Articles by " Smoke Don’t Smoke"
I first came across Leaks, 19-year-old Australian producer Thomas Guida, over a year ago. It was one of those instances where the right music hits you at the right time. I had put my headphones on late one night, with no intention of taking them off, and dove headfirst into the internet of music. Deep into that night, as I was just as deep into the web, I came across “Stranger” and “The Only Place For You and Me”. It was quiet music that I found on a quiet night. The subtlety of his production is where the power of his music takes it’s place.
And, now, a year later, Leaks is releasing his next EP on the infallible Absent Fever. The EP is called De Landa, and is out on May 28th. “I’m Glad You’re Still Here” is the first cut off of the new EP. It is a beautifully delicate track that drifts from introspective thought to introspective thought. With a sample that might seem familiar, the track is subtle and overt at the same time. Listen to the track below, and prepare yourself for the full EP later this month.
My introduction to Sing Leaf was with his remix of Foxes In Fiction‘s beautiful “15 Ativan”. That was almost 3 years ago, and Canada’s David Como is still making amazing music. Today, his debut full-length, Watery Moon, is out courtesy of Chill Mega Chill Records.
Watery Moon is one of the most versatile collections of songs I’ve heard in a long time—but not the kind of versatile that throws you off guard, distracts you or that sounds like it’s all over the place. David moves in and out of styles, genres, and instrumentation with seeming ease. He slips seamlessly from more straightforward folk ballads like “Same Old Satellite” to nearly entirely electronic tracks like “Blasted”. But what is consistent throughout is the quality of his songwriting. It’s poetic and thoughtful, even cinematic at times. For me, it sounds instantly classic, like something we’ve all been listening to for years.
The album is out today—including a run on cassette, while they last. You can grab it here. Press play, and read some of David’s beautiful words about Watery Moon below:
I originally planned to include another song on the album, one called “Clementine (DSPSE)”. It was a droney, electronic thing about this unmanned spacecraft the Americans sent up in the 90s that found evidence of possible ice on the moon’s surface using radar. Ice means water, and water means life. There have been a lot of experiments and studies looking for water up there, the goal being to find some other place where people might be able to live in the future. So that’s kind of where ‘Watery Moon’ came from, this idea of some other possible life spinning around out there, caught in orbit. Thinking about how each of us carries ideas of other possible lives floating around in our brain too, how our own lives are basically impossible to understand but we can sort of figure out the way things are by contrasting those ideas against the things that aren’t. And I started wondering about what happens when you make the leap from one life to one of those other possible lives, when you make big changes, take a chance, and the person you are becomes somebody you were… all the splintering of possibility, new worlds created, all this stuff spinning around you in orbit with your brain flaring away right in the center.
I liked that they named the spacecraft Clementine after the old folk song, because it was destined to be “lost and gone forever” after the research was done. As a musician, I draw most of my influence from those old songs. I’m very much a traditional songwriter, following in that folk line, even though my music is tagged on the net as pop or electro or rock. Justin Castator, who plays synthesizer in the live band I put together this year, referred to my stuff as blues music one day when we were practicing. I kind of think of it like that too. Even though I’m using samplers and electronics on stage, I’m carrying threads that tie me back into that old tradition. For instance, one of the most electronically-based songs on ‘Watery Moo’n is “Blasted”—no acoustic instruments on it really at all, but I’m singing about Jack-A-Roe, calling back to a song almost a hundred years old. Same with “Keep Coming Up”, which came about originally because I misheard the lyrics of “That Lucky Old Sun”. They were singing about the sun being lucky because it didn’t have to work so hard, “It’s got nothing to do, but roll around heaven all day.” I was thinking about it in another way, about being able to come back up when you’re down, the sun being lucky because it keeps on doing it every day.
I really don’t listen to a lot of new music. I used to be on top of things, seeking out new stuff, hearing things sometimes before they were even released. But I’ve spent the last year renting a room from a friend who is in his 50s. He has a huge vinyl collection, over 4,000 records. So I’ve been pretty buried in that, discovering a bunch of albums and songs I’ve never heard. New to me, but not new… I try to follow what’s going on right now, but I know I’m missing a lot.
I find it gets a bit overwhelming, really. So many new artists, albums. It’s a constant stream. Even styles of music, or at least new names for existing styles, new genres. I don’t know how I could possibly fit into that, if at all. I mean, I’m making music, it’s out there on the internet with all these other new things. I just don’t know where ‘Watery Moon’ goes, what it would sit beside on the shelf.
An electronic music site here in Toronto made a post about the album, related it to Dirty Beaches. Now, I actually haven’t even heard Dirty Beaches. I probably should, I know. I did look him up, but the first thing I read was something he’d written in response to a YouTube poster who had criticized one of his tracks. So the Dirty Beaches guy is telling him how he didn’t give a shit, how he’d recorded it while crying and beating himself in the head. And I don’t know, that just kind of turned me off listening to that song. I’ve never really liked knowing too much about how or why something was recorded. I don’t think I could hear the song now without thinking of a guy punching himself in the face.
So I don’t want to say all that much about the writing or recording process that went into this album, even though you asked. No matter what I say about it, whoever hears it is going to interpret it their own way, inject themselves in there. You can’t get to know me through my music. The person you imagine is just going to be some reflection of yourself. A mist. And that’s good. That’s the way it should be.
I can say that it was recorded over the course of about a year, right after I separated from my wife, a girl I met when I was still a teenager. But even that shouldn’t change the way you think about these songs. I played “Same Old Satellite” to my mother and she immediately took it to be about my ex or divorce. But really, I’d written that song months before the breakup happened. The song was just kind of floating around in my head. Now, if you have that knowledge about me going through a separation, you want to push that onto the song. That’s how you’re going to hear it. But that’s not what lead me to write it, wasn’t about any of that at all.
I’m trying to say that all that other stuff doesn’t really matter to the music. You’ll never really understand how or why a song was written, and that shouldn’t even be the goal. I don’t always know how they come about myself. Songs aren’t the kind of things you should be trying to figure out, as if there is some solid fact nestled in the middle, even though we all might be inclined to look for one. Really, the person listening to the song brings as much into it as the one who sang it. Something just happens, and it either means something in that moment of listening or it doesn’t. When you start adding in all this other information, research and facts about the person or time and place where the recording came to be, it really shrinks down the world of the song. If it was made in a cabin in the woods, or if I just rolled over naked in bed and coughed into a microphone, I don’t think that really needs to be in your mind when you’re listening.
I do have to mention the role my friend Jordan Bacon played in getting this album finished though. I couldn’t have done it without him. We put in some long nights together. I was bringing him things to listen to, and we were mixing together. The songs “I Got Your Number” and “Night Line”—those are Jordan’s songs. He put them together. I just wrote some words, helped to structure them a bit. He had the music for those worked out on his own, sent them to me months before I’d even planned on making the album. I wrote the other songs, but he was there throughout, even if it was just to master them. He’s moved away from Toronto now, bought a house in his old hometown of Madoc, population of about 2,000. A real country gentleman. I can’t take the streetcar to his place anymore and eat barbecue and record the way I did last summer.
I’m working on another album, but it’s going to be very different from ‘Watery Moon’, and I think that’s largely because Jordan isn’t going to be around for this one. He was a second set of ears for me, helped control some of my impulses. We can still send things back and forth over the net, but that’s very different from having two sets of hands behind the mixing board. The way I’m working now is similar to how I started with my first set of songs. Recording on my own, mixing late at night when everyone’s asleep. Silent movies on the television to look up at once in a while, so I don’t totally lose myself.
I got the headphones on, and Lon Chaney’s looking back at me, and that keeps me in check.
The Internet Age has brought about its fair share of innovations for the way art is made and dispersed into the world today. The way we collaborate has certainly been one of its most impressive innovations. It’s how Japanese artist and composer Noah, and 17 year old, California-based producer, SELA. were able to come together and make one cohesive EP.
Noah is a female artist who grew up in a snowy Japanese town, a scenery which would later lead to influencing her musical tendencies. Her production lends itself to scenic ambience that mixed with her classical training make for a sound as beautiful as it is reminiscent. SELA., on the other hand, manages to take slow and deconstructed hip-hop and R&B styles, to create a sort of dreamlike bounce. Both sides of this EP fit seamlessly into the other, suitable for any late night listening party.
Melbourne orchestral pop project Wintercoats has been making music about as long as I’ve been writing a music blog. So when James Wallace sent me an email late last week with his latest release, I was really excited.
His latest EP, Heartful, was just released on Melbourne’s own Yes Please Records, and it is his third EP to date. Wallace truly is a one man orchestra, and he has made another beautiful collection of songs. Where previous EPs, like Sketches, used many string arrangements, Heartful focuses on vast orchestral soundscapes, and from beginning to end, it is a beautifully optimistic journey. It’s surprising that such instrumentation was all recorded in a bedroom over the course 15 months—a testament to Wallace’s skill.
Stream the EP below, and pay what you want for it on Bandcamp.
Below is the first cut off the new record, and it only serves to reinforce the unique musical relationship the two have found. Balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, Pressed And creates a sound entirely their own. The magic of their relationship is in their ability to marry these meditative folk elements with intricate electronic elements, empowering them both to live harmoniously under the warm roof of raw experimentation. Following both Imbue Up and Hyper Thistle, it sounds like this release may be taking a more earthy feel, reflecting on the duo’s southern roots.
Listen to “Creed Unlove” below and let it act as further evidence of the nearly unending versatility of Pressed And.