Blog Archives

Destroyer – The Laziest River

When I purchased the 2lp edition of Destroyer‘s 2011 pop masterpiece Kaputt, I had no idea that the bonus track promised on side C would slowly become the languid circulatory system of the entire album.  It swims in an embryonic well from which the other tracks drink, all held breath and deep plunge.  It’s patient and fragile, and just may comprise twenty of my favorite minutes.

If you have only heard the standard tracklisting, press play now.  It’s rare when something labelled “bonus” actually elevates the experience of listening to a great album.  The Laziest River feels absolutely essential at this point, and while I sympathize with the probable intention of encouraging vinyl purchases, it seems unfair to leave everyone else with an unfinished story.  So buy it if you can, but this song can be downloaded and amended to your playlist for a quick fix.

Best Songs of 2012, part 2: “N.E.W.”

This will loop indefinitely over the Elysian fields of an afterlife of my design.

Actress (aka Darren Cunningham) redefined ambient beauty with this piece, lighting the spiritual wires from the organ works of Camille Saint-Saëns through Brian Eno’s Discreet Music while sparking fresh air to flame.  Blooming the color of Arvo Pärt’s devotional tilt in an exploratory space odyssey from the dreams of Oneohtrix Point Never or Stanley Kubrick, N.E.W. is uplifting and warm, alien and awestruck.  We’re inside a nebulous pipe organ riding the cusp of a singularity, dancing on the membrane between ascension and obliteration.  Let it repeat.

I should mention the video:  I have no clue where the footage is from, but it strangely works.  This copy was chosen mainly, however, because it can be set to 720p, so the sound quality is superb.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Sand Partina [lost track 1]

In preparation for last week’s Flying Lotus show, a friend and I were having a youtube-off.  Exhausting the major albums and creeping toward the dusty corners of his recorded output, we were constantly surprised at b-sides, remixes and otherwise lost tracks which only one of us (a pair of somewhat huge fans) was aware of.  There’s a sublime comfort in peeling up the tiles of artists we know and love, only to find worthy treasure below.  I’m trying to replicate that experience with those who will be completely on the same page when I share a given artist.

This is an older piece from a split tape with Caboladies, one which I’d heard years ago when first discovering Oneohtrix Point Never yet never fully appreciated until this autumn.  The gelid synth oscillations build toward  softly hissing dunes; the song itself imagines low level flight over this alien landscape.  It’s a dream of a half remembered childhood science fiction story.  Although that description could be shoehorned onto nearly anything OPN has created, it’s especially pointed in this case.  I could drift off with this on repeat for hours.

Bee Mask – Vaporware/Scanops

If there’s one piece of advice I can offer those on the perpetual quest to peel back the edges of their musical horizons, it is to subscibe to the mailing lists of shops and labels you trust.  I can’t finish a list of the albums and artists I’ve grown to love because someone at aQuarius, Other Music, Forced Exposure, Vertigo or Amoeba simply loved a new or obscure piece and carved out a space for enthusiasm in the weekly newsletter.  It’s why I share what I do on this blog.  Last week, my email from Boomkat announced what has quickly become my favorite surprise in months:  a new 12″ from Bee Mask (Chris Madak), a half hour of bliss spread over two songs titled Vaporware and Scanops.

The simplest of repeating glitch synth motifs tumbles into a spiritual rollercoaster with the crisp lines of Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians and the spacey wash of Klaus Schulze, yet it’s the beating heart of Terry Riley sinking in when thoughts of influence sprout during another listen.  There’s something bright and pure and novel about his approach here:  by stripping his sound to a base element, Madak opens the door to something more pure and evocative than he’s shown before.  This is not just a case of his forebears shining through; it is thoughtful composition approaching the level of the aforementioned masters themselves.

I started this post one night while playing this on repeat and simply reached a point where words failed to capture my mouth agape, my lost thoughts, my tingling sense of elevation when either of these pieces hit that moment where time stands still and all earthly concerns lift.  I don’t mean to imply that this is more transcendent than anything; most of my favorite music is.  There are artists whom I can reliably go to for that spiritual high, that metaphysical flight, and I believe Bee Mask has just been added to the list.

Here’s a sample but nothing short of the entire piece will suffice.

[buy it at Boomkat, and soon, because it's limited.]

Philip Glass + Sesame Street

This is a collaboration between legendary minimalist composer Philip Glass and rainy day childhood staple Sesame Street.  It is called Geometry of Circles.  Somehow, I never shared this before.  I am so sorry.

Years ago, a friend linked this video and I nearly wept with the recognition of something I knew so clearly from childhood and never since.  This is perfect.  Literally.  I can’t imagine a more direct pairing of music and visuals; form and content reflect and amplify into the essence of an idea.

Behold the hypnotic logic.

Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin – Uptown Psychedelia

I forgot to share this immediately after my first listen.  I really should have.

Tim Hecker is widely acknowledged as a master of his own blend of melodic drone (whom I’ve shamefully never written in depth about) while Daniel Lopatin is better known as Oneohtrix Point Never, hands down one of my favorite artists working today.  The fact that he’s collaborating with Hecker has, to put it mildly, assuaged my fears about Lopatin’s distinct lack of a new LP this year.

It’s late and I’m tired and I don’t know what to say.  If you like either of these artists, you will certainly enjoy this song.  Let’s hope the full album is just as good.

[I'm not seeing it yet but the release should be here for preorder soon.]

Until The Quiet Comes Comes

Just because.

This has been out over a week and the leak for half that, but tonight, alone, listening to the proper stream on NPR, my excitement is reborn.  There are details, sharp edges and vocal snapshots bursting out at me, entire stretches brimming with instrumentation I haven’t noticed.  I listened to the leak ten times and haven’t heard the album like this.  My thought confirmed:  the vinyl leak is muffled, distant and compressed sounding.  Everything’s in there, buried then rendered in high fidelity.  I kept wanting to lean inward and focus on the elements I knew were inside.  It’s a treat to know that what I’ll be receiving in a couple weeks is even better than what fans have been going nuts over.

Stream the entire album here:

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes

[NPR stream]

Thanks, NPR.  Also a question: why can’t your player embed?

Also here is the video for first single Putty Boy Strut.  Regardless of how you feel about this song, remember that with this man’s work, it’s all about context.

[Pre-order the album from Bleep, especially if you want the ridiculous collectors edition like I do.]

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble – Drips/Take Notice

I had nearly forgotten:  this is one of my favorite things ever.

Or at least the past year.

In late 2010 this clip from a July 23 concert in Los Angeles was posted and I realized how much of an incredible force of nature Miguel Atwood-Ferguson is.  Flying Lotus fans know him as the guy providing the string arrangements in the legendary album Cosmogramma, while those more familiar with J Dilla probably smile at the thought of his work as headliner of the Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes album, a sweeping orchestral take on the late James Yancey’s productions.  This 13 minute alchemic beast weaves a stargazing intro from the former into one of the sparkling highlights of the latter’s final statement, the Ruff Draft EP, into an uplifting, hard charging masterpiece.

Truly an all star production, this band includes none other than Flying Lotus himself, Thundercat (best known for 2011’s Golden Age of the Apocalypse and making Cosmogramma jump like frogs in a dynamite pond), Rebekah Raff (another Flylo alum, she of the Alice Coltrane-worthy harp ethereality) and a full set of accomplished musicians I’ll list below.

Flying Lotus (laptop)
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (violin)
Evan Francis (flute)
Dontae Winslow (trumpet)
Joey Dosik (alto sax)
Kamasi Washington (tenor sax)
Garrett Smith (trombone)
Rebekah Raff (harp)
Marcel Camargo (guitar)
Brandon Coleman (keys)
Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner (bass)
Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave (drums)
Nikki Campbell (percussion)

I’m just hoping this hints, if not at Flying Lotus‘ next album (which will be announced at Coachella) perhaps a collaborative effort or even a full length release from this Ensemble itself.

ATTN: unintentional hiatus.

Or: I will not have much opportunity for internet-related anything for the next month, but would love if any of you friendly charitable readers / friends / good samaratins could help keep me up to date on great music still being released in the late hours of this year.

So please, leave a comment here and let me know what you’re into, the triumphs and sure shots and surprise masterpieces I’m missing out on.  I promise to get myself caught up in due time and come roaring back with a vengeance.  This is a time of patience and focus for me, and the words are building up.

For now, I leave you with one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded: After The Flood, by Talk Talk.

I once said “This song is a sentient being,” and I still stand by that statement.

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