STEFA*'s "Una Casita [Part 2]" video drops via the Fader with Interview

Halfway through our conversation, tears started to stream down STEFA*’s cheeks. The 29-year-old Colombian-American singer, who mixes her classically trained voice with electronics and traditional folk chants, was visibly moved by the idea that her ancestors could be speaking through her. “Sometimes when I’m singing, I feel like I’m channeling them,” said the artist, whose birth name is Stefa Marin Alarcon. “And I feel like they’re healing through [my music].” Her new video for the song “Una Casita,” which is premiering exclusively today on the FADER, imagines a spiritual home where this healing could actually take place.

The song is a standout track from her 2018 debut EP, Sepalina, and its simple lyrics are driven by her yearning for a home that defies capitalism and patriarchy. “Everyone is searching for that,” she told me, “Everyone wants to exist without fear and without shame.” To that end, the video is overflowing with gorgeous images of the artist in the home of her dreams, where she can bask in soft repose.

As a child of immigrants, home has always been a crucial concept for STEFA*. Her parents abandoned their lives in Pereira, Colombia and immigrated to the Bronx in the 80s. They left behind cyclical poverty and violence, as well as their loved ones and an illustrious family culture. STEFA*, born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens around other immigrant families from places like China, Thailand, Ecuador, and India, is using her art to build bridges between the struggle her parents left behind in Colombia and the battle she faces here in the United States.

From an early age, her parents recognized that she had an indomitable voice. “I was always singing,” she told me, “and I was always in tune.” But her teachers directed her to sing in the classical European tradition, and so she spent nearly 20 years mastering French arias and the works of Russian composers. It wasn’t until after she graduated from college that she started to reclaim the music of her people. “It really shifted for me during the summer of the Ferguson protests,” she told me. She began to wonder why she wasn’t using her art to say something about the horrors of oppression that were impacting black and brown people in America and across the globe. “I couldn’t keep using my body and voice to tell those Eurocentric stories, because they’re not my story,” she told me. “I just needed to make my own shit.” From there, she developed a unique musical process that incorporates improvisation and loops with indigenous folk music. And of course, it’s all anchored by her soaring and emotive voice.

I spoke with the STEFA* a bit more about the development of her stunning new video for “Una Casita” and the healing she hopes it can encourage.


mammifères offers 30 copies of debut album "Olema" on vinyl, hand-cut by guitarist henry ott

NEW YORK CITY-BASED BAND MAMMIFÈRES REKINDLES AND RECOMPOSES ANCIENT FOLK MUSIC FROM ACROSS THE WORLD.

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY, APPLE, BANDCAMP

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mammifères' forthcoming album is inspired by the beautiful peninsula off the California coast where bandleader Lukas Papenfusscline was raised. mammifères—“mammals” in French—is Steve Conroy on bass, Aiden Farrell on drums, Henry Ott on guitar, and frequently features guests on saxophone, keyboard, violin, and clarinet.

Led by Lukas Papenfusscline, the band tangles roots music with new harmonies and adapted stories, at times both irreverent and deeply respectful of our musical heritage. These urban mammals create holy mess by crafting new tunes based on field recordings, manuscripts, and learned songs from years past, refurbishing them the musical languages of the future. Equally comfortable with American folk as with medieval chant, the group pulls from improvisation, noise, jazz, queer culture, and contemporary performance to create their unique and sensitive sound. 

“Old songs are made anonymous when they’re sung millions of times,” says Lukas. “Singing them is like hiking: you’re being thrown into a world of history, of otherness, of nature, a place you feel you don’t belong but absolutely do. Olema for me is about human interaction with wildness—it’s benefits and destructions.” Inspired by the Pt. Reyes Peninsula, a collection of small communities on the California coast just north of where Lukas was raised, Olema is an ode to the natural beauty of the landscape and its complex human history.

“I feel like all the music and theater I make always has backing in the past,” says Lukas, having spent months researching the history of the Pt. Reyesregion and its colonization. “I’ve never had faith in myself to create something totally new. It’s important to me that there’s something to research, there is something in the past to dredge up and put in dialogue with today’s world.”

Produced by Lily Wen, the album was recorded by Peter Atkinson in a makeshift studio in Boston—formerly Blue Jay Studios—and comprises nine traditional American and British songs, mainly from the late 1800s or older (or unknown). Limited to 30 hand-cut vinyl copies, the 12-inch LP release features a 12-page photo journal and two sticker landscapes. There is also a limited run of 50 standalone photo booklets created by Alia Wilhelm in conversation with the musicians.


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“WE’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO COLLABORATE WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE – SO WE’VE BUILT THIS STRUCTURE TO CREATE A FOREST OF MUSIC, SUCH THAT ANYONE IN THE BAND COULD PLAY LEAD AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, OR WE CAN INVITE SOMEONE ELSE TO FILL THAT ROLE,” SAYS PAPENFUSSCLINE. FEATURED PLAYERS INCLUDE WENDY EISENBERG ON NOISE GUITAR, BERKLEE PROFESSOR EDMAR CÓLON ON SAXOPHONE, PETER GODART ON KEYS, AND ABBY SWIDLER ON VIOLIN AND VIOLA.

“We learn the tune as it stands, a melody and some pretty words from another era,” describes Lukas. “Then we work with harmony, finding new chords that can interact with the melody in a new way, and with more color than a 1-4-5-1 structure ever could. I make changes as they come and let the arrangements develop organically with the band.” Still, though, the band is constantly changing the arrangements: “We’re improvisers and hate to set the arrangement too concretely. Each time we play it’s a very different song, never the same twice. It has to be dependent on the moment rather than the chart.”

Led by the fearless Lukas Papenfusscline, this ensemble is dedicated to rekindling and recomposing folk music from a variety of sources. Follow these mammals around @mammiferesband & visit their online abode at mammiferesband.com 🐐

 

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LUKAS PAPENFUSSCLINE – VOCALS

STEVE CONROY – BASS

AIDEN FARRELL - DRUMS

HENRY OTT - GUITAR

77 copies of Relatives' 7th album "Strange We Fall" Chapbooks are Available now, made by guitarist Ian Davis

  • Limited edition of 77 chapbooks

  • 7 x 7 in full black + white

  • Artwork by David Foarde

  • Chapbook handmade by Ian Davis

  • Features lyrics to all seven songs + download code

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY, APPLE, BANDCAMP

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“RELATIVES IS A ROTATING CAST OF CHARACTERS. KATIE VOGEL AND MYSELF ARE ALWAYS THERE,” SAYS COMPOSER, ARRANGER AND GUITARIST IAN MCLELLAN DAVIS. THE DUO MET UPON ARRIVAL TO NEW YORK CITY IN 2007 AND HAVE BEEN SINGING AND WRITING TOGETHER SINCE.

With a focus on melodies sung in unison, Relatives has been known to incorporate winds, strings and horns into their music, but over the years, they’ve been paring down and turning inwards, exploring what can be done with less.

On August 31, 2018, Figure & Ground releases Strange We Fall, a small collection of seven original songs by Relatives. Produced, engineered and mixed by Lily Wen, the record was recorded over two days in a storefront studio in Ditmas Park. The release features a limited edition 7x7 chapbook handmade by Ian featuring artwork by David Foarde.

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STRANGE WE FALL CAME ABOUT BY “NOT OVER-FUSSING FOR TOO LONG ABOUT SOMETHING AND JUST KIND OF SEEING WHAT COMES OUT,” SAYS IAN. “I THINK WE CAN GET PRETTY AHEAD OF OURSELVES SOMETIMES AND IT’S MORE COMPLEX THAN WE INTEND IT TO BE. THIS WAS AN ATTEMPT TO REALLY SIMPLIFY AND TRY THE SAME IDEA FOR A WHILE. AND JUST COAST, YOU KNOW?”

Katie adds: “there was a quicker turnaround than usual between writing and recording; these songs still feel really fresh. What these songs are about, at least for me, are subjects I’m still processing. So, even the process of recording was part of working through. That was kind of strange. Usually, we’ll have worked on songs for a couple years and then record them.”

“Simplicity and repetition was on our mind,” says Ian. “But we were pretty responsive to each other. I feel like it was a lot of back and forth on this one too—someone would bring an idea, and then it’d turn into another song, and that’s with a quick turnaround, when it’s fresh. The nature of the last couple albums were more slow and cumulative, and over time we had these songs that just sort of materialized. I think it was a pretty short period of time when Katie and I were just sort of firing things back and forth—this summer and into the fall.”

For their forthcoming record Strange We Fall, Ian and Katie recruited bassist Dandy McDowell and drummer Jason Burger.

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Relatives RELEASE "I Can't Wait Forever" stop motion Video by Aiden Farrell

Relatives' "I Can't Wait Forever"

From their forthcoming album Strange We Fall, out August 31.

Directed and painted by Aiden Garabed Farrell

WARNING: This video contains flashing colors and strobe and may affect people with photosensitive epilepsy. View Discretion is advised.

Written and sung by ian mclellan davis & Katie Vogel

Produced, engineered & mixed by Lily Wen

💽 Listen to the album + buy the “Strange We Fall” chapbook here.

Strange We Fall came about by “not over-fussing for too long about something and just kind of seeing what comes out,” says ian. “I think we can get pretty ahead of ourselves sometimes and it’s more complex than we intend it to be. This was an attempt to really simplify and try the same idea for a while. And just coast, you know?”

Katie adds: “there was a quicker turnaround than usual between writing and recording; these songs still feel really fresh. What these songs are about, at least for me, are subjects I’m still processing. So, even the process of recording was part of working through. That was kind of strange. Usually, we’ll have worked on songs for a couple years and then record them.”

Indiecurrent Premieres STEFA*'s "Sepalina" Video

Queens-Raised Colombian Vocalist STEFA* Unearths the Past on “Sepalina”

“STEFA* describes her six-track debut EP as “music to listen to while everything is burning down.” It’s a more than accurate description for lead single and EP title track “Sepalina,” a chilling, post-apocalyptic meditation on identity that taps into STEFA’s Colombian-Indigenous roots. Sepalina takes inspiration from a shocking family secret involving her grandmother, personal mysteries still halfway unsolved. We’re pleased to premiere STEFA’s striking music video for “Sepalina.” Co-directed by Cristobal Guerra Naranjo and STEFA*, these avant-garde visuals were filmed in Ayampe, Ecuador, Bear Mountain, New York, and Brooklyn. Watch the powerful new video above.” —Angel E. Fraden, Indiecurrent

Bogie Kaufman Mann Release instrumental Vol. 1 on Custom hand-cut 45s

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ATTN: Beats for sale!

We are offering custom hand-cut vinyl 45s featuring two tracks of your choice.

Reserve one before it's too late — orders close once the record hits the digital world on June 29!

— custom hand-cut 7-inch vinyl 45s with picture sleeves

— includes an exclusive interview transcript with the trio

These grooves will be hand-carved specifically for you.

“Don't let your idea of what you think should happen get in the way of what's already happening.” - a note from Geoff Mann to himself, on his floor tom, 15 years ago.

Bogie Kaufman Mann’s Volume 1 is a record of improvisations that don’t sound like improvisations. In stark contrast to what Stuart Bogie describes as the “bizarre addiction to acoustic control” that usually goes along with recordings of skilled improvisers, Volume 1 is truly free - blissfully ignoring the conventions that dictate even improvised music. With a trio composed of guitar, woodwinds, and percussion, each musician is able to occupy primarily one space - melodic, harmonic, rhythmic - allowing the three of them to create incredibly full, detailed compositions in real time, with no overdubs. Produced by D. James Goodwin at his studio The Isokon in Woodstock, NY, the result is lean and clear, with each musician selflessly playing into the mood of each piece.

The players themselves have resumes that could fill ten album descriptions - Stuart Bogie, in addition to leading his own energetic pop project Superhuman Happiness, is a highly sought after arranger, and has performed with Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Wu Tang Clan, and Iron and Wine; Josh Kaufman has produced albums for Josh Ritter, Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, and Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir, and collaborated with both The National and The War on Drugs on their critically acclaimed 2017 albums; and Geoff Mann currently drums in LA psych-rock band Here Lies Man in addition to having worked extensively in film and TV scoring and playing alongside Bogie in legendary afrobeat ensemble Antibalas. They came together in this incarnation partly out of a reaction to so much densely structured work, out of a desire to create something more open, and you can hear the joy of that freedom all over the result.

Still, experience in producing records has left its mark on the way they approach improvisation - a strong minimalist streak runs through Volume 1. As Kaufman says, “You can get so stuck in the studio going over the same take with more ideas covering up the ideas that you were originally inspired by, and what was cool about this is that we didn't do that.” Mann: “We wanted to feel like it was a group improvisation all the time, so there was never really a lot of soloing going on - there was a lot of trioing going on.” Playing at low volume, set up close to one another in the same room, headphone-free, they tracked the whole record in two days with Goodwin adding effects and processing in real time, a testament to what can be accomplished with deep listening and collaboration.  

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Volume 1, due June 29, is the first in an archival series of improvised recordings by the trio to be released on Figure & Ground. Each record is a document of a particular time and place - tracked live with no overdubs and very few edits, and released alongside an interview with the artists. The series documents moments stolen from dense working schedules, small islands in their longstanding musical relationship.

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Michael Rocketship's debut album "Meaning of Love" Out on Cassette in Silver & Gold

IN THE FALL OF 2012, COMPOSER AND PIANIST MICHAEL COLEMAN (CHRIS COHEN, TUNE-YARDS, BEEP!, CAVITYFANG) BEGAN RECORDING HIMSELF ALONE IN HIS REHEARSAL STUDIO IN OAKLAND, CA. OUT OF THIS SMALL ROOM FILLED WITH CASIO KEYBOARDS, CURIOUS SYNTHS, ABANDONED PERCUSSION, AND DISREPUTABLE GUITARS, MICHAEL ROCKETSHIP EMERGED. THE NAME CAPTURES THE UNINHIBITED AND SLIGHTLY MISCHIEVOUS NATURE OF COLEMAN'S UNPREDICTABLE POP SONGWRITING, WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE BEST OF DEERHOOF, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, SMILE-ERA BEACH BOYS, AND ACID-BALLADEER RODD KEITH.

“Coming back to New York after being gone for 15 years, I realized that this is a strange reality,” says Brooklyn-native Coleman. “In New York, you're being exposed to so many things that people will just dismiss it if it doesn’t come strong—if it's not ready then there's no space for it. In the Bay, it's a small scene so everyone's just kind of doing their own thing, developing their own different ways. Everyone becomes weirdos because that's what you think is normal, which I really love and appreciate. The musical personality is strange because of it. For me that was a major influence, the idea that you can have lots of time and space to let ideas develop."

After returning to Brooklyn, Michael set up a makeshift studio in his parent's bedroom, setting up a variety of pedals, amps, ancient drum machines and whatever else was around. “It was more like a writing workshop than meant to be a record, but my idea was to write a song every day for a month. And no matter what it was, I wasn't going to judge anything until later,” Rocketship describes. “I would sit at the keyboard and play some chords and be like, I got a song, and then write the lyrics immediately. Whatever came out of my mouth in the demo, that was the lyric. I wanted it to be really off-the-cuff, like no thinking, which made it really improvisational, which I enjoy.”

Following these preliminary shotgun studio sessions, Coleman spent a week up in Cape Cod re-recording and augmenting the demos: “so the songs are either just recordings that I did in five minutes that I liked the way they sounded, or I spent a day on them. And then I mixed them all in 48 hours—so the whole thing was completely insane.”

On April 6, Figure & Ground releases these songs in final form as Michael Rocketship’s debut LP The Meaning of Love, comprising 11 original tracks written, performed, mixed, and produced by Coleman. In his words, “the thematic material of the album is being alienated from the places you live and how stupid our society seems to have become."

THE MEANING OF LOVE FOLLOWS A LONG SERIES OF SEVEN SELF-RELEASED ROCKETSHIP EPS THAT FEATURE AN ASSORTMENT OF MUSICIANS AND BANDS. ALL OF THE EPS WERE RECORDED AND/OR MIXED BY MICHAEL AT FIGURE 8 RECORDING, A STUDIO HE MANAGES IN PROSPECT HEIGHTS. BEYOND ROCKETSHIP REALITY, MICHAEL COLEMAN’S DISCOGRAPHY RUNS DEEP AND RUNS WIDE. AFTER TOURING AS CHRIS COHEN’S KEYBOARD PLAYER FOR A YEAR AND A HALF, MICHAEL NOW PERFORMS PRIMARILY WITH SAM EVIAN, IAN DAVIS: ROCK BAND, AND RENATA ZEIGUER, WHO CREATED A STOP-MOTION VIDEO FOR THE ALBUM’S FIRST SINGLE, “SMITH, ST. JOHN & PIERRE.”

Remezcla Talks with Combo Chimbita & Premieres "No Regreso"

Check out this amazing feature exploring Combo Chimbita's Tropical Futurism & their forthcoming album Abya Yala.

"Combo Chimbita describe themselves as “tropical futurists.” Their experimental psychedelic jams have cumbia as a starting point, but draw on everything from champeta and porros to Afropop, calypso, dub, and even Haitian kompa. The trippy “No Regreso,” off their forthcoming debut album Abya Yala, sounds like what would happen if Lee “Scratch” Perry produced a cumbia record with a little input from Ennio Morricone. “No Regreso” premieres today on Remezcla, and it sounds simultaneously forward-thinking and retro. There’s a certain freaky, punky energy that’s very New York City.

Inspired by Sun Ra and the concept of Afrofuturism, the members are envisioning a sound that broadly centers the global south: Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. “It means imagining a future with a cosmology derived from our ancestry, from our understanding of the world, instead of the Eurocentric version of how the future is supposed to be. It means seeing it and constructing it from a different perspective and a different way of seeing the world,” says guitarist Niño Lento, in an in-person interview with lead singer and guacharaquera Carolina Oliveros, and synth player and bassist Prince of Queens (In this band, they use stage names, though avid NYC-based music heads may recognize them from other projects). The band members don’t know what the tropical future looks like, but they are pretty sure it has more to do with reconnecting to the earth than blasting off into the stars. They are searching for the answers through their music."

Read more at Remezcla...

Sounds and Colours Premieres Combo Chimbita's "Ampárame"

NEW MUSIC: ‘AMPÁRAME’ BY NYC’S COMBO CHIMBITA

By Gina Vergel - 16 May, 2017

New York City’s Combo Chimbita is set to release their debut full-length album Abya Yala on the 21st of June via Figure & Ground and they’ve given us a preview single for us to share with the masses.

The quartet, which consists of lead singer Carolina Oliveros and three mystery men (seriously) have a crafty way of describing themselves: Tropical futurism, psychedelic cumbia-not-cumbia.

[Read more @ Sounds and Colours]

HEAR AMPÁRAME & GET READY FOR SUMMER!!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Les Yper Sound release party in the basement

Back to the place where it all began.....

Says Jas Walton, "If our songs are omelettes, The Basement is where we cracked every single egg. It's been holy ground in my mind for going on seven years, since first meeting and working with Miles Arntzen back in the NYU days."

On November 11, join us for this intimate occasion in the West Village - a free listening dance party, live performance, and release celebration in the spot where much of "Explorations in Drums & Sax" was conceived and recorded. 

At 9:00pm sharp we will drop the needle on the Les Yper Sound LP for a listening session and boogie to all 14 tracks (with some surprise live song re-creates). As the night continues, Miles & Jas will perform special duo improv instrumentals on drums & sax, weaving between different songs. 

Musique concrete will usher in the after-hours downstairs hang, and you'll be able to pick up a copy of Figure & Ground's sophomore release " Explorations in Drums & Sax" on vinyl fthe first time, an album of intergalactic instrumentals by New York Afrobeat players Miles & Jas collaborating with Money Mark & Sinkane.

PREMIERE: “EASTERN PARKWAY” from LES YPER SOUND

“Once upon a time, two New York session musicians, drummer Miles Arntzen (Antibalas, Will Butler, EMEF) and sax player Jas Walton (Leon Bridges, Sinkane, Father Figures)—who both currently play in the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas—began experimenting with their respective instruments in Arntzen’s Greenwich Village basement. The duo hunkered down to compose demos that were made up of percussion, woodwinds, and the offbeat sounds of everyday objects–a style of recording and manipulating common ‘non-musical’ sounds born in Paris during the 1940s and dubbed “musique concrète” (pronounced moo-ZEEK kohn-KRET), which seeped into pop music in the mid-‘60s, and is now a staple of mainstream music.

While touring with Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor supergroup Atomic Bomb!, Walton met Beastie Boys’ synth masterMoney Mark and Sudanese-pop artist Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane, Caribou, Of Montreal, Yeasayer). In March, the four of them convened in Brooklyn to record under the project name Les Yper Sound, titled after Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP. This studio-oriented team of multi-instrumentalists—who are all producers in their own right—digested Miles and Jas’s original basement demos and began improvising new works, featuring sounds made by objects like coffee makers and coins, during sessions at Shahzad Ismaily’s new studio in Brooklyn.

On November 4th, Les Yper Sound will release its 14-track sophomore effort, Explorations in Drums & Sax, via Figure & Ground Records; the album is an all-instrumental journey through numerous genre-crossing worlds, produced by Lily Wen (Dust & Grooves), engineered and mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Yoko Ono, Lorde), and is a hat-tip to the novelty of recorded sounds back when they were still weird and way out.

East of 8th is proud to premiere the video for album track “Eastern Parkway”, comprised of raw footage field video of spliced together with a front seat late night car journey along Eastern Parkway, featuring Walton on sax (recorded by Money Mark). ‘This video is a crystallized example of what the musique concrète process can yield,’ explains Walton of the video. 'Walking around Brooklyn on a chilly night, getting different sounds and timbres remotely depending on the spacial environment – that is what makes musique concrète interesting.’”

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Flea Market Funk Premieres Les Yper Sound's "RSVP"

“Today we have another premiere, and this time it’s a supergroup of sorts. Les Yper Sound are comprised of Miles Arntzen and Jas Walton from Antibalas, Beastie Boy collaborator Money Mark, and Sudanese artist Sinkane. All bad ass musicians in their own right, these four got together in a Brooklyn basement and Les Yper Sound were born. Performing the style known as “musique concrète”, made popular in Paris in the 1940’s by reco"rding sounds of every day objects (the group’s name comes from Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP), this all instrumental fourteen track record is definitely a cool project. With today’s technology in recording, it seems like this process has creeped into today’s recording process, and on Explorations in Drums & Sax they give a nod to the cheeky, novelty sounds that were ground breaking back then. Recording everything from coins, a coffeemaker, tape head stylus and the like, the songs were built around these everyday items and highlights the drums and sax with built in melodies from said items. Eclectic? Yes. Groovy? You bet.

We would just start with an improvisational sound, do that for three minutes, build a song around it, and then maybe at the end of the whole thing, you can’t even hear that first thing anymore but it’s a part of everything else that happened around it.

“RSVP” is a cover or reworking of sorts of the Money Mark tune “Invitation” from Mark’s Keyboard Repair. This upbeat take is unique and has a tight groove (and the breakdown with the found objects is aces). Part Yusef Lateef, part free jazz, and plenty funky, “RSVP” is intergalactic space travel without leaving our atmosphere. It’s infectious groove will leave you head nodding. Before you know it, it’s time to press play once again, because you can’t just listen to it once. File this under funky jazz with a world influence, and while you’re at it also file it under fire because this is a hot commodity. Funk comes in many different forms, and if you dream it up, it will work. These four have come up with the perfect recipe and homage to the style. This is Figure & Ground Records sophomore release after the Jas Walton/ Alan Watts 10″ Face The Facts. This new release on the label will have a Limited Edition of 500 copies on coke clear vinyl. Check out the track below, and pre-order the entire record after that.”

Pre-Order the record on Figure & Ground, out November 4th here.

Keep Diggin’!


Afropop Worldwide premieres "Potato Brain"!

The music you’re about to hear connects the dots between 1960s’ French experimental musique concrete and hard-hitting, New York-style instrumental Afro-funk. Listen to the Afropop exclusive premiere of the single, “Potato Brain,” from Les Yper Sound.

Les Yper Sound is a new project, the brainchild of drummer Miles Arntzen and sax player Jas Walton, founders of the now-defunct EMEFE, and current members of long-running Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas. Collaborations with the legendary producer Money Mark of the Beastie Boys and Ahmed Gallab–leader of Sinkane–turned this basement exploration into a full-fledged album project. Explorations in Drums and Sax comes out Nov. 4 on Figure and Ground Records.

“Potato Brain” is heavy instrumental funk tune, with some influences from Afrobeat. Living up to the name and aim of the record, the track is jumping with pocket-groove drums, blended with kitchen-sink percussion, and topped with layered saxophone lines and bubbling electronics.

Watch behind-the-scenes music video for "Step Away" on Impose!

In honor of 50 years of musique concrète in pop, relatively new studio collective Les Yper Sound – comprised of Antibalas‘ Miles Arntzen and Jas Walton with in-studio collaboration by Money Mark & Sinkane – is revving up to releaseExplorations in Drums & Sax on November 4th. Let’s get the facts straight, however. First of all, drummer Miles Arntzen (Will Butler, TEEN, Mark Ronson) and saxophonist Jas Walton (Leon Bridges, Sinkane, Father Figures) started the afrobeat band EMEFE together. They began experimenting with their instruments in Arntzen’s Greenwich Village basement years ago, but began to shift gears with their experimentation recently. It was only this year that they chose the route which would lead them into this project. Jas met Money Mark (Beastie Boys) and Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane, Caribou, Of Montreal, Yeasayer) on tour with Atomic Bomb! this year, and the four of them began to collaborate together this past spring. Their project – Les Yper Sound – is named for Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP. One of the first items on their agenda in preparation for their autumn release? A premiere for the music video made for the single “Step Away”.

The 70’s inspired “Les Yper Sound” logo flashes on the screen, and we feel like we’re in an episode of The Partridge Family. But only for a moment. Shot in black and white, the video is almost a documentary, following the guys around in-studio. It beautifully portrays the ins and outs of studio life, something a lot of people never get even the smallest notion of.

How much better of an introduction could we have gotten to the band, than to see what they’re doing behind the scenes to create the music we are to fall in love with?

Written by Miles Arntzen & Jas Walton
A music video by Lily Wen
Filmed by Stephanie Orentas at Figure 8 Recording
Miles Arntzen & Jas Walton, Money Mark & Sinkane, Eli Crews & Lily Wen

Proud to announce Les Yper Sound's "Explorations in Drums & Sax"!

Les Yper Sound presents an all-instrumental journey through the many worlds of drums and saxophones. In early 2016, New York session musicians Miles Arntzen and Jas Walton—who both currently play in Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas—began experimenting with their respective instruments in Miles’s Greenwich Village basement. They composed demos that were made up of Miles’s percussion, Jas’s woodwinds, and the sounds of everyday objects. 

The style of recording and manipulating everyday ‘non-musical’ sounds was born in Paris during the 1940s and dubbed “musique concrète.” This revolutionary process seeped into pop music in the mid-‘60s, and now—due to ever-advancing music technology—it is a staple of mainstream music. Explorations of Drums & Sax is a hat tip to the novelty of recorded sounds back when they were still weird and way out.

As well as experimenting with the early laboratory process of musique concrète, Miles notes, “usually one of us was coming from something else, from a rehearsal with so-and-so right to my basement and just jumping right in. There was no time to think about what might be seeping in influence-wise, but it was always related to all the other things we were doing.” The duo began working together in 2009 when they started the band EMEFE in jazz school. Between each of their sidemen gigs with other artists, they steal time to get together and spin their own creations.

While touring with Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor supergroup Atomic Bomb!, Jas met Beastie Boys’ synth master Money Mark and Sudanese-pop artist Sinkane (Ahmed Gallab). In March, the four of them convened in Brooklyn to record under the project name Les Yper Sound, titled after Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP. This studio-oriented team of multi-instrumentalists—who are all producers in their own right—digested Miles and Jas’s original basement demos and began improvising new works during sessions at Shahzad Ismaily’s new Figure 8 studio in Prospect Heights.

The process-based sessions were engineered and mixed by tUnE-yArDs mastermind Eli Crews and produced by Lily Wen. During these spring workshop days, the group built new songs from found objects such as a coins, pickups, a coffee maker, and a tape head stylus.

The group picked up and played whatever was lying around, found a groove together, and sometimes recorded only one take. Other times they looped a small caught moment and layered other elements on top of it. The field recorder and vocoder from a previous band session were put to good use, and the group stayed inspired thanks to donuts and Shane's restaurant around the corner.

On November 4, Figure & Ground releases its sophomore album Explorations of Drums & Sax comprised of 14 original tracks by Les Yper Sound. The album pulls from the group’s eclectic influences and showcases the drums and sax surrounded by an array of acoustic and electronic sounds all rooted in rhythm and pop melodies. 

“It’s all about finding that starting point,” says Jas, “and everything blossoms from there.”

As Miles puts it, “we would just start with an improvisational sound, do that for three minutes, build a song around it, and then maybe at the end of the whole thing, you can’t even hear that first thing anymore but it’s a part of everything else that happened around it. When you play a rhythm on a cool-sounding prepared piano, you don’t know what genre you’re in. Maybe it will become a Brazilian jam or maybe it’ll become a soulful groove—and all that happened in the studio. You’re letting the sound of something dictate and inspire you.”

Money Mark, who studied with the early electronic instrument pioneers, revealed some of his ‘recording hacks’ and found the musical in non-traditional objects. Miles recalls: “We went out to lunch and Money Mark was missing somewhere, and he comes back with two TV speakers and says: ‘We could just plug these into an amp and hit them with your fingers—one’s a little broken but maybe it could be the snare,’ and that’s is exactly what happened. We come back from lunch, plug them into a bass amp, and sure enough it’s perfect.” Listen & find out more here.

  • Available November 4
  • Limited edition - 500 copies

  • Download card included

  • Coke-bottle clear wax

  • Pre-orders come with a download of "Potato Brain"

#lesypersound #drumsnsax

Okayplayer premieres a never-before-heard bonus Watts track

For a special Throwback Thursday, Scott Heins from Okayplayer talks about Walton's process and presents the world premiere of a never-released B-side Watts track, "Bottle of Ink." Here's an excerpt of the feature:

"The philosophy and teachings of Alan Watts defy simple descriptions. Born in England and educated in the United States during the early 20th Century, Watts remains one of the most respected and quotable writers on Zen Buddhism in the English-speaking world. Across a multitude of books, speeches and recorded lectures, he championed experiences and conscious living over the accumulation of things and is still referenced by many in the fields of politics, religion, philosophy and the arts.

"The arts were particularly dear to Watts, and now, in commemoration of Watts’s 100th birthday year, a brand new 10″ vinyl EP, Face the Facts, has been released. Utilizing some of Watts’s own home recordings, captured and preserved by his son, New York-based musician and producer Jas Walton has created a new, deep-grooving sonic landscape in which listeners can encounter Watt’s insights into life. The end result comes across as rich and natural, with Walton’s bass and drum lines gently interweaving beneath Watt’s charming candor.

"'Bottle of Ink,' pairs Watts’s rumination on creation and human existence–an inquiry into difference and its simultaneous unity–with gently rolling congas and circulating strings. Not quite afrobeat, the track is a worldly moment all its own and one that quickly draws listeners deep into its own expanse."

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/okayplayer/bottle-of-ink-jas-walton-alan-watts

"Watts’s words plus new electronica are entrancing"

What an incredible night. Thanks to Jim and the guys at Carmine Street Comics, Melody, Stephanie - it wouldn't have happened without you! Bob Krasner has the story in The Villager:

"Jas Walton and Miles Arntzen helped bring Eastern philosopher Alan Watts’s words to new life during a one-night-only performance at Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books.

"May 19 saw more than 60-plus bodies crammed into the miniscule, non-climate-controlled Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on Carmine St. to hear Walton, playing keyboards and laptop, and Miles Arntzen, on keyboards and percussion, bring three of their pieces to life.

Read the full story at: http://thevillager.com/2015/06/04/wattss-words-plus-new-electronica-are-entrancing/

SF Gate talks to Walton about his Watts influence

Thanks to Masaki Koike for digging deeper into the story and showing "Face the Facts" some San Francisco love. Here's an excerpt from the article:

"For its inaugural project, Jas Walton’s “Face the Facts: Words by Alan Watts,” the Brooklyn-based Figure & Ground record label is drawing on the Bay Area’s spiritual legacy. The four-track EP will be released digitally with PDF booklet (when purchased at the label’s on-line store) on May 19 and will be available in physical form as a thoughtful — and thorough — 10” vinyl package with digital download card on May 26.

"Watts’ influence as an Asian Studies and Eastern philosophy scholar, author and KPFA regular remains strong. His son, Mark Watts, recorded lectures that he gave on his famed Sausalito houseboat and elsewhere that are now available online as podcasts and via a related iOS app. 

"Walton was introduced to Watt’s writing while studying jazz as an undergraduate at NYU. A saxophonist, composer and producer who frequently gigs with Antibalas, he was best friends with a philosophy major.

[...] Read the full story at sfgate.com.