The music swirls up from the ground in a wisp of cold air, creaking amongst shifting leaves. It comes to rest on a few fingerpicked chords, circling and shifting as more sounds are taken up, drum skins humming and voices crooning around and around. The folkish weavings of Ohio-based five piece band Peaks are nuanced as they are simply stated, as close as they are just out of reach. Their two new offerings “A Slip” and “Upstate” consider what it means to look for a home, in people, places and time. The result is a music of warmth and knowing, of seeking and waiting.
A thin chord, sharp and grainy, like a harpsichord forgotten in a dusty attic—this is the sound that brings us into the closing track of hwut, the latest handful of tunes by RYV, aka Charlie Abbott. Throughout the record’s densely compact journey, we continually encounter these subtle pops and sizzles, disembodied mutterings, and distorted gasps for air, as if walking through an atmosphere where something is wrong—where sounds are out of place, searching for each other and the place where they might have come from. But this is where RYV’s music thrives: auditory uncertainty mixed with relief, sonic surprises among waves of bliss. Transducing tinkling glitches into swirling rhythms and tonal planes, the young producer dots his aural landscape with sounds both momentary and expansive, frenetic and slowly evolving. The sounds do come together in the end, compelling us to return with them, again and again.
~A big city story of the one thrilling moment in a man’s life that can only be called High Adventure~ This new collection of fuzzed-out breaks and radio drama collages from the back catalog of Stereocure co-founder Kuh-Lida (aka Myles Emmons) sometimes reads more like a sound walk through his own thrift store than a beat tape. Veiled behind layers of dust and tape hiss, the veteran producer presents us with a sound world that he has created out of found objects and hazy imagination, shattered bits of magnetic tape and broadcasted nostalgia. Directing our senses through a maze of swerves and spin-outs at every turn, the music somehow fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, or a vinyl record chopped into a hundred pieces and reassembled with paint and peanut butter. Through thickets of glitch and throbbing blotches of rhythm, this A/B tape release is an auditory adventure from start to finish. ~Wherever you are, look around you. Watch, but don’t live it: this thing we call High Adventure~
Although LA-based beatsmith A Sol Mechanic (aka David Blazer) is a somewhat recent member of the Stereocure family, his creativity and enthusiasm for building a sense of community among local musicians has been a strong presence over the past few years. His solemn yet soaring track on our second sampler compilation is an apt example of the musical depth that he is capable of, but a full-length album is required to really understand the myriad of sonic stirrings and sensations that he can conjure. That’s why we are delighted to present “Emotion Terrace,” A Sol Mechanic’s debut record as a part of the Stereocure community. There is certainly a sense of familiarity to the music on this album; the beats often draw on many of the propulsive sounds that have been driving instrumental hip-hop on the west coast during the past decade. But what sets A Sol’s music apart and really makes it his own is the complexity that accompanies its powerful façade. From angelic choirs to strings brimming with equal parts optimism and melancholy, the record runs us through a spectrum of human feeling from the comfortable perspective of buttery samples dripped over pumping bass. With the raw directness of a beat tape and the refined craft of a polished album, “Emotion Terrace” delivers a layered experience that satisfies the listener on multiple levels, submersing the ears while inviting the soul to listen.
One year ago, we filmed a few live videos of Novelty Daughter (aka Faith Harding) playing guitar and singing at Top Tomato in Mar Vista, CA. The result was simple, direct, and beautiful; but that session was just a taste of what was to come from a woman whose musical gifts reach far beyond just a guitar and a voice. After two sampler contributions, a single, and another live session, Novelty Daughter’s self-titled and self-produced debut EP arrives as the first complete release of music from the Stereocure songstress. The Novelty Daughter EP exhibits a cool consistency of tone and texture: the songs are founded on mellow progressions of piano and keyboard sounds, driven by head-banging beats and filled out by virtuosic vocal lines. While this basic structure stays constant, an underlying ocean of sonic and lyrical subtleties makes this EP an intimate journey through Faith’s world of nuanced imagination. By turns understated and explosive, her original productions often feel more like a set of sound designs than beats: arrays of drum samples rumble and quiver in syncopated serenity, weaving a backdrop that’s perfectly fitted to Faith’s soaring vocals and poignant lyrics. She has an uncanny impulse for turning her subjects inside out, inhabiting a world of everyday social interactions while calling them into question, and making music while considering the worth of making anything at all. These five songs spread themselves out before your ears with a depth and completeness that the compact fifteen minute total would hardly seem to allow: it reads like a novel.
Stereocure Sessions fuse musical performance with visual art for a collaborative, immersive experience. Consisting of a single static shot in which the visual artist projects his work over the performer, the sessions are an open ended exploration of the relationship between sound and image in musical performance. This session features a performance from Novelty Daughter (aka Faith Harding) and live projection art from RYV (aka Charlie Abbott). Be sure to stay tuned for more live sessions throughout the summer!
“Forward change can be such a scary thing / For the misty-eyed,” croons Will Walden on StaG’s “Too Late Now,” the coda to our second sampler compilation. When we launched Stereocure in August of last year, the mist in the air was as heavy as the excitement. Our goal was to create a real music community with a collective atmosphere and a common vision for artistic progress; the mist hanging over the excitement of the first day was the mystery of how we were going to carry out and sustain that goal going forward—and how we were going to stay a community while spread out over 2500 miles.
Nine months, a tour, and a slew of releases and artwork later, our community is tighter than ever. Musical ideals are shifting, new collaborations are forming, new artists are joining, new mediums are being explored, and forward change is in the air. What’s even more amazing to us is that the music is really reaching people’s ears, and the support we’ve received in response has been invaluable in helping us grow and develop as artists, musicians, and people. This compilation mix of new music from all of our artists is a testament to where we’ve been these misty-eyed nine months, looking inward for inspiration within our community, looking outward for new sonic horizons, welcoming the changes as they come.
Stereocure would like to welcome you to the myriad, enfolded, warped world of Conor Donahue and his art. Conor has contributed a lot of excellent work to our community, including posters for our Brooklyn showcase, many Art House Live events in Los Angeles, and a promotional drawing for Family Photo’s Nude Celebz. His work outside Stereocure includes a wide array of drawings, comic panels, graphic design, graffiti, and everything in between. Despite this diversity in the character of his work, it all seems to inhabit the same world of painstaking detail and alien visual phenomena: his characters revel in their own biological anomalies and mutated forms, and his visual narratives distill the familiar and the exotic into a melting microcosm of comical suggestiveness and ominous foreboding. Through his work, Conor has created his own unique iconography which is both self-referential and borrows from his influences, drawing on anime cinema, independent graphic novels, comics, and urban design.
What originally inspired you to become an artist, or to make the specific work that you create?
I’ve been drawing forever but my big influences in high school were Miyazaki (I saw Spirited Away in theaters when I was eleven or twelve), the Animatrix, Akira, and other dark anime movies. Eventually I became interested in indie comics and zene culture—a lot of my friends made zenes and printed my doodles next to porn stills and whatnot. At this point I’d say my broad categories of influence are anime, indie comics (Charles Burns, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware), street-wear, graff culture, and animation (Adventure Time/Pendleton Ward, David O’Russel, Mikey Please). Also the internet is cool, I guess.
What materials do you mainly work with, or are interested in working with in the future?
I discovered microns when I was in ninth grade and became obsessed with detail, I almost exclusively used 005 tips (the smallest possible) and would spend months on one drawing. Eventually I started using bigger pens and different brands (like Copic). I started doing graff in eleventh grade and proceeded to get into paint pens and mops. Now I’m trying to use brushes and ink more, though I still find I’m most comfortable with technical pens. In the future I’d like to experiment more with sculpture and 3D animation.
Most of my drawings attempt to achieve an immersive quality through an overload of detailed information. While much of the symbolism found in my work is personal, I try to include some icons that the viewer will recognize and use as a sort of atlas for deciphering the more foreign elements of the work. The idea is to construct a world that pulls equally from my personal experience and some broader, more relatable theme such as gluttony, industry, etc.
What’s your creative process from the blank page to the finished work? What kinds of things do you think about before putting ink/paint/lead/etc to paper?
My creative process varies between projects but for most drawings I start by filling up as many sketchbook pages as it takes for me to feel like I have a solid basis for a more intentional design. Even when working on what will be the final product, I try to allow myself room for impulse and exploration. I rarely draw out a complete image in pencil before moving to ink. Rather, I create loose pencil sketches with varying levels of detail across the page, then make the final choices while inking. While this process has definitely resulted in disaster because mistakes made in ink are impossible to undo, I stick by it because it allows me to feel like I am actively creating rather than following a script, plus, I’ve gotten pretty good at disguising or altering mistakes, sometimes they end up being the strongest elements of an image.
Head over to Palm Tree Palace, Conor’s blog, to check out a complete portfolio and full-sized images of his work.
Peripheries is a new feature we’re starting up to let people know about the creative activities that community members are undertaking outside the Stereocure bubble. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
Charlie Abbott and Myles Emmons: Cultivating Collectives and Culture - Japan
Charlie (RYV) and Myles (Kuh-Lida) have been working for months on a very special documentary project centered around the collective model in contemporary music culture, using electronic arts collectives in Osaka and Tokyo as a case study. Charlie just returned from a week of interviews and firsthand experience in Japan, and the two are currently in the process of post-production . Check out their kickstarter page for more info:
Charlie Abbott: JoyceBird Productions
Charlie (RYV) is part of a new film collective at Oberlin College called JoyceBird Productions, a group of film students dedicated to writing, shooting, editing, and finishing films within 48 hours. Check out their first creation and enjoy Charlie’s original score.
Myles Emmons: Sleep When You’re Dead
On March 9th, Myles (Kuh-Lida) carried out the culmination of over a year’s work with the performance of his stunning multimedia chamber opera entitled Sleep When You’re Dead. Watch the trailer here.
Family Photo: Side projects
February saw the release of two exciting new music projects from members of Family Photo. Zach Giberson (guitar, vocals, woodwinds) recorded a 6-track EP of solo covers under his own name, and also collaborated with Nathan Swedlow (bass) and Colin McDaniel (drums) on a few bizarre and beautiful re-imaginations of Dirty Projectors songs under the name Dirty Trio. You can hear both releases on Zach’s bandcamp.
Mac Welch: Frugal Father
Mac (Stag - guitar, trombone), has released his new electronic solo project into the world under the moniker of Frugal Father. The music is intimately synthesized, groovy, and heartfelt. Check out his new single here.
Adam Hirsch and Jordan Alper: Doek
Adam (Co-founder, Native Eloquence), and Jordan (Co-founder), are currently living in Amsterdam as students for the semester, and are spending lots of time working with an improvised music collective called Doek. Current projects that they’re working on include the production and promotion of the 11th annual Doek festival in May, as well as a five-week interactive music installation at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis. Check out the Doek festival website here.
David Bird: Performances in New York and Miami
David’s astounding work as a composer outside of his PEPEPIANO project has recently been given some great attention and performances on the east coast. In the last three weeks, four of his chamber and multimedia works have been performed/screened in notable venues in New York City as well as the ISCM festival in Miami. Check out his website for details and audio clips.
Paul Miller Gamble: New collages
Paul (visual artist) has recently added some new collage work to his website, featuring a milieu of delectable cutouts puzzled together with his own uncanny vision. Head over to his page and view in fullscreen.
“You have just heard another adventure into the unknown world of the future.” The opening moment of Kuh-Lida’s newest avant-pop undertaking thunders with the implication that something otherworldly has just happened, and is about to happen again. Whether in the realm of contemporary composition, pop songs, improvisation, or beats, the music of Myles Emmons never ceases to sound like an imagined future pulled out of thin air, blasting the listener with creative energy while whispering with tongue in cheek that it might all be a dream. The sense of a narrative taking place is especially present on his new offering under the Kuh-Lida brand: High Top Blazers, a collection of surreal beat experiments which, in Myles’ own words, explores his “fascination with the often reckless limits we can push ourselves to in pursuit of nightlife and parties.” The artist’s fixation on the draws and drudges of partying leads the listener through constantly changing musical landscape, mixing his own brand of production with hints of 80s R&B, Chicago footwork, swag-rap, boogie funk and beyond. The resulting music has the impression of a meticulously crafted sculpture that melts again and again into a neon stew of bass notes and bad decisions, swirling and hardening around a central figure that is going through a hell of a lot just to have a good time. Waxing and waning in a wilderness between musical indulgence and refinement, Kuh-Lida’s inebriated protagonist bounces with schizoid jump-cuts from spongy pop fantasies and visceral explosions of color. Obscure samples and vocal snippets pile high like beer bottles on a coffee table before getting flipped, chopped, and shattered in the wake of jittering drum breaks and glistening melodic overlays: the music belongs in smokey basements, flashy nightclubs, dusty cassette decks and concert halls alike. Wherever you are, Kuh-Lida offers these words of wisdom for your listening experience: “Hopefully what doesn’t kill us will make us wiser. Pour some drinks, light up, and bxxgie dxwn.”
Page 1 of 4