Welcome back to Violet Music Digest – Pastel Wasteland’s monthly music retrospective.
Bad news folks – the days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in. If the impending death of summer is proving too much to bear, try distracting yourself with…
#1 – Wallflower High
August saw buzz generate around London based electro-pop three piece Ekkoes. Two singles dropped, both in anticipation of the group’s upcoming second album Kinetik.
The first (a cover of Mega City Four’s “Wallflower”) appeared on the 10th. The original is a perfect slice of heartfelt, bittersweet early 90s indie rock. Through Ekkoes, the song’s sense of love, loss and regret is gifted with an airy, atmospheric feel which really accentuates the wistful nature of the subject matter. This is built upon perfectly in the accompanying video from producer Luis Hindman and animator Sufiyaan Salam.
In a post on the group’s Facebook page, multi-instrumentalist Dave Fawbert noted the important, lasting influence the song has had on both him and long time collaborator Jon Beck. Ekkoes’ cover is a labour of love and a tribute to what he describes as an ‘undiscovered classic.’
The 24th saw the release of “Love Won’t Save You Now.” It’s a darker, faster companion to “Wallflower;” which soars thanks to Beck and co-vocalist Rosalee O’Connell’s perfect harmonies, and the blistering quality of the production.
Kinetik is set for release on September 7th. Details on upcoming gigs in London and Sheffield can be found on the band’s official website.
#2 – Radical Invasion
I intended to do a full review of Japanese producer and DJ LV.4’s Radical Invasion, but it defeated me. In the best way possible.
This is lightspeed J-core techno – the kind of high-energy dance music which shatters reality. LV.4’s bio notes that he ‘offers music to many games.’ Presumably nosebleed inducing “bullet hells,” because his work is so breathtakingly intense. Disorientating even. But the production is so tight and inventive and exciting that you’ll want to revel in this delirium over and over again
It’s almost strange that an album like Radical Invasion could have standout tracks. But they’re in there, especially “Dreamers” (D’n’B Mix) with its shredding guitar solo; and “Waiting Days’” pounding beat and sublime keys.
LV.4 has a pretty substantial back catalogue which is well worth exploring. Unless you have a history of serious heart conditions.
#3 – The Western Front
It feels wrong to show admiration for a band who are fond of proclaiming ‘HAIL VICTORY!’ The literal English translation of ‘Seig Heil’ has strong associations with the most cancerous elements of metal and punk rock; most notoriously as the title of white power scum-fucks Skrewdriver’s final album.
But we’re talking about anti-fascist black metal outfit Neckbeard Deathcamp. Their first record White Nationalism Is For Basement Dwelling Losers went viral upon its July 21st release and was the bestselling record on Bandcamp for a decent amount of time.
In an “ALL-CAPS” interview with the site on August 13th; group members KRIEGMEISTER HATESTORM, SUPERKOMMANDO UBERWEINERSNITCHEL and HAILZ KOMRADEZ provided insight on their crusade to ‘PERFORM SONIC ONSLAUGHT AND THE RITUALISTIC HATEFUL DESECRATION OF FASCISM.’
The meme-tastic blitzkreig Neckbeard Deathcamp has launched is gloriously demented. Their entire existence is a riotous satire of black metal’s excesses, both in general and at its most sinister. They also take aim at the state of political discourse and online culture. Titles like “The Left Are The Real Fascists” and “The Fetishization ov [sic] Asian Women Despite a Demand for a Pure White Race” should resonate with anyone who has surrendered their optimism and sanity to social media.
Naturally, reactions to the project have largely fallen along partisan lines; and it will be interesting to see how much stamina Neckbeard Deathcamp have. But for now, some of us appreciate any comic relief which falls into this dumpster fire.
#4 – Channeling
I’ve been making an effort to seek out sites and channels which dedicate themselves to underground music. Two YouTube channels I’ve found are particularly legit: Underrated Jemz and The GΔmes We PlΔy. It’s probably strange to talk about two long running channels (the former was started in 2016, the latter in 2011) in a monthly retrospective; but they really made August for me.
I’m interested in writing detailed articles about such channels in the future. For now it’s worth pointing you all towards some of my favourite tracks. From Underrated Jemz we have:
- Gal.exe’s “for her sake” – a lovingly crafted homage to the superb soundtrack of Nier: Automata, featuring a sample from the blissful “Copied City.”
- The electronic starburst that is TOKYOGHOST X ACOUTA’S A.777 EP.
- A complete upload of rook&nomie’s SUPEREGO ROYAL JELLY*.
- Shit Ghost’s “The Meeting of James Franco” – a vaporwave track built around dreamy guitars and distorted vocals. Not as bizarre as its title suggests, but still worthy of your time.
The GΔmes We PlΔy has a particular focus on ‘Future Garage, Wave, Witch House, Downtempo, Chillout, Ambient’ music. As with Underrated Jemz; this channel’s content is of an incredibly high quality; including what is arguably my favourite EP of the month – OVMEGACVRE’s Solitude Of Heart.
Hailing from Tbilisi, Georgia; OVMEGACVRSE trades in mysterious, alluring ambience. Solitude Of Heart provides the perfect soundtrack for winding down a long day, or adding to the magic of a long night.
* Rook is amazing. I should start a dedicated fansite. Or a cult.
#5 – They Have Taken Control
One of the most fascinating artists to emerge in the last few years is That Poppy. On the surface the alter-ego of Moriah Rose Pereira makes cookie-cutter bubblegum pop. Her aesthetic is almost pure kawaii; but in truth Poppy’s entire existence is an extensive critique of the music industry and the mechanisms of internet living.
Her YouTube channel has been in existence since 2011, though the earliest uploads only appeared around 3 years ago. The majority are less than a minute long, very strange and, more often than not, deeply disturbing (my favourite example being “Am I okay?”)
Numerous videos offering theories and explanations of what Poppy (and her principal collaborator – the enigmatic Titanic Sinclair) are seeking to achieve exist. YouTubers Reignbot and Night Mind made significant contributions to this topic; with both coming at Poppy from slightly different angles. Reign focused more on the background of Poppy and Sinclair, while Night Mind dived deeper into the symbolism of her work (including its allusions to the Illuminati and CIA mind control projects such as MKULTRA).
One of Poppy’s triumphs has been the legitimate status she’s attained in the mainstream. This is best exemplified by the release of “Time Is Up” on the 22nd. As a collaboration with superstar producer Diplo it is, (even by her standards) truly unsettling. It’s catchy – musically it fits perfectly alongside the works of associated artists like Mø. It just also happens to invoke imagery of manufactured humanoids and environmental catastrophe. The pre-chorus is literally: ‘I don’t need air to breathe when you kill the bees/And every river bed is dry as a bone/Oh, I will still survive when the plants have died/And the atmosphere is just a big hole.’
That Poppy stands as one of the most impressive projects in music; and it’s so gratifying to see how high her star is rising.
#6 – Sado Opera
Last month’s VMD discussed Pussy Riot’s ongoing campaigns against oppression in Putin’s Russia. On the 23rd, Pink News ran a feature on Sado Opera. The now Berlin based duo spoke about their experiences of discrimination in their homeland, and the ongoing crises of LGBT people there.
‘A lot of our Russian friends who visit us from Berlin, in the first few days, they actually feel uncomfortable that they actually can hold each others’ hands and hug.’ This feature is a short, but quotes like this really make an impact. The article also offers information on, and links to, the Russian LGBT Network; an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of queer people in the country.
#7 – We Like ‘Em Round, And Big
The revival of the vinyl market has been astonishing. A format which was, for the longest time, considered dead and buried has experienced an incredible resurgence. In 2017 4.1 million LPs were sold in the UK – a 26.8% increase on the previous year. This growth has obviously been a huge boon to independent retailers; one of which (Intense Records in Chelmsford) was recently profiled on propermusicgroup.com.
It’s a pretty inspiring tale of passion and tenacity; with owner Jonathan Smith’s story offering a unique perspective on the changing fortunes of those on the frontlines. With record sales declining sharply in the early 2000s, he seized upon various other streams of revenue. Organising house parties (and running a coach service to them), DJing on pirate radio, establishing a website at just the right time…it’s fascinating to read about how small businesses like his had to diversify, and would come to flourish once again. Smith’s story even has a heartwarming romantic subplot.
And that’s it for this month. As ever, if anyone has any material they’d like to share over the coming weeks; please drop us a line.
Also, Pastel Wasteland is looking for writers and reviewers to join us. If you’re interested in producing content based around music, film, fashion, graphic design or any kind of art form we would love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send Twitter DMs to:
Rob Ulitski (Chief Editor) – @pastelwasteland
Ryan Cole (me) – @violet_cause
Have a great one.