Indigo People – ‘Glasshouse EP’

Around this time last year, I did a review of an ethereal jazz artist who goes by the moniker Chris Topher. He had just released his fourth EP, Green Machinea release that featured Topher collaborating with Silvia Plath, Carl Sagan, and Jackson Pollock. A year before that, I did my first review of Chris’ music on Introspective. The reason I bring up Chris Topher in the first place is because he has a new moniker, Indigo People. And as Indigo People, he’s expanded the single he released last September into a complete EP. enjoy.

Glasshouse starts with “Daydreamer,” a piece that incorporates a familiar element from Chris Topher/Indigo People, some scholar discussing our universe. These audio clips have always drawn me to his music. They’re thought provoking and really make the aura of these songs. Next is “Silent Film.” This was the single from last year. So far, we’ve got a new name, but not any changes to the music. Let’s continue.

“Passeig de les Aigues” knocked me out. It’s where the new sounds finally emerge. The song starts with a mandolin line, something that I’ve never heard in a prior EP. The direct words of “Daydreamer” are replaced with the singing of birds. It’s very folk-era Zeppelin. A bass line hits that brings thunder into the forest. This is followed by strings and tambourine on the tail end of the song that are some other forrest-y thing. This is a brand new world for this artist. This is Indigo People.

But, Topher’s piano lines are still present, leading us through this new territory. “Keukenhof Gardens” somewhat returns to space, but takes an electric drum kit with it. The outro on this one beautiful; the pianos and guitars delicately bounce off each other. The last song is “Blue Box.” And we’ve got more new elements, glitchy synth and tasteful beat-boxing. “Blue Box” jumps around way more rapidly than the prior pieces. Paino, guitar, kit drums, more glitches, and a funky bassline all enter and exit at leisure. The three-and-a-half minute coda feels long, because we’re hit with so much, so quickly. It’s another large step forward for this artist. As long as he keeps experimenting and his music keeps intriguing me, he can call himself whatever he wants.

September’s Ripest Tracks

I know it’s a few days late, but I thought I’d share with you my top-five favorite tracks from September in no particular order. Enjoy.

PREMIERE: Chris Topher – “Glasshouse EP”

I am pleased to bring you this brand new single from experimental artist and dear friend, Chris Topher. On “Silent Film,” Chris delivers his usual Pollock-esque approach to music: changing tempos, spacey synths, quirky bass lines, and an intimate closeness. Keep an eye out for those spinning reversed sounds as they fly by your head. If Glasshouse EP appears to contain only one track, I would try downloading the EP – which you can for whatever price you like – and seeing if something else reveals itself. Enjoy.

Read my other ramblings about Chris’ music:

Green Machine

Introspective

EP REVIEW: Chris Topher – ‘Green Machine’

Chris Topher is the man. His experimental indie rock and electronic style really captured me on last year’s Introspective, and his latest release continues on a similar, but distinctive, path. With Green Machine, Topher is joined (inspired) by some truly legendary forces in the fields of art, science, and literature. Enjoy.

A Supergroup like no other

Carl Sagan. Jackson Pollock. Sylvia Plath. All visionaries in their respective fields, and all muses and accredited contributors to Chris Topher’s fourth EP, Green Machine. I feel an understanding of the inclusion of these three visionaries is vital to an understanding of Green Machine and its composer. So as I’ve listened to Green Machine, I’ve tried to find the influence of each. Here are my findings.

Carl Sagan, a groundbreaking astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist, led the world further into the unknown void that is space. This vast exploration has mirrored Topher’s music throughout all of his releases, and Green Machine is no different. On pieces like “Dark Matter” and “Creators & Innovators,” synth chords are stretched to cataclysmic lengths, conjuring feelings awe, comparable to witnessing a black hole swallow a red giant. He makes you feel isolated and overwhelmed, similar to feelings Sagan himself thrust upon the public while educating them of our minute place in the universe.

Jackson Pollock, expressionist action painter, burst open the doors to modernism in New York City during the 1950’s. His wild splatter painting techniques shocked and confused the world, but now his paintings sell for millions of dollars and his legacy rivals that of Van Gogh. What Topher draws from Pollock, can be found in “Antigravity” and “Colour of Number 9.” Instruments seem to have a mind of their own, jutting in and out, creating odd time signatures and surprising splashes of color. “Colour of Number 9” in particular is an unpredictable piece. It fuses the sporadicness of Pollock, with the previously mentioned spacious sounds influenced by Sagan. This marks a new addition found on Green Machine. Where Topher’s last release featured similar sounds separated into different tracks, Green Machine combines the two. And just as Jackson Pollock’s seemingly random art concealed brilliant meaning, so does Topher’s.

Sylvia Plath, prolific poet and tragic figure, wrote work that advanced the genre of confessional poetry to new heights. This openness is what she contributes to Topher’s music. Because although we never hear Topher’s voice, we get a clear representation of who he is and what his music conveys. On the opening track “Green Machine,” we hear the buzz of Topher’s instruments being plugged in, followed by a somber piano piece. It’s a fitting introduction to Green Machine. In a way, I think it’s Topher telling us he’s about to lay himself out there for us, show us his mind. And throughout Green Machine, there is that closeness you get with all of Topher’s music that makes you feel like your right their watching him record.

I was lucky enough to receive the only copy of Green Machine pressed to vinyl. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten while writing for The Vinyl Warhol, and will continue to motivate me into the future. When it arrived, it was in a white paper sleeve with “Green Machine” written across the front in green colored pencil. Underneath was written, “At 2:01 a.m. a scientist, a poet, a painter, and a dreamer worked together… to create something beautiful.”

Thanks everyone.

1/20/14 Bag of Tracks: The Dead Weather, Chris Topher, U2

Good day all. I trust everyone’s MLK Day is going swell. I had a great weekend, even though I worked most of it. I saw the movie Her on Friday, and it was incredible. Now that we’re getting closer to Oscar night, I’ve been watching more and more movies. But, Her is by far my favorite of this award season. Everyone should go see it. I also made a trip over to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg for the opening of their Andy Warhol exhibit. I was absolutely floored. If you live in Florida try to make it over there before it closes in April. Two of the greatest artists of the 20th century are brought together to showcase some breathtaking art.

On to today’s blog! It’s been a while sense we’ve had “A Bag of Tracks,” and we’ve got some good ones for you. Enjoy.

The Dead Weather – “Open Up (That’s Enough)”

The Dead Weather come screaming back with “Open Up (That’s Enough),” their first new material since 2010’s Sea of Cowards. This track is the most furious Dead Weather song since “Treat Me Like Your Mother”. Allison Mosshart takes the reins on vocal duties, with Jack, Little Jack, and Dean singing backup. During the chorus the three men struggle to contain Mosshart, warning her, “That’s enough, that’s enough.” But, she keeps pushing forward into a flurry of rock. The group have plans to release a full-length in 2015, and will be putting out several singles from the album this year. You can listen to “Rough Detective,” the second song released, on Spotify.

Chris Topher – “Creators & Innovators”

For those who don’t remember, I reviewed Chris’ EP Introspective a few months back and was blown away by the sonic bliss. Shortly after I reviewed the EP, I talked to Chris about how much I loved his music and what he planned to do with it in the future. He initially said that Introspective was going to be his last release, but after how well it was received, he was inspired to continue creating. That brings us to “Creators & Innovators”. The microphone crackles as Chris begins with a warped synth line. Like the rest of his music, I’m instantly transported to another world. I get lost in the continuous drum beat that is both big and beautiful. The whole song is intergalactic in size and feel. As the music closes, an old radio sample, which has become a staple for Chris, follows us out with a thought provoking monologue. Goosebumps.

U2 – “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”

Obviously, this song was written back in the 80’s, but today it has extra meaning. For those who are unaware, this song is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I think “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” captures the humble preacher’s character perfectly. His struggle. His persistence. His message. As Bono so beautifully puts it, “Free at last, they took your life. They could not take your pride.” Even if you hate U2, I hope today you can feel something marvelous. Have a wonderful day.

EP Review: Chris Topher – ‘Introspective’

Chris Topher is Melbourne-based experimental indie rock artist (to be honest it’s hard to pinpoint what genre Topher fits into) who just released his third EP, Introspective. Topher has had a busy year, releasing his first and second EPs, Hearing Colours and Abstract Thoughts respectively. The release of Introspective coincidences with Topher’s birthday, so happy birthday Chris (hope it doesn’t suck)! Enjoy.

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You can download all of Chris’ albums for free at his bandcamp.

Chris Topher, Christopher… Wait a second…

There’s something about this album that makes me feel good. Actually, there’s a lot about this album that makes me feel good. From the opening piano riff on “Greenwich Village (Intro),” to the humming reverse guitar on the closer, the little details stand out as heartwarming. The songs aren’t bogged down with layers upon layers of exaggerated instruments, as is the case with some purely instrumental albums. Introspective is very detailed, but the sounds favor quality to quantity. This allows the listener to examine and dissect each piece, which is where Introspective pulls you in.

The piano melodies are without a doubt my favorite part of Introspective. The deep piano in “Iceland,” paired with synthesized strings creates a haunting portrait. Although I’ve never been to Iceland, I imagine the atmosphere fits the eerie landscape Bjork calls home. “Greenwich Village (Intro)” and the intro to “Golden Ratio” are two other spots on Introspective where the piano is sticks out.


However, Topher doesn’t rely solely on piano to carry Introspective. Drums, strings, and bass all shine at times on the EP, helping keep it fresh. Some tracks utilizes vocal samplesa decision that helps transition from one song into the next, and breaks up the absolute instrumentation that would otherwise be this EP. Boredom isn’t a problem here. There’s always something interesting to keep the listener engaged. The symbols on “Greenwich Village (Intro)” are so jazzy, they take me dim lit 1920’s underground bar. The rhythm again hits me on “Surrealist Eyes,” as Topher switches from drum machine to kit effortlessly. This, along with the Mike Wallace sample, makes “Surrealist Eyes” one of Introspective’s best.

“The Day Before Tomorrow” is another highlight, the most extravagant on the album. Like “Iceland,” it’s another song that builds an environment. The reversed sounds fly by like the Aurora Borealis on a desolate glacial landscape. Being that Topher is a Florida native, I can only assume these sounds are coming from a feeling within, rather than from his surroundings. It becomes even more obvious when you take into consideration the feeling these sounds give you, the self-reflection of the songs, and the name of EP.

Okay, enough spiritual talk, back to the music. I have a bone to pick with  Introspective: the guitar melodies aren’t as strong as I would have hoped. It could be that Topher isn’t as comfortable on guitar as other instruments, but the good majority of the guitar parts aren’t nearly as impressive as the rest of the instrumentation. On “Surrealist Eyes” it doesn’t ruin the song, but I don’t think guitar adds anything to the piece. “Golden Ratio” is another place where the guitar pull down the song. The piano is interesting; I love strings in the break of the song, but the guitar is just okay. Luckily, the EP doesn’t end there. It is followed by “Sheep in Fog,” my favorite on Introspective. So, I can forgive. The best guitar melody is on “Carnival of Light,” but it’s my least favorite song of the whole project. The first guitar part you hear is pretty interesting, but as another layer comes in, the first is drowned out. With a title like “Carnival of Light” I expect something far vaster, more exciting. Adding piano melody would have made the song much more expansive.

Altogether, I love Introspective. The way the each song flows into the next is beautiful, as if the EP was recorded in one session. On “Greenwich Village (Intro),” the listener hears Topher footsteps as he walks on stage and starts playing. Other raw elements, like his coughs or his instrument’s feedback, add to the personal feel. Topher allows us into his home, his mind. Finally, on “Sheep in Fog,” he sends you on a walk through an empty city, over Introspective‘s most beautiful sounds. Then, he walks away.