Friday, 2 September 2011


Electronic duo Hardboiled Wonderland, featuring Martin Birke (synths, samples, electronic percussion, drum programming) and Percy Howard (lyrics, vocals, vocal samples), are proud to announce that they will release their debut disc, As Small as a World and Large as Alone, in late Fall. The record will be distributed through the UK-based label Gonzo MultiMedia, the innovative company that releases a wildly eclectic variety of CDs and DVDs from a number of renowned artists and record labels, spanning rock and pop music from the ‘60s to today.

Hardboiled Wonderland, named after half of the title of one of Birke and Howard’s favorite novels by Haruki Murakami (Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World),recorded and produced As Small as a World and Large as Alone from 2009-2010. The disc was co-produced with Christopher Scott Cooper (guitars, samples and engineering) at Blue Seven Audio in Fremont, CA, with contributions by Benito Cortez (viola, violins), Edo Castro (7-string basses) and Tara C. Taylor and Essence on backing vocals.

Each of the ten tracks on the record show not only the duo’s talent as musicians, but more importantly, their unbridled zeal and enthusiasm for creating adventurous music. From the sultry, emotionally charged title track to the infectious dance beats of ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Looking for Strange’, the trip-hop of ‘Filthy’ and ‘I Carry Your Heart’, the album is bold, delicate and introspective.

You can download the track “Jungle Fever” here:

Prior to forming Hardboiled Wonderland, both Birke and Howard were already established musicians in their hometown of Sacramento, CA. Howard, no stranger to musical performance, was the singer in the local band NUS, who released two recordings, both produced by Bill Laswell, which came out in the mid 90s on the Belgian Art label Sub Rosa. He is also the generator and impetus behind the Meridiem Project, which has included collaborations with Bill Laswell, Vernon Reid, Buckethead, Charles Hayward, Fred Frith, Jarboe, Happy Rhodes, Trey Gunn, Robert Rich, Jill Tracy, Eraldo Bernocchi, and Oz Fritz amongst others.

Composer/producer Birke, whose adept technical skills allow him to create richly textured electronically-rooted compositions, is the writer & director of the studio project Genre Peak. He has created commissioned scores for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, The Oxygen Cable Network, and Lions Gate Films ("Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane", "Retribution"). He has also co-scored two films in collaboration

with the band Sandbox Trio (“Animals” and “Heartbeat”) in addition to touring and recording in Europe with the Frank-Mart-Arts label with the bands Casualty Park and Sandbox Trio.

Although the two met several times in the mid 90’s when Birke’s band, Sandbox Trio, often opened for Howard’s band NUS, they officially began their songwriting partnership in 2009 when they realized they had similar musical styles and visions. With their conceptualization of Hardboiled Wonderland crystallized, after a year writing and recording a collection of songs, including a remix by the late great bassist Mick Karn (Japan, Dalis Car), which is available on the band’s official website as a download, they felt that they have truly created a wonderland of modern music that brings the listener into themselves and out into the exploration of new eclectic music.

As Small as a World and Large as Alone combining Birke’s elegantly layered keyboards and samples and Howard’s sultry vocals, is a sonic venture through electronic and trip-hop compositions and a passionate and powerful debut.

You can buy the Hardboiled Wonderland album directly from the Gonzo website here :

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What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.