Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kenny G - Songbird Remix

I came upon the term Hypnagogic Pop a few months back while listening to a lecture from The Wire magazine. It is a genre of music very close to the music I create; many of my friend's run small boutique tape labels (I myself release tapes) producing music that is largely dreamy or drenched in nostalgia, revisiting past regions of musical junk and jamming them through a lens of NO-future.

Hypnagogic music should not be simply understood as just music that is dreamy and lulls you into hypnosis, although this is a large part of the music, but also as a music that drifts you into a stream of consciousness where past and lost memories reemerge breaking through the surface of the water and are skewed by the light of your present feeling.

An artist like my college, Dirty Beaches, whose music recalls, a past time or a past life, that is real and comfortable, like a picture of your grandfather as a young man, but at the same time foreign, cold, and gone.

Hypnagogic music is a celebration of low fidelity - the music often recorded to bedroom tape 4 tracks, mutilated to an mp3, then mutated again to tape, before again being ripped again back to mp3's - tp the blogs where you so often find this music. The semblance of music stays the same but gradually at each stage the work becomes, shocked, more foreign cold, and gone. Gradually lost to history and murdered by the technology.

Many of these Hypnagogic artist recycle the junk of the past - new age, soft rock, yacht rock, smooth jazz - stuff that is hopelessly uncool, and through the warble and hiss of the tape, create something new through the decay of the medium. Artists like Ariel Pink, or Oneohtrix Point Never (Check out his version of Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red").

After a conversation with my friend and music journalist, Elliot Sharp, telling me to check out the music of, out of all people, Kenny G, I decided to dabble in something very deliberately hypnagogic. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the tight, smooth-musicianship, and Casio-beats and tones, I often hear amongst the artist affiliated making hypnagogic pop - it was very "contemporary." So, inspired by the moment, I made a musical doodle, remixing Kenny G's Song Bird. I gave a brief lecture about this hear at the residency.

Hope you enjoy it!


Kenny G - Song Bird (Remix) by zacharyfairbrother

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Omma Cobba

My good friend and past musical collaborator who rescued me from a creative malaise-daze and formed the group Omon Ra with me, Daniel Miller, has just released a new cassette single on brand spanking new Halifax label, Craft Singles. The tape is music from his newest project, Omma Cobba. The single is a track called Police Man - a great rock-soul piece, evoking the Rolling Stone's, funky rhythm guitar, and albeit sometimes grungy, vocal harmonies. The recording - which is done in Hi-Fi - complements this band well showcasing the drummer, Dave Cell's, simple but "fits like a glove" drum splashes, opting for shakers and toms instead of cymbals, and bassists Denis Kierans incredibly inventive and groovy basslines. The real star though is Dan's vocals who come across so well in these recordings - lush and melodic. The hooks are undeniable, do your self a favor and check out this track.


In Florida

Hello all! Currently I am in Florida at the Atlantic Center for the Arts participating as an associate resident. I'll be here for the next three weeks. It is an absolutely beautiful facility and I highly recommend anyone interested to apply to do a residency here. I'll do my best to do some updates, maybe give some samples of some pieces of music I am working on. I am here doing composition - heady, nerdy, music stuff - some of you know, this is what I did for a university degree. There are lots of artists here from all over the globe, writers and painters, as well as musicians. The music's leader is David Behrman an important American electronic music composer who has worked with all the luminaries of the American avant-garde. He was famous for producing a series of albums in the 60's call the Music of our Time series, which realized records from Terry Riley, John Cage, and Morton Subotnick, amongst others. Here is an excerpt of his most famous work, On the Other Ocean.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interview with Scotch Tapes' Al Bjornaa

As some of you might know I contribute occasionally to the blog Weird Canada. Recently I did an interview for them with Scotch Tapes founder Al Bjornaa. You can read the original here or below...



/////////////// AL BJORNAA INFERRED VIEWS ///////////////
Zachary :: I’m into how landscapes and environment influence people’s creativity. Why do you base your label where you do [Batchawana Bay]? How do the often cosmopolitan sounds play out in your environment?

Al :: I base Scotch out of Batchawana Bay because it’s close to my family. I have lived all over the country but this has always been home. There have been some health issues in the Bjornaa family the past few years and its been nice to be able to help out. We run a family fishing business and I have had to take a larger role in that. Plus it’s a beautiful area. I live on the beach! The north shore of Lake Superior is my favourite place on Earth.

I have always been a huge music fan. Both of my parents love music. Although their tastes may differ from mine, they passed on a passion for good music. Most of the people who live in my area think the music I release sounds like a “badger caught in a wood chipper” but most people from the area think its cool that I run a record label in such a small place. Whenever I go for coffee or breakfast at the local diner, everyone always asks how the label is doing.

Zachary :: I have heard of your beach shows. I hope you will you be doing more of this. Who has played? What was your favorite?

Al :: I haven’t done an actual beach show in ages but I have had a lot of bands pass through here and hang out for a day or two. Its a tough area to get a decent show. I mean I could likely set up a show in Sault Ste. Marie (which is notorious for TERRIBLE shows) or they can hang out here for a night, have some drinks, go swimming and get a good meal. I am hoping that this year with a new space, I can host more bands and maybe do some recordings and send them back on the road with a new tape or lathe. Some of the best times I’ve had drinking/ hanging out/ recording have been with Play Guitar, The Famines, Dirty Beaches, Grown-Ups, Gobble Gobble, Nobunny… There are tons. I am hoping to make Batchawana Bay a “must-stop” for bands touring Canada. Not to play shows but to have a great day off mid-tour where they can do laundry, relax, jump in the lake, maybe practice some new stuff they have been working on. 2011 is already getting booked up at Casa de Al with Bucketseat stopping here in March.

Zachary :: I see that your label is doing some collaborative splits how did this come about?

Al :: Yeah. I wanted to work with a few cool labels. I have a lathe series coming out with No Vacation Records (Brett Wagg from Pink Noise/ Campaign For Infinity) Brett basically just asked if I would be interested and since I love the music he puts out, I was totally in. I also put out a 7″ with No Clear Records from Florida. I imagine if any label contacted me and I liked the band, I would probably be interested. I know that Ben Cook (Fucked Up, Young Guv, etc) and I have a few co-releases lined up for his new label, Marvelous Music, as well. We will be co-releasing the Roommates LP this summer/ fall.

Zachary :: I see you have a vast list of upcoming releases. Are all these going to happen??!

Al :: You bet your sweet buttocks! In the first two years of Scotch, I released almost 200 tapes. I take the label very seriously. Its become more than a hobby. It’s basically a second full-time job. I plan on putting out about 70 tapes, 30 lathes and 10 vinyl releases in 2011. There are times when I get tired and need a break… and those are the times where I just take like 2-3 weeks off, don’t check emails and basically disappear. But when I do that, I normally come back with 4-5 releases at once.

Zachary :: What is up with the lathe series? Does the type of Lathe reflect the artist?

Al :: Well… I have two series going. There is the Scotch/ Young Guv series. Ben Cook [of Young Guv] records all the bands that share his jam space and then we release a song or two from them. So far, I have put flexis out for Huckleberry Friends, Tropics, Bruised Knees & Lonely Wholesome with Actual Water, Dentata, Wyrd Visions and I think 2 more to come. The other series is the aforementioned series with No Vacation. There are some pretty killer bands scheduled for that like FNU Ronnies and Factums (who I LOVE!) The type of lathe really doesn’t come into play. I mean the one I did for We All Inherit The Moon HAD to be a square plexiglass lathe because of the ideas they had for the art but most bands don’t really care that much. They just think lathes are fun.

Zachary :: Do you think there is a Canadian Sound? And what from your perspective are the sounds of the different scenes within Canada?

Al :: I don’t think there is a specific Canadian sound. It’s such a vast area geographically that it’s tough to narrow down one sound. I think Vancouver has a great weirdo punk scene with bands like Shearing Pinx, Nu Sensae, Twin Crystals, etc. who really have their own genre that isn’t like anything else in the country. When you move into the prairies you have bands like Myelin Sheaths, Fist City, Grown-Ups, Moby Dicks… sort of that heavy garage punk stuff. They all totally feed off of each other. Ontario is sort of weird. Toronto is just starting to get a good scene again. I think the bands that Ben and I are releasing on the lathe series are going to get big really fast this year. That jam space is oooozing talent. Montreal always has a great scene. I think that city spawns some of the most creative and unique artists. And the whole Halifax scene… that city reminds me of Portland, Oregon. EVERYONE is in a band and creates visual art and silkscreens t-shirts and makes zines and drinks good beer if they can afford it but will drink shit if that’s all they have and dresses cool without thinking they dress cool. One of my absolute favourite cities on the planet!

Zachary :: What has got you most excited about 2011?

Al :: SUMMER! I hate winter more than anything! That and doing this interview for Weird Canada! Thanks, Zach…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lee "Scratch" Perry

I have been listening to a lot of this stuff at work, it makes any day instantly better. Just bought a book on him too so I am digging into to his past - Perry is definitely a cosmic warrior.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Captain Foam

The one man band of Captain Foam from Ohio. Released one highly collectable single, super fuzzed out psych rock, for fans of Blue Cheer, Blues Addicts, and Japrock. Doesn't this look fun.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Office Ambience

Here is my office ambience for the 1st two weeks of February. Next week is my last week in Philly then I am off to Florida for 3 weeks to do an artist residency at The Atlantic Center for the Arts. Check out all these recordings - especially the Stockhausen and Xenakis, really fond of those Perry recordings too and the Hot & Cold tape.


My Office Ambience

1. Sun Ra – Space Probe
2. Steve Reich – Early Works
3. Kenny G – Duotones
4. Iannis Xenakis – Electronic Music
5. oOoOO – NoSummer4U
6. Hot & Cold – Sacred Vacation
7. Lee Scratch Perry – Essential Madness from the Scratch Files
8. Karlheinze Stockhausen – Kontakte
9. The Offset: Spectacles – EP
10. Salem – King Night

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rose Mansion Analog

My friend Dirty Beaches put me in contact with Chinese Musician, Vince Li. Vince is a part of the underground music scene in China. He runs an excellent tape label called Rose Mansion Analog and also plays in a band called The Offset:Spectacles.

Check out the infinite BADness from a track by band called Hot & Cold. Apparently recorded live in Beijing. It's groovy, dark, and droned out - dig the throat singing!


Uighur Pop – Hot & Cold by Rose Mansion Analog

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Weird Canada Review and More!

Thanks to Gabriel from Weird Canada for posting the most recent review of the Lantern EP in both French and English.

De l’amour fraternel de Gabriel Jasmin: Lantern, c’est le duo Zachary Fairbrother et Emily Robb, deux expatriés canadiens partis vers la Ville de l’Amour Fraternel. Mais pardieu, brisons-nous vraiment les règles de Weird Canada ? Oui, peut-être, mais ils ont encore leur passeports canadiens. Aussi faut-il savoir que cette première cassette est trop savoureuse pour rester silencieux. Six compositions qui empruntent au folk et au vieux blues américain, où l’on passe de la solitude désolante à l’harmonica jusqu’au fuzz-wah anéantissant de << Crude Vessels of Sound >>. Carburant à la guitare, c’est un beau retour aux sources du proto-punk et du blues sauce psychédélique, cover de Hasil Adkins inclus.

[translate]From the brotherly love of Gabriel Jasmin: Lantern is the duo of Zachary Fairbrotherand Emily Robb, two recent Canadian expats gone to the City of Brotherly Love. Wait, are we violating Weird Canada rules? Well, I’m sure both still have Canadian passports, and this first offering is too rad to pass up. Six songs taking cues from early American folk and blues, from desolate quietness to a harmonica call and response to the blown-out fuzz-wah meltdown in “Crude Vessels of Sound.” A grand foray into guitar-fueled proto-punk and psychedelic blues, Hasil Adkins cover included.

Also a big thank you goes out A.J. from CKUT. She recently featured the album on her excellent radio show The New Shit. The show has its own eccentric gravity and pulls lots of strange sounds from the atmosphere to its cosmic rock. A.J. works tirelessly promoting local and Canadian music, as well as experimental and weirdo musics. I tell anyone visiting Montreal to go down to CKUT and see the wonderful work she is doing. Here is what she said about the record.

My Buddy Zachary Fairbrother put out a cassette tape at the very tail end of 2010 Dec 30th on Electric Voice. Lantern is a new project with co-conspirators Emilie and Sophie, it's brilliant asi would have expected, Most Definitely caters to the sensibilities of sun record sessions, mystery train comes to mind, both the film and the song, killer tracks, warm tape hiss, listen to the show for a little dose of good volume for what ails you.

And thanks to The Fader Rules radio show out in Austin for playing the tape, Bryan's show features some really cool/underground sounds from around the globe.

Alas we are sold out of the tapes. I will be getting another 15 in a couple weeks or some. Please email me at if you want one we can arrange something.

Best and thanks for your support thus far. Those in Philly I hope to see you tomorrow at our show at The OX.