8track: NPVA, Synesthete, Akkodha, Megachoir, Low Kick Collective, Transpacifica, Zap Holmes, Whettman Chelmets

8track is a new COUNTERZINE feature where we review 8 tracks by 8 artists and arrange them in sequence like those old 8-Track tapes (the WCW of portable analogue audio media you don’t remember). This edition, Program 1 includes tracks by NPVA, Synesthete, Akkodha, and Megachoir, while Program 2 features music by Low Kick Collective, Transpacifica, Zap Holmes, and Whettman Chelmets.


Program 1


A1: NPVA – “Difficult Choice”


Russian producer NPVA starts off this edition of 8track with a “Difficult Choice”. It opens with the rhythmic clanging and rattling of metal before synths begin to pulse under the surface, building tension. A loud, quick marching drum beat then emerges, and the synths begin to rev like a motorcycle, winding up and further feeding the listeners anxiety. You can feel your muscles tighten, your skin get a little chillier, your heart rate rise a bit: an able soundtrack to a slasher film scene in a factory or cold storage, the killer skulking about as the soon to be victim hides and flees for their life. “Difficult Choice” is only one of four NPVA singles so far, including the awesomely alien “3Ga”, and you can listen to more of their work here(socials: Facebook)


A2: Synesthete – “Slow Burn”


Next, we have “Slow Burn” from New Yorker Synesthete. A much warmer track than the preceding “Difficult Choice”, Synesthete notes an inspiration from Goldroom, namely the desire to capture the feelings of summer — “waves, the slow setting sun, and warm nights”. It’s in the balmy glow radiating from the synths, washing away your worries. We imagine the track as a simple, beautiful two day cycle, with each day beginning with a daytime stroll on the sunny boardwalk capped off with a radiant and bedazzling nighttime fireworks display. You can check out more of Synesthete’s music here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A3: Akkodha – “Goodnight From Andromeda”


We keep things nice and cozy shifting into Philadelphia musician Akkodha’s “Goodnight From Andromeda”. We mentioned we saw “Slow Burn” as a two day cycle: then perhaps “Goodnight From Andromeda” is the peaceful dream connecting each day. Landing somewhere between dream pop and space rock, it’s led by a gentle acoustic guitar melody and backed by swirling synthesizers and the sounds of nighttime nature. In your dream, your slowly rise from your bed and begin to float, drifting upwards towards where the fireworks just danced: their light has now left the sky and you soar in their stead. “Goodnight From Andromeda” comes from Akkodha’s album Escape, which you can pay-what-you-want for here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


A4: Megachoir – “Air Pockets”


No peaceful dream can last forever: we close out program 1 with “Air Pockets”, another eerie piece of industrial electronic this time courtesy of Megachoir. “Air Pockets” may not be as directly tense or foreboding as “Difficult Choice”, but it may be creepier. Rather than there being something bad about to happen, it already has. There’s something in the air on “Air Pockets”, and that something is a mangled, disembodied voice: a garbled voicemail that found its way to Megachoir years ago, the sender still unknown to this day. So yeah, it’s fucking haunted. This is haunted music. Beyond that, it’s glitchy, brooding, cold, tribal, and gives us the heebie jeebies in the best way. “Air Pockets” is from Megachoir’s recent album Samizdat Season Vol. 1, which you can purchase here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


Program 2


B1: Low Kick Collective – “One Who Seeks an Exit”

Low Kick Collective

We return to Russia with our program 2 opener “One Who Seeks an Exit” from Low Kick Collective. The deep, rich tones of the saxophone on this dark jazz piece are front and center as the star, but the bass directs tone, slinking in its front half before letting loose in a funkier middle section, then sliding back into its sinister groove. Towards the end, the drums and strings grow more wild and chaotic prior to the emergence of a warping electronic drone that closes it out in an attempt to swallow the band. “One Who Seeks an Exit” is from the collective’s album Exhale, available to purchase here(socials: Facebook, Instagram)


B2: Transpacifica – “NOPAC”


Flying over to Ireland and shifting gears to something more ‘refreshing’, we have Transpacifica and their synthwave jam “NOPAC”. “NOPAC” comes from Transpacifica’s concept EP New Cascadia, which imagines “a beautiful forest community in the mountains, where the air is clean and fresh, the water runs crystal clear and the sun brightens the world through the leaves of great trees”. In that sense, it is similarly interested in synth-induced escapism as its more hazy, past dwelling genre brethren. However, rather than look backward and inward, it looks forward and outward to a place and future still possible, with synths as bright, clean, and clear as the sun, air, and water it looks to evoke. You can listen to the rest of and purchase New Cascadia here(socials: Facebook, Twitter)


B3: Zap Holmes – “Dishs Do Dishs”

zap holmes
Zap Holmes

Next, we visit Sweden and the experimental trip hop of producer Zap Holmes’ “Dishs Do Dishs” (yes, we spelled that right). There’s both a playfulness and a sadness to this one: running sink water creates a backdrop, while the beat clatters like the banging of pots and pans. The other elements of the instrumental, namely the mellow but slightly ‘off’ synths and the jittery rhythm of the drums, come together to form an domestic atmosphere that skirts the line between cozy and disquieting (Holmes notes: “The song is about battles in a relationship. Who’s gonna do the dinner, who’s gonna do the dishes. Nobody does it. Everything gets fucked.”). When everything does get fucked on “Dishs Do Dishs”, at it’s most busy, it is glorious. “Dishs Do Dishs” is from Shudda Wudda Cudda, which you can listen to and buy here(socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


B4: Whettman Chelmets – “But I Need to”

Whettman Chelmets

Finally, we close with the most recent track from COUNTERZINE regular Whettman Chelmets, “But I Need to”. The pre-release single for the upcoming I Don’t Want to Let Go, but I Need to Let Go, the third of a memory-based trilogy of releases beginning with Doesn’t Remember… and continuing with Long Read Memories, “But I Need to” relates to the struggle to move on from the past, which is reflected in its sound and composition. It’s claustrophobic and suffocating, as if being smothered by a blanket, yet also warm and comforting, just like that same blanket. Soft and harsh. Light and heavy. As it swells, it becomes almost too much to bear. He doesn’t want to let go: but he needs to. I Don’t Want to Let Go, but I Need to Let Go releases January 31 and is up for pre-order now, with tapes via Misophonia Records, while digital and CDs are available direct from Whettman Chlemets. (socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)


Update: playlist now available

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