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"[Premiere] Bastardgeist – Winter Fog // Song Of The Day #363"

What’s this? Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden releasing a chillwave track? It was only a matter of time really, wasn’t it? Taking Chino from Deftones’ witch house hopping lead and jumping on an generic bandwagon mere moments before it grinds to a looming halt. Oh this can only end badly. Look away now, sadists.

Oh no, I misread the press release. It’s actually Joel Midden, otherwise known as Chicago drone-popster Bastardgeist, not Nicole Ritchie’s new hubby. My bad.

But are there two words sweeter when put together than “drone” and “pop”? I don’t think so, and this song just goes to prove it. I’m sure you all won’t be too disappointed that this isn’t a ‘Madden Broz’ track because instead we treat you to an exclusive stream of the brilliant Bastardgeist’s ‘Winter Fog’ – taken the experimental musician’s new AA-side single out 21 November on Brainlove.

The track sounds like the culminating scene to some 80's coming-of-age film that you just don’t want to ever end. And, likewise, this ditty number is one that you’ll definitely be inclined to play over and over again over the course of the day.

Bastardgeist will play five UK dates starting tomorrow, with three of the gigs in London over the coming week, before heading to Spain and returning to our shores for shows in Oxford and Bristol at the end of the month.

17 – Wheelbarrow, London (w/ Bleeding Heart Narrative & Fireworks Night)
18 – House Show, London (w/ Mat Riviere, Tall Stories & Ethical Debating Society)
23 – Windmill, London (w/ A Classic Education)
24 - Gaztemaniak, San Sebastian, Spain, (w/ Napoleon IIIrd)
25 – Jericho Tavern, Oxford (w/ Bleeding Heart Narrative, Mat Riviere)
26 – Cube, Bristol (w/ Bleeding Heart Narrative, Mat Riviere)

You can stream the other corresponding half to this AA release below, the equally hypnotic ‘Shift’: - The Line of Best Fit


The title of this post is the name of Bastardgeist's album. Yes, the name of it. In an email I got from him, he describes the album as "leftover insecurities from my childhood, sexuality, and my own inevitable death". I respect his candidness, and as this digital breeze wafts out of my laptop speakers, I like to wonder what part of his insecurities this represents. With the ripped and distant loops of singing children (are they singing?), I imagine some futuristic archaeologist finding only that 1-second clip and them playing it over and over, trying to rebuild the past. But I suppose that's what I'm doing, playing this song over and over, trying to fabricate a story to this gentle 3-minute sample, of a moment, of a day, or a month, however long this feeling lasted. If you're interested, the story involves finding a lost cell phone, a pair of shoes covered in duct tape, and one of those birthday cards that plays a song when you open it. [MySpace] - Said The Gramophone

"WATCH: Bastardgeist Video"

You can't really say not to an artist with a name like Bastardgeist, can you? But, it's fair to say, you might not expect him to sound like he does. We were so intrigued by this young man, real name Joel Midden, who sings of violence and sexuality (a kind of flip-Tyler, if you will) that we decided to ask Quietus contributor and Brainlove label boss John Brainlove to explain the story behind his relationship with the artist. These are his words, and a new Bastardgeist video below, along with tour dates.

"I came across Bastardgeist several years ago, on MySpace no less. I had stumbled onto this little scene of bands from Chicago and that area who all had each other in their top friends. I distinctly remember clicking through them all - they had great artwork and interesting texts with their pages - it was obvious that it was a very fertile little scene. Years later, it turned out one of those bands I had listened to was a pre-fame Salem, although they weren't the ones that got my attention at the time.

"That was Bastardgeist. The profile had a weird little story on it - a spooky mini fairytale with no real point to it, in a good way. It was completely white, like a gallery wall, with one of the Jake & Dinos Chapman cocknose sculptures as the profile picture. I was taking all this in, listening to a crackling old orchestral sample on a loop, overdubbed with twinkling sounds and twisted vocals, and just realised there was something really cool and special about this person.

"The more I delved into his stuff, the better it got. The songs were subtle, textural, bass-heavy, all with this trademark sound of what turned out to be kalimba (or thumb piano). Turned out it was by a guy named Joel Midden. We started talking, just generally - about how he worked in a gallery, about how he was having trouble finding a flat because of all the homophobic landlords, and finally about releasing some music. Quite a while later he got back in touch with an album's worth of finished songs, some new and some polished up a bit. It was really breathtaking - having given his music a lot of time already, I'd done the groundwork, if you like, and this was just a perfect presentation of his work.

Bastardgeist - Cabbageheads (Live) from Brainlove on Vimeo.

"Since then, we met finally - he came and played the BRNLV stage at Airwaves last year. Seeing it live was kind of a relief, in a way. It was reassuringly spot-on. In the flat we all hired in Reykjavik, I came in one day and Joel and Ruth Barabe (she was playing with him there) were practicing harmonies... his voice is so beautiful my jaw literally dropped. It's like a finely tuned instrument in itself. I stood there listening for about five minutes until they realised I was there. We drove out into the lava fields later in the week and filmed this:

Bastardgeist - Cabbageheads (Live in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland) from Brainlove on Vimeo.

"Now the record is finally coming out, and he's playing here. We've put together a little tour at the end of May, including dates at Christchurch Cathedral in Oxford and Brainlove Festival in London. He's a really special musician, and like all the guys on the label, I'm proud to be helping him out."

May 20th - London, Club NME (DJ Set)
May 22nd - Norwich, Playhouse Bar (with Octagon Court)
May 23rd - Cardiff, Ten Feet Tall (with Chris T-T / Pagan Wanderer Lu)
May 25th - Oxford, Christchurch Cathedral
May 26th - Newcastle, Culture Lab
May 28th - London, BRNLV Festival (with Meursault, Patterns, Napoleon IIIrd +++) - The Quietus



*2010 "Self-Titled" (Brainlove Records)
*TBA "Even Out" (Brainlove Records)


*2011 "Shift/Winter Fog" (Brainlove Records)



"A bed of stimulating sonics... detailed yet uncluttered with a captivating beauty." - Shook Mag

"Bastardgeist (Joel Midden), comes equipped with the remarkable ability to display a breathtaking sonic exploration with only the most abstract of ingredients." - Music Fans Mic

"We were dumbfounded by how Bastardgeist produced his strange polyrhythmic experiments. We know now, they're due in no small part to a traditional kalimba and his own, unique ethereal voice" - WNUR Radio, Chicago

"With the ripped and distant loops of singing children (are they singing?), I imagine some futuristic archaeologist finding only that 1-second clip and them playing it over and over, trying to rebuild the past. But I suppose that's what I'm doing, playing this song over and over, trying to fabricate a story to this gentle 3-minute sample, of a moment, of a day, or a month, however long this feeling lasted." - Said The Gramaphone

Bastardgeist is the brainchild of Chicago-based musician Joel Midden. Through layers of kalimba, processed vocals, circuitous samples and found percussion he crafts atmospheric songs of singular vision and ambitious design.

Bastardgeist's self-titled debut explored the politics and isolation of sexuality through abstract lyrical fragments, ethereal washes of ambient texture and frank, heart-wrenching melodies.

Midden's newest singles, an AA-side comprising of two new songs "Shift" and "Winter Fog", mixes warm, autumnal synth lines that meld into gently insistent earworms, and marks an important point in Bastardgeist's development.