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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Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker The Berry

Kendrick Lamar is back and pulling absolutely no fucking punches.

Marching on an over-driven martial drumbeat, the new single from my favorite rapper stomps directly into your ears from the get go. After the scene’s set, Kendrick enters, all righteous anger and heavy swagger. This is hard talk, with a sudden shot to the gut before the outro rolls on a funk groove groove.

If this doesn’t get your blood pumping, raise the hair on your neck, I don’t know what will. This song hits the post-Michael Brown, post-I can’t breathe violent American zeitgeist harder than anything I’ve yet experienced. These lyrics will be analyzed for weeks going forward.

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I just want to get this out to all my music friends as soon as possible. Thanks to my friend Lou for the tip-off! Amazing surprise, coming home from work to find this. I can’t wait to hear what he brings us next. good kid, m.A.A.d. City is one of the best albums of the past couple decades. Can he top it?

Andy Stott’s Brilliant Boiler Room Set

Here’s Andy Stott spinning dark techno brilliance for almost an hour. I’m totally unsure of how I managed to miss this. Dropping two years ago – just before his stunning full length Luxury Problems – this live set mixes in a whole lot of his signature abrasive 4/4 monstrosities and searing vocal colors from Alison Skidmore. It’s a dark, sinewy construction, shambling its way through the back caves of your mind.

Basically, it sounds exactly how you’d expect Andy Stott to sound like live. Fans of Luxury Problems will be especially pleased around the 19 minute mark.

In typical Boiler Room fashion, the crowd consists of listless hipster types sipping on beers and occasionally tilting their hips. The real draw is the sound. Turn your volume up, and read something interesting while you listen. I suggest this illuminating treatise on the philosophy behind invisible prisons that shape our lives. It’s called The Black Iron Prison, a term birthed by Philip K. Dick in his final novel, VALIS. You should probably read that at some point in your life. It’s a transcendent (and partially autobiographical) dissection of sanity itself.

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I don’t have much else to say about this. Just listen. Or watch, too, if you’re in the mood to see people looking miraculously bored at one of the most intimate, brilliant techno sets I’ve ever heard.

Kenji Kawai – Ghost In The Shell

I was aimlessly browsing and came upon the Ghost In The Shell original score on CD. Loving the film, though having not seen it in years, I knew it would at least conjure some nostalgia for a time long gone. Nostalgia is achieved within 5 seconds of the opening track. Beyond that, it gets very interesting.

About that opener: anyone who’s seen the film will be instantly transported to the iconic fembot creation opening credits sequence. To a teenage boy in 1996 this was both erotic and confusing, setting up my expectations for something which never appears. Instead what unfolds is an enigmatic film sprouting questions about consciousness, mortality, empathy, identity and where we’re headed as a culture. The film’s outlook is as dystopian as its ending is optimistic. The cinematography and art direction sit at the zenith of hand drawn animation (and yes I know primitive CGI was employed as well). The music sits at a crossroads between traditional Japanese, Hollywood classical, and minimalist synth pads echoing classics like Blade Runner and anything Tangerine Dream in the 80’s.

With my tastes light years removed from whatever I was into at age 14 (remember, this was before the internet made jaded cynics out of preteens bored with Boris and Nico) I find myself slipping into boldly embracing waters with the score by Kenji Kawai (川井憲次). I love the abstract synth sculptures of Oneohtrix Point Never, the warm tones of Brian Eno, the quickening thunder of Taiko and choral flights into pure ambient bliss. I love when an epic orchestral swell dissolves into liquid neon pools, spiking the hair on my neck. I love when an alien sound cloud whisks my conscious mind away, toward nothingness and enlightenment, and peace.

This is one of my favorite scenes of the film. There is no dialogue. Almost nothing happens, but it’s the moment when the initial rush of plot subsides and the viewer truly slips beneath the surface. It is pure hypnosis.

[You can attempt buying this at amazon for an exorbitant price.  Or find it on the internet.]

The Necks – Sex

Long ago I was shown The Necks.  The internet was not such a hospitable place and my search for an album to sample was fruitless.  Alas, after the buzz wore off they were forgotten.  Now, thanks to a helpful soul on a forum, I was reintroduced to what is quickly becoming a new addiction.  Here is their first album in its entirety.

The band, comprised of Chris Abrahams on piano, Lloyd Swanton on bass and Tony Buck on drums, unspools boundless jam fireworks outside of any specific genre or time.  There’s the interplay of jazz, an often motorik pulse of krautrock, and space based atmospherics of kosmiche all woven together in a pristine spartan construction.  They make an hour disappear without breaking a sweat.

I don’t like doing research simply for the sake of posting on here so I must return at a later date when I’m fully immersed in The Necks.  For now, enjoy the debut and seek out more if this is your kind of thing.  And please, buy their music if you enjoy it.  Everything they’ve released is available on their site:

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