Carmen Villian (aka the newly Norwegian-based Carmen Hillestad) released her tempestuous debut album, Sleeper, earlier this year via Smalltown Supersound. Throughout, Carmen showed her creative range and distinctive production style as she plastered dreamlike vocals over loose, abrasive instrumental tracks on which she played guitar, bass, drum machines, keyboards and percussion. Following an initial 12â€ť featuring album single â€śLifeissinâ€ť and Prins Thomasâ€™ excellent remix, Smalltown Supersound is now releasing a follow-up 12â€ť featuring psychedelic and epic remixes of other standout album tracks by labelmate BjĂ¸rn Torske, Peaking Lights and the previously shared remix by Optimoâ€™s JD Twitch. Listen to all below.
Following last monthâ€™s announcement that Neneh Cherry will release her first solo album in 16 years â€“ a collaboration with RocketNumberNine, produced by Four Tet, and featuring a guest appearance by Robyn â€“ Neneh is now ready to share further details of this forthcoming record with the world. The 10-track album, recorded and mixed over a 5-day period, will be titled Blank Project, and it will be out February 25th, 2014 on Smalltown Supersound. It follows 2012â€™s The Cherry Thing, a collaborative record with free jazz, noise collective The Thing, which featured new versions of songs by The Stooges, MF Doom, Ornette Coleman, amongst others.
While her energy and demeanor may not have changed since the days of Rip Rig + Panic, musically, Blank Project is a departure from anything Neneh has previously done, initially written as a means of working through personal tragedy. What stands out upon first listen is the albumâ€™s sparseness: loose drums and a few synthesizers are the only accompaniment to Nenehâ€™s wildly poetic, sometimes-spoken, sometimes-screeching, soul-flooded and raw vocals. The space created by this minimal aesthetic leaves room for occasional pistes and flurries of rapid, yetÂ throbbing and thunderous instrumentation. Featuring combined elements of beat poetry, avant-electronica and beautiful vocal melodies, itâ€™s a record that uses simple ideas to create something entirely original. And despite the personal struggles, Neneh was working through in writing this new material, the songs are far from introverted.
As many are aware, the stories from Nenehâ€™s early years are astonishing. She spent her childhood living 50/50 between a loft in New York and in the South of Sweden with her mother and stepfather, the legendary jazz musician Don Cherry. She’s been lifted onto Miles Davisâ€™ lap, Allen Ginsberg regularly passed through their home in an evening and as she got older, she could pop in on Arthur Russell, Talking Heads and The Modern Lovers who all lived in the same loft complex in Long Island City New York. At 14, she started taking trips to Harlem with Ari Up of the Slits at a time when few would venture so far uptown. Soon after, she left home and moved to London, and spent the next 20 years inside the crucial developments in British subculture. As post-punk became the site of 80s Britainâ€™s artistic and political resistance, she helped form the anarchic multi-ethnic, multi-genre Rip, Rig + Panic, and she was one of the first to bring hip-hop culture to a British audience with â€śBuffalo Stanceâ€ť and Raw Like Sushi. Although at points her career had brushes with the mainstream, Neneh remained staunchly counter-culture.
Through post-punkâ€™s adherence to mixed-race line-ups and anti-government stance, to UK rapâ€™s refusal of the conventions of pop, trip-hopâ€™s connection with the politicized elements of rave culture and, through 1996â€™s Man, where Neneh introduced elements of Senegalese language to mainstream audiences for the first time via the mammoth â€ś7 Secondsâ€ť single featuring Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, and now, with Blank Project, Neneh continues to arrive at moments in musical history when there is an opportunity to subvert ideas of popular culture. She is subverting once again, only this time, although this record is musically bold, Neneh sees the stasis sheâ€™s challenging isnâ€™t musical or societal, but her own.
Blank Project Tracklisting:
01. Across The Water
02. Blank Project
04. Spit Three Times
08. Out Of The Black (featuring Robyn)
BjĂ¸rn Torskeâ€™s â€śKokâ€ť EP, available digitally and on LP December 10th on Smalltown Supersound, marks the final release in Torkseâ€™s Kok (â€śto boilâ€ť) trilogy. It began with the beautiful album, Kokning [Nov. 2010], was followed by the â€śOppkokâ€ť 12â€ť [Jan. 2012], featuring remixes by DJ Harvey and Todd Terje, and ends here with the â€śKokâ€ť EP, which finds Torske in a more experimental mood; his love for The Residents, Count Ossie, Moondog and This Heat is more audible. Recorded around the same time as Kokning through a series of experimental studio sessions, the tracks are built on a more organic and acoustic foundation with less programmed patterns than Torskeâ€™s previous albums. The result is a darker and more psychedelic sound, yet still very much Torskeâ€™s own.
October 26, 2013Comments Off
Here you can download another one of the fantastic Arp mixes! Go to Root Strata
GARY SHEARSTON â€“ Faded Streets, Windy Weather
JAACO GARNDER â€“ The End of August
GUY BOYER & GUY PEDERSEN â€“ Courant Ascentionnel
WOLFGANG DAUNER â€“ Mellodrama Nr. 2A
GEORGES DELERUE â€“ Brouillard (Version 2)
DUNCAN BROWNE -Here and Now
JANKO NILOVIC & CAMILLE SAUVAGE â€“ Shepherdâ€™s Song
McDONALD & GILES â€“ Flight Of The Ibis
IKE MATHEWS â€“ So Quiet
KEVIN AYERS â€“ Margaret
GEORGES DELERUE â€“ King of Hearts Le Repos
KAY GARDNER â€“ Prayer to Aphrodite
AMAZING BLONDEL â€“ Celestial Light
MARCOS VALLE â€“ Bodas de Sangue
GEORGES DELERUE â€“ Ballade pour flĂ»te et harpe
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND â€“ First Girl I Loved
JEAN BOSCO MWENDA â€“ Massanga
THE WHO â€“ Tattoo
MARGO GURYAN â€“ Thoughts
LAURENT PETITREGARD â€“ Ballade Pour Cathy
BROSELMASCHINE â€“ GitarrenstĂĽck
CAETANO VELOS â€“ London, London
PHILIP CATHERINE â€“ Nairam
STEFFEN BASHO-JUNGHANS â€“ Smiling Penguins
JOHN & BEVERLY MARTYN -Tomorrow Time
QUIET SUN R.F.D.EMMANUELLE PARRENIN â€“ Lâ€™harpe do Soie
October 18, 2013Comments Off
We are very happy to announce that we will release Neneh Cherry’s first soloalbum in 16 years, produced by our friend Four Tet and featuring a guestapperance by Robyn. Read more details over at Pitchfork here
October 15, 2013Comments Off
Check out Peaking Lights’ great remix of ARP in NY Times’ T-Magazine here
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You can read an interview that Smalltown Supersound founder Joakim Haugland did with Vice Magazine’s Thump site here.
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“an album of painstakingly produced, walking-paced pop songs that one might easily mistake for a lost collaborative album between the likes of Brian Eno, Kevin Ayers and any number of long-haired, arty prog-rockers who made music out Canterbury, England, in the late â€™60s”. Read and listen on Fader Â here.
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Check out this cool mixtape that Carmen Villain made for Self-Titled Magazine, plus read her travel essay.
June 12, 2013Comments Off
“Grace,” the poet Frank O’Hara once wrote, “to be born and live as variously as possible.” Though early in his musical career, this ambitious but certainly worthy aspiration toward “variousness” might be said to be the defining characteristic behind the artistic output of Alexis Georgopoulos, aka Arp.
After all, not many people can claim to have curated and performed at New York’s downtown bastion of the avantâ€“garde, The Kitchen (where Laurie Anderson, Glenn Branca and Philip Glass cut their teeth), to have been DJ’ed by NY underground disco pioneer David Mancuso (at his legendary party The Loft), to have soundtracked a Chanel runway show per Karl Lagerfeld’s request and to have released an album of minimalistic classical music (Arp & Anthony Mooreâ€™sFRKWYS 3 [RVNG Intl]).
Perhaps best described as a pop album by an avantâ€“garde musician, MORE is an album that begins in one place and ends in another, melding bedroom artâ€“pop with avant-garde composition to create a world of heady atmospherics and melodic song craft over its concentrated 46 minute arc. Played almost entirely by Georgopoulos, MORE reveals an impressive grasp of style and vision, following a distinct narrative, dipping into 70s art rock, autumnal baroque pop, musique concrĂ©te, minimalistic piano epics, narcotic gospel, sound library atmospheres, and delicate space folk.
After touring The Soft Wave, Georgopoulos took a break from performing live, choosing instead to work on projects in the worlds of art and modern dance, creating sound installations at the Walker Art Centerfor hotly-tipped architect/designers ROLU, making a conceptual Flexi-Disc 7″ for White Zinfandelmagazine, contributing a track for a Sol Lewitt tribute album, scoring a dance piece for Merce Cunninghamdancer Jonah Bokaer, and most recently, performing a site-specific collaboration with visual artist Tauba Auerbach at Philip Johnson’s Glass House.
Although 2010â€™s The Soft Wave (a New York Timesâ€śNotable Album of 2010â€ť) may be his mostâ€“heard album so far, Georgopoulos’ 2010 collaboration with Englishman Anthony Moore may provide more appropriate background for MORE. Not merely content to espouse the voguish sounds of the day, Georgopoulos decided early in 2012 that he’d abandon his analog synthesizerâ€“centric abstractions in favor of something he’d never done, write songs. The better to challenge himself. As such, with MORE, he has made his first albumâ€“length foray into song.
The 12 pieces that make up MORE might best be heard as distinct scenes in a single film. And this being his first New York album, the city figures in significantly, both in scale and in character. â€śHighâ€“Heeled Clouds” locates its protagonist amongst the wellâ€“heeled, boutiqued mirages of Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, a lilting waltz and a tale of delusional souls and refracting mirrors. “Judy Nylon” is all highbrow primitivism, chugging forward on an adrenaline rush of Phil Manzaneraâ€“like fuzz guitars and locomotive rhythm, picking up speed as it builds. The otherworldly, baroque atmospheres of “A Tiger In The Hall at Versailles” are a tale in contrast, with the tension of the harpsichordâ€“led verses giving way to a lush, doeâ€“eyed chorus, akin to a shaft of light breaking through a sinister scene. “E2 Octopus” is the first of three candyâ€“coated morsels of musique concrĂ©te onMORE, revealing a love of innovators like BBC’s Delia Derbyshire and Bernard Parmegiani and tactile field recordings. Moved by the premature passing of Broadcast chanteuse Trish Keenan, “Light+Sound”is a delicate, moving ballad awash in Mellotron and harpsichord, calling to mind the kind of softly psychedelic, autumnal atmospheres Robert Wyatt has specialized in. “17th Daydream” begins in the open air of the country and travels, by air and rail, to the rising steam of the city. The very New Yorkâ€“inspired, minimalist miniâ€“epic “Gravity (for Charlemagne Palestine)â€ť is an alternate Empire State theme, an ecstatic pull portrayed by an alwaysâ€“ascending pillar of sound chugging on piano, cello and spiraling guitars. “More (Blues)” suggests a stoned choirboy fronting a gospel church group, Georgopoulos’ delicate delivery melding with the song’s narcotic sway. The misty mix of astral folk and beachâ€“influenced atmospherics of “Daphne & Chloe” is, simply, epic. Finally, closer “Persuasion” rides into the sun, a bookend in the form of overdriven fuzz guitars and Moog synthesizer.
MORE establishes Georgopoulos not as a stylistic shapeshifter but rather as a restless artist not content to stay put. Like a visual artist who works on a particular body of work within a larger body of work, he makes albums as complete wholes. And then he makes another. If MORE seems like quite a different beast from The Soft Wave or FRKWYS 3, as the dust settles, they will reveal an artist who follows his own trajectory, regardless of trend. If MORE proves we do not know what Georgopoulos might do next, his work is all the more compelling for it.
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Finally our new Superstore mailorder shop is up an running, thanks to our friends Robotstore in Bergen who handles the orders and maintains the shop. We have some new cool things in there, among others the coffee mugs designed by Kim HiorthĂ¸y on the photo above. Anyway, check it all out here.