STEPHEN MALKMUS announces solo album Groove Denied, shares single ‘Viktor Borgia’

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Praise for Stephen Malkmus

“Stephen Malkmus is still making music that matters” – GQ

“Few artists can write a hook as immediately infectious or distinctive as Stephen Malkmus”  – NPR

“Nearly two decades since the last Pavement record, Stephen Malkmus is in the best form of his career.”  – The Line of Best Fit, 8.5/10 (Sparkle Hard)

“There’s a real depth to the painstaking and wonderfully unpredictable arrangements.”
– The Music ★★★★½ (Sparkle Hard)

 Best Albums of 2018 – Pitchfork (Sparkle Hard)
Best Albums of 2018 – Rolling Stone (Sparkle Hard)
Best Albums of 2018 – SPIN (Sparkle Hard)
Best Albums of 2018 – Consequence of Sound (Sparkle Hard)

The rumors are true:  The “rejected” electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been telling everyoneabout will see the light of day on Friday 15th March, when it’s released on Matador Records / Remote Control Records.  But new album 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 comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a recent video interview“It’s kind of funny to mess with stuff you’re not supposed to mess with.”

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. “Yes, 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, 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.”

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 andPavement 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.”

Pre-order Groove Denied:

Stephen Malkmus – Groove Denied

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

Stephen Malkmus – Groove Denied is out
Friday 15th March via Matador Records / Remote Control Records.

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