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Liquid Liquid

This band is the funkiest bunch of white guys to emerge from the fertile early-1980’s NYC no wave scene. Featuring one of the most well-known bass lines in recent history, Liquid Liquid are nonetheless relatively unknown to the wider public.

Liquid Liquid is a self-titled collection of everything essential.

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To wit: if this band were James Brown, Cavern would be their Funky Drummer.  The moment that transcendent rhythm comes to life on the track, you’ll be awash in familiarity and confusion in the same instant.  Is this White Lines (Don’t Do It) by Grandmaster FlashPhenomenon by LL Cool J?  Both.

Despite that track’s endearing, enduring charm, it’s not even the best thing here.  This collection is overstuffed with quality material, ranging from party-ready bangers to truly outré beat and noise explorations.  None of it comes within spitting distance of mainstream pop or modern club music, by any stretch of imagination.  One listen though and you’ll be convinced that the ideas contained are the base root for a wide breadth of modern music, popular and obscure alike.

This LP is actually a set released in 1997 by Grand Royal containing basically everything you could want to hear from the band’s limited output.  First track Optimo will blow you away.  Cavern is next.  You’re now on a dark, funky rollercoaster to the end.

[grab this amazingly fresh and complete set at amazon]

bonus:  Cavern video!

DJ /rupture – Uproot

DJ /rupture is a flat-out musical genius. Preternaturally adept at crafting singularly pure mood explorations whole-cloth out of disparate samples, producer Jace Clayton is nearly as well known for his insightful writing on music.  He’s one of my favorite electronic artists working today.  One of my favorites of all time, in fact.  He’s often lumped in with the humble ‘mash-up dj’ category, which is a grave disservice to the prodigious talent he displays, especially on this album.

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First things first:  just put the album on now, with a set of headphones (or good stereo with some bass presence).  Press play.  Absorb.  This way, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Uproot is an album which feels so cohesively unified, hypnotically of-a-piece that one could be forgiven for assuming it’s not sample-based upon first listen.  Every single moment has so much attention paid to the connections and frictions between beats and vocals, synths and strings, pacing and flow, there are simply no seams in the production.  That fact alone places this lp miles above anything traditionally recognized as ‘mash-up’ – this resides on a level closer to Endtroducing or Avalanches than Girl Talk.

Conjuring the ghosts of reggae, dub, afropop, techno, grimy hip hop, dubstep, idm, and even post rock precedents/outliers like Dif Juz or Seefeel, Uproot is a smoky mix of pulsing, impulsively grounded head-nodding beats and extraterrestrial atmospheres.  Vocals and orchestral phrases shift in and out of the mix while a constant bed of low-end throb envelops perception.  The deeply narcotic sense of comfortable oblivion is overwhelming.

By the final withering reverberation Clayton has taken a journey from flute-peppered break beats through modern avant composers to melancholy post-apocalyptic ambience, conveyed en route by dub ideals and echo-laden empathy.  This is an evolution of the soul.  A journey of the mind.  A fucking incredible mix.

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Note:  when you obtain Uproot the tags may be crazy – a predictable result with complicated artists like this.  For the proper version check (strangely enough) the last.fm page and simply copy what they’ve got.  This will help you know the prominent sample(s) on each track as well as the proper names.

Be sure to read his blog as well:  mudd up!

[purchase this, as Clayton himself offers:  at iTunes or amazon]

Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna is the patron saint of those who suffer from mental illness.  You can find all manner of pop-pyschology diagnoses relating the unique title choice to this undisputable masterpiece of an album, from the lowliest myspace blog to the glossiest of mainstream magazines; I feel that talking about the music itself is probably more relevant.

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Thundering, effervescent, primitive, futuristic, esoteric, immediate, experimental, instinctual, gravitational. This minimal set of semi-opposing descriptors is a quick rundown of the notions flashing through my mind upon first hearing Gang Gang Dance‘s followup to their cavernously percussive rabbit hole of a breakthrough LP, God’s Money.  As far as I remember – it’s been played so much by now that every moment feels woven into the fabric of my musical memory.  Whether driving, partying, or nearly any other activity, it settles into a perfect symbiosys with my surroundings and mood.  It’s truly a rare hybrid on numerous fronts, though that academic compliment is not even hinting at the true appeal of this music.

To get at that point, I’m going to get personal:  The moment this album ended upon first listen, I had the relevatory feeling that I’d discovered something I’d always been looking for.  To be more specific:  this felt, track by track, like a staged unveiling of everything subsconsciously craved but unrealized in my musical life to date.  The perfect sequence of exotic tones and previously unrealized dream melodies coupled with throbbing percussion and a veteran DJ’s sense of contrast and flow give this album the unshakeable aura of something both blindingly fresh and comfortingly primal in the same impossible moment.  This is a dichotomy as frustrating to pin down, yet unrelentingly urgent as the first blush of a new love.

The moment your head is wrapped around the stuccato-beat shambling opener, “First Communion” blows all notions of skittering electro-percussion noise to smithereens with a torrent of undeniable psych pop – like a firehose to a house of matches.  From there you’re dropped into a river of dub, drowned in synth and guitar washes nodding at My Bloody Valentine‘s “I Only Said” then blown through a grime-tinged dubhop track in which the instrumentals perform an intricate dance with the vocalist (Tinchey Stryder),  chasing down ever-bending sonic alleyways, each constantly playing catch-up with the other.  Everything is shattered at this point, with the pieces accumulating like a rolling snowball through cut-up keys & drums into a ramshackle, hulking riddim.  Momentum continues towards an apocalyptic east-meets-west, abstractly political desert landscape of ass-shaking drums and clattering tin cans before finally an oasis is reached:  “House Jam” is like some abnormally strong mint dropped into the clammy breath of insurgent tribalism.  If not for it’s unabashed left-field trajectory, this would be the ‘crossover hit’ mainstream publications are wont to fawn over – thankfully that isn’t the case.  Sounding like a synthesis of “Holiday”-era Madonna and, basically, everything Gang Gang Dance does exceptionally well, it’s a timeless dance track bursting with substantive feeling and unfettered pop deliverance.  The penultimate track follows a typically atmospheric interlude and begs comparison to an especially aggressive Massive Attack burning their way through a warzone en route to some thunderstruck mountaintop.  It’s climactic, drum-rending apex is rivaled by the meditative, Eno-esque final track, where the album imbues you with the kind of authentic serenity gained only via tumultuous, hard-fought journey.

My inadequate rendering of the adventure that is Saint Dymphna is simply here to whet your appetite.  If you’re in any way enticed by the idea of something truly new, a synthesis of disparate ideas cobbled into striking designs, you owe this to yourself.  Don’t take my word for it.  Just hit play and let these wonderful 44 minutes blow the cobwebs from your consciousness.  Something wonderfully, intimately exceptional is afoot.

[purchase via The Social Registry in the US and Warp elsewhere, or simply grab it on amazon]

Dimlite – This Is Embracing

So I’ve been on somewhat of an instrumental hiphop kick this year, and Dimlite has been one of the unequivocal gems I’ve discovered.  He is Swiss producer extraordinaire, Dimitri Grimm.  And here’s a little blurb I found on the label website: “During the week that he was allowed to toy around with this first piece of real gear, he filled a whole tape with all kinds of circling noises and atmospheres with the purpose to make «music to smoke to».” I Like how they put it.

This Is Embracing is one of those albums which may seem cold and distant at first blush, but, as always with these things, is anything but.  It is a dubbed- and psyched-out jazz-inflected hiphop diamond awaiting discovery.

Although placed in the running with current heavyweights like Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, or Samiyam, this album (in my opinion) aspires more to the smoky intellectual, jazzy majesty of a DJ Spooky LP like Optometry or Songs of a Dead Dreamer.

And to be perfectly (and possibly sacreligously) honest, although I wouldn’t place it on the same level, this LP reminds me of a certain DJ Shadow masterpiece.  That’s right, Endtroducing… It’s not that I’m comparing the two, but as a reference point, this fits the bill.  If you’re into the sound of that now-classic masterpiece of sampling savvy and instrumental finesse, you’re almost certain to enjoy Dimlite‘s creation.

There really isn’t much more I could say at this moment.  Sure, I could go on and detail every track but this is one of those albums made for listening all the way through.  A track-by-track breakdown is beside the point with music like this.  Get brave.  Dive in.  Now Walk.

[purchase this at Sonar Kollektiv (label) or Amazon]

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