Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers

Mount Kimbie released one of my very favorite little EPs in 2009 titled Maybes.  Sketching an indelible glimpse of truly post-dubstep sounds – embodying not just the unceasing clatter of the streets but the tactile pulse of pensive moments at home in the morning kitchen, the bedroom or bath – no one else spun remotely into their orbit for a long time; not even their follow up effort.  Then came the full length debut…

Crooks & Lovers.  It sounds like nothing you’d expect.  Instead of thriving in the miniature-ambient dubstep realm they created, duo Dominic Maker and Kai Campos sidestep the opportunity to bask in a certain glow.  Gripping their sound ever more tightly, these 35 minutes stake out some truly virgin territory on the beat continent.  All the domestic intimacy of their prior work is amplified while they throw open the windows and breathe in a wider spectrum of textures and feeling.  Every tool in the kitchen has been employed in an assuredly minimal manner, each piece clicking into place with the draw of a magnet, a knife in its sheath.  After several listens what seems to stand out most to me is how tactile the album is.  There’s enough space and silence in here that the sharpness of contrast between the individual elements really snaps in an overtly physical way.  There’s a sense of gravity and heft to these beats.  Imagine the deaf hearing for the first time, the immense clarity of glass breaking or water droplets; how even a handshake cracks like thunder.  Mount Kimbie renders each moment in a high definition embrace.  Close listening is naturally rewarded with exponential returns.

At proper volume, an acute idea of synesthesia forms along with the standing hairs on my neck.  Every millisecond of this thoroughly electronic sound hums like a rough brush on my thumbs, clicks like teeth on my lips, and claps with the force of a pair of hands over my ears.  It’s an unending flow of warm and inviting colors filtering the entire band of visible light.  It smells like home.  This is what makes Crooks & Lovers truly stand apart.

If you’re remotely familiar with beat-centric music today, give Mount Kimbie a try.  If you’re interested, simply buy this album now.  Seriously.

Tracklist:
01. Tunnelvision
02. Would Know
03. Before I Move Off
04. Blind Night Errand
05. Adriatic
06. Carbonated
07. Ruby
08. Ode To Bear
09. Field
10. Mayor
11. Between Time

[grab a copy at forced exposure, boomkat or amazon or somewhere else and be happy you did]

[ps buy Maybes too]

Antony and Fennesz on Returnal 7″

Releasing the closest moment he’s come to a conventional song as a first single, Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) nevertheless takes the road less travelled with this offering.  Pairing a piano+vocal recording with a radical reimagining and leaving the whole affair at that, the man turns over yet another stone on his search to define what, exactly, his music means.

“You’ve never left; you’ve been here the whole time.”

The above quote seems to sum up the artist’s entire raison d’être.  In fact, the elucidated lyrics, as gorgeously sung by Antony Hegarty, directly put to words many of the feelings evoked by the man’s signature aural space.  Accompanied by spare, treated piano and the faintest wisp of echo, the operatic vocalist takes direct aim and amplifies the gut-level impact of Lopatin’s composition while laying bare the melodic underpinning of his enigmatic recording.

As brilliant as it sounds standing alone, the track is swiftly one-upped by Fennesz on the second side.  Alchemizing the original, Antony‘s version, and elemental touchstones from throughout the titular album itself, the Austrian glitch deity twists up an overwhelming cocktail distilling everything which makes Oneohtrix Point Never intriguing in under five minutes.  Simultaneously near-infectious yet more esoteric than the original, the track casts the newly focused vocals into a realm somewhere between the original’s stellar echoes and Antony’s intimate transmission, while providing the synths with both a rhythmic backbone and an environment utterly devoid of gravity.  As in, yes, this version soars more than the artist himself.

As in, I’m beyond elated merely considering the possibility of these two collaborating in the future.  As in…  just listen to the track and know, as I do, what it’s like to have one’s mind blown in this particular way.  It’s a fun ride.  Regardless of how you may feel about the changes, a new and wider and deeper understanding of Oneohtrix Point Never emerges.

Tracklist:
A. Returnal [voice: Antony, piano: Daniel Lopatin]
B. Returnal [remixed by Fennesz]

[grab this 7″ from forced exposure because it’s worth it.]

Brock Van Wey – White Clouds Drift On And On

Brock Van Wey took a headfirst leap off the end point of dub techno last year into the oceanic swells of ambient bliss on this first album under his given name.  Instead of crashing into the waves and sinking, the man usually known as Bvdub simply took flight and never looked down.  This is White Clouds Drift On And On.

Let’s start at the cover art; talk about evocative.  That image, combined with the none-too-subtle title, sufficiently hints at the feelings unleashed by this album.  Opening with a melodic beckon skyward, White Clouds eases the passage from the paces of reality into pure atmospheric headspace with it’s most concrete segment.  Once at cruising altitude, that cover art truly delivers on its promise.  Piano, synths, guitars and the hiss of soft spoken digital percussion are treated with gauzy abandon.  Everything expands in all directions at once, infiltrating and taking over all sense of place and time.  Vocals flit in and out of the mix and are seemingly heard before they appear, yet register only once they’ve gone.  More than a quarter of an hour can slip away in the blink of an eye, with only the fleeting silence between tracks reminding of the outside world.

Each of the six excursions come on like a nagging thought, stealing focus away from whatever is at hand.  Novel elements build upon the notion, expanding to fill the entire consciousness.  The immediate surroundings completely dissolve and an internal journey has begun.  Only the end of this album can now serve as the hand on my shoulder to shake me to attention.  You know how this ends, like a transportive dream after waking.  Something profound was felt, but the details are lost.  Thankfully this transcendent experience is a tangible thing, available for replay as soon as the listener is ready.

Covering a strange land where the nations of Basic Channel and Quantec overlap with Arvo Pärt and Terry Riley, Van Wey departs heavily – but not unexpectedly – from his solidly minimal, dub techno background.  Instead of moving laterally, he’s simply found a higher ground, and that deep foundation remains.  Thus, fans of anything from Fennesz and Tim HeckerStars of the Lid and Windy & Carl, to Gas, Loscil, and Deepchord Presents Echospace, to  The Caretaker, William Basinski, Black to Comm [see my take on Alphabet 1968] or even my recent favorites Oneohtrix Point Never [see my love here], need to pay special attention here.  I wouldn’t go on a name-checking spree if it weren’t necessary, so here’s the deal:  This album accentuates all that I love about these profoundly varying artists and their sounds, yet never succumbs to their respective gravities.  It weaves between, above and below, insular in its movemnt and pulsing with a life all its own.  I like the notion that when a dream is over, a whole world ends.  That’s how this album feels, every time.  I mean that in the best way possible.

One of the most unique aspects of this release is the presence of a second disc featuring a full album deconstruction by producer Intrusion (dub techno wizard  Stephen Hitchell), mirroring the dream like a bent parallel universe.  Keeping true to the ethos and atmosphere, the percussive dub feel is heightened to an almost head-nodding level while the billowing atmosphere is drenched in cavernous echo.  Built on a descending order of the original six songs, this set brings us full circle by the end.  It is truly a reflection, a perfect accomplice, urging the body to follow the mind.

Despite having since moved back to making records under his former moniker, his music shows no signs of reversing course.  Bvdub‘s new album The Art Of Dying Alone, out on perfectly complimentary label Glacial Movements, is the obvious next step beyond White Clouds.  In other words, keep up with the man.  He’s conjuring something special.

[unfortunately out of stock at most vendors, forced exposure and soundfix seem able and willing to spread the love.  buy this if you can.  by all means.]