It will be Christmas in a few hours. More importantly, it will be my first day off in over a month and I’m getting a head start on savoring the opportunity for a long stretch of music enhanced repose. I realize many of you will not be reading blogs or spending time online – some of you must have families – but I feel that it’s as good a time as any in the year to express thanks and revel in the great works of sound art that enhance our lives. Also I’d like to know what you’re spending your equivalent holiday vacation listening to, so reply if you’re interested.
What I’m into this weekend:
1. Rangers – Pan Am Stories
This one is pure six string love, through and through. The atmosphere is warped tape and spacey reverb and psychedelic compression but the playing is hypnotic Durutti Column inspired tapestries of melodic progression. Swinging, flowing, building and cresting and never stopping; this feels like tuning in mid-stream to some frequency of guitarist Joe Knight’s brain, no beginning or end. It sparkles without ever feeling consciously virtuoso, yet remaining far too impolite for wallpaper listening. Try out mid-album stunner Jane’s Well below.
2. Sepalcure – Sepalcure
The tangentially-dubstep-related duo containing Machinedrum‘s Travis Stewart and
some other guy Praveen Sharma burst out of nowhere last year with a couple EPs that balanced any lack of holy shit! novelty with a more than generous dose of holy shit! punch, dynamics, and elastic rhythm and songwriting that made them instant standouts in an exponentially flattening market. The fact that their debut LP is a blistering collection of tuneful cutting edge productions is as unsurprising as a sunrise but equally satisfying and essential. Constant streams of ‘aha!’ sampling and percussion flourishes along with skyward bound synth pads and neck-tingling effects keep momentum with the insistent throb of bass that’s always one step ahead of tame; it’s the kind of sound that I can easily become addicted to, listening on every commute for a week. The fact that it’s nonthreatening is only a detriment to its chances of appearing on Best of 2011 lists (I am working on one, coincidentally) because this is one of the most solid quasi-danceable electronic releases in a long while.
3. Teebs – Collections 01
My love for Teebs is a known quantity. While his sound is an entire utopian environment unto itself, there is always room for growth and change, even for someone preternaturally adept at crafting beat-bliss pocket symphonies. Enter his new ‘Collections’ series. Presented as an odds and ends gathering of sorts, only hinting that it’s less of a mission statement than the debut LP in that the tracks lack consistent segues. This half hour is more assured and ballsy than anything he’s dropped, loaded with muscular bass and distinct structures. There’s a tangibility and sense of confidence here which the drifting vistas of Ardour couldn’t sustain over its length, and a wider palette at work. Collaboration provides a couple standout moments: Rebekah Raff’s sensual harp showers Verbena Tea with a transcendent light reminiscent of Alice Coltrane, while Brainfeeder newcomer Austin Peralta anchors the sub-bass throb of LSP with twinkling piano loops. I can listen to this while cooking, cleaning, or paying the rent. I can enjoy it day and night and often do. I can share it with everyone with a working set of ears.
4. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
So I’m still really into this. Pornographic flights of radiance, as I said. Something new each time I listen. In the car, in my kitchen, in my headphones mostly. How lucky to hear something so new and so addictive and so profoundly, unpredictably gorgeous. Expect to hear more about this, from myself and everyone else who values adventurous leaps into the unmapped terrain of where our minds and machines can go when pushed beyond what’s known.
Listen to the whole damn album below if you haven’t, already.
I’m badly in need of rest so this post stops here. I hope to find time tomorrow for more since this is hardly all I’ve been obsessive about. Remember, I’d love to hear what you are into this weekend and beyond!
Singing Statues hit me out of nowhere. Sort of. Truth be told I looked this up out of curiousity while absentmindedly browsing Teebs‘ profile and listening (again) to Ardour. After an afternoon bicycle ride with this brief EP providing the soundtrack, I’m completely sold.
Imagine The Durutti Column (my favorite guitarist, Vini Reilly) hooking up with Flying Lotus, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, or even Bibio or Joy Orbison, and working that liquid guitar magic into some organically throbbing, techno-skirting production and forming something more akin to ‘songs’ than the beat genre usually cooks up. Then realize that this is all done by the man formerly known as Jackhigh: London based Ben Thomas, who with Teebs himself created the exquisite Tropics EP earlier this year. Twisting crushing motorik beats with the tidal dynamic of emotional song structure, each track seems to toy with its own headspace, providing a high definition playground for the listener with discerning headphones turned loud. Opening modestly abstract with a tangible guitar melody, every minute forward turns the energy up a notch and bleeds directly into another style. Each track feels like a natural progression and evolution from the track before; despite being called Outtakes, this 18 minute set has an album’s worth of gravity and vision. Fourth track All At Sea may just be a highlight with its shamanistic tribal/missle percussion section and ear-scraping synth line, but the EP is best heard as a whole. And it leaves me excited for more.
Teebs is about to release the album of our sweetest dreams, and I mean that in the most literal sense. The also-visual-artist and freshest face in Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder collective has finally created a full length release, finally exceeding even his most beatific psychedelic paintings in service of rendering his uniquely utopian vision.
Yes, utopia. This is exactly what Teebs conjures on record; one listen leaves no doubt as to the veracity of a claim by Flying Lotus himself that this album sounds “the way Avatar looks.” I’d be hard pressed to utter a more succinct bon mot. This music reminds me of imaginary imagery more than any specific prior music; tropical visions of the future as seen in 60’s cinema, a psychedelic James Bond-ian secret island accessible only by submarine. Or space ship. The colors and tones may have forebears in John Barry and Martin Denny – and the optimistic sheen the future once sported – but the construction and the visionary feel is all his own.
I absolutely, unabashedly love this song, Electric Avenue.
Eddy Grant may have been a one hit wonder in the US with this infectious track, but he’s got a large discography full of fist-pumping anthemic jams, 12″ long-form afropop club bangers, and socially-conscious rave ups – an oeuvre highly worthy of close inspection.
[check out his Hit Collection at amazon, a 2CD set comprising both a standard greatest hits disc and a collection of all the extended 12" singles]
JJ have dropped the newest dose of ecstatic balearic pop bliss from Sweden’s very own Sincerely Yours. This one’s a keeper, and the perfect balm to tide over fans of On Trade Winds and No Way Down until the next seismic event from that beguiling corner of the world.
Fans of Air France, Studio, and (to an extent) The Tough Alliance are well-prepared for this gorgeous dream experience. Everyone else: look at that cover, realize it’s not a hiphop album, and jump right in. Equatorial synth tones, reverbed percussion, hushed acoustics, tropicalia vibes, gently pulsing dub bass, and narcotic siren’s-call vocals all conspire in tugging unresisting listeners into a sweet dream of intimacy and comfort, warmth on the beach with a new lover. This is insanely easy to fall for.
Jackson Conti is an exotically beautiful collaboration between producer extraordinaire Otis Jackson Jr. (aka Madlib) and Azymuth drummer Ivan ‘Mamão’ Conti which began when Jackson took a trip to Brazil and fell in love with the sounds of the country’s funky jazz and bossa nova, with a particular interest in Mamão’s band.
Unapologetically deep into it’s alluringly exotic sound, both artists dive into the project with abandon, creating an environment marginally detached from anything Madlib‘s been involved with yet, including most of his jazz-centric Yesterday’s New Quintet material (excepting, of course, the few Jackson Conti-titled tracks on the YNQ compilation album Yesterday’s Universe). It’s straight up pure old school Brazilian jazz, with the same feel that Conti’s been pounding out for over 30 years – with enough intricate production flourishes and head-nodding polyrhythmic tones that let us in on the fact that it’s, in fact, a very modern record. It’s truly impossible to describe exactly what this feels like if you’re not familiar with the sounds, so I’ll leave it at this: if you want a relaxed but intense jazzy tropical vibe to get lost in for days, give this a try. It’s habit forming in the best way. As a huge Madlib fan, I must admit that despite it’s esoteric nature and loose connection to any of his other work, Sujinho is near the top of my favorite records by the prolific artist.
Desire Lines manages to swallow up everything but the kitchen sink, every touchstone of the artists’ collective sound base, while retaining a densely unified sound and singular feel throughout. The entire trip is anchored by a heavy dub foundation and shrouded in a balaeric beach party ensemble, shot through with airy acoustic and scruffy funk electric guitar. Darkly futuristic keyboard lines weave into and around breathless moments of sunny ecstasy that lift the eargasm potential far above mere dance floor slow burns. Every moment is blessed with a loose, jazzy attitude which belies the group’s disconnection from the club and the more introspective nature of this heady excursion. All of these statements are true, yet merely dance around the compulsively head-nodding appeal of Desire Lines. This is an album to unwind to, whether out on the town or back at home. It’s something you’ll end up listening to alone most often, despite the instantly gratifying beats and approachable nature – any friend with a working set of ears would be thankful for an introduction – it’s just too engrossing a listen when surrendering full attention. One look at the cover art probably gave more of an impression than any of this paragraph, but if you have read this far, take my word that the visuals are certainly representative of the majestically dreamlike beauty captured by this album.
With only a handful of released tracks totalling over 30 minutes, Air France have become the favorite new artist many forward-thinking and fun loving music fans. Swathed in sun drenched woozy atmospheres and grounded with a fundamental understanding of beat centered propulsion, this enigmatic duo has managed to become both the hottest ticket from Gothenburg and the leading light in a balearic trance pop revival stretching around the globe. This is the pair of unfathomably striking EPs with which the group has garnered so much attention.
First we have No Way Down. Released in the summer of 2008 with little fanfare, it was luckily picked up on pitchfork‘s radar and received a glowing review, now echoed in hundreds of like minded gushing writeups. This is dangeously addictive electronic love-sound nirvana. Cutting through multilayered samples with the ease of Avalanches, they’ve also got an ear for pop hooks that would make other recent (and excellent) Swedish exports blush. There’s not a second wasted among the six equally brilliant tracks. Forced to pick a standout, Collapsing At Your Doorstep would fit the bill for it’s dreamlike sampled refrain, “sort of like a dream. no – better” flitting over weeping romantic strings and a beach party conga line of percussion. Truthfully, the entire record is required listening.
Speaking of beach parties, here is the first release, On Trade Winds, dropped in 2007. Beach Party is practically the group’s manifesto, the snowball which has since grown into an avalanche of attention. Too many people have listened to and loved the new EP yet remain ignorant of the burgeoning genius on display with these four tracks. Honestly, it should have gone first but recognition beats propriety. Flip these tunes on, line up the second record, and take the whole 36 minutes and 7 seconds in one hit. It’s as simple as that. Words, however eloquent, aren’t equipped to convey the blast of fresh air and heartpounding excitement this music evokes. Once it’s over you’re nearly guaranteed a repeat play. The only problem arises when the craving for more sets in. Hopefully Air France can keep the momentum and swing for the fences again with a new release in the near future. Is a full LP too much to ask?
[available separately as Swedish imports, and download-only from various outlets including klicktrack. Best option is the UK edition at Amazon which contains both EPs for the relatively low price of $17.49 us - an option I wish were available when I discovered them]
I haven’t felt this floored by such a new artist in… ever. With the small amount of recorded output as evidence, I have no doubt ending in ing will get the attention he deserves.
The simplest and most direct thing I could say about this music is that it’s a perfect amalgam of several exhilarating, timelessly enjoyable elements. Inducing a euphoric, wide-eyed, windblown hair on a sunny day feeling, this is classically perfect pop construction for the laptop generation. The only comparison I could personally offer would be to the Avalanches – high praise indeed, but at the expense of the personal nature on display here. This man crafts songs – coherent, concise songs, without so much as a whiff of collage-style construction. And these songs are made to get lost in.
I’m not going to describe the sounds themselves – it’s your job to find out. PLEASE check out ending in ing’s myspace, as there are several other tracks available for streaming. The tracks I’ve shared are all free, so be sure to THANK the artist personally, and encourage him to keep producing magic like this.