Video: Aaron Axelrod and PEPEPIANO - “Melting Rainbows”


It all started when Aaron Axelrod’s neighbor came up with “Fallopian Dudes” as an idea for a band name and decided to type it into YouTube. He was of course immediately directed to the PEPEPIANO track of the same name, from his 2011 album King. Axelrod, a Los Angeles-based psychedelic painter and visual artist, was gripped by the music of David Bird (the man behind PEPEPIANO), feeling an immediate connection with both his color-splattering, tripped-out aesthetic and his Angelino roots. After contacting David and discovering their shared affections for Animal Collective, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and N64, Aaron asked him if he would supply sound material for some of his artwork, and a collaboration was born.

The project for which David contributed an original score was something Aaron had already been working on for months. Melting Rainbows, a fluid journey through melting, dripping, and color shifting, takes place in real time on a unique canvas which Aaron himself created—he calls it the “rainbow melter”: a transparent, convex hemisphere which on one side receives and concentrically drips paint around its own curves, and on the other side records video of the whole process. The result is visually stunning: his specific combinations of pigments, minerals, and liquids take shape, fuse, explode, and dissolve outward like ripples, immersing the viewer in a fluid undulation of color and movement. Aaron created an eighteen-minute film consisting of two improvised performances on the rainbow melter: one in his studio, and one at a rooftop party in downtown Los Angeles. All the footage comes from beneath the transparent canvas, which allows the viewer to experience the creation of the artist and the creative process as one unified visual experience.

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» STEREOCURE: New Track: "Reverie" by Pepepiano

David Bird, the man behind Pepepiano, never ceases to amaze us with his uncanny ability to fuse endless sounds, textures and emotions into an organic whole. His new track, aptly entitled “Reverie”, unravels a dreamlike sonic universe where swirling synths and noise patches meet rapid drums and orchestral backdrops. “Reverie” invites you in and then launches you into a world as feverish and glitchy as it is warm and ethereal—it all feels like the soundtrack to some unrealized cinematic epic. Yet it seems words cannot do proper justice to this piece; so plug in some headphones, make a date with your car stereo, or find some other way to lose yourself in the immersive world of “Reverie”. —G.R. 


With so many of the modern era’s producers often creating their music on computers in their bedrooms we’ve had a dramatic increase in DIY solo artists that have developed their sound in tandem with the evolution in new technology. Programs such as Ableton and the like have enabled and empowered people, giving them a virtually limitless ability to create – mostly electronic – compositions. The only boundaries that now remain for musicians are their imaginations, and with today’s recommendation we have a mind so open and inspired that once it was paired with his geeky love of technology and contemporary methods we received a selection of music as bright and brilliant as anything we’ve heard in recent years.

Welcome to the world of Pepepiano, the solo artist David Bird, who was originally based in Laguna Beach, California, although he informed us that he’s recently re-located to New York. He is currently unsigned and relatively unknown in the UK, but he appears to be one of those artists that has music constantly bursting out of him. He takes to not only making the music entirely alone, but has so far self-released a couple of EPs, before finally self-releasing two albums in the space of just eight months last year. His self-titled debut album seemed a compilation that pulled together a series of singles and that was swiftly followed up by his second album, King. Were he to be signed up we imagine the label would treat any new full release like an official debut album, but this remains to be seen. Through his valid DIY approach he has been floating around the alternative edges of blog adoration with every new tune and any praise is entirely justified, as his music is nothing short of astonishing.

He writes songs that, on the surface at least, you might dismiss as just another set of experimental, sample-heavy tangles. There’s a unique madness to his work. He can knock together a set of sounds, made by methods and instruments that you cannot decipher, and he’ll call the song something just as oddball, such as the tune, Squeem. This track seems to go absolutely nowhere and simply leaves you looking for the song that never comes. However, he’s also capable of designing pieces that are both soft and comforting whilst still over-flowing with ideas. Take the track Fire Hands and you will witness something that sounds like it was made by the throned god that The Flaming Lips secretly worship in their spare time. His signature move seems to be his ability to meander through a Wonka-styled factory of oddities whilst still keeping one ear out for accessibly sweet pop melodies. Experimental, sample-heavy music like this can seem self-indulgent and inaccessible, but he wraps it all in an invigorating and reviving warmth, occasionally reminiscent of Lemon Jelly‘s adorably childish and friendly atmosphere.

Among all the eccentricity is an exceptional sense of balance, as he masterfully juggles samples and loops, but it’s with his perfectly-placed vocals and beats that we find his songs elevated to a spectacular level. With Baby Pigeons, We Are OK, Right, you get half a song of meandering, layered-up samples, but once it reaches his voice he hands us the rewarding refrain, “but baby we both turned out right“. Take the track, Flesh Rails, and although it starts out with reversed loops and virtually no momentum it is soon ramped upwards. What he does with vocal samples on this particular song deserves an award all its own. It’s an absolutely awesome composition. An exceptional mess. Fallopian Dudes continues the awesomeness, this time coming armed with a wonderful, high-quality video, so great that you won’t just enjoy every second of it, but every micro second, as it’s filmed in super-slow-motion, capturing young people leaping through the air. It’s an utterly mesmerising video and as refreshingly original as Bird’s endearing composition. He’s confirmed to us that he has the next album is nearly completed and is figuring out when and how to release it. In the mean time his next work is a project that he’s recently arranged with LA based artist, Aaron Axelrod, a 20 minute multimedia piece designed for the Vortex Immersion Dome in downtown LA that’s due to premier on October 4th.

When scanning around his Facebook page we came across a Youtube link he’d placed there. It shows off an old clip about the dimensional behaviour of fractal objects through computer graphics, from a technique mastered back in 1989. Now we couldn’t particularly care for this video, but it rather brilliantly shows off exactly how passionate Pepepiano is for all things geeky and technical, weird and wonderful. There really isn’t any better description for his music. You couldn’t imagine a more contemporary DIY artist than that of Bird. By understanding the technology that’s available to him and by testing new techniques and running with his imagination we have a producer that couldn’t be any more 2012 if he tried. He has set about giving us not only a broad and full library of work, but by exploring his imagination and by avoiding the restrictions and pressures of a record label he has created music that is genuinely fresh, endearing and fantastical, and ultimately free. Here is an artist that simply couldn’t have existed just one decade ago, yet it is precisely the musicians such as this that broaden horizons, as they find entirely new avenues in which to meander. If you’re looking to uncover new pioneers then producers like Bird aren’t just evolving music they’re pursuing an entirely new frontier. (MB)

If you’re in LA this weekend CHECK THIS OUT

New track with Australian masterminds Bon Chat, Bon Rat. 

"As Sydney’s (and Australia in general) has finally set international roots in the ever-growing electronic scene, the former trio-now-duo Bon Chat, Bon Rat have grown fast after NFOP’s own monthly contributor Holly introduced us to them quite exactly a year ago. On their brand new single “Dust Proud” below, they also brought another East To West regular, Pepepiano into their dancy mess, and the result can be enjoyed exclusively below. An excellent quirky dance tune, if you prefer.” - No Fear of Pop

Crash Symbols - Dope Mountain Fuck Vol. 2
New PEPEPIANO track on “…the most nuanced and varied collection of songs to come bundled together in a long time. One of the best things about the compilation is that there’s no clean way to slice it, no quick way to boil it down.” -East Bay Express 

Think or Smile - Musical Eyes: Retro Futurism

PEPEPIANO is a made up band name from David Bird’s past, plucked from his imagination to impress and perhaps perplex his schoolmates. Today, PEPEPIANO is this Cali native/Midwestern space argonaut/student of sound’s alias under which he produces some of the richest bedroom/laptop/electrospacefunk around. He’s also a lover of art, with an eye for envisioned futures of our not so distant past and contemporary disconnected narratives on the same theme. David’s taken some time before beginning his final year at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music to share with us a couple of his favorite visual artists, Kilian Engand Syd Mead.

I’ve read on your tumblr that Syd Mead was a family friend. What was it like growing up surrounded by his art, when at the time it wasn’t necessarily retro future but still very much future? What about it sparked your imagination?

What’s most immediately striking about Syd’s work is the pure functionality of his designs; I mean, I guess that’s why he was hired to do the early designs for Tron and Blade Runner. It’s that kind of attention to detail and faith in design which makes one’s initial subscription to the“Mead”-ideal so real and effortless. It’s the same sort of investment necessary for ones enjoyment of any piece of fiction–science fiction included.

His “A Portfolio of Probabilities,” commissioned by U.S. Steel, was something I encountered as a child, and I had a very viscerally inspiring experience mulling through them. I ended up using them for the cover of ‘Babes‘. The collection doesn’t allude to or get off on any common science fiction tropes, and I never experienced his work that way. Mead doesn’t propose a possibility of the future, he’s too confident. Mead’s art is more about design, highly rational, blueprints, single handed models of what, with any luck, might be down the road.

…and knowing the history of the steel industry soon after that commission; as if they were buying the inspiration. It’s so very (tragically) American, I can’t handle it.

How has Mead’s vision effected you as you began exploring sound as an art form of your own?

There’s a large element of fiction in my stuff, but there’s also a lot of nerdy musical quotes: truisms, in some sense. The balance is difficult I guess, but mostly it’s about making it all feel real, or functional in the same way Mead’s work operates. There’s a dickish persistence which sorta undermines all my stuff; I can’t explain it, but it’s there. I’d only hope it evokes a vivid enough environment that people can envision or involve themselves in (in much the same way Mead’s work creates such immediately plausible futures).

There is a distinct color palette used in most retro futuristic art that seems to be embodied by your sound, almost as if it could be its modern soundtrack. Was that ever a conscience effort?

I think a lot of my work w/r/t production comes from an interest in orchestration; Stravinskyand Berio’s work especially. For me, it encourages the type of color balance you’re talking about. But it’s more of an expectation for myself than a conscious effort, framed by things I’ve dug (or not dug) in the past, biased towards a sorta bold ideal, vivid and really saturated. It’s super powerful, or I suppose it can be. Color is super important.

Both Mead and Kilian weave rather complex visual narratives into their work, how do narratives come into play during your writing process?

I don’t use narrative as a formal device, and lyrically it’s devoid of it as well. But the lyrics in my tunes can often trigger a troublesome metaphor when positioned against its musical counterpart. I kinda get off on this stuff. It’s like an invented implementation of tastelessness weaved so tightly into the structure of a track that it often goes unnoticed. I see a similar shade of this when I see these paintings. Mead’s placing a white 1950s American family at the center of these futuristic ideals, while Kilian is playing with and distorting nostalgic devices, implanting darker themes at the heart of work. There’s nothing subliminal about it, but it gives it strong character.

Are there any other visual artists you’d like to collaborate with? Any dream collabs?

I’d love to work with Theo Anthony again, I think his music videos are super inspiring, and weirdly get at the heart of what PEPEPIANO is. Kilian also makes neat videos. Dream collab may be something with David Firth, but I might explode if that happens.

Images from top to bottom:

  1. Title image: Kilian Eng - untitled
  2. Kilian Eng – untitled
  3. Kilian Eng – untitled
  4. Kilian Eng – Dollhouse Journeys
  5. Syd Mead – from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  6. Syd Mead – Water Sports from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  7. Syd Mead - Sentinel 400 Limousine from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  8. Syd Mead – Space Wreck from “Flight of Icarus”

Listen, stream, download several PEPEPIANO albums on bandcamp, explore more on tumblrand check out the end of summer 2011 mixtape he created for Think or Smile.

PEPEPIANO - Think or Smile Summer Mixtape

For lovers of the annual turning of the leaves, for those who revel in the crisp evening air, this time of year is welcomed with open sweater-clad arms. Heat seekers may not share our sentiment. But with any inevitable change it’s good to look back and pay homage to our warmer memories. PEPEPIANO, one of my favorite sonic space explorers, has been gracious enough to create this (end of) summer mixtape, and with it we bid a fond farewell to the heated sounds of 2011.


Think or Smile Mixtape: (End of) Summer 2011 – created by PEPEPIANO - Tracklist:

  1. Isao Tomita – Electromagnetic Waves Descend
  3. Chrome Sparks – All There Is (Feat. Steffaloo)
  4. SLEEP ∞ OVER – Romantic Streams (BALAM ACAB)
  5. Subvader – Make Love on the Moon
  6. Nicolas Jaar – What My Last Girl Put Me Through
  7. Salem – Tair
  8. Purity Ring – Lofticries
  9. D/R/U/G/S – Love/Lust (Keep Shelly in Athens Remix)
  10. Ra Cailum – I Know That You’ve Known
  11. Candyspilling – Epiclesis
  12. PEPEPIANO – Graphic Adventure
  13. Terry Riley – In The Summer

If aren’t already familiar with PEPEPIANO’s work, I highly recommend you do some exploring on his bandcamp and tumblr. And stay tuned next week for a look into some of the visual influences behind his sound.

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