Tag Archives: ooooo

Dragged out of the witch house: Tri Angle Records

The Internet killed the major record label business. Like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, the Warners and Universals of the world are already dead (spoiler!) – they just have to come to terms with it. As the majors wander aimlessly, searching for answers that won’t come, indie labels have never been stronger. With a seemingly never-ending stream of genres and sounds to mine, record labels can plant their flag, carve out a niche, and make a name for themselves.

That’s exactly what Tri Angle Records has done. They’ve been on the forefront of the drag / witch house scene since last year’s compilation of re-imagined Lindsay Lohan songs Let Me Shine For You. Tri Angle is the brainchild of Robin Carolan of 20JazzFunkGreats, one of the leading proponents of witch house, in conjunction with techno label Kompakt.

After Let Me Shine For You, Tri Angle got serious, releasing Balam Acab‘s See Birds EP. See Birds is a nocturnal journey in all phases, from nightmare to dream to hazy awakening. Throughout the EP, echoes of horror movie drums are juxtaposed against airy, wistful strings and keys, a style epitomized by its book-ended title tracks. “See Birds (moon)” rumbles with murky bass blasts, while “See Birds (sun)” floats with bubbling aquatic sounds that give way to an upbeat, chiptune rhythm.

I’ve written about oOoOO previously. oOoOO is the easiest Tri Angle artist to fit under the witch house umbrella. His eponymous EP is more energetic than See Birds due to a preponderance of programmed beats. It also brings dream pop vocals higher up in the mix, whereas Balam Acab uses vocals to shade and color his compositions.

The most critically acclaimed Tri Angle artist, How To Dress Well (Brooklyn’s Tom Krell) fuses the ambiance of his Tri Angle compatriots with a deconstructionist’s take on R&B. Love Remains is haunting and romantic, with Krell’s breathy falsetto a counterpoint to the full-throated opulence of contemporary R&B singers. Like dance-focused rhythm and bass producers, HTDW feeds off nostalgia for 90s R&B, as Krell’s borrowed melodies leave the listener grasping at half-remembered dreams.

Combine the R&B of HTDW and the dance music of early industrial and you have Holy Other. Pneumatic beats keep time while synths and ghostly vocals fill in the blanks. “Touch” is Holy Other’s take on Burial-esque atmospherics, with “I’ve been looking for your touch” a weeping refrain.

The latest release in the Tri Angle catalog is Rainforest, by Clams Casino. As the title suggests, it is a technicolor nature symphony, with track titles like “Treetop” and “Waterfalls.” Clams Casino (real name Mike Volpe) has a background as a beatmaker for based rappers such as Lil B and Soulja Boy, but his tracks work better instrumentally. His diffused soundscapes and chopped & screwed samples melt and sway over left-field hip hop beats.

Next up on Tri Angle is more Balam Acab and the debut of San Francisco’s Water Borders entitled Harbored Mantras. Press materials cite industrial pioneers Coil and the dance music of Rinse FM as the inspirations for Harbored Mantras. “What Wiwant” delivers on that vague promise, with an undercurrent of sub bass, a collage of tribal effects and decidedly Gothic chanting.

Also keep watch for material from Ayshay, Tri Angle’s latest signing. Ayshay is the stage name of Fatima Al Qadiri, a Senegalese artist who was raised in Kuwait. “WARN-U,” both in song and video, seem to match the witch house sound and aesthetic, albeit with a distinctive Eastern vibe.

Call it witch house, drag, or chillwave, but when these ephemeral trends are over, Tri Angle Records will be left standing.

The Verge: oOoOO

From the sonic graveyard of crosses and triangles that is drag/witch house comes oOoOO. Pronounced “oh,” oOoOO is Christopher Dexter Greenspan, a San Francisco-based producer and pioneer of the nascent sound. Over two EPs, he has staked his claim as the most accessible artist in the intentionally-underground scene.

In January 2010, oOoOO released No Summer4U as a limited-run CD-R on Disaro Records. The disc spun familiar dance pop into macabre soundscapes. Formerly sugary tunes like Nocera’s “Summertime” and Space Cowboy’s “My Egyptian Lover” are transformed into the skittering, synth-heavy “No Summer4U” and “EGYPTYNLVR,” respectively. His remix of “Poker Face” chops and screws the Gaga hit into a detuned funhouse track.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PCKRFCRMX.mp3″ text=”oOoOO – PCKRFCRMX” dl=0]

His first proper EP, a self-titled 12″ on Tri Angle Records, built on the sounds he established on No Summer4U. Throughout the EP, oOoOO’s songs have faster tempos and more structure than those of his contemporaries, without betraying their gloomy nature. Even under waves of static and a fog of uneasiness, melody is still king. The juked percussion of “mumbai” (which also appears on the CD-R) is a highlight.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mumbai.mp3″ text=”oOoOO – mumbai” dl=0]

The drag/witch house scene has been percolating for a few years now, and the cream is rising to the top. oOoOO recently did a podcast for FACT Magazine, previewing a new track and moving into unusual but understandable territory (ie Cat Power). Similarly, don’t miss his remix of Marina and the Diamonds’ “Obsessions.” For fans of both pop music and the darkness of drag, oOoOO is the man for all seasons.

Download: FACT Mix 227 – oOoOO

Tri Angle drags pop music (and Lindsay Lohan goes to jail)

Tri Angle Records, along with Disaro Records, is at the forefront of drag and witch house, with a line-up that includes Balam Acab and oOoOO. So while we wait for a VHS-versus-Beta resolution in regards to the genre name, Tri Angle has released a few mixes that stake out new territory for the developing scene.

In recognition (honor?) of Lindsay Lohan’s recent incarceration, Tri Angle has assembled Let Me Shine For You, six reworkings of Lohan’s regrettable dance pop “hits.” The mix includes tracks by oOoOO, Babe Rainbow, and Stalker and offers a very meta look at the downward spiral of Lohan’s life and career.

Tri Angle also compiled a mix for the French magazine Wow. In similar fashion to Let Me Shine For You, the mix abuses and mangles songs by Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys and Ciara, including a dark gabber edit of “Empire State of Mind.”

Dragged and Screwed (or, witch house cover songs)

The latest development in electronic music is the sonic darkness known either as drag or witch house. Equal parts chopped-and-screwed hip hop and gothic industrial, the mysterious scene is all over the internet yet difficult to pin down, due in large part to glyph-filled band names that are both unpronounceable and unsearchable.

With new releases from Disaro or Tri Angle dropping seemingly daily, it’s getting difficult to keep our triangles and crosses straight. So apart from Salem, where should you start with drag? How about some macabre makeovers of pop and hip-hop songs?

San Francisco’s oOoOO has released an EP that features several gloomy cover versions of formerly-upbeat dance tracks. The title track, “No Summr4U” is a a reworking of Nocera’s 1986 hit “Summertime, Summertime” which replaces the freestyle melody with a stark beat and hypnotic synths. “PCKRFCRMX” is short on vowels but big on dissonant keys and cut-and-paste Lady Gaga vocals.

Witch house heads must see something they like from the Haus of Gaga, because oOoOO is not alone in reworking the pop star of the moment. Mater Suspiria Vision has turned her songs into delay-heavy drone-fests. Not only have they given a mindfuck remix to “Alejandro,” but their take on both the song and video for “Paparazzi” is truly twisted, and not for the faint of heart.

SALEM proved that drag and hip-hop are a natural fit with their Gucci Mane edits. ? NO VIRGIN ? takes a shot at some trap music with a version of Gucci’s “I’m the Shit.” NO VIRGIN’s appropriately titled Downer EP is full of similarly pulsing scarefests and is available for free. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Whether you call it drag, witch house, or goth crunk, this music is not for everyone. Sludgy drum machine beats, grim synth lines, and samples of everything from gunshots to child-like pleading (!) may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But sometimes it pays to not be afraid of the dark.