Storm Stereo #9

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Happy new moon season my lovelies!

I took a break from this here space for a while to spend a few weeks in Berlin on a sorta working holiday. It was a thought-provoking stay and, while I haven’t been listening to a whole lot of punk or hardcore lately, I do have a bunch of jams I discovered, both new and old, which I will be sharing with you soon. (I swear I haven’t given up on punk just yet…) I’ve definitely lost track of the many great new bands that have been popping up on my punk horizon in the last six months or so. I guess I’ve been consciously avoiding too much new information. I need to de-clutter my brain from the vast amount of junk that already resides there. And, if you couldn’t tell already, this podcast isn’t really about delivering new music anyway, it’s autobiographical sets of music you may or may not enjoy.

I always listen to the radio a lot in the summer, and find myself reverting back to a teenager and getting excited with ridiculously pop songs. Is ‘Drunk In Love’ a certified banger and one of the sexiest mainstream songs to come out in the last five years? Yes. Can I deny how catchy Jarfaiter is, or how fucking annoying Drake is, or how cheesy the Chainsmokers and Tove Lo are? No. But I like it either way, I don’t know what to say… It’s not so much a guilty pleasure; more like declared deviance from the path of punk.

In some cases they’re actually gems of motivational, linguistic brilliance, like The Streets and their masterpiece ‘Turn the Page.’ Or diamonds in the rough, like Burkinabé musician and singer and song-writer Victor Démé. In others it’s a testament to artful songwriting that sounds stunning even at the wrong speed, like Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene.’ Some of it was purely circumstantial—I heard ‘My Broken Heart’ covered by Personal Best in Berlin, and I’ll admit I prefer the original. Other times it was regional, dropped pins on a mental map. Like last summer when I lived with summertime Sadness  down on the West Coast; I couldn’t escape Lana Del Rey. And there’s something so quintessentially West Coast about Best Coast, that it brings back so many memories from when I lived in the land where they swing their cars.

The songs all made it into my mental music library. Some seeped their way in subtly, insidiously, reluctantly even. Some left their mark indelibly, like dates circled on a calendar. Others have been orbiting my existence forever, like Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed and Lee Hazlewood; tracks I first discovered as a young child sitting in the back seat of my mother’s yellow 2CV, enchanted by the music coming from the dusty speakers up front. I guess some experiences come with a soundtrack whether you like it or not, and—topped only by my weakening sense of smell—music is the strongest thing to evoke those memories of summers past. Some of them seem like a lifetime away, more like a hazy dream on a hot day after a long drive up the coast. My my, how the seasons go by. Halfway through August already. Exactly one year ago I was in LA having one of the dreamiest weeks of my life, unaware of the leaps and bounds I would be making a couple months later. Funny how often ‘dreamy’ is synonymous to ‘bittersweet.’

I’m in a strange mood. Not fragile or down, but not exactly booming with energy either. I’m laying low and mentally —and to some extend physically —detoxing until the fall. That requires a certain level of solitude. Ideal for focusing on the two new jobs I just landed and getting into a healthier routine. (Though I could never give up some of my bad habits…) For now I am happy to pause my bouncing around and just stay in one place for a while, shut the world out and work work work work work. Securing my assets, taking stock of my loses and making worst case scenarios in case the apocalypse finally decides to grace us with its presence. We all have our battles, our problems and ambitions and it’s easy to be disheartened by fear and distracted by self-doubt. Sometimes you just need the comfort of silence. ‘To let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.’

Find your mountain and climb it. Send me a postcard from the top.

With love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

Continue reading Storm Stereo #9

Storm Stereo #8 on Berlin Community Radio

lydsHallo meine Lieblings!

Today was a special day, as Storm Stereo was broadcasting live from the studio at Berlin Community Radio! Dead chuffed that the lovely people at BCR invited me to host a show, and even though I was so incredibly high on coffee and crunched for time coz of my nervous banter, it was a mighty fun show. Sadly there was a glitch I only just became aware of, and ANALOG BLOC was not played (but instead it was MISS KITTIN twice! Ooops, sorry!) But you should check it out below!

Of course, time flies when you’re having fun, and I realized I had to cut my sets shorts, so no KAOS, ANTI… or EFIALTIS, but I managed to squeeze in some Greek synth personal anthems, some Yugo and Polish punk, some electro beats, and more! Always too many lovely people to mention, so just know you are all in my thoughts no matter where you are on the planet: from Barcelona and the UK to Japan and Canada, and from Athens and Australia to Lyon and the far, far West!

Until next time, stay posi, stay strong! With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

JOSE LARRALDE – Quimey Neuquen (como una daga en mi corazón)

LOWER – But There Has To Be More (seasonal existentialism)

FELIX DA HOUSECAT ft. MISS KITTIN – Silver Screen Shower Scene

COSMETICS – Black Leather Gloves

LED ES EST – Scissors

LUST FOR YOUTH – Barcelona (como una daga en mi corazón)

TUXEDOMOON – No Tears (ADULT Remix)

SECTA – Oposición (ugh, that riff gives me goosebumps every time!)

DEAD HERO – Oi!

BARCELONA – Caudillo / Infierno de Cobardes (I •love• those vocals!)

ODOS 55 – Attiki Victoria

ERA OF FEAR – Mizeria

PARAF – Fini Dečko

MOSKWA – Ja Wiew, Ty Wiesz

MRR #398

mrr_398_cvr1“I’D SELL MY SOUL BUT NO ONE’S BUYING”

The Diät tour had ended, and we had made it safely back to Berlin.

Berlin: a place where addictions come to reinvent themselves. Where drinking beers on trains is no biggie, the party starts after 4am, and rolling a big fat jozza by the canal is common practice for locals and tourists alike, who both flock here from all corners of the earth. It’s a chunky city, with wide streets and pavements, clusters of massive, modernist buildings, colourful murals on post-war project housing, green parks and grey skies, and a canal winding through the centre, lined by leafy banks and cobbled walkways. It was the beginning of spring and the budding branches seemed to extend skyward, as if stretching away the stiff winter and welcoming warmer days with open arms.

Every morning for a week, my kind host Iffi and I would wake up, jam our new radio pop song obsessions while eating porridge with ginger and almonds, then head to Static Shock Musik, where we’d jam the Chain of Flowers record hella loud while opening up shop. At least Iffi was jogging every morning to detox from tour—I was waking and baking at the house and day-drinking on the bench outside the store. I was on a hedonist’s quest, sans most of the resulting pleasure. I helped out with some odd jobs at the store (once a shitworker always a shitworker), walked around the Russian Memorial park twice and yet still failed to actually find the massive statue (what a loser), smoked a joint by the Brandenburg Gate and contemplated the evolution of identity in the age of the selfie stick, and lay under the sun in the park staring at the clouds that looked like dicks with wings, listening to Lust for Youth (so unpunk) and thinking about Blake, the demonization of the body and the absurd things we sometimes do to dismantle the illusions in our head. I went to Bis Aufs Messer Records (they also sell their own yummy coffee!) and with beers by the canal, reunited with the lovely Beeney, who was a MRR shitworker my first summer in SF! I saw a packed Diät gig at Tommyhaus, and danced to punk 45s and tunes by London’s Scraps at the Acid Baby Jesus show at Urban Spree, and drank divine Moscow Mules lined with dingos on the balcony at Kastanienkeller where Warsong from Zaragoza joined locals Sunbather in a packed and fun show. By far the most exciting band (and tightest drummer) I was introduced to this time around was Sick Horse, who play a mix of sinister psych garage and tense, snarky punk.       On what I thought was my last day—because I don’t know how to read a bloody calendar—I woke up to barking dogs and smeared make-up. I stumbled out the house and through Alexanderplatz (the smell of sausage practically nauseating), walked through Museumsinseln but didn’t actually go inside any of the museums and almost fainted with dehydration by the canal with no corner store or café in sight for blocks or bridges. Poisoned by nicotine and negativity. With an extra day in town I felt suspended in my own mind so I decided to avoid humans and sat on a bench by the river in the sun with Low on repeat for three hours. Then I drank my way to an early night at the store. An earth angel came my way—in that way they do out of nowhere—and, after chatting for a while, about my meanderings, my life in the US, she realized I was the writer of what has comically devolved into MRR’s emo column, sans any of the music. “Yeah, you’re more confused in person than you come across on paper.” Ha, I liked her immediately! After Static Shock closed we went round the corner to hers, where she cooked me up a mini feast and gave me beer and the most delicious home made vodka-lemon drink that her dad makes back in Poland—it was like heaven in a shot glass. We talked and smoked and jammed Total Control and made each other lists of bands to check out, and her hospitality and open-heartedness humbled me. The next day it was “goodbye Berliners,” and a done deal to return for the festival two weeks later.

Continue reading MRR #398

Storm Stereo #7

originalHello my lovelies!

“Sometimes I stare in space, tears all over my face. I can’t explain it, don’t understand it, never felt like this before. It’s like a heat wave!” And you would be right, because it’s Day 4 of boiling hot weather here in Athens and doing anything but hiding underground in such mind-melting heat is a challenge. I managed to get sun stroke on the beach the other day, so I am soothing my suffering with some cool jams from summer soundtracks past and present. It was the summer solstice and strawberry June full moon yesterday, so it seemed an ideal night to channel my energy into some chill sonic vibrations for you all. Download it here. (Let me know if you have trouble accessing the files, I will send them to you directly!)

On this show we move away from guitar-driven music, though there is some of it (have we met?) and venture through the cool hallways of electronic experimentation and beat-based composition. Featuring electronic favourites (that LFY remix is on repeat rotation) and guilty pleasures (if we have met then you know that every now and then I get hooked on some ridiculous radio pop song or other), we ponder the paradox of existence, explore and experiment with various concepts of love, stimulate the senses with hot textures and cold liquids and ride through this breeze-less night in cinematic style in search of some sonic relief.

This three-hour mix will no doubt extend its tentacles into many more pools of sound in future Venn diagrams to come. After all, the sonic psycho-synthesis of this obsessionist is as simple as it is surreal, the music chosen to both match and moderate one’s emotions, driven by the primitive desire to assign music to memories, and kept in check by that natural idiosyncratic inner metronome; that constant psychosomatic ticker, that keeper of carnal experience: the human heart. “Transfixed between rapture and anguish.”

We’ll resume next time with neu punk from around the world, selections from over 1000 years of female composers, LGBTQI hits and more! Until then, stay posi, stay strong.

With love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

Download it here.

MAX RICHTER – Summer 3

THE PRIMITIVES – I’ll Be Your Mirror

NICO – All Tomorrow’s Parties

OBSCURE BY DEGREES – A Woman Like You

SUICIDE – I Remember

THROBBING GRISTLE – Distant Dreams (Part Two)

CHRIS & COSEY – Obsession

LENA PLATONOS – Λαθός Αγάπη (Lathos Agapi, Wrong Love)

DZ LECTRIC & ANTON SHIELD – Experimenting Love

[QUANTIC – Time is the Enemy]

HEAVY METAL – Don’t Call Me Brother

DELACAVE – Uniform With No Brain

HYSTERIE – Service Secret

SCORPIO VIOLENTE – Uberschleiss

DECEMBER SOUND – Kill Me (Before I Kill You)

THE RAVEONETTES – Beat City

HEALTH – We Are Water

THE RAPTURE – Olio

[NU – Man O To]

FELIX DA HOUSE CAT – Free Love

PETRINA – Texture

BEN CLOCK – Subzero

THROBBING GRISTLE – Hot on the Heels of Love (Ratcliffe remix)

ZK – The Paradox of Existence

PAROV STELAR – The Sun

MOLLY NILSSON – Keep the Change (aMinus Drives in Milan remix)

LUST FOR YOUTH – New Boys (I’m Falling Club remix by Sean Ragon)

TAYLOR SWIFT – Bad Blood

MIA – Bad Girls (Nonsens remix)

MSSING NO – 124th

RIHANNA – Pour It Up

BEATS INTERNATIONAL – Just be Good to me (Chris Richardson Late Night remix)

RENNIE FOSTER – Devil’s Water

UNKLE – Touch Me (Rui da Silva cover)

JOHN CARPENTER “Night” (Zola Jesus & Dean Hurley remix)

ZOLA JESUS – Night

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – I’m On Fire (Cousin Cole’s Bad Desire remix)

BAT FOR LASHES – What’s a Girl to Do

Storm Stereo #6

rebetiko-trio-dimitris-semsis-agapios-tomboulis-roza-eskenazi.jpg
The Smyrna Trio, featuring Roza Eskenazi

Hello my loves!

June is already here, the heat is setting in in Athens and I have so many tracks to share, I’ve got three shows waiting in the wings for you all. On this rather special-edition show we warm up with some early punk, psych rock and garage from the US, UK and Australia, we have some ’60s soul for those damn crush mixtapes, and we take a trip back to the 1920s and ’30s and explore the Greek blues, the Rebetika: heartache, drugs and outlaw life from the underground hash dens of Greece, Turkey and the US, as well as some other folk expressions from the regions of Epirus and Crete. Tracklist at the end. Download it here. (Let me know if you have trouble accessing the files, I will send them to you directly!)

Thanks to friends visiting from abroad, I went on a week-long roadtrip around the Peloponnese, and have also been walking around downtown Athens quite a bit, making some new memories in a city I left disdainfully hating. I felt a bit like a tourist guide (“Lydia’s Lonely Planet Guides” coming soon) pointing out sites and areas that were significant to the modern history of the country, which has included bloody civil wars, flooring fascism, population exchange, famine, genocide, military juntas, communist exile, student insurrections and the geographic and emotional uprooting of millions. And that’s just the first chunk of the 20th century.

Growing up only half-Greek in Athens—and in constant debate with myself about what parts and how much of my Greek identity I was supposed to embrace or reject—meant that for the better part of my childhood and teenage years I just ignorantly scoffed a lot of the things that were considered “traditional.” [My adolescent disinterest in the notion of “Greek rock” (whose bad renditions have plagued the Greek music landscape for decades) was also the reason why it took me longer than most Greek teen underground dwellers to discover and appreciate Greek punk (which claims a vivid and unique early history, in part thanks to the distinct sound of the Greek language).] After living in the US for almost four years and missing some aspects of Greek culture more than I thought I would, I warmed up to some of the sounds of my once-home, especially the rebétika, and would play them for hours on days when I felt homesick. After all, I wasn’t the first person to leave Greece for a land a few thousand miles away.

Rebétika can be best described as the Blues of the Greeks. In style it was an underground type of folk music, with varying sub-styles and also styles of dance to accompany it, and it was played by rebetes and rebetisses, who usually lived on the margins of society. However, in spirit it was so much more. It was in essence deeply personal protest music against the status quo and its allied bullies, against the prohibitions on personal freedom and expression. Rebétika became popular in the 1920s and ’30s, were banned in 1936 by order of the dictator Ioannis Metaxas (the apagorevména hasiklídika have reached cult notoriety), and then saw a revival and gained more popular acceptance during the German occupation of WWII, and then again during the Greek military junta (1967-73). The music is heavy on bouzouki, baglama and guitar, violin, cimbalom, lyre, clarinet and (my favourite) kanonaki, but also finger-cymbals, laouto and mandolin, among other instruments. The lyrics can get dark and heavy, as they usually describe the woes and worries of the poor, wretched songwriters. And while the rebétika captured a spirit of freedom and resistance that came about as the result of certain conditions and events of that time, the deeper emotions rebétika express are relateable and timeless, the roughened voices and profound, passionate words echoing true to this day.

Continue reading Storm Stereo #6

HEAVY METAL…again

HMLast’s weeks review wasn’t enough, I decided a re-write was in order, so Sean Forbes (Hard Skin) and I both wrote a lil’ something about the new Heavy Metal LP LP for Static Shock Musik. Even though we hadn’t spoken or read each others’ work, we both referenced the Crass comps —uncanny! And Sean’s likening of the track “Total Bullshit” to the Sleaford Mods is totally spot on—the same thing went through my mind when I first heard it! And of course it’s always interesting to see what tracks stand out to different people—but there is a common consensus on how good “Total Bullshit” is! From Static Shock’s website:

Sean:
And you thought the world had run out of great band names!! No sir—welcome to the debut album by Heavy Metal. Over the space of 13 tracks the three piece from Berlin make dirty punk, childlike chaos and raw DIY gems with reckless abandon. In parts it sounds like pissed idiots with a 4 Track recorder armed with a load of ATV 7”s and in other parts like some obscure Australian DIY 7” from 1979. Standout cuts are “Snail of Rock” which is all snotty 77 punk rock, ‘Would You Adam and Eve It?’ which could have been one a classic Step Forward Records release and “Total Bullshit” which sounds like the Sleaford Mods but with the recording quality of Bullshit Detector compilations on Crass. You used to love Heavy Metal when you were young and now you can fall in love with Heavy Metal all over again.

Lydia:
After only six rehearsals and no previous recordings to date, Static Age is proud to introduce Berlin’s emerging powerhouse, HEAVY METAL. With this astonishing first full-length, HEAVY METAL crash through 13 tracks of noisy, antisocial, high-tension punk, eagerly mixing electric punk aggression with woozy electronic euphoria.

The songwriting, which hits that sweet spot between rudimentary racket and surreal elaboration, brings the band’s restlessness to the forefront—they could break out into dance or a fight at any minute, everything sounds possible. No sense is left on the cutting room floor; instead, the clamoring drums, buzzing bass and snappy riffs are cut with catchy synths, bountiful pedal action and an exploding cocktail of bleeps, loops, samples and solos.

This ticked off diversity shines on multiple, rewarding occasions. Single-ready “Don’t Call Me Brother,” with its kaleidoscopic synths and old-school beat, is a bona fide dance floor pleaser despite its antagonizing lyrical content, and “Staring at the Rich Kids” is an instant classic, a stomping class critique that could have easily been found on a Bullshit Detector comp circa 1979. Yet it is bonus track, “Total Bullshit,” that flawlessly showcases the creative menace found in the wake of their nihilism.

A joyride of shambolic punk, with a frustrated Welshman spitting wit and sarcasm into the microphone, “LP” could be the circumstantial soundtrack to a weeklong drug binge, going through all the motions to match, including ecstasy, hysteria, hostility and an uncontrollable, primitive urge to fight and fuck. And by recording everything themselves, HEAVY METAL’s already bizarre sound is pushed further into the delightfully deranged corners of their collective potential.

An intoxicating stream of consciousness, “LP” was recorded in their Lichtenberg practice space and mastered by the wizard of sonic chiaroscuro Daniel Husayn at North London Bomb Factory, making it sound as unhinged and sardonic as it is distinctively captivating. They’re already working on what is promised to be a much anticipated follow up, so get into it or don’t. Just don’t call ’em brother.

Standout tracks:Don’t Call Me Brother, Haywired, Here Come’s Sparky,Staring at the Rich Kids, Total Bullshit

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Also, coming up in the new issue of Maximum Rocknroll is an interview that my friend Juliana and I did with Bay Area SxE HC band Tørsö, as well as Part 2 of the Yugoslavian punk special, this time with bands from Croatia, including personal faves Kaos and Paraf! Also, you can find a talk with the director of Prodiga Hija (Prodigal Daughter) Mabel Valdiviezo, who with her personal documentary tells her tale of growing up in Lima, Peru during the ’80s in the Sub-T punk scene, moving to the US and living as an undocumented immigrant and then going back again. I remember she reached out to me a few months ago for an interview and sadly I couldn’t due to travels, so I am looking forward to reading her interview in print! That and of course much, much more!:)

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HEAVY METAL – Lp LP

heavymetal“Hysteria. Static Frustration. Broke as shit.”

With a name as generic as it is ingenious, and an attitude that’s as snarky as it is senile, HEAVY METAL have not only blurred the thin line between scathing joke and downright unhinged, they’ve done away with it completely. In its place, 29 minutes of pissed off piss taking, sonically fucked up and fucked with. With thirteen tracks—clocking in at an average of 2.20 minutes each—HEAVY METAL’s first record plays like a deranged audio collage of freak events—uncomfortably enjoyable in its oxymoronic glory. Grating chords and repetitive riffs, verbal hostility dripping with snarling critique; drums that crash and bang in a trance—a right racket—and cerebral synths and catchy electro beats dropping in like they’re tripping out. The noisy, shambolic production perfectly matches the surreal compositions, which are a deliberate blend of the absurdly simple with the simply absurd.

Standout tracks: Don’t Call Me Brother, Haywired, Here Come’s Sparky, Staring at the Rich Kids, Total Bullshit

Notable comments: “Wow, it’s like the Germs or Zounds covering Devo on speed or something” and “it’s on a completely different plane of existence,” as well as “How the hell can you listen to this noisy shit?”

Out now Static Age Records, and with a new record already in the works!