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Article count (333)

Date: May 22, 2017

Publication: Pretty Much Amazing

At the heart of the Season 5 Bob’s Burgers episode “Li’l Hard Dad”, a great little exchange takes place between Bob, who’s on his way to demand a refund for his crashed model helicopter, and his son Gene. “Some people say you have to learn to let things go,” Bob rhapsodizes, not realizing how self-important he sounds. “Well, you know what happens when you learn to let things go? You drop the thing you’re holding!” Gene’s been recording the whole thing on his portable keyboard, and when Bob finishes his spiel, Gene plays it back. “I sound important,” Bob observes. Then Gene punctuates the speech with a sampled fart. “Maybe take out the fart noise?” Bob suggests. Gene refuses. “It makes you go, ‘good point.’ And also: ‘good fart!’” (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 21, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Jlin’s Black Origami might be the most ambitious footwork album ever made. This is a producer whose hero is Stravinsky, who reaches back to great African historical figures like Hatshepsut and Mansa Musa for inspiration, whose refusal to sample anything but vocals is a point of dogma, who counts William Basinski among her bedfellows and Aphex Twin among her champions. What you think of Black Origami will probably correspond to your reaction to this quote from Jlin herself: “You made something ’cause it sounds good? You’re not doing enough.” (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 16, 2017

Publication: Pretty Much Amazing

The Sai Anantam Ashram surely revolved around Alice Coltrane like a hive around its queen. Even ten years after her death the website for the ashram — now simply the Vedantic Center in Agoura Hills, CA — drops the name “A.C. Turiyasangitananda” on nearly every page. It was her music that was distributed on now-coveted tapes to her followers and wafted from speakers set at the ashram’s entrance in the back roads of Agoura Hills, CA. And World Spirituality Classics: The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the first wide release of Coltrane’s ashram recordings, presents an interesting contradiction: insular music made to nourish a community, heard by few, and clearly the work of an auteur indulging her wildest ideas. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 15, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first album after his recent cancer scare is mostly the composer alone, pensive, at his instruments. But two voices appear. The first comes from Paul Bowles, whose novel The Sheltering Sky was adapted into a film Sakamoto scored. “How many more times will you watch the full moon rise?” he asks. “Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.” The second belongs to Sakamoto’s longtime muse David Sylvian, instantly recognizable even while speaking. “Life is a wonder of wonders,” he rhapsodizes, “and to wonder I dedicate myself on my knees like an orphan.” (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 11, 2017

Publication: Dog-Doo With Daniel

I don’t like Lil Yachty’s music. When I listen to him, I wonder why I’m not listening to Young Thug, Future, even Lil Uzi Vert. I think all those rappers do something he does better. I’m not particularly fond of his kids’-show aesthetic, but I’m usually not terribly fond of music that aims for cute. But he’s still one of my goddamn heroes. He is essential for music, and it’s because he’s one of the only artists in any genre of music who knows what’s bullshit and what isn’t.  (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 11, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

The fact that Jan Jelinek composed Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records entirely from jazz samples isn’t as surprising now as the fact that he didn’t disclose it. The record came out in 2001, four years removed from DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… and one from the Avalanches’ Since I Left You. Sampling was still a futuristic and dangerous art, and to create an entire record from bits of other people’s music was laudable in itself. But when Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records came out, critics thought the title was a snide joke, akin to Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 08, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

The music on Ilpo Väisänen’s Capital Dub, Chapter 1 is so icy and polar as to make his last album Communist Dub – already close to the extreme of how austere electronic music can get – sound positively baroque. It’d be generous to call anything played here a note. Mostly, Capital Dub is all echo-drenched drums and barely perceptible waves of bass. The drums sound like they’ve been individually freeze-dried and shorn to perfection; each one is a perfect, pristine object handpicked for its essential qualities and left untreated save for miles of rolling echo. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 04, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Mac DeMarco likes to party—that’s a fact nearly as well-known as his music. But through his music, all he can really think about is what all that hedonism might do to him. His debut LP, 2, featured an ode to cigarettes with the refrain “I’ll smoke you ’til I’m dying.” One of the most quoted lyrics from sophomore album, Salad Days, was “What mom don’t know is taking its toll on me.” On his latest This Old Dog, he rephrases it, just barely: “There’s a price tag hanging off of having all that fun.” (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 03, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

It used to be that if you couldn’t – or didn’t – spit, you could silence the haters with a nice aesthetic, an enviable work ethic or a good sense of humor. People were appalled by Lil B until they realized he knew exactly what he was doing and that nobody that prolific could be a slouch. People giggled at Viper until they realized he was making his own beats and was fucking great at it. Listeners laughed at Yung Lean before they fell in love with his aesthetic, with all those dolphins and palm trees and iced tea cans floating in midair. This was cloud rap – the oneiric genre that threw all rap dogma out the window to focus on vibe – and it prepared the world for the current rap revolution in which artists openly flip the bird to the idea that rap’s value is defined by its rhymes. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: May 01, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

The ingredients are there for Gaussian Curve’s The Distance to be a great album. After all, they’re more or less the same ones that went into their first, Clouds, which was a great album. But something’s off this time. The decisions are less tasteful. The chemistry between the band members is more awkward. It’s strangely sloppy and at times the musicians seem to fumble in real-time for a sound that works. This might be fine in a looser, more jam-oriented band, but in a group that made its name on sterile, spotless, ‘80s-style ambient music, it’s a distraction. Clouds was made in three days of jamming. Lightning has clearly not struck twice.  (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: Apr 27, 2017

Publication: Jewish News of Northern California

At age 69, Israel is the same age as a certain generation’s favorite rock stars — so why not party like one on the Jewish state’s birthday? From falafel bars to puppet shows, kid-friendly picnics to decadent dance nights, there is no shortage of opportunities around the Bay Area to get your blue-and-white on for Yom HaAtzmaut. The holiday falls on Tuesday, May 2, but celebrations run from April 30 to May 7. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: Apr 27, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Gorillaz has always been political, but on Humanz they’re finally smart about it. More than ever, Damon Albarn has given up the mic to his guests and let them air their grievances about the political climate on both sides of the Atlantic. This is good, as Albarn’s protest songs tend to run Banksy-shallow. This is a guy who once made an album called Democrazy and wrote an entire song about how people who like fast food are brainless jellyfish. Even here, his grievances are mostly about VR and chemtrails. But listen to Vince Staples on “Ascension”: “This is the land of the free/ Where you can get a Glock and gram for the cheap/ Where you can live your dreams long as you don’t look like me/ Be a puppet on a string hanging from a fucking tree.” Jesus. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: Apr 25, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Gas is more than just a moniker; it’s a world. The four albums and two EPs Wolfgang Voigt released under the name in the latter half of the 1990s conjure a half-lit, psychedelic fairy tale that’s scary, as all trips are at least a little bit, but also filled with awe and wonder. Each record is composed of the same elements, chiefly string samples and the ominous throb of a 4/4 kick drum that’s wont to disappear at any moment. But their personalities are distinct. They feel like different views of the same place, nominally the Konigsforst in Germany where Voigt dropped acid as a teenager. The illusion of worldbuilding is aided by the forest artwork that unifies the latter four Gas releases. But it’s a safe bet plenty of listeners would imagine a tripped-out walk in the woods even if they’d never seen the art – and that not everyone thinks of forests, either. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: Apr 23, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Though the nine-song Death Peak is slight by Clark’s standards, every moment of its gothic bluster seems to crackle with thunder and lightning. The drums are lead-footed, the synths blown-out and overdriven. The dynamics range from loud to very loud. And Clark’s got a new trick: choirs, lots of them, hanging low in a narcotized mist over even the brightest and clubbiest cuts. With its keening vocal sample, “Peak Magnetic” might be poppy if not for those toil-and-trouble voices conjuring up clouds in the back. (Click “web or pdf” link to continue reading.)

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Date: Apr 20, 2017

Publication: Spectrum Culture

Kelly Lee Owens came out of rock, but she’s so good at techno she should make it full-time. The best moments of her debut – the culmination so far of a career that’s taken her from a stint in indie-pop band The History of Apple Pie to a chance encounter with DJ Daniel Avery and a rising profile as a remixer – come when she plunges headfirst into the dancefloor. The worst suggest that she ought to shed her rock roots entirely to get the full potential out of her music.  (Click “web or pdf” to continue reading.)

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