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  • Like an off-label industrial process or cult ritual conducted in the dead of night, an artery flowing open in spurts or a complex society on the verge of collapse, Neuroplasticity is both terrifying and morbidly enthralling to witness. Cold Specks has returned, two years and a world map of tours after 2012's I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Hailed as a masterful and wholly original debut, the follow-up is radically expanded, like an announcer realising they hadn't turned on their microphone.

    The 26 year-old Canadian singer under the sobriquet Al Spx has been a byword for rare talent and depth of feeling since her arrival in late 2011. In November, in the afterglow of first single 'Holland,' she performed 'Lay Me Down,' and 'Old Stepstone' on Jools Holland. It turned into one of those shared national moments of cutlery-dropping, slack-jawed TV transfixion.

    Work on the second album began while holed up in a cottage in Wick, Somerset the following winter. "In retrospect, I probably didn't choose the most ideal season to live there," she deadpans. Neuroplasticity has since been constructed in fine layers, like a Rothko, building to a full, monolithic opacity.

    "The record was mapped out in the cottage. I was there for about three months," she says, "'A Formal Invitation', 'Old Knives' and 'Absisto' were essentially written there. They are the more unusual songs on the record. I may have been reflecting on my surroundings. Have you ever been to Glastonbury? It's a pretty fucked up place."

    The time on either side was as new and exciting as it was cruel and exhausting. Presently she was back on the road again in the UK, Europe, the US and Canada. "I relentlessly toured for the first time. Travelling constantly was an odd adjustment at first. I'd always imagined road-trips to be exciting and generally fun. I found it all to be physically and mentally draining. Between tours I was mostly attempting to re-socialise."

    The gruelling schedule has awoken her writing to the full possibilities of her ensemble. Her voice is still central but on Neuroplasticity the lights have been brought up on the instrumentation and arrangements, which are now deployed more boldly, in wider emotional registers that contend with the voice's dynamism and scope. "I've successfully overcome whatever quarter-life crisis I was having and I think the 'Cold Specks sound' (whatever that means) is fully realised," she says.

    • Venue: Underground
    • Type: Live
    • Cover: $14.00
    • Time: July 31, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • POPSPOLITATION is a night celebrating dirty, dirty pop in its many incarnations, from the ley lines connecting Madonna, Britney and Xtina to one *NSYNC's move to bringing SexyBack to the eventual world conquering ATL sound to the chaos magic of Lady Gaga. Original mash-ups, new stuff, rare stuff, old stuff, and that Icona Pop song all merge together for a night of entirely unique DJ and live viz performances by Palm Freetz, the Brooklyn-based art+music+event duo of Russ Marshalek (aka a place both wonderful and strange) and Deanna Paquette (aka hugs4drake). Between the two of them, they've produced Brooklyn's legendary Robyn-themed dance parties, keynoted the Typo Conference Berlin, and have an encyclopedic and infamous mental and emotional pop music dictionary.

    • Venue: Underground
    • Type: DJ, Live, Art
    • Cover: $5
    • Time: July 31, 2014, 11 p.m.
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    From 9-11PM, our current Drake Lab artists in residence will present an evocative window performance featuring projections, lights and live performance. “Corporate Daydreams” is much akin to falling asleep at your desk and never waking up.

    • Venue: The Lab
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 1, 2014, 9 p.m.
  • Jagwar Ma formed in Sydney Australia when Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield bonded over a mutual passion of melody and experimental beats. The pair set out creating a sound that would capture their love for contemporary electronica and classic American Soul, Joe Meek and King Tubby, vintage drum machines and radio frequency manipulation, improvised percussion. Fusing the elements of disparate music, the vocal sweetness of Laurel Canyon, Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and the modern electronic space of the past 40 years, they created a contemporary take on psychedelia, with the beauty and simplicity of classic sun-soaked, beach pop.Just weeks after putting music online, it secured heavy airplay on Australian radio triple j and a seven inch release on new UK label The Blue Rider. The music received a positive reaction to the mix of old and new, the uninhibited rhythm and its classic harmonies sliced apart by a lyric informing how lonely love can be.

    In mid 2012 Jagwar Ma decamped to a space in France to record their debut album - just the two of them in an empty farm two hours south of Paris, with an 808, a Fender Jaguar, a laptop and a pair of vintage Neve console channels. Their time at La Briche echoes like a strange psychedelic film: cycling in fields of sunflowers, cheese, caveman beards and going crazy in the studio. While working they listened to twisted electronica from Liars, Aphex Twin and Autechre. “And then when we sat down to dinner we’d listen to Sinatra and Nat King Cole" says Gab. Added to that were the neighbours who were into hardcore dub…“They were from a scene which is based around homemade soundsystems” says Jono “they take them out in to the middle of nowhere and play literally the hardest most sinister kind of music I’ve ever experienced. It is the weirdest thing in the world".

    Jagwar Ma were on a mission to re-create a two man wall of sound ensued and with help from friends, locals and a pre-historic desk once used by Conny Plank, they set about re-inventing the warmth, harmony and audio sunshine they had first hatched back in Oz. Their collaborators along the way included long-time friend Warpaint drummer, Stella Mozgawa and renowned DJ and producer, Ewan Pearson on mixing duties. By the dying days of 2012 their time in France had not been ill spent and a debut album Howlin was recorded and ready to be mixed.

    Their first release from these sessions, 'The Throw', saw them occupying a space where screamadelica and its wayward children used to live. A joyful seven minutes weaving melodies and beats with the sole purpose of making people move, of throwing caution to the wind and reaching a higher level with a greater purpose, or maybe without one at all, it touched a nerve and helped soundtrack the last few months.

    Second single ‘Man I Need’ is more introspective, beats minimal and Gab singing ‘all you say to me, is you’re not the man I need, that’s what you said to me”. Across the album, 'Howlin' twist its hooks in dirty clanking breakdowns. Pop songwriting is buried in layers of crunching synths and pedal effects.

    Live the band has added Jack Freeman on bass, and they started 2013 in Australia on the Big Day Out festival tour before playing a packed NME show in London in February. Since then they've toured Europe with Foals and then Australia with The xx. Jagwar Ma are due back in Europe after album release to play more headline dates and festivals across 2013.

    • Venue: Underground
    • Type: Live
    • Cover: $15
    • Time: Aug. 2, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    From 9-11PM, our current Drake Lab artists in residence will present an evocative window performance featuring projections, lights and live performance. “Corporate Daydreams” is much akin to falling asleep at your desk and never waking up.

    • Venue: Lobby
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 2, 2014, 9 p.m.
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    From 9-11PM, our current Drake Lab artists in residence will present an evocative window performance featuring projections, lights and live performance. “Corporate Daydreams” is much akin to falling asleep at your desk and never waking up.

    • Venue: The Lab
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 3, 2014, 9 p.m.
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    From 1-4PM, our current Drake Lab artists in residence graciously open up the doors of its office to the public. Feel free to drop by for the very best in performance, new media and office design.

    • Venue: The Lab
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 4, 2014, noon
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    From 1-4PM, our current Drake Lab artists in residence graciously open up the doors of its office to the public. Feel free to drop by for the very best in performance, new media and office design.

    • Venue: The Lab
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 5, 2014, noon
  • Are you looking for a place, an actual physical location, where art and business come together? You’re well on your way! Tough Guy Mountain’s PopUp Office engages in boutique culture, office design and new media art; PopUp Office is where the loyal brand consumer needs it most: The Drake Hotel.

    During the regular office hours of our current Drake Lab artists in residence, expect a very special presentation of a cutting edge, innovative, interactive software will be made available for very consumptive demos.

    • Venue: The Lab
    • Type: Live, Art
    • Cover: FREE
    • Time: Aug. 6, 2014, noon