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Electronic





Bow before MOTHERMARY's debut LP "I Am Your God"

Repping NYC at SXSW this coming Wednesday...

I’m not sure which benign deity brought the twin-sister dark electronica duo known as MOTHERMARY into our plane of existence (Lilith? Kali? Ishtar? Cher? Dolly?) but we owe them a debt of gratitude because not since the heyday of Prince and Madonna have there been two such solid proponents for eroticizing religious dogma which is great for Christianity in particular with its central conceit of “original sin” where being tempted to enjoy a piece of deciduous by a sexy wifey made from your own rib is grounds for the eternal damnation of humankind not to mention eternal shame at our own nakedness. 

And then it doesn’t help matters when a few millennia later these same humans somehow managed to murder God’s only son in a particularly gruesome fashion and all this is without doubt deeply guilt-inducing and deeply unsexy. Or is it?

MOTHERMARY offer strong evidence to the contrary on their debut full-length I Am Your God released in late January and they know what they’re talking about because Elyse Winn and Larena Winn were raised in a devout Mormon household in Missoula, Montana (where a deep love for music was self-reportedly instilled alongside the Mormonism) and both attended BYU before moving to Salt Lake City and eventually NYC (first Elyse and later Larena) and recording their debut single “Catch Fire” which caught the attention of their friend Alex Frankel who’s also one-half of synthpop duo Holy Ghost! (how appropriate!) who passed it along to Megan Louise at Italians Do It Better which is basically the go-to label for cooly restrained yet highly and sublimely dramatic electro music—kind of like Italo-disco on steroids and tranquilizers at the same time—a perfect fit for the duo and their own melding of kewl and hawt, sinful and angelic.

And speaking of hotness “Catch Fire” is smoking hot—all swelling organs and throbbing bass and pulsating rhythms accompanied by Johnny Jewel-style synth-tom fills (RIP Chromatics and the fabled Dear Tommy LP) with lyrics from the POV of the sneaky snake in the Garden of Eden (see the truth when / it’s in the nude / taste the fruit / put the blame on me) and geez if Tipper Gore ever heard this song she’d likely have an aneurysm on the spot nevermind if she saw the music video we’re talking heart attack (brief synopsis: Bible study group/faith healing ceremony transforms into a polymorphously perverse strip club complete with crucifix tossing and leather-studded-slow-motion gyrating by Elyse and Larena).

But it’s not all “hotness for hotness’s sake” as MOTHERMARY point out I Am Your God “isn’t about a god complex, it is an invitation to ponder what you worship. It’s about women reclaiming their holiness and inviting you to acknowledge your own…it is a mirror to religion both reflecting the bad and salvaging the good” with the very name MOTHERMARY being “the ultimate symbol of religi[ous] hypocrisy & the insane expectations placed on women…These two extremes. Have children to procreate, but don’t be sexual beings.” The Madonna/Whore complex is an impossible needle to thread for sure but on the album’s most recent single and music video (title track “I Am Your God”) the Winn twins come pretty darn close with a song that floats by on ethereal clouds of airy heavenly electronic oscillations, but it's equally voluptuous and lusty (and a bit creepy with that pitch-shifted vocal) with the repeated line “I can come again” straddling the same line between holy and horny.

I guess guilt is complicated that way when you think about it—it’s an age-old tool for subjugation (especially used against women natch) but keeping people form what they want and need only builds desire upon desire and before long they’re developing some pretty elaborate fantasies and fetishes to redirect some of that energy not to mention making cool art and beautiful music to express their frustrations and longing not to mention how it makes being bad feel so good so guilt is a volatile thing to say the least. 

But enough of this music blogger’s theological thoughts! In closing it should be mentioned that some of I Am Your God was created together with compatriot/co-producer Chris McLaughlin with whom Elyse Winn likewise collaborates on the Cigar Cigarette project fronted by Chris where she takes on the role of co-composer, art director and music video director, and by the way MOTHERMARY direct or at least co-direct all their own music videos which makes sense given their backgrounds in art and theater alongside music plus “sacrilegious spectacle” of course and if the “Pray” video below doesn’t deliberately riff on Garbage’s glorious video for “Queer” I’ll eat my hat!



And so let’s pray all these beneficent forces keep working together and spawning more (un)holy ravishing music because the world really needs it and I’d even be willing to try and guilt them into it. (Jason Lee)





Softmax "But What If There Isn't?"

Producer and Multi-Instrumentalist Softmax has released her debut EP "But What If There Isn't?". This is a multimedia project filled densely emotional lyrics and profoundly minimal electronic pop soundscapes.

You can experience the full fifteen minute project here or stream/purchase the EP below.

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Caroline Polachek takes listeners on a celestial voyage on "Billions"

Photo by Aidan Zamiri, styled by Tati Cotliar

The mesmerizingly winding road of Caroline Polachek’s musical trajectory had spanned far and wide—from writing haunted house music in Boulder, Colorado to co-founding the indie combo Chairlift and bestriding the Great-Early-21st-Century-Brooklyn-Psych-Pop-Rock Renaissance alongside the likes of MGMT, Yeasayer, and Grizzly Bear; from songwriting collabs with such obscure niche artists as Beyoncé, Solange, and Blood Orange to putting out solo albums under two separate alter egos (the Dario Argento-adjacent dark synthpop soundtracks of Ramona Lisa, and the electro-instrumental ambient drift of CEP); and finally, from her 2019 debut LP released under her own name called Pang to her two latest singles which together demonstrate that Ms. Polachek still has plenty of new musical highways and byways left to explore somehow. 

The first of these two singles (“Bunny Is A Rider”) is a song about being “liberated by disappearance, about non-responding, about being unbeholden to anyone” which accounts for the refrain of Bunny is a rider / satellite can’t find her which is a fitting theme for our current Surveillance Age where freedom’s just another word for somewhere left to get lost—a theme mirrored sonically by the stark bassline-led Spaghetti Western musical textures, and their implied wide-open spaces, complete with pitter-pattering rhythms and high lonesome whistling and autotuned trilling and sampled infant cooing plus plenty of tape hiss and chicken scratch and synth swelling all of which makes going off the digital grid sound like escaping to a glitchy Wild West.

The second single, “Billions,” released earlier this month, likewise takes the listener to a place outside of normal experience or social surveillance—the title and the cosmic vibes of “Billions” can’t help but put this listener in a very Carl Sagan-esque headspace—a space comprised of delicately lurching reversed rhythms and skittering tablas that like raindrops dancing off rooftops plus celestial choirs and sub-bass and string arpeggiations and dramatic recitations and a breakdown section with what may possibly be a dilruba solo (but hey I’m no ethnomusicologist) not to mention Caroline’s majestically malleable voice swooping across multiple octave registers and multiple emotional registers and multiple digital manipulations across the song’s nearly five-minute kaleidoscopic arrangement.

In sum it’s a virtuosic arrangement and production and performance overall—with both singles co-written and co-produced by British producer/remixer/songwriter Danny L Harle, best known for his work with the pioneering PC Music collective and for his impressive resume of collaborations, including making Pang and seriously the collaborative work of Polachek & Harle so far is the closest upgraded-equivalent of Bjork and Nellee Hooper’s sublime mid-90s sides that I know of with “Billions” being their “Venus As A Boy” (extolling the virtues of a lover who lies like a sailor but…loves like a painter). The duo have a knack for not only crossing musical boundaries but also for pretty much melting them away entirely, with synthetic sounds rendered vivid and visceral and lifelike, while organic sounds often come off as extraterrestrial, in other words, a near-total meshing of human/physical and machine/technological that’s like “sexting sonnets / under the tables / tangled in cables” to quote Caroline herself.

Oh and the video for “Billions” is cool too just like most of Ms. Polachek’s video (see top of this page, co-directed by Matt Copson and Caroline herself) and after viewing it you’ll probably wanna go grape-picking-and-stomping and then order some cool crazy-straw-style wine glasses and an ornamental blown-glass funnel for bath-taking purposes but sorry no Paul Giamatti. (Jason Lee)





Guerilla Toss delivers cannibalist manifesto on latest single

Guerilla Toss is a band that specializes in dance-punk-acid-house-party-rock anthems that sound like they’ve been beamed to this planet straight from the Big Red Spot of Jupiter because much like that celestial “beauty mark” (actually a raging centuries-old storm bigger than the entire planet Earth) their music is a swirling sonic vortex that pulls in all manner of sonic space junk from the surrounding atmosphere which gets all mashed up and mutated in the eye of the storm re-emerging as a molten musical liquid metal that gets shot back into space via electromagnetic waves audible through this planet’s primitive stereo receivers and equalizers and discontinued iPods

Granted, this may sound like a crackpot analogy but it’s supported by the band’s own lyrical exegesis on songs like “Meteorological” (from 2018’s Twisted Crystal), “Can I Get the Real Stuff” (from 2017’s GT Ultra), and “367 Equalizer” (from 2014’s Infinity Cat Series). And you can hear the interplanetary vibes with your own ears just by putting on Guerilla Toss’s latest single “Cannibal Capital” (music video directed by Lisa Schatz) from their upcoming Sub Pop debut full-length Famously Alive due out on 3/25, a song that seems to mix and mutate the various stages of the band’s own musical history—from the noisy experimentalism of their early releases to the mutant funk of their more recent DFA releases—a song that by their own account “makes everything sensory.”

The song opens with a sound-collage intro that appears to incorporate the sounds of a Merzbow cassette being eaten by malfunctioning tape deck, a leaky toilet, an air rifle, and a cat suffering from intestinal distress—all in the first 15 seconds or so. It just goes to show how much Guerilla Toss takes making everything sensory very seriously indeed. 

Meanwhile a twitchy-tail-shaking-percolating-mid-tempo groove emerges from the sonic murk and while it seems to vanquish it at first the sonic murk keeps seeping back in around the edges with squelching synths and blasts of power chords and so forth thus setting up a disintegration/reintegration dialectic that fits perfectly with the song’s opening lyric (“you need help / melt in every dimension”) and it’s not the only case of lyrical/musical synchronicity either like later where vocalist Kassie Carlson poses the question “can I escape gracefully?” and the vocals veer out of time on cue escaping the rhythm of the tightly wound groove for a few moments.

Closing arguments: On “Cannibal Capital” Guerilla Toss have proven once again that pop will eat itself and and that there's a cultural capital to cannibals just as Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade observed back in 1928 when he wrote the Cannibalist Manifesto which advocated the notion that “Brazil’s history of cannibalizing other cultures was its greatest strength and had been the nation’s way of asserting independence over European colonial culture” a notion that went on to inspire the late ‘60s art and music movement movement called Tropicália—whose best-known proponents were Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, and Os Mutantes which literally means The Mutants—likewise frooted in a collage aesthetic where the "sacred enemy" is disgested and transformed, and with all this in mind I'd say it’s fair to say that Guerilla Toss are our modern-day tropicalistas, i.e. modern primitives, likely transplanted from outer space no less, or Boston, one or the other, sent to Earth/NYC to absorb our musical traditions "body snatchers style" and spit 'em back out in capitvatingly mutated form. (Jason Lee)





Warm Human "Hold Music"

Warm Human (aka Meredith Johnston) has released a new collection of b-sides, outtakes, and demos called "Hold Music".

In this description for the collection Johnson says these are "voice memos of piano improvisations, demos, ambient tracks, and forgotten or abandoned songs". It is a fun look behind the scenes of her creative process and when pulled together it really does feel like a cohesive piece.

This is the first new music from Johnson since the release of "Gimme A Reason", her 2021 debut single for House of Feelings records.

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