In hindsight, this year started off like a fairly normal one for Detroit musician Steve Swartz, former guitarist of the dream/gaze band Au Revoir Borealis who’s been creating ambient soundscapes as Swartz Et for the past decade. I had the good fortune of chatting with him recently, and discussed many of the projects he’s been working on as well as the general state of 2020 and beyond.
His latest release from this past June, Light Leaks, seeks to bring awareness to the pain of seeing loved ones with mental illness by using found sounds and human utterances along with electronics to build wave upon wave of audio emotion.
Continue reading “A Few Words With… Steve Swartz”
Without realizing it, this mix is devoid of vocals. Just instrumentals. It’s most likely a reaction to my anxiety around the upcoming election here in the states and the general state of the corona virus, but really I just want to zone out for a bit.
Pulled from the latest offering from A Year In The Country – a compilation entitled The Layering – Pulselovers invites us into the world of “Brodsworth” (0:00), an English coal mining town that has returned formerly derelict industrial land into beautiful natural landscapes contoured by the wastelands that lie beneath.
The compilation “is a reflection on how these, and other varied strata, are layered on top of one another, and/or sit side-by-side, with some being recorded, while others are forgotten or unknown, becoming part of a hidden or semi-hidden history.”
Continue reading “Sonixcursions:011 Podcast”
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As I continue to work on the Masstransfer book, it’s amazing to see how many bands and musicians featured in the zine are still active and producing new works. These bands are achieving high points of their careers, and I’m excited to follow-up with them to add new material to the book and this website. Here’s a few of the highlights.
Very happy to report that Chris Jeely, aka Accelera Deck (among other monikers) has re-emerged under that guise to release a new EP entitled Crystalline Prickle. His return to the more electronic and “beaty” sounds of AD comes after focusing the last few years on an equally amazing project called Llarks, which explores more of the textured guitar that usually overlays older Accelera Deck works, and stretches it out beyond the horizon. Check his album from earlier this year called Come & Close Your Eyes:
Continue reading “Random Orbitings – June 25, 2020”
This article was originally published in the fifth issue of Masstransfer, 2002.
“local Detroit shoegazers that seem to have come out of nowhere to become the most talked about band in town”
Once in awhile, a band comes along that catches you by surprise, both by the quality their music and their ability to walk right into a scene and make an impact. Such is Au Revoir Borealis, who after only releasing 1 EP, has many people interested in following their progression.
I asked guitarist Steve Swartz how long it took them to break into the biz. “Well, we’ve actually been together for years, but only as a band for about 3 or 4 years. I (Steve) met Michael Carian, our drummer while in college. We shared a common obsession of music and went to tons of shows almost on a weekly basis. Through Michael, I met Justin VanSlembrouck who primarily plays bass in the band. Justin and Mike sort of grew up together.
Now at this point, I had been actively playing music for about 10 years. Justin had only been actively playing for about 2 years and Michael had never played drums actively ever. He always wanted to play drums, but never really had a chance to dig in. One day, Justin called me and wanted to get together and just jam out for a while. When we did, I think we played for about 8 hours straight! It was crazy! We had so much fun though. Justin and I kept playing for kicks. Michael eventually wanted to join the fun and Justin happened to have a drum kit in his basement. That’s basically how Au Revoir Borealis formed.”
Continue reading “Masstransfer << Rewind: Au Revoir Borealis”
Hello, and thanks for joining me on another audio-go-round of cosmic bliss. In this episode, I’m revisiting some of my favorite bands and albums from 2018 – starting off with probably my favorite band of the moment, Ulrika Spacek. In fact, many of the artists in the episode have only flown across my radar in the past few years or so, including Lowtide, Listening Center, and The Advisory Circle.
Sprinkled in among the new blood are some long-time favorites like I Am Robot And Proud – who released a kickin’ album late last year called Lucky Static; and My Autumn Empire – aka Ben Holton, one-half of the classic British post-rock duo Epic45, with the epic title track from his latest album “Oh, Leaking Universe”.
Rounding out this episode, and easing you into oblivion, comes “A Living Thing” – the title track of the recent album from ambient kingpin Steve Swartz (Swartz Et), who has been immersed in the Detroit space/ambient/folk scene for close to two decades now. At one time, he was part of the dreampop group Au Revoir Borealis, who achieved some success in the early 2000’s. From there he went on to a more acoustic sound with his solo project For Wishes, and in the last few years has gone in a more ambient and conceptual direction. Stay tuned for a Masstransfer Rewind on Au Revoir Borealis in the coming weeks.
For more information on the podcast and the bands included, please subscribe to the email newsletter. See you on the flipside!
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As we make another trip around the wheel of life, let me take a moment to look back at some of the releases that made the year a little more bearable. Drumroll please (rimshot where necessary)…
- Landing – Bells In New Towns
This band continues to amaze with each release, progressively fine tuning their own unique soundscapes. Well done.
- Ulrika Spacek – Suggestive Listening EP
Probably my favorite new band of the moment – hoping for another full-length in the near future
- My Autumn Empire – Oh, Leaking Universe
- The Asteroid #4 – Collide
- Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
- Adrien75 – The Deep State
Although Mr. 75 has released several albums last year, this is my fave of the bunch
- Chatham Rise – Meadowsweet
- Lazy Salon – Boot Magna
- A Year In The Country – The Quietened Mechanisms (Various)
- Lowtide – Southern Mind
- I Am Robot And Proud – Lucky Static
You’ll hear some of these artists on the next Sonixcursions podcast episode – on its way shortly. Subscribe to the Podcast or the Email Newsletter to get updates when new episodes are published.