Singing Statues hit me out of nowhere. Sort of. Truth be told I looked this up out of curiousity while absentmindedly browsing Teebs‘ profile and listening (again) to Ardour. After an afternoon bicycle ride with this brief EP providing the soundtrack, I’m completely sold.
Teebs is about to release the album of our sweetest dreams, and I mean that in the most literal sense. The also-visual-artist and freshest face in Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder collective has finally created a full length release, finally exceeding even his most beatific psychedelic paintings in service of rendering his uniquely utopian vision.
Yes, utopia. This is exactly what Teebs conjures on record; one listen leaves no doubt as to the veracity of a claim by Flying Lotus himself that this album sounds “the way Avatar looks.” I’d be hard pressed to utter a more succinct bon mot. This music reminds me of imaginary imagery more than any specific prior music; tropical visions of the future as seen in 60’s cinema, a psychedelic James Bond-ian secret island accessible only by submarine. Or space ship. The colors and tones may have forebears in John Barry and Martin Denny – and the optimistic sheen the future once sported – but the construction and the visionary feel is all his own.
“Eleven Tigers just blew my fucking mind,” I thought.
And this is probably the tenth time I’ve listened to Clouds Are Mountains.
“Who is the third who walks always beside you?”
That number is now closer to fifteen. Realizing that this relative unknown not only explodes genres on one of my favorite albums of the year but also quotes The Wasteland with panache and twists it into one of the more earworm friendly tracks on a densely stacked deck of indelible dream bangers is a priceless sensation.
Eleven Tigers is the artistic name of Lithuanian transplant Jokubas Dargis, who makes his debt to a certain dubstep legend more than apparent: “Influenced by Burial, I went to explore the atmosphere and the ambiance of London metropolis – my current home. I study music technology and do all sorts of activities I never thought to embrace.” Pairing that quote with a listen is the quickest way to realize that he’s driven more by the expansive nature of Burial‘s idealism than simply his style. The first and most obvious difference is the expansive color palette deployed across all corners of this hourlong experience. From taffy-stretched drone tunnels bridging propulsive house and dub techno beats to the clipped channels of unknown conversation forming a preamble to fractured fairy tale dreampop vocals, every lush moment drips with a heart of wanderlust and a propulsive kick in its step.
Breaking with nearly all tradition of its nominal peers, this album has a dramatic heft, an operatic rise and fall structure demanding front to back listening – with the surgical precision of some mythical perfect trance mix to keep everything on a consistently gasp inducing flow. Every time an exquisite groove is discovered and locked into, a new element arises to subtly shift context until a sudden left turn imperceptibly shuffles the entire journey onto yet another new level. The segues – whether in-track or between them – offer nearly as much straight-dope pleasure as the hard hitting segments riding out one of the narcotic beats into that blissful state of pure flowing sound. Almost. This man truly understands the hypothalamic connection to the sort of infectious repetition present in any truly ecstatic dance music. The fact that he manages to fold that in with a nearly spiritual sense of dynamic balance is beyond belief.
But really, believe it; it’s true. Hear the evidence yourself for free streaming right now in high quality and you’ll understand what drove me to immediately place an order on his bandcamp page. It’s just that worth it.
Underworld drop their latest studio album, Barking, on September 14th and are teasing it with the hilarious (and hilariously badass) video for second single Always Loved A Film. Skateboarding, shoplifting, drinking, girls, joyrides and more… from a group of deliriously ecstatic senior citizens!
I’m guessing it’s a reflection of, or sly commentary on, the men behind Underworld‘s “grandfather” status in the electronic music realm. They’ve come back with their most straightfoward party starting album (at least since the blissed out live Everything, Everything album and DVD) at a time when most of their peers are curating soft jazz shows on NPR or laying low in the south of France or some such idyllic place. It may not be the most original slice of dance nirvana or within spitting distance of the band’s 1990’s apex (see Second Toughest In The Infants right here on Optimistic Underground for that) but it sure gets my blood pumping more than most of what 2010 has had to offer.
All I’ll say beyond that is to watch the entire video. To say things escalate beyond mere (displaced) adolescent destruction is an understatement: this ride gets wilder until the very last frame. Enjoy
Well, this brief cassette release is at least tied with the two LPs preceeding the possibly-album-of-the-year Returnal. Yes, like those psychotropic soundscapes, it is indescribably gorgeous. Pulsing with an alien life unique in Oneohtrix Point Never‘s oeuvre, these two live-sourced tracks foreshadow the drifting-cloud majesty of Returnal while rumbling with the some of the most concrete rhythms he (Daniel Lopatin) has yet recorded.
It begins with what sound like marimbas via a familiar-enough repeated melody, simply growing in intensity – never changing – throughout the 9 minutes of Melancholy Descriptions of Simple 3D Environments. The draw here is how Lopatin slowly cocoons this spine, draping layer upon layer of undulating synth washes, echoed laser effects, and eventually the swelling heart of warming drone takes everything right off the ground. Side B opens with what can only be described as The Caretaker (aka Leyland Kirby) riffing on something more triumphant than haunting: a hollowed out and dispatched-from-the-past orchestral section valiantly tries to break through the corrosion. Then we abruptly cut to a short murky collage which feels like bumping through a science lab in the dark before drifting directly into the triumphant heart of this piece: The Trouble With Being Born. An oscillating fuge of an (uncharacteristically) optimistic dystopian anthem, this largest cut of the side’s 9 minutes feels like the true contemplative center of the release, a space where all conscious thought lifts up and outward. In other words, it’s 5 minutes that will totally “expand your mind,” man. Then a proverbial sudden-record-scratch moment happens and we cut to an Ariel Pink damaged-AM-pop sound refracted in the same manner as the previous collage, fading toward silence.
It’s quite a ride. Short but intense. Listen.Tracklisting: A Melancholy Descriptions of Simple 3D Environments B Adagio In G Minor Screw/Piano Craft Guild Edit/The Trouble With Being Born/Let It Go