Today, Nobuyuki Sakuma (former member of Jesse Ruins) released his second full-length album as CVN. Though it feels like a logical departure from the darting techno doom-scape in Sakuma’s preceding album, Matters, the huge breadth of emotions channeled in i.c. makes for an unpredictable listening experience. Track by track, Sakuma calls for us to rely on our sense of imagination rather than direction, and follow him, unhurried, through the “mutating” cityscapes of Tokyo.
Kicking off i.c. with a pop track, “成分” consists of lullaby-ish melodies and kind, female vocals by NTsKi. It is followed by “Excuse” feat. Cemetery, which builds a sense of tension and curiosity through its steady beat, ambient diffusion of vocal samples, droning strings, nature sounds, and colorful synth blips. The track eventually wriggles free from its forward marching drums, as if to give us a chance to look around at the diverse soundscape that Sakuma has built before moving onwards.
With an ominous chorus and an abundance of industrial whirring, “You Argued for Justice” delivers a dark catharsis to the prior track’s buildup. Though the begin of “Snippets of Heaven” might lead you to believe we’ve reached a glitchy techno destination, it resolves to another moment of sonic reverence. Next, “Local Pain” feat. Le Makeup uses bright guitars to take an unexpectedly upbeat turn, and so it goes. Sakuma purportedly allows his mood to dominate the direction of each track. As a result, i.c. moves between heaviness and zen, while often finding a way to balance the two elements within the same track.
i.c. resembles its predecessor, Matters, through intricate and inventive synthesized sounds, and an untethered, winding, sense of motion. Both albums are experimental in their own right, but i.c. find chaos in moments of stillness, and each track’s organic undercurrent to shine through. Each beat finds a flow that is interesting and rhythmically unique, but not so heady that it requires technical appreciation in order to be enjoyed.
Like walking through Tokyo, there is always something new waiting to be discovered in i.c. Every layer that is peeled back gives us another clue about the place from which Sakuma is sending us his message.
When he’s not making music, Sakuma works as an editor at the online music magazine, AVYSS, and curates a mix series called Gray Matter Archives. So while the more avant-garde aspects of this album are likely inspired by Japan’s experimental electronic scene, tracks like “Excuse” and “下丘 Kakyu” utilize traditional Japanese instruments and reflect the juxtaposition of hypermodernity and history that exists within Tokyo.
CVN will be performing in Philly on June 19th at Berks Warehouse, along with label-mate Koeosaeme
It wasn’t too long ago Beach Goons (made up of Pablo Cervantez, David Orcozo, and Chris Moran) was playing house shows in the “surf punk scene” of San Diego, California and using equipment from the public library. These past few months was only their second tour, despite the large and incredibly engaged crowd. The band has been gaining more and more popularity with the release of their new album hoodratscumbags. Singer and guitarist, Pablo Cervantez, explained from behind his tiny merch table at Theatre of Living Arts, that this album is his “little baby,” and has been working on it for 2 years. He went through the process of writing in his room, in the studio, and wiping out 8 songs before he was ready to release it.
With influences from Balance and Composure, Chalino Sanchez, The Cure, and Marvin Gaye it is obvious how Cervantez’s vast music taste contributes to the perfect creation of a surf punk album.
Cervantez went into depth about how important it was that he includes his Mexican heritage in this album specifically. The listener can quite literally hear this in the several verses he belts out in Spanish (such as in the song A.M.) , an inclusion that is greater on hoodratscumbags than any other album Beach Goons has released before. He explained that growing up in San Diego as a first gen was difficult because of ridicule from greater society. He referred to the area as “the ghetto,” something that he made known he is not ashamed of. Cervantez even recalls being pushed to speak english in public by his parents, fearing that he will be looked down upon for his heritage.
With his background influencing his recent album, Cervantez explained how he is no longer ashamed of his heritage. He is simply proud and he wants his parents to be proud.
After hoodratscumbags was released, Beach Goons had the opportunity to have an Audiotree Livesession in Chicago, something Cervantez grew up watching and listening to. The coordinators were very welcoming and the overall experience was amazing. Check out their session on Spotify or Youtube to hear the extremely authentic and vocally dynamic recording.
Cervantez closed in on the interview with some insightful advice for kids growing up in less fortunate areas who are told they cannot accomplish anything:
“It’s all Bull Shit!”
Cervantez recommended a documentary about the area he grew up in called Chicano Park:
SWMRS, Destroy Boys, and Beach Goons took over The Theatre of Living Arts on Tuesday, April 9th. The crowd was close to filling the whole venue just as the opening act, Destroy Boys, stepped on stage, so it was obvious Philadelphia was ready for a night of sick music.
Destroy Boys, comprised of Alexia Roditis, Violet Mayugba, Falyn Walsh and Narsai Malik, came first with a hardcore, upbeat sound. Roditis’s strong, powerful vocals filled the venue. They took time to encourage an all-girl mosh pit, something that was very empowering to the female hardcore fans in the audience. Already proving to be an all- inclusive band, Roditis went on to perform a song for the LGBTQ audience, yelling out “That’s me, bitch!” The crowd then swooned when Mayugba planted a kiss on Roditis’s forehead. The band then covered Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” with spot-on, screaming accuracy.
Next to perform was Beach Goons, bassist David Orozco swigging a Yuengling as he walked on stage to plug in. The bands’ sound is like no other, the guitar having a perfect balance of surf mixed with pure, gritty punk. Upbeat drums along with catchy bass rifts ensure to grasp the attention of anyone listening. Cervantez’s voice is an extremely unique mixture of clean melodies that break into raspy, articulate screams.
They opened with “Tar,” and the crowd immediately started screaming the lyrics. A crowd this large and supportive could have been for a main act easily. Then, came the bodies. I have been to many, many punk shows, but I have never seen as many converse soles above my head before in my whole life. The bouncers were spastically trying to catch kids coming up to the front from every direction, as the rest moshed recklessly to their favorite punk band: Beach Goons. The pit was especially hyped when lead singer Pablo Cervantez repeated the lyrics
“Everybody is dead
All my friends are dead
And I’m tryin’ my best
My best to reach things”
The words were screamed over and over as more bodies were knocking into each other and flying overhead. Cervantez banged on his tan telecaster, a smile on his face the whole time. After asking to be smoked up after the show, Beach Goons closed with a surf-punk cover of “La Bamba,” something that sparked an even more intense energy throughout the crowd.
The fans for SWMRS were waving and singing along to their songs before the band even stepped out onto the stage. SWMRS opened with “Trashbag Baby,” a song that drew immense energy from the audience. The band, made up of Cole Becker, Max Becker, Joey ArmstrongJakob Armstrong (both sons of the frontman of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong), and Seb Mueller had a bit of a 90s punk boy band style mixed with some modern pop-punk influences.
There was clapping and dancing from the barricades all the way up to the line of parents in the back of the venue, the audience knowing every song from the first note of the bassline. After requesting a circle pit be formed, singer Cole Becker referred to the “wall of death” mosh pit as a “wall of love,” encouraging the fact that “once you walk through those doors, you’re joining a community.”
The band was extremely interactive with the crowd, often stopping the show to talk with individual audience members from the stage. Becker then explained how important it is to recognize any form of sexual harassment that may go on during the show, asking for the band to be told if this happens so they can stop the show and “kick that mother f***** out!!!!!” The announcement was followed by “Berkeley’s on Fire,” a song about such issues and moving forward as a community.
The SWMRS tour definitely had a killer line up, proven by the large and engaged audience which was excited to see all of the bands. This may be the tour that brings Beach Goons to the next level of popularity, with such a large crowd going off the walls for their new album. This only being their second tour, it will be exciting to see how much they, along with Destroy Boys and SWMRS, grow as they make their way from city to city.
I first met jxsh on June 8th, 2018, online. Well, a lot of people first met jxsh online. The definition of met may change depending on who you ask, but in this day and age I would say it is appropriate to say we met before we could shake hands in real life. I followed him on Instagram after seeing he was planning on going to Drexel University, the same as I was in the fall. I remember seeing an ad he posted for wanting videos of people across the internet “doing anything that isn’t talking.” So, I sent a clip of myself skating up a quarter pipe and he replied with “oH SICK” (if you have ever texted Josh you would find he is a fan of random capitalization.) A few weeks later, jxsh sent me the link to his new music video for “POMEROY,” an internet-inceptious montage of the people he has befriended through his DIY music.
I wondered if I would ever meet jxsh, from Cleveland OH, in real life or if he was even still planning on going to Drexel with his rising popularity. We didn’t talk for the rest of the summer, but I kept up with his music, blaring it as I drove down the Jersey rt. 22 highway. As September approached, perhaps the latest school to start was Drexel and I found myself moving my childhood bedroom into North Hall on Race street in West Philly. After getting situated, our RA called for a floor meeting. As the freshmen living on the East side of the fourth floor shuffled into the common room, I noticed a pair of yellow Golf Le Fleurs under cuffed dickies and a dark green Golf bee print collared shirt from my criss-crossed position on the floor. Then, I looked up to see jxsh’s signature grown out bleach blonde hair. This boy I followed over the summer, child of the internet, Loverboy, lived 2 doors down from me. What are the chances?
I ended up becoming good friends with all of his roommates who I would occasionally cook with, watch movies with and do stick-and-pokes with in our cinder block living room. That’s when I came to know him as “Josh,” and now, after a bold but slight name change, you will all know him as “Josh Maison.” Although he is an incredibly friendly guy, I would usually find him in his room with headphones on, hunched over his computer. I didn’t need to ask what he was doing, just his stance showed the determination and avidity he was putting into making his own music. While I would be hanging out with his roommates in his living room, I would occasionally pop my head into his bedroom to just talk for a few minutes and I always found the same thing: his headphones on, laptop out, microphone positioned and working– always working on music. I decided to follow the process of his new single to figure out how a young DIY artist in 2018 does it.
Getting updates from Josh was always something different. He would either say “nah this is trash” and completely remake the project he was working on, or eagerly lead me to his desk and play me demo after demo. That is the respectable thing about Josh- he is humble. He needs to like his own music to release it, something that is so rare amongst the ever growing population of sell-outs in the music industry. However, after a few months of following his process, there was one night where we sat in his room and listened to demos he and his two best friends Dom and Riley, professionally known as Ghost Boy Sora and Riley the Musician, were making together. It was interesting that all of these unreleased skeletons of songs already had names. I questioned Josh as to why and he revealed to me that the title is the beginning of the song… before lyrics and production. The listener can feel this in the tracks, as the music these three make together engage the mind visually. Listening to the dynamic production style paired with Josh’s experimental lyrics and vocal sounds creates a song that transforms the room the listener is in into a complete sanctuary of experiential music. With most of his songs having four layers of vocals, the concentration and dedication to the making of a song is truly art created by three young visionaries.
Josh’s latest song, U&I, paves a path going through the gates of heaven, as Josh requested this to be the plot of the production, saying “when we made U and I, I sent Riley some stuff me and Dom made and I said I wanted to make something heavenly electronic. My heaven, my happiness.”
The production plays with bright metallics, soft vocals and abrasive contrasts. U&I has a progressive sound about it, like something good is about to happen. It sounds like you’re going into heaven. His heaven and happiness is something that only seems to be attainable through the trio that is Josh, Riley and Dom.
I got to speak with Riley The Musician about his process as well. We face timed, closing the distance between Kansas City and Philadelphia, another reminder of how important modern technology is to DIY artists in this millennium. After creating “Walk the Talk” with Josh and Dom, Riley explained to me that he and Josh just clicked. They now make music together non stop, going through dozens of demos together Riley produces before creating a song. Along with this process, Riley was open about how if Josh believes the production of a song could be better, he tells him, something important in the trusting process between two creators. Riley ended the interview by telling me, “Josh just has good ideas,” something simple yet incredibly accurate.
Spending my time with Josh Maison made me feel as though I was viewing something bigger than everything around me; like something inevitably large is going to happen and the thrill is not knowing when, but hopefully soon. Everyone around him believes he will blow up and are humbled by the possibility of their friend becoming a real, breathing pop star. Interviewing him in his small room showed me how anyone with a determination and a deep love for anything could make something beautiful.
All speculative fame aside, at the end of the day, I know Josh Maison as Josh from room 408, a kid who loves heaven, striped shirts and making good music. But throughout his rising popularity, he is still humble enough to sit down in a tiny dorm room with his friends, suck down boxed passion fruit juice and say, with a smile, “Guava is my shit, dude,” as the demo of a future hit plays softly in the background.
Listen to Sidney Gish! She just released an album called No Dogs Allowed, and I haven’t been this excited about a new find since…also finding Haley Heyndrickx last week. No Dogs Allowed is a funny, upbeat, legitimate masterpiece. You’ll sing “Sin Triangle” around the house and dance to “Sophisticated Space.” You’ll teach a parakeet to talk. And then, once you finish the album, share it with a bunch of friends, and listen once more, you’ll find Ed Buys Houses, and realize, amazingly, that it is on the same level as No Dogs Allowed. You’ll ride on your bike home on an unseasonably warm day, and then share Sidney Gish with as many people as you can. Enjoy!
Midwest producer Appian (pronounced App-ee-an) has been honing his ear for dance music since he was a kid, soaking up select cuts from his Mom’s collection. His Mom must have good taste, because Appian’s gone on to create some of the vibiest house music we’ve heard of late, recently joining forces with Chicago-based label Stripped & Chewed for a bumpin’ piano-laced four-track EP entitled Rite of Passage.
We caught up with Appian to talk about the midwest, snackin’, and to grab a sweet guest mix!
Appian: “I grew up in Ferndale, which is a suburb of Detroit, by 8 mile and Livernois. I listened to dance music as a kid because my mom had a bunch of CDs and tapes from DJs. When I got older, I got into Djing and making music.”
“For this mix, I had some slower tracks that I wanted to play. Usually I don’t play that much of the slower tempo stuff that I have, so this was a good opportunity to put some of those tracks together to see where it goes. As far as music influences, I was influenced by Rhythm Is Rhythm, some 80s club music, Aphex Twin’s techno stuff, and a lot of house music… among other things.”
WKDU: How’d the midwest influence your sound and how’d you connect with Stripped & Chewed?
Appian: The mid-west has its own style… I don’t know if I can really describe it though. Stripped & Chewed got in touch with me about doing a record. I’ve liked a lot of stuff that they have done with the label, so it was a great opportunity to collaborate.
WKDU: Any party pro-tips?
Appian: Play the music you love and music for your friends. Play music for the dancers.
WKDU: What’s your favorite post-party snack?
Appian: Chicken strips or coneys.
Peep clips of the Rite of Passage EP below & stay groovy y’all.
bpmf is a button pushin mother f*cker living in beautiful West Philadelphia. With a career spanning back to the 80s that has seen him rock shows across the world, we sat down with the hardware wizard to discuss his new album Abide the Glide, keeping the funk (and glide) alive, and of course, music gear.
bpmf has been doin’ the thing for a little while now. Pictured here with Prototype 909 (P-909).
When did bpmf first start playing with hardware?
bpmf has always been about hardware. I got the name from Skip McDonald of Tackhead who came to my studio to check out my skills with an eye for helping his band mate Doug Whimbish produce his solo album. I was told that when Doug asked what he thought of my work on the Akai S-900, Skip responded: “Man that is one button pushin mutha fucka”.
The first time I ever played live was in ’86 with The Free World. The two of us basically dismantled the entire studio and brought it to the space. I wasn’t thrilled to ever do that again, so it wasn’t until ’93 in Prototype 909 where we had six hands and an arsenal of Roland gear that I got the bug for playing live. We started Rancho Relaxo All Stars in 94 and I’d bring my SH-101, TR-606, DX-100, and Prophet 600 and we’d put all our gear together and jam. Each of us would often solo out for 10 minutes or so and then mix in a record. So in this way I feel like I was very fortunate to ease into playing live solo with a lot of extra gear and a little help from my friends.
Despite making techno for a decade as bpmf and with P-909 and playing live with them over 70 times, I never really played Techno live by myself until I hooked up with Rizumu in 2015. I had gone to a few parties with some amazingly talented young people working the machines, some shows having more than one, or going all night live. This really got to me seeing these young people going at what I had never really had the courage to do. I had some newer, smaller gear that certainly made it easier to bring along everything I thought I needed and to work it more easily than what I had done in the past. So the time was right.
Prototype 909 live in action with the infamous Prophet 600 in tow.
You’ve got two labels: Serotonin & Schmer. What’s the style for each?
By 94 I was starting to feel that techno was getting a bit too unfunky for my taste and that year I had met John Selway at Satellite records and realized that we both had a love for the funkier electronic dance music of the early eighties: electro, electro disco, new wave, funk. We thought we should help to bring it back, so we started Serotonin.
I wasn’t done with Techno so the next year I started Schmer. We brought Serotonin back because we wanted to get some of the old releases that hadn’t been digitally released re-released and because John and I were sitting on tracks that we had made for Serotonin over the years that would never find a better home than our own label. We also had never stopped receiving demos and some of them amazing and better than anything we had yet put out. Seemed pretty obvious to us.
As for Schmer, it was simply a matter of having an outlet for the kind of stuff I was making and since its pretty far outside the mainstream of modern techno its very unlikely anyone else was going to do it. When Nina Kaviz put a DJ RX-5 track from Schmer-003 out on her Fabric CD that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back on that decision.
DJ RX-5 “Like A Boogie”, as featured in Nina Kraviz’s Fabric 91 mix.
What’s your favorite piece of gear? If you have one.
Well my “love piece” as my buddy Abe Duque would say, is the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600. It’s the sound of “Button” from the Button EP on Rancho Relaxo. I took it everywhere in the 90s and there’s hardly a bpmf track from back then without it. I still have it and I still love it but I wont take it out because its just too big and impractical. Especially when my new favorite “love piece” the Roland JP-08 Boutique is so small and compact.
What’s the worst thing about electronic music coming out today?
Much of what they call “techno” today I don’t recognize as such. You can make electronic dance music using almost all the same gear and techniques employed in techno, but if the music has no soul, no funk, so sexy feeling or no house feel then its not what I call “techno”. Let’s call that EDM, regardless of what the label, or producer claims it is. House is a feeling and techno is a sub-genre of house, therefore techno needs to have a feeling, when its not there its just whatever.
Also, there are too many jerks. Yes, they are misogynists and there needs to be more woman in our scene and great progress is being made; but only by getting rid of the jerks will we make room for a lot of the people who’ve been left out or put out by jerks at the top.
bpmf rocking it solo at a recent live gig.
Is this your first album? I thought albums were “dead”.
bpmf released two ambient albums, “Parousia Fallacy” in 2007 on Serotonin and “Solaris” on Telepathic Bubblebath in 2016. Albums aren’t dead, I think they are a very useful form helping the artist to focus energies and themes. The fact that consumers get to pick it apart and just take the tracks they like shouldn’t discourage the artist from thinking in terms of an album. Just like we put four tracks on an EP for you to only play one. The album is still the artist’s best chance to be a DJ and take the listener on a journey with their music selection and programing. In addition to the tracks, I intend to release a mix of the album so people get another insight into how I thought these tracks should work together.
Abide the Glide was conceived and produced as a series of 3-4 track EPs starting in 2016. The 4th one is the only one to be put out on vinyl and it comes out in August, its Schmer-008. The other 3 had been on bandcamp for a while but I’ll be releasing them on the album instead with the mix to follow. The theme is portamento. You must abide the glide if you’re gonna get down on this.
Oh man… well first of all, the gear itself. Got a preenfm2 from Xavier Hosxe so that I could do FM parts with portamento, because the volca FM don’t glide. This brought me back to when I had the Yamaha DX-100 with p909 and I always tried to rock these Relief Records glide lines into the mix. When they worked, nothing worked better.
So you could say a big influence was Lester Fitzpatrick, Green Velvet and everyone else in Chicago in 90s rockin that glide sound. Also as for the 303 itself, my favorite patterns are the ones where the bends get you moving so those are the ones I gravitate to.
The mood rises from a meditation on the acceptance of reality and the need to go with the flow. Each of us was put on this earth for a purpose, even though our contribution may be small in the grand scheme of things there is something that you are the best at or are only person that can do it. Right now I’m here to bring the glide back.
What do you love and/or hate the most about the TR-606?
What I love most is its size. Its perfect. Put separate outs on the drums and its even perfecter. I love the hats and cymbal, they are piercing, dangerously so. I can’t put into words the feeling the sound of the toms give me and that tight sharp snare is the best Roland snare EVER. There is nothing I hate about it, I have accepted it and embrace it for what it is. It is perfect, as perfect as piece of gear can be. I was very sad when Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away this year. He is my hero, he is to me like an uncle I never knew. This entire techno journey would have been impossible without him and I owe him a debt that can never possibly be repaid.
What’s your favorite thing about techno ?
It never ends so it’s always there.
What’s the button pusher’s favorite post-rave snack?