The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Zak’s 5 Tracks that Induced Synesthesia in 2014

Frank Bowling's FIshes
Frank Bowling’s FIshes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Chris Zakorchemny shares five colorful songs he heard this year.

These five electronic tracks are less about the pulse of a beat, and more how electronic music would look if it was a Frank Bowling painting.

Synesthesia is a medical term describing the activation of one sense coming from the activation of another sense. That could mean looking at a photo and perceiving an audible element to it, or the inverse. Some musicians who have synesthesia describe being able to visually organize the music they create, or distinguish the colors of melodies. Wassily Kandinsky famously created paintings that were representations of music.

My initial thought for this list was to try to describe these five artists as sound collagists, but once I googled the phrase, I realized it was already a thing. Motherboard and the multi-talented Samantha Urbani (of various great bands) came up with it first. The following tracks are about the big picture coming from the smallest details. Continue reading →


Betty Who brings a glorious dance party to The TLA

Betty Who | Photo by Chris Zakorchemny
Betty Who | Photo by Chris Zakorchemny

If you think back to when you were first really getting into music; back to when you had a chance to go to a concert you needed to be at so you could just see your pop idol with your own human eyes – that is the emotional temperature of a Betty Who concert.

One look at 23-year-old Aussie Jess Newham, aka Betty Who, and you see a front-woman who is dancing just as much as the fans beyond the stage barrier. Most of those fans were into their twenties at the TLA last Saturday, transplanted back to their carefree teens, begging for Newham to take their hand-written letters and mix CDs. Without that barrier for the “Who Crew” to press up on and extend their hands over, the glorious dance party on the floor would have probably looked a little less glorious — you had to see the persistence of some of them, zealously waving letters for four or five songs at a time. Continue reading →


Interview: Matt Scottoline of Hurry talks about covering Weezer and what’s in his fridge

Matt Scottoline (center) with his bandmates in Hurry | photo by Ally Newbold

At this time last week, Matt Scottoline was playing in a Weezer cover band with members of Bleeding Rainbow and Blowdryer. Not because he didn’t have anything better to do than spoon down Little Baby’s Ice Cream and practice “My Name is Jonas” a bunch of times. (But that does sound like a delightful life…) Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Zak’s top five songs in 2012

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, photographer Chris Zak shares the five songs from 2012 that were his.

There is always music that is yours. Perhaps the musicians who wrote and played those songs that are yours would beg to differ, but don’t overthink it. I’m not talking about a song that says all the loving or bitter-as-hell things you’ve never been able to express. Let me break down my opinion of what is yours:

1. You want the record on vinyl so you can hug the music, and literally make it near (and dear to) your heart.

2. You’d probably consider it the greatest thing you could be doing with your life to see them live. And everyone not going to this concert is a doofus.

3. You think that the musicians making these songs probably don’t watch TV. It’s just too low-brow for them. If anything, they definitely don’t watch comedies. Maybe Louie.

4. Their music has appeared in your dreams. And any song that appears on your dreams is a queue from an unconscious part of your brain saying “Hey! Wake up and remember how good this song is before you forget it!”

5. Hearing one song unlocks a string of music history connections that you feel compelled to share with the world.

So, let’s get down to the top five music that belongs to me in 2012. Continue reading →