Blog Archives

Kendrick Lamar – i [new single!!]

And so it begins. Kendrick Lamar consumed months of my listening life, two years ago. Now he’s about to drop his follow up to one of the greatest albums of the past decade, good kid, m.A.A.d. City. The first single is called i.

After hearing his collaboration with Flying Lotus on Never Catch Me, I was primed for more material. It’s been two years since his last album released, but only one year since the CD left constant rotation in my car. I probably listened to that album more than any other released in the past 5 years, in any genre. It’s not just a hip-hop landmark; it’s a colossus of popular music in general. Suffice it to say that my expectations are flying high.

“We got a young brother that stands for something! We got a young brother that believes in all of us! Brother Kendrick Lamar. He’s not a rapper, he’s a writer!”

An announcer opens the song with these words, before the inimitable guitar line of “That Lady” by the Isley Brothers leaps into action. Kendrick comes in with another fresh vocal inflection and the tune is off and running. Bouncy, bright, funky, psychedelic, energetic: it’s a bold proclamation that the young master is back in top form. I dig it. The song obliterated my fear of a sophomore slump in exactly 4:20.

Don’t take my word for it. You should already be listening.

kendrick

The upcoming album is “soon” and has yet to be titled, so that’s all the information I’ve got today!

Flying Lotus – Tiny Tortures (video featuring Elijah Woods)

This arrived today and it is beautiful.  Echoing Akira (and Tetsuo) and some of the brilliant, creepy videos from Aphex Twin, it’s a dark, cinematic corkscrew in psychedelic miniature.  There are few videos so evocative of their namesake, working as a perfect thematic foil to the song.  Now watch, as Elijah Wood has a fucked up night.

Despite the fact that I haven’t done a full “album post” about Flying Lotus‘ latest opus, Until The Quiet Comes is easily one of my biggest repeat listens of the year.  It’s the living, breathing incarnation of what I’d always kind of hoped his work was pointing towards.  Its growth from 2010’s Cosmogramma is more organic and inevitable than the sudden leap that album made from its predecessor, breathrough lp Los Angeles; naturally, it’s less surprising how radically good this is.  I feel like I took it for granted at first: “Of course this is good.  Well there it goes in my car to stay in rotation for weeks.”  Only a handful of albums have spent so much time as regular, near-daily listen this year, and if it weren’t for Kendrick Lamar’s new release, I could have, possibly, worn it out.

Thankfully this video came along today.  Not only my favorite track, Tiny Tortures was due for some recognition.  On an album crowded with standout moments between sublime guest vocals and dizzying synth work, its sparkling meditative cascade can be mistaken as a gentle interlude.  It’s more like a brief exposure of Quiet‘s spiritual heartbeat.  It reaches transcendence in the emotive dance of its guitar and bass (by second time MVP Thundercat) over a pulse hinting at great-aunt Alice Coltrane’s organ work on one of her masterpieces.  If you haven’t listened to the album yet, here’s your chance to embrace one of the warmest electronic albums in years, a possible masterpiece of jazz and electronic music.

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.]

Sam Hatzaras – 2007-2012

This is fun and fantastic.  Psychedelic, hypnagogic, sampledelic.  As I said to a friend yesterday:  It’s what I listened to when I was in an Ash Ra Tempel mood.  Yet actually, thanks to the external memory I can see that I actually said, I’m in an Ash Ra Tempel kinda mood but this fits perfectly. Even though it’s more like Avalanches.  So there’s that.

I’d like to thank whoever reposted some blog’s mention of this a few weeks ago, and return the favor by sharing with everyone else.  The original vinyl – all 30 copies! – has been sold out, but thankfully you can stream all you’d like or download and put it on your portable.

ALSO: if you have never heard Since I Left You just sit back and take it all in, focusing on what your life has been missing.  It’s here.

Gang Gang Dance – 4ad Session

This video is old and I haven’t written a post about Gang Gang Dance in a while, but neither fact matters.  This is a freewheeling ode to getting high on your music.

I really can’t say more.  Watch the video.

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Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Oneontrix Point Never is set to unleash another album to be considered as a ‘true debut’ next month.  One (very productive) year after the epochal Returnal (Best album of 2010), Daniel Lopatin is ready to declare his creative ambition and lay waste to expectations, eardrums and frontal lobes all over again.  Having excised his synth pop demons with a quirky and catchy Ford & Lopatin album and collaborative impulse on the exquisite, under-heard FRKWYS Vol. 7 – starring drone psych dream team Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – he was ready to dive headlong into the depths of his inner muse, dredging up something distinctly next-level with Replica.

 

The range and variety of sounds incorporated here will likely jolt those familiar with his major releases, Returnal and Rifts, as nearly every track strays from the expected drifting keyboard clouds and laser light workouts haunting those works.  Returnal hinted that things were getting stormy inside the OPN environment, most notably on opener Nil Admirari‘s volcanic eruption of beauty and brutality, before the album subsided into an occasionally hairy yet blissed out ride for its duration.  It was made to be lost in, all thought muscled out in service of a meditative nothingness from which I’d emerge thoughtful and cleansed.  But the translation of Latin phrase Nil Admirari, “to be surprised by nothing,” was perhaps more mission statement than anyone guessed, because Replica aims not only for novel horizons but an entirely new mode of conveyance itself.

Instead of the aural equivalent of a hurricane, this album begins with an invitation to slide.  Nearly reprising the sighing contentment of last year’s Ouroboros, opener Andro lays back and lets gravity work magic as we’re led to believe this will be a less demanding journey than last time.  Perfectly mirroring the chaotic intro dissolving into sleepy rivers on Returnal, Lopatin opens a trapdoor with distortion, tribal percussion and shattered vocals; snapping from the reverie, he unveils the dizzying, fractured realm inside.  Sudden, repeating sample blasts of urgent words (“Up!”) and unintelligible phrases snowball into rhythms, gurgling under warm baths of electronic bass, giving way to flights of pornographic radiance.  Delicate piano and wordless oohs-and-ahhs sparkle through as aggressive syllabic papercuts urge the dynamic tranquility, keeping the listener on his toes.  Every moment of repose is punctuated, every hair raising sequence actively hunting the next surprise around a blind corner

Instead of suppressing the violent energy and gorgeous destruction after one controlled burst, Replica seeks peace, balance and eager dance partners in its propensity for noise and serenity.  Transcendence is the natural offspring of this marriage and feels all the more hard-won and treasured.  Instead of dissolving and blurring out the unpleasant realities of the world, Oneohtrix Point Never now finds a way to reconcile the righteous and beatific experience of life with the windows flung wide.  If Returnal is a night spent alone in meditation, Replica is the morning’s journey into the uncharted future, heart and mind open to the mysterious possibilies ahead.

Listen to the title track here:

and watch the weirdly entrancing official video:

[buy this directly from the artist or via boomkat or even amazon. <3 dat white vinyl.]

Oneohtrix Point Never – Scenes With Curved Objects

Scenes With Curved Objects has become (possibly) my 2nd favorite release by Oneohtrix Point Never.

Well, this brief cassette release is at least tied with the two LPs preceeding the possibly-album-of-the-year Returnal.  Yes, like those psychotropic soundscapes, it is indescribably gorgeous.  Pulsing with an alien life unique in Oneohtrix Point Never‘s oeuvre, these two live-sourced tracks foreshadow the drifting-cloud majesty of Returnal while rumbling with the some of the most concrete rhythms he (Daniel Lopatin) has yet recorded.

It begins with what sound like marimbas via a familiar-enough repeated melody, simply growing in intensity – never changing – throughout the 9 minutes of Melancholy Descriptions of Simple 3D Environments.  The draw here is how Lopatin slowly cocoons this spine, draping layer upon layer of undulating synth washes, echoed laser effects, and eventually the swelling heart of warming drone takes everything right off the ground.  Side B opens with what can only be described as The Caretaker (aka Leyland Kirby) riffing on something more triumphant than haunting:  a hollowed out and dispatched-from-the-past orchestral section valiantly tries to break through the corrosion.  Then we abruptly cut to a short murky collage which feels like bumping through a science lab in the dark before drifting directly into the triumphant heart of this piece: The Trouble With Being Born.  An oscillating fuge of an (uncharacteristically) optimistic dystopian anthem, this largest cut of the side’s 9 minutes feels like the true contemplative center of the release, a space where all conscious thought lifts up and outward.  In other words, it’s 5 minutes that will totally “expand your mind,” man.  Then a proverbial sudden-record-scratch moment happens and we cut to an Ariel Pink damaged-AM-pop sound refracted in the same manner as the previous collage, fading toward silence.

It’s quite a ride.  Short but intense.  Listen.

Tracklisting:
A Melancholy Descriptions of Simple 3D Environments
B Adagio In G Minor Screw/Piano Craft Guild Edit/The Trouble With Being Born/Let It Go

[get the mp3 edition at boomkat or try and pick up the tape via discogs..but good luck with a fair price.]

[see also on Optimistic Underground: Antony and Fennesz on Returnal 7″ and Oneohtrix Point Never and Days of Thunder]

I Was There!

Last weekend I had the pleasure to see Mr. Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, perform twice in the same day.  The first event was a live collaboration with Dr. Strangeloop for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, scoring the 1962 avant garde animated film Heaven and Earth Magic as it played in the Michigan Theater.  Truly one of the strangest media experiences of my life, the film itself is an utter mind fuck – stark black and white 19th century cutout images swirling, grinding, and making Dali proud – while the accompanying score blew the doors off my perception of what Flying Lotus is capable of.  This material was a straight up experimental drone symphony and shared few commonalities with the ostensibly beat-centric music the man is known for.  Of course, I gave myself to it wholeheartedly and was spit out the other end with wild eyes and an expanded level of respect and admiration.  And some dizziness.

A still from Heaven and Earth Magic.

Then, we hit the Blind Pig and became truly and completely blown away.  We were the faithful masses and he was our prophet.  Everyone around me surrendered to the tunes; even the most reserved students were compelled to move at least a bit.  The live set eclipsed anything I came prepared for, and set the bar for live electronic acts at least a few notches higher than I’d perceived possible.  Here’s a glimpse of him weaving Idioteque, one of Radiohead‘s towering productions, into the maelstrom:

[enjoy, and remember that Cosmogramma is coming May 3 in UK and 4 in US! Preorder now!]

Disco Inferno – Starbound

I’m sharing with you today one of the best fan-made videos I’ve ever witnessed.  Enjoy.

This is, of course, Starbound: All Burnt Out and Nowhere To Go, perhaps my favorite track on Disco Inferno‘s landmark album D.I. Go Pop (album posted here, and their singles collection posted here).  It’s a tightly coiled bomb of liquid Durutti Column-esque guitar and off-kilter sampling antics, liberally seasoned with the knife-edge lyrical shards of singer Ian Crause.  Nothing more to say than:  enjoy the video, thank the fan on his youtube page, and if you’re not already an obsessive fan like myself, get right on my two prior Disco Inferno posts.

[and seriously, get the whole album. HERE. you'd be morally bankrupt not to!  just kidding.  sort of.]

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