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Long overdue on these cmj snaps from the RQ x MME show at Shea Stadium. Revel in the October vibessss.
Pigeons/Fluffy Lumbers/Ecstatic Sunshine/Street Chant/Family Portrait/Andrew Cedermark
See BIG here.
Matt Papich at the Market Hotel, circa 2008.
Ecstatic Sunshine has been on the experimental music radar for years, beeping and blipping and moving in and out of focus and frequency all the while. Last winter I sat down with Matt Papich and he said he was interested in “sound’s ability to sculpt space” and “affect the environment” where music is being played. Well, this Friday night at the Rose Quartz x MME Unofficial CMJ Showcase we can all find out exactly what happens when Papich sculpts space and alters environments with sound.
Papich tours Europe quite frequently and sent over a recording of the song “Faceplant,” recorded live in Katowice, Poland earlier this year. Check it out in ANTICIPATION.
Ecstatic Sunshine: Faceplant (Live in Katowice, Poland)
“No currency will be exchanged.”
Matt Papich is Ecstatic Sunshine. I’ve been a follower for some time of the dreamy and occasionally harsh pop electronica of this Baltimore artist. He’s back with a digital-only free 7″. Freak Flag features two exercises in sonic experimentation. Papich doesn’t just make music that sounds or feels good–for him, it’s all conceptual. So how did he conceive of “No Future I’m Dead”? Does he believe that there’s no future? For himself personally?
Papich says Freak Flag is “music for being without intent, for occupying time and space in an ambient way.” So basically, relax, listen carefully, but feel it first. Luckily, “No Future I’m Dead” is a beautiful track awash in what can only be described as waves of ecstasy. And the melody is a haunting, low-end exploration of depth.
Ecstatic Sunshine is about to tour Europe. Hopefully a future show in NYC will pan out… Get Freak Flag! The tracks will later appear on the ES Dissolver LP.
Ecstatic Sunshine: No Future I’m Dead
Matt Papich, 26, is an artist. But Papich’s tools are instruments, not oil paints or wood. He does use his hands, but he manipulates sound for your ears, not colors and shapes for your eyes. To a conceptual artist, perhaps there isn’t much of a difference.
Ecstatic Sunshine began in art school where, for a class project, Papich’s instructor paired him with Dustin Wong and told them to work together. The band was born within the walls of the Maryland Institute College of Art, or MICA, in Baltimore, MD.
Wong has since left, he’s a founding member of the band Ponytail, leaving Papich basically a one-man band. Through the years he’s collaborated with many musicians, most recently Joe (White) Williams, but ES is his project, his work, his life blood.
Recently over cured meats (including beef tongue), olives, cheese and beers at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, Papich explained how he composes/writes songs, the nature of sound and instrumentation and what it’s like to be in the thick of the Baltimore music scene.
Some art school kids are pretentious, some musicians are cool, some people are losers, but Papich is none of these things. He, like his music, defies convention and stereotypes.
Some may call the music of Ecstatic Sunshine noise; others may call it noise-pop and still more may say it’s experimental. To Papich, this isn’t really important. What’s important is what the music does for the audience—and the creator.
“I’m interested in sound’s ability to sculpt space, how it will affect the environment,” he said. “It’s a shifting of awareness.”
How one achieves a shifting of awareness is up to them, he said.
Papich’s live set-up includes a “chaos pad,” which “works with intuition,” Papich said. It’s understandable why he uses it.
When describing sound, Papich doesn’t only get technical—he gets philosophical.
“I think a lot of bands that use tapes use them as an effect to inspire nostalgia, I’m nervous about a nostalgic setting,” he said. “Walter Benjamin said ‘Nostalgia is an opiate of the masses.’”
Later that night Ecstatic Sunshine played a show at Death by Audio with three other experimental acts on the scene, one of which was Nonhorse, a one-man band (these were all one-man bands) who manipulates cassettes. After the set, Papich agreed it was not a nostalgic performance, bolstering his own theory that there is no set way to experience, or make, music.
Papich doesn’t have a formula for songwriting either, most musicians don’t. But asked if he hears melodies in his head and then plays them, Papich quickly answered, “no.”
“It’s not that clear,” he said. “When writing music, you’ll get to something that sounds right, and maybe it just happens.”
So by thinking through sound, by making music contextually, and also relying on the human attributes of a machine, Ecstatic Sunshine makes its case.
The Baltimore music scene has been compared to Brooklyn’s—it’s an arena of creativity, underground and underage shows and collaboration. But Baltimore is much smaller than Brooklyn, reminded Papich, who lived in Williamsburg for about eight months last year while working with Williams.
And that smallness is what makes Baltimore more of an incubator, and less of a scene.
Dan Deacon, perhaps the biggest act to break out of Baltimore, exemplifies the city’s good vibes. He still comes out to see shows all the time, said Papich.
“After Deacon and Ponytail got big, a lot of new bands that were influenced by them popped up, and people were worried about this empty party music,” said Papich. “But no one supported those bands…We have high standards.”
Another big distance: in Baltimore, all the venues and spaces to hear music are basically within walking distance.
Papich is from Allentown, PA. Growing up he listened to Guns N Roses, thought Cat Stevens was “god” and loved “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys. He “played music seriously” in high school, in hard-core and punk bands.
He plays music seriously now, too. The most recent Ecstatic Sunshine record, Yesterday’s Work, is out now on Hoss Records. Get it here. Check out the track below, “Conch.”
Ecstatic Sunshine: Conch
Ed. Note: Usually I like to listen to the music of the band i’m writing about. With Ecstatic Sunshine this is close to impossible because the sound is so challenging. You have to pay attention. Yes, you can get lost in it, but really, you should follow the music. It’s on a path, to somewhere.
The bill at Death by Audio last night featured some of the best minds in noise/experimental electronics. The acts that performed are bound by similar goals, to create tapestries of complex and disorienting sound, but are all different in their approach and in the types of electronics/instruments they use. And thus, their affects are different, too. Where one act confounds, another grants clarity.
Nonhorse is G. Lucas Crane from Woods, and his set up was not a far jump from that which he uses in Woods. The mouthpiece microphone was there, to layer whatever vocals/mumbles he may utter with thick chaos, and the multiple cassette decks, too. Nonhorse makes music that is dizzying as a result of constant aural attacks. He’d move from one sound to another, one tape to the next, without hardly any build or concentrated energy. Quick bursts. A 15 minute stunner made time stand still. (Could it have only lasted 5?)
Ducktails played a mixed set. Starting on the ground with pedals, a keyboard and what seemed to be a sampler of sorts, and then moving up to the chair to play guitar over the sonic texture he’d created, Matt Mondanile makes a play out of one-acts. Each piece, or layer, is an important, nay crucial, part of the full attack. Ducktails set created a more blissful mood, one that had more melody to it, than Nonhorse’s. To conclude the set, Mondanile perhaps took a hint from his other band, Real Estate, and played a short and sweet pop-tune, which he sang over. But let’s not get confused here, the entire song was layered in noise.
Ecstatic Sunshine was up next. The sound of Matt Papich has changed since I last saw him, more than a year ago. And he’s now a one-man band. About a year ago Papich moved to Brooklyn to work with Joe Williams (aka White Williams). The result is Yesterday’s Work, released this past fall. It’s a staggering album, full of experimental guitars looping endlessly, linear song writing, all mixed up with heavy production, creating manipulated sound. It’s got a groove to it, and last night you could feel it ripple through the crowd. Papich moves with ease from guitar to sampler to mixer to “chaos pad,” making such a holy racket it seems definitive. A part of one particularly resonant song was so masterfully built that you could almost feel the collective swell of heartbeats, the tongues in the backs of peoples throats, choking, because it was nearly too much.
Also incorporated into his set are “field recordings,” some from Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio. The mix of “natural” and “unnatural” is crucial to Papich’s ideas on sound.
To close the show, Jason Urick played a laptop. This was the harshest set of the night. If the other acts were a tad muted, or less visceral and in your face, Urick made you forget that. A full onslaught is what he brought. I left before I exploded.
Ducktails, Ecstatic Sunshine, Jason Urick, Nonhorse at Death by Audio, 8ish
Tanlines, Das Racist, etc. at Highline Ballroom, 8ish
Daniel Higgs, Stellar Om Source at Monster Island Basement, 8ish
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dean and Britta at the Bell House, 8ish (and Wednesday with Dinosaur Feathers and Friday at HIRO)
Big Troubles, My Teenage Stride, The Sundelles, Lame Drivers at Le Poisson Rouge, 8ish
Reading Rainbow, Family Trees, Total Slacker, X-Ray Eyeballs at Death by Audio, 8ish
Laurel Halo, Air Waves, A Rose Parade at Zebulon, 9ish
MNDR, Zambri, Tayisha Busay at Glasslands, 9ish
Bob Mould at City Winery, 9 pm (and Saturday)
Telepathe, Boy Crisis, Apache Beat, Brahms (formerly known as Cale Parks), Grandchildren at Glasslands, 9ish
Nine 11 Thesaurus, Dan Friel at IS 291, 231 Palmetto St., Brooklyn. Part of ¿REAL BUSHWICK/BUSHWICK RÉAL?
The Fugs, John Kruth, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Pete Stampfel, John Zorn at St. Ann’s Warehouse, 7:30 pm (A Benefit for Tuli Kupferberg)
Flower of Flesh and Blood, Twin Sister, Soft Landings, Sultan at Monkeytown, 10:30 pm
Nat Baldwin at Sycamore, 9 pm
Ecstatic Sunshine is Matt Papich, from Baltimore, MD. His brand of noisy electronic pop is so unique that even thinking about it takes a pliable mind. You just need to see him live, which luckily you can do tonight at the Cake Shop and tomorrow at Death by Audio (with Ducktails, what an awesome bill.)
Here is a new track, “Track 2,” grab another here, “Track 1,” that Papich recently recorded with Dustin Wong, formerly of Ecstatic Sunshine and currently of Ponytail. It’s a little lighter and brighter than most Ecstatic work, more pleasant, maybe. Check it. And go see the band.
Dustin Wong and Matthew Papich: Track 2
Sam Amidon at Mercury Lounge, 9ish (also Monday w/ Beth Orton at Bell House)
Trouble and Bass, Uproot Andy, Ninjasonik at Studio at Webster Hall, 10ish
Teengirl Fantasy, Stellar Om Source, Lemonade (DJs) at Pianos, 11ish
Big Troubles, Blissed Out, Procedure Club, Dream Diary at Silent Barn, 8ish
Real Estate, Beach Fossils, The Beets, Total Slacker at St. James Church, LES, 8ish
Gordan Gano (Violent Femmes) and others at the Bell House, 11:45 pm
Beach Fossils, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, Cloud Nothings, Nude Beach at Monster Island Basement, 8ish
Dinosaur Jr. at Bowery Ballroom, 8ish(& Sun. at Music Hall of WBurg and Mon. at Brooklyn Bowl)
Aa, Dinowalrus at Cake Shop, 9ish
Ecstatic Sunshine, Jason Urick, McDonalds at Cake Shop, 8ish
Woods at Monkeytown, 2 shows, 8 and 1030
This year saw the rise of “chillwave,” throwback beach songs filtered through haze and electronic dance pop. Full on guitar bands were pretty non-existent and everyone seems to be drugging the hell out of their sound. Cacophony abounds. Here are my favorite tracks of the year…these aren’t any any particular order, per se. And it was really hard to figure out which were the best…
Hopefully, there will be a best albums of the year post coming soon… but in all honesty, great FULL albums are few and far between these days. For all the reasons you can imagine.
Dirty Projectors “Useful Chamber”
“Useful Chamber” starts with a flat and droned out electronic beat, and synths, then veers into an acoustic guitar picked transition. It’s back to the synths and drones, female vocals that imitate the synths, and back to acoustic picking. And it builds and builds and then cuts to just a drum beat. Longstreth sings a few lines in a flat tone and then boom! The song gets louder, a guitar squeals and there’s a melody that brings you through all the glorious muck. Another cut. This time, the normally angelic vocals of Angel Deradoorian, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle come in, harshly. They turn pretty, miraculously.
In perfect call and response, Longstreth’s wavering vocals return.
I’m caught up in a storm
That I need no shelter from
He needs no shelter because even though he’s in a storm, it’s not scary, not uncomfortable. It’s just strange and complicated. And you won’t believe this. The song cuts out again and we’re onto the third distinctly different section. To conclude, weave the three sections together. (Taken from my review of Bitte Orca.)
Dirty Projectors: Useful Chamber
Mountain Man “Animal Tracks”
I think i’ve said enough about this song by now. These girls make me feel completely intoxicated, even when i’ve injested nothing. This is music that sounds modern and ancient at the same time.
Mountain Man: Animal Tracks
Real Estate “Fake Blues”
Perfect pop from New Jersey that sounds like The Allman Brothers, (I just figured that out yesterday, how right is that?). Seriously though, it’s been a long time since a band made music that is so easy to listen to, yet so rich with innuendo, love and devotion.
Real Estate: Fake Blues
Discovery “Osaka Loop Line”
This album came out of nowhere, and took my head by storm. This is definitely the best track off of it, and the patterns, time changes and jagged sounds will leave you spinning.
Discovery: Osaka Loop Line
Tanlines is Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm- and their music is nothing short of a cocktail, part full-time high, part energy drink. This is the stuff made for life’s fun moments. “Bejan” is particularly good if you’re at the gym and you really don’t want to be there. In other words, these beats can make anything fun.
Ecstatic Sunshine “Turned On”
Ecstatic Sunshine was the best electronic/rock band of the ’08s and haven’t gotten too much love lately… but this track “Turned On” is hypnotic in the best of ways. It was inspired by The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” too, which is awesome.
Ecstatic Sunshine: Turned On
Matt Mondanile could be the musician of the year. He has his guitar licks down pact, as evidenced by his work in Real Estate. He adds so much richness you think you might have a heart attack. In Ducktails, Mondanile weaves tapestries of sound that you can literally lose your mind trying to find your way out of it.
Ecstatic Sunshine seems to get better and better, more and more interesting and freakier and funner with each record. Their third LP, “Yesterday’s Work” is set to arrive Nov. 3 but FIRST…check the free 7″ out on September 1 on Hoss. The “Turned On” 7″ features the catchy (can you believe it) track “Turned On,” which will also be on the upcoming record. The band says the track is a bit inspired by The Who’s “Baby O’Reilly.” I can see that. “Turned On” is not exactly epic, but it feels pleasurable and uplifting for sure. Also on the release is a remix of “Dunk” from the upcoming album. It’s given the Cexman treatment. Both are available below. But go to HossRecords.com for your own.
The album was produced by White Williams, what up!?
No tour dates yet….stay tuned! UPDATE: (le) poisson rouge on Aug. 15 with Growing and Lucky Dragons.
Ecstatic Sunshine: Turned On
Ecstatic Sunshine: Dunk (Cexman Remix)