Kikagaku Moyo

Kikagaku Moyo: “feeling good music” that channels sitars and Krautrock

kikagaku moyo

*

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.”

Kikagaku Moyo: Website Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

49 Morphines

49 Morphines: the unpredictable tension of South Korean post-rock

49 morphines

*

Sometimes music can be so vivid and graspable that it allows the listener to create a visual representation, like listening to a record soundtrack a movie that doesn’t exist. ‘Partial Eclipse,’ the only full-length release by 49 Morphines, is one of those albums.

This post-punk five-piece started playing in Seoul, South Korea in 2003. In spite of a 14-year-long career, their discography only consists of one EP from 2004 and the aforementioned LP released in 2008.

49 Morphines play an impeccable mix of screamo and post-rock, similar in a way to their Japanese neighbors, Envy – yet this sound is more complex and particular. The contrast between soft and explosive is less balanced and predictable. At first, an Explosions In The Sky-like tenderness leaks through quiet and poignant guitars that never feel comforting, as the violence that comes before and after is unprecedented. The rhythm gets fast, crammed with ever-changing drum tempos and frantic guitars equally inspired by hardcore and metal. The listener’s awareness of the upcoming tempest is enough to turn even the softer moments in a vortex of tension and anxiety.

It’s been nine years since the release of ‘Partial Eclipse’, and meanwhile, some of the band members have started new bands; Noeazy plays a particularly furious type of metalcore while Jambinai mixes post-rock with traditional Korean folk instruments. Yet 49 Morphines still play a couple of shows every year, and they might even release something new in the near future according to an interview from last year.

Writer and musician from Milan, Italy. Hardcore punk background, DIY enthusiast, Balkan culture scholar. Check him out on Twitter at @advaence
Continue Reading

INFRACom!

INFRACom!: discover south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music.

INFRACom!

*

INFRACom! is a Frankfurt, Germany-based label that for over 20 years has released 160+ globally-minded, eclectic productions. The label’s latest release is ‘Saigon Supersound Vol. 1,’ which celebrates south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music from the ’60s and ’70s inspired by soul, funk, and, for better or worse, America.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“Saigon Super Sound is the story of a musical era that was almost lost. The selection of tracks is limited to the period between 1965 and 1975, the so-called ‘Golden Era’ in the South of Vietnam, where – under difficult circumstances – a lively pop culture had developed.

The music of Vietnam in the sixties was shaped by three currents: Nhạc đỏ (“red music” or communist revolutionary music) had developed around the beginning of the 20th century in opposition to the French colonization of Indochina. It usually promoted independence, socialism and anti-capitalism in its lyrics and was the dominant genre in the communist North. These were mostly heroic songs celebrating the men and women who left their families to bravely fight against the French and, soon enough, also the US Army.

This collection focuses on the South, where under “imported” western influence a new kind of pop and rock music had developed: Nhạc Vàng (“yellow music” or “golden music”), Nhạc Trẻ (“young music”). Nhạc Vàng are poetic, often sentimental and sad love songs (Tình Khúc) as well as simple, easily accessible compositions which praised the beauty of the homeland (Quê hương).

This genre had also developed since the 1920’s under French colonial influence, namely the chanson that was much appreciated by the growing Vietnamese bourgeoisie. Latin rhythms and dances such as the Bolero, the Rumba, Tango and Cha Cha Cha as well as Slow Rock were also integrated into the standard repertoire…When the Americans entered the war, they also brought rock- ́n’-roll and soul music to Vietnam which became quite influential for local artists. “Young music” (Nhạc Trẻ) was performed by newly formed bands like Dew Drop, The Dreamers, CBS Band and The Strawberry Four.

There were all female bands too, such as the Blue Stars (of whom, unfortunately, no usable recordings have survived) who performed at the G.I. Clubs. They covered American rock and soul hits, translating or simply making up new lyrics in Vietnamese. Very few of these were even recorded, but many popular singers – including Hùng Cường, Mai Lệ Huyền and Carol Kim – added “imported” styles like Twist, Soul, Agogo, Surf and Mashed Potatoes to their repertoire of popular ballads.

The third, very popular form was Cải Lương, best translated into “theater music” in which pieces of music alternate with spoken word passages to form a kind of radio play. The last title of this collection, “7 câu vọng cổ chúc Tết“ gives you an idea of this genre. Its musical structure is based on a Vietnamese composition from the early 20th century, the Vọng Cổ which was (and is) very popular in Cải Lương as well as in Vietnamese chamber music.”

INFRACom!: SoundCloud Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

Babel Records

Babel Records: because moody Valentine’s Day songs still sound good in March

babel records

*

Babel Records is a new Beijing label I’ve begun to keep my eye on, and so far I’ve really liked what I’ve heard. The label’s latest release is a four-track Valentine’s Day compilation that still holds up even though it’s March. My personal favorite is opening track “sweet,sweet tone” by sususu;Cattzim.

From SoundCloud:

“Whether you are lonely, missing, unrequited love or despair
It doesn’t matter, because we’re still before midnight
All beautiful things will take place in this quiet night”

Babel Records: SoundCloud Bandcamp Instagram

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

Oh! Nullah

Oh! Nullah: Hong Kong punks’ digital-only 2015 release will now be physically released via Sweaty & Cramped

Oh! Nullah

*

Our good friends over at Sweaty & Cramped are physically re-releasing two Oh! Nullah tracks from its 2015 digital-only album ‘Jaded Summer.’ Fans of S&C’s Asian Emo compilation will also dig this Hong Kong band’s melodic guitars and driving drums.

From band member Ben Tse:

“’Jaded Summer’” is a song I wrote for a friend whose mother passed away, and ‘Last of My Mistakes’ is about accepting that no one is ever immune to failure or disappointment. ‘Restitution’ is the restoration of something lost to its original owner and a concept that these two songs attempt to grasp and convey.”

Oh! Nullah: Bandcamp Facebook

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

lightcraft

lightcraft: “an antidote for rainy days, sleepless nights, mournful moments, lovelorn phases and sleepy mornings”

lightcraft

*

Jakarta’s beautifully moody lightcraft has released a new EP ‘Another Life’ ahead of its upcoming third LP. As someone who’s more familiar with Indonesia’s hardcore scene, finding a dreamy indie band that reminds me of the ‘Your Name’ soundtrack caught me off guard in the best way possible.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“a band that thrive under sadness and melancholia, inspiring them to craft their trademark anthemic melancholic sound, crafting atmospheric songs out of sadness and joy.”

lightcraft: Website Bandcamp Facebook Twitter YouTube

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

Krom Monster

Krom Monster: combining traditional Cambodian Khmer with modern electronica.

krom monster

*

Phnom Penh electronic collective Krom Monster recently released two instrumental demos as a preview for its upcoming second LP.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“Bringing together ancient Cambodian traditions and the right-here-right-now. Khmer instruments, ragged beats, digital noise and lush soundscapes.”

And from Incidental:

“A quintet combining traditional Cambodian instruments with improvisation and experimental electronics.

In May 2010, Incidental initiated a series of cultural collaborations with khmer artists and cultural organisations. During this work, David Gunn led a six week residency with young musicians from Cambodian Living Arts, exploring the ground between traditional Khmer instruments and modern electronics.

The work resulted in the formation of Krom Monster, a new experimental quintet, and the first of its kind in Cambodia – resampling traditional instruments, reworking traditional themes and blending Khmer themes with contemporary electronics, urban musics and free improvisation.

The residencies culminated with a sold-out live event at the Centre Cultural Francais Phnom Penh, and the subsequent release of Krom Monster’s debut album in 2010. To quote from the original liner notes:

“Beisach”. Or in english, something like “demon”, or “monster”. That’s what the music we were playing made our Roneat player, Nisa, think about. Cthonic gods from older times, isolated, wandering out in the forests and floodplains, sometimes crying, and sometimes laughing. I guess it takes all kinds of monsters. 

In the years since [the opening up of Cambodia in the 1990s], massive efforts have been made to conserve and recover what was left behind. Vital work to be sure, but in the rush to conserve, contemporary forms have often been lost in the shuffle. When so much is lost so brutally, it is maybe difficult to remember that culture is always losing something, always changing – that culture is perhaps best understood as a continual process of strange forgetting.

… this project is not about “authentic” Khmer music, or authentic anything, at least for me. Authenticity is a dangerous word. And particularly in a context such as this – where music industries only seem able to hear music from some parts of the world when it is seen as something rooted in place and history, as something “authentically” local. Volk Vultures, John Fahey might have called these forces, and they don’t help anything.” 

Krom Monster: Bandcamp SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

Takara Digital Records

Takara Digital Records: Japanese hip-hop label that releases rare and unreleased music

takara digital records

*

Takara Digital Records is a Japanese hip-hop label that releases rare and unreleased music, founded last year by Yuzuru Kishi. The next release is ‘More Donuts’:

“‘More Donuts’ is a compilation of even more rare, remixed and unreleased instrumentals by the king of beats J Dilla. The release is seperated in two parts. Part 1 was recorded around 1998 and Part 2 around 1996, now digitally available.”

Takara Digital Records: Bandcamp

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

The 尺口MP

The 尺口MP: Qiii Snacks’ latest band makes Lofi city-pop with Fuzhou flavor

THE 尺口MP

*

Qiii Snacks Records, one of my favorite labels, is putting out new music from Fuzhou, China trio The 尺口MP. Their debut EP comes out this Spring. For now, enjoy this sample of “Lofi city-pop with Fuzhou flavor.”

The 尺口MP: Bandcamp

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading

Peter Cat Recording Co.

Peter Cat Recording Co.: for fans of Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo.

peter cat recording co.

*

You know that heady feeling you get when you listen to Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo? New Delhi’s Peter Cat Recording Co. specializes in this frizzy ghostly sound, which they refer to as “postmodern jazz.” And they’re wedding specialists?

All their releases, especially their latest ‘Transmissions,’ are worth listening to from start to finish. Stick around after “Bebe da Vyah” for “Connection (?)” and the BSS comparison will make more sense.

Peter Cat Recording Co.: Website Bandcamp SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
Continue Reading