Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt: Brace Up!
Date: Jan 10, 2019
A free improv abstraction of the sweatiest punk gig of your life.
It’s a hell of a risk to put a picture of a live gig on the cover of your studio album. The energy of so many great bands is lost amid the scheduling and spit-shining and ticking time-and-money clock of the studio that “you have to see ‘em live” has become a cliché. Playboi Carti got away with putting a picture of his own backflip on Die Lit because it encapsulates not only the energy of the record but of 2010s rap itself, where moshing and stage-diving are taken to the extreme. And Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano get away with it on Brace Up!, which at its best resembles a free improv abstraction of the sweatiest punk gig of your life.
Brace Up! is a tribute to DIY scuzz and busted amps and all the loving accoutrements of the basement concert culture with which these less-than-superstar musicians are well-acquainted. Both parties involved are formidable live performers; look up footage of either Orcutt’s ‘90s band Harry Pussy or Corsano’s gigs with wizard-bearded saxophonist Paul Flaherty. It’s surprising Orcutt and Corsano haven’t made a full-length studio album together yet, but they’ve released a few limited-edition live tapes. Perhaps they were afraid the energy of a live show wouldn’t be replicable in the studio, but within seconds of Brace Up! it’s clear few albums are likely to do a better job of capturing what it feels like to totally surrender yourself to a loud, fast rock ’n’ roll band. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Revisit: Skrillex: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Date: Jan 07, 2019
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites plays like a relic of a simpler time.
Every top-rated YouTube comment in early 2011 seemed to equate Skrillex’s music to Transformers fucking. It’s apt: when it first roared into the mainstream it was seen by dance-music purists and fans of more gentle genres like indie rock as empty spectacle, giant chunks of metal slam-banging into each other as a simulacrum of entertainment, much like the Michael Bay franchise that ruled the box-office when Skrillex put out his Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP in late 2010.
But maybe Skrillex tracks work more like monster movies—and not just because like they soundtracked so many first fumblings and joint hits, like the B-movies that played in the drive-ins of old. Skrillex trafficks in the primal thrill of having something big chasing you, the same reason people shell out money to see King Kong and Godzilla on the big screen. His famous drops, which are more sudden and less teased-out than those of most of his progeny, are prefaced by violent exclamations—the famous “oh my gosh!” on “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” a chipmunk announcing “I want to kill everybody in the world” on “Kill Everybody.” When they come, the track’s sound blows wide open.
Skrillex’s music can be amazingly tactile. The thrill of “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” is as much in the power of the drop as just how bizarre it sounds, metallic yet somehow fluid, like the undulating core of the Event Horizon. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that, when the EDM era began, Hans Zimmer was a minor superstar, his earth-shattering blats for the Dark Knight and Inception soundtracks thrilling those who’d normally have no interest in film scores or sound design. For all the legitimate grievances one can have about brostep, it remains one of the most effective mergers of volume and sound design ever to be popular. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Serge Gainsbourg: Gainsbourg Confidentiel
Date: Jan 06, 2019
A one-off novelty that burns with the soul of an experimental artist.
Gainsbourg Confidentiel, first released in 1963 and reissued this year by Rumble Records, finds Serge Gainsbourg singing over no more than Elek Bacsik’s guitar and Michel Gaudry’s bass. It’s an obscure record, at least in the States, that might startle those used to the lavish orchestrations of Melody Nelson or his early records with Alain Goraguer. Think of it as equivalent to Beach Boys’ Party: A one-off novelty that burns with the soul of an experimental artist.
The arrangements work so long as Gainsbourg is performing quiet songs. While the “rock” songs, such as “Chez les yé-yé” and “Amour sans amour,” beg for a drumbeat, such ballads as “La saison des pluies” and “Sait-on jamais où va une femme quand elle vous quitte” translate better to this setting. Like so much of his music, this is an experiment, but its novelty often outweighs its practicality. It’s telling he’d never go back to this format; his next album Gainsbourg Percussions, inspired by then-faddish Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, was another such one-off. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
2018 Music That Mattered: ‘Whack World’ By Tierra Whack
Date: Jan 01, 2019
Instead of a traditional top-10 list for the end of the year, Split Tooth Media is releasing a series of essays about the music that we felt mattered most in 2018. Read why here and read other installments here.
“Don’t worry about me, I’m doing good, I’m doing great, alright,” declares Tierra Whack on her debut album Whack World — and, astonishingly given that this is a rapper in 2018, we believe her. It might be hard to believe hearing this dainty, deliberately cute art-pop record that the Philadelphian (and yes, Tierra Whack is her real name) made her name on fast-paced viral freestyles as a teenager, going by Dizzle Dizz. But what carries through from this past vocation, aside from a truly formidable flow she fires off when she feels up to it, is the feeling that you’re watching a human being in peak physical and spiritual form. She dares us throughout to bite her style, comfortable we can’t. She designs her own bling; she eats her fruits and vegetables; she pops off freestyles just to prove she can. A lifetime of discipline went into what we’re seeing here, and if we can come close to what she achieves, she’ll… well, she’ll be impressed, I guess.
She’s at ease on record — less so, we gather, in life. For its whimsy and quick wit, one of the strongest presences on Whack World is of sadness. The music leaves long spaces, as if to allow Whack some room to gather her thoughts. Pads and chords hang pendulously over the music. “Fuck Off” feels like a ribald parody of country kiss-offs until the line “you remind me of my deadbeat dad” introduces real-world stakes that make us wonder whether or not we should even be laughing at her outrageous fake Southern drawl. The record’s most stunning song, “Pet Cemetery,” seems like a goof about her dead dog until we realize with a start she’s not singing about a pet. “I talked to God today,” she declares over pianos that are half Blueprint 3 and half Brian Wilson. Then the clouds part and God responds “all dogs go to heaven,” accompanied by a din of baying and barking. It’s unbelievably poignant as she squints to hear the voice of her friend Hulitho, another Philadelphia rapper who was murdered in 2016, through the racket. As the song ends, the gates of heaven close up once again with a cat’s meow. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Review: A very full evening with Erykah Badu at the Warfield
Date: Jan 01, 2019
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The Neo-Soul goddess took her sweet time, but once she let her hair down there was no stopping her.
ALL EARS Things were not looking good at the Warfield on Friday as we waited for Erykah Badu. Though the billing advertised “doors at 7, show at 8,” there was no word on an opener, and we arrived to find a DJ holding the crowd over. People had been there for hours and were grumbling loudly, some evacuating their seats perhaps for good. Eventually came the sinking feeling that the singer might not show up.
Then someone came onstage to absent-mindedly cue up a few more songs. The band appeared and went into a lite funk groove as the keyboardist worked the crowd. The instrumentalists took showy solos; someone had to dazzle the audience. A lot of people went apeshit, but I could see others who weren’t buying it. The band was clearly trying to kill time while harried venue goons searched frantically for the singer.
At around 10pm, Badu drifted out from the corner of the stage, face hidden behind Klingon-length hair and an oversized gold hat, each footstep illustrated by the plod of the drummer’s tom, as if she were shaking the earth with the weight of her footfall like Godzilla. It was a good trick, but she seemed to be testing us, as if asking if another minute was gonna kill us. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
An alternate ‘Best Songs of 2018’ list
Date: Dec 31, 2018
The Internet, Tierra Whack, Ashley Monroe, Prince, and an uncanny Ryuichi Sakamoto mashup make our critic’s list.
Music critic Daniel Bromfield lists some of his favorite songs of the year—which you may or may not find on Pitchfork or Rolling Stone. (Click “web” view to continue reading.)
Mike Cooper: Tropical Gothic
Date: Dec 12, 2018
It’s not “Southern gothic” but Tropical Gothic.
Mike Cooper is a world traveler, and this time around, he’s moored his boat in the bayous of the Deep South. But Cooper being Cooper, the South looks a little different than it does in life or in movies or in folklore, and sometimes it blurs into Bali and ancient Japan as if the whole world was a vast neural net made of bits of data that drifted errantly across the earth’s surface. It’s not “Southern gothic” but Tropical Gothic. He casts his net more widely than most.
Since 2004’s Rayon Hula, the 76-year-old guitarist has honed his sound into something he calls “exotica” but is a little smarter and more mischievous than that. Exotica was the ‘50s genre, popular with an American imagination inflamed by memories of the South Pacific, that sought to conjure far-off non-Western locales. That music was often infantilizing, relying on a “savage” view of non-Western peoples and cultures and bearing little resemblance to the music actually coming out of the places it made port. Cooper deconstructs this. When he mixes up countries, it’s not in the ignorant way of a movie producer mixing up China and Japan but as a sort of bricolage that serves to deliberately throw us off on what far-off place we’re supposed to be thinking of. Last year’s Raft used slide and slack-key guitar styles from Hawaii to conjure a rugged journey that’s anything but paradise and where the dominant life-form seemed to be biting insects rather than the dancing hula girls of exotica. His albums are never really about Bali or Japan or Hawaii or the Deep South, anyway, but the jungles of his mind. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Lil Baby: Street Gossip
Date: Dec 10, 2018
Leave it to Baby to play the old man.
“I ain’t never popped no Xan, I sip sizzurp,” raps Lil Baby on “Pure Cocaine,” the second track on his new tape Street Gossip. It’s not exactly a show of moral superiority, but has an Atlanta rapper ever shot such an explicitly get-off-my-lawn barb the way of the young SoundCloud-rap generation? Sometime between Young Thug’s Slime Language and Quavo’s Quavo Huncho it became clear that Atlanta is no longer the epicenter of rap innovation, its stars content to chase streams rather than expand their sound, but not many rappers seem aware of it. Leave it to Baby, who just turned 24 but sounds as fatigued as label-hell Lil Wayne, to play the old man.
Baby’s absurdly fast rise is well-known: he spent two years in prison for marijuana possession and upon getting out used his Young Thug connection to launch a rap career off verses that must have gestated in his head behind bars. It’s easy to be cynical, but his talent is obvious—he’s not an eccentric like Thug but a workmanlike rapper and very good writer. All of his music is informed by his relief at being able to not just be a star but to have a job out of jail. On Too Hard from last year, he acknowledged he started rapping in part because his prospects as an ex-con are so low. Even when he lapses into empty materialism his brags feel like unburdening. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Van Morrison: The Prophet Speaks
Date: Dec 09, 2018
Morrison seems casual and at ease.
Van Morrison is four albums deep in a jazz/R&B/blues-cover phase, which is par for the course for rock musicians his age. But no artist besides Bob Dylan does better to give the impression that this is something they want. In a dry, revealing interview with Time around the time of his last Astral Weeks revival, Morrison explained he doesn’t listen to any new music, just old jazz and blues. He didn’t shit on new music, though; he just seemed to be most comfortable going back again and again to those old records. For a man who revealed a great discontentment with the music industry in the same interview, it must be a relief to have his artistic ambitions intersect with a commercially-viable format. He wants to cover a load of old songs? Great. That stuff sells.
Morrison seems casual and at ease on these albums. He doesn’t use this old music to court some facsimile of authenticity or integrity, and there are no painful white cock-blues workouts or tried-and-true songbook covers. There’s really nothing that’s bullshit on these records, and if this is an indulgence, it’s one a lot of people will enjoy, which is kind of noble. He sounds like he could be fronting a slightly eccentric wine-bar jazz ensemble, and it’s clear he wants to undersell himself a little, to present himself not as an institution, not as the auteur that gave us Astral Weeks, but as a singer. One imagines that, had he not been sworn into the annals of rock from a young age, this might be the music he’d be making in some Irish bar. I imagine he’d be happy. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
The 25 Best Electronic Albums of 2018
Date: Dec 06, 2018
Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2018 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 25 best albums. (Click “web” view to continue reading.)
Date: Dec 05, 2018
Will Wiesenfeld takes comfort in the virtual.
Will Wiesenfeld takes comfort in the virtual. His newest album Traversa, released under the pseudonym Geotic, takes place in a reality that’s a little brighter, cleaner and more comfortable than our own; it’s Kanto, it’s Johto, it’s Hoenn, it’s Hyrule, it’s Animal Crossing. Artists commenting on the information age tend to focus on its dystopic qualities, but Wiesenfeld zeroes in on the positives. This is a more instinctive reaction for queer people, as those who learned to be or were beaten into being shy and guarded in life can find a free voice in the digital world.
In Wiesenfeld’s music there’s often a degree of separation between our universe and the one he sings about. This year’s Romaplasm, released under his better-known moniker Baths, took place on a planet where knights ride on horseback and airships rule the skies. This prism served to emphasize the universality of the feelings he sung about. Here, the focus is entirely on the world. Traversa isn’t really world building—the tracks are too similar to each other to give the sense of a vastness stretching beyond the borders of the album—but it’s a simulacrum of a utopian place, a brief respite from cynicism for us and for Wiesenfeld. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
The 10 Best Ambient/Instrumental Albums of 2018
Date: Dec 04, 2018
A great ambient album can provide a space to step into, or make the trees on your morning walk seem a little taller and the light a little more vivid or the world seem a little more like a dream. (Click “web” view to continue reading.)
“Buildings demolished on your cellphone”: Ratskin Records’ experimental resilience
Date: Dec 04, 2018
Through Ghost Ship tragedy to 183-song release, Michael Dadonna’s label delivers interesting music from diverse players.
ALL EARS Michael Daddona never thought he’d own a dog.
“What’s a dog even gonna do at a noise show?” he asks. “Or sit around while I’m tinkering with electronics? They’re gonna hate it.”
But when a stray dog wandered into his house, flopped down on the couch and made itself at home, what could he do? “I guess I have a dog,” he figured. Blade is now sort of the unofficial dog of Ratskin Records, the experimental label Daddona co-founded in 2003.
Sudden, no-turning-back decisions seem to be a constant in Daddona’s life. A week before the dog showed up, Ratskin co-founder, Jsun McCarty, died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that took 36 lives in Oakland in 2016. Daddona knew and had worked with many of the deceased, and he almost shut the label down: “I think I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I didn’t feel physically I could even really think about that kind of stuff,” he says.
But he soldiered on—“and that was kinda when I decided I was gonna do [Ratskin] for the rest of my life,” he says. “I don’t really believe in destiny, but I’m good enough at it, and it brings me enough passion that I think it’s worthwhile.” (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Oneohtrix Point Never: Love in the Time of Lexapro
Date: Dec 02, 2018
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Lopatin isn’t the refracted-memories guy anymore.
Like its predecessor The Station, Daniel Lopatin’s new Oneohtrix Point Never EP Love in the Time of Lexapro isn’t shy about being a tie-in to this year’s Age Of full-length. Two of its four tracks are remixes of songs from that record and the album cover hews to roughly the same design, but it stands on its own a little more readily, for better or worse.
The title track doesn’t have much to do with anything Lopatin’s made in the last five years. A far cry from the spidery, mechanical robo-music on Age Of, “Love in the Time of Lexapro” is a sweeping love theme that reminds us why Lopatin should’ve been first on the list of candidates to score Blade Runner 2019. It’s built around a detuned old synth that we might’ve heard on an early Lopatin album like Returnal or Replica, but rather than retrofuturist fantasy, its graceful three-chord arc evokes the romantic sweep of classic film music.
“Last Known Image of a Song,” an Age Of cut, is here reinterpreted by Ryuichi Sakamoto, perhaps to return the favor of Lopatin remixing his “andata.” Like the original, the Sakamoto rework is prickly and desolate, but the music-box plink that floats over its deserted landscape betrays Sakamoto’s sentimental streak. Though Sakamoto’s work, both solo and as part of Yellow Magic Orchestra, has a direct influence on the parodic dystopian aesthetic of contemporary electronic music, Sakamoto is as sincere and happy-go-lucky as Stevie Wonder or Paul McCartney. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Date: Nov 29, 2018
Plenty of albums sound like Submers, none offer quite the same experience.
Loscil’s 2002 album Submers is inspired by submarines, but it doesn’t put us inside them but outside, where the pressure is great and the shapes making their way through the murk could be anything. In real life, we’d drown or be crushed by the unrelenting pressure or both, but we swim through these oceans the same way a cartoon character can walk on a cloud. Just like a good deep-sea documentary, Submers offers us an impossible view from the safety of home.
Scott Morgan’s ambient project would take on a more personal dimension on the subsequent First Narrows, which kicked off an astonishing run of albums inspired by the producer’s native Vancouver. Submers, by contrast, is a flight of fancy. It’s a natural progression from his debut Triple Point, which was inspired by the laws of thermodynamics, but while few of us have much of a reference for how heat behaves, the deep sea occupies a spot in most of our imaginations. Submers inflames our latent fantasies of sunless oceans and bug-eyed beasts. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Review: Gas looms through the trees at Recombinant Festival
Date: Nov 28, 2018
Wolfgang Voigt’s storied ambient project debuts in SF with ethereal Königsforst vibes and earthy visions of erlkings.
Wolfgang Voigt’s music as Gas is inexorably tied to the forest. The project was inspired by Voigt’s youthful acid trips in Germany’s Königsforst, and appropriately the sleeves for the project’s six albums (with the exception of its apocryphal self-titled debut) are adorned with psychedelically blurred trees and shrubs, all bathed in unnatural colors coordinated to the mood of the music and stamped with the name Gas in a formidable serif font. How this specifically sylvan music would translate to the spartan constraints of the live electronic show intrigued me. It seemed inappropriate to have a Gas show anywhere but the most remote and tangled stretches of the Black Forest, maybe with a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the stage.
Gas’s first-ever San Francisco show was part of the first night of the Recombinant Festival, an ongoing multimedia and experimental music event at Mission Street’s Gray Area. While most of the artists aren’t well-known outside deep avant-music nerd-dom, Gas was undoubtedly the popular headliner. His music enjoys the same critical acclaim and rare crossover appeal outside ambient music as Brian Eno or Tim Hecker, and 2016’s sumptuous Box set of his 90s albums was enough to bring him out of a decade-and-a-half hiatus to drop 2017’s Narkopop and this year’s Rausch. By popular demand he’d added a second early show after I’d bought my tickets for the late show at 9 pm. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Jonny Nash/Suzanne Kraft: Framed Spaces: Selected Works 2014-2017
Date: Nov 25, 2018
Ambient compilations like this are tricky.
If you thought Melody as Truth was just an elaborate branding effort for the music of ambient artists Jonny Nash and Suzanne Kraft, Framed Spaces: Selected Works 2014-2017 won’t dissuade you. Though the Amsterdam label released very good albums by Tourist Kid and Palta this year, the vast majority of their music is by the two head honchos. Their first compilation is devoted to them and them alone, combining a smattering of tracks from each of their releases on the label, save some of their lower-stakes albums and the 2017 collaboration Passive Aggressive. Per Bandcamp, this is the “first chapter in an ongoing story”; maybe the second chapter will focus more on the new blood.
Nash, whose music occupies side one, seems the more wide-eyed of the two. His music is sentimental and militantly pretty, almost new-age, in thrall to its influences from the early Eno-dominated era of ambient music. Eden in particular suggests Laraaji’s earliest tapes in its phased-out psychedelic soup and use of zither and gamelan bells. When there’s a rhythm, it’s usually the noncommittal drift of a hand drum. If not for their spit-shined and unapologetically digital production, most of his tracks could have been on Ambient 5. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Raising Atlantis: Parliament’s ‘Motor-Booty Affair’ At 40
Date: Nov 20, 2018
In one of the great ridiculous pop records, Parliament is still trying to raise Atlantis after 40 years of funk.
Motor-Booty Affair (1978) is a self-contained pocket of the Parliament-Funkadelic mythology that exists entirely underwater; it’s one of the great ridiculous pop records. Forty years after its release it’s not one of the better-known P-Funk albums, owing perhaps to its release two months after Funkadelic’s masterpiece One Nation Under A Groove — and the simple fact that more people are going to check out a band called Funkadelic than one called Parliament. But it’s arguably Parliament’s strongest full-length. It’s funky but often gorgeous thanks to the lavish sensibilities of new musical director J.S. Theracon, a.k.a. the late Junie Morrison of the Ohio Players. Its long, meandering compositions, a boon as pop transitioned into a more club-friendly format in the disco age, gave mastermind George Clinton free range to pull the most demented shit out of the sinkholes of his mind. And though it presents itself on the surface as the freakiest backstage feather-boa party in the galaxy, it blindsides us with beauty when we least expect it.
Motor-Booty Affair comes from the peak of Parliament’s commercial success; it would be their fourth of five consecutive gold records. During this period, Parliament had completed its transition from psych-rock orgy to tight funk juggernaut and was busy laying the foundation for the P-Funk mythology. Their first mythopoeic work was 1975’s Mothership Connection, which was elaborated on by 1977’s definitive Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome and 1979’s Gloryhallastoopid (a very good record in spite of much of the core crew jumping ship prior to its recording). Motor-Booty Affair can be seen as a spinoff. Some of the same characters as on previous records appear, but all the new faces it introduces are infinitely more interesting. Mr. Wiggles the Worm and his “bionic idiots” Giggle and Squirm. A mermaid named Rita. A mouth named Jaws. Rumpofsteelskin with dynamite sticks by the megaton up his butt. Queen Freak-a-Lene and Charlie Tuna. There are a boatload of fish jokes on this thing, which makes sense as it takes place mostly in Atlantis, a place where you can “dance underwater and not get wet.” (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Q&A: Lonnie Holley On ‘MITH,’ Improvisation And How Memories Lead To Art
Date: Nov 19, 2018
Lonnie Holley is one of the most unlikely heroes in indie-rock circles. He’s a 68-year-old African-American artist born in Jim Crow Alabama. He didn’t make his first album until age 62. His lyrics are almost entirely stream-of-consciousness, and he never performs the same song the same way twice. His band consists of himself on vocals and keys, backed by a trombonist and drummer. He eschews what most people would think of as song structure. His voice is untrained at best, and he never stops singing. And he’s collaborated with Bon Iver and members of Deerhunter and the Black Lips; toured with Bill Callahan and Animal Collective; contributed several interludes to an Arthur Russell tribute album and recently inked a deal with Jagjaguwar, known for indie heroes like Okkervil River.
It’s easy to be skeptical, reminded of the aging bluesmen trotted out by shady promoters before leering white audiences during the ’60s folk revival. But the differences are that Holley has more creative control than just about any other artist you could care to name — he’s unbound even by the restrictions of playing the same song twice — and he’s spent decades as an internationally-renowned artist with complete creative control: just not for music. His monumental sculptures, often made from trash, have been a fixture of the American art world since the 1980s and were displayed in the White House under President Clinton. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Various Artists: bblisss
Date: Nov 11, 2018
A compilation with a singular vision.
Ambient compilations can suffer from a lack of unity. With so many voices over so many tracks, it can be hard to get the same sense of wandering through a defined space from a compilation as a record with a singular vision. bblisss, headed by producer Ryan Fall, circumvents this by splitting a squat seven tracks between six artists who like the same sounds: cloudy chords, the distant ghost of a house beat. It could be the work of one artist, and that’s its biggest strength.
In other words: if you liked Pendant’s Make You Know You Sweet, you’ll love this stuff. That album debuted a new moniker from Huerco S., the Kansas City producer who counts some of this decade’s best ambient releases under his belt, and the success of that record is no doubt why this compilation, originally a limited cassette run in 2016, is now seeing its wide release. The Pendant track, “Des Vieux Temples,” doesn’t disappoint. Like the tracks on his record, it makes great use of space, its sonic elements seeming to swirl around us like hostile winds from our vantage point. But if someone told me this were a Pendant album, I wouldn’t blink, and if someone told me the Pendant track were made by Fall or Naemi or anyone else who appears here, I wouldn’t either. Maybe that’s why Huerco and Fall used their lesser-known monikers (Fall usually records as uon, here as DJ Paradise) for this stuff. The music’s so interchangeable the best-known artist ends up becoming the reference point for everyone else. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Cécile McLorin Salvant: The Window
Date: Nov 07, 2018
Rarely sounds like anything but a conversation between friends.
Surely singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and her accompanist Sullivan Fortner sat down at some point to decide what songs they were going to interpret for their album The Window. But you’d never guess from listening to it. Songs seem to pop into their head as they’re being played, so freewheeling are the selections here and such impish liberties do they take with them. A Stevie Wonder song! Next—an Aretha Franklin song! How about some French cabaret? A Brazilian ballad? I thought of those Alan Lomax recordings of old bluesmen who seemed surprised to have a tape machine pointed in their face and scrabbled out the first standards that came to mind. Or Prince on his Piano & a Microphone tape, stabbing out jazzy abstractions until something resembled a song he liked. Or that Alex Chilton live album where the power went out and someone handed him an acoustic and he played what he wanted. A song can be both a transcendent work of art and something musicians can bang out as an exercise to kill a few minutes. The Window understands this, and despite its epic 70-minute scope, it rarely sounds like anything but a conversation between friends.
It’s fun to hear them work together. Salvant always sounds like she’s having fun, which means some of the more serious songs are less convincing but that ditties like “Obsession” or “The Gentleman Is A Dope” are delightful. Fortner sounds like he’s channeling a massive reserve of pent-up energy even as his fingers land precisely on the keys; I imagine a kid banging on a piano with abandon wishes what came out could sound like this. Salvant talks a lot of shit here, mostly at no-good men, which means The Window is a crowd-pleaser. It’s easy to root for her sass, especially if you relate to the great jazz theme of falling in love with schlubs against your better judgment. The best moment on the record might be when she sings “so tall” on “Trouble Is A Man” in a way that’s both lovesick and knowing, letting herself briefly disappear into fantasy before remembering what a jerk the guy is. Though her singing style can be outré, she’s such a gregarious, likable figure that audiences who might find jazz singing too remote or self-absorbed might be able to connect with her more readily than with a Billie Holiday or a Dinah Washington. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Pick Of The Day: ‘I Came From Nothing 2’ By Young Thug (2011)
Date: Nov 06, 2018
I Came From Nothing 2, Young Thug’s second-ever release, was recently made available to stream on Spotify. It’s from 2011, which itself is kind of strange, when “swag rap” was the thing, Lil B was god, and amid a dearth of real hip-hop megastars, we saw the breakthroughs of A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and every other smart, image-conscious rapper to merit their own VICE documentary. And Young Thug, 19 years old, was fine-tuning his sound in the canyons of the Atlanta rap scene, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the world.
Read more of our Pick of the Days here
Thug’s first tape, I Came From Nothing, came out the year prior. He was obviously trying to imitate Lil Wayne, and he spat with a clarity absent later. He wanted us to focus on the words (he’s a more clever writer than he’s given credit for), but for his second round in the booth he realized he could get more out of abstracting his lyrics than simply feeding them to us. Thug is easily fetishized for his eccentricity, but his voice, way with pop form and pervasive benevolence are equally key to what makes him one of the world’s most brilliant rappers. Those would come later; here, he knew he had to get weird to earn attention. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Akira Sakata: Fisherman’s.com
Date: Nov 04, 2018
Fisherman’s.com is waiting for you to take the plunge.
Akira Sakata’s 2001 album Fisherman’s.com can claim the historical footnote of being one of the last albums Pete Cosey, guitarist on four of Miles Davis’s best ‘70s albums, ever played on—and his first appearance on record since no less than Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock. This is not a man one calls casually. What was going through Sakata’s head when he decided Cosey would be perfect for his album of Japanese fisherman’s songs? For that matter, what was going through Cosey’s head when he accepted? Fisherman’s.com is a great piece of trivia but not an album that’s heard much. A reissue on Trost Records makes clear it’s one of the great dark funk records.
It’s hard to think of many records that capture anything close to the violent psychedelic flux of Davis’s work with Cosey—Dark Magus, Agharta, Pangaea and Get Up With It, which aren’t Davis’s most beloved albums but are definitive as far as what he was doing in the ‘70s. Fisherman’s.com comes closer than most, which is especially remarkable given that the production might elicit nods of approval from Lars Ulrich. Hamid Drake’s drums are crisp and precise; Cosey’s compressed to hell. It sounds for all intents and purposes like an album recorded in 2001. We pine for the analog warmth of a ‘70s album, but few records this clean sound so evil. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Pick Of The Day: ‘Noroi: The Curse’ (2005)
Date: Oct 31, 2018
When I first watched Kōji Shiraishi’s Noroi: The Curse, I spent two hours wondering what was happening. By the time it was over, I had to process what exactly had just happened to me. It’s not immediate. Its storyline takes time to congeal. Jump scares are absent, gore is sparse and we don’t see our first ghost until deep in the film. But it’s not “atmospheric horror,” nor is it a family drama in a Halloween costume. In fact, it’s shot in one of the most commercial and clichéd horror formats: found footage.
The 2005 Japanese film is presented as late-night TV ghost-hunter schlock. We meet Masafumi Kobayashi, director of documentaries about the supernatural. His motto: “No matter how terrifying, I want the truth.” When you’re in a horror movie, you make bad decisions, and as the self-cast hero of a horror movie, Kobayashi excels in making bad decisions. They’re his own flaw, not the film’s, and when the weight of those decisions comes crashing down, the film earns the importance of tragedy.
As Kobayashi investigates the disappearance of a child psychic, it becomes clear that lives are at stake and more than good footage lies at the end of the road. Near the end of the film, Kobayashi makes an unbelievably stupid decision that we can interpret on one hand as an expression of guilt for being unable to prevent an earlier death and that on a deeper level we can interpret as a shameless ploy for footage. His movie is always on his mind, and we want to punch him for his selfishness. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Holy Hell! Crystal Ball Turns 20
Date: Oct 30, 2018
Quality control was never at the core of Prince’s genius, but his unbridled, try-it-all freedom is as frustrating as it is inspiring.
Fuck the Vault: the material Prince released is enough of a pain in the ass. Have you heard Chocolate Invasion? How about The Slaughterhouse? Did you know he made a straight-to-DVD movie to accompany the Love Symbol album, with his wife-to-be Mayte Garcia as an Egyptian princess? The lines between what Prince released and what’s technically still Vault material isn’t always clear; The Black Album is on Tidal but nowhere else, and it’s pretty easy to reconstruct his legendary “lost” album Camille. Dead in the middle of this ungainly morass sits the 150-minute compendium Crystal Ball, the Marianas Trench of the Prince discography.
Crystal Ball was released in 1998, when not many people cared about Prince, or at least not as many as during his brilliant ‘80s or the postmortem rush of adulation that will soon yield a flood of Vault releases. It’s an album of apocrypha from a period that, to most fans, is already apocryphal: his new-jack ‘90s, specifically 1994’s Come and 1995’s The Gold Experience. It even comes with its own apocrypha: its original release was bundled with The Truth, a largely acoustic album featuring Prince’s ode to veganism (“I don’t eat no funky, funky blue cheese!”), and Kamasutra, a cassette of easy-listening orchestral music made for his wedding to Garcia. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Magu the Dog’s ‘Life On The Line’ is More Than Just Chill Beats to Study to
Date: Oct 25, 2018
If you’ve poked around the Internet enough, you’ve heard music like Magu the Dog. Maybe names like Ol’ Burger Beats and Tomppabeats come to mind, or maybe you think of an anime girl scribbling endlessly in her notebook as her cat stares forlornly at the rain outside. This is the smooth jazz of the Internet age—low-commitment music where the identity of the creator doesn’t matter so long as it evokes that laid-back, slightly wistful vibe, like watching ships disappear in the rain. This music can provide a cocoon from stress and the horrors of the world: an easy escape.
But the beatmaker born Tyler Ingraham doesn’t let us off the hook so easily, and the only time his latest tape Life On The Line is about escaping from anything is when we hear the sampled voice of Kevin Briggs, the former Highway Patrol officer who’s talked somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 people out of jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. “I have lost interest in life,” he intones. “I have to go.” The track is called “Wasabi,” and if you remember the first time you stuck a wad of that green goo in your mouth as a kid, you know how it feels when this track ends. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Ty Segall: Fudge Sandwich
Date: Oct 25, 2018
Fudge Sandwich doesn’t have the benefit of stylistic unity.
Ty Segall could’ve gone the obscure record-collector gem route on his covers album Fudge Sandwich, but the bulk of these songs are by artists most people reading this review will at least have heard of: Funkadelic, the Grateful Dead, John Lennon, War, Neil Young and, if you’re a little more erudite, Amon Düül II, Gong, Rudimentary Peni, Sparks. This means none of these songs seem selected to show off Segall’s patrician taste. Because the originals are in such plain sight, it’s a little too easy to subject the album to a contrast-and-compare test.
Segall starts the album with “Low Rider,” which as War does it is a great, funky song with a playful Friday-night boozer vibe. Segall’s version is all muscle-car badassery, the boots of the low rider hitting the steaming pavement. It’s slower, he sounds like a ghoul, and instead of that nice horn hook there’s a skull-crushing synth. The percussion is provided by a drum machine, which serves to remind us how much the rock ideal has shifted from a bunch of hairy ne’er-do-wells in a room writing music together to “projects” and solo acts augmented by hired stooges.
Funkadelic’s “Hit It and Quit It” is more or less the same as the original minus the organ, bells, and portentous female choir. Once again, it replaces community with loner rage and suffers for it, given how much Funkadelic sounded like a free-for-all feather-boa freak party at its best. (He also pronounces “it” something like “Ëa.”) The best of the more faithful covers is “I’m A Man,” originally by Steve Winwood’s early band the Spencer Davis Group. It’s one of Segall’s best vocal takes, a real rock yowl that’s much more assertive than the nasal goblin voice he prefers. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Kurt Vile: Bottle It In
Date: Oct 18, 2018
This is Vile in Mark Kozelek-circa-Common as Light and Love mode.
Kurt Vile has retreated further into his own head than ever on Bottle It In—or maybe his head’s just further up his own ass than ever before. This is Vile in Mark Kozelek-circa-Common as Light and Love mode, where an indie stalwart with a distinct style embodies and extends his craft to such an extreme that it scans as either self-parody or a logical endpoint to a slow and steady development. Those already skeptical may well be infuriated, but those who enjoy Kurt Vile’s work for its endless peregrinations on laziness will find their hero’s craft more intriguing than ever.
I’m biased: I love this shit, and I love when artists reach this degree of fuck-you auteurism. This record could easily have been self-titled, so completely does it embody what makes his music so distinctive in the crowded indie-rock world. It’s not his best album—that’d be 2015’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze, which laid the blueprint for his style—and it’s not the best place to start unless you want to jump off the deep end and understand why people like his music so much, accessibility and concessions to newbie fans be damned. Bottle It In is, however, definitive. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Discography: Joni Mitchell: Night Ride Home
Date: Oct 17, 2018
No doubt this album sounded spectacular to Joni fans after her ‘80s wilderness, but it resembles her best work more than it embodies it.
Night Ride Home, the first album Joni Mitchell would release in the ‘90s, is by no means a great album. But it’s a return to Mitchell’s strengths after a meandering ‘80s spent trapped in the hell of dated synths and blind commercialism that tripped up so many minds of her generation. It’s no surprise, hearing the desiccated arena drums and incongruous MTV-star guests of 1988’s corny Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, that she’d become more and more critical of the music business in the ‘90s, threatening to make each new album her last.
The most questionable decision Mitchell made in the ‘80s was to shift from personal to topical themes. These would re-emerge on 1994’s Turbulent Indigo, but here Mitchell retreats into the exquisite sketches of her own head and others’ that define her best writing. Even the song about child abuse, “Cherokee Louise,” spends scarcely a bar decrying the injustice of the issue and instead focuses on what it means to provide comfort to a friend in need. It never loses sight of the individual in pursuit of the message, avoiding a common issue with political music. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Vince Guaraldi: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Date: Oct 11, 2018
Guaraldi’s contributions are rarely anything less than magical.
Astonishingly, the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brownsoundtrack is only just now being made available in physical form thanks to Universal Music’s film-score imprint Varèse Sarabande. But this isn’t a lost gem to stand alongside the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, some of the most haunting ever to grace a family TV special. There are no ancient voices of children here, and the dominant mood is light-hearted kiddie mischief rather than aching nostalgia. And it’s inseparable from its source material, racing through 17 songs in 20 minutes at the same rate and in the same order as the special. (If A Charlie Brown Christmas received the same treatment, half its runtime would just be “Christmas Time Is Here.”)
But it’s a fun and affectionate album, and there’s enough stuff going on here that even at its brisk runtime it feels like a pretty substantial jazz record. For instance, we get not one but four World War I ballads, played diegetically on piano by the character Schroeder, crammed into under two minutes. Full-fledged songs like “The Great Pumpkin Waltz,” previously only available on an expanded version of the Christmas album, rub elbows with interstitial themes that play for a few seconds when, say, we see Linus licking a lollipop. The endless short reprises of themes like “Linus & Lucy,” which God knows we’ve heard enough times, get annoying pretty quickly, but at least they give the record a sense of internal logic. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
‘Midtown 120 Blues’ – DJ Sprinkles’ Deep House Elegy, Turns 10
Date: Oct 10, 2018
Terre Thaemlitz’s strategy on Midtown 120 Blues is simple and devious. She starts with house music as deep and vast as the forlorn hum of an endless city. Then, she speaks. Venom seeping through her resigned sighs, she describes how house music has been corporatized, commodified, and decontextualized since its origins in the queer clubs of the eighties.
These are not protest songs. There’s the music, and there’s Thaemlitz’s voice. You cannot separate one from the other, and it’s physically impossible to listen to the music without the context. Thousands of people may well have found out about the 80’s Midtown New York drag scene through this record. It’s hard not to learn something from this album, or at least come out of it with a new perspective.
Thaemlitz characterizes clubs as a place where the downtrodden can find “The Occasional Feel-Good.” But she makes it clear that the club is not an oasis from suffering; “suffering is in here, with us.” She’s wary of platitudes like the one in Madonna’s “Vogue” (“It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or a girl”), because in the real world, it matters a lot. To paint the club as a place where those distinctions fall away in the euphoria of unity is an unrealistic fairy-tale. For Thaemlitz, dance music is about suffering. That’ll be the hardest pill for most listeners to swallow. Is that what you want to be thinking about when you listen to this kind of music? Perhaps to be able not to think about it that way is a privilege. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
8 Drake songs for the uninitiated
Date: Oct 05, 2018
Jewish News of Northern California
rake is one of the biggest rap stars in the world — and one of the most eclectic. He is doing three shows at the 19,500-seat Oracle Arena in Oakland, Oct. 26-27 and 29. If you’re not familiar with the Canadian Jew’s work, it’s hard to know where to start with his surprisingly massive discography, but these eight songs highlight his diverse taste, skill set and evolution from teen heartthrob to hardened music-industry veteran. (Click “web” or “pdf” view to continue reading.)
Hold, please, for Text Me Records
Date: Oct 02, 2018
Local label honcho Patrick Brown on his eclectic roster, collaborative DIY model, and the lasting influence of Soulja Boy
ALL EARS The first thing you hear when you call Patrick Brown is “please enjoy this ringback tone,” followed by Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates belting the hook to his hit “2 Phones.”
Brown probably won’t answer. He doesn’t pick up phone calls; he’s usually in the studio anyway. The name of his record label is Text Me, one of the most productive outfits in San Francisco: Brown wanted to name it after something he always says.
Brown, 40, came of age in New York during the hip-hop boom of the ‘90s, and his musical education had as much room for Prince Paul as Paul Simon. This eclecticism is reflected not only in the roster of Text Me’s dozens of artists, but also on his approach to breaking down genre walls and production barriers—all in service of putting records out from a broad spectrum of local artists (and getting those artists paid). He moved to San Francisco in 1998 to study graphic design at Academy of Art. Then he studied film. Then he ran an art gallery. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
‘Love and Wealth: The Lost Recordings’ Rounds Up Demos from the Louvin Brothers
Date: Oct 01, 2018
These early 1950s demos from the Louvin Brothers shine a light on one of country music’s most inexplicable duos.
Love and Wealth: The Lost Recordings is hardly the most notable album of unreleased demos by a legendary artist this past month. But unlike Prince’s Piano & a Microphone 1983, which only made the mind of pop’s most private genius more impenetrable, Love and Wealth goes a long way towards shedding a human light on the Louvin Brothers—whom I can’t be alone in finding a little bit inexplicable.
Here were two brothers who made some of the most terrifying Christian music ever made—epitomized by their 1959 masterpiece Satan Is Real, whose title served as its thesis—but happily talked on the next album about killing their girlfriends. Somehow, the murder ballads fed off the fire-and-brimstone sermons and vice-versa to make each one a little more frightening. The myth is complicated by the character of Ira Louvin, the violent drunk with a voice like a virgin choirboy, who sang about salvation while smashing mandolins. Where did their allegiances lie? The forced smiles on their album covers don’t shed much light on the mystery.
Love and Wealth, culled from the first half of the 1950s, opens with a voicemail sent by Ira to his label or producer. It’s a maudlin way to open a demos album, but it’s revealing: Ira apologizes for his brother Charlie sliding a dirty joke into one of their songs. We learn that the hedonist Louvins aren’t necessarily irreconcilable with the church-going Louvins; in the 1950s it was normal to go out drinking on a Saturday and stagger into church on a Sunday. A bunch of songs about sex could be canceled out with a disc about Satan and his kingdom, and a “blue balls” gag could be undone with a sheepish apology. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Lonnie Holley’s ‘MITH’ is a Humanistic Lament for a Fucked up America
Date: Oct 01, 2018
It’s hard to ignore how much Lonnie Holley uses the word “humans.” Usually when we hear that word it’s out of the mouth of a killer robot or an alien invader in a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe it’s just one of Holley’s weird quirks, like wearing mesh beanies festooned with trinkets made of trash or greeting people with a fist-bump with thumb extended. But it’s a better word than “people,” anyway. “People” reduces the sum of humanity to an indistinct mass. “Humans” highlights the individuals. Besides, to be thought of as human isn’t a given. It’s something a lot of people have to fight for.
MITH, Holley’s third album since beginning a recording career early this decade after years as an acclaimed sculptor, is a humanistic lament for an America that was, is, and likely will always be fucked-up. Holley was born in Jim Crow Alabama in 1950 and might have been doomed to a life of extreme poverty had he not dragged his first sculptures to the Birmingham Museum of Art in the ‘80s. He must be fairly well-off now as a prominent figure in the art world. But he remains— as he phrases it in the first words of this gargantuan, 76-minute record—a “suspect in America.” (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Sarah Davachi’s ‘Gave in Rest’ Sounds Like Music That’s Been Floating Around for Eons Waiting to Be Bottled
Date: Sep 28, 2018
One of ambient’s most austere artists, Sarah Davachi, expands her sound, but her music is more mysterious than ever on Gave in Rest.
Add an extra “e” to the end of “Auster“, and you’ve got a perfect description of the first track on Sarah Davachi’s second album of 2018, Gave in Rest. It’s almost comically characteristic of the most ascetic of ambient artists, vibrating in dead space, unadorned, denying listeners the pleasure of either a psychedelic texture or some amniotic sound design to swim in. If we’ve heard a Davachi album, we already know what we’re in for.
And then it does something incredible. It stops. Then it starts back up again in a different key. It does this often until it peters out for good after eight and a half minutes.
It’s astonishing no one’s thought of this trick before, and it’s startling, imbuing a stationary drone with an eerie sense of momentum. Philip Sherburne at Pitchfork described it as the track “breathing”. I see it more as individual, grainy shots from a security camera capturing different angles of the same place. That’s the difference between Gave in Rest and her past albums. Things happen, and they’re fascinating. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Sandro Perri: In Another Life
Date: Sep 26, 2018
Some will leave this album comforted. Others might be unfathomably depressed.
The title track of Sandro Perri’s In Another Life, which comprises the bulk of the album, is new age for a world of shit. It spins a utopian vision, where “freely goes the child at night” and “there’s no intelligence test in class,” while sighing sadly that it can only be “in another life”. It’s smarter than most new age but also more frustrating, because instead of telling us that the world is perfect or that you can find perfection in yourself, it tells us we can find perfection in…itself. Like most messianic pop visions, including its close cousin—John Lennon’s “Imagine”—it offers no solution. But at least it’s bitterly aware of that fact. It runs 24 minutes for a reason: it’s trying to maintain its papier-mâché paradise as long as possible before reality sinks back in.
Its inertia might be frustrating to those who remember his last album, 2011’s terrifically groovy Impossible Spaces, a little less so for those who’ve heard his earlier ambient work as Polmo Polpo. And to be fair, there are a lot of ambient albums that work better to conjure the kind of paradise Perri dreams up. Its sequencer sounds more like a piece of gear than a piece of the music, and it’s a little discouraging to realize it’s not going away. It’s in the stereo field around it where In Another Life truly comes alive, with all manner of little florets of steel guitar, flute and percussion. And Perri’s voice is benevolent and soft-spoken enough to float above the music without distraction. Singing’s hard to get right in ambient music, but Perri finds the right notes. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Pick Of The Day: ‘The Enchanted Forest’ By Suzanne Langille And Loren Connors (1998)
Date: Sep 24, 2018
It’s not the trees in a forest that make it frightening — it’s the spaces between, the sylvan caverns and canyons where wild beasts prowl and ancient magic seems to take root. This phenomenon explains why Suzanne Langille and Loren Connors’ The Enchanted Forest is so spellbinding in its evocation of the dark secrets of the woods in spite of comprising no more than Langille’s voice, barely rising above a whisper, and Connors’ lightly amplified filigrees of guitar. It’s in the chasms between Connors’ notes that the story unfolds. He rarely strays from portentous minor, and the delineations between tracks are almost imperceptible. Once you’re deep enough into this 1998 jewel of an ambient folk record, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been going in circles.
“The forest spoke to me,” goes an early and memorable lyric. This is the kind of album where such a line makes perfect sense, sending shivers of magic through the proceedings. There’s a sort of story running through the record, but for the first half of the album we’re at home among Langille’s paintings of silver butterflies and high-flying ravens — classic aesthetic fantasy stuff we might hear on a Zeppelin brit-folk odyssey or the knottier thickets of Astral Weeks. Langille introduces characters — a woman with a child, some wild animals, an “Uncle Joe,” the ominous presence of a forester. A decisive break comes about halfway through. “You should leave here,” warns Uncle Joe, and suddenly those voices from the woods don’t seem so benevolent. (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Electronic Producer Shinichi Atobe Takes Us to a New Corner of His World on ‘Heat’
Date: Sep 18, 2018
Shinichi Atobe, that elusive producer of nautical dub techno, emerges from the depths on his sunniest, most club-friendly release yet, Heat.
Shinichi Atobe’s evolved the same way life on Earth has; after floundering about in the deep sea, he’s flopped up on land. Maybe the beach on the cover of his new album Heat is where the dead and rusted things that populate his previous albums like Butterfly Effect and World wash up, because this is the sunniest music the elusive Japanese producer’s ever made. The crusty distortion that defined his music and that of the Chain Reaction crew he ran with early in his career is gone, replaced by a spit-shined mix and insistent beats that indicate a desire to be heard in more DJ sets.
It’s not as cynical as it sounds once you consider Shinichi Atobe’s always made anthems. Most dub techno producers are content to let the stoned soup of their music ebb and flow around you unobtrusively, but Atobe makes tracks that stick in the head, the memory, the heart. What are “Plug and Delay”, “The Red Line”, “Regret”, and “Butterfly Effect” if not bangers? (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)
Yves Tumor: Safe in the Hands of Love
Date: Sep 16, 2018
One of the year’s more stylistically impressive records.
Safe in the Hands of Love is one of the year’s more stylistically impressive records and, as his Warp debut, a fine introduction of provocative Tennessee producer Yves Tumor to the world. Tumor, born Sean Bowie, made a small splash under the moniker Teams in the chillwave days before finding himself at the vanguard of a wave of underground producers blurring boundaries between genres, between chart pop and avant-garde, between digital uncanniness and animal sensuality. Most of these artists are queer people of color who present themselves through glamorous press photos and lurid album art; think Arca, Lotic, Sophie or serpentwithfeet.
Of these artists, Bowie is the most restlessly itinerant. There’s plenty of dark body music with low rumblings of bass on the album (“Economy of Freedom”). There are also rock ’n’ roll songs (“Licking an Orchid”), things that sound almost emo (“Recognizing the Enemy”), violent sound collages (“Hope in Suffering,” filled with the putrid buzz of flies), nods to his blunted beatmaker days (“Noid”) and songs that mix these elements together (“Let The Lioness in You Flow Freely,” whose sheets of noise are stirred up by sid-echained drums, as much Toro Y Moi as Throbbing Gristle). (Click “web” or “pdf” link to continue reading.)