Raoul Sinier – Guilty Cloaks

Captivating, complex and genre-defying; Guilty Cloaks feels like the most genuine piece electronic music I’ve heard in a long time. This masterpiece is the fifth full length album by the multi-talented artist, illustrator, animator and musician Raoul Sinier, and it really is something to write home about.

Intense human emotion runs through the entire album – this has a great deal to do with Sinier’s subtle vocals (think Thom Yorke or Martin Grech) which form the focal point of many of the tracks, but it is much more than the vocals alone. The precise and imaginative composition of every track creates a mood which is fluctuating: unsettling at times, serene and brooding at others; even silly (take the lyric from Over The Table for example:  “If you are a monkey, jump from tree to tree. If you are a pork, jump on my fork.”)

Guilty Cloaks takes many unexpected twists and turns, creating an album full of excitement. She Is Lord pummels away with an Amon Tobin-esque grittiness; Green Lights is meandering and broody with sharp crisp beats offsetting Boards of Canada undertones; Winter Days balances a delicate piano riff with detailed glitched-out beats which takes it some way down the dark path of breakcore; Summer Days contains desolate and desperate lyrics – “Everyone is dead. Bright light, dark sunshine… Sunshine’s in my mind, and darkness lives on my skin”; Walk features Raoul’s distinctive voice over pounding rhythms and orchestral melodies, and is an epic end to a monumental album.

Winter Days:

She Is Lord:

A few weeks back I caught up with Raoul himself, and he spared me a few minutes to answer some of my questions:

You’re a painter, musician, animator, illustrator… Are you ever bored?

I’m easily bored, yes. You might think I’m into my music and my image all the time but I have huge gaps of emptiness and inactivity, especially with music, sometimes for months. But when I’m into it, I like to try a lot of different things, as long as I get some fun or good results.

Did you work in a different way or set out to achieve something different with this album?

No I always work in the same way, I don’t think too much about what I do and I let myself go with the flow. New directions always come out on their own. The only thing a bit different on this record (and this year’s EPs) is the singing. Over the years I have been more and more interested in adding vocals, but I had to work on that for a while (and still do).

“Guilty Cloaks” sounds very genuine and personal. It makes me think you set yourself no boundaries when it came to writing this album – did you have any rules?

I don’t have any rules. Again, I don’t really put thoughts into my music, I hate concept in art, I’m just looking for emotions. I think the key about this is that as an artist but also as a listener, I don’t pay attention to genres, it’s not relevant to me. For me, music goes from happy to sad, from slow to fast, from complex to minimal, and so on. I can find something that I love or hate in any given musical genre, because emotions in music are always the same, and that’s probably why I don’t enjoy some electronic music only based on technique and producers’ gimmicks. For me the composition is the real point of music, I work a lot on the sound itself, but it’s only to serve the composition.

To me it seems like a narrative – is Guilty Cloaks about anything as a whole, or is it just the individual songs that carry their own meaning?

To me it is a whole thing, like any album should be in my opinion. But of course every track has its own little story, obviously each of the songs with lyrics have something to say.

I don’t really know if the album says something precise. I guess it turns around ideas of self-conditioning – when people force themselves to think they are this or that. This is what I tried to express with the artwork, not in an obvious way because I don’t really care about having a “real” message of some sort. And the title “Guilty Cloaks” is a personal illustration of the idea of someone not happy with his life and blaming it on his disguise. Not happy with the core, blaming the shell.

Let’s talk about your art. I can tell Francis Bacon must be a huge influence on you, but who or what else influences you?

Francis Bacon is of course my biggest influence, maybe not biggest but most noticeable. But I’m influenced by anything, I could speak about artists like J-P Witkin for example, I love his work, but i’m really feeding on everything I see. Even stuff I find awful can trigger some ideas or mental images.

Estimating A Leg: 2009

Your paintings are dark and unsettling and yet beautiful – they also have a very strong narrative quality again, like Guilty Cloaks in fact, as if they are illustrations to an untold story…

I’m glad to hear that, sometimes people only see the dark side of my work, and of course it’s very dark, but it cannot be reduced to just that, it has a lot of weird humour, silliness, even poetry sometimes… I don’t really care about dark aesthetic if there is nothing beneath.

What I try to do is exactly what you said: set up untold stories, or pieces from something larger. I like to show a situation without any explanation, not because I want the viewer to understand an obscure meaning by himself or something… I just want to show something nice and unusual – almost like abstract art.

Could you recommend a film for me to watch?

To keep on this conversation’s tone, I would say “Taxidermia”, just because I felt very close to this aesthetic when I saw it.

Finally, what are you up to next?

Well the only think really planned is the new video (to be released in September) this one is animated, with a post apocalyptic/run for your life theme… very harsh. I just finished the whole thing and I have plenty of time to polish it, I like to be ready early.

Concerning music I won’t do anything new for quite some time now – usually when I finish an album I don’t write new stuff for a while, a long while. Especially here with the album and the 2 EPs earlier this year (Cymbal Rush/Strange Teeth & Black Nails on Oeuvre and The Melting Man on Tigerbeat6). I let ideas build up and grow in my head, and one day, for no apparent reason I start again, and if it’s the right time, then I become very productive again. So, stay tuned…

Raoul Sinier’s Guilty Cloaks is out on Ad Noiseam now.
Raoul Sinier official website
Guilty Cloaks lyrics
Raoul Sinier’s art
Raoul Sinier on YouTube

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Strangeloop – ‘Fields’. Out on Brainfeeder 25/07/11

The most recent EP to reach me from Flying Lotus’ essential label Brainfeeder is the epic and beautiful ‘Fields’ by LA based VJ and producer Strangeloop. With an ongoing preoccupation with astral projection, mystical states of consciousness and the trappings of human perception, you can be sure that anything coming from Strangeloop will be deep and questioning, and ‘Fields’ does not disappoint.

Essentially it is a series of detailed sprawling loops and delicate sounds, with minimal beats and gentle bass, which builds up a hypnotic and authentic soundscape. Knowing that the writing of this EP was influenced directly by an experience during an altered state of consciousness gives this EP real depth  – the first movement symbolising birth and constellation, the second death and dissolution, and the third a transcendental union of both. Unfortunately I have no clips to play from the EP, but here’s a Strangeloop track from earlier this year which will at least pass as a good introduction to his music:

And here’s another track which is possibly a better indication of the meditative feel of ‘Fields’:


He’s an interesting and awe-inspiring creative character: making electronic music since the age of 14; drawing, painting, VJing, and the cross-pollination of it all. His avant-sci-fi project “2010: (or) How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Singularity” helped to make him known in the UK electronic music scene with the support of Mary Anne Hobbes. Here’s the edited version of the film and mix he did for her show, which is well worth watching:

There are a load more videos of his live VJing performances and short films / visuals here which I would thoroughly recommend checking out.

‘Fields’ will also take the form of an interactive online AV experience once released, so keep checking back at Brainfeeder to get involved however you can!

Links:

Strangeloop TV
Strangeloop on Vimeo  
Strangeloop on Soundcloud 

Wobble n Dubb – It’s Not Rocket Surgery [Review]

It's Not Rocket Sugery - Wobble N Dubb's debut LP

I’ve never been raped in either of my ears, but I imagine that the sensation would not be dissimilar to that of listening to the merciless new album from Wobble n Dubb. The duo’s debut album, a bass-heavy Techno hybrid called It’s Not Rocket Surgery, demands to be played loud: loud enough to make you think the room you’re in is the only piece of horrific reality left in existence, and everything outside has disappeared into the abyss. It will pulverise the soft tissue of your inner ear and maul at your ear drum to the point of near collapse; it will melt a fuse in your brain and trap you in a dark acid flashback of mental psychosis… It’s not for pussies, I’m for real.

The intro, Brain Science, sets the psychotic pace of the album. Wobble N Dubb ain’t messin’. The Godfathers of Ravecore have returned and they mean serious deviant mash-up business. The album starts for real with the pummelling rhythm of Kokoro’s Actroid pulling you into a futuristic nightmare realm of androids and robots, where the sublimely heavy kick-drums batter out the pace of a revolution. The epic Holy Shiite comes next, a track which not only gives you an insight into Wobble n Dubb’s troublesome sense of humour, it also shows them at the top of their game: eerie and unsettling glitched-out vocals mesh perfectly with pounding drums and a crushing bassline; every second is immaculately and painstakingly produced.

Full of blistering snares and nervous sounding bass, Shifty is just that: the theme tune to a man skulking away down an alley after indecently exposing himself to a schoolboy. The dirty bastard. Then comes the hammering bassline of Propa Wood, thrashing out the soundtrack to an imaginary scene in an imaginary documentary in which David Cameron gets ripped apart limb from limb by a naked midget with a tin opener, and screams of anguish erupt from his posh twat-hole of a mouth as his ridiculously annoying face gets sprayed with lumps of bile-soaked cartilage and chunks of bloody gristle. But that might just be me.


Wobble n Dubb – Propa Wood

The aptly titled Loud is a highlight – its unearthly sci-fi melody fuses immaculately with a thundering signature Wobble n Dubb bassline, and it morphs into a destructive and fierce rave anthem. Monstrously heavy Seppuku is a summoning to watch a ritual suicide by disembowelment – the wobbling bass takes prime position again, ripping apart your ear canal without so much as a bit of courtesy spit to ease the pain. Deal with it or fuck off, it seems to say. Gonzo throws you into a brutal Gabber insanity of thrashing spastics; but then Front Gammon pulls you back out with a jolly little melody, and makes you feel like you’ve landed in the middle of a rave down a rabbit hole with a clarted Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee ripping up the dance floor.

The atmospheric and dreamy Tiny Dinosaur Hands brings this demented album to a close in a way that’s actually verging on serene. Maybe Wobble N Dubb aren’t complete savages after all – they have at least had the decency to attempt to calm our troubled minds at the end of this psychotic saga that has been It’s Not Rocket Surgery.

But I do think it’s time for them to fuck off now. Don’t you?

Get the album NOW (at your peril) from Dead Channel
Wobble N Dubb on Soundcloud / Facebook
Check out The Wobble n Dubb takeover on The Otherside Radio show back in January 2011: download here.

Amon Tobin – ISAM

Illustrious Brazilian producer Amon Tobin has returned with his 8th album – ISAM – a work that takes you to the next level, sweeping you into a rich and deep sci-fi future as fragments of sounds cluster and morph harmoniously together before disassembling into space and dusty glitches once again.

ISAM is an intense and all-consuming project, and is a refined and inspiring culmination of Tobin’s work so far. He’s forever been pushing the boundaries of electronic music, straining towards a future sound that now encompasses sound design, art, melody and emotion. Tobin made a name for himself with his heavy and ingenious use of sampling in his earlier works, but he pushed beyond this with the use of field recordings in the production of his 2007 album Foley Room. And now he’s gone a step further – “It’s 2011 folks, welcome to the future!” he tells us on his Soundcloud page on which he gives a track-by-track commentary of the album:

To define ISAM as any sort of musical genre would be to needlessly confine it – essentially this album is rejuvenating electronic music using sound design, and that is as far as I’ll go. The influences for ISAM range unexpectedly (or perhaps expectedly) from Tom Waits to Pink Floyd, from the Sgt. Pepper album to Frank Zappa – try to imagine these influences through the electronic spectrum of ISAM and you can see where my unwillingness to pigeon hole arises.

The sounds of ISAM all started out as field recordings that were then synthesized and built into playable instruments using the Haken Continuum Fingerboard . See the making of some of the ISAM sounds:

Using this method of production he is succeeding in re-arranging natural sounds to make something new and imaginary – he has mechanised the natural word, and has lent himself some control over it.

The highlight for me comes mid-way through this epic album with the dark and melodious Lost & Found. Tobin explains part of the concept of the album: “This is where I imagine the hatch being lifted on the torso of the Westworld robot and technology shows itself as the true driving force of all you are experiencing. Nothing is real, it’s all computers.” (ref). The track succeeds in making the listener feel a sort of apocalyptic fear that is somehow enjoyable in its intensity.

This is the second album this year to feed my imagination in such an intense way – the first was Semiomime’s From Memory (an alias of Dj Hidden), a soundtrack to an imaginary film that takes on subtle shape and form in the mind of the listener. Like From Memory, ISAM immerses the listener in a new unknown realm, making you feel awed and alive, disturbed and unnerved, grasping at something tangible and yet entirely unknown.

To mark the release of ISAM, Tobin will be collaborating with Saachii Collection artist Tessa Farmer on a radical and exciting installation project called ‘Control Over Nature’, where Tobin’s sound design will feature alongside Farmer’s natural sculptures: tiny scenes and spectacles built from dead insects, bones and other organic material. An audio-visual match made in heaven, it would seem.

Tessa Farmer: Dragon Fly

ISAM is self indulgent at times there’s no doubt, but it is also fully reliant on the listener to bring it to life. My advice: listen to this album only when you can give it your full undivided attention, your imagination will do the rest. Let’s see where it takes you.

AMON TOBIN + TESSA FARMER PRESENT: ISAM: CONTROL OVER NATURE: 26th May – 5th June (11am – 5pm everyday) Crypt Gallery, below St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA

Amon Tobin will bring his Audio-Visual show “ISAM: Live” to the following venues, with many more to be announced…
1st June – Mutek, Montreal
9th June – Astra, Berlin
10th June – AB, Brussels
17th June – Roundhouse, London

Due to the unfortunate leaking of the album, ISAM is now available digitally from Ninja Tune or youn can wait ’til the 23rd May to save some pennies and get the Deluxe Bundle – the digital version, Artwork CD, 2xLP and T-Shirt.