Two Sides of the Same Coin: New Electronic from North & South America

Music can be related from all over the world. From the south-eastern shores of Brazil to the Pacific Northwest, artists are always coming up with new forms of expression – especially in the realm of electronic. This week, two musicians have released the perfect example of a such a connection.

Brazilian dream-pop experimentalist, Kid from Amazon put out a tape last weekend that’s done nothing but displace my concept of reality. As I walk the streets of Budapest, soviet trams passing by, Musgo Vibes breaks through the monotony with its nu-disco beats and ambient vocalizations. Check out the stream (and download it for free) in the BandCamp player below:

Musgo Vibes by Kid From Amazon

Slow and relaxed at first, the tracks begin to build off of with one another between waves of enchanting synths and samples. As one becomes comfortable with the constant state of disassociation, a state of comfort is pursued through tracks like “Shy” and “Lugares”. Yet, as “Summer Haze” breaks and fades, the album returns to its Brazilian trance – birds chirping between cracks in the rhythm.

As my weekend came to a close, the Kid From Amazon was kicked off my “Now Playing” list by Jaapur’s latest release, the first of many continuous mixes of all his previous albums. This Oregon native provided the perfect contrast to the dream-state that Musgo Vibes, had put me under. Check out Tension below (free download):

Glitchy and poppy, the mix does nothing but keep my head bobbing. And as the tracks meld into one another, the album has become my new playlist for any dark and gloomy day.

Both musicians, though thousands of miles away from one another and myself, have managed to make this freezing cold how-can-this-still-be-fall weather feel a little more like summer with every bass-line, synth-riff, and break-beat. Check out their respective BandCamps here and here.

With love, from Hungary,

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DJ Desman

Hungary, Hungry Huskies – St. Vincent Rocks a Boat (Show Review)

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Annie Clark and Toko Yosuda bow their heads to rock

I arrived with a throng of hip-dressed Hungarians, our eyes wide open as we entered the multicolored array of dance lights that can be seen all along the straight of the Danube. 7pm is, by far, the earliest many of us have ever been on the notorious party boat, who hosts concerts and events every couple of nights – a staple in Budapest’s night life. On October 18, as a part of cafe Budapest – a yearly autumn festival featuring contemporary art, music, and performances – St. Vincent graced the tiny venue with an electronic foray of musical magic.

As the lights dimmed, a robotic voice appeared through the haze. It called to us as fellow analog listeners and urged us to refrain from “digitally capturing our experience.” Luckily, I was able to meet a lovely Lithuanian before the performance to capture the moments I would have otherwise lost due to my phone’s presence in my pocket throughout the show.

The band came forth in tandem, the lights dark and dimmed by the fog-filled room. In a flash, St. Vincent began with “Rattlesnake” and “Digital Witness” – the lyrics of which matching perfectly with the earlier sentiment of experiencing the concert in person, rather than through the lens of a phone screen.

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A concentrated Clark focuses on the performance

After a brief pause, the soul-shaking guitar riff of “Cruel” rang through the air – its piercing alternations doubling that of the keyboard, just an octave below. During this song, the contrast between the natural and unnatural established itself as a main theme of St. Vincent’s performance. As each song built upon the last, Annie Clark and her band moved more and more robotically until we all could recognize the synchronized movements as an integral part of the show.

As the energy following “Cruel” faded (Clark waited patiently for our cheers to subside), Annie spoke of the things that “we had in common”. This song-break spoke like poetry, her words desperately pulling us towards what she wanted us to be: a child in an inescapable world. The break ended with an anecdote about us wanting to “jump from our beds” on a “parachute made of blankets.” And, even though we “landed on the carpet… on our knees, we never gave up hope!”

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St. Vincent tells us a story

Through our screams of consensus, the keyboard and drums spelled out the opening notes of “Marrow” whose chorus, “H. E. L.  P. Help Me. Help Me” rang through the mouths of two-thirds of the audience – demonstrating St. Vincent’s enormous following that must exist in Eastern Europe. After the show, I met with humans from all nationalities – Hungarian, Serbian, Lithuanian and the like. As we all intermixed within the 300 or so person crowd, we not only witnessed – but participated – in Annie Clark’s wildly orchestrated madness.

A director of the stage, Clark waltzed around through strobes and flares. The band’s movements lined up with every beat, flash of light, along with each other. When the moment came for her to remove her instrument, Annie approached the stage crew and they fluidly made the change in a coordinated measure. Every time the lights blacked out, the crowd would erupt in a thunderous boom – the noise of the audience multiplied by the ship’s steel enclosure.

As the lights came up onto the stage, the figure of St. Vincent stood asymmetrically in front of us. The music began to ebb and flow as “Jesus” began. The ballad broke the reoccurring pattern of digital imagery – the movements of the band and the lights behind them mimicking that of the wind or the ocean. The natural sounds became distorted in the crescendos of distorted guitar riffs that introduced “Chloe in the Afternoon” – the keyboardist, Toko Yasuda, joining Clark with her punching electric guitar. The song ended in a clustered mess of arpeggios and slammed strings, Annie approaching the edge of the stage multiple times to show off her ardent talents – playing the strings of the instrument like grass in a meadow.

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Yasuda leads the background vocals and harmony

After waiting again for the crowd to quiet, Clark continued her story about the times we had in common as a child. She spoke of a fire that we built when we were younger, and “as we watched it burn, we knew we were supposed to be scared but…” she inquired deeply, her words appearing naturally although they were obviously a perfectly practiced insight.

The set continued and, in-between the songs “Actor Out of Work” and “Birth in Reverse,” Annie Clark did nothing but amaze us with her skill and passion when the time came for her to play the guitar. The solos in “Surgeon” and “Prince Johnny” stood out as two the strongest instrumental moments I have ever heard. By the time “Birth in Reverse” tore through the speakers, the crowd was so riled up that the boat was literally shaking in time with the music. The band and the crowd sang in sync during ballads like “Cheerleader” – the natural colored lights blinding us until Clark had been reduced to nothing but a silhouette.

We became a part of the performance as the show evolved into what felt like a Black Sabbath concert on shrooms. Strobes flashed, heads banged, and – as the band shuffled and snapped – the worlds of modern art and classic rock collided in the storm that was “Bring Me Your Loves.”

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Powerful performers command the stage with their music and movements

Quicker than they came, the band snuck off the stage immediately after the final song. We chanted in a chorus for Annie yet their return to the stage only came after the audience dimmed its cheers in sadness that the show may already be over. Yasuda entered and smiled from behind a glass of water as Annie played from back stage. When Clark was finally illuminated by the light of the stage, she squinted over us into the back of the club’s smallest room before flying into the center of “Strange Mercy”’s complicated drum-line. At the end of it, she threw herself into the arms of the audience. Guitar in hand, Annie played above us. She passed off her guitar to the members of the front rows so that we could play for her as she held her head back in ecstasy.

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Photos by Vilius Kubekas – Facebook

When she returned to the stage, the leading women fell to her knees and crouched next to the beat-up Stratocaster. As she slowly lifted her head, a member of the stage crew adorned her shoulders with a new guitar, like a crown of thorns on a weary Jesus-like figure. She once again amazed us with her final solos strewn throughout the song, “Your Lips Are Red.” With the magic of the fourth wall already broken, nothing could stop us all from singing along and creating the music with the rest of the band. They soaked in our melodies and cheers as they held their heads high – taking a bow with smiles on their faces.

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DJ Desman

Hungary, Hungry Huskies: WHAT ON EARTH is this?!

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Power-punk has returned in the city of Budapest! Catchy riffs and anthem-like choruses fill the spaces in-between WHAT ON EARTH’s dominating drumline. While Tamás Dalmáci pumps through angst-filled pop lines, guitarists Viktor Mosolygó and Ákos Kocsány build off each other’s classic chordal structures.

Since forming in January, the band’s been writing and recording quite the collection of kick-ass tracks. I had the pleasure of hearing their first single in advance (embedded below), and even in its un-mastered form, a smile came across my face as Ádám Darida’s bass drum caused my legs to shake in raucous rhythm. Sum 41-esque guitar parts mix with alternating melodic tones that call back to the early 2000’s as our ears bled in our parents’ garages. I’m certain that the coming weeks will bring more broken bottles and hearts as philosophic lyrics mold with woes of ex-girlfriends past.

For all that and more, check out the ensemble’s first official song, How We Live (embedded below – after the jump)!

If you liked it, check out their Facebook, Bandcamp and SoundCloud to stay up to date in a country that’s just 9 hours away. And come back every week for more from Budapest and the surrounding area… I’ll be here until December to bring you another look at a world of music that I’ve never seen or heard before!

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DJ Desman