Stephen Malkmus’ Shelved Electronic Album Groove Denied Out In March

In interviews promoting last year’s Sparkle Hard, Stephen Malkmus repeatedly mentioned that he had recorded an electronic album. As he put it in a Q&A at the Matador Records offices last fall, “Every artist goes through this, and finally I did.” However, the album remained in limbo because it had inspired “a lot of trepidation by the suits.” The label allegedly wanted Malkmus to return from the four-year break after 2014’s Wig Out At Jagbags with something more in his wheelhouse, so he agreed to go make another guitar album with his band the Jicks. The result was Sparkle Hard, which saw release last spring. We interviewed Malkmus about the album over some tennis lessons.

Now that the Sparkle Hard cycle has run its course, the former Pavement frontman will finally release that electronic album this year. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Malkmus reveals some details: It’s called Groove Denied, he’s been working on it for 12 or 13 years, and it’s out in March. After he submitted the album in 2017, Matador’s president and founder Chis Lombardi, who’s been releasing Malkmus’ records since Pavement’s 1992 debut Slanted And Enchanted, flew personally to Portland to inform Malkmus that it wasn’t the right time to release this one.

Some comments from Malkmus:

It’s not that experimental. It’s just me with drum machines. … It’s only me on all the instruments and production and engineering. Guitars are not the focus. They’re on there, but the guitar player’s not really the alpha. Towards the end, it starts bleeding into guitar-ness. It’s waters I don’t usually swim in. I don’t think it’s too much of a head-scratcher.

Today Malkmus’ YouTube channel uploaded an excerpt from last fall’s Q&A at the Matador offices. A clip also appeared on Matador’s Instagram. And there’s now a @groovedenied Instagram account with nine sound clips that form what appears to be an album cover. Check that out here, and watch the interview footage below.

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Groove Denied is out in March on Matador. Presumably we should expect to hear some music from it soon?