“We had a bit of a summer drought of exciting musical newcomers since I last put fingers to keyboard, but luckily, this fall was a great one for new musical discoveries. Let’s start first with America’s neighbours to the north, Canada. I checked out Montreal’s Essaie Pas during Saturday afternoon of the annual M For Montreal festival. Google tells me their name is French for “don’t try”, which totally fits their effortlessly cool analogue-industrial rhythms, drawling western guitar lines, and spoken boy/girl vocal interplay.
Steering the spaceship west, let’s touch down in Columbus, Ohio – the home of visual artist Keith Rankin, who has recorded my favourite LP in recent memory under the name Giant Claw – ‘Dark Web’. A collage of lush drum workouts, desecrated pop vocal samples, and the occasional sound of an otherworldly creature eerily gasping for breath, Keith brought his one-man show to Ridgewood, Queens DIY oasis Trans-Pecos. As he triggered samples from a drum pad precariously balanced on his lap, the PA shuddered with a blend of kosmische musik and trap beats, sorta like if you threw Evian Christ and Vangelis in a blender.
Also on the same bill was recent Godmode (Shamir, Yvette) signing Malory. Barely visible behind a huge road case, her lightly bobbing head was occasionally illuminated by the displays of the various pieces of electronic hardware arranged within. She took a few basic ingredients and (defying the very laws of chemistry) transformed them into brilliant, acidy freakouts.
At a showcase at Net Art gallery Babycastles in Manhattan, things get even weirder with Jahiliyya Fields. A definite standout on Ron Morelli’s banging, clanging LIES. label, I’ve never heard a man do something quite this terrifying with a contact mic and sheet of aluminum. He’s due for a new 12-inch right about now, so keep your earplugs handy.
Playing the same gig and seamlessly transitioning out of an ambient set by Ivy Meadows was Bryce Hackford, with urgent vocal samples and club-friendly beats. He’s recently done four remixes for DFA veteran Delia Gonzalez’s multimedia project ‘In Remembrance’, taking her delicate piano score and making it into left-field dance bliss. Check this out in April.
Bringing up the rear is Bottoms, a band self-described as “two shitty drag queens, a 303, and a drummer”. They sound like Factory Floor fronted by an eight-year-old girl. Plus the singer has a gigantic tattoo (covering the entire leg!) from the classic Japanese horror manga Uzumaki – google it, it’s pretty messed up. They just signed to JD Samson’s Atlas Chair Records, with an EP featuring tracks titled ‘Die/Rot’ and ‘Hiv’. Fun for everyone! Until next time!”