Week in Pop: 2PPM, Buchanan, Distortion Mirrors, Jason Lescalleet, Parentz

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Asheville jazz, Australian anthems, indie LA, contemplative conversations, & Oakland future pop.

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Sjimon Gompers | August 23, 2013

Jason Lascalleet performing at the Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago. (courtesy of Lampo, photo of Buchanan by Dyllan Corbett)

Jason Lascalleet performing at the Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago. (courtesy of Lampo, photo of Buchanan by Dyllan Corbett)

Because Summer mainstream headlines are seriously bumming us all out about everything, Impose's Week in Pop scans the span of items of interest for your convenience and entertainment needs. This week, 2 Chainz got arrested for not getting off the tour bus for something like 9 hours, while Kendrick Lamar is raking in the Twitter followers post-“Control”, epic WikiLeaks contributor Bradley Manning announced his new gender dysphoria and handle of Chelsea Manning as he got handed his 35 year court-martialed prison sentence, and apparently someone is trying to clone John Lennon from a tooth. But have no fear dear listeners and loyal readers, as we bring you the folks who made our week exciting through conversations, sounds, endless discussions, and manifestos, all in no particular order.

Last week we introduced you to Northern Florida by Asheville, North Carolina's Chase Hudson and Sean Sullivan of 2PPM, otherwise known as 2 People Playing Music. Their recent released album Desert Country and Physics gives you the Roman numerics of “I-IV”, 4 movements recorded in a series of single take improvised sessions that pushes the conceptual framework of chemistry-genre containment that breaks the catchall confines of descriptions. Chase handles the piano and synthesizers with a synergy that plays off of Sean's percussion, together 2PPM curates their own self-styled approach to the idea of jazz, or post-jazz, or maybe post-post-jazz, or the no jazz sound territories of Desert Country that lends a new degree of physics for the 2 musicians. Their third release introduces the aspect of drum sequencing and live sampling and looping that enhances the latest develops of audio terrain where all the organic aspects remain intact but take on new uplifted lives in territories that exist beyond this writer's ability to convey the complex tropes of relayed audio expression.

Chase Hudson wrote us an incredible companion piece/manifesto combining both his and Sean Sullivan's expansive thoughts on the work of 2PPM. “These are my words”, Chase wrote to me, “but they do represent our feelings”. Prepare yourself to get schooled in the new realms from the musical progression-schools of tomorrow.

“Bill Evans described Jazz music as a process: 'The process of making one minute's music in one minute's time…anyone playing improvised music is essentially playing jazz.' That to me is the essence of jazz music, not that jazz is even a particular type of music, but that it is more so a process of making music. Generally speaking, people tend to think of jazz as an invariably annoying, regurgitated style, with an elitist vibe. I think of jazz as the core of American music. It has given us a vision of music with so much substance, and I tend to think that it is responsible for many elements of pop music that everyone seems to cherish. However, because of the stigmatization of jazz Sean and I seemed to embrace the idea of 'post-jazz', implying that we existed in a world after, but influenced, by jazz or something like that. I see now that without a doubt we are essentially playing jazz music, maybe not what one might refer to as, 'real jazz', but certainly jazz, and more specifically, free jazz, and avant-garde jazz. However, I don't mean to say that we are simply playing jazz. I like more the idea that what people are truly into are elements of music. All musical genres are exploiting the same elements of music that people find desirable, just presenting them in a way so that it matches their particular style. I like to think that we (2ppm) have contributed to Bill's jazz process concept by essentially playing jazz, but including elements of music from the late 80s and 90s that are also very natural to us, like hip-hop, house, post-rock, and many other forms of progressive music we've heard along the way. That being said, you could quite accurately describe our music as “new jazz”, that is, jazz that explores the most recent possibilities of sound; the same way artists like Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters were referred to as new jazz in the early 70s. It is a fitting title that is inherently malleable.

One of the founding principles of 2PPM was the idea of a spontaneous and pure flow of music, where we remain so open, and so dedicated to listening, that we allow some universal force to speak through us. From the very beginning, almost three years ago, improvisation has been perhaps the most natural form of performance for us. It has actually been a fairly new experience creating the more composed songs we have recorded, and plan on recording for future albums. Our recent release is the manifestation of our original idea for this group, something we've recently referred to as “purist house”, just as a description, and not so much as a means to classify. This concept is basically live looping of acoustic percussion, mixed with sequenced digital percussion and a diverse bed of sounds, with individual sound generators chosen specifically for their evocative nature, and a live human engaging each instrument. No pre-recorded samples. No laptop. Ever-evolving music with the unmatched (as far as we know) element of the human being. The most obvious enhancement from our previous method of performance is the ability to loop bass lines, allowing me to free up my left hand, which until now was mostly locked into the Ray Manzarek/Doors position. Besides being incredibly uncomfortable, this was difficult because adding layers would require me to grow extra limbs. But now, with the recent acquisition of a drum machine synced to a multi-track looper we have helped to maximize control of our music. As we improvise we can add and remove percussive and melodic layers with ease, allowing us to speak through our instruments like never before. We have settled in a new dimension of sound, the possibilities of song/phrase development have expanded to an unimaginable state. It is really quite exciting. And the most interesting part is that these recordings for Desert Country and Physics represent the absolute first four times we attempted performing in this style after conceptualizing for over three years. That is why they are appropriately named, I, II, III, and IV. ” -Chase Hudson

Australia's Buchanan bring about their rendition of the human experience in powerful ways that are poised to take over the world with anthemic, posi-pop. Fresh from a world that is experiencing the uprising from global 'spring's, protests, expressions of dissent, and statements of the self that break through the walls of suppression; frontman Josh Simons takes on the album challenge with the devout commitment to make their mark in the raging tide of upheavals. With a sound that grows in an altitude like the highest circus tent, Simons asks for alternative routes in requests to “show me another way” that breaks through the ambivalence and apathy that initiates a call to personal action and decisiveness with, “there's not better time to start”. As per always, the new sounds of young Australia continue to prove to be the world's latest aspects of encouragement and inspirations. Their album is available now worldwide via Bandcamp, and we have their Stateside title track premiere for you right here.

Buchanan's brain child Josh Simons took the time to talk with us about recording their first full-length, creating an optimistic response to the world's darkness, Australian cricket teams, and more.

After some 18 plus months of writing, recording, sweat tears and such; how was it working with and watching your labors of love get enhanced and further enriched from Catherine Marks and Tim Cross' production, Andy Baldwin's mixing and then the Abbey Road mastering treatment, a la Geoff Pesche?

Well we were incredibly lucky to get to work with almost all of our first choices for the production of this album. I really wanted a producer who was going to focus on the more traditional side of production – actually getting people in the room to perform and asking questions like 'how does this chord help tell your story?' rather than a producer who was just really clever in Pro Tools. We definitely got that with Catherine, and bringing in Andy and Geoff towards the end of the process ensured that sonically it was going to hold up and hopefully sound world class. They were also very collaborative and very much worked with the band on getting it to the finish line – it never felt like the album was teared away from my hands or from its roots.

Tell us about the titular track “Human Spring”, and the carpe diem ethic of 'making your mark' so to speak.

A lot of music at the moment is very dark – it seems like a lot of artists are trying to 'out-weird' each other and I think that's evident in not just the music world, but in all areas of life. The whole world is going through this weird transition period, and we're dealing with new issues like privacy and security. The whole point of our album and that track in particular was kind of like, 'fuck the darkness, let's make as optimistic a response we can and focus on the good in the world'. Ironically, a lot of the inspiration for the album came from some of that darker experimental music, but this was kind of like our response to that.

What for you were some of the constructive challenges of both writing and fleshing out your full-length debut, Human Spring?

Budget and time. We ended up working in about 7 studios to make this album because our time with Catherine was at the mercy of Foals recording schedule. The upside to that very stop-start process was that in between recording sessions we actually got to hit the rehearsal studio and learn to play these new songs as a band and take them out on the road. By the time we reached our final recording session the songs were finely tuned and we re-recorded nearly everything in two weeks, just playing it in as a band and not having to worry as much about overdubs and being clever in the computer.

We understand you abhor any referential, 'concept album' tags [don't blame you, ha], but what were some of the driving constants and conceptual processing and frameworks[and/or lack thereof] in the making of Human Spring?

We definitely worked under a very specific conceptual framework. I wrote this short story on our studio whiteboard about an imaginary revolution. Every time we were stuck for inspiration, whether it was a decision about artwork, the sonics of a song, or a lyric choice, we could come back to this story and it helped give the album a sense of cohesion, which is something we strived for from day one. It was a nice little experiment for this album and we're pretty happy with how it worked out.

What are some of the raddest things about the AU that none of us Yanks or outsiders know about?

A few years ago I might have said something about how great our cricket team is, but after another embarrassing loss to the Poms I'm not so sure?! We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and, particularly up north, there are places that are hot all year round that look and feel like tropical islands! It's a very lucky country to live in, really.

LA's Distortion Mirrors caught our attention with their track “Death By Love” the other week, and this week rocked us with the homecoming pop pedals of “Prom Queen” off their new album, Zeros and Kings. The Mirrors began as a solo project of Lukas Worle that became complete with the addition of Josiah Brooks' multi-talented gifts that turn their fuzz medals into machines that emulate the titans of surrounding musical industries while striking chords of their own autonomy in the fray of fuzz and seas of clamoring buzz. “Prom Queen” takes you back to those awkward dances, where the tiaras are discarded for the superficiality of the pomp and circumstance that most are forced to go and grow through during the so-called, 'time of your life'. Eschewing the limo ride of superficial royalty, “Death By Love” encompasses the vision that the progenitors of noise pop saw back in the 80s, probably somewhere around the time Bob Mould would trade in the accomplishments of H

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