Travelling through dystopian concrete locales, Fine Place (comprised of Frankie Rose and Matthew Hord) blend surreal realities in their debut release “This New Heaven.” Based in Brooklyn, they draw inspiration from NYC, Chicago, Belgium, UK, Germany, and places in between, to create an 80s inspired sound filled with synths, ethereal vocals, and drone like voids. Get lost in Frankie’s echoing vocals supported by Matthew’s cyberpunk instrumentation with the album below. Also, Matthew answered some questions on the project, including more context on the song they covered from Belgian group “Adult Fantasies.” Check it out following the stream.
How did you two meet, and what inspired the collaboration?
We briefly met 10 years ago through shows with our prior bands, but reconnected in New York via mutual friends. Frankie ended up doing cameo vocals on an album that one of my post-punk-kinda bands (Brandy) recorded a few years ago, which kind of spearheaded the idea of doing something together further. I come from a much more experimental/industrial/noisy punk background and thought it’d be interesting if we attempted to mix and match our contemporaneous styles of songwriting. We began doing it slowly piecemeal but once the lockdown occurred, there wasn’t much else to do except write, compose, program, record… it’s more or less an exhausted tale at this point as everyone did the same with lack of performance going on during that timeframe, but staying in New York and watching the upper class literally flee the city, riding bikes around empty formerly-bustling Manhattan business districts — it was all inspiring, really. It was like a hypercycle of urban decay and renewal within a matter of months; inarguably tragic, bizarrely dystopian, oddly calming due to lack of stimulation in an environment known for overstimulation.
It makes sense you’ve developed an 80’s aesthetic and connected it with a dystopian void created by wealth – what’re some specific visual references you found of this in NYC?
I guess I kind of already alluded to it, but the city was empty and the class divide of who stayed and who remained out of necessity was VERY apparent. It honestly did feel like a return to the eighties in the sense that people were painting full-blown graffiti pieces on the sidewalks and subway cars again, the streets were deserted, people were meeting up and drinking on the streets without worry of police presence since everyone was uncertain about being inside together. This was also an era of protests and unrest, which brought a level of togetherness and positive force that is usually absent from NYC since everyone is usually struggling or working incessantly (I guess that’s considered ‘hustling’ under this current umbrella of capitalism). That’s probably the only aspect of this time period that instilled any feeling of positivity into our recording, ha.
I checked out the Belgian group, Adult Fantasies – what made you want to cover their track?
I’m a huge industrial/experimental music head and one of my favorite labels and eras of music is Subway-Antler and the New Beat movement. Adult Fantasies is one of the weird outliers from that camp, kind of an unsettling mix of the Velvets and Coil? (Easily two of the most influential bands in my life.) They’re an oddly underrated project. Frankie and I were spinning a stack of records a couple years ago and ‘The Party Is Over’ came on off ‘For the Time Being’ — she was enamored with it from then onward and we ended up playing with the idea of covering it in a much more washed out electronic / less minimal fashion. There’s a really awesome label called Stroom that recently reissued a comp of their singles (or I guess what could be considered singles, ha). There’s another Subway-Antler act from Belgium I’m obsessed with that nobody seems to appreciate much called Poésie Noire — we almost covered one of their tracks instead. Maybe in the future.
Speaking of place-specific inspiration – Chicago, NYC, and Belgium are all industrialized locales with defining moments in electronic music history. Are there any other cities/regions you’ve carried into This New Heaven?
Wow, really accurate locale lineup there! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m also heavy influenced by early UK post-punk — The Fall is probably my favorite rock band of all time, who are also very clearly influenced by German krautrock — and their off-kilter approach to repetition was one of the most integral, formative inspirations on how I make music. Also the San Francisco Subterranean Records era — Tuxedomoon and Minimal Man are two of my favorite projects of all time. Berlin and French minimal wave, EBM, Detroit house and techno weasels its way into my head a lot… there’s good music everywhere, some of the projects just don’t come out of defined movements or scenes.
Is there anything you’ve been able to let go of with this release?
For me, I’d say my inhibitions in programming electronic gear and recording in certain ways. I always put it off because, well, I was busy working 50-60 hours a week and ‘hustling’. Now I’m finally comfortable with myself and our project and think we’ll be more effective from here on out.