Really awesome post-punk from a group of Danish teens. When I say post-punk, I mean the early Warsaw/JD stuff. Think "Les Bains Douches" except with hardcore punk energy. Standout tracks for me include "White Rune," "Collapse," and "You're Blessed." Really great album overall, makes the genre sound refreshing.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The waves weren't enough, she said. The gulping of birds, the distant clouds, pebbles of sand and bedrock. My arms, her hands -- not enough, she said. The mountains cascading distant skylines, they were hers. Blades of grass enveloped in gift wrap. I tied a bow around the horizon and straddled it into her arms. The ocean in a polar bear mug with her name on it. Hugs that gathered cities. Her hair fluttering in the wind like a loose ribbon, the sunlight bending between the arching strands. She turned and walked away. Her shadow cast before her, imprinting itself before lapsing into the next. A forward motion. Rewind. Her footsteps echoing themselves in sand. Rewind. Her softness beams, sways in a dizzy disarray. Her hair, my eyes. Rewind. Her short dress wrinkles near the bottom, creases fold into themselves. Rewind. Replay. Rewind.
Then I wake up. The dim sunlight piercing the window shades, the white covers strewn about the bed. Her beside me. Her hair shadowed about her eyes, hands lovingly clasped in uniform passion. The transience of dream-state flitters like falling leaves -- reality buzzes in. A moment with The Sight Below is a moment within a dream, within a simple chord or echoing melody. A seemingly everlasting overture that immobilizes. Perches. That which feeds the eye. Glider is a dream, a momentary glancing of beauty. There's a shuffling distance to the album that I'm hard pressed to articulate, something that softly shudders throughout. And like Four Tet's Moth, Re-Drum's Blue, Aphex Twin's Xtal, and, to a lesser degree, Kaito's Everlasting Dub, elicits the loneliness of listening to the party next door. The softness of distant beats, the tepid encumbering of a shivering wall. Muffled voices and charred, insignificant words. Glider is the debut album of The Sight Below, and, like most hyperminimal dub/idm producers, is lauded by only the insignificant few. What with its uneventful, pulsing, catatonic sense of sleeplessness and abundant, almost suffocating inducement of dynamic ambiance, comes to no surprise. The Sight Below employs, as aforementioned, a hyperminimal sense of ambiance. This is no Stockhausen or Ambarchi minimalism, however; it's intent is not the personification or academic examination of musical structure/sound, but rather an enticement, or an axiomatic illustration. I'll explain over the next few paragraphs.
Glider is what some would call boring. Those familiar with drone can understand this statement. But for us, for those that believe music is more than a means of entertainment, more than a statement of self-importance, more than a theater stage and spotlight for masturbatory purposes, feel the lull of its draw. It's overwhelming, omnipotent power. The underlying dissonance, the striking pulse of a 4/4 kick. Modulation. Dense, lush, overpowering reverb. For those readers versed in physics, more specifically quantum theory, there's an important property of particles known as quantum entanglement. The property states, in a nutshell of a nutshell of a nutshell, that to mention the property of one particle is to implicitly mention the property of another. There's a purity to this, by design, that resonates with me when attempting to describe the emotions at play here. The only other way I can properly define this feeling is love. For one to exist, another must be. The two complexities, each with their own individual subsets, each with their own distinct set of identities, exist only because of another. Forever. This is the sort of relationship I feel when listening to Glider, but it's not between myself and the music. Glider is composed of two particular stages; that of the ambiance, and that of the bass kick. Two particles. It's as if they pantomime themselves to one another. As if they've met before, inside the coffee shop. Separated by tables, chairs, smiles. As if their relationship began before they'd even met. As if they're writing notes on napkins and passing them off to waiters as they pass. Without Motion holds this special, enigmatic relationship in a beautiful sort of way. It's gentle, bobbing, boat-rocking sort of motion that wavers between the two sounds. The overwhelming, omnipresence of the shuddering ambiance; its shuffle, its cordial, open-arm embrace. The kick paths the track in and out of the higher/lower frequencies as the track progresses. The blissful play off one another. The backwards glances. The way a kick throb quietly gives way to the higher order ambiance, how it bends between the small gaps of silence. Its motionlessness.
It All Falls Apart is The Sight Below's sophomore album, a monolithic follow up to an extraordinary debut, and as some may remember, my second favorite album of 2010. I would say this album adopts a much more dynamic role than that of the debut. Ambiance is no longer solely shuffled forward by a 4/4 kick, but by layering the ranges of reverb and soundscapes in a messy stack, tunneling and intertwining and folding into one another. Romantically seducing. The tailored kick is still present, obviously, as it's essentially a staple to this small niche of work ( another case of function/form, but I digress ), but it's used in a much more compelling manner this time around. The dynamics in the album make for an exponentially variant reaction, and I recommend listening to this with a nice pair of headphones. Burn Me Out From The Inside elicits a very soft, almost silent harmony and tempo altercation that's only faintly noticeable; its gaze is one of successive, rhythmic motion that emphasizes the kick, but propagates its mannerisms on ambiance alone. Another case of entanglement. The kick fades out about a quarter of the way through, dropping the shuffled movement and distinctly reminiscing the adjacent ambiance, only to revisit the kick once more a handful of seconds later. This time, it's changed. You can feel it. Like mornings after a storm. Like warm seat cushions. Like balls of yarn wrapped up in a cat's paw. This deconstruction and uninhibited, amorphic nature of the bass kick is paramount to the tracks structure. This newfound fill, this high/low play of sound and melody. The dancing ambiance. The soundstage of reflection.
A majority of the time spent with It All Falls Apart is spent seceding from the tangibility of that around you. It’s a clichéd statement when discussing ambiance, but it’s a true statement nonetheless. The tracks on this album are much more focused on that succession, reveling in the transference of motion and its inescapability. Overtures of ambiance and their fleeting decadence are transposed, almost exclusively, over the emptiness of gasping silence. Stagger and It All Falls Apart are these momentary absorptions of bliss; of static electricity and peach fuzz and open windows with slight breezes. And blow drying your hair with rainbows. Stagger, specifically, is thirteen minutes of the same washing, bouncing, reflectively stagnant ambiance with a quiet pathing fill somewhere in the background. And all of its mechanics and beautify and undeniable fragility can be attributed to its length. It’s absurd to call this music boring or repetitious; it’s a perspective on a medium that takes hold – you don’t bore of a setting sun over ocean horizons because that’s what you find to be beautiful, that’s what you’ve always felt it to be. Pretty paintings, fragile poetry, delicate hums; things that inexplicably evoke. You never wonder where the beauty in age has gone – she’s the same beauty she’s always been.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I planned to post this a while ago, but better to post it now than never. Sunroof! is Matthew Bower from England; he's been active for 25 years and has released over 60 albums under a variety of names. This happens to be the best release he's had in my opinion, as his genre is hard to pin down considering that he also works in the post-punk and noise scenes.
There's a lot to enjoy here. "Machine" is a beautiful opening to the 70-minute album. "Zero" is expectional. "Primavera" is fantastic fuzzed-out noise/experimental rock. This is nine tracks and 70 minutes long and it's hard to find a single minute that isn't worthy of repeated listens.
(editor's note: you'll get several posts from me today; I'll attempt to stop being lazy)
Friday, January 21, 2011
You've probably heard a story like the Zero Boys' before. A small group of misguided young men see the light when they discover the Dead Kennedys' album Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. They then decide to form a band and do everything they can to look like The Clash. Vicious Circle is a perfect example of both the creativity and the copycatitivity (I couldn't think of a better word there so I made one up) of the early 80s hardcore scene. One look at the album cover and one might get the impression that the Zero Boys were just another fly-by-night hardcore band. The gruesome face appears to only be there because it's gruesome. The cliché word "vicious" doesn't help either. Lyrically, the songs deal with pretty much exactly what you'd think. Song titles like "Civilizations Dying" and "Livin' in the 80s" show their disdain for the world in which they were living, a disdain shared by many punks of the time. "New Generation" shows their hope for the youth and there are even a few straight-edge numbers like "Hightime" and "Drug Free Youth." But yet they don't sound angry. The singer has somewhat of a snarl but it's not convincing. That's not to say it's bad, however. It sounds as if he enjoys being in a band too much to sing with much ferocity, and the music matches this. The relatively clean thumping bass matched with the treble-heavy guitars makes this album more fun than angry. They're much more like their inspirators the Dead Kennedys than Minor Threat, for example. I don't know if I'd go as far to say that this is a lost masterpiece of the hardcore era, but it definitely deserves its cult status.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I can't deny it anymore. I am addicted to the epic final track of Equilibrium's 2008 release, Sagas. Mana is quickly becoming one of my favorite instrumentals. Even though the song weights in at 16 minutes long, it doesn't become boring. Part of this has to do with how damn catchy the song can be. The transitions at 5:00 and 8:10 are very memorable. The musicianship, creativity, melody, and pacing all combine to create an absolute musical juggernaut of folk metal. This is a song that can make me headbang and cry in the same song. I kid you not, I teared up once at the flute part around 4:00 because of how beautiful it is. I'm sure some of you won't dig this, but if you go into it with an open mind I think you will find something to enjoy.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
This is definitely one of the most anachronistic and geographically confusing records I've heard. At first listen, it may seem like a bold new career move by Aphex Twin or some other electronic visionary. But this is an original work recorded by Bollywood composer Charanjit Singh in 1982 that wasn't widely known in India, much less the world at large, until recently.
I won't try to get into the technical aspects of the record that make Ten Ragas a newly-heralded precursor of acid house because I'm no expert on the subject. But it's apparent that it's not just an oddity but also a fusion of the hypnotic acid and ancient Indian melodies. This fusion is pretty seamless and doesn't feel gimmicky at all, even though Singh was trying to cash in on the increasing popularity of electronic music in India.
The title tells you all you need to know about the album. It does consist of ten Ragas and they are actually set to a Disco beat. The synthesizer translates the lilting rhythms of Raga perfectly and the production quality isn't hindered at all by the fact that it was made 30 years ago in a third world country. The synth rhythms pulsate brilliantly throughout the album but Raga Madhuvanti is the highlight for me personally.
Regardless of whether or not it's a harbinger of acid, Ten Ragas can't be denied as a successful union of past and present and east and west.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
By now, you've probably heard of them despite the fact that they don't do very many interviews and they've only done a few widely-attended live shows, most of them in the Los Angeles-area they're based in.
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, also known as OFWGKTA, Odd Future Wolf Gang, or just Odd Future to most music sites, is a ten-deep hip-hop group (collective, if we must) that's released three mixtapes and seven albums in a little over two years.
This isn't your average rap group, though. None of the members are over 20 years old and one of the cornerstones of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt, is only 16. To top it off, the lyrics mostly consist of references to rape, drugs, highly offensive views of women (to some of you, anyway), and more. We're pretty sure that this isn't for kids, especially considering that the major offender of this is Earl Sweatshirt himself.
However, the lyrics shouldn't take away anything from the incredible beats they're laid over. Plus, when you realize just how unique these lyrics are and that outside of terrible horrorcore groups you won't find them anywhere else, you'll appreciate them even more. These guys (and girl) clearly know what they're doing.
The best thing about these ten releases? Every single one is free and available for download at their site, OddFuture.com.
Over the next couple of days, I'll be analyzing what makes this group so captivating to listeners. Part 1 is obviously being posted tonight with Part 2 on Monday and Part 3 (hopefully!) on Tuesday. This post is, essentially, an introduction to the group with coverage on the group-wide releases and Tyler, the Creator. With that, let's look at what the members of the group have released to this point.
In terms of group-wide releases, there's only been two, but they're both strong - The Odd Future Tape, released in 2008, which is basically a rough draft of what OF really was and is. Only four current OF members appear on the tape - Tyler, the Creator, Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, and the Super 3 (three separate members combined in one group). Casey Veggies, a former member and current associate of OF, appears on the tape as well.
The superior of the two tapes is the Radical mixtape, which was released in 2010. The tape includes nearly every member of the group save for the Super 3. As mentioned in the post, this tape features the members rapping over beats that aren't their own. It works pretty well, too - I don't think Liars is going to be offended by Tyler rapping over a song of theirs.
Speaking of Tyler, we're onto easily the most prominent member of the group and maybe the best. Tyler, the Creator, also known as Wolf Haley, Ace the Creator, and (from what I know, this is his birth name) Tyler Haley, is 19 years old and keeps the youth movement in OF going strong. He has rapped on/produced for nearly every OF release.
As for releases of his own, he has only one to his name currently, the 2009 release Bastard. The album may be the most complete OF release out there, as the lyrical work on the album is unmatched. The beats are pretty nice as well when you listen to it intently.
There's an underlying theme on the album that's interesting to keep track of as the album rolls along. At 19 years old, Tyler has never met his father, as he left his mother before his birth. It's a sad story as it is with any family when one parent has to play two roles for their children.
However, Tyler doesn't miss his father at all - he hates him more than I hate game shows on FOX. Several songs are directly to or about his father, specifically the title track and "Inglorious". Many of the songs have references to him and they aren't exactly welcoming.
That's what makes the album so fascinating and repeatedly listenable, though. I know I'm not the only listener who can feel some relation with Tyler as I didn't even know my actual father's name until I was 15. The album is so incredibly human that it's impossible to forget.
From top to bottom, Tyler is maybe the best rapper in the group. That doesn't mean you can ignore the rest.
With that, I'll stop here for now. I'll pick back up on this on Monday with Part 2, which should include profiles on the other prominent members in the group. Part 3 will take a look at what's in store for OF as they move on in 2011.
Don't think I've posted this, so I'll roll with it. Wasn't sold on this guy (formerly known as Bye Bye Blackbird up until May 2010 or so) after hearing the Happy High single, but this album made me a fan.
So much to like here, and even though it's probably considered your standard chillwave fare, there's nothing very standard about it. What doesn't sound effective ends up working as songs such as "Hawaii" and "Sunspray" end up sticking around for long periods of time. A strong piece of work by a little-known artist who should be able to get more attention in 2011.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Let's start from the beginning. This album is mixed in a way that couldn't be anything but purposeful. So does this actually help the music or is it just some misguided gimmick? I'd definitely lean toward the former. The mixing adds to the ridiculously youth-y sound the band has going for it, and on songs where there's a lot of stuff going on (Secretary Song for example) it just makes it sounds like there's even more stuff going on. Which makes it a little overwhelming, in a good way. The vocals are entirely female; ranging from random outcries to the poppiest of pop to straight-up rap. Speaking of which, as a hip hop fan, I have to say the songs with rapping are especially enjoyable. It's impossible for me not to approach something like Voice Yr Choice differently than I would any other rap song, and that being the case, it's a hell of a rap song. The rapping itself is completely typical, but the indie production is such a fresh spin on things. One thing I'm surprised by is just how typical the rapping is. If you heard an indie electronic album had rapping on it, you'd probably imagine the rapping being at least unique, if not completely off-kilter, but no, the rapper brags about her skills, references clubs, and says she's tearing up the underground, among other cliches. I don't think this is a bad thing at all; the rapping being as it is just adds to the charm as far as I'm concerned.
Moving on, the horns. Like I said, high school band on speed. Bust-Out Brigade definitely sounds like what a football team would enter to in some more cheery alternate dimension. It's also the first instrumental song out of four, which are all surprisingly good and break the album up nicely, while remaining good standalone songs. Finally, the most poppy numbers: Ready to Go Steady is so overtly pop that it's almost off putting for a second, but it's completely infectious, as is lead single Buy Nothing Day.
Honestly, I'm almost surprised this album is as good as it is. For real, I was a little (pleasantly) surprised at first by the sound, and thought there were a few great songs, but multiple listens revealed that this album is completely consistent; I can't really knock a single track. Every song here is deserving of praise; and whether they're doing rap, pop, or instrumental, the group excels. Their joy is borderline contagious (though the album can wear on you if you're not in the mood) and the songs are flat-out catchy. Despite the plethora of sounds and styles on the album, the whole youthful upbeat thing permeates through every one of them and holds the entire thing together quite nicely.
I wasn't instantly blown away as I hoped to be, but instead The King is Dead overtook me with songs that become hard to complain about after hearing them a few times. The vast majority of the album is completely solid, and covers a wide enough variety of moods without sacrificing coherence. The single biggest flaw isn't a specific technique or style used throughout the album, but an entire song: Rox in the Box. Its elementary lyrics almost completely take the oomph out of an upbeat composition that might have competed for the album's strongest if it had vocals that didn't make it seem a little corny and overblown. Aside from that, not every song is great (actually I'd say only two aren't, not counting Rox in the Box, those being All Arise! and Dear Avery, which aren't bad by any means), but the album remains uninterrupted in delivering a consistent stream of enjoyment.
The sound is pretty well represented by the album cover. It feels like a camping trip in Washington with some old friends. You kind of have the feeling in the back of your head every now and then that you're not quite having as much fun with them as you used to, but you end up greatly enjoying the experience nonetheless. Unfortunately Rox in the Box can't be anything other than you getting molested, which you more or less succeed in repressing; it only casts the slightest damper over the remainder of your stay. Alex might have tilted the camera bit too far up to provide something that would allow your folks back home to understand the nature of the trip, but if they were there they'd find it fitting.
Hope that was eerily specific enough for you.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Yeah, the cover might be stupidly cheesy (and way, way, WAY too 80s), but this isn't an album to be ignored. "Take Me Somewhere" is infectious as is "South Carolina". Several songs on the album are remastered versions of the original tracks on singles and EPs. It might be January, but it's eternally July in the Atlantic with this album. The group includes
Try it (Link fixed)
Buy it (January 18th)