Friday, February 26, 2016

Mystic Sons Presents: Australia's "Answer" to Bon Iver, Hayden Calnin Readies Sprawling 10-track Debut, Cut Love Pt. 1 (independent release)

"Cut Love Pt. 1 is a conceptual bunch of songs, which should be taken on as a journey. This is not a pop record, so don't expect bangerzzz or much adhering to standard song structure. It's weird, but I like weird. I wanted to make something that was 100% me and the result is something I am really proud of. I recorded [Cut Love] Pt. 1 all at home in my studio and it's taken me a lot of time to get it finished, and I'm so excited to share it with you all. I have so many people to thank, but above all, this record wouldn't have been possible without all of your support and believing in what I create. So, thank you! I'll be posting some more on it tonight to give you a little more insight, but I really just wanted to let everyone know that I've put everything I have into this record, and to not go into listening to it with any expectations, and just let it translate to you as it does naturally. Some of you may love it, others may hate it, but all in all it doesn't matter because I'm proud as punch about having finally created my debut record!"

Much love,
Haydo xx

"First Listen – New Album from Australia's Bon Iver – Hayden Calnin Cut Love Pt. 1," read a rather intriguing email I received from James Barker at London-based PR company Mystic Sons earlier this week; a few days later, upon my first listen to Calnin's as-yet-unreleased 10-track Cut Love Pt. 1 effectively sent chills down my spine, akin to my first time hearing "Skinny Love." "Following two critically-acclaimed EP's and drawing comparisons to Bon Iver, M83, [and] Dawn Golden, as well as Beach House, Hayden... decided to spend the time refining and cultivating the vision and musical ingredients behind his long-awaited album, which he's finally completed," read part of Mystic Sons' press release. Cut Love Pt. 1, in addition to Pt. 2, which is expected to be released in May, was fully produced and recorded at Hayden Calnin's home studio in Melbourne, Australia. Calnin's earliest inspiration behind Cut Love Pt. 1 was fostered when he was "contacted by UK-based, award-winning contemporary dancer/choreographer Lukas McFarlane, who was in search of new musical material to choreograph and perform to;" the result of which, Mystic Sons befittingly describes as "an expedition through Hayden's free-flowing creativity, which takes listeners on an unexpected musical journey through his initial musings on falling out of and into love, relationships, and everything in between."

Although, Cut Love Pt. 1 isn't scheduled to be released until next Friday, March 4th, American TV viewers may have unknowingly heard a few of Hayden Calnin's compositions on Suits, Parenthood, Teen Wolf, or The 100, while European and Japanese movie-goers might have heard "For My Help" within the trailers for Oscar-nominated film, Room. It would appear as though Calnin's sprawling, nearly eight-minute single "Cut Love" can best be described as a Fall Creek Boys Choir-reminiscent pairing of singer-songwriter James Blake's glitchy Electronic-aided Alt. R&B/Soul and Bon Iver founder Justin Vernon's unique brand of sparse falsetto-laden Indie Folk. "Cut Love" is quite easily the masterwork of 26-year-old Hayden Calnin's burgeoning career, although Cut Love Pt. 1's 10 tracks are jam packed with a multitude of various styles, genres, recording techniques, and masterful vocal pitch trickery. I would strongly urge anyone even remotely interested in Bon Iver, James Blake, M83, Beach House, etc. to stay tuned to this space, as I can assure you Calnin has a lot more unrefined sonic greatness in store for the unsuspecting world. Cut Love Pt. 1, the first half of Hayden Calnin's two-part magnum opus of a "debut" album, is set to be released world-wide next Friday, March 4th with Cut Love Pt. 2 to follow this upcoming May.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cults Frontwoman Madeline Follin Forms Electronically-driven FOLLIN with Brother Richie James; Unleashes "Roxy" Ahead of 2-track Father/Daughter EP (DJ Zane Lowe Premier)

I'm pretty sure myself, like many like-minded Indie Rock devotees, first heard Cults frontwoman Madeline Follin's sultry whispery wail was on "Queen of Hearts" from Toronto Hardcore band F__ked Up's sprawling 2011 Punk Rock Opera, David Comes to Life. While then nine-year-old Follin's first true "solo" work, Dee Dee Ramone-assembled Youth Gone Mad's Touching Cloth (2000) pre-dates Cults by about 11 years, her latest set of recordings would appear to be her first legitimate outer-band side project; "Follin is the musical project of brother-sister duo Madeline and Richie James Follin. In the down time between record cycles of their respective bands [Cults and Guards/Willowz], they decided to finally record and release something together," San Francisco and Miami-based Father/Daughter Records wrote within a recent press release. It was an idea that they had hoped to turn into a reality for years, but time never permitted. Finally, in the summer of 2015, their schedules aligned and they were able to make it happen. Although, they've been making music together since they were children, these songs mark their first collaborative release," Father/Daughter continued, concerning the storied decades-old origins of Follin.

Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe proudly premiered Follin's debut single, "Roxy," on his radio show Tuesday afternoon, which has since become available for streaming and download from Soundcloud, TIDAL, Spotify, iTunes, and Father/Daughter's own webstore. It's one half of what's poised to be Madeline & Richie Follin's self-titled debut 2-track EP, according to Pitchfork; the second half of which of said Follin EP, @father_daughter assures will "come next month [March]!" Follin's electronically-driven, 80's New Wave-leaning "Roxy" is without a doubt a drastic stylistic departure from Madeline & Richie James' previous recorded output with Cults, Guards, and Willowz, which would likely be categorized as boy-assisted "Girl Group" Pop, Indie Rock, and Garage Rock-reminiscent material, receptively. "With this project, Madeline and Richie wanted to do something different than they had ever done before. Inspired by distorted synthesizers, drum machines, samples, harmonizers, tape effects, and atmospheric sounds, they experimented with new instruments and different vocal styles;" stay tuned to this channel, as I've recently gotten in touch with Father/Daughter Records, Madeline, and Richie James Follin with the prospect of ultimately, conducting and publishing an interview EXCLUSIVE to The Witzard!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Titus Andronucus & The Hold Steady Frontman Craig Finn Cover Each Other's "No Future(s)" for No Faith / No Future / No Problem (Digital Split)

It almost seems as though New Jersey's own pride and joy Titus Andronicus have been on a Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour-evocative cross-country jaunt in support of their critically-acclaimed Punk Rock Opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, onto which they've just added some sprawling 42 additional dates through May 30th with The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn and La Sera; "with the hotly anticipated "No Faith / No Future / No Problem" American Tour kicking off in just one week, peerless rock band Titus Andronicus and luminous singer-songwriter Craig Finn are ready to take their friendship to the next level," reads a recently published post to Titus Andronicus' own web-headquarters. "It is in that spirit of love and sharing that they make available today, for streaming and free download, a digital split single of mutual covers, celebrating the imminent tour and the two acts' shared predilection towards writing songs with the title "No Future,"' +@ continued. Finn's "No Future" re-envisions a self-described "woozy ballad" from Titus' Seinfeld-referencing 2008 debut, The Airing of Grievances "into a sprightly, strummy stroll through the bleakest of lyrical terrain." +@ frontman Patrick Stickles then takes on Craig Finn-penned "No Future" lifted from his 2012 solo album, Clear Eyes, Full Heart stripping it bare and "painting a lonely landscape bereft of hope." Hip-Hop-esque titled No Faith / No Future / No Problem was surprise released for mass consumption online Monday afternoon – in conjunction with a collection of three Craig Finn-assisted Titus Andronicus performed last summer at Shea Stadium: Billy Joel's righteous Baroque classic "You May Be Right," The Replacements' 1985 Tim Side B-opener "Bastards of Young," and Finn's own band, The Hold Steady's "Stuck Between Stations." "The rowdy, ramshackle affair you see on [your] screen may be a persuasive indication of what audiences can expect when "No Faith / No Future / No Problem" hits their town" kicking off this upcoming Monday, February 29th at New York's Webster Hall.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Witzard's Week In Rap: "Excellent Rapping" from Kendrick Lamar, ANTWON, Aesop Rock, Meyhem Lauren, Travis Barker & Yelawolf (February 15-19th Ed.)

"I gave that lil' cockroach life, and he blasted me / N****s made all those memes, and they laughed at me... He's got 11 GRAMMY nominations, y'all not equal / Maaaan, f__k these white people / My grandma died at 82, scrubbin' floors / and n****s still runnin' 'round beggin' for awards," Jay Electronica ferociously rhymed on "The Curse of Mayweather" Monday; nearly an entire verse-worth of disses aimed at his one-time "Control" collaborator, Kendrick Lamar. Although, President Obama's favorite emcee didn't seem to let Electronica's claims faze him, as he ended up winning five of 11 GRAMMY awards that very same night. I think it's pretty safe to say Kendrick effectively stole the show with his jarring live performance of "The Blacker The Berry/Alright/Untitled III," which juxtaposed he and a spirited Jazz band amidst an all-too realistic prison backdrop and a bonfire-lit African tribe scenario. Lamar told 2dopeboyz during a post-GRAMMY's interview that "Untitled III" and its predecessors stem from a "chamber of material from the album that I was in love [with] where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album."

Hardcore-leaning LA emcee ANTWON unexpectedly announced his signing with Anticon Records early last week, seemingly on the sheer strength of his 2012-14 mixtapes End of Earth, In Dark Denum, and "debut" album Heavy Hearted In Doldrums. "Anticon will release ANTWON's DOUBLE ECSTASY EP [this upcoming April 1st], a five-track collaboration between ANTWON and producer Lars Stalfors. Clocking in just short of 20 minutes, DOUBLE ECSTASY is the San Jose native's most concise and impactful body of work to date," reads a recent Liberal Arts-sanctioned press release. The EP has been preceded by sparse Punk-indebted Stalfors-produced "Luv," an eerie, ominous Biggie-reminiscent ode to falling in [BLEEP] with a stripper.

"Today, I bring you "Rings" - the first song and video off my newly announced full-length solo LP The Impossible Kid, coming April 29 on Rhymesayers Ent. and available to pre-order now," recent Homeboy Sandman collaborator Aesop Rock wrote on Facebook. "'Rings" reflects my failure as a visual artist, and some of the regret I've experienced in regards to not pursuing it further," Rock continued. The Impossible Kid was fully self-produced by Aesop Rock himself, with instrumental help from Philly-based "Blisscore" band Grimace Federation, bassist Jeremy Lynch, and scratches courtesy of DJ Zone. Rob Shaw-directed "Rings" centers around Aesop Rock's apparent death and grizzly autopsy, which reveals his halved body to be chock-full of self-sufficient art supplies and "shapes falling out of the fringe."

"[Ive] been sitting on this joint for a minute, but decided to drop it now, since Kurt Cobain's birthday is this Saturday [February] 20th. PIATTO D'ORO drops March 31st and FTD airs on VICELAND March 3rd," Meyhem Lauren wrote within the brief Soundcloud description accompanying his latest IceRocks-produced "Teen Spirit." Lauren is a long-time friend and affiliate of charismatic chef turned rapper Action Bronson, who garnered wide-spread critical acclaim with his nearly flawless Respect The Fly Sh*t and Mandatory Brunch Meetings mixtapes. Meyhem Lauren can now call Bronson's Blue Chips 1-2 producers Party Supplies his label mates (and hopefully, sooon-to-be collaborators), as Fool's Gold will release his forthcoming album, PIATTO D'ORO.

Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and Shady Records-affiliated Alabama emcee Yelawolf have seemingly reunited for a follow-up to their collaborative 2012 EP, Psycho White. "Me and @Yelawolf's new track, "Out of Control" is out now! Video created by @goldwatch," @travisbarker exuberantly Tweeted Friday afternoon. Jay Electronica and Kid Cudi's go-to videographer Jason Goldwatch helms Barker and Yelawolf's first collaboration in early four years, which is largely composed of "Out of Control" and almost instantly meme-able footage haphazardly cut together 3-4 micro-clips at once. Nothing's been announced quite yet, but my best guess is that "Out of Control" will likely end up re-appearing within Travis Barker's long-rumored follow-up to his 2011 Hip-Hop-centric solo album, Give The Drummer Some.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mass Appeal Records & PayJay Proudly Present: J Dilla's Long-lost 2002 MCA Vocal Album, THE DIARY Produced By Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink!, ?uestlove & Karriem Riggins (Formerly "Pay Jay")

"Dilla spent the better part of 2002 working on an album for MCA that featured his rapping over contributions from other producers with whom he had connected and whose music he respected. At the time, he was known primarily for his beats, yet reviled for his [emceeing] by mist anyone not from his hometown of Detroit. The project was to be an intentional freak of the industry," Chicago writer and film-maker Ronnie Reese wrote within his liner notes accompanying Stones Throw's 2007 expanded re-issue of Ruff Draft EP. J Dilla's ultimately scrapped and indefinitely shelved '02 MCA Album, or "Pay Jay," as it's long been referred, was recorded between his widely underrated BBE solo debut Welcome 2 Detroit and adventurous stylistic shift that materialized across Ruff Draft EP during his relocation from Detroit to LA. "Dilla had agreed to a one-year contract on MCA with an option for a second, provided he produced two accepted releases. One of those releases was to be his solo project, and the other a full-length entitled 48 Hours from Detroit rappers and childhood friends, Frank-N-Dank," Reese's in-depth liner notes continue. Unfortunately however, both Dilla's MCA Album and 48 Hours were "subsequently languished in Hip-Hop purgatory" when unbeknownst to either Dilla or Frank-N-Dank, MCA suddenly folded into Geffen prior to the onslaught of 2004. Just a mere three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his highly-revered magnum opus, Donuts, James "J Dilla" Yancey passed away on February 10th, 2006 due to complications related to Lupus and TTP.

Although a handful of memorable and sub-par projects have been released throughout the years following Dilla's untimely death (including The Shining, Jay Love Japan, Jay Stay Paid, Rebirth of Detroit, and Dillatronic), I think it's safe to say The MCA Album has always been in the back of every donut-loving crate-digger's mind. It appears as though an early, seemingly incomplete, 11-track Pay Jay bootleg leaked around April-May 2008, which likely stemmed from a 2003 MCA-released promo CD-R; housed within were beats hand-crafted by Dilla enthusiasts Nottz, Pete Rock, Kanye West, Waajeed, Hi-tek, Bink!, Supa Dave West, Karriem Riggins, and Roots drummer ?uestlove. "Now the vocal album – that is something that I know he had a desire to see out, as he did Ruff Draft and, oddly enough, an album he'd made of noodling improvised keyboard lines over drum breaks (one of those made it to The Shining album). The vocal album – The Diary [Pay Jay], as we're calling it – is nearly done and should be out later this year," Now-Again founder and former Stones Throw general manager Eothen "Egon" Alapatt revealed within our acclaimed 2015 The Witzard interview, when prodded about any planned Donuts follow-ups. The Diary has been rumored since 2012-13 and was preceded by three Rappcats-released 12-inch EP's: "Anthem" and Gary Numan-flipping "Trucks," Diamonds & Ice, and "Give 'em What They Want," as well as an exclusive badge-shaped Record Store Day re-release of "F--k The Police."

"[The Diary is] the last record that he actually wanted out – i.e., he said, in his own words, this record should come out during his lifetime. The last one," Egon recently told Rolling Stone staff writer and #tcot drummer Christopher R. Weingarten, concerning the authenticity of their compiled recordings. Alapatt and members of James Yancey's estate have decided to re-launch his PayJay imprint to release The Diary, in conjunction with Nas' recently-formed Mass Appeal Records. Egon, House Shoes, J.Rocc, long-time engineer Dave Cooley, and a number of additional Dilla affiliates have spent the past nine arduous years meticulously "unpacking the files, finding the software that he used, [and] getting it again, because at that point, it was already archaic." This freshly-assembled 14-track version of The Diary is currently available for pre-order ahead of its scheduled April 15th release and includes aforementioned production work from Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink!, Karriem Riggins, and Dilla himself; similar to 2008's Pay Jay leak, The Diary will showcase Dilla's whip-worthy flip of Gary Numan's 1979 New Wave hit "Cars" (fittingly re-titled "Trucks"), a ?uestlove & Karriem Riggins-produced cover of Vanity 6's "Drive Me Wild," "F--k The Police," Snoop Dogg-featuring "Gangsta Boogie," and House Shoes-produced "The Introduction." "That beat is 16 years old. Make 'em count... I made [it] in 1999... Dilla replayed the synths and put the ill breakdown at the end," @HouseShoes wrote in a series of Tweets accompanying Nas' Zane Lowe-premiered "The Introduction" world-wide release, which initially, wasn't attributed to Dilla's long-time DJ, hometown friend, and recent 12-inch coordinator. Let's "TURN IT UP; A LITTLE LOUDER," to quote the man himself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Rise & Fall of Kanye West: The Witzard's Early Review of Kanye's "Worst Album" of His Career, The Life of Pablo (Not-so-G.O.O.D. Music)

"There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or fame... but if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you're going, you'll look back and know that it was you," Taylor Swift passionately proclaimed Monday night whilst accepting her Album of The Year GRAMMY; an apparent rebuttal to long-time frenemy Kanye West's exceedingly distasteful claims that he "made that b*tch famous" and that "[he] and Taylor might still have sex," lines which he previously proclaimed to be Kim & Taylor-approved. Let me first, preface this by saying that I've been a Kanye fan ever since "Through The Wire" and The College Dropout, although, I don't exactly agree with his latest burst of social media over-activity and apparent mental breakdown... relentlessly bashing poor Taylor Swift, begging Mark Zuckerberg for a $1 billion "investment," claiming "BILL COSBY INNOCENT," announcing his sprawling $53 million bankruptcy, and enacting a generally sloppy The Life of Pablo (TLOP) weekend album roll-out. Despite, or maybe even because of, all this utter nonsense, TLOP isn't exactly the easiest listen to digest, at times and I think it's safe to say one of the world's greatest emcees has fallen from grace; of its 18 included tracks, I would say, after a few early listens, about 6-8 are fully fleshed-out coherent My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-quality tracks and the rest, seem to be rough, largely unfinished song sketches. However, said 6-8 album-saving songs are haphazardly peppered throughout layers of nearly unlistenable garbage and seemingly pointless, forced guest appearances.

Amongst the most coherent listenable tracks scattered throughout Pablo are self-described "Gospel [tracks] with curses" "Ultralight Beams," "Father Stretch My Hands (Parts 1-2)," and "Highlights," the aforementioned Rihanna-assisted "Famous," 45-second a capella "I Love Kanye," DJ Dodger Stadium co-produced "Fade," Frank Ocean-revamped "Wolves," and one-time title-bearing "Waves." Mr. West additionally decided to include G.O.O.D. Fridays, Vol. 2 selections "Real Friends," Madlib-produced and Kendrick Lamar-featuring "No More Parties In LA," Charlie Heat's version of New Year's Eve single "FACTS," and Karriem Riggins-helmed "30 Hours" in the ninth hour. Ahead of The Life of Pablo's slightly delayed Saturday-Sunday morning unveiling, Kanye appeared on a Melissa McCarthy-hosted SNL with Kelly Price, El Debarge, Kirk Franklin, Young Thug, The-Dream, and Chance The Rapper in tow. Kanye and his G.O.O.D. Music posse ripped through soulful renditions of "Ultralight Beams" and "Highlights" backed by an angled pixelated fire-laden backdrop, show-stealing emcees Chance The Rapper & Young Thug, and even a denim-outfitted Gospel choir, at one point. Amidst his two church sermon-esque performances, Kanye appeared within one lone SNL Digital Short alongside Zoolander 2 co-star Kyle Mooney fittingly titled "Kyle vs. Kanye;" wherein Mooney foolishly decides to "challenge Kanye West to a rap battle in a bid to return to his Hip-Hop roots," although, Kanye absolutely slays him with what turns out to be his "I Love Kanye" micro-verse.

With all that said, I still have a felling there might be a half-decent album buried somewhere under this disjointed mess of a Gospel and Boom-Bap-drenched album Kanye's confusingly calling The Life of Pablo or maybe in retrospect, his leaner 11-track version debuted at Madison Square Garden Friday night would have sounded a little less cumbersome. It appears as though we'll soon hear a third revised version of TLOP, as the pirated 18-track version downloaded by some 500,000 disgruntled fans in 48 hours has now been pulled from TIDAL, so Kanye could reportedly "fix" SNL 40-debuted "Wolves" and the sonic quality throughout the album. It's currently unclear if and when The Life of Pablo will likely reappear on TIDAL, aside from exclusively streaming, or if it will become available from additional digital retailers or in physical formats. Let me just stress again, in closing, that this is merely a "premature evaluation" written after a few run-throughs of TLOP whilst traveling up to my Uncle Bob's dentist office Monday afternoon and maybe it'll take a few more spins to really catch on and hit me, but for some reason, don't see this having the same longevity and sheer Hip-Hop-reinventing qualities of say, Dark Twisted Fantasy or Yeezus. It's definitely a far stretch from the Born In The USA-magnitude follow-up Kanye once promised on the heels of Yeezus and it isn't exactly joy-embracing "cookout music that just feels good" either. It seems like a "Gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it" still might be the most fitting description.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Egon's Now-Again Reserve: Paternoster "Cultural & Business Liaison" Stephan Szillus Reveals The Cross-continental Journey Behind Tracking Down Frontman Franz Wippel & Son of Bassist Haimo Wisser (The Witzard Interview)

"The venerable Austrian rock-scribe Johan "Hans" Pokora was the most welcoming–he, through his Record Collectors' Dreams books, had first canonized Paternoster, bestowing upon the album his highest honor of six-stars (the rarest of rare records) and also placing next to it his "symbol-of-music" ... He had kept two copies of the album–one with a proto-type, hand-colored cover–and he traded the other to me. That kickstarted this re-issue, as I put out a call to find someone–anyone–who could put me in touch with any of Paternoster's principal members. Stephan Szillus, a German journalist with a Hip-Hop background but with a worldly score, heeded the call and found Franz Wippel," Now-Again Records founder Egon wrote within his extensive 65-page Paternoster re-issue liner notes; referencing a fateful 2014 Instagram post that started a cross-continental journey to track down the long-lost makers of a fabled album that's been compared to everyone from Pink Floyd to Procol Harum. With that said, in light of Now-Again's recently-announced super-deluxe Reserve Edition: Paternoster HIT+RUN-assisted re-issue, I myself reached out to Szillus on Twitter, who, to my delight, was very eager to talk about his involvement with the first Paternoster-sanctioned album re-press since 1972; and so, without further ado, please enjoy my insightful and delightful 12-question conversation with Heart Working Class founder and integral piece of the Paternoster puzzle, the one and only Stephan Szillus.

I. First off, would you care to debrief my readers and I on your professional background, business dealings, and current affiliations?

Yeah, I've been a music journalist for nearly 15 years. For six years (exactly 50 issues), I was the Editor-In-Chief of Juice Magazine, which is Europe's biggest Hip-Hop print publication. A couple of years ago, I left and founded the artist management company and independent label Heart Working Class with my wife, who had been a freelance music publicist for years. I also did project management for Red Bull and recently started working as a Channel Manager at VICE.

My musical interests have shifted in the last [few] years. My main focus had always been Hip-Hop, Urban, and Electronic music, but from there, it naturally turned into a love for the music that was sampled a lot: Jazz, soundtracks, so called "world music," and Krautrock. This ultimately, led to me running my own radio show on German web radio station Byte FM and also working on this Paternoster re-issue with Eothen [Egon].

II. How did you initially become involved with Egon's long-overdue, band-sanctioned Now-Again Reserve re-master and comprehensive re-issue of Paternoster's coveted $10,000+ 1972 debut?

I've been knowing Eothen loosely for more than 10 years. Back in 2005, I met him and Madlib in Hamburg for interviews. I also went digging with them through Hamburg's second-hand record stores. It was a promotional tour for Quasimoto's second album [The Further Adventures of Lord Quas]. I have to admit, Madlib, Dilla, and DOOM were my musical heroes back then, and they shaped the way I perceived Hip-Hop.

I have crossed paths with Eothen a couple of times since then; for example, at the Red Bull Music Academy, which we were both affiliated with. I also happen to follow him on Instagram. There, in early 2015, he put the word out that he was looking for someone to get him in contact with obscure Austrian Psych-Rockers Paternoster. As I had been on a heavy Krautrock diet, my journalistic hunting instinct got triggered. So, we exchanged emails and phone calls, he gave me a few initial points of contact, and I went from there.

III. I was, let me be perfectly honest, surprised and a little taken aback to learn that you agreed to help Egon on his quest to locate the founding members of Paternoster without ever having heard their album; is that correct, Stephan? Then, what exactly swayed you to sign on, if it wasn't the music?

I hadn't heard the album, as I hadn't yet engaged in the Austrian side of Krautrock (and the Paternoster record is really, really obscure), but the topic triggered my interest. I have been on a heavy Krautrock diet in the last [few] years, reading every book and article on the subject I could find, religiously listening to the works of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Michael Rother, Conny Plank, and all the other 1970's greats. My parents were part of the 1968 student generation and I remember music like Tangerine Dream, Can, or Klaus Doldinger's Passport playing in our household growing up.

When Eothen sent me the record as a MP3 rip from his vinyl copy, I immediately fell in love with it: those heavy drums, Jazzy bass, proggy guitar lines, and Franz Wippel's "world-weary drawl," as Eothen put it perfectly in his liner notes... I wanted to find out more about this record because it sounded so special, like nothing I had ever heard before.

IV. Egon spoke very highly of you within a recent emailed conversation: "he's a great journalist, he tracked down Franz Wippel, and acted as a cultural and business liaison to make this process happen. If not for him, [the re-issue] wouldn't have happened." How exactly did you manage to track down Mr. Wippel, the remaining members of Paternoster, their offspring, and associates?

Well, that's nice to hear as I do have a very high opinion of Eothen myself. How we found them was just plain research: Eothen has an Austrian friend who knew Thomas, who is also an artist, rapping under the name Mista Wisdom and doing lots of other stuff. Then, I tracked down Franz through his former workplace, the public radio station Ö3. He had already retired and we connected through email for an initial phone call. He was very open to meet me in Vienna and he even signed the licensing agreement upfront. I guess it was good for me to come on board, as Eothen doesn't speak fluent German and Franz doesn't speak fluent English. German is my mother tongue, but I happen to have worked internationally for years.

When we finally met in Vienna's Hotel im Brillantengrund in March 2015, Franz brought along Kurt Orator, an old friend of the band that took the press photos for the album back cover and autograph cards. He provided us with a lot of unseen material from the early 1970's, even a short Super-8 movie shot on a vacation trip in the mountains where the band members brought their model girlfriends along. Some weeks after this meeting, I also managed to find [Gerhart] "Hardy" Walenta, the former Paternoster drummer, through some Austrian music business connections. Only guitar player Gerhart Walter remains lost in the midst until this very day.

V. You mentioned during our previous conversation that you conducted interviews with Paternoster frontman Franz Wippel along with Egon & Madlib, which in turn, helped assemble the album's extensive liner notes. How much leg-work did it take to get to that point and what did it take to convince Wippel and bass player Haimo Wisser's son Thomas to agree to partake in your re-issue?

Well, my interviews with Eothen and Madlib happened in 2005. Those had nothing to do with this re-issue. For its liner notes, which were written by Eothen, I interviewed Franz Wippel, the mastermind behind Paternoster, and Thomas Wisser, the son of late bass player Haimo Wisser. Convincing them to participate wasn't too hard. I guess Franz didn't have anything to lose. He also probably felt our genuine admiration for his work. He knew about the record selling high on eBay for years. He said he Googled Paternoster some years ago and was amused to find other things than articles about elevators. So, our request didn't come [as] too [much of a] surprise for him.

With Thomas, it was a little more challenging, as he had to open kind of a personal Pandora's Box: by agreeing to partake in the re-issue plans, he automatically decided to openly touch upon the subject of his father's suicide in the 1990's; something we had only heard about through Internet rumors. Still, we managed to win his trust and he became a valuable source of information for this re-issue.

VI. Are you currently able to divulge any information concerning the additional three releases lined up for the Now-Again Reserve's quarterly release schedule? Please tell me, you and Egon has something in-the-works with illusive Korean Rock/Go-Go act, He 5-6?

That's a question for Eothen, as I probably won't be participating in all Now-Again Reserve releases. I dare say that we have another really obscure Krautrock gem coming up later this year: the self-titled German Oak record from 1972, recorded in a real German air strike bunker aka the band's rehearsal space. I have been to Dusseldorf to speak to two of the former band members extensively. Never heard of that Korean band though, will definitely check it out. Asia is kind of a blank space in my record collection, so far.

VII. Can you briefly go into the formation, rise, rapid fall, and abrupt disbandment of Paternoster, as to told to you directly from its one-time members themselves? What do you think it is about their music that still allows Paternoster to resonate with crate-diggers young and old nearly five decades later?

I could talk for hours on this subject, but I will try to keep this brief. Paternoster were four young students meeting in Vienna's alternative nightlife around 1970. They hung around the same bars and artist communes, and they happened to love the same music: Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Procul Harum, mainly Progressive Rock, and some Jazz Fusion. They formed a band to record the soundtrack for a silent art movie called "The First Days." The movie got premiered at some of the big festivals and somehow a major label subsidiary (CBS Austria) got interested in the band.

They signed a deal to produce one album and only had two studio days for recording and mix down. "Paternoster" got released, but the record company didn't have a plan for the band. The record didn't sell, they played a couple of gigs, and just went on with life. * Paternoster existed from 1970-1973, maybe early 1974. No one seems to remember. All of the band members went into separate directions. Only Wippel and bass player Wisser, who were the musical driving force behind the band, stayed in contact.

I think the music on the record is simply mind-blowing. Wippel himself thinks it could have sounded better with the right engineer. But people like Eothen or myself just love the way it turned out. It cries out to be sampled by beat-makers, but at the same time it's excellent music to listen to: Psychedelic, melancholic and trippy. Something that A$AP Rocky and his producers might use, as well as people like Madlib or Flying Lotus. For an album recorded in 1972, it's totally ahead of its time.

* Editor's Note: it's supposedly been reported by Franz Wippel himself that "470 copies were sold and the rest of the 1,000 destroyed by CBS Vienna in 1983." Although, there's little to no proof to substantiate this claim, aside from a wide-spread Internet rumor. However, this would likely attribute to the album's immense scarcity and heavily marked-up re-sell price tag, quite often exceeding $10,000.

VIII. We're a primarily Hip-Hop-minded publication here at The Witzard, although, with that said, I'm not too privy when it comes to world music–let alone Hip-Hop. Would you care to share a sampling of, in your opinion, the finest German Hip-Hop albums, singles, mixtapes, etc. released within the last year go 18 months?

This is kind of a difficult question; a personal favorite of 2015 was Audio88 & Yassin's album Normaler Samt that we released on our label, Heart Working Class. I dare say, it was kind of an underground rap favorite. But the German Hip-Hop scene is huge and really successful right now. I see interesting new stuff once in a while, but at the same time I'm mostly listening to beats, Electronic, and old music, personally. It's difficult to point out certain albums or mixtapes for me, aside from the people I'm working with. We're working on the new album by German rapper Megaloh right now, to me, he's just the best [emcee] this country has ever seen. Here's his most recent music video titled "Regenmacher."

His producer, Ghanaian Stallion sampled some Krautrock for the album. Not Paternoster, but Joy Unlimited, another band that I managed to contact and interview. No re-issue plans though, as their catalogue is owned by Universal.

IX. How exactly did Franz Wippel react when you told him that crate-diggers across the world were willing to pay up to $10,000 to purchase and own a copy of Paternoster's lone 1972 album? Did he and Thomas Wisser seem surprised to learn that people still wanted to hear their music all these years later?

For Franz, this didn't come as a surprise. He had been called out of the blue by crate-diggers for years, especially after music writer Hans Pokora had called the Paternoster album a holy grail in his "1001 Record Collectors' Dreams" book. They had been trying to contact him since the 1990's, mainly about leftover copies that he might own (he doesn't have any). Franz made some joking comments on this, but at the same time I felt he knew that they were on to something musically; he's just not too happy with the way the record came out sonically. As for Thomas, I hope he feels good about his late father's heritage being celebrated through this re-release.

X. Did Wippel give any sort of indication as to why Paternoster abruptly disbanded following their album's CBS Austria release? To the best of your knowledge, what did each of its band members ultimately end up doing?

They didn't even split up officially. It "just ran out," as Wippel put it. You have to bear in mind they were students in their early 20's. They just got on with [lives]. They had to find a job to pay their bills, as Paternoster didn't do anything for them. Franz dabbled in advertising, then moved on to writing radio features which he did for more than 30 years. Guitar player Gerhard [Walter] stopped going to the same bars as everybody else and focused on his architectural studies. We didn't manage to find him, but some sources say he's working for Vienna's city council today. Bass player Haimo's girlfriend got pregnant (with Thomas) and moved back to her parents' place in Tirol. He went with her and got involved with the musical underground there. Unfortunately, he developed a serious psychosis and committed suicide in the 1990's. Drummer Hardy [Walenta] is the only one who is still making music: after Paternoster, he joined a Punk band and today, he's playing in The Carosellis.

XI. What kind of information are you able to divulge concerning the album's re-mastering? Did Egon obtain an original copy of Paternoster or better yet, its master tapes?

The master tapes seem to be lost; at least, nobody knows where they are. The label folded in the early 1990's. Eothen made a great effort in getting it re-mastered from an original vinyl source. Dave Cooley of Elysian Masters in Los Angeles is a specialist in this field, who did an amazing job re-mastering the recordings. He does all of Adrian Younge's stuff, which sounds spectacular. He has been working with Now-Again, Eothen, and Stones Throw for years and did a lot of J Dilla and Madlib's stuff. He obviously knew exactly what we were looking for.

XII. How did you, Egon, and his Now-Again Records team ultimately decide between the original black-and-white cover and Hans Pokora's one-of-a-kind hand-colored test press? And in closing, Stephan: do you have any parting words? Thank you for your time, gripping stories, and a wonderful six-star interview!

I didn't take part in this decision, but I guess Eothen wanted an original feel for the re-issue. Franz is very proud of the artwork, which was done in one night by Bernhard Paul. He was a graphic designer living in a kind of arts commune with Kurt Orator back in the days. Later, he founded Circus Roncalli, so he is kind of an Austrian celebrity today. This is just one of the many weird stories around this release that make it so fascinating. I am just deeply thankful to have been able to work on this with Eothen, Franz, and Thomas. Anybody with a soft spot for deep and Psychedelic 1970's Rock has to check this out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Your Love Is Like a Rollercoaster, Baby, Baby: Death Grips Unleash Pummeling, Brain-melting Bottomless Pit Comeback Single, "Hot Head" On The Eve of Superbowl 50 (Thirdworlds)

"WE ARE NOW AT OUR BEST AND SO DEATH GRIPS IS OVER. WE HAVE OFFICIALLY STOPPED. ALL CURRENTLY SCHEDULED LIVE DATES ARE [CANCELLED]. OUR UPCOMING DOUBLE ALBUM THE POWERS THAT B WILL BE DELIVERED WORLDWIDE LATER THIS YEAR VIA HARVEST/THIRDWORLD RECORDS. DEATH GRIPS WAS ALWAYS HAS BEEN A CONCEPTUAL ART EXHIBITION ANCHORED BY SOUND [AND] VISION. ABOVE AND BEYOND A "BAND." TO OUR TRUEST FANS PLEASE STAY [LEGEND]," Death Grips wrote within a seemingly haphazard napkin-scrawled band break-up note uploaded to their Facebook page back in July 2014. Although, it now seems as though said disbandment was nothing more than an elaborately planned rouse, as founding members MC Ride, Zach Hill & Flatlander are amidst a full-fledged band reunion; having already circled the world once around, booked a number of festival dates for this upcoming summer, and are currently recording a proper follow-up to their reported "last" album, The Powers That B, tentatively titled Bottomless Pit. Death Grips previously Colin Hanks and Robert Pattinson. However, this past Saturday night, right around the same time old friend Beyoncé unveiled her empowering Superbowl 50 single "FOUNDATION," Death Grips quietly uploaded "Hot Head" to their various widely speculated band-affiliated social media accounts.

For what it's worth, "Hot Head" isn't too dissimilar from Death Grips' frantic, self-destructive brand of Yeezus-influencing Aggro-Rap. VICE sister site Noisey quite fittingly described Death Grips' triumphant return-to-form as chock-full of characteristic "revving chainsaw synths, frenetic vocal cuts, MC Ride's signature screams, and hellish thuds." It's probably just a mere coincidence that Death Grips decided to suddenly release "Hot Head" the same night as Beyoncé's latest, "FOUNDATION," but it does however, make me wonder: what might a shimmering Beyoncé-assisted Death Grips track recorded with Twilight heart-throb Robert Pattinson on guitar and maybe even produced by Kanye, for good measure, likely sound like? While there's currently no form of scheduled or rumored release date set for Bottomless Pit, I really wouldn't put it past bandleader Zach Hill to just wake up one day and upload the entirety of Death Grips' "comeback" album to YouTube before breakfast or just haphazardly leak it in the vein of d*ck pic-sporting critically-acclaimed magnum opus, NO LOVE DEEP WEB. There's no telling what exactly Death Grips have up their figurative sleeve next, but I'm sure it will be just as riveting, trail-blazing, and utterly discouraging as their past work; I, for one, know I can't wait to write a couple equally disjointed articles about Bottomless Pit!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Asher Roth & Nottz Raw Enlist Blink-182 Drummer Travis Barker for Self-described "Supercalifragilistic-mystic Odyssey," RAWTHER EP (RetroHash)

"Ash Roth, Trav Bark, Nottz Raw... supercalifragilistic-mystic odyssey / When Travis hits the crashing kick and Nottz is on the beat / When Ash is spittin' nasty sh*t, it makes it hard to breathe / Masters of the craft, it's the last of a dying breed," Asher Roth ferociously rhymes during his introductory "Goin' Down" verse on his latest cleverly-titled Travis Barker and Nottz Raw-assisted release, RAWTHER EP. Roth's newest Punk Rock-tinged extended player has seemingly been in-the-works since he, Nottz, and Barker first met during their concert-opening stint on Blink-182's 2009 "One Way to Bonerville" reunion tour, which in turn, helped spawn a plentiful working relationship, as well as Travis Barker's "Sour Patch Kids" Remix from his remarkable mid-album cycle mixtape, Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry. RAWTHER is of course, the unofficial follow-up to Asher & Nottz's Misfits and Joanna Newsom-sampling RAWTH EP (2011) with an added "ER" to account for their newly-added third member; "Travis Barker is on the drums, and it's just like so stupid. He's trying all these new things and messing around. Obviously, he's a music guy. So, he's sampling all this Indie Rock—whether it be [The] White Stripes or all this other stuff," Roth told HipHopDX within an interview conducted during the EP's earliest formative stages. Although The White Stripes and Indie Rock-laden samples don't seem to have stuck throughout the past few years-worth of editing, Asher Roth's proclamation that he didn't "even know if you can classify [RAWTHER] as Hip-Hop. It's almost Rock music that's coming from the boom bap, and there's elements of Psychedelic Trip-Rock" still apparently seems to ring true throughout the course of its expansive six tracks.

"Here we are in February 2016 and 'RAWTHER' is alive. The collaborative project constructed by Nottz Raw, Travis Barker, and myself is a celebration of years of friendship and a marriage of our boisterous personalities. Although Nottz may seem reserved at first, the animated alien shines bright behind the boards. Travis' uninhibited animal roars with each rip of the snare," Asher Roth, or the project's self-described "exuberant voice," wrote within RAWTHER's accompanying RetroHash press release. RAWTHER has been relentlessly teased on-and-off for the past 4-5 years since Asher & Nottz's RAWTH EP, although, in the interim, Roth has managed to quietly unleash a number of endless play-worth (in my opinion, at least) projects including Pabst & Jazz, Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry, The GreenHouse Effect, Vol. 2, nearly an entire album's-worth of scrapped Is This Too Orange? and The Spaghetti Tree singles, and 2015's crop of incredibly noteworthy Hash Wednesdays Soundcloud loosies. Following the completion of their long in-the-works RAWTHER EP sessions, Asher, Travis & Nottz decided "it was only right to call upon NYC-based sky dweller, Aristotle [Torres], to help bring the RAWTHER world to life." RAWTHER director Torres managed to get a hold of a few GoPro prototypes, with which they were able to construct a unique 6-camera rig and in turn, "360 degrees of insanity;" wherein we've since been able to view the endlessly creative foursome's Noisey-premiered red, yellow, and blue-tinted fisheye-scoped preview of EP tracks "Blow Yr Head," Harry Potter-referencing "Voldermort," and aforementioned stand-out "Goin' Down."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Come to 42nd Street and hear a man in the subway play "Hotline Bling" on trombone;" Your Old Droog & Marco Polo Effortlessly Flip Nu Shooz's "I Can't Wait" Into "42 (Forty Deuce)"

"["42" is] a song that's literally been in-the-making for over a decade. Wanted to flip this sample since '05 and I finally brought it to a producer and got the job done," Ukrainian-American rapper Your Old Droog, who was widely speculated to be Nas alias at first, recently told Complex upon the premier of his "42 (Forty Deuce)" music video. It was produced by Marco Polo and Droog himself, who together, somehow managed to expertly flip a sample of Nu Shooz's 1984 Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart No.1, "I Can't Wait." "42" was proceeded by its frenzied @CLEOFUS-designed single artwork about two weeks prior, which featured Your Old Droog front and center in an Elmo costume surrounded by a bunch of eclectic New Yorkers, but now, along with his Jonah Schwartz-directed video, makes a lot more sense in retrospect. "It's about a special place that I really used to frequent back in the days. The video is a halfway glimpse into that and my halfway break-dancing skills," Droog continued within an email sent to Complex. "42" is loosely based around an all too familiar concept of getting stopped in the city streets by a Walkman-totting no name amateur "rapper" walking alongside of you and repeatedly asking, "yo bro, you listen to Hip-Hop?" I've learned that there's really no good answer to this moderately rhetorical question; if you dare say, "no," they'll either start calling you an a$_hole, racist, cheap b*stard, etc. or in my case, somehow still manage to strong-arm you into buying a sh*tty Peanuts-themed mixtape.

Droog's terribly unsuspecting I ❤ New Yorker, however, is treated to a slightly more pleasant experience, vaguely similar to that of The Stepkids' trippy, haze-filled Kurt Braunohler & Wyatt Cenac-starring "Legend In My Own Mind" clip released during their brief tenure at Stones Throw. Throughout the course of Schwartz's city streetlight-lit "42" treatment, our four-eyed out-of-towner runs in to Droog a number of times, disguised as a unibrowed hot dog cart attendant, a "homeless" Vietnam vet, a break-dancing Tickle Me Elmo, a pushy window washer, a talented late night caricature artist, and a FILA-sporting flask-chugging pedicab driver. Despite the fact that he still lacks major label representation, Droogh Grant is currently readying his debut full-length album (or second, if you count his expanded Your Old Droog EP-LP) for a tentative fourth quarter release. Although he recently told Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg that he could theoretically "drop a joint everyday, if [he] wanted to" and already has a couple albums-worth of material recorded and stockpiled just awaiting their imminent release. Following the release of his critically-acclaimed Rock-themed KINISON EP, Your Old Droog has quietly unleashed The Nicest EP, "Unlimited Metrocard," "Senseless Killin' II," a remix of The Weeknd's "Tell Your Friends," Italian Soul-Funk-sampling "Before I Go," his Top Shelf Premium "OFF TOP" Freestyle, and impeccable Seinfeld theme-interpolating "Basketball & Seinfeld," all of which were haphazardly uploaded to Soundcloud.