This is the first time we’ve come across Toronto’s Machinefiend, and we’ve quickly snatched this track up and framed it in our office for all to admire. The chorus is built around repetition (“divider” and “deeper than deep space” endlessly resonating) and it, in combination with the jumping synth notes, is practically hypnotic. It’s available as a free song here.
Avant Kool are an art-pop duo from Toronto that has been making the rounds for a couple years now. Many of you in the city will probably recognize the duo, who are regular show/party goers, and have definitely already made their mark on the scene with that. With that said, we’re thrilled to share the band’s first video/song, which is sort of a cacophonous blend of lo-fi Depeche Mode and the poppier side of of Einstürzende Neubauten.
While you might mistake their position in the time-space continuum as Canterbury circa ’68, Carl Didur and Michael McLean’s Zacht Automaat have been one of Canada’s most exciting acts for the last five years. Since 2010, they’ve churned out 12(ish?) great-if-not-intriguing releases.
Normality Bias continues in ZA’s modus operandi of releasing LP-length genre-identity crises (good thing). “Babies on Top” – a mini-workshop in dumpster-tape Reich-worship – sits snugly between the Low-era-Bowie-goes-Canterbury of “There’s Mist in the Valley” and the six-string and synth berceuse of the aptly titled “Finger’s Lullaby”.
Elsewhere, the duo goes for baroque on a cosmic-prog version of Egg’s arrangement of “Fugue in Dmin”. The band also throws an appropriate and mesmerizing rework of Procol Harum’s prog-lite classic “Whiter Shade of Pale” in for good measure.
While the fidelity ranges from near-nil to mid-fi bliss, the quality never dips throughout. Even among a discography so lengthy it would be punishing if it weren’t so goddamn enjoyable, Normality Bias is a clear highlight in the ZA ouevre. Don’t sleep on this one.
Normality Bias is available now from Bandcamp.
To certain people in various corners of the world/internet, the collaborations on this track are HUGE. Alixander III is one part of tragically no more Azari & III and Huren is an insanely talented/prolific solo artist in his own right, as well the former drummer of Junior Boys and member of the iconic techno band Teste. And finally, frequent Alixander III collaborator Hugues St-Amour added for good measure.
The song is seven-plus minutes of frenetic terror, horror movie villain vocals, and damn-fine body movement inducing drum programming. Released on Deth Records (with visuals by label founder SINS), which is the perfect home for such a star-studded collaboration. We won’t say that the song is better than the sum of it’s parts, but we damn-well hope to see more partnership from this trio in the future.
We weren’t familiar with the work of Vancouver disco/house producer Neighbour until now, but damned if we aren’t wearing down the virtual grooves of this new single featuring vocalist (and Silent Shout uber-fave) Piper Davis. It’s a very understated affair, with killer synths restrained to maintain a subtle, relaxed electro-disco vibe. We sincerely hope this isn’t the first collaboration in their future.
You can purchase the track, and the rest of the Light Breaker EP via Homebreakin Records.
Toronto’s TV Sets make dark bedroom pop that’s also indebted to classic post-punk, and that’s a thing that we like. The menacing “Cartoons” is one of the highlights from their very inventive new EP Gen Pop. The record as a whole is a huge step up production-wise from their debut Rat Tar Art which remains an excellent listen. Totally sold on these guys. Can’t wait to see what they do next!
Gen Pop is available from Bandcamp.
It’s crazy that it took us a week to post this. Prince Innocence have been laying down unquestionably the best sleek, dark, and slow synthpop for years now, and every single is a hit with these two. Their latest is a uptempo remix of “I Don’t Care,” that track that seemed to make everyone stop and pay attention back in December. Featuring Kilo Kish!!
Blush Beat Red first came on our radar with their excellent pure-pop debut EP two years ago. And then…nothing. We hadn’t heard much from the band with the exception of a few live shows here and there. But now with “Falling Apart,” another in a long line of immaculate pop songs from the band, we finally have something worthwhile to sink our teeth into. Hopefully this means more to come from the Toronto duo in the near future.
Toronto’s For Esmé make soul-searching electro-pop created for the walk home from the after-party: you’re still pumped with energy from the excellent night, but also introspectively going over the events in your mind. “Just Yet,” with it’s infectious vocal hook of “I finally found a way!” tells us that we should just ignore that nagging doubt that maybe we said the wrong thing to the right people, and embrace honesty and self-acceptance.
Co-produced by James Bunton (Light Fires, Ohbijou), a Silent Shout superstar in his own right, the track is Robyn-esque in its alterna-poppiness especially with the ever-present pulsating arpeggiated bass line.
2015 seems poised to be a big year for the band with a performance at the inaugural WayHome festival and the release of Sugar, their sophomore record which is due out later this spring. Based on the strength of “Just Yet,” we have high expectations for more triumphant introspection.
Oh how we love Jay Holy. Scopolamine Dream remains one of the best psychedelic electronic pop albums in recent memory, and that’s why it found itself perched upon our best albums list last year. Now we’re treated to a complete reimagining of those recordings, as Jay Holy and the Moog Synthesizer remixes six of the tracks, removing the vocals and adding a whackload of (presumably all-Moog) synths all over them. It’s a testament to Jay’s remarkable skills as a synth composer/programmer that these songs still stand up in a huge way without any of his signature vocal melodies commanding centre stage. One of the most talented electronic pop musicians around these day, we’d say!
You can pick up Jay Holy and the Moog Synthesizer on limited edition cassette or as a download from Bandcamp.