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.
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.
A few months ago I really wanted to share this incredible song with you and found, to little surprise, that it was streaming exactly nowhere on the internet. So I got my copy on youtube because everyone deserves to experience this distilled observation of profound humane love.
Buried near the end of The Durutti Column‘s third odds & singles collection, Sporadic Three, Trust The Art Not The Artist is an uncommonly straightforward expression of Vini Reilly’s spirituality filigreed with a crystalline spiderweb of a guitar solo. The final pair of lyrics sets a lump in my throat as the solo takes off in delicate flight to end the song in a skyward gaze:
There is no god I can believe in
I just believe in ourselves
And all the goodness in people
That’s the only real wealth
The sentiment is not a particularly deep or unique because bedrock inner truths do not need to be. The simple, direct, and humble statement is profound if you allow it. There’s really nothing more to this; it’s a portrait of social trust set to song like haiku on a paper crane.
[full set of lyrics - as transcribed by me - are in the description on the youtube page]
First: sorry I’ve been sort of quiet for a few weeks.
It’s true. This one pays far more than my prior occupation so it’s worth the being-busy-all-the-time aspect. However I have not – cannot – neglect music and thus always have something worth sharing with the world. Every commute, every bicycle ride, every nighttime book devouring session is accompanied by something new, expansive, exciting… punctuated by old favorites I find myself doubled over with joy upon re-hearing. So I’ve got something to say.
Unfortunately I worked my brains out today and must save the in-depth breathless praise and wild exhortations to purchase vinyl for the remainder of the weekend. I will simply state that there are a few albums I’m quite taken with, continually listen to, and wish that more people would get familiar with. These are a few of them:
United Waters – Your First Ever River
Sensations’ Fix – Fragments of Light
Robert Fripp – Let The Power Fall
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk
Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Thundercat – Golden Age of the Apocalypse
and finally, with apologies to the artist herself:
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Colour Libres
Because this is, by some distance, one of the most powerful and heartfelt albums of 2011 and I really should have shared all about it when I got it months ago. I promise – I swear – I will soon. Keep an eye on this page, and stay ready for the deluge.
Another sleepless night for me…
My favorite guitarist of all time, Vini Reilly, was also a pioneer with regards to sampling in an ostensibly rock context. His Factory label boss, mentor, and best friend Tony Wilson famously discouraged Vini’s use of vocals in Durutti Column recordings, feeling he was far better at literally every aspect of music creation than singing. This obviously contributed to his daring and invigorating use of sampling (and later, frequent female guest vocalists), highlighted by this brilliant piece from the center of his eponymous Vini Reilly LP, released in 1989. A rising arpeggio gives way to a typically gorgeous guitar ramble before the song slides into perfection with recontextualized phrases from Otis Redding‘s (also typically gorgeous) Pain In My Heart and Tracy Chapman‘s heartbreaking Behind The Wall (listen, seriousl) and cements its place in any hypothetical Top 10 Durutti Column countdown.
I must note that, indeed, a far more famous and recent use of a classic Redding sample exists, but Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s same-named Otis borrows far more liberally (and literally) from Try A Little Tenderness… which I’ve always found quite affecting in a certain other context:
[you basically owe it to yourself and the perennially under-acknowledged Durutti Column to get the album at theDuruttiColumn.com. Really, get any of his nearly 2 dozen albums. Anywhere.]
Here’s another set of essential 2010 albums unfortunately left by the wayside. Witness their excellence.
- Mark Van Hoen – Where Is The Truth
Beauty. Just, pure fragile beauty. Floating like a spiderweb made of static, hung with fragments of shattered dreampop. Van Hoen, who started out in Seefeel and ferried the shoegaze & idm Locust through the next decade, knows a thing or two about prismatic blissouts. Being unfamiliar with his past solo work, I won’t remark on how this is a more personal statement or not; I will simply say that, as a *huge* fan of Seefeel, a longtime admirer of Locust (especially Truth Is Born of Arguments – an essential document), and an eternal seeker of alluring disintegration, this album hits the spot.
- Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In
Being taken in by the line that their name is inspired by a certain Tarkovsky film and the fact that they employed old school synths in a more pop-friendly framework than Oneohtrix Point Never or Emeralds, I nevertheless held this one at arm’s length upon first listen. The tones grabbed me, the melodies held me, the sheer variety kept my attention from wandering, but I was stopping short of truly absorbing it. Second go-round, I realized it’s not made to dissect the individual tracks or feel around for a signature invention, something groundbreaking to hang its hat on. This album is one to sit back (or walk or ride or whatever) and take in all at once. Much like Teebs’ utopian fever dream Ardour, this 50 minute excursion is built carefully out of vignettes highlighting different facets of the sound until a wholly rounded picture is formed by the end. I can hear Blade Runner and The Neverending Story and even the Terminator at times, but I can also sense the instructive warmth of Boards of Canada, fellow Scots with a penchant for playfully distracted, unpretentious psych explorations. Where else would we find songs titled Head Supernova, Primary Colours at the Back of my Mind, and Neon Colony?
- Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP
Well this one snuck up on me. I was never a fan of the debut LP, which swam in a torrent of praise in 2009. Some songs caught my ear but the band simply didn’t hit those pleasure centers I need to truly enjoy an album. Playing this lengthy EP on a blizzard bound morning while making pancakes turned out to be a shining revelation, and an arresting listen. Moving beyond their Velvet Underground, jangly garage sound into the realm of earnest, intelligent, well written pop infused with more than a little grit and gravitas, the band has officially released one of a literal handful of rock albums which I can admire, adore, and really sink my teeth into. Biggest highlights are the title track, a stoned lament for the fractured state of our world today, and Caroline – a tune which steps out of any boundaries the band previously ruled, into pure psychedelic wanderlust. It reveals itself slowly (at first echoing The Smashing Pumpkins‘ deep album cut Porcelina of the Vast Oceans), unwinding like a scarf caught on a fence, until it’s stretched to the point of abstraction and hanging in the air around you. A cloud of a hazy rock dream, tugging upward. A great way to end an album and point to an even brighter future for this duo.
In my prior post sharing about Flying Lotus‘ recent appearance in Ann Arbor I mentioned the film Heaven and Earth Magic and shared a single image. Now I’ve come to find, there are not only two video segments from the event shared online, but a good portion of the insightful and honestly funny interview with the guys afterward. Basically the film is impossible to fully describe to the uninitiated. So just catch a bit yourself. This doesn’t convey the complete impact of the hourlong film and black-hole score in a dark theater, but it at least gives a glimpse to those who couldn’t make the show. Here’s hoping, as Flylo himself hinted at, they release this piece in some form, so everyone can share in the magic.
Watching this now, I’m brought instantly back to the warm realization that Mr. Ellison is as personable, endearing and humble as imaginable in person. That he has not only the chops but the charisma to be a star. It’s exciting to witness this artist’s skyward trajectory.
Not only that, but Dr. Strangeloop proved a worthy foil and equally appealing force. The man is quickly scaling my to-watch-for list. The best part is that the show aftwards blew everything about this event to dust. At least for a while. It was a unique experience to take in two entirely different sides of an artist in one day.
Noonday Underground is the sun drenched soulful electronic project from Simon Dine (formerly of Adventures in Stereo) which flies across the radar first appearing as a retro throwback, slowly revealing its entirely inventive and modern structure and intricate production detailing. Submerged in everything 60’s-cool, from exotica to California pop and Motown swagger, Dine weaves evocative time-travel textures shot through by every technique at his disposal in a modern studio. It’s a deliciously supple blend which has gone virtually unnoticed far too long.
Stretching out on the wider canvas of this second LP, the album opens with orchestral pomp straight out of a climactic film score, doubling over into a breakbeat laden lounge simmer before sliding directly into first single Boy Like A Timebomb. Slow-burn vocals by Daisey Martey (of Morcheeba) manage to steal the spotlight from the deep groove brass section and massive drum fills, evoking the passionate gravity of classic soul sirens and sultry Bristol trip hop birds alike. While ostensibly Dine’s partner in crime throughout the band’s early career, she is joined by a menagerie of crooners on this outing; most notable is early supporter and famously soul-infatuated former front man of The Jam and The Style Council, the preeminent Paul Weller. His turn on the emphatic I’ll Walk Right On is one of the unquestionable highlights on this platter, already stuffed to the gills with one gem after another. While the smokey atmosphere, dubby bass and loose percussive nature begs comparisons to modern acts like DJ Shadow or Portishead, the surface feel itself is indebted to the exotic sheen of composer John Barry and his quintessentially cool film scores. Every listen to this album transports me to a space where I’m suiting up in a peaked-lapel tuxedo and ordering a gin-vodka martini, shaken and served in a deep goblet with a thin slice of lemon peel, all the while zipping over the clouds in a chrome-accented private jet on the way to some hidden volcanic island. Yes, it’s that evocative. Turn it on, turn it up, and get to the runway – there’s plenty of room on this trip.
[the Japanese release (with 2 bonus cuts) can be found at amazon for a better price than used original copies, while norman records supposedly has a standard priced copy in stock, and eil will let you request the next available unit. yeah, it's a bit hard to track down]
Dreams of Water Themes is the stupendous result of a collaboration between Daedelus and Frosty, who christened themselves Adventure Time and cooked up a nautical stew of jazzy undercurrents, waves of turntablism sampledelia swells and clipped vocal crests, cut through with a crackling, frothy breeze.
It’s a unique project in the canon of modern beats, with the title and artwork indicating the type of hefty thematic glue unifying this far-flung enterprise – in other words, it’s one of the more cohesive electronic/hiphop releases floating around. Fans of Daedelus’ opus Denies the Day’s Demise are in for a real treat; this LP hews closer to that record’s heights than any project he’s been involved in before or since. Loosely roiling keys, dizzy horns, vaguely mideastern strings and incisive, impeccably placed spoken samples drive the narrative thrust, while the constantly evolving yet self-referencing palate keeps two feet planted firmly on the deck through the half-hour-plus of churning beat seas. There’s a certain whiff of Since I Left You rising off the whole affair, though it’s more respectful nod than straight homage or borrowed nostalgia; the pair acknowledge their forebears in the turntables-set-sail department without constantly reminding us of that towering landmark. Adventure Time created an ambitious – but consciously playful – musical journey which begs to take listeners out on a freewheeling voyage through the high seas of rhythm exploration.