Various Artists Carpark Sweet Sixteen Basketball Picture Disc 12″
March Madness keeps us up late into the night every year. But this year, we were staying up later than usual, planning with a wide array of Carpark artists to celebrate the label’s sixteenth anniversary. One way we’re celebrating is with this far out basketball-themed picture disc 12″ featuring nine exclusive, full-length songs and 19 locked grooves by artists from all across the Carpark catalogue. The line-up on this team is stacked. We’re putting everyone on the court for this game. All offense, all defense, and while we’re here we’ll pick up some nachos at the snack bar.
The full-song team picture sounds like this: We’ve got party-starting, confetti-blasting jams from Young Magic and Skylar Spence. There are the groovy three-pointers from Montag, Ear Pwr, Memory Tapes, and Dog Bite. An intimate demo of an older classic from Speedy Ortiz (“Basketball,” naturally). A brand new tale about an epic game from TEEN. GRMLN goes in for the slam dunk with “Buzzer Beat.” We are ridiculously fortunate to be working with these talented players.
Looping for hours on end (or seconds depending on your taste) in the locked groove department, there’s a crunchy blast from new signee Chandos and the delightful drone of Carpark veteran So Takahashi. Light Pollution frontman Jimmy Whispers swoops in on feather-light feet to pay tribute to Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues. Safety Scissors throws us “Orange Roughy” before Cloud Nothings members Jayson Gerycz and Thomas J Duke run down the court. Jason Urick of Wzt Hearts tests the ref’s patience with “Double Dribble,” but we think it’s fair and proper. Dan Deacon and Greg Davis skitter about the floor as Adventure claims to say “Ewww,” but it seems like an exclamation of awe. If you wanna slam, turn to the somewhat solemn “Space Jam” by Toro Y Moi. Also offering a loop with a filmic theme is Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz on “Theme from Babadook.” This all-star team sees crucial assists from number “1” Jake Mandell and foundation player Signer. Lowt Ide (featuring Mike Falcone of Speedy Ortiz) knows the value of sharing. Tying everything together with a right-on time score is graphic designer Rob Carmichael of SEEN, sending us home with some psychedelic picture disc imagery. All proceeds go to the Little Kids Rocks non-profit, which is “dedicated to ensuring that all public school children have the opportunity to unlock their inner music makers” by investing in schools, teachers, instruments, and children around the U.S.
Skylar Spence is the continuation of Ryan DeRobertis’ Saint Pepsi project, which he started in late 2012. In the years since, he’s released a number of sample-y long-players full of slo-mo funk and boogie, and he rose to prominence as one of the more distinct voices associated with vaporwave corners of the Internet.
Growing up listening to the likes of Duran Duran and Chic, 22-year-old DeRobertis had plenty of inspiration when he started Saint Pepsi as an Ableton exercise. And though he began writing music at age 13, he hadn’t tried writing his own song in the style of his favorite music until “Fall Harder,” which appears on Skylar Spence’s full-length debut, Prom King. After strengthening his skills as a producer with the Hit Vibes album, he began incorporating his own instruments and production flourishes into his work, first with the Gin City EP. Prom King distills DeRobertis’ sampling style into an idiosyncratic melody machine, introduced his own vocals to the mix, and adopted tighter disco and new wave song structures. It’s “pop music for freaks,” as DeRobertis has it—outlandish aesthetics filtered through his deft intuition.
Formed in the spring of 2011, roommates Sean Tracy, Julian Moore, and Dan Coulson began playing music together in a small Allston, Mass. bedroom. Over the course of several months, the trio turned their half-witted beer-fueled jam sessions into fully fleshed-out songs. With their similar upbringings in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire local music scenes, the three’s fast paced and up-tempo writing style came naturally. The trio established themselves in the local Boston music scene as a weekend usual while releasing two EPs as Chandeliers, Big Shot Weekend, and Monday. Newly christened as Chandos, the band has just finished recording its debut LP, which will be released by Carpark winter 2015.
Speedy Ortiz has established itself as one of this decade’s most vibrant bands since their 2012 debut EP Sports. That EP introduced listeners to the band’s constant study of contrasts, with vocalist and guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ gnarled riffs acting as both counterpoint to and bolsterer of her acerbic, conversational poetry. 2013’s Major Arcana went further, the members’ reflexive chemistry inspiring them to push the limits of their sound; propelled by the rhythm section of Darl Ferm (bass) and Michael Falcone (drums), their first full-length chugged along with a swaggering gusto that could command a sweaty Boston basement as easily as a festival stage, leading to touring with legends of the “alternative” boom like The Breeders, Mary Timony (Ex Hex, Helium) and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. 2015’s Foil Deer added headphone-ready detailing to the already clamorous mix, with worldwide headlining dates on which they were supported by modern-day best-new-music makers like Mitski, Alex G, and Downtown Boys. Their no-nonsense approach to progress, as evidenced by initiatives like their first of its kind in-concert “help hotline,” and Dupuis’ tackling of issues like bystander intervention and inclusivity in the music industry—in her lyrics, and as a frequent panelist and speaker—makes the band poised to surge into the future.
Twerp Verse, Speedy’s third album and first with Philadelphian Andy Molholt (Laser Background) on second guitar, is urgent and taut, adding surprising textures like Linn drums and whirled guitar processing to their off-kilter hooks. Dupuis, whose electropop solo project Sad13 debuted in 2016 shortly after her own move to Philadelphia, has become more instinctive in her songwriting—her home-recorded demos mirror Twerp Verse‘s songs in a closer way than any other Speedy record—while her lyrics have become more pointedly witty. The band’s camaraderie and crate-digging is evident, with diffuse reference points like Squeeze, Hop Along, Prince, Paramore, and Brenda Lee being sucked into the band’s chaos. Even when Dupuis sings of alienation and political weariness, the pop maelstrom swirling around her provides a defiantly charged, mussed-but-hooky optimism.
Young Magic is Jakarta born Indonesian-American vocalist Melati Malay, and Sydney-born songwriter-producer Isaac Emmanuel. The pair met in New York City in 2010 and began collaborating above a speakeasy in Brooklyn. Alongside original member Michael Italia, the trio signed to Carpark Records (Toro Y Moi, Beach House, Dan Deacon) on the strength of one single (Sparkly/You With Air) and a wave of positive press. Touring in Europe and North America began after a series of limited edition 7″ releases in 2011. The following year brought new visibility, acclaim, and artistic achievement with the release of the group’s full-length album debut, Melt.
Melt was recorded in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, U.S.A., Spain, Germany, Iceland, Australia, and the U.K. while band members travelled independently, collecting field recordings and documenting their experiences. The New York Times described the album as “lush and immersive…it summons an elusive mood of longing among the sonic wonderment.” About Melt, the BBC wrote, “like a beat poet racked by drink addiction; music that waxes and wanes, and explodes; and a great spirit which, rather than confine itself to basements and bedsits, aims its sights on the heavens. An exquisite new breed to behold.”
The band became quickly known for their percussive, cinematic style, as well as collaborations across film, music and visual arts with artists as such as Purity Ring, Leif Podhajsky, and Angus Borsos. Pared down to a duo with varying live collaborators, Young Magic toured the world in 2013 and 2014, including performances at Lowlands Festival, Iceland Airwaves, Berghain, Austin Psych Fest, and the Brooklyn Museum.
The duo’s ambitious second album, Breathing Statues, was released in 2014. Recorded in Morocco, Paris, Prague, Australia, and Iceland, the album gracefully dives headfirst into a more delicate, personal world of sound. AllMusic described Breathing Statues as “far bigger and more polished than their debut…evokes ’60s exotica and ’90s trip-hop with a hypnotic groove that feels like it could go on forever.” Q Magazine wrote: “Alternately dreamlike and arresting, they’ve discovered a formula that realizes the sonic sorcery always suggested by their name.”
In 2015, Young Magic released Remixes Vol. 1—a pay-as-you-feel charity album, with all proceeds going to the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation, an organization facilitating health and arts projects in Australian Aboriginal communities. Contributors included Roland Tings, Teebs, The Acid, Matthew David, and Basquiat’s musical partner, Nicholas Taylor of Gray.
The same year, Malay returned to her birthplace of Java, Indonesia, to begin work on a new collection of music. She rented a small shack by the water and spent her time gathering field recordings and collecting stories from her families’ history. The result is Young Magic’s most breathtaking album to date, Still Life, released on May 13, 2016.
“The world is our sound source and Jimmy Buffett sells us our microphones,” says Mike Haleta, the self-described “commuting member” (he now resides in New Jersey) of Baltimore quartet WZT Hearts. It’s a strange comment from the former French Mistake member and current laptop wrangler, but also telling. The music of WZT Hearts is definitely wide open, alternately conjuring images of noise gristle, free-jazz wallop, psychedelic expansiveness, and the intellectual curiosity of modern composition.
Formed in early 2004 at the behest of former Cutter/Hammer drummer Shaun Flynn, and also featuring guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Dolandson (also of French Mistake) and laptopper Jason Urick. Since forming, WZT Hearts have played extensively throughout Baltimore and the East Coast often supporting such high-profile names as Pita, Animal Collective, Keith Rowe (AMM), Gang Gang Dance, Lungfish, and Sightings. But with the release of their debut album Heat Chief, the group is eager and ready to establish its own niche.
Heat Chief was recorded in one day at Big Crunch Studios in Catonsville, MD with Rob Girardi (who’s worked with Beach House, Vincent Black Shadow, and is the touring soundman for 4AD’s Celebration). All tracks are culled from one-take improvisations with no overdubbing. The CD was mastered by Martin Siewert of Trapist. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes Heat Chief is a solid and succinct debut that establishes WZT Hearts as a band to be reckoned with.
The band TEEN came together at the turn of the decade, but its members have known each other their whole lives. Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine Lieberson are sisters. Although they grew up in a musically vibrant Halifax home—their father was the esteemed composer Peter Lieberson—their first band jelled once they all lived in New York.
Teeny officially conceived TEEN in 2010 while on break from touring as part of renowned band Here We Go Magic. Following her self-recorded 2011 release Little Doods, she invited her sisters to join the project, transforming TEEN into a full-blown band. Carpark records caught wind of Teeny’s work, and TEEN signed to the label for its proper debut album, 2012’s In Limbo. The sisters’ unsurprising, inevitable chemistry manifests across the record’s sprawling, lo-fi psychedelia; the familial bonds that formed it gave it a strength that resulted in acclaim from publications including Rolling Stone, which claimed, “the matter-of-fact beauty of [Teeny’s] sweetly somber voice and the album’s unapologetically fat synths…proves highly evocative.”
It was with their 2014 follow-up The Way and Color, though, that the sisters solidified their accessible but complex, psychedelia- and synth-informed pop lens through which they explore romance, womanhood, and social constructs. Of the album’s more outré, electronic-influenced sounds, The New York Times raved: “The band’s new songs bloom with vocal harmonies and double down on intricate counterpoint…. TEEN’s music never [loses its balance].”
Good Fruit, the band’s fourth and newest album, is its sharpest thesis yet. A meditation on life after love, it’s thematically the opposite of its predecessor, 2016’s Love Yes, which The Guardian praised as “reminiscent of…inventive late-70s to mid-80s pop groups.” Musically, though, Good Fruit is the logical evolution of Love Yes’ massive uptick in synth use and sticky-hot choruses. The album boasts self-assured, skyrocketing synthpop anthems including “Only Water” and “Runner,” which betray the crucial lessons the sisters took from experiencing the distinct, enlivening ways that their myriad Love Yes tourmates employed synths. As with all TEEN albums, there are haunting ballads, most notably “Pretend,” which swells into a roaring synthetic climax as it details a relationship’s failure. A precise analysis of life after love, it’s an ideal note on which to end Good Fruit, a bold statement on moving forward and letting go of the past.
Lotus Magazine – (spring 2000) The debut album by Yokohama native/New York resident So Takahashi sounds a bit like a compilation of different artists—and that’s a compliment. While some techno experimentalists spend entire recordings obsessing on a single stylistic theme—often yielding tedious results—Takahashi employs a nice range of moods and timbres, making Nubus a continually intriguing and surprising listen. While this variety will no doubt lure listeners back again and again, it’s Takahashi’s unique, minimalistic melodicism and deft production that will capture their attention in the first place. Combining elements of Coil, Autechre, Hafler Trio and countless others, Takahashi’s palette covers everything from nouveau ambience to noise deconstruction, 1970s experimental film music and techno bleepiness. If the artist’s masterful sample manipulation and sparkling use of found sounds are the building blocks of his work, it’s his outstanding sense of pacing and composition that holds it all together. We may very well be following So Takahashi’s work for decades to come, so jump aboard now.
Lotus rating: 8
— Al Ritchie
inaudible.com A cool release of constantly evolving experimental electronica that shifts back and forth from raster-noton-style or ryoji ikeda-style minimalism to a denser electronica sound then eventually to a more percussive experimental techno sound in one long track. Another solid experimental release from So Takahashi. Fans of Nobuzku Takemura, Ryoji Ikeda, Terre Thaemlitz, Taylor Deupree, Frank Bretschneider, and Noto should give this one a listen.
Bevan Smith was born in New Plymouth in 1974. He has been recording and releasing music as Aspen and Signer since 1998. His earliest releases were on his own label Involve, but his music he been sought after and released by many international labels. At present Signer is released on Carpark records US, home of Dan Deacon, Panda Bear, Beach House. He has toured many times throughout Europe, UK and the US. He has composed for TV, Adverts, Theatre and FIlm most notably the Bafta winning ‘Touching the Void’ in 2004.
As well as working on solo projects Bevan has also written and produced albums with several bands. He worked on two albums with Nik Brinkman as ‘Over the Atlantic’ and on three albums with Matthew Mitchell as Skallander. Skallander were signed to UK based label Type records in 2006. At present he plays in Skallander and The Ruby Suns who release on Sub Pop.
In the late ’90s, San Francisco’s electronic music scene began to gain attention and grow through releases on Belief-Systems, internet broadcasters such as Beta-Lounge, and the electronic-based magazine XL8TR. With a strong group of artists such as Kit Clayton and Mark Farina, the Bay Area developed a reputation for producing a wide range of talented electronic artists — part of this camp is Matthew Patterson Curry, artistically known as Safety Scissors. Described as a more upbeat and eclectic minimalist dub sound, Curry has recorded for the labels Force Tracks, Context, Plug Research, and Beta Bodega. Often adding his own unpolished vocals and sampled additions, Curry has grown into his own identity amongst the Belief-Systems collective.
Curry is originally from Minneapolis, MN, and relocated to the San Francisco area to have a short stint in art school. Deciding to focus more on music, Curry eventually joined the Belief Systems/Context Records collective. A part of a distinct assembly of artists and musicians, he began working with Kit Clayton, Sutekh, and Twerk. Though he is mostly known for his more offbeat ambient works, he also produced more dance-oriented material for the labels Cytrax and Force Tracks. Curry also performs under the name Moron with Seth Horvitz (Sutekh). In 2000 Curry moved to Berlin, which at the time was a sort of artistic oasis for many electronic producers and artists. The following year Curry released Parts Water on Plug Research.
— Diana Potts, allmusic.com
Photo by Aimee Friberg © 2012
North America: firstname.lastname@example.org
• All proceeds go to the Little Kids Rocks non-profit
• Psychedelic picture-disc imagery by SEEN’s Rob Carmichael
• Nine exclusive full-length tracks
• Features 19 artists across the Carpark discography
• Loops for hours on end (if you want it to)
Picture Disc 12″: 677517010411
1. Young Magic – “NETS”*
2. Montag – “Drop A Dime”
3. Safety Scissors – “Orange Roughy”
4. Jayson Gerycz – “Dribble Dribble”
5. Young Magic – “All Net (Celebration Dance)”
6. TEEN – “Dylan and Chong Playing Basketball”*
7. Thomas J Duke – “Manute Bol”
8. Jake Mandell – “2008”
9. Signer – “Roll, Pick, and Roll Again”
10. Skylar Spence – “Turnover”
11. Sadie Dupuis – “Theme from Babadook”
12. Montag – “Basket Case”*
13. Ear Pwr – “I Would Rather Be Shopping”
14. Jason Urick – “Double Dribble”
15. Memory Tapes – “Go Play Outside”*
16. Lowt Ide – “Your Turn”
17. Skylar Spence – “Practice”*
18. Dan Deacon – “1 Wand from the 9 Piles”
19. So Takahashi – “Dribble Commander”
20. Jimmy Whispers – “Mugsy Bogus”
21. Chandos – “Traveling”
22. GRMLN – “Buzzer Beat”*
23. Toro Y Moi – “Space Jam”
24. Greg Davis – “Paxson”
25. Ear Pwr – “Beyond the Arc”*
26. Dog Bite – “Hoops”*
27. Adventure – “Ewww”
28. Speedy Ortiz – “Basketball (Demo)”*
*indicates full song