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New Music Discovery: “Fastracks” 25

SOUND KHARMA® | October 11, 2021

Discover & preview 5 new tracks in less than 5 minutes f. Axel Thesleff, Ewan MacFarlane, The Speed Of Sound, Cat Dowling & Rodney Cromwell.

You can submit a track for consideration (below).

ARTIST INFO & VIDEOS

Watch full videos and get more info about this episode’s featured artists below:

Multi-talented electronic artist Axel Thesleff has released his latest single ‘Pouring Down’ on the 8th of October via Axu Arts. The single will also be accompanied by a video of the musician longboarding in Lapland. Axel Thesleff gained notoriety when he released the irresistible single, ‘Bad Karma’ which racked up over one billion plays across platforms and featured on the Adidas’ Faster Than campaign as well as in the UK-based Twinning’s Glow tea campaign.

The producer toured the US with legendary artists such as CloZee and Beats Antique, and performed at festivals with other well-known acts such as Deadmau5, ZEDD, Paul Van Dyk and Alt-J. The producer has also recently released ‘Timeflow’ (accompanied by an instrumental version) as well as a reworked edition of ShiShi’s ‘Sajani 2.0 (feat. Ben Parag)’.

Over the years, Axel Thesleff has been supported by the likes of Billboard, YourEDM, Dancing Astronaut, CLASH Magazine, EDM.com, EARMILK, When We Dip, Magnetic Magazine, Mixmag Asia, DJ Mag Spain and The Needle Drop, to name a few. The producer has received significant support from Tastemaker YouTube channels such as Trap Nation, 8D Tunes, Bass Nation, House Nation and Taz Network, amongst others, as well as continued support from BBC Asian Network’s Yasser.

Born and based in Helsinki, Finland, Axel Thesleff finds inspiration in the variegated likes of Sigur Ros, Godspeed You! Back Emperor, Aphex Twin, Telefon Tel Aviv, Radiohead, Burial, Gold Panda to name a few, as he creates a sound that traverses musical borders. ‘Pouring Down’ calls to mind trendsetting artists such as M.I.A., Fakear and CloZee. Axel Thesleff has been on a journey to recreate live performance in a safe way: the first was an hour-long Arena Live set, shot at the Helsinki Ice Hall.

The next live show was in collaboration with Colours of Ostrava and Hotspot at the austere location of Dolní Vítkovice, an industrial heritage site in the Czech Republic, earlier this year. The Colours of Ostrava show calls to mind the epic videographic stylings of Cerclé.

There’s a beauty in acknowledging the unchangeable force of nature and finding a way to embrace it rather than attempt to rebel against the inevitable. Percussive tones meet bold static storm elements in Axel Thesleff’s latest single as we’re swept away on a rive of cheerful bass notes and warm vocals to provide shelter against the harsh world.

Axel Thesleff shares his thoughts on the latest single, “You ever get those days where nothing is going right, and on top of everything it starts raining and you don’t have an umbrella? My new song ‘Pouring Down’ is a reminder to just keep calm and take it all in with acceptance and perseverance, because what’s the other option? Being angry and bitter won’t get you dry. Might as well enjoy the free shower.”

Validated’, the third single to be taken from Ewan MacFarlane’s debut solo album is a soul-stirring epic song about standing up for who you are and being comfortable with the life choices you have made. “It’s about putting your 2 fingers up to the ones judging you, as they are the ones that need to step back and reflect on their own values.” Says MacFarlane.

“It’s a song of liberation and understanding that if we are coming from a good place then it doesn’t matter what shape, size, colour or sex we are. It’s about standing strong and not needing to seek validation from others. We don’t need to be validated!”, he explains.

The third single comes hot off the heels of ‘Stirrin’ In The City’ and ‘Underneath Your Spell’, both exhilarating classic rock tracks that picked up blog & radio acclaim. Backseat Mafia said of the former, “This is for playing loud with the windows open enjoying the singing in the rain vibe. If you haven’t heard this man’s voice before, then now is the time.”. Whilst XS Noize said of the latter, “…one of the best new songs we’ve heard in a long while…It’s impossible not to love this perfectly written classic rock belter that tugs on the heartstrings with glorious nostalgia and excites with true rock ‘n’ roll grit at the same time…surely we have a brand new candidate for the album of the year!”.

BBC Radio Scotland legend Billy Sloan exclaimed, “Brilliant new single…It’s good to have him back.” upon playing ‘Stirrin’ In The City’ and has since followed up with airplay for ‘Underneath Your Spell’ too. Likewise, Scottish radio hero Jim Gellatly has given huge support playing both tracks on his Amazing Radio show.

‘Validated’, however, takes a more poignant reflective stance than the previous singles showing another side to MacFarlane’s songwriting, this time with some building Blue Nile-esque emotive piano atmospheres laced over his gritty vocal. You can hear the years of experience from MacFarlane’s time in bands like The Grim Northern Social and Apollo 440 filtering into his new solo tracks and especially in ‘Validated’, which strips back the rock n roll grit to make way for insightful social commentary.

MacFarlane’s superb forthcoming full-length album ‘Always Everlong’ due out October 29th sees him en-route to an uncharted destination. Sporting more than a touch of Americana in his new material, he honours the revered rock’n’roll songbooks of his songwriting heroes Bowie, Petty, and Springsteen. But whilst the new songs may take inspiration from some legendary songbooks though, their origin remains, very much a thing of its time.

Challenging himself mid lockdown to write and upload one tune per day to Youtube, the songs mostly tell tales of tension with pledges of eternal love. ‘Validated’ is the next taster of this outstanding album and the type of big ‘phones in the air’ stadium track that all classic albums should have!

Hailing from Manchester, The Speed Of Sound’s music is optimistic, but with lyrical bite, a punk-inspired DIY ethos and lust for experimentation rooted in psychedelia. Formed in 1989 with a pre-history dating back to the day Andy Warhol died in 1987, The Speed of Sound lies deep below the ‘music industry radar’, allowing for the evolution of their own distinctive sound and live act.

The band, as it exists today, is made up of father and son John Armstrong (guitars and vocals) and Henry Armstrong (keyboards), Ann-Marie Crowley (vocals and guitar), Kevin Roache (bass guitar) and John Broadhurst (drums).

“At first, ‘Last Orders’ sounds like its a drinking song about getting a round in before the bar closes, but I was at the Stasi (the old East German secret police) Museum in Berlin and that got me thinking about the night the Berlin Wall came down and them furious shredding documents despite the State having collapsed and their job no longer having a purpose.

That led me on to the Japanese soldiers in the mid 1970’s that were still unaware World War 2 had ended. The military has a concept of continuing with orders until new instructions are received. So Last Orders is about actual last orders. But then again, it could be a drinking song,” says John Armstrong.

“It is tripped-down and acoustic guitar-led, with additional backing vocals recorded individually around the world. Featuring a representative for every continent on the planet and assembled in a virtual room (Abbey Road Studio 3) to create a universal reverb and the sense of togetherness. An intercontinental night out in a pandemic. Come on, it’s last orders.”

‘The Museum of Tomorrow’ is an exhilarating nonstop sensory indulgence. A low-altitude magic carpet ride at breakneck speed over the insanity of the early 21st century, drenched in Science-Fiction and retro-futurist infused imagery and themes. Despite some dark subject matter, the lyrics are playful and as bright as coloured vinyl. This is the Museum Of Tomorrow – not a mere time-capsule or bleak survey of dystopian protest themes, but an immersive experience. Drunk with richness it hurtles on, twisting its many turns with subtlety; exhibiting mood, style and pace variance. The trajectory is laid in and the thrusters fire.

While The Speed of Sound has released eight singles via Big Stir Records, ‘Museum of Tomorrow’ is an all-new experience, each song being single-worthy. Conceived as two seamless sides, the vinyl edition was mastered as two extended pieces – ‘Gallery One’ and ‘Gallery Two’. Korg synthesizer lines, reminiscent of classic Science Fiction incidental music, link the gap-less songs.

This music has a definite 60’s influence but with an 80’s twist. With both female and male vocals, their sound is influenced by The Byrds, Small Faces, The Chords, Siouxsie & The Banshees and XTC. Merging the power of punk with floating harmonies, their sit tight between Sonic Youth and Dusty Springfield.

Dublin indie pop artist Cat Dowling presents her new single ‘Animals’ with accompanied by a brilliant animated video by Marc Corrigan. This is a song of movement, sensuality, wildness, love and freedom. A song about that beautiful part inside the human make-up that can’t ever and should never be tamed.

The new 11-track long-player from this Kilkenny-born artist, also titled ‘Animals’, will be released via Forever In Financial Arrears Records (FIFA Records) on November 12.

Marc Corrigan is an Irish artist, illustrator and animator. Telling stories through animation and music video for the past decade with fans including Billy Bragg and Coldplay, he has released innovative an unorthodox works for such artists as Lil Kim, The Futureheads, I’m from Barcelona, Dr. Octagon, The Academic and Ham Sandwich. This is the fourth time Corrigan has worked with Dowling.

“‘Animals’ is a wild song. It never stops moving. When I first heard it I could picture the ending straight away – a constant flow of wild animals morphing and twisting into each other. Once I knew that I just had to build up to it, set up a surreal morphing world. The imagery had to move constantly to keep pace with the music. It had to suggest animal instincts in a beautiful way. It had to be a constant high energy piece that never let up and built to a crescendo. So I just kept drawing,” says Marc Corrigan.

Dowling recently released the single ‘Freedom’, a lush slice of soulful pop perfection with video by Alba Lahoz, featuring her three free-spirited children doing their thing on the beach. The video for the preceding single, ‘Trouble’, was created by BAFTA award-winning director Fergal Costello, recalling a dark, comedic and violent tale set outside of 1981 Belfast.

“I wrote Animals during a busy period of my life when to find those rare moments to write music meant I had to be a thief elsewhere. But it was these stolen moments that gave me oxygen and a beautiful almost supernatural energy. ‘Animals’ was written when everyone was sleeping. It started with the driving repetitive rhythm which had to be restrained so as not to wake a soul. It thus became hypnotic. It starts as minor and ends up major. It’s about the major and minor of life and of love and the constant pull in everything between major and minor and the light and the dark. It’s a song ultimately of passion, wildness, sensuality and love,” says Cat Dowling.

Lauded as one of the most wonderful and evocative vocalists in Irish contemporary music, Cat Dowling’s beautifully dark pop songs and those husky and achingly intimate vocals will grip you from the outset. The former Babelfish and Alphastates frontwoman creates well-crafted songs that inspire.

Produced by Gerry Horan with Dowling as co-producer, and mixed by Ger McDonnell (The Cure, U2, Van Morrison, Martha Wainwright, Shane McGowan, Sinead O’Connor), Dowling’s latest output was partially recorded at Crossroads Studio in Kilkenny with support from Ireland’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.

In 2013, Dowling debuted with ‘The Believer’ LP, ranked in numerous ‘Best of Year’ music polls, including The Sunday Times. The title track featured in the second series of ‘Banshee’, produced by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, American Beauty, True Blood) and the ‘Witches of East End’ TV series, featuring Julia Ormond. The song ‘Somebody Else’ was also used in ‘My name is Emily’. Cat has also lent vocals on many collaborative projects, including for ABC’s ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ with Emmy-winning actress Viola Davis.

FIFA Records is a steadily expanding label, who have continuously worked with exciting new Irish talent (Fight Like Apes, One Morning in August, Klubber Lang, Hope is Noise, Dae Kim, Lorraine Nash), as well as releasing material from more established names on the Irish indie scene, such as The Frank & Walters, Emperor of Ice Cream, August Wells, Power of Dreams and Whipping Boy.

After a 2 1/2 year hiatus, London-based synth-pop artist Rodney Cromwell will be releasing a new single via Happy Robots Records with distribution by Cargo Records. ‘Memory Box’ is a song about perceptions of reality and the certainty of our memories. How do we believe anything in a world where truth and honesty are of so little worth?

Rodney Cromwell is the nom de plume of Adam Cresswell, founding member of 1990s-2000s indie-folktronica band Saloon (who had four entries in John Peel’s Festive 50, recorded three Peel Sessions and had top 10 album of the year in The Sunday Times) and one half of electronic two-piece Arthur & Martha (praised by the likes of NME, The Guardian and Artrocker).

With minimal percussion, Rodney Cromwell’s lyrics float over a bed of vintage synthesizers and effected guitar. Shunning a clean ’80s synth sound, the song is almost psychedelic in outlook, reminiscent of the minimal synth of acts such as Broadcast, Pram or Silver Apples. The video, an atmospheric montage of heavily effected and distorted shots of rural Britain, was inspired by film auteurs such as Stan Brakhage and Chris Marker.

Writing and recording in his home studio in Catford, South London, Cromwell employs an old-school approach using predominantly vintage hardware. Mixed and co-produced by Richard Bennett at Acme Hall Studios (New York) and mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Goldfrapp, Paul Weller, Pixies, The Alarm), Martin J Langthorne, who also designed the album artwork, contributes guitar.

“It was one of the first songs written for the new album. At the time I was still disorientated from illness. I turned on the TV and there was Boris Johnson’s lackey, Dominic Cummings, spinning some yarn. In my post-fever state he came across like Wormtongue from Tolkein, talking about riverbanks, woods and castles while literally sitting in a perfumed rose garden like in Alice in Wonderland. I wouldn’t say that influenced me directly, but certainly my own state of brain-fog sent my writing off in a more heady and fantastical direction,” explains Adam Cromwell.

“I wanted the song to have the feel of a marching clockwork toy, so the beat is really simple and metronomic with the synths doing the talking by enveloping the song.”

This single is the title track of the forthcoming ‘Memory Box’ album, A mixture of electronic hauntological excursions, dreampop and European coldwave that is scheduled for release in early 2022. Using analogue synths, drum machines with parts played almost entirely live (with minimal computer sequencing) and vocals recorded without auto-tune, this record conjures up an organic, albeit dream-like, world that is inspired as much by Alice in Wonderland, Franz Kafka and Anna Kavan as it is by its sonic influences such as Kraftwerk, The Cure and Stereolab. The sonic pallet of ‘Memory Box’ is both reassuringly familiar and completely distinctive.

Rodney Cromwell’s debut LP ‘Age of Anxiety’ (2015) and ‘Rodney’s English Disco’ EP (2018) have garnered Rodney Cromwell features in Electronic Sound Magazine, NME, Huffington Post, Paste, Record Collector, BBC6 Music and national RNE3 in Spain, for whom he also recorded a live session. The debut album featured in scores of Best of Lists including Electronic Sound Magazine and he was named ‘Most Promising New Act’ by The Electricity Club. He has appeared on compilations alongside Cavern of Anti-Matter, John Foxx, Devo, OMD, Katy Perry and other notable artists.

Rodney will be playing a handful of live dates to support the album’s release. His debut festival appearance at Indietracks 2015, described as ‘a spiritual experience”, led to further festival appearances in the UK and in Spain, in addition to supporting artists such as Pram, Marsheaux, Death & Vanilla, Rowetta and Steve Davis. In 2020, he also performed as part of Damo Suzuki’s backing band.

As of October 27, ‘Memory Box’ will be available digitally everywhere, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp, where his earlier releases can also be found. On October 28, London’s Hope & Anchor will host his Single Launch Party with appearances by Mood Taeg and Still Forever.

Written by SOUND KHARMA®




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