2012 Roundup Part #4: Avant Electronics

Featureless Ghost - Personality Matrix, LP (Night People)

I knew little about Atlanta’s Featureless Ghost before seeing them at the Hot & Cold release show, but was jaw dropped by their icy grooves and left wanting more. They make a dark synth pop with strong ‘80s influences that rejects many of the “cold-wave” stereotypes that have become so cliché, combining two eras of the Human League (early electro and late cabaret vocals) into some smoky dance floor melodrama. I enjoy this record a little more each time I put it on.  Trust in Night People.

Claudio - Long Weekend, cassette (Los Discos Enfantasmes)

This is a dream team collaboration between Randy Gagne (Man Made Hill) and Jacob Horwood (Beniffer Editions, Gastric Female Reflex) making some stoned electro. Laidback beats hiss alongside playfully streetwise disco synths and memories of Californian funk. This could be a pacifier for people who wear “Fuck Art Let’s Dance” t-shirts. Great entry point to Montreal’s Los Discos Enfantasmes cassette label.

Peaking Lights - Lucifer, LP (Mexican Summer)

2012 was the year I finally connected with the Peaking Lights, and, not coincidentally, the Flying Lizards as well. I mention both bands in the same sentence because they are perhaps the finest examples of white dub. So often when white people appropriate Jamaican music they strangle any soul out of it and leave a lame husk that’s embarrassing to even acknowledge. The Peaking Lights have taken dub rhythms away from the dance hall to daytime hours, to a place filled with cooking food and family, and, like the Flying Lizards, have made it their own instead of trying to do a ventriloquist routine with it, all the while giving a respectful nod to tradition.

Eric Copeland - Flushing Meats, 7" (Calico Corp.)

Calico Corp. used it’s first two releases to display the talent of it’s proprietors, Slim Twig and US Girls, but this was a bold statement of where the label wants to go and what they have their eyes on. The highly anticipated new solo effort from Black Dice’s Eric Copeland has all the essence of what endured BD to me in the first place. It’s like sitting on a downtown park bench on a summer day with your eyes closed and listening to the college of all the different sounds that pass by. It’s everything good about music made in the last twenty years rubbing together to make sparks. Call it the best of FM radio broken down into seconds of snippets.  

 Digits - Where Do You Belong?, CD/download (self-released)

Digits is the future of pop music. Whenever I see bands desperate longing for a label’s acceptance, I want to point to this man and what he’s accomplished in such a short time. Here he is, making criminally smooth jams that would not be out of place on MUCH (do they still play music?) or played after Carly Rae Jepsen on the radio, without any label support, and getting international recognition through sheer persistence, hard work and vision. This proves that pop stars don’t need to be pop stars any more. I don’t want to downplay the actual music with any comparisons though, this is sexy indie-modern-soul whispered over dreamy downtempos. I hope he knows how many babies have been made to his music.