NFOP SESSIONS #13: Phantom – Albuquerque from Tonje Thilesen on Vimeo.

Far from being an icy presence in front of an unmoving operator, the laptop has quietly become second nature. As tools mature and musicians gain comfort, music software can at last become another instrument.

So, let’s get comfy and close with some musicians who are finding intimate, personal expressions with impromptu human-and-laptop ensembles. Our friends at No Fear of Pop – a top-notch, pretension-free chronicle of new music – have in the past year been doing live portraits of artists in their NFOP Sessions series. This is the feeling of music returning to the living room, sometimes literally, as produced here by talented music writer/photo-journalist Tonje Thilesen.

Finnish Duo Phantom (Hanna and Tommi) made an appeance here last month with their Arduino-powered, flying saucer-shaped sensor controller. In NFOP’s film (at top), you can see the reason for resorting to such technology: gentle gestures above the UFO’s fuselage allow sensitive musical swells and effects that neatly follow Hanna’s tender vocal lines. “Albuquerque,” then, is about melting hearts – not abducting hapless farmers.

NFOP SESSIONS #13: Phantom.

NFOP SESSIONS #15: Solar Year from Tonje Thilesen on Vimeo.

Solar Year, based in Montreal and New York, are the first addition to NFOP’s label collaboration Straosfear. Ghostly vocals ride atop anxious, introverted beats, the latter falling under the direction of an array of small controllers and pads. Their work is to me beautifully full of nervous, vulnerable energy. (The sound isn’t perfect in this video – a testament to the “just hit record” nature of these sessions – but listen to more of their musical range below.)

NFOP Sessions #15: Solar Year

More music:

And an underwater sound installation, which seems the right way to enjoy all of this:

Solar Year’s 7″ hits today, yours from Berlin for 5 €.

7″ from Solar Year is out today, with this lovely tie-dye-in-space cover.

And more Phantom to listen to, as well:

Phantom’s Hanna Toivonen, live. Mask by Jenni Ahtiainen/ gTie. Photo: Kiki Ylimutka — at Flow Festival 2012.

New single:

Remember, you can always hear music on CDM via our handy widget – that’s the play button you see in the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

We hope to catch up with Phantom soon, and Solar Year joins our second Berlin MusicMakers installment, this time in collaboration with CTM Festival, on February 1 as part of our CTM program at Berghain Kantine, as they’re over on their European tour.
No Fear of Pop