VeryRecords: Reed & Caroline ‘Hello Science’ album – released July 6 2018 (Press Release)

VERYRECORDS is pleased to announce the release of Hello Science, the second album from New York and Berkeley electronic duo REED & CAROLINE. The album will be released on JULY 6 2018.

“Formulate hypotheses and gather all the facts – it’s science! It’s all about science!”
Reed & Caroline, ‘It’s Science’

Reed Hays and Caroline Schutz will release their second album through Vince Clarke’s VeryRecords on July 6 2018. Titled Hello Science, the album is the follow-up to 2016’s Buchla & Singing. For clarity, this record also contains plenty of Buchla and singing. And a cello. Oh, and a Vako Orchestron too.

If the title of Reed & Caroline’s debut made it completely clear what it was all about, the subject matter of Hello Science is again immediately apparent. Consisting of twelve songs written by Reed Hays and sung by Caroline Schutz, the inspiration behind the album can be summed up by the album’s grandiose centrepiece ‘It’s All About Science’, because it literally is all about science – at least on the surface.

Hays, who grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, a town where rocket scientists decamped from Europe after the Second World War, fills these songs with intensively-researched references to science and technology – the good, the forgotten and the downright frightening – but he does so in a way that reveals their underlying meaning to be something altogether more profound. Themes of grief, loss, the squandering of the Earth’s resources, our diminished personal privacy, data manipulation and exploiting web-connected home appliances prevail in the album’s songs, but yet they’re disguised as accessible pop tracks.

“Somewhere along the line I realised that my love of science is something spiritual and optimistic,” explains Reed Hays. “In these troubling political times, people are putting science into question. It’s almost like a faith that’s being outlawed. Because of that ‘Hello Science’ became really personal for me.”

The album opens with the contemplative electronics and strings of ‘Before’, a timely treatise on the finite nature of everything on this planet we call home, as well as playfully reminding the listener of their very corporeal impermanence. The urgent post-punk / New Wave-influenced ‘Dark Matter’, featuring bass and vocals from Ayse Hassan and Kendra Frost of Kite-Base (supporting Nine Inch Nails this fall) comes with a succinct enquiry of a chorus – “Does dark matter matter?” – while the ominous, prowling synths of ‘Entropy’ shroud the anguish of a departed friend in chaos theory.

“Reed really uses science as a way to cope with things,” says Caroline Schutz. “It’s a way of making yourself feel better about those issues by looking at them from a scientific perspective.” The exception to such deep catharsis is the blissfully upbeat ‘Ocean’, co-written with Schutz’s pre-teen daughter, a track filled with fluid synths and euphoric Buchla 100 handclaps.

Hello Science is an album rich with contradictions, where contemporary concerns are executed with decades old (and centuries old) musical equipment, where songs that celebrate the overlooked women computers that powered NASA’s early space endeavours and songs that celebrate the perforated printer paper you drew on as a kid can coexist. Yes, it’s all about science – but it’s also human too.

Reed & Caroline will support Erasure on all dates of their North American tour, which commences in Miami on July 6.

Hello Science will be released as a download, stream and CD via www.veryrecords.com.

Track listing

1. Before
2. Dark Matter
3. Buoyancy
4. Another Solar System
5. It’s Science
6. Digital Trash
7. Ocean
8. Entropy
9. Computers
10. Internet Of Things
11. Continuous Interfold
12. Metatron
13. Before (Vince Clarke Remix)

Credits

Caroline Schutz – vocals
Reed Hays – Buchla, Orchestron, cello
Ayse Hassan & Kendra Frost – bass and background vocals on ‘Dark Matter’
Harriett Hays – Russian vocals on ‘Internet Of Things’

Synth corner: Reed Hays on the Orchestron

It may not look like much, but the Vako Orchestron was intended as a portable alternative to the Mellotron. This thing was more the size of an organ and instead of tapes it uses clear plastic discs, and each concentric groove on the disc is a different note.

Kraftwerk used an Orchestron on three of their albums. It creates a very scratchy, low-bandwidth sound. It’s the source of the strings on ‘Trans-Europe Express’ and the the choir on ‘Radio-Activity’, both of which are very unique sounds. They were the only band to really run with it.

The Orchestron is basically a turntable with a lightbulb inside, and a motor. Every key you press opens a little window and a light shines on part of the disc. It’s got such an eery, haunting sound. It’s just so kooky, a technology that’s so linked to one tiny little era in the mid-70s.

For Hello Science Caroline sang every note on the keyboard, and we made a bunch of optical discs from those recordings using the original Orchestron factory equipment through a guy called Pea Hicks. It’s truly amazing that he’s kept that equipment alive. That opened up all sorts of possibilities for adding really interesting vocal sounds to some of the tracks by reducing Caroline to little optical floppy discs. I told Vince about it and he thought I was completely insane, like ‘Can’t you just get samples of all that instead?’.

Reed & Caroline biography

Reed Hays first used the Buchla Electric Music Box after hiding in an empty harp case in the basement of Oberlin College and sneaking into the electronic music lab after hours. Caroline Schutz, an art major, became an accomplished singer and musician in her post-Oberlin days with her bands Folksongs For The Afterlife and The Inner Banks. By sheer chance, Reed and Caroline’s first synthesizer and vocal collaboration became the score for a number of L’Oreal hair commercials.

Their first album, Buchla & Singing was released by VeryRecords in October 2016.

About VeryRecords

VeryRecords was founded in Brooklyn by Erasure’s Vince Clarke in 2016. We are a small record label dedicated to releasing very fine electronic music. The label was launched with 2 Square by Vince Clarke and Paul Hartnoll, which was then followed by releases from Reed & Caroline (Buchla & Singing, 2016) and Alka (The Colour Of Terrible Crystal, 2017).

“Shaping up as a label to keep a serious ear on.” – Electronic Sound

Press release (c) 2018 Mat Smith for VeryRecords

Advertisements

Voodoo Child – The End Of Everything (Trophy Records album, 1996)

The first album from Moby‘s Voodoo Child alias comes with a title that, like other things released by Richard Melville Hall around this time, is hardly filled with optimism. His first Moby album for Mute was titled Everything Is Wrong, he released a single under the alias Lopez around this time with the title ‘Why Can’t It Stop?’ and Animal Rights, whilst not necessarily negatively-titled, was filled with a real sense of bitterness, anger, disbelief and unbridled rage. I may very possibly have dreamed this, but I seem to remember reading that around this time Moby split up with his long-term girlfriend and so who knows whether these titles reflect a slightly embittered state of mind – lots of the titles on this album are suffixed by the word ‘love’, so it could be true. Equally, we know Moby is a huge fan of Joy Division, a band that made being miserable a career option.

In any case, for all the pessimism of that title, the sleeve images – aside from the gust of wind blowing at the palm tree on the front cover – are actually pretty tranquil. True, there’s no-one in the pictures, and sure, the unpredictability of the ocean can inspire fear in lots of people, but it looks like a nice enough beach. The sense of peacefulness I take from the images are a decent enough clue to the music on The End Of Everything. It doesn’t look like the worst sort of end to me.

Moby has done ambient before – a whole album of the stuff back in the Instinct days, the remix of ‘Hymn’, the bonus Underwater album that accompanied Everything Is Wrong, soundtrack stuff and plenty of other things since – but he’s never done anything like The End Of Everything. This is fragile, emotive electronica dominated by crisp beats, noodling layers of liquid synth modulation and those trademark string lines that really started to sound like a proper orchestra here rather than the occasionally bad looping evident on other Moby records.

‘Patient Love’ is what happens when the intro to Kraftwerk‘s ‘Neon Lights’ doesn’t suddenly open out into a shimmering cinematic pop soirée; instead this is gentle, lilting synth pop with all the analogue wobbliness an electronic music fan could ever need in their lives, and a patient, slowly-developing progress that seems several worlds away from the freneticism of earlier Voodoo Child tracks. It’s also rather jolly, in a wonky sort of way, though a sequence of unexpected chord changes around the halfway mark muck around with your senses cruelly. ‘Great Lake’ is ‘Go’ all over again, just with chiming synth notes and jazzy piano sprinkles struggling to know where they’re supposed to be heading, and that classic Moby moment deconstructed into the territory of textured nuance.

Elsewhere it’s all serene washes of colour, those heart-wrenching strings, gentle phasing, meditative bass lines, clusters of devastatingly accomplished piano sprinkles and beats that chug along wearily like they’ve been burned out from too many nights of intensive partying. Yes, there are moments of darkness that befit the mood evoked in the title of the album (‘Slow Motion Suicide’, somewhat predictably, is pretty bleak), but generally this is a slick, absorbing collection of listening electronica with enough quiet flair and looseness to separate it comfortably from the bland direction that some ambient music opted to take.

All taken together, The End Of Everything feels a lot like watching a big screen blockbuster on a mobile phone – it somehow seems far too bold and expansive a body of work to have been delivered as a low-key side project; it needs, almost demands, a larger presence than it rather anonymously has. Consequently, it stands as one of the most discreetly accomplished, enduring and satisfying releases in the entire Moby back catalogue. The End Of Everything was released on Moby’s Trophy Records sub-label of Mute and the US version of the album featured a different tracklist. In a typical Moby act of self-depreciation, the catalogue number for the Trophy release was idiot1. The inside of the sleeve includes a brief and heartfelt mini-essay from Moby on animal welfare.

First published 2013; re-posted 2018

(c) Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

Parallax – Push For The Love Of Life (Mute Records single, 1993)

According to something I read back in 1993, Mute had not signed any new artists to the label for some time, the last new artist being Moby who joined the label the year before. Parallax, whose first single ‘Push For The Love Of Life’ was released by Mute that summer, were supposed to be Mute’s hot new talent. The project of Jason Young, Parallax were a bratty outfit grappling with the vernacular of hardcore rave, mixing those sounds with harsh industrial noise blasts and the type of rapping favoured by the likes of Pop Will Eat Itself. ‘Push For The Love Of Life’ would prove to be one of just two singles released by the band before promptly disbanding. ‘Push For The Love Of Life’ was written and produced by Jason Young and engineered by Julian Briottet, brother of Renegade Soundwave‘s Danny Briottet.

Though at times it feels barely a fraction above demo quality, ‘Push For The Love Of Life’ remains a personal favourite. The song is characterised by a frantic (if far too quiet) 4/4 drum rhythm and urgent bass line. Over that Young drops in a concise array of droning sounds, rave whistles, sampled snarling metal guitar, sirens and so on, topped off by impassioned and defiant rap. Whilst this brand of agit-rap hasn’t aged terribly well, there is a desperate quality to it, the track ending with a frustrated ‘never let go‘ from the frontman. In addition to the main single-length Savage Mix, the 12” and CD also features two further versions – the Valentine Mix and an instrumental version (credited on the promo 12” as an extended instrumental mix). The Valentine Mix ditches the vocal and adds acid-style synths which would give this mix a dancefloor appeal were it not for the simplicity and lack of club-friendly punch that characterises the track’s beat. Some ‘Join In The Chant’-style insistent howling is a nice touch and there’s still nothing quite so thrilling to me as a 303 sound operating on the edge of being out of control.

The release is rounded off by a demo version of the track ‘No Concept’ which was mixed by Paul ‘PK’ Kendall. Someone has said that the track samples Faith No More’s ‘Crack Hitler’ but I wouldn’t be able to verify that. ‘No Concept’ has a nice breakbeat, droning washes of nagging feedback and a distorted rap that feels like it would have suited Nitzer Ebb‘s Douglas McCarthy. There’s a sense of dystopian helplessness on this track, signalling the rise in quality that would characterise Parallax’s second (and final) release, the Bullet-Proof Zero EP.

First published 2012; re-posted 2018.

(c) 2012 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

Frank Tovey & The Pyros – Grand Union (Mute Records album, 1991)

1991’s Grand Union should by rights be lauded as a masterpiece of alternative rock, however Frank Tovey’s reclusive persona ensured that this overlooked gem has slipped through the net. Produced with PK (Paul Kendall), the album is both musically and lyrically enveloping. Something of a ‘concept’ album, Grand Union is ostensibly a collection of skiffly, folksy and vaguely country tracks accompanied by Tovey’s East End stories of the old, the new and the salient. There are many themes here, but one gets the impression that Tovey’s vision of a re-developing East End, with Canary Wharf’s landscape-altering construction in full swing, and the docks that made Britain what it once was turned into luxury restaurants and appartments invoked in him some sort of passion to head back in time and preserve the dirty Docklands spleandour of old in song.

At times melancholy (the WW2-recounting tale on ‘Bethnal Green Tube Disaster’), at others joyful in a ramshackle fashion (the opener ‘Bad Day In Bow Creek’), the album is largely subtle and blissfully easy on the ear. Semi-acoustic guitars, banjos and clever percussion evoke all manner of moods, and when they head into indie-rock territory, as on the Morrissey-esque ‘Cities Of The Vain’, The PyrosPaul Rodden (banjos and guitars), John Cutliffe (bass and acoustic guitars, plus strings on the closing track ‘The Great Attractor’) and Charlie Llewellyn (drums, percussion) – more than prove their adaptability around Tovey’s poetic lyrics. Additional contributions come from Steve Smith on various keyboards, Tracey Booth (bodhran on ‘IKB (RIP)’) and Elliot Carnegie, who plays Jew’s harp on the opener, ‘Bad Day In Bow Creek’. Somewhat more unusual, Tozie Lynch is credited with ‘bones’ on the same track. One imagines those bones may be among the detritus dredged up by the great Thames on a daily basis.

It is actually quite fantastic to hear just how well some primitive music forms lend themselves so well to Tovey’s Cockney vocals. His vocal is somewhere between Wreckless Eric and James’ Tim Booth, both folk and punk at the same time. His hero-worship of the great pioneering British engineer Isembard Kingdom Brunel on ‘IKB (RIP)’ is one of this album’s many high points, a time-travelling trip that leaves the grey towerblock-dominated modern London skylines far behind to witness at first hand the master engineer’s many achievements. And while we’re on the subject of masterful achievements, Paul Kendall’s excellent productions deserve a special mention. Best known for his electronic production for many Mute artists, PK brings a depth and precision to these tracks, using occasional effects with considerable restraint, but pushing the rhythm high up in the mix in an echo of his work with Nitzer Ebb.

With Grand Union, I continue to be impressed by the quality of songwriting, playing and production on display here. Intensely captivating and wonderfully unique, it is difficult to hear it without feeling some great sadness over the fact that the erstwhile Fad Gadget is no longer with us. A truly emotive gem, filled with grief, joy and a yearning for simpler times. Ironically, I wrote this while heading glumly toward my own shiny modern City offices on a train wildly rushing through some of the tunnels that Brunel’s colleagues were famed for.

First published 2003; re-posted 2018

(c) 2003 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

VeryRecords Artists Reed & Caroline Reveal New Track ‘Before’

VeryRecords artists Reed Hays & Caroline Schutz have unveiled the first track to be taken from their second album Hello Science. The album will be released by Vince Clarke‘s VeryRecords on July 6 2018.

(c) 2018 VeryRecords

VeryRecords Artist Alka Remixes Roger O’Donnell’s ‘This Grey Morning’

Bryan Michael, better known as Philadelphia electronic musician and vintage synth restorer Alka, has remixed ‘This Grey Morning’ by Cure keyboard player Roger O’Donnell. The track originally appeared on O’Donnell’s 2005 album The Truth In Me.

Whereas O’Donnell’s original was all weightless, occluded synth texture and ethereal vocal dreaminess, in Alka’s hands the track becomes a brooding, edgy cut driven by fat low-end and a mechanical rhythm. Listen to the remix on Soundcloud here or below.

It isn’t the first time that Alka and O’Donnell have collaborated. “During his time away from The Cure, Roger started his own label and was looking for tracks for a compilation,” recalls Michael. “This was back in the MySpace days. I sent him a couple tracks and he loved them, and even bumped some folks off the album so that he could include me.” Bryan Michael went on to work with O’Donnell on his 2008 album Songs From The Silver Box, contributing synths and drum programming to three tracks on the Moog-laden LP. The pair have also worked on other tracks together more recently which have not yet seen the light of day.

Alka’s critically-received third album, The Colour Of Terrible Crystal, was released by Vince Clarke’s VeryRecords in 2017. Listen to The Colour Of Terrible Crystal on Spotify here.

My interview with Alka about The Colour Of Terrible Crystal can be found at the VeryRecords website.

(c) 2018 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

Electronic Sound Issue 42 – Mute Cover Feature & The Normal Clear Vinyl 7″

ES42_BUNDLE-SQUARE

Electronic Sound have today announced their Mute-focussed latest issue, featuring a major new interview with Daniel Miller and an exclusive clear vinyl pressing of The Normal‘s ‘Warm Leatherette / T.V.O.D.’ 7″.

The issue also features a rundown of Mute’s 2018 artist roster and a new interview with the longest-serving member of the Mute community, Erasure‘s Vince Clarke, wherein he talks about joining the label with Depeche Mode, Miller’s influence on him as an electronic musician, and how he approaches running his own label, VeryRecords.

The full announcement from Electronic Sound is included below.

“I honestly didn’t think anybody would like it,” says Daniel Miller, talking about The Normal’s ‘TVOD’ / ‘Warm Leatherette’, which we are delighted to be reissuing with this issue of Electronic Sound. While The Normal was where Mute Records all started, this month’s cover story finds Daniel Miller discussing how his label is shaping up for the future. We also profile the artists that make up Mute’s Class of 2018, as well as catching up with Vince Clarke, a man who has only ever been signed to one label for his entire recording career. Click here to order now.

This issue also includes a rare interview with David Sylvian, discussing his soon-to-be reissued work with Can’s Holger Czukay, a chat with Finiflex, the artists formerly known as Finitribe, and a drinking session with post-punkers Sink Ya Teeth, who put us under the table. Elsewhere, we speak to Klaus Schulze, Claudia Brücken & Jerome Froese, The Orb, A Flock Of Seagulls and LUMP, a new project from indie folkster Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay. Plus there’s our usual bumper mix of tech, toys, books, gadgets and, of course, the very latest must-hear album releases.

This month’s exclusive music offer is a limited edition reissue of The Normal’s ‘TVOD’ and ‘Warm Leatherette’ seven-inch on crystal clear vinyl. Recorded by Daniel Miller using just a Korg 700S and a four-track tape machine, the single was the first release on Mute Records and is recognised as one of the most important electronic music records ever. Our reissue comes in a replica of the original 1978 picture sleeve. Click here to order now.

(c) 2018 Electronic Sound