Tag Archives: Opal Tapes

OOBE / Digitalisea


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In the end, I know I really like a record when to me it sounds good even when listened underwater. I can not remember exactly how this freakish habit started, but it most certainly comes from back when I first discovered the Velvet Underground – when I read that John Cale wanted to record his third aborted album with the band with all the amps submerged in a swimming pool. This kind of image stuck with me and from thereon I started paying attention to how even those melodies that thought I knew so well seemed to transform completely when listened with my head beneath the water.

The beauty of OOBE’s second effort is that there are moments in it in which it actually feels like you already have your head underwater. The Italian producer had already proven his fantastic skills in creating soft mesopelagic distortions with the essential techno of last year’s SFTCR (Opal Tapes, 2013). With Digitalisea, OOBE embraces the appealing Post Internet-ish identity of newly-spawned 1080p label with both enthusiasm and integrity to his own vision, the synergy between the two vectors resulting in a pretty decent example of digital music sounding perfectly organic.

 

 

There are very few valid examples from the last couple of years of digital music sounding so warm and intimate, despite its cold and impalpable origin (one of them being, just to throw a name, Jam City’s Classical Curves back from 2012 on Night Slugs). And the best moments in OOBE’s Digitalisea are precisely those tracks where the rhythm slows down – where kicks, hi-hats and such take a step back and let the liquid mantra-like melodies submerge the listener: Deep Space Lovers or Lightblue must be how closing yourself in a sensory deprivation tank feels like.

If that is true, there is no better name for the artist that crafted such sonic experiences than OOBE = Out Of Body Experience.

OOBE is feeding your hunger on Friday November 28 during Beato Bigote New Media Art Festival in Treviso, showcasing his new material. Save the date cause you’re going to live a postmodern internet experience in an ancient Medieval building.

 

Artwork: Davis Ayer

 


Lumisokea / Apophenia


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Maybe the fact that I was going inside a morgue could make feel that shitty way. I felt a strong pain in my stomach, I felt anguish and a shiver kept running through my back. But my dear friends, this is not the scary part of a tale that saw me as the protagonist. I don’t even know why I went inside that fucking morgue, I was trying to steel some tools in a construction site near the wig shop. Actually I don’t think I went spontaneously inside it, some external forces may had lead me there. External forces…What bullshit! But guys, oh you couldn’t even imagine what they were doing inside the mortuary. Beside the fact that it was full of alembics and ampoules and phials and there were beam lights as in a mid-nineties discotheque, some weird and tall guys with white coats and gas masks were bustling about the corpses with cruelest violence I’ve ever seen.
“What the fuck are you doing to those deathly….deads?!”
“We should first ask you who you are and why you are here but we’ll limit ourselves saying that we’re torturing the cadavers. We’re tormenting them.”
“Uoh, uoh, uoh..Stop! Are you serious? Are you kidding me? You fucking bastards…You are insane!”
“Well, it could be consider a possibility.”
“There’s blood everywhere, it’s horrible and absurd! Why are you doing this? They’re dead!”
“Yes, they’re dead. Or at least they’re bodies. But we don’t want that they think it’s over. Probably they suffered during their lives, probably they suffered at the moment of dying. And now it’s all over. No, this is what they believe. This is not the truth. And we’re here to remember them that it’s not over. We hope that wherever they are, they’re also suffering for us that are still alive.”

This is a brief summary of what you could find inside Apophenia, the brand new release (January 23rd) of the Opal Tapes family. Lumisokea is a Belgian-Italian duo, formed by Koenraad Ecker and Andrea Taeggi. Nothing more will be said about them, enjoy their third record and check their Soundcloud profile to discover more about them.

Photo: Acacia Johnson


Let’s talk and play / HOLOVR


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As you know we’re always talking only about stuff that deserves your attention. We’re really huge fans of Opal Tapes label and their doing a great job. Lunar Lake (out on April 15) by HOLOVR is one of the best releases of this year and we strickly recommend to give a listen to it. We reached out the man behind the project HOLOVR and we asked him to talk about his other projects as well as about Opal Tapes imaginary and the musical artists that are tickling his mind. HOLOVR gives us a great selection of tracks that could be the perfect soundtrack for you New Year’s Eve. Abstraction becomes reality.

EC: How do you prefer to describe your music? Have you got word, a sentence or an haiku?

Emotional abstraction.

EC: Could you please tell us something about your working process? How do you make your music? What are your inspirations?

With HOLOVR, it’s all hardware-based, just using a computer for some triggering.  Nothing too fancy or elaborate – some synths and samplers, drum machine, four-track, reel-to-reel, a few other bits.  I like to record on the fly as much as possible to retain a live feel and a dynamism in the layers of a track. I’m into this idea of subtle variation within repetition; I love the hypnotic effect of repetition, with incremental changes within this – the repetition carrying you and the variation leading you.

I’m inspired by the abstract nature of emotionality in music, and the triggers that music acquires with time.

EC: People got a perception of Opal Tapes imaginary and aesthetic but which is in in your mind the idea, the concept or just the frame or a track behind this successful project?  I mean that Opal Tapes label evokes a blurry and warped imaginary, supported by the “kind” of music and the aesthetic of the tapes. Is it “right” first of all? Then, why in your opinion the label has been ratified as one of the best of 2013?

I think the key thing with Opal Tapes is that it’s embraced the fact that beat-based electronic music doesn’t have to be slick and polished (nor particularly beat-based) to be affecting, and that what’s important is feel, energy, vibe, which can actually come from a rejection of sheen and surface technique.  I think it’s a move away from a rigid conventionality that a lot of electronic seems to have fallen into, based around certain tempos and signifiers, and towards exploration and new collisions.  It’s like a punk spirit and naive experimentalism is being injected back into these conventions, and people have responded to that because it’s there and the time is right.

EC: What are your current listenings and your favourite records ever?

The mix I put together is stuff I’ve been listening to recently.

Autechre – Amber, probably favourite ever, at least today it is.  Others include The Disintegration Loops, The Cold Vein, the first Burial album, I Care Because You Do, Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding, to name a few (but I hate lists and always forget things).

EC: What about your other projects Tidal, Venn Rain, Journey of Mind? Is HOLOVR a sort of sum point or what?

I’d say it’s definitely where I’m at now, and my main focus going forward – Venn Rain is pretty much done for various reasons, although there’s some recordings still to come out.  ‘HOLOVR’ is actually an amalgamation of ‘Holographic Arts’ – a remix moniker I had – and ‘Venn Rain’, as I wanted to run them together and effectively finish them as discrete projects; Lunar Lake has a lot of Venn Rain material on it, so it kind of started out as a remix album, and then became its own thing.  Journey of Mind is entirely sample-based, so it’s a nice break from producing tracks from scratch, and there’s a Tidal LP due out later in the year, so we’ll see what happens with those ones.

HOLOVR does feel like a sum-point in some ways, yes.  Like I can combine drone/ambient tropes with rhythmic forms and triggers that I wouldn’t explore in other projects, but are a big part of my musical identity.

EC: Is there any dj/producer you’d love to remix or collaborate with?

I reckon and Burial and I could do some good shit together.

EC: What are future plans? Tours, collaborations, new releases?

Release-wise, a HOLOVR LP on Opal Tapes (in the Black Opal series) out early next year sometime, and the Tidal LP will be out on Further.  Tape-wise there’ll be a Journey of Mind release on Sicsic at some point, and a couple of Venn Rain things that should eventually see the light of day.  I’ve also started a new CDr label, called S.I.N.K. CDs, so there’ll be stuff on there.  I’m doing a HOLOVR remix for Silf too.

No tours planned, but playing in Clime at the next Sunk Season event at Cafe OTO on 26th Jan.  Hopefully some HOLOVR live shows next year too.

Recording-wise, I’ve just got some nice new bits of gear, so looking forward to getting my head round those, and seeing where they take me…

 

Photo: Brock Davis


Basic House / Oats


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We recently reached the head of the highly prolific cassette label Opal Tapes Stephen Bishop aka Basic House for an  interview and now we are back focused on him. The reason is he just released his new full length work Oats for for Luke “Helm” Younger’s Alter imprint, his 2nd LP of 2013 after the crumbling deconstructions of ‘Caim In Bird Form’ for Digitalis. Stephen creates a singular sound that focuses on decay, stagnation and apathy towards clichés within the current climate of electronic music. Breaking conventions. Stream here C-Beat and excerpts of B.G. Feathers and AR II.

Photo: Anna Paola Guerra

 


Let’s Talk and Play / DJ Ford Foster


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With a bunch of punk, hip-hop in his bag Leeds-based artist DJ Ford Foster released raw house, techno and ghetto tracks for Opal Tapes, Western Panorama, Fragil White and so on. We reached this busy producer for a few questions and he was so kind to make a brilliant punchy session, you can download and stream below. Well, we also asked him about a visual artist he likes, that’s why art we mixed with his words/sound is by Neckface.

EC: Which are the perfect conditions or the suitable contest where you love to create your music? And which is your working process?

My working process is pretty basic really – I make my stuff in the spare room of our house, I tend to work pretty quickly. Don’t want to give away too many of my secrets (haha!) but I work with a computer and a track takes shape pretty quickly. The stuff I make is quite direct and immediate usually and if it takes too long for me to make a track it tends to lose that fresh feeling – most of my favourite producers work quickly…there’s some modern rap producers making like 30 beats a week which is crazy! I occasionally go back to a track and tweak it a bit but it’s rare. Weed definitely helps me get in the zone…

EC: Is there an haiku you’d use to describe Dj Ford Foster?

Don’t overthink it, keep keep on banging the box, get high and make beats…haha

EC: Did the place where you live or the general environment influence you to “shape” your sound?

Not consciously really – I’ve lived all over England, some places nicer than others. I now live in a leafy suburban area of Leeds, very peaceful and surrounded by old people. I don’t think the music I make is very tranquil though. My sound is mainly influenced by Chicago stuff, old UK bleep tracks, tracky techno and also house stuff, Nu Groove, early Strictly Rhythm and things – although my stuff isn’t consciously retro for the sake of it I’ll stick to certain types of sounds and classic production methods. I love all sorts of music and have been involved in lots of different things over the years but I’m not into mixing things up too much – certain sounds and techniques will really date your music, for instance it’s funny how a record from 1988 can still sound fresh but all that stuttering mid-rangey Ableton stuff from a few years ago sounds pretty naff now.

EC: You released for several labels. Opal Tapes is doing a good job but would you like to introduce a small underground label which for some reasons you really enjoyed working for?

Opal are great and Bish is a top feller, them putting out Function Trax Vol 2 has been a real big boost for me. There may be another release with them next year. I’ve loved working for Fragil – Raphael has a very clear idea of what he wants to do and gave me a lot of feedback, we went back and forth a few times until we got everything just right. I have a lot of hopes for Bad Mums, they have some interesting stuff lined up. Also got some tracks coming out on Ugly Funk, they’ve put releases out by people like Tobias Schmidt and Mark Hawkins who I really admire so that’s exciting. Also have a few tracks coming out on The Public Stand’s new sub-label next year – can’t give details yet till everything’s confirmed but there should be some big guys remixing my stuff too so that’s cool…Also have to give props to Jon E Alpha at Western Panorama for putting out my first release! They are small underground labels in the general scheme of things I guess, I’m appreciative that different labels are backing my stuff so I’ve got to give them all props, haha!

EC: In SC profile you say you grow up with noise, hip-hop, punk. Did u play in any bands? Tell us more about your past and how did you start playing house and techno?

Haha, how do I answer this without showing my age? I was into the first wave of hip hop and electro when I was really young, then it basically went hip hop – heavy metal – thrash – hardcore punk – weird psych/noisy stuff, Butthole Surfers, Psychic TV etc – then house/techno/hardcore etc. I’ve always had eclectic tastes but I tend to gravitate towards stuff that’s a bit primitive, rough and weird. I started going clubbing in 1990 and started DJing in 1995, so you can probably guess my age roughly. Just did a few parties, never got any paid work or owt, spent lots of money on records, then started writing rhymes and MCing a few years later, doing hip hop stuff but have also done punk bands and noise/experimental stuff over the last ten years or so. I’m still involved in those scenes and sing in a couple of bands, pretty low-key and occasional at the moment though. It’s amazing the amount of people I know who are making electronic stuff and have a punk/noise background, or in fact still make that music too. I think it’s great as I’ve always liked all sorts of good shit and I’ll get the same buzz off a Brainbombs record as I do off a Trackhead Steve record or whatever, so it makes total sense to me.
For whatever reason, I had never made much house and techno, had done bits with friends but never really finished anything on my own – I’d made hip hop beats and done noise stuff so I knew a bit of production, but last year I just decided I wanted to make tracks that gave me the same buzz as all the stuff I used to rave to – to begin with just Dance Mania and Relief style, raw as hell drum machine type business. Since then I’ve just had my head down working – I’ve got over twenty years worth of shit in my brain to get out! There is some breadth of styles with Ford Foster, variation of tempos and such but always raw and aimed at the dancefloor even if it’s noisy or weird.

EC: There’s such a big confusion about house music today and this genre could basically include so many artists and the line between good and bad is so thin. What is House Music for YOU?

I dunno, there’s fucking loads of music about, I check stuff out but like to keep it quite ruthless and focussed and don’t what people are doing affect me too much. There’s always been shit dance music around – there’s loads of good stuff around at the moment but there’s bland stuff too, I dunno, what does the term deep house mean nowadays, say? To me it means Larry Heard or something but it doesn’t seem to mean that now. I think ‘EDM’ is a good thing also, as it gives a lot of really bad music a name and a separate identity and keeps it the fuck away from house and techno!
For me house music is a raw DIY thing, functional but emotional music, disco stripped right down and done on the cheap! Definitely ‘feel’ music, same vibe as punk to me. Not too slick or overproduced, I appreciate the slickness of old New York garage stuff say but I don’t really like that modern polite slickness.

EC: Is there any dj/producer you’d love to remix or collaborate with?

I would love to make some stuff with some of my ghetto house heroes like DJ Deeon, DJ Funk or Jammin’ Gerald, that would be a dream. Dave Clarke is a hero too, or Blawan or Randomer out of the new school. Definitely up for doing more collabs, have done some stuff with Arbasson Grell which I’m aiming to get released and am currently doing a techno project with a mate of mine who does punk and industrial/noise stuff. I’d like to remix anyone really if you have permission to do what you want – Van Helden and Todd Terry did some great remixes of some right shit in the 90s. Just use a tiny vocal snippet or something!

EC: Any plans for the future? Would you like to come and play in the smelly lagoon aka Venice?

Just got these few releases coming out, so hoping that all goes well, other than that just making trax and hopefully getting some more DJ gigs. I might try and put an occasional rave on or something in a bar here in Leeds, I dunno. I would love to come and play in Venice or anywhere that will have me, did a gig for Fragil in France recently which was dope, any interested parties feel free to get in touch!


Let’s Play / Basic House


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Stephen Bishop is the founder of label Opal Tapes,  Teesside-based imprint which is pushing the boundaries of dance music towards lo-fi, experimental, noisy territories: he crafts his sound under the moniker of Basic House. After posting a bunch of OT great releases – Shapednoise, Lumigraph, 1991, Huerco S., Holovr, IVVVO and so on –  we were so lucky to be in touch with this illuminated mind and he made a special mixtape for us. Stream and download it here:

 

Tracklist

Nihilist Spasm Band – Dog Face Man

Olivia Block & Kyle Bruckmann – Teem 3

AGF – I-War

AFX – Pissed Up In SE1

No Trend – Too Many Humans

Mathieu Ruhlmann – 03

Marchetti & Noetinger – Derives, Derives…

Mentally Ill – Tumor Boy

Age Coin – Perception Part 1

KAUMWALD – Stix

Basic House – Time Table

Basic House – Interiors

 


Huerco S. / Colonial Patterns


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His lo-fi transmissions have so far seen release on labels like Wicked Bass, Future Times, Opal Tapes and  Anthony Naples’ Proibito label under the name of Royal Crown Of Sweden. We are talking about the Kansas-based producer Brian Leeds better known as Huerco S. whose debut album will be released on September 22 on Daniel Lopatin and Joel Ford’ Software label. Leeds uses low-end software, synths and cassettes so as to subvert the gloss of so much urban dance music, giving tracks an impressionistic, concrete, emotive feel. The press release cites “the ancient Native American mound city of Cahokia” and architect Paolo Soleri, known for the concept of “Arcology” (a fusion of architecture and ecology),  as an influence for Colonial Patterns. Music influences are Theo Parrish, Jon Hassell’s hybridized experiments in percussive ambience and William Basinski’s strobing melancholia

Photo: Yoshinori Mizutani


Not Alive Yet / The Mole Map


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The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself - Bertrand Russell

Not Alive Yet drops a refreshing early summer mix which contains thoughts on geography of skin, ginger beer and perfect symmetry in nature. It features sounds from Dave Saved, Panda Valium, Not Waving, Opal Tapes artists like Huerco S. and DJ Ford Foster plus many more. Stream and download it below.

Photo:  Joshua Citarella