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Like driving through the landscape

Weekly5 Edition #8 • feat. Lea Porcelain, The Birthday Girls, Jessiquoi, Harakiri for the Sky, and TĀLĀ.

Today, Weekly5 gets a whole new look. After careful consideration, I decided to switch the provider and move forward with Substack – one of the most prominent newsletter services.

Not only do I now have a bit more flexibility in designing the editions, but I also have cool new features at hand. For example, you can discuss the latest issues on the landing page. Obviously, I’ve recreated all the previous editions there.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you there.

I will adapt the newsletter in the weeks ahead since I’m still getting to know the new tool as I’ve never worked with it in the past.

This actually transitions perfectly into the next topic.

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Let’s move on to what you’re here for in the first place: great new music.

Today’s edition brings you a spectrum that stretches from contemporary post-punk, catchy stadium-rock, avant-garde pop to crushing metal and pumping downtempo.

Lea Porcelain – Ohio

After the brilliant single Pool Song, Lea Porcelain released two more songs, Choirs to Heaven and Consent of Cult, last year. The singles all built further suspense for the German duo’s sophomore album. This week, Markus Nikolaus and Julien Bracht dropped their latest teaser for the new album that will also be called Choirs to Heaven (Release: 21st May 2021).

Ohio is the story of two lovers who, in a future scenario, see the end coming and want to spend it together any way possible,” the band explains. “The world has become something we don’t seem to understand anymore. Forced to be alone and keep the distance from most of the people we know and long for.”

No wonder Ohio sounds beautifully dark yet romantic. While the track remains close to Lea Porcelain’s signature post-punk-inspired sound manifested in their debut Hymns To The Night, the new single shows how their music developed towards a less densely packed arrangement.

On the other hand, Ohio still features multiple layers. Listening to the song resembles driving through the landscape on the brink of dusk: In the back, the creeping horizon; in front, the proximity melts into colour stripes due to the speed.

The Birthday Girls – Coming Home

Everyone familiar with the Swiss music scene knows that the Hitmill studio in Zurich guarantees catchy productions. Although most of its creative births are way too mainstream pop for my taste, a worthwhile tune finds its way to me once in a while. The Birthday Girls’ Coming Home is one of those exceptions.

The internationally composed line-up of The Birthday Girls might be the reason why their music cannot easily be pigeonholed. The five men from Munich, London, Istanbul, Vienna, and Santiago de Chile met in one of Zurich's kebab stores.

Coming Home is a classic pop-rock anthem, a song that strives for the biggest stadiums. The parallels to bands like Imagine Dragons are apparent. Somewhere between melancholic yet powerful rock music and bittersweet, catchy pop.

Although the topic of homesickness is quite misplaced in our current situation, Coming Home’s hopeful note is a welcome escape from our worries.

Jessiquoi – Superpower

The Australian-Swiss producer Jessiquoi describes herself as “that chick serving up fresh beats from a neon food stand.” And yes, that’s a pretty accurate description of her style: futuristic pop music mixed with unusual arrangements, unique approaches, and quirky ideas.

In 2018, Jessiquoi won the “Demo of the Year” and the award for “Best Electronic Act” at the m4music festival in Zurich. Her debut album, Glitch Trigger, is filled with mind-blowing tracks like The Addict or The A.I.

Back in 2019, I wrote about her single The Sentry: “Expect the unexpected. Never was this platitudinous wisdom more true than with the music of Jessiquoi. The Swiss avant-garde artist scratches genre boundaries and makes them go up in smoke and sound. Radical, but just as powerful.”

Jessiquoi’s latest single, Superpower, is the first drop of fresh material she’s been working on while in pre-pandemic China. The song about the process of self-discovery after a tragedy is doubtless continuing her peculiar musical laboratory.

Harakiri for the Sky – Song to Say Goodbye

“You are one of God's mistakes, you crying, tragic waste of skin.” It’s one of the most haunting opening lines ever written. Since its release in 2006, Placebo’s Song to Say Goodbye instantly creates unease in your body – even more so in the epic extended video version.

For their latest album Mære, the Austrian post-black-metal duo Harakiri for the Sky chose to cover this hymn of despair. Frontman J.J. explains: “We chose the song because it played a very important role for me the summer before I finished high school. I moved out of my parent's home and started a new chapter in life. And generally, it was a yeasty time.“

Their cover starts off similar to the original with the iconic piano melody, soon accompanied by a guitar and drums. Already can be anticipated what follows: A loud, brutal interpretation, adding anger to the original’s hopelessness.

And while Placebo’s Brian Molko underlines the melody of Song to Say Goodbye with his voice, Harakiri for the Sky create a stunning contrast with J.J.’s monotonous shouting. This cover is definitely nothing for delicately-tempered ears.

TĀLĀ – Cabin Fever

Jasmin Tadjiky is a 31-year-old artist who grew up in Kingston, South London. As TĀLĀ (meaning ‘gold’ in Persian), she started to release music back in 2014 and delivered two EPs.

Under renowned producer SOHN's wings, she could further develop her sound by drawing from London’s underground electronic music, R&B, hip-hop, and her Iranian heritage alike.

The wide variety of inspiration enables TĀLĀ to create exciting compositions like Wolfpack or Tell Me, the collaboration with WA$$UP, which at first sound quite pop-like but still add something special to the mix.

Cabin Fever, her latest single, plays in a league of its own compared to her earlier work. It’s a pompously arranged downtempo track featuring mighty, towering brass samples built on a bone-shattering beat. Cabin Fever is simply a massive sound experience that penetrates every cell of your body.

If you want to listen to these selected tracks, be sure to follow the Weekly5 playlist on Spotify:

And brand new: The Weekly5 playlist on Apple Music.

Today’s B-Side isn’t featuring an old song but a relatively new one in an exclusive version. The exceptional German pianist and sound researcher Martin Kohlstedt performed NOX from his 2020 album FLUR in Leipzig’s Heiland church, accompanied by seven members of the Gewandhauschor.

It’s not the first collaboration with the choir from Berlin as he released the album Ströme. His approach and understanding of music highly fascinating. If you’re interested to learn more about this artist, you can read my attempt to grasp Kohlstedt here [German].

I recommend listening to this live performance with your best headphones. Only then the incredible acoustics created by the church and the moving camera can fully unfold their potential and provoke goosebumps all over your skin.

That’s it for today. I hope you discovered a new song or artist you’ll keep in your heart. Once again, please give me feedback on the Weekly5 newsletter in this short survey.

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