Music

Jeff Rona - 'PROJECTOR' (album stream) (premiere)

Photo: Helge Bogarts

The acclaimed composer transports listeners to a place between dreams and reality on this ethereal electronic record.

Since the early 1990s, Jeff Rona has been known for his thrilling and atmospheric compositions across the media spectrum. Whether you judge his artistry by his contributions to film, television, or gaming, Rona has left a substantial mark with the likes of Sharkwater, Phantom, and God of War III under his belt.


The acclaimed Californian composer's latest project is a personal affair in the form of his solo venture, PROJECTOR. The LP is the result of Rona's search for sound effects, which were then distorted into ambient strands of music that made up a melodic, harmonic whole. From there, he and a team of musicians got to work on layering all manner of instruments on top of the atmospheric world Rona had created, including guitars, cellos, piano, and more. In this sense, the compositions present on the album are equal parts organic and synthetic.

The experimental nature of Rona's work on PROJECTOR make for a scintillating listen from start to finish. The "equal parts organic and synthetic" line extends far beyond the actual composition of each piece, deep into to the undeniable soul of each track laid down.

There is something foreign, something unusual about each piece that makes them stand alone as strange and even unnerving at times, but never enough to keep you from listening. It may be that there is a particular heart in the great lengths at which Rona went to work on each particular composition that bleeds into his work, but it feels like something even more than that. PROJECTOR is as utterly bizarre as it is heartfelt and sincere, and in this unique blend, listeners may well feel as if they've been transported to a place between dreams and reality while giving this ethereal record their ear.

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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