Stephen Malkmus Tuesday, 22nd January 2019

Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus announces new solo album 'Groove Denied'

Malkmus' first solo album since 2001 will be released on March 15th. Watch the video for new track 'Viktor Borgia' now

The rumours are true: the secret electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been telling everyone about will see the light of day on March 15th, when it’s released on Domino.  But Groove Denied is not a full-blown plunge into EDM or hiptronica.  In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album.  Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric.  Groove Denied is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a routine. As Malkmus commented, “It’s fun to mess with things that you’re not supposed to.”

 

The first taste of Stephen’s new groove can be sampled today, with the release of single ‘Viktor Borgia’, and its accompanying video starring Stephen alone in a dance club.  The title playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. With its stately melody and the almost-English-accented vocal, the coordinates here are early Human League or even Men Without Hats. “I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982,” says Stephen, adding “and also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.” 

When Stephen Malkmus first arrived on the scene in the early Nineties, as frontman and prime creative force in Pavement, the area of music with which he was associated couldn’t really have been further from the techno-rave sounds of the day. Electronic dance music, then as now, was about posthuman precision, inorganic textures, and hyper-digital clarity. Whereas the lo-fi movement in underground rock championed a messthetic of sloppiness, rough edges, and raw warmth - a hundred exquisitely subtle shades of distortion and abrasion.

 

Fast forward to the present and here comes Malkmus with Groove Denied – Stephen’s first solo album without his cohorts the Jicks since 2001. Made using Ableton’s Live, and instead of a human-powered rhythm section, Malkmus’s arsenal further included drum machines, along with a host of plug-in FX and “soft synths”. He compares the process of track-construction to the way his kids “used to make these girls on my iPhone - choosing hair colour, dresses, etc. That intuitive swipe and grab thing. Chop and move the waves. Apple computer scroll style of thinking.”

 

This departure from the tried-and-tested stems back to earlier in this decade, when Malkmus spent a couple of years living in Berlin and was exposed to the city’s vibrant club scene. He made forays into the city’s world-famous all-night party scene and became fascinated by techno, “the music can be great… you can zone out, dance, and focus on music - or just get wasted!”

 

It would not be entirely off-base, or an overly cute rock-historical reference, to describe Groove Denied as Stephen Malkmus’s Low. Although largely recorded in Oregon, the bulk of the album was written while he was living in Berlin. And whilst the methodology behind Groove Denied is absolutely 21st Century, the reference points for the sound-palette hark back to the pre-digital era. “The electronic music side of the album, I wanted it to be sonically pre-Internet,” explains Stephen.

 

Groove Denied will shake up settled notions of what Malkmus is about and what he’s capable of, repositioning him in the scheme of things. But looking at it from a different angle, his engagement with state-of-art digital tech actually makes perfect sense. After all, Nineties lo-fi – the sound in which he and Pavement were initially vaunted as leaders and pioneers - was nothing if not insistently sonic – it was all about the grain of guitar textures, about gratuitously over-done treatments and ear-grabbing effects. Noise for noise’s sake. As Stephen tweeted recently on the subject of Auto-Tune’s omnipresence in contemporary music-making: “We long 4 transformation....and we humans fucking luv tools.”

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Tracklisting:

1. Belziger Faceplant

2. A Bit Wilder

3. Viktor Borgia 

4. Come Get Me 

5. Forget Your Place

6. Rushing The Acid Frat

7. Love The Door

8. Bossviscerate

9. Ocean of Revenge

10. Grown Nothing

 

Groove Denied is available to pre–order on Dom-Mart exclusive clear vinyl (w/ Groove Denied-labelled floppy disc and Stephen Malkmus retro photo print), standard vinyl, CD (w/ poster) and digitally.    


Upcoming tour dates:

Jan 23 – Chicago IL @ Metro *

Jan 25 – Brooklyn NY @ Brooklyn Steel *

May 1 – Toronto ON @ The Great Hall ^

May 3 – Somerville MA @ Arts At The Armory ^

May 4 – Ardmore PA @ Ardmore Music Hall ^

May 5 – Washington DC @ Union Stage ^

May 7 – Austin TX @ 3TEN ACL Live ^

May 10 – Portland OR @ Doug Fir Lounge ^

May 11 – Seattle WA @ Columbia City Theater ^

May 14 – San Francisco CA @ Swedish American Hall ^

May 15 – Los Angeles CA @ Lodge Room ^

May 30 – Barcelona ES @ Primavera Festival *

June 14 – Mannheim DE @ Maimarkt-Gelände *

June 19 – Paris FR @ La Gaîté Lyrique *

* denotes w/ The Jicks

^ denotes Malkmus solo