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.
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.
This is a glowing gem known only to those who have burrowed deep enough into the inimitable catalog of jazz legend Alice Coltrane.
“Divine music is the sound of true life, wisdom, and bliss. This music transcends geographical boundaries, language barriers, age factors; and whether educated or uneducated, it reaches deep into the heart and soul, sacred and holy…” – Alice Coltrane
Released in 1987 on cassette only, Divine Songs is the purest expression of the spiritual drone jazz sound that Alice had been perfecting ever since establishing the Shanti Anantam Ashram in the decade prior.
Soaring into ethereal space, leaving only the faintest jazz roots visible, the sound here is birthed in minimalist Indian organ modes. The atmosphere cracks open with harp and strings, shining brightly around her transcendent voice. It might not be for the casual fan, but if you’re tuned in to the celestial vibe Alice developed in the years after her husband, John Coltrane, died, you’ll settle in perfectly here.
A bonus for fans of Flying Lotus, and his album Cosmogramma in particular: keep your ears open for fleeting moments where he sampled his great aunt directly. With such a heavy influence she’s had on his music, the cameos feel especially poignant.
When I purchased the 2lp edition of Destroyer‘s 2011 pop masterpiece Kaputt, I had no idea that the bonus track promised on side C would slowly become the languid circulatory system of the entire album. It swims in an embryonic well from which the other tracks drink, all held breath and deep plunge. It’s patient and fragile, and just may comprise twenty of my favorite minutes.
If you have only heard the standard tracklisting, press play now. It’s rare when something labelled “bonus” actually elevates the experience of listening to a great album. The Laziest River feels absolutely essential at this point, and while I sympathize with the probable intention of encouraging vinyl purchases, it seems unfair to leave everyone else with an unfinished story. So buy it if you can, but this song can be downloaded and amended to your playlist for a quick fix.
This will loop indefinitely over the Elysian fields of an afterlife of my design.
Actress (aka Darren Cunningham) redefined ambient beauty with this piece, lighting the spiritual wires from the organ works of Camille Saint-Saëns through Brian Eno’s Discreet Music while sparking fresh air to flame. Blooming the color of Arvo Pärt’s devotional tilt in an exploratory space odyssey from the dreams of Oneohtrix Point Never or Stanley Kubrick, N.E.W. is uplifting and warm, alien and awestruck. We’re inside a nebulous pipe organ riding the cusp of a singularity, dancing on the membrane between ascension and obliteration. Let it repeat.
I should mention the video: I have no clue where the footage is from, but it strangely works. This copy was chosen mainly, however, because it can be set to 720p, so the sound quality is superb.
I can’t stop this ringing in my head.
With new album Luxury Problems, Andy Stott effectively rendered his previous pair of groundbreaking dark techno EPs irrelevant. It takes all of ten seconds for this, the opening track, to signify a giant leap. Siren vocals cut into shards and raining from above, resonating like a Tibetan singing-bowl. A Mariana trench of low-end crunch erupts like a basket of poisonous snakes, twisting through every crack in every direction. It feels like a glass house shattering from the round up, each piece hanging in the air a little too long.
I hope you’ve already hit play and raised the volume to an uncomfortable level. With any luck, it’ll start snowing.
The video may be fan crafted, cut from a half century’s worth of iconic women of the cinema, but it nails the aesthetic conjured every time I hear this music. There’s a sense of distance, of desire, and of danger cutting throughout the album, and it’s expressed most clearly on this, the first track.
It’s strange to think of the handful of album covers in 2012 featuring high-contrast b&w photography of women as all representing their respective sounds in spectacular fashion. Luxury Problems is my favorite.
I forgot to share this immediately after my first listen. I really should have.
Tim Hecker is widely acknowledged as a master of his own blend of melodic drone (whom I’ve shamefully never written in depth about) while Daniel Lopatin is better known as Oneohtrix Point Never, hands down one of my favorite artists working today. The fact that he’s collaborating with Hecker has, to put it mildly, assuaged my fears about Lopatin’s distinct lack of a new LP this year.
It’s late and I’m tired and I don’t know what to say. If you like either of these artists, you will certainly enjoy this song. Let’s hope the full album is just as good.
[I’m not seeing it yet but the release should be here for preorder soon.]