Saturday, December 03, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: January 2016

I thought I might have been slowly getting up to date. Seems like it was a mirage.

"Fashion International (a)", by Graham De Wilde. KPM library goodness to kick things off. You can practically reach out and touch the instruments. The only thing missing is a Barry White / Isaac Hayes love-talk cameo. Oh well.

"Chica Chica Bongo", by Elli et Jacno. Staying with that early 80s vibe, we have Elli et Jacno, who (it says here) split off from French punk band The Stinky Toys to try their hand at pop. There's definitely nothing stinky here. (Also: record cover of the month. It has something of a rough-n-ready Serge Clerc vibe about it.)

"Obsession (Dance Mix)", by Animotion. And then there's this: everything you could possibly want in an early-80s synth/dance/pop single. Note, especially, the larger-than-life opening synth line. It even has a doinky-doink bass player and some shredding electric guitar (but tasteful, obv.). What could possibly go wrong?

"You Don't Know My Name (But I Know You)", by Kym Amps. The sound of 1981. This song is one of the creepiest I have ever heard; it leaves "Every Breath You Take" for dead. Possibly literally. 

"тогда было все по-другому", by Eerie Summer. This song, by a Finnish band that may now, according to their FB page, be a solo artist, may not be as haunting as the Kym Amps track but they dovetail rather well. Downloadable from hereat least for the time being.

"Birds of Prey", by MiNNETONKA. And in a yet similar vein, there's also this. Listen: I can hear my heart melting.

"Rave On You", by A.A.L. (Against All Logic). Against All Logic may or may not have anything to do with Nicolas Jaar. Either way, this semi-ambient number (with bonus Space Invader sounds) is a very pleasant way to spend ten minutes of your valuable time. It seems to have fallen off the internet, but I have put a copy on the dropbox for the time being (so long as nobody minds) for those who are interested.

"Another Bird", by Idjut Boys. Ideally, you would be listening to this on a tropical beach somewhere as the sun sinks over the horizon, mai tai in hand. Or you could play it on headphones over your laptop in your windowless office cubicle. Whatever works.

"Mr Mistake (Boards of Canada Remix)", by Nevermen. Boards of Canada remixes almost invariably break down as 90 percent Boards of Canada versus 10 percent original artist. This perhaps skews the ratio slightly in the wrong direction but you still couldn't fail to guess who was behind what's going on in the background. Stick around: it really gets going two minutes in.

"Four (Darkstar Remix)", by Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. Darkstar have been an intriguing proposition ever since "Aidy's Girl Is A Computer". Here, they sink their diffuse tentacles into a fragment of a track by two of the bigger names in modern composition/production. All they ask is that you enjoy it. I'm sure you can manage that.

"Oriental Suite", by Anchorsong. Your response might be that this sounds a bit too much like "Rounds"-era Four Tet. I can't argue with that, but I'm also not going to say that it can't stand on its own two limberly (note: may not be an actual word) constructed feet.

Bonus beats: here he is, doin' it live, for a certain bovine energy drink company. This is the real deal. That a plastic box and a few knobs and wires can produce music with real heart and soul is a thing that never ceases to astound me.

"Sgoraet", by Kedr Livanskiy. Is Russian. Is good.

"There's A Star In You", by Don Gere. About which very little is known. (It shouldn't surprise anybody that Andy Votel's name is associated with its (re)discovery.) Don Gere also did a soundtrack for a movie called "Werewolves on Wheels". I wish I'd thought of that. As for this song: turn it the heck up and grow you hair long.

"August Twelve", by Khruangbin. If you were listening to this blind, I think you would struggle to know from when and where it derives. I know the answer, and I still couldn't actually tell you. Hint: Texas and Thailand are both in the mix.

Bonus beats: perhaps it will become clearer if you watch them playing it live:

"Competition Start", by Conrad Plaickner & His Orchestra. From an album called "Atlantic Crossing". Not that one.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Song of the day (2)

"Divers of the Dust", by Marissa Nadler.

Lana Del Rey without the quotation marks. From her very fine 2016 album, "Strangers".

Bonus Beats: the same song, live in Berlin, with something of a "Twin Peaks"-soundtrack vibe.

Song of the day (1)

"New Romantic", by Andy Stott.

Andy Stott's "Too Many Voices" is a difficult album to love. Many of the tracks are more in the nature of sketches than complete works, requiring time and effort to allow the listener's brain to fill in the gaps. (Ask me again in 12 months.)

But "New Romantic", that's a different beast entirely. Its pristine digital synth sounds combine with a dirty, rumbling low end and his usual vocalist to make an actual, fully fleshed-out song.

My heart does a little flutter every time it starts.

Bonus Beats: here he is, performing the same song, live, for a Resident Advisor session. One for the gear knobs.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Old New Yorker advertisement of the day

Here, from the New Yorker dated 26 November 1966, is an ad for a Parker Brothers game that hasn't stood the test of time. Was the problem, just possibly, to do with the name?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A few words (not my own) about the next President of the United States

In the 1990s, the New Yorker, as it had in its early years, tended towards a certain ironic disposition, a lightness of tone that suited those times. After all, there was a Clinton in the White House, the budget was in balance or better, the Cold War, everyone assumed, had been consigned to history. These were the Tina Brown years. Thus, in 1997 the magazine ran what might have been the archetypal 1990s New Yorker article: a profile of one Donald Trump, by Mark Singer, a fine exponent of the slightly raised-eyebrow school of journalism.

It contains the following paragraph.

Of course, the “comeback” Trump is much the same as the Trump of the eighties; there is no “new” Trump, just as there was never a “new” Nixon. Rather, all along there have been several Trumps: the hyperbole addict who prevaricates for fun and profit; the knowledgeable builder whose associates profess awe at his attention to detail; the narcissist whose self-absorption doesn’t account for his dead-on ability to exploit other people’s weaknesses; the perpetual seventeen-year-old who lives in a zero-sum world of winners and “total losers,” loyal friends and “complete scumbags”; the insatiable publicity hound who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what he reads, attacks the messengers as “human garbage”; the chairman and largest stockholder of a billion-dollar public corporation who seems unable to resist heralding overly optimistic earnings projections, which then fail to materialize, thereby eroding the value of his investment—in sum, a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.
It may have been written 20 years ago, but it very clearly reflects the man who has been the centre of attention over the course of this past year. Perhaps you might spend a few minutes reflecting on the last four words, given the position this man has now been elected to.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Song of the day

"Kogarashi", by Kikagaku Moyo.

"House In The Tall Grass" is an album that continues to throw up unexpected surprises. A blind listen to the start of this song has the unsuspecting listener momentarily convinced that they have suddenly switched to "Meat Puppets II" or "Up On The Sun". There are worse things. I sincerely hope we haven't witnessed one of those today. (I'm not the pessimist many people seem to be. (Nor am I a fan. Quite the opposite.) Ask me in six months.)

Bonus Beats: "Silver Owl", on the other hand, or at least the first few minutes of it, puts one (well, me) wistfully in mind of 14 Iced Bears. And if that reference means anything to you, can I be your friend?

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: December 2015

I think this one has come out rather well. You're welcome.

"Nibiru (ft Afrika Bambaataa)", by I.F.O. This is released on Nicolas Jaar's Other People label. And it's not hard to infer that Jaar himself is behind the music, too. It has his particular style of slightly woozy synthesizer action (or whatever is the opposite of action). Of course, I could be completely wrong. Of special interest is where it goes at the seven-minute mark, but you really have to listen to the whole thing in order to get to that point. (Not available on the internets at this juncture, or so it would seem; so here is a dropbox link for a little while, as long as nobody minds.)

"Walk On Gilded Splinters", by Marsha Hunt. From the opening sitar-and-bongos one-two punch, you know you are onto something nice. Hunt was responsible for a song from my childhood, "(Oh No! Not!) The Beast Day". This has a similar swamp gumbo feel to it, which is not at all surprising given that it is a Dr John original. Get your voodoo rising. ("Produced and arranged by Tony Visconti." There. That got you sitting up.)

"Fama Allah", by (this is my best guess) Idrissa Soumaoro et l'Eclipse de l'I.J.A. So, it does something a bit similar to "A Taste Of Honey" at the outset. But that's where the similarities end. Featuring, if this YouTube clip is to be believed, a young Amadou & Mariam. Originally released, as far as I can figure out, in 1984 on an East German record label. There must be a story there.

"Adaletin Bu Mu Dunya", by Selda. Turkish freak-out is the best freak-out there is. 

"Hello Bitches", by CL. K-pop is unbeatable, but even more so when it gets, uh, "nasty". (See also "F**k You", by Ga In.) Sickest beats in Seoul.

Next, we bring you three insane slabs of dub madness, all created by Scientist: "Beaming"; "Drum Song Dub" (you know this one); and "Steppers" (the latter from the modestly titled "The Best Dub Album In The World").

"Amazing And Wonderful", by Peaking Lights. When I hear anything by these guys I am never less than impressed. Why that hasn't compelled me to listen further probably says more about me. Also, why does this remind me of "The Call-Up"? Plus, there's a bit of The Pop Group going on with the guitar line that turns up at about 3:25. Actually, you know what? Best song ever. Until the next one.

"XTC", by DJ Koze. Kids, don't do drugs.

"Feel No Pain (Nellee Hooper Remix)", by Sade. What do you get when you combine Sade with the Wild Bunch? Second-sickest beats of the month.

"I Believe In Miracles", by The Jackson Sisters. Different Jacksons. But good.

"Audience Of One", by The Peter Peter Ivers Band (sic). From out of the murkiest depths of some glam rock / RAK pop hell crawls ... um ... this. No, I don't know either.

(Bonus: album cover of the month.)
"Evangeline", by Cass McCombs. As regular as clockwork, Cass McCombs turns up with another pop earworm to destroy your brain. (Have I just been a bit slow on the uptake, or has he, on his new album, "Mangy Love", taken it to the next level?)

"Nosce Te Ipsum", by Nhor. Once upon a time, Stereolab had their own web site which, on the home page, an extremely tasty short loop of music started playing. (I think it may have turned up as part of an actual song on one of their many odds-and-sods collections but I don't have time right now.) This sounds like that.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Song of the day

"Beneath Fields", by Heron Oblivion.

Featuring members of Comets on Fire, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, and Espers: I guess you could call Heron Oblivion a supergroup. But that would defeat their evident purpose: to blow away some cobwebs and have a blast in the process.

It was the appearance of Meg Baird, late of Espers and owner of a couple of excellent solo albums, particularly last year's "Don't Weigh Down the Light", and maybe the finest singing drummer since Karen Carpenter (or Meg White?), that brought me along.

As you might expect, much of the album lays down some deeply heavy skronk, which is, of course, just fine by me. But even better, I think, are the moments when they dial it back a bit, creating more of an Espers-y vibe, as they do for much of "Beneath Fields".

Here it is in three (count 'em) iterations: first, the album version; then a well-recorded-and-filmed live rendition; and finally another live performance, somewhat less polite (and extremely rawly recorded), and worth sticking around for until five minutes in, at which point it goes Boom. In fact, I recommend you listen to all three: that is the best way for the song to crawl under your skin and do its business.