The Caretaker

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The Caretaker is one of many creative avenues of prolific British electronic artist James Kirby, best known for his V/Vm project. Reportedly inspired by the haunted ballroom scene from “The Shining” film, The Caretaker flawlessly embodies just that. My affinity toward The Caretaker represents one of my most unexpected musical-taste surprises of the last decade or so, and his work has become some of my very favourite within the genre.

Picture yourself swimming to the ocean’s floor and coming across a black shipwreck from the early 1900s, tipped on its side and half-buried in the sand. As you near the hull, you notice a dull glow of light emanating from inside the vessel, as well as the muffled sound of what resembles lounge music. Deep within, you come across a tilted ballroom with a wooden dance flooring at its center, debris-laden flickering chandeliers overhead, and the procession of white apparitions. Trapped in time as a carousel, they turn and spin blankly in repetitious unison. You move into the crowd, passing through the floating ghosts blinded to your presence, and approach a gramophone in the shadows. Oscillating slowly and endlessly, you tilt your head to read the spinning, faded vinyl text: “The Caretaker”. The needle is stuck, but you dare not interfere.

I suspect my first encounter with The Caretaker will have powerful associations for as long as I listen to him. Upon learning of his critically-acclaimed record “An Empty Bliss Beyond This World” (and equally intrigued by its title), I located his streaming site, pressed play and let it run through. During my listen, I happened to be reading personal anecdotes from the travesties of World War II. Scrolling through black-and-white photographs, quotes, and factual recounts of these characters of history, I had found the perfect musical accompaniment. With his masterful selection and manipulation of near-ancient era music, he stifles melody amidst the thick crackle and hiss of aged, well-loved vinyl and loops it all in hypnotic constancy.

Since 1999’s aptly titled debut “Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom”, The Caretaker has delivered album after album of eerie, nostalgic incantations of minimalism and memory. His masterpiece was later discovered in 2011’s “An Empty Bliss Beyond This World”, a quintessential piece of his massive body of work. Follow-up LP “Patience (After Sebald)”, a soundtrack to the eponymous documentary, is a beautiful, largely piano-based continuation of his time-lapsed ambiance. As with most albums mentioned on this site, I would encourage the listener to experience The Caretaker’s in entirety.

Favourite track: All you are going to want to do is get back there… this may mark the only time a grandparent will hear your music and say, “Hey, what’s that?”

Holy Other

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Holy Other is an electronic artist based out of Europe whose identity remains unknown (he even cloaks his head in a black cloth when performing live). Creating haunting, amorphous melodic vocal overlays amidst inky-black drone, Holy Other whisks the listener to a lonely hollow surging with the flux of waves and shadow. The accompanying beats are uniquely broken and chipped, as though the sampler had an erratic output signal of ebb and flow. With this mix of unbridled emotion and calculated style, Holy Other keeps you lost in his caverns of sound.

In 2011 Holy Other introduced himself via “With U”, a powerful 7-song EP with a collection of some of the darkest and most other-worldly sounds in recent memory. Late 2012 brought his anticipated “Held” LP, another solid effort and natural extension of his downcast esthetic.

Favourite track: Blissters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYlwAbf9uC8)… Like a melted lullaby.

50

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Devil-Sincere hits 50 articles!
Here’s an overview of artists reviewed thus far:

Active Child
Balam Acab
Beach House
Bear in Heaven
Ryan Beattie (Chet, Himalayan Bear)
Boards of Canada
Broken Social Scene
Burial
Caribou / Manitoba
Chad Valley
Copeland
Craft Spells
Do Make Say Think
The Drums
Eluvium
Empire of the Sun
The Field
Foxes in Fiction
Gas
Girls
Gold Panda
Jacques Greene
Julie Doiron
Kisses
Le Loup
Local Natives
Loney, Dear
M83
The Middle East
Miniature Tigers
Miracle Fortress
Moderat
Neon Indian
Nosaj Thing
Panda Bear
Pariah
Patrick Watson
Pure X
The Radio Dept.
The Ruby Suns
Small Black
Stars of the Lid
Stephen McBean (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops, Jerk With A Bomb)
Suuns
Tame Impala
This Will Destroy You
Twin Sister
Washed Out
Wild Nothing
Yuck

To locate an article directly, enter the artist or band’s name in the search bar below.
Thanks for reading.

Stephen McBean (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops, Jerk With A Bomb)

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Stephen McBean is the most prominent member of Vancouver-based art collective “Black Mountain Army”, a slew of talented and ever-rotating musicians borne of their love for folk rock. Fronting 3 influential acts – Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops and Jerk With A Bomb – McBean has procreated nearly 10 stellar LPs, toured with Coldplay, had songs featured in blockbuster movies, received Juno and Polaris Music Prize nominations, and boasts one of the most captivating folk rock shows around.

5-piece psychrock-nodding Black Mountain with their LPs “Black Mountain”, “Wilderness Heart” and “In The Future” have garnered the most critical and commercial success, the former being my favourite. However, I believe his lesser-known side-projects are an even more intriguing listen. Within his solo electronic-folk moniker Pink Mountaintops, McBean created one of my most listened-to Canadian records with the masterpiece LP “Axis of Evol” (as well as his noteworthy eponymous and “Outside Love” releases). Jerk With A Bomb, a gritty duo between McBean and Joshua Wells (the stellar drummer in much of McBean’s work),  delineates his introduction to the music world with 2 excellent LPs “Pyrokinesis” and “The Old Noise”.

Favourite tracks:
Black Mountain – Don’t Run Our Hearts Around (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVUYwP47SHw)
Pink Mountaintops – How We Can Get Free (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDJKch17e-I)
Jerk With A Bomb – To The Grave (http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2009/04/09/lost-classics-jerk-with-a-bomb-pyrokinesis/)