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.
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:
I just needed to share this right now.
I forgot for the longest time. I had somehow missed the opportunity to share this infamous and absolutely captivating music video on Optimistic Underground for a long, long time. It’s based on one of the final songs on Aphex Twin‘s spastic genius monument, Drukqs, and it’s one of the most unforgettable videos you’ll ever see.
There’s not much to say about this, other than make sure to pick your jaw up after it’s over, and try not to be upset if it takes you outside your comfort zone!
This is one of the best dub techno releases of all time. It’s a nighttime ride through the sonic world of an imagined Neo-Tokyo, on the bleeding edge of an inevitable cyberpunk reality. It’s a propulsive dream.
Rod Modell and Steve Hitchell, two of my biggest Detroit and Chicago electronic music heroes, combined their powers to perfection with this release.
I don’t really have much to say about this right now. It’s just perfect. It’s an unending rollercoaster of perfect rhythm. It’s the kind of album that eats its own tail, leaving you wanting to hear nothing more than the whole thing again. The field recordings of Tokyo are perfect and have inspired me in my own mixtape making. It’s got this type of crystalline neon soaked atmosphere that I frankly cannot ever get enough of.
Pictured: the inside of my head.
I made a huge mistake, not purchasing this CD when it was brand new, sitting in Amoeba Music in San Francisco. I picked the 2 disc set up, eyes glazed at the full set of isolated field recordings on the second platter… and set it down, thinking it was too pricey at $20-something. Now I’m lucky to see prices under $100 used on Discogs. And come on, just look at that cover.
Anyway, I hope that, if you have never heard this before, you’re listening already. It’ll improve your day. If you happen to know where a reasonably priced copy can be found, please let me know!
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.
The upcoming album is “soon” and has yet to be titled, so that’s all the information I’ve got today!
This arrived today and it is beautiful. Echoing Akira (and Tetsuo) and some of the brilliant, creepy videos from Aphex Twin, it’s a dark, cinematic corkscrew in psychedelic miniature. There are few videos so evocative of their namesake, working as a perfect thematic foil to the song. Now watch, as Elijah Wood has a fucked up night.
Despite the fact that I haven’t done a full “album post” about Flying Lotus‘ latest opus, Until The Quiet Comes is easily one of my biggest repeat listens of the year. It’s the living, breathing incarnation of what I’d always kind of hoped his work was pointing towards. Its growth from 2010’s Cosmogramma is more organic and inevitable than the sudden leap that album made from its predecessor, breathrough lp Los Angeles; naturally, it’s less surprising how radically good this is. I feel like I took it for granted at first: “Of course this is good. Well there it goes in my car to stay in rotation for weeks.” Only a handful of albums have spent so much time as regular, near-daily listen this year, and if it weren’t for Kendrick Lamar’s new release, I could have, possibly, worn it out.
Thankfully this video came along today. Not only my favorite track, Tiny Tortures was due for some recognition. On an album crowded with standout moments between sublime guest vocals and dizzying synth work, its sparkling meditative cascade can be mistaken as a gentle interlude. It’s more like a brief exposure of Quiet‘s spiritual heartbeat. It reaches transcendence in the emotive dance of its guitar and bass (by second time MVP Thundercat) over a pulse hinting at great-aunt Alice Coltrane’s organ work on one of her masterpieces. If you haven’t listened to the album yet, here’s your chance to embrace one of the warmest electronic albums in years, a possible masterpiece of jazz and electronic music.
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:
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.]