Features

Escape to Atlanta with 10th Letter

January 17, 2017

Escape to Atlanta with 10th Letter 10th Letter is South Carolina-born and now Atlanta-based Jeremi Johnson, a longtime producer/multi-instrumentalist with a brilliant flair for idiosyncratic beats and atmospheres. As I wrote last year, I first encountered 10th Letter thanks to the defunct Wigflip imprint out of Baltimore — a pioneer... 

It’s Hitting Hard: Ed Balloon on Life as a Young Black Artist at the Dawn of the Trump Age

January 5, 2017

It’s Hitting Hard: Ed Balloon on Life as a Young Black Artist at the Dawn of the Trump Age As submissions go, Ed Balloon’s email regarding his Yellow 20-Somethings mixtape stood out. For the music it contained, certainly, because Balloon knows his way around a tune, but also for the way, in a single short paragraph, the Boston native encapsulated the fear and uncertainty that America... 

Decoder Podcast #05: Czaszka, Graham Dunning, German Army, & Strategic Tape Reserve

December 15, 2016

Decoder Podcast #05: Czaszka, Graham Dunning, German Army, & Strategic Tape Reserve When I recorded the introduction for this episode of the Decoder podcast, it seemed very very much like the American election results would be the worst and weirdest event that I would have to register. As of my writing, multipurpose and studio spaces across the country are being targeted in an energetic... 

Tristan Perich: Working Inside the Insane Limitations of 1-Bit

December 8, 2016

Tristan Perich: Working Inside the Insane Limitations of 1-Bit Personal computers stand as one of the most substantial inventions of the 20th century, to some great extent because of how they’ve reframed our very identities. Our laptops, tablets and phones intersect with many branches of our lives, especially the methods by which we entertain ourselves. In... 

Sharing the Same Air: Raven Chacon in Concert

November 30, 2016

Sharing the Same Air: Raven Chacon in Concert Among all the invective, babble, and rage of this American election year, even someone with a deep concern for environmental politics could forget that 2016 is the centennial of the National Park Service. Maybe that sounds less important than the approach of a disastrously bigoted president-elect, yet... 

Side-by-Side: Tombed Visions Bring Fire Music For the Trump Era

November 17, 2016

Side-by-Side: Tombed Visions Bring Fire Music For the Trump Era I’m writing this on Thursday 9th November, the day we in Europe woke up to the results of the US election. (SPOILER WARNING! STOP READING NOW IF YOU’VE YET TO SEE THE FINAL EPISODE). I’ve spent the day lurching from wry sarcasm, to confused rage, to hopeful optimism. Walking along... 

Zeena Parkins: Modernizing the Harp and Jolting the Ear

November 8, 2016

Zeena Parkins: Modernizing the Harp and Jolting the Ear Outside a small church in Brooklyn, a crowd lingers in the September air, delaying facing the pine-scented humidity inside. A modest drum kit and a small harp wait in front of the pulpit. The triangular harp catches the eye, a sleek, minimalist update of its bulky orchestral ancestor. Two musicians... 

I Explored My Love of Céline Dion: A Conversation with True Neutral Crew’s Brian Kinsman

September 29, 2016

I Explored My Love of Céline Dion: A Conversation with True Neutral Crew’s Brian Kinsman The canny inclusion of early mixtape selections and hard-to-find one-offs with True Neutral Crew’s debut album soft rules was a boon to long-time listeners and the previously uninitiated alike. Not only do songs like “Modern Art” and “New Shit” — both from 2014’s... 

Rhythmic Composure: An Interview with Will Long

September 9, 2016

Rhythmic Composure: An Interview with Will Long Will Long is no stranger to reinvention. While the Japan-based, America-bred producer is probably best known as Celer, his long-running and eternally melancholic ambient project with modern classics issued on Sequel, Digitalis Limited, Blackest Rainbow, Experimedia, Spekk, and many more; Long has also... 

Decoder Podcast #04: David Nance, Dino Spiluttini, Wounded Knife, & Stuff Muzak Supplement

July 28, 2016

Decoder Podcast #04: David Nance, Dino Spiluttini, Wounded Knife, & Stuff Muzak Supplement Welcome to episode four of the Decoder Podcast! For this installment, David Perron of Free Form Freakout speaks with a fellow-David, Omaha-based DIY recorder David Nance, about older releases and preparing his new LP for Ba Da Bing Records. Spool’s Out host Tristan Bath speaks with Vienna-based... 

Compositions Are Born: Raising Kids with Zach Cooper

June 16, 2016

Compositions Are Born: Raising Kids with Zach Cooper Today, more than ever, music is unstable. As the BPM of modern life steadily increases, our history fades as our timelines grow. Artists scramble to stay relevant as once serene songs turn stale and fame’s fifteen minutes is reduced to a fleeting 140 characters. Faced with this frenetic pace and... 

Spirits Rejoice: An Interview with Astral Spirits’ Nate Cross

May 17, 2016

Spirits Rejoice: An Interview with Astral Spirits’ Nate Cross Time was, rock criticism was rotten with youngsters stealing the pennies off the eyes of Lester Bangs’ corpse. They’d wheedle around a non sequitur ledge before going bug-eyed about a band that was almost always some variation on the same geocodes and same genre gestures, holes torn in the same... 

Live Report: M. Geddes Gengras @ Rare Air (4.12.2016)

May 5, 2016

Live Report: M. Geddes Gengras @ Rare Air (4.12.2016) On any given night, patrons at Seattle’s Q Nightclub might expect to hear bumping house music in a setting that’s 50% ultra lounge, 50% dance club, and 100% meat market. The club’s specs boast a state-of-the-art sound system, which is accurate, but the vibe is not one that particularly... 

Remembered By A Tone: An Inquiry with Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg

April 28, 2016

Remembered By A Tone: An Inquiry with Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg When I was in my teens, I loved black metal and I loved snow. Naturally, this meant I loved Ulver, whose debut album Bergtatt blends glacial banshee-screeching thrash with stately neo-folk to recount a fairy tale in an ancient Norwegian dialect. Then I grew up, moved away from a blizzard-friendly climate,... 

Side-by-Side: Ratskin Records, A Tale of Two Shows

April 15, 2016

Side-by-Side: Ratskin Records, A Tale of Two Shows Ratskin Records has a prolific output rivaled only by how puzzlingly unnoticed by the public it seems to go. The imprint has unleashed sounds from noise veterans and neophytes alike, including legends like Bastard Noise and countless local unknowns. I took it upon myself to correct their lack of exposure... 

Side-by-Side: Life Like’s Winter 2015-16 LP Batch

April 5, 2016

Side-by-Side: Life Like’s Winter 2015-16 LP Batch Fred Thomas’ Life Like label has accumulated a massive discography since beginning in 2010, filled with little-heard gems and treasures that barely anyone knows about, as some of them were only limited to a dozen copies or so. Easily one of my favorite releases in the label’s catalog was... 

Into the Haunted Labyrinths of Sister Grotto

April 1, 2016

Into the Haunted Labyrinths of Sister Grotto I met Madeline Johnston in the summer of 2012 when she performed at my house at the time in West Nashville, Tennessee — which was dubbed Richland Ballroom — under the name Mariposa, while on tour from Denver, Colorado. We had a mutual friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico-based artist and... 

Nothing But Overdubs: A Q&A with Bananafish’s Seymour Glass

March 8, 2016

Nothing But Overdubs: A Q&A with Bananafish’s Seymour Glass If you’re at all familiar with American zine culture, chances are good that you’ve at least heard of Bananafish, the highly non-glamourous yet lovingly-produced paean to the unfairly obscure and the unashamedly peculiar. A diverse cadre of under-appreciated musicians stormed the pages of... 

Life Is an Act of Becoming: A Conversation with Ian William Craig

February 18, 2016

Life Is an Act of Becoming: A Conversation with Ian William Craig The Wizard of Oz has nothing on Ian William Craig. The Vancouver artist’s works for classical voice and deteriorating tape machines reach superhuman scale in their terrifying beauty. They’re sublime in the original sense of the word. When you listen to his songs and hear his vocal fragments... 

No Such Thing As Too Much Repetition: An Interview with My Disco

February 11, 2016

No Such Thing As Too Much Repetition: An Interview with My Disco For a band that deals in different shades of brutal minimalism, My Disco have somehow overhauled their sound completely in the five years they took to craft their new album Severe. Its Steve Albini-produced predecessor Little Joy is sprawling, cathartic, dry, and scorching. Severe is just as heavy a... 
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