Resonance FM show on Varg, Julien Desprez and Anna Zaradny in Riga

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In this episode of SHAPE  platform’s monthly show on Resonance FM, we re-visit a concert night, organized by Skaņu Mežs festival as part of the White Night forum, featuring live performances by Swedish dark electronics artist Varg, French noise guitarist and improviser Julien Desprez and Polish composer and sound artist Anna Zaradny.

Skaņu Mežs, an association devoted to experimental music, has been participating in Riga’s White Nights since 2006. As always, Skaņu Mežs participated with a five-hour concert program, presenting what can be considered a mini-festival, comprised of very (genre-wise) diverse performances that range from contemporary music and minimalism to free improvisation and techno. In 2017, Skaņu Mežs had changed the venue for its White Night event for the very first time – this time, it was the Ave Sol concert hall.

Julien Desprez is a musician and performer based in Paris. Jazz and rock were his early musical loves, but they evolved rapidly to free forms where body and space find their places through sound. As his practice progressed as well as his conception and approach to his instrument, the music and space changed. He is now considering the guitar more like a battery, an organ, a modifiable instrument deployable at will.

Anna Zaradny graduated in conducting and music theory at the Szczecin branch of the Academy of Music in Poznań. She lives and works in Warsaw, she is a sound and visual artist, composer, improviser. As a composer and instrumentalist she works in a wide spectrum of genres: from acoustic improvised music with a contemporary minimalist language to the complex structures of experimental electronic music compositions.

Under the moniker of Varg, Jonas Rönnberg runs a cunning operation. Covert transmissions, alongside penetrating statements from techno’s core, are stacked adjacent to self-assertive live performances with an agility and depth of focus rarely summoned so instinctively. With a still-rising presence, Rönnberg makes sense of the decadent overdose privy to underground musics at this time.

The show was hosted by Lucia Udvardyova.

Catnapp mix for Cashmere Radio

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Listen to a new mix by Argentinian-born experimental pop musician Catnapp, broadcast by the Berlin-based experimental radio station Cashmere Radio. With this broadcast, SHAPE platform launches its partnership with the station.

Catnapp combines R&B, rap, breakbeat, pop, drum and bass and other genres resulting in an intense and sometimes nostalgic atmosphere with fat beats. Songs run through the simplest “girly” lyrics with a 4/4 beat to the deepest and scariest childhood memories with huge, compressed pads and synths, resulting in a unique and original sound. Now based in Berlin, Catnapp is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2017 she founded the label NAPP Records. Having released four EPs, three LPs, two remix albums and two singles, she has performed at Boiler Room (Berlin), Rokolectiv (Bucharest), Creamfields main stage Buenos Aires in 2014, Secret Garden Party UK (2015), Midsommar Festival CH (2015), Gold Mine Festival FR (2015), Pacha Buenos Aires, Niceto Club, Bahrein, Jet, Crobar, and many others.

Track list:

Sweeep – Molten Ground
Void & Shpsky – Untitled
Tomoro Hidari – Polaris (Journey to Polaris 24 Seven Edit)
Sweeep – Ghost Quarter
Daze Prism – 2005
Shank Colony – Palooka – 01 Nixed
Zru Vogue – Assembly For Body Movements
Amor Fu – Bright Matter (Dark Mix)
Sweeep – Hideaway + Merry Lamb – Keep Sinking (Catnapp Mash Up)
Amor Fu – Not Mine
Sweeep – Distant Memories
Face – Я Нормальный (prod. by PARISVVS)
JPEGMAFIA – Thug Tears
High5 – Vanzemaljci
El Plvybxy – Citrico
El Plvybxy – Rodocrosita (Defensa Remix)
Proxy .bae – Saló
Tobago Tracks – Niceities
Happytears – Ice Cream
Coral Casino – Costa del Oceano
Finding Novyon – To Infinity

Catnapp was nominated to SHAPE platform by the Bucharest-based Rokolectiv festival.

Tragedy, melancholy, mystery: An interview with December

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Adopting the December alias for his debut 12” on Blackest Ever Black, the Parisian wizard Tomas More found a perfect fit for his slow and moody techno cuts. Fast forward a few years and More has released recordings across a variety of labels, each record seeming to naturally follow upon the last. Much of December’s music manages to make the most out of minimal drum patterns – partly a nod to primitive early 80s industrial and a testament to his ability to craft dance music that is interesting, yet often intrinsically simplistic. December has recently been focusing on utilising his own voice and adding another layer to his sound in the process, a new direction which he has recently debuted on a 12” for Helena Hauff’s Return to Disorder imprint. December will be playing at Rokolectiv Festival in Bucharest on Saturday, 21 April. 

Can you talk about the genesis of your project December – what preceded it and how it amalgamated?

I had a kind of a creative block for a while five or six years ago. It actually lasted for quite a long time and I decided to stop trying to make tracks for a year or so. I was just making music without editing anything, looking for a sound that would excite me again, something that would be a coherent and personal evolution to what I was doing before. I wanted to dive deeper into my obsessions and to try things I hadn’t dared to before. And the first day of December arrived, and I felt ready, something made sense again.

You said in one interview: “I’m often trying to re-create personal moments to feed my music with.” Can you elaborate? Also, are there any concrete re-creations that you could mention on specific tracks?

Emotions don’t always wait for you to be in the studio to guide your inspiration. I’m sometimes trying to fight against the famous “blank page” feeling by thinking about an event, a word, an image that struck me recently, a strong feeling that moved me, a scene that pulled an intimate string inside of me, focusing on what I could do with it musically. It doesn’t mean I’ll use music as an illustration, but more as a note, a raw imprint of something I wasn’t able to express with words. Like a drawing.

Compared to your Blackest Ever Black record, the latest one on Helena Hauff’s Return to Disorder label steers towards the dance floor. While on BEB you were introspective and mellow, 64 Ways To Rob A Friend is brazen and direct. Is this a natural evolution of your sound?

No, it’s not. And I’m actually currently recording “weirder” things, even though I don’t like to categorise music like this – music not meant to be played by DJ’s, if it was the point of the question. But in the beginning, I had to dive into unknown territories and more introspective sounds first, to look for what could be the core of my sound, the general atmosphere, before making more “functional” tracks.

It also took time to use my voice in a more direct way and sing. And paradoxically, being more comfortable with my voice helped me to move towards more club-oriented tracks. To finally accomplish that old dream of making making primal techno songs, a bit like on my last EP (64 Ways To Rob A Friend). Now I’m trying to make slower, calmer, more melodic tracks, and to build them like “songs” (even if it’s still pretty far from being actual songs…)

Can you talk about some of the inspirations behind the project?

My main inspirations have always pretty much stayed the same. A minimalistic, melancholic, repetitive, naïve and dark approach to club music.

Films have also always been very decisive. I studied cinema and I work on a film festival for a part of the year. Images have been as present as sounds in my aesthetical approach to music. Visceral and radical ways of making films have always fascinated me. Bresson, Costa, Akerman or Weerasethakul have always influenced me, in different ways. Their stripped-down approach and obsession for what we cannot see had a huge impact on me.

The emo/cold/dark imagery is a key element of what I do, too. I like these simple and naïve feelings they celebrate: tragedy, melancholy, mystery. I don’t know why I’ve always reacted way stronger to dark and cold atmospheres than shiny and positive ones.

How do you make your music? Can you talk a little bit about your production methods? And what importance does the voice have in your productions?

I produce mainly on software. I’ve learned to make music this way and I like it. I don’t really like technical theories and topics, I like sounds, wherever they come from.

The industrial, EBM-tinged music has been experiencing a revival. Do you think it also reflects something in society at large (originally, this music was made during the last decade of Cold War with all its dualistic polarisations and tensions)?

Music and genres have always been cyclical I think and once we had too much of a movement that we ate it to the bone, we look for new influences. The 80’s/90’s industrial and dark electronics revival that is happening now must be the answer to the previous one and I feel that it has always been a kind of a back-and-forth game in musical movements and scenes. Fashion is a key factor in these episodes too and we can witness it especially these days. But it is also a reaction to society, obviously. We live in an extremely violent system that tries to keep a smily and liberal face. Dark and brutal Art is the most logical reaction to it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on my next EP, which will probably be in a pretty similar spirit as the one for Helena Hauff’s label I just released a few weeks ago. Focused on the use of my voice and pretty physical, direct beats. I’m also starting to record more abstract tracks again as I said in the beginning of this interview – less beats, more silence and melodies, more mystery. We’ll see where it goes.

Resonance Extra show on Rokolectiv 2018

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Listen to an hour-long show on the 2018 edition of Rokolectiv festival, hosted by Jared Marks and featuring an array of SHAPE artists from the line-up, including Nene H., Giant Swan, Machine Woman and December.

Rokolectiv is Bucharest’s festival for electronic music and related visual arts. It takes place once a year, in spring, at the museum of contemporary art and various alternative venues. Over the years, Asociatia Rokolectiv has invited over 250 artists and professionals in the field, contributing to the development of the local scene and generating projects and collaboration between musicians, visual artists, contemporary dancers, and promoters.

Track list:

Colin Self – A Troubled Assembly Prelude
Nene Hatun – Asceticism
Golin – Fifi
Errorsmith – Lightspeed
Elysia Crampton – Solilunita
Admina – Maica Gecsa
Eomac – Observe the Vessel Beneath You
Jared Snippet 2 (over ending of Eomac)
Machine Woman – Camille from OHM Makes Me Feel Loved
Elysia Crampton – Oscollo
Giant Swan – ITFLOYL
Tommy Four Seven – UUU
December – 64 Ways
Colin Self – Troubled Assembly Siblings Introduction
Jared Snippet 4 (over beginning of Golin)
Golin – Doki

Click here for more info on the upcoming edition of Rokolectiv.

Video: Caterina Barbieri at MeetFactory

See a clip from SHAPE artist Caterina Barbieri‘s recent performance at Czech art center MeetFactory. The show took place as part of MeetFactory’s “Open House” – a series of free entry events, presenting content from all disciplines of contemporary art and culture.

Caterina Barbieri is a Berlin-based Italian composer who explores themes related to machine intelligence and object oriented perception in sound through a focus on minimalism.

Barbieri’s work explores the polyphonic and polyrhythmic potential of synthesisers to draw complex and severe geometries in time and space, aiming to reveal the integrative, cognitive feedback between humans and technology as well as the psycho-physical effects of repetition and pattern-based operations in music.

Her album “Patterns of Consciousness”, released by Important Records, was named by The Wire magazine as one of the 50 best recordings of 2017.