New Zealand's BAD BLOCKS Premiere Debut Single 'Turning,' New EP 'Circulate' Out 10/2
Bad Blocks are a young two-piece from New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne,Australia. Their music is a subtle and ingenious mix of electronic dream pop, ambient, and EDM - think SBTRKT and The Weeknd combined with William Basinski and Jon Hopkins. To our mind, they are hands-down one of Australasia's most overlooked artists: staggeringly inventive, intelligent, and accomplished, their music is deeply emotional, but also decidedly unsentimental, manifesting an almost classical ideal of "detached beauty'.
"Fluttering, mesmerizing electro with all the pulse and ache of cabaret, paired with the glitch and stutter of minimal techno. The contrast makes the song bewitching - a digital ghost crooning heartsick sonnets." - Wondering Sound
Bad Blocks talk about the inspiration for 'Turning':"This song was created in an afternoon, while struggling with ideas for the new EP. This particular day we were feeling burnt out and faded. In a moment of frustration we decided to create a new rhythm out of objects found around the house: scissors, a chopping board, a broken air vent, and obscure anime samples. The lyrics are about watching someone you love become tangled in their own insecurities-whether sadness, lack of hope, or the insignificance of time."
Bad Blocks push, file, and rewrite accessible electronic music with the study of an anthropologist and the soul of TS Eliot.
In IT, "bad blocks" are digital corruptions that render information unreadable and unwritable. For Hamish Lang (26, production) and Daniel Neeve (26, vocals, guitars, production), Bad Blocks render music that is at once familiar and yet quietly corrupted. As a two-piece electronic band, these New Zealand natives (currently residing in Melbourne, Australia) have a passion for sound, from the cold precision of drum loops to the warm hiss of analogue feedback. Think 80s and R&B for melody; Kendrick Lamar and Lapalux for beats; Celer and Arvo Pärt for space; William Basinski and Tim Hecker for deconstruction; and Clams Casino and Jon Hopkins for production.
While working at a Wellington record store, Neeve struck up a friendship with Lang, who invited him over one Saturday for a lazy afternoon jam session. What was supposed to be a few hours stretched into an entire weekend, and soon the pair were writing songs together under the name South City Sushi Cop. While SCSC's moody-yet-invigorating dance music proved popular in New Zealand, the duo soon moved to Melbourne to avoid creative stagnation. Finding jobs as a part-time bank teller and computer technician, the pair moved into a small house outside of Melbourne, becoming flatmates and bandmates. Isolated in suburbia and scraping by, they channeled their energies into studying the reduction and essence of dance music.
Slowly their party-band persona began to shift into something slower, darker, and less defined. The nature of dance music may be fast, regimented, and clear cut, but Lang and Neeve use background texture and authentic emotion to nurture their songs into something wholly their own. Lang uses soundscapes as a kind of aural diary, often wandering and listening to the world in real time through his field recorder, as one would an iPod, sifting through the emotions each sound can deliver when suddenly unfamiliar. Renaming their project Bad Blocks, record sessions became sprawling experiments in space and subtle disintegration: the band would set up recording mics in one room, then play in another, mixing in the dissonant vibrations to add color to their sharp and precise drum loops.
Lyrically as well as musically, origin stories play a huge part of Bad Block's inspiration. Neeve was raised the son of a pastor on the Kapiti Coast, a hippie-based community on the Tasman Sea. By the age of 8 he was learning guitar and writing his first lyrics (a rap about melanoma) soon followed by countless poems and songs. Neeve eventually made his way to the New Zealand School of Music in 2008. For Neeve, a painfully shy teenager, songs were an attempt to tell epic, sprawling stories without having to say anything at all.
Lang grew up in Christchurch with his mother and brother. A former devotee of the Dunedin music scene, his mother would clean house to her blues records-always cranked to full volume to compensate for her hearing loss. The warmth and grit of those old blues and jazz records, combined with the soft purr of the audio degradation, created a feeling of nostalgia for Lang-a feeling he would later try to capture, corrupt, and recapture. While in high school, and later when studying graphic design at university, Lang immersed himself in music: studying production, playing classical music, or simply sitting alone in empty music rooms, experimenting with the vibration of piano sustain pedals.
Originally self-released as their debut EP in 2012, Weekday expands on the duo's narrative universe and represents a moment in time when Lang and Neeve started to reimagine for themselves what dance music could be. Whether it's metallic zings distorted to sound like shooting stars ("Forest Spitting Cola"), filter-wept synth pads drenched in field recordings of crashing waves ("Weekday"), or time elastically stretched to fill the cavernous void of an empty Berlin club on a Sunday morning ("Seven Fields of Sigh"), Weekday is a seemingly-effortless study of space, texture, and atmosphere-all observed in equal measure through the prism of acid-fueled youth and old-soul scientific curiosity in the nature of human existence. Elements are discovered, singled out, distorted, layered, and lost. Dancing, distracted, half awake. Sort it out.