Storm Stereo #19: Constant Flux

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What’s up my loves?

Spring has arrived in Athens and with it come some mad tunes. Even though March started out really low, by month’s end I was so high I was moving through the stratosphere. And what better place to be? Taking the new season into account, and with a general concept of new beginnings in mind, here’s a new mood spring mix sans words – from smoky night clubs in lover’s rock corner to drunken jazzy daybreaks across the sonic fourth world. “I love my dreams so I’m going back in.”

Everything is in constant flux, from state to state, from good to bad and back again… only in transmutation, perpetual motion, lies truth. —Asger Jorn

Because I’ll tell you, life is odd and unpredictable and ironic and surreal. You can work and worry yourself sick over something (anything, most things) and yet it feels like nothing will budge. Then one day, around give-up o’clock, by some inconsequential orchestration of events, a force that had been orbiting your stony existence cuts across your trajectory – and the world comes to a screeching halt, and the pigeons scatter, and the noise dies down. In truth it had always been there, living in your blind spot, but only now does it come into full view. And thus everything changes after all.

For those elevated, dimension-shifting moments, and until the noise returns, some musical thoughts.

With love from outer space
—Obsessionist

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STORM STEREO #19 – Constant Flux Spring Mix

MUSIC BOX – 恋の予感 (Koi no Yokan)
FLORA YIN-WONG – Lugere
FINK – See It All (EMIKA remix)
MR. MITCH & PALMISTRY – VPN
ENRIQUE IGLESIAS – Ring My Bell (Big Zouk remix)
MADEINTYO & 24HRS – You
AVRIL – Company
DRAKE – Lose You (instrumental)
伊藤隆太 (RYUTA ITO) – 恋の予感 (安全地帯 [Anzen Chitai] cover)
ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY – Hana
MIDORI TAKADA – Crossing
CHARLES MINGUS – Myself When I’m Real
MILES DAVIS – I Fall In Love Too Easily
SUN RA – That’s How I Feel
THE COSMIC RAYS & SUN RA AND ARKESTRA – Dreaming
BROWN SUGAR – Hello Stranger
ALTOS ELLIS – You Make Me So Very Happy
PHYLLIS DILLON – Living in Love
ARTHUR ALEXANDER – Where Have You Been All My Life?
TIMMY  THOMAS – Why Can’t We Live Together?

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All illustrations by Bjenny Montero.

Storm Stereo #11

screenshot_2016-04-28-00-28-58My loves,

Another sensitive show yet again. [shrug] My excuse this time is that I’ve been popping pills all week thanks to horrible toothache which has led to insomnia and migraines. In turn my nerves are shattered and my emotions are a wreck (but hey, when aren’t they, amiright?). My motion is slow, like walking against the wind, and my mind even more so, so I figured I’d get one more show out to you before having dental surgery tomorrow. This time we open with a love letter from Panama, then take a little trip into the past and discover some rock and psych from Turkey, Algeria, Iran and Cambodia (all discovered and acquired while working at Revolver Records); we make a stop at Space Station Berlin with some new wave and electro-pop, and close it off with Sensitive Riffs For Sensitive People, a set inspired by the inconvenient harboring of hope and created for those mornings when all you want to do it stay in bed and cry. Download it here.

A recent discovery I made by accident was the movie Ashik Kerib (Strange Lover), a 1988 Soviet production—directed by Soviet-Georgian and Armenian filmmakers Dodo Abashidze Sergei Parajanov, based on a story by Mikhail Lermontov—which tells the tale of a poor young man by the name of Ashik Kerib who must venture on a journey for 1,001 days and nights to gain his fortune so he can marry the woman he loves. It’s an intriguingly surreal movie with a minimal, voiced-over script and often bizarre scenes that border on visual art,  rich in Azerbaijani references, visual metaphors, trick montage and outlandish landscapes. Brilliantly conceived and well worth checking out, with enchanting music by Dzhavanshir Kuliyev.

For those of you who haven’t already fallen for her stunning voice and fiery riffs, Selda is a popular rock and folk singer, guitarist and composer from Turkey. She recently gained some fame in the west for being sampled by Dr. Dre and Mos Def, but she is better known at home for her protest style of music and her satirical, political lyrics, which not only got some of her songs banned from Turkish radio for criticizing the status quo and some for being sung in Kurdish, but it also landed her in jail a couple of times between 1981 and 1984. We also venture to Algeria where we are swept away by mighty horns and delirious drum rhythms, thanks to a killer compilation by Sublime Frequencies, a Seattle-based label that is dedicated to exposing obscure sounds from around the world, be it urban or rural, traditional or modern. We also listen to Mao Sareth off Cambodian compilation Groove Club Vol. 2: Cambodia Rock Spectacular, in a track that’s distinctly darker and rockier than most of the other tracks on this superb collection. Cambodia had a rich rock’n’roll / folk rock scene during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, but Mao Sareth—like many musician in Cambodia at that time—was eventually killed by the Khmer Rouge communist regime, who “began wiping out all traces of modernity and Western influence. Intellectuals, artists and musicians were specifically and systematically targeted and eliminated. Thus began one of the most brutal genocides in history, killing an estimated two million people – a quarter of the Cambodian population.” There is a very moving documentary about the Cambodian rock scene that I highly encourage you to track down and watch, called Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll.

Matching the grey skies that loom over Athens right now,  the rest of the show is pretty much your expected mix of haunting beats (like Curcuit 7, or The Oppenheimer Analysis and their bleak narrative on ‘Behind the Shades’) gloomy dreaminess (like Belgium’s Autumn and their love song ‘Night in June,’ which can be found on the comp Cold Waves + Minimal Electronics Volume One and a reissue LP on Minimal Wave Records), pop sensitivity straight outta Sarah Records, riffs and vocals that pull at your heartstrings (like the Nivens and their dreamy melancholia on ‘Yesterday’ or the Dogs and their beautiful guitar work on ‘Lovers Again,’ whose opening melody brings to mind the Rolling Stones and which could have easily influenced the Raveonettes) and lyrics that are just waiting to be quoted in a drunken sext… (“Can’t hide my desire when you come around/I’m feeling dizzy, my ego is bound/when I smell you coming I feel like a hound”)

What can I say… sometimes we hang on to hope even though all it does is drag us down. I guess some of us are fools. Until next time, do whatever you want. With numb love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

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.

Download it here

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