My Latest Work

Aussie Psych Rock Trailblazers GUM & Ambrose Kenny-Smith Come Together on ILL TIMES

“Involve your friends in your art” is a striking statement I recently stumbled across—working with like-minded people is a reliable way to produce a labour of love and revel in fun. That’s exactly what Australian psychedelic rock pioneers Jay Watson (Pond and Tame Impala’s touring band) and Ambrose Kenny-Smith (King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and The Murlocs) got up to when concocting their collaborative album, Ill Times.

Bandcamp Picks: Roopen & My Best Unbeaten Brother - Merry-Go-Round Magazine

Japan’s Roopen sure loves ‘90s electronica, and it’s felt all over their newest mixtape, JUICY TRAX. This release follows their previous set of songs, THE FRONTIER, which was similarly inspired by ambient techno and downtempo. While that collection had more length and variety, JUICY TRAX distills their assortment of woozy and bleepy ambient house into a succinct nine tracks. The resulting tape is digestible and commanding, playing out like an exploration of nostalgic mellow house from yesteryear. Even the cover serves this notion: a tribute to fractal landscape-rendering programs such as Bryce3D, the most fitting visual depiction of these ethereal floor-fillers.

The tracks are quite fluttery and floaty, tied together by frilly bells and whistles like sampled hi-hats and bongos, which drive the propulsion. Opener “Wanabee” skitters along with chirpy acid squelches. The Balearic influence cements itself on “:)” and “The Bomb,” both reminiscent of Soichi Terada’s entrancing deep house. “Africa 2040” matches the artwork—a naturalistic, blissed-out voyage across still waters. “Alien Technology” continues the Terada worship, until “Flip It” subverts the preceding playful charm for low-slung, trippy breakbeats. On the whole, it’s a fun and endearing display of the hypnotic deep house that seeped its way into the early noughties. I hear echoes of local chillout compilations of that time throughout this thing, and I’m certain other listeners will draw their own comparisons. Cassettes produced by Odd Tape Duplication are available for purchase, which you can buy on Roopen’s Bandcamp.

Interview: ESSENDON AIRPORT Chronicles Their Early Voyage

Coming off their latest performance at Collingwood’s lovely Hope St Radio (which we wrote about for the magazine), David Chesworth and Robert Goodge, founding members of the legendary Melbourne band Essendon Airport, are in good spirits. “We found it great,” Goodge says, “it was the first time we’d played as a five piece with our original drummer Paul [Fletcher]. We’re finding ways to use our old material from that period, like, most of those tunes were from 1979.” Chesworth chimes in, “We don’t have any strategies necessarily as to what we’re going to play, but I suppose that [material] was the most playable with the group.”

Bandcamp Pick: Bulgarelli - FAT ANIMALS

It’s exciting to see passionate, emo-laden math pop emerge from Northern Italy. Spirited gratitude soars across the globe, no matter the location. Bulgarelli are a group of friends from Bologna who started playing together in 2017, following a hot summer day drinking beer in a public park. They grew up together near the sea, so if you envision the stunning sights of Bologna’s beaches, their music sounds even more spectacular.

ESSENDON AIRPORT’s Musical Concorde Takes off at Hope St Radio

What looks like the heritage building of the Collingwood Technical School actually houses a sprawling artist district neatly tucked away on Johnston Street. Entering the towering structure at an early evening hour led to a courtyard with plenty of bustling activity, especially for a weeknight, was how I discovered the Collingwood Yards—repurposed from the former tech school to foster cultural and artistic production. Outdoor fire pits warmed up aged concertgoers, some blokes were having a ciggy after clocking off from the neighbouring record store next to Hope St Radio (a bar and radio station with its walls covered in scribbles alluding to creative liberty), which is where Essendon Airport, the piloting stars of the night, were ready for take-off.

HOMESHAKE Concocts a Remedy for Distress on HORSIE

Throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks is what HOMESHAKE is all about. The long-time musical project of Peter Sagar transcends mere pleasant, unattentive listens; Sagar’s bedroom pop-adjacent sensibilities mirror his headspace during recording. Where his livelier and more celebrated releases such as 2017’s Fresh Air ooze with jovial indietronica and alt-R&B, Horsie is Sagar’s second release in 2024 following March’s CD Wallet, and a continuation of the latter’s heavier approach.

MIZU – Forest Scenes (REVIEW)

Behold – the dense, cerebral, and visceral woodland that New York-based composer MIZU has propagated on Forest Scenes. Describing anything rooted in growing greenery as “blossoming” is perhaps a tried platitude, but her naturalistic, deconstructive cello-based spectacle is a marvel in the act of self-discovery that genuinely unfurls over time. MIZU forgoes the classic methodology of using her voice to give sound to her feelings, the stretching, brooding tonal range of her cello delivers all the lilting emotion. During the intensely evocative trek of Forest Scenes, field recordings, digitised glitchy skitters, and brooding spiccatos uniformly grapple with transformation and comprehension of one's physical presence. MIZU’s is skilled with her instrument, but here, moreso than ever the classical harmonic soundscapes discordantly clashing with electronic manipulation is her incredibly earnest portrayal of self. This confluence of styles, especially through a queer lens, invites others to make those interrogations.

underscores Brings Her Electrifying World to the Corner Hotel

It was a real joy to discover underscores, aka April Harper Grey, was finally set to headline our continent. The San Francisco artist’s 2021 debut album fishmonger made waves in the hyperpop scene, and 2023’s Wallsocket did that more so by bending indie rock, dubstep, Midwest emo, pop punk and all the sort. We got the chance to see her fervent artistry in person, witnessing her interweaving of maximalist rocky-electro soundscapes with pensive lyrics and worldbuilding to lose yourself in. It’s funny that Grey is credited so vehemently for her contributions to the hyperpop genre, despite telling the NME last year it is “officially dead”. It makes more sense to view her oeuvre in a post–hyperpop lens; she genuinely is changing the game. With her diverse artistic facets, Grey is a truly inspiring force for this current and upcoming generation of creatives. Many young uni students aren’t too far off from her age and similarly found their expressive footing using the internet. To then see her live at Richmond’s Corner Hotel was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

On the night, the Corner became a hotspot for avid and vibrant concertgoers celebrating hyperpop’s maximalism. Seriously—once the music began, it didn’t stop. Opening for Grey were numerous DJs—Babie Club kicked things off with glossy, glittery dance bangers typical to the genre that eased us into the mood. Big Chocolate swiftly followed, bringing a massive stage presence with their producer Dexter helming the music. They’ve been around the block across the scene—when not on their own, they’re playing with the Melbourne Trap Orchestra, a local band who reimagine the music of Chief Keef, Playboi Carti, Ice Spice and others with a jazz fusion palette. Their communal presence is not one to miss and it’s only appropriate Big Chocolate played for underscores—their sped-up cover of Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’ really got the floor moving. This high-octane energy was sustained by Chaotic Good making the crowd bounce, pulling out a glitchy garage edit of Grey’s own ‘seventyseven dog years’ to commemorate the event. Frog Chaser pumped us up even more before Grey took centrestage, pulling out all the stops with an intense DJ set. Beefed up club-ready versions of SOPHIE’s ‘Immaterial’, Vengaboys’ ‘We Like to Party’ and the mid–2000s classic internet meme ‘Numa Numa’ were some standouts. ‘Caramelldansen’ wouldn’t have been out of place.

Finally, the star of the night fell upon us—a projection that read “underscores presents” cut to a scene almost straight out of a PS2 game, with Grey playing Dance Dance Revolution and driving off with a friend to their hometown. The display of the tour promo led to a cry of cheers, which multiplied once Grey stepped on stage with her guitar and immediately went into the explosive ‘Cops and Robbers’. A thrilling and bombastic introduction, certainly, which never slowed down across the hour Grey played for. Switching between fishmonger and Wallsocket tracks throughout the set, as well as the newly-released hit ‘My guy (Corporate shuffle)’, it was like Grey guided the audience through her imaginative world. Constantly in view were hand-drawn and flashy 3D visuals, often with naturalistic aesthetics, which brightened the dimly-lit venue.

There’s a vulnerable, rural or suburban queer sensibility to the underscores world—it was awe-inspiring seeing it in the flesh. More intermissions were woven in the performance: one was of Grey buying cigs at a service station and another was an out-of-place audio calibration test, the former followed by the solemn standout ‘You don’t even know who I am’. However, from then on, the electrifying energy never curtailed. Grey’s twangy strings cut through the space with a shoegazing sound during the set’s final third. Everyone was jumping and singing along by that point. Several vortexing moshes like whirlpools made the Corner’s floors rumble, which brought friends together each time they settled. Those mosh pits would be an insane first pit experience for any fresh concertgoer. Grey told the crowd that Melbourne was the wildest crowd yet on her Australian leg—that came into fruition once the encore, ‘Locals (Girls like us)’, concluded her unforgettable show.

It all comes back to underscores as an artist—her eclectic musical background, stage interactivity and all-around heart on fire mentality made this night possible. The horde of fans belting every word during her performance is the most organic evidence of Grey’s impactful influence reaching many optimistic souls. To reiterate, then: she really is changing the game. To have been immersed in her world was a great treat, but to have done so among fans who were so very passionate, was remarkable.

Bar Italia - "The Tw*ts" | Album Review

The moody, nonchalant indie rock from UK’s bar italia is, paradoxically, so exciting. They finally received their deserved flowers with May 2023’s Tracey Denim – a textually hypnagogic, lethargic, and pensive guitar record with an echoey timbre and self-destructive narrative. Like its cover’s high contrast photo capturing the trio sitting unassuming, their music mirrors that, as if they accidentally became so acclaimed. On the surface, bar italia don’t sound technically proficient, but thorough listens swiftly reveal the complexity underscoring their chemistry. Their sound evokes the night. They soundtrack gloomy overcast days. They’re alluringly bougie. Also, like their contemporaries on Dean Blunt’s World Music label, there is a surreal but familiar quality to their sound, almost like it’s liminal. The inversion on Tracey Denim is indeed an act of taking familiar ‘90s art rock conventions and making them new.

Later in the same year, November brought upon The Twits – the noisier, Britpop-adjacent, and spiritually power-pop follow-up to Tracey Denim. It’s not more of the same, as the cover’s elongated bright yellow reading of the title hints at: more light has seeped into the trio’s dark crevices. It’s less monotonous and eerie than its predecessor, instead adopting a bluesy, chamberlike neo-psychedelic undertone. It’s creepily trippy – the brash, anthemic opener “my little tony” suggests otherwise – but every rhythm moves with grounded propulsion, like anything from Pavement’s thorny farewell record Terror Twilight. Better yet, The Twits resembles the ominous low-slung percussion of any The Brian Jonestown Massacre record in their prime. All in all, it’s a different beast. To then get more upbeat outtakes outside of the near-gothic country overpowering the album is a welcome treat.

The 2024 EP, The Tw*ts, perhaps cheekily titled given the band being shrugged off as provocateurs (the band’s own Jezmi Tarik Fehmi is quoted in Mixmag saying, “I don’t think there’s been a huge amount of exciting guitar music recently”), contains three would-be B-sides to “sounds like you had to be there,” a standout smoky dirge during The Twits’ final third. The first in the set, “The only conscious being in the universe” is poppy like “my little tony” and is maybe their most refined song. Warbled guitars vortex as if fed down a tube, Nina Cristante’s voice is as glistening as ever, but Sam Fenton is uncharacteristically raucous, interjecting with discordant screams that allude to another style change. “Sarcoustica” is an uneasy and mellow violin-infused acoustic guitar song. “drumstart,” then, features a punchy barrage of crunchy guitars and rushing hi-hats, with Fenton reprising his novel quivery vocal performance. People may still disparage bar italia for being careless, tired, or even pretentious, but their uncomplicatedness gives them their authenticity. Cryptic from being both ordinary and effortlessly cool – that’s remarkable. If The Tw*ts bookends their 2023 one-two punch victory lap, their next reinvention has much anticipation.

Interview: Brutus VIII on PURE GLUTTONY, the Album He’s Always Wanted to Make

Outside of drumming for Slow Hollows and Current Joys, Jackson Katz is an impassioned, fervent presence when performing under his Brutus VIII moniker. You wouldn’t guess that from his well-mannered and soft-spoken demeanor, but Katz’s performances with the electroclash and darkwave project are intense and cathartic. Originally from Los Angeles, he then moved to New York to sharpen his captivating live act and on-stage persona. Through hard work in the city’s booming underground, Katz has cultiva

Interview: Kurupi Is All for Community on NO ESPERES

The boisterous punk rap of Los Angeles-based Paraguayan artist Josh Sanchez is not to be slept on. Recording as Kurupi, the lively, eccentric instrumentals that underpin his impassioned and pensive rap cumulate into an exciting and unique sound. The lyrical leanings into his Paraguayan Guarani heritage help Sanchez truly feel like an artist of his own, carving out a cultural space which he feels is missing from music.

Merry-Go-Round is thrilled to premiere the single “Patterns,” which follows 2

Fiery Internet Indiedom: Your Arms Are My Cocoon and Friends at the Thornbury Bowls Club

In this trying time of cost-of-living pressures, the powers that be are pointing to the heat death of the local music industry. Scattered across the Melbourne CBD are Greens Party flyers imploringly reading “SAVE LIVE MUSIC IN VICTORIA”, hinting at the threatening closure of live music venues. Festivals around the country are being cancelled left, right and centre—Splendour In The Grass, one of Australia’s largest, pulled the plug this year for the first time ever since its inauguration. Pitchfo

We Are Beaucoup Fish, an Introspective Review

How powerful is the divine inspiration for creativity? I recently read an essay from novelist Zadie Smith titled Something to Do, which scrutinised the question ‘Why do we write?’ Not expecting much, it was a profound reality check. Excerpts such as ‘carving a little area—that nobody asked you to carve’, and seizing an ‘occasion for self-improvement, [with] another pointless act of self-realisation’, completely mirror my behaviour through writing. Reading it nearly brought me to tears, as it affirmed the notion that I’m a mere ant next to a myriad of other ants trying to carve out their own space. In case that reads as unmotivating, I can assure you it’s everything but. I particularly resonated with one concept: attaining some time—some ‘space for yourself’—after exhaustive ‘anxiety and debate’, only to end up with ‘nothing, an empty victory’. There is all the time in the world to make transformative art, but does using that time for such a spirited endeavour feel ‘wasted’, as Smith puts it? Absolutely not. As someone who feels more like themselves—and comfortable—on my own, the need to do or make something endlessly flows through my life. The most powerful art is an experience enacted through the artwork itself. Its foundation is that those creators exist and do it for the sake of it. For someone to stumble across a piece of art, and forge a new thing from it, is remarkable. That cycle makes my time worthwhile, and the same goes for techno’s elder statesmen, Underworld, whose ethos similarly relies on reworking the art of other people—their words—for their music.

Bandcamp Picks: Texas 3000 – tx3k

TX3K is one of last year’s best indie rock albums, yet very few have heard it; that’s a pretty ballsy statement, don’t you think? I promise you, that claim is not pure conjecture. The young trio—made up of Sakiyama, Jojo, and Kirin—are all based in a small residential area of Tokyo called Nakano, and have quietly forged masterful pensive alt-rock with a controlled ferocity. Texas 3000 reminds me of the aura surrounding early Oasis gigs before DEFINITELY MAYBE—the sound of a band trying to make it big. Not only are Texas 3000 the same age as their audiences, but they’re also in the same position—advantaged with loads of energy and still able to live carefree. In the frenetic opener “Connector Fuck Man,” the aggressive guitars sing these very notions. Half-way through, it abruptly comes to a halt. What initially sounds like cries and boos from a disappointed audience, quickly turns into a chant: “Texas 3000! Texas 3000!” A single kick drum then ending the silence, the song erupts once more, the trio knowing full well they’re humoring their audience. Hearing that exchange is like really being there in the crowd.

As I’ve hinted earlier, the guitars soar loudly. It’s only appropriate; that’s the Midwest emo influence bleeding through their interplay. With chords that reach the highest of heights, Texas 3000’s sound intersects with many other guitar-centric greats. They borrow the energy from the best crunchy bits of Dinosaur Jr.’s stellar reunion records BEYOND and FARM. The Hotelier’s cathartic sunniness permeates the trio’s instrumental and lyrical delivery. Echoes of Isaac Brock’s pleading desperations defining early Modest Mouse are laid across the album. And there’s the digestible infectious alt-rock like Sonic Youth’s mid-noughts output, particularly on “Shanburuon.” But what’s closest to Texas 3000 is their own homegrown heroes, Number Girl, Japan’s post-hardcore legends of the new millennium. They, also sown by Western influences (David Fridmann who gave The Flaming Lips their percussive edge mixed much of their discography), stand out for their distorted guitar chords that pulverize overcast clouds. Cracks open for some sunshine and hope to emerge, a seldom remedy for a hopeless day, gracefully evaporating any boredom sullying the grounds on earth. That power in alt-rock is a crown jewel, and like Number Girl, Texas 3000 effortlessly pride themselves on that. Listen to “V Ni Ha Naranai” and “Hirame 2D” for that alone.

Of course, TX3K is not entirely wild, as it’s scaffolded by lighter acoustic moments. Parts of “Erika” recall Dinosaur Jr.’s output, specifically the gentle ditties from lead singer J Mascis when he fronted the band in the ‘90s. There’s also the shimmering closer “Here,” a spaced-out, luscious jangle pop jam urging one to put their hands up in the air. TX3K succinctly captures ‘90s alt-rock energy and draws it to the present. If one were to give it its due diligence, they’d simply have to listen to it. Truthfully, I imagined I’d offer a more ceremonious, flowery celebration of Texas 3000—a reliance on dense vocabulary—but it would be disingenuous to excessively water down their rare display of youthful hearts on fire through music. The songs speak for themselves. So, please, listen to TX3K on Bandcamp today. [Dom Lepore]

Tourist Delivers Incessant Elation on the Lustrous MEMORY MORNING

The wonder of transporting to somewhere serene is ingrained into Tourist’s output. The pseudonym of the UK producer, William Phillips, carries the exhilarating sensations of this fantastical travel through his music. His illustrious reach is boundless, having remixed renowned artists such as CHVRCHES, Deftones, Flume, Caroline Polachek, and many others. Forging beatific soundscapes over a fruitful decade, Phillips’s glossy, mood-based house music has bookended numerous chapters in his life, taking on all sorts of forms.

Phillips’s earlier releases were shrouded in rave, like the skittery breakbeats on 2014’s breakthrough EP Patterns, and the unwinding progressive breaks of 2016’s U, a project with the same passionate jubilance as any modern The Chemical Brothers record. However, drastic life events curtailed the straightforwardness of his work—the tragic passing of a close friend and the birth of his daughter during the coronavirus pandemic entangled Phillips in both grief and joy. Openly seizing this tumult led to 2022’s Inside Out, a tender, poignant display of self-reflection, and a marked increase in mature songwriting.

As Phillips’s life continues to enter this new meditative chapter, so too has his music. The pondering of death and new life has bled into the new Tourist album, Memory Morning, a collection of sensationally-layered songs that utter “keep on moving forward” by priding themselves on repetition. Where Inside Out planted the seeds for contemplation, Memory Morning is blooming from that subsequent comfort, seeking solace in the familiar—the memories of music you love. Phillips consciously draws from a glistening pool of ingenious artists, such as Cocteau Twins, Beach House, and homegrown sound collagists The Avalanches. While each’s knack to engulf the listener in a Wall of Sound isn’t as vivid here, Phillips unleashes a feeling that’s all the same in spades.

Take the opener, ‘Lifted Out’, where sprinkles of cascading piano chimes are underscored by lofty beats that elevate one’s spirit. Already, the listener is guided elsewhere, to a space unshaken by disarray. It sets the stage for ‘A Little Bit Further’, emblematic of reminiscing about loved music from the past by repurposing its fragments. A dusty sample of Mark Fry’s ‘Song For Wilde’ gradually dissipates into effervescent synthesisers, exploding into an energising blast of pure positivity. The unceasing thumping beat pummels the listener, exhorting them to “be okay” as Fry’s folky strings are expertly woven into the glittery catharsis. Phillips continues this euphoric streak on ‘Valentine’ and ‘Siren’, displays of angelic voices and pulsing downtempo, respectively.

The album’s latter half ventures into quieter, introspective territory on the naturalistic ‘Ithaca’. Scaffolded by underwater keyboards, an outpouring of gleaming acid synth lines adorn its entrancing microhouse groove. The aptly-titled ‘Blink’ features voices edited like clicks, fading in and out like vignettes. ‘Second Nature’ is centred on a nostalgic string-and-piano riff, urging the need to “keep pushing on” as its triumphant unending groove engrosses the ears. Then, the titular ‘Memory Morning’ is a gorgeous concoction of Phillips’s influences, with each element keenly patterned like patchwork to form a radiant mosaic. The choppy, warbled percussion and swirly vocals cumulate into a Four Tet-esque chilled dancefloor filler: earnest hope. It is a sublime aural journey that is perhaps Phillips at his zenith.

Beyond the namesake closer, Memory Morning is intended for closer listening. In Phillips’s words, “I want Memory Morning to be a place you go and visit often, and where you find new, little things in it every time you go.” Indeed, every spin reaps new rewards and nuances. The bleak darkness encasing the cover’s curious pastel illustration is deceiving: it merely outlines the window to momentarily escape any tragedy, by melting into sunswept rays of colour—Phillips’s enduringly uplifting songs. As is the case with his newfound compositional maturity, that very excellence is, clearly, non-transitory.

Simple Syrup – Bloom (REVIEW)

Falling in love is euphoric. An inexplicable and deep attraction to another person can cause rose-tinted fantasies and warm daydreams to grow inside one’s head and heart. True happiness is one of the most fulfilling things we can experience, so if that emotion blooms brightly, to not seize it would be a travesty. In Bloom, the second album by Simple Syrup to be released on netlabel Business Casual, we see this often transient moment seized and savoured fully.

Bandcamp Picks: cluley – I'd Like To Love

It’s fun watching fun people be creative. Dean Aaron Cluley runs the Instagram page Shibuyadust, which is not only a wonderful insight into his mind, but a treasure trove of just some of the music he’s engrossed in: Shibuya-kei, bossa nova, and jazz pop. His initiative in adorning such colorful sounds is organic and inspiring, as I too find myself integrating my influences into my own processes and personhood. After following Cluley for quite some time, it was a wonderful surprise to discover his music gives flowers to those genres. I’D LIKE TO LOVE is a true labor of love project, helmed by his cartoon apparition, Lúcia Selen, who’s the face of the album. Her patchwork, kooky appearance charmingly mirrors the jolly musical worlds that Cluley explores. To then portray Selen as bisexual and a typification of greater LGBTQ+ representation in modern-day cartoons exhibits earnest empowerment. In turn, Cluley’s ethos gracefully becomes even more fulfilling.

The album itself is cozy and comfortable. Cluley’s instrumental influences are proudly worn on his sleeve, with every sound sewn together by his own hand. “Reykjavík” and “Echo Hit Box” are a one-two punch of chipper walking tunes for a sunny morning. The latter sways with a steady beat and record-scratching, a backing track good enough for an unraveling Pizzicato Five song. “Isabella Tiger Moth” and “The Butterfly’s Effect” emulate the stilted, wavy glitch pop of Cornelius, both carrying shimmering percussion. “You Just Can’t Win!” expands on this inspiration, as humming synths, echoey guitars, and distant chimes woven into the background culminate into a breezy chillout groove. It’s almost like video game music, down to its addictive, cartoonish charm and nonchalant overtone. Meanwhile, the title track “I’d Like To Love” is split into two parts—the first an effervescent blend of trip hop and glitch pop, and the second a bit-heavy ambient odyssey, like traversing through a crystalline cave.

Cluley’s pool of sounds stretches wide and deep for how varied it is. It’s endearing to see any artist revel in the art that makes them feel whole. Cluley’s self-proclamation as a “connoisseur” of these exquisite pop genres is not in jest, rather, it is candid: he truly cares about supporting other creatives of many identities for their profound effects upon him, so his efforts also deserve to be wrapped with welcoming arms. Check out Cluley’s alternative pop adventure on Bandcamp.

Liminal Winter – A Liminal Winter (REVIEW)

There is something harrowing about walking through familiar places during the chilly dead of night. The pageantry of the world slows to a standstill, an empty haze descends alongside a feeling of detached solitude. One may weave through suburbia’s mazey alleyways, pass empty shopping centres with glaring lights still turned on, and witness the local populace fast asleep. In these moments, the coldest of nights are made memorable. Liminal Winter uses slushwave and ambient drones as the foundation for the partially self-titled A Liminal Winter, typifying the act of stepping into the seemingly perpetual lethargy of a dark, cold liminal space, letting memories wash over oneself, like tiny, intricate snowflakes.

Opener From the North audibly establishes this prospect: “It was true, you could see absolutely nothing, the snow was coming down so hard and blowing up that visibility.” Huge blankets of snow covering the streets is the narrative Liminal Winter holds onto. Any semblance of life is limited to a gruelling solitary traversal through dense, numbingly-cold silver sheets.

Snowflake is the most ominous display of melancholia, bells and a deep piano melody ringing like a soporific lament, that calls through the wind and whiteness like a spectral memory. The track features interpolations of Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air, often recognised through its use in Raymond Briggs’ animation, The Snowman. The usually wondrous melody takes on a brooding, almost gothic quality here.

‍Polar Explorations is more minimal, carrying the same sparsity as an unnerving cut from Aphex Twin’s ambient series. The crystallising wind lapping against you, even in your warmly-layered exterior, sends shivers down your spine in the form of creeping euphoric notes. Crystalize does just that – with the aid of barber beats architect Time Fragment, the icy shock of percussion and melody that push beyond the warping phased sounds leave a sting.

Even the industrial factories – spaces normally characterised by their bustling nature – lay empty. Sonar Ice Detection Center’s mechanical shrieks indicate a complete lack of life, save for the methodic beeping of consoles. Slush on the Pavement, a tongue-in-cheek title given the style that shrouds A Liminal Winter, breathes with bellowed horns proudly painting the grimy exterior of a factory structure smouldering deep in the night.

While the blizzarding landscape has frosted over the surroundings and choked life from a place, warmth is still present – in our memories, which Liminal Winter bolsters as the album’s core ethos. Veins of warm piano and melody. During A Liminal Winter’s final third, Winter Dreams almost lets the warmth of the sun crash through dark clouds with angelic, yearning choruses carried by chariot-like percussion, echoing against the streets as it lands majestically ahead of the listener.

What’s in practice is a solemn swirling, like that of an antique snow globe – each pale pallet emanating a wistful glow. The flurry is cold, but carries with it the precious buds of aged memories. The typhonic snowfall engulfs you, as you are whelmed like the surroundings slowly submerged by silvery dots. Flickery memories no more – they are no longer liminal, but felt, as the listener motionlessly welcomes them.

Bandcamp Picks: Mk.gee – Two Star & The Dream Police

Over the last year or so, an influx of off-kilter guitar pop artists with an electronic edge have emerged. The most prominent contender is ML Buch’s seraphic, dreamy jangle pop voyage on 2023’s SUNTUB, a trend that continued into 2024 with Astrid Sonne’s multi-instrumental GREAT DOUBT. Now, Los Angeles-based Michael Gordon, aka Mk.gee, enters this fray of pop rock reinvention with his latest record, TWO STAR & THE DREAM POLICE. The brief offering trims the cheesy fat off what makes ‘80s Phil Collins and Simply Red sound boisterous, leaving their embryonic fibers to valiantly breathe new life into subversive, sparse sophisti-pop.

Opener “New Low,” then, is a fake-out—Gordon’s display of his complex technical ability. An R&B song at its core, he chatters over a smooth soul groove as glitch, bass-heavy tones, and scattered amen breaks emerge. Only after it does the album permanently encase itself in a delicate, metallic timbre. “Are You Looking Up” is a harmonious, neo-psychedelic power ballad with crisp, chipper guitar riffs and ‘80s keyboards. Had it been released during sophisti-pop’s zenith without chipping and sibilant echoes, it certainly would’ve made waves. Gordon’s take is impressively futuristic like the work of Jai Paul. “Candy” is more of the same, but with glossy abrasion contorting the massive, crystalline pop rock riff.

The conclusive stretch seeps into meditative new age arrangements. “I Want” sees Gordon following Arthur Russell’s school of thought by playing an entrancing, percussive groove, only to erupt into a Jon and Vangelis piano and saxophone jive. The longest track at four minutes is “Breakthespell,” a slowed-down new wave comedown jam. Closer “Dream police” wouldn’t be out of place on The Police’s SYNCHRONICITY, being as warm and desertic as the English band’s own pensive “Tea in the Sahara” concluding said album—Gordon’s title reads as referential. From being an offshoot of Toro y Moi several years ago, Gordon’s newfound compositional maturity must be revered for curating an intelligent pool of inspirations. More importantly, he has forged a divine palette that is modern and ultimately idiosyncratic to him. Listen to Mk.gee’s superb TWO STAR & THE DREAM POLICE over on Bandcamp.

Bandcamp Picks: doefriends – I WANT TO LOVE AGAIN

Jess, the sole artist behind doefriends, writes on her Bandcamp page that these cozy, emo-tinged tunes are “about a lot of things that mean a lot to [her].” She’s not the only one recognizing their importance: Jess’ debut I WANT TO LOVE AGAIN explores navigating the trials and tribulations of relationships under an eye-catching, cartoonish pink flair. Beneath bittersweet blips, her bit-crushed voice narrates the struggles of desiring physical intimacy, handling social scenarios, and trying to stay self-assured. The album’s inviting, sweet overtones make pondering those very emotions an enticing endeavor.

It was Jess’ Y2K-era artwork and chirpy bitpop right out of a Cartoon Network show that lured me to listen, but her snappy melodies and pensive lyrical introspection kept me engaged. “how to feel alive” opens repeating the phrase like a Speak & Spell toy, whirring with plasticky keyboards. “i don’t know if you hate or love me” introduces an emo edge, as stilted acoustic chords dissolve into shoegazing guitars while Jess defeatedly lays out the song’s titular sentiment. “drunk again” has a kooky, chugging groove with words about wanting to be just that—drunkenly happy with friends once more—but Jess combats her hesitancy with a hypothetical thought we’ve all wondered: “Maybe if I tell you something I will follow through.”

My favorite, especially as an internet dweller, is “a song about a cartoon,” where Jess nails conveying one’s adoration of a hand-drawn apparition on a screen. The cutesy song is laced with MIDI-like twinkles and pop punk drum kicks, igniting the head-over-heels sensation that comes with fawning over a fictional character. She celebrates self-actualization from this behavior: “You’re not real / But you’re real to me / You make me smile when I see you on my screen.” A cartoon likeness, hero, or even crush can ground your identity if you wholeheartedly acknowledge them. It’s a heartfelt escapism from mundane reality, but as the song’s cathartic ending dissipates, so does losing yourself with that toony companion.

The stress of uncertainty after being estranged is a through line on I WANT TO LOVE AGAIN—”waiting,” in all of its noisy indie pop glory, particularly tackles this notion. The other tunes also discuss relatable setbacks, at times painfully so, but Jess’s cheerful optimism intertwined with her adorable musicianship can motivate anyone to improve. As she sings on the title track, “I know and you know / What the future holds / Bright prospects with muted undertones.” We can move forward, but it won’t always be towards sunshine and rainbows. Experience doefriends’ vulnerable, yet joyous, self-reflective journey over on Bandcamp.

Eazy Sleazy: The Definitive 2000s Indie Mixtape

Most aesthetics are indisputably linked to music. A special beauty is evoked when listening to songs so strongly associated with a cultural moment, as they are so deeply engraved in its simulacrum. Retrospections of indie sleaze reveal it was nothing short of chaotic spontaneity. Dodgy Polaroid self-portraits, side-swept bangs, perpetually smudged lipstick and eyeliner; essentially, the hipster reigned supreme. Dressing with a hint of opulence, while owning an IDGAF attitude, meant you were ‘in’ with the times. It was cool to look camp.

Do you know what was the backbone for that? The crazy, overcompressed bit-heavy electropop, and decadent electric indie rock that crossed hyper-niche musical borders, all of which stuck as indie sleaze’s staple soundtrack. These ‘cool’ songs were distributed through Tumblr, MySpace, and music blogs, the latter now a struggling art form following the tragic unfolding of pivotal counterculture mag Pitchfork into the macho GQ. Despite this media setback, the aesthetic’s apparent comeback has also seen the music dominating the parties of the late 2000s become widely celebrated once more. Music festivals such as America’s Just Like Heaven have brought back the big names that scored these maximalist dance parties: Phoenix, Passion Pit, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M83, and MGMT are just some on the roster. That, and the recent discourse substantiating the aesthetic’s revival, must be more than enough.

As we’re ageing into adulthood, perhaps what we need is a bolt of optimism to strike our lives, making us feel a blissful naivety once more. With the aforementioned artists remaining active since indie sleaze’s initial dissipation, it’s almost as if the aesthetic never really faded. More people than ever are in the know, thanks to TikTok distributing these hits to new generations, who weren’t even there for its heyday. The 2000s–era and its smattering of mashed up indie, disco, and electro rave doused in a vaguely ‘70s–80s throwback is still of interest. Its continued admiration has formed a new kind of indiedom within itself, with younger generations seizing its novelty, and those older—there in the moment—owning it once more. So, to revel in this kitschy nostalgia, here’s a musical time capsule curating the party iPod’s very best dancefloor anthems that made the roofs of those parties explode.

‘Dance Yrself Clean’ (LCD Soundsystem)
If there’s one sure-fire way to kick off a party, it’s with LCD Soundsystem’s most cleverfully boisterous song. Opening quietly, this portion emulates the trickling of keen guests into the home of whoever’s hosting the function, as they discover through friends that a party not to miss is already underway. Bandleader James Murphy emerges by mutedly humming beneath tinny hand claps. Then, unsuspectingly, as if welcoming everyone for finally rocking up, the beat drops. The party livens up as a sudden surge of synthesisers pummel your eardrums while you dance all over the place in the best way possible—without a care in the world. Murphy makes a profound call to arms as he vigorously holds his notes: ‘Put your little feet down / And hang out!’ Fit for any party’s initiation—or conclusion, when everyone’s living on one last sliver of energy—this song’s placement at either end of the playlist is appropriate; ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ is indie sleaze’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

‘Walking on a Dream’ (Empire of the Sun)
Aussie electropop heroes Empire of the Sun spearheaded the genre’s crossover into mainstream discourse around the late 2000s. In retrospect, their over-the-top, lavish costumes and visuals that bordered on the other-worldly and supernatural, mirrored indie sleaze’s grip on maximalism. ‘Walking on a Dream’, however, is the perfect middle-ground that balances the exaggerated extravagance and earnest artistry surrounding the aesthetic. The pastoral, psychedelic tune floats with a light acoustic groove, emitting good vibes with its key motif of coming together by love: ‘Is it real now? / Two people become one’. The song’s reach is boundless—American rapper Wiz Khalifa brought it into his world as ‘The Thrill’, effectively resampling it into a party rap jam. In any form, ‘Walking on a Dream’ is a unique deflection of indie sleaze’s overt hipsterism—it’s a musical comedown that paradoxically lifts any party’s spirits.

‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ (Arctic Monkeys)
It’s a no-brainer that the high-octane, raw rock ‘n’ roll of Arctic Monkeys irreversibly altered the indie rock landscape during the 2000s. If their contemporaries The Strokes had a sleazy undercurrent to their undemanding garage rock, then Arctic Monkeys in their infancy—before their clean-cut bluesy AM phase in 2013—held onto a sense of debauchery. The British rockers’ debut single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ is the band at their most authentic, drawing upon Britpop and the like. Whether it’s played at its original energetic tempo or dialled back with lead vocalist Alex Turner’s modern Bowie-isms, it’s still a banging tune capturing the youthful exuberance of nightlife that’ll never get old. Its enduring appreciation that extends to the band—who reached superstardom with this single—attests to its brilliance. ‘Dancing to electropop like a robot from 1984’, Turner exclaims—we sure are.

‘Last Nite’ (The Strokes)
Without the repetitive garage rock of America’s ordinary leather-jacketed heroes The Strokes, indie sleaze wouldn’t be what it is. Had they not emerged, the revivalism of all things blues rock to grunge—a practice sewn into the very fabric of the aesthetic—wouldn’t have existed. It’s hard to imagine a musical climate without The Strokes cementing themselves as a cultural touchstone for revolutionising rock. Like the Arctic Monkeys, their debut carries the most authenticity, but unlike Turner and Co lauding excess, lead vocalist Julian Casablancas explores the navigating of urban youth—the vulnerable side of the indie rock coin. ‘Last Nite’ is the definitive Strokes number that soundtracks both dancing heartily and post–party depression. On the latter, Casasblancas defeatedly says ‘Oh, people, they don’t understand’. No other rock song guilt trips us with ‘you just had to be there’ better than this one.

‘Standing In the Way of Control’ (Gossip)
Gossip’s strutting dance-punk hit sounds like the riot grrrl rock of Sleater-Kinney, only it’s tamer. Still, it soars with its own idiosyncrasies, like frontwoman Beth Ditto’s shrieky, razor-sharp vocals cutting through the song’s grungy guitars. Hearing her bellowed chorus, ‘Standing in the way of control / You live your life / Survive the only way that you know’, makes the hedonistic ‘lose yourself’ energy of the aesthetic manifest into reality. When we were younger, living without a care in the world, surfing the internet and all, this stilted Strokes-y stomper makes for an appetising way to feast on that. It’s giving responsibility the middle finger.

‘NY Lipps’ (Soulwax)
Soulwax’s bleep-heavy nu-disco in ‘NY Excuse’ is already a renowned underground phenomenon circulating in the indie sleaze musical canon. However, this mashup of Lipps Inc.’s famous ‘Funkytown’ takes the tune to a whole new level, by tapping into the scene’s eccentric ‘80s homages. The famous cowbell-heavy groover and its chirpy guitar riffs are distorted to fit Soulwax’s track with its sassy narration: ‘This is the excuse, that we’re making (we’re making)’, exuding a carefree demeanour just like the aesthetic itself, reviving past genres and tropes. ‘NY Lipps’ is a bizarre time machine to the parties of yesteryear that urged anyone to boogie; Soulwax successfully took us back in time.

‘D.A.N.C.E.’ (Justice)
The bit-crushed, electro house hit ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ is one of Justice’s best—derived from its parent album, Cross, which samples over 400 pieces of music! Its infectious guitar and bass lines, with a melody boldly inspired by Michael Jackson, puts any partygoer in the mood to dance. Although Justice’s jittering disco floor anthem has its origins in pop, the way it twists into something musically maximalist makes it a perfect fit for the colourful world of indie sleaze’s excessiveness. Its sole mantra becomes clear with the line ‘Just as easy as A-B-C’—Justice is right, dancing to it is effortless.

‘24 Hours’ (Sky Ferreira)
Sky Ferreira was perhaps the poster girl for indie sleaze’s unwashed aesthetic, once hanging out with the likes of Taylor Swift (who is, no question, well outside of today’s indie sphere) and donning mascara-ringed eyes and fashion with a vintage edge. Her discography is the ultimate summation of the aesthetic, since her output is largely frozen to when it was at its most prevalent. The ‘80s-esque synthpop ballad ‘24 Hours’ booms with heartfelt twinkles akin to New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, and sparkles just as luxuriously as Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’. As Ferreira valiantly begs ‘I wish these 24 hours would never end’, she’s speaking to the youth in all of us—we don’t want our carefree optimism to fade. The skyrocketing resurgence of indie sleaze screams nothing but a yearning for the era’s heyday, and with this song playing out like poignant end credits music, Ferreira has intimately captured that. A sincere, tear-jerking alternative dance anthem that takes us back to our exuberant glory days.

Making Friends – How the f*ck do you make friends at uni?

When starting uni, perhaps the most daunting thing is making friends. It’s almost miraculous, occurring when you least expect it. When I began studying after a gap year, I wasn’t in the best position. My high school friends were already busybodies, having settled into their study routines. Meanwhile, I was basically alone, entering this new journey with few supportive crutches. My reservedness certainly didn’t help either—I’m sure many others are struggling to cross that hurdle too!

"New friends appear whenever you’re not expecting it!"

So, what gives? How did I go about befriending other students, when it seemed like all odds were against me? Truthfully, it came down to putting myself out there. Again, new friends appear whenever you’re not expecting it!

There are so many little things you can do that’ll lead to lasting connections. The UMSU Host Program? Every new student is in the same boat: practically everyone is a stranger. Once my tour group split apart, the person I was with ended up being a helpful study buddy across my first semester. How about the tutes? It might not sound surprising, but talking with the first student you sit next to can go a long way. From experience, it reaps rewards. After exchanging socials—a must—I’ve been dragged to lunches, study sessions, and parties with new-found friends who I thought I’d only see during the semester.

Your approach and determination to engage with new people play into making friends. For me, that initially seemed dire since I was unsure about my nervous traits. However, all the new people that you meet won’t have a clue about who you are. The greatest advantage is in your hands: a first impression. Therefore, if you want lasting uni pals, the best thing to do is to seize that very opportunity!

clust.r – ever chance (REVIEW)

One of the distinct progressions from clust.r’s self-titled debut is the immediate barrage of chopped up, happy-go-lucky chords that populate ever chance. While their former offering was also buoyant in its entirety, it opened with trepidation – a solid thirty seconds of spewed, hesitant static emerged – contrary to ever chance’s instant plunge into vortexing bass-heavy tones, toylike synths, and skewed acoustic guitars. This readiness to experiment owes itself to newfound confidence. Further proving this, ever chance is charmingly packed to the brim with collaborations – the voices of clust.r’s own friends. The cover artwork, then, adopts a new dimension – beneath the crackled, jittery melodies is cohesion, that being celebrating companions you can reach out to. If there’s one thing to draw from this nonstop, hyperactive half-hour of healing, a profoundly special addition to netlabel Business Casual, it is that clust.r is certain of who they are.

Self-actualisation is a prominent through-line in ever chance. That becomes all the more apparent when some astonishing full-circle appearances are recognised. Of particular note is tirestires, a direct inspiration for clust.r’s debut, who has vocal duties on steam and brood – a genuine “working with your hero” moment. Alongside them, every collaborator brings a personal slice of themselves to swim in clust.r’s ruminative pool of emotions, with their lyrical contributions adding to the fervent maximalism. As well, their buried voices submerged in the blaring noise, many almost androgynous, show that their penned experiences of strenuous relationships are universal, irrespective of one’s identity. The initial tirestires collaborative song, steam, touches on escaping intrusive relations like family and the army to gain greater autonomy. proud is a heartfelt track marching to a heavy beat, lyrics questioning what your past self would think of the person you are today. Meanwhile, parasite is a slightly detuned drunken mumbling about coping with being on the receiving end of supposedly trustworthy friends ignoring you. Each brooding catharsis is vulnerable in its own unique way, and comes off with a marked maturity.

Much of this kind of introspection pervades the entire record, as each friend voices their concerns above jubilant, triumphant fits of abrasive kick drums. Lead single imitation is a cacophonous dance pop tune carrying a shining, gleeful edge similar to The Go! Team, with its chimes evoking said band’s lackadaisical carefreeness. us pretenders is another highlight, featuring what is almost a skittering, looped ringtone with a surge of tinny acoustics fortifying the bouncy banger. It veers into emo pop with the cool-spirited vocal delivery and conclusive brash live drum cymbals.

ever chance is clust.r and friends giving their all, scorned and inspired by the trials and tribulations that come with maintaining relationships in an isolating modern world. Questions such as “Am I doing enough?” come to mind when all you largely have to communicate is through text. Even then, the album’s brevity attests to valuing such connections. On the closer ever to part, clust.r themselves sings over a dissolving lullaby, “If our talks were more infrequent, they’d probably mean more.” Savour and nurture your closest online penpals with respect – perhaps this epiphany, sad but ultimately rewarding, is what clust.r feels so certain about.

Geotic Interview: Will Wiesenfeld Is Creatively Comfortable on THE ANCHORITE

If there is one thing that Will Wiesenfeld—the artist behind Geotic—is admirably adept at, it is conjuring an atmosphere. The Los Angeles-based musician has a beautiful knack for transporting himself and his listeners outside of their earthly shells and into comforting fantasy worlds, unperturbed by the woes of mundanity. Compared to his most well-known glitch pop as Baths, the Geotic moniker beholds a much less seldom output, dating as far back as 2008. Starting as bedroom guitar experiments with chalky-sounding acoustics, then serene, stripped-back downtempo, Wiesenfeld has awe-inspiringly returned to the former fiddling with acoustic layers. The style’s preciousness resides in its stress-relieving nature. Whether that be cooling off or grounding oneself to someplace like home while traveling, Wiesenfeld’s cushioning musical layering gracefully brings one to familiarity.

THE ANCHORITE is Wiesenfeld’s return to this homeliness. Wrapped in cozy, nostalgic fuzz, his chipper guitars and piano notes are engulfed in eloquently placed textures which play out like a warm, protective embrace. An “anchorite” is a person who lives in seclusion often for spiritual reasons, with the album working as a guiding hand to navigate this concept. Grainy, occasionally dense soundscapes repeat for every towering forest tree passed, others revealing a mountainous monastery at the corner of your eye, while monolithic blankets of feedback emanate a swallowing beam of light divinely communicating that “everything is going to be okay.” At least, that is the imaginative, tranquil interpretation I am content with. Wiesenfeld has his own, and of the guitar-only Geotic releases, THE ANCHORITE is the album he’s proudest of for its cohesion and bookending a new chapter in his life. The chords are fuller, the loops linger longer, and ultimately sound like structured songs. For the creator to return most often to this body of material in his large output must speak volumes to its excellence.

As we were talking about the Geotic record, Wiesenfeld told me via Zoom that the timing of our interview was really funny, because the delivery of the album’s cassettes came down to the day of our chat. Now a completely independent artist working for himself and confidently acknowledging this sublime side of his discography, Wiesenfeld is perhaps at his most creatively assured. In what might be one of the first times he’s publicly discussed this foundational side to Geotic, I spoke at length with Wiesenfeld about THE ANCHORITE. He discussed its creation and musical inspirations, as well as his continued musical presence with collaborations, soundtracks, and Baths. The interview has been edited for time and clarity below.

What compelled you to re-explore the earlier Geotic “sound” of albums such as MEND? Did something happen to you?

Will Wiesenfeld: I don’t know if “safe space” is the right wording for it, but it’s a distinctly “I am capable of making this” sound for me. It’s something I’ve done so much, and it brings me on a personal level, as a listener listening to my own music, a lot of satisfaction because the type of ambient music I really enjoy listening to is not drones and long-form. I need a lot of melody and notes with it, so that even if it’s background-y, it’s still something my mind latches onto and moves around with.

It’s very fun and comfortable for me to creatively do these types of things. And I can do them rather quickly—I think I spent more time on [THE ANCHORITE] than any other of that sort—MEND was a couple weeks, so was MORNING SHORE. The functionality of it mentally is a track a day. It’s picking up a guitar, building loops and layers, and just being really nit-picky about it: “I like this, I don’t like this, I’m going to re-do this, I like this, I like this.” And then I have a loop structure… I dive into it with effects and layering, distortions, and sometimes in the computer add a few more layers on top of the initial loop.

Basically, it’s a very comforting place for me to be in to make a record like this, and this effort was because I had no idea how uncertain and chaotic the next few months were going to be. It was on the precipice of finding out both my brother and I were going to be moving out of our old place, and I was just like, “I have to do something right now to cement the end of the cycle I had of living in the place I used to live in,” to put a bookend on it emotionally. And then it also helped me see a more open future for whatever I’m going to do after this. It happened all at once.

I get you completely. I find with those Geotic records, there’s very much an element of homeliness or familiarity. It seems like that’s something you do value with your records.

WW: Yeah. I mean, full discourse, I’m literally watching a fireplace ASMR YouTube video in the background *laughs* just to bring myself down. Like, I’m in the zone right now trying to be creature comfort-y!

As an artist, with listening to and appreciating your own music as if you’re a fan of it, is that something you value in your output, and which dictates what you want to make?

WW: Yeah, I think, like… I don’t know how to phrase it without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn or stroking my ego, but I’ve said it a lot in interviews that I make music for me. I think there’s this thing with artists where there’s a certain demographic of people or a type of person in your life that you want to make music for. But the idea of making music to me and being creative is a completely thoroughly selfish act, and not in a negative way, I just mean the only thing that’s ever interested me is, “What do I want to hear? What do I want to make so I can hear it?” I want to make a record that isn’t this thing that already exists.

With this newest Geotic record, it’s very similar in sound to these older Geotic guitar records, but the effort this time was, “What if I made the phrasing of the loops longer than they were on the last record?” That was the first small effort to change it. That might not be something that people even notice, but for me it was a big deal. I didn’t want the loops to be so condensed, I wanted there to be larger phrasing and feel more like a song as it’s lumbering through it. So, all that stuff is very important to me—all the Baths and Geotic material—I just want to make records that I want to listen to. It’s the bottom line with any of it. I succeed sometimes, it’s not every time. *laughs* Sometimes I did what I wanted to do, but I don’t listen to it as often as I’d like, if you know what I mean?

Yeah. You’re doing very good, considering!

WW: Thank you, thank you very much.

I definitely noticed that the loops seem more coherent on this album, especially with the drawn-out lengths. Compared to TO NOT NOW, NOR TO EVER, DESPAIR, which was released in 2022, these songs really keep on going—they don’t fizzle out straight away.

WW: Yeah, there’s structure to them. Even though there’s a loop, I have structure within the way I’ve produced them, to make it feel like it’s moving through a song. It’ll have rises and falls and moments and stuff.

Also, for TO NOT NOW, NOR TO EVER, DESPAIR, that album was way more of a hodgepodge where there were a lot of tracks sitting around. Like, loops I hadn’t really done anything with, except for the very last track [“The Burning Houses of Parliament”], which was the very first thing that was original on that. I took those and produced them in a way that made the whole thing feel cohesive, so it was cool, but kind of scatter-brained.

And so that was part of the effort with [THE ANCHORITE] because I’m leaving this old place. I didn’t want [TO NOT NOW…] to have been the last record I made there. I wanted to do something that’s much more cohesive and a full, proper execution with what I like to do with that kind of material.

THE ANCHORITE is almost like the complete opposite, you were going into it with a full direction in mind.

WW: That’s what it was. There was nothing written for it beforehand, I just knew what I wanted to do. And so, I just made sure I worked every day and did that. I think the whole thing came together in, like, two to three weeks; it was like most of December I spent doing that. I think I even worked a little bit on Christmas or right after just because I really wanted to get it done. *laughs*

You often work on an album with a solid theme in mind. Is there a narrative throughline in THE ANCHORITE? The idea of an “anchorite” itself is sort of a person who secludes themselves from wider society, usually for spiritual reasons. I want to see what that all means to you.

WW: The word that sat in my head before I had “the anchorite” was the phrase “the apostle,” that was more of a religious exclusion kind of thing, going off into the wilderness or spreading the word. But whenever I was thinking about that, the dictionary definition didn’t really match up with what I was trying to do. And in my head, if you follow the titles of the tracks, there’s kind of a loose narrative you can thread together. You can make your own impressions of what you want that to be. I have my own version, that emotionally was what excited me about it and what I stuck to.

I wouldn’t want to give you the literal explanation of exactly what that is in my head because I think it’s more fun if people kind of build their own thing. But you can look at those titles as a structure, as a method of moving through the entire thing.

So you’re happy with it being an interpretative thing as well?

WW: Sure! It’s definitely true, I have my own feelings on what it is—I just don’t want to share them—I want to be secret about it. *laughs*

Yeah, I understand. With these past couple Geotic releases, you’ve produced limited edition cassettes, which are a first for your vast discography. Why produce cassettes now and for these albums?

WW: The first time around it was an idea my old manager had that I was really eager to try, and I think it went really well. But I was a little bit on the outside of how that process went. With this one, it was like I wanted to know how to do that fully on my own. And so, he and I are not working together any longer, and I’m in this place where a lot of stuff is going on and things are up in the air. Having finished this album, I thought it was going to be digital-only, but then I was like, “You know what, this would be really proper to have a full cassette release with it,” and now is the best possible time to learn how.

In trying to make that happen, one of the people who runs the label Hausu Mountain—@GoodWillsmith on Twitter—has put out a million tapes. My brain kind of defaulted to “I wonder if he’d be cool with me just talking to him for a bit,” and we had an extended conversation when we first spoke, something like two hours or more. Just about releasing a tape, what it takes, what has to get done, and he was so unbelievably helpful. Getting that together made the whole thing feel possible and I got way more excited about the idea. All the pieces of it became really tangible.

I don’t know what you’d think of this prospect, but with tapes, you’re restricted to listening to how the tracklist is presented as is. Was that something you also considered, as in this is the “correct” way of taking in the record? Like really leaving fans to appreciate the album in full with how it’s being presented, rather than shuffling tracks.

WW: That’s a good question. I’m an interesting person to ask that, only because I am absolutely bonkers when it comes to trying to listen to an album in order. I will literally listen to an album for the first time—once in order—and then I don’t know if it’s an ADHD thing, but from then on, I have to listen to it on shuffle, so that I never know what song is coming next. That to me becomes the way I like to listen to music, like, all music—which again, bonkers. But at the same time, even though I listen to music like that and it’s very off-putting for some people, I still like to put a lot of consideration into a tracklist because I know there’s some people who only listen to music like that in order. I think the restriction of a tape forcing you to listen to it that way only added to me wanting to make sure that worked as well as possible.

And so, the songs were produced all over the place. I didn’t make them in order, I made them just like, “I’m trying this, I’m trying this, I’m trying this,” and seeing what sticks. Once I had the batch correct, I was like, “These songs are done, now I want to move them into a place that makes the most sense.” That took a long time, but I think ultimately what I got from it was a proper movement through all the stuff where there’s an A-side with a correct start and ending, and a B-side with the same thing. All of that always becomes important to me as I’m finishing a record, to have things make the most sense for people who desire that. But I’m also in the position where if you don’t end up listening to this on cassette and you just shuffle the tracks, that is also completely fine, you know. *laughs*

Were there any specific musical inspirations you had when you were producing THE ANCHORITE?

WW: I feel like the early Bibio stuff is always there, like FI and HAND CRANKED. I was obsessed with those records so deeply and I think those were the first motivators for me to start recording guitar-only music. There’s no denying it and there’s something in the sound of those Geotic records that’s clearly influenced by that. I’m not trying to avoid that, it’s very, very obvious. *laughs*

But at the same time, there was stuff I wanted to do with guitar music that was mildly my own thing at first. The more that I did it, the more I got into the cycle of understanding what I like doing and what I like hearing myself do, as is with anything that you practice. Learning to produce, you imitate the artists you really like for a long time. For me, I just made knock-off Björk-garbage tracks for a million years that all sounded like shit, but at a certain point it starts to turn into your own voice because all the muscle memory for how you do things stays. And your brain has the springboard to move to your own space, but you need to have the foundations first. So, I feel that’s what it was with a lot of these Geotic records: building a place of deep, direct inspiration from these other artists that the more I did it, the more comfortable I got with using those aesthetics and being more of something I personally wanted to make for myself.

But Bibio is a very clear one, I also feel like the Jónsi & Alex record RICEBOY SLEEPS is always there because that’s a huge, huge influence on me. I’m obsessed with that record, it’s one of my favorite records ever. Anything that is deeply textural—I love ASMR, the video phenomenon and all the sensory stuff—I love that shit. Anything that feels deeply textured and lived-in and that sort of feeling is really, really strong for me. I feel particularly on the title track, “The Anchorite,” there’s the most of that texture—all the tracks are very thick—but that one has additional sound in it.

I especially love the guitar on that song. I listen to a lot of new wave music, which has this jangly guitar tone to it, so it was a real surprise to hear that kind of sound that hasn’t really appeared in your work before.

WW: Thanks! Yeah, the guitar part in that is pretty naked. I thought it was fun. A lot of the Geotic stuff is not masking but layering things so that they kind of move in-between and become less obvious, and the melodies are kind of all smeared together. But on that one, I kept on adding more things to the guitar part and I was like, “This sucks.” The main guitar part is “the thing” though, and I only added small flourishes to help accentuate it because that’s the thing that rips. So, I’m just going to keep it there. *laughs*

It is the hardest thing to just let something be, you know what I mean? Especially for me because I love making things as thick as possible a lot of the time. But so much of what I’ve tried producing more recently has been active restraint, like trying to pull back and do a little bit less than what I’m normally inclined to do.

Yeah. Even with my own creative endeavors, if you just add a little too much, it’s like, “Ohh, I’m not sure.” It’s hard to know when to leave things be.

WW: Yeah, it gets really rough. Especially with mixing because that’s the hardest part for a lot of people when you’re doing a lot of layers of anything for the first time. It’s just figuring out the balance. Not even so much that’s it like, “Oh, I have so many moving parts”—you can identify the moving parts because you made it—but it’s making it so those moving parts are comfortably identifiable to the listener and feel like they have motion and presence throughout. It’s a tough thing to figure out, but luckily, if you are making more-or-less guitar-only music, it’s a little more obvious. It’s easier for my brain to be like, “This here, this there.”

Is there a particular song on THE ANCHORITE that stood out to you as you were making it?

WW: There’s one that very obviously does because of the way it came together, which is “The Lime of Stars,” the penultimate track. That’s kind of been a highlight for the people I have shown it to, and it makes sense… The thing is, even telling you now, that’s like spoiling the record a little bit, but that’s the fun of it. If you’re hearing it for the first time, it’s like a really boisterous track for the typical Geotic fare. And the production on that was four times as long as any of the other tracks because I went into really heavy detail with the distortions I used and the rise of it because it builds upon itself so much.

It was another one of those things, going back to talking about the title track “The Anchorite,” where the main guitar part was just the thing and I wanted to let that sit. With this, even though I was playing with so many different effects, it was still just that guitar part—just this one riff where this is solid enough to last a whole song and I felt like it should. All I wanted to do was give it more size, presence, and feeling. And that’s what I did. So, that’s the standout one. I personally have other favorites that I keep coming back to, but everybody’s going to have their thing.

With this album coming out and you being content with its release—I know you’ve said on Twitter that it’s helped you personally—you haven’t really gone out of your way to promote this side of Geotic before outside of the dancey, passive listening material like ABYSMA and TRAVERSA. Where did the desire to share this side more come from?

WW: That’s a good question, too. I think this Geotic guitar stuff tends to be what I come back to listen to almost more than anything else from what I’ve made. Emotionally and dramatically, as this turmoil of the past few months of moving out of my old place came to a head, I just fully recognized that where I was like, “I care about this music more than I think I let on.” I think my heart was telling me, “I should treat it that way,” and give it its due diligence in these other aspects of releasing music. With a lot of the Geotic material, especially when I started, I would just put an album online. I had an AngelFire website that listed it all as text. People would be like, “You make music?” And I’d be like, “Go to the website.” It was just gray text on a gray background with no frills at all.

I’m at this point where if I want to be honest with myself, I care about that music a lot. I care about this new record a lot; more than I think I’ve ever let on to other people. This one especially just felt really poignant and better executed than most of that music I have made. I personally think it’s my favorite and best of those Geotic guitar records, sitting this far away from having finished it and how many times I’ve listened to it. I’m that proud of it and I feel comfortable saying that. I know MEND is a classic to other people, but there’s things with that record that I feel lacked cohesion and follow-through in the way that this one does. And it’s not a bad or good thing, it’s just a different thing. And so, this one sits in a really comfortable, proper place for me. I’m really, really happy with it, and I just want other people to feel the same way where I’m like, “I love it, and I hope you love it.” *laughs*

That’s awesome. I really think that’s fantastic because it seemed like the older Geotic records were something that was always there, but you had to go out of your way to try to find them.

WW: Yeah, I wasn’t good at promoting any of that stuff, ever. I’m also learning a lot about that. I’m 34, but I’ll be the first person to say I have no idea what the music industry is and how it works. I’m a fucking fool. *laughs* Every time I’m trying to do something slightly different, it’s like a whole new learning process.

I’m guessing all this extended initiative comes in part with having your own label, Basement’s Basement. How’s that been going for you?

WW: Good, but there’s basically not much news on it because the label started as a function to re-release my own music, which I think I’m going to continue to do. I think there’s stuff that could get re-pressed. I’ve meant to do that for a long time. CERULEAN still hasn’t had an anniversary release. We were going to do one for the 10th anniversary but missed it, and then the 15th is coming up at some point, 2025, is that next year? Is it 2024?

Yeah, next year.

WW: Jesus Christ…

I know…

WW: So, you never know, that could happen. I’m not putting that on paper as in “That’s happening!” I’m thinking of the possibilities, and the function of the label was to do those things. Moving forward, the more I figure out how to do things on my own, the more I might be invested in what the label is and does. But for right now, it functions as a source for me to be putting stuff out. THE ANCHORITE marks the 20th release on it, so that’s already a solid body of stuff going on. And who knows what’s going to happen moving forward.

Even outside of Geotic, you’ve been very active musically lately. Last year as Baths, you released a string of three singles and a collaboration with Bambina, “Boys Who Run.” How’d that track come about?

WW: Her and I are just buds, so we were just, like… I think the embarrassing thing was that song started years ago, and I just let it sit for way too long because I’m stupid, I don’t know. It was very, very loose. She came over and nailed the vocal almost right away, but then we wanted to expand the verse a bit and she wanted to look at the lyrics. It just moved on really naturally and organically. It was a very casual back-and-forth thing. She would come over to my place, we’d go work together, and we had that song by the end of it.

I feel like my fatal flaw with all music production or just writing music in general is that I never know how to make something that doesn’t feel intensely emotional in some way to me, for better or worse. That sounds really stupid, but it’s a real thing. When I’m scoring movies or when I was scoring for the BEE AND PUPPYCAT soundtrack, doing something that’s humorous or a cue that’s not super intense, you know what I mean, I really have to make an effort to separate myself from the music I have to create for those sorts of things. With Bambina, it was just like, “Do you mind if we go that way?” Her music is emotional, but in a different way. She was down and nailed it and brought way more of that into it than even I thought I initially did. So, it became this thing we both really liked.

Can you see yourself doing more collaborations in the future? You’ve mentioned that you’ve been doing soundtrack work for numerous things, but do you see yourself, as an artist now, more comfortable with collaborating with other artists?

WW: I want to say yes to that because I think it’s true that I’ve slowly been getting more comfortable with it, but I need to do more of them to know. Me being like, “I should force myself to say yes so more of that comes about,” is the right answer. The honest answer is that I’m always terrified about all of it. I don’t even know how to reach out to people to do that. There are so many people that would be fun to work with, but I rarely ever take the first step. I’m really nervous to do that.

Lillie from Lala Lala, to her credit, was very forthcoming right away and went, “We should do this, you should do this,” and got me into our collaboration. I was so thankful for that because I feel we made a great song together. It’s the kind of thing where I’m shyer about those things than I think I let on because I’m a very exuberant and comfortable person in conversation. I don’t know, I have imposter syndrome sometimes about all that shit, so it’s always nice when somebody’s a little pushy with me and goes, “Hey we should do something,” and it’s like, “Okay, let’s go make it happen.”

All that being said, collaborations are a fun thing that are a slight detour from what my aim still is, and that is to make records for myself, bringing it back to being selfish. That is what I like to do more than anything else in the world—make my own music—so I’ll still be doing that as my highest priority.

If you can say anything, what’s next for Baths? What can we see coming up soon?

WW: I’m wondering how much I can tell you… There’s a lot I’m sitting on and I’m trying to find the right angle of approach for it. I’ve Tweeted in the past that I have an album ready to go, and I do, but I need… It’s the same kind of thing we talked about for THE ANCHORITE, where I just believe the new Baths “thing” deserves more attention than I was at first prepared to give it.

I want to see if I can get a label for it for a wider release. If not, I’ll self-release it, and it’s not a problem, it’s just more work for me. *laughs* I’m trying to make it happen with the best possible logistics. So, we will see, but I think after THE ANCHORITE moves through, there’s going to be a lot more pull and focus towards making the Baths resurgence happen.

You can listen to and grab a copy of THE ANCHORITE on Bandcamp.
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