Dear Laika Announces ‘Pluperfect Mind’ out 10/29 🕊

Dear Laika (the 23-year-old UK-based musician Isabelle “Izzy” Thorn) today announced her new album and label debut, Pluperfect Mind, will be released October 29, 2021 via NNA Tapes and Memorials of Distinction. Pluperfect Mind is an extraordinary creation—a beautiful and singular oddity which exists in the liminal space between dreamworlds and a blurry, watercoloured version of reality. It is a reflection on the past few years of Izzy’s life, during which she sought solitude in the North Wessex Downs while beginning her gender transition.

Alongside the announcement, Dear Laika has shared the emotional zenith of the album, “Black Moon, Lilith”, a song about desire, its reckoning and its actualization from a trans lesbian perspective. “There’s a common experience among gay people of seeing someone of the same gender and questioning if you’re attracted to them or if you want to look like them. This is a psychological and emotional quandary that must be resolved,” says Izzy. Utilizing angelic vocal harmonies, slowly blossoming piano and the distinctive warmth of the Roland Juno 106s, Dear Laika poetically expresses the over-thinking and over-feeling associated with this phenomenon in an otherworldly art pop gem evocative of Kate Bush.

A consistent theme of Pluperfect Mind is isolation, both from other people and from parts of herself, and the intention to overcome anxieties and reconnect. Pluperfect Mind also chronicles aspects of Izzy’s own transgender experience, from the painful tedium of waiting for hormone treatment, to the elation of finally inhabiting a body that feels right. It captures the sense of being cast adrift between an uncomfortable past and an uncertain future, living outside of heteronormativity and caught in “queer time”. Izzy’s mercurial songwriting aims to suspend the perception of time, allowing the listener to inhabit an immersive half-lit world of mystical landscapes, volatile atmospheres and shifting rhythms.

Having grown up singing in church choirs and listening to classical music, those influences can still be heard in Izzy’s music now. Although she rarely listens to classical music nowadays, the rich harmonies of composers such as Messiaen, Finzi and Ravel have left an indelible mark on her own writing, and she freely mutates samples of Bach and Beethoven beyond recognition. During her transition, making the shift from baritone to alto, she was captivated and inspired by the expressive intensity of Vashti Bunyan, Kristin Hayter and FKA twigs; her own clear, keening vocals soar throughout Pluperfect Mind, breathy and otherworldly. She whispers French poetry and lilts over lines about warped memories, exploring her inner world with gentle ruminations on love, hormone therapy and dreams.

Pluperfect Mind is a beguiling collection of vivid lyrics and celestial song, built around piano (sometimes prepared with screws), strings, choirs and synths, and bound together with digital glitch and field recordings. Comparisons can be made to Björk, Tim Hecker or Bat For Lashes, but ultimately, Dear Laika’s exploration of the experimental and the mystical builds something intricate and intimate that is truly original and bewitching.

Pluperfect Mind is out October 29, 2021 via Memorials of Distinction (UK) & NNA Tapes (ROW). Read the full bio and preorder the album on digital / cassette / vinyl here.

Out Now: Sally Decker’s ‘In The Tender Dream’ 🌛

NNA Tapes is thrilled to reveal ‘In The Tender Dream’ in full, today—the profound new album from the Oakland, CA based composer, performer, and writer Sally Decker. In the record’s distended drones, chattering poetry, cosmic synth work, and gentle ambiance, Decker dives back and forth between chaos and order, turmoil and respite. There are stormy feelings captured in these pieces, but there’s peace too if you’re willing to listen for it.

Decker’s first offering was “The Loss,” accompanied by a video made in close collaboration with Emily Chao in which “rephotographed landscapes emerge from the shadows in a confrontation of self.” Then came the buzzing and euphoric titular centerpiece, followed by Affirmation Pt. II”, a track about the drama and messiness of relating to another person, but also the joy and magic of falling in love.

‘In The Tender Dream’ is available now on Compact Disc, Cassette, and Digital formats.

“In The Tender Dream steps up the intensity of her mesmerizing concoctions”
–Ears To Feed

“Recognisable as a long, dark night of the soul, In The Tender Dream is alive with the elastic, unexpected results of acquiescing control to the subconscious, and trusting in process rather than result.”
–Wire

“Sally Decker switches between feedback and blissful ambiences on In The Tender Dream, as though she’s trying to echolocate the self with the sheer force of vibrant sound.”
–The Quietus

Sally Decker (FKA Multa Nox) Announces New Album ‘In The Tender Dream’

Sally Decker (credit: Nathan Kosta)

 

Sally Decker—the Oakland, CA based composer, performer, writer, and Mills College graduate—today announced her new album In The Tender Dream will release August 13, 2021 with NNA TapesAlongside the announcement comes the ominous lead preview “The Loss” which is accompanied by a video by Emily Chao, made in close collaboration with Decker. The two provide this synopsis of the video: “Rephotographed landscapes emerge from the shadows in a confrontation of self.” The video debuted earlier today via Foxy Digitalis and the track is now available to stream here.

“This song came at the brink of a new understanding around acceptance,” says Decker. “Understanding that doesn’t necessarily take place in felt experience, but at least in the glimmers of seeing an alternate reality you want to move toward. The first impulse that brought this track out of me was wanting to express the visceral pain of longing, the wound of self-abandonment, feeling the core of yourself just totally not there. The power the voice finds is through honest confrontation with the reality of what has been neglected in the shadow, what has not been fully grieved. Wishing for change, hoping for another reality (past or present) that isn’t aligned with the reality that occurred or is occurring, is a sure way to be stuck in that place of longing and helplessness. Acceptance will ultimately set you free. The voice in the song starts to understand this, and accumulates power through orienting toward this possibility.”

 

Sally Decker

Sally Decker has been learning to let go. When working on the pieces that make up her new album In The Tender Dream—her first under her own name—she worked heavily with feedback, a tool that helped her learn it was okay to not be in control. By their nature, feedback systems are unwieldy and unpredictable, but over time, she came to see resonance and meaning in the wavering static and unruly drones. Learning to work with these systems became a metaphor for the way she was learning to move through the world. She was beginning to understand how to embrace change, to find stability in a turbulent internal landscape.

“Being in that space of the unknown was terrifying in a lot of ways,” Decker explains. “But it felt important. I felt drawn to it.”

In the record’s distended drones, chattering poetry, cosmic synth work, and gentle ambiance, Decker dives back and forth between chaos and order, turmoil and respite. Prickly, pointillist pieces like the title track give way to more restful moments like the centered, self-assured “Affirmation,” a balance that echoes Decker’s realizations about feedback. There are stormy feelings captured in these pieces, but there’s peace too if you’re willing to listen for it.

The ideas behind In The Tender Dream first took shape when Decker moved to Oakland to attend Mills College. Drawn, in part, by the communitarian nature of the program, she went through an intense period of personal and artistic growth. Challenged by mentors to experiment and delve deep, she found her way to these feedback systems, and to new ways of making art that felt intensely personal. Exploring the ache of codependency, straining deeply for self-worth on her own terms, she crafted pieces that helped her process her most intimate feelings.

In a way, In the Tender Dream is an extension of the work Decker has done all along, including the meditative electronic pieces she made as Multa Nox. Her full-length debut Living Pearl, released in 2017 on NNA Tapes, was itself a dreamy, internal record, revealing the vibrant, varied emotional potential of her slow-moving music. In the Tender Dream again finds her inhabiting this contemplative space, but the work feels more human, more present. “I used to try to track the narrative of an emotion in a piece,” she explains. “Now it’s like, how can I work out this emotional thing in the process of sculpting the sound itself?”

It was a big shift, in part because her time at Mills lent her a new understanding of performance, improvisation, and the potential of generative systems within electronic music, but also because, for the first time, she’s foregrounding the human voice. Decker has often slipped snippets of her voice into her compositions, but there are a series of text-sound meditations on In The Tender Dream that lay bare the emotional content of the record. Working with vocalists Briana Marela and Emily Cardwell, she puts face to the shifting emotions—a voice rising from the thick mist of her feedback-laden compositions. Drawing on her background as a writer, she put words to the feelings that for so many, for so long, remain shapeless and unsettled. Taming the feedback is an emotional journey of its own, but coupled with these lucid monologues and affirmations, In The Tender Dream feels vulnerable and intense, like locking eyes with a stranger across a room, taking a breath, and staring deeply.

Announcing ~ Ben Seretan ‘Cicada Waves’ [NNA-139]

Today, Ben Seretan announced Cicada Waves — the musician and composer’s first proper instrumental release since 2018’s enormous My Life’s Work (a 24-hour long album recorded over three consecutive nights, sunset to sunrise). Cicada Waves directly follows Seretan’s acclaimed album of songs, Youth Pastoral, which earned Best of 2020 accolades from Pitchfork (35 Best Rock Albums of the Year) and Paste Magazine (Best Songs of 2020, Best Albums of 2020).

In Seretan’s own words: “I’ve got a new album coming out next month! It’s a collection of serene, barely-there piano improvisations recorded last summer in the riotously noisy woods of the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains.”

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the release, Seretan will share a new track alongside accompanying videos and essayic writing via his regular newsletter. The weekly rollout starts today with the serene album closer “Fog Rolls Out Rabun Gap”, a title which nods to the album’s remote recording location in Georgia.

The release of Cicada Waves on April 30th, 2021 will coincide with another release: the arrival of the once-every-17-year Brood X cicada, one of the world’s largest swarms of the noisy insects.

Out Now: Rachika Nayar – Our Hands Against The Dusk [NNA-136]

“As expansive as it is intimate… Magnificent music full of abstract memories and synthesized, manipulated sounds that function as a two-way mirror.”
Bandcamp (Album of the Day)

“As the song progresses, endless variations of the sample emerge and collide like particles in an accelerator, assuming unexpected forms as they build towards clarity… a meditation on the potential of interpersonal touch.”
Pitchfork (on “The Trembling of Glass”)

“Through all the wonderful textures, there’s an essence that doesn’t need to be explained, it can just be felt.”
The Quietus

“Delicate but powerful, evoking the feeling of recollection in every wavering beat.”
WIRE

 

The debut full-length from ambient-electronic musician Rachika Nayar, Our Hands Against the Dusk, is animated by the experience of “touch—not just caress, but encounters, collisions, and the point of contact between worlds. Composed over four years from digitally processing a combination of textured guitar loops, shimmering synthesizer crescendos, and orchestral strings, the album synthesizes a range of genres—modern composers, deconstructive electronic, even Midwestern emo and beyond. It’s a shifting stylistic bent that reflects a queer life woven between ever-evolving identities, discourses, and spaces as a trans-feminine Indian American.

The diverse influences are visible on longer tracks such as “Losing Too Is Still Ours,” which extends from rippling guitar figures and keening vocals to methodic, marching strings. Such titles reference a range of personal and cultural images—a Rainer Maria Rilke poem of great personal importance, an Indian mystic at whose Pondicherry ashram a family member had a moment of Hindu “darshan,” and other vivid motifs.

For Nayar, the album’s fluid but always deeply felt form is thus a way of translating that which could never be summed up with static names, words, or feelings. To that end, Our Hands Against the Dusk mines the flux and discontinuity of experience as fertile ground. Nayar’s debut invites us to join alongside it in thinking beyond metanarratives, as musical and emotional histories touch in its twilight space and refract into a multifaceted whole. In that endeavor, Our Hands Against the Dusk is an embrace and a hope.

Available through Bandcamp & our web store, and at select indie record stores.

Ben Seretan

During an artist residency in the thick of the pandemic, tucked away in a dance studio at the base of the Appalachian mountains, Ben Seretan set out to finally make the piano recordings he had always wanted to make: pristine, clean, ringing, indeterminate. For two weeks he would be alone with an antique Steinway—a blessing that, in spite of an unexpected, globally tragic, and tremendously surreal circumstance, miraculously remained possible. 

But “silence” and even “peace and quiet” are slippery, man-made illusions that we can never quite grab hold of, and this proved to be especially true in the woods. The environs there were riotous, almost joyously noisy; the old wood creaking with rot, rain pelting the roof five times a day, rolling thunder. And then there was the breathtaking presence of critters; hissing feral cats, fiddling crickets, birds belting their songs every morning and, ever-presently, the sea of cicadas—enormous swarms of them—so loud and so multidirectional, as though they might try to lift the concert piano right off of the earth.

“It was clear the moment I hit ‘record’ that any sound I captured from the piano would always carry some other sound with it. There would be no silence whatsoever. So I gave in—I threw open the windows and let the world in.”

Cicada Waves, then, is the sound of allowance. It’s the sound of room being made, of guards being dropped, of adaptation. It’s more often than not the sound of a piano *not* being played. It’s the sound of wings or wind or water doing what they will.

These recordings are shared with as little artifice as possible; there are no edits or comped parts, no mixing, no second takes. The album is, more or less, simply and exactly the sounds that happened in the world at that moment, as chaotic and full of sound as they ought to be.

New Video: Elif Yalvaç – “Brocken Spectre” 🏔

Elif Yalvaç (@hazalelifyalvac) had a chat with writer/editor Robert Ham for an exclusive interview about her new album ‘Mountains Become Stepping Stones,’ out now ➕ see the incredible new video for the album’s opening track, “Brocken Spectre,” by Jason Arber — Curated Doom.

Check out the interview at The Voice of Energy.

Rachika Nayar Shares Dreamlike Single/Video “Losing Too Is Still Ours” 🌀

Today, Brooklyn-based ambient-electronic composer and A/V artist Rachika Nayar (IG: @benstillerilluminati) reveals a hazily-impressionistic music video for her new single “Losing Too Is Still Ours.”

Rachika’s self-directed, dreamlike video evokes poetic imagery of interpersonal experiences, isolation, memory, mystery and transformation.

‘Our Hands Against The Dusk’ is out with NNA Tapes on March 5.

Pre-Order it Here.

Rachika Nayar Announces Debut Album ‘Our Hands Against The Dusk’ out March 5th — Listen To Lead Track “The Trembling of Glass”

Today, Brooklyn-based ambient-electronic composer Rachika Nayar (formerly Rachika S.) announced her debut full-length album, Our Hands Against The Duskand shared the deeply moving lead single “The Trembling of Glass.”

On the track Nayar explains: “I arranged nearly the entire song from processing one guitar progression into a bunch of different sounds—which then reveals itself in its raw form at the end of the piece from beneath the fog of all those textural mirrors. For myself, listening to it brings to mind: Nostalgia. Memory. Pulling back the veil, and the painful clarity of seeing yourself anew.”

Our Hands Against the Dusk is a kaleidoscopic release built from textured guitar loops, shimmering synthesizer crescendos, lyrical piano, and orchestral strings — all digitally processed and threaded through multiple genres, including ambient, emo, electronic, and contemporary classical. The album’s fluid but deeply felt through-line represents Nayar’s navigation through the many musical and human communities she has been a part of as an Indian-American trans person. Written over the past four years, Nayar’s debut full-length winds through vivid personal moments — ecstasy, ambivalence, grief, and calm — via the composer’s protean musical voice.

Our Hands Against The Dusk will be released March 5, 2021 on cassette and digital formats.

Tracklist
1. The Trembling of Glass
2. Losing Too Is Still Ours (feat. YATTA)
3. Marigolds Tulsi
4. The Edges
5. New Strands
6. A Burning Plain
7. Aurobindo
8. No Future (feat. Zeelie Brown)

Rachika Nayar

The debut full-length from ambient-electronic composer Rachika Nayar, Our Hands Against the Dusk, is a kaleidoscopic and inventive release—but it’s far from cerebral. In mid-2019, the Brooklyn-based artist chose the cover image (a still of her hands entwined with a friends’) from an old collaborative project. Along with the title (lifted from a Richard Jackson poem), the image of “touch” alludes to the deeply (inter)personal experiences that animated the album over the four years it was written: not just caress, but encounters and collisions.

Her compositional process similarly begins with a moment of touch: her fingers on the fretboard. Songs are built from guitar loops that are then digitally processed into endless new shapes as they are combined and threaded through multiple genres and emotions. Track five, “New Strands,” suggests this process in miniature, as a stuttering, close-mic’d guitar plays out into soaring shimmers of reverb and granular processing.

Such moments are hard to imagine separately from the blue fluorescence of Nayar’s vivid visual sensibility, which has been seen in her self-directed music videos, scores for films such as 2019 feature So Pretty, and A/V performances like the installation-version of the album to be presented later this year at The Shed.

Growing up in a small town removed from physical musical communities, Nayar originally took to the online world for her creative explorations, delving into modern composers, Midwestern emo, uplifting trance and beyond. The diverse influences are visible on longer tracks such as “Losing Too Is Still Ours,” which extends from rippling guitar figures and keening vocals to methodic, marching strings.

On the song title, taken from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem, Nayar describes, “I used to hear these lines over and over in my head years ago when I was learning to let go of people and pasts with grace, even after very painful or violent events. It talks about loss as something that is still shared, through this image of absence itself drawing a ‘magnificent curve’ around everyone and everything involved.”

The ghostly voiced haze of “Aurobindo” takes its title from a similarly intimate place, referencing an Indian yogi whose philosophies speak to elevating earthly reality to the divine. “Someone in my family had a moment of ‘darshan’ (essentially ‘a vision of the divine’ in Hinduism) at Sri Aurobindo’s Pondicherry Ashram many years ago. The images in my A/V visuals often stem heavily from my dreams, which in my head hold a relationship to this lineage of familial mysticism.”

For Nayar, the album’s fluid but always deeply felt form is thus a way of translating that which could never be summed up with static names, words, or feelings. It is her way of navigating the many communities, musical and human, through which she’s passed as a trans feminine Indian-American. Rejecting the easy reduction of her project to an “identity politics narrative,” though, she takes that understanding as one of many in a stream of perspectives that shapes her life, and her music suggests the same.

To that end, Our Hands Against the Dusk mines the flux and discontinuity of experience as fertile ground. Nayar’s debut invites us to join alongside it in thinking beyond metanarratives, as musical and emotional histories touch in its twilight space and refract into a multifaceted whole. In that endeavor, Our Hands Against the Dusk is an embrace and a hope.

The album will be released March 5 on cassette and digital, via NNA Tapes.

OUT TODAY: Elif Yalvaç – Mountains Become Stepping Stones 🏔

“Moments of majestic stillness”
– WIRE 🏔

“A deeply atmospheric collection of ambient, transportive compositions”
– The Guardian 🏔🏔

“Tasty abrasions dissolve into alien landings,
absorbing monolithic transmissions colored in unmuzzled fuzz”

– Maximum Ink 🏔🏔🏔

On Elif Yalvaç’s sophomore album Mountains Become Stepping Stones (her first with NNA Tapes), the Turkish electronic/ambient musician leads listeners on a transformational journey to experience outer landscapes and inner feelings.

Inspired by her travels to Nordic countries far from home, with Iceland and Norway influencing her most, Mountains Become Stepping Stones reflects the rawness of nature; its danger and intensity, as well as its beauty. This is also a deeply personal record, reflecting a conscious choice to keep creating at difficult times and despite difficult experiences; becoming stronger as a result.

Using a vast array of instruments, including electric guitars, synthesizers, and Game Boy, as well as field recordings from Iceland, Yalvaç’s compositions embrace opposites: microsound glitches with slow intense builds; celestial beauty with abrasive energy.

LISTEN/BUY: elif-yalvac.fanlink.to/MBSS

Available on tape from our shop and on Bandcamp.

Listen: Elif Yalvaç shares “Freak Box” • New Album out Dec. 4

Elif Yalvaç (@hazalelifyalvac) — the Turkish electronic/ambient composer — has shared a new single, “Freak Box,” the 2nd to be released from her forthcoming new album ‘Mountains Become Stepping Stones,’ out Dec. 4 with NNA Tapes 🌄🌄🌄

“This piece represents the ‘2020 side’ of things,” Yalvaç explains. “I was locked inside a room, and sometimes it did not feel safe. There were threats that, sometimes, felt bigger than the threat of the virus. Instead of being trapped in that room, I dove into the world of Freak Box and Game Boy, and they helped me survive. “Freak Box,” is a duet between the two tools. Both are portable ‘boxes,’ but when I dive into them, I dive into a huge world. I also utilize microsound techniques in this piece — a technique I studied at MIAM — and the song’s ending connects with the rest of the album. It’s an eerie sound; the eerie side of our planet.“

♦️ Listen & pre-order here: elif-yalvac.fanlink.to/freak-box ♦️

Stephen Becker Debuts New Single/Video “Slurpee” via The FADER

New York singer-songwriter, Stephen Becker, has debuted his new single “Slurpee” alongside a Santi Slade-directed video via The FADER, which they described as “a sweet song about relentless horrors.”  Of the poetic track, Becker says: “‘Slurpee‘ juxtaposes springtime euphoria with social anxiety, icees and sandcastles with middle child syndrome and political turmoil. The pervasive kick drum represents an existential anxiety about the state of things, a brain freeze in the sun that prevents you from really enjoying the sunshine.”

Slurpee” is the second single from his forthcoming EP Nothing Sun Under the New, out October 30 on cassette and digital formats.

Watch: “Slurpee

For Stephen Becker, music is a stream of consciousness. Originally working as the Trees Take Ease moniker, the Brooklyn based artist is stepping out from under the branches and releasing music under his own name for the first time. It marks a shift, a new beginning, that initially started out as a casual bedroom project but quickly blossomed into something significant. This new chapter starts with EP Nothing Sun Under the New.

Equal parts weird and sublime, Becker resides in a sonic universe that bends into a state of oblivion and relishes the fleeting moments. This uninhibited approach creates a kaleidoscope of textures where songs about frozen drinks and old teachers exist against a backdrop of propulsive synths, screwy percussion and lo-fi guitar hooks. “I think there’s a lot of power in the right melody and the right chord progression and the right sonic environment and that to me has as much emotional weight as anything that I’m saying,” he says.

Attending concerts as a teen with his Dad and playing in jazz band throughout high school led Becker to experiment with different improvised arts, rubbing shoulders with different genres and practises. This curiosity, along with his talents, secured him a place at Oberlin college in Ohio, studying guitar performance. There, Becker witnessed performances from the likes of Deerhoof, Frankie Cosmos, Yo Yo Ma and Fred Frith that inspired him to merge his skills as a jazz musician and guitar expert and dive into songwriting.

The transition led to “art songs” and “experimental folk music” that can still be felt in Becker’s output. “I got to a place in my studying that started to feel frustrating,” he explains. “I realised that I wanted to write songs and also embody all these other things that I was excited about, whether it was improv or contemporary classical music. I wanted to synthesise everything that I love.” With inspirations including the likes of Marilynne Robinson, Werner Herzog, Olivier Messiaen, Sibylle Baier and Nels Cline, the result is a glorious mish-mash of spontaneity, where songs flow more like free writing.

Becker’s journey into music was unintentional, accidental even. While his parents are both doctors, Becker sees himself as taking after his artistic Grandparents. His Grandmother is a visual artist, watercolorist and painter, while his Grandfather built violins and collected all sorts of instruments, most of which now reside in Becker’s own closet. He never met his Grandfather in person but he finds solace in the family connection. “It’s funny when your immediate family doesn’t really do what you do or understand what you do but you feel this lineage of carrying on,” he explains. “Who knows if I’ll be that to some future generation in my family – the quirky instrument-collecting Grandpa.”

This free-spirited, almost unconscious nature sees Becker create a playground of escapism,  where snapshots of his life are exaggerated and fictionalised through an often ironic prism. He finds beauty in the in-between, where strange, abstract realms exist without the need for a clear narrative or rigid structure. Nothing Sun Under the New shines a spotlight on the beauty that can arise from a spur-of-the-moment mindset. By accessing this kind of process, Becker taps into something real and concrete, resonating through an introspective honesty. “I like to be freeform and fictional in my music, but my feeling is that within that abstraction lies a deeper truth, something more real than just the plain facts about me,” he says. “It’s a wash of sounds and lyrics, but the picture that it paints is ultimately more true and sincere than anything else.”

Elif Yalvaç announces ‘Mountains Become Stepping Stones’ out December 4 🏔

Elif Yalvaç–the Istanbul-based electronic/ambient composer–has announced her new album Mountains Become Stepping Stones, out Dec. 4 with NNA Tapes.

On Mountains Become Stepping Stones, Yalvaç leads listeners on a transformational journey through outer landscapes and inner feelings. Inspired by her travels to Nordic countries far from home, especially by Iceland and Norway, Mountains Become Stepping Stones reflects the raw vitality of nature: its danger and intensity, as well as its beauty. The record also draws deeply on Yalvaç’s inner world, and it reflects her conscious choice to keep creating in difficult times such as these, despite challenging personal circumstances. Using a vast array of instruments, including electric guitars, synthesizers, and a Game Boy, as well as field recordings from Iceland, Yalvaç’s compositions embrace opposites: microsound glitches with slow intense builds; celestial beauty with abrasive energy.

The album’s lead single and opening track, “Brocken Spectre,” is named after the natural phenomenon: “When I was flying to Iceland for the first time from Bergen, Norway,” Yalvaç says, “it was magical to see a glory: seeing the aircraft’s shadow within a halo of a rainbow.” On this piece, Yalvaç introduces the Game Boy as a musical instrument, incorporating its soft sounds into ambient layers. “I wrote so much about Game Boy in my master’s thesis; it was now time to make music with it.”

Mountains Become Stepping Stones is available to pre-order on cassette from our shop, Bandcamp, and select indie stores.

Out Today: Bendrix Littleton – ‘Deep Dark South’ [NNA-130] 🍷

Bennett Littlejohn’s debut album as Bendrix Littleton (@bendrixlittleton) is out today ✨

Listen to ‘Deep Dark South’ wherever you can stream 〰️

Available on cassette from our shop + Bandcamp + stores.

“Raw storytelling that easily puts you in your feelings.”
Nashville Scene

“Organic and otherworldly”
– Austin Town Hall

“A breathtakingly beautiful instrumental outpouring …
Bendrix Littleton is a name worth committing to memory.”
– Atwood Magazine

Photo by Zac Wilson 🌠

Bendrix Littleton Shares “Daylight Curls” from Deep Dark South, out Sep. 25

Bendrix Littleton — 📸 by Ben Davis

Today, Bendrix Littleton (@bendrixlittleton) shared his third single, “Daylight Curls,” from his upcoming solo debut, Deep Dark South, out September 25.

“Deep Dark South’s final single is both its deepest and its darkest moment yet to come to life, and it’s this taste of bitter emotion – brought to life alongside a breathtakingly beautiful instrumental outpouring – that Littlejohn’s latest work so appealing, and Bendrix Littleton a name worth committing to memory.”
Atwood Magazine

“‘Daylight Curls’ was written when I was visiting family in New England for an indeterminate amount of time,” Bendrix told Atwood Magazine for the track’s premiere. “After a while, it became apparent that I was abusing alcohol because I wasn’t used to feeling so still. The only people I know there are older adults so I spent a lot of time alone driving my mom’s car or reading at a local dive bar. Basically having to come to terms with feeling good with yourself to be able to sit still with yourself.”

Click to listen & pre-order / pre-save / pre-add ⚡️ HERE ⚡️

Elif Yalvaç

At an early age in her homeland of Turkey, Elif Yalvaç taught herself to play a hard-to-find guitar. Surrounded by an exciting variety of music, she found herself as fascinated with sound as with song. That fascination never diminished, eventually earning her a masters in Sonic Arts from Istanbul Technical University (after a BA in Translation and Interpretation), and it has been woven into the compositions on her debut EP Cloudscapes (2016), her debut album L’appel du Vide (2018), and now her sophomore release Mountains Become Stepping Stones, out December 4 on NNA Tapes.

On Mountains Become Stepping Stones (Yalvaç’s first release with NNA Tapes), the electronic/ambient artist leads listeners on a transformational journey through outer landscapes and inner feelings. Inspired by her travels to Nordic countries far from home, especially by Iceland and Norway, Mountains Become Stepping Stones reflects the raw vitality of nature: its danger and intensity, as well as its beauty. The record also draws deeply on Yalvaç’s inner world, and it reflects her conscious choice to keep creating in difficult times such as these, despite challenging personal circumstances. Using a vast array of instruments, including electric guitars, synthesizers, and a Game Boy, as well as field recordings from Iceland, Yalvaç’s compositions embrace opposites: microsound glitches with slow intense builds; celestial beauty with abrasive energy.

In September 2019, Yalvaç returned to Iceland–one of the countries across Europe that she has performed in–to reconnect with its magic and redefine her relationship with the landscape and her experiences there. Each piece on Mountains Become Stepping Stones is infused with a yearning for escape, whether outside or inside, and a desire to grow beyond limitations and pain, creating intense musical experiences that others can identify with.

The album’s lead single and opening track, “Brocken Spectre,” is named after the natural phenomenon: “When I was flying to Iceland for the first time from Bergen, Norway,” Yalvaç says, “it was magical to see a glory: seeing the aircraft’s shadow within a halo of a rainbow.” On this piece, Yalvaç introduces the Game Boy as a musical instrument, incorporating its soft sounds into ambient layers. “I wrote so much about Game Boy in my master’s thesis; it was now time to make music with it.” Rainbows also return elsewhere on the album on “Bifröst,” which is named after a small settlement in Western Iceland, as well as the burning rainbow bridge in Norse mythology. “Bifröst was a pick-up and drop-off point for me in my journeys to other parts of Iceland. It was a bridge for me in Iceland, and this piece also makes a bridge in the album sequence.”

“Under The Aurora 1” and “Under The Aurora 2” were composed after a life-changing experience beneath the magical northern lights: “I had some memories in Reykjavik that hurt me, but I picked up an e-bike and cycled for 15 km to a tiny natural footbath hot spring there, where I sat for hours, lost, with my eyes on the skies. I cycled back under the Aurora in the middle of the night.”

The value of the natural world also extends to birds on Mountains Become Stepping Stones. “Painted In Pitch Black” channels the flapping wings of a Phoenix rising from black ashes and “Huginn and Muninn,” is an ode to Ravens. “In some cultures, these birds are sometimes associated with ill or dark things, symbolizing that something bad might happen. To me, however, these are brilliant animals. I have seen more in Iceland than in any other place and they are so beautiful. To me, they sing beautifully.”

The album’s centerpiece, “Black Sand Beach,” features layers of electric guitars, field recordings (made in collaboration with Magnus Bergsson), and the sound of Yalvaç’s breathing. “The sand is the color of volcanic explosions. On one side you have sea stacks and basalt columns, and a cave. On the other, you have the North Atlantic ocean with extremely strong and dangerous waves. When you stand between the two, the sounds of the waves are very powerful. You feel small in the face of a powerful planet that is very much alive and changing.”

The last piece on the album, “Kintsugi,” references the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by reconnecting the pieces with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Translated to “golden joinery,” this piece represents a healing journey for Yalvaç: the process of being bent and broken into a better shape.

With Mountains Become Stepping Stones, we move with Yalvaç as she creates new memories and connections to her surroundings. “It is a celebration of individuality and uniqueness. We’re defined by our flaws, and something broken can become even more beautiful,” she says.

Watch “Smoke” by Bendrix Littleton, ‘Deep Dark South’ out Sep. 25

Today Bendrix Littleton shares his music video for “Smoke” — the second single from his upcoming solo debut, Deep Dark South, releasing September 25.

The video was directed and shot by Hovvdy’s Will Taylor at and around his family’s farm in Gustine, TX. Inspired by a mortician he held a conversation with at a bar in Dallas, “Smoke” is a nostalgic meditation on appreciating a relationship only after it’s gone.

Listen to the track here, and pre-order it on cassette from our shop or at Bandcamp.

Bendrix Littleton (ex-Bent Denim) Announces ‘Deep Dark South’ out Sep. 25

Today, Bendrix Littleton (ex-Bent Denim) announced his debut album Deep Dark South (Sep. 25) and shared a video for the contemplative lead single and title track “Deep Dark South,” which is a compilation of iPhone clips shot around the time of the record’s creation and edited together by Will Taylor (from rock duo Hovvdy whose latest album, Heavy Lifter, was produced by Littleton).

On “Deep Dark South,” Bendrix Littleton conjures the feeling of looking up at the Southern night sky — “and realizing how big and full of wonder it is down here,” he says. Built on a foundation of steady, elegant piano chords, Bendrix’s gently-picked guitar loops create a lush soundscape, making space for his hazy, solitary voice to ponder solitude and time.

Deep Dark South is available to pre-order on cassette and digital formats from our shop & on Bandcamp.

〰️ 〰️ 〰️ 〰️

Bendrix Littleton is the writing and recording project of Nashville-via-Dallas musician Bennett Littlejohn. The project’s namesake, Maurice Bendrix—the protagonist of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair—is described by enotes.com as “sometimes an unreliable narrator, for he is so consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness, that he measures everyone else by himself…[and] confesses that from time to time ‘a demon’ takes possession of his brain.” It’s an appropriate moniker for the self-aware, malaise-filled songs of Bendrix Littleton’s debut, Deep Dark South, due out September 25 from NNA Tapes. While in the album is imbued with the contradictions and painful beauty of the modern American South (as opposed to Greene’s WWII-era London), the hazy, solitary narrative voice remains.

Formerly one half of the “NyQuil-Pop” duo Bent Denim (dissolved in the summer of 2018), Littlejohn sought a fresh outlet that was more individual and freed from any preconceived artistic notions. During this time Littlejohn began taking on significantly more studio work, including production credits on Hovvdy’s Heavy Lifter (out now on Double Double Whammy), new material from Katy Kirby (out on Keeled Scales), and forthcoming work from Sinai Vessel. While production on this music was deeply rewarding, it was nonetheless work that was beholden to someone else’s vision. And it was out of this craving for artistic autonomy that Bendrix Littleton was born. Deep Dark South has provided a space for Littlejohn to experiment, collage, write, and record in a completely independent manner—a long-awaited and welcome zone of unfettered creation.

On the singular writing and recording process of Deep Dark South, Littlejohn states:

The initial spurt of songwriting was directly correlated to a vintage Harmony H162 acoustic guitar I found at a flea market in Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. This guitar would’ve been sold at Sears in the early 60’s. I strung it up with all of the higher pitched strings from a 12-string acoustic set and got to writing. A lot of rich, burnt-out musicians affectedly claim that there are ‘songs in guitars’ to justify their ever-growing guitar collections, but I do feel there is an ounce of truth in this. The way something feels, or the faults of a certain instrument indeed can bring out something unique and new.

Once the basic bedrock of the record had been tracked, I realized that the songs were too slow, my voice was too low…a spark was missing. My brother had just sent me my old Tascam four track cassette recorder. So, I spent a little time with that, and ended up committing these songs in their unfinished states to fixed tracks on this old tape machine—no editing, no panning, no volume changing. Driving the cassette tape hard and speeding the songs up (which also raises the pitch), gave this album that special aspect I had been looking for, and also provided a completely fucked up and new sonic foundation for me to start layering on top of.

And on the themes and sensibility of the album itself, Littlejohn says:

Throughout the record I deal with the common tropes of alcohol/drug abuse, malaise, ennui, regional junk, and the dissolution of relationships. It’s well-trod ground, but I’d rather write what feels genuine rather than something foreign for the sake of novelty. It feels ridiculous enough to put out something in 2020…so much noise to break through. But I feel like these are common enough things. I wouldn’t say these things are universal, but they’re not far from it.

Bendrix Littleton

Bendrix Littleton is the writing and recording project of Nashville-via-Dallas musician Bennett Littlejohn. The project’s namesake, Maurice Bendrix—the protagonist of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair—is described by enotes.com as “sometimes an unreliable narrator, for he is so consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness, that he measures everyone else by himself…[and] confesses that from time to time ‘a demon’ takes possession of his brain.” It’s an appropriate moniker for the self-aware, malaise-filled songs of Bendrix Littleton’s debut, Deep Dark South, due out September 25 from NNA Tapes. While in the album is imbued with the contradictions and painful beauty of the modern American South (as opposed to Greene’s WWII-era London), the hazy, solitary narrative voice remains.

Formerly one half of the “NyQuil-Pop” duo Bent Denim (dissolved in the summer of 2018), Littlejohn sought a fresh outlet that was more individual and freed from any preconceived artistic notions. During this time Littlejohn began taking on significantly more studio work, including production credits on Hovvdy’s Heavy Lifter (out now on Double Double Whammy), new material from Katy Kirby (out on Keeled Scales), and forthcoming work from Sinai Vessel. While production on this music was deeply rewarding, it was nonetheless work that was beholden to someone else’s vision. And it was out of this craving for artistic autonomy that Bendrix Littleton was born. Deep Dark South has provided a space for Littlejohn to experiment, collage, write, and record in a completely independent manner—a long-awaited and welcome zone of unfettered creation.

On the singular writing and recording process of Deep Dark South, Littlejohn states:

The initial spurt of songwriting was directly correlated to a vintage Harmony H162 acoustic guitar I found at a flea market in Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. This guitar would’ve been sold at Sears in the early 60’s. I strung it up with all of the higher pitched strings from a 12-string acoustic set and got to writing. A lot of rich, burnt-out musicians affectedly claim that there are ‘songs in guitars’ to justify their ever-growing guitar collections, but I do feel there is an ounce of truth in this. The way something feels, or the faults of a certain instrument indeed can bring out something unique and new.

Once the basic bedrock of the record had been tracked, I realized that the songs were too slow, my voice was too low…a spark was missing. My brother had just sent me my old Tascam four track cassette recorder. So, I spent a little time with that, and ended up committing these songs in their unfinished states to fixed tracks on this old tape machine—no editing, no panning, no volume changing. Driving the cassette tape hard and speeding the songs up (which also raises the pitch), gave this album that special aspect I had been looking for, and also provided a completely fucked up and new sonic foundation for me to start layering on top of.

And on the themes and sensibility of the album itself, Littlejohn says:

Throughout the record I deal with the common tropes of alcohol/drug abuse, malaise, ennui, regional junk, and the dissolution of relationships. It’s well-trod ground, but I’d rather write what feels genuine rather than something foreign for the sake of novelty. It feels ridiculous enough to put out something in 2020…so much noise to break through. But I feel like these are common enough things. I wouldn’t say these things are universal, but they’re not far from it.

Deep Dark South is out on September 25 from NNA Tapes.

Out Now: [NNA126] Kalbells – Mothertime

NNA is overjoyed to release ‘Mothertime,’ — the new EP from Kalbells, the project led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kalmia “Kal” Traver.

Co-produced with Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks), ‘Mothertime’ sees Kal processing themes she has been continually chewing on in the 6-year wake of surviving ovarian cancer and transforming a codependent relationship wither her long-time music partner: resilience, yielding, beckoning creativity, self-exploration, and joy. “It’s something I feel proud to have moved and grown through,” she says, “and I hope writing about it can be a form of revealing the illusion, and healing.”

‘Mothertime’ [NNA126] is available from our shop and on Bandcamp, on limited edition cassette and digital formats.

Kalbells Share New Track & Video For “Mothertime” From Upcoming EP

Photo Credit: Amanda Picotte

Today, Kalbells—the project led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kalmia Traver—is sharing “Mothertime,” the title track (and accompanying lyric video made in quarantine with a microscope) from her forthcoming EP co-produced with Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks), releasing April 10.

Following the lead single and video for “Cool and Bendable” (that premiered with The Fader who called it  “crackly and tactile… a dazzling celebration anthem.”)“Mothertime” is about Traver’s mother and their relationship together. As Traver explains in her own words: “it’s about the bewildering beauty and uncanniness of the fact that we can keep growing & changing so much, cueing off each other across our two mobius-entwined lifetimes.”

To celebrate the single release, Traver is taking questions live on Reddit today (Monday, March 30th) at 2PM PT / 5 PM EST. The AMA will be hosted on subreddit r/music.

♫ Listen: Kalbells – “Mothertime”
♫ Watch: Kalbells – “Mothertime”

Mothertime will be out April 10th, 2020 and is available to preorder on Cassette and Digital formats.