Drexciya is an enigma of an act that left behind some of the greatest and strangest techno and electro music ever recorded. From the debut album Neptune’s Lair, here’s the first song I heard, the tune that hooked me and opened up an entire new world of sound.
I’d never known the outer reaches of techno until I listened to Andraean Sand Dunes.
It’s a pure exploration of genre constructs littering the ocean floor, an aquatic adventure full of energetic machine-funk pulses and glistening columns of light reaching down from the surface. This is techno for adventuring, the kind of track that makes me want to kick open my front door and run through the night, rather than dance at all. In other words, it’s more My Kind Of Thing.
While the production itself springs from the sounds and structures of classic electro, the music leans hard into futuristic Detroit techno, with a cascading synth repetition begging hypnosis rather than hip shaking. The bass line is as funky as this kind of music gets, but it’s sunk into an atmospheric wash of melody, dropping out for moments of pure untethered synthesizer flight. Head nodding never felt so aerodynamic.
Despite my years-long love of Drexicya, I have never previously written about them on this blog. The mysterious duo of James Stinson and Gerald Donald may have dissolved after Stinson’s untimely death in 2002, but their legacy has only grown over the years. After a host of single and b-side collections were issued, their original album label Tresor began repressing the classic trio of full-lengths on vinyl. This is important, because it means that I was finally able to pick up a copy of Neptune’s Lair and own a piece of techno’s weirdest mythology. It’s not just an important and brilliant album; it’s incredibly easy to get into and enjoy. You can find a copy via Discogs or even on Amazon, though the latter’s price is outrageous.
Sometimes there’s no better way to discover music than aimlessly sliding through the dark dream of the internet.
One day at the office I was looking for something that I could drift to. I wanted a sound that stretched like taffy until it reached the horizon. I needed my surroundings blurred beyond recognition, smeared into the very fabric of reality. With 新しい日の誕生 by 2814, I found exactly what I was looking for.
As a writer, I rarely listen to vocal music while doing my job. The lyrics work their way into my hands, spilling into whatever piece I’m trying to finish. It’s too much of a distraction; I lose all focus. Some people do fine with hip-hop or pop music blasting while they write, and I almost envy them. Instead, I’ve settled into a groove with certain genres that help me stay on task, creating an aural environment to work in. This means that I end up playing a whole lot of jazz, techno, and ambient music for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It also means that I’m forever seeking new music with a similar hypnotic effect.
DJ Spider’s new album is a hot revelation, a refractory slab of noisy techno and deep house. Upon The Gates Of The Great Depth grabbed my attention out of nowhere this morning, leaping from a list of new releases with a sense of inevitability: “I’m going to be really into this,” I thought, seeing nothing more than the abstract cover art. As it wormed its way into my skull, lifting my cheeks in a smile, I realized that I was right.
The album opens throbbing with the sub-aquatic pulse of Drexciya, but quickly enters some outer space turmoil. This is compulsive, looping techno erupting into storms of noise and distortion, running light speed through an asteroid belt. It’ll give whiplash to anyone expecting a more traditional dance experience. All is not harsh, however: there’s a pervasive but slippery heart of deep house in DJ Spider’s work, a sense of belonging and warmth that says you belong nowhere more than here. It reminds me of spiritual embrace of my favorite DJ Sprinkles tracks.
There are moments where the addictive rhythms give way to peals of abrasive noise, like wind whipping over pixelized rocks on a blasted out digital tundra. The effect is more a gripping story than a collection of individual songs, replete with harder moments that give weight to the soaring peaks. The central dynamic pivots between an industrial as it completes a mostly unspoken arc, rising and falling and exploding into new forms over its running time.
Oneohtrix Point Never has returned with a massive new album you can call G.O.D. It peels up the corner tiles of a thousand realities over 45 minutes, blooming micro-worlds of sound and immediately dissolving in head-on collisions.
For the first time in years, OPN – real name Daniel Lopatin – hasn’t completely restructured his sound, yet I’m feeling the same sense of dizzying vertigo that he’s made a career out of conjuring. In a real sense, the strongest component of his appeal has always been that daring sense of surprise, the act of an artist venturing over the edge of the known music world and bringing back sounds that I’ve never even anticipated, much less heard. More than a style, it’s an idea, a philosophy. In the wrong hands, it can become a cheap trick. This is something far more substantial.
While writing about the incredible new Beach House album, Depression Cherry, I promised to share my favorite track. Now that the album is out, it’s right here streaming for your pleasure.
Space Song is the moment when the band cements its own sound, defining the new album and taking their art to a new level. If the first track kicks off like Cocteau Twins and the second drifts with My Bloody Valentine, this is where they come fully into their own sound world.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the song is without dramatic influences. This is the point that Depression Cherry starts showing its swooning, eerily classical side. This is what deeply reminds me of the music in David Lynch films, with singer Victoria Legrand’s voice rising to a new level of weightlessness that conjures the ethereal likes of Julee Cruise and Dead Can Dance. The galloping rhythm harkens back to much earlier pop, in a way that the best Spiritualized songs recombine the same five or six Elvis-era melodies in giddily unexpected ways. The best part is that Beach House have managed to pack this inspiration into a puzzle that’s unmistakably their own.
I wish that I could take a close enough picture to convey just how fuzzy and awesome the Depression Cherry vinyl sleeve is. The pictures online look like a flat, boring album cover, but holding it in my hands is a revelation. I have other albums with strange packaging, including hairy CDs from both Black Moth Super Rainbow and The Flaming Lips, but have never owned a vinyl in such a sleeve. I just had to share that because if you can, you should buy it. You’ll want to rub your face on it.
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.
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.