Frank Ocean is about to return with a followup to his landmark debut channel ORANGE, and I felt like I needed a reminder of why we’re all so excited. After all, it’s been four years. That’s an eternity in pop years, and even longer on the internet.
So I turned to the my favorite old song and looped it. There’s nothing like this type of tune.
Reform Club is the real deal: all sumptuous dark dub techno splashed with rubbery bass and halting percussion, sealed with a vacuum whoosh drift. Before last month, Claro Intelecto wasn’t even on my radar. Now I can’t wait to see if he ever returns.
The past two weeks rolled with dark gravity, anchored by the massacre in Orlando that saw 49 people killed in an LGBT dance club. It may be only the latest in a nearly constant string of mass shootings in the US, but it’s the most devastating in my lifetime. I’ll never forget the gut punch of hearing the news.
It’s important to seize on the image of us at our worst, not just to examine how and why, but so we can truly appreciate us at our best. Still, it’s just as important to grasp the good news when we have it. With that in mind, I want to share the great musical discoveries I made in the past couple weeks.
This week, the sun finally cracked through and warmed Michigan a little. I finally rode my bike to work again after months of winter blues. I also helped send off winter by finally watching The Revenant.
I also listened to a lot of great new music. Let’s see what happened:
Thanks to a friend’s reminder, I’m spending early Friday evening at home jamming Lonerism, the surprisingly deep and eminently repeatable album from psychedelic rock ninjas Tame Impala. While I’ve never gone hard listening to these guys, I’m reminded tonight that I probably should have.
This song catches me hard every time, and I’m compelled to peek at the track list: yes, it’s called Music To Walk Home By. What a fantastic name for a tune that sounds like this.
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.