Blips Don’t Lie
Music & Words by Microfilm
Matt Mercer: Working on this EP took a bit longer than past endeavours. We aimed for something brighter, more pop, without compromising the things that get us excited. I try to avoid repeating myself too much, although there are nuances and details and samples and sounds that are probably common in some of our other output. We definitely steered clear of the gravity of our last full-length and also the vague chip-tune flavor of the last EP.
Our initial starting point was acid house as a touchstone, but as with most influences the finished product obviously veers far off that course. “His N Hers Hibernation” is straight up freestyle with some added quirk. We liked the idea of making 3 fairly pop tracks and then remixing them with people we know and respect. Kid Whatever (one half of Peroxide Mocha, who we also recently remixed) turned out this full-on italo-disco-meets-Hi-NRG slammer that puts a smile on my face every time, and The Astrolabe from Chicago did a really great job of taking our slower original and punching it up a few notches, adding some great 90s throwback touches with some piano riffs and flourishes. Nine Devices is sort of the odd man out with his more sparse treatment of “Water Drops on Burning Rocks,” all but discarding our original audio tracks but being quite clever with his use of Sarah Nixey’s vocal backwards… to be honest, I have no idea what he sampled from her, but backwards it says “So hold me now” which is sort of haunting.
Matt Keppel: From a thematic/concept standpoint, I originally thought of this EP as a homage to house music in it’s various forms. I think my original working title was even ‘The House Sound of Microfilm’, like one of those old late ‘80s house compilations! Just the idea of making a fluid, dancefloor EP whereas our last one was much more electro, kind of brittle, and chunky, if that makes sense. I also had the idea of framing the EP like David Bowie’s ‘Station to Station’ or Pet Shop Boys ‘Introspective’ (both 6 track EPs), but where we wrote every one of the original tracks as a potential single.
Current Obsessions of Matt Keppel
Music of Billy MacKenzie
The lyrical ideas about the songs for this EP revolved around characters in relationship turmoil, except the first track ‘I’ll Sing Like Billy MacKenzie in Heaven’. That was a homage to the great but neglected (by many) talents of Billy MacKenzie, the late singer from the ‘80s UK band The Associates. He had a few hits in the early ‘80s in England but now is a bit of a cult star here in the US.
I’m intrigued by artists like MacKenzie that come from nowhere, become really big for a short moment, and then disappear into obscurity, but not for lack of talent. He had a beautiful, operatic voice and an insane lyrical mind. Like Morrissey, but weirder. I love completely off the wall, smart and original lyricists and he was one of them. I’m glad his music has been reissued/re-evaluated recently but he still seems to be one of those acquired tastes that will never become really huge and that’s kind of magical in itself.
Music of Wild Beasts
I just stumbled upon these guys this summer; don’t remember how exactly and now I listen to some of their new album ‘Two Dancers’ almost everyday. I find their whole aura fantastic. Music journalists like to describe how bands create their own world within their music (and I never believe it because they’re usually wrong about the band they’re describing) but Wild Beasts really do that. They remind me of early records by The Smiths or Suede, where it’s kind of loose, hazy, weirdly sexual and strange. It sounds really epic but not in a plodding, like Coldplay-way, but in a crazy, theatrical ‘The Queen is Dead’ way.
These sites are run by the same guy. Don’t know anything about him other than he has good taste! ‘Cracker…’ is more of an art blog, a Tumblr page with a lot of really great images, either funny or sexy. ‘…Furry’ is a blog of random cute, handsome bearded and/or hairy guys who are in indie rock bands. They are labeled as “fake boyfriends” and I think everyone can agree that it’s fun to have fake boyfriends who are bearded and cute. Well, some of us can.
Current Obsessions of Matthew Mercer
Music of The Caretaker
I once saw Jim Kirby perform in Cleveland as V/VM and it was one of the weirdest and loudest things I’ve ever seen. It’s a bit of a blur, but key takeaways were a man in a pig suit illuminated only by his laptop screen and a sort of chugging, rhythmic pitch-bending mangle of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” The Caretaker is sort of the ethereal ghost of that weirdness. It’s The Shining after Jack Nicholson and co. have left the building — the aftermath of a party in the past. There’s dust in the air and this is the sound of how light strikes it. It’s haunting, but there’s something warm and inviting in balance; you don’t want it to go, you want it to stay….
Music of DJ Sprinkles
Terre Thaemlitz’s new album as DJ Sprinkles is a great deep house album, reductive but lush. It’s a statement on how house music doesn’t really help us escape, but brings us closer to our pain as a shared emotional and perhaps subversive experience — in addition to his more typical politics about gender and sexuality, how it relates to this music historically. (His monologue about a “Madonna-free zone” is effectively wry.)
Music of Warp20 Box Set
The new Warp20 box set is a marvel of packaging. While its contents musically are, for me, a little hit or miss, it’s so well-assembled, a triumph of surface. Uncoated, blind-embossed 10″ vinyl sleeves (5 plates), high-gloss hardcover 10″ CD book packaging, a dense book of all Warp artwork since its inception — it’s impressive and justifies its price. There’s a mixed bag of cover versions on one of the 2xCD sets inside, but it’s practically worth it for Tim Exile’s cover of Jamie Lidell’s “A Little Bit More.” (Tim Exile is one to watch, too — his last album Listening Tree was very exciting to my ears)
Genre of Dubstep
I think some of the stranger hybrid dubstep stuff out there like Brackles, Apple Pips, Rustie is all worth a gander. The straight-ahead wowowowowow-snarrrrrl dubstep stuff wears on me, but the more spry, lively, jerky stuff I’ve been hearing more recently has me paying attention.
A few sites to check out ::
Application of DopplerPad
I’ve spent the better part of the year collaborating on the creation of DopplerPad which is an iPhone-based touch instrument. It’s been inspiring to be part of something using new technology and marrying that with music in a cool and interesting way.
2 books recently that I found inspiring: Over & Over and Hand Job, both by Princeton Architectural Press. Over & Over is a nice collection of hand-drawn patterns, appealing to the minimalist in me but with a less mechanical, more human touch. Hand Job is the typographic equivalent, focusing exclusively on hand-drawn typography. It runs the gamut from tacky or ironic to beautiful, ornate and sincere. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time in front of a computer that I have an affinity to hand-drawn things recently.