Dam-Funk’s Triumphant Return

Dam-Funk has finally returned, and he’s taken funk right out of the atmosphere and into the deep reaches of space.

I can’t handle how consistently great the new triple-LP, 90 minute album is. Invite The Light is already one of my favorite pieces of music in years. I just keep repeating it, trying to grasp how it’s possible that one artist combined so many things I love about music into a singular sound. It’s overwhelming in the best way possible.

I want to write more about this once the album arrives next week, but I just had to shout my excitement right now, and hopefully tip some people off to the full album stream going on at NPR right now.

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Stereolab’s Epic Kraut Jam, Jenny Ondioline

I’ve been really feeling Stereolab lately. Their incredibly unique mixture of old fashioned jazzy pop, electronics, and the motorik pulse of krautrock was the reason they were one of the first bands to ever be called post-rock.

If you’ve never heard them, you’re in for a real treat. This is the 18 minute epic centerpiece of their second album, 1993’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements.

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Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous

It pays to heed recommendations. Today I clicked on an artist that my last.fm decided I should hear. Afrikan Sciences turned out to be a grand adventure, filling my Saturday afternoon with some kind of space-age techno funk. I fell in love.

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I’ll get this out of the way: I love this album, Circuitous, already. It combines so many favorite elements in a fresh way: weird jazz, alien techno, Afrofuturism, synthesizers, sci-fi atmospherics, and a radical approach to percussion and rhythm. Most of all, I’m reminded of a purely instrumental cousin of visionary hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, one of my favorite projects on earth – and creators of the best album of 2014.

The titular single is easily one of the most approachable tracks on the lengthy album, but perfectly showcases the quicksand-shifting drum sampling and humming analog synthesizer patches. It’s only a hint of how far deep the material goes. Try for yourself; click play below:

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Oneohtrix Point Never will release his Magnetic Rose score on Record Store Day

So, this is more of a news item than music that I’m sharing, but I’m too excited to keep it to myself.

Last October, Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) recorded a brand new score for the astonishing 1995 anime film Magnetic Rose, premiering it live along with the film itself at a live event in the UK. I obviously and regrettably did not attend. However, good news is afoot!

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Today Lopatin announced that he will be releasing a follow-up to last year’s Commissions I 12″ on Record Store Day, surprisingly titled Commissions II. The new release features selections of his suite inspired by the video game scores of Manabu Namiki, Bullet Hell Abstraction, on side one. The bigger news for this fan, however, is that side two includes music from his re-imagined soundtrack to Koji Morimoto’s aforementioned anime short, which was originally part of the Memories trilogy.

You might recognize Magnetic Rose as the film gracing this very blog’s headliner – that decaying future piano resides at the heart of the mind-bending film. I consider it a sort of psychedelic cousin to the original Alien.

The release is over 30 minutes long and boasts more minimalist cover art from Robert Beatty. Hopefully that blue X is another die-cut detail like part one had!

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So, fellow Lopatin fans, keep an eye out on Record Store Day 2015, which hits Saturday, April 18.

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 far more weirdly specific and perfect for my tastes (see his last album and Night Bus mixes, which have obviously influenced my own mixtapes), this is the song that started it all. I was immediately hooked and never looked back.

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

Rest In Peace, Tangerine Dream founder Edgar Froese

My morning news just brought word that Edgar Froese, founder of one of my favorite bands of all time, Tangerine Dream, has died at age 70. The cause of death was pulmonary embolism.

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Tangerine Dream, for those only familiar with the name via a smattering of mostly-great 1980s film soundtracks, were one of the most innovative and popular bands to emerge from the 70s German krautrock / kosmiche scene. Constantly evolving, they helped birth the modern ambient sound and informed generations of electronic music in every form. Froese was the only consistent member through dozens of lineup changes that included the luminous contributions of Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler.

Moving from spooky moonscape-scouring meditations through epic space rock and pulsing dance music, Froese never let the band stay perched on one sound for long. With over 40 years worth of music to choose from, fans of the band can never reach consensus on what is the best. Personally, my heart will always return to Rubycon. The eerie psychedelia on these two tracks laid the blueprint for ambient rock, but was so much more than a chill-out session. Analog synth arpeggios lay a spaced out bed for for a quietly propulsive rhythm. With a wash of disembodied choral voices influenced by György Ligeti, plus tactile sounds from gongs, strings, and woodwinds, the eponymous pieces build tension and ease it away like a tidal wave in slow motion.

I hope you enjoy this full album stream and, if you’re not already familiar with the band, dig in to the body of music Edgar Froese and company have left behind. I’ve collected below a selection of the most important Tangerine Dream albums. These form a distinct arc from the sparkling cosmic tones of Phaedra, when the band emerged from purely drone-based sounds into more structured orchestration, to the distinctly 80s dystopian futurism of Exit.

This music has inspired an entire wave of modern artists, including Yellow Swans, Emeralds, Bee Mask, and my favorite currently working musician, Oneohtrix Point Never. (Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Jones!) Special mention must be made of the most obvious nod toward classic Tangerine Dream I’ve featured on this site: Skyramps. The one-off collaboration between Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix) and Emeralds’ Mark McGuire soars between the ambient guitar and pulsing synth ends of the sound that Froese and company conjured at their peak. There’s no more fitting a love letter to this man’s work than listening to the albums themselves.

Here are those full length albums:

Phaedra, 1974

Ricochet, 1975

Stratosfear, 1976

Music from the Motion Picture, Sorcerer, 1977

Exit, 1981

If you’re interested in purchasing any of this legendary music, check out the band’s Discogs page for used vinyl and CDs. However, since I know barely anyone purchases music anymore, I’m happy to let you know that the vast majority of the Tangerine Dream catalog is available on Spotify. Enjoy any way you prefer!

PS: If anyone has any thoughts or recommendations to add, please leave a comment. I will be editing and amending the post with any thoughtful words my fellow fans leave here.

Edit 1:  I forgot to mention that Froese worked extensively on the music of Grand Theft Auto V, being the central mind behind that morphing, interlocking, dynamic score that elevates the game in a way over all of its predecessors. Whether the pulse pounding moodiness of a night flight in a helicopter, or the ballistic brass shards erupting during a police chase, Edward Froese gave the game a distinctive atmosphere that harkened back to Tangerine Dream’s scores for Thief (Michael Mann) and Legend (Ridley Scott) and their own mid-70s runs of lush space rock.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas On Acid”

So, in 2007 The Flaming Lips released this “secret” Christmas album under the pseudonym Imagene Peise, a play on John Lennon’s famous adage about peace. It’s called Atlas Eets Christmas. At Last It’s Christmas, get it? All punny thoughts aside, this is a delicate, hazy, gorgeous amalgamation of several classic holiday tunes that even your mom will enjoy.

Oh, and it’s been described as, “A Charlie Brown Christmas on acid,” so there’s that. I think this is more fitting than not. Imagine a handful of old holiday Chestnuts on melted 78’s beamed aboard a passing UFO and you’ll get the idea. Or just fire this up and enjoy. Fire one up and enjoy?

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Here’s a formal track listing. Keep in mind that this is a warped mixture of tunes, not a traditional rendition.

1. Winter Wonderland
2. Silver Bells
3. Christmas Laughing Waltz (Jingle Bells)
4. Silent Night
5. Do You Hear What I Hear?
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
7. White Christmas (Binson Echorec Sleigh Ride)
8. Altas Eets Christmas