Non Projects® is a record label dedicated to the support and discovery of Los Angeles' most innovative artists and composers. Mislaid within an ever-changing and confused recording landscape, Non Projects offers imaginative works of art and sound.
While sharing similar stripped down recording approaches to the companion ‘Acquiescence’ EP, the music of ‘Inner Hue’ is an entirely different journey. With ‘Acquiescence’, the source material of grand piano and tenor saxophone remain fairly transparent, letting the instruments themselves tell the story, but with ‘Inner Hue’ Brian goes far deeper inside of the notes and takes the instrumentation of Rhodes piano and tenor saxophone into entirely new territories, coaxing nuanced textures and sounds with distinctive vocabulary unique to each track. An album that moves with sonic intent and abstract narrative, ‘Inner Hue’ naturally demands listening from start to finish, always revealing new paths with each play. This is personal, patient and thoughtful music to live inside of, or rather the music that lives inside of us, aching to get out.
Throughout ‘Inner Hue’, the sound of electric piano timbres remain prevalent - raw, elegant and crystallized into time, lucid tone colors embossed onto a tangible spectral audio field. Seductive and ruminating melodies run rampant, in shifting counterpoint with luxuriant, ageless textures, always with a corporeal melodic yearning. Sometimes physical and upfront, as when the saxophones roar over sturdy, cracking drums in “Murmurs” and layers of Rhodes build and amalgamate with double time percussive syncopations on the title track, or patiently ebbing and flowing through space on tracks like “Embers” and opener “Eighty-Four,” the timeless music of ‘Inner Hue’ is communicated with a unique and individualized finesse so rarely heard these days. A testament to Brian’s both formal and informal studies of composition over many years, ‘Inner Hue’ advances with a unique cinematic tension in the most organic of ways, coming to a harmonious close with “Entwine”, a highly visual piece of lullaby like high notes, raw bass tones, studied counterpoint and delicate ambience. An artist obsessed with building his own voice, no matter what palate he chooses, Anenon’s ‘Inner Hue’ truly marks only the beginning of a long and idiosyncratic life of music ahead.
2. This Is What I Meant
3. Stone River
5. Embers feat. Laura Teasley
6. Memory Residue
7. The Sea and the Stars
8. Inner Hue
9. I'm Awake Tonight
All music written, performed, recorded, mixed and produced by Brian Allen Simon (except vocals on "Embers" by Laura Teasley), February - September 2011 at 6210, Los Angeles.
Mastering by James Plotkin.
Vinyl cut by Helmut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
Cover art by Jon-Kyle Mohr.
Photos by Andy J. Scott
Press: 92bpm, Ad Hoc, Concepto Radio, Dummy Mag, Earmilk, Exclaim, The Four Oh Five, Gluttony is the New Black, NPR - All Songs Considered, Pitchfork Guide to Spring 2012 Releases, Resident Advisor, The Soul Electronic, XLR8R, XLR8R Album Stream, XLR8R Feature Interview, XLR8R Podcast
Daizo is the debut full-length release from Justin Hopkins aka RareBit.
"Mt. Weather" video by Sean Ferris
With the release of The Destroyer EP in 2011, musician / composer and visual artist Justin Hopkins, aka RareBit, quickly established himself as an artist who knows his craft. Whereas The Destroyer, a collection of Justin’s earlier work, dealt in dizzying cut and paste compositional techniques and songs with short run-times, Daizo, his full-length debut, takes us on an excursion of much greater distance. The same acute attention to sonic detail remains, however Daizo tracks take advantage of the long player format with songs stretching to upwards of eight minutes. Also, ‘Daizo’ ups the live performance quotient as well with vividly and wildly arranged instrumentation – most notably drums and percussion that carry a strong undercurrent throughout the album.
Daizo is named after Justin’s grandfather and is an exploration in Music as genetics. It is a dedication to his ancestors that lived during the Great Depression era, yet maintains a celebratory and reflective vibe throughout. As Justin puts it, the idea is “of families of songs that share similar traits. Certain elements are directly sampled from other places on the album or share themes even if they are manipulated or mutated to different extents.” Right off the bat, Sister songs “Running Tangles” and “Mt Weather” are obvious examples of this, entirely different tracks that are culled from the same drum tracking sessions.
As with The Destroyer and most of RareBit’s work, Justin plays more of a conductor and composer role with several different musicians playing on the album and sounds being recorded on many different devices, in different places. As both a visual artist and a sonic illustrator, Justin is able to display a huge array of colors and feels in his music, all while keeping everything completely coherent. Ranging from the free jazz meets elegant electronics of “Convergence”, the subtle yet devastating poly-rhythms of “Mt Weather”, the loud and budding, yet impossible to ignore cries of “Phantom Wall” and exceedingly swift lines and contours of “Emergence”, ‘Daizo’ portrays a sculptor thinking deeply about his art, yet always moving forward with instinct.
1. No New Wave
2. Running Tangles
3. Mt. Weather
4. Phantom Wall
5. Me and You
8. I'll Be Hard On You
9. You and Me
Cover painting by Justin Hopkins. Photos by Andy J. Scott. Mastering by James Plotkin.
Press: 92bpm, 92bpm ("Mt. Weather" video), Adult Swim Bump Playlist, Afterpop, Consequence of Sound (Review), Electronic Beats (Full album stream), Exclaim!, The Fox Is Black, Futuresequence (Review), Gluttony Is The New Black, Impose (Review), In Your Speakers, The Needle Drop, OMG Vinyl, Penrose Street, Playground, Resident Advisor, trndmusik, XLR8R, XLR8R (Mt. Weather video), Visitation Rites
A companion piece to the upcoming full-length debut ‘Inner Hue’ from Anenon aka Non Projects founder Brian Allen Simon.
‘Acquiescence’ is a moment in time, frozen. It’s a diary of acceptance, of surrendering into your surroundings and not looking back. It feels unhurried and relaxed, yet was recorded in just under a week in Madrid, Spain at the Red Bull Music Academy, in which Brian was a participant. Production and arrangement took place back home in Los Angeles also in just under a week’s time. Strong yet vulnerable, the music on ‘Acquiescence’ moves with an air of confidence, but also feels tender and exposed - a deer caught in the headlights. A product of both extreme personal highs and lows, the music of ‘Acquiescence’ finds a delicate balance, grand piano and tenor saxophone up front with very minimal processing throughout. The sound of ‘Acquiescence’ uncovers an artist fearless of the tradition, yet fully capable of molding old technologies with new in ways that feel unquestionably modern, always looking deep inside and always moving forward.
“Clairvoyance” sets the scene with delicately seductive dissonances between slowly repetitive piano chords on top of a curtain of saxophone drones. Harmonic staccato reed slaps from the saxophone arrive and build, polyrhythms budding against each other, a perfect compliment to what comes next. Arguably the standout of the EP, the title track is a push-and-pull dialogue between ivories, breathy and melodic saxophone playing, a string quartet and drum programming. One of Brian’s most cinematic pieces yet, the tension between all elements is palpable - polyphonic lines of highly melodic and reverb soaked saxophone coalescing into each other on top of a bed of stark piano chords and contrapuntal strings, technical yet physically human drum programming pushing each line forward into the ether. “Rites” closes out the set with an affectionate and upfront piano refrain over sequenced 909 kicks and blankets of piano decay and ambience – layers of an artist’s dreams and desires seeping through the speakers throughout.
4. Twenty twenty
"Acquiescence" will also appear on the upcoming Various Assets compilation by Red Bull Music Academy.
All sounds recorded at Matadero Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Produced, mixed and arranged at 6210 and Latrobe, Los Angeles, CA. Additional engineering by Erik Breuer. Mastering by James Plotkin.
Cover photography by Miko Revereza. Cover design by Jon-Kyle Mohr and Brian Allen Simon.
Live photo by Gianfranco Tripodo. Portrait by Dan Wilton.
Press: 22 Tracks, 92bpm, Beatport Staff Pick, Mapzzz, Playground (News, Review), Red Bull Music Academy Interview, ReqEffect, Salad Fork, That Fix, Time Out Tokyo, XLR8R (#1 Download of February, Album Review - 8.5/10, "Acquiescence" mp3, Exclusive Album Stream)
Fresh off of his release If I Am This Forest, Ryan York aka Asura, contributes an exclusive podcast for XLR8R, including a slew of his own material and edits along with a new and unheard track from Gold and Soil, his upcoming collaborative project with Ana Caravelle.
Download for free from XLR8R.
Purchase unique, hand-pressed 12" here.
While currently at work on both a proper follow-up to 2010’s Asura full-length and an album of experimental electronic pop with Ana Caravelle under the Gold and Soil moniker, Ryan has also been keeping busy with a one off cassette release for Matthewdavid’s Leaving Records and playing strings on Zola Jesus’ new record. With If I Am This Forest, Non Projects documents York diving much deeper into the pop inklings that have been hinted at in his previous work, combined with his unparalleled sense of immersive arrangement and texture.
An ode to Ryan’s current home deep in Topanga Canyon, California, the title track swiftly gets things started as Ryan croons “If I Am This Forest” on top of a vaguely familiar repeating pop chorale. Vocals and tones swell as the song blissfully and hypnotically drives forward, melding dynamic video game arpeggios with lushly organic vocal and instrumental textures. “Sea Water” is a meditative rhythmic journey turned searing percussion jam while “As The Darkness (After the Crash)” finds York in his most upfront pop scenario yet, complete with rich harmonic vocal arrangements, bouncy guitar punches and exuberant skittering percussion. “Me and You” closes out the set with tinkling synths, lurching drums and playfully pitched vocal manipulations. A resident (along with Teebs) at the Alpha Pup presented monthly Futura, Ryan has used the regular concert as grounds for his constantly evolving forays into both electronic and acoustic experimentation. If I Am This Forest provides a strong pop-tinged chronicle of these solo experiments and hints at what we can expect in chapters to come.
A 24 year-old professional illustrator, graphic and sound designer originally from the Pacific Northwest of America and now living in Los Angeles, RareBit’s music thrives on controlled chaos. A collection of tracks pieced together by Justin and label owner Brian Simon, The Destroyer EP serves as a fine introduction to the young man’s work and is a preview of what’s to come later in the year for Justin’s upcoming full-length debut.
The name RareBit stems from Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, a turn of the century comic strip by Winsor McCay in which each week, an unnamed character would wake up from an inexplicable dream at the peak moment of confusion. One experiences this phenomenon both after each track and a listen to the EP. “Familiar sounds reassembled in a seemingly natural way that only seem strange after dissection” as Justin puts it. From the cavernous prepared piano mantras of “Music for the Ambitious Careerwoman,” the massive cut and paste disco pastiche of “Aggro Crag” (which contains sounds recorded by Justin across the world including the U.S., Burma and France), the confounding and catchy tunes of “Onigashima” to the otherworldly synth vistas of “Responsibility – Stress – Release”, The Destroyer EP proves to be beautifully disorienting, frighteningly immersive and immensely colorful all in one. Dive in.
Mastered by James Plotkin
1. Initiation - Quitters - Freedom
2. Aggro Crag
3. Slime Time Live
4. Blue Blood Baskets
5. Music for the Ambitious Careerwoman
7. Tape Shreds
8. Responsibility - Stress - Release
Justin Hopkins is a musician, visual artist, sound designer and the newest signing to Non Projects. He currently lives in Los Angeles, though is originally from the Pacific Northwest of America. While the Non Projects faithful may remember some of his work that was posted on our blog over a year ago, I figured what better way to introduce Justin as an official Non Projects artist than with a proper label-artist interview. Plus, I had some questions for him that never seemed to get answered. Hopefully this will shed some light on the man and his work. - Brian
The Destroyer EP will be available July 14 worldwide on Digital formats.
[Brian Simon] Do you have an earliest music memory? I know you grew up in a house of visual artists… was there more emphasis on pursuing visual art rather than music?
[Justin Hopkins] I remember being 7 years old on a road trip with my dad. We were listening to The Jaws soundtrack over and over again. My mind was completely blown. If you listen closely you can still hear the echoing influences of John Williams in the music I make... I think... I hope... Both of my parents are great artists. I was, and still am, constantly enveloped by the visual arts. I started learning the family business at a young age and still make my living doing it. I see no difference between the visual arts and music. Music allows me to be more easily abstract and disconnected from the imagery that I am trying to convey, but it still always comes from same place.
[BS] You’re originally from the Seattle area… when did you move down to Los Angeles? What region influences your sound more - LA or the Northwest?
[JH] I moved to LA at 18 from a small ferry town called Mukilteo, Wa. I am inextricably bound to both places. Its hard to say which has sonically attached itself more to me. They are both so different. I like to think of my music as fungus encrusted and in a constant state of growth and decay. In this way I am influenced by the organic, wet, and florally lush environment in which I grew up. A place where my sense of discovery was harvested. LA offers me an entirely different kind of inspiration. Music for traffic, canyons, beaches, blonde girls, and billboards. California is my home now and I take beauty and frustration from it every day. I cannot help but represent it in everything I do. Home.
[BS] When listening to your songs, I can’t help but feel a staggering amount of attention to detail – precise textures, sounds that appear only once, field recordings, session recordings with other musicians, etc… while this would turn into a mess for a lot of artists, it always feels completely coherent and meant to be in your work. Is this something you’re completely conscious of when you work or do you just run with it depending on the track? How often are you outside collecting field recordings?
[JH] I'm really glad you don't think its a mess. There is always a general idea and detailed vision of where I see the end product going, but that always changes. Being open to this change is key. The aleatoric and improvised elements that seem to inject themselves and force you to change, edit, and rearrange the idea into a new vision are always the most exciting parts. I refuse to neglect a healthy wrench in the works. I don't even consider RareBit to be a solo project. I'm more of a compiler and editor - some of the sounds are made by me and some of them aren't. My friends play a huge part in the project and so do the environmental noises I try to wrangle. Some elements pop in and upset the rhythm while others stay for a bit and simmer. My Tascam recorder is always close by - usually in my car.
[BS] In my head, many artists depict one or two or three color schemes in their work. While I don’t believe that I have full on synesthesia, my mind tends to gravitate towards one or two colors and different hues of those colors when listening to music. Surprisingly, 'The Destroyer EP' sort of just blasts my brain with all these different shades and hues flying at me… do you think that you have synesthesia? Does working in the visual arts inform the sort of “technicolor” aesthetic of your work?
[JH] I can't really claim to have synesthesia. I wouldn't know how to diagnose that. I do, however, know that I have an extremely active and vivid imagination. Everything I do comes from an imagined visual idea - an idea, like a film, that I am tying to soundtrack. This original vision is usually warped and mutated by outside minds and stimuli, but it always starts as a vibrant dreamlike image. The visual arts background definitely plays a huge part.
[BS] Can you describe the process of professional sound design that you do? I for one am certainly interested, and I know you worked on some big projects including the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. Is there a difference in the way you approach commercial work and the way you approach your own music?
[JH] Sound design is something that I kind of just fell into. I snagged a couple big gigs while working at a place called Olio Inc where I was an illustrator and designer. Again, there is no difference to me between music and any other art form. its all just the same process of creation and adventure. So far I have been lucky enough to have had sound jobs that were very musical in process and allowed me to make up my own new sonic universes. In a way the Atlantis project is just a big art installation with an ambient RareBit album playing in the background.
[BS] Being the new guy on Non Projects, how do you think you fit in with the rest of the label?
[JH] I hope I fit in well. I'm excited to be here. I love everything you guys have put out. It feels like I've been following this stuff since the beginning.
[BS] Care to divulge one of your “secret weapon” recording tools? I know I saw a few lying around during my last visit.
[JH] I just try to stay open to all the weapons that present themselves - I know this sounds like a cop out, but I really just try to change it up for every track... OK - my Tascam DR-1
[BS] What can we expect on your upcoming Non Projects LP as compared to this EP?
[JH] Drums. New explorations in rhythm. Broader - Deeper - Collected.
[BS] Any recommended recent listening or reading?
[JH] Listening - Les Tetes Brulees, Everybody, Whats Up!, TIGERBITCH, COMBAT!, Pomar, Doudou N'Diaye Rose, Pharoah Sanders, Blood Bender, boredoms, Dimlite, Space Equator, Obi Lori, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Radiolab.
Reading - Short stories of Robert Walser, and Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter.
Photo by Sean Ferris