Dam-Funk – Mirrors

Dam-Funk, as readers well know, dropped one of the absolute hottest albums this year with the massive Toeachizown.  He’s already my personal choice for biggest surprise of 2009, and his debut is looking at best of the year status.  Here’s the inspiringly trippy video for infectious first single, Mirrors.

Lynch-esque employment of light and shadow!  Dreamy visuals!  Laser glowing keytar action!  Yes!

[album is on sale at stones throw in either 2CD or 5LP format – peep the gorgeous artwork]

ROVO – Nuou

ROVO lay down incremental evolutions on the same sound, album after album, consistently for over a decade now.  With most bands, this would be a bad thing.  Fortunately, this particular sound is a jaw dropping transcendent bliss hurricane, perpetually bestowing its myriad gifts upon the listener, play after play.  Their latest full length proves the rule again.

Basically, take the spaced out sun worshipping tribal krautrock jams of latter day Boredoms, divide it by Miles Davis‘ brilliant, hard rocking Pangaea-era band, multiply the result with judicious electronic manipulation and add exquisite electric violin fireworks.  Now you’ve got a tiny kernel of an idea about how this sounds.

Already a favorite here at Optimistic Underground (see Pyramid and Mon posts), I won’t mince words reiterating how I feel about the band itself.  Instead, I’ll break down what makes this album particularly eargasmic.  For starters, the band seems to have discovered a more laconic sense of beauty and space; these five tracks radiate a confident, nearly relaxed sense of purpose and design.  No longer boiling directly into frenzied storms to get the point across, they craft this piece with a jeweler’s touch using gentler elements like hushed marimbas in album centerpiece Melodia, allowing the dueling percussionists to convey a soft-spoken interplay in leiu of the usual kung fu assault.  Of course, this wouldn’t be ROVO without those warp-speed eruptions, the moments when everything locks into place, time and space folding into some utopian extradimensional conveyance – these are simply delivered with a measure of of grace and patience befitting an outfit knocking out their eight consecutive masterpiece.

The thing with this music is, you simply have to hear it to believe it, much less know exactly what it’s like.  No amount of superlative descriptors in the world can prepare you for the absolutely addictive nature contained within.  Nothing can truly describe the hypnotic fever-dream euphoria.  Just listen, and get familiar.  You can thank me later.

And seriously, watch this psychedelic preview / live footage hybrid.

[get your hands on this god-level magnificence at hmv japan or yesasia.com]

Jay Electronica’s Eternal Sunshine

I took Eternal Sunshine and I looped it.
No drums no hook just new shit.

Jay Electronica is, in my humble view, the most promising MC out there today. Although having no official albums under his belt, the bootleg collection What the Fuck is a Jay Electronica?! has been making the rounds for a year now and waking heads up across the land. Today I realized that I’d been keeping this hot treasure to myself and needed to share the love.

This song is what grabbed my attention first, being a fan of the titular film (and its dreamlike score, courtesy of Jon Brion) and always keeping my ears open for exciting new talent; suffice to say I was hooked. There’s nothing I can say that would persuade a listener more than the music itself, so have a listen.

With beats driven by the likes of Madlib and J Dilla, the songs released so far are not only deeply satisfying rhyme and rhythm excursions, but point the way to an incredibly successful career. I can’t wait for the day this man is known more for his incisive talent than simply as the husband of Erykah Badu – and that spot on the calendar is quickly approaching.

Give his What the Fuck collection a try.

[and keep your eyes and ears out for anything this guy drops, official or not. check his twitter for info.]

Dr. Strangeloop

Are We Lost Mammals of an Approaching Transcendental Epoch?

I think so.

Evidence:  A single 18 minute post-rock-esque collage of beats, spacey atmospherics, feedback skronk, beat loops, synth swells, and percussion galore; this piece has the arc of a massive Artistic Statement album, played in double time with enough dips, curveballs, and trap doors to lock interest in a firm grasp and obliterate all sense of time passing.

Primarily a visual artist, Dr. Strangeloop (seriously, check his vimeo page now) met Brainfeeder head honcho Flying Lotus in art school, where the two became fast friends, smoking and playing atari while working on film and music.  Currently VJ-ing Brainfeeder events and working on new music, this is his first release, created about a year ago.  He has this to say about the track:

I made it about a year ago, and it is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever shepherded into this world. It is one track, 18 minutes long, very lo-fi, and I picture it as some sort of narrative about the Singularity, mystical states, and the evolution of man. It is more post-rock influenced than the stuff I’m working on now, and is divided into three idiosyncratic movements.

So that pretty much sums it up.  This video gives a good taste.

[pick this dream shard up at boomkat or through brainfeeder itself]

Baby Elephant – Turn My Teeth Up!

Baby Elephant is the brainchild of master producer Prince Paul – most famous for his paradigm-shifting work on De La Soul‘s iconic 3 Feet High and Rising – who recruited regular collaborator Don Newkirk and legendary Parliament (and Talking Heads) keyboardist Bernie Worrell to conjure this endearing, strange funk blast in 2007.

Turn My Teeth Up! echoes the twisty deep tunes George Clinton set in stone several decades ago while employing every modern studio tool Paul had been using in recent solo projects and his Handsome Boy Modeling School duo with Dan the Automator, simultaneously evoking both a salacious and humorous atmosphere; it’s the definition of a playful, unassuming masterpiece.  Riding high on languid synth lines and old school breakbeats, incisively split samples of everything from school children to video games, and every manner of futuristic funk conveyance, the trio judiciously drop surprisingly entertaining comedy skits throughout the album – a Paul innovation if there ever was one.  Attempting no more coherence than a party jam vibe spread by men with Funkadelic in their veins, these 45 minutes never fall short of the modest goal of entertaining those down for a good time and addictive beats.

Featuring appearances by Nona Hendryx, Yellowman, and both Clinton and David Byrne themselves, it has the whiff of a minor-key supergroup release without any of the expected pretense.  This is simply a thrilling fun set of tunes aiming to make listeners shake – and laugh – their asses off.  Turn this up and let it brighten your mood and, just maybe, make your day.

[grab this little known release at cd universe or amazon]

Guilty Not Guilty 4

Bobby Vinton had a string of hits in the mid 20th century, most famous of all being Blue Velvet, of course – known to my generation as the centerpiece of David Lynch‘s classic film of the same name.  But it’s this liquid pop diamond that eternally commands my rapt attention without fail.

Those listening right now may find a mysterious familiarity – a feeling of deja vu, despite never listening to Mr. Vinton previously.  That’s because Röyksopp submerged a sample of this tune in So Easy, creating the melodic backbone for the opening track on their acclaimed 2001 LP, Melody A.M. So give them both a listen, and appreciate the Norwegian duo’s classic pop acuity.

Boris – Heavy Rocks

In 2002 Boris performed their most significant transformation to date by dropping this two ton boulder of punk / stoner metal hybrid.

Following their genre defining run of drone monoliths Absolutego, Amplifier Worship, and the transcendent Flood (an Optimistic Underground favorite, posted earlier this year), this was a strange tonic, an abrasive breath of fresh air shaking up everything known about the band at the time.  And as with nearly all new Boris endeavors, fans gladly drank it up and held on for the wild ride.

Launching hard and fast with the balls-out (and self-explanitory) Heavy Friends, the band takes no time in setting the stage for the crushingly immense rock histrionics spread over these 47 distortion-blasted minutes.  Featuring subtle guest appearances by Masonna and Merzbow, among others, each track takes a kernel of delicious gravitational beauty and detonates it, scorching the landscape in stomping kinetic fashion.

Being the first non-drone album in the band’s catalogue, it’s unsurprising this album featured their widest breadth of material on a single platter yet; somehow though, everything is colored in the same cohesive manner as the album art itself.  Riff-laden punk slab Rattlesnake rests comfortably alongside glitch-sprinkled groove behemoth Death Valley, while psychedelic nugget Soft Edge splits the album down the middle (and presages the majestic Rainbow, also posted here on OU).  Ending with the utterly classic single 1970, Boris go out with a bass thumping bang and seal the deal on the album which has since become the blueprint for their massive output to this date.

[being out of print for a long time, the album is now back in stock at inoxia record shop, so grab it while you still can.  prices are sky high on ebay most of the time!]