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Synth Saturdays: New Squarepusher, Tycho, Jamie xx

As I write this, it’s Saturday morning, the day of our country’s federal election. If you’ve already voted, good on you. If you’re still waking up and looking for a few new tunes to get you up, you’re in luck. Here’s two fantastic new electronic tracks and a bangin’ video to kick off the weekend.

Squarepusher, MIDI Sans Frontières

One of my favourite producers ever is the mighty Tom Jenkins, aka Squarepusher. There’s no boundary he can’t cross, no mind he can’t blow, both as producer and insanely talented bassist. Today he has returned with a new song, and accompanying essay, written about Brexit. Unlike Brexit, Jenkins has opened the track up to “internationalist collaboration,” offering not only the track as a free download, but the stems and sheet music for all to indulge. Any submitted remixes will then be posted to his website.

“The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has had appalling consequences,” he begins. “It has amplified many divisions in society and in particular has helped to re-establish xenophobia as legitimate and acceptable.

“This piece of music was written in the aftermath of the referendum and I present it as the basis of an internationalist collaboration with sound makers irrespective of what kind of music they make, where they live, their background, their age -all are invited to participate. It is not offered as a substitute for progressive political action but as a complement to it. I put it forward in defiance of the bigotry threatening the fragile connections that exist between us all. I hope it will be an opportunity to reaffirm some of those connections amidst a very disturbing situation.” Read more here.

Much like Jenkins and many other musicians, Australian artists have also commented on our own current politics. Click here for more.

The track of course, is brilliant, as is its clever title. it opens on a warbled bass melody, while ambient layers begin to grow and weave themselves into a beautiful, atmospheric soundscape. Impassioned and remarkably emotive, I’m looking forward to exploring its remixes in the coming days.

Tycho, Division

Apart from a series of remixes earlier this year, wondrous electro-wizard Tycho has been almost completely silent for nearly two years now, with his last full release being Awake in 2014. Today, I’m really excited to share with you his luscious new offering, titled Division. 

7/8 isn’t exactly a common time signature for most, but Tycho isn’t your average producer. Opening up to a deep bass and shuffling cymbals, the guitar-laden track almost has a mid-career Radiohead feel at first, before traversing through a series of more ambient instrumental phrases, shifting through moments of glistening shine, Explosions in the Sky-esque guitar plucks, ultimately emitting an uplifting rush of purpose and hope. Welcome back, Tycho – let’s hope this is the first of many new songs in 2016.

For those interested in exploring his processes, the artist has also shared a short documentary detailing “the Awake years,” which you can watch here.

Jamie xx, Gosh

This isn’t a new song per se, but a new video from Jamie xx, who delivered one of 2015’s most glorious electronic albums. Gosh was featured on In Colour, and today finds itself the soundtrack to a phenomenal new video directed by Romain Gavras. An incredible feat of gargantuan proportions, it reportedly features more than 400 extras and absolutely no CGI or effects.

It begins in a dark room, mostly filled with people wearing VR headsets. We meet our protagonist, with a breathtaking scene of him alone on a balcony. The film pans out and we see hundreds of others on windows, and hundreds more marching.

The clip was filmed in China, in a town called Tianducheng, known for its 354 foot high replica model of the Eiffel Tower. Gavras uses the town to full effect, with absolutely stunning backdrops and angles. The story begins to unravel, with the protagonist as the leader of an apparent movement. Hundreds of Chinese followers dressed in identical attire surround him in some of the most incredible synchronised movements I’ve ever seen on film.

I didn’t want this to end.

Greek-born Gavras is responsible for many similarly beautiful videos, perhaps most famously for M.I.A‘s Born Free and Bad Girls an,d Kanye & Jay Z‘s Niggas in Paris, as well as other clips from Justice, The Last Shadow Puppets and Simian Mobile Disco among others.

Image: Jamie xx