Kenan Bell

Album Download: Kenan Bell’s Summer Solstice Vol. 3

Kenan Bell: Summer Solstice Vol. 3Kenan Bell: Summer Solstice Vol. 3 (12/21/11)

Kenan Bell: “Book of the Month (feat. Ayomari & Carl Roe)”

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Indie rapper Kenan Bell releases the third installment of his Summer Solstice mixtape series tomorrow, the summer solstice for the Southern hemisphere. On this collection, the former Montessori schoolteacher samples the likes of Caribou (“Caribou”), Lovage (“Book of the Month”), the Talking Heads (“Home”), and plenty more, layering his signature nerd rap over each and making them his own.

A day before its official release, ALARM presents an exclusive download of SSV3. (And if you haven’t already, be sure to download Summer Solstice Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.)

Bell also provided some commentary below for SSV3. We advise that you listen to it in its entirety while enjoying his behind-the-scenes notes.

Animals as Leaders

Q&A: Animals as Leaders

Animals as Leaders: WeightlessAnimals as Leaders: Weightless (Prosthetic, 11/8/11)

Animals as Leaders: “Odessa”

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In 2009, Animals as Leaders was a one-man prog-metal band that showcased guitar virtuoso Tosin Abasi’s prowess with an eight-string. Its self-titled debut challenged metal with its unique fusion of progressive, electronic, ambient, and jazz influences to contrast its heavy, djent-style riffs. This year, its sophomore album, Weightless, continues to expand this brand of metal — only now Abasi has help.

Initially recruited as the live band, guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Navene Koperweis have proven capable of keeping up with Abasi’s maniacal shredding. On tracks such as “An Infinite Regression” and “To Lead You to an Overwhelming Question,” Reyes’ ample rhythms and Koperweis’ polyrhythmic drumming play off of and provide pacing for Abasi’s wilder and seemingly limitless riffs. For both new members, Weightless is their studio debut, and their presence on the album marks the unmistakable difference between man and drum machine.

Abasi took a few moments from his busy touring schedule to speak with ALARM about the new album and the trio’s experiences in transitioning to a full band.

Tosin, you were self-taught up until a rather late point in your career. What motivated you to go to school for music? How has it changed the way that you think about and write music?

I decided to attend school because I felt that, although I had developed quite a bit of advanced technique on my own, I still had a lot of holes in my knowledge of the fretboard and general music theory as well. I was only in school for a year, but it was very valuable!

Why did you decide to make AAL a full band? How did the new dynamic affect the writing and recording experiences?

AAL became a full band by default from performing and touring together. The dynamic was great with writing the album. It’s nice to have your ideas expanded upon during the creative process. Usually, the result is beyond your initial conception.

Dub Trio

Q&A: Dub Trio

Dub Trio: IVDub Trio: IV (ROIR, 10/25/11)

Dub Trio: “Control Issues Controlling Your Mind”

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Since the release of their last studio album, Another Sound is Dying, the boys of Brooklyn-based dub-metal band Dub Trio have been busy touring extensively as well as working as the backing band for acts such as Matisyahu. But in that time, they’ve managed to get back in the studio to continue crafting their own distinct songs.

IV, the band’s latest release, is possibly their heaviest and most experimental album yet. It waxes and wanes between raw, thrashing metal and chilled-out ambience, highlighting the band’s versatility. And though the sound is far from reggae, it never fully departs from the dub genre. Listeners of IV should expect to hear “dub,” rather, as a concept: compositions are mangled and manipulated to explore different ideas and emotions.

Bassist Stu Brooks and drummer Joe Tomino took time out of their touring schedule to speak with ALARM about their latest album and about the evolution of their sound.

You’ve mentioned that much of the songwriting for this album was done on the road. What was that process like?

Joe Tomino: The first batch of songs for IV were written in Chavagne, France at the start of one of our previous European tours. We had a few days off before we started the tour, so we set up our equipment in a house and played all day. The next batch of songs was written several months later in Brooklyn. We rented a rehearsal space in for a few weeks and worked on more material. Finally, the last couple of songs were written in the studio. [We] actually wrote, recorded, and mixed in the same day. It was an interesting approach of having this discipline of going in to the studio with an idea and needing to come out with two completely finished songs within one day.

Though Another Sound is Dying took a noticeably heavier direction, IV is even more packed with riffs. Has the band’s hefty tour itinerary led to songs that have more live energy?

JT: As with all our tours, the songs we play from night to night are always evolving. There is enough inherent improvisation in our music that we can subtly change things from night to night or tour to tour. We always try to give the audience as much of a visceral experience as possible from stage. Since there are no lyrics or front-man talking between songs, we rely on energy to propel the performance. A Dub Trio show is like an emotional rollercoaster of sound.

There are fewer full-on dub moments on IV, but you added a few tracks that are completely different, including a “Dub Trio take” on dubstep, a minimalist percussion piece, and a nine-minute tune that starts with toy piano and goes ambient at the end. What else do you want to try that you haven’t yet?

JT: Not sure. We’ve covered a lot of ground, musically, between our four studio albums. These days we’re really enjoying playing a good, old-fashioned blues jam at sound check every chance we get. The other day we played a twelve-bar blues [piece] with some sub-bass keyboards, distorted and effected guitars, and some dubstep-sounding drum samples. We try not to set any limits on where the music will take us when we are composing new songs.

Darkness Falls

Q&A: Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls: Alive in UsDarkness Falls: Alive in Us (HFN Music, 10/25/11)

Darkness Falls: “Noise on the Line”

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Earlier this year, Danish dream-pop duo Darkness Falls released its first self-titled EP, a promising four-track introduction of haunting melodies and guitar tremolos. It succinctly showcased the duo’s style while unmistakably bearing the fingerprints of electronic producer Anders Trentemøller, who produced the EP.

Now the same creative forces have captivated us again with Alive in Us, Darkness Falls’ full-length debut album. Keyboardist/vocalist Josephine Philip and guitarist/bassist Ina Lindgreen playfully yet skillfully combine psychedelics, ’60s guitar twang, surf-rock reverb, pulsing synth pop, and hypnotic harmonies to produce a dynamic sound that’s both eerie and infectious — and uniquely their own.

The album twists and turns from beginning to end, teasing us with deliciously sweet, melancholic vocals like those featured in the acoustic dreamscape of “Noise on the Line,” before traversing into the creepy-cool B-movie-inspired “Hey!” Alive in Us demands multiple listens; when revisited, each track begins to unravel, each time revealing something new.

ALARM spoke with the duo about how it developed its sound and what lies ahead for Darkness Falls.

How did you begin making music together?

We have known each other for 10 years now. We used to play together in an all-girl Ska band called Favelachic. After Favelachic disbanded in 2005, Ina started at The National Film School of Denmark, and Josephine put out an album with singer Ane Trolle under the name of JaConfetti.

As we were sitting one day together, sipping white wine and talking about music — our likes and dislikes — we suddenly found that we were both curious about the same thing within music. We decided on the spot that we would start working together again. This was back in 2009.

How are each of you involved in the songwriting process?

Usually, Josephine writes the lyrics and creates the compositions, and Ina brings guitar themes and ideas. We finish the songwriting and final tune together. We have different temperaments, and we challenge and complement each other.

As a whole, Alive in Us maintains a haunting and psychedelic quality throughout, but “Hey!” stands out with a B-movie sort of vibe.  Was film an inspiration at all when writing this album? Are there any specific genres or filmmakers that have influenced you?

Film has definitely been an inspiration. We like the aesthetics of old black-and-white movies, and we have been watching a lot of old noir and Hitchcock movies. We both really enjoy movies from favorites filmmakers like David Lynch, James Jarmusch, Wim Wenders, Quentin Tarantino, and Gus Van Sant. Their movies all had an important impact while making the album.