Riki

Riki is the Los Angeles based dark synth-pop outfit commandeered by the mysterious Niff Nawor, a visual artist and musician active in the deathrock / anarcho-punk scenes of the California bay area (formerly a member of Crimson Scarlet), before founding her solo endeavor as Riki in 2017. Niff’s desire to explore her own sound manifested in the recording of the Hot City cassette tape in 2017, which featured Chelsey Crowley of Crimson Scarlet, Skot Brown of Phantom Limbs and Peđaof Doomed to Extinction. Released on Commodity Tapes and later reissued on vinyl by the well-regarded Symphony of Destruction label, Riki followed the release of the single with several small tours and festival dates, performing with such acts as Light Asylum, Black Marble, and Trisomie 21.

For her self-titled debut album for Dais, Riki explores courage, physicality, and romance across eight timeless synth pop anthems. Produced and engineered by hardware-based synthesist Matia Simovich of INHALT, influences and ideas are worn proudly without deviating from fresh and daring electro-pop territory. Nostalgic cues can be heard ranging from Neue Deutsch Welle, early Adrian Sherwood productions, classic ZYX Italo Disco, Japanese Visual Kei and even classic new wave/pop like Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, and early Madonna.

The lead single, Napoleon, contains Riki’s indelible sound design, reminiscent of 80’s New York dance floor electro-pop that recalls the fusion of uptown and downtown styles and culture, told through Riki’s present day West Coast narrative. For contrast, the second single entitled Böse Lügen (Body Mix) was previously released in demo form and re-mixed to emphasize its commanding presence and addictive nature. Translated simply to “Wicked Lies” and sung completely in German, Böse Lügen moves away from the upbeat romanticism found throughout the album and commands serious self-reflection guised within an infectious dance floor anthem.

Riki invites listeners to “reveal their useless habits of complacency and fear…and witness their own rebirth, a rhythm universal”.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on April 29th, 2020 under Releases, ,

SRSQ ‎– Temporal Love / Unkept

SRSQ is the solo project of singer and songwriter Kennedy Ashlyn, the founding member of the bay-area dream pop duo Them Are Us Too. SRSQ’s pulse began after the loss of Kennedy’s closest friend and Them Are Us Too collaborator, Cash Askew, in the tragic Ghost Ship fire of 2016. Driven by this sudden, heartbreaking loss, SRSQ became the vehicle for Kennedy’s transformative process for her to explore nostalgia, reflection, and reconciliation, manifesting in the aural landscape of her 2018 debut album, Unreality.

It’s been a year since the release of Unreality and 2019 has taken SRSQ around the world, touring extensively with Black Queen and Uniform, sold out performances in support of Cold Cave and Godflesh, and upcoming tours in support of Torche and label-mates Drab Majesty. Amid performances and writing in preparation for her upcoming 2020 album, Ashlyn went into the studio with producer Jorge Albrecht, who mixed down two new tracks featured on the 7” single Temporal Love b/w Unkept.

Wrapped in ethereal gauze and dreamlike textures, what SRSQ presents on this single are undeniably love songs. Wrought with longing, Ashlyn commands on “Temporal Love”: “Kissing you once more could not erase the time, wishing it was the same as it ever was…” her ethereal, soprano-like voice weaving effortlessly through soaring electronics as if the structure of the song itself is her creative playground. Joined in duet by True Body vocalist Isabel Moreno, “Temporal Love” conjures images of heartbreak and a relationship dissolved – perhaps regrettably. The B-side, “Unkept” presents an almost ceremonial incantation channeling the likes of Lisa Gerrard’s finest moments. Stirring in echoes and reverb, Ashlyn emerges alongside a slow and steady beat – rising and building: “Speak softly, my love” to create the perfect counter-balance to the dreamy pop sensibilities of “Temporal Love.”

7″ / Digital Album

Posted on March 15th, 2020 under Releases, ,

Tempers – Private Life

New York based duo Tempers, comprised of Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper, have been diligently carving out their own unique niche within dark indie, electronica and synth-pop circles since their formation. After a series of digital singles in 2013, Tempers began solidifying their singular identity of rigorous electronic production blended with instinctual, unleashed vocals. Following well received tours in Europe and the United States, Tempers saw the release of their debut album entitled Services, released in Germany via the highly regarded cult imprint Aufnahme + Wiedergabe and quickly became a staple in the synth-pop/post punk scenes in both the States and in Europe. Since the release of Services, Tempers have regularly appeared at a number of international festivals and venues, including Test Pressing Festival and Berghain to name a few, and ambitiously created a concept album entitled Junkspace in 2018, in collaboration with famed architect Rem Koolhaas, about the deconstructed banality and overlooked grace of 20th century shopping mall culture.

Tempers third full-length album, Private Life, successfully progresses their cinematic aesthetic into a moodier and more introspective landscape. Private Life opens with “Capital Pains”, a lonely incantation that echoes the human desire to envy other people’s lives and endlessly chase our own insecurities. Surreal, isolated atmosphere backed by upbeat rhythm and melancholy refrain projected from “Capital Pains” perfectly set the tone expectation for Private Life. “Peace of Mind” crawls along as a dramatic dirge with Golestaneh imparting matters of loneliness and solitude, always looking from the outside and complemented with Cooper’s haunting resonance.

The character behind songs such as “Sleep” and “Push/Pull” break from Tempers signature synth-laden post punk notoriety, instead switching to a more somber songwriting style that settles down between downtempo dream pop and despondent soundtracks. Behind the backdrop of driving electronics and magnetic verse, Private Life deconstructs and reimagines the ideas behind despair, love, loneliness, and hope. While most people would simply reflect on nostalgia, Tempers stands alone in their unique methods, fictionalizing their ideas through sound and vision to create soundtracks for everyday affliction.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on February 11th, 2020 under Releases, ,

VR Sex ‎– Horseplay

Technology was meant to be humanity’s tool to combat famine, disease, confusion, and to facilitate life, culture, and innovation. Instead, we’re mired in a digital labyrinth that few care to navigate or even solve. Perhaps it’s not a ruse and the matrices coded by keyboard maestros are a path to liberation, but without querying the constructs we cannot ruminate on their affectations on humanity.

VR SEX are audio/visual provocateurs who transpose the identifiers of death rock, synth punk, post-punk, ambient, and ethereal soundscapes into an audit on technology and its imprint on our collective psyche. Their debut EP, Horseplay, was recorded solely by the mercenary seer Noel Skum (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty/Marriages) and initially released as a limited edition cassette in April 2019.

Through PSRS or Procreation Simulation Reproduction Stimulation, humans can act on their hedonistic desires and not face the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an ill-prepared guardian. The future of our offspring will exist in virtual realms and population growth in turn will be stabilized. VR SEX is the cure to most societal ills. Rather than being emblematic of influences, each song by VR SEX infuses a dire tension that cuts shimmer with fetid frequencies, never establishing an aural hierarchy or urgency. Instead, we’re led into punchy capsules of “dour pop”; the balance of saccharine and sour so emblematic of the VR SEX hive mind.

EP / Digital Album

Posted on January 16th, 2020 under Releases, ,

Hide – Hell is Here

HIDE are an electronic duo based in Chicago, made up of fine artist Gabel and percussionist Seth Sher. Together since 2014, the pair create sample based compositions using a combination of self sourced field recordings and various pop culture/media. Releases include 2016′s Black Flame EP which is dedicated to the memory of Reyhana Jabbari, a 27 year old Iranian woman who was hung for allegedly killing someone who trying to rape her, and deals with various human rights violations in Iran. HIDE’s 2017 debut album Castration Anxiety on Dais Records addresses issues of power dynamics and representation. Seething with textured yet minimal tracks, HIDE gives raw vulnerability an opportunity to unfurl, yielding an album that calls for personal autonomy and the destruction of anything barring the way. A single on Sub-pop for the label’s singles club followed, with two unhinged tracks touching on the phenomenon of internalized misogyny and aspects of motherhood.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on December 7th, 2019 under Releases, ,