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by Justin Cober-Lake

7 Feb 2012

Performing as Azure Blue, Tobias Isaksson looks back to the 1980s for much of his sound on his new release Rule of Thirds, and he considers three romantic break-ups as his lyrical inspiration. That doesn’t mean he’s just a nostalgia act, though, as his electro-pop takes its own turns and his emotional reflections reveal a certain amount of mature distance (even if he might be hiding some of those feelings in pop culture references).

The just-released video for “Seasons” skips the pop culture for the classical, opening with a description of the mythological sirens. The opening’s off-putting, hinting that an ex-lover was simply a call to calamity, but the song’s dreamy and not offended, Isaksson embracing the time to let go. The new age-y feel to the video supports this idea without completely relinquishing longing. There’s something uncomfortable about the visuals that suggests there’s a stronger attachment here than we’re led to believe, and the video maintains a tension between the music’s calm release, the video’s soft images, and the idealization of the female form that drives our heartbroken singer to a romanticized sort of hurt, even if he wants to move into the season of release.

by John Bergstrom

7 Feb 2012

After Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode high and dry in 1981, no one would have guessed he and the man who succeeded him as the band’s primary songwriter would ever collaborate again. Yet Clarke and Martin Gore are releasing new material together, under the name VCMG. The two technopop icons never shared a studio,collaborating mainly via internet. Still, this marks a monumental development for Depeche Mode fans, hardly two years after Clarke’s replacement, Alan Wilder, joined Depeche onstage for the first time in 16 years. Clarke, of course, has made a name for himself in Yazoo, the Assembly, and Erasure. Here is “Spock”, the title track of VCMG’s first EP, which released December 12 last year. As Clarke and Gore have promised, it is an instrumental dance track that reflects its creators’ interest in minimal European house. The full VCMG album is slated for release this month.

  VCMG - Spock by Mute UK

by Comfort Clinton

7 Feb 2012

House of Blondes is an up and coming electronic duo comprised of John Blonde and Chris Pace, based in New York City. Their vibe is electro synth, and their sound is akin to the likes of Daedulus, Holy Fuck, Amon Tobin and Hot Chip. The group relies heavily on improvisation in the studio for their creative process. In fact, their current album began as 20 minutes of ambient riffing, and is inspired by GAS, an ambient techno project by Wolfgang Voight. Some of House of Blondes’ past singles include “Shadows” and “Do it Yourself (Landscape)”, both of which will be featured on their debut album, titled Clean Cuts, available on February 28th through Glowmatic Records.

Below, check out the new video, premiering here on PopMatters, for House of Blondes’ single “Come Running”. It was directed and edited by band member John Blonde, and produced by Kurt W. Sawilla. The video is shot entirely in black and white, with block color occasionally flooding the screen to provide emphasis and mood. Sometimes in fast motion and sometimes in slow, the video plays with speed the way “Come Running” plays with tempo. While the characters’ actions echo the methodical pulse of the song, don’t get too comfortable… the end is a shocker! 

by Cynthia Fuchs

7 Feb 2012

Stanley Nelson’s exceptional documentary tells the story of the Freedom Rides, from their initiation in May 1961, by James Farmer and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), to the Interstate Commerce Commission’s (ICC) ruling that September, that passengers on interstate buses could sit wherever they wanted, “the first unambiguous victory in the long history of the civil rights movement.” Freedom Riders—airing on PBS on 7 February—offers some incredible images from the period to show how this victory was the result of months of struggle, including assaults on the freedom riders by angry citizens as well as police officers. Boarding commercial buses (Trailways and Greyhound) in Washington, DC and intending to ride through the Deep South, the riders set out deliberately to violate Southern segregation laws. Each CORE member signed a formal agreement, stating, “I understand that I shall be participating in a nonviolent protest… against racial discrimination, that arrest or personal injury to me might result.” They had little expectation of the violence that would be inflicted on them.

See PopMattersreview.

Watch Freedom Riders Theatrical Trailer on PBS. See more from Freedom Riders.

by Comfort Clinton

6 Feb 2012

Dailymotion, the internet’s second largest video destination, which boasts 1.2 billion video views worldwide, introduced its latest offshoot: Music in Motion on February 1st. The new music movement will emphasize pairing music with charity causes, and will feature unique artist presentations, as well as exclusive playlists created by various artists. The focus of the debut series for Music in Motion is music from protest movements, and so fittingly, Hal Willner’s Freedom Rides Concert: Music of the Civil Rights Movement inaugurates the franchise.

Willner’s concert event, which took place on September 15th as a benefit for the Clinton Foundation, served to honor the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders who, facing certain racism and adversity, courageously rode interstate buses all over the nation to protest segregation policies. As Lenny Kaye put it, the event was to “celebrate some very brave people who went down South at a very critical time in the Civil Rights Movement and put their lives on the line”.

//Mixed media

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