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dimanche 29 juin 2014

Album de la Semaine : Total Control - Typical System

Total Control
Typical System

Interview de Total Control, par Evan Minsker de Pitchfork

Total Control
Total Control, from left: James Vinciguerra, Zephyr Pavey, David West, Mikey Young, Dan Stewart, Al Monty. Photos by Karl Scullin.
Total Control’s forthcoming second album Typical System, which follows 2011's very good Henge Beat, is a strong synth-pop record with a palpable undercurrent of darkness in its vocal delivery and lyrics. And while that tinge of dread, courtesy of frontman Dan Stewart, separates this band from others in Melbourne, Australia’s punk scene, it also has the potential to be their undoing. Their current SoundCloud bio reads “WE CAN’T TOUR SORRY,” and it’s not a joke; during a conversation via Skype, drummer James Vinciguerra confirms that “the likelihood of touring is slim-to-none.” He’s hesitant to elaborate, just saying that “certain people don’t really want to [tour].” From the sound of things, following the album’s June 24 release via Iron Lung, they just might slip into a hiatus.
But that shouldn’t discount the music they’ve made thus far. If anything, the apprehension toward hitting the road is a reflection of just how seriously Stewart, in particluar, considers his own work. The singer explains that this band can’t operate the same way other bands do. “Total Control is quite an emotionally demanding experience for me,” he says. “I love being on the road and traveling, but a lot of the songs [on Typical System] were written out of troubling, traumatic experiences.” He doesn’t go into detail, but the record’s abstract lyrics, which read like poems, are undeniably bleak. Take “Black Spring”: “So the rot set in, green turned grey and dead/ And now you know you’re to live, thrive, and lick.” 
Stewart, a 32-year-old student of philosophy who runs his own zine, started the band with guitarist Mikey Young in 2008. He is very well-read. The lyrics for Henge Beat came after a summer spent reading Friedrich Nietzsche and “a lot of post-Nietzschean French guys.” He says his preoccupation with the philosopher was “a pretty unhealthy obsession.” Stewart uses that word—“obsession”—a lot. “I don’t think I can really live without obsession,” he confesses. While writing Typical System, he pored over the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, the French writer Maurice Blanchot, the Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran, the Melbourne poet John Forbes, and the controversial neo-folk outfit Death in June.
But Total Control aren't just about stone-faced philosophical solemnities. They’ve clearly got a sense of humor, too. Vinciguerra helped put together the album’s artwork, which includes his funny, stream-of-consciousness manifesto, written “in a manic state,” that begins with an email from his dad titled “In the Land of Nose Jobs”. There’s a portrait of one of the guys in the band sitting next to a dog, with the caption, “Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow in happier times.” There’s a huge picture of two slugs mating. Stewart even argues that the album art, a majestic photo of birds, is “really funny.”
True to Australian band custom, Total Control's members are all embedded in the music scene there and involved in other groups. Stewart is the frontman for the hardcore bandStraightjacket Nation and plays in the absurdist rock act the UV Race. There are members ofDick DiverEast LinkLace CurtainRussell St BombersOoga Boogas, and more. Vinciguerra has started working on solo material.
I talked to the Vinciguerra and Stewart separately, then edited the conversations together.
Pitchfork: Do you feel any regret about not touring behind Typical System?
James Vinciguerra: Generally, yeah. I don't want to be too dramatic, but I have to say that Total Control has really helped me a lot. When we do play live, there is this synergy, and that’s the thing I really love. For me, it's a real physical outlet. It's cathartic. I'm sad that I don't have that outlet. I also really enjoy spending time with the people in the band as well. It does bum me out that we don't play too much.
Dan Stewart: I don’t really regret it. Sometimes if we’re playing a show, it fills me with anxiety and makes me feel a bit sick. It would be difficult for me to tour on some of the songs on this record just because it’s still quite raw. Even hearing the record is a raw experience for me. I feel quite nervous at the prospect of hearing it. I can’t really move on at the moment. I feel a bit stifled by it, to be honest.
Pitchfork: That makes me think about how other songwriters must have to detach from the trauma and darkness behind their lyrics during live shows. 
DS: Absolutely. I don’t think anyone would write a song specifically attempting to relive or revoke those experiences over and over again. I naïvely decided to sing for Total Control simply because I loved writing lyrics. I was in a hardcore band, which was a really good way to experience certain strong emotions and physical acts—really sadistic behavior can be experienced in a very ritualized manner when you’re playing in a hardcore band. You can be involved in horrific acts of cruelty towards people that you know or don’t know. There’s a level of acceptance for obscene behavior that comes with that music. You can do such brutal things and such brutal things can happen to you that you can become quite callous in your day-to-day life. I was very aware that I was in danger of just beating any sensitivity that I had in through doing hardcore so much.
So I wanted to experience another side of being a singer, and Total Control is completely removed from that in a lot of ways. But I still do that hardcore band. It might not really be a healthy thing, but it is something that I need, that violent ritual. 
Pitchfork: Dan, it seems like you’re drawn to writings that challenge you and suddenly alter your mood.
DS: I have a submissive relationship to writing in that I just want it to overpower me. This might have come from just having gotten into punk when I was a teenager and experiencing it as almost an entire rewriting of character—punk and hardcore completely gave me a code to live by and a way to think about the world. I was looking for that, though I probably could’ve found it in something else. My reception to things is to allow them to crush me.
Pitchfork: What’s next for the band?
DS: I have no idea. It’s really hard for me to project into the future at the moment, which I suppose is one of the reasons why I really want to just travel for a little while. Each time I do try and project a year ahead, it just seems like I’m looking into this horrible mess. I’ve spent far too long expecting for some significant catastrophe to happen. It hasn’t happened. 
JV: I don't think it's the end. It's just a different chapter.

Line Up :
Mikey Young
Dan Stewart
Al Montfort
Zephyr Pavey
James Vinciguerra

Label :
Iron Lung Records

Tracklist :
01 – Bloody Glass
02 – Expensive Dog
03 – Flesh War
04 – Systematic Fuck
05 – Liberal Party
06 – Two Less Jacks
07 – Black Spring
08 – The Ferryman
09 – Hunter
10 – Safety Net

dimanche 15 juin 2014

Album de la Semaine : Mode Moderne - Occult Delight

Mode Moderne

Occult Delight

Interview de Mode Moderne, par Peek a Boo

As the band say themselves: in music you can discover the music from big bands, but also from lots of obscure ones. That's the beauty of being a musicfan, I guess. It even becomes more beautiful if you get the chance to see such bands on stage. On 22th March you can watch some of these gems on the 41th edition of Fantastique Night in Brussels. Peek-A-Boo was glad to have a chat with Mode Moderne.
The legend goes that your band was born when listening to New Order, Jesus and Mary Chain and OMD records. Are these bands a main influence?
Yes we love those bands, all of those bands and other bands too, top secret bands that are really really obscure because we made them up
Are you agreeing that I think that you make “old music with a brand new jacket” on? I mean, I definitely hear the 80’s….
We make NEW music, we wear leather jackets, we put pins on our jackets and cardigans and do drugs in graveyards
Talking about the 80’s. Are they the most important decade if it comes to music?
The most important year for music was when cro-magnon pounded out the first “four on the floor” on the swollen distended belly of a wild bear
Why do youngsters like you listen to music from the past? It seems like you’re saying that today’s music isn’t any good (lol)
Youngsters like me?? There's a lot of great new music, have you heard our records?
You seem to have obsessive fans as well. Tell us about the Serbian girl with her tattoo…
She put my words on her body sadly they were not directly from my mouth
Makes me think of a funny question. What’s the most weird thing you would do for a music hero? Tell us also who the hero is!!!!
I would uncross my legs for Howard Devoto circa 1979
Do you think it’s a wise thing to devote life to music?
Ask again in 20 years
One of your songs is called REAL GOTHS. A funny name. Are/were you ever Goths?
On the sub-culture spectrum we have always leaned black but to put it simply we are mod-rocker-goth-punk-twee-marxists
You soon will be in Belgium. Were you here before?
Never before! We will require a few supplies upon arrival
As far as I’m concerned you’ve already been gigging in Europe. How was that?
Yes. We travelled across the planet to play four and a half shows. It was shit. This time we are playing almost twenty-five shows, touring with our friends COSMETICS. It will be infinitely better.
If I’m right you’re Canadian. Is there a big difference with the scene there and here in Europe?
Apparently the Canadian economy withstood the global recession but nobody buys our merch at shows so... Hopefully you Europeans will buy some records so we don't all have to get jobs on oil rigs
Let’s end with two questions I always ask. What’s your favourite record of all time and please state why…
Morrissey – Vauxhall & I because it puts us in the mood
With whom wouldn’t you mind to be alone with in an elevator for 8 hours and what would you do then?
Robert Forester and Grant McLennan, just sit there and listen to them write a full Go-Betweens record in 8 hours
Perhaps you can also tell us why people should come and visit your gig!
Because you need more dancing and making out in your life

Line Up :
Phillip Intilé
Clint Lofkrantz
Sean Gilhooly
Rebecca Gray

Label :
Light Organ Records

Tracklist :
01 – Strangle The Shadows
02 – Grudges Crossed
03 – Thieving Baby’s Breath
04 – Severed Heads
05 – She, Untamed
06 – Occult Delight
07 – Time’s Up
08 – Unburden Yourself
09 – Dirty Dream #3
10 – Baby Bunny
11 – Come Sunrise
12 – Running Scared

dimanche 8 juin 2014

Album de la Semaine : Lower - Seek Warmer Climes


Seek Warmer Climes

Interview de Lower, par Jenn Pelly de Pitchfork

Pitchfork: What did you guys originally bond over musically?
Anton Rothstein: I never talked about music with Adrian when we first met. We had no intentions of playing a defined genre. We try not to bring what we listen to into Lower, but we keep failing. Saccharine Trust, Bauhaus, and Venom P. Stinger were influential on my idea of the band. And now we bond over Crisis, Nirvana, newer Scott Walker, the Germs,Rudimentary Peni, Echo and the Bunnymen. I am still mostly into hardcore punk. These days I listen to a lot of real rock music: Les Rallizes Dénudés, Brainbombs, Rusted Shut. 
Pitchfork: Was there a mood you wanted to express with Walk on Heads?
Adrian Toubro: There wasn't, but in the end some sort of gloomy mood obviously emerged.
AR: We're not aiming for joyous or sunny tunes. Someone labeled it "downer punk" and "depression rock." I don't know if I would say "aggressive," I would rather use "afraid."
Pitchfork: It seems like most of the punk coming out of Copenhagen right now is pretty downcast. Do you think there's a reason for that?
AR: It's easier to write about how bad you feel and make it genuine than to write about how everything is cool. I know it can seem like there is really depressing output [from Copenhagen] musically, like everything is gray all the time. But Copenhagen is not all gray. Some people are positive. But I don't feel like expressing that vibe.
Pitchfork: Adrian, how long have you been singing in bands? Your vocal style also has a darkness to it.
AT: I've always been singing since I was a child. When I was a kid I acted as a street musician for a short while with two friends where we sang for money. But I haven't been singing in a band (besides small hopeless projects) before Lower. Perhaps I have a partiality to a darker and more melancholic approach, but it all comes down to my intuition.
Pitchfork: When Lower started there had been a new punk scene forming around Iceage and Anton's other band, Sexdrome. Did you feel somewhat inspired to start Lower because of what was going on musically in Copenhagen?
AT: Personally, I had a secret desire of starting a band years prior to [Lower]. When a few bands around me started to pop up, I decided to take action. First and foremost, I was inspired by the fact that a few people I was acquainted with were playing while I wasn't. Musically, I can't say that I was inspired by the scene, because when we started there weren't that many bands I was aware of-- not like now.
AR: Copenhagen is kind of separated into two underground scenes. There's been a really strong hardcore scene for quite a few years; there was a golden age from 1999 to 2005, but then it kind of died, and there was nothing really going on. And then the scene we are a part of started when Sexdrome and Iceage played our first show together; we just randomly ran into Iceage and the scene grew from that. I think it inspired people to play in bands. Basically, all the bands now consist of 15 to 20 people. It's all inbred.
"All of our shows have been static as fuck: 
no movement, no blood, nothing. It should be that way. 
There is no reason to dance or fuck around in a pit."
Pitchfork: What kind of places do you play shows in Copenhagen?
AR: Most have been at this abandoned car repair shop called Mayhem, which grew out of the experimental noise scene three or four years ago. It was granted by some cultural authority to a bunch of innovative people who wanted to start a workspace for bands and artists that are a little to the side of the mainstream. Our rehearsal room is there, and there's a show space, too. It feels like home. It's just a barren room with nothing except some poles and chairs. Our first show there was a true Copenhagen show, the 29th of June, 2011: Sexdrome, Sejr, Iceage, Love Potion, Redflesh, and Undergang. There are always people around who create stuff.
We've also played regular venues. We played one bigger venue in Stockholm and it was really weird. You are controlled by sound guys who don't really care about the music. They just care about the limits they're allowed to produce [sound] within. It kills the energy. I would rather play for 70 people in a small, cramped place than 300 in a big venue. I don't care much for bigger places. I don't think the other guys do either.
Pitchfork: On "Craver", Adrian is singing about boredom and breaking past it towards something better. Where did the idea for that song come from?
AT: [When writing lyrics] I sit down and twist my brain for a day, and the next day I do likewise. This process can take an hour or several weeks. The lyrics to "Craver" are definitely the ones I'm most satisfied with on Walk on Heads. It's about frustration with boredom and the hope that is created when something new occurs in everyday life. Being in such a situation [myself] pushed me to write about it. I've been very bored and lethargic in periods of my life-- it's one of the worst conditions I've experienced. I'm afraid of ending [up] there again.
Pitchfork: The EP title comes from a lyric on "Pictures of Passion". On the song you also describe this image as "a relic of fascism." What are you singing about?
AT: It's a picture of any show anywhere where one person is the center of attention.
AR: We thought it sounded cool. All of our shows have been static as fuck. No movement, no blood, nothing. It should be that way. There is no reason to dance or fuck around in a pit. The word "fascism" is just a way to express how you feel when you're onstage and you can walk on heads and oppress whoever's watching you. It's not about Lower, though, and I don't think you should bring political issues into it. It definitely doesn't have anything to do with actual fascism of Italy or Germany. It's just an image. None of us are fascists.
Pitchfork: What else are you inspired by lyrically?
AT: What inspires me changes very much from time to time. Right now, I'm very inspired by clichéd imagery and motifs that have swollen pop music lyrics for decades. Something very fascinating-- or maybe awful-- happens when it seems like an artist has a list of certain words that have to be included in their lyrics; the more trite and abused the words are, the better. I also like Scandinavian poets, novelists, and lyricists such as Edith Södergran, Karin Boye,Aksel Sandemose, Tom Kristensen, and especially Cornelis Vreeswijk when it comes to lyrics.
Pitchfork: Adrian, what have you been up to besides Lower?
AT: I'm 23, so it has mostly been school. In 2007, I went to Tanzania, Africa, by myself, where I worked at an orphanage, building toilets. And later on I went traveling down through Tanzania to Malawi; that was a strange experience. Lots of fucked up things happened down there. I almost got kidnapped in Dar Es Salaam. Besides that, I've done what a usual school boy does in Copenhagen: played soccer and watched a lot of movies.
"Objective popularity is not mandatory to fulfill your dreams."
Pitchfork: Did you go to Africa right after high school?
AT: What you call high school, in Denmark we've got something called gymnasium. I went to gymnasium for one year and it was so excruciatingly boring that it almost killed me. So in my desperation I dropped out and got employed with some strange jobs, such as minibar-refiller and porter in a hospital-like facility. I worked for half a year and then went away to Africa.
I had some romantic idea from watching too many political thrillers about expatriates living in foreign countries-- solving diplomatic issues, being the intermediary who would help countries negotiating different interests, [make] peace perhaps. And eventually find myself a beautiful wife who worked with Red Cross or something and settle in Africa.
But I ended up in a fundamentalist Christian organization, which didn't at all live up to my romantic anticipation. I had to participate in prayers every morning [at] 7 o'clock! And I'm not religious, so it was quite unnecessary, plus the preacher spoke Swahili so I couldn't understand a word for an hour or two. After a month, I went traveling through the country. 
The combination of being bored, wanting new experiences, and watching movies like The Constant Gardener and The Year of Living Dangerously made me flee to Tanzania. But when the three months was up, I really wanted to go back to the Danish welfare state. [laughs] I still believe someday in the future I'll end up a diplomat solving different crises. 
Pitchfork: Are there plans for Lower to tour the U.S.?
AR: I don't know what the future holds, but I would like to. I've been admiring bands from Copenhagen touring the States for the last 10 years. But you don't have to be Iceage to do that. You can just trick customs at the airport, go in, and play lots of shows; the DIY way of doing it. Objective popularity is not mandatory to fulfill your dreams. I've heard so many really good stories from bands who just toured for five weeks in a smelly van with nothing but themselves. I'm quite sure it will happen someday, but I only dare to dream of it right now.
Line up :
Kristian Emdal
Simon Formann
Adrian Toubro
Anton Rothstein
Label :
Tracklist :
01 – Another Life
02 – Daft Persuasion
03 – Lost Weight, Perfect Skin
04 – Unkempt and Uncaring
05 – Expanding Horizons (Dar es Salaam)
06 – Bastard Tactics
07 – Soft Option
08 – Craver
09 – Tradition
10 – Arrows