CFCF – You Hear Colours [incredible video]

“This seems really poppy/upbeat for you. Of course I’m always imagining you listening to weird post breakbeat Croatian footwork jazz with Russian metal and Japanese house influences”

The above works were spoken to me by a friend as I shared this fantastic video for an old CFCF track.

While the artist has evolved into something for more weird, specific, and perfect for my tastes (see his last album and Night Bus mixes, which have obviously influenced my own mixtapes) but this is the song that started it all. I was hooked immediately and never looked back.

cfcf_artist

I don’t really have anything else to say; Ed said it all. Enjoy!

Kendrick Lamar – i [music video!!]

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.

[This post has been updated to include the striking music video for i]

The intro music is apparently a preview of some Flying Lotus beats on the upcoming album!

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 – Coronus, The Terminator

Just now, Flying Lotus dropped a second preview track for next month’s long anticipated album, You’re Dead! The song is titled Coronus, The Terminator, and you can listen right here:

After first single, Never Catch Me (featuring Kendrick Lamar) burst out of his studio, Flying Lotus’ longtime fans were both reassured of his musical wizardry and shaken by the first appearance of a full-on rap verse in his music. I’m smitten with the sound, a sort of hyperactive take on late 70’s psychedelic jazz marching to a stuttered hip-hop beat. Lamar’s vocals were suitably drenched in the alien atmosphere, the requisite Thundercat bass fireworks popped just right, and the ending shot off into that fuzzy space where Cosmogramma left off.

This time, a low slung beat eases us into a pool of languid falsetto funk vocals, splashing in phosphorescence. Thundercat’s presence is far more subtle here, dancing lightly around the wood-clap percussion. A traditionally “Flylo” shuffle beat materializes, driving an ascension toward the same astral plane he occupied on Mmhmm nearly 4 years ago. It’s a hermetic, relaxed little slice of space age spiritualism that works as a perfect foil to the frantic Never Catch Me.

Flying-Lotus-Coronus-The-Terminator

This preview pair might give us a nice hint toward the full breadth and scope of You’re Dead! but I’m prepared for bigger surprises, come October 7. Check out the Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! page at Warp.net and make sure to watch the dizzying video preview below, featuring visuals from one of my current favorite Japanese artists, Shintaro Kago. Warning: sorta NSFW. (Second warning: may induce seizures)

You watched it right? This is the beginning of an autumn full of brilliant 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.]

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble – Drips/Take Notice

I had nearly forgotten:  this is one of my favorite things ever.

Or at least the past year.

In late 2010 this clip from a July 23 concert in Los Angeles was posted and I realized how much of an incredible force of nature Miguel Atwood-Ferguson is.  Flying Lotus fans know him as the guy providing the string arrangements in the legendary album Cosmogramma, while those more familiar with J Dilla probably smile at the thought of his work as headliner of the Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes album, a sweeping orchestral take on the late James Yancey’s productions.  This 13 minute alchemic beast weaves a stargazing intro from the former into one of the sparkling highlights of the latter’s final statement, the Ruff Draft EP, into an uplifting, hard charging masterpiece.

Truly an all star production, this band includes none other than Flying Lotus himself, Thundercat (best known for 2011’s Golden Age of the Apocalypse and making Cosmogramma jump like frogs in a dynamite pond), Rebekah Raff (another Flylo alum, she of the Alice Coltrane-worthy harp ethereality) and a full set of accomplished musicians I’ll list below.

Flying Lotus (laptop)
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (violin)
Evan Francis (flute)
Dontae Winslow (trumpet)
Joey Dosik (alto sax)
Kamasi Washington (tenor sax)
Garrett Smith (trombone)
Rebekah Raff (harp)
Marcel Camargo (guitar)
Brandon Coleman (keys)
Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner (bass)
Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave (drums)
Nikki Campbell (percussion)

I’m just hoping this hints, if not at Flying Lotus‘ next album (which will be announced at Coachella) perhaps a collaborative effort or even a full length release from this Ensemble itself.

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

In this first post of 2012 I proudly present my unabashedly belated yet wholeheartedly enthusiastic response to a slice of sound that has not only dominated my listening time for months but brightened my outlook for an important piece of the future of music.

Black Up is one of the best hiphop albums I’ve heard all year (the year being 2011 but it doesn’t matter), possibly longer.  I slept on this at first, honestly, because the name just seemed too hipster, too pitchfork, too much.  I pictured a thousand chillwave and witch house bands lined up behind triangles and crosses, a sea of stoned faces, limpid whitewashed guitar and anonymous lazy beats.  I pictured nothing interesting or worthy of my time, much less my money.  I did not picture something this fucking good.

When most people think of a hiphop artist the vocals come first: style, cadence, and timbre to subject matter and storytelling.  The sheer blunt force of the words themselves, inseparable from voice, embodies a delivery system of surface and substance.  Crushing the underground binary of either transcending or subverting this natural order, Shabazz Palaces blow hair back with pointillistic dexterity and canny substance while folding the vocals into the dreamlike puzzle box instrumentation itself.  Beatific slides like “It’s a feeling, it’s a feeling!” and “Clear some space out, so we can space out” are amplified by the very way they emerge through cloudbusting moments of clarity in the mix.  The production is the most intricate and interesting I’ve heard in an impossible stretch of time.  Huge and futuristic and swarming like Cannibal Ox (one of my all time favorites) but delicate and minimal in places, sometimes in the same song.  Relentlessly kaleidoscopic on a track-to-track basis like Madvillain and equally playful.  Taking each second as an opportunity for left turns, trap doors, and extraterrestrial launches like the best Flying Lotus material.  I’m uncomfortable reducing this experience to references but they help paint a picture.  Thrilling, gorgeous, head nodding and hypnotizing, worthy on its own as pure sound yet never subsuming the oft-poignant vocals, the meaning of Black Up is delivered fresh and phonetic, kinetic, poetic.  I sink deeper, hearing more each time.  Romantic, political, angry, meditative, militant, optimistic, futuristic, this blurs free-association and laser focus in the same moment, words and sounds in the same experience.

The duo of Ishmael Butler, of classic conscious/jazz-hop group Digable Planets (listen if you possess even a passing interest in A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, or Del La Soul; they’re probably better) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire (of whom I’ll be honest: I have no idea where he came from), is an alchemy I’ll forever thank Sub Pop (of all labels) for bringing to my ears.

My first favorite track.

Possibly the most direct distillation of the group’s ethos, with an outright nod to the original Digable Planets album in its ascendant coda.

The full album streaming free with visuals on youtube.  Nice.

I should be so bold as to say that this is the equivalent of Disco Inferno (a longtime favorite of Optimistic Underground) for the hiphop galaxy.  I don’t state this lightly.  I also do not often insist so fully on a vinyl purchase but in this case I must spread the word on its inner beauty: the package does not resemble the semi-anonymous visual you’ve seen floating around the internet and the top of this post.

[pick this up via Sub Pop or Amazon or Insound or Undergrounghiphop and thank me later for helping you find one of the least recognized masterpieces of the past year or so]