanted to learn more about him. I emailed Platek at his home in Germany to ask about his various projects, and to learn more about what inspires and motivates him. It gave me great insight into a man who loves creating and consuming music on a voracious level.
English is not Platek’s native tongue, so his replies were not all entirely grammatically accurate. I’ve decided to leave them as is however, because I think it is important to let him present his views uncensored and unadulterated.
How are you Jan?
I`m feeling good right now, don`t know how long this feeling lasts…but thanks for asking.
What do we deserve?
We deserve pleasure, hugs and love. But maybe we also deserve bad things because of our actions. We are living in a strange decade with lots of trouble worldwide. Maybe our, and I mean the western world, behavior and actions will lead us into something really bad. If so, it’s our fault and we deserve it.
You clearly love photography. A lot of your album art features photos that you have taken. Do you plan to use photos for your music when you take them?
I`m starting with photography back in early 2015. My wife Karo is a really good photographer so she taught me the basics of a camera. After that I bought my first Fuji Camera. At first, it was difficult to understand all the settings but after I figured it out it was really great. I love taking photos, it`s like living in another world. It`s almost like being a child with a funny toy (the camera). And you know, I love playing…It´s almost like producing music, the same procedure. First you take a raw picture and after it you edit the photo on the computer. Editing photos is like mixing/mastering an audio track. Sometimes I take photos because I can imagine them as a cover artwork for my music. But mostly I find edited pics on my laptop thinking “that would be an awesome artwork“.
I see themes of nature and geometry throughout your album art. Is this deliberate?
Yeah I think so…geometry is a part of our nature. Have you ever seen a little snowflake with its tiny, geometric structures? It`s amazing. I think geometry is a part of our life.
I saw that you were fairly outspoken in response to Easter recently. Do you think that instrumental music can be (or should be) political?
That was on my private account and not on any of my pages on Facebook. Music is not a good tool to transport political views. It`s not my business to tell people political views. I`m pro gay, pro refugees, pro nature – more left-wing than right-wing. I don’t believe in god or in any religion. But does my views really count? Does anyone care about what Jan Platek thinks or believes? I don`t think so. I`m just a musician who wants to create music.
Is there meaning behind the eye with the teardrop logo? Do you ever try writing upbeat or cheerful music?
Yes, there is a meaning in the logo…but I don`t want to tell you which meaning. It`s my secret.
And yes, I often tried to write upbeat and cheerful music but I always failed. There are maybe five or six songs that I never released.These songs sound like Pennywise or Bad Religion with a little Billy Talent touch…I`m not sure if I will ever release these tracks. I think that vocals would make the songs huge but I`m a really bad singer….
Can you discuss the strengths and weaknesses of being a one-man band.
Hmm, I don`t know. I played in three or four bands as a drummer when I was in my 20`s. It was always a pain in the a** how the creation process worked. So lazy and slow. I think a band is a democratic institution with different interest. It takes a lot of time to create something. Being a one-man band is a lot faster. No one tells me “you have to play the guitar like this“ or “make a drum fill here“. I`m my own dictator. That makes everything much easier.
Some of your tracks are live recordings. Do you prefer live performance or studio work?
That`s a good question. I think I like live performances a little bit more than studio work. It`s a really great feeling to see how the crowd reacts even if they don`t know a single song. Studio work is a lonely thing. Working at night on my songs in the studio space is sometimes depressing. I`m alone with a lot of recorded stems and sometimes I want to talk to someone. I often would like to ask someone if the guitar or the bass is loud enough in the mix. But that`s my own choice, I`m a loner.
I know that you buy a lot of vinyl records, purchase albums on Bandcamp and stream music on Spotify. What medium do you use to listen to most of your music?
CD and the Bandcamp app on my iPhone. I have a Spotify account but that account is mostly for my 7-year-old daughter. She listens to Top 10 Charts Hits most of the time…I`m a vinyl collector, that´s true. But you need time to listen to vinyl in its entirety. I have two little kids so there is not much time to enjoy Vinyl records. Family life is wonderful but also sometimes very hectic.
You have two main projects: We Deserve This and Jan-Dirk Platek. Do you approach each project with different mindsets? I understand that the self-titled work focuses more on ambiance and texture.
My solo work is more piano based stuff with lots of electronics. There are no guitars on these songs. It`s more layed back ambient stuff…WE DESERVE THIS is for the Post-Rock heart that`s beating in me. I love to play the guitar and smash the cymbals on my Tama drum set.
You recently released Convex, which you consider your first strictly ambient album. What prompted this?
I discovered ambient music a little while ago and I really love it. Artist like 36, Tale Of Us or Leandro Fresco really blew me away. At that time I also listened to modern classical stuff. It looks like I´m tired of listening to loud rock music. I need the quiet moments right now. So I thought it would fit perfectly to try an ambient album. The strangest thing is, that I`m really overwhelmed by Convex. I usually don`t listen to my own music after its release date. But Convex is another thing…I play it very often right now. Maybe this is because it`s a complete new direction in my work. I don`t know…
You are incredibly prolific. Why do you drip-feed so many unique singles, as opposed to cultivating albums like most musicians?
I don`t know. Maybe that´s because I`m a child of the 80`s. Back in the days we all bought vinyl 7“ singles with only one or two tracks on it. It was fashion. I feel like a 80`s boy without the hair right now…hahaha.
You make lots of your music available for free. What is your motivation for giving away your music?
I think that my music must be available for everyone for a low price or for free. I want to spread my work as wide as possible. I have a normal day job and I don`t need my music to pay the bills. I just want to spread my creations. That`s it. Some people love this – other people hate the high amount of releases. I don`t care, producing music is like breathing for me and I like to give the people lots of fresh air.
You are signed to Fluttery Records, but release a lot of your work independently through Bandcamp. What arrangement do you have with Fluttery?
I can release albums on Fluttery Records and I also can release Singles/Ep`s/Albums on my own Bandcamp. That`s the deal and Fluttery Records is so kind to let me do my thing. Fluttery Records is the best label for Post-Rock and Ambient music right know. They really love what they`re doing. Most important: There are so many talented artists on that label.
You’ve also just signed to Russian label GS Productions. Why so many record labels?
GS Productions signed Jan-Dirk Platek and Fluttery Records signed We Deserve This. I guess my Jan-Dirk Platek stuff is too “electronic“ for Fluttery Records. I also never asked Fluttery Records to release my “solo“ stuff….
You are one of the top-selling artists on Bandcamp within the postrock genre. Why do you think you have become so successful?
I don`t think that I´m a top-selling artist but a lot of people are listening to We Deserve This. I don`t know how I have become “successful“. Maybe I know how to spam the social networks…like sharing links of my music in different groups and promoting my music links through Twitter and Instagram. I think social networking is the best tool to reach new fans. I also must admit that I only use these social networks for music. Exploring new artists, getting in contact with other artists and listening to new music. That`s the only reason to spend time on social networks: Music.
Your grandfather taught you to play music. What does he think of your music?
He died long before my first release came out. But I guess he would be very proud.
What is your main instrument? I know that you started out as a drummer.
My main instrument is the drum set. But I will take piano lessons this summer. I really love to play piano but I think I need to learn to play it perfectly.
Do you ever feel tempted to go back to using vocals or samples?
Hmm, I`m searching for a female vocalist but it`s hard to find her. If you know someone, please get in touch…
You’ve had a few collaborations over the years. Talk me through how you go about writing with other musicians. Do you meet up with them or use the internet?
Mostly everything is created by using the internet. Up next is a collaboration with the Synth-Wave Artist ADAM FORD. This guy from Italy is so kind, good and talented. I feel honored that he asked me to play on two of his songs. They will appear on his upcoming album Dreamscape. It`s a wonderful synthwave or vaporwave album that sounds simply awesome. I really like collaborations and I think I have to do more in that way. It feels good to be a part of someone`s creations.
You are incredibly supportive of the global post-rock scene. I know members of local bands here in New Zealand who have told me that you bought their records. How do you go about discovering new music?
Mostly on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. There are so many people, bloggers (like you) or artists out there and they keep sharing their favorite stuff. Bandcamp is also one of my favorite sources to discover new artists.
What else have you got planned for We Deserve This?
I guess another ambient release. The response regarding Convex is amazing. I reached many new listeners and lost some post-rockers. I love how ambient music slowed down my heartbeat down while creating Convex. Sounds strange but it felt like I`m in another world. Also, there are currently plans to play live in 2017. Not a tour but a small amount of gigs here in Germany. Last but not least: Thanks for the interview, Will Not Fade is also a good source to explore new artists. Thanks for supporting the underground music scene.
Jan-Dirk Platek Bandcamp: https://jan-dirkplatek.bandcamp.com/releases
Jan-Dirk Platek Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jandirkplatekmusic/
Jan-Dirk Platek Twitter: https://twitter.com/jan_platek
Despite the very pop-punk sounding name, Edmonton’s Defend The Rhino is a solo cinematic instrumental project from singer-songwriter / composer / audio engineer Nathaniel Sutton. With a CV like that, Sutton sounds more than qualified to release an album.
Said album, entitled Static Breeze, is actually the second Defend The Rhino release, featuring ten short tracks that would all fit comfortably within the context of a film.
The album has a somber start ,with soothing waves of soft pads and heartfelt violins, broken up with lingering single piano notes. The second track progresses to using chords on the piano instead of singular notes, and drums add a welcome element.
There are some great elements in said track, “Sound The Alarm”, that are hard to pick up on unless you pay close attention. For example, the bass line at the start is adds awesome feel, but is hidden deep in the mix. Towards the end we hear some brilliant tinkling xylophone that should really stand out, but is again lost and ends up as a minor detail. This is among my favourites on the album because the drum beat and piano ostinato add such energy and liveliness to this song .
The bass notes on “Fade To Dusk” are well captured. I can visualise the thick, dense strings vibrating each time we hear it played. It is here that we are introduced to a ghostly coo that Sutton employs in a few songs – an odd mournful wailing effect that makes the song sound ominous.
Most of these tracks a short and direct, unlike a lot of instrumental music I listen to. They tend to keep the same theme throughout without delineating far from the key melody or beat. The drums especially make the songs appear straightforward, with the same simple beat dominating many tracks. I can tell that they aren’t programmed – there are little giveaways like rapping on the rims in “Dim Lights” and the snare drags in “Fallen Leaf” – but they feel rigid enough that I can tell that the person behind the kit would feel more at home playing another instrument.
“Fallen Leaf” features a funky electric organ tune reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, and “Running In The Dark” just screams David Bowie’s “Heroes”. The latter is the only track on the album with vocals. Hoarse and almost whispered, the singing mirrors Bowie’s delivery of holding back until the chorus, creating suspense as we wait for the crescendo.
This is first and foremost a cinematic piano record. Beautiful evocative, it provokes my imagination into conjuring up all kinds of scenes to fit the music. Sutton includes a variety of instruments and effects to colour in the sounds, making for a varied listen. Static Breeze would be the perfect study album, with pleasant sounds in the background that could help you focus and lift your mood. And of course, it would work brilliantly soundtracking a film, seeing as it is so cinematic in nature.
Static Breeze is due out April 7th through Mint 400 Records,
Local post-rock band Hiboux (pronounced ee – boo. The French word for owls) have worked hard to get to this stage of their career, cultivating a following as they wrote and recorded the songs on this, their first album, Command The Earth To Swallow Me Up.
They struck me as talented when I saw them open for Tortoise last year [Tortoise live review], and this début release has only cemented that opinion.
Before we start discussing the music, I need to draw attention to the title of the opening track: “East Of Seddon”. For those unaware, some of the more major New Zealand earthquakes in recent years have triggered – you guessed it – just east of the upper South Island town of Seddon. I adore the imagery that the title evokes. Does it indicate that Hiboux are at the epicenter of something big? That their music is earth-shatteringly good? Let’s find out…
The track starts of with some gorgeous harmonising guitars that riff together in tandem. Not like thrash metal riffing, but more elegant and leisurely. The two guitarists each deviate ever so slightly with their picking to keep the ostinato sounding fresh. The rest of the band joins in – bass and keys add atmosphere while the drums add urgency. The song meanders and changes – as you would hope from a nine minute epic – and the guitars split to each adopt different roles. But it’s those dual guitar lines at the start that really make this opening track what it is.
Most of the songs follows suit in much the same fashion. Repeated guitar riffs, band comes in, things start to expand. But this is not to say that the music is formulaic. The riffs are fantastic – musical and memorable. The drumming is sensitive – adding to the overall feel with finesse, but not overplaying.
Something that Hiboux excel at is creating memorable riffs without the need for heaviness. Or creating great sound without the need for effects (that I can tell. I hear little reverb, distortion, delay etc but I am not an expert on such things). And I hate to focus on the guitars so much at the expense of the other instruments, but they really do stand out.
I always wonder how musicians manage to write and remember such long and complex songs. Ranges have a 24 minute song called “Night & Day“, and “Dominion” by Kiwi heroes Jakob rings in at just shy of half an hour. In a recent interview I learnt that Hiboux take months (or even up to a year) to write and refine their epic pieces. It makes sense when you listen to each track. Spontaneous music is great, but it is clear that these songs are not just ideas picked out willy-nilly from a jam session.
(Again, I need to go off-tangent here. Look at that photo! How cool is that shot? And, even better, the band is standing on the wall of old army magazine bunker ruins in Wellington, which was burnt down when bank robbers set alight a stolen van that they had parked inside. So much awesome in just one picture!)
Running a music blog is pretty cool, but I find that after reviewing so many post-rock albums it can be hard to come up with ways to discuss music that sounds so similar. Not so with Hiboux, who have done themselves proud with this release. Yes, it is undeniably post-rock through and through. But it also sounds fresh and innovative whilst sitting comfortably within the genre.
I am always stoked to discover great local bands who can sit comfortably beside their musical peers on a global scale, and with Command The Earth To Swallow Me Up, Hiboux have proven that they fit that description.
Command The Earth To Swallow Me Up is now available for download from https://hibouxband.bandcamp.co
I was already a fan of sleepmakeswaves before they released their last album, Love of Cartography, in 2014. And I thought that album was great. But it wasn’t until I saw their fantastic performance opening for This Will Destroy You in Wellington the following year that I realised just how great a band they are.
So when they asked for support to crowdfund their new album Made Of Breath Only via pozible I was right in there. sleepmakeswaves, you are welcome to my money if it means more incredible music. (You are welcome to even more of it if you decide to come and play in Wellington again as well!)
So I pledged my money to the worthy cause, shared the link a few (OK, more than a few) times to garner further support, and waited for the album to be recorded.
Stylistically, I’d say sleepmakeswaves are similar to both maybeshewill and 65daysofstatic in many respects. Of course you can draw the parallels that all the bands have runonnamesthatlackspaces, but they also all play remarkably energetic post-rock with electronic elements.
Made Of Breath Only commences with a short intro track that builds anticipation, before segueing seamlessly into the explosive opening of “World’s Away”. The track dies down quickly, but remains interesting, with computer glitch sounds adding texture to the jazz rock guitar noodling. Not that this lasts long, because sleepmakeswaves are HIGH ENERGY! Goshdarnit I love these people! Overdriven guitars, thunderous bass, twinkling keys and incredible drumming marry to form aural bliss. So dynamic! The track comes in waves, from rocking wildly, to quieter, more musical passages. And every moment is infectious with joy.
I’m finding it hard to describe my excitement using words alone. Please picture me wildly air drumming and grinning ear to ear as you read my sentences for the full immersive experience.
OK, so we’re only about ten minutes into this album and I’m already calling it as one of the best albums of the year. Sorry, but if you want an objective, unbiased opinion you’ll have to search elsewhere.
“Tundra” was the lead single from the album and I tend to agree that it is the best pick. The lead guitar cuts through with plenty of treble, atop a rolling beast of monstrous rock. And again, it’s that energy that makes it so compelling to listen to. The slower dynamic moments show off the band’s talents as well-rounded musicians, but it’s the explosive sections that inspire. It’s more than the usual crescendocore post-rock here, with some of the amazing music from the Australian prog-rock scene clearly rubbing off on the sleepmakeswaves crew.
I’m overstating the energy to a degree. There are some incredible moments in the quieter sections of the album, like the tender piano parts of the title track.
In the past I have sometimes written about how I prefer “real” instruments over computers. I prefer rappers who have bands over ones with DJs. If I attend a concert I want to see musicians playing live, not acting along to backing tracks. And when I listen to an album I’d prefer to think that the music was actually played and recorded, and not just programmed into a machine. Well I’ll eat my words in whatever way you see fit here because the computerised aspects really enhance the music. The glitches add an extra dimension to already great songs.
If I haven’t made it clear already: this album is incredible! Listening to it makes me feel elated. And the talent is immense. Daniel Oreskovic from fellow Sydney post-rock act Meniscus has replaced founding member Kid on guitar, and although I by no means want to slight Kid’s part in the band, I think an injection of fresh ideas from a new member may have helped to rev the band up a bit.
Made Of Breath Only is going to do wonders for sleepmakeswave. They haven’t even released it yet and they’re already touring China, and scoring support slots on tours opening for big international acts like Underoath and Devin Townsend. And, even better, they are on the verge of breaking out from their niche genre into mainstream awareness thanks to radio play from Australian youth station Triple J.
Listen to this album. If you like post-rock, then you’ll recognise how good it is. If post-rock isn’t your thing, then this could prove to be your gateway album. It’s a beast of an album and deserves your attention.
Made Of Breath Only comes out on Pelagic Records on March 24, 2017
North American, UK and European fans, you can order the new album at cheaper shipping rates right here: www.sleepmakeswaves.com?p=1916