Pastacas: Estonian “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”
Ramo Teder is a 46-year-old dreamer and multi-instrumentalist from Viljandi, a small town in southern Estonia. He currently lives in Teijo, Finland, in the middle of a large national park filled with lakes, forests, and historical villages. Consequently, the presence of nature is felt so clearly in every song of his musical project Pastacas. This pastoral vibe, however, doesn’t reach the listener’s ears untouched: traditional music and nursery rhymes are decomposed and represented in a new and unexpected form.
The music of Pastacas feels like a complex and mystic journey into a place both familiar and unknown. The title of his last album, ‘Pohlad’, is Estonian for lingonberries. Each song is a short and immersive experience into old and fascinating Baltic tales. Guitars and mandolins are matched with old folk Estonian instruments such as the hiiu kannel, a particular four-stringed bowed lyre. Electronic beats and the repetition, inversion, and decomposition of both his instruments and his voice, though, push his music towards a surprising direction.
Teder himself defines his work as “Lo-fi Folk-(nohik-)punk-electronica”, where nohik means “nerd” in Estonian. It’s a playful definition because this sort of futuristic approach to pastoral and folk music is not easy to label. What’s sure is that experimental music is rarely as emotional and homely as it is here. The same emotion relives in the skinny and heartfelt characters he draws for the artworks of his albums, and in the contemplative live shows, where he recreates his music by playing and looping all of the instruments he uses on the records, bringing the audience to the cold yet inviting forests he calls home.
‘Sampieri & GMC’: blissed-out psychedelic free folk from Argentina
I’ve recently discovered the wonderful Pakapi Records, an Argentina-based label that focuses on promoting South American artists. The standout for me so far is this 2015 collaboration between Sebastian Sampieri (Sampieri) and Guillermo M. Cerredo (GMC). ‘Sampieri & GMC,’ when you’re in the right mindset, is a blissed-out collage of psychedelic free folk.
“This new lysergic adventure is a blunt split plagued by experimental music, sampledelia, electronic and acoustic sounds, synthesizing a cross of folcklore, tribal mantras to pure electronic and a narcotic and descriptive shared collage.”
‘Sampieri & GMC’/Pakapi Records: Bandcamp Facebook
Midnight Peacocks: Israeli stoner metal that embraces its Arabic roots
I don’t often hear violins in stoner metal, so Midnight Peacocks quickly grabbed my attention from “Tzar Bomba” and kept it throughout their entire new LP, ‘Katastroffa,’ which is out now.
From Bandcamp bio:
“The Midnight Peacocks are:
Eitan Radoshinski: Vocals & bass
Guy Shemi: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yoav Zohar: Drums
Yoni Silver: Violin, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Keyboards & Piano
Hezi Shohet: Poetry”
Midnight Peacocks: Facebook
No Party For Cao Dong: Taiwanese post-rock for fans of The National, Interpol, and other nighttime guitar rock
As we wait hopefully for new music by post-rock greats No Party For Cao Dong, there’s plenty of great tracks to get acquainted with. Also head over to Beehype for a look at the video for “Shanhai” (山海), one of the more creative music videos I’ve seen in a while.
From Bandcamp bio:
“Beats bouncing between Disco and Grunge, [we’re] often recognized as a indie/post-rock band with rough and sharp tone fusing with softness and gentleness.
Whispering in despair and screaming in hopeless is the vocal, leading melodies and rhythms to unexpected arrangements.
Aside from music, their exotic, passive but romantic lyrics engraves emotions deeply into your hearts.”
‘Tanzania’: a revision of one of Kink Gong’s best experimental field recordings
Kink Gong (Laurent Jeanneau) is an artist who records ethnic minority music, mostly in Southeast Asia, and recomposes the original recordings into experimental soundscapes. ‘Tanzania,’ released two years ago via Discrepant, a London-based label that aims to “deconstruct, distort and re-assemble the lore of (un)popular music,” brings Jeanneau to the namesake country and offers reinterpretations of the field recordings he made there in the late ’90s.
From Laurent Jeanneau via Bandcamp:
”December 1999, Tanzania. I had an appointment with James Stephenson an American friend from the 90s in NYC, he used to skip the American winter every year to be with the Hadzas bushmen and other Tanzanians tribes in Tanzania. Whilst there, James and I lost completely track of time and did not give a shit about what day Christmas was, or New Years for that matter- with the majority of the planet knowing they were heading into the 21st Century.At some point end of December or early January 2000(?) we asked a group of
At some point end of December or early January 2000(?) we asked a group of Hadzas we were hanging out with, “what’s the date today?” None understood the question but one Hadza who had been sent to school in the early 70s answered that we must be in 1975! Tanzania in 1999/2000, this intense trip away from all the millennium bullshit celebrations. I gathered all kinds of sounds, not only music, that expresses proximity and that was the first time I decided I was going to remix those raw recordings into a decent soundscape. It was also the first time I was pleased with the result- to go into a direction of redefining world music, away from the commercial clichés. This has been the direction I’ve taken and focused on ever since with the recomposing of my Asian recordings.”
Tanzania in 1999/2000, this intense trip away from all the millennium bullshit celebrations. I gathered all kinds of sounds, not only music, that expresses proximity and that was the first time I decided I was going to remix those raw recordings into a decent soundscape. It was also the first time I was pleased with the result- to go into a direction of redefining world music, away from the commercial clichés. This has been the direction I’ve taken and focused on ever since with the recomposing of my Asian recordings.”
cibils: mysterious trip-hop from Trento, Italy
cibils is from Trento, Italy and makes chill trip-hop. And that’s all the info I could find on this act – fitting for how mysterious and ambient the music plays out. Check out the entire EP, which is out now. All the tracks are strong.
Anti-Corpos: feminist lesbian hardcore via São Paulo
The original goal of a genre like hardcore punk has always been to change things, fight injustices, and give a voice to those who are oppressed. However, it feels like with time, the hardcore scene has become a niche built for white males, with many live shows turning into a gym for violent people, a phenomenon that has inevitably pushed others away from the scene and from its great potential. It’s in this context that the importance of Anti-Corpos, who define themselves a feminist lesbian hardcore band, becomes evident. They epitomize the original spirit of hardcore.
Anti-Corpos are from São Paulo, Brazil, and they might be the angriest band you’ll ever hear. No triggered double-kicks, pompous guitar riffs, or carefully faked screams. Only real and necessary anger. Their urgency is evident in the strident vocals of singer Rebeca Domiciano: she needs to scream and to get things off her chest. It feels like her voice, while refusing to precisely follow her band mates fast-paced tempos, can actually make a difference.
Their latest full-length, released in 2015, is a great example of political hardcore. It’s titled ‘Forma Prática de Luta’ (‘Practical Way Of Fighting’) and contains eight short and intense tracks that talk about police brutality, patriarchal abuse, and finding ways to resist to any kind of oppression. The lyrics are in Portuguese, but they barely need to be translated, seeing how energetic and heartfelt everything sounds. In their live shows, this anger is even amplified while male chauvinist violence is not tolerated. It’s what hardcore should simply be like, now more than ever.
Al Massrieen: Arabic funk via the essential Habibi Funk Records
Al Massrieen, this gem of a band, came onto my radar when I was introduced to Habibi Funk Records, a Berlin sub-label of Jakarta Records that specializes in reissuing Arabic funk and jazz music from the ’70s and ’80s. Al Massrieen was an Egyptian band that played groovy Arabic funk from 1977 until the group’s end in 1988.
The full release, titled ‘Habibi Funk 006: Modern Music,’ will be released online April 28th.
From Habibi Funk’s SoundCloud:
“[This] was one of the first bands I learned about once I discovered the tape format. They were really popular in Egypt in the 1970s and the more of their music I found on either tapes or Arabic pirate mp3 sites, the more I was becoming a fan. Only very few bands from the region can match the band’s versatility as well as their strive for innovation. Hany Shenoda is the man behind the [band]. He is a reknown figure of the Egyptian music scene and has worked with everyone from Abdel Halim Hafez to Mohamed Mounir. Al Massrieen was his attempt to introduce his ideas of modernizing Egyptian music, heavily encouraged by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt’s only winner of the Nobel Price for literature) after discussing his ideas with him.”
Kikagaku Moyo: “feeling good music” that channels sitars and Krautrock
On April 21st, Kikagaku Moyo‘s self-titled 2013 debut will be reissued via Guruguru Brain Records, a Tokyo label that focuses on the Asian underground. And for all my fellow Brooklynites, the band will be at Rough Trade on May 4th via Aquarium Drunkard.
From the band’s Bandcamp:
“Kikagaku Moyo’s debut album exerts an elemental power. Enlivening their sound with sitars, percussive drums, theremins, wind instruments and ethereal vocals, the band manages to sound powerfully spacious and lazily serene all at once. Their songs can be light as air, or heavy as earth. Many evolve out of intense experiences of engagement with the natural world. The album’s first track, ‘Can You Imagine Nothing?’ was written over a night spent jamming on a suspended footbridge in remote mountains. As the song progressed the bridge began to sway, making band members feel as though they were floating weightless in midair.
Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound.”
‘Togo Soul 70’: Hot Casa Records takes us to ’70s West Africa
‘Togo Soul 70,’ released via the Paris-based Hot Casa Records that specializes in afro-Cuban soul and tropical funk, is a collection of rare Togolese recordings from the ’70s. The music is consistently groovy in its faster and slower moments and includes some excellent guitar work.
From Hot Casa’s website:
“A treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings mostly recorded in Lomé during the 70’s, a fusion of traditional voodoo chants, raw soul and Afro jazz. Finding these tracks and their rights holders hasn’t become any easier even after few trips all over this west African country bordered by Ghana, Benin & Burkina Faso.
We, at Hot Casa Records decided to select thirteen tracks, a snapshot of some hundreds of rare and often forgotten tapes from the most prolific, professional and exciting phase of the country’s recording history included international stars like Bella Bellow ( who even performed to Maracana stadium in Brazil ) to Roger Damawuzan compared as the James Brown from Lomé to forgotten tapes and brilliant songs in Mina, Kabyié and Fon language. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Togo was at the time even if the political context influenced their creation.
A must have for all music lovers and soundtrack of the documentary Togo Soul 70 directed by Liz Gomis & Dj Julien Lebrun!”