If Birdman Cult’s song “Snakes” wasn’t a jaunty, fuzzy post-punk garage rock song its video would come off more like the notorious “11B-X-1371” clip that circulated a few years ago. A hooded and robed figure in a bird mask bearing tilted pentagrams presents as the high priest of some nefarious cult handling snakes like he’s officiating at something more sinister than the “Cremation of Care” ceremony at Bohemian Grove. Rather, the symbols are more primal connecting the vitality of the song itself to more elemental forces than the theatrically wicked. The “snake” in this song also taps into mythology and turns the symbol on its head with the temptations of the city and its culture serving as transformative role through corrupting an outmoded set of values and sensibilities. If you turn off the sound the optics are certainly spooky but the music gives it the playful context much as many things seem far scarier than they are if you don’t know much about them and this song challenges that cognitive dissonance beautifully. Watch the video for “Snakes” on YouTube and follow Birdman Cult at the links below.
RARE CIGARETTES is the alias of producer Daniel Gol who in the single “Amygdala,” made in collaboration with ZAAR, gives us a downtempo exploration of that most modern of ailments, anxiety. The vocals seem very chill on the subject but in the music with the distorted synth haunting after the finely textured beats and enshrouding the other elements of the music you hear how those emotions can overwhelm so much of your life. The vocals can’t escape it, the rhythm can’t and in the end those distorted drones and synth arpeggios close out the track. In expressing the power of those phenomena of the mind, though, Gol suggests we can externalize and express those feelings and perhaps better understand and get a grasp of them so they do not have undue power over our minds. Listen to “Amygdala,” a word that refers to the part of the brain that processes emotion, another nice touch to the song, on YouTube and follow RARE CIGARETTES at the links provided.
A distant drone flecked with the sound of static or a nearby flame introduce us to Voga’s new track “A Render in Sepia.” When the strings come in with the melodic and drifty companion tone like a processed organ one does get the sense of looking at an old photograph. The song has the mood of a window onto a time and place of rustic simplicity. Like sitting by the fire in your cottage in the woods as the snow falls outside in heavy but quiet layers, reading from a beloved book and pausing now and then to stoke the fire and contemplate the fact that you don’t have to be anywhere for days compounded by the snowstorm. Because of this the quiet part of your mind can merge with the imagination and put your mind in its own storytelling mode as you finally get to writing your own book of wonder and adventure. This song feels like a prelude coming from a place of supreme tranquility. Created with synth drones, strings and muted horn the track was re-recorded through a cell phone and thus the sense of another time or cut off from civilization is an illusion but one that seems welcome fantasy away from the rate race most of us live in today. Listen to “A Render in Sepia” on Soundcloud and follow Voga at the links provided.
The floating eye in the middle of the collage of footage of technology and society gone awry in the video for Cares’ single “Lucid” looks troubled. As if to suggest we see all of this happening but we are also a bit dazzled by the seeming options and frontiers it opens for us without considering how it might all impact our lives in ways we can’t predict. Footage of black bloc protesters, looting and high speed rail, body sculpting and a pit where a fire has been going on for perhaps decades, car crashes and crash test dummies are all reminders of the compromises we’ve all made to make life easier when really we’ve also made it more mediated and enriched a ruling elite who seethe vast majority of us as interchangeable and when we act up maybe someday they’ll send in the automated army. In the background sub bass pounds with the heartbeat of civilization, sub-howling white noise streams and after disappearing for a few minutes the eye returns with visible tears as if to suggest we could stop this if we wanted to or is it too late? Are these trends documented in the video beyond our control? The track comes from the latest Cares album Control Isn’t Real and you can watch the video on YouTube and follow the project on Soundcloud.
The languid pace and spaciousness of Ava Heatley’s new single “Party” serves as a fine backdrop to her song about anxiety and how it can be a bit of a wrecking ball in your life. From putting a damper on social situations and using the supremely anxiety-inducing situation of the party as the centerpiece. An occasion where everyone is supposed to mix and enjoy themselves. But for anyone with a bit of the introvert in their personality that setting embodies one of the greatest potentials for awkward conversation or behavior as they are most often best handled with a lighthearted, casual spirit to get the most out of them. But when you’re used to committing to ideas or a conversation or a way of being, an emotion, all of that social lubrication seems pointless and a disservice to everyone involved. This song is written keeping in mind all the people who would rather give their focus and energy to people or a project in a direct way rather than sprinkling that attention around superficially, even if a little of that wouldn’t be so bad, to let them know they are not alone in experiencing anxiety over all manner of things but especially over the thought of having to spread themselves too thin in order to please the most number of people. Listen to “Party” on Soundcloud where you can also give a listen to Heatley’s other emotionally rich and thoughtful work.
Devorah, aka Anita Lester, seems to share the heartache of the protagonist of “Blue” who gives up on an attempt to externalize a deep sadness. The warm, textured, billowing, guitar chords drone and strike both melodic and discordant notes in time with the waves of feeling as the gnarled feelings and conflicted thoughts rummage through your heart finding an anchor from which to haunt the psyche. But there is a compassion to Lester’s tone and an understanding that dealing with heartache is not a simple apply a cure, go to a therapist a few times, work it out in some physical way or the false magic of putting it all into your art to make it go away. It’s a process and it may never fully leave you. The song sounds like a coming to terms with the ways these feelings can get stuck or take years to work through rather than simply fool ourselves into thinking we’ve conquered them through a simple legerdemain of the mind or chemistry. Listen to “Blue” on Soundcloud and follow Devorah at the links below.
Hunnid sets scenes for us on “In Paris” in his typically creative wordplay describing the environment and the vibe and the context of these mini-vignettes throughout the song. The beat and its layers of rhythm and electronic percussion and hazy synths with female vocals capturing a hushed, late night vibe as Hunnid looks out over the city from a terrace both admiring the “divine” sunsets that “focus the mind.” Hunnid reflects on the similarities and contrasting differences between Paris and the east side of Chicago. But he reminds himself not to take the experience for granted or to make too many comparisons. Rather he takes in the sites and appreciates how someone like him who encountered so much discouragement as an artist could be there performing his music except that this epiphany could have come to him in any city, it just happened to be in Paris. The song is interesting in that it mixes so many emotions and ideas together in a small space but says much about how so many of us have to grind so long and so often than we find it hard to enjoy our accomplishments when they come but that we need to no matter when that moment strikes and if it does so in an artistic and cultural world capital like Paris, that’s just the icing. Listen to “In Paris” on Soundcloud and follow Hunnid at the links provided.