Pole Gets Back to Nature on ‘Wald’ | Exclaim! | September 23, 2015

Pole Gets Back to Nature on ‘Wald’

Pole Gets Back to Nature on 'Wald'

Photo: Filipe Marques

This month, Pole released Wald, his first album since 2007’s Steingarten. And while an eight-year gap between albums may feel painfully long, Pole mastermind Stefan Betke explains that life simply got in the way.

“After the release of Steingarten, I had been touring quite a lot. [At the] same time, we were closing down ~scape, our label Barbara [Preisinger] and I were running,” Betke tells Exclaim! “There was not much time and headspace left to work on a new album. When I got back to work, it took me a while to compose tracks that I was happy with.”

Betke found inspiration for Wald‘s airy, spacious soundscapes among the fresh air and virtual silence of the woods, including the Alps.

“Forests, in this specific case, were just an option to get inspired,” he says. “All environments include architectural structures; man-made or made by nature. If you look closely enough, you will obviously find a lot between the lines including space. All this was an inspiration for me”

Breaking away from his regular songwriting style of short, digestible tracks,Wald is a 50-minute release split into nine songs, grouped into three-part multi-suites, a decision Betke describes as, “A kind of timeline. Like a choreography in dance, I combined the songs to allow development, intro and outro, as well as climaxes per act. I grouped them following a logical flow of sound.”

With three tracks, “Moos,” “Wurzel” and “Aue” originally released as a series of 12-inch records at the beginning of the decade, Betke decided to add these songs to Wald as newly recorded live versions, explaining, “Playing them live during the last couple of years, they changed a lot and became more compressed and dense than the original releases were. I think they are like an old red wine, just ready to enjoy now.”

Listen to a live version of Wald‘s “Moos” below.

Wald is out now via Pole’s own Pole Music imprint.

The Tallest Man on Earth Gets Personal with ‘Dark Bird Is Home’ | Exclaim! | March 15, 2015

The Tallest Man on Earth Gets Personal with ‘Dark Bird Is Home’

The Tallest Man on Earth Gets Personal with 'Dark Bird Is Home'

Photo: Cameron Wittig

This week, Swedish folk musician the Tallest Man on Earth released his fourth full-length, Dark Bird Is Home, on Dead Oceans. Largely written during a period in which the songwriter originally set aside to rest and regroup from an ambitious tour, Dark Bird Is Home has been described as the Tallest Man on Earth’s most personal and direct work to date.

“I planned to take the entire year of 2014 off from touring and go home and just enjoy life in a slow pace, but a lot of things happened in my personal life,” Kristian Matsson tells Exclaim! “I went through a divorce and a bunch of things so I wrote a lot of new songs because I had a lot of things I had to get out.”

After recording much of his last album, 2012’s There’s No Leaving Now, alone in his home during the winter months — something he admits was “not a fun process” — Matsson decided to modify his approach this time around.

“We had a recording session that lasted two weeks in the middle of the summer with a couple of friends coming out to play the bass (Mats Winkvist) and drums (Niclas Nordin),” he explains.

Opting to record in Eau Claire, WI, home of Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon, Matsson brought in local engineer BJ Burton (Megafaun, Volcano Choir), along with musicians from Vernon’s band to play on Dark Bird Is Home.

“There were so many players around here coming through the studio, like Mike Lewis on saxophone and Mike Noyce [who] played viola and sang backup.”

Although the writing and recording methods employed on Dark Bird Is Homeare deliberately different than that on There’s No Leaving Now, Matsson doesn’t consider his new album a reaction to the last one.

“I just had the time and I had the equipment and I had the help of others, a lot of good things were lining up. All of a sudden I had all of this recorded, and today, I feel really proud of what came out of it.”

The Tallest Man on Earth has a series of U.S. and European dates lined up in support of the album, and you can see all those here.

Scuba Finds New Inspiration in ‘Claustrophobia’ | Exclaim! | March 12, 2015

Scuba Finds New Inspiration in ‘Claustrophobia’

Scuba Finds New Inspiration in \'Claustrophobia\'

After gaining much acclaim for his last LP, the vocal hook-heavy techno throwback Personality, UK producer Scuba (a.k.a. Paul Rose) will release his third LP, Claustrophobia, on March 23 on his own Hotflush Recordings.

This first full-length since 2012 is rife with collapsing, brooding beats and haunting soundscapes; speaking with Exclaim!, Rose attributes his new album’s darker sounds with his serious battle with infectious mononucleosis.

“The album was written during quite a short period while I was recovering. I’d spent the best part of two months completely incapacitated, which was a difficult time. It was a hard year generally and it took quite a lot of soul-searching to get through it. The album reflects that, I guess.”

After spending most of 2014 in “either a bed or a hospital,” Rose recovered just in time to play the Labyrinth Festival, located in Niigata, Japan. He describes the event as “the best in the world, mostly because [of] the attitude of the people who go there, which is so open-minded, and also because there’s only one stage and the result is that you get an almost total commonality of purpose in the crowd and the performers.”

Rose’s experience proved to be so positive that it helped his return to recording. “My set was a lot of fun, but just as important was getting the chance to enjoy the whole thing, and I found myself very inspired when I got home and back in the studio.”

Written and recorded by Rose, Claustrophobia is a singular vision that, unlike much of the music made by his contemporaries, lacks big-name guest vocalists, although he did feel “a lot of pressure to cash in. I was being pulled in so many different directions, I didn’t feel comfortable with any of it, really, and it was pretty difficult to make music in that kind of environment. In the end I just had to say ‘fuck you’ to everyone and do my own thing.”

Jungle Discuss the Visual Inspiration Behind Their Breakout Debut | Exclaim! | July 14, 2014

Jungle Discuss the Visual Inspiration Behind Their Breakout Debut

Jungle Discuss the Visual Inspiration Behind Their Breakout Debut

On Tuesday (July 15), London collective Jungle will release their self-titled debut on XL Recordings. Already starting a firestorm of praise by the press in their native UK, including extensive coverage in NME along with a BBC Sound of 2014 nomination, many critics have been comparing the group’s funk/techno/post-punk hybrid to such disparate acts like Disclosure, Marvin Gaye and Joy Division.

Speaking with Exclaim!, the enigmatically named J (a.k.a. Josh Lloyd-Watson) discusses the inspiration behind their debut, saying, “Our influences tend to be quite visual; we tried not to listen to a lot of music while we were recording the record. Instead we’d see places in our head and write tunes around those. Once you can get those locations into your head you can use them to inspire a feeling to take you somewhere else that’s not a room in Shepherd’s Bush. We made a conscious decision to not directly listen to other people’s music.”

Working together for over a decade before they entered the studio to record what would become their self-titled LP, J talks about how he and his musical partner T (a.k.a. Tom McFarland) found the confidence to finally enter the studio. “We finished a track on the record, a song called ‘Son of a Gun.’ It was that process of finishing something that gave us the confidence to go on and write more and finish more, and once we started finishing things you have that kind of belief, you believe that you can do it.”

But it’s not only critics who are ecstatic about Jungle’s retrograde style, as two of their music videos (“The Heat,” featuring rollerskating/dance duo High Rollaz, and “Platoon,” starring a six-year-old breakdancing phenom) have been lauded by fans and viewed millions of times each.

“The idea of videos is to keep everything quite simple and capture the characters and emotions in the most honest light,” J explains. “Our process is part of that collective, whether it’s seven of us playing on stage or 12 people dancing in a music video with a little girl doing a head-spin, it’s irrelevant, it’s all part of the feeling, the journey.”

Jungle will perform a number of dates in September and October that will have them on stages across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The up-north portions of the trip will have them hitting venues in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Read the rest of our interview with J here.

Tour dates:

08/02 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
09/19 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
09/20 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
09/22 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
09/24 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
09/25 Dallas, TX – Fitzgerald’s
09/26 New Orleans, LA – Republic
09/27 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
09/28 Nashville, TN – Exit In
09/30 Washington D.C. – Black Cat
10/01 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
10/02 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
10/03 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
10/04 Montreal, QC – Le Belmont
10/06 Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
10/07 Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Ballroom
10/08 Chicago, IL – Thalia Music Hall
10/09 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
10/11 Mexico City – Corona Capital Music Festival
10/14 Vancouver, BC – The Imperial
10/14 Seattle, WA – The Showbox
10/15 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
10/18 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival

Martyn Explains the Increased “Character” and Collaborative Nature of ‘The Air Between Words’ | Exclaim! | June 20, 2014

Martyn Explains the Increased “Character” and Collaborative Nature of ‘The Air Between Words’

Martyn Explains the Increased \

Released just two weeks after The Forgiveness EP, Washington, DC-via-Eindhoven, Netherlands producer Martyn‘s third full-length, The Air Between Words, hits the street this week. Marking his first LP for Ninja Tune, Martyn’s brand of old-school drum & bass seems tailor-made for the classic electronic record label, and he’s well aware of the “’90s throwback” tag critics have often used to describe his music.

“It’s the music I listened to when I started going out to clubs, so it has shaped my musical background significantly,” Martyn explains to Exclaim! “I don’t think anyone could claim my music sounds retro in the sense that it copies older music, but it clearly pays its dues in a modern, hopefully timeless, way.”

Recorded at his home studio, The Air Between Words is his most organic and adventurous work to date — something Martyn attributes to the use of cheap, lo-fi equipment. “I think gives it a bit more ‘character.’ I’ve been collecting a lot of simple, lo-fi type gear, pedals for effects, small synths…”

In addition to the use new gear, The Air Between Words also features a pair of guests — Four Tet on “Glassbeadgames” and copeland copeland (a.k.a. Inga Copeland, formally of Hype Williams) on “Love of Pleasure” — a first for Martyn.

“I was never that fond of collaborating. Maybe it was insecurity — you don’t want to give away all your secrets. But I have learned over the last few years that collaborating actually makes you better and also more aware of your abilities and others.'”

Check out the Martyn performing “Glassbeadgames” at the BBC below.

Tour dates:

07/02 Tisno, Croatia – The Garden Festival
07/19 Ibiza, Spain – Space
08/01 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Dekmantel Festival
08/02 Glasgow, Scotland – The Art School
08/09 New York, NY – MoMA PS1

Drew Daniel Explains Soft Pink Truth’s Exploration of “Extinction, Annihilation and Mass Death” | Exclaim! | June 17, 2014

Drew Daniel Explains Soft Pink Truth’s Exploration of “Extinction, Annihilation and Mass Death”

Drew Daniel Explains Soft Pink Truth\'s Exploration of \

Today (June 17), Drew Daniel, one half of San Francisco glitch experimentalistsMatmos, unleashes his first album in 10 years as the Soft Pink Truth. Released through Thrill Jockey, Why Do the Heathen Rage? finds Daniel covering 10 classic black metal (and proto-black metal) songs, including tracks by Darkthrone, Hellhammer, Mayhem and Venom. A follow-up to 2004’s sophomore LP, Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Soft Pink Truth?, which found him covering ’80s punk and hardcore, Daniel once again transforms aggressive rock songs into clubby, rave-induced anthems.

Speaking with Exclaim!, Daniel explains his lifelong fascination with black metal, saying, “I first heard black metal when my friend Kris Force’s band Amber Asylum signed to Misanthropy Records, which was Burzum’s label also. So I heard [Burzum’s 1996 album] Filosofem and it blew me away.”

Explaining why black metal speaks to him, Daniel continues, “The obsessions with extreme scenarios of extinction, annihilation and mass death which surge throughout black metal are, to me, deeply congruent with the kind of scenarios that we know as a species that we are heading towards.”

Recorded by Daniel in his Baltimore home, Why Do the Heathen Rage? features contributions from Daniel’s partner in Matmos, M.C. Schmidt, Terence Hannum from Chicago black metal band Locrian and Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons. Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak is the lone female guest, singing the album’s most macho and sexualized lyrics on Sarcófago’s “Ready to Fuck,” a decision Daniel admits was partly political.

“I had made about half of the album and Martin [a.k.a. M.C. Schmidt], my boyfriend and partner in Matmos, listened to it and said, ‘It’s very male, you haven’t really taken it to that ‘diva house music’ place yet.’ And I realized that he was right, that I needed to press the point by having a strong female perspective.”

Read our full interview with Daniel here.

Trust’s Robert Alfons Talks the “Emotional Songs” of ‘Joyland’ | Exclaim! | March 2014

Trust’s Robert Alfons Talks the “Emotional Songs” of ‘Joyland’

Trust\'s Robert Alfons Talks the \

Earlier this week, Trust‘s Robert Alfons released his sophomore album,Joyland, on Arts & Crafts, although this time without co-founder Maya Postepski, who left the group to focus on her other band, Austra.

“It was something that was years in the making, because from the start she was already involved with another project,” Alfons tells Exclaim! “A lot of those songs on the first record were old songs of mine, so in a lot of ways it doesn’t feel too different for me. I kinda had a clear vision of what I wanted from that first record and again for the second one.”

A collection of throbbing beats and bombastic hooks that draw heavily from mainstream pop music, Joyland is a technicolour update on Trust’s dark and brooding sound, something Alfons says comes from a real place.

“None of it’s irony; for me it’s real. Some of my favourite moments of my life are dancing at a club, and it could be what some person might consider a guilty pleasure, but I definitely lean towards emotional songs and melodies.”

Although his music has become brighter and louder, Alfons’ goth-inspired vocals remain, something he characterizes as just another instrument.

“Like any other sort of instrument, you sort of have to figure it out and work on it. I guess I’ve always been singing and wanted to challenge it, but maybe the fact that I can sing in a super high range is maybe something that’s not going to happen in the next 20 years. Maybe it’s going to change, and it has changed over the course of my life too, but it’s just an instrument, and it’s my favourite instrument I guess.”

Joyland is out now. You can check out Trust’s tour dates here and watch the video for first single “Rescue, Mister” below.